By Ernest A. Canning on 8/13/2010, 8:45pm PT  

Guest Editorial by Ernest A. Canning

Sorry, Mr. Gibbs, but your description of a "professional left" whose critiques of your boss, President Barack Obama, should be disregarded as the "crazy" musings of "people who ought to be drug tested" reflects that you are both authoritarian and out-of-touch.

The vast majority of citizens who supported the President in 2008 favor positions on policies that are far more progressive than anything which has emerged from either the corporate-controlled Democratic "leadership" in Congress or the Obama White House. The majority of Americans are by no means obligated to ignore the "democracy deficit" or the betrayal of the President's promise to bring "change we can believe in."

While one can readily agree that many of the Obama administration's policies are an improvement over those which are advanced by the reactionary fascist billionaires, and their mindless "Tea Party" followers, there are many instances in which the policies of the current administration threaten more harm than those of its predecessor. E.g,, those documented by a recent ACLU report (see Democracy Now video below) in which the current administration has created policies that may "enshrine permanently within the law policies and practices that were widely considered extreme and unlawful during the Bush administration."

Perhaps most disturbing is that the President's zeal to please his true constituency --- corporate America, Wall Street and the military-industrial complex --- comes from the same Presidential candidate whose soaring and lofty, yet deceptive campaign rhetoric gave rise to hope in so many that Election Day 2008 would mark a return to economic fairness, transparency, a restoration of the rule of law, an end to the fear-driven perpetual "war on terror," and a restoration of nature's ecological balance.

The title of Studs Turkel's powerful book is Hope Dies Last.

Even during the darkest days of the Bush/Cheney cabal, there was the hope that the foundering American ship of state could be righted by way of the electoral process. By raising the hopes of the American people during the course of the 2008 campaign, only to dash those hopes by betraying his own rhetoric, President Obama has, in some measure, caused more harm than the Bush/Cheney regime...

Professional Right; Educated Left

Gibbs' reference to "the professional left" would be amusing if the reality of information dominance by corporate wealth and power were not so compelling.

As Professors Edward Herman & Noam Chomsky observed in the 2002 edition of their seminal work, Manufacturing Consent, of “the nine giants that now dominate the media universe, all but General Electric have extensively conglomerated within the media, and are important in both producing content and distributing it. Four of them --- Disney, AOL Time Warner, Viacom and News Corporation --- produce movies, books, magazines, newspapers, TV programs, music, videos, toys, and theme parks…; and they have extensive distribution facilities via broadcasting and cable ownership, retail stores and movie-theater chains.”

GE, the parent company of NBC & MSNBC, is heavily invested in the military-industrial complex.

The impact, Bill Moyers observes, is that

Virtually everything the average person sees or hears, outside of her own personal communications, is determined by the interests of private, unaccountable executives and investors whose primary goal is increasing profits and raising the share prices. More insidiously, this small group of elites determines what ordinary people do not see or hear. In-depth coverage of anything, let alone the problems real people face day-to-day, is as scarce as sex, violence and voyeurism are pervasive.

On the far Right, there is Fox "News," subsidiary of News Corp., whose chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch has so been so successful in amassing an international media Empire that by 2007 Forbes listed Murdoch as the 33rd wealthiest American with a networth of $8.8 billion. In August 2007 Murdoch added Dow Jones and the Wall Street Journal to his media Empire, which already included some "175 other newspapers as well as the Fox Television network, 21st Century Fox film studios, several satellite networks,, [and] Harper Collins."

While Robert Greenwald forcefully demonstrated in Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism that Fox is but the propaganda arm of the forces of reaction within the Republican Party, Fox is but one component of the billionaire funded, hard-right noise machine/echo chamber that also consists of publications, think tanks, and media pundits, including the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Andrew Breitbart.

These "professional" hard-right propagandists may lead the charge, but time and again, as in the run up to the war in Iraq and as forcefully demonstrate here by Brad Friedman in the smearing of a benevolent community organization --- ACORN --- the so-called "mainstream media" has willfully carried the buckets of hard-right slime.

There is nothing and no one on the educated Left that can begin to match the power and noise of these "professional" hard-right propagandists. Programs like Democracy Now, Pacific Radio, and blogs like this one, whose journalistic concerns center on a search for the truth as opposed to ideological purity, are dependent upon viewer, listener and reader voluntary contributions. They cannot look to a benefactor like Richard Mellon Scaife, the principal heir to the Mellon banking, oil, and aluminum fortune, whose Foundations have channeled in excess of $340 million to right-wing echo chamber over the last thirty year.

The American Left's true source of inspiration and ability to persuade comes primarily from its willingness to speak truth to power.

Litany of Betrayal

It is interesting that Gibbs would disparage Canadian health care. It's as if Gibbs doesn't realize that the World Health Organization ranks Canada's system above our own; that Physicians for a National Health Program debunked the many insurance lobby myths about the Canadian system; that when his boss was a state Senator in Illinois, he supported a single-payer system, or that polls revealed that 60% of Americans favor a single-payer system.

In his televised response to Gibbs, Keith Olbermann complained about Obama's "willingness to give the 'professional right' all the seats at the table." As I noted in Wing-Nut Mobs Provide Cover for Obama/Baucus Health Care Betrayal: A FOLLOW-UP, quoting Ralph Nader, health care provided a classic example:

RALPH NADER: What is emerging here is what was being planned by the Obama White House all along, which is they would...only demand legislation that was accepted by the big drug companies and the big health insurance companies.

You can see this emerging over the last few months. President Obama has met with the heads of the drug companies and the health insurance companies. Some executives have met with President Obama four to five times in the White House in the last few months. He has never met with the longtime leaders of the “Full Medicare for Everybody” movement...

The end result of what Gibbs now touts as an achievement was in fact a "legislative obscenity that Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) and a former vice president of WellPoint spent months preparing --- an insurance carrier wish-list that contains no public option, no means for controlling costs or abuse; a measure that does not merely protect but expands the already obscene wealth of the few by mandating that every citizen purchase insurance, with massive subsidies flowing into carrier coffers."

In We Must be Insane and again in Obama's Continuing 'Terror War' Policies, Failure to Deal with Torturers Raise Growing Concerns I dissected the Orwellian speeches the President used not only to escalate the war in Afghanistan but to justify a perpetual war against an ephemeral enemy who is anywhere and everywhere. I pointed to John Pilger's assessment, perhaps more harsh than my own, that Obama was a sort of Manchurian candidate with possible CIA connections dating back to 1983.

Whether or not there is evidence to support Pilger's past CIA-connection claim, it is difficult to argue with Pilger's description of Obama as a corporate media "marketing creation" or to take issue with Chris Hedges, whom Pilger quoted as stating:

President Obama does one thing and brand Obama gets you to believe another. This is the essence of successful advertising. You buy or do what the advertiser wants because of how they make you feel.

In the "Continuing 'Terror War'" piece, I added:

The immediate alignment of President-Elect Obama with a bevy of former Wall Street/Goldman Sachs insiders (e.g., Tim Geithner, Larry Summers), the retention of the CIA-connected Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense, the renomination of Ben Bernacke, the "too big to fail" excuse that essentially handed Wall Street the keys to the National Treasury, even as Goldman Sachs/AIG executives gorged on seven and even eight figure bonuses...

And in Plumbing the Depths of Lawless Executive Depravity I not only addressed the failure of the Obama administration to uphold the rule of law by prosecuting the previous administration for war crimes, especially torture, but noted that the Obama administration has moved beyond the Bush/Cheney cabal's assertion of unchecked Executive lawlessness in the form of extraordinary rendition, indefinite detention and torture. The Obama administration has now not only asserted a right to assassinate anyone that the Executive branch labels a terrorist, including U.S. citizens, but has gone so far as to place lawyers in legal jeopardy should they seek a court order to block an extrajudicial execution unless the executive branch grants the lawyer permission to do so.

The administration's role in this abominable practice only scratches the surface of a litany of inexcusable postures in the national security/civil liberties field that the ACLU's Jameel Jaffer touched upon during his Aug. 12 appearance on Democracy Now (video below).

And for this you want our blind support, Mr. Gibbs?

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Jameel Jaffer's Aug. 12 appearance on Democracy Now ...

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Ernest A. Canning has been an active member of the California state bar since 1977. Mr. Canning has received both undergraduate and graduate degrees in political science as well as a juris doctor. He is also a Vietnam vet (4th Infantry, Central Highlands 1968).