Thomas Paine:

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

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Obama’s PNAC: B.A.R.F.F.

“When you wake, you will remember nothing of this...”

      Sparrow, in the December issue of the Sun Magazine, suggests changing the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to the Federal Bureau of Introspection. He writes, “Imagine if, instead of collaring suspects, lingering in pizza parlors, and muttering into walkie-talkies, our agents simply sat in dark rooms with eyes closed, searching within?”
      I sense a kindred spirit there. But how lovely such a change would be. Not only would Americans be safer from the violations of their constitutional rights by government agents, those made all the more egregious during the Bush Administration —the Patriot Act, etc.— American citizens would be in a position reminiscent of Mother: “Go to your room right now and think about what you’ve done!”
      Instead of FBI agents —the not-so civil-libertarian kind— projecting their dastardly tendencies toward tyranny onto hapless, innocent citizens, they’d have to sit there and look inward. What a radical, new idea for them!

      As one of those lonely, still-disappointed-in-Obama progressives, I would like to suggest a foundation which will do for the Obama Administratin (BOA) what the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) did for the Bush Administration, that is, expose the philosophy and spirit behind the madness. This would be the “Barack Amnesiac Reflexive Forgetting Foundation, or, BARFF. After all, it is going to be important for all Obamniacs to pretend everything is changing for the better, that President Obama is fulfilling his promises, that there’s reason for hope, that they can maintain their perky positivity, without fear of being disturbed by us party-pooper, reality mongers who keep jumping up and down, waving our hands in their faces and trying to ruin their moods with facts and reminders about what Barack promised.
      With BARFF, the whole idea will be to forget and forgive all, no matter how difficult it becomes, no matter how the stomach churns.
      But it won’t be all that difficult, to wit: I noticed recently, in an NPR news report, how the “reporter” allowed Bush to get away with saying they’d had “bad intelligence” on Saddam’s supposed WMD’s, and that the war in Iraq, therefore, wasn’t his fault. No correction was made, no mention of the Downing Street Memo, which reported that “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy,” or how contradictory intelligence from the CIA was suppressed and ignored, or about the outing of Valerie Plame, that whole scandal. This cooperation by the media, with reflexive forgetting and willful amnesia will make the job all the easier.
      It will be up to Obamniacs to continue to forget in this way, as they learned to do back when Barack appeared (“appeared,” because this reality is quickly dimming from consciousness) to betray his promise to filibuster any attempts to give the telecoms immunity from prosecution, when he flip-flopped, voted Yes on the FISA bill anyway, without even the mere peep of a filibuster, granting the telecoms immunity, in service to the notion of hopeful forgetting, I suppose—and change. After all, Obama promised change, so.... he changed! What’s the problem?
      BARFF will give excellent cover for Obama’s failures to fix Bush-era legislative atrocities. It will further the cause of ignoring the death of civil liberty in the United States.
      Take, for example, AETA, the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, passed by Congress and signed by Bush in 2006 in a staggering moment of collective, ethical forgetting and feeble-mindedness. The Center for Constitutional Rights has this to say about the law: “The Act is part of a trend known as the ‘Green Scare,’ which refers to the recent crackdown on environmental and animal rights activists under the guise of the current administration’s so-called ‘war on terror.’ Passed at the behest of corporate interests [including the American Psychological Association] that profit from animal torture during the research process, but encompassing any business that uses animals or is related to such a business, the AETA penalizes and drastically criminalizes any activity that affects the physical or economic operation of an animal enterprise, even without any loss to the business.”
      This means that if you discover your kitten ended up at a research lab and is being...whatever horrible torture!....and you decide to hold up a sign outside the lab, you can be prosecuted as a “terrorist.” Disregard that “there have been no documented incidences of injury or death caused by and environmental or animal action in the U.S.” (CCR)
      See, in case you didn’t know it, humans —that is, humans making a profit— come before animals and their little feelings. End of story. Of course, WE FORGET that animal feelings are not less than, nor unlike, our own, and may be felt all the more intensely, given animal confusion, helplessness, and vulnerability (added suffering)— and it is basically immoral and unethical to cause the suffering of an other in order to further one’s own life, for whatever reason; but forgetting and unknowing is our business, and we do it well.
      What does this have to do with the Obama Administration? Well, surely the “change” we were hoping for was the end of such injustice, those Bush-era injustices where profits always come before people, animals, and the environment, where the real criminals, corporate and otherwise, triumph at the expense of decent people and decent values. The hope of such a restoration of justice, in support of ethical values, was implicit in the Obama victory. It was part of what we longed for. But, we have yet to see if Obama truly shares our values and will eliminate the excesses of the Bush Administration, excesses such as AETA. The impression we’re beginning to get from Obama track record so far is that he is big on PR, but small on delivery. We suspect two faces there, one that looks good to us, the other that looks good to the right-wing and corporate America, and it’s the latter that is the real Obama.
      I can see it now...
      BOA will, in the face of pressure by environmental activists and animal rights activists to overthrow AETA, suggest hearings, invite letters, and Obama himself will speak movingly about the need to protect animals from needless suffering. However, behind the scenes, BARFF will effectively render the protests impotent, through propaganda —ads, for example, showing clever cartoons of happy cats and dogs on their way to the research lab, a soft landscape of gentle brooks and meadows peopled by scientists dressed in cozy, PJ-like outfits— and by stigmatizing any and all stirrings of conscience with regard to animal suffering, by the infusion into the media of negative stereotyping and labeling: “Violent Old Ladies with Cats (VOLC);” “Animal Coddler-Terrorists;” “Anti-science Cult Killers,” etc., which would be the stick, aside from the prosecutions. The carrot would be the blessed sleep of forgetting and unknowing— “President Obama’s in charge...everything’s going to be okay....”

      Sweet dreams...enjoy your Obasms.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Don't Worry, Progressives: Obama Will Lead the Way (wink, wink...)

By Joel Mittlemann
San Diego, California

      Responding to criticism that he has failed so far to appoint even one progressive from the “Democratic wing” of the Democratic Party to his team, President-elect Obama insisted during his press conference yesterday that the change he envisions will come from his leadership, not from his staff or cabinet.
      “Don’t look at the people I surround myself with. Look to me. Ultimately, policy decisions will emanate from me, by the spirit of change I have promised and intend to honor.”
      He then repeated much of what he had said in ads and campaign speeches, with some important differences: “Instead of prosperity trickling down, pain has trickled up. Working family incomes have fallen by two thousand dollars a year. We're losing jobs. Deficits are exploding. Our economy's in turmoil. Simply put, laissez-faire capitalism is a failure. Let’s face it—it isn’t working. We cannot possibly drive down the very same path. Instead of giving hundreds of billions in new tax breaks to big corporations, the wealthy elite and oil companies, I plan on restoring a mixed economy, with serious regulations on big business. Then we need a repeal of the Taft-Hartley Act, to restore workers’ right to form unions. Instead of more tax breaks for corporations that outsource American jobs, I'll give them to companies who create jobs here. Instead of extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest -- I'll focus on the middle class and the poor. We’re going to end NAFTA, CAFTA, GATT, the IMF, HMO’s, as well as create a single-payer health care system.
      It doesn’t matter that the people I’ve got on my team have been hard-core, right-wingers and central players in the economic and moral crisis that faces America—they’ve seen the light, and it is held by me. I will lead the way, don’t you worry about that.”
      Asked why, if he intended on ending Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans immediately upon his inauguration, he appeared to be abandoning that idea to say he might simply allow them to expire in 2011, President-elect Obama said that given the economic crisis, he needed to focus on “more pressing issues.”


      President-elect Obama has reportedly charged his economic team to develop a plan for the future implementation of the Greater Regional Advantage Free Trade Agreement, or, GRAFTA. He assured reporters the plan would include safeguards for American jobs, the environment, and the human rights of the poor all over the world. This reporter thought President-elect Obama winked when he said that, but others thought it was just a twitch.