Monday, April 13, 2009

Obama Disappoints

Obama has shown himself to be "a prisoner of past perceptions", to use a Jerry Brown quote from years ago. He has backed away at every opportunity to use some creativity and lead the country in new and positive directions. A few examples that especially gripe me.

1. The "drug war". Obama recently had a national town hall meeting, supposedly to answer questions which the most people wanted answered based on Internet voting. However, instead of answering one about legalizing marijuana, he gave it short shrift, giving an offhand "no" between answering what he obviously considered more deserving questions. Obama missed an opportunity to lead. He could have pointed out the horrific problems we are causing other countries by this so-called war, which we are obviously losing and should terminate. An example is 5,300 people killed in Mexico last year in the drug war. He could have been ready with statistics on the millions of our citizens locked up in our prisons over drugs and other non-violent crimes, and the cost this entails to every one of us to keep these folks in prison. What is a crime? This is a serious issue which could have been discussed and dealt with in a thoughtful way. Do we really need all these folks in prison with the rapists and murderers? Do we really need to spend all these billions of dollars to house these prisoners? Do we really need to be waging a war in other sovereign countries, with such inevitable consequences of war as the shooting down of a missionary's helicopter a few years ago in a horrible mistake? All these things could have been thoughtfully discussed, but Obama flunked the test.

2. Afghanistan. Obama seems to understand that we need to make friends with the Arab world, but then he turns around and send thousands of more soldiers to Afghanistan. Doesn't he understand that the only thing that will accomplish is to make more enemies? What does Obama think we can accomplish militarily in Afghanistan? History teaches that our military efforts there will be futile and useless. Shame on you, Mr. President!

3. Health care. Obama recently refused to endorse a single-payer system, even though this is what has worked in every other developed country, all of which have better health care at a lower cost than we do. Obama showed himself to be a captive of the insurance industry, which has dictated health care law since time immemorial. A C-SPAN caller recently recounted an experience which showed how screwed-up the current "system" is. He has chosen to be self-insured, and when he needed an operation, it would have been $34,000 had he had insurance. Since he didn't, he was able to negotiate a charge for the operation of only $4,000! This illustrates how corrupt the status quo is. Why can't we move forward into the 21st century and go to a national health insurance system? Why can't Obama, who surely is smart enough to realize what needs to be done, show some leadership?

4. Torture. Obama has signaled he is leading us into a different direction, but he refuses to prosecute any of the Bush administration criminals who engaged in unlawful behavior and has ruined our image around the world in the process. Guantanamo remains open. Let's live up to our ideals, for crying out loud!

5. Cuba. A Congressional delegation reports that we should normalize relations with Cuba, as other countries ave done, yet Obama takes baby steps toward that instead of simply doing what is right. Again, no leadership shown my our new President.

6. The bailout. Obama simply continues the Bush policies of throwing money at the big companies who have failed. This makes no sense and cannot be justified by any rigorous analysis. Further, he feigns outrage at the ridiculous bonuses given out by these companies, after being saved by the government, yet his own Treasury Secretary is (apparently) responsible for taking out a provision in the most recent bailout bill that would have capped these bonuses.

Will Obama be our savior? I think not.

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