These were the events that mattered in Gorilla’s world this week:
Health care reform: Farewell, public option, hello, Medicare buy-in! All very minor league stuff. Single payer is the way to go, and Gorilla believes that’s where we’ll be by 2025.
Nobel Peace Prize: An interesting speech from President Obama on the rationale for “just” war. War apparently is peace by other means. The difficulty with all this nuanced rhetoric is that it doesn’t match up with actual policy. The Administration is still defending the right of government officials to spy on Americans and to commit crimes with impunity. The Administration is all for nuclear non-proliferation, but conventional proliferation remains big business. Gorilla thinks that all this pragmatism is fine, but wishes there would be an occasional foray into non-opinion poll-based foreign policy.
Human Rights Day: A reminder of how little can be done to address major problems. Nobody’s going to war, justly or unjustly, for Darfur, the Congo, Guinea, or Zimbabwe. The plight of women and children in most countries remains appalling. Gorilla suggests that progress can be made, at the grassroots and at the margins, if there’s a willingness to see it through with political and economic capital.
Climate change: Copenhagen peters away like a deflated gas bag. There’s no political support anywhere in the developed world for doing anything that requires big money, big sacrifice, or big risks. We’re waiting for the Chinese and Indians to do something, they’re waiting for us, and it’s convenient for everyone that nothing much gets done. Gorilla predicts that serious climate change policy will come only when climate change is a serious threat, roughly 20 years from now.
US Economy: The figures remain dire. We need to be adding 300,000 jobs/month just to stay even with population and trendline growth; last month we lost another 11,000. Retail sales are barely above inflation. The mortgage modification program has been a total failure. The hoarding by banks goes on, while credit tightens further. There’s no real leadership coming from Washington as everyone gears up for the 2010 elections. Gorilla thinks the Democrats will get a severe and deserved kicking at the polls next November.
Iraq: The bombers are back, or rather they never went away. Despite all the surging, 7 Iraqis die violently every day. Gorilla thinks the civil war will resume in 2012.
Afghanistan and Pakistan: The denial dance goes on. President Karzai still hasn’t named a cabinet. Pakistan still hasn’t done anything about Baluchistan. America still hasn’t captured any top al-Qaeda leaders. Gorilla has moved his withdrawal timetable from late 2010 to mid 2011, and still believes we’ll be mostly out by 2015.