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Obama will have a mandate only if he meets expectations

By       Message P. A. Triot     Permalink

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I've written many opinion pieces about the unsuitability of John McCain and Sarah Palin to be president and vice president, respectively.

I never tried to appear impartial and I have supported Barack Obama nearly since he tossed his hat in the ring for the Democratic nomination.

All this time, I never defended him from political attacks from either Hillary Clinton's crowd, the Republican echo machine or from McCain campaign hyperbole.

Obama is a big boy and should be able to hold his own in such skirmishes. Indeed, he seems to have done so without any coaching from me (as if I really had a say in any aspect of his candidacy––I have not even met Obama, nor have I attended any rallies, photo-ops, etc.).

Now, it looks as if Obama is more than likely going to be elected president. I'm confident of that, but not complacent. Barring election fraud of criminal scale or some other catastrophe, Obama will take the reins of the U. S. government on Jan. 20, 2009.

All this being said, I do have serious expectations from Obama's administration and the Democratic members of both houses of Congress. And if a goodly number of my expectations are not met, I'll be cheering on the rioters.

Iraq

I have a strong military background. My father served in World War II and actually died at age 56 from complications of injuries he sustained. I myself served as a counterintelligence special agent in Europe during the Cold War.

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However, I was opposed to this country invading Iraq long before the invasion actually took place. I wrote about what a disaster it would be and have been against any and all war-related spending measures since.

On the afternoon of Jan. 20, 2009, I expect Obama to put into effect a policy to extract our troops, with the lion's share of American equipment, from Iraq within six months (or some reasonable time that's less than a year).

I don't accept an answer that it can't be done. It took our military only about three months to plan and begin executing the invasion in 2002. We ought to be able to get 'em out in six.

Healthcare

 It has been the consensus of the body politic in this country that healthcare is a right of being a citizen. After all, we arguably live in the wealthiest country in the world; one would think our citizens would receive at least some of the benefits of living here.

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Instead, as a nation we struggle to match Cuba in the area of preventative healthcare. We are far behind most industrialized nations such as all of western Europe, Canada and Japan.

Citizens of this country deserve and expect a good healthcare system at a reasonable price––whether it be a private system, similar to that in Japan, or a government-run system. Nowadays, this country is not even in the running for a good healthcare system. Instead of having a managed-care system, we have a a managed-profit system.

Employers hate the system, the people hate the system, doctors and nurses hate the system. But insurance companies are doing very well by the system.

We have at least one model for an excellent healthcare system: the Department of Veterans Affairs is the largest single provider of  healthcare in America. The VA treats the oldest, sickest population in the country at a time when that population requires the most medical care and does it at 40 percent less per capita than the next private plan available (Kaiser Permanente). And customer satisfaction is at an all-time high.

I expect the president on the evening of Jan. 20, 2009, to call together the leaders of both houses of Congress to insist that the healthcare lobbyists be locked out of the capitol building and the White House and demand that a decent healthcare plan be cobbled together by the beginning of April. (All the politicians can dance the night way celebrating the election as long as they first deal with these two issues.) It should take about a year for transition to the new system. Can't do it? I'll bet it can, even if a congressman and/or senator or two get crushed in the process. 

Socialized medicine? I don't care what it's called. I do care that it works for the citizens.

The Economy

Let's face it, the U. S. and world economies are a disaster, mainly as a result of priorities over the past 28 or so years.

The wholesale ripping up of regulations intended to hold in check cheaters and frauds produced by the excesses of capitalism, is probably the cause of the collapse.

In the past eight years under George W. Bush any laws and regulations still intact were simply not enforced.

Tax cuts for the wealthiest citizens were not modest at all, during the Bush  years. They were massive and resulted in a greater concentration of wealth than what already existed. (This distribution of wealth could actually be its own separate category but because of the extremely long-term nature of a solution I'll bundle it with the economy for the time being.)

Of course, allowing those tax cuts to expire will be framed by Neocons as the largest tax increase in history. That cry will be intellectually dishonest and wildly incendiary.

The economy mess right-wingers have left us will take the best minds to solve, not an ideology based on a theory that's been proven to be false twice in a span of 108 years.

Global Warming

The largest crisis faced by humanity in all history––both the written history and the geologic history––is global warming. While not all greenhouse gases––primarily carbon dioxide (CO2)––are man-made, a huge amount are. The burning of fossil fuels (coal and petroleum) to generate electricity, run cars, trucks, trains and any other conveyance is the main human contributor.

Wholesale burning of Earth's rain forests also contributes by greatly reducing the vast acreage of plant life that consumes and thrives on CO2 and by producing vast amounts CO2-laden smoke.

It is true that nearly equal amounts of CO2 are produced by the Himalayan Mountains. (As iron pyrite breaks down upon exposure to the atmosphere, CO2 is produced. That process has been going on for millions of years, however, and Earth has been able to accommodate it.)

I have no doubt that Earth will continue to exist, even if global warming is not seriously addressed. The question that remains, however, is whether humans and other mammals will be part of that future.

We have to seriously in the next four or five years or all of our other problems, political, economic, wars, healthcare and personal won't exist.

So I hold out an expectation that, as president, Obama will put the best minds in the world to work on resolving mankind's role in the future of global warming.

Energy Policies

Obviously, a sensible energy policy for the next hundred years is closely tied to global warming.

Specifically, even to make the next 30 or 40 years comfortable, alternative sources of energy must be developed.

To fuel our cars and trucks, we need to look at hydrogen fuel cells (the technology has been around for some 100 years) and electricity.

Solar and wind energy both can shoulder great loads of electricity production, as can so-called "clean coal."

I expect Obama to lead this country, the greatest economic engine in the history of humankind, to the subsidizing of these technologies until they can financially stand on their feet.

For home heating and cooling, we must look at solar and geo-thermal. In recent years both technologies have been proven to work. The administration needs to put as many resources behind these technologies as the country did in developing the semi-conductor industry (i.e., Intel).

The quicker we adopt all of these alternatives to coal- and petroleum-driven methods of sustaining our economy, the sooner we will be free from our dependence on oil cartels and greedy energy companies that now dominate our existence.

Bush Administration Malfeasance

Perhaps the biggest threat to the republic, besides global warming, is the disregard George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and the rest of the Bush Administration have shown for the U. S. Constitution.

The violations of law and specific wording in the Constitution are so many that it will take several years to completely investigate them all.

First and foremost are the violations of treaties the U. S. insisted on following World War II that made it a hanging offense for a leader of one nation to launch an unprovoked attack on another nation. This is exactly what this president and vice president did in March 2003 with the invasion of Iraq. 

Then there were the illegal signing statements by Bush that supposedly exempted him and his administration from following the laws he was signing. Then, of course, he proceeded to commit felonies by violating those very laws.

Also, there were the so-called warrant-less wiretappings, direct violations of Constitutional prohibitions against conducting searches of U. S. citizens living in this country without first obtaining warrants from a competent judge.

Somehow there must be a way to hold accountable those people who authorized torture––it's criminal and immoral.

As president, before his first week in office is completed, Obama should call on the Justice Department to set up a task force of prosecutors before his first week in office is completed to investigate possible criminal conduct on the part of top members of Bush Administration for these serious misdeeds. This action needs to be done for the sake of the Constitution.

This is not to mention the comparatively minor law-breaking by Bush officials. Let's name a couple. There was the outing of a CIA covert intelligence agent and that agent's whole cover (which, from my experience, probably involved literally thousands of operatives in several countries and undoubtedly led countless to the deaths of those operatives). And there were numerous violations of the Hatch Act, which prohibits government employees from actively participating in partisan political activities.

President Obama will be stepping into a mess of historic proportions when he step into the Oval Office. He'll have an enormous task just to begin righting this ship of state. But without significant progress to meet these types of expectations, he will watch his mandate dissipate before his eyes.

© Copyright 2008 by P. A. Triot. Reproduce and distribute at will, with proper attribution.

 

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P. A. Triot is the pen name of a retired journalist.

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