Friday, April 17, 2009

Obama and the Secret Memos: Or How Obama Radicalized Me

One needn’t look too far or too hard to find hypocrisy. Often it is as easy as looking in a mirror yet hypocrisy, when employed in the defense of torture, degrades us all as human beings. For Bush and Cheney it wasn’t torture if you weren’t actually pulling out toenails and teeth with pliers or using thumb presses or slicing away body parts. This type of justification is what leads us down the darker alleys of inhumanity. Obama’s hypocrisy is to shut down the more glaring torture eyesores while allowing the practice to in essence continue by letting non-Americans do the torturing for us.


Barack Obama today released four top secret memos that allowed the CIA under the Bush administration to torture al-Qaida and other suspects held at Guantánamo and secret detention centres round the world.

But, in an accompanying statement, Obama ruled out prosecutions against those who had been involved. It is a "time for reflection, not retribution," he said.

So even though the Obama administration has ruled that indeed torture took place we should all look the other way and contemplate our belly buttons. This stance is to be expected especially when one is still using torture. So on one hand Obama condemns torture yet he will not prosecute the people responsible for committing torture, Bush and Cheney. Obama pretty much lets both off the hook.

Obama, in a statement from the White House, said: "In releasing these memos, it is our intention to assure those who carrying out their duties relying in good faith upon the legal advice from the department of justice that they will not be subject to prosecution."

It sounds very much like Obama is saying that since Bush and Cheney had the okay from the justice department they really aren’t guilty of any wrongdoing. The problem with all this fine hair splitting by Obama is that almost everyone believes that torture is wrong, knows torture is wrong, but instead we should all play-pretend that we all were just born yesterday and really didn’t know it was wrong. This is one of a multitude of things that bother me regarding Obama -- that I feel like he is talking down to people, also that we are expected to swallow his numerous lies is insulting. Not only is Obama’s position legally and morally questionable but it is arrogant as well. Basically I find Obama to be arrogant to the point where his judgment is correspondingly affected.

And so life continues on its warped plane of existence and we are told once again that we should look ahead not behind, also that we are reassuring the torturers that the way is clear and all is forgiven. Obama must believe we are all complete idiots. On issue after issue Obama has chosen positions at odds with the chosen one’s image as the peace president, the savvy and smarter Obama. Though if Obama was so savvy one wonders why he needed to ask what the U.S. goal in Afghanistan was after he had already said he intended to escalate the number of troops there. And considering that Obama actively sought out the presidency he should already have had a good idea of just what we are doing in Afghanistan and why since he would be in charge of it. After all, there is no real goal other than the march toward world domination with the war profiteers tagging along for the ride while feeding at the pig trough.

Recently I was talking with a liberal friend of mine who I hadn’t seen in some time. He asked me what I thought of Obama. I said I didn’t care for Obama or his policies. My friend replied that I was the most radical person he knew. The irony is here is Obama continuing with the bulk of Bush policies and I shouldn’t object because, because, because why? Why shouldn’t people object to the blood already dripping from his fingers? I really don’t see how objecting to the death of innocent people, mostly women and children, makes you radical when it ought to make you just plain human. But if objecting to bloodshed makes you a radical then I think this place could use a few more radicals.


At April 17, 2009 3:46 AM, Blogger Mimi said...

Rob, your remarks really hit a chord with me. My brother accused me of being "cynical" because I pointed out some of the truths you've written here. Some blogger (can't remember who) suggested we apply the "WIBDI" test to this administation's moves. That stands, of course, for "what if Bush did it?" Unfortunately, nobody seems to be doing that. The anti-war movement is dead for all intents and purposes and O. is excused everyhing--because he's a dem, I guess.

At April 17, 2009 7:55 AM, Blogger M. Pyre said...

Me too. I'm with Mimi here.

And I agree with Mimi's conclusion -- it's enough that Obama is a Donkey.

I'd add only that Obama gets carte blanche from the libwuls and pwoggies mainly because he's not only a Democrat, but also

1) a Black man (half-black counts!)

2) an Ivy league alumnus

3) a "professional"

4) and nominally (meaning: he said so at one point) anti-war

If I had to be serious here, I would suggest that the collapse of America is so hard for most to fathom that they try to find a positive in the whole shebang, and that's where the carte blanche-for-Obama strategy comes into play.

At April 17, 2009 12:55 PM, Blogger rob payne said...


Yeah, I hear what you are saying about the cynical thing, I’ve heard the same from my own family. Yet it seems to me that what is really and truly cynical is to believe that this is the best we can do, a favorite and “pragmatic” ploy the faithful always fall back on. I have to agree that the reason they go along with Obama is because he is a dem albeit one who was very fortunate to follow one of the most unpopular presidents ever, it didn’t hurt.

M. Pyre,

Good points especially regarding the self-delusion in connection to our self-destruction. I like to think of Obama as the friendly smiley undertaker hammering the last nails in the national coffin.

At April 18, 2009 2:40 AM, Blogger Jonathan Versen said...

"...if objecting to bloodshed makes you a radical then I think this place could use a few more radicals."

I think that is what's so insiduous about torture in general, in that it coarsens people, suggesting a false equivalance wherein they have to be on the side of OUR torturers or they're on the side of our enemies.

(Never mind the fact that in practice our "enemies" often aren't even our enemies at all, but people with the same complexion and from the same geographical region, whom we then make our enemies with our brutish treatment.)

I wish I knew how to do some guerrilla polling, to find out what people really think, because I find the TV news increasingly unreliable. All the same I'm guessing Obama will get away with it, because months from now people will just remember that he said he wants to close Guantanamo. (And if anything, I'm guessing that after years of international scrutiny it might be harder to treat people badly at Gitmo now, as opposed to in some inaccessible site in Poland or Jordan that international NGOs are not allowed to enter.

At April 18, 2009 7:28 AM, Blogger M. Pyre said...

Chris Floyd's latest essay runs along the same themes as Rob explores in the original post here.

Interesting are the comments which follow Floyd's essay. There are plenty of people who stop by to try to buttress the Hope and Change of the mighty Barockstar Obamiracle. There are quite a few who insist that Obama really really really really really wants to change things but can't because the CIA will kill him.

Such people are trying to convince themselves that they wisely voted for and supported Obama. They're trying to persuade themselves that they didn't get gulled and conned by a smooth-talking Mandingo grifter.

At April 18, 2009 8:12 PM, Blogger rob payne said...

M. Pyre,

I don’t buy into the “they made him do it” thing either. Though no doubt Obama is influenced by the Clinton Clones he has surrounded himself with the truth is Obama believes in what he is doing, he is enthusiastic about it. No one needs to force Obama to create his policies in the manner he has done so far, he does it willingly. At least that is my take on it. He has said himself he has moved to the center because he believes in getting things done. I think basically because Obama is so popular that we are screwed. At least those of us who don’t support war.


Yes, I agree with you that Obama will get away with it and likely many other things along the way. As Alexander Cockburn points out in this weekend’s counterpunch Clinton did a lot of bombing in former Yugoslavia and Iraq and is still highly thought of by many liberals. The fairy tale goes: Democrats fight good wars, Republicans fight bad wars and Democrats, at least according to them, fight smarter. That we should question what we are doing, that it might be wrong and self destructive never really is part of the equation.


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