In his weekly taped address (a.k.a. his weekly dog whistle to the Oligarchy), the president announced the allocation of more government money for police department public relations programs, and zero money for the actual victims of police state brutality. Never once did he utter the phrase "Black Lives Matter."
So without further ado, here is another edition of Let's Play Parse-a-Prez. (Obama's actual words are in italics and my analyses are in parentheses):
Hi everybody. It’s now been a year since the tragic death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. His death—along with the events in Cleveland, Staten Island, Baltimore, Cincinnati, and other communities—sparked protests and soul searching all across our country. Over the past year, we’ve come to see, more clearly than ever, the frustration in many communities of color and the feeling that our laws can be applied unevenly.(Obama reduces the homicide-by-cop of Michael Brown to a "tragic death." He euphemises the homicides in Baltimore, Staten Island and elsewhere as "events." The police state assassination of a twelve-year-old boy in Cleveland, for example, just sort of happened without any direct racist cop action. And these passive happenings make people understandably upset and frustrated! But instead of admitting that government agents are executing black people at the rate of about one a day, for no other reason than they exist, Obama dismisses this brutal reality as a "feeling" in communities that the "laws" (actually, it is total lawlessness) are being applied unevenly. In other words, if cops killed white people at the same rate that they kill black people, he wouldn't even be needing to have this Doctor Phil-type conversation.)
After Ferguson, I said that we had to face these issues squarely. I convened a task force on community policing to find commonsense steps that can help us drive down crime and build up trust and cooperation between communities and police, who put their lives on the line every single day to help keep us safe. And I’ve met personally with rank and file officers to hear their ideas.(Again, he does not address the government's de facto policy of brutality. He immediately pathologizes poverty by pointing to the need to "drive down crime" in poor neighborhoods. He defends police against poor communities and black drivers without mentioning the predations of the police state. He convened yet another study group. He softens the negative image of police by enfolding them into a cozy "community," in which cops and the people they terrorize are all members of the same family. He's even met personally with lower-level, callow young officers to show what a friendly, paternalistic guy he is. He doesn't mention that a small but significant number of these officers are certifiable psychopaths who not only put citizens' lives at risk, they also endanger their fellow cops, both directly on the streets and indirectly in the court of public opinion.)
In May, this task force made up of police officers, activists and academics proposed 59 recommendations – everything from how we can make better use of data and technology, to how we train police officers, to how law enforcement engages with our schools. And we’ve been working with communities across America to put these ideas into action.(True free market neoliberal that he is, Obama prioritizes data and technology. Somebody, somewhere, is going to make big bucks crunching numbers and analyzing algorithms and marketing body cameras at huge mark-ups.
Rather than question the horrific practice of placing police in schools, the president changes the issue into how the police state might insert itself into the classroom in a more "engaging" fashion. Maybe they can use pink guns with Disney logos to make standardized test-taking under armed guard fun and scary at the same time?
I'm not being entirely facetious. One of Obama's cosmetic solutions to the public's perception problem is to outfit domestic occupying forces with "softer" uniforms. However, the police are having none of it, rightly noting that a cop dressed up as Mister Rogers is not likely to elicit as much respect from the huddled masses as somebody looking like this:
To be seen as even more fair and righteous, Obama has used the tried and true procedure of co-opting "activists" by placing them, at staged White House events, into close physical proximity with concerned police state officials and a smattering of wise, detached professors. As Glen Ford and other critics have pointed out, officials allowing protesters a seat at their table is S.O.P. for the attempted watering down of protest movements.)
Dozens of police departments are now sharing more data with the public, including on citations, stops and searches, and shootings involving law enforcement. We’ve brought together leaders from across the country to explore alternatives to incarceration. The Justice Department has begun pilot programs to help police use body cameras and collect data on the use of force.(As long as they are honest about whom they arrest, maim and kill for the crime of existing while black, then it's all good. This is actually the most breathtakingly shocking, Orwellian part of his weekly dog-whistle. As far as Obama is concerned, the collation and sharing of data trumps the evil of state-sponsored violence and murder.
Remember, Obama has always boasted about being the Most Transparent President Evah, so the Drone President is urging his terroristic minions to be just as open and honest (wink, nod) as he is about admitting that they kill people, and regretting that mistakes are sometimes made in the name of Keeping Us Safe. Additionally, saying one thing and doing another is a talent that must be constantly honed in order for it to be effective. Fooling some of the people all of the time takes a lot of practice. Obama should know. His hair is getting grayer by the minute.
And about that data. Police are gathering tons of it spying on the BlackLivesMatter movement, both online and in person.)
This fall, the department will award more than $160 million in grants to support law enforcement and community organizations that are working to improve policing. And all across the country – from states like Illinois and Ohio, to cities like Philadelphia, Boston, and Nashville – local leaders are working to implement the task force recommendations in a way that works for their communities.(No money will be awarded to hire teachers, create jobs, or improve housing and infrastructure in these communities. But because they create the buffer zone between the rich and the poor, police agencies will get all the money they need.)
So we’ve made progress. And we’ll keep at it. But let’s be clear: the issues raised over the past year aren’t new, and they won’t be solved by policing alone. We simply can’t ask our police to contain and control issues that the rest of us aren’t willing to address—as a society. That starts with reforming a criminal justice system that too often is a pipeline from inadequate schools to overcrowded jails, wreaking havoc on communities and families all across the country. So we need Congress to reform our federal sentencing laws for non-violent drug offenders. We need to keep working to help more prisoners take steps to turn their lives around so they can contribute to their communities after they’ve served their time.(Obama kindly admits that police violence will not be solved by police violence alone. Nevertheless, he gives credence to the right-wing dogma that the police state is an important weapon against poor and minority people. Oligarchic man cannot live by bread alone, after all. Although the president recently commuted the sentences of a handful of drug offenders, he dog-whistles in this speech his intent that there will be no more pardons or commutations for the tens of thousands still languishing in for-profit prisons. He is punting it over to the selectively moribund Congress. Meanwhile, he will constantly trumpet all the propagandist baby steps he is taking to help those lucky symbolic few "turn their lives around." Meanwhile, he stands by while public schools in poor neighborhoods are closed, unionized teachers are fired and their pension funds robbed, and hedge fund billionaires reap the education profits via charter schools.)
More broadly, we need to truly invest in our children and our communities so that more young people see a better path for their lives. That means investing in early childhood education, job training, pathways to college. It means dealing honestly with issues of race, poverty, and class that leave too many communities feeling isolated and segregated from greater opportunity. It means expanding that opportunity to every American willing to work for it, no matter what zip code they were born into. Because, in the end, that’s always been the promise of America."Investing in our children" is code for the aforementioned billionaire charter school movement and other privatization schemes. Obama, like other centrist extremists, always uses the language of the market to refer to people and their needs. The commodification of human beings is the very essence of neoliberalism. So, if you "feel" isolated and segregated, the only way you can escape your crumbling existence is to develop your skill-sets through hard work and college debt peonage.
The president has one thing right, though: In the end, the American Dream is nothing but a public relations promise. The reality is a nightmare. We are, indeed, in the end-times of democracy.
And that’s what I’ll keep working for every single day that I’m President. Thanks everybody, and have a great weekend.