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Trying to Believe Obama - nhpeacenik
Trying to Believe Obama
In his response to the resignation of Hosni Mubarak last week, President Obama eloquently praised nonviolence as the antidote to violent religious fanaticism for young people in the Arab world. His words could have come directly from Michael True (see the video below for an example of his ideas if you have time), and they  were full of hope. Here is a man who has world-class political instincts and rhetorical skills and puts them in the service of a vital paradigm-shift that the world needs.

President Obama tries to explain his budget cuts on Valentine's Day

By contrast, as I look out my frost-rimmed window at the feet-deep snow, I can't help but feel deep disappointment with Mr. Obama's latest policy proposals. In particular, I find it simply cruel that he has proposed cutting the Low Income Heatijng Assistance Program (LIHEAP) that makes it possible for some of my neighbors to keep from freezing at this time of year. Is he a good person deep inside? A lot of us assume so, but the evidence is mostly rhetoric at this point, and his policies and proposals are, for the most part, callous and inhumane to flesh-and-blood people. He has taken on the prime goal of the Republicans/Tea Partiers, to "shrink the government until you can drown it in a bathtub" and abandoned his former core anti-poverty principles in order to shrink the deficit at all costs. In the meantime, paying for a bloated military-industrial establishment and two-plus wars is not questioned. It is obvious to me that budget cuts reduce the tax bills of corporations and the wealthy far more than they do those of ordinary people, but the cutting the "discretionary budget" hurts working people almost exclusively, while exacerbating the intolerable levels of economic inequality already in place. The natural policy direction for a caring politician would be to increase "discretionary spending" in times of economic hardship for people and save the austerity for times when programs for the poor are becoming less necessary to ordinary folks; in other words, spending on social welfare, health and education should be counter-cyclical. The notion that a high debt-load is equally "bad" for a family and for a government is a false one, and this is the wrong time to be concerned with deficit reduction.

George Bernard Shaw said, "Good people are the very devil sometimes, because when their good will hits on a wrong way, they go much farther along it and are more ruthless than bad people; but there is always hope in the fact that they mean well, and that their bad deeds are their mistakes, and not their successes, whereas the evils done by bad people are not mistakes, but triumphs of wickedness" (1928, The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism and Capitalism)

In a British context, George Monbiot recently said,

Governments don’t ask themselves “what can we do that is good for the people?” They ask themselves “how do we persuade people that what we want to do is good for them?” The task of both politicians and the corporate press is to convince us that what is good for billionaires is good for everyone but billionaires.
So, is Mr. Obama's budget proposal a mistake? (And, if so, is it a mistake that can be corrected later or a permanent fatal mistake?) Is he just a shill for the billionaires and financial corporations, or is he demanding something in return for these sacrifices he is asking poor and working people to make?

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Current Location: Greenville, NH, USA
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chordoflife From: chordoflife Date: February 15th, 2011 03:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
Having once helped someone apply for LIHEAP, I am apalled at Mr. Obama's choice on this matter. The Dems basically lost all spine they might have had with the Republican takeover and it's getting a bit hard to tell both parties apart. A friend stated that in some ways, he thought Obama was copying Reagan at times, though I disagree. To say the least, this is not what I expected when I voted for him as my President. Thank You to Bernie Sanders for calling for NO CUTS to LIHEAP!
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