Sunday, January 11, 2009

Obama: "Obviously we're going to be looking at past practices and I don't believe that anybody is above the law."

Fox News Universe--Just moments ago, Fox News reported the opposite of the above statement with the byline, "Obama: 'We're not going to prosecute Bush administration officials.' "

Whenever I want my sci-fiction and fantasy needs met, I don't go to the Sci-Fi Network™--no, no. I go to Fox News for the fantastical, the bizarre, and the outright fictional. It's true, literature has a hard time competing with the scions of the right-wing.

That they're strange is a given. That they lie is a given. But to believe one's own lies means mental illness, which has become the only thing that makes sense about them. Yet, like in all propaganda, there's that tiny kernel of truth in there. President-elect Obama's voting behavior on constitutional issues really is unimpressive. This is troubling for someone who lectured on constitutional law at the University of Chicago for twelve years, off-and-on, someone considered a professor of it.

Obama knows full-well that if the laws broken by the Bush II aren't investigated and prosecuted, that they stand as precedents. For those who value their personal liberties, that's alarming, to put it mildly. But, as I wrote to Rawstory's Larisa Alexandrovna, we're seeing a system in crisis rather than a mere "coup" that she and Naomi Wolf, Michael Moore, and others suggested was taking-place with the Wall Street bailout. It was a belated observation. But this is all really beside the point: Congress should be doing most of the heavy-lifting here, and cries of partisanship from the Republicans isn't going to matter in-the-face of an independent truth commission and the economic crisis they midwifed.

As they did with the Church Commission in the 1970s, the Democrats are standing down and doing very little to hold anyone accountable.

Excuses, excuses. The GOP in Congress has no other option but to cooperate in reconstructing the economy along with Democrats and Independents because their very survival depends on it. Democrats can--and will continue to--enable them and make as many excuses for inaction as they want predicated on the straw man arguments for "bipartisanship," but the reality is that Republican incumbents are already greatly disempowered and back in their minority-status where they belong for good. They are extremely vulnerable.

It's true that the Obama administration and Congress are going to have their hands full for some time, but they won't have to do the work of an independent commission--that's why you form one in the first place. With a new majority in the judicial and executive branches, excuses are going to be all congressional Democrats have when they don't act substantially to hold the Bush II administration accountable for crimes we all know were committed, there's no mystery to it. Only the scope is unknown.

The Fox story is wishful thinking in a way, because they understand that while they cannot be pushed into recognizing the public will very often, the Democrats can. They also know that the charges will stick if things go far enough, making for a one-two punch to an already embattled and criminal GOP. This is exactly what should and can happen, but the missing-ingredient--once again--is the American public, their outrage, and their thoughtful action. The factors of anger and action are growing exponentially every day as once cherished values of the marketplace are shown to be the hollow theories they always were. This is because, "It doesn't affect me, so I don't care," is no longer a reality.

Both parties embraced these notions of the marketplace and force-fed them to the public for almost an entire generation. At least two generations have been ruined by this, their minds poisoned with the drivel of the Chamber of Commerce and all the rest of the right's literary output. Systems have a way of playing-out, it's an immutable fact of human history, yet they're still going to try to save their rotten barrel, repeating the actions of all tyrants in all eras. This is the reason behind the president-elect's seeming apathy in prosecuting George W. Bush and his fellow travelers.

This peculiar apathy towards holding the Bush II administration is only going to engender a well-earned cynicism in his direction, and he's going to feel tempted to abuse these new powers of the executive when the going gets tough. If he does utilize them, he's going to be letting not just Black Americans down, but the rest of the world and himself. There will be no transcendent or transformative moment except in the negative, and history will record he was just another ass holding power in another era.

We've already had enough of that, but the choice is his and Congress's to make, a choice between honor and ignominy, of being thought of warmly by future generations, or having one's name spat-out by them as George W. Bush is going to be (we haven't had to wait on that one). What Obama and Congress don't want to admit to the rest of us is that it's implicit to uncover as many of the crimes of the Bush II administration as humanly possible to fix the mess we're in right now, but they're busy trying to save the rotten barrel that produced that mess, all the ingredients for a failure that could grow into a catastrophe.

It was never about George W. Bush. Protecting him and his co-conspirators is protecting a bad system whose time has come. Again, that missing-ingredient is the public. Get angrier, get louder, and start demanding a truth commission, but be good. Let those in power break the law, as it's their wont to do; it makes them more vulnerable than you think.

The real exchange between George Stephanopoulas and Barack Obama: