Barack Obama has come out swinging following his party's rout in Massachusetts, vowing to "fight Wall Street" with a "populist" proposal whose main thrust seems to be the reinstatement of some of the common-sense regulations imposed almost 80 years ago to separate banks and investment firms. (I say "seems to be," because one can only guess what, if anything, Obama really intends to do about the matter. For despite the usual elevated rhetoric, he is, as usual, "leaving crucial details to be hashed out by Congress," as the NY Times reports. And we know how populist those paladins can be when they get down to hashing out crucial details.)
Of course, those old regulations were repealed by the bipartisan free-market extremists of the Clinton Era -- many of whom are now once more in charge of national economic policy, such as Obama's main economic adviser, Larry Summers. And the fact that Obama is just now vaguely proposing such a move, a year after taking office -- and after engineering the transfer to trillions of dollars in cash, credit guarantees, bailouts and other forms of baksheesh to Wall Street -- cannot but evoke three little words that nonetheless speak volumes: horse, barn, door.
And even in the highly hypothetical likelihood that Obama was actually serious about "reining in the banks" -- that is, serious enough to actually have his staff draw up the crucial details themselves before handing the "fight" over to the banks' own bagmen in Congress -- it would be a moot point anyway, given the Supreme Court's promulgation of its Corporate Enabling Act this week. Although their ruling to remove the few existing -- and pathetic -- restraints on Big Money's domination of the electoral process is indeed bad news, one must also admire the Court's frankness in allowing this domination to step forth and stand out boldly, nakedly, no longer having to hide itself in dirty dodges and furtive tricks. (For more on the ramifications of the ruling, see this piece from Christopher Ketcham at Counterpunch.)
But even as the highways and byways and blogways of the Potomac power grid are all engrossed in the usual partisan navel-gazing, the hard, dirty work of empire goes on.* This week there was yet another killing of civilians in Afghanistan by the ever-surging NATO-led forces, including two boys, aged 11 and 15. As Reuters reports:
Over 100 people took to the streets of a small bazaar in Qarabagh district in Ghazni province, southwest of Kabul, to demonstrate, locals told Reuters by telephone.
Villagers who brought the bodies of four people to the hospital in the provincial capital of Ghazni city said three of the victims belonged to one family. Two were boys 11 and 15, villagers said.
Naturally, the American-led occupation forces said that no civilians were killed in what they called a raid "designed to capture a 'high-level Taliban commander known to direct attacks'. Unfortunately for the spinmeisters, an actual journalist, Nir Rosen, has been on the case. He provided this report to Professor As'ad AbuKhalil:
Nir Rosen sent me this from Kabul (I cite with his permission): "I met today with the parliament member from qara bagh district. He's not anti-occupation and even wants more operations but he confirmed that all the dead were innocent and were not fighters and two were quite young".
"All the dead were innocent." And two of them were children.
This is the reality when we should keep in mind as we wade through the endlessly chewed cud of petty partisan in-fighting among the court factions of our militarist empire. Every day, every night, someone's blood is being offered up on the imperial altars. That's what empire is. That's what empire does.
While you were dreaming
While you wrapped your mind in silks
Bronze Steel Stone
Did their work
While you breathed the fumes
Of the oracle's fissure
Deranged the senses
Settled in soft beds
Sent agents into the streets
Hard men pinched men
Bronze Steel Stone
To eliminate execute
Discredit and destroy
While you stood in the forum
Declaimed high words
Filled temples with fragrant smoke
Scrawled millions of learned disquisitions
Somewhere, in your name
Fired the village
In your name
Put steel to the belly
While you were wrapped in silks
While you grubbed
While you drank degraded waters
Drank dark, brilliant wine
While you sang, while you dreamed
Rome hammered the real