Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Double-Obama, Licensed to Kill

Oh dear, I was going to get so much done tonight. In lieu of productive activity, let me quote Glenn Greenwald once again. Obama told Rolling Stone, "If we want the kind of country that respects civil rights and civil liberties, we'd better fight in this election."

Greenwald wrote:
To summarize Obama's apparent claim: the Republicans better not win in the midterm election, otherwise we'll have due-process-free and even preventive detention, secret assassinations of U.S. citizens, vastly expanded government surveillance of the Internet, a continuation of Guantanamo, protection of Executive branch crimes through the use of radical secrecy doctrines, escalating punishment for whistleblowers, legal immunity for war crimes, and a massively escalated drone war in Pakistan.
He also responded to
Obama supporters [who] often claim that those who object to this White House messaging are reacting emotionally and personally because they're "offended" by these criticisms. Speaking only for myself, that has nothing to do with any of this. I'm not the slightest bit "offended" when Obama officials and their apparatchiks voice these accusations. They have the same right to condemn their critics as their critics have to condemn them, and it's hardly a surprise that Obama officials harbor these thoughts about the "left." Contempt for the left is one of the unifying beliefs of the Washington establishment, which is why most conventional establishment journalists -- Maureen Dowd, Ruth Marcus, Dana Milbank -- cheered Gibbs' outburst about the "Professional Left." None of that is new; none of it is a surprise; and none of it is "offensive."

What is notable about it is what it reveals substantively. The country is drowning in a severe and worsening unemployment crisis. People are losing their homes by the millions. Income inequality continues to explode while the last vestiges of middle class security continue to erode. The Obama civil liberties record has been nothing short of a disgrace, usually equaling and sometimes surpassing the worst of the Bush/Cheney abuses. We have to stand by and watch the Commander-in-Chief fire one gay service member after the next for their sexual orientation. The major bills touted by Obama supporters were the by-product of the very corporatist/lobbyist dominance which Obama the candidate repeatedly railed against. Rather than take responsibility for any of this, they instead dismiss criticisms and objections as petulant, childish, "irresponsible whining" -- signaling rather clearly that they think they're doing the right thing and that these criticisms are fundamentally unfair.

That is what makes these reactions significant: not that anyone's feelings are hurt by the name-calling, but that they believe that this record merits gratitude rather than valid condemnation, and that anger over the state of the country is nothing more than irresponsible whining. It's fine to tout accomplishments and try to unify the base behind them -- it's election season and they ought to be doing that -- but it's just mystifying that they think they're going to accomplish anything other than feeling better about themselves with these incessant, name-calling attacks on those who are dissatisfied with their behavior -- their policies -- in power. Talk about "self-pitying and self-indulgent."
I've been seeing comments on a few blogs which try to explain how important it is to vote. Sometimes it's more in anger than in sorrow, but then there are the nice people like La Digs at Who Is Ioz? (no permalink to the comment, posted 6:43):
I'm sorry that we can't all be ecstatically singing along to a Will.I.Am video this time, but these just aren't inspirational good times. Right now it's about stopping something very ugly and bad rather than feeling all gooey and good. And that's an important part of politics too. It isn't all Oprah and hugging strangers in crowds.
That's very gooey and good, but how do we stop the ugly and bad Obama administration? Obama is, overall, worse than George Bush, who never claimed he was licensed to kill American citizens without any kind of due process or accountability -- not even to the courts, because his plan is a state secret. La Digs warns ominously that "The Democrats, sadly, will not learn the right lessons if a bunch of neanderthals take over and history shows that in times of great stress and transition, very bad things can happen when you let these people take the reins." If the Republicans are "neanderthals", the Democrats must be Ubermenschen, the superior race, and history shows what happens ... No, I take that back. It's enough to say that history shows what happened when the Democrats won Congress and the White House in November 2008. (If you've already forgotten, go back and reread Greenwald's summary above.)