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Obama's "a time for reflection": DC as Carthusian Abbey?

"THIS IS A TIME FOR REFLECTION, not retribution. ...We have been through a dark and painful chapter in our history..." [Obama's answer to due process; stress added].

Yet, the denizens of Capitol Hill and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue are not practiced in the salutary virtue of reflection--and, it is imagined, never were. One thinks of, e.g., Dr. King, Thomas Merton, the Dalai Lama, etc., as devotees of "reflection," not the shameless careerists engaged daily in the safeguarding of that sinecure they've engineered for themselves. That act of self-aggrandizement is all done with mirrors--and teleprompters--i.e., DC legerdemain. But the actuality of DC "reflection": that's unverified, apocryphal, ersatz, etc. It's something akin to mentioning the name "Jesus" in the hinterlands at election time--i.e., all said and done for show, or, specifically, to "manage" the electorate.

In lieu of said reflection, then, what can we expect from those "serving their nation" [!] at a time when activists and alternative web news sources are focusing ever more closely on the day-to-day machinations of Capitol Hill, K Street, Wall Street, etc.? Instead of that "soul-searching" which brings to the practitioner a sense of purpose to make amends to those wronged--in this case, "those wronged" spans humanity, both here and in the global community--there is connivance, with, e.g., contacts in the corporate media. Here, "truth" and "evidence" take a real beating, all in the service of maintaining neoliberalism, redux. And, the White House Press Secretary, for example, as duplicitous a character as ever tap-danced his way around a direct, valid inquiry, will do his utmost to ensure that reflection is obviated, and the "Washington Consensus" sustained.

Chris Floyd, in his cogent article, "The Fatal Thread: Torture, War, and the Imperial Project," [], argues to the fact of DC corruption as an abiding and deeply rooted fait accompli, a fact of life established by avoiding the moral deliberation Obama proffers--cynically--avoiding, as well, the rule of law, habeas corpus, and due process:

"You cannot disentangle the torture program from the war of aggression in Iraq – nor from the illegal wiretapping program, the corrupt war profiteering, and all the other degradations of liberty and law that have been so accelerated in the past eight years. They are all of a piece, part and parcel of a plan to expand and entrench America's 'unipolar domination' of world affairs with a thoroughly militarized state led by an unaccountable, authoritarian 'Unitary Executive.'

"This is one reason why Barack Obama is so obviously reluctant to tug on the torture thread too hard. If you tear it out, with full-scale prosecutions and top officials locked up behind bars, the whole rotten skein would fall apart. Once you start genuinely subjecting government officials – including security apparatchiks and military brass – to the full extent of the law, there would be no end to the unraveling: senators, contractors, representatives, bureaucrats, generals, lobbyists, judges, corporate chiefs – the whole edifice of Establishment power would be shaken to the core as its leading lights went down, one after the other.

"Thus the mere act of applying the ordinary, bourgeois laws of the land as they stand right now would constitute a world-shaking revolution, an overthrow of the existing order every bit as radical as any ideologue's dream of mass uprising. It would be, in effect, a re-founding of the Republic – and the end of the empire, which cannot survive without continual war, lawless rule and endless corruption.

"And that's why we will not see Barack Obama follow such a course. He might, in the end, have to pull much harder on the torture thread than he wants to; as we noted yesterday, a few upper-level middlemen might have to be offered up as scapegoats to quell the PR tempest. But he has already demonstrated, over and over, that he has no intention or desire to unravel the skein of imperial power. Indeed, he is trying to strengthen that skein and bind it more tightly, as we have seen in his various court cases seeking to uphold or even expand authoritarian powers claimed by Bush, in his escalation of the Afghan war, in his continual expansion of attacks in Pakistan, in his servile coddling and protection of the CIA, and in his celebration of the 'success' and 'extraordinary achievement' of the war crime in Iraq."

Conclusions: We're in too deep, the System has been compromised for far too long, with far too much impunity. We may receive a token gesture here and there--i.e., to placate the rank-and-file (i.e., the "lower" classes), and to keep those sans culottes from storming the Bastille--but, material, lasting change? Obama has, by this time, become inured to adverse web commentary--i.e., he may have been impressed back in December when angry voices critiqued his "No comment" during the Gaza massacre. But, callouses do develop, and not a moment too soon. Obama will feign "concern," "pique," "moral outrage," etc., the corporate media will duly note this pro forma response, and that will be that: "reflection" in the time it takes to turn the news page.

Mr. President, reflect on this: i.e., your sending 21,000 youth to the rock-strewn wilds of Afghanistan, to kill and be killed, in the service of the Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline [from Wiki]:

"Since the United States military overthrew the Taliban government, the project has essentially stalled; construction of the Turkmen part was supposed to start in 2006, but the overall feasibility is questionable since the southern part of the Afghan section runs through territory which continues to be under de facto Taliban control."

And, although you had threatened to do as much, this polyarchy of elite decision making--in lieu of a participatory democracy--means that many voted under duress. A true alternative candidate, e.g., Nader, was disallowed meaningful entry into the election process.

Whether "blood for oil," or "blood for natural gas": this is not the "Change you can believe in" model of US polity we were sold. That is what many are reflecting upon.


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