Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Some Climates Never Change

The graphics couldn't have been better -- or worse, depending on your point of view. There was the normally unflappable, cool president sweating like a pig. When I first saw the photo below, I actually thought he was weeping in remorse over his fateful choice to preside over a spy state, with the resulting loss of all his international friends. No such luck. In the midst of the current climate of authoritarianism and racism and xenophobia, he was simply and belatedly waxing rhapsodic about the actual climate. Suffice it to say that he added volumes to the hot air surrounding him. For what he said and didn't say (in other words, an analysis of his gifted doubletalk), here's a good piece from Common Dreams.

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So much is going on this week that even the national media can't fall into their usual stenographic lockstep; they were running all over the place playing Musical Leads. CNN's Neocon maven Erin Burnett was still stuck on desperado fugitive (as opposed to heroic whistleblower) Edward Snowden -- adding nothing about why his own government is hunting him down like an animal. MSNBC pivoted to the Supreme Court's trashing of the Voting Rights Act, with only snippets of Trayvon Martin trial coverage. My local CBS affiliate highlighted the impending funeral of James Gandolfini, combined with a rogue tsunami that hit the Jersey shore.

Meanwhile, the impending security state tsunami known as Immigration Reform was pretty much buried beneath the detritus. Whenever you hear the word Reform, just remember that it is a synonym for creative destruction. So in case you were thinking that immigration reform was going to be some sort of humanitarian outpouring of good will to the tired, the poor, the huddled masses, you'd better think again. The actual title of the impending Senate bill should be "How Do We Hate Hispanics? Let Us Count the Ways."

We will likely be spending billions of our taxpayer dollars to construct a full-fledged militarized zone at the southern border, complete with a 700-mile long double fence, a fleet of drones, and one border patrol agent stationed every thousand yards. The drones and the cops will probably outnumber the population. And to further attract the rabid Tea Party xenophobes of the House, the  vast majority of senators also agreed that workers awaiting membership in the Exceptional American Citizens Club will have their FICA and Medicare contributions confiscated for at least a decade, and that everybody will now be subject to random search and seizure as far as 100 miles north of the border. Immigrants not fluent in English will be excluded from the long slog to citizenship. (An excellent piece by Chris Hayes provides the little-noticed grim details.) 

Erick Garcia (no relation) an undocumented immigrant active in the Presente.Org movement, sent me an email this week to voice his disgust at the punitive nature of the proposed immigration legislation:
Every time a cop car passes by me in Arizona, my heart races. I've seen too many of my friends and family living in fear, not knowing for certain if they'll come home to the people they love each day or face deportation. Nobody knows we need to fix our immigration system more than me. 
But as a DREAMer, I'm terrified about what's happening in Congress....  This is what would need to happen before immigrants are given any hope of legalization: we'd need far more agents at the border than troops in Afghanistan, we'd spend billions of dollars on radar surveillance similar to what's used in Iraq, and we'd double the cost of unnecessary border enforcement to $30 billion. This, even though border crossings are at or below zero and experts say our border is more secure than ever.
 So with bipartisan friends like the Senate, who needs racist enemies like the Ku Klux Kourt? (credit, Greg Palast) Remember, the Senate immigration vote is only an opening salvo. The rabid House no doubt will make it even more sadistically sweet. Private prisons that charge rent to the undocumented is probably on their agenda, if they do go so far as to allow a vote. The only question remaining is why anybody in their right mind would even want to sneak over into the Land of the Drones and the Home of the Craven. You can work, but you'll get no benefit from the taxes you pay. And thanks to the Supreme Beings in their depressing black robes, you may not be allowed to vote even when you do finally get certified as a genu-wine side of prime American beef.

The White House pronounces itself perfectly okay with the latest draconian immigration amendments. And why wouldn't it? Militarization creep has been creeping everywhere you look. New York City stops and frisks minority people so many times that the number of stops has actually outnumbered the entire minority male population of the Big Apple. Muslims, too, are currently suing the city in federal court over the NYPD surveillance program.

Most of us, for the time being, are "merely" having our phone records and internet searches swept up and stored. But how much longer before it gets physical and we, too, become too cowed to even walk on the streets? Of course, if you frequent airports, you already know all about the TSA grope and the body rape-scan. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-Wall Street), of the Seven or Eight Immigration Gangstas, did once suggest similar pat-downs at all subway stations, but his proposal went nowhere. Maybe next year.

 The only people not creeped out by the chipping away of our civil rights are the politicians and the pundits and the secrecy industrial complex which stands to get very, very rich in order to keep us "safe." And quiet. And afraid.

The planet is warming up, yet the hearts and minds of the political leadership couldn't possibly get any colder.


Anonymous said...

"We will likely be spending billions of our taxpayer dollars to construct a full-fledged militarized zone at the southern border, complete with a 700-mile long double fence, a fleet of drones, and one border patrol agent stationed every thousand yards. The drones and the cops will probably outnumber the population."

I guess this is how we will placate the police and prison lobbies now that we are (supposedly) facing the eventuality of the end of the "war on drugs".

Denis Neville said...

Obama sends a “bold signal” of American action and “leadership” on global warming to the rest of the world!

“The most remarkable thing about the president's big speech on climate this afternoon was that it was considered remarkable at all.” - Charlie Pierce, “Obama Bails Out The Ocean With A Thimble” http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/president-obama-climate-speech-062513

On the same day the Supreme Court undercut the environmental progress Obama so “boldly” envisions. http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2013/06/25/2212331/how-the-supreme-court-just-undercut-the-environmental-progress-obama-envisions/

The Supreme Court also planted a dagger in the heart of the Voting Rights Act Law.

Many leading Democrats (but, to his credit, not Senator Obama) knew that that Roberts and Alito were corrupt, racist, sexist asshats before they were confirmed. Yet they confirmed them anyway.

Some climates never change.

Democrats are always asking the sheep to defend them. Yet they consistently refuse to defend the sheep.

I remember reading the following joke somewhere:

"The Democratic Party is like a horse that refuses take commands from its owner and stubbornly refuses to carry him.

The owner does not go out and get a new horse, but picks up the horse and carries it around in the belief that, eventually, the horse will change its mind.

Years later, the horse is thinking, "I'm a genius!"

steve beck said...

Senator Chuck Schumer(D-Wall Street)

Kat said...

tweet o' the day:
This President did a truly noble, gutsy thing when he declined to defend DOMA. It was definitely *not* the path of least resistance.


Zee said...


I presume that you're being sarcastic?

Obama's "[in]action" was the most tepid possible, truly bogus "support" for gay marriage from a bogus president.

BTW, I am thrilled with today's two SCOTUS outcomes.

Zee said...

In fact, I think that it would be as shameless for Obama to take any credit for today's outcomes as it is disingenuous for Bill'n'Hill to express "thanks" that a bill signed into law by Bubba hisself was overturned by SCOTUS.


Anonymous said...

That Wendy Davis is pretty impressive. It's not really an issue I'm passionate about, but it was great to see a Democrat stand up and fight. She looked cool and confident doing it, too.

Gold For RS said...

This kind of President would a truly respectable, gutsy point when he dropped to shield DOMA. It turned out definitely *not* the road involving very least resistance.

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Denis Neville said...

@ Anonymous

Yes, Wendy Davis was very impressive.

A real Democratic senator filibustering harmful legislation that would restrict her constituents' rights! Imagine that!!

Unfortunately, Wendy Davis is a Democratic Texas state senator and not a United States Senator.

It’s too bad that we don’t have more legislators like her throughout America.

Even more unfortunate, on the very same day, just two hours after the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, the Republican Texas Attorney General announced that Texas would advance a voter ID law and the very same redistricting map that was previously designed to keep Davis out of office. Thanks to the SCOTUS, Wendy Davis will likely lose her Texas Senate seat.

Kat said...

Naah, not my words. Just the most asinine of tweets found here:
Chris Hayes is really stretching to find something defensible about a leader who has been hard to defend lately.

Kat said...

And by "lately" I mean the last 5 years.
And by "leader"...oh, never mind.

Anonymous said...

All that said, I find the Davis filibuster potentially more powerful than you do.

It's not Davis alone who stalled that legislation (and in so doing brought nat'l attention to what anti-choice advocates have been trying to do in Texas and more successfully in Kansas and Alabama.)

It was a Paul Woodruffian-"First Democracy"-style crowd of citizens whose chaotic but masterfully non-violent disruption helped stall, so other Dems could run out the clock.
THAT, I thought, was truly noteworthy.
This, too, is worth pointing out: while it is important to speak up against rights violations and systemic dysfunction, it is counter-productive to refuse to recognize - and celebrate - when something goes right.

Wendy Davis may not save the planet, but she stands as an example of what Democrats have been missing. To refuse to recognize the significance of the crowd she inspired may put us into the "relentlessly grumpy old fart" category. I wouldn't wish to chase her (or the mixed crowd she inspired) off my lawn anytime soon.

Anonymous said...

On a less inspiring note than tge TX filibuster:


Snowden Is My Hero said...

When Dear Leader publicly denies something, you can count on it being a big fat lie. That's just Who He Is. He must believe he has his Snowden problem under control, because this is in the news:

'DAKAR, Senegal -- President Barack Obama says he won't engage in wheeling, dealing and trading to get NSA leaker Edward Snowden extradited to the U.S.' {Already done - Russian prisoners released, Snowden captured}

'Obama says he also won't be scrambling military jets to go after a 29-year-old hacker,' {He prefers stealth and subterfuge} rejecting suggestions the U.S. might send the Air Force {duh, CIA!} to force down a plane carrying Snowden from Russia to another country.' {He prefers a ground game, like tricking Snowden to hurriedly leave Hong Kong where he had cover and public support for a cold barren airport terminal in Russia, and too conveniently messing up the paperwork to allow him to make that move}

'Obama says he hasn't personally called the leaders of Russia or of China {his aide dialed}. He says he shouldn't have to {because he's King of the World}. He says expelling a criminal {Guilty!} is something that should be dealt with through routine legal channels.' {Star Chamber or secret prisoner swaps.}

Poor Ed. I fear he's in permanent 'underground' status.

James F Traynor said...

Have any of you read the article on Glenn Greenwald by the NYDN? Of course it is the NY Daily News and this could be expected, but even so.

Anonymous said...

he was also profiled in buzzfeed.

There's a Gawker bit on the NYDN v. BuzzFeed profiles. Included in the responses is one of the most admirable defenses of Greenwald (truly, a man who can handle himself) or of anyone - I've read:

"I'm actually glad to see Greenwald get a little mainstream ink, even if it's shameless hatchet work by a centrist rag like the Daily News. For those of who've been following him since he his Bush-bashing days at Salon, it's kind of like the hipster who knew the band before they blew up, totally misplaced pride but an odd form of validation nonetheless. I went through the "hate him for being self-righteous" / "thinking he made good points" / "disagreeing with some things here and there but ultimately thinking he's the most important American political writer working today" phase and I'm okay with that.

Some legit criticisms of Greenwald first:

1) He engages in uncalled for ad homenim (only on twitter oddly enough). Addressing points but not before throwing out defensive speculation about the motives of his attackers.

2) He has a blind spot for anti-Semitism and Islamic extremism, even once equating a poll showing 65% of Egyptians believing in death for people who leave Islam with 72% of American's believing in creationism. Post-modern relativism is the drunk, silly uncle of the left and the sooner Greenwald stops indulging in it to score lame political points, the better.

3) He has an almost laughably moving goal post as to what is and isn't a creditable source of information. When the NY Times prints something he disagrees with, it's "We shouldn't be shocked that an Iraq war supporting, sleazy beltway worshiping centrist paper like the times would say this." BUT if they validate his worldview its "EVEN THE NEW YORK TIMES agrees that X is true." Well which is it? Seems like a rather convenient standard for judging credibility. One cannot dismiss appeals to establishment authority as conservative hackery one day, and then hold them up as dispositive the next.

All that being said, I can't think of a current political writer who has been more right about shit more while giving less of a shit about zeitgeist and taboo . Like science or art, one of the few objective ways political ideas are measured is by how many smaller minded people rip them off later."

(cont. below)

Anonymous said...

(cont.) "Its taken as consensus now by most liberal thinkers that the drone wars are morally bankrupt precedent. This was ignored for years by the established left, Greenwald was out front on this.

It's taken for granted among most liberal thinkers that Obama is an enemy of privacy and his Nixonian impulse to stifle meaningful dissent of the military industrial complex is probably his most troubling legacy. He was out front on this (by a long margin)

That the true crime of the Great Recession wasn't just the rampet corruption of banks, but also their Washington protectors and the moral hazard of allowing their crimes to go unpunished by "looking forward, not backwards", is now seen as obvious to those paying attention. He was out on front on this. While most on the left were piddle-dicking over how many jobs Obama created that month and how this helped his reelection, Greenwald, day in and day out, developed broad systemic critiques that addressed the larger issue of corporate capture and how it got us there (and will do so again), agnostic to short term partisan convenience.

Some may find this approach self-righteous and unrealistic. Others, solipsistic and rigid. I think it is all those things, but those things are the entire point of journalism.

The point of the press isn't to internalize the needs of those in power, or operate as functionaries in service of some short term victory, it's to engage in the naive, but essential, practice of assuming people actually believe in what they say, that truth is not a malleable, arbitrary byproduct of power, but an objective reality that ought to have meaning and life and purchase in our political sphere. One may disagree with his notion of "truth", one may disagree with his tactics, but one cannot dispute the value of it over process and tabloid. To this extent, I can't think of anyone more deserving of landing these scopes and having a megaphone on which to influence the national conversation."

Elizabeth Adams said...

Just a little local news:


I was at this protest as a legal observer and not in a position in any way to get arrested.

Beale AFB is right in my back yard, and 3-4 drones can sometimes be seen flying over the base at night.