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Wednesday, November 04, 2009

 

Obama's Election Victory Redux

*

Not Much Has Changed * Year of Dwindling Hopes

What now?  Nov 3rd election results clearly indicate the president's weakened position. Republican gubernatorial contender Bob McDonnell in Virginia defeated Democrat Craig Deeds by a wide margin despite Obama's efforts on behalf of Deeds. Polls were showing that McDonnell had a double-digit lead, so the result was not a suprise. In New Jersey, Democrat John Corzine (governor since 2006) lost to Republican Chris Christie. in a close race.  These victories have energized Republicans.The mid-term elections are a year away. The Obama wave is receding; blacks and young voters stayed away. 

The president has three more years in his first term.....a very long time in politics.  Think of G.W. Bush and his sky-high popularity which plummeted in the last years of his second term.  Obama's numbers could ascend or they  could go down below that of Bush.

There are those who say that it is too early to stop hoping that President Obama would live up to at least some of the things he talked about during his campaign, and that he deserves more time.

Perhaps they are right. One year is not enough to get a lot done, especially when you think of the mess he inherited.  Democrats have majority but not a veto-proof majority, and not all Democratic members of Congress are supportive of the president's goals.

That is not what is disheartening.  On a number of issues the president has either gone back on his words or retreated too quickly when he faced opposition.  It is almost as if all his decisions are based with an eye on second term; he wants to be all things to all men.  He is paying a price but no doubt Obama and his team have considered the cost-benefit factors in pursuing their strategy.



Torture of Prisoners - Extraordinary Rendition


Still following Bush administration's practices.

FISA

Backed away from opposition to retroactive immunity for telecom companies that assisted in warrantless wire tapping within the USA.

The Middle-East

After a strong statement calling for complete halt of settlement construction by the Israelis, the president quietly retreated.

Israel continues to be one of the primary recipients of financial and military aid
from the United States. The aid package is 'classified' . And no one talks about Israel's nuclear arsenal!

Reform of Wall Street

The hands-off policy that allowed giants of Wall Street to come up with creative
mortgage finance packages and exotic investment plans which eventually caused the markets to collapse began long before Obama became president.

However, it is now quite obvious that it is going to be 'business as usual'.  Eventually, when some of the proposed measures to curb abusive practices take shape they will be largely symbolic.....toothless. Prominent members of his staff were involved in creating, and benefiting from the actions that caused the crash.

Democratic members of Congress have turned out to be in the pockets of lobbyists just like the Republicans. The Democrats are not blatant about being in bed with special interest groups, but that is the most one can say about them. Barring a few exceptions, our elected representatives are creatures of a corrupt system.


Health Care Reform

The president quickly retreated from a strong public option provision. Loud reaction from his "liberal" supporters forced him to return to resurrect the issue. But let's not fool ourselves. The much vaunted plans for a health-care plan to cover all Americans are dead. When the final bill emerges it is not going to be anything close to universal health care available in Canada, Britain, and some European countries. And costs will keep going up.

Currently, it looks doubtful that a bill would clear Congress and submitted to the president before the end of the year.

With the huge deficit that now exists, lack of funding for health care is a major obstacle. As long as we continue to take part in wars and propping up dictators in various parts of the world money for social programs and domestic infrastructure would not be available.

Iraq and Afghanistan

The mess started under G.W. Bush's presidency. We don't know what kind of presence we shall have in Iraq a year from now but President Obama is maintaining plans for withdrawal.

A different story in Afghanistan where NATO's  UN-mandated International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) is involved. But we have been running the war since 2001. The president is expected to announce his decision about increasing the number of soldiers. The military commander has asked for 40,000 more.  The number of attacks by drones has increased.  Afghan civilians continue to suffer deaths and injuries.

Hamid Karzai, the puppet installed by Bush administration as president of Afghanistan in 2004, won a technical victory in recent election when, after detection of wide-spread fraud and announcement of new election, his opponent decided to withdraw from the race.

Corruption is said to be rampant in Karzai's Afghanistan. According to recent reports, President Karzai's brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, is one of the major players in Afghanistan's drug trade, and he enjoys a cozy relationship with the CIA. The CIA has been paying him for years to assist in the war against the Taliban.



A year ago we believed in his message about 'change'; there was a feeling of excitement that  things would be different after eight dark years of Bush and the neocons. Not going to happen. Better than Bush is how I feel but there are days when it is hard to maintain that position.

A friend who contributed $1,000 to Obama's campaign in 2008, reveled in his victory:
  • My faith in our country and the belief that education and intelligence and smartness still has value in this country has been restored! at least for now.
  • On my next international trip I hope I don't have to fidget to disclose my country or origin anymore.
A few weeks back I emailed him:

"Almost a year since your message full of joy and high hopes. You were not the only one to feel good. But how do you feel a year later? "

His response:

"Ha ha.. Wonderfully ripped off."






*****





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