Saturday, August 10, 2013

Shut Up, He Explained

"Lucy, I don't like that tone. You're thinking again." (graphic by Kat Garcia)

President Obama attempted one last desperate time yesterday to pull another fast one on the American people. But his combination of wheedling, bullying, cynical mendacity, fear-mongering, and 50s sitcom-style drollery all failed. They failed dismally, completely and irrevocably.
He used all the propaganda tools in his oratorical toolbox, trying to sell people on the rationale for the massive surveillance apparatus targeting every man, woman and child not only in the United States, but throughout the entire world. That grating, down-home folksiness combined with stentorous jingoism was reminiscent of George Bush and all the ghosts of fascist regimes past. He chose the safety of an opulently appointed room at the White House and the protective filter of a reverential Washington press corps to deliver his message. It was the usual craven Friday afternoon news dump excreted through the mouth of the big man himself. And what was dumped was this:

We spy on you, but please don't call it spying. See, we just collect all your stuff. And anyway, the problem is not with our gross violations of your basic human rights. The problem is that you people haven't gotten with the program and learned to trust us. Father Knows Best. The beatings will continue until morale improves. We will not change our ways. But we will change your minds. Our continued hold on power depends upon the continued success of our public relations scam. Your comfort and your continued ignorance are our primary concerns. So just snuggle down under your soft totalitarian covers and let us get on with it. And when I say we need to "tighten the bolts" on surveillance oversight, what I really mean is that we'll continue tightening the screws against all of you insignificant little ants. 

To its credit, the New York Times has published a strong editorial effectively condemning the president for his empty promises to merely "tweak" the N.S.A. spying program while unconscionably defending its continued existence:
Fundamentally, Mr. Obama does not seem to understand that the nation needs to hear more than soothing words about the government’s spying enterprise. He suggested that if ordinary people trusted the government not to abuse their privacy, they wouldn’t mind the vast collection of phone and e-mail data.
Bizarrely, he compared the need for transparency to showing his wife that he had done the dishes, rather than just telling her he had done so. Out-of-control surveillance is a bit more serious than kitchen chores. It is the existence of these programs that is the problem, not whether they are modestly transparent. As long as the N.S.A. believes it has the right to collect records of every phone call — and the administration released a white paper Friday that explained, unconvincingly, why it is perfectly legal — then none of the promises to stay within the law will mean a thing.
Good. The Gray Lady finally realizes that Barack Obama holds the citizens of this country in utter contempt by trivializing their concerns. His ability to fool some of the people all of the time is rapidly eroding. The reader comments expressed near-universal outrage. Here's mine:
That kitchen analogy not only fell flat, it reeked of the desperation of a demagogue who feels his control slipping away. The president essentially compared the Surveillance State to a henpecked husband (himself.) And we, the victims of government overreach, are the hysterical overbearing Lucy Ricardos with our silly concerns and demands for proof of his divine benevolence.
We won't be invited to the show or get a seat at the table, but he'll put up a webpage, maybe have another Google+ Hangout, invite a bunch of Villagers to meet behind closed doors, order a few more drone strikes, croon out a few more love songs, and proclaim that all is well in Happy Land, all the while reminding God to bless America.
This must be what Hannah Arendt meant by the banality of evil.


Zee said...


I see that according to Senator Dianne Feinstein, you're not a real journalist unless you work for someone else and draw a paycheck:

So shut up, the good Senator sez.

Zee said...

Lest I be misunderstood, the foregoing post was intended as sarcasm.

annenigma said...

It sounds like it's time to start breaking some dishes. That would make for good street theater along with everyone blowing whistles.

I had to laugh when I heard Obama claim that BEFORE Edward Snowden, Dear Leader was the one who had actually called for more transparency, review, and discussion of these programs. I kept expecting him to call on Candy Crowley to back him up - 'Right, Candy?' It wouldn't have helped. Candy or no Candy, no one is believing a word he says anymore.

Obama is actually becoming a disgrace to the country. First he calls Putin a sloucher. Then he disclosed a sealed indictment, which is illegal except when a Constitutional law instructor President does it. Then he pretty much publicly declared Snowden guilty by virtue of simply being charged with 3 felonies and assured the nation that he's no patriot, hoping to have the intended pre-trial prejudicial effect. It's hard to believe he's even a real lawyer.

Why doesn't he just "look forward and not backward"? Why is he getting so clearly discombobulated over the Snowden affair? Considering Obama is such a hardcore narcissist, it must make him absolutely livid to be publicly bitch-slapped by Sloucher Putin and have his secret programs revealed by dropout hacker Edward Snowden (who clearly has at least twice the IQ of President Obama). Whoever makes a mockery of the Narcissist-in-Chief in front of the entire world will pay dearly. Run, Eddie, run!

Fred Drumlevitch said...

As you said, Karen, "His ability to fool some of the people all of the time is rapidly eroding."

Ironically, the deterioration of his ability to fool the people on the issue of surveillance, an essential component of lasting fascism, flows directly from his empty campaign promises to rein in corporate influence over government, the other pillar of fascism. Reasonable people can accept the failure of their "savior", if he/she really has tried. What they won't accept is bullshit and duplicity. The man lost his credibility when he spent his first term rolling over for the banks, the corporations, the polluters, the Social-Darwinist reactionaries --- even though he came to the presidency with a voter mandate for substantive progressive change. As they say, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.

And if he wants to employ a kitchen analogy on issues related to totalitarianism, I'll repeat one that I've posted several times during the past several years, in several forums:

When a country "goes bad", it is of considerably greater importance than when that slice of pizza in the back of your fridge goes bad.

I think that my kitchen analogy is of much greater relevance than his.

Fred Drumlevitch said...

Whoops --- I meant to say "When a government goes bad..."

(Though there is relevance to the country, and by extension, the whole world, when that government/country is as powerful as ours is).

Zee said...


What our faux- professor-of-constitutional-law- cum -President fails to understand is that the Constitution and Bill of Rights were drafted and ratified specifically with mistrust of people and governments in mind.

Our tri-partite, enumerated-powers, form of government as expressed in the Constitution was designed intentionally to prevent any one branch of government, or any individual, from accruing too much power.

The Founders understood human nature all too well.

When the Federalists urged the States to ratify the Constitution “as-is,” the Anti-Federalists demanded a Bill of Rights—before ratification—that spelled out fundamental, individual rights that could never be taken away from the People by the government.

The Anti-Federalists had an even better grasp on human nature than did the Federalists.

There is nothing about “trust me” built into the Constitution or Bill of Rights. They are both based on a healthy mistrust of both governments and individuals, and so it should be. Not that that's working out so well for us these days, though.

That's why the “Three Great Lies” are:

“The check is in the mail;”

“I'll respect you in the morning;”

“I'm from the government and I'm here to help you.”

James F Traynor said...

The one good thing about O's petulant display is that there still seems to be at least a residual fear of the voting public - at least on the part of the Democrats. The Republicans have, except for their base, relinquished any such pretense. But it is only a residual fear after all. The acid test of the strength of that fear will not be Snowden, but Larry Summers and the Fed chairmanship.

Pearl said...

Jay - Ottawa said...

Great post and comments. And it's encouraging to learn that more and more of the general public are on to the con man.

Anonymous said...

On a different note I would like to thank Karen for her great response to Gail Collins column yesterday about the post office. The processing center where I worked as a clerk for 17 years closed in February and now I'm a letter carrier 2 hours away. (I walk 12-13 miles each day but I actually like it, except in 2 feet of snow). All I hear is to wait for the big bang that will end the worlds best postal system. I'm afraid it's coming and there's little we can do. The most disturbing part of this is the public's general ignorance and malaise all things postal, though Pat Donahoe, the postmaster general is in cahoots with Issa
& co. and seem to be slicing and dicing it as fast as they can. It sure it hard to be positive these days.

Pat said...

I'm not anonymous, Pat from Minnesota, now Iowa