Holder aimed to comfort the oppressed while pretending he was not the oppressors' top enabler.
Without admitting wrongdoing, Holder glibly acknowledged to the good folks of Ferguson, MO, that he, too, is black, and yes, that racial profiling has happened even to him. He hugged the black relatives of the latest black victim of the punishing state. He hugged the "good cop" black state police captain. He promised a full federal investigation, and formally decreed that the healing process may now begin. Justice shall prevail in Ferguson, most likely the same way it prevailed in Florida after the Trayvon Martin killing. Everybody calm the hell down.
And then, just as quickly as he'd breezed into town in a truly awesome ostentatious motorcade symbolizing the postmodern late capitalist meaning of Black Power, Holder breezed right back out again. Presumably, he will return to the ocean-breezy Martha's Vineyard vacation briefly interrupted earlier in the week for the serious staged optics of this White House photo-op:
|Still Life With Fruit: Official White House Propaganda Body Language Photo|
This picture was prominently featured on the homepage of the New York Times, which in its latest attempt at stenographic whitewashing, obligingly made the Ferguson police riots all about the blackness of two of the most powerful men in America. The article itself was implicitly racist, given that the original subhead (since removed) gushed that when it comes to the ideology of race relations, you really can't tell the difference between Obama and Holder. You just cannot tell them apart. The Times made the amazing discovery that elite black people can have different personalities but still agree on shit!
Much less prominently featured by the Times yesterday was a scathing indictment of Holder by Wall Streeter-turned-columnist William D. Cohan, who blasted the many Holder sweetheart deals with the financial mob. The latest deal has Bank of America agreeing to pay a multibillion-dollar settlement to the government for the mortgage fraud which, ironically enough, has disproportionately victimized minority families, rendering them increasingly more destitute under the Obama administration. That includes the families in riot-torn Ferguson, where the "official" black poverty level is nearly 25%.
In reviewing Holder's penultimate settlement, with Citigroup, Cohan couched the corruption of the Obama administration in Shakespearean terms, calling Holder's no-jail time settlements with fraudulent tycoons "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."
Once again last month, we were treated to the sorry spectacle of Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. holding a news conference to proclaim that a “too big to fail” bank had been brought to justice for its reprehensible behavior in the years leading up to the 2008 financial crisis. All things considered, it was fine theater with the obvious caveat that nothing even remotely close to justice had been served.
This time, Mr. Holder was taking a victory lap for strong-arming Citigroup into paying $7 billion — including a $4 billion cash penalty, the largest such single payment ever — to settle all civil claims against it for its role in packaging troubled mortgages into securities and selling them as investments in the years before the crisis, even though a bunch of Citigroup bankers knew better and did it anyway.
That Mr. Holder prefers large settlements to prosecutions is no surprise to anyone familiar with the so-called Holder Doctrine, which stems from his now-famous June 1999 memorandum — when he was deputy attorney general — that included the thought that big financial settlements may be preferable to criminal convictions because a criminal conviction often carries severe unintended consequences, like loss of jobs and the inability to continue as a going concern. (See Andersen, Arthur, for instance.)
That Mr. Holder, as attorney general, is following through on an idea that he proposed as a subordinate 15 years ago does not make his behavior any less infuriating. The fact is that by settling with the big Wall Street banks for billions of dollars — money that comes out of their shareholders’ pockets — Mr. Holder is allowing them to avoid the sunshine that Louis Brandeis wrote 100 years ago was the best disinfectant. Instead of shining the bright light on wrongdoing that took place at the Wall Street banks, Mr. Holder’s settlements allow them to cover it up permanently.Mind you that Cohan's devastating op-ed, which should have been featured prominently on Wednesday's front page, was relegated to the less popular DealBook section, which caters mainly to Wall Street wonks and gets less clicks from the general readership.
Here, courtesy of usual sycophantic suspect Peter Baker and assisted by Matt Apuzzo, is part of the "Tale of Two Elite Black Princes" that wound up on the front page instead:
Mr. Holder, 63, is the one leaning forward, both in the photograph released by the White House and on the issues underlying the crisis in Ferguson, Mo. A child of the civil rights era, he grew up shaped by the images of violence in Selma, Ala., and joined sit-ins at Columbia University where protesters renamed an office after Malcolm X. Now in high office, he pushes for policy changes and is to fly on Wednesday to Ferguson to personally promise justice in the case of a black teenager who was fatally shot by a white police officer.
Mr. Obama, 53, is the one seemingly holding back in the White House photograph, contemplative, even brooding, as if seeking to understand how events could get so out of hand. He was too young and removed to experience the turmoil of the 1960s, growing up in a multiracial household in Hawaii and Indonesia. As he now seeks balance in an unbalanced time, he wrestles with the ghosts of history that his landmark election, however heady, failed to exorcise.(First as Cohan tragedy, then as Baker farce.)
This is a community aflame with a passion to know the truth, and Obama is treating it dispassionately and with distance,” he (prominent elite black dude Michael Eric Dyson) said. “There is no blood flowing through the veins with empathy.”
This statement makes Holder's coddling of Wall Street crooks all the more cynical and damning if he actually claims to understand the moral consequences of his personal collusion with them and the effect of that collusion on the lives of black people. They lost their homes. They lost their jobs. Their hours were cut, their wages stagnated. The Ferguson community is aflame with passion, all right, but knowing the truth about a shooting is only part of it. That people are really aflame with a passion for social and economic justice, is apparently not deemed worthy either of front page news or of Holder's concern-trolling.On the other hand, Mr. Dyson said: “Eric feels it in his gut. It rises to his brain. It’s expressed on his tongue.” Mr. Holder, he added, is “an up and down race man who understands the moral consequences of the law on the lives of black people.”
The Times puff-piece, which obligingly helps the White House set up the drama of the two elite black dudes, then pivots to the White House pretending to vociferously deny that any such drama exists. It's the tried and true propaganda tactic of creating a straw man (or two) and knocking it back down, thus diverting attention from the real culprit: neoliberal corruption and capitalism gone wild. To wit:
Such sentiments exasperate the White House, which denies any substantive distance between the two. Aides to Mr. Obama said he has been less visceral in his public remarks than his comments after the Trayvon Martin case because there is still an active investigation.
Okay, so that was our clue that this whole propaganda puff piece is the brainchild of Obama sister-wife Valerie Jarrett, aka the "Night Stalker," who has also interrupted her own Martha's Vineyard vacation to work the phones as "outreach" to various media personalities and "community leaders" to get the Ferguson race narrative spin back under control.“People shouldn’t presume because the attorney general might be more outspoken on a subject that he’s not consulting with the president and that the president isn’t completely supportive of the steps he’s taking,” said Valerie Jarrett, a senior White House adviser and close friend to both.
After Mr. Obama won the presidency in 2008, he made Mr. Holder attorney general in part because of what Ms. Jarrett called “this shared vision” of overhauling the justice system. They have grown so close that they schedule Martha’s Vineyard vacations to coincide. Even closer are their wives, Michelle Obama and Dr. Sharon Malone.Okay, so that was our clue that the "overhauling" (willful ignorance) of the justice system goes all the way to the highest levels and is an integral part of the Obama-Holder shared vision of fealty to the .01%. This shared vision is also manifest in Holder's "legal" opinions purporting to justify the drone murders of Anwar al-Awlaki and other human beings. The overhauling includes the Obama administration's support, in a Supreme Court case brought by a black New Jersey man, of the police state's practice of conducting demeaning body cavity and strip-searches of people arrested for minor traffic offenses.
The list of the shared vision atrocities goes on and on and on.
But to soften the blow, Jarrett and the Times have even rendered the Obama and Holder wives into complicit players in the cozy incestuous drama.
Meanwhile, there is at least one powerful black dude out there refusing to be sucked into the Official Obama Spin Machine. Kareem Abdul Jabar, a former basketball player who is obviously not included in Obama's tight circle of black jock/CEO golfing buddies, actually "went there" and acknowledged that Ferguson is as much (or even more) about class and poverty as it is about race:
By focusing on just the racial aspect, the discussion becomes about whether Michael Brown’s death—or that of the other three unarmed black men who were killed by police in the U.S. within that month—is about discrimination or about police justification. Then we’ll argue about whether there isn’t just as much black-against-white racism in the U.S. as there is white-against-black. (Yes, there is. But, in general, white-against-black economically impacts the future of the black community. Black-against-white has almost no measurable social impact.)
This fist-shaking of everyone’s racial agenda distracts America from the larger issue that the targets of police overreaction are based less on skin color and more on an even worse Ebola-level affliction: being poor. Of course, to many in America, being a person of color is synonymous with being poor, and being poor is synonymous with being a criminal. Ironically, this misperception is true even among the poor.And that’s how the status quo wants it.It's not just about white vs. black, citizens vs. cops, right vs. left.
It's mainly about the Class War. It's about the obscenely rich vs. the rest of us. Who but the obscenely rich could have facilitated the multibillion-dollar militarization of local police departments in the first place? Who but the obscenely rich profit from closing poor neighborhood schools to make room for charters? Who but the obscenely rich ensure that the private prisons in the incarceration capital of the world remain full to bursting with black and brown people?
It's only through the slick propaganda of identity politics that the Powers That Be can maintain their strength, elevating corporate shills like Obama and Holder into victim-hero status and making us forget and gloss over their own myriad misdeeds and betrayals. We can sanctimoniously defend them against the rabid right, and tell poor minorities to emulate them as we revel in the vicarious pleasure of their elevation. Obama and Holder overcame, and yet they haven't, quite And thus the liberal class, needing the comfort of the lesser evil, bases its affection for this un-dynamic duo more upon the color of their skin rather than upon the content of their character.
It's a perversion of Martin Luther King's I Have a Dream speech.
It's a cynical ploy. And given that most people, very sanely, no longer believe in the American Dream and rightly predict that their children will be worse off than they are, the politics of identity are just about all the elites have got left in their bag of cruel tricks to keep the people divided and conquered.
It's a testament to the effectiveness of slick propaganda that, compared to other civilized nations suffering the effects of global austerity inflicted by the ruling class, most Americans still cling to the belief that not only is there still a large middle class, but that they are actually still members of it.
The majority of Americans self-identifying as poor and forming a trans-racial solidarity movement of the oppressed would be a very dangerous thing indeed.