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Thursday, Jul 30, 2009, 9:43 am

Nothing Personal, Mr. President

By Pete Karman
I didn’t vote for Barack Obama--but it was nothing personal. I’m a Green and a lefty and always vote for candidates whose politics are closest to mine. That way I don’t get confused.

I knew Obama was a business as usual Dem with a gold card from Goldman Sachs. But he was smart, personable and a fresh breeze. I hoped he might just try to repair our real economy rather than reinflate its collapsed bubbles. He disappointed me in that regard--but still it wasn’t personal.

He super-sized our war on the medieval Pushtuns of Afghanistan and commenced a new one in Pakistan. He’s currently spreading that fight from the Northwest Frontier down to Baluchistan to provoke the adjacent Persians, whom he apparently wants a piece of (the piece with the oil in it). In other words, he’s become Queen Victoria II, rumbling his elephantine echelons down exactly the same imperial ruts that led Kipling to pen:
At the end of the fight is the tombstone white
with the name of the late deceased,
and the epitaph drear,
a fool lies here who tried to hustle the east.

Still, his targets are religionists with their heads stuck in the 8th century. So I don’t take it personally.

At home, he’s pitching every marketer’s wet dream: mandatory consumption. He wants to force us to buy intangible products called health insurance peddled by the same financial hustlers who, if you recall, took themselves and this country broke just a few months back. Still, no skin off my nose since I’m already on Medicare and have backup coverage from an elite institution that provides the equivalent of socialized medicine to its own people.

Then he started going macho south of the border. He’s on board with the reconstitution of a World War II era naval fleet to patrol Latin America. (Imagine if--or should it be when?--the Chinese send warships to maintain the peace up and down our east and west coasts!). Obama’s beefing up our bases in Columbia, a country where rightwingers regularly win elections mainly because leftwingers regularly catch bullets behind the ear--if they’re lucky.

Then a month back he and Hillary gave the go-ahead for the fascist coup in little Honduras. The local death squads we created back in the days of our Nicaraguan and Salvadoran sallies swung into action, killing, torturing, disappearing and jailing people with the same politics as mine. What put them in the cross hairs and testicle pliers was supporting the legitimately elected president. Apart from smashing the weakest link in the continent-wide drive for real democracy and independence, the coup was a warning to the Chavistas and all the other progressives in Latin America that Uncle Sam would be coming for them with blood in his eye. Not only had Queen Victoria recrudesced in the person of Obama, but so had her contemporary, Teddy Roosevelt.

Jamming folks whose ideas and ideals I share! I have no choice but to take that personally. I know that, living in a land where the foreign policy consensus is “kick their ass and take their gas," few will join in my personal pique at the cruelties Obama is visiting upon a democratic people in a tiny country. We haven’t had an anti-imperialist movement since the Philippine Insurrection, and our small generic peace movement seems to be peacefully dozing.

But I hope more and more of us are taking those other issues above personally. Certainly, they’ll have conniptions when they finally experience Obama’s health fraud (assuming it gets enacted). Our new president will discover that, like lots of other things in our crazy culture, his popularity is a mile wide and an inch deep.

This post originally appeared at The Karman Turn.

Pete Karman began working in journalism in 1957 at the awful New York Daily Mirror, where he wrote the first review of Bob Dylan for a New York paper. He lost that job after illegally traveling to Cuba (the rag failed shortly after he got the boot). Karman has reported and edited for various trade and trade union blats and worked as a copywriter. He was happy being a flack for Air France, but not as happy as being an on-and-off In These Times editor and contributor since 1977.

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