Friday, 23 January 2009

Oh Bama, you had me going...

I didn't think it would happen this soon, but it looks like it's that time again to take up my usual cynicism with regard to US politics. Prior to the inauguration I wasn't really following the news on Obama's cabinet picks - and by God, are they disappointing, some of them.

Most disappointing of all, perhaps, is the choice of Lawrence Summers - a sexist, racist, latent conservative capitalist pig - as head of the National Economic Council. As Mark Ames put it in an article for The Nation, "hiring him to fix the economy makes as much sense as appointing Paul Wolfowitz to oversee the Iraq withdrawal." Summers is not only one of the chief architects of the current financial crisis (brought on by deregulation), but is also behind many of the financial disasters brought on by neoliberal economic policies worldwide as described in Naomi Klein's book on 'disaster capitalism', The Shock Doctrine. He was also instrumental in ousting Joseph Stiglitz - a prominent mainstream liberal (Keynesian) critic of neoliberal globalization policies - from the World Bank. Summers is, bluntly put, one of the 'shock doctors' behind it all.

As Alexander Cockburn put it in another article on Obama's cabinet picks so far ('Team Obama is a slap in the face to his own base'), "as an agent of change - we do not even mention hope - the age of Obama seems over before it begins, unless worsening economic circumstances force Obama pell-mell into uncharted territory."

Well, what more could one expect in a country where, aside from the top two posts (President and Vice-president), no member of the executive branch is required to be an elected official? Even those who do come to the cabinet from elected posts - senators, congressmen, etc - are no longer subject to direct democratic approval once in office as members of the cabinet. It goes without saying that very few, or probably none of those who were crucial to Obama's campaign at the grass roots level would have voted for or worked to get into office people like Summers (see The Nation article above for the gory details), Tom Vilsack (Monsanto's pin-up boy and lobbyist for genetically engineered biocrops who opposed Obama in the primaries, now agriculture secretary), Rahm Emanuel, or Admiral Dennis Blair, who goaded on the Indonesian generals in the Church Killings in East Timor.

Well, I should have known we were in deep shit from the moment Obama said 'God bless the United States of America' in the inaugural speech. Indeed, as Dylan put it, the USA is still "with God on our side"...

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