I agree with the legitimate complaints from progressives like Truthdig’s Robert Scheer and I understand disappointments of the liberal courtiers who feel betrayed by President Barack Obama. However, many of us abjured the propagandists’ Kool-aid and never mistook Obama for anything other than a “conventional corporate liberal, supine before the moneyed interests.” On his recent and entirely expected dumping of Elizabeth Warren, Robert Scheer wrote,
So much for the meritocracy. Despite an elite education, effusive charm and brilliant wit, Barack Obama, like Bill Clinton before him, has ended up betraying his humble origins by abjectly serving the most rapacious variant of Wall Street greed. They both talk a good progressive game, but when push comes to shove—meaning when the banking lobby weighs in—big money talks and the best and the brightest fold. .... the president’s abandonment of the brilliant and dedicated Warren is hardly an auspicious beginning.
An “auspicious beginning”? Really? I’m only surprised Mr. Scheer is surprised. Did anyone really think Obama was going to squander political capital fighting to empower a proven watchdog and fearless advocate for the underdog? Fuggetaboutit.
The problem I have is not with the complaints but the complainants. They remind me of Pastor Martin Niemöller’s famous “first they came for ...” statement. While shepherds of the religious right kept their herd of frightened sheep busy with despicable, mean-spirited, petty, Kulturkampf the wrecking crew made sure there would be nothing left to sell or steal if the “swinish multitude” ever awoke from a media induced slumber.
With all due respect to Mr. Scheer, too many of the whiners have little reason to complain if some us turn a deaf ear to their avuncular carping that they were bamboozled by Obama et. al. After all, they remained united in silence after being put on actual notice that America was being hoodwinked by the smarmy shysterism of a faith-based corporate darling in hard-left drag.
When Obama (a so-called ‘civil rights lawyer’) actually stood before gay activists and cavalierly tossed over the classic Reagan segregationist ‘states’ rights’ rubbish on the ‘right to marry’ issue he disgracefully trashed the seminal ‘equal protection’ holding in Loving v. Virginia which legitimized his own parents’ marriage and flatly rejected his disingenuous argument. But the gay ‘activists’ remained comatose as they swallowed spoon-fed legal rubbish with nary a bubble of protest. Sorry, but I have little sympathy for activists who complain of betrayal after having kissed up to a pettifog whose legal insults and intellectual folderol should not have escaped a second year law student.
Only in a confederacy of legal dunces could a "civil rights lawyer" get away with such trumpery. Only by appeals to ignorance and specious claims that the Fourteenth Amendment applies to classifications based on race could such an argument escape the ridicule it deserves. That a so-called civil rights lawyer so cavalierly tossed over such insults to intelligence is bad enough; but when so-called ‘activists’ or ‘watch dogs’ not only sit still for it but suck it up like toothless lap-dogs, then it’s a equal disgrace that does our Community disservice. Activists should be arming the Community with knowledge not perpetuating their ignorance by pandering to pettifoggers as some sort ‘strategy.’
Obviously, if marriage was purely a matter of states rights then, as a matter of law, the anti-miscegenation laws of states like Virginia could not have been struck down. State’s rights would prevail. Loving, as this so-called “civil rights lawyer” knows perfectly well, stands for the proposition that (as with any issue) the states are free to legislate in any manner that does not violate ‘due process’ and ‘equal protection‘ provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment which explicitly mandates equal treatment of all classes of ‘persons.’ Any law (whether it be enacted by city, state, or federal, legislatures) that singles out one class of persons for desperate treatment raises serious‘equal protection’ concerns. Any time such law disproportionately impacts any minority historically subjected to discrimination it is immediately regarded as inherently suspect by the courts. “States’ rights”? Hogwash, balderdash, and claptrap! Marriage equality is no more a ‘state’s rights’ issue than a Jim Crow railroad car.
And when this “civil rights lawyer” failed to give even one substantive legal reason why the federal government and the courts should not mandate marriage equality not one of these self-satisfied, self-anointed, high priests of gay boobwasie called him out. What a bunch of Babbits. Virtually all intelligent legal debate was quashed and trampled by ideology. Virtually all intelligent and informative dissent was silenced and the dissenters marginalized by the courtiers - dismissed but not debated.
And the activists still remained stuck in silent paralysis when Obama tossed over the further insult that, well, it’s “the religious connotations to marriage.” When this “civil rights lawyer” actually suggested that violating the First Amendment (Separation of Church and State) was a legitimate reason to deny a ‘fundamental’ right guaranteed under the Fourteenth Amendment (that’s two violations of the Constitution) again nary a bubble of protest from the gutless, sycophant, liberal left. (But see, Untangling Barack Obama's audacious mumbo jumbo.) And it only got worse.
It is axiomatic that when clerics solemnize a secular marriage contract they also act as public officials when they perform a secular duty as civil magistrate. As such they take an oath to treat all ‘persons’ equally and deny none of their own denomination ‘equal protection’ of the law. One may simply not take up secular authority and then decide which class of citizens amongst their own denomination will have their civil rights honored. As clerics they surely have the right to refuse to marry whom ever they please but when they act in a secular capacity they are duty bound to uphold all ‘persons’ rights to ‘due process’ and ‘equal protection’ of the law.
Just to make sure that they dumbed even stupid down, the LGBT response to one violation of the Constitution was to enact another unconstitutional law. As such clerics, acting as secular magistrates, were granted an unconstitutional exemption from the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment by which they may abjure their sworn secular duty to one class of citizen ‘persons’ who are members of their own religious denomination. Again, nary a bubble of protest. This travesty of pulling the keystone out of Jefferson’s proverbial wall is what activist hail as a vicrory. (But see, “New York Marriage Equality Law Violates Federal Constitution.”) Where the fuck are the activists?! The watchdogs seem morel like pack of toothless, yapping, lap dogs. Those who revere what is first in the First Amendment should feel especially uneasy by this partisanship for “The Church” which was the very same religion which was practiced or professed, with very great Zeal, by tyrants and villains of every denomination. Their works were infamous even in their time as specimens of demented, genocidal, religious paranoia blaming the ills of the nation and the world on the subversive “homosexual agenda.” In an earlier time such propaganda was a main element in European Fascism. Their concern above all is to uphold the authority of Church against a humanistic, secular, civil society which they believe is a smokescreen for godlessness. Only a brave few Rhode Island had the courage to even dissent.
Gay activists regarded all Obama’s bamboozling as a stealth ‘strategy' but it's hard to justify misrepresentation of the law and pandering to ignorance and bigotry and capitulating in sabotaging the First Amendment, as ‘civil rights activism'. “Mr. Jefferson! Build up this wall!”. Straights, on the other hand, (especially lawyers and academics) felt, well, after all, it was not their ox that was being gored was it. Besides, if gays sucked up to pettifogging why should others speak out on their behalf? The argument I have heard is ‘Don’t blame me for not sticking up for you when you don’t have the courage to speak for yourself.’ Frankly, I find it hard to argue against that position. If you are stupid enough to capitulate to that kind of compromise don’t complain if you lost the ranch to keep your sacred cow. Not to worry though for the administration proffered a conciliation over second prize: the dubious privilege of serving as cannon fodder in perpetual corporate imperials wars. Die for your country? “Sure ya can.” Equal dignity in civil life? Fuggetaboutit! There is a certain (I can think of no better word) depravity here: That the Obama administration agrees the federal government should honor our rights to serve as cannon fodder when recruits dry up, but the majority in Congress tar our children and families as unworthy of equal dignity before the law, speaks volumes about how much religion has poisoned America’s well.
Most of us who have been watching this cavalcade of shyster politicians and tub-thumping preachers pandering to ignorance and prejudice understand how inextricably bound up with hypocrisy all parts of public life are. Gays, happy to get even a ‘separate but equal' seat on the back of the bus, had to identify which amongst the morass of hypocrisies are the ones the really matter and therefore hope to find a place for the politics of sincerity. But with his disingenuous insults to substantive law Obama's political ‘authenticity' became it's own brand of hypocrisy and with their own capitulation to and collaboration in pulling stones from Jefferson's wall, the LGBT politics of sincerity also became its own type of hypocrisy.In light of the fact that these grumbling complainants were on actual notice a long time ago that this civil rights lawyer was misrepresenting the law, pandering to religious bigotry, furthering religious discrimination, and funding faith-based proselytizing far beyond Bush’s most wild wet dream, I have sympathy when I hear disingenuous screeches of victim-hood. Of course the LGBT leadership was not alone as they sopped at the Kool-Aid trough.
Ah yes, The Mendacity of Hope. Despite high expectations for "Archangel" Obama he has shown more continuity than change. The “big fucking deal” the health care reform bill is a disappointment set to get worse; the military situation has escalated with Lybia; and Obama's record on torture, detention, and executive authority is dismal. Ah, yes. “Change you can believe in.”
Behind the lofty rhetoric of The Audacity of Hope is a harsh reality of Obama’s failure to deliver on expectations for real change in Washington. While corporate interests have seen their investment in Obama pay off the middle-class has been neglected and the poor, the unemployed, the elderly, and disabled have been kicked to the curb. Campaign contributions by huge financial corporations (Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, and others) have been rewarded through the financial bailout. We the People are little more than the Burkain “swinish multitude” to be lead like pigs with a ring in our nose.
In fairness, while Obama's eloquence has not matched his actions, it takes an electric Kool-Aid delusion to believe a single man can make meaningful changes without reforming the political system itself. To paraphrase Johann Hari, US politics has ended up as a battle between the mostly corrupt and the entirely corrupt. Awakening to the blazing indictment of corporate collusion many now feel a drift towards an ugly future and Barack Obama seems less a messiah of liberalism than its gravedigger.
Last year Michael Tomasky at the The New York Review of Books, called Roger D. Hodge’s The Mendacity of Hope “a roundhouse punch at the notion that Obama is anything but a conventional corporate liberal, supine before the moneyed interests." William T. Vollmann has called it “a frightening book whose conclusions ought to haunt every American." “Democracy has gone on sale in America" wrote Bill Moyers, and Barbara Ehrenreich adds that Americans slept while the wars escalated, the recession deepened, and the environment went straight to hell in a Climate of Denial.
In fact, substantive reform was never on the table. Behind the euphoria of Obama's victory was the business-as-usual corporate machine, a bloc of political investors, campaign contributors, and lobbyists who expected big returns on their investments. And what a return they got: bailout after bailout another for the health insurance industry as well as for Wall Street. Thanks to Obama the Democratic Party's most powerful investors made out like bandits.
And that about his most important campaign promises? Ending the Iraq war? Fugetaboutit!!! Abolishing torture? Fugetaboutit!!! Closing GuantÁnamo? Fugetaboutit!!! Changing Washington's culture of corruption? Fugetaboutit!!! None of it has come to pass. Indeed, he escalated the conflict in Afghanistan, he bailed out the bankers, and he institutionalized the civil rights abuses of the Bush regime.
As Hodge effectively argues, it is a fantasy of American politics that a different kind of president is possible without a fundamental reform of our political system. Kool-aid guzzling Americans sucked up the public relations propaganda delusion that one man could bring change to Washington. Instead of reform we see a continuation of George W. Bush's assault on the Constitution. As to the Obama administration and Congress it is an extraordinary fact that the fundamental problems of an America middle class beginning to disintegrate before their eyes, is the one question in which it is impossible to arouse their interest. Tax reductions and dismantling of the social safety net are their main concerns into the economic field. They are settling it as a problem of theology, of politic, of electoral chicane, from every point of view except that of the economic future and the health and welfare of the citizens whose destiny they are handling.
If you have been reading Paul Krugman over the past four years you know his predictions have all come to pass. What we are seeing is not, No we can’t but simply no we won’t.
“Yes, there are huge political obstacles to action — notably, the fact that the House is controlled by a party that benefits from the economy’s weakness. But political gridlock should not be conflated with economic reality. ...
In one area where government could make a big difference — help for troubled homeowners — almost nothing has been done even tough Obama has mustered vast resources. “The Obama administration’s program of mortgage relief has gone nowhere: of $46 billion allotted to help families stay in their homes, less than $2 billion has actually been spent.” The message from the 1% to the rest of this Banana Republic , where the members of Congress are largely for sale and consulted only for ceremonial and rubber-stamp purposes some time after the 1% have made all the important decisions, is “Fuck you. We don’t care. We don’t have to.” As Christopher Hitchens wrote a long time ago,
Of the nation’s 600,000 bridges, 12 percent were found to be structurally deficient. This is an almost perfect metaphor for Third World conditions: a money class fleeces the banking system while the very trunk of the national tree is permitted to rot and crash.
Ah yes, “Change you can believe in.” “Yes we can.” Banal bumper-sticker slogans that soured to vapid cliches even before propaganda campaign brochure called The Audacity of Hope fell off the best seller lists. And now the frightened sheep, after being fleeced by their shepherds, realize they are destined for mutton but awaken too late to the truth of Lord Byron’s caveat that hope is “the paint on the face of existence. Just a touch of truth rubs it off and then we see what a hollow cheeked harlot we've got hold of." Obama's presidency demonstrates that mere hope is never enough and change will come only when We The People take charge of our own politics.
Now that the betrayals of this fulsome “bamboozler” and Wall Street darling begin to stack up against the liberals and progressives who quaffed the Kool-Aid now cry foul when it’s their ox that is being gored. But this is what they bargained for when they agreed to remain silent about the bastardization of the most rudimentary legal principals that should not have escaped an astute second year law student. If they were deceived it was not for lack warning. Indeed, even after being put on actual notice, they colluded in deception. There was a Catch-22: as Obama et. al. misrepresented the law and tossed over ‘states’ rights’ nonsense and other legal trumpery to exploit legal ignorance, they actually thought the joke was not going to be on them too. They thought they were not going to be exempted from his shystering.
Change. Well, here’s your ‘change’ chumps. Don’t like it? Too bad. However, in this two party ignoble oligarchy founded on the destruction of the middle class, where all deceitful dreams and visions of the equality and rights of men do end, you have a choice of hypocrites. Don’t like Dracula? Try Frankenstein. Go vote for a Mormon fundamentalist who runs a baby farm subsidized by your tax dollars as she and her husband covertly proselytize and brain wash as they exploit faith-based tax loopholes to finance their fundamentalist crusade to turn homosexuals into heterosexuals through Bible-based ‘therapy.’ What next, “color correction therapy”? Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.Francois Arouet
Copyright © Francois Arouet 2011