If you have "no place to go," come here!

Deprogramming Post A+ Obama Tucson Rhetoric

Last night Obama looked Amnesiac Americans in the eye and re-won their hearts, apparently.

Yes, indeedy, he scored. He seems from the a.m. media buzz today to be out-teflon-ing Reagan. With a lot of help from his vast corporate media enablers, jumping the shark imho in their triangulation of Palin to eclipse the darker reality of the Obama regime.

This is where Obama can flex. He can afford to be sentimentally expansive because it costs him nothing with the corporate overlords. He can re-seduce with his words. I am not surprised by Obama. I am surprised by the numbers who still buy it. Do they or not? The media will tell us that they did. Gamesmanship over statesmanship. Style over substance every time. To paraphrase the title of a wonderful book I am reading by Megan Stack, "Every Man and Woman in the Beltway Village is a Liar."

You don’t think that being a rogue war criminal nation, droning, assassination, death squads, no habaes corpus, massive suicides, homicides of civilians, rapes in the military might also contribute to our culture of violence?

Or being soft on gun control both domestically and globally?

Or having a new corporate-friendly health insurance program that is not helpful to the mentally ill?

Or enabling America’s wealth to trickle up to the top 1% of corporate elites?

Again, might not the above have a toxic effect on the citizenry of this nation, inspiring some to crazed violence?

Talk is cheap, but, wow, Obama can really do it well. And apparently people will lap it up. During moments of shock and awe, I guess a hypocritical, gentle-sounding President is better than nothing. And with all the hyped vilification of Palin, who deserves little sympathy, but still, that doesn’t mean Obama deserves the crown or white hat that the media is so eagerly giving him this morning.

I wonder how countries we have decimated feel about our national shock and awe over the, granted, horrifying murders and attempted murder in Tucson with the War-Criminal-in Chief surging massive violence so celebrated as a healer.

Sorry. How out of step and apparently anti-American of me, having empathy for our international victims. And, again, after the night when Obama apparently touched the hearts of America with rhetorical compassion.


Just a few quotes to help me, at least, process the propaganda pouring out of my tv screen this morning on how wonderful our adept at sentimentalizing President is.

From Michael O'Brien of the Hill:

President Barack Obama on Monday received a failing grade from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence for running away from gun control.

The group, which endorsed Obama in 2008, gave him an “F” on every issue it scored, including background checks, gun trafficking, guns in public, the federal assault weapons ban, standing up to the gun lobby and leadership.


But the Brady Campaign, a leading advocacy group for stricter gun laws, said Obama actually has done little to clamp down on firearms since being elected. Instead, the president has signed into law two bills that favored gun-rights supporters.

“This year they ran away from the issue, and actually signed two repeals of good gun legislation,” said Helmke.

Obama signed legislation this year that would allow guns in national parks and on Amtrak trains.

This from Fred Branfman:

As you read these words countless Afghan and Pakistani villagers are huddling in their homes, terrorized by U.S. war-making, as General Petraeus's brutal offensive into southern Afghanistan, met by an increase in the Taliban's resort to roadside bombs and assassination, has caused the Red Cross to issue an unusual alarm saying that conditions are at their worst for Afghan civilians in 30 years, i.e. as bad as during the Russian invasion. A Canadian press report indicates that Kandahar's main hospital is overflowing with civilian casualties, and that "on some days, the floor is red with blood".


If we can free our minds of a lifetime of official propaganda identifying the U.S. Executive with the American people, the evidence is overwhelming that in foreign and military policy the U.S. Executive Branch is an undemocratic institution that does not represent its own citizens. It operates largely independent of Congress, the Judiciary or a mass media which has largely become an arm of Executive power, broadcasting its lies far more often than it exposes them.


Just as the Taliban is far stronger today after the U.S. has wasted $300 billion and thousands of American lives over the last 10 years, Petraeus's tactics are strengthening not weakening America's enemies over the long run. If he murders enough people in southern Afghanistan, the General may be able to claim some short-term successes there. But there is no serious question that his tactics are sowing a long-term whirlwind which not only threatens the stability of the Afghan and Pakistani governments, but pose a long-term threat to Americans at home."

Eric Margolis:

"US forces conducted a brutal campaign around Kandahar to crush resistance to the occupation and punish communities that supported Taliban sympathizers and using mass reprisals against the civilian population."

"Death squads are hard at work murdering those suspected of backing Taliban and opposing western occupation. Similar "pacification" tactics were used to break the resistance of the Iraqi city of Fallujah, a third of which was razed by US Marines. The Soviets employed similar tactics during their ten-year occupation of Afghanistan."

"The same tactics were developed by Israel during its occupation of the West Bank, including giant security walls chopping up the landscape, blowing up houses, and night raids against suspects."

"The government and media have colluded to paint the picture of a noble, heroic, flag-waving American enterprise in Afghanistan that is, alas, very far from reality. Last week came news that US air, land, and mercenary forces would penetrate ever deeper into Pakistan. WikiLeaks show that Pakistan's feeble, US-sustained government is quietly backing deeper US military involvement and targeted killings of Pakistanis."

John Pilger:

Never has so much official energy been expended in ensuring journalists collude with the makers of rapacious wars which, say the media-friendly generals, are now "perpetual". In echoing the west's more verbose warlords, such as the waterboarding former US vice-president Dick Cheney, who predicated "50 years of war", they plan a state of permanent conflict wholly dependent on keeping at bay an enemy whose name they dare not speak: the public.

David Lindorff:

Washington Police arrested 135 of the protesters, in what is being called the largest mass detention in recent years. Among those arrested were Ray McGovern, a former CIA analyst who used to provide the president’s daily briefings, Daniel Ellsberg, who released the government’s Pentagon Papers during the Nixon administration, and Chris Hedges, former war correspondent for the New York Times.

No major US news media reported on the demonstration or the arrests. It was blacked out of the New York Times, blacked out of the Philadelphia Inquirer, blacked out in the Los Angeles Times, blacked out of the Wall Street Journal, and even blacked out of the capital’s local daily, the Washington Post, which apparently didn't even think it was a local story worth publishing.

Making the media cover-up of the protest all the more outrageous was the fact that most news media did report on Friday, the day after the protest, the results of the latest poll of American attitudes towards the Afghanistan War, an ABC/Washington Post Poll which found that 60% of Americans now feel that war has “not been worth it.” That’s a big increase from the 53% who said they opposed the war in July.

Cindy Sheehan:

I have observed that it was one thing to be anti-Bush, but to be anti-war in the age of Obama is not to be tolerated by many people. If you will also notice, the only people who seem to know about the raids are those of us already in the movement. There has been no huge outcry over this fresh outrage, either by the so-called movement or the corporate media.

I submit that if George Bush were still president, or if this happened under a McCain/Palin regime, there would be tens of thousands of people in the streets to protest. This is one of the reasons an escalation in police state oppression is so much more dangerous under Obama - even now, he gets a free pass from the very same people who should be adamantly opposed to such policies.

Chris Floyd:

Meanwhile, the man who last year received the world's most noted accolade the enlightened pursuit of peace is now expanding a senseless, brutal and futile war in one foreign land into another, where he has already killed hundreds of innocent people with cowardly bombs fired at defenseless villages from robot drones controlled by armchair warriors thousands of miles away. Another 54 people died from these assassinations just last night; it is claimed they were "militants," but no names were given, no evidence at all to back up these assertions -- and no real reason at all given as to why these assassinations and escalations must continue, on and on, for years, decades, perhaps generations, we are told. Again, Tolstoy:

Spontaneous feeling tells me that what they are doing should not be, but as the murderer who has begun to assassinate his victim cannot stop, so also ... people now imagine that the fact of the deadly work having been commenced is an unanswerable argument in favour of war. War has been started and therefore it should go on. Thus it seems to simple, benighted, unlearned men acting under the influence of the petty passions and stupefactions to which they have been subjected. In exactly the same way the most educated men of our time argue to prove that man does not possess free will, and that therefore even were he to understand that the work he has commenced is evil he can no longer cease to do it.
So dazed, brutalized men continue their dreadful work.

Do not help them. Do not support them. Do not spend your energy and passion and intellect on earnest analyses of the twists and turns of their political fates. They are doing evil. Do not be part of it. Support instead those who try to speak the truth. Stand with them. It is their fate -- not the fate of the petty, brutal power-seekers -- which will determine the meaning of our times and the future of our species.

And from Patrick Cockburn on the ground in Afghanistan via Floyd:

But the most extraordinary failure of the US-led coalition in Afghanistan is that the expenditure of tens of billions of dollars has had so little impact on the misery in which 30 million Afghans live. Since 2001 the US alone has provided $52 billion in aid, two thirds for security and one third for economic, social and political development.

Despite this some nine million Afghans live in absolute poverty while a further five million, considered ‘not poor’, try to survive on $43 a month.“Things look alright to foreigners but in fact people are dying of starvation in Kabul,” says Abdul Qudus, a man with a deeply lined face in his forties, who sells second-hand clothes and shoes on a street corner in the capital. They are little more than rags, lying on display on the half frozen mud.


US officials admit privately that the torrent of aid money that has poured into Afghanistan has stoked corruption and done ordinary Afghans little good. Aimed at improving economic and social conditions in order to reduce support for the Taliban it is having the reverse effect of destabilizing the country. Afghanistan was identified as the third most corrupt country out of 178 in the world in a report released yesterday by Transparency International.

...The US government policy of providing aid through large American private companies, whose interest lies in making a profit rather than improving the life of Afghans, is proving a failure in Afghanistan as it did previously in Iraq. As winter approaches half of Afghans face the prospect of ‘food insecurity’, or not getting enough to eat in the next three months, according to the US Famine Early Warning System.

And Obama, former constitutional lawyer, is steadily shredding the constitution. No re-institution of habeas corpus. His embrace of the right to executive assassination of Americans. Permanent detentions. Kangaroo military tribunals. Death squads. Black sites where do you really think torture has ended? FBI raids on anti-war activists. And what about the torture of solitary confinement, etc.

Ron Jacobs in CounterPunch makes the chilling comment:

“Indeed, the concern for civil liberties is usually dismissed by politicians, judges, and other people in power almost as if they were some worthless costume trinkets from  grandma’s jewelry box.”

Glen Ford:

The Great Recession, which by all historical rights should have sent the Republicans into eclipse for a generation, instead saw a miraculous GOP rebound that left the Democrats shattered and pitifully incoherent. That's the real big picture of Obama's brief presidency - a period of breathtaking dissolution of the Democratic Party as Obama facilitated the swallowing whole of the American state by Wall Street.

How about the poverty in Obamaworld? He could launch a WPA work program with an executive order, but won't.

Statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau, 2009.

• More than 1 in 8 people in the United States lives below the poverty line, which is $21,756 for a family of four in 2009.
• One in five children in the United States lives below the poverty line.
• Most Americans (51.4 percent) will live in poverty at some point before age 65.
• A person working full-time at the minimum wage earns $14,500 a year.
• The official poverty line for a family of three—one parent with two children—is $17,285.

From the TV, media talking heads are congratulating themselves about how grown-up and sensitive they and the leaders of the deadly American status quo are. All of them in the media, Congress, the WH, Pentagon need a pr face-lift in front of the citizenry and are joining Obama in this moment of expansiveness and self-aggrandizement.

Oh goody, Tom Brokaw is now on Morning Joe, putting the final sweet frosting on Obama's cake. I am going into diabetic shock.

You know, I, too, am horrified by what happened in Tucson and feel for the victims and their families. But I don't want to lose sight of the forest because of some stylistic empathy offered up among the trees. Obama doesn't walk the walk. I wish desperately he would, but he won't.

Don't be seduced by him or the magic box.

There are a lot more anti-teflon facts and voices out there. I hope Americans heed them.

No votes yet


Submitted by lambert on

So far, incoherent.

See above at "paradox." And, indeed, welcome to 2012!

cellocat's picture
Submitted by cellocat on

Tony, people are talking about the organizers turning a memorial service into a campaign event, not saying that everyone who attended was a schlub deserving of ridicule. And do personal preferences turn someone automatically into a pearl clutcher? Really?

Having watched friends re-enter relationships that have been destructive to them and their well-being, and wishing mightily that they'd stay away, I can understand (and share) the desire to see former Obama-philes retain the ability to see the many destructive effects of the Obama presidency, regardless of what speeches he makes.

You appear to be taking other people's opinions very personally.

TonyRz's picture
Submitted by TonyRz on


Having watched friends re-enter relationships that have been destructive to them and their well-being, and wishing mightily that they'd stay away, I can understand (and share) the desire to see former Obama-philes retain the ability to see the many destructive effects of the Obama presidency, regardless of what speeches he makes.

Um, fine. I guess. Because I don't want to go to certain places, I'll just ask you to recognize two of your working assumptions here: that BHO's rhetoric is seductive enough to play mind games with people who are reality-focused enough to see what the man has been as a president; that, like some kind of cult "deprogrammer", the original poster's tough love has to be administered to break us free of Obama's magic spells, lest all us poor little hippie chicks run back to the compound, take too much LSD, and jump out windows in our tight white bell-bottom jeans.

TonyRz's picture
Submitted by TonyRz on

I was going to say "rigorous" deconstruction, but honestly, it wasn't that deep or sinister.

Many of the familiar elements of his repertoire were there and reporting for duty:
the unity bromides; the castigating; the Godifying. One could have made the case, simply, that this was for the most part more of the same old same old. (What made it special to Versailles was, as I've already posted, that it let them off the hook.)

But let me turn the question around, if we're demanding alternative models: what is the alternative model to what BHO did last night? In the context of five days of absolute unprecedented shrieking crazy in the mainstream media, culminating in Shoah Sarah, the front rows full of the family of the injured and dead, what were his choices?

Submitted by lambert on

... focusing on us. The way it all feels to me is that P strengthened her hold on her base, and O did what worked for him in 2008 (and to more or less the same demographic).

But we know how to deconstruct. If Libby's "tough love" isn't the right way to get those we know, those around us, to "deconstruct," what is the way? I don't think people are necessarily stupid, but they do want to believe in kindness, that those in authority really are looking out for them, and the rest of it. Not really hopium, since not sold in industrial carload-strength at Obama Camp, but .... human nature. Maybe deprogramming is too harsh. "True love dies hard." Not sure.

NOTE On the T-shirts: It never occurred to me that they were a class or cultural marker. I just thought of them as a campaign or marketing prop. I mean, I buy T-shirts all the time for things I support.

Submitted by cg.eye on

y'know, the hippie-punching meme's just waiting there to be used -- no need for the additional filip of cross-dressing in tight-white girly jeans. Misogyny *and* homophobia -- really?

A hippie chick you are not, nor are we, nor are those who are really hurting in this country who though Obama actually cared about helping them.

And the folks who are passing out the O Koolaid? Manly men who hate weak sisters, old, dry wimmen and anyone not able to share a beer bong with them. Good on you for taking a page from their playbook and running with it.

Submitted by lambert on

1. By comparison to the misogynist metaphors we've all heard for Palin and Clinton, this one's pretty mild, no?

But and also:

2. The trick of "Why didn't you post about that back then?" is really, really old and a derail: There are plenty of reasons for that, starting with RL. You want to guarantee that somebody writes what you want? Write them a check.

* * *

Plenty of more interesting topics on this thread...

UPDATE Referring to "hippie chicks." I'm not comfortable with the spousal abuse metaphor, though I'm sure I've used it, becuase in the same way that a government is not like a household, a government is not like a family. Except to authoritarians, that is.

TonyRz's picture
Submitted by TonyRz on

Because in my book, riffing on bad 70s TV movies about cults and teens on drug trips was just one way to lighten the mood from the toxic battered-spouse syndrome/she-doesn't-know-what's-good-for-her meme.

The latter was pretty shrill, and not in a good way.

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

as usual, libby.

I have to say, I'm a little puzzled by all the discussion of reactions to the event.

I won't give my reaction to it, except to say that the President is supposed to give the State of the Union speech on January 25th and I'm much more interested in whether or not that speech is going to continue his attempts to impose austerity on most people while he continues to do his best to make the top 1% as rich as possible.

If he does, he'll call for shared sacrifice and make sure that it is not shared. He'll say we have a money problem, when what we have is really class war and corporatism among the elites.

During the speech he'll have to talk about the Tucson shooting, and I wonder how he'll try to tie that into the deficit reduction and austerity bullshit.

Submitted by lambert on

Lets asks:

During the speech he'll have to talk about the Tucson shooting, and I wonder how he'll try to tie that into the deficit reduction and austerity bullshit.

Think "grandchildren"... And therefore... Nine-year-old Christina Taylor Green.... Too cynical? I certainly hope so...

Submitted by libbyliberal on

I am questioning how and why citizens are heartfully embracing the eulogizing of Obama, who is responsible for countless tragedies in the past, present and upcoming -- with them or their own family members most likely included on that continuum.

What about all the little 9-years that his droning has sent to heaven in other countries? Who go to bed hungry in this country? Or who will die or members of their families from lack of universal health care? What about the innocents caged permanently because of his political need not to APPEAR soft on terror? What about the erosion of privacy, of the first amendment? I am repeating my blog. I made my points.

Obama jumped the shark a long time ago in terms of unethical and non empathetic behavior, despite Nobel Peace Prize rhetoric.

The progressive media jumped the shark, lost to gamesmanship never statesmanship. Ratings are all.

Obama is Lucy with the football once again. Reagan got the same pass.

And once again, too many citizens go after the messengers to support their need for the illusion of a good leader.

TonyRz's picture
Submitted by TonyRz on

Just re-watched, and had the same reaction I did last night: when he was discussing those dead and injured, it was compelling. When blathering on too long with his unity obromides? Charlie Brown's teacher. (But then, I've always found him lacking in this regard and never swooned once when he speechified. I'm pretty sure I'm not alone here. Perhaps this is where you're making a mistaken assumption, and thus going a bit overboard?)

I'm sure the talking heads of Versailles collectively wet their pants. They got the absolution on their criminal-enabling behavior they always demand in situations like these.

Really, it's not about him.

twig's picture
Submitted by twig on

what about all other tragedies, so many of them avoidable? That's a long list and politicians are not interested in doing anything to change it.

Submitted by libbyliberal on

It was so gratifying to see coyote on top of responses then more to resonate my feelings when I glanced onto the blog at first. It is crazymaking and lonely to see things one way and hear the opposite pouring out of the tube with such force. Very troubling and sobering.

Two things today. I kept thinking of Mark Twain's War Prayer. After the stranger paints the real picture of war, the congregation concludes:

It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said.

I also thought of how Bradley Manning is locked up with so little support confirming his reality and conscience, just institutionalized malice and overuse of power and control around him. He has allegedly delivered evidence of wrong and instead of being heeded as he and it deserves to be he is vilified, stuck in a cruel limbo and his life and mental health threatened for being yet again a messenger of truth. Whistleblowers are the enemy of the Obama administration, backer of the Bush administration horrors.

Obama won't ramp up background checks on guns even I'd bet. But he will continue compiling his "gray list" ... pre-blacklist a la McCarthyism of people like us. And if there were more awake among the citizenry the gray list would be larger and we all would be safer. But it looks like it is a tough sell. The red herring of "civility" is in place, and will be used for Obama to perpetrate his dismantling of democracy and the constitution and the common good, the public trust. He relies on the low-informed citizenry, gullible to manipulation. The media makes it happen.

Teachable moment for Obama. He doesn't have to do right. Appearances over reality, style over substance. Gamesmanship works. Does he even know what statesmanship is? He can do such a good impression of it and still be rewarded by the dark side for continuing on the wrong side of history.

A nine-year old's death or a Congresswoman's suffering was an opportunity to cultivate more of that pr trust he does not deserve. Words should not trump the evidence of actions. But they apparently do.

I feel sorry for Obama. He is ego-driven, not conscience driven, and that is not a happy place. But I feel sorrier for all of us victims of that powerful ego, which can be so dangerously non-empathetic and willful.

I feel like I have my own grieving to do. Not about Obama. I already knew about him. About my American society. A majority greater than I realized that would rather grasp temporary false comfort than face reality.

madamab's picture
Submitted by madamab on

I hope that those who needed to, found comfort in Obama's words. I lost the ability to listen to him a long time ago.

Submitted by libbyliberal on

So often find comfort in your sensibility especially during trying Obama/citizenry moments like this, I sought out your wonderful blogsite this week for it, too.

Miss you and so grateful to see you here now. :)