Saturday, 7 April 2012

Feeling it

Our president weighed in on the outrageous Trayvon Martin case last week, saying the 17-year-old kid pursued and shot by a vigilante might have borne a resemblance to a son of his own. Not surprisingly, this bland comment stimulated the usual howls of victimized outrage from a has-been white politician like soon-to-be-invisible Newt, but it was curious to contemplate the implications of Obama’s words.

No doubt he intended to say that even a president’s own offspring wouldn’t be immune from the kind of racist stereotype that drove the trigger-happy Zimmerman to shoot first and ask questions later and that it was therefore an obviously bad thing. But it also suggests that Obama felt sympathy, at long last, for someone on the receiving end of police incompetence and/or abuse.

And none too soon. The papers have been full of stories only slightly less egregious than the Martin case, many of the recent ones related to Occupy actions. One Latino fellow in my neighborhood was just exonerated of a charge of assaulting a female police officer when the alleged recipient of this attack failed to show up in court. The defendant always has maintained that the whole thing was cooked up to justify the fact that he was bleeding from the head and that he’d never done anything to merit even a disorderly arrest, but the NYPD can say whatever it wants. Or could have except for one mistake the cops made—they failed to recognize Ydanis Rodríguez as a member of the City Council. Had he been just plain old José Gómez, he might well be doing 12 years.

The prosecutor’s office in a characteristic show of bad faith refused to admit anything and instead issued the usual boilerplate about not having ‘proof beyond a reasonable doubt’. You’re always guilty if the cops bust you, and false arrests do not occur. Rodríguez said he might sue, and I sure hope he does.

Not that President Obama would want to weaken the cops’ ability to bust, strip-search and prosecute in any way. His lawyers just successfully argued before the Supreme Court (the one Obama also trashed recently) in favor of that rule, so that now you and I can be seized for speeding and must allow the uniformed officers to take the Magical Mystery Tour up our rectal compartments. If you think this is no big deal, volunteer for it sometime, and get back to me. But Obama doesn’t expect to be pulled over or popped for a protest demonstration, so these circumstances do not awaken his sympathy.

Or take the use of agents provocateurs to drum up, promote and carry out terrorist attacks, then rope some unsuspecting bystander into the scheme—or pretend to—so that the FBI can trumpet Another Skeery Terror Plot Unearthed. That’s the Obama Justice Department at work, but of course the Prez is not Pakistani or a Muslim, despite the hallucinations afflicting half of rural Texas.

Obama also famously declared Bradley Manning guilty before his trial got around to starting, so whistle-blowers and leakers don’t get any sympathy from him either. His administration has been famously tougher on them than the Bush-Cheney regime although notorious torturers from that era do get a pass. But then again Obama needn’t imagine himself being held in a freezing cage, sleep-deprived or waterboarded.

Homeowners across the land are being scammed and ripped off, too, by the mortgage servicers and banks for which Obama continues to run interference with the phony 49-state mortgage settlement, but if Obama wants to buy a home, he can pay cash. Small investors who lost their shirts to Democratic donor and rich guy Jon Corzine in the MF Global Investments scandal haven’t enjoyed a sympathetic ear, nor will anyone conned with the new Bring Back Fraud to Wall Street bill that Obama just signed, cleverly disguised as the JOBS Act. No doubt Obama’s financial advisors will enable him to steer clear of the next round of thievery enabled by that legislation.

In short, it’s great that Obama recognizes that shooting down a youngster walking home with a bag of candy isn’t right because he could imagine himself the father of a kid like Trayvon. It would be nice if his sympathy some day were to extend to other grossly unfair situations, including those caused by his own policies, even if he can’t imagine how they could affect him directly.

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