Attorney General Mukasey Collapses
Michael Mukasey was appointed to head the Justice Department in the wake of the resignation of his embattled, controversial predecessor, Alberto Gonzales, who had long resisted calls to step down because of his obfuscation and inconsistent testimony before Congress about the political motivations alleged in the firings of U.S. Attorneys.
Mukasey, himself, was not without controversy when he sat on the federal bench. In the wake of the attacks of September 11, 2001, young Arab men were being rounded up around the country, and one of those detainees who appeared before then-Judge Mukasey on October 2, 2001, claimed through his attorneys that he was beaten while in custody. The immigrant, a Jordanian named Osama Awadallah, was wearing a prison jumpsuit and was in shackles in Mukasey's courtroom when his attorneys told this to the judge. Mukasey, with no medical background, no way to see any bruising on the prisoner's body, and no interest in ordering a medical examination, said, "As far as the claim that he was beaten, I will tell you that he looks fine to me."
A later medical exam found that Mr. Awadallah had, indeed, suffered blunt force trauma consistent with having been beaten.
Mukasey, who sent a number of men rounded up after 9/11 to indefinite detention, never apologized for his handling of that case.
Attorney General Mukasey has reportedly been taken to a local area hospital for treatment of the condition that caused his collapse. It is hoped that he will be in the hands of those with medical training when the determination is made as to whether or not he looks fine.
Obama's Questionable Personnel Decisions Continue Apace
Widely held in high regard, Holder is not without his detractors. As Deputy Attorney General under Janet Reno, he was deeply involved in the Elian Gonzales affair, when federal law enforcement officers stormed into the Miami residence of the 8-year-old Cuban immigrant's home and seized him at gunpoint in front of news media cameras, which captured the terrified child still in the arms of an immigrant relative of the family in a custody dispute with Elian's father in Cuba. Federal authorities sided with the father, whose attorney was none other than Greg Craig, whom President-elect Obama has just appointed as White House chief legal counsel. Holder's favorable review of fugitive Democratic contributor Marc Rich for a presidential pardon by departing President Bill Clinton is also considered by some to be a mark against him to the extent that it gives the appearance of a willingness by Mr. Holder to allow old-fashioned political favoritism to supersede the rule of law when it comes to criminals who have benefited the Democratic Party.
Now for the bonus surprise in the gathering assembly that will be President-elect Obama's government: he plans to retain Bush Administration officials in top positions. Mentioned only briefly in the CNN.com story about Eric Holder, but reported more prominently elsewhere, is Mr. Obama's apparent intention to keep Bush appointee Robert Mueller as Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Obama will probably also retain several other top Bush-appointed people, including Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen. Before the election, Mueller had made it clear that he had no intention of voluntarily stepping down before the end of his 10-year term, which would be completed in 2011. Although Mueller has been praised for refusing to support CIA interrogation methods that are widely considered to constitute torture, a report by his own department's Inspector General harshly criticized the FBI's extraordinarily common use of so-called "National Security Letters," a means by which federal law enforcement authorities can acquire private information about citizens without judicial review and without any means by which the targets of the extra-judicial subpoenas can even find out that they have been subjected to search. The administrative subpoenas have been used to acquire everything from bank records to Internet surfing habits to telephone and cell phone logs, and they have been issued as dragnets to acquire, among other information, the records of usage from Internet service providers of all the ISPs' customers. In 2005, before the FBI Inspector General had revealed the extent of misuse of National Security Letters, Mueller went before Congress requesting that temporary provisions of the Patriot Act be made permanent and that Congress authorize even more extensive authority for the Bureau to conduct invasive searches of Americans.
Notwithstanding Mr. Mueller's declaration that he plans to remain until the end of his 10-year stint as FBI Director, the President-elect has the ability to make it clear that he wants a clean slate of appointees. In most cases, officials of an out-going Administration will resign before being asked to do so, and that is so for some appointees even when a President begins his second term. That Mr. Obama seems entirely disinterested in pressuring Director Mueller to voluntarily step down to make way for new blood to head federal law enforcement speaks loudly to Mueller's own unwillingness to recognize the political nature of his appointment, but it speaks even more so to the difference between Barack Obama's official claim of recognizing Americans' right to privacy and what he will actually do to protect that right.
If Mr. Obama had any genuine dedication to restoring the constitutional right of citizens to be secure in their persons, papers, and property, he would most certainly have no room in his Administration for a chief law enforcement officer who, by the objective, exhaustive assessment of the Bureau's own Inspector General, massively and systematically abused administrative subpoenas. Mueller's oversight of the FBI has demonstrated his willful disdain for imposing a high threshold upon law enforcement personnel and prosecutors who seek to diminish the constitutional safeguard against unwarranted searches, and this disdain has been to the manifest effect of circumventing judicial review to the end of stripping the citizenry of its only, if minimal, realm of protection from an intrusive unitary Executive Branch that deems constitutional rights of the people at odds with, rather than the heart of, that which secures the Republic from its enemies, both foreign and domestic.
Mr. Obama's supporters who have claimed he is the agent of change from an era of brutish Right-wing authoritarians may find themselves increasingly hard-pressed to support their prior insistence that he represents something other than the continuity and continuation of America's descent into an authoritarian state. Barack Obama might very well be widely liked for the rhetoric he speaks, but the troublingly dislikable direction he plans to take this nation is already becoming clear from the people with whom he is choosing to govern.
As the President-elect continues to signal his intention to govern to the Right, the host of this Website will continue to take exception to and umbrage with the emergence of yet another Administration that mistakes election to the presidency for coronation to the throne.
More Center-Right Signals from Obama Camp
In fact, that was an out-and-out lie: FISA was not about to "expire." Obama voted for the abomination that became known as the Protect America Act (in some circles called the Police America Act) either because he was full-on comfortable with its intrusive, privacy rights stripping provisions, or he was a political coward who didn't want to stand up to the Terrorists-Are-Coming howl from the Right-wing authoritarians masquerading as they always do as genuine conservatives. Either way, Greg Craig, the man with the inside track to be Obama's White House lawyer, has already demonstrated that time-honored, quite remarkable ability to look the public straight in the eye while blowing smoke up our butts.
In 2007, when the revision of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was being debated, Obama initially claimed that he was opposed to it because it granted large telecommunications companies immunity from civil suits arising from their participation in the Bush Administration's conspiracy to spy on Americans; he also claimed that it did not provide adequate oversight of those who would engage in domestic spying. Ultimately, however, he voted for the bill despite the retention of the grant of immunity and despite outside observers' contention that it would not only violate citizens' rights but also risk putting intelligence data into the hands of the very terrorists the law enforcement snoops want to catch.
'Center-right' might end up being a charitable description of the incoming Administration: the Obama campaign's message of hope and change might have sold the merchandise, but now the President-elect has a country to run. What better way to do so than the same way, with the same mentality, that has for the past eight years run it into the ground?
Obama's Leftist acolytes are still insisting we should sit back and take a wait-and-see attitude as he fills his inner circle with neo-con Zionist Project for the New American Century hacks like Dennis Ross, whom he is considering for Under-Secretary of State for Middle Eastern Affairs; Chicago mob fave Zionists like Rahm Emanuel, who will be his White House chief of staff; and Valerie Jarrett, alleged slumlord and former deputy chief of staff to Chicago Democratic Machine Mayor Richard Daley, who will serve as his Senior Adviser to the President and Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Liaison.
Sitting back to wait and see is sound advice, whether it be for the ultimate direction an incoming President is already indicating or for an on-coming freight train of thugs, mob favorites, neo-cons, and other Right-wingers bearing down the track toward a deer-in-the-headlights citizenry waiting once again for the rein of a President who sells one thing to a gullible electorate and then delivers something considerably different and far more toxic.
For my own part, I shall stay off the tracks and start writing about the up-coming clash of the new Administration's authoritarians with a shell-shocked citizenry that will once again and soon be roadkill on the highway to America's bleak future.
Rahm Emanuel: Chief of Staff, All-Around Thug
Rahm Emanuel is the son of Dr. Benjamin Emanuel, a pediatrician who was a member of the Zionist terrorist gang called Irgun, which carried out acts of violence in Palestine between 1931 and 1948. Among other terrorist acts, Irgun was responsible for the bombing of the King David hotel in Jerusalem on July 22, 1946, where British diplomats and their families were staying. Ninety-one people were killed. To this day, the Israelis celebrate this act of unconscionable horror, crafting a wholly self-serving reconstruction of the event to exonerate the Irgun of responsibility for mass murder. Rahm has never condemned his father's terrorist past and, in fact, remains close to his dad. Upon being asked if his son would promote Israeli interests as Obama's chief of staff, Benjamin said, "Obviously he will influence the president to be pro-Israel. Why wouldn't he be? What is he, an Arab? He's not going to clean the floors of the White House," thereby leaving the impression that, at least to the elder Emanuel, Rahm can be either a janitor for Barack Obama or a Zionist for Israel. William Daroff, director of the Washington office of the United Jewish Communities (UJC), an umbrella organization representing 155 Jewish Federations and 400 independent Jewish communities across North America, said of the new White House chief of staff, "Rep. Emanuel is... a good friend of Israel, coming from good Irgun stock..."
President-elect Obama promised during his campaign for the presidency to be a consensus-builder; upon winning the election, he said during his victory speech on the night of November 4, "I will listen to you, especially when we disagree." These words appear to ring hollow now that he has put between him and those who would address him a gatekeeper like Rahm Emanuel, who has no tolerance for disagreement and who has crafted a well-earned reputation for intolerance with troubling tendencies for violent expression of his desire to get his own way. Indeed, Rahm Emanuel has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is "from good Irgun stock."
While Barack Obama might have posed throughout his campaign as a prospective leader with a wide embrace of differing views, his first major appointment has rendered evidence of a far less expansive presidency that he plans to conduct. In essence, Mr. Obama has now stepped in front of a mirror where all can see the reflection of his true nature as an insular man with no plans to build any consensus that does not meet his own desires and the agenda of the man who will serve as his chief of staff.
While Mr. Obama's die-hard supporters may find nothing deeply troubling and broadly indicative in his appointment of Rahm Emanuel, other Americans may come to find out, once again, that a leader who would choose a thug for his close ally is a President who has no intention of governing by consensus, much less by the rule of law.
Palin Fails to Release Medical Records
After having promised to finally release her medical records last week, GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin has still not released them and very likely will not before the election. McCain, Obama, and Biden have all released theirs.
Palin's decision to keep her medical records from public scrutiny is possibly a first in modern memory for a candidate for President or Vice President and is certain to raise serious questions about why someone who appears to be in excellent shape would not allow voters the opportunity to know about her health history. The secrecy is sure to rekindle rumors that had circulated regarding her most recent pregnancy that no one else knew about until her seventh month, at the same time her unmarried daughter was not attending high school because of what was claimed to be a virulent case of mononucleosis that lasted far longer than for most teens.
Should Gov. Palin choose to stay in the national spotlight, as she seems to have vowed, even if the Republican ticket is defeated in the general election, she might find it increasingly difficult to shield her medical records from public scrutiny, regardless of what is in those records that she considers too confidentialor perhaps too inconsistent with her claimsto reveal.
The Unspeakable Endorses the Irredeemable for the Honor of the Unattainable
For his part, Sen. McCain has shown uncharacteristic rudeness in not publicly thanking Vice President Cheney.
For her part, Gov. Palin has not revealed imminent plans to leave her husband, Todd, and elope with Mr. Cheney to Wyoming.
Obama Vengeance on Press Corps Enemies
It is worth pointing out, by the way, that newspaper reporters have nothing whatsoever to do with editorial board endorsements of candidates. It is also worth pointing out that this behavior by the Obama camp is consistent with my own experiences on several occasions when I attempted to interact with Mr. Obama and his staff: the tendency to demean and obstruct anyone they do not deem useful and important to their goals was palpable.
So much for Obama bringing a "new culture" to Washington, D.C. This is the same nasty reward-and-punishment routine George W. Bush and his neo-con crew were famous for using to docilize the mainstream media and turn it into a virtual propaganda outlet for Bush Administration policies, positions, and actions. It was wrong then, and it is wrong now.
More to the point, though, it was telling then, and it is every bit as telling now.
Sarah Palin, All on Her Own
At least for the time being, Barack Obama has taken command of the American political center, as well as a notable collection of relatively centrist conservatives, and he has done this from his natural base among big-city liberals, rising as he did to power in the upstate of Illinois, which is to say that he was largely cultivated for national office by the legendary Chicago Democratic machine. Even though he has masterfully brought moderate conservatives to his camp in the course of his campaign for the presidency, they would be unlikely to continue supporting him for very long but for the consolidation of the Republican Party to the Right and, more ominously and importantly, to the extreme Right, that latter group being the people Sarah Palin is becoming more and more comfortable courting. Although she, herself, might or might not be as much of an extremist as the more vociferous of the attendees at her rallies, she has a native ability to entice them and to draw them to identify with her. As bad as she is when put on the spot by interviewers, she is every bit as good when sheby her words, her expressions, and her very voiceis in control of the narrative before a boisterous crowd. It is in those open, crowded, noisy venues that the enticement she hands out like candy from a basket teeters in a precarious but oddly stable balance on the precipice of incitement. She need not call the crowd to fury in order to make the constituents furious; she need not exhort the crowd to bitterness to make her supporters bitter; and, in the end, she would never have to remind her supporters of their growing rage to enrage them. Those people waving "Sarah Palin" signs know this campaign has turned remarkably bad for them: a man they do not want to be President will, in fact, be elected, and that means everything about him, from his color to his politics, is justifiably magnified, demonized, and then hated.
Whether by intent or otherwise, those in McCain's camp who championed his selection of Palin were bidding to transform Republicanism from a political party into a movement, a crucial step in the kind of resurgence from the fringe that European neo-fascists are now enjoying. Fortunately, at least for a while, the car "accident" that claimed the life of Austria's extreme-Right politician Joerg Haider will blunt the political spear point the European movement needed to become pervasive and compelling; as it stands now, Europe's extremists will have to content themselves with the slower, somewhat more accommodative path to re-establishing pan-European political dominance through elected power. (It will probably help if Europe's next aspirant to the leadership of continental neo-fascism does not get unceremoniously outed for a gay relationship with a young protégé.)
With respect to the United States and its political future, I have made my case, notably in “The 21st Century, Epilogue,” that America will inevitably descend into an authoritarian state as this century proceeds. That grim, unavoidable future can be a controlled descent from what now constitutes the “Center” and the “Left,” but there is every possibility that from the ashes of defeat the Republicans will suffer in the election rout three days from now will emerge a bitter fringe group looking for a leader, a cause, and some semblance of a coherent theme, if not a cogent (albeit illogical) philosophy: those are the ingredients for a movement to form. The circumstances that would foster the political articulation of that movement are, most unfortunately, almost inevitable. The economic catastrophe caused by the past nearly eight years of recklessly irresponsible taxation, spending, and monetary policies have placed the country on a collision course with nearly ruinous pain, and the Democrats, led by Barack Obama, will not have the courage (nor, quite possibly, the know-how) to stop the freight train of economic recession before it leads to appalling, debilitating consequences, not the least of which will be inflation once the labor market recovers well down the road. This will herald the resurgence of the Right and its financially muscular extremists as a political force, exactly as it has at previous times in other parts of the world, most notably, South and Central America.
The leader of the Resurgent Right could very well be Sarah Palin. The cause will be the revitalization of the United States. The theme will be overt nativism tinged by racism, with openly religious overtones and the likely support of elements within our own military as well as interests in other countries that will have become entirely weary of the persistent American drain upon global physical and, most crucially, financial resources.
Fortunately for America, Sarah Palin’s time has not come.
Unfortunately, it very well might.
The Dark Wraith has spoken.