Saturday, August 15, 2015

Obama to America: Support Your National Police State

 Barack Obama today praised the bravery of armed police officers while glibly commiserating with victims of police state violence and terror about how "frustrated" they must be feeling these days. To beat a cliche even further into the ground, he vowed that morale will improve while the beatings continue.

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.


mike said...

His Justice Department has the authority to drop marijuana's drug scheduling from equivalency with meth and to set a lower level for states to follow as well with all the cascading benefits for the system with just a memo from him. That would be a Saturday address worth something and one he'll never give.

Jay–Ottawa said...

Sad to watch a man of his talent waste it in a life of lies, lies that have wasted the lives of many others.

Patricia M. said...

Jay - Thank you for your comment. I agree. His autobiography, "Dreams from my Father" gives hints of who he is and what he became as president. It is beyond said. It is a tragedy. A tragedy for him - and a tragedy for us all.

Ste-vo said...

@ Patricia. So is it worth reading Dreams From my Father? I have placed Mr. President Peace Prize in the same room with George W. Bush. So you are saying it explains who he is and why he does what he does? Do you feel better about him since you have read it, as though he can;t help himself?

Meredith NYC said...

Karen....Yes instead of saying ‘events’ Obama could have said killings of citizens by police. What would his rw critics say? And ‘the feeling that our laws can be applied unevenly’ is an understatement. The feeling? What about the obvious facts?

I didn’t know that In May, his task force of police, activists and academics proposed 59 recommendations. Hardly reported that I’ve seen. Should be discussed in detail. .
160 million in grants to improve policing is positive.

But to reform schools--where is the money to come from if states mostly fund schools? But even if we turned all schools into a gold standard tomorrow, WHERE ARE THE JOBS? Bernie Sanders is right, jobs are basic for black lives matter, though it seems a distant factor, when blacks are getting murdered by cops.

But if US workers started making things again that consumers buy, with decent salaries, this would help push the other solutions.
BLM must push for jobs, and higher wealth taxes to fund schools, as well as prosecutions of police. The feds keeping statistics is crucial.

Obama says the police put their lives on the line every day. Well, so do the residents of minority n. hoods, put their lives on the line, when they walk around or drive. NYC top cop Ray Kelly said stop and frisk expansion should put fear into young black men leaving their homes! Good for crime control, so he thought that sounded good. Until the judge ruled it violated the 4th amendment. Oh, those pesky amendments!

But cops do need body cameras, and those algorithms. It’s better than no algorithms, letting chaos rule, unrecorded. Start new norms.

Maybe when the 1st members of an underclass minority get to the highest power positions, they have to compromise so much to get there, they absorb the viewpoints of the ruling class. Or, are torn.
Same for powerful positions as police, politicians, supreme court justices, (obviously), and journalists.

To say “As far as Obama is concerned, the collation and sharing of data trumps the evil of state-sponsored violence and murder” is an exaggeration.
Seems the president of the US lacks the power that leaders have in other democracies. Then when we get a compromising president like Obama, who can get elected though black, it’s worse.

It’s federal standards that are needed. And mainly some deserved jury convictions of police for violent crimes against unarmed civilians. But for many, the cops can do no wrong—judging by some NYT readers comments.

Many of us are rather confused at just what powers the president does have vs the states, or what powers he refuses or is timid about using. It would help to have this clarified-- or is it too complicated? We have a complicated system, and few understand it.

Karen Garcia said...


My statement that data collection trumps the evil of state-sponsored brutality in Obama's agenda is not an exaggeration. This is a president who has given himself the power to execute, without trial, any person he deems to be a threat. I believe that he is responsible for more than 2,000 drone killings up to this point. His collection and collation of data are what justifies, in his administration's view, his Kill List. A certain amount of "collateral damage" (Orwell-speak for the deaths of innocents) has been deemed permissible. His administration's view that men in the prime of their lives are "militants" if they live in certain "tribal areas" is not that far removed from certain police agencies viewing black and brown-skinned people in certain domestic tribal areas (ghettoes, both urban and suburban) also being seen as fair game. There is more than one "disposition matrix" operating in the American Imperium.

annenigma said...

Obama suffers from RDD, Rachel Dolizal Disorder (or Racial Identity Disorder).

It seems that Obama solidly identifies psychologically as a rich, powerful, and shrewd WHITE dude. It's Who He Is. That's why he so willingly and devotedly takes care of his own in the powerful White Dude Club while lecturing and scolding Blacks, kind of like that other public moralist, Bill Cosby. Obama never even scolds or lectures, never mind prosecutes, the banksters, war criminals, torturers, and related ilk in his powerful Tribe.

At least Rachel Dolizal proudly identifies with an underdog class so it's not like she elevates herself socially or financially by doing so. Obama on the other hand has wheeled and dealed to get his campaigns financed to become Top Cat*, the leader of a bunch of alley cats (aka Wall Street fat cats) always trying to cheat someone. (*Flashback to the old tv show.)

Times have changed since the 60's though. The White Dude Club now prefers to make their killing from killing, not just from cheating others. They sure chose the right leader. Obama's as comfortable with that global investment strategy as they are.

Jay–Ottawa said...

Bit by bit Obama transformed himself into a Walter White (the central character of the aptly titled series "Breaking Bad"). He seemed to be a nice guy at first, and maybe he was.

But then he took a step into darkness, which led him to another and another. Now he's beyond the threshold of a black hole where it's impossible to reverse course and head back to the light.

He'll never shake off the history Karen just described. We're not arguing policies here, we're talking crimes, whether referring back to the Constitution, which he swore to uphold, or international norms the country signed on to.

Nothing imaginable that he might do henceforth can ever redress the scales. He has steadfastly defended big criminals. He and his entourage have broken more laws than Nixon, but only a rare bird is heard now and then to mention impeachment and most of the country shrug or point to the GOP as the bad guys. This country's plunge into darkness won't be over until he's out, if then.