Happy New Year, part 2

That greeting, “Happy New Year,” always implies not only the wish, but also the expectation, that the new year is going to bring more happiness, better health, and improved fortunes. It is a statement of belief in addition to a wish to the recipient. It always used to amuse me, back in the days when I went to New Year’s Eve parties, when, at midnight, all the drunken party goers yelled “Happy New Year” and kissed every member of the opposite sex they could find, blithely forgetting all their life problems. For that moment, life was beautiful, and one expected to awaken to a brave new world, but the reality was that, when one awoke, all one’s problems would still be there, and there would be a raging hangover, too.

I am reminded of those parties by the upcoming inauguration of Barack Obama and the expectations so many people have of the change Obama has promised. If his announced appointments are harbingers of the future, however, I fear we will be suffering from long and painful hangovers. Many have been recycled from previous administrations, and all come from the same ruling class as their predecessors.

While Obama does not directly appoint replacements for those he chooses for his administration, the upcoming replacement for Ken Salazar, who is to become Secretary of the Interior, as senator from Colorado, so clearly fits the profile as not to be ignored: “Michael Bennet . . . graduated from Wesleyan University in Connecticut, and holds a law degree from Yale University.” Prior to becoming Superintendent of Denver Public Schools, Bennet “served for two years as the Chief of Staff to Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper.” Before that, he was “Managing Director for the Anschutz Investment Company in Denver, where he had direct responsibility for the investment of over $500 million.” Among other accomplishments, he “managed, on behalf of Anschutz, the consolidation of the three theater chains into Regal Entertainment Group, the largest motion picture exhibitor in the world.” Before that, he “served as Counsel to the Deputy Attorney General in the Clinton Administration.” He helped create the world’s largest chain of movie theaters, but he had absolutely no background or training in Education. Yet he was appointed Superintendent of Schools.

Bennet was also considered by Obama for the position of Secretary of Education before our president-elect chose his basketball-playing buddy Arne Duncan, current CEO [not Superintendent] of Chicago Public Schools, whom Black Agenda Report characterizes as “An Underqualified Stooge and Privatizer,” who “never saw the inside of a classroom as a teacher . . . [and who] does not possess the academic qualifications to be even a substitute teacher.” Instead, “he spent most of his adult life either playing basketball or working with some very wealthy financiers from his old neighborhood of Hyde Park in Chicago.” Among his major accomplishments [sic] has been the establishment, to date, of five high schools operated by the military and, of course, all located in African American communities. Obama has to be well aware of what Duncan has been doing, so we must assume he approves of it. Rahm Emmanuel certainly does, as he “has been a proud proponent of the military academies and even bragged . . . that he got a million dollar earmark specifically for the military academies while he was in the US House of Representatives. . . .”

When you’re part of the ruling class, you don’t have to possess specialized knowledge of the field you work in or the department you run; you just have to be part of the ruling class.



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