2014.08.14 Friedman and Obama

Years ago in a place where I was working, in the chatter between people in a workroom at their benches, one of the technicians had this running joke they did. Given a situation where there might be something of some kind of criticism, maybe a bit of a mistake or oversight, it would go like:

“oh, come on, it’s not like I murdered anybody!”

<a bit of a long pause>

“well, not lately, anyway!”

There’s actually a good reason why that one came to mind, and I’ll be getting back to that a little later.

There were a few things like this, running jokes that everyone knew, like this occasional exchange between a couple of guys who worked next to each other:

“I always have the last word in my house!”

“What’s that, Al?”

” ‘yes dear’ ”

There were probably a few more of these kinds of things, that I’m forgetting now, that were such a regular recurring running joke that after a while, people knew what was coming as soon as they started. Rather than getting annoying and stale after a while because the joke was old, they actually got funnier over time, just because they were repeated so often that the act of regular recycling itself got funny.

Some things can get repetitive, and the repetition is not funny at all.

In something that is, in itself, getting repetitious for me here, I have to acknowledge that writing notes here, I frequently find myself writing repeatedly about the same topics, often restating the same things, to the point where I have to consider the thought that people could start thinking I’m suffering from some sort of obsessive-compulsive behavior. The basic problem, that applies to a batch of different subjects, is that events and circumstances keep bringing up the same stuff, over, and over, and over…

One of those problems that keep raising their ugly heads is the thing that is such a chronic problem that I gave it a name, bipolar political disorder. (And, well, sorry if you know this one already.) People have themselves so thoroughly (maybe “pathologically”) programmed into mental modes of political Left or Right or Liberal or Conservative or adherence to the Democratic party or Republican party that they can no longer just look at anything and see it as what it is. It somehow has to be boxed into where something supposedly fits into a particular tribal membership, with its own cliches and dogma about what you’re supposed to think.

Yes, if you’ve read previous notes from me, you know I’ve explained that before. It just keeps coming up.

Among many things affected by this, it seems almost impossible for a large part of the American citizenry to have anything like a realistic grasp of assessing the current president. Just sorting this mess out is a hell of a task, all by itself, complicated even worse by the kinds of reflex reactions it can trigger. Yes, I’ve said that before, too. It seems way too damned difficult to get people to realize this. They’re all tied up in what they want to believe. Getting a handle on what actually is, the actual reality of things, is evidently a real problem for a lot of people.

I’ve written a load about this general problem before, and should get moving on before I get to far into it again, even though it is important. In simplest form, some people, for about a half a decade now, have found it appealing to buy into the barrages of nonsense portraying an image of the cartoon villain effigy scapegoat Barack Obama, you know, the Leftist radical commie secret Kenyan Muslim coming to destroy freedom and prosperity and take our guns and institute Sharia law while stealing all our money and stuff to give free stuff to lazy communists, negroes, Mexicans, and lesbian atheists. For many people, this is not news, something they’ve been very aware of, even as that kind of alternate reality nonsense has consumed so many people around us here in America. There’s more going on than that, unfortunately, but that’s tricky territory to delve into without triggering reflex squawking from some factions about “the Leftist Liberal Media bias!”.

In the bizarre reality distortions afflicting America, part of the relentless chatter programmed into people’s heads by Fox News et al, is about the New York Times being, supposedly, a towering bastion of “the left wing Liberal media”. This is nonsense, but the meme takes hold among some.

Among the people working for the NYT is columnist, pundit at large, and occasional book author Thomas Friedman. Just a few days ago, somebody online posted a link to an item by Friedman presented following an interview he conducted with President Obama.

President Obama Talks to Thomas L. Friedman About Iraq, Putin and Israel

I voiced my, shall we say, objections and issues, although there was a problem there, in that really getting into any substance about it was not really practical, in little tiny comment text boxes (Facebook). I did say what I’ll say here, which is that I am not impressed by Thomas Friedman. The man is a douchebag of epic proportions. I’m not the only one to have taken notice of this, but, somehow, this guy is presumably paid real cash money to write for the New York Times, people buy his books, and he’s regularly on some TV show presented as “news” running his mouth about one thing or another while people regard him as some kind of wise and learned great thinker and expert authority.

For reference, I ask people to recall the period around 2002-2003, when Thomas Friedman seemingly took every possible opportunity to get into public attention to argue that the US government should send the US military to invade Iraq and take over the place, must send in the US military, that this was the right thing to do and necessary, and that this would bring freedom and democracy and stability and peace to Iraq, the middle east at large, and just make the world a better place.

You can make your own conclusions about that.

That’s just one example of the mind of Friedman. The man’s grasp of reality and general mental processes strike me as being about the level of quality and credibility of Glenn Beck, which is to say, not good.

I dreaded the thought of digging into anything coming from Friedman, and it included wondering what Obama would be saying, in that context.

It was about as bad as I expected.

[I read the article, written by Friedman, which didn’t have a full transcript of the interview. Video was included, but I did not (and don’t plan to) spend the time and bandwidth on sitting through all that.]

What I read was quite enough for me. (This also raises obvious questions about what sort of thinking is going on there that a supposed serious journalist, in the medium of a web page of a newspaper, would not publish a full transcript of the interview, and, instead, posts bandwidth-wasting video, which also eats up people’s time making them sit through the whole thing in real time, instead of reading text that can go much faster. But I digress.)

There are big, huge, glaring issues with what Obama said, and Friedman’s commentary about it.

Considering that the whole thing was presented as a conversation about “foreign policy”, I suppose that many people might regard the following as a bit silly, as they manage to overlook the overall problem staring us in the face. Most of the conversation revolved around an obvious basic fundamental premise, one that is increasingly problematic. That premise was that it was regarded as normal, natural, obvious, that the United States government, with the president at the helm, holds the position of being rulers of the world, with all “foreign policy” stemming from that presumption.

All through Obama’s comments, that was there. It’s sort of the pink elephant in the room of American politics of national government to not ever face and get to grips with the question of what forms “foreign policy” these days and recall the forgotten idea of the federal government of the United States of America being a national government, not a world ruling government.

It is, in a short phrase, the whole “neocon” mindset of Empire, right there.

You can find it in statements by Friedman, in his summary, like:

Whether it is getting back into Iraq or newly into Syria, the question that Obama keeps coming back to is: Do I have the partners — local and/or international — to make any improvements we engineer self-sustaining?

My emphasis added in bold text there. “Improvements we engineer”? Seriously? Those are Friedman’s words (I don’t know if Obama used those exact words), but it sums up a large chunk of attitude and presumption that runs through so much. It isn’t strictly only about Obama, and that, in itself, right there, is what I wish more people would see and understand. Right now, in the present, Obama just happens to be president serving the neocon cult of lunacy.

The conversation wanders through various different sagas and situations of “international affairs”, with the common element of the way that, in place after place, around the world, the US government pushes itself into the situation, all the while pumping out the same PR chatter telling everyone, here, and in the rest of the world, oh, we’re not an empire… we’re the good guys bringing the freedom and democracy!

Right there in Friedman’s article talking about the conversation, a clue is right in front of anybody reading. The discussion comes to questions of military intervention by the US armed forces, someplace else in the world thousands of miles away, never bothering with any question about who anybody thinks they are to be intervening. The obvious clue to serve some thought is the way the talk poses a situation, if the US “militarily intervenes”, then what? There’s a scenario to ponder; say the US armed forces go in somewhere in the world, overthrow and dismantle the government there… then what? Is it then right, job done, mission accomplished, and leave the place in chaos and anarchy and/or squabbling power struggles between factions in a civil war, with chaos, violence, death, destruction, and general dysfunction, or does the US military then establish a permanent occupation complete with having to act as a police force in a place where people don’t want them there, and act as the new government of the place, for god only knows how long?

Do people really not see the problems in this? In the madness of bipolar political disorder, we have Republican politicians and Fox News and all the chatter about “foreign policy” that has people positioning themselves as “Obama critics” who keep yelping about how, according to them, the big terrible problem is that Obama is just so weak, so ineffective, at being a world ruler of empire. In the flipside of this madness is people who still have themselves caught up in this madness of empire, but dancing around in all kinds of mental games to try to rationalize things in terms of Obama the great peacemaker, Nobel Peace Prize winner, master of diplomacy, even while everything he actually does is essentially serving the neocon cult (but, again, not very well, in their opinion).

What a fucking horror show.

Meanwhile, in the Ukraine circus of madness, Paul Craig Roberts puts his finger squarely on the situation as things continue:

The opposition from Washington, Washington’s EU vassals, and Washington’s stooges in Kiev to the inflow of humanitarian aid is due to the West’s desperate attempt to keep the world from knowing about the massive destruction by Washington and its stooges of civilian lives, housing, and infrastructure in those former Russian territories who are directly threatened by the Russophobic extremists that Washington has installed in power in Kiev.

The Western presstitute media has added yet another failure to its long inglorious history by failing to report the atrocities inflicted on a people who see no future for themselves in a country ruled by murderous Russophobic criminals installed in power by Washington.

The demented NATO generals, Pentagon chief, and US senators are spreading hysteria about a looming Russian invasion not only of Ukraine but also of the Baltics, Poland, indeed, all of Europe. This hysteria is engulfing the West despite the total evidence of any sign whatsoever of Russian preparations or motives for such invasions. The lie is being spread by Washington that Putin intends to reconstitute the Soviet Empire. This is the same Putin who had the former Russian province of Georgia in his hands and let it go.

Washington’s propaganda is working. Polls reveal that a majority of Americans, who should be awake by now after being lied to about Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Libya, Syria, and Iran, have again, in their infinite gullibility, fallen victim to the propaganda and regard Russia as a threat.

Among the misinformed and propagandized American population, the question of the day is: “How are we going to stop the Russians?” Thus has the corrupt and deceitful Obama regime again prepared Americans for war.

Turn back to the Friedman story, and what we have from Obama on the subject consists of:

Despite Western sanctions, he cautioned, President Vladimir Putin of Russia “could invade” Ukraine at any time, and, if he does, “trying to find our way back to a cooperative functioning relationship with Russia during the remainder of my term will be much more difficult.”

At this point, I am interested in pretty much nothing Obama has to say about the situation in Ukraine, or much of anything else. The man has proven beyond all possible doubt to be a full member, or completely subservient to, the neocon club of liars and megalomaniacs.

Elsewhere in the Friedman article, we find:

At the end of the day, the president mused, the biggest threat to America — the only force that can really weaken us — is us. We have so many things going for us right now as a country — from new energy resources to innovation to a growing economy…

Now, I must point out that these are Friedman’s words, I don’t know how directly that comes from Obama’s words (again, I’m not wasting time watching all the video, and they can’t be bothered with a transcript), but that’s a bit irrelevant, considering that I’ve heard the same vague and vacuous kinds of things from both of them many times.

You could say that there is something to that first sentence, though. In fact, I will say that- the biggest threat to America is us.

The problem is, people can get all kinds of ideas in their heads about that one, or, I should say, have ideas planted in their heads about that. People in difficult times get way too easily led to things they think are easy answers or convenient scapegoats, and if that happens, it doesn’t go well. This isn’t some sudden great revelation springing forth from me, you know. People have figured this out before.

The biggest threats (which is not the greatest word to use) would have to include filling our heads with vague platitudes like “new energy resources… innovation… a growing economy”.

That cracks open a whole set of interrelated topic areas, but, then, I’ve tried to cover that stuff for quite some time now. That one little bit from Friedman (which, as I said, pretty well mirrors the stuff Obama says, so exact quotes are not really that important) wraps up a whole collected package of delusions that are making big problems and challenges way bigger, not helping.

Flipping on a TV to skim for a few minutes brought me to CNBC and the daily chatter, where I came upon a segment with text blurbs coming up at the bottom of the screen like “what’s wrong with Wal-Mart?” and “how can Wal-Mart entice back customers, apparently stemming from business and financial statistics about Wal-Mart being regarded as less than spectacular of late. Apparently “consumers” just are not doing their duty to consume enough. There was much chatter as always among the CNBC talking heads. Mystery! Puzzlement!

It isn’t that much of a puzzling mystery, but addressing that runs into a wall of avoidance and delusions.

The word “innovation” has been so abused it has become almost useless, a vague kind of metaphorical magic wand waved around that sounds nice and never really gets to the core of anything. In other words, a platitude. I was going to take some more time and space here to examine some definitions of the word “innovation”, which includes a slightly warped idea of a definition that I found, but I’ll save that for later. Part of that needs to include a careful look at the word “platitude“, quite a whole discussion of its own.

I’ve been writing about the general topic of energy, of energy resources and use, consumption, for several years now, pretty exhaustively (or at least a hell of a lot for me, not having the time to make this a full time unpaid occupation and project), pointing to massive piles of hard information and serious analysis from people who do devote professional work to the subject, credible, honest, objective, realistic work from people, but that’s ignored, while fools like Thomas Friedman are taken seriously. It isn’t only Friedman, obviously (or at least obvious to anybody who might have been paying attention), and there’s the whole knotty problem that I’ve been talking about for years, that being the bizarre circus of what I can only summarize in brief form as a kind of sports contest of competing delusions, which unfortunately sucks us all right back into the bipolar political disorder insanity.

What that takes us to, unfortunately, is that even addressing that gets into its own bog of lunacy. Some people would point to some of what was said in that Obama/Friedman interview and say that there was a shining example of the wonder and wisdom of Obama, in some of his comments about “our dysfunctional politics”. One part is certainly right. The dysfunction is massive. From there it goes a bit sideways, into more cliches, platitudes, and useless noises that seem sensible and practical on the face of it, given a superficial skim.

There is a glimpse of something, that probably flies right past people without even seeing the problem, in comments about “the two parties”. That’s a big problem right there, the whole premise of “the two parties”, the general established, entrenched, domination of people operating in the belief that the government of the United States of America IS the Republican party and Democratic party.

Online, after I piped in with my comment about being unimpressed, in general, by anything being said at this point by either Friedman or Obama, I was directed to a recent online essay, written in the form of a letter, in what was apparently some sort of cutesy attempt to be clever. It wasn’t clever. In my opinion, it was useless, just another item to further obfuscate things. In broad terms, one thing that struck me about it was that, to me, it impressed me as being remarkably similar to the works of punditry of Mr. Tom Friedman.

This is what reminded me of the “well, not lately!” joke.

Calling it “A letter to my dismal allies on the US left”, writer Rebecca Solnit argues that critics of Obama, some, at least (not the “radical Right”), are just nitpicking, silly malcontents who complain about everything, nothing is good enough for them, picking at petty trivia, being just negative, bitter, just having a bad attitude because Obama was just not making everything exactly like they want.

It was fucking drivel. It’s as bad as the things Friedman writes.

That just adds to the pile of twisted confusion, along with the people who rattle on about how, supposedly, Obama is as I’ve said before, the “far left” radical commie secret Muslim whatzit cartoon image with virtually no relationship to the real Obama (with extra tragic comedy when some people babble about “The Real Obama” they’ve fabricated in their own delusions).

Meanwhile, the actual reality of five and a half years and running of Obama as president looks more and more as if he concocted some secret deal to put on a theatrical show of “the Liberal Progressive” that serves up an image to drive some people nuts and act as a villain so Republicans can play the heroes riding in to save America, and simultaneously appear as a hero character for people in the Democratic party tribe, all serving the interests of some people to keep the citizenry distracted and squabbling with each other in opposite camps, a whole Left vs. Right, Liberal vs. Conservative, Team D vs. Team R sports tournament drama, while Obama and players in Team R and Team D all actually cooperate quite nicely in maintaining a status quo of plutocracy controlling military empire and police state.

That all sounds like “conspiracy theory stuff”, radical nuttery, to a lot of people, despite the piling up of evidence that supports the idea that it actually is pretty much just that. Actual reality, including all the confusion and noise about actual reality, is supporting what I’ve been trying to tell people for some time now. It’s way past time to take terms like Left, Right, Liberal, and Conservative, and just scrap them, as they’ve become so confused, misused, and scrambled that they’re useless.

For years now, I’ve been watching in amazement as some of the American population have developed this notion of Ronald Reagan as a great American president, even arguing for him as the greatest president, based on some sort of mythical and nearly deified image of Reagan, growing more mythical with time, with amazingly little relationship to the reality of Reagan as president. Tragically, as the last few years have passed, a very similar mass delusion seems to be happening with people regarding Obama , even while his presidency is still going. People seem to want to believe he’s what he thought they were, rationalizing it any way possible.

Until people snap out of that, we’re not going to get anywhere good.

 

Washington Chokes Truth With Lies

Ignoring Ukraine’s Neo-Nazi Storm Troopers

ClubOrlov: Permission to Steal Everything

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