The Obama Forecast

And a Bush Rewind

The left far too often dwells on gloom and doom. We postulate about the failures of past movements, the crashing of the economy, the bloodshed in the Middle East, and the wholesale destruction of the environment. Not to say all this is not occurring. It most certainly is, and much of the anger has landed on the doorstep of George W. Bush. Sadly, many believe Barack Obama is about to reverse Bush’s crash course.

It is clear that Obama has amassed a foreign policy team that is pro-war, an economic team that is pro-business (see the latest CounterPunch print issue for Cockburn and St. Clair’s ravaging assessment) and an environmental team that will combat climate change with “clean coal” and nuclear energy.

No progressive would defend the Bush doings. He lacks any redeeming qualities. Yet, how bad has Bush really been over the past eight years? Has he done a worse job than Bill Clinton did? Let’s give it a quick whirl.

Let’s start with the environment. Bush has ignored science, weakened regulation and made a joke out of the EPA. In a nutshell, he’s been awful. Even so, the Bush forest plan was actually re-written with the help of two Democratic senators, Ron Wyden of Oregon and Dianne Feinstein of California. As veteran forest activist Michael Donnelly wrote in 2003, “Perhaps the greatest irony is that the forests have fared far better under Bush than they did under his Democrat predecessor. Under Clinton’s [Salvage Rider] plan, some 1.1 billion board feet of Ancient Forest stumps were authorized annually. Much to industry’s chagrin, under Bush, around 200 million per year has been cut. Already, that means that 2.7 billion board feet LESS has been cut under Bush than would have been under a Gore administration with the Big Greens usual silence regarding Democrat stump-creation.”

Yes, you read that correctly. Clinton’s plan was actually worse for our national forests.

The economy, many believe, was in better shape under Clinton than Bush because of Clintontime policies. On Bush’s watch the economy has tumbled, sending shock waves throughout the markets. Of course, many of these job losses were leftovers from the neo-liberal Clinton years. Under the Democratic president, as economist Robert Pollin has pointed out in his book Contours of Descent, “The distribution of wealth in the U.S. became more skewed than it had at any time in the previous forty years. No question, an increasing number of U.S. jobs began to be outsourced at an unprecedented rate as well.”

Wage gains for average workers during the Clinton boom remained historically weak, especially in relationship to the ascent of productivity, Pollin argues. “This ‘heightened sense of job insecurity,'” he continues, “lies at the very foundation of the Clinton administration’s economic legacy.”

Things were not any better abroad. Under Clinton, the World Trade Organization (WTO) enhanced its strength, piquing the anger of thousands of protesters who took to the streets of Seattle in 1999 to demonstrate against the WTO’s power.

Clinton also bolstered the influence of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in the developing world, and passed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with few qualms from the liberal establishment. It’s no coincidence that neo-liberalism is now dictating the free-market economy despite the claims of some who argue that ideology is on its way out the door.

“Had [the original promises] come true, NAFTA would have been an enormous boom, and we would all be cracking champagne,” says Lori Wallach, director of the consumer rights group Public Citizen. “But instead we have got the 10-year record, and it’s pretty damn grim. NAFTA’s 10-year record,” Wallach adds, “demonstrates that under the NAFTA model, most people in the three countries were losers, while only a few of the largest corporations who helped write NAFTA were the major winners.”

For those still caught up in a love affair with Clintontime Democrats, beware: It was under Bush — not Clinton — that the U.S. briefly challenged the WTO’s legitimacy over steel imports. Bush eventually lifted the tariffs, but he held out much longer than expected. While it is conceivable that Obama would have done the same, the president-elect is no doubt an ardent free-trader, particularly when compared to Bush, who, unlike the New Democrats, was somewhat hesitant to embrace such dogma.
This reality stands in stark contrast to the boisterous cheers we hear whenever Democrats defend Clinton’s economy.

And what about welfare reform — or as the Democrats called it, “The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act”? Could you have imagined Bush getting away with signing a piece of legislation into law as horrid as the bill passed under Clinton? In fact under Bush, Democrats halted the reauthorization of welfare reform on several different occasions. Where was this defense under Clinton? Don’t think so many would have watched silently had it been Bush who signed it into law in 1996. “It is the end of welfare as we know it,” Clinton declared.

How right he was.

“[M]ajor research studies now report that welfare reform harms families. Young children are going hungry, rushing to emergency rooms, being hospitalized and being abandoned at higher rates,” welfare expert Sanford F. Schram wrote in 2002. “A personal responsibility act that simply pushed single mothers into low-wage jobs without making any provision for the care of their children was a contradiction in terms – it was irresponsible. It was immoral. It still is, and now the evidence proves it.”

Iraq? That was the last straw for most, who simply did not want to believe that a Gore administration could have attacked Iraq under false pretenses. Never mind the fact that the Democrats authorized bombings throughout Clinton’s tenure and passed the Iraq Liberation Act in 1998 (supported by Al Gore and Joe Lieberman), giving the U.S. the right to whack the country for the slightest provocation-or no reason at all. And forget about those UN sanctions that killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people. It is also worth mentioning that the Democrats overwhelmingly supported Bush’s invasions of both Afghanistan and Iraq, with Obama planning to ship off more troops to the Taliban controlled land.

How about the Patriot Act? This of course, was a bipartisan nightmare based on the assumption that curtailing our civil liberties would make us safe from terror. Given that Clinton had a version of his own following the Oklahoma City bombing called the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, there is little reason to believe the Democrats would not have moved forward with a more egregious version following 9-11, with their mass support for John Ashcroft’s version, as our conspicuous souvenir.

For those that looked with an open mind, it was difficult to discern any tangible difference between Bush and the Democrats, who supported his most damanging policies.

Affordable health care? Both parties deride real universal health-care as outlandish radicalism, even though Richard Nixon was the last to propose it. Surely there must be some distinction, you say? Certainly not the war, empire, tax breaks for the working class, or trade. In fact, if the Clinton years are anything, they are a testament to how the left reacts to Democratic administrations. They get by with whatever and however.

Obama supporters take heed.

Invading Syria or Iran? Might happen given Obama’s rhetoric, as he has entertained the possibility of “surgical strikes” on Iran.

The antiwar movement is on life-support; even the radical reincarnation of the Vietnam era’s Winter Soldier hearings weren’t enough to awaken the corporate press from its slumber. Obama will be inheriting an economy that is caught in a downward spiral. Hundreds of thousands have perished as a result of the US wars in the Middle East. Thousands of species on Earth face extinction as our polar ice caps melt and the climate warms beyond repair.

These are dire times indeed.

Desperation is no way to invigorate the soul, whether it’s your own or that of a movement. In fact while the last eight years of George W. Bush may have seemed like an eternity of sorrow and misery, there may be a silver-lining to all that’s transpired.

No other president in modern history has done more to expose the dark side of US imperialism than Bush. The international community is not behind the Iraq war and doesn’t trust our half-baked intelligence toward Iran, making it even more difficult for us to get away with bombing the country in the future. US power, while not fully-deflated, is fast leaking hot air.

Old alliances are becoming obsolete. NATO has weakened and the US go-it-alone strategy has damaged the trend of US isolation in foreign hostilities. The US is unequivocally deemed a global menace. We have become, against Washington’s better wishes, a more humble nation.
It’s a sure sign US dominance is on the skids.

So too is our economic prowess, as witnessed by the subprime mortgage collapse and decline of the dollar. The US banking system is in flux due in large part to the dismantling of Glass-Steagall under the reign Bill Clinton’s economic henchman, Robert Rubin, who is now reemerging as an Obama advisor. Sure Bush’s Fed has overstepped its boundaries and attempted to “bailout” the credit sector, but hasn’t this whole debacle also exposed the fallacies of neoliberal ethos?

These events sure seem to me to be something the left ought to be encouraged by. It wasn’t even ten years ago that we took to the streets of Seattle to rally in opposition to the WTO and Clinton’s free-trade pathology. Now even his wife is attempting to distance herself from the failures of NAFTA. Not that she’s sincere, but at least the language is beginning to change.

Many are also yapping away about the fate of the environment. Even McCain believes humans are impacting the global climate. While much of this is unadulterated green-washing, the tide is shifting. People are beginning to care about the planet they will are leaving future generations. Awareness is growing despite the campaign against it.

The reaches of Empire are being destroyed quicker than you may realize, so let’s continue our fights and not let Barack Obama and the Democrats repair this one fine aspect of the Bush legacy.

Joshua Frank is co-editor of Dissident Voice and author of Left Out! How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush (Common Courage Press, 2005), and along with Jeffrey St. Clair, the editor of Red State Rebels: Tales of Grassroots Resistance in the Heartland, published by AK Press in June 2008. Check out the Red State Rebels site. Read other articles by Joshua.

31 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. joed said on January 16th, 2009 at 1:53pm #

    well god damn, we ain’t so bad off after all. thanks for the emlightenment (and the facts) mr. frank. everyone can sleep better after readin’ your article.

  2. Ramsefall said on January 16th, 2009 at 2:14pm #

    Yeah, let’s compare the lesser of two evils and tally up the victor.

    Had the 93′ WTC bombing accounted for more deaths, legislation under Clinton would have passed sooner. Oklahoma was the smoking gun that set the precedence for 911 legislation that has done so much to keep the public safer. How about pouring billions of dollars into a war on terror that by a long shot proportionately affects many less Amerikans than say diabetes or heart disease. Neither Clinton nor Bush’s leadership can be praised, and there really are no fine aspects to discuss in any rational discourse.

    What is the fight being put up by the left? Engaging in argumentative discussions? Obama will get away with as much as the public lets him, just like his predecessor. Now that Executive power is nearly absolute, Obama’s injustices will be a greater uphill battle to combat.

    Let the cloud dwellers who support Obama believe what they will, right along with Amerika being the greatest nation on Earth!

    Not everyone on the left focuses on doom and gloom, that’s an over generalization no different than was pointed out against Kim’s article this past week about the Jews. There are some of us who propose solutions or highlight positive shifts, but for some reason those pieces aren’t being posted here on DV. Objectivity at its finest.

    The reaches of Empire are being destroyed. However, it isn’t by the left’s supposed fight, but by rejection from people abroad who are electing leaders that uphold their demands.

    And who cares what the f**k McCain believes. He’s still running around in circles trying to locate his dog. Christ!

    Best to all.

  3. bozh said on January 16th, 2009 at 2:24pm #

    have people not noticed there is only one US; one senate; one congress;one cia; one party; one fbia, etc., all full of opinions/disagreements on interpersonal level.
    but the USA, one and the only that never changes nor wavers, has a plan for everything.

    in other words, politicians are allowed by uncle sam to argue, accuse, blame; mostly for personal reasons or are nursing an insult/putdown by other pols.
    they like the rest of also argue a lot about tactics but avoid in toto even to mention the end goal save fake ones.

    but when it comes to ca. 180 wars US had waged thus far (and with many more to come) and controling alien population by bombs or invasions/occupations there always had been near unanimity about them.

    yet, in fact, there are two USAs or USAns: the stratified ruling class and the working class or the class that is nearly utterly excluded from governance of the US. thnx

  4. DavidG. said on January 16th, 2009 at 2:58pm #

    Pro-war and pro-business? Yes!

    More of the same is what we’ll get until America, and its sidekick, Israel, is toppled or goes bankrupt.

    Did you see the photo of Tzipi and Condo embracing? I vomited! Talk about hubris.

    I despair for the world.

  5. Tree said on January 16th, 2009 at 3:55pm #

    Good piece.
    I was never a fan of that sleaze Clinton but I’m puzzled that you wrote this: “Affordable health care? Both parties deride real universal health-care as outlandish radicalism, even though Richard Nixon was the last to propose it.”
    Both parties may deride it but it was Hillary Clinton who came out with a plan to overhaul health care.

  6. Deadbeat said on January 16th, 2009 at 7:30pm #

    Tree writes…

    Both parties may deride it but it was Hillary Clinton who came out with a plan to overhaul health care.

    Tree may be unfamiliar with the Hillary Clinton’s of the early 1990’s. Her plan was to create an insurance company cartel of the 4 or 5 major insurers: Aetna, Signa, Travelers, etc (I cannot remember the other large companies).

    Anyway the “overhaul” was essentially meant that the government was guaranteeing these cartels a captive market for lower rates — initially. Which meant that if the Clinton Plan passes these insurers would have had a government sponsored monopoly.

    The Clinton plan was doomed to fail politically. The left hated the plan because obviously it was not single payer. The right hated the plan because small insurers would not have been able to compete against the Clinton insurance cartel.

    Since the plan was politically DOA it served its role to kill any health care reform and maintained the status quo for the past 15 years. Which was the real intended purpose of the Clinton health care plan.

    I’m sorry that Tree missed how Hillary Clinton cynically played the citizens of the United States on the health care issue.

  7. Tree said on January 16th, 2009 at 7:51pm #

    I didn’t miss anything. Then again, I don’t entirely agree with your assesment.
    I just thought it was a bit strange Joshua Frank didn’t mention that the plan existed.

  8. Max Shields said on January 16th, 2009 at 8:02pm #

    It’s difficult to know when the insurance lobbiest are in control and when the gov’t is driving. That’s because their one and the same and the little back and forth usually ends up, in the case of health care (as well as other areas of human concern), working for the Insurance companies. Believe me the Insurance companies were all over the Clinton plan. This little game is not about confrontation, but about ensuring the end result is to the benefit of the insurance companies.

    I don’t think Hillary went into it with the idea of cutting a deal with the insurance company. She was just inept and so the powers easily took it out of her hands.

    Now she’s learned and will play nice from the get go. These people (politicians, POTUS) are shaped by the power and the system which allows them to be king and queen for a day. As they figure out who’s the real boss they comply. It’s not brute force, but it can be brutal as it get played out in the corporate press. Even with George W., he was told time and again by the press that his focus must stay on winning in Iraq. He got the message. Even when Katrina hit, he thought, that’s not my job, winning in Iraq is my job.

  9. tony smith said on January 16th, 2009 at 10:06pm #

    Oh, Deadbeat please. I am more cynical than most, but that’s just a twighlight zone analysis that Clinton intended to kill healthcare for 15 years. Is that why she went undercover after that to avoid being a political liability? Is that why she reemerged and helped lobby for SCHIP? Is that why she worked at CDF in her early career? I am not Clintonian, but the anti-Clinton conspiracy theories are as outlandish as the Kool-Aid intoxicated dreamy rhetoric about the sweetness of Obama. No one was even pushing for healtcare reform at the time. If the Clinton’s didn’t really want it, they had an easy option: SAY NOTHING.

  10. Jeremy Wells said on January 16th, 2009 at 11:26pm #

    From the WSWS a socialist perspective:

    From Bush to Obama: On the eve of a “seamless transition”
    By Patrick Martin
    17 January 2009

    (full article here:)

    “Three days before the inauguration of the 44th president of the United States, the distinctions have largely been effaced between the outgoing and incoming administrations.”

    “… While millions voted for the Democratic candidate in a repudiation of the Bush administration’s program of war, repression and favors to the wealthy, the actions of Obama demonstrate the fundamental unity of the two big business parties, which are both instruments of the same corporate ruling elite.”

    “Obama and his top aides have repeatedly declared their intention of engineering a “seamless transition” and praised the outgoing Bush administration for its cooperation. These are not merely polite rituals, but rather demonstrate that what is taking place this month in Washington is a change in party and (to some extent) personnel, but not of fundamental policy. The Obama administration, like that of Bush, will defend the interests of the corporate elite against the working people, and of American imperialism against the world.”

  11. Deadbeat said on January 16th, 2009 at 11:29pm #

    On tony smith, PLUEEZE!!!!!!!!!!

    Now that we got that of our respective system perhaps you can provide more of an analysis. Hillary Clinton worked for CDF for only ONE year. Big deal. She served WalMart for more time than she served children.

    The SCHIP bill is a f**king joke. Yeah that right “healthy” children and sickly adults. How f**king inhumane his that!!!

    The Clinton plan was EXPLICITLY designed to FAIL and it SUCCESSFULLY FAILED and took the health care issue off the table for 15 years. However as documented by Michael Moore’s movie Sicko Hillary Clinton has been the largest recipient of the money from the insurance industry.

    Apparently tony if anyone is sipping “kool-aid” in the twilight zone it’s you.

  12. Magarulian said on January 17th, 2009 at 12:43am #

    We really can’t talk about the Clinton/Gore years without mentioning the 1996 Telecommunications Act. Notice the lopsided votes in both the House & the Senate, and Bill Clinton’s remarks:

    The Telecommunications Act sailed through Congress in February, 1996. The votes went 91-5 in the Senate and 414-16 in the House. Highlights include:

    * Eliminates the FCC rule barring a single company from owning more than 12 television stations.
    * Lifts the limit of a broadcaster’s national TV station audience reach from 25 percent to 35 percent.
    * Ends the FCC partial ban on broadcast networks owning cable systems.
    * Extends TV and radio station license terms to eight years.
    * Repeals the law against common ownership of cable system and TV station in a market.
    * Eases one-to-a-market rule to allow ownership of TV and radio combos in the same locale, but only in the top 50 markets.


    “I thank the Vice President (Al Gore), who fought for this bill for so long on behalf of the American people. And I thank the members of Congress in both parties, starting with the leadership, who believed in the promise and the possibility of telecommunications reform. …

    This historic legislation in my way of thinking really embodies what we ought to be about as a country and what we ought to be about in this city. It clearly enables the age of possibility in America to expand to include more Americans. It will create many, many high-wage jobs. It will provide for more information and more entertainment to virtually every American home. It embodies our best values by supporting the kind of market reforms that the Vice President mentioned, as well as the V-chip. And it brings us together, and it was passed by people coming together.

    This bill is an indication of what can be done when Republicans and Democrats work together in a spirit of genuine cooperation to advance the public interest and bring us to a brighter future.”

  13. misfit said on January 17th, 2009 at 2:09am #

    Hey you need to proof your work a little better before you start bashing the [D] party or it’s previous or current legislators and constitutional officers.

    Now, the thing that kept running through my head while reading each segment is every time you posit with Clinton’s X or Y, the Congress seems to rear it’s ugly head.

    This is my 1st read, so that is really just off the cuff.

    Now, I did however have to call a time out with this next segment [Terrorism]:

    “How about the Patriot Act? This of course, was a bipartisan nightmare based on the assumption that curtailing our civil liberties would make us safe from terror. Given that Clinton had a version of his own following the Oklahoma City bombing called the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, there is little reason to believe the Democrats would not have moved forward with a more egregious version following 9-11, with their mass support for John Ashcroft’s version…”

    Ok, 1st of all, let’s just leave Oklahoma City out of the equation, but let’s also I have just linked myself to a basic overview [what appears to be…] of this act. I will do my duty in reading and understanding this act. At this time, I am not qualified to parse the argument that there was precedent for the Patriot Act.

    However, there is a HUGE logical fallacy in the last statement, or you didn’t really “proof” that last sentence [i.e it could have edited for clarity]:

    “there is little reason to believe the Democrats would not have moved forward with a more egregious version following 9-11, with their mass support for John Ashcroft’s version…”

    A- [This is a rhetorical attention to “focus” your attention to the obvious fallacy]

    Why would John Ashcroft have been Attorney General?

    B- [And the last part is a veritable dead point, it is non sensical]

    “…with their mass support for John Ashcroft’s version, as our conspicuous souvenir.”

    Just kinda doesn’t really make sense and with my 1st point how you appear to be blaming Bill Clinton for a lot of shit that basically can be attributed to the Legislative Branch.

    If I care to discuss this anymore, I’d just publish a counter essay [after arduous preparation…] that would be more of a “reverse” analysis of your analysis.

    Lastly, you’re fucking clueless.

    You have no idea, but I will give you a hint, stop dismissing Alternative Theories.

    And lastly, you’re beginning to sound like a windbag on Israel / Gaza.

    I am also extrapolating that you are Western, specifically a US Citizen, and if so, A the lack of clarity [and likely accuracy] in this essay you have published, is even more bothersome.

    At this point, I can only guess or click your “about”, hmm let me see here on a quick glance at your page…

    Ok, indeed you hail from Long Beach.

    Well, I’m a little disappointed but brother [that is meant with respect, for I can appreciate a lot of the published works on this site], I do not mean ill will.


    Can you honestly look at anyone with a straight face and say that The Executive Office of the President underneath George W. Bush has not been the most, horrendous, destructively brutal, quixotic, capricious, jingoistic, venal, deleterious…

    I mean fuck dude, is there something in the FISH tacos down there that allows this kinda of torpidity to foster?

    See dude, my point is, I actually COULD go on but it’s late…sheesh!

    Next time do your homework and consider this, if it’s not a 5000 words [each essay, X [EOoP] vs. Y [EOoP] and thoroughly researched it might as well be “trivia”.

    Get out your nails and your hammer!

  14. misfit said on January 17th, 2009 at 2:10am #

    Sorry about the typos and formatting issues, like I said it’s late.

    I hope you take criticisms for what they are, justly presented on in your “comments” section.

  15. Ramsefall said on January 17th, 2009 at 6:06am #

    Nor can we really talk about politics in general, especially the US variety, without fessing up to the fact that more than 95% of those corporate servant pricks on Capitol Hill are completely full of sheot.

    They always, except Paul, Kucinich and a few others, talk a great talk, but then fail to walk the corresponding walk.

    An ounce of faith in this system’s top players is a sign of delusion.

    Best to all.

  16. Max Shields said on January 17th, 2009 at 6:13am #

    There is no doubt, Reagan set the table for Clinton; who then moved the ball forward for George W. Bush. Anyone who thinks George W.’s policies are an anomoly hasn’t been paying attention.

  17. Michael said on January 17th, 2009 at 10:55am #

    The emergence of Obama is nothing more than the attempt of capital to administer the death blow to what’s left of public sector leadership. The next attacks will be on the remnants of the social wage, or those areas of the public sector which have long been off limits to the private sector, such as public education and Social Security. The President-Elect has begun to outline the features of his so-called stimulus plan, the prime characteristic of which is (surprise, surprise) cutbacks in what are called “social entitlement” programs such as Medicare and Social Security. Ah, the foibles of those who believe they are “entitled.” You understand? The economic problems of this country are caused by that seven hundred dollars a month the disabled collect from Social Security and the few hundred many people get from the “entitlement” programs of Medicare. We may surmise that this would include food stamps. God forbid the working poor have any sort of nutrition that extends beyond Kraft macaroni and cheese, Kool-aid, Jell-o and Jiffy corn bread.

  18. anthony innes said on January 17th, 2009 at 8:49pm #

    you do not have to bash dems they are traitors to the Constititution and concept of rule of Law ; one word says it all …………..Pelosi.

  19. rosemarie jackowski said on January 18th, 2009 at 10:49am #

    Excellent article and some good comments – Has anyone mentioned the fact that more Iraqi children were killed during the Clinton administration than under both Bush’s. Hillary has never exhibited any remorse and has fully supported the Clinton Administration’s policy.

    It is a bit surprising that anyone still thinks that Hillary is not under the control of the insurance companies.

  20. Max Shields said on January 18th, 2009 at 11:41am #

    The Dems/Clinton still think they can make “war” using “soft power” which is simply another way of saying, keep it as out of sight as possible, make it acceptable.

    The media is on board with this see no evil hear no evil approach. There is no change of policy with Obama, just a little style change. I remember when Robert McNamara was considered the smartest guy in the room in the Kennedy and later Johnson administrations. He pushed for continued escalation into Iraq – a regular Harvard phi beta capa kinda warmonger. Half million US casualties and 3 million Southeast Asians dead and countless others wounded for life was the sum total of this “smart” joker.

    What we have with Obama is the appearance of smart warring and a continuation of the American Empire Enterprise. He’s got the complete staff for it. Not ONE represesents an out of the box thought regarding US imperial power. NOT ONE – including the guy at the head of the table.

    We’re going from neocon to con(artist).

  21. Hue Longer said on January 18th, 2009 at 3:56pm #

    There are many Democrats who have never heard of their guys being attacked from the left on real issues. It seems like simple math to figure out why a Republican or the media wouldn’t bring up Timor and Iraqi seige, but they get so angry when someone does because they thought they were the good guys.

    McCain would have been better for the country because the people worshiping dems would be in the streets for things they’ll not even notice now.

  22. Max Shields said on January 18th, 2009 at 5:31pm #

    Hue point well taken.

    The problem an Obama/Dem presidency presents is that it quiets the level of dissension needed to get beyond the mass media’s strangle hold on what get’s heard.

    In the larger scheme, we are in a simple postponement of the inevitable. Once we are collectively faced with this “isn’t Franklin D. Roosevelt”, nor is where we are now the 1930’s version of a Great Depression it will be too late.

    If you notice all the attempts to cloak Obama in the past – Lincoln, FDR, JFK, etc. (None of these former presidents used a previous one to create marketed image. And the image is a glamorization of the past…pure fiction.)

    The past will not help us. During the 1920s/30s the available cheap energy was at an all time high (cheaper to buy oil than water). Our demand on natural resources has never, ever been as great as it is today. In fact, it’s fair to say today we demand more of the planet than all the time previously in total.

    This “cheap” fossil has allowed the human population to explode from1.7 billion to over 6 billion in just over the last century. And the system in place to sustain it is breaking. All provided by cheap fossil.

    Politics, when it works at all, will be the greatest detriment to real change because of the pressure to stay on the trajectory set by nearly a century of mindless, endless economic growth. It will take famines, wars, and disease to reduce the population to where the species can survive.

    But on the small scale of Obama/Dems it will simply be more of the same Reagan/Bush/Clinton/Bush/Obama.

  23. Don Hawkins said on January 18th, 2009 at 5:52pm #

    Max it could be solved but will require gut’s, reason, imagination, knowledge and heart. You gota have heart.

  24. Ramsefall said on January 18th, 2009 at 6:18pm #


    you make an outstanding point about McCain, spot on except for one thing; would the dems really have the motivation to be in the street? A straightforward doubt about that on this end. I wonder whether they will once he shows his true colors — not black and white, but blue and white for his Isreaeli owners. Just a thought.



    I have grown accustomed to your clever observations through history, thank-you.

    The essence of what this Tuesday’s transition really represents is nothing other than a change in style, a la mode Obama…at least he can speak the language, policy will maintain it’s longstanding course. Won’t be long and his supporters with hopefully take notice of this, but maybe not.

    Best to all.

  25. Max Shields said on January 18th, 2009 at 7:35pm #

    Just one correction: McNamara pushed to escalate in Vietnam not Iraq (one is a replay of the other).

    Don it’s not insoluable. It’s just not ever going to be the same. If you take the difference between the most pessimistic and optimistic outlooks, the human population will need to reduce in numbers to about where it was at the beginning of the 20th century. Fossil has provided that kind of net energy – there is a direct correlation between the human population growth and fossil.

    Today, it’s rather humorous when the politicians talk about “shovel ready” physical labor. Who are they talking to? Hardly anyone does physical labor anymore. (Some construction and builders but that’s not the millions of jobs needed.)

    But the real irony is that human energy will be needed as there is less and less fossil to engine EVERYTHING. Oil slaves will be replaced by human energy. Our fossil food system will need to be re-invented.

    But, Don, it can be done. Will we invest while there is some fossil to pour into renewable? No, not to the levels needed for the industrialized world made possible by fossil. There is no alternative that can readily replace fossil. Industrialization is fossil, a unique and at one time plentiful energy source. Combining all that we know, nuclear, wind, hydrogen, solar, perpetual machines (energy alchemy), etc. etc. cannot support this industrial world we built and all it’s infinite complications.

    Human species is a colonizer of energy resources. (In one form or another it is the basis of all our wars…NO EXCEPTIONS, not ideology which is just a phony pretext for the masses.)

    Ramesfall, best to you.

  26. Hue Longer said on January 18th, 2009 at 8:19pm #

    Hello Everyone,

    A side note on where this conversation has headed is that the world has already ended abruptly for millions of people. When some fret about the coming doom, I have to think that at least some fairness is coming

  27. lichen said on January 18th, 2009 at 8:54pm #

    Yes, wind, geothermal, solar, and tidal power is most definitely enough to power the world we have now. And furthermore, they are neccessary either way, no matter what happens; fossil fuels are poison in any amount, powering a world with any amount of people.

  28. Suthiano said on January 18th, 2009 at 9:22pm #

    I agree with Hue, the doom for the west was written by what is true. Such a horrific imbalance cannot exist for much longer (months? years?).

    We may have the “hypothetical” alternative energies to power our empire, but we lack the WILL to change as both a mass of people and as politicians. Plus, as Max would certainly agree, besides the energy needs, are financial needs. Certain people WILL not (in contrast to the general populace) to loose their status/power.

    It is like all else in capitalism. Most entrepreneurs (capitalists-in-becoming) try to fulfill a want/(sometimes)need. In this case energy is a “need” (increased by wants). But entrepreneurs are constrained by existing energy capitalists who WILL not loose their share.

    change can;t happen fast enough.

    As Max said earlier, cataclysmic events must occur. Karma of sorts, or at least balance. Who can deny that the rich man weeps when he’s alone.

  29. Don Hawkins said on January 19th, 2009 at 8:04am #

    We will know more in just a few months.

  30. The Angry Peasant said on January 19th, 2009 at 2:48pm #

    Spain, Norway, Iceland, and others are starting to get the clue and power entire cities with pollutionless resources. In Rejkavich, they’re using Iceland’s geothermal energy to power basically the whole city. It can be done. Maybe humans need to learn to get along with some unnecessary luxuries, too. Like Americans and their spoiled asses, for example. The U.S. soaks up half the world’s energy! Are we seriously having the nerve to say we can’t change? We just have to keep drilling for that oil and burning it up? No. What we need to do is, stop this four- cars-a-boat-and-a-dirtbike-for-our-family mentality and live a bit more humbly. That riding lawnmower won’t be needed when the lawn is scorched dead because it’s 108 degrees out for the fifth week in a row. It isn’t just “living” and “producing” that we need all this fossil fuel for. We need to admit to ourselves that a hell of a lot of it is toys, toys, toys. As George Carlin said, “Doesn’t anyone just take a fucking walk anymore?”

  31. Ramsefall said on January 20th, 2009 at 4:09am #



    Best to you.