Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Morton's Fork

Live and learn. I have discovered that for all these years I did not understand the true meaning of “Hobson’s Choice.” I have always thought it meant having to choose between two equally undesirable outcomes, but apparently that is not what it means. According to Wikipedia, Hobson’s Choice, named after an English Livery Stable owner, means “take this one or nothing.” Morton’s Fork (which I have never previously heard of), I have learned, means making a choice when two alternatives yield equivalent, usually undesirable, results.

So, while I was prepared to complain about the coming Hobson’s Choice in the 2012 election, I now suggest Morton’s Fork is much more appropriate. We are going to be, as near as I can tell, faced with a genuine Morton’s Fork in 2012. On the one hand will be President Obama who has proven to be (I believe) not really up to the task (of being President). Don’t misunderstand, I like him personally, but his behavior as President has been less than, shall I say, Presidential. He seems to be unable to stand up to Republicans, no matter how outrageous their demands are, or how opposed they are to the desires of our citizens. He appears to just “cave in” in the face of opposition, often conceding points to Republicans even before the negotiations begin. If he now caves in to their blackmail over the debt limit he will have certainly exhausted my support. What Republicans are suggesting is so outrageous, continuing tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires, continuing subsidies for huge corporations, while at the same time cutting back on vital services for ordinary citizens should not even be seriously considered. Obama should tell them “no” in no uncertain terms. But apparently he is “weaseling” again and may even agree to cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, and (horror of horrors) Social Security. Obama has to “stand tall” and simply refuse to consider proposals that are basically absurd. When it comes to raising taxes on the filthy rich and eliminating corporate subsidies, virtually everyone would be on board (except those who would be at best merely inconvenienced). He must call the Republican bluff if he is to have any credibility as President.

But it is not merely with respect to the budget negotiations that I think Obama has failed. His continuation, even acceleration, of the “war” in Afghanistan is to me unforgivable. When he became President he could have declared the situation hopeless, which it is, and brought our troops home. His Libya adventure is truly “Bush League,” and he has obviously lied about it. He failed to consider investigating the obvious war crimes of the Bush/Cheney administration, and he has in many ways simply continued Bush practices that are undesirable (the imperial presidency, secrecy, wire tapping, patriot act, and so on). Similarly, he has failed to bring to justice the obvious criminals on Wall Street who brought about the recession and who continue to rape and pillage the taxpayers in every way they can.

With respect to Foreign Policy, Obama seems unable to stand up to the Generals and the Pentagon. I gather he is a supporter of “permanent war” in order to placate the Pentagon and all the Defense Industry giants who benefit from it. He will not stand up to Netanyahu, probably one of the worst international criminals of all time, who now seems to be uniquely in charge of the Israeli/Palestinian problem. His continuing support of Israel, no matter how vile their war crimes, is disgusting in the extreme. His opposition to even the ships trying to bring needed supplies to Gaza is deplorable. Obama is uniquely positioned to insist Israel “cease and desist” in their genocidal attempt to rid themselves of Palestinians but does nothing but allow them to continue.

I should think my disenchantment with Obama is pretty obvious by now, and I would not be adverse to seeing him replaced with someone with more of a spine, someone less conservative, less “Bush-like,” and less belligerent in Foreign Affairs. But look at the alternatives! A collection of second and third rate Republicans who have nothing whatsoever to offer except their dislike of Obama, some of them so “far-out” as to be virtually unreal, others so impractical as to be useless, and still others apparently in the race only for the publicity. Romney, the presumptive leader, drips insincerity from every pore and changes his positions daily, Bachmann, under directions from god to save us from homosexuals and who knows what, Pawlenty, with all the charisma of a cedar post, Gingrich, the phoniest hypocrite that ever lived, Santorum and Cain both worse than bad jokes, and Ron Paul who would take us back to frontier days. It is not a pretty picture. I don’t believe the addition of Thaddeus Mccotter is going to improve it.

I suppose one might argue that it is a Hobson’s Choice, either Obama or nobody, but Morton’s Fork seems to me at the moment more descriptive of the situation. Take your pick, heads you lose, tails you lose, but corporations and Wall Street will laugh and tell jokes while counting their winnings in the billions.

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