Obama FBI nominee James Comey is not a Good Guy; he’s just less bad than Cheney

Update: Listen to this Righteous Rant by humorist Matt Filipowicz for more on eager torturer James Comey. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?
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Consider this a warning against left-wing hero-worship of bogus right-wing posterboys. By whom I mean Obama FBI Director-nominee James Comey, he of the Ashcroft Hospital Drama™. (Note the implicit lionizing at the link by the National Journal.)

Think Comey is a Good Guy? Rick Perlstein has the goods (my emphasis):

Some of us have been shouting from mountaintops, others from molehills: James Comey, currently sailing smoothly through Senate Judiciary Committee hearings for confirmation as chief of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, was:

(a) in charge, and proudly so, of a “terrorism” case that began with a detention without charges, continued with made-up and spurious charges, and ended with a conviction won against an American whose treatment during confinement (on the American mainland) turned his brain to jello;

(b) general counsel for a defense contractor while it was busy hushing up a whistleblower who exposed $24 billion contract that they were building vessels for the Coast Guard, on a $24 billion contract, that buckled and leaked on the high seas;

(c) as of three months ago on the board of a bank, in charge of cleaning up their reputation after it paid a $1.92 billion fine for laundering drug money from Mexico; and

(d) the man who, as former FBI agent Colleen Rowley pointed out this morning in The New York Times, “sign[ed] off on most of the worst of the Bush administration’s legal abuses and questionable interpretations of federal and international law. He ultimately approved the C.I.A.’s list of “enhanced interrogation” techniques, including waterboarding, which experts on international law consider a form of torture.

Lots of shouting going on. But not much listening.

Consider me one who’s been shouting, albeit from the molehills:

Just a few of Bush, Ashcroft & Comey's left-behinds. Now Obama wants Comey back. Ties that bind.

Just a few of Bush, Ashcroft & Comey’s left-behinds. Now Obama wants Comey back. Ties that bind.

Think for a second. Ashcroft and Comey refused to re-confirm a spying program. Now, Ashcroft and Comey are Movement Conservatives down to the decoder ring. Ashcroft “lobbies for and invests” in the homeland securities industry. Comey went on to be Senior VP at Lockheed before moving to Money Street.

What NSA bridge was a bridge too far for even James Comey to cross? The program he and Goldsmitfgjellh wouldn’t sign off on …

The point of that riff was this — we know the “bridge too far” was too far, because Comey was already deep in the authoritarian pockets of the Cheneys of the world. It’s not praise of Comey, but special condemnation of that bridge. Comey is the bad that proves the program worse.

Is the “left” — by which I mean my unthinking brothers and sisters — really so hungry for heroes that they now praise the daddy who “didn’t hurt us as badly” as all the others?

I’ll leave you to read the rest of Perlstein’s Nation piece, plus the piece that raised his Comey questions in the first place. Here I want to raise Perlstein’s other question. The presidential one.

The question of Barack Obama

Perlstein continues (again, my emphasis):

Which brings us to the problem of Barack Obama …

Obama’s “hope and change,” we must now accept, is a fetish; one as strange as getting turned on by popping balloons, or dressing like a cuddly stuffed animal. Only this one is far more harmful, even when practiced among consenting adults. Our president’s kink is “bipartisanship”: acting really nice toward Republicans, even if, or even especially, they act really mean toward you. You know: an S&M kind of thing.

And his “change,” in turn, changes us: it wears us down, with the learned helplessness of too many promises betrayed—renders us the opposite of citizens. Which is curious, because most of us thought that if “change” meant anything, after George W. Bush, it meant a reanimation of our civic engagement, a renewed passion for political engagement—a citizenship jamboree. “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for”: didn’t someone say that once upon a time?

I’m going to call that kindness, even the S&M comment, and credit Perlstein for it. Me, I’m not as nice. I think Obama wanted this all along (if you click, it brings you Obama in 2006, years before our hope caught up with his refusal to change). If my analysis makes him the perp, what does it make of us? I’m afraid to say; your call on that one.

Perlstein’s second point though, about “learned helplessness,” is exactly right. I’ve been calling it “taught helplessness” because I think it’s deliberate on their part. But either way, the lesson of both Mr. Perlstein and my own self is this — you can overcome this yourself, simply by acting. You need no one’s permission.

I’ll even make a third point — muscular Obama seems to love him his torturers, doesn’t he? Would you want to be Jose Padilla — he of the jellied brain — or any of those wretched souls rotting (and choking) in Obama’s Gitmo Hotel?

You can defeat taught helplessness the minute you decide to. Go for it; act. Start anywhere you want. (Here’s one good place, if you’re NSA-inclined, or here.)

GP

To follow or send links: @Gaius_Publius


Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States. Click here for more. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius and Facebook.

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  • Kim_Kaufman

    This isn’t S & M since people engaged in these relationships are actually equals and the M partner controls the action. This is, as suggested below, Stockholm Syndrome – “Feelings of trust or affection felt in many cases of kidnapping or hostage-taking by a victim toward a captor.”

    As for “because most of us thought that if “change” meant anything, after George W. Bush, it meant a reanimation of our civic engagement, a renewed passion for political engagement—a citizenship jamboree.” …
    Wow, if Pearlstein, or as he imagines the general population, is waiting for some leader to give permission to become civiclly or politically engaged, well, I guess that sort of defines Stockholm Syndrome.

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    Actually, Cheney inserted himself
    into Rove’s scheme against Rove’s wishes. Charles Manson killed far
    fewer innocent people than Cheney, although Cheney has more brain-dead
    followers. Putin is about the only one who may be a contender, but it’s a
    close call.

  • htfd

    Why would Obama pick anyone other than an other lesser? What ever happened to the best. Birds of a feather do flock together is more the case here.

  • ezpz

    Yes, “turnkey tyranny” says it all. Or, as James Bamford described WIllaim Binney, former NSA official, when he said:

    The former NSA official held his thumb and forefinger close together: “We are that far from a turnkey totalitarianstate.”

    From the James Bamford piece published in Wired more than a year ago:

    http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/03/ff_nsadatacenter/all/

  • Bill_Perdue

    Gaius Publius – another home run. Thanks.

    The politics of the ‘lesser evil’ inevitably lead to a race to the bottom. There are no exceptions to that rule. Every President since Lincoln has been followed by someone worse and Obama, beyond just proving the point, is on course to be one of the worst, rivaling Clinton and Bush.

    The FBI has always been a tool of the most right wing elements in government and teh FBI and other federal police agencies have always taken their unofficial but real role as defenders of the rich seriously.

    Beginning with the Palmer raids in 1920′s, attacks on leftists continued up to the present day. They were perhaps most notorious for organizing the murder of members of the Black Panther Party in the 60′s and 70′s, and using local police and prosecutors to jail BPP members as part of their COINTELPRO program. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zwdx1ewLBYA) They also attacked the antiwar and Chicano movements using many of the same tactics. http://jeffsharletandvietnamgi.blogspot.com/2011/04/tommy-traveler.html

    Democracy Now has a list of topics related to COINTELPRO at http://www.democracynow.org/topics/cointelpro . It’s well worth looking at.

    This is another in the long history of the institutionalization of criminal activity by federal police, which includes the FBI and the NSA but which ultimately involves every federal agency. From Wilson to Obama, Democrats and their Republican cousins have been dismantling the Bill of Rights. When they’re finished we’ll be left without a country.

  • Indigo

    You know . . . I’m unpersuaded by efforts to stop the inexorable slide into turnkey tyranny (love it!) in the same way that I’m unpersuaded by the efforts to reverse climate change. Climate change is happening as we key our sentiments into cyberspace and the inexorable slide into tyranny is not so scary, we’re mostly there already. The question I keep pondering is not how to stop what has already happened but how to manage the situation, seek a modicum of social justice, and maintain a reasonable lifestyle in the face of this quotidian horror.

    We’re already there. Now what?

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    People — including many of those who should know better — are so desperate for this country to stop it’s inexorable slide into (my new favorite term) “turnkey tyranny”, they’ll project all their desires and hopes onto men who occasionally say the right thing, but who are actually active and ardent proponents of the security-first State.

  • Indigo

    She carries her Stockholm Syndrome symptoms well.

  • lynchie

    She is an Obama/Corporate boot licker who wants to party at the White House and doesn’t mind rubbing elbows with Drone Man or this war crimes creep.

  • TheOriginalLiz

    That’s not saying anything – Satan himself is less bad than Cheney

  • Indigo

    We have an advanced case of Stockholm Syndrome. I don’t know of a cure.

  • cole3244

    obama proves once again that he is a traitor to those that elected him.

  • ezpz

    But Rachel was breathless when she praised him effusively right after President Can-Do-No-Wrong announced the nomination. You mean she was wrong? Shocker!

    /S (just in case anyone really thought I was serious)

  • nicho

    Actually, Cheney inserted himself into Rove’s scheme against Rove’s wishes. Charles Manson killed far fewer innocent people than Cheney, although Cheney has more brain-dead followers. Putin is about the only one who may be a contender, but it’s a close call.

  • Monoceros Forth

    Until he finally choked to death on his own bile, I’d have put Jerry Falwell on that list.

  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    Well, that is difficult, but I would put Karl Rove right up there. After all, he got Cheney into the VP office. Vladimir Putin is a possibility as is Kim Jong-un. Charles Manson? As you can see, I’m struggling to think of any real contenders. You know, Liz Cheney may belong on that list. She’s certainly trying. I live in Minnesota, so Michele Bachman comes easily to mind. Maggie Gallagher? Brian Brown?

  • unrepentant_expat

    With no notable exceptions American foreign policy has never varied far from the excesses of Andrew Jackson, William Mc Kinley or LBJ.

  • unrepentant_expat

    They’re not really trying to hide it any longer, are they?

  • Monoceros Forth

    Hope and change = nominating Bush Jr. administration officials. Nice.

  • nicho

    Hmmm. I’m trying to think of who those exceptions might be. Not having a lot of luck.

  • nicho

    So, he’s the lesser of two evils. That seems to be what Democrats are after these days — evil, but not the worst guy on the block. We are so screwed.

  • DrDignity

    War criminals protecting each other, covering up for the other, walking free, decorating the other. The main stream media, like good stenographers, parrot the official stories, the lies, the apologies. Does anyone remember the war crimes at Abu Ghraib, the wholesale manipulation to go to war with a nation with a manufactured “Wag the Dog” pageant of weapons of mass destruction? Does anyone remember the suspension of habeas corpus, extraordinary rendition, Guantanamo, the secret prisons round the world which torture? Has anyone noticed the US Executive Branch with unprecedented power to kill anyone in the world with a reason or without? Does anyone remember those collateral damages of signature drone strikes & the terror of peoples we don’t know & kill with abandon? Does anyone remember the US Constitution, the UN Declaration of Universal Human Rights? Does anyone know about the 1953 Nuremberg Treaties or those of the Geneva Convention? Does anyone really believe that tyranny is here already? Does anyone realise that this is all a fraud?

  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    Except for a few notable exceptions, the whole world is less bad than Cheney.

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