Tuesday, January 19, 2010


I don't know what's going to happen in Massachusettes and, frankly, I'm finding it real hard to care. I suspect that a lot of progressive voters in Massachusettes are feeling the same way which is why they're having this problem in the first place.

We are already being bombarded with gasbag assessment of What Happened And Why and much long-winded advice about what Democrats should do now. But from where I sit the answer is obvious: Not nearly enough attention has been paid to this.

For eight years our country was ruled by an administration that was utterly contemptuous of the rule of law and had absolutely no guiding principal other than pure, unfettered greed. The people primarily responsible for our current economic crisis have not only not been held accountable for their malfeasance, they've been rewarded with huge bonuses, and the same is true for those that planned and implemented a war based on outright lies, and which included a torture regime as despicable as that of any two-bit third world dictator. A war which is directly responsible not only for the deaths of thousands of our own soldiers and civilians, but for the deaths and displacement of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis. We will spend many decades attempting to recover from the damage that the Iraq war has done. When I see George W. Bush strutting around pretending to be pals with Bill Clinton and acting as if he has anything whatsoever of value to add to anything, I want to throw up.

As usual, Digby and Greenwald have said what needs to be said about Horton's report. Here's Greenwald:
Incidents like this dramatically underscore what can only be called the grotesque immorality of the "Look Forward, Not Backwards" consensus which our political class -- led by the President -- has embraced. During the Bush years, the United States government committed some of the most egregious crimes a government can commit. They plainly violated domestic law, international law, and multiple treaties to which the U.S. has long been a party. Despite that, not only has President Obama insisted that these crimes not be prosecuted, and not only has his Justice Department made clear that -- at most -- they will pursue a handful of low-level scapegoats, but far worse, the Obama administration has used every weapon it possesses to keep these crimes concealed, prevent any accountability for them, and even venerated them as important "state secrets," thus actively preserving the architecture of lawlessness and torture that gave rise to these crimes in the first place.

Every Obama-justifying excuse for Looking Forward, Not Backwards has been exposed as a sham (recall, for instance, the claim that we couldn't prosecute Bush war crimes because it would ruin bipartisanship and Republicans wouldn't support health care reform). But even if those excuses had been had been factually accurate, it wouldn't have mattered. There are no legitimate excuses for averting one's eyes from crimes of this magnitude and permitting them to go unexamined and unpunished. The real reason why "Looking Forward, Not Backwards" is so attractive to our political and media elites is precisely because they don't want to face what they enabled and supported. They want to continue to believe that it just involved the quick and necessary waterboarding of three detainees and a few slaps to a handful of the Worst of the Worst. Only a refusal to "Look Backwards" will enable the lies they have been telling (to the world and to themselves) to be sustained. But as Horton's story illustrates, there are real victims and genuine American criminals -- many of them -- and anyone who wants to keep that concealed and protected is, by definition, complicit in those crimes, not only the ones that were committed in the past, but similar ones that almost certainly, as a result of Not Looking Backwards, will be committed in the future.
The people who turned out in droves in November of '08 to elect Barack Obama did so in large part in response to his message of Hope and Change. In one short year, hopes have been dashed and the most important changes have simply not been forthcoming. I don't regret voting for him - he was, after all, the only alternative to McCain/Palin and there's no doubt that that would have been infinitely worse. But Obama has made some critical errors this first year in failing to lead aggressively against the egregious and lawless abuses of the former administration, and his failure is costing us all.

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