Maybe I've been looking for outrage in all the wrong places, or maybe the usual polemicists are still working on their material. But so far, I can count on the fingers of one hand the severe condemnations of the latest Barry flip-flop. The New York Times ran an editorial accusing the president of selling out democracy to the highest bidder. It even came close to accusing the president of criminal behavior for now allowing and encouraging members of his Cabinet to shill for corporate cash for the aptly named "Priorities First USA" SuperPac. (It is against the law for cabinet members to actively campaign and solicit money).
Ditto for Robert Reich, who blogged about the "sad spectacle" that is the Obama re-election campaign:
The sad truth is Obama has never really occupied the high ground on campaign finance. He refused public financing in 2008. Once president, he didn’t go to bat for a system of public financing that would have made it possible for candidates to raise enough money from small donors and matching public funds they wouldn’t need to rely on a few billionaires pumping unlimited sums into super PACS. He hasn’t even fought for public disclosure of super PAC donations.
And now he’s made a total mockery of the Court’s naïve belief that super PACs would remain separate from individual campaigns, by officially endorsing his own super PAC and allowing campaign manager Jim Messina and even cabinet officers to speak at his super PAC events. Obama will not appear at such events but he, Michelle Obama, and Vice President Joe Biden will encourage support of the Obama super PAC.
Former Sen. Russ Feingold also professed to be appalled and shocked, but ended his tirade by saying he still supports the president even though he is "dancing with the devil". So as far as I am concerned, he cancelled himself out. His purported disgust is full of baloney and shouldn't even count. He was among those "pragmatists" who helped quash talk for a primary challenger while there was still time.
The Times piece was greeted with scathing reviews by the Readers Who Comment. It is just so naive of the editorial board to think our pragmatic president wouldn't level the playing field, they cried. One reader huffed that the public at large simply does not mind that money rules politics. My own comment, meant as a tongue in cheek pre-emptive litany of Obama apologist talking points, seems to have been taken at face value by at least a few 'bots. I thought my irony was fairly obvious; for example, "you have to fight Evil with Evil." One person responded "Totally agree! About time he took a gun to a gunfight!"
Even the erstwhile renegade Keith Olbermann seems to have given the president a pass on this one. He has been out on an extended sick leave, and I can only surmise that his medical treatment included an IV cocktail with Obama kool aid mixed in with an MSNBC antibiotic. He has failed to mention Occupy and the mass evictions even once this week, but is falling into the familiar and lazy pattern of guffawing at the latest GOP loathesomeness and waxing indignant at Susan G. Komen. Yeah, I get that Susan G. Komen for the Cure is full of horseshit. But it has always been a corporate gimmick, so why are we surprised about the Planned Parenthood de-funding? What about the Drone attacks, the media drumbeat for an Iranian War, the continuing Long Depression that is so bad that people have stopped getting married?
And do you know who Keith had on as his very special guest last night? Jerry Springer! These guys are apparently buddies from way back. Springer was celebrated on Countdown because he had told Fox and Friends they were not fair and balanced, to their faces. So apparently, you can exploit poor people on a TV show all you want, as long as you later insult the talking heads who are politically dishonest while performing their own brand of poor people-exploitation.
I admit it. I watched the Super Bowl on Sunday night, but just to see the commercials and the halftime show. Seriously! I kept the sound muted for the actual game, and read some of George Orwell's essays to pass the time. His Notes on Nationalism hit me like a ton of bricks. If you just substitute "partisanship" for "nationalism", he could be talking about the divisive and corrupt political cesspool threatening to drown us in this election year. Early in the essay is this trenchant observation:
By ‘nationalism’ I mean first of all the habit of assuming that human beings can be classified like insects and that whole blocks of millions or tens of millions of people can be confidently labelled ‘good’ or ‘bad’(1). But secondly — and this is much more important — I mean the habit of identifying oneself with a single nation or other unit, placing it beyond good and evil and recognising no other duty than that of advancing its interests. Nationalism is not to be confused with patriotism. Both words are normally used in so vague a way that any definition is liable to be challenged, but one must draw a distinction between them, since two different and even opposing ideas are involved. By ‘patriotism’ I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality.Once citizens have allowed their own rational thought processes to be subsumed, whether by mindless allegiance to an authoritarian, attractive symbol of power, or by fear of "the other" -- be it nonexistent homegrown terrorists, or right-wing lunatics who want to crush the birth control pills of every woman in America, or whatever -- Democracy is doomed. Otherwise sane people literally lose touch with reality in their desperate quest to normalize the abnormal. Obama apologists now trying to justify legalized bribery fall into this category. Orwell calls such rationalizing an "indifference" to reality. The same good, intelligent people who condemned the Bush War crimes, secrecy, and civil rights abuses, are turning a blind eye to the Obama crimes:
All nationalists have the power of not seeing resemblances between similar sets of facts. A British Tory will defend self-determination in Europe and oppose it in India with no feeling of inconsistency. Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage — torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians — which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by ‘our’ side.Should we even bother fighting back against this awfulness? Absolutely, says Orwell. Half the battle, he says, is to recognize the cognitive dissonance that is part of modern politics and life in general, to recognize that we all have biases, but never to allow these emotional defense mechanisms to trump rational thought. In other words, giving up at this point is just not an option, even though fighting back seems like crying out alone in the wilderness in these crazy times.
Fight on. Resist. Occupy.
Update: Speak of dancing with the devil. Glenn Greenwald blasts the repulsive hypocrisy of so-called progressives who are just fine with Gitmo, warrantless wiretapping and assassinations. We knew Orwell was prescient. We just didn't how pin-pointy accurate he would turn out to be. As Greenwald says, the liberal pundits who blasted the war crimes of Bush, Cheney & Rumsfeld now owe them a huge apology.
|Occupy Your Inner Orwell|