Friday, December 19, 2008

If only the world were like THIS.

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Dear Reader,

Hey, that Obama victory was great, wasn't it? He sure creamed McCain and sent the conservatives limping and whimpering back into their holes.

Now we can finally rest, kick back and watch progressive social change happen in virtually every area of policy. Peace is at hand, the environment will improve, and the banks will be redistributing their wealth virtually overnight. We will have fabulous cabinet appointments, and special interest lobbyists will be looking for new work.

If only.

Yes, we know that some change is on its way. And we are happy about that and cheer it on. But just because Obama has been elected doesn't mean that all the world's problems are suddenly fixed. Hardly.

We should be expecting peace soon, right? And less spending on the military -- a welcome relief after unbelievable increases in the defense budget during the Bush era, not even counting the hundreds of billions spent in Iraq and Afghanistan. And looking forward to new faces who will make changes swiftly and aggressively in the Department of Defense.

But wait. There is talk -- by people close to Obama -- of as many 70,000 troops remaining in Iraq. Hmmm.

And Obama wants to send more troops to Afghanistan, where outsiders have not won wars in centuries. And during the campaign, Obama said he wanted to spend more money on the military, not less. And -- holy cow -- the new Secretary of Defense is ... the old Secretary of Defense. Robert Gates. A Republican.

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Well, OK -- war and defense might be problems. But surely, after eight disastrous years, we can look forward to major changes in environmental polices, right? After all, the Bush people -- still ramming through ugly changes in the 11th hour -- and other right-wingers -- like McCain and Palin, with their "drill, baby, drill" mantra -- set the bar pretty low.

Well, we hate to be the ones who point it out, but Mr. Obama is a fan of "clean coal," which is counterproductive to our need to cut down on burning fossil fuels -- something we must do if we are going to have a chance of fighting the coming climate catastrophe. Hmmm.

Actually, a lot of really smart people say "clean coal" doesn't even exist. It is all dirty. And during the campaign, Obama became "open" to new drilling for oil along our coasts. Obama is also open to nuclear power, even though it can take up to 10 years and cost billions of dollars to build a reactor. Oops. And we still don't know what to do with dangerous nuclear waste.

Obama has environmentalists even more wary after his recent decisions to name Colorado Senator Ken Salazar -- a friend to mining, ranching, and oil interests -- as Interior Secretary, and Tom Vilsack -- the pro-GMO and pro-biotech former Iowa governor -- to head up the Department of Agriculture.

OK, we are all as excited about Obama heading to the White House as the next person. The difference from the last eight years is going to be very noticeable. But we know that one new guy living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue doesn't mean the ways of doing politics in this country are going to change overnight.

In fact, there is not going to be nearly enough of the change we need and want unless we all participate. But we can't motivate people to participate -- let alone make life better for millions of people -- until we make it clear why change is so necessary.

That's where the media come in. Yes, we need strong, independent media to help keep Congress and the new president's feet to the fire and give you the information you need day in and day out -- no matter who is sitting in the White House.

Click here to support AlterNet. Because we're all going to need independent, progressive media as much as ever.


Don Hazen
The AlterNet Truth Squad

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