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Archive for November 4th, 2009

“The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America — I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you — we as a people will get there.
There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who wont agree with every decision or policy I make as President, and we know that government cant solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And above all, I will ask you join in the work of remaking this nation the only way its been done in America for two-hundred and twenty-one years – block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.”

Barack Obama,
November 4, 2008

November 4, 2009. It’s been exactly one year since Barack Obama was elected, and it’s becoming increasingly clear that the president hasn’t fixed the whole world yet. Then again, he never promised such a thing. But despite some “setbacks and false starts,” we’re in considerably better shape than we were when the president delivered the above words on election night in Chicago.

One of his central goals, going all the way back to his 2004 convention speech, of building common ground between Americans of different ideologies and backgrounds is going to be more difficult than was previously anticipated. However, what’s beginning to take shape is common ground between the far-right and the far-left insofar as they’re both angrily lining up in opposition to this White House.

Of course the wingnut right — the Beck-Limbaugh-Palin Industrial Complex — has a significant head start. Plus, they’re immovable. Nothing this president does, short of resignation, will ever be greeted positively and everything will be pegged as a Nazi-Communist-Nixon-Carter-Terrorist usurping of American exceptionalism. However, on the left, there’s a growing discontentment that’s rapidly metastasizing into a similarly virulent and unchangeable anger. It not only threatens to fracture the president’s progressive base, but it could also force the president to retreat to the middle.

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Afghanistan: Heads You Lose, Tails You Lose

Immanuel Wallerstein, Agence Global, November 1, 2009

The war in Afghanistan is a war in which whatever the United States does now, or that President Obama does now, both the United States and Obama will lose. The country and its president are in a situation of perfect lockjaw.

Consider the basic situation. The Afghan government in Kabul has no legitimacy with the majority of the Afghan people. It also has no army worthy of the name. It also has no financial base. There is almost no military or personal security anywhere. It is faced with a guerilla opposition, the Taliban, who control half the country and who have grown steadily stronger since the Taliban government was overthrown by a foreign (largely United States) invasion in 2002. The New York Times reports that the Taliban “are running a sophisticated financial network to pay for their insurgent operations,” which American officials are struggling, unsuccessfully, to cut off.

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