Wednesday, January 29, 2014

SOTU: A Classic of Cluelessness

Last night's SOTU address was a lot like an episode of Seinfeld -- great writing, great acting, pitch-perfect delivery, frequent grunts of laughter and even frequenter rounds of applause from an allegedly living audience. But in the end, it was a classic show about nothing.

At least the senile Uncle Leo character showed up only once to bitch about the deficit and generational theft. At least the pathologically cheap George Costanzo clone grudgingly agreed to raise the crappy pay of federal contract employees enough so they won't faint from starvation on the job. (although, as with most bait and switch come-ons, restrictions do apply. If you are currently a McWorker in the Pentagon, you will continue earning the same $7 or $8 an hour you've been making for the past decade. Now that your cheap-ass boss has to fork over an extravagant $10.10 an hour to the newbie, you're almost guaranteed to never get a raise. You will, however, be expected to train the new kid getting paid more than you.)

But not to worry. President Obama will make it easier for you to save for your retirement (or death, whichever comes first) through a nifty plan he calls MyRA. I suspect that it sounds like a TV ad for a rheumatoid arthritis drug for a reason.  It may come with a lot of side-effects, including serious infections, nervous system reactions, even death. If you begin to experience these symptoms, discontinue saving from your pitiful salary immediately and eat something, already! And then keep clamoring for the expansion of Social Security via scrapping the cap on contributions and raising the amount of monthly checks to help boost the economy.

Of course,  Barry's myRA is meant to help only the mythical "middle class" save for retirement. And Matt Yglesias suspects it's not a savings plan so much as it's a bond-selling gimmick. And cynic that I am, I can't help suspecting it's a backdoor way to eventually privatize Social Security. You know who else has been pushing for these private retirement savings accounts since forever? The tax-phobic billionaire plutocrats of Fix the Debt and the Business Roundtable, that's who! Since Inequality has all but pushed the New Deal-destroying Grand Betrayal off the table, myRa could be the consolation prize for the CEO crowd of political donors and bribers.

As soon as Obama mendaciously announced last night that fast track approval of the TransPacific Partnership* would help American entrepreneurs and small business owners create jobs for "folks," I tuned out. Along with Noam Chomsky's advice to run for the hills whenever you hear a politician utter the word folks, I would also urge you to be wary of his bucket full of dreaded "common-sense approaches". This weasel phrase paradoxically always seems to bode ill for the commons -- as in, common-sense deficit reduction, common-sense food stamp cuts, common-sense job-creating deregulation of fracking, and last night's promise of "common sense solutions to drone policy" -- or if you insist on being  blunt about it, the therapeutic assassinations of Muslim people by sane surgical hellfire missiles.

Barack Obama is simply using the old tried and true formula beloved of slick politicians since time immemorial. Check the polls, and determine what people are mad as hell about these days. (Hint: it's the failure of their government to protect them from the machinations of the pathologically wealthy.) Feel their pain for a minute. And then begin to oh-so-stealthily change the subject. Or, as the neoliberal elites say when they want to co-opt populist sentiment: "Shape their thinking" by changing the "terms of the debate."

And thus does the scourge and crime of unfettered capitalism and extreme wealth disparity become Obama's phony "ladders of opportunity" for increasingly desperate people to gain entry into Middle Class Nirvana. Save for retirement with your pennies. Play the trickle-down Promise Zone/charter school lottery. Work hard and play by their rules. Be afraid of terror. And above all, support the troops. Feel guilty about feeling your own sadness as the millionaires of Congress give a standing ovation to a maimed veteran who's suffered through a sadistic and unconscionable ten deployments to keep you safe and free and unquestioning. And don't forget pragmatic.

And if you do take it into your head to resist, a la Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, and other government whistleblowers, along with thousands of Occupy protesters and anti-war activists, watch your dulcet-toned President turn into the Soup Nazi in a New York Minute. If you dare ask for bread to go along with your watered-down soup, you'll not only be refused. They'll raise the price even more before summarily kicking you to the curb.

*Update: This is a hopeful sign, but we mustn't let our guard down. These promises have a way of being broken in back room wheeling and dealing.

20 comments:

annenigma said...

Back when the corporate media was bashing the Occupy movement every night, saying it was leaderless and without a message, they suddenly changed their tune and decided it indeed did have a message which THEY had finally figured out: Income Inequality (not Corporatization and Globalization and the selling of our democracy).

Didn't we really suspect that Obama would co-opt that message and become the leader just in time for the 2014 Congressional elections? Didn't 'income inequality' sound just a little too politically palatable and useful? Never mind that Occupy was a global movement. Well he did tweak it a bit - it's now 'opportunity' but just for the middle class.

Ha!Ha! though. Between then and now, Wikileaks and Michael Hastings (RIP) helped reveal some of the regime's dirty tricks at suppressing, infiltrating, and crushing the Occupy movement - and watering down the message. Then Ed Snowden threw a bright spotlight on the NSA and the regime's surveillance of all Americans as well as the world. Poof! There went that nice convenient cohort of voters called Occupy. Poor Obama is now stuck hinting at an 'evolution' of his position on marijuana to entice the young people to get back on board.

After learning more about the regime's actions against the Occupy movement, I don't think it was a fluke that Occupy protests changed in date and venue from the October Washington DC protest under activist Kevin Zeese to the September NYC version promoted with slick ads by the corporate AdBusters agency out of Vancouver, BC. It worked out too well for the regime in so many ways - spotlight off politicians, confined and restricted spaces, heavily fortified by NYC's huge and well funded anti-terrorism police state, riffraff kept away from Obama, relieving him of having to interact personally in his own backyard, weather harsher, etc. I don't think the regime leaves anything to chance when they could do things to control it.

Good news though. Several online start-up media companies such as First Look Media will be online soon as competition not just to traditional media but to counter the propaganda fronts for the Intelligence Community. Government propaganda targeted specifically towards Americans in the United States has become legal as of July 2013, thanks to Obama signing the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012, reversing a 64 year old ban on the government deploying propaganda against/on its own citizens.

We desperately need to break the hold that corporations, their politicians and government, and their media have over this country. Every voice counts - if we can get it heard.

p.s. Karen, I agree. MyIRA is the privatized baby version of Social Security. They will let it mature a little before they kill off the elderly version.

Fred Drumlevitch said...

Nice column, Karen. Also a fine job on your pre-SOTU "Pablum Preview" one.

A great deconstruction both times. I continue to wish, undoubtedly in vain, that educational systems --- K-12 at least, but ideally with additional development during higher education --- would formally teach the art/science of such deconstruction as applied to political statements and commercial advertising.

Politicians and merchants have smooth-talked, obfuscated, and manipulated since, as you said, "time immemorial", but the techniques grew increasingly sophisticated and successful during the twentieth century, and now they're standard operating practice. Developing individuals' competence against such techniques should be considered as essential as developing individuals' competence in the "three Rs". Of course, both contemporary political and economic systems, now often incestuously linked, will fight tooth and nail against any attempts at developing such competence in the broad populace.

Such popular competence might have spared nations/ the world from Hitler, Joe McCarthy, Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and countless others who have enjoyed, at least at some points, broad popular support. It could spare us who knows what in the future.

By the way, in my pre-SOTU comment to a Jan 28 NYT article on it, I did manage to get past their censors an allusion to the Third Reich! (But it probably went over their heads, as well as the heads of their readers, since only one person gave it a thumbs up!). It's the same comment I also posted yesterday at the (current) end of the Sardonicky "Pablum Preview" post. For those not familiar with him, Victor Klemperer (cousin to conductor Otto Klemperer) was the German professor of Romance languages, Protestant but of Jewish ancestry, who was forced out of his job and seriously oppressed by the Nazis, but who did survive the Holocaust and the war. From 1933 on, he kept an extensive diary of the Nazi years that has been translated and published in English in two volumes, and has been used as source material by Holocaust historians.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victor_Klemperer

Post-war, he also wrote "Language of the Third Reich: LTI: Lingua Tertii Imperii ", also available in English.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LTI_-_Lingua_Tertii_Imperii

From LTI, via WikiQuote (http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Victor_Klemperer):

"No, the most powerful influence was exerted neither by individual speeches nor by articles or flyers, posters or flags; it was not achieved by things which one had to absorb by conscious thought or conscious emotions. Instead Nazism permeated the flesh and blood of the people through single words, idioms and sentence structures which were imposed on them in a million repetitions and taken on board mechanically and unconsciously. ... Language does not simply write and think for me, it also increasingly dictates my feelings and governs my entire spiritual being the more unquestioningly and unconsciously I abandon myself to it. And what happens if the cultivated language is made up of poisonous elements or has been made the bearer of poisons? Words can be like tiny doses of arsenic: they are swallowed unnoticed, appear to have no effect, and then after a little time the toxic reaction sets in after all."

ste-vo said...

To follow is a comment posted to my Facebook page. MPP stands for Mr. President Peace Prize.

"has to apologize to you all. I know I posted here that I would not listen to MPP's SOTU. But I did. I was so overwhelmed with emotion, seriously I was, when I remembered his addressing the 2004 Democratic Convention and being totally spell-bound by what he said and how he said it. But now we know he is a duplicitous manipulator that will say what he thinks people want to here. Humor and feistiness, his speech had a rhythm to it and I feel so wonderful about living in the most exceptional country in the world and I will sleep well to night.

I had the SOTU on as background noise (but I did hear Chuck and Brian blather a bit)as my wife is traveling for camp and it was just me and Hester the Molester, our almost 20-month old Golden (She will charm you to death) If it had not been so dark and frigid I would have preferred taking her for a walk. I know I could have changed the channel, or taken her for a walk and she would have loved it - but there is something about "the man" - his charm, his folksiness, the way he drops his "gs" the way he can convince you that he knows your pain and is working to reduce it. Well, gag me with a spoon. I for one will continue working to relocalize the VT economy. Amerika does not work anymore.

Zee said...

@Fred and @All--

And let's not forget Werner Klemperer, son of Otto and nephew of Victor.

Best known for his role as the bumbling Colonel Klink on the old TV show, Hogan's Heroes, Werner was far from a hack actor, and was also an accomplished concert pianist and violinist:

"Klemperer, conscious that he would be playing the role of a German officer during the Nazi regime, agreed to the part only on the condition that Klink would be portrayed as a fool who never succeeded. When Klemperer's father, the famous conductor, saw his first episode of Hogan's Heroes, he said to his son, "Your work is good . . . but who is the author of this material?"

Quite a family.

Will said...

I didn't watch the SOTU. I never watch the SOTU. It literally makes me sick. So thanks again, Karen, for doing the dirty work. Here are the musings of another couple of cool cats who were also somehow able to sit through that shitshow:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2a_8BWE6jbM

P.S. Almost forgot my requisite applicable quote:

"It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society." -Jiddu Krishnamurti

Fred Drumlevitch said...

@Zee (and @All):

One minor correction to my previous comment:

Victor Klemperer was a professor not of Romance languages but rather of Romance language literature.


With regard to @Zee's mention that Werner Klemperer, Otto Klemperer's son, had played the part of Colonel Klink in "Hogan's Heroes", that was an interesting anecdote I wasn't previously aware of. In fact the full situation for the series is much stranger than just that.
I just read on the Wikipedia entry for "Hogan's Heroes" that:

"The actors who played the four major German roles — Werner Klemperer (Klink), John Banner (Schultz), Leon Askin (Burkhalter), and Howard Caine (Hochstetter) — were Jewish. Furthermore, Klemperer, Banner, Askin, and Robert Clary (LeBeau) were Jews who had fled the Nazis during World War II. Clary says in the recorded commentary on the DVD version of episode 'Art for Hogan's Sake' that he spent three years in a concentration camp, that his parents and other family members were killed there, and that he has an identity tattoo from the camp on his arm ('A-5714'). Likewise John Banner had been held in a (pre-war) concentration camp and his family was killed during the war. Leon Askin was also in a pre-war French internment camp and his parents were killed at Treblinka. Howard Caine (Hochstetter), who was also Jewish (his birth name was Cohen), was American, and Jewish actors Harold Gould and Harold J. Stone played German generals."

Wow. I just can't wrap my head around their participation. While I would intellectually agree that almost anything can be parodied, some actions are just so monstrously offensive that proper parodies are extremely difficult to pull off properly — and a bad parody does run the risk of trivialization. Furthermore, there is the current vs. historical consideration. Parody of behavior in a currently ongoing conflict can serve the useful purpose of subverting power in the eyes of the public, and therefore perhaps weakening its hold. Parody of the past does not, and therefore trivialization again seems a more likely outcome.

So for those reasons, among others, I consider "Dr. Strangelove", released when "Mutually Assured Destruction" between the U.S. and the USSR was ongoing policy, to be one of the best movies ever made. And since we still maintain nuclear deterrence, and still overreach, that film remains funny and relevant even today. In contrast, I always thought "Hogan's Heroes" to be offensive.

Fred Drumlevitch said...

In other matters:

Edward Snowden nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

As I advocated back in July 2013 in a comment at the NYTimes: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/27/world/europe/edward-snowden.html?comments#permid=229.

(My comment from back then:

U.S. government assurances are just pure theater for the U.S. masses. Putin doesn't want to be seen as Obama's lapdog, and so is unlikely to return Edward Snowden. And I doubt that either U.S. government threats or promises in any way influence Snowden. He was absolutely correct in courageously disclosing massive unconstitutional spying by the U.S. government, and as he has said, did so knowing the U.S. would try to crush him. He has already given up a great deal as a result of his actions. That he didn't stick around to receive the full wrath of the empire is not a character defect, it simply shows that he is neither stupid nor a masochist. Yet the imperial spin continues, now joined by a whole host of absurd reader comments on the NYT web site, again denouncing him as a traitor.

No traitor, he. Rather, a profile in courage, nationally and internationally. Edward Snowden should receive the Nobel Peace Prize, for his courageous attempt to reverse U.S. totalitarian-style national surveillance is of direct relevance to the form of government that will operate in the most powerful nation on the face of the earth -- and therefore of immense relevance to world peace.

And if Snowden should receive that award, we would be in the surrealistic situation of seeing one Nobel Peace Prize winner -- Obama -- reassuring another -- Snowden -- that he (Obama) won't kill him! Even the most creative novelist couldn't invent such a scenario!)


As I type this the afternoon of January 30, a search of the NYT site doesn't return any mention of Snowden having been nominated yesterday for the Nobel; they do, however, give extensive coverage today to a condemnation of Snowden by James Clapper: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/30/us/politics/intelligence-chief-condemns-snowden-and-demands-return-of-data.html

So for "all the news that's fit to print", one will have to turn elsewhere:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/29/edward-snowden-nominated-nobel-peace-prize

And as I've (also) said elsewhere, Snowden should be domestically nominated for the Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, both of which he much deserves.

In related surveillance matters:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/10/surveillance-theft-worlds-leading-authors

annenigma said...

Re: Government, media, and propaganda

Obama's old buddy Cass Sunstein just published an insulting piece in Bloomberg online describing Snowden, Greenwald, and Assange as 'paranoid libertarians'. Sunstein has served in the Obama regime and most recently served on Obama's special hand-picked panel to report on domestic surveillance. His new piece can be read here at http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-01-30/how-to-spot-a-paranoid-libertarian.html

Related to this, and very revealing about Sunstein's fascist mindset, is a piece written by Glenn Greenwald back in 2010. It discusses Sunstein's writings in 2008 just before Obama was elected. Sunstein advocates for covert government propaganda and other efforts to suppress dissent which at the time was illegal, although discovered to have been covertly practiced by the Bush regime. His Salon piece is titled 'Obama Confidant's Spine-Chilling Proposal'.

Greenwald writes that Sunstein "co-wrote a truly pernicious paper proposing that the U.S. Government employ teams of covert agents and pseudo-”independent” advocates to “cognitively infiltrate” online groups and websites — as well as other activist groups — which advocate views that Sunstein deems “false conspiracy theories” about the Government. This would be designed to increase citizens’ faith in government officials and undermine the credibility of conspiracists."

"Sunstein advocates that the Government’s stealth infiltration should be accomplished by sending covert agents into “chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups.” He also proposes that the Government make secret payments to so-called “independent” credible voices to bolster the Government’s messaging (on the ground that those who don’t believe government sources will be more inclined to listen to those who appear independent while secretly acting on behalf of the Government). This program would target those advocating false “conspiracy theories,” which they define to mean: “an attempt to explain an event or practice by reference to the machinations of powerful people, who have also managed to conceal their role.”

There's more worth reading in this piece. It is particularly interesting and disturbing because we have the benefit of hindsight.

http://www.salon.com/2010/01/15/sunstein_2/

Fred Drumlevitch said...

@annenigma (and @all):

Thanks for the info on the current anti-democratic article by Cass Sunstein, and the older critique of him by Glenn Greenwald.

Not really having the time currently to fully critique Sunstein, I hope that Zee, Jay, or one of the other regulars willing to contribute lengthy comments will weigh in. Or that you @annenigma will further critique him. Or perhaps Karen could make him and his buddies the basis for a lengthy post.

A couple of points I will quickly make are the following:

1) Right off the bat, as he starts to list and expound on his "five defining characteristics" of "paranoid libertarianism", Sunstein makes a flawed assessment of risk.

He states: "The first is a wildly exaggerated sense of risks -- a belief that if government is engaging in certain action (such as surveillance or gun control), it will inevitably use its authority so as to jeopardize civil liberties and perhaps democracy itself. In practice, of course, the risk might be real. But paranoid libertarians are convinced of its reality whether or not they have good reason for their conviction."

As I've said before on this forum as I've explained the mathematical concept of "expected value", one must weight the probability of each possible outcome by its consequences, and then sum to derive the full "expected value". That is how one properly evaluates risk, whether in the stock market or with regard to liberty or anything else. So that even if one assumes the probability of bad outcomes to democracy and civil liberties (from governmental surveillance, gun control, etc.) are low --- and I do NOT concede that --- 20th century history clearly demonstrates that the consequences of modern totalitarianism can be monstrous, over 100 million human beings dead as the consequences of the three major 20th century tyrannies alone (http://necrometrics.com/20c5m.htm). Even a small probability of occurence multiplied by massive consequences can constitute enormous risk.

2) Sunstein's previous lauding of secret governmental manipulation of the populace, as detailed by Greenwald, places Sunstein as an enemy of democracy, and should totally discredit him as any sort of authority on democracy, civil liberties, and surveillance. But he probably serves the plutocracy very well as he tries to "nudge" this country further into the "inverted totalitarianism" described by Sheldon Wolin.

James Traynor said...

The interpretation of federal law should be made not by judges but by the beliefs and commitments of the U.S. president and those around him, according to Sunstein. "There is no reason to believe that in the face of statutory ambiguity, the meaning of federal law should be settled by the inclinations and predispositions of federal judges. The outcome should instead depend on the commitments and beliefs of the President and those who operate under him," argued Sunstein.

Got the above from Wikipedia. I think the University of Chicago is a fucking menace to democracy.

We talk and write too much and do too little. Hell, I'm ready to go!

Jay - Ottawa said...

@Anne & Fred

Good grief: a governmental conspiracy to combat conspiracy and replace it with wholesome propaganda? And Sunstein is "open" about describing this arrangement in Bloomberg?

Meanwhile, newspapers have recently reported Clapper is calling Snowden a thief. What is the NSA doing but stealing on a massive scale? We have abundant proof (thanks again to Greenwald) that much of Clapper's spying was never in the cause of antiterrorism. Industrial spying is not theft? Sunstein, Clapper et al are little more than a bunch of government-funded Peeping Toms.

Yes, let's bookend Obama's White House years with the Nobel to Snowden, Assange and Manning who tried to stop the replacement of democracy with an endless hall of mirrors.

annenigma said...

The founders of our country were most definitely 'paranoid libertarians' of the highest order. They fully expected the government would abuse its powers and wrote protections to guard us against it. Too bad the regime secretly re-wrote the Constitution and refuses to share it's version, hiding behind Executive Privilege claims.

That is what I now call the Obama Doctrine and his real legacy - 'MY Constitutional authority overules YOUR Constitutional rights.'

For another article on the topic of the press, Snowden, and government is an article listed in Karen's blogroll from from the Columbia Journalism Review. Sunstein, ever handy to serve as Obama's Propagandist in Chief, weighs in briefly towards the end. It's called 'Reporting in the Post-Snowden Era'.

Journalists are now being called 'accomplices' in crimes against the state by DNI Clapper, just for publishing. That is beyond chilling. This is escalating rapidly, as are the publicly made threats by government officials against Snowden's life intended to break him down (Psy Op 101). Hanging, shooting, and secret poisoning have been mentioned.

Anyway, here is the article:

http://www.cjr.org/behind_the_news/snowden_abramson_bell_columbia.php

annengima said...

Here's my comment in the NYT related to their article titled 'NSA, Choice is Navy Expert on Cyberwar' which all too quickly disappeared from the Front Page onto the World page. There are some good comments you might all enjoy reading:

"'Civilian' spy agency? Well it's certainly hard to tell when military officers stay in command. The founders of our country would be rolling over in their graves if they knew a military officer was designated to be in charge of spying on all American citizens right here in our own country - by a President well versed in the Constitution no less. It is appalling.

It appears that Commander-in-Chief Obama wants a military officer to be in charge of spying on Americans purposely because they will take orders and not question authority, and in exchange for their obedience get rewarded by being protected from punishment for their crimes - including blatant Perjury. "When the President does it (or orders it), it isn't illegal" said our last highly secretive President.

President Obama might not wear a military uniform but he has been acting like he is an Army of One. His Obama Doctrine that HIS Constitutional authority overrules OUR Constitutional rights, including our right to life and liberty, is morally and legally repugnant. No wonder he needs to keep his legal justification for targeted assassinations secret and classifies inordinate numbers of documents as secret, hidden from American citizens.

President Obama's military mindset and legal philosophy is incompatible with a Constitutional republic. It's a tragedy in the making for our country."

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/31/world/vice-admiral-to-be-named-nsa-director.html?rref=homepage&module=Ribbon&version=origin&region=Header&action=click&contentCollection=Home%20Page&pgtype=article

annenigma said...

Re: Paranoid Fantasy

Sorry to bogart these comments but I can't help myself. These things are worth sharing, especially this one.

This was published last winter in the Guardian and not covered by our corporate press. You might want to bookmark it for future reference and share it with others far and wide. The government gets away with these things because no one knows about them, and those who do are labeled 'paranoid'.

'Revealed: How the FBI Coordinated the Crackdown on Occupy - New Documents Prove What Was Once Dismissed as Paranoid Fantasy: Totally Integrated Corporate-State Repression of Dissent'

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/dec/29/fbi-coordinated-crackdown-occupy

Pearl said...

Annenigma@

Thanks for quoting your response to the article about the plan to put a military man in charge of the NSA. I had read it and when I went back to check it out it had disappeared but you mentioned the World section. It is a hide and seek game to find things or even the sections they should be in in the NYTimes and I have trouble finding a section that allows you to indicate what article you are putting a search on. I also added a recommendation to your excellent comment and also to Norman Pollack who had a great one also. They must be making it difficult for people to find critical articles as well as keeping the angry comments following from people reading the NYTimes and is the only explanation I can figure out for this cat and mouse game. Other 'acceptable' articles and comments seem to stick around forever.

I also have come to the conclusion that we will never have any kind of organized revolution develop because no one can keep up with the endless scandals, corruption exposures occurring, which are overwhelming and we would have to politically shoot at a moving target. I am willing to wait until circumstance takes over and some hidden crisis suddenly erupts and blows things up. Reminds me of the recent article about a barn exploding in Germany because of the natural gas emanations from all those cows inside. Any comparison to Congress in session?


Zee said...

@Fred and @All--

We actually had a pretty lively discussion of the loathesome Prof. Sunstein almost two years ago:

http://kmgarcia2000.blogspot.com/2012/02/twisted-logic.html

I don't think that I could add much here beyond what I had to say then, though I would be very curious to see what Karen could dig up on Sunstein and his fellow travelers for a future essay.

As you say, Fred, he is indeed “an enemy of democracy,” as are all who think like him. So it should never be forgotten that Obama is a great fan of Sunstein's way of thinking; Sunstein was Obama's Director of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (a curious pairing of “responsibilities”), and, as Kat pointed out on the 2012 thread, one of Obama's possible nominees for the Supreme Court. Scary.

http://abcnews.go.com/topics/news/whitehouse/cass-sunstein.htm?mediatype=Image

With his expressed, blind faith in the “good intentions” of the people who serve in government—any type of government—Sunstein may just be either remarkably na├»ve or incredibly ignorant of history. More probably, however, in his arrogance and his certainty of the rightness of his cause—despite being highly educated—he has become just plain evil and dangerous.

As @annenigma has pointed out, our Founders were “paranoid libertarians,” and rightfully so. They had real-life experience with tyrannical governments. For its time, the U.S. Constitution was a work of genius with its enumerated powers and its checks and balances, written by men who really understood human nature, perhaps because they recognized that they, too, could be deeply flawed.

Sunstein seems only to be a bright, highly educated child of privilege, who has gone from one success to the next without interruption. I infer his “privilege” from his parents' ability to send him to Middlesex School, where “[t]uition is [today] $50,320 for boarders and $40,260 for day students.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cass_Sunstein

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middlesex_School

This kind of elitist upbringing evidently has led to Sunstein's certainty that only his “principles” are the correct ones, and, by God, he'll force them on us ignorant proles one way or another, for our own damn' good:

'Cass Sunstein, Obama’s information czar, has demanded websites be mandated by law to link to opposing information or that pop ups containing government propaganda be forcibly included on political blogs. If this system couldn’t be implemented voluntarily, “Congress should hold hearings about mandates,” which would legally force people to dilute their own free speech.

“The best would be for this to be done voluntarily,” said Sunstein, “But the word voluntary is a little complicated and people sometimes don’t do what’s best for our society.”'
--Denis Neville, Sardonicky, 2/14/2012 (My bold emphasis.)

Oh, the unconscious fascism of some on the left.

James Traynor said...

I warn you all, I've just returned from a condo meeting (I'm president) and I'm on my second gin and tonic.

@Zee, you libertarians drive me right out of my fucking gourd, but I want you to have your say (and, if it comes to it, your way - God help us). But, for Christ sakes, stay the hell away from demonstrations.That goes for you too, Fred, and all the rest of you second amendment nuts. I'd hate to see you head shot, because I'd have to do something about it and that scares the shit out of me. They've got you (and me) out gunned.

All of you should read annenigma's reference (http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/dec/29/fbi-coordinated-crackdown-occupy) before you walk around playing Occupy. This is serious shit. We have to have a new game plan - but nonviolent.

annenigma said...

@James

And this was before Ed Snowden's revelations about NSA spying on all of us. Imagine if we could get the documents that revealed NSA's role in crushing the Occupy movement. We can pretty well guess they played the central role. The past looks different now that we know what they've been up to in our country.

We can't thank Edward Snowden enough.

Fred Drumlevitch said...

@James Traynor:

The only "weapon" I bring to demonstrations is a camera. Unfortunately, considering the militarization of "law enforcement", inadequate mainstream press coverage, and a cowed/brainwashed populace, a camera is not a particularly effective weapon these days. Witness the recent acquittal of the Southern California cops who beat a homeless schizophrenic man to death, an acquittal that occurred despite the entire incident having been captured on video and introduced at trial.

http://disinfo.com/2014/01/outrage/

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-live-verdict-in-kelly-thomas-police-murder-case-20140113,0,5661959.story#axzz2s1JPZfgA


For the 20 minutes of the beating video presented in court:

http://www.latimes.com/videogallery/la-video-kelly-thomas-murder-trial-20120509,0,3073349.premiumvideo


Now one of the fired but acquitted cops wants his job back. Don't we all feel safer already?! (If you can stomach it, do check out the following rt link; it also includes a large close-up of what the victim looks like in the hospital):

http://rt.com/usa/homeless-death-cop-job-685/


And in a unrelated abuse of power --- both police power and prosecutorial power: When NY cops shot at an emotionally-disturbed man who was running around in the street, missed, and wounded two bystanders, that wouldn't be the only outrage. Now the system is charging the man with assault, "on the theory that he was responsible for bullet wounds suffered by two bystanders":

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/05/nyregion/unarmed-man-is-charged-with-wounding-bystanders-shot-by-police-near-times-square.html?_r=0


Yet another video-documented case, this time in Chicago:

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-11-06/news/ct-met-chicago-cop-fatal-shooting-1106-20131106_1_officer-gildardo-sierra-flint-farmer-previous-shootings

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-police-involved-shootings-1023-20111022%2c0%2c2860489%2cfull.story

Kat said...

Here is another antidote from Karen's blogroll. Nice post about Charlie Chaplin
http://tomdegan.blogspot.com/2014/01/a-century-of-charlie-chaplin.html