Thursday, June 30, 2011

Backwards, Sometimes

Back in January 2010, when it appeared that the Obama Administration might not quite expand the Executive Branch's grip on civil liberties in the name of national security, Glenn Greenwald cited

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.

Two days earlier, while interviewed on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos, the President had asserted “a belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards.” He has been, in the manner of legitimate allegations against the Bush-Cheney regime, good to his word.

Unfortunately, while this "don't look backward" concept has proven useful to the President in deflecting proposals for investigating past crimes against the Constitution and the people of the United States, he now finds it less applicable. Yesterday, in a press conference (transcript, here) focusing on the economy, Obama bragged

But what I have done — and this is unprecedented, by the way, no administration has done this before — is I’ve said to each agency, don’t just look at current regulations — or don’t just look at future regulations, regulations that we’re proposing, let’s go backwards and look at regulations that are already on the books, and if they don’t make sense, let’s get rid of them. And we are in the process of doing that, and we’ve already identified changes that could potentially save billions of dollars for companies over the next several years.

Now- now! Obama wants to "go backwards."

Eager to turn backwards and eliminate regulations, the President may have forgotten that companies are sitting on record profits as unemployment climbs to 9.1%, wages stagnate, and benefits are cut. But then, the President added "we can’t afford to have labor and management fighting all the time," perhaps forgetting that not only has management turned against labor, state governments led by Republicans in Wisconsin, New Jersey, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and elsewhere have done so.

Still, with the spending cuts President Obama and the GOP are touting, "let's go backwards" might be an apt slogan.


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