Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Rule of Law

"We must be careful about what we pretend to be." -- Kurt Vonnegut, Mother Night

So let's see if we have this straight:  some two-thirds of the remaining prisoners in Guantanamo -- most of whom have been cleared for release, yet not released all the same -- continue to rot in their subtropical dungeon, without charge nor trial, for over a decade now. The only way for them to get out of their Orwellian sentence is suicide, and some of them have managed to take that path.

Now those who remain get force-fed, nasally. Perhaps this is because it was deemed to be even more painful and humiliating than being force-fed anally. Who knows? Nothing makes sense about this situation anymore. Except that nobody seems to give a shit whether these people will spend the rest of their lives stuck in some legal limbo that no one is in much of a rush to rectify.

Either they are guilty, or they aren't. Either there is evidence against them, or there isn't. Put them on trial and have done with it if they actually did something, or admit a mistake and set them free, and close this place already.

Just as we executed enemies who waterboarded Americans during World War 2, but reserved the right to use the same form of torture when it suited us, so the application of basic jurisprudence appears at this point to be nothing more than a polite affectation. Again, either we -- and our endlessly dithering constitutional law scholar of a president -- believe that it is wrong to imprison a human being without charge, trial, or proof of crime, or we believe it's perfectly fine to do such a thing for no better reason than political convenience and cowardice.

This is yet another in a long (and getting longer all the time) line of issues where Obama continues to whiff. If he wants his legacy to be something other than "Congress wouldn't let me" then he needs to sack up and by god do something about anything.

Seriously, dude, no one's expecting loaves and fishes. Create a few decent jobs; take some steps to alleviate the impending clustersomething that health care deform will perpetuate, since it does nothing at all to address the usurious racket comprising the American health care system; enforce basic party discipline to keep retiring Democrats onboard with simple background-check measures for deadly weapons; maybe pressure Harry Reid to insist on actually having to get your ass up there and spend time filibustering, rather than this lame "threat" dodge the goopers get away with routinely. Take a bold stand that civilized nations don't lock people up without charge and lose them in an offshore gulag for a decade or so.

Put these people on trial; if they're guilty, shoot them as enemy combatants. Whatever. But do something, ferchrissake, something slightly bolder and more principled than strapping a person to a table and jamming tubes up their nose to force-feed them like a foie gras goose. The fact that said person may not only have been supposed to be released, but may very well be innocent in the first place, and spent a decade of their life in hell because of someone else's chickenshittery, is a disgrace.

You can make fun of Dubya's ridonkulous Liberry and its self-serving exhibits, but what's Obama's library going to look like at the rate he's going, a cartoon of Barry O getting pushed around by Mitch McConnell and Jamie Dimon for eight goddamned years?

I know his acolytes console themselves that his feckless 11th-dimensional chess mastery is somehow infinity better than whatever shit sandwich Romney and Ryan were cooking up. But only as a mild, eroding bulwark against the eternal predations of the oligarchy, not that Obama has done thing one about them or even slowed them down. In the meantime, every bloody thing you despised about the Bushies -- imprisonment without trial, drone war without end, the ongoing and deliberate ruination of the financial system, the rich getting richer and the poor no longer even getting by -- continue unabated.

There's not much more time for Obama to decide and act on whether he wants to end on eight years of excuses and ineffectual moderation, or to take a risk and do something, anything, pick a direction and grab a shovel. I have zero faith that he'll do the right thing, and it no longer matters whether he wants to but can't, or if he simply was never the transformative figure he was pretending to be. Just another politician, forever chasing the next election and too timid to do anything that might actually impact someone from the non-donor class.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sad but true take on Obama. He's bought and paid for, and we won't ever get a president who isn't.