Obama’s Protection Racket

Back when Bush was in office, stories like the one below fell like rain on virtually every subject, and always ended the same way; some branch or other of the government would just flatly declare that its past or current actions, no matter how heinous, simply aren’t anybody’s business.  It started with Cheney’s infamous energy policies, which we now know involved little things like invading Iraq and deregulating fracking.  As you’d expect, the stupider and more damaging the policy choice was, the more likely that it was to be implemented without any public debate at all; instead, narratives were chosen and relentlessly touted to either sell to or, more often, distract voters from, what was really going on.  Cheney famously said that elections are the only “accountability moment” for an administration; after that voters should just sit down and shut up.

Sadly, Obama behaves exactly the same way, which is more than a little disappointing considering that the guy was, well, elected to do just the opposite.  That ol’ “Constitutional Lawyer” was often trotted out, and spoke movingly and convincingly about the illegal activity and excessive secrecy that was threatening democracy.  His cowardly flip-flop on FISA, which happened before the election, was barely a taste of the outrages to follow, but it set the tone.  Accountability-free government, bloated, deceitful, overbearing, and corrupt, was firmly established as what you got from both parties, now, so I guess we should just get used to it. (from AP via the WaPoo…)

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department is refusing to release legal memos the George W. Bush administration used to justify his warrantless surveillance program, one of the most contentious civil liberties issues during the Republican president’s time in office.

In responding to a Freedom of Information Act request, the department is withholding two legal analyses by then-government lawyer John Yoo, and is revealing just eight sentences from a third Yoo memo dated Nov. 2, 2001. That memo is at least 21 pages long.

So there you have it.  One of the vilest and completely unpunished criminals from the Bush Administration, John Yoo, is being actively protected not just from his advocacy for torture, but also his advocacy of illegal, expensive, and ultimately useless warrantless searches.  Note how easily “warrantless” slips off the tongue these days, despite the explicit use of that word, right there in that “quaint” constitution of ours.  Having embraced approximately 94% of everything Yoo wrote, I suppose it’s natural for the “Justice” Department of a nominally “opposition” party to try to cover that up, like a cat in a litter box, but that makes it even more galling.

In this case as in so many others, Obama has proven himself to be much worse than Bush for the future of this country, because he has shown the American people that we really do have no choice anymore in how we are governed; the rightward march is on, and the elimination of civil liberties will continue to be ratified by all Presidents, regardless of party.  As Glenn Greenwald and others have noted in recent days, such a course is the grim necessity of a corrupt government that is steadily handing away its resources to the wealthiest and most well-connected; as inequality skyrockets and more and more working people fall into poverty and hopelessness, an up-and-running police state is a handy thing to have lying around.

Lefty film director Ken Loach, in a recent interview with The Guardian, put it best when he said, “The ruling class are cracking the whip.”   I’ll say.  To quote a less respectable analyst, “How’s that hopey-changey thing workin’ out for ya?”