"the president does not have the power under the constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual imminent threat to the nation." - senator barack obama, december 20, 2007
a sudden change of pace?
among the greatest disappointments in the american political landscape is the failure of liberal policy to be... well, liberal. two wars continue, while the u.s. effectively enters a third in libya, trillions are handed out to enormous corporations, and now the president has called for more domestic drilling. it might seem to the casual observer that obama and co. have played the same game that bush and co. played, just with better media coverage.
are they? policing the world militarily and supporting greedy corporations at the expense of tax-payers were two of the major accusations leveled against the previous administration. however, this time there aren't just questionable tax cuts to complain about but actual large-scale bail-outs. and this war can't by almost any stretch be related back to a matter of national security. as the nation is finding out the hard way, 'change' is a very vague word.
soft drinks, hard politics
one of the most compelling examples of pervasive materialism is the coke-pepsi dilemma. consumers have for decades on end been presented with the choice between coke, which some say is a little fizzier and pepsi, rumored to be a bit sweeter. coke has a contract with mcdonald's, while pepsi has dibs on most small restaurants and small concession stands. there are competing billboards, blind flavor tests and copy-cat super bowl ads. the competition is intense.
but is the coke-pepsi competition really a scam? how much do these companies really resent each other. they've convinced everyone to take sides, from the fast food execs right down to the 10-year-old at the 7-11 counter. entire states have their preference (soda is commonly called "coke" in most of texas).
but no one stops and thinks what am i drinking? has the 'secret ingredient' controversy between the two firms really succeeded at distracting everyone form the fact that both drinks are essentially carbonated corn syrup?
coca cola bottling and pepsi could really appreciate each other - each without the other loses the competitive edge - not over each other, but over other possible alternatives. they owe to each other the existence of the competition, the existence of the market.
|above: synthetically contrived controversies.|
and that's how it is in two-party politics. republicans and democrats can thank each other for the controversy they lend each other; the contrast establishes validity for a ruling class of abominably rich men from politically influential families who gain law degrees and lobby handouts and step gingerly into public office. no one who is asking whether or not the political system is legitimate can be heard over the cries of unexamined loyalty.
"vote republican" may as well be equated with "drink coca cola" or "go team." but you can't do any better on the democratic/pepsi side. they're exactly the same.
coke and pepsi in libya
and that brings us back to obama. sure, he can promise unique flavor and a crisp, refreshing aftertaste, but when you come down to it, his actions will not differ from those of bush or clinton in any significant way when it comes to war. the u.s. has for decades acted almost solely in its economic interest.
obama is doing exactly what he criticized george bush for - he is taking actions that he has already declared are not in his constitutional power to take. but can we blame him? millions of people are cheering for him and as a symbol, as a rockstar. "go blue!" they scream as we enter yet another war.
huffington post pieced together this wonderful little montage of obama's speech on libya and bush's speech on iraq. exact. same. shit. i know, right?