By Evert Cilliers
Before Obama one would have to go back to LBJ and FDR to find a US president with any balls.
The rest of them have been there to serve the wishes of our elite like sissy lackeys (they're not even Heideggers fronting for the Nazis; they're more like insect-munching Rensfields to Dracula). In fact, it's been an American tradition, ever since our founding fathers, for the people to put a stooge of the plutocracy in charge. Jefferson had no idea how vacuous a voice he was crying in the wilderness when he wrote: “I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country.” His hope was in total vain, because even in his day, the government equalled the plutocracy, plus he got one thing dead wrong: instead of defying the laws of the country, our plutocrats eventually found it easier to get their lobbyists to write the laws of the country.
The most flagrant toady in recent presidential memory has got to be Bill Clinton, who became a sissy lackey early on when he lost his governorship because he didn't bend over for the Tyson Foods corporation in Arkansas. After sucking up to this moneyed corporation to get his job back, he forever after kept his balls in his wife's jewellery box at home whenever he went out. He served his masters well: as president he deregulated Wall Street and demobbed the American worker by starting to send all our good manufacturing jobs abroad. As if that wasn't craven enough, Slick Willie then stood idly by while the Hutus in Rwanda sliced 800,000 Tsutsis to pieces when a Marine force of 10,000 could've prevented it. It's a toss-up whether he or Bush Jr has done the world the most harm. I wish I believed in Hell, because then I could comfort myself with the thought that Satan would probably make them share the same fired-up spit.
Now here comes Obama, a self-styled change agent on which many rudderless Americans have inscribed their pathetic hopes, who weirdly enough also happens to be the first halfway decent chap to become president since the hapless Jimmy Carter.
1. IT TAKES REAL BALLS TO TACKLE REAL PROBLEMS
Friend and foe alike marvel at Obama's self-confidence. I'd like to get more vernacular, and point out that he has big balls.
The question is: are they big but soft?
He signaled that he had big balls when he took on the Clintons for the presidency and then proved that his gonads had flecks of steel in them when he crushed the Clintons and their triangulating ways like ten tons of steaming lava running over a clueless Pompeii. But the real proof of the iron in his veins is this:
1. In his campaign he was the ONLY candidate brazen enough to correctly identify the real problems facing the nation — education, healthcare, infrastructure, energy and the silly Iraq War.
2. Then, big surprise, he vowed to DO something about them in his first speech before Congress.
This big-balled speech was such a novel shock to the country that people were suddenly in awe of his “ambitious agenda” and soon began to wonder whether he was trying to do too much.
Jeez, all the guy was trying to do was be a president who actually solves our problems.
Yet pundits got freaked from their weak knees to their pea-brained noggins by this eccentric view of the presidency. Imagine that — there's a man who has the power to seriously tackle the nation's problems and he's called the president! Wow.
Maybe they were so surprised because no president but Lincoln and Roosevelt had ever before thought of such a task as part of their job description. Not that solving problems came spontaneously to these two exceptional presidents either. They just happened to be our only presidents forced by circumstances NOT to ask themselves the single question all our other presidents have spent their precious terms laboring to address: “How can I help my rich friends who put me here?”
Identifying the country's real problems takes balls. Most presidents would rather not — it means being expected to solve problems made insoluble by the plutocrats who profit from not solving them. It's much easier to create insignificant but symbol-laden phantom issues to plunge into — the war on terror, illegal immigrants, gay marriage, the scourge of drugs, school uniforms, the V chip — which can at least get you some votes for storming at your self-invented windmills.
Trying to solve real problems is very problematic, because it can make you look bad. The sissy lackey Clinton uncharacteristically took on one real problem in his eight-year reign, healthcare, and came out looking really stupid. He got creamed by the plutocrats on that one, and nary a peep was heard out of him about anything significant after that.
But at least he used his eight years to try something. The sissy lackey Bush Sr took on nothing. The sissy lackey Reagan took on nothing either, being a straight-up anal-to-mouth canal for plutocratic crapola. Carter neither, though he was not so much a lackey as a sissy. These guys basically did nothing more than keep the Presidential seat warm for the next Presidential stooge.
But barely ten months into his presidency, Obama has already started tackling all our biggest problems. That takes balls — being a president who tries to live up to the job.
Not that Obama has done anything so far to upset the plutocracy itself very much: Wall Street got their boys Larry Summers and Timothy Geithner into Obama's administration, so the coast is being kept clear for our merry banksters to cause another financial meltdown in about eight years' time when they gamble up the next bubble — green energy, most probably — and shift another 100 million earthlings out of their jobs into the penniless hordes of the starving. Also, Obama won't dare to stick it to our other big vampire industry, the military-industrial-congressional complex. In fact, he's gone and gotten himself suckered into continuing the silly Afghan War, which he calls “a war of necessity.” Necessary for what? keeping the world safe for opium production? keeping savage warlords and Taliban wingnuts from offing each other? — a pointless exercise that promotes American security as much as my kitty cat promotes the middle-aged desires of Tokyo businessmen who put their coins into vending machines to buy the used panties of schoolgirls.
These two big exceptions aside, our new president is actually willing and able to do something nice for the American people at large instead of handing the country over hook, line and sinker to our plutocrats (like Reagan, Clinton and the two Bushes did). Forget for a moment that Obama still feels compelled to frame his plans in plutocratic jargon, to wit, that the US needs his programs to “stay competitive” with the rest of the world — as if the nations of the world are a bunch of wolves fighting over the same meager scraps. (A whole book could be written about how we Americans always try to sell our ideas in bogus economic jargon — blinded by the “science” of economics which is nothing more than ideology plus numbers — when a simple moral imperative would suffice. Cost/benefit has long replaced doing what's right as our national motivation.)
Still, Obama has begun to take his first nibbles on all fronts: on education, by providing help for Community Colleges; on the Iraq War, by dating its end; on infrastructure, with some goodies in his otherwise pretty useless stimulus plan; and on energy, with cap-and-trade. And he's opening his mouth wide for a big bite on healthcare.
2. TACKLING HEALTHCARE WITH HIS BALLS HIDDEN
The way Obama is tackling healthcare is very instructive when it comes to analyzing the largeness — and largesse — of his balls.
Depending on where you stand, he has been either dumb, craven or sensible. From where I sit, he has been none of these. Instead, he has been diabolically clever. Because he has kept his balls hidden throughout.
Here's the story as I see it, which even if it's off-base, is at least original, unlike the same-old same-old from our esteemed pundits (sometimes I think our punditocracy is only marginally less stupid than Republicans, and not nearly as perversely original: a herd of blow-dried TV mules bleating about the same meaningless meme — the beer summit, the Mark Sanford emails, the Joe Wilson heckle — every 24 hours; I always find their hair more fascinating than their opinions).
Obama knows his second term is assured if he gets anything through that is mildly reformist. After all, every president since Truman has wanted to do something about healthcare, yet not a single one of them has achieved anything except that miracle arm twister LBJ, certainly our greatest president since FDR.
So how has Obama gone about reforming healthcare? Well, in his own mind he long ago decided on the minimum reform he needs to achieve enough bragging rights to get re-elected:
1. Insure just about everyone.
2. Stop the blatantly egregious practises of the insurance industry, like refusing care on nonsense grounds — one notorious instance being when Blue Cross/Blue Shield refused a woman an emergency operation for breast cancer because of a “pre-existing condition” of acne. (Hey, the insurance business is a gamble, and anyone who places their health bets with an insurance company is catastrophically stupid to think the odds aren't heavily stacked in favor of the house: that's how gambling works, suckers, and that's what happens when you turn healthcare over to gamblers. If it were a fair game, your insurers should at least give you back all the premiums you paid them when they finally refuse to honor their bet on your health. How about making that a law?)
Those two reforms would suffice as the minimum legislative victory Obama needs to ensure his re-election. (Of course, our economy will still be losing jobs like a chemo patient losing hair then, so a few months before the election, he may have to use the government itself to employ some of the millions of jobless Americans in WPA-type infrastructure progams; in order to re-elect Obama, we may have to become a little more French, where the government employs 21% of the workers, because we sure as heck can't rely on our “efficient free market” to save us, since this vaunted fantasy panacea of economics is better at destroying jobs than creating them these days.)
Having figured he could pull off these two reforms pretty easily, Obama set his diabolical plan in motion.
First, he got the insurance companies and big pharma out of his way. How? He conned those plutocrats plain and simple. He made them promises he may or may not keep, which they were happy to fall for, mainly because Obama is offering the greedy bastards 30 to 40 million new customers who are probably quite healthy chickens to pluck premiums from, or who'd be subsidized by the government if they're too poor to pay for their plucking themselves.
Obama conned the industry so solidly they're spending big money on running Harry and Louise commercials trumpeting reform, whereas they buried Hillarycare back in the 90s with commercials starring the same actors. Also, he made sure to sweet-talk all the doctors and nurses into reform, too.
Then he got Congress involved by handing off the job of writing the new legislation to their committees. The poor bastards have been hunkered down ever since with their healthcare lobbyists, working hard for the first time since the days of LBJ. They haven't done too badly either, except for the Senate, where a bipartisan committee headed by Senator Baucus labored mightily to poop forth a thousand-page pro-industry turd with a cute ribbon called insurance co-ops tied around it.
It's the Obama style: make overtures to all concerned, sweet talk them, spook them into action with a deadline, and then sit back to see what happens. We all know the pattern by now. You deliver an inspiring speech or two, say you're all for bipartisan solutions, invite the best ideas from everyone, make nice with the enemy — and then wait for everyone to fight it out among themselves, which will include your opponents revealing their weak hand (as the Republicans have predictably done, ever since they've reinvented themselves as the party of the stupid — Sarah Palin — and the crazy — Michele Bachmann).
Finally, if need be, you twinkle-toe in like some charming long-waisted elf spreading your signifying monkey trickster pixie dust of sweet reason all over the TV machine.
Bloody brilliant. Obama will get something, and he will be hailed as a hero (and the GOP and its death panels will be tsk-tsked to death). What a feat, our pundits will breathlessly chorus, the bugger brought us healthcare reform. Truman couldn't do it, LBJ half-did it, Carter couldn't do it, Clinton couldn't do it, but Obama, by gum, he goddamn bloody well did do it, what a conquering hero we have at long last. Hail to the Chief. Here be a dandy dude whose ass we are proud to stand in line to lick.
After all, when Obama wants something done, he sure can do it, like he did with those idiots in Detroit. That big fat mess got sorted out one-two-three, with everyone thoroughly fucked over except for Obama. It happened so quickly there hasn't been anyone complaining about Obama's cleanup job to any effect at all. Heck, it's as if the whole thing never happened.
3. OBAMA'S BALLS ARE MADE OF STEEL, RUBBER AND SILK
So Obama is playing the political game like a master, giving his enemies enough rope to hang themselves and the pundits enough straws to hype their habitual hysterical high drama out of his tiniest droppings. He's a behind-the-curtain wizard who sets a Machiavellian and inexorable juggernaut in action and sits back to watch it crush everything in its path. In healthcare, he's got a minimum reform stealth juggernaut going that will get the maximum minimum done in an area where we lag behind all the other wealthy nations (and will probably continue to do for millennia).
After all the sturm has been dranged, the Obama juggernaut will be hailed as the best thing to happen to America since a gaggle of garmentos invented Hollywood. And after the healthcare victory, the juggernaut will roll on and on and on, right over the squeaks of his opponents and the shrieks of the pundits. Barack will smile his pretty smile and talk his pretty talk and remain maddeningly unflappable.
This be the nitty of the Obama gritty: Pretty Boy Barack is the hipster of politics, and his opponents and the pundits are his rapt and blithering audience of suckers. Blind moths to a gemlike flame. It's how he won the election: through all the drama, paranoia and hysteria he floated like a calm and collected butterfly of no-drama steadiness over the bloody battlefield while his opponents fussed and fretted and fulminated and flipped and got stung anyway. He's kind of like Maurice Chevalier waving his straw boater as he dances untouched through a field of poison envy.
Now there are those who think Obama's balls are soft, because he said nothing the whole of August while townhall meetings were calling him a Nazi and Hitler and the Joker — and worst all, a socialist — and because he isn't drawing a line in the sand about the public option. Also, Obama doesn't behave like he's really fighting for anything — unlike just about a 100% of all men, our sweet Prince Charming Obama the gallant faun does not wear his balls on his sleeve (contrast him with Bush and Cheney, two risible parodies of the male balls-on-their-sleeves species).
But these picayune quibbles are not the point. Obama is a practical man: he knows he can get insurance-for-all through, and stop the “pre-existing condition” scam, and that's enough to make him a big hero. As far as he's concerned, the rest is all niggledy details for others to sweat their ideologically knitted knickers over and for him to dance around nimbly: “I support a public option” and “only 5% of the insured will pick a public option” and “we'll tax everyone who makes more than $250,000 a year to pay for it” and “I won't sign a bill that adds a dime to the deficit”: pretty phrazes signifying sweet blow-all, thrown out to whatever constituency needs a kiss blown their way that day. (How about cost containment, you say, isn't that really Obama's big motivation? Maybe that's what he signals, and that's what he wants, but he's not sticking his neck out for it as far as I can see. Because it cannot be done. It can only happen if and when our health insurance companies and our doctors earn a whole lot less, and that's one can of worms everyone is kicking down the road. The nation will probably get around to it in maybe 2020.)
I'd say Obama's balls have a core of tempered steel, with a coating of resilient rubber. Only on the surface of the skin are they soft and silky-smooth to the touch, but that belies the rubber and the steel beneath. He's kind of an ogre smeared thick with pancake-makeup charm.
4. IT WILL TAKE GODZILLA BALLS TO TACKLE THE ENERGY ISSUE
Being a practical incrementalist moving towards radical reform rather than pushing for it pronto, Obama will inch his agenda forward on all fronts in his first term, and if he gets a more malleable Congress over the next few years, as he undoubtedly will, we will see real fireworks in his second term, after which we may end up with a country very different from the total fuckup we are now.
My fellow Americans, I believe y'all aint seen nothing yet. Healthcare is just Obama's first move, a way to test the waters. Soon will come education, and then more “socialism” as he launches some FDR WPA-type infrastucture-building job programs to get re-elected, and then, with his political capital sky-high in his second term, he is going to tackle the issue that might make him a great president: energy.
That's where giganto balls will come in handy.
It's the issue of our time, because it's about saving the planet from being damned by the top carnivores on the food chain: us.
It will require the oil companies, the biggest monopolists of all time, to get down and start competing with all sorts of real energy entrepreneurs in solar energy and wind turbines (T. Boone Pickens has already made his move). New infrastucture businesses like Better Place are set to become more influential than Google.
It will render the Middle East and its interminable Dark Age problems insignificant at last, as our planet enters a happy time of replacing oil as our big source of energy. The sun and the wind are cheaper; they shine and blow on all nations alike; and they will run out long after we do. As for the pitiful oil-rich Arabs, they're just too pre-modern to waste any modern time on. When nobody needs their oil anymore, they'll probably collapse in a fury of internecine killing before their saner half — their women — lead them out of the primeval soup they're in. They're not worth giving a twinky damn about while they take maybe another century to make up their minds about whether they want to emerge from the 13th century. As for Israel, poor Israel! they'll have to fend for themselves. Gee, maybe they'll have to stop bashing the Palestinians and make an honest deal with them to get the holocaust-denying hordes of their fellow-Abrahamaniacs off their backs.
An energy overhaul will give the world economy a massive jolt-for-good all over as we cold-turkey our veins off the oil drug and retrofit our very Dasein to the ancient renewable agrarian-like harvest of Mother Nature's eternal gifts — the sun, the wind, the water — into a New Age of Techne, easily as momentous as the revolution of the worldwide web. Switching from black gold to green is the biggest flip our world will hop-and-skip since we started befouling our planet with the Industrial Revolution. It's really about retooling the Industrial Revolution: turning its satanic mills into angelic plants. Marx should be alive to see capitalism going all responsibly community-minded on us. I firmly believe that's how Obama intends to scratch his initials on the tree of history.
If he has the balls to take it on — and he repeatedly said he would last year, naming energy as our most urgent challenge — he will grow the necessary bigger balls to see it through.
In order to get this job done — the job of a real player instead of all our air-guitar presidents — he has wisely surrounded himself with maximum steel-balled hardasses, from Rahm Emmanuel to Hillary Clinton to James Jones to Hilda Solis to Janet Napolitano to Valerie Jarrett to David Axelrod. There's no way these folks are going down. Anyone standing four-square against this cabal of hardcore political gangsters … such fools will surely be flicked away like flies or pulped to lemon juice. They'll taste the boot or the knife or the axe while Pretty Boy Barack keeps flashing that deceptively humble and disarmingly boyish grin. Look at it this way: if you can take out the Clintons, taking out the Jindals and the Palins and the Romneys is like boxing with a chipmunk after you've knocked down Mike Tyson. Or this way: if you can ju-jitsu Detroit, it shouldn't be all that tough to scare the oil monopolies into playing a new green game.
In any event, come Obama's second term, the Republican Party will have suicide-bombed themselves into a small tent of gibbering crazies, and when Obama leaves office, he will hand over a country to Hillary or Jim Webb (or some other dude coming out of an Obama nowhere) that will be well on its way to sanity and common sense. His successor will then have the much easier job of adding a few finishing touches to America's big fat Obama makeover.
Get ready, folks. Some kind of happy days are a-comin' again. Of course, we'll still all be poorer than we were back in the 50s and 60s, but that's the price you pay for living in a plutocracy, where wealth gushes forever upwards, and does little more than trickle down. Even the balls of Obama aren't big enough to change that.