I am reclaiming two articles of mine that were written for another website which I am no longer affiliated with. I thought I would share them with any readers of mine who might not have read them.
From Clinton to Obama
Reconciling Hope with Reality
Having spent my entire adult life living through the Clinton, W., and now Obama administrations, not only do I have the intellectual and academic tools to put these political years in proper historical context, I have the sometimes rare blessing of actual real-time critique and analysis—rare to Historians such as myself at least. Around the time Clinton took office, we saw an explosion of cable news and right-wing talk radio, and a little later, the internet became a widely available source for the propagation of information from all corridors of political debate.
By and large, this wealth of information would ultimately serve to further divide what is largely a politically moderate population. Rather than thoughtful debate on real issues, the prevailing apparatus of political discussion was merely more than a screaming match between two sides, “Liberal” and “Conservative,” that produced little actual meaningful dialogue, but further divided an electorate that in reality is not too far apart on most issues.
Coming from what many would consider a “far Left” ideological foundation, my assertion is that this antagonism between the so-called “left” and “right” has been merely a smokescreen to divide us even further while the wealthy interests who actually dictate legislation—buying and manipulating politicians from both parties—continue to plunder our resources and bring our economy to the brink of collapse while we do nothing other than yell and scream at the other side.
The mantra “divide and conquer” most definitely fits this critique. What is most frustrating to individuals such as me, who actually study historical reality rather than blindly blaming “the other side,” is the so-called “liberals” and Democratic Party supporters who blindly assume that everything the Democrats do is done mostly in the interests of the people, rather than the wealthy corporations.
It does no real good for anyone on the left to perpetually grandstand against the obvious hypocrisy and deceit of the Republicans and their ill-informed supporters. This perpetuates the “us vs. them” mentality that allows the wealthy corporate oligarchy to steamroll our economy and our rights while those on the left and right hoot and holler at each other just for the sake of “being right.” It is too easy—for me anyway—to waste time pointing out the obvious lies, deceit and hypocrisy of talking head like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck.
The real aim of those who seek a true democracy for the people without such blatant corporate influence should be to actually look at the facts: Democrats, despite their rhetoric to the contrary, have done nothing other than perpetuate the exact same Corporate and Imperialist hegemony that Republicans have done. In essence, the Dems and the GOP are one in the same in many regards. While their rhetoric and propaganda are different, the end result is the same.
Let’s take a look at the deregulatory policies of Bill Clinton’s tenure as President. Clinton continued, and even exacerbated the wholesale deregulation of Wall Street and the Banking/Lending Industry started by Reagan in the 80s. Ayn Rand disciple and Reagan economic guru Alan Greenspan was given carte blanche authority to give the Banks what they had always sought: no pesky government oversight over their anti-democratic crimes against American citizens for the sake of profit. During Clinton’s tenure, the derivative market exploded despite the warnings of other economic advisers.
Any legitimate concerns were ultimately vetoed by Greenspan because they went against his core belief of a total and unabated free market system. With the explosion of unregulated derivatives, continuing through W.’s tenure (with Greenspan as his chief economic adviser as well), these speculative markets ultimately led to a near meltdown of Wall Street. It tends to be popular belief, amongst liberals and conservatives, that leveraging so heavily in risky mortgage schemes led to the near meltdown. That did indeed play a role, but those mortgage schemes were a result of trying to profit from the unregulated derivatives market.
Perhaps the most appalling legislation to be endorsed and approved by Clinton is the Telecommunications act of 1996. This would in essence create a monopoly of media giants that have no interest in spreading any real and critical information about the way in which political economy actually works and hinders democracy, but rather further divide the electorate by providing non-stop commentary for the intent of antagonizing and marginalizing rational discussion of any real issues. So many on the left spend so much time getting “fired up” about the latest idiotic ramblings spewing from the mouths of talking heads like Beck, Hannity and Limbaugh.
The only thing this accomplishes is giving even more attention to these talking heads while distracting us from the reality of our political system. Clinton also needs to be held accountable and properly criticized by the left for NAFTA. The North American Free Trade Agreement has done nothing other than further the exploitation of cheap labor, leading to a greater decrease of American Industrialization and Unions and ultimately exacerbating illegal immigration and an easier flow of illegal drugs into the country.
It would not be germane to this article to give a detailed overview of the atrocities of the W. administration as he merely continued and perpetuated many of the same policies initiated by Reagan and advanced by H.W. Bush and Clinton. It should be noted, however, that the W. regime not only perpetuated the deregulation of the financial industry, he took military profiteering to a new level as well with the invasion of Iraq. Perhaps worst of all, he crapped on our faces and smiled while doing it. At least the Democrats have the decency to tell us they are merely capitulating to the Republicans for the sake of “reaching across the isle.”
With all of the “hope” brought about by the election of Obama; the first president of color which is an amazing accomplishment and should not be negated, it should not be ignored the fact that Obama is still following the lead of previous administrations in many aspects. Alan Greenspan continues to have tremendous influence and input into the implementation of economic policy. Henry Paulson, former executive of Goldman Sachs—heard of them?—was originally Obama’s Secretary of the Treasury. With the foxes guarding the hen-house, it appears Obama may very well be repeating recent history.
I truly do “hope” that Obama can accomplish something–anything–that puts us, the people, ahead of the interests of the corporations and the wealthy. Obama seems to at least be making an attempt at real and meaningful regulation of the financial markets by acknowledging the problem exists and that something needs to be done. The Democrats have a large majority in the Senate and need to take full advantage to pass laws that will actually regulate the banking industry rather than allowing them to profit from speculative trading and making risky loans and trades for the sake of a quick buck. If Obama does not stand up to these corporate forces and impose and enforce regulation, he will not only be appeasing Republicans and greedy corporate interests, but he will be setting us up for another economic meltdown.
Did Dubya Have Immigration Reform Right?
It seems the GOP, in its quest to distort the racist realities of Arizona’s immigration reform law, is forgetting about W’s ill-fated attempt at pushing his own immigration reform legislation in 2007.
The Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007, would have provided legal status and an opportunity for citizenship for almost 20 million illegal immigrants living in the United States. Not only would it have provided amnesty, it would have increased border security dramatically by providing 20,000 more border patrol agents among other increased security measures.
I hope no one believes that W vigorously supported this bill because he’s an altruist, quite the opposite. The main reason for his support was to protect the interests of large businesses who depend on the cheap labor of illegal immigrants to maintain their profit margin. This legislation also would have allowed the government to keep tabs on all undocumented workers and collect more taxes from the workers and the businesses employing them.
This attempted legislation was, in every sense of the word: amnesty. If one can remember way back to 2007, the GOP was up in arms over this. W was essentially portrayed as a traitor to the GOP for not continuing to propagate the thinly-veiled racist tactic of scapegoating dark-skinned immigrants, blaming them (when blaming ‘liberals’ got tiresome) for all of the social, moral and economic ills of the nation.
As one can imagine, the Democrats — being the political wimps they always have been — capitulated to the GOP and backed away from supporting this bill even though it was a win for their historical rhetoric of taking on immigration reform by enacting logical and rational legislation that takes into account the reality of the situation rather than right-wing reactionary hyperbole. Of course the bill never even made it far enough to get voted on, thus ending a chance at real and rational immigration reform.
I’m never one to back a Republican in any matter, let alone immigration reform, but this bill supported by W, despite some pro-business aspects, was actually the best thing W ever attempted to do. What is even more interesting to me is the current outcry from the wing-nuts that the protest over Arizona’s Immigration bill by the left is nothing more than a master plan of a future attempt at instituting amnesty for illegals. If they studied their History books — going all the way back to 2007 — they might realize that their leader, a GOP President, tried to push for amnesty.
Of course, it does little good to point out hypocrisy to the wing-nuts as they seem impervious to actual facts and logical reasoning. While the tea-baggers and noise machines are screaming from the mountain tops that Obama and the Dems are fascist socialists who want dirty illegal Hispanics to be given amnesty, leading to a meltdown of American society as we know it; they are a little slow to remember back to 2007 when Bush actually did push for amnesty while Obama and the Dems have not shown one inclination that amnesty is an option.
So much effort is being made by the right to justify Arizona’s new immigration reform law as being necessary to protect our borders and jobs. What they leave out is the fact that the federal government has never tried to stop Arizona from enforcing the federal laws that give them the right to detain and deport illegals. The federal government does not require law enforcement to question and ask for documentation anyone suspected of being here illegally as the Arizona law does because they know that is a constitutional violation that leads to nothing other than racial profiling.
It’s not only the fact that the right has selective memory on this issue and is defending racist and reactionary legislation in Arizona, it’s the fact that they refuse to engage in any real discussion of how we can actually address immigration reform in a realistic manner. Businesses are going to continue to hire illegals and illegals are going to continue to come across the border illegally in order to escape poverty and provide for their family. The W supported bill in 2007 actually did address these issues and would have strengthened our economy with the increased tax revenue that could be collected.
Now, crazy wing-nut legislators in other states — including my state of Pennsylvania — are pushing for new immigration laws similar to those of Arizona’s recent law. I would hope that the Democrats suddenly develop a backbone and stand up to this lunacy, but given their tendency to capitulate to the right on every single issue I find it unlikely that real and rational immigration reform will come about and that racist, unconstitutional laws will go unchallenged. I hate to admit it, but W — as horrible and despicable as his administration was — might have had the solution three years ago.