Could anyone be surprised that the corporate lackeys parading around as Senators have dropped the public option? Should anyone believe that this is simply because the notorious Joe Lieberman couldn't support the pathetically watered down excuse for a public option, the one held up as both significant reform and meaningful compromise? It's a lie that they have no choice: this is what they choose--a massive give away to the insurance companies that continue to deny coverage and increase premium costs to extort every last cent out of us (my copays and emergency room visits just doubled). The bill reminds me of the food in Brazil, the disgusting mush accompanied by images of delicious dishes. The scandal is that the charade proceeds as if something important were at stake, when that was ditched long ago, by Obama himself when he took single-payer off the table.
Escalating war in Afghanistan (in the name of peace!), failure to prosecute torturers, failure to reign in Wall Street (in the name of helping Main Street!), failure to deliver on climate, support for the worst in Haiti, and failure to deliver adequate health care. And all this with a Democratic House and a Democratic Senate.
This means that the Democrats are the bad guys. Why assume that they can't get what they want when they control both Houses? The answer must be that they are getting precisely what they want--money from the insurance sector, the finance sector, the arms and security sector. (In this respect, increases in obesity may be our best current resistance--if people are too fat to serve in the military, the military collapses; if obsesity puts too much stress on hospitals, the health system collapses; on the one hand, this doesn't make life any better for the poor and obese; on the other, at least they aren't reinforcing the system that feeds on their sacrifice and humiliation. So it's like another version of Bartelby and refusal. In the face of an injuction, one says, in a complete non-sequitor, Supersize Me!).
Clinton ushered in the reforms necessary for the intensification of neoliberalism. Obama is enabling neoliberalism to do its worst without repercussion. He is intensifying the authoritarian and militarist elements that attempt to control, that continue to develop strategies and technologies for control, and intensifying the already extreme inequalities that make control necessary. What makes Obama worst than Bush is that Obama leveraged progressive, democratic, youthful, anti-racist, multicultural hope that politics could still work for the people, that government could still restrain the strong and protect the less fortunate. He held out the promise that unbridled self-assertion abroad and at home would end. Neither glutonous banks, mortgage brokers, and credit card companies nor war hungry oil companies, private contractors, and neo-cons would determine our futures.
It's not ironic that Obama gave a highly publicized speech on education at the same time the CA system is crumbling. It's 1984, just like under Bush: anything that is praised is falling apart; anything that is criticized is really supported, endorsed. The same thing occurs with respect to finance. Obama wants to 'shame' Wall Street? Please. We know they have no shame. Who needs shame when you make over a billion a year? 'Shame' is what Obama says when the truth is that he has done nothing but feed the gall and hubris of Wall Street.
Exploiting people's hope for change is key to the damage Obama has done and continues to do. Destroying any remaining sense of agency is crucial to ensuring total compliance. The thing is, last fall and winter, people were ready to make sacrifices, ready to be responsible, ready to grow up. The mood was almost one of relief that the pressures to enjoy, to consume, were over, that our decade long credit orgy had finally come to an end and that finding another way was possible. Green initiatives were not yet completely coopted. The financial system seemed broken nearly beyond repair, a clear indication of the ultimate failure of market fundamentalism--as even Alan Greenspan acknowledged: his entire world view was wrong. A reformed finance sector, green energy, single-payer health care, renewed public transportation and a shift away from car culture--these key programs for a new beginning seemed--and were--possible. Instead, the US of Goldman Sachs has chosen war and finance.
Maybe this collapse of our hope is the opportunity for its renewal. Maybe this collapse is the liberation from the fantasy that Democrats are democrats.
The newest surge isn't only in Afghanistan. It's here via the financial-military complex. And if Afghanistan will persevere (as we all expect it will, just like it has in the face of every foreign invasion), then we can too.