Obama vs. Jobs; Hope vs. Reality
Last week, President Obama racked up several more broken campaign promises as he pushed through Congress three new job-killing corporate trade agreements. The Senate Finance Committee was quite open about the fact that these agreements will kill off more jobs and eager to mitigate the damage with band aids attached to the treaties. Some of us who were in the hearing room felt an obligation to speak up and ask why in the world the senators -- with perfect bipartisan harmony -- insisted on causing the damage in the first place. And for that we were thrown in jail.
Imagine the denunciations of human rights abuses in Colombia if the plan for that country this week were war rather than corporate exploitation to produce impoverishment to produce drug crops to produce war. Imagine the denunciations of human rights abuses in Iran having continued as usual if U.S. cops weren't cracking skulls in New York, Boston, Denver, and San Diego. Maybe we wouldn't have needed the Tale of the Moronic Mexican Iranian Assassins at all.
Also last week, President Obama pretended to try to pass a weak gesture in the way of lessening the damage of his policies with separate legislation known as a "jobs bill." But he made no serious effort to get it passed and according to many observers wanted it to fail. It was blocked by Democrats as well as Republicans in a Democratic Senate. Nonetheless, the purpose was apparently to create a campaign ad for what the same president will supposedly try to do in 2013 if reelected, and if tens of millions of us are still obediently filling out job applications.
Dutiful union members and party activists last week rallied for a bill the President did not whip for. In other words, they took part in a theatrical advertisement for a reelection campaign.
"The president has learned that a loss can be a win," said an unnamed source whom Politico calls a "senior Democratic strategist who supports Obama." And I can confirm that this is not only real but typical. "We've done everything to win legislatively, to scrape through," this loyal partisan said. "Now we're determined to keep the high ground on a set of issues where we have the overwhelming support of the American people." If you doubt the intention to shift all energy into a presidential reelection campaign, watch Tom Hayden's interview about Occupy Wall Street on Keith Olbermann's show.
Here are the problems with this picture:
First, the same president is killing off jobs on a large scale with corporate trade pacts and military spending. Military spending produces fewer jobs than tax cuts for non-billionaires, much less useful spending on infrastructure, green energy, or education.
Second, the same president's jobs bill, had it passed, would have barely touched the problem of wealth inequality, joblessness, and imbalance of power.
Third, Obama made no serious effort to pass the bill, despite having demonstrated in the past the ability to compel any Democrat to vote for any bill, including war-funding supplementals and godawful corporate health-insurance schemes.
Fourth, the bill was blocked by Democrats who have a majority in the Senate.
Fifth, the Majority Leader Harry Reid recently lowered the bar for moving bills forward from 60 to 51 votes, despite years of feigned helplessness in the face of the unreachability of the 60-vote mark. Reid is no more serious in his efforts than Obama.
Sixth, campaign promises from people who have broken hundreds of campaign promises would be useless even if the pretenses of attempting decent governance were not so transparent.
If Obama or Reid or the Democratic Party or MoveOn.org or anybody else thinks the people occupying the streets of our cities in protest are going to fall for this, they've got a very rude awakening coming. The Occupation movement is one that brings policy demands to the government, not partisan pretense to a pseudo-combat with the goal of bipartisanship or the election of either flavor of crypto-fascist corporate servants.
The question is not whether we want to risk electing a racist buffoon to the imperial throne. The question is whether we want to join those who are making major sacrifices to occupy our city squares and move our entire culture and our entire government toward peace and justice instead of plutocracy and planetary collapse. Do we want to avoid a war on Iran before it happens or turn against it once we have a Republican president? Do we want to halt global warming or lament its advances later? Do we want to overthrow our financial oligarchy or hope it changes the appearance of the curtains behind which it works?
The genius of the 99% movement is that it brings people's demands to the government. Nobody is asking a political party what to demand, whom to confront, and whose crimes to grant immunity. We're uniting as a people to insist on representation in our government. The notion that we already have it from either half of our government is so ludicrous as to reveal those who make that claim to be engaging in fraud.
We now have a majority supporting the nonviolent occupations. And we have 99% of that majority sitting on its rear ends.
If you object to being played for a bunch of fools, get in the streets!
If you resent people stripping away jobs while pretending to create them, get in the streets!
If you'd rather have a decent place to live in which your children and grandchildren will be able to live as well, instead of bailouts for bankers and new wars started every few months, get in the streets!
If you'd rather see majority opinion obeyed just once on any issue than have a congressional caucus dutifully represent the interests of unmanned drones, get in the streets!
The conversation is changing.
The mortgage fraud non-settlement is in trouble.
Wall Street is scared.
There are bills in Congress to eliminate the Super Committee and to end the Federal Reserve.
There is music in the cafes at night and revolution in the air.
Don't just sit there nodding.