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When Obama came to office there was a financial crisis,  popular expectations of reform of financial regulations and of  a once in a century opportunity to force fundamental change in the power, influence and mode of operation of Wall Street due to the vulnerability the TBTFs. I believe fundamental change was then possible.  But Obama, through his choice of advisers and his choice of policies, doubled down on all of the bad policies and choices made by Paulson and Bush.

Granted, he never campaigned on anything but vague phrases, preferring to allow the electorate to project onto him any hopes and dreams they might have without having to deal with the facts of conflicting hopes and dreams, as they were never explicitly stated. And granted he is NOT Bush nor is he a carrier of the virulent fundamentalism that Bush's administration did all it could to spread and strengthen. But he seems quite happy to accept and either hold in reserve or use the, in my view, illegitimate accretions to executive power made under Bush, and he is a scholar of constitutional law!  Instead of a repudiation and a roll back of the erosion of the Constitution and Bill of Rights we get, at best it seems, a pause in that erosion until the next right wing storm, in which even the semblance of Constitutional government could be lost.

To me the key to progress on all significant fronts in US politics is reform of the financial sector, which is currently a millstone around the neck of the economy, and key to accomplishing and securing that is campaign finance reform.  But I am reasonably convinced that, at most, Obama will acquiesce to such reform as Congress is frightened into by an alarmed public. Obama went to Harvard where he learned how the society works and he wants to facilitate the workings of the existing order.  That order has come to be one of the massive exploitation of >99% of the population by <0.1% and Obama identifies with that 0.1%.

To me it is not a question of the mess he inherited but of the change required to secure a future for the next several generations. This includes:

  1. Resurrecting some semblance of an economy that functions for even >50% of the US population, and which economy and social order has the prospects of being sustainable, which the current order does not possess.

  2. Re-establishing respect for the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and rolling back the encroachments made there-upon over the last 30 years. To secure that it is also important to de-legitimate the right wing authoritarian view, so recently ascendant, that it is advocacy of revealed truth and particular religious views and attitudes that is fundamental, not the words on documents written by men. Embarrassments to right wing authoritarian attitudes, such as Oklahoma City, seem to be quickly forgotten. Work is sorely needed in this area.

  3. De-legitimating the currently dominant paradigm of economics--Neo-Classical Economics as buttressed by the libertarian economic and political views of Friedrich von Hayek and Ayn Rand and disseminated by the Chicago School under Milton Friedman. Since 1980 these dystopian views of "freedom" as it applies to the economy and society have been written into the brain structres of hundreds of millions of US citizens. The political consequences are profoundly undemocratic and have driven much of the degeneration into the current disastrous situation.

  4. Taking all necessary steps to transition the USA to an economy based on sustainable energy and to minimize to every extent possible the increase in the release of greenhouse gases, economic incumbents not-withstanding. It is mad willful blindness to put the economic interests of coal mining and oil and gas extraction ahead of the carrying capacity of the earth by the middle to end of this century.  Yet that is what we are doing.

Obama has great rhetorical ability and a good intellect, but either no concern for the cliff over which we are headed or an internalized inability to see the problem if it means going against the pillars of the existing order. I don't think Obama has betrayed anyone, but I do thing he successfully gulled a large portion of the US electorate from the progressives to the independents, especially the young, during the election. The backlash could give us a Republican president in 2016, if not 2012. Personally, despite his many faults, I would have to seriously consider if Ron Paul would do a better job than Obama. At least he has the will to rein in the Fed and Wall Street and would bring home the troops. His economic views might well plunge us into a depression, but we likely already clearly will be there by 2012, and if not by 2012 even more likely by 2016. The system as currently run is going to melt down big time sooner or later.

When Leo de Medici became Pope Leo X in 1513 he is reported to have said to his associates: "Now that we have the Papacy, lets enjoy it!" Meanwhile anger and resentment towards the Papacy was building, especially in Germany and especially in the form of Martin Luther.  One of the German cardinals at the time of Leo's death in 1521 said: "When Leo was elected the Church needed a moral giant. But Leo was a moral midget." The result of lack of appropriate leadership at a time of crisis, among other factors, was the Protestant Reformation. Leo was quite able in many ways, but would not look at or consider addressing problems in the basic operation of the Church.

I fear that Obama is to the US Government what Leo X was to the Catholic Church. An able advocate of the status quo at a time that fundamental change is needed.  I have hoped he would step up to the challenge, but see little evidence that he will.  

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Dec 20th, 2009 at 04:19:36 PM EST

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