Friday, April 17, 2009


"Mr. President, You're Wrong."
KO did a good job here, and his historical perspective on the costs of 'going forward' without resolving an issue is exactly the way I would have gone but I have one quibble. It's about this quote from PresBo:
"Our national greatness is embedded in America's ability to right its course in concert with our core values, and to move forward with confidence. That is why we must resist the forces that divide us, and instead come together on behalf of our common future."
Olbermann incorrectly assumes that the divisive forces that Obama refers to are "the ones lingering with pervasive stench from the previous administration." This is an understandable mistake on Mr. Olbermann's part, for one can certainly identify a number of sources of the stench to which he refers.

There are still dozens if not hundreds of partisan Republican civil servants in the DoJ alone, illegally hired by Monica Goodling and now embedded there like a colony of cockroaches under the sink. Ironically it would now be illegal to fire those illegally hirees, due to civil service regulations. Sad, but true.

There are still many partisan Republican US Attorneys appointed by the Bush administration whom Obama has not bothered to replace, and who have refused to resign as is traditionally done; hacks like Mary Beth Buchanan, who incidentally hired Goodling. In that latter instance, Obama has the option of firing any US Attorney he wishes to and hiring replacements, a relatively light duty task that would have the effect, stench-wise, of Hercules' cleaning out of the Augean Stables, without any of the heavy lifting required.

Or perhaps the stench emanates from the right-wing extremists recently designated a threat by the Department of Homeland Security - the redneck racist core of what's left of GOP electoral support. (Ya gotta love Janeane Garofolo's description of this crowd, "You can tell these type of right-wingers anything and they'll believe it - except the truth. You tell them the truth and it's like showing Frankenstein's monster fire.") An even greater reek rises out of the studios of FOX "news," who are usually the one telling them anything but the truth, and egging them on.

With all these candidates to be the divisive forces I have to conclude from the context that Obama is really talking about those who insist on the continuing rule of law, those who demand that criminals be brought to court and prosecuted. Us. We are, in Obama's reckoning, 'the forces that divide us.'

What really divides 'us' (those who wish for transparency and accountability) at least today, is the question of whether Obama should be praised for the transparency inherent in the release of these documents or condemned for putting yet another item of accountability off the table. Glenn Greenwald argues that we should both praise him on the one hand and condemn him on the other. This would be a very rare instance of my disagreeing with GG on even a small point and even now it's only a matter of degree. Because he's right - Obama does deserve some praise for releasing these memos, just not very much.

For me the balance lies in the duplicity in the first part of the quote above. To talk about, "America's ability to right its course in concert with our core values" while promising to resist all calls to exercise that ability only leaves America on the wrong course, and bereft of core values. The rest of the world will take Obama's pledge with the same seriousness as someone who tells you, "I could benchpress 1,000 lbs., I just don't want to." Yeah, right buddy. Uh huh.

The president and his Attorney General seem to be on the same page on the issue of protecting the guilty. As Glenn Greenwald quoted them,
Barack Obama, yesterday:
In releasing these memos, it is our intention to assure those who carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice from the Department of Justice that they will not be subject to prosecution.
Eric Holder, yesterday:
It would be unfair to prosecute dedicated men and women working to protect America for conduct that was sanctioned in advance by the Justice Department.
That's pretty unambiguous. Jonathan Turley responded just as unambiguously on the Rachel Maddow Show.
What is really disturbing is that President Obama is obviously referring to criminal investigation and prosecution ... somehow he's equating the enforcement of federal laws -- that he took an oath to enforce to uphold the constitution and our laws -- and he's equating that with an act of retribution, and some sort of hissy fit or blame game. It's not retribution to enforce criminal laws. What it is is obstruction to prevent that enforcement, and that is exactly what he's done thus far.
That sounds like a clarion call to me, "PROSECUTE!!" And it also sounds like a counter-argument to what Greenwald calls "an unhealthy tendency to want to make categorical, absolute judgments about the persona of politicians generally and Obama especially." Well Glenn, he's a politician and until some mechanism comes along where the electorate can vote in a different guy for each issue (or in this case for each action taken on the same issue) you're going to see a lot of that. Someone being selected to make decisions on a wide variety of matters over a period of at least four years must eventually be judged on his overall character.

And bottom line, the release of these memos was required by law. Obama himself acknowledges that. And so are investigations required by law, a law that is so far being broken. So we have a case similar to someone who comes to a full stop at a red light, then makes an illegal left turn and runs over a pedestrian. I don't think the first cop on the scene is expected to heap any praise on that driver.


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