October 26, 2009

Obama's golf game

Apparently, Barack hits the links on Sunday afternoons, often playing on military courses in the D.C. area. He's only been playing golf for about 15 years or so, and his handicap is around 24, which means on an average 72 par course, he shoots around 96, but often strays into the low 100's. In other words, he's not a very good golfer. He's good-natured about it, though, although he likes to "trash talk" on the course to get "into other players' heads."

I'm kind of thinking right now: gimme a frigging break.

Bush claimed that he gave up golf at some variable time (there were reports of Bush playing after his "decision") out of deference to the feelings of the families of soldiers in harm's way in Afghanistan and Iraq. More deference, perhaps, could have been shown by simply bringing the soldiers home from these pointless wars, but in the USA it's often true that "optics" are as good as something real, especially when you can get the Mainstream Media to go along with the gag. Barack, whose American soldiers in Iraq are now mainly sequestered out of the free-fire and free-exploding zones, perhaps does not feel that the same deference is necessary or particularly meaningful, and besides, since he was not a silver spoon kid like W, he didn't get a chance to grow up in country clubs. So he's "earned" his right to the vaguely Republican-looking pastime.

I don't really begrudge Obama's leisure-time choices. He needs to get away from the Oval Office and from whatever it is that he's doing there, and I'm starting to think that, as with Bush, the less he actually does, the better. His access to nice courses where other players are cordoned off while his pack of duffers and hackers shanks and pounds their way through is something he won't always have, like his weekend trips to Camp David, so the more taxpayer-subsidized golf he can get in now, the better for him. He can hone his game up till about January, 2013, at which point I strongly suspect he won't be the U.S. President anymore.

I see where the New York Times has picked up and stolen the painstaking work of Glenn Greenwald about Obama's complicity in the Bush-era atrocities committed against one Binyam Mohamed, a British citizen who was the victim of rendition and torture by the CIA and U.S. military. His torture went way, way beyond waterboarding; indeed, compared to the torture inflicted on Mr. Mohamed (such as slicing his scrotum with a scalpel), waterboarding seems like shooting a siphon down someone's baggy pants. The British security apparatus went along with the Bush demand that no record of Binyam's torture be made public, on pain of a loss of cooperation with the CIA regarding terrorist threats against Britain. And you're reading that right (it's reflected in the opinion of the British High Court): the U.S. told Great Britain that if they publicized the torture of Mohamed, the U.S. would keep secret actionable intelligence indicating the possibility of an attack on Britain. Britain's spy services yielded to the threat, and demanded that a court hearing Binyam's case redact the Famous Seven Paragraphs which detail the tortures inflicted upon him. The lower court went along with this; the High Court has now reversed this decision and is prepared to publish the opinion in full. Here's what the Times has to say:

Victims of the Bush administration’s “enhanced interrogation techniques,” including Mr. Mohamed, have already spoken in harrowing detail about their mistreatment. The objective is to avoid official confirmation of wrongdoing that might be used in lawsuits against government officials and contractors, and might help create a public clamor for prosecuting those responsible. President Obama calls that a distracting exercise in “looking back.” What it really is is justice.

The Obama Administration is pretty lathered up about this, and they are pressuring the British government to appeal this latest decision. In so doing, Obama is not only ratifying the violations of Geneva Conventions by the Bush Administration, and acting contrary to the requirements of the Convention Against Torture (which requires Obama to investigate and prosecute where appropriate any credible allegation of torture), but Obama is now becoming complicit in a direct effort to subvert the judiciary for political reasons.

All of which is to cover for Bush/Cheney war crimes.

I'm starting to think that Obama is a pretty weird bird. I just don't get it. He casually lies about lots and lots of things, and has so alienated his "progressive" base at this point that he must know that when 2012 rolls around, the money from the base won't be there. Why would anyone get excited about him?

That's the way it is. I never expected anything from Bush but the worst, and man did he deliver. I thought Obama would produce great things and chart a new course, go for the long ball, but he's content to chip and putt, I guess. We're pretty much on our own, while he flies off to Martha's Vineyard, buzzes up to New York in some fat cat's Gulfstream for "date night" in New York, speaks at two-grand-a-plate dinners with the banksters on Wall Street, and in general carries on like a guy completely out of touch with the people that actually elected him.

Whatever. Play through, Mr. Prez.

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