Isn't it rich? As the corporate press engages in a frenzy of hand-wringing over the potential Trump regime that they're doing their utmost to create, they're losing sight of the Big Picture.
Because whether it's draped in the American flag or whether it's nesting inside Trump's comb-over like a plague of lice, fascism is already here. We're already living under a corporate police state: government of, by, and for the oligarchs. This status quo is just making it all that much easier for Donald Trump to rise to power and glory, for Donald Trump to rise in the polls every time he rebukes the standards of political correctness and milks the resentment of the masses. Every time he instigates a campaign rally beating of a protester, or makes fun of a disabled journalist, the cameras are there and the talking heads have something exciting to talk about.
If we had a true democracy, or even a modicum of representative government run by public officials kept honest by an adversarial press, the Donald Trump Experience never would have survived its audition. Trump is only filling a vacuum, serving the corrupt status quo in the imperial end-times.
With his own uniquely usual flair, meanwhile, President Barack Obama is leading the most secretive administration in modern history. He accomplishes this feat by appearing to be accessible and calm and earnest and above-board. After all, a day doesn't go by when the man isn't on TV, whether it's pardoning a turkey with the kids, or holding a news conference on Permawar, or schmoozing with comedians on talk shows. He can't even let next week's 50th anniversary of "A Charlie Brown Christmas" go by without interrupting the festivities to do a really cool imitation of the obfuscatory adult-speak in the show. He has no intention of losing his timing this late in his career. (I was so looking forward to the telecast until I saw the teaser of Barack and Michelle co-opting all the fun with their scary, sincere hokiness.)
Just as George W. Bush paved the way for Obama, Obama is only making it easier for a President Trump.
In a rare burst of investigative adversarial journalism, the New York Times today exposes the authoritarian, defensive mindset ingrained within the smiley-face Obama administration. We all knew that this White House has been, as Times journalist James Risen points out, "the greatest enemy of press freedom in a generation." But now his colleague Eric Lichtblau informs us that Obama is even clamping down on his own government watchdogs. He not only "stopped opening doors," he slammed them shut, locked them, and then threw away the key:
The Justice Department watchdogs ran into an unexpected roadblock last year when they began examining the role of federal drug agents in the fatal shootings of unarmed civilians during raids in Honduras.A New York University professor calls Obama's crackdown on government watchdogs "the most aggressive assault on the inspector general program since the beginning," -- a defanging so complete that their jobs might as well be abolished.
The Drug Enforcement Administration balked at turning over emails from senior officials tied to the raids, according to the department’s inspector general. It took nearly a year of wrangling before the D.E.A. was willing to turn over all its records in a case that the inspector general said raised “serious questions” about agents’ use of deadly force.The continuing Honduran inquiry is one of at least 20 investigations across the government that have been slowed, stymied or sometimes closed because of a long-simmering dispute between the Obama administration and its own watchdogs over the shrinking access of inspectors general to confidential records, according to records and interviews.
Lichtblau goes on to report that an investigation of the Commerce Department's records on (probably tepid or non-existent) international trade enforcement actions was summarily shut down because such disclosures would have violated the "proprietary rights" of businesses. Altogether, the article reveals, the Obama administration has restricted access of investigators to the records of 70 different government agencies. The lone exception has been at the Justice Department, which held sway over the Drug Enforcement Agency. That case revolves around the deaths of four Honduran civilians, including one child, in a botched raid. Additionally, DEA agents reportedly shot down civilian planes, a clear violation of international law.
Meanwhile, writes Lichtblau, the government watchdogs have been forced to take their complaints to Congress in hopes of getting them to stage a bipartisan intervention.
And meanwhile, pundits like Timothy Egan and Paul Krugman are staging a freak-out over Donald Trump and the other right-wing clowns. Send 'em in, because otherwise the faux-liberals would have nothing to talk or write about. Heaven forbid that they ever take on the corruption within their own party.
If Trump is elected, he wouldn't be able to contain himself. The man cannot keep his foul mouth shut. He wouldn't be able to resist bragging every time his Brownshirts shoot down a plane and or drone a wedding party to death or bomb a hospital on purpose. He'd bring some much-needed transparency right back into the fascist White House.
My published response to the Lichtblau piece:
When a coalition of open government advocates awarded President Obama its Transparency Award in 2011 to mark Sunshine Law Week, the press was barred from covering the event. When the media tried to get a transcript of his remarks, there was none available.Don't you love farce? No, you say?
Some cynics surmised at the time that the award was meant to be "aspirational," just like the Nobel Peace Prize. We now know how ironic both of these honorifics have turned out to be.
Orwellian doesn't even begin to describe the paranoia and secrecy of this administration. It out-Bushes Bush, even out-Nixons Nixon.
Around the time of the Transparency Award secret ceremony, the A.P. obtained emails showing that Homeland Security workers were accusing senior Obama officials of "meddling" with release of files requested under the FOIA. Morale in that agency and other government agencies has been going down each successive year of his administration. This might also have something to do with Obama's "insider threat" directive, which requires government workers to spy on each other.
And yet the White House continues to brag about how transparent it is, when in fact opacity was built in from Day 1. Obama had promised, for example, to broadcast the health law negotiations on C-Span. Once elected, he then proceeded to give away the store to the insurance and drug lobbies behind closed doors, while still promising to fight for a "public option" in his public remarks.
Secretive, Orwellian.... and deeply, deeply corrupt.
Well, maybe next year. And I'm not talking about Hillary or Trump.
Replace the Bliss of Obama with the Bern of Bernie, and now we're talking business. Democracy might be salvageable after all.