Thursday, January 19, 2017

Thank You, Barack Obama

One of my leftist friends is in a rage about being asked to thank Obama.  He points out the unceasing military adventurism, unbroken from the previous war criminal President, more drone and other bombing than ever, and more inequality-increasing trade agreements.  I could add to that increasing family-breaking deportations.

But I think there are a number of things people can be thankful for.  Here's my list:

The Iran Deal
Halting the Keystone Pipeline
Halting the pipeline at Standing Rock
Setting aside certain parts of the Arctic from drilling
Allowing the Security Council resolution condemning illegal settlements in Palestine
  (many previous Presidents let such resolutions pass, some like Reagan even supported them, but that seems unreal now given the ever increasing stranglehold of Zionism over our government)
Requiring a vote (which failed) before escalating war in Syria
Granting clemency to Chelsea Manning and Oscar Rivera

That's what comes to mind right now.  These are all things which required political courage: standing up to entrenched monied interests, mostly the deep imperium state.  They are the kinds of things we don't see much of anymore in the wake of the JFK assassination (he also occasionally stood up to the imperial deep state...ultimately at the cost of his own life).  And they have had positive impacts on the lives of many people so far, and potentially vastly more in the future, if the deals stick.

You may note a few things I didn't include, such as Obamacare, which I consider a mixed blessing which I personally detest because it forces poor people to pay for crappy high deductible insurance they can hardly use--as well as being an icon of neoliberalism, but has probably resulted in some number of people getting more lifesaving treatment than they would otherwise have been able to pay for--and note I'm not including the alleged benefit of being able to (forced to, actually) buy crappy insurance.  Also I detest the tax levied on decent health insurance, and also the labeling of decent health insurance as an unnecessary luxury ("Cadillac"), it's not so much that I mind paying the tax but that it may lead others to weakening or eliminating decent employer-subsidized coverage which is the only decent private health insurance which exists now.  Anyway, wrt Obamacare, I wouldn't repeal the law either, without doing the only thing better--public medicare for all.  I merely wouldn't try very hard to save it.  I also fear that "saving" Obamacare could be packaged with the privitazation of Medicare, to great disaster.  So I'd rather they cut off the blemish, if they must, rather than lose the finger, but the best approach is to let things stay as they are, and hope for improvement later, rather than toss the ugly goblet to the floor now.

We can't thank Obama for closing Guantanamo, obviously, but poorly told is the tale of how he tried (weakly) but Republicans successfully blocked that at every turn.

We can't thank Obama for actually building a new political movement, except we hope that a new political movement arises from the counterforce concentrated by the Bernie Presidential Campaign which opposed Obama's natural neoliberal and neocon successor Hillary.

We can't thank Obama for not being Hitler, not because he was Hitler but because that is not the kind of thing we thank Presidents for.  (I can't imagine it anyway--it's criticism by faint praise.)

And, sadly, the de-energizing politics of neoliberalism and costly imperialism which Obama inherited and continued has led us directly to Trump.

Henceforth, we may not need to worry about what to thank Presidents for.  We'll be a lot more worried about other things.