Saturday, August 01, 2009
No change, no forgiveness, no re-election?
by Larry Geller
The foreclosures continue, there’s still no light at the end of the tunnel. Worse, it’s becoming clear that our government in Washington is not looking out for the best interests of ordinary citizens and taxpayers. To the contrary, Obama’s campaign website continues to “ask us to believe” and recently asked us to contribute $1 a day until healthcare reform passes. I’m afraid it’s hard to believe that we will get any change, at least not for change as small as $1. Corporations are paying big bucks to direct our government’s course. How much do we have to pay to get them to decide for us? Is it right that only money talks in DC?
Of course, the grassroots cannot compete with rich bankers and the lobbying pressure they are able to muster.
It’s August, 2009, and look where we are:
…The banks are deploying regiments of lobbyists and PR firms to defeat proposed new financial rules and an agency to protect consumers. They are escalating the gouging of the public.
Emboldened by billions in bailout monies, and funds from the Treasury and Federal Reserve, the Bankster are in full loot mode. New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo reports that extravagant bonuses at some banks now outstrip revenues. The financial elite takes our money–and tells us to shove. 9 Banks distributed $33 billion in bonuses without caring one white about the public reaction or perception. If they can do it, they do.
As a new wave of foreclosures threatens, the banks are not willing to modify most mortgages—even those sold fraudulently, because they make more money forcing families out and reselling their homes. [News Dissector Blog, 8/1/2009]
And yes, healthcare reform looks headed for disaster too, with single-payer still not on the table and the Right successfully poisoning even the weak “public option” which would have been unlikely to work anyway.
Even before he won the election, Obama’s campaign scored an award for marketing, beating out even Nike, Apple, Coors, Proctor & Gamble [Advertising Age, Obama Wins! ... Ad Age's Marketer of the Year, 10/17/2008]
Jon Fine, marketing and media columnist for BusinessWeek, pointed to Mr. Obama's facility with engaging voters in social-media channels. "It's the fuckin' Web 2.0 thing," he said.
In Obama’s campaign speeches he made promises, promises which rapidly unraveled as he took office. The marketing campaign generated the “Hope” for “Change” and really did make the country believe that the future would be different. Particularly, young people were drawn in by the social network marketing. I’ve spoken to conservatives who said they didn’t vote for Obama but felt, when he was elected, that there would be change (even if they opposed it). They are happy with what they got, primarily because it isn’t change. Heck, even many Republicans like his choice for appointment to the Supreme Court.
Superman took off his costume after the election, discarded it, and reverted to the mild-mannered middle-of-the-road compromiser that he really was, if one could see past the marketing hype.
The trouble is, the success of the marketing campaign, if promises remain unfulfilled, contains the seeds of an equal and opposite backlash. It starts with disappointment and disillusionment, but when large numbers of people begin to believe they were actually suckered, there is really no predicting what their reaction could be. We’ll see it first in the “popularity” polls and then in the voting booths.
The unraveling began with the appointment of Obama’s transition team and accelerated as he made further appointments. Not all were troubling, but there were enough. The most glaring were the appointments of Goldman Sachs alumni to positions where they could make sure that Sachs was not harmed by the economic meltdown already in progress. In fact, not only did his appointees save Sachs (now enjoying its highest profits in history and about to pay out bonuses averaging $700,000 per employee), but they disappeared Sach’s competitor Lehman Bros., a great gift to the company.
Obama’s fiscal team re-established the regime that brought the economy crashing to its knees while driving the ordinary citizen to fear or experience joblessness, houselessness, and loss of medical care.
The same team was put in charge of the automobile industry rescue. They rescued Wall Street automobile investments, but destroyed the union, set back the progress of unionization, and cost countless jobs. Even George Bush could not accomplish all that. By eroding America’s ability to manufacture cars and steel, this “rescue” certainly set back economic recovery as well. Unless you’re a rich banker, in which case your recovery is of course accomplished already.
All the while foreclosures continue and their pace accelerates.
We know that Obama kept Bush’s military machine intact, has yet to close Guantanamo, may not close other black site locations, and has even gone beyond Bush by advocating for the indefinite detention of innocent prisoners now held at Guantanamo and elsewhere.
Lobbyists swarm around Congress and Obama as never before, another abandonment of “Change.” He has yet to swat those flies. As an example, here is another troubling appointee. Obama could have chosen someone else, someone who is not a powerful lobbyist, but he didn’t:
William Lynn was appointed Deputy Defense Secretary under Robert Gates. Prior to being a Raytheon lobbyist, William Lynn was the Pentagon Comptroller between 1997 and 2001 during the Clinton Administration. In Fiscal Year 1999 the Defense Department reported 2.3 trillion dollars missing. In Fiscal Year 2000 the Defense Department reported 1.1 trillion dollars missing. This is a total of 3.4 trillion dollars for two years in “missing” taxpayer money. Lynn was the Department of Defense’s Chief Financial Officer responsible for all budgetary administration and reporting. He was also responsible for the publication of audited financial statements which he failed to do and have never been published since. This led to Sen. Charles Grassley (R., Iowa) to object to Lynn’s confirmation on the basis of “very questionable accounting practices.” [Media Freedom Foundation, Obama’s Defense Department Appointees-The 3.4 Trillion Dollar Question, 4/6/09 and other locations on the Web]
Those social media channels that got Obama into the White House are still active. Now they have morphed into campaigns to support the president’s policies. Supposedly they are two-way streets, the defining characteristic of social media as opposed to, say, email blitzes or one-way advertising on TV. From my observation, the information going back up the chain is altered so as to make it appear that his policies are supported. For example, although I and others spoke up for single-payer at a Hawaii Democratic Party meeting on health care reform, our words were omitted from the report that went back “up the line.”
In his op-ed in the Honolulu Advertiser (The Health State needs health care reform, 7/13/2009), Brian Schatz, chairman of the Democratic Party of Hawaii, similarly omitted that both doctors and ordinary citizens favor single-payer and instead asked that we support Obama’s health reform plan, which preserves the toxic profits of health insurance companies and which is currently being eroded perhaps beyond redemption.
Sooner or later this deception is likely to be discovered, contributing to an eventual backlash against Obama. The Republican hope that he will “fail” may be realized. Their hope is to win back Congress in 2010 and then end Obama’s reign in the next election. Will the grassroots be deceived again? “Fool me once….”
I’ll leave the last word to Danny Schechter, from his article cited above:
Some of us are still humming “We Shall Overcome” when our adversaries are chanting “We Shall Overthrow.”
What happened to Brian Schatz? When he was first elected to the legislature he was a fighting, young, progressive idealist bound to shake up the old party hacks. Now IS the archetypical old party hacks and a centrist (read right wing) Terry McAuliffe Democrat who shills for whatever the big boss in D.C. asks of him?
Reminds me of Tom Lehrer’s line about Hubert Humphrey:
Once a fighting liberal spirit
Now when he speaks he must clear it.