Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Obama: I Have Just About Given Up on Him.

Trying to review the most important issues so far:

1. The "Recession/Depression" or "The Crash"
>>>Obama continues the bailout of those bloated financial institutions which were the cause of national and world-wide misery through their recklessness and greed.
>>>What do I think he should have done?
>>>Stopped all bailout money to Wall Street. Federal taxpayer money should have gone to alleviate the victims of the sub-prime feeding frenzy -- the vast majority of ordinary Americans cajoled, tricked and pressured into believing the mortgage companies into buying homes beyond their means by using sub-prime contracts.
>>>Allowed the big financial houses to prove the validity of free market capitalism by either swimming or sinking. The first way: we didn't need to give them our money, and if they sink -- a valuable lesson for all of us to reconsider Capitalism. Simply put: Capitalism is not the answer to all of our problems. To a very large degree: it is the SOURCE of our problems.
>>> Instead Obama chose Larry Summers and Tim Geithner ---both possessing the same mindsets behind the financial irresponsibility. The blind leading the blind.
>>>Now Obama stung by the loss of a Senate seat in Massachusetts and the rise of a new right wing "populist" movement, aka The Tea Party People, etc. --- is being depicted as the enemy of the people and the pawn of wealth, power and Wall Street. So, now he has decided to get tough (or, at least "talk" tough).He had the initiative when he took office. Now, he's on the run. And how? Helping those on Wall Street who were the source of the crash heard and felt around the world -- he not has incurred the wrath of ordinary Americans, whom he has neglected and who are feeling the pain.

2. Winding down the wars in Iraq. Slowly, much too slowly winding down Iraq. As for Afghanistan: doubling, tripling our presence over the Bush administration.

We should never have stepped foot in Iraq. We have gained nothing of significance. We have lost billions of much need U.S. dollars and many servicemen. As for the Iraqis -- some authorities believe our invasion has resulted in the deaths of over a million Iraqis. And, our rebuilding efforts have been stained with graft, fraud and work that is often shoddy, and almost always overcharged to us the taxpayers. The private corporations have loved this war. What a deal for them !! You would think they could have done better than the many shoddy structures they have left behind. We had the mistaken idea that democracy was like some kind of shoe that one size or style fits all. These are a few of the reasons why things are still a big mess in Iraq.

As for Afghanistan, we did have a reason to clear out the alQaeda training camps and capture their leaders --- but that was eight years ago. What are doing still there? While Bush was President we had accurate information where Osama Bin Laden was hiding. Instead of sending in U.S. troops to the site, we relied on native Afghan gunmen, probably related to those around Osama and maybe friendly with the Afghans who were allowing him to hide out. I suppose we knew it would be a bloody battle and the U.S. troop losses might be unacceptable to the American people and damaging to those holding political power. So, we screwed up. However, we have had seven more years. And, many more U.S., Nato troops killed, and many innocent civilians.

It would make more sense, IMO, to withdraw most of our forces and rely on intelligence and covert operations, and old fashioned police work to track down Osama. We would have a better chance this way. And, the bonus would be: we would be less hated in the Arab streets throughout the world -- if we stopped killing Muslim civilians (aka collateral damage).

Even if we would capture Osama tomorrow ---- it is doubtful that this would make much of a dent in terrorist goals and operations. The bomb materials in the possession of the Nigerian in the recent Detroit airliner episode --- could have come from Hamburg, Paris, Syria, Sudan --- almost anywhere. Such a relatively simple device does not require the advice of Osama or those close to him.

Obama took ages to make up his mind, but most of us knew he would send more troops in because if he did not he would be castigated by the GOP as weak, soft on terrorism, reckless in preserving America's security. Even if Obama thought it was a stupid idea to increase the troops ---- he would have had to convince himself otherwise.

Health Insurance Reform: Obama should have used the "single payer" model or Medicare for All as his proposal. It should have been worked out in advance by a group of knowledgeable physicians, experts in public health with few if any private insurance "experts". Instead, he gave a somewhat vague idea of what he wanted and turned the process over to Congress !! And, in the Senate that meant Max Baucus, the top recipient of money from Big Pharma and the Major Health Insurance Companies in both house of Congress. This was a disaster. Baucus used as his chief expert a woman who had previously been a top person with a major health insurance company.
Before the work started, several polls indicated that around 60-65% of Americans wanted single payer. What they have received as yet has been nothing nothing but the results of Congressional sausage making -- as messy as it has been ugly. The GOP offered no help, no ideas -- just a locked-in-step opposition. Meanwhile the big private health insurance companies' legions of lobbyists swarmed the halls of the House and the Senate cashing in their chips.

With no clear direction, with millions being spent during the process by the private corporations, with many of our representatives deep into the pockets of the vested interests --- well, it was impossible to come up with anything credible. Obama's decision to allow things to work themselves out with no forceful definite framework of his own was fatal. If you want to arrive at something of value --- you have to set your goals high. In the eventual negotiations, the side that has set its demands even higher than their expectations --- will usually find the final result more satisfying.

Obama must learn that it is better to stand for something in the interest of the common good, of the Median American, and go down to defeat, even a series of defeats -- than to cajole, wheedle, seek consensus at any costs -- and end up with a result that is somewhere between worthlessness and disaster.

The Economy: Obama's stimulus package should have been two to three times bigger than it was --- regardless of conservative democrats, and (naturally) all of the Republicans rending their garments and gnashing their teeth about the budget deficit. (Remember: we had a surplus when Clinton left office. Why is it not embarrassing for the GOP to preach fiscal frugality?? Oh, I forgot, they have been seized by selective amnesia over the eight years prior to Obama's entry. Notice that they never mention that two term President. What was his name? I've forgotten.)

China's stimulus package was three times the comparative size of Obama's and now -- they are leading every nation in recession recovery. They are booming again.

BTW --- the stimulus package should have been primarily devoted to massive public work projects: highways, bridges, reservoirs, i.e. infrastructure -- which has been criminally neglected by almost all recent administrations. Projects of this sort would have put millions back to work and would not be frivolous and piecemeal -- but instead creating tangible results of lasting value.

FDR had the right approach then, and Obama would have been better off if he looked to this great President's solutions.

No, I don't plan to watch Obama's State of the Union Speech. I will either read it, scan it, or listen to segments. Obama is a fine rhetorician. He needs to be a more effective implementer of real change --- and talk does not do that.

When you talk, you whisper; when you act, you shout. I think Emerson said this.

bob hochwalt