Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi questions Obama’s Honesty

 

 

 

I really dislike the labels of conservative and liberal as the implication is that these are mutually exclusive political positions.  I just happen to think that most people are rarely one or the other exclusively, yet these labels tend to reduce everyone’s political philosophy into either camp.  Once forced into a camp, many of us tend to get somewhat defensive and lose the ability to critically analyze our own positions as well as those of who we support.  I think this is a natural outcome of the conservative/liberal paradigm that sits astride the nation’s politics.

What this means from a practical standpoint is that attacks on someone like Obama result in not only in a circling of the wagons around the camp, but can actually cause the camp’s position to be shifted to align with the attacker’s agenda.  For example, the fact that attacks are launched on Democrats accusing them of being soft on defense, seemingly forces them into a position where they become aggressively war like to disprove the accusation.  Similarly,  attacks that suggest that Democrats are not supportive of business,  seemingly force them into positions where they’re overly accommodating to business interests.  The effect of these sorts of  attacks aren’t limited to shifting political positions as they also silence those within the camp from criticizing the camp leaders.  In Obama’s case, there are many who support him who may not criticize his actions for fear of causing a level of disunity that might be taken advantage of by the attackers.  So for fear of damaging Obama, there is silence where there should be accountability.  Effectively, the attacks have resulted in many feeling that Obama and his entire camp of  supporters are under siege and there’s no time to question anything because the enemy is about the overrun them.  Basically, this means a victory for those mounting the attacks as they get the opposing camp to carry out their agenda while forcing a level of complicity within the camp by effectively silencing dissension and it’s this very silence that provides the camp leader the cover to do as he pleases.     

Thinking back through events since the last election, it’s clear that some of the attacks on Obama have been absolutely insane.  We’ve had the birthier controversy in which a sitting president was forced to produce a birth certificate hence giving a veneer of legitimacy to an otherwise baseless accusation.  Even before that, we had a run on guns shortly after the election because Obama was supposedly going to curtail gun rights.  We’ve had numerous accusations of Obama being a socialist and a Muslim. We’ve had accusations that his justice department was going soft on supposed Black Panther intimidation at the polls.  We had the whole Shirley Sherrod affair and all manner of insults against the person of the president, his wife and his family.  We’ve had the all the craziness that occurred behind the passage of the health care bill which still continues to be challenged.  We’ve seen threats of secession and the formation of the tea party.  There have been numerous attacks from the likes of Glenn Beck and Fox news.  Crazy republicans have seemingly been popping up everywhere like we’ve never seen before while the grownups in that party are nowhere to be found. The list is endless and it’s pretty clear that the camp has been under attack like no other sitting president ever has been.  If you happen to be in the Obama camp and if you perceive him as being under siege, you’re going to engage the enemy and you’re not going to be inclined to challenge his leadership.  This is a natural response.  It’s a also a response that’s quite predictable if you’re in fact being “gamed”.  With psychological warfare and behavior shaping being firmly in the toolkit of modern American politics, the latter can not be excluded as a possibility.

Two questions immediately present themselves as I think about this.  First, if there wasn’t a “siege”, would more people be questioning of Obama’s war like foreign policies and his refusal to go after the criminals who’ve created the economic mess we find ourselves in?  After all, those silent now weren’t so silent when the previous administration did the same thing.  Secondly, and this is a question that must be carefully considered, what if these attacks are actually a ruse to ensure silence within his camp, hence giving him “cover” to do these things without a challenge from within his ranks?  In other words, are we being gamed?   It’s the challenges from within the ranks that would be most effective at curtailing and/or promoting certain policies. This is particularly so when the masses of people themselves are actually not supportive of the wars and would very much like to see Wall Street brought to heel. 

There could be various reasons for Obama continuing the Bush policies on the so called war on terror, the unyielding assault on civil liberties and accommodation of the Wall Street crowd.  Either the attacks have “forced” him into these positions or he’s been bought and the attacks designed to give him cover.  It’s interesting to note that in all of the mudslinging  and arrows that have been thrown his way, the right has not attacked him on these particular positions and those within his party aren’t attacking him on them either, so it can’t really be argued that he indeed has cover from all sides.   The excellent video below gets into the idea that he’s been bought and that he’s not an authentic progressive,  but fails to examine the complicity measured by the silence of those within the democratic and republican parties on these issues.  It’s not just Obama who’s been bought, but the entire US political system.  To understand that fully, one must arise above the partisan caricature of our political system that’s presented as the reality.

  

 

 

 

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  • LTE

    The political system is the end result of the moral system.

    • http://theafricanamericanclarioncall.com Greg L

      LTE, you and I have some different views on a variety of issues, but perhaps we’ve arrived at one point where we agree.  The statement you offer above is simple, yet profound and captures in a few words entire treatises on the topic.  Yes, the political system and all other forms of  leadership, is a ultimately reflection of the moral system that governs us. 

      Of course, that has broad implications with the main one being that once the moral system is addressed, then the systems that arise from that are necessarily altered as well.    It also implies that changes will only arise from people who decide that another moral code is in order.

      In a way, I think politicians are idolized in a manner similar to athletes.  It has always amazed me how people hold up of athletes as examples worthy of emulation, when all they’ve really done is excel at their chosen craft.  It’s possible to admire skill, while not putting that person on some pedestal as an example to follow in all aspects of one’s life and not presume that this person knows anything more than how to be a good athlete.  The same applies to politicians. The vote is based on some idealized notion of who the person or the party is.  Campaigning and the marketing of political aspirants create these idealized notions, yet we often never get around to cold hard examination of the facts.  Morality, in part, involves the ability to objectively examine something to determine if it actually aligns with what you subscribe to.  It’s these judgments that are sorely missing and that’s why we have what we have.

      • Anonymous

        “Morality, in part, involves the ability to objectively examine something to determine if it actually aligns with what you subscribe to.  It’s these judgments that are sorely missing and that’s why we have what we have.”

        True, but our morality isn’t absolutistic, but relativistic, in as much as we subscribe to several, some of which obtain their relevance and their validity from a source–an existential morality dictated by that source, rather that subject to a morality to which we may all generally subscribe, and which we may all hold in common.

        Let me illustrate: There’s a political morality. Politics has established its own moral center, where almost anything goes–lies, deception, misrepresentations, waffling, spin, and propaganda–and, by our actions, looking the other way, excusing it, down playing it, justifying it, we often dismiss this moral laxity, or moral turpitude in our body politic by supporting and voting for those candidates who have  clearly demonstrated that they play loose and fast with either the facts or the truth.

        Politics, then, dictates its own morality, for which voters will, all too eagerly, set aside their specific morality as they rush to the polls and the voting booth in the hopes of installing their party’s candidate into the office for which they’re running.

        There’s an economic morality. Capitalism has shown time and time again that it doesn’t subscribe to a moral correctness, saving that which the government imposes, an imposition which it  doesn’t  often enforce, or enforce poorly.  People in this country still buy iPads, and iPhones, and it doesn’t matter to many that they’re produced under almost slave-like conditions or not. Sure there are some who do care, and will put their money where their conscience resides.

        Capitalism, then, dictates its own morality, for which consumers will, all too eagerly, set aside their specific morality as they avail themselves of its various offerings.

        There’s an elitist morality. Congress has passed many laws from which it has exempted itself, one in particular as odious as they come–congresspersons can participate in insider trading, an act that would have anyone else arrested, and sent to jail for a time.  Congress can be bought to vote against what’s in the best interest of those who sent them to congress, and use brinkmanship to wrest from the opposing party concessions it cannot obtain otherwise, risking a potentially expensive downgrade in our national credit rating. 

        Despite its low approval rating, Congress dictates its own morality, for which its constituents will, all too eagerly, set aside their specific morality as they return incumbents time and again to the office which they held, deluding themselves into thinking that it’s not their Representative that’s inept and crooked, but the other guy’s.

        There’s planned obsolescence, the use of psychology, and behavioral science,  to seduce consumers, to trick them into buying–whether impromptu, or not;  there’re repairs that we don’t need for which we’re being charged, low interest rates for which we may qualify, but which aren’t offered, loans we’re said to qualify for, but which, in the end, will bankrupt us, or force our homes into foreclosure, product insurance which is too expensive, and useless, if we try to collect, health insurance with caps, and for which a preexisting condition may not be treated, advertisements, and commercials that don’t live up to the hype, and a variety of other scams, designed to part us from our hard-earned money.

        Because morality comes in many shapes and configurations, and oftentimes dictated by a source, life comes with many caveats–buyer beware, test drive before you buy, read the contract, especially the small print, live within your means, know the return policy, don’t remove the tag, and, get it in writing.

        • http://theafricanamericanclarioncall.com Greg L

          BD,

          It’s a good thing the copy thing is broken here.  I wouldn’t know what to quote.  I’d have just repeated the entire entry!  Thank you for this excellent entry which really needs to be a post onto itself.  This is very thought provoking.

          There’s an overarching theme I think when it comes to our immorality.  As I read through your entry above, I think this theme is even evident within most of the examples you lay out. 

          I think often about the story of the Native Americans selling Manhattan for $ 24 of beads and trinkets.  Of course this is told and viewed from the western economic perspective and central to that perspective is the idea of private ownership.  However, looking at it from the perspective of the Native Americans who had no concept of private ownership of land, they must have laughed about the idea of getting beads and trinkets in exchange for something that everyone owns.  Little did they know what the western perspective on this would do to them.

          Sometimes I think of economics and exchange as being an overlay over what God has already bequeathed to man.  That’s to say that we’ve been bequeathed the air, water and food.  All of it was unencumbered when given to us and plentiful.  Economics is an overlay that man has constructed over what’s already been given to us in an effort to appropriate it and create  artificial scarcity. And it’s this induced scarcity that sets up the great chase which, in turn, extends this system of appropriation to one’s labor, one’s creativity, one’s thoughts and  whatever one needs to join the chase.   It’s like the entire system is set up to appropriate anything and everything and if you step out of that system and attempt to operate outside of its orbit, you will be attacked and forced into it.   Even if you don’t attempt to exit, the system may extract some compromise from you.  Morals, if they can even exist in such a system, will always be under siege.

          I think the central theme behind our immorality is the love of money and the things that accrue from having it.  I just think everything that’s a problem politically, socially, economically share this root cause.  In a word, I’ve come to believe that the system of economics we practice is evil.  I know that may be considered a radical statement, but that’s a conclusion based on the fruit the system has produced.

          • Anonymous

            “Thank you for this excellent entry which really needs to be a post onto itself.  This is very thought provoking.”

            Thanks for the tip, and the compliment: I think I’ll do what you suggest.

            “Of course this is told and viewed from the western economic perspective and central to that perspective is the idea of private ownership.”

            In novels and other works of fiction there’s a literary device that’s sometimes used: It’s called “dialog at cross-purposes,” where each speaker assumes the other speaker is saying one thing, when it fact each is saying another.

            What you’re describing is a cultural cross-purpose exchange, used principally to defraud, with only one party fully privy to the con.

            I can imagine this went on in Africa, as well, when Europeans bartered for slaves to bring to the New World. How many of those African blacks who participated in the slave trade fully appreciated the con–just what it actually meant to sell slaves to  white slavers?

             “It’s like the entire system is set up to appropriate anything and everything and if you step out of that system and attempt to operate outside of its orbit, you will be attacked and forced into it.”

            The Occupy Wall Street protesters are demonstrating a flat-out resistance to the “entire system,” and this is one the reasons why they’re being “attacked,” in an effort to “force” compliance, and a reentry into the system that they have repudiated.

            When you think about it, it’s Orwellian, where allegiance to the system is forced, and any hopes of escaping it fraught with danger, and potentially a loss of freedom and possibly death.

            “I know that may be considered a radical statement [‘that the system of economics we practice is evil’], but that’s a conclusion based on the fruit the system has produced.”

            I agree. It’s the only rational conclusion that’s available, given the extensive harm to life on this planet, human and otherwise, that the system has caused and continues to cause.

            • http://theafricanamericanclarioncall.com Greg L

              BD,

              I still can’t quote you easily here until I figure out what’s happening with wordpress, however your point on the Orwellian nature of the system is well stated.  That’s certainty evidenced by the attempted compliance being forced upon groups ranging from OWS to a country like Libya.  By way of reference, Libya was the one of the few, if not the only, nation in the globe with no external debt which happened to put it outside of  the system hence the takeover.   Wars are often little more than an attempt to enforce compliance to the dominant economic system.

              Yes, there’s plenty of dialogue at cross purposes even today.  This is a prominent feature of even how stuff is sold to us as far as I’m concerned and much of the fraud that took place reflects this was well.  Sophisticated cons have been the order of the day for a long time from enslavement of our folks right on down to the effective enslavement of millions today.  But it’s all hidden behind lies/cons that people believe without questioning.

              I just hope that the scales began to fall off the eyes of those who’ve been deceived.  A movement like OWS makes me hopeful in that regard until I run across someone as I did earlier today who is still insisting that we have all of these banking problems because the government “forced the banks to lend to minorities”.    This was someone like those who’ve Joe Bageant described as having swallowed hook, line and sinker the entire story line that’s been put out by those who are experts at “dialogue at cross purposes”.  They’ve literally raised an army to defend them.

              • Black_Diaspora

                “A movement like OWS makes me hopeful in that regard until I run across someone as I did earlier today who is still insisting that we have all of these banking problems because the government ‘forced the banks to lend to minorities'”. 
                The purpose of the lie, as you know, is to deflect the  the bank’s culpability and place it on an institution that we already distrust, the government. 

                Someone is getting beaucoup bucks to perpetrate this fraud and to broadcast this misinformation.

                In the same way, the salvaging of the auto industry is attributed to Obama’s efforts to save the union, not the industry that was struggling for survival, although unions made deep recessions, and those auto manufactures that took federal loans are  now thriving and turning a profit.

                How do we counter the lies that are told, when, as you’ve pointed out: “They’ve literally raised an army to defend them.”

                • Anonymous

                  “A movement like OWS makes me hopeful in that regard until I run across someone as I did earlier today who is still insisting that we have all of these banking problems because the government ‘forced the banks to lend to minorities'”. 

                  The purpose of the lie, as you know, is to deflect the bank’s culpability and to place it on an institution that we already distrust, the government. 

                  Someone is getting beaucoup bucks to perpetrate this fraud and to broadcast this misinformation.

                  In the same way, the salvaging of the auto industry is attributed to Obama’s efforts to save the union, not the industry that was struggling for survival, although unions made deep concessions, and those auto makers that took federal loans are  now thriving and turning a profit.

                  How do we counter the lies that are told, when, as you’ve pointed out: “They’ve literally raised an army to defend them.”

                  • LTE

                    Both GM and Chrysler would have been in bankruptcy court, would have been reorganized and the good parts preserved. There was no need for a government loan. How many other businesses get saved by the government? This was a union job preservation program.
                    .
                    As for the banks, the reason they haven’t been getting a good rectal exam is to give a right and proper look, you would have to drag in a lot of politicians. The 2008 financial crack up was the result of feel good loans supported by the federal government which wildly spun out of control.
                    .
                    You could almost say this was the culmination of feel good social policy the Vietnam War generation where fair counted more than rationality.

  • Anonymous

    If you pay close attention to what Democrats and the president are actually supporting, they’re not necessarily the policies that the American people want supported (the end of the Afghanistan war, and hands off their Social Security and Medicare), but what their primary constituents want–corporations and the power elites.

    The people of this nation are merely a means to an end. Those who get what they want in this society are not the electorate who elected those who  represent them, but those who financed these Representatives–those politicians who “owe their souls to the company store.”

    You’ve said it here often: There are large areas of policy where the two political parties agree, where their course can’t be differentiated one from the other.

    A case in point: With the passage of the Defense Authorization Bill, we saw the passage of a controversial rider that says, “American citizens can be arrested within the U.S. and sent to Guantanamo if they’re linked to Al Queda or Taliban.”

    “Congress passed the massive $662 billion defence bill Thursday, the Senate voting 86-13 for the measure. It would also authorize money for military personnel, weapons systems, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and national security programs in the Energy Department for the financial year beginning October 1.  […]

    “In a rare show of bipartisanship, the House voted 283-136 for the measure late on Wednesday. Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the senior Republican on the Armed Services Committee, said Thursday the cooperation was a ‘little ray of sunshine’ in a bitterly divided Washington.”

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2074576/President-Obama-signs-law-detain-terror-suspects-indefinitely.html#ixzz1iXlDTkRZ

    What’s to stop this president or any future president from using the provisions here to stop domestic terrorism–such as may be the case if Americans finally awaken to a fuller understanding of how money, much of which belongs to them,  is being extracted from the economy, the extent of the loss of substantive jobs due to outsourcing,  and how corporations and congress conflate their interests to undermine our democracy?

    It’s this cooperation between the two parties–both equally bought, both equally vested in protecting the power elites–that gave birth to the Occupy Wall Street movement. It’s one of the reasons why neither side has embraced the movement, although Republicans early on embraced the Tea Party movement–but, then, the Tea Party movement was almost exclusively an Astro-Turf movement, masquerading as grassroots, and wasn’t a threat to the status quo, just the size of government.

    • http://theafricanamericanclarioncall.com Greg L

      For some reason, I’ve lost the ability to copy and quote with the latest word press upgrade.  The 136 souls who voted against this recent defense bill may be patriots.  I don’t know who they are and what their reasoning was, but on this measure, they may be patriots.

      You know, in the video, Cent and Taibbi suggest that Geithner was against going after the banking criminals due to fear on a run on the system by foreign investors.   There’s a larger and more important reason which you point out.  The people.  If the people really knew, it’s off with their heads and the bill is in place for that eventuality.  The people are gonna be pissed when they find out that these people not only ruined the economy but are trying to grab whatever of value that remains as they head for the exits.  It’s an unholy alliance of politicians, bankers and others who have conspired to take this nation down the tubes while they rape the treasury and anything else of value.

      Our crisis is really one of leadership.   That leadership is a direct reflection of who we are or what we’ve become.  OWS may be one route to change that and you’re exactly correct in your assessment that both sides are wary of them.  Moreover, the press has decided to no longer cover them. There is a uphill battle to fight and the greatest challenge is getting the correct information or any information at all as the media is entirely complicit in this entire setup. 

      Yes, you’re very correct.  The entire political system is unhinged from the people and, as such, is unsustainable.  I just feel the fallout from that is totally unpredictable and will be made worst by unfolding economic events that will probably come to a head over the first half of the year.

      • Anonymous

        “OWS may be one route to change that and you’re exactly correct in your assessment that both sides are wary of them.  Moreover, the press has decided to no longer cover them.”

        The only source for consistent coverage of  the OWS movement is Current TV’s Keith Olbermann. He was out front almost from the inception of the movement, arranging interviews with principal actors, and providing nightly updates.

        “I just feel the fallout from that is totally unpredictable and will be made worst by unfolding economic events that will probably come to a head over the first half of the year.”

        We’re going to need this constant agitation which the OWS movement if providing, if we ever hope to get the money out of politics, and return political power to the people.

        I’m not sure just how much political power devolved to the people before, but it’s certainly apparent now just how little real power the people actually wield, now that corporations and others can spend any amount of money they choose in elections, and do it under the cloak of secrecy.

        The 2012 election will tell us just how awake the American electorate is, and just how close we are to our demise.

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