Monday, January 26, 2009

Minitrue, Minipax, Miniluv

(Photo from Chris Floyd)

Okay, credit where credit is due. Like so many other people, I was pleased that President Obama plans to close Guantanamo, though I also agree with Michael J. Smith: "How we would laugh at some foreigner seeking our approval with this kind of initiative. Ahmadinejad: Okay, I'll stop hanging gay guys.... Next year. But this year -- hoo-ha! Line 'em up and keep 'em coming!" And I was pleased that Obama has forbidden torture, though with Chris Floyd I notice that he actually limited "the overt use of torture to the torture techniques approved of by the Pentagon -- although his own intelligence supremo, Dennis Blair, refuses to say if "waterboarding" should be considered torture, and assures Congress that he will examine 'whether certain coercive techniques have been effective'; i.e. which torture techniques should be continued." All this, "while leaving alone the Pentagon's numerous and far worse gulag centers -- where thousands of Terror War captives languish without charges, representation, or the slightest legal recourse." Too many people on the left still believe that the US didn't torture before Bush came along, and that if we could just put the Bush years down the memory hole, the US would have an admirably high moral character, and once again be the beacon of freedom, a light unto the nations. (Oh wait, that's Israel.)

I was also pleased that Obama rescinded Bush's gag rule on abortion for clinics that receive US funding, though I wonder what he'll do to prevent what he criticized as "a back and forth debate that has served only to divide us." As usual where US politics are concerned, I hadn't noticed much "debate" on this or any other issue, though Obama promised to start a "conversation" about it. Should this sort of matter be subject to Presidential decree in the first place? Bush the Elder initiated the gag rule, Clinton rescinded it, Dubya replaced it, and now Obama has rescinded it again. That's not a "debate," as Obama called it, but power politics. People's lives around the world should not depend (though they do, I know) on the vagaries of American voters.

There've been some intriguing reports (via) that Obama dropped his touchy-feely bipartisan mask in meetings with Republican congressional leaders who tried to dictate some features of the economic stimulus package. "I won," he reminded them.
Even better, he told them (via) that "You can't just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done." And I wouldn't be So Gay if I didn't also point and giggle and say rude things about House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH)'s complaint, "You know, I'm concerned about the size of the package." We all have our little insecurities.

But I'm not pleased, to put it mildly, that Obama promptly began killing people. (And dammit, Chris Floyd beat me to the title I'd thought of for this posting.) Just dusky foreigners, mind you, of no great concern to right-thinking Americans; and it was really no surprise given the man's belligerence, expressed in speech after speech during the election campaign, but that's no excuse for anti-Americanism! We may not be perfect, but our virtues greatly outweigh our defects, especially now that we have this inspiring, shiny-new President!

Nor am I pleased by Obama's pronouncement on the Israel-Palestine conflict. It's the same old lies -- as Noam Chomsky said on Democracy Now!, it's basically the Bush administration's position, though that should be no surprise by now. Obama treated Palestinian deaths and Israeli as if they were equivalent (instead of the 100-to-1 ratio that actually obtained), demanded that the Palestinians relinquish their right to self-defense without making similar demands of Israel, and spoke as though Palestinian Authority President Abbas (whose term of office expired on January 9 but refuses to step down, claiming that he has the authority to extend his term, not that that bothers Obama) spoke for all Palestinians. In a move worthy of the Ministry of Truth, Obama simply erased the fact that Hamas is the democratically-elected government of Palestine.

Of course, Obama here shares the attitudes of most of the American elite. John Caruso pointed out this reality-challenged headline from the Washington Post:
"Battered Gaza Still In the Grip Of Hamas." (There seems to be general acknowledgment that the Israeli massacres increased Hamas' popularity among Palestinians.) And let's not forget Israeli elites, such as the former air force colonel also quoted by John Caruso: “When you have a Palestinian kid facing an Israeli tank, how do you explain that the tank is actually David and the kid is Goliath?"

(Photo from The Distant Ocean)