weapons of mass distraction

Tuesday 2013.07.30

There’s a funny thing about solutions. To arrive at a solution, the first necessary step in the process is to define the problem as clearly and accurately as possible.

As anybody who has read much of anything I’ve written in this space will probably have figured out by now, I end up writing, more often than not, about not just trying to get a handle on some large scale problems, but about what I’ve come to call a meta-problem, for lack of a better term, of people not being able to grasp that basic fundamental.

I can’t be completely sure about why this problem is such a problem. I’ve certainly had plenty of my own thoughts about this, and other people who would get filed in the “social commentary” bin have had theirs, giving me some clues, or, in many cases, a bit of confirmation, a chunk of “alright, so I’m not the only one seeing this” input.

It’s seeming more and more like it’s a full time job to try to even generally sort out and follow all the ways people are avoiding the necessity of this. No. Wait. It is a full time job, a profession called “journalism”, but this is something that seems to be increasingly regarded as unimportant, something to be replaced by blasting idiot entertainment.

Right on cue, along comes Fox News with faded star of the unintended comedy department of the Republican party Sarah Palin: ‘OTR’ Sneak Peek – Palin: ‘I Was Forbidden From Telling the Truth About Obama in 2008’.

From the online article… enjoy:

In this sneak peek clip of the special, Greta talks to Sarah Palin who exposes that in her 2008 vice presidential run, she was forbidden from talking about Obama’s relationships with both Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers, as well as his job experience.

“I was not allowed to talk about things like that because those ‘elitists,’ those who are the brainiacs in the GOP machine, running John McCain’s campaign at the time said that the media would eat us alive if we brought up these things.”

You can spend a bit of time on the subject of Mrs. Palin and how the “elitists” and “brainiacs” were people like McCain campaign strategist Steve Schmidt, people who were, you know, not morons, just trying to manage to keep her at least saying a minimum of foolish babble during the election campaign, but that’s not the main thing here. What is more significant here is her notions, that match those of a few people of questionable judgment, of this Straw Man fiction of Barack Obama as left-wing radical secret Muslim communist who hates America and hates white people (the latter especially hilarious given that his ancestry is half European, from his mother, and was raised by his mother and her family).

After roughly four and a half years of Barack Obama as president, it takes only a bit of attention to public affairs and a basic sense of what’s happening in reality to find a much different reality; essentially that as president Barack Obama so far has been looking like either a puppet, or, perhaps, a hostage, of a banking and corporate plutocracy, that has fully bought and controls our government, complete with secret police, secret laws, secret courts, suspension of the United States constitution, and what President Dwight Eisenhower very accurately warned us about as “the military-industrial complex”.

But, of course, we’ve had, if we trace back to the 2008 campaign, a good five years of the kind of silliness propagated as I’ve described from people like Mrs. Palin, nearly all of the Republican party, Fox News, a flock of barking assholes on AM radio, and so on.

At the same time, an awful lot of people who like to classify themselves as liberal, and progressive, and Democrats, maybe even assuming the label of “The Left”, have managed to convince themselves, because they really want to believe it, that President Obama is a great hero of the people, a shining moment in American history, doing great things.

Look at the portions of the American citizenry caught up in the ridiculous bipolar madness of American politics today, of cliches of Left/Right Democratic party/Republican party Liberal/Conservative, and picking your choice of either/or of two clubs, and this is what you get. You find these two general sets of notions about the current President of the United States of America, thoroughly embedded in people’s minds, because they’re told that’s what they’re supposed to think, neither image having much connection to reality, if any.

All this noise, with all the absurd games of This Side versus That Side, flies around in thick swarms, a dense fog of mental pollution that gets in the way of any general public consensus of grasping reality as it is, in a whole batch of serious problems and difficulties. I look around at people and things in the time and place I find myself inhabiting, and while an awful lot of people, if anybody is even paying attention, would probably think the observations are massively hyperbolic about things, it’s becoming virtually impossible to not seem hyperbolic and still be realistic.

This very definitely seems to be the dilemma of the period, here in early 21st century America; the more difficult and complex circumstances become, the further away more people get from getting a focus and grip on what the circumstances are. This is visible in the mob phenomenon of “just join the right political club”, or tendencies of people to blow off and dismiss any serious examination of anything that might take some substantial time and thought, and be just plain really hard, and cough out reflex demands for “solutions”, with the desired solutions being kept to one or two simple sentences, with the added requirement being that the “solution” is not inconvenient, at least for them, and there’s a suitable scapegoat to blame.

Just days ago, the president gave a speech at a college that was, apparently, meant to be a new policy speech to push what’s supposed to be a plan for economic revival of the middle class. This was really something, worth a good close look and careful consideration, although what that something is, is probably not what many people will make of it, with differing kinds of cognitive problems depending on whether you turn to the reactions of opponents or supporters of the president, all separate from people honestly trying to get a handle on what something actually is.

Digging into any critique of this is a really tough challenge. It’s not tough because it’s too hard to see some really obvious problems with that particular speech. It’s tough because of the reasons I just mentioned; the irrational reflex twitching, of both the “opponents” who are dealing with the notions fed to them steadily about a fictional straw-man version of the current president, and the “supporters” who badly want to believe he’s great and wonderful, and many things he is not, along with feeling a natural and understandable compulsion to knock down the idiocy based on the delusions about “secret Kenyan Muslim left-wing radical Marxist Obama”.

You can find video of the speech online, or save bandwidth and simply read a transcript, but let’s look at a few selected bits from Obama’s “revive the middle class economic speech”.

Now, today, five years after the start of that Great Recession, America has fought its way back. We’ve fought our way back.

Fought its way back? Who? Fought its way back to what?

Together we saved the auto industry, took on a broken health care system.

Of course, of the American auto industry, one of the companies in question is now owned by Fiat. The second part of the sentence crashes straight into the obvious question, how is the “broken health care system” any less broken now?

We invested in new American technologies to reverse our addiction to foreign oil. We doubled wind and solar power.

What, exactly, might be these “new American technologies to reverse our addiction to foreign oil”, and how, exactly, do they “reverse our addiction to foreign oil”? This dives deeply right into one of the most profound problems we have going in divorcing ourselves from reality, and our political leadership managing some ugly delusional dance, both leading and following it. We can presume, since it’s such an old cliché and platitude, that the bit about “wind and solar power” is supposed to be the thing that “reverses our addiction to foreign oil”, and it’s just as much of a non sequitur bit of nonsense as it was the first time anybody ever coughed up such a platitude.

Working on increasing capability and capacity in electrical power generation from wind and solar driven sources is a good thing, and a project where we’re way behind, decades behind. It has absolute nada relationship to any notions of any form about reducing oil consumption. It’s really basic. Electrical power is not oil. That gets us into all kinds of involved topics, about sources of energy, use of energy, but the idea of this perpetual platitude is just an absurd non sequitur. It’s a bizarre failure of cognition and logic, as strange as, say, for an example, saying that we might “solve” problems of difficulties in growing enough healthy food to feed everyone by developing better medicines. It does not follow, it makes no sense.

What we’re not hearing, from the president, or anybody else getting any significant attention in national politics and governance, is anything about the gigantic gluttony of oil consumption in the United States for decades, that drove us into the predicaments we have now, and how we manage to blow through so much oil at such a rapid rate.

Together we put in place tough new rules on big banks and protections to crack down on the worst practices of mortgage lenders and credit card companies.

I guess this is talking about the famous Dodd-Frank legislation, which was basically a giant dog and pony show which is probably a good long story of the ridiculous dysfunction of our government while making appearances of really doing something, while doing little to nothing to disarm the notion of some people of usury as “creating wealth”.

… and later…

So thanks to the grit and resilience and determination of the American people, of folks like you, we’ve been able to clear away the rubble from the financial crisis. We’ve started to lay a new foundation for stronger, more durable economic growth.

In a word, BULLSHIT.

We still have every bit of the massive mess of the collection of misbehavior and general insanity in banking and finance that seriously broke loose when the house of cards crashed in 2008. That’s still going, and is probably even worse now, as all the contrivances of the hellish phantasms and scams of the “financial innovation” of financial derivatives appear to still be around as unresolved as they were at the end of 2008. When Obama came into office, we got Wall Street boy Tim Geithner as Secretary of the Treasury, and instead of dealing with the train wreck of madness in progress in banking and finance, the response was basically “what can we do for you guys?”. Things have not changed from that, despite the posing about “reform”.

Four and a half years have made it apparent that Barack Obama as president has been about as thoroughly ensnared as a figurehead puppet to serve Wall Street and an American plutocracy as there could be. Meanwhile, many people buy into the image that he’s a president of the people, fighting for us, with appropriate showbiz to sell that image.

At the same time, other people are sold the nonsense fiction that Obama is a leftist radical communist who hates America and God and Jesus and “free enterprise”, and they must support all efforts to “counteract” this fiction, which begs the question of what people want to “counteract” this fiction. It’s not hard.

What things go toward then is a plutocracy of banking and finance and corporations, controlling government, including avoiding or outright suspending the proper rule of law of a democratic republic that is supposed to be controlled by the people, to serve the people, complete with total surveillance and arbitrary harassment and imprisonment (all under the guise of an absurd misnomer of a “War on Terror”). Out of control agencies act as a secret police, and what was normal local law enforcement is turned into paramilitary forces, and an imperial force labeled as “defense” bankrupts the nation in a nonstop quest to be a worldwide dominant military empire. In other words, in one simple word, actually: fascism.

Meanwhile, all the circus and sports games of “Left versus Right”, et cetera, keep people distracted and confused.

In the case of Obama, the strange thing is that in both 2008 and 2012, he really was about the best choice on offer. Some people continue spewing about how they think Obama is, and always was, some secret Marxist leftist whatzit with a secret plan to destroy America. I have to suspect that he really did come into wanting to do some good, thought he could, and found himself in the position of patsy, people maneuvering him into a position of looking like a hero to some of the country, and maneuvering and manipulating another chunk of the population into believing him to be what I’ve called the cartoon villain Obama, the kind of fictional caricature that gets idiots like Sarah Palin spewing gibberish.

The actual reality is neither, and despite the fondness of some people for “conspiracy theory”, what I’m talking about isn’t some deep secret; it’s right out in plain sight every day. That’s what’s so bizarre about it.

Politics is the entertainment division of the military-industrial complex – Frank Zappa

It should be noted, at this point, that this isn’t all about Barack Obama. He happens to be a key figure right now. I wrote a few times back in 2012 about the possibility of Willard Romney being elected president, with Paul Ryan as hi vice-president, and that really would have been too grotesque to contemplate. In retrospect, I sometimes wonder if perhaps it would have been better if the Romney/Ryan pair had been elected to office, not that it would have been a good thing, it would not have been good, but because it would have been so horrendous that maybe it would have finally woken people up.

Obama still has a few years to suck it up and get it right, even though it would be a really tough run for him, with challenges as large and difficult as any faced by an American president, but at this point, it really is looking like he’s destined to go into history as a figure like Herbert Hoover or Neville Chamberlain, a man floundering around completely unable to face the problems of their time as needed. What we need right now is some new hybrid combining Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt, and that is not what we have.

This isn’t really about politics, fundamentally, for that matter, except in the sense of the severe dysfunction of current American politics, and maybe a recollection of the idea someone once said, that people get the government they deserve. On that goes, with all kinds of distractions from things we need to understand as they are and deal with, right now, people all wound up in gay marriage as The Issue of Our Time, or some idiocy about a War On Christmas, or protect us from the bogeyman with a War on Terror. (Translated from actual definitions of words, to show the absurdity of the term: a state of usually open and declared armed hostile conflict between states or nations on a state of intense fear).

“Well, I’m supposed to be ready,” the Emperor said, and turned again for one last look in the mirror. “It is a remarkable fit, isn’t it?” He seemed to regard his costume with the greatest interest.

The noblemen who were to carry his train stooped low and reached for the floor as if they were picking up his mantle. Then they pretended to lift and hold it high. They didn’t dare admit they had nothing to hold.

So off went the Emperor in procession under his splendid canopy. Everyone in the streets and the windows said, “Oh, how fine are the Emperor’s new clothes! Don’t they fit him to perfection? And see his long train!” Nobody would confess that he couldn’t see anything, for that would prove him either unfit for his position, or a fool. No costume the Emperor had worn before was ever such a complete success.

“But he hasn’t got anything on,” a little child said.

“Did you ever hear such innocent prattle?” said its father. And one person whispered to another what the child had said, “He hasn’t anything on. A child says he hasn’t anything on.”

“But he hasn’t got anything on!” the whole town cried out at last.

The Emperor shivered, for he suspected they were right. But he thought, “This procession has got to go on.” So he walked more proudly than ever, as his noblemen held high the train that wasn’t there at all.

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