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.)


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