Saturday, September 05, 2009
Love Me: I'm a Liberal
As Obama ratchets up the war machine and continues to wage economic war on American workers, it is easy to forget his rhetoric prior to the election. As far to the right as he is in his policies, the American right continue to portray him as, God forbid, a socialist.
Commentary from the American right dismiss liberals and relegate them far on the margins of acceptability. They make socialism and liberalism synonymous. In the USA, liberals are socialists and vice versa. Maybe when you are standing next to Augusto Pinochet everything looks left.
That clumsy dismissal of all that is not conservative is a mistake. It's not fair to liberals. It's even less fair to socialists. Liberals, if you examine them now or through history paint the same broad strokes as conservatives. They campaign as if they were socialists but once in power, they not only paint the same broad strokes as the right but they fill in many of the details to the most minute detail - exactly the same.
It wouldn't be fair or accurate to say liberals are the same as conservatives however. They not only talk differently, their approach is different. They may want to achieve the same broad goals but they strategize differently and present differently. Liberals are pragmatic and slick. Conservatives are ideologically principled (notwithstanding a quick buck) and stupid.
Obama is a liberal. He may be called a socialist by the raging right but if you ask any socialist, he or she will explain why, with certainty and passion, Obama is no socialist.
Politicians always sound courageous and principled during an election campaign. Campaign rhetoric is always well to the left. Prior to an election, politicians are going to stand up to the biggest of big business. Even the HMOs and the banks are not safe according to campaign trail bluster. They will end war and they will feed the poor and they will increase social spending and cut taxes. As predictably as rain on a weekend they turn sideways and show the other face once they get the votes. At that point they turn and the soft liberal face vanishes. They become ugly and mean spirited. That conservative face tries to hide its darting eyes and its iron teeth.
This isn't new. It is a very old story. Centrist liberal and social democratic parties have been at it a very long time. The question arises; Is it a matter of dishonesty or is it that once they are elected their real bosses come from the shadows and demand pro business decisions? It is both.
Liberal voters naively believe what politicians say. And even in the face of politicians actions that run contrary to what they promised, they remain loyal. They believe. Like religious zealots they can't be swayed. They defend their liberal hope. They will rationalize, minimize, deny reality. They will blame others. Their leader remains pristine even in the face of obvious election lies. Even when their hero slaughters innocent people in Afghanistan. Even in the face of consistently anti middle class governance.
Since Obama has taken the Presidency, the big banks have enjoyed the same unfettered financial freedom to do as they wish as they did under Bush. They also enjoy unconditional support from the state.
They have enjoyed a spending spree courtesy of the American taxpayer that has paved the way for them to take even more control of the finances of America. The big banks hold more of the share of Americans deposits than they did under Bush. Not that Obama is more friendly to them. The process of concentration and accumulation is simply continuing, unabated. The big fish are eating the smaller fish and are growing even more menacing and powerful. The process is eased through government subsidies.
Financial power was highly concentrated prior to the economic crisis. Rather than using policies that would create real economic stimulation by providing money to those that really need it - like workers and homeowners, the crisis resulted in both Bush and Obama facilitating greater concentration. Real stimulation is inflationary and the ultra wealthy don't want their money de-valued.
We might imagine American politicians saying to the to the big banks; 'don't worry. We got your back.' But it doesn't work that way. They didn't say it. They didn't have to. Politicians always keep their promises to big business. They don't even have to make them. They are assumed. Public promises are not really promises, it's just election talk. Private promises are always solid. It's a matter of who controls whom.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation was created in the depression to ensure depositors savings are there for them by provided banks with security and backing. The FDIC controls the banks and you can bet your bottom dollar that the people that control the FDIC are the same as those that control the President.
The FDIC has increased the number of banks categorized as 'troubled' to 416 on August 27, 2009. It was 305 three months ago. The financial feeding frenzy continues under Obama. With the help of the FDIC the large fish are eating small ones and have also gorged themselves on some very large ones as well. In the past year JP Morgan Chase swallowed Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual with the help of the federal government. Bank of America and several other mega financial institutions deemed "too big to fall" have been benefiting immensely from this crisis. They are laughing all the way to their own vaults. To be precise, they are laughing all the vaults of JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Citigroup, and Wells Fargo.
Through the American state, the taxpayer is funding these takeovers and absorbing the losses through the FDIC.
And there we have it. Mr. 'love me I'm a liberal' Obama is finishing what Bush started. He is moving the process of consolidating power and wealth in American at a faster rate than anyone before him.
The American state has become an extension and a tool of big business. Any President that tries to change that or even question it will be in the sights of another Lee Harvey Oswald. We can't entirely blame Obama. He just knows how to play the game. The problem is systemic.
Conventional war and big business are intimately connected to the state. Big business can exist without war but war can't thrive without big business. They thrive on each other.
Obama has fired up the war in Afghanistan like a man possessed. The unfortunate people of Afghanistan and in the mountains of Pakistan that happen to live near Taliban are being incinerated by Obama and his war machine. People are being killed by human-less drones and manned multi-billion dollar war toys with cowboys dropping bombs on some of the most impoverished and oppressed people on the planet.
Cindy Sheehan was a celebrity to the soft left in the USA when she was protesting against Bush's wars. But she isn't so popular nowadays. To her, war, not Bush, is the enemy. That's where Sheehan and many of the liberals part company. She can't even get acknowledgement from the anti-war movement since Obama took the reins. You gotta love him - he's a liberal like many of the anti-Bush protesters.
Obama's expansion of the war both in size and intensity is alarming. The anti-war movement is silent and their voices have been silenced by the liberal Obama supporting quislings in their ranks.
An ominous sign for people in Latin America is an Obama initiative in Latin America. He is building seven new military bases in Colombia to the chagrin of South American leaders. Chavez is particularly worried about this development. The leaders in South America are upset to the point that they are demanding explanations from the United States and Colombia for the reasons for the bases.
Latin Americans are far too familiar with death squads, assassinations, and American dominance.
In Israel Netanyahu has approved hundreds of new housing units on the West Bank. Obama expresses "regret". HIs weak and limp reaction is tantamount to approval. Israel and Obama have agreed to not allow new settlements in the West Bank for one year but the Israelis will continue on with construction. The agreement does not include East Jerusalem.
The Israelis and the Americans will agree to new sanctions against Iran. Watch for more belligerence and sabre rattling on this front.
Obama did shake up the privateers that prey on the sick and the elderly in America; the big insurance companies. He threatened to curb their free- wheeling protection racket. And we have seen what happens in the USA when you go up against organized crime.
Standing outside the USA, watching the lies spread about the Canadian and British health care systems by the American right and big business is quite surreal. For Canadians and for people outside the USA, the practice of paying for health care or not being eligible for health care is alien. Insurance companies turning people down applying for insurance due to sickness seems barbaric. The insurers refusal to pay due to pre-existing conditions certainly is barbaric.
The fact that these discussion even happen appears to the rest of us to be archaic. A chapter from another time; a time way back when people were tortured and thrown in jail without charges and left to die when they are sick. A time that has been erased by rational modernity.
The Americans use the term 'socialist' as if they were uttering a curse. It is poison to them. And the notion of universal health care is socialist - a put down. Socialists must plead guilty. We demand universal health care.
Obama's metamorphosis from a sophisticated and sensitive human being to a crude quisling yes man jumping to the demands of the banks, the oil companies, and the HMOs is almost complete. But the liberals, the tax-paying suburbanites that elected him still squint their eyes to see that first face; the face of change and progress.
But more and more, as people are bombed and incinerated in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as old and sick people continue to die in poverty, they must come to realize there is no change with Obama. And they will change who they vote for. Enter: Sarah Palin.
The whole thing is as American as apple pie.
Once I was young and impulsive
I wore every conceivable pin
Even went to the socialist meetings
Learned all the old union hymns
But I've grown older and wiser
And that's why I'm turning you in
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal
- Phil Ochs