Exclusively in the new print issue of CounterPunch
THE DECAY OF AMERICAN MEDIA — Patrick L. Smith on the decline and fall of American journalism; Peter Lee on China and its Uyghur problem; Dave Macaray on brain trauma, profits and the NFL; Lee Ballinger on the bloody history of cotton. PLUS: “The Vindication of Love” by JoAnn Wypijewski; “The Age of SurrealPolitick” by Jeffrey St. Clair; “The Radiation Zone” by Kristin Kolb; “Washington’s Enemies List” by Mike Whitney; “The School of Moral Statecraft” by Chris Floyd and “The Surveillance Films of Laura Poitras” by Kim Nicolini.
Clinton III

Continuity We Can Believe In

by MICHAEL DONNELLY

This is part mea culpa, so please indulge my quoting myself. Back on November 5th much of the country celebrated the end of an error and the election of the first non-white president. (We’ll get to “male” and “Christian” later – much later, I suppose. "Ivy League?" Maybe never.) I wrote: “We’ll know soon enough how hard we’ll have to fight bad Obama policy. Even before Inauguration Day, we’ll know. Who Obama picks for his “team” will be all-telling…If President Obama fails to break completely with the narcissistic Baby Boomer politicians; we’ll know. If he keeps Gates at Defense or appoints Powell in his place; we’ll know.”

Well, that sure was quick.

I’m generally of the “we should be gracious and wait to criticize, at least until he’s sworn in” camp. However, with Bush spending his remaining time in office facilitating extinctions for his corporate masters by gutting Endangered Species protections; drawing up self-protective Pardon lists and making that ludicrous non-victory lap to Iraq – where the hero journalist Muntather al-Zaidi joined fed-up Americans in giving him the boot – Barack Obama is de facto, as well as, President-elect.

While the incredible shrinking war criminal plans his escape to his new digs in Houston now that there is no need for the pretend brush-cutting photo-ops on the “ranch,” Obama has his hands full already dealing with the fall-out that attaches to all things Bush; like that cloud of dust surrounding Charlie Brown’s buddy Pigpen. Analyzing how Obama is going about it is fair game.

Change?

Obama has chosen the rabid Zionist, deregulated hedge fund multi-millionaire Rahm Emanuel, a guy who makes even Snakehead Carville look human in comparison, as his Chief of Staff. Obama apparently surrendered foreign policy and the choice of his Senate replacement to him. Obama has begun by ceding the battered economy to the very same folks who drove it off the cliff. Obama has, indeed, left Gates in place while simultaneously backing off his end-the-occupation rhetoric. Obama has disrespected a large chunk of his supporters by choosing the anti-gay Christian Ayatollah Rick Warren to conduct prayers at his Inauguration. Obama has recycled hack Clinton neo-libs across the board.

It’s time to bring out the critiques.

The only question is “where to begin?” As it would require a book-length analysis (I’m sure there’s an entire library of them already in the works) given just how bad the overall Obama team actually is, I’ll begin with the policy area I’m most familiar with first and come back later for the others.

Environment

With even the Pentagon predicting “Climate Wars” and a billion environmental refugees by 2050, a complete break with the disastrous policies of the past would certainly be in order. Yet, Obama’s eco-team may represent the worst of all his recent Ivy League status quo re-treads.

While the spineless, foundation-dependent, career environmentalists have no problems with his awful pro-coal/pro-nuke/pro-logging choices to head up major environmental policy positions on his team, grassroots enviros – another major group that delivered votes for Obama – are livid.

The Napoleonic Director of the Sierra Club, Carl Pope, representative of the rest of the Dem-captive Big Greens, had this whopper to say about Obama’s Napoleonic Interior Secretary: "The Sierra Club is very pleased with the nomination of Ken Salazar to head the Interior Department. As a Westerner and a rancher, he understands the value of our public lands, parks, and wildlife and has been a vocal critic of the Bush Administration’s reckless efforts to sell-off our public lands to Big Oil and other special interests.”

Pope’s take on Agriculture nominee Tom Vilsack is more tepid. But, again, the Genetically Modified (GMO) crops and food-as-fuel advocate gets a pass from the Club; “Governor Vilsack can play an important role in helping to bring about the clean energy economy in a way that benefits both farmers and rural communities and our environment.”

Compare Pope’s imprimatur with Counterpuncher and grassroots Colorado enviro Philip Doe’s take on Salazar. And here’s Counterpuncher Ronnie Cummins’ take on the corporate shill Vilsack for comparison.

Carol Browner has been appointed the new White House Coordinator of Energy and Climate Policy. No matter that carbon-offsets magnate Al Gore’s protege Browner’s record as Clinton EPA head did little more than put progressive rhetoric (lipstick?) on Clinton’s many rollbacks of environmental protections; not to mention, the Clinton/Gore administration’s malign neglect of serious ecological threats whenever seriously addressing said threats also endangered corporate profits. Apparently, Obama has also determined the latter threat to be paramount.

Nobel winning physicist Dr. Steven Chu as Energy Secretary means simply that Nuclear Power and “clean” coal will be hailed as the solution to Climate Change; something Obama, himself, said time and again during the campaign.

The woeful picks wrap up with Browner’s former employees Lisa Jackson, who failed miserably as head of New Jersey’s Environmental Protection Agency, to head the national EPA and eco-neophyte Nancy Sutley to be the chair of the White House Council on Environment Quality. (Guess we should be thankful that Gore ghostwriter and Clinton’s Ancient Forest liquidation apologist Katie McGinty wasn’t picked to reprise that last role.)

Clinton III

For many the election was defined as a choice between “change” and a third Bush term. As when Curly Howard would point away and shout “look at the bird” distracting Moe while Larry absconded with the goods, citizen stooges failed to notice or wishfully "hoped" otherwise (mea culpa) – the real alternative to Bush III was always Clinton III.

Across the board; from Hillary Clinton, herself, as Secretary of State, we see little evidence of “change” and beyond shadow of a doubt evidence that we’ve begun the third Clinton term. From the very same Clinton (and Bush and Reagan/Bush) deregulators who now head economic policy to the Israel-first “obliterate Iran” hawks on foreign policy to the “we can amp-up our resource extraction economy and still have a healthy environment” deluders to an intolerant cleric leading prayers…the die is cast.

Tellingly, Obama left the Labor Secretary position as the last major position to be nominated – an affront to another one of his major supporting constituencies. How could he possibly put in play an economic task force first, as he did, yet, leave out Labor?

As Dr. Chu noted, "What the world does in the coming decade will have enormous consequences that will last for centuries. It’s imperative that we begin without further delay."

I know it’s imperative for me to delay no further, despite my sense of a grace period, in pointing out how “change” appears to simply mean a new face at the top. The factotums of other wing of the Imperial corporate party clearly remain the same.

MICHAEL DONNELLY will write more extensively on the Clinton III Foreign Policy and Economic teams later. He can be reached at pahtoo@aol.com