I completely understood (pretty much) all my friends when they explained to me (around the Wall Street and Banking bailout led by the Goldman Sachs people running the government under the newly elected Obama) that Obama had no choice but to spend those taxpayer's trillions. They made it clear that it was because the financial structure had to be kept in place - too big to fail. Otherwise the country would have collapsed. (Never mind the absolute absence of regulations put into place since them to stop this kind of thing from happening again. Congress was intractable, they noted. Never mind the bonuses scattered like confetti to every CEO of those institutions and to the loyal managers beneath them. Obama did speak out against this at one point - it didn't help - because, as my friends pointed out - Congress was such a mess. "Oh, those chaotic Democrats," they said over and over, "and forget about those lock-step Republicans.") There really was no other way to go for Obama.
And I guess I was able (to some degree) to bring myself to understand (with a little less clarity) when Obama bailed out GM and Chrysler. Look at all those jobs that would have gone away. Never mind that if you look at the roster of new cars coming out from GM and Chrysler now (thanks to our cash) they look just about like the same big, old, gas guzzling machines of yore - not even the designs have changed much. And the CEOs, etc. there (with their bonuses) haven't changed much either. Pretty much all the same old guys are running things over there (same guys, different money - our money). But never mind. I was able to - more or less -understand the position of most of my friends here as well. Jobs. Jobs. Jobs.
I wrestled a bit more with Obama's absolute evaporation around the Public Option (which he and everyone else in Congress - liberal, Conservative, smart, foolhardy - have). Nonetheless it is true, as my friends pointed out - there is one hell of a vocal and dangerous right wing. What was Obama to do, really? Better to try meet them part way. He is a pragmatist, after all. And he has been a brave, brave soul to take them on and get this bill through at all. Had I been aware, they asked, of the rage towards our young President?
And yes, the Health Care Plan was a patriotic victory, a victory for America. I have even admitted this to most of my friends (and here on the Huffington Post). And it felt good to do it, too - for once to be able to feel that I wasn't just a bitter and angry guy, that I could be - at least somewhat - grateful to my government for bringing about real change.
Never mind that my Congressman, Rep Henry Waxman put it a bit differently, when he told the pharmaceutical and insurance industries that they had "invested well" in this past Presidential election (having supported Obama - as well as McCain). The message between his lines? You got your man - either one - to do exactly what you wanted - a new infusion of government trillions into your bank accounts. It was - under the circumstances - the best that President Obama could do, though, I was told.
Oh, and then there's the war in Iraq. I mean the two wars: Afghanistan. I mean the three wars (a new "secret" war in Pakistan now). And I'm taking the promise of closing Guantanamo Bay off the table. Unfair. I'm not going to even bring it up. I'm not an idiot.
So let's just recap.
Trillions of dollars for the top guys to use on Wall Street, to use in banking, for automobiles, for pharmaceuticals, for insurance and - yes - yes - for new weaponry and more troops in the Middle East. Trillions Okay, who's left? Who's been left out?
Well, the students. Terrific.
With great fanfare - some billions went to the students this past week.
I shouldn't have been surprised, or shocked or completely horrified - to have learned that Obama has now opened up all these new drilling fields for oil - the east coast, Alaska. The Jeb Bush politicos et. al. must be so pissed off. Obama's outflanked them with their primary constituency and patrons, the oil gang. Brilliant!
Only I'm wondering how my friends will now explain this to me. I want to understand. I do. More jobs? National security? Enough gas into the future so that the big cars still being built in sad Detroit will remain cheap to drive?
What's fascinating is there doesn't even seem to have been any public argument or discussion for making this drilling decision happen. No melt down can be pointed to; no bankruptcies; no skyrocketing medical costs. Why now? Why at all?
I need a little help here again. I'm open to listening. I like my friends. And I really like that hope springs eternal. I could really use a little hope about now.