Thomas Paine:

“Reason obeys itself; and ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it.”

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Eric “Chiquita Banana” Holder as Attorney General?

Excuse me—it’s been lovely, but I have to scream now...

      This morning I woke with a headache felt mostly in my left eye—a symbolic gesture, I suppose, referring to the pain of disillusionment I’m feeling, after my surrender to Obamaphoria in the moments just before and after the election. But don’t get me wrong—I’m not blaming Obama. I knew perfectly well his promise wasn’t real, and I chose to ignore my instincts.

      Let me exaggerate —after all, it’s so much more fun than tempering my reactions— to wit: the experience of waking to the realization that I’d compromised my integrity with my vote for Obama is the hyperbolic equivalent to the cultural joke where a guy wakes beside an ugly girl and realizes he was too drunk the night before to discern her true qualities; but in this case the characters have to be reversed, where it would be the girl who had too many margaritas and, seeing the guy though a tequila-induced blur, swooned, fell into his arms, then awoke to see the mistake she’d made—a snoring beast beside her in his beer-soaked, wife-beater T and reeking like a camel in rut. (“To court females and intimidate rivals, rutting males [camels] drool and spit and urinate like leaky fountains. They reek of an oily secretion that flows copiously from scent glands on their napes.”)

      I mean, I realize a mere two weeks after the election is not enough to make an absolute judgment; but the trend in Obama’s pre-presidency is not smelling right so far —in fact, it’s smelling a whole lot like the oily secretion off the nape of some sort of hairy beast’s neck—perhaps the hairy beast of betrayal comes to mind?

      First, Rahm Emanuel as his Chief of Staff—this stinks pretty bad; certainly it’s no change on U.S. support for Israel’s crimes of occupation and siege, for starters. Plus, he has close ties to the conservative, corporate-leaning DLC (Democratic Leadership Council), meaning no change on “free” trade and every other sort of corporate and hawkish policy, and representing no threat whatsoever to America’s right-wing powers-that-be.

      But this one really reeks: Eric Holder as Attorney General, who has represented Merck (Vioxx/Fosamax) and Chiquita Brands at the D.C. law firm, Covington & Burling.
      No exaggeration: Obama's choice of Eric Holder for attorney general is deeply disappointing, even disturbing, given that Holder was directly involved in negotiating for Chiquita Brands the slap-on-the-wrist it received for funding death squads in Columbia.
      Alberto Gonzalez was bad enough, but did he represent corporations that funded murderous terrorist organizations? (Not a rhetorical question.)

      More evidence of foul odors rising from team Obama can be found if you go to Democracy Now! online, where you can find this, first the heading, “Ex-CIA Officials Tied to Rendition Program and Faulty Iraq Intel Tapped to Head Obama’s Intelligence Transition Team;” then, “John Brennan and Jami Miscik, both former intelligence officials under George Tenet, are leading Barack Obama’s review of intelligence agencies and helping make recommendations to the new administration. Brennan has supported warrantless wiretapping and extraordinary rendition, and Miscik was involved with the politicized intelligence alleging weapons of mass destruction in the lead-up to the war on Iraq.”

      Not to mention how Obama sent Madeline Albright to the G20 summit, the same Madeline Albright who said the price —death— of half a million children in Iraq due to Clinton sanctions was worth it.
      Furthermore, when Henry Kissinger is happy about the prospect of Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, no kidding, I smell a rat.
      And here comes Tom Daschle who, in 2006, endorsed the warrantless domestic surveillance program conducted by George W. Bush and the National Security Agency. Hello? You call this change?

      I am so tired of watching progressives swoon over Obama. How many times does he have to prove he is immune to pressure from the "grass roots," before progressives stop saying, "Well, we just have to organize and put pressure on him to do the right thing." It's clear: no matter his election mandate, no matter how big the marches get, and no matter how many times he responds by sweet-talking us about bringing change to America, change is not what we're going to see. Sure, he'll make a few good moves, but fundamentally, it's going to be the same ol' same ol' corporate empire, the same ol’ same ol’ military industrial complex, or, “America, the United States of Amnesia,” as Gore Vidal describes it.

      As for me, from now on, I refuse to go amnesiac for Barack, ever again. I want to see a few true progressives in his cabinet. When that happens, I might temper my disgust. Until then, I won’t be sipping the kool-aid, whether it’s laced with poison or the mere stuff of boozy dreams.


The great journalist, Jeremy Scahill, has posted an excellent piece on Obama's foreign policy probables, with the title, This is Change? 20 Hawks, Clintonites and Neocons to Watch for in Obama's White House. (At Alternet )

However, Glenn Greenwald defends the notion of Eric Holder as Attorney General, saying at Salon, “Anybody who believes in core liberties should want even the most culpable parties to have zealous representation before the Government can impose punishments or other sanctions. Lawyers who defend even the worst parties are performing a vital service for our justice system.” (At Salon's blog )

I normally agree with everything Greenwald says, but in this case, no. It’s one thing to defend a client; it’s another to negotiate a sweetheart deal that basically lets corporate criminals off the hook. You cannot tell me Holder’s heart wasn’t on the side of Chiquita Brands. Also, you cannot compare the defense of a powerless or poor defendant with that of a mega-powerful defendant, as Greenwald tries to do. Eric Holder was not forced to work for a corporate law firm that would require him to defend the likes of Merck and Chiquita Brands. That was his choice, a choice that represents his values and core allegiances.

Ralph Nader would agree with Greenwald’s point that all defendants deserve a vigorous defense, but would he put himself in a position where he had to be the one to defend corporate criminals? Impossible to imagine. It would never happen. And that’s the difference: Holder’s allegiance, revealed by his choice to represent corporations against the interests of victims of corporate crime, is with private, corporate power; Nader’s allegiance is with public —ordinary citizens, workers, victims of corporate crime— power, that is, government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

Judging by Obama’s choices so far, and regardless of the sweet-talk, it’s clear Obama will ignore the notion of people-power. Too bad he didn’t consider the likes of Ralph Nader (but there's nobody quite like Ralph) for Attorney General. But he didn’t. And that tells us a great deal.


Timothy Geithner, Treasury Secy...worked for Kissinger & Associates, the IMF...need I say more? I rest my case. (For an enlightening discussion, one you'll never hear in mainstream news, of Obama's economic team, see Democracy Now! 11/25/08.)


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Dove Tale for Veteran's Day

      Yesterday, I spotted a dove resting in the middle of my garden. I nearly missed her, for she was perfectly still and camouflaged against the dry soil and grayed oak planter behind her. I thought, “What a smart dove you are to choose that spot to rest in—what predator would see you there, so quietly blending with your surroundings?” But why she was there at all, I couldn’t tell.
      It was such a rare event. Doves visit my place regularly, to eat from the feeder on the balcony, or to sit in the pine tree, but never do they stay ground-level for more than a minute or two. Cats are always present; coyotes, occasionally. The orange, polydactyl feral cat, my adoptee, was there yesterday too, napping on the patio bench, then later moving to her look-out tree to groom herself—without once noticing the dove.
      I kept an eye on her for two hours, while I read my book, until about 5:30 p.m. During that time, I worried over her, using my binoculars to get an up-close view. She hardly moved, except for blinking her perfect round eye and rotating her head this way and that; I could not see if she was wounded, or stunned, or just plain frozen with fear. I was tempted to approach her to get the answer, and rescue her if need be. But something held me back— “Let’s trust in nature’s wisdom and just wait and see...” I would go out, but only if a predator approached.
      Then, as day’s end and darkness approached, she began to relax, to test herself, moving to another position, extending her wings, flapping them briefly, tentatively; and that’s when, with a long stretch of her neck toward the near-by pine, she took off, up into the branches, where she disappeared.
      I don’t know exactly why this event made me as happy as it did. Most people wouldn’t be attached to a mere bird’s success, so very happy about a dove’s flight to safety, after a long, fearful wait. It’s one thing to be relieved and glad for the bird. But such dancing for joy...I don’t know.
      Perhaps the event reminded me of something. Perhaps it just felt right, coming after last week’s political revelations. After all, wasn’t it so true— spirit long suppressed; spirit finally released?

      Eighteen American veterans per day die by suicide. Let me not, in my happiness, forget them.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Leaks Unplugged on Obama Appointees

Picks for poetic justice, though improbable, are Nice Dreams for progressive Obama supporters

By Mistee Laurie, C.P.I

Despite all efforts to plug leaks as to who is to do what and where in the Obama Administration, a few surprising names have trickled out, to the astonishment of all.

But, why not?

Just as Bush had set off alarm bells for progressives with his appointments —for everything from the U.N. ambassador and the top state department post for Latin American affairs, to his appointment of a convicted Reagan administration official to head a National Security Council office, to Harriet Miers, Alberto Gonzalez, “Heckuva-job Brownie” Michael Brown, Monica Goodling, Swift Boat Veterans donor Sam Fox, where competence, experience and qualifications for the job were less important than crony status, donor status, or ideological conformity— Obama is setting off alarm bells for the far right.

Progressives still remember the wacky world of life during the G.W. Bush Administration—the surreal zealotry of Justice Department prosecutions, best exemplified by the conviction of Tommy Chong for the sale of bongs, Bushite contempt for accountability, felt most acutely by Cindy Sheehan when her request to meet with Bush was denied, and her question, “What was the noble cause my son died for?,” went unanswered; remember the frenzy of kitschy outrage over Natalie Marin’s mere exercise of her First Amendment rights, and the banning by Clear Channel of the Dixie Chicks from country western stations all across the nation; remember the faith-based initiative, how tax dollars were funneled to religious —read, Christian— organizations, where proselytizing to poor folks was the norm; remember the freak-out during the election campaign over Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers?

Well, if the leaks are true, perhaps Obama has decided to embrace the precedence Bush set with his appointments, to make a few not-so qualified —but well deserved— picks of his own:

Tommy Chong, Administrator of the D.E.A.

Dixie Chick Natalie Maines to head the F.C.C.

Michael Moore, Secretary of Health and Human Services

Cindy Sheehan, Secretary of Defense

Whether the leaks prove true is yet to be revealed. We can only hope.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

My Values Vote for...

...and why I'm so happy to have been wrong.

What could make a person, a Democrat who had been critical of Barack Obama, be so happy over his election, and so happy to be wrong about my fears the Republicans would steal the election again, and get away with it, again?

First, what happened in my polling booth... it was a rainy morning. I still hadn’t decided whether I would vote for Ralph or Barack. But, somehow, in that booth it occurred to me that I didn’t want to come to the end of my life and realize I hadn’t voted for the first Democratic African-American President of the United States. And so I found myself filling in the oval next to the name, Barack Obama. Was it racist, a kind of reverse Bradley effect, to vote for someone because of his race? Maybe. All I know is that the long-suffering of Blacks in America —and healing it— seemed more important to me in that booth than the recent suffering of the American people via Bush’s spy program, that Barack approved with his vote on FISA. (Which had been the last straw for me, where Obama was concerned, and what sent me running to Ralph.)

So, as to the fears: I am always happy when my fears turn out to be unfounded. In this case, because Republicans managed to cheat their way into the White House in the past two presidential elections, I had reason to believe they’d do it again. I wasn’t about to set myself up for another disappointment, where I believed the polls and simply went on faith.

Obama’s victory, while not restoring my faith in the Democratic Party, or in his intentions to make the right choices and policies —not quite yet— does restore my faith in election integrity. At least the thing works when so many people come out to vote that Rovian crimes fail. That’s something to cheer about— the restoration of least in so far as a two-party system can restore it.

Best of all, though, was the beautiful, beautiful sight of tears on faces —Jesse Jackson, Oprah, and everyday African Americans— and knowing what this moment in history means for them. Imagine the children, how being Black and being proud has come to life in a whole new way. For them, I am very, very happy, indeed.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008


More to come...


Monday, November 3, 2008

Election Eve Fear and Loathing

Republican election fraud—practice makes perfect:
Will this one be stolen too?

Watching Countdown tonight, it was so frustrating to listen to Keith and What’s-his-name talking about how McCain’s campaign offices are all lonesome and bleak, lacking the bustle and enthusiasm of Obama’s campaign offices. So I’m thinking, What does McCain and his staff care? They know they're going to "win"... by CHEATING!

I hope I'm wrong, but what has changed since 2000 and 2004 to prevent the Republicans from stealing yet another election? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Except that they're practice-perfect now. Get ready for a big, stinking upset. How do I know? Check this out, today’s interview with Mark Crispin Miller: DemocracyNow!

Tonight I received an email from John McCain. But when I went to unsubscribe from the mailing list, the unsubscribe feature was set up so that you couldn’t unsubscribe without checking a reason —that is, four or five choices offered. Every choice of reason began with, “I am a John McCain supporter, but...” Naturally, I wasn’t going to choose any of those, so I just hit “unsubscribe.” It wouldn’t go. I had to go back to the email and send a reply, requesting they remove my email address from their list. Bastards! A Republican prank?