Morning Joe, Rod Blagojevich and Chris Christie in the sideshow at end of blog
(First posted on Open Salon December 8 2011; Update 1/26/2012: Obama’s State of the Union speech)
First of all just in case there are some of you who think there is some reason why I can’t compare Barack Obama to Joseph Stalin, think again; I been there done that. At one point I looked up the word compare in the dictionary and as usual it had at least two different definitions. One was, “to examine (two or more objects, ideas, people, etc.) in order to note similarities and differences: to compare two pieces of cloth; to compare the governments of two nations,” which I considered quite reasonable. The other was, “to consider or describe as similar; liken: Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?” This one I consider dumb, or at least the way it is often used is dumb. By automatically saying that they’re implying two things are alike in all ways therefore there are certain things that can’t be compared is a form of manipulation that is designed to suppress certain arguments and enable demagogues that use this tactic to control what can and can’t be discussed. If you don’t like it you can have them cancel any plans to have me be Hank Williams Jr.’s replacement for the spokes person for Monday Night Football.
For example, just because I’m comparing Obama to Stalin doesn’t mean that he is purging thousands if not millions of people the same way that Stalin did; if he is partially responsible for the death of thousands if not millions of people he does it in a much more subtle way that involves using complex institutions so that he doesn’t have to give the orders to do the killing. Instead he helps running these institutions and conveniently ignore problems like landmines or sweatshop labor so he’s only guilty of negligent Mass Murder. It is very similar to that with the way he uses applause for propaganda purposes; he’s much more subtle and relies on a more sophisticated psychological system that has been developed by political psychologists that study ways to suppress democracy without depriving people of the vote, most of the time, although that is beginning to change. With Stalin they knew that they could be killed if they dared to stop clapping and it didn’t work from a propaganda perspective; instead of controlling the public by indoctrinating them they kept them under control by fear. So clearly there are some differences as well as similarities that can be examined.
During the Remarks by the President on the Economy in Osawatomie, Kansas (12/6/2011) there was applause approximately 60 times and laughter about 7; I was able to get a close count because they even put the applause in the transcripts which they posted on-line which was quite nice of them. On a related note at this time there is a count down clock on the top of the page saying that taxes will rise 23 days 13 or so hours and counting.
This is paid for, presumably with tax payers dollars, even though I’m slightly more sympathetic to the democratic view on this issue I’m a little skeptical about both parties using government funds for political reasons without allowing the rest of the public to do their share of the same. As far as I know there was little or no protests surrounding the speech that he gave even though he gave it in a state that is overwhelming opposed to his policies and there are plenty of Occupy Wall Street protestors that would love the opportunity to protest against him; it is highly unlikely that many of them have been fooled by this speech anymore than me. He started out by buttering up the crowd with flattery and discussing the roots he had from Kansas and mentioning the people who supported him, which is a common manipulation tactic
You don’t get this kind of support without protests or discussion without some kind of planning; this was almost certainly planned at least to some degree although it clearly wasn’t completely controlled; there was one occasion where he paused and waited for the applause and it didn’t come, or at least not right away, and when it did come it came all at once, almost like the crowd didn’t know they were supposed to applause until they received their cue and everyone applauded at once like a her of sheep.
This is the typical kind of research that some political psychologists have presumably been studying for decades.
He also includes many pauses for effect in his speeches that are quite effective when it comes to good speaking when it is done well; but quite frankly Obama isn’t that good at it despite the practice that he’s been doing. Anyone that pays attention should realize that it is too blatant and in order to be more effective it should be subtle. These are just a couple of the many examples of psychological manipulations that politicians study to manipulate the crowds. Another famous one is the hand gesture where you hold one hand out with conviction when trying to make a point and draw attention to that point; Clinton was a master with this gesture and others also use it but many of them vary their tactics to avoid being noticed too easily. This is, of course all designed to obtain as many good impressions without actually addressing the issues more than they have too.
That doesn’t mean they don’t address the issues at all though; although they seem to have tried that for a while but when the Occupy Wall Street protest came up they suddenly realized that they had to start doing a much better job manipulating the public and pretending to address the issues at least long enough to get reelected. Clearly the Occupy movement has had at least a temporary impact; and if people recognize how flimsy this attempt is then it could be followed up with a long term impact as long as the public remains willing and able to hold the politicians feet to the fire.
One interesting spin which he attempted to use is to restore the image of the noble businessman when he said, “That’s why a CEO like Henry Ford made it his mission to pay his workers enough so that they could buy the cars he made.” Presumably he wants to give the public the impression that there is a currant political battle going on between the good noble business men that we can trust to come and save the day and the evil ones that want tyranny. Perhaps he would like us to perceive him as a representative of the good noble businessmen and the republican’s of the evil ones. I doubt a thorough review of history would back this impression up. It wasn’t that long ago that Michelle Bachman said we, "know that the very founders that wrote those documents worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States."
MSNBC and other jumped all over this; I didn’t notice MSNBC rush to find out if Henry Ford made it his mission to pay his workers well or if he did so, only as much as he had to after resistance from the unions who insisted on standing up for their rights.
I suspect that it is much more likely that he paid only as much as he could get away with and otherwise he would have been just as greedy as today’s businessmen. My impression of the disputes is that they fought tooth and nail for every little improvement whether it was for worker safety, auto safety shorter wages or anything else. Of course the republicans didn’t rush to disprove this either since, even though they hate Obama they don’t want to smear the noble businessmen that create jobs, never mind the fact that they’re only in the sweatshops overseas nowadays.
Obama also repeated his statement, “That is not politics. That’s just math.” This is of course only half right though; it is math but the way both the Republicans and the Democrats present it in a distorted manner is politics so they’re both paying politics and they’re both getting their funds from the same corporations that pretend this has something to do with democracy. I’m sure they could have done a much better job pointing out all the math and other simple facts that can’t be disputed very easily if they wanted to or they could have given the opportunity to many other people to speak before a large audience including many that have already done so. However they of course don’t want to; and if they had a choice they wouldn’t do it at all. Instead they prefer to continue allowing a small percentage of the public that has been approved and briefed properly have total control of the Mass Media and the political organizations that have an opportunity to reach a large segment of the public. Thanks to a more vocal segment of the public including the Occupy Wall Street movement they can’t do that completely; but they can give their supporters a much larger opportunity to get their propaganda across.
This was continued immediately after the speech when Tamron Hall came on the air after Obama was done and started talking at record speed; this was so fast that I began to wonder why she was talking so fast. They always talk fast but not this fast; then I realized that her hour was just about up and apparently they weren’t going to alter their schedule. Presumably this might interfere with the number of deceptive ads that they were trying to sell. Then Martin Bashir came on the air and apparently he had a lot of hype which he must have had prepared ahead of time; although it was way too blatant. It had something to do with not being in Kansas anymore and the yellow brick road. You would think they would learn how to do a better job using all the psychological manipulation research they’re doing; but perhaps there is an internal conflict among the authoritarians that are making the decisions and they’re selective about how they do this.
Regardless of why they doing such a bad job with propaganda, it is easy to learn from it if the public takes the time to think about it. That is a big if; one of the objectives of propaganda is to keep them jumping all the time so that they don’t have time to think about it and in many cases this is almost certainly working.
This doesn’t mean that there isn’t anything good in that speech in fact I’m sure there are many that are at least better than what the republican’s are doing; after all that is part of the good politician bad politician routine. They present the public with a boogie man and then they give them another that is coming to save the day but the best things they have in the speech are probably only there because they have had to respond to protests and as soon as the public looks away they almost certainly will be forgotten like the promise to “put on some comfortable shoes and march with the people.”
Side show: Morning Joe and Rod Blagojevich
On another note Rod Blagojevich was sentenced to 14 years in jail yesterday and this morning Joe Scarborough expressed outrage at the excessiveness of the sentence. He didn’t object to his being found guilty of course but he thought it was outraged and this was followed up by a heated discussion that quickly led to a consensus after some weak objections by flirting Mika that this was clearly excessive and they’re going too far.
I don’t remember them expressing so much outrage over the disparity between crack cocaine and regular cocaine; or the arresting of protestors when they interrupted the hearings into the BP oil spill; or the lack of prosecution of the executives of BP; or the protests to many wars including Vietnam, Iran Contra, the Gulf war and many other things. I could go on with a much longer list. Clearly the appropriate thing to do would have been to slap him on the wrist and let him go out and write a book like “Capital Punishment” by Jack Abramoff.
Politicians and business men have an incredibly long history of committing much more complex white collar crimes that cost society much more than the more traditional crimes committed by the poor, if you think about it, and they routinely get their wrists slapped; now on one of the extremely rare cases where there is so much outrage and a case that is so overwhelming that they feel the need to give a stiff penalty, which just might be knocked down before it is done, and there is finally outrage. Obviously the crew at Morning Joe thinks that tough sentences should be rese4rved for the poor without the lawyers and the rich and well connected should get their wrists slapped before they do it again.
Second Sideshow: Chris Christie
Apparently Chris Christie had anther day in the spotlight yesterday. He had a rare unanticipated question from someone who apparently wasn’t screened properly during a town hall meeting of his supporters. I don’t remember the exact words but I think it might have been something like the following:
Constituent: Do you or your staff plant questions at town hall meetings?
Chris Christie: If I planted questions, why the hell did I call on you? Do you think I’m using reverse psychology to destroy my own propaganda? Give the microphone back.
Constituent: No, of course not, I’m not that stupid; and neither is the rest of the public. I had to pretend to be a Republican in order to even get into this town hall meeting and your bullying tactics don’t fool me. Not only would I like to know if you plant questions but I would like to know why the audience is so heavily screened as well.
Chris Christie: Stop wasting my time and shut the hell up or I’ll have you disappeared!
Well programmed audience: (heavy long applause)
OK maybe that wasn’t quite the way that one went but the idea is still sound; they’re all programming their town hall meetings as much as they can get away with and they don’t attend many if any that are actually controlled by the public.
Chris Christie Cuts Down Town Hall Questioner (VIDEO)
Update 1/26/2012: Obama’s State of the Union speech
Obama’s State of the Union speech may have seemed very good to many people but people should not forget his “comfortable shoes” promises during an election year and what happened when the election year was over. Obama could have done much more to address these issues and many more much sooner if he wanted to. A closer look would certainly indicate that he still declines to address many of the most important issues; instead he continues to provide an enormous amount of hype and more applause from the supporters that are always available when any politician needs them. This speech included an enormous amount of ceremonial displays that were designed to appeal to emotions and create a good show. He may have made some good points that need to be made but before he could do this he had to stand by and let the republicans cause the current system to deteriorate to a situation that is so absurd that it doesn’t take much to create the appearance of being better than them. If he didn’t have Romney and Gingrich competing for the nomination while the republican congress was taking the political spectrum to a bizarre extreme there is no way he would have come out looking as good.
His discussion about bringing manufacturing back to the USA is reasonable but he fails to address many of the issues that will help to turn it into a reality and he also fails to address the enormous amount of bureaucratic waste that has to be reeled in if it is going to work. This is a complex system that has allowed many incentives to do all the wrong things and he declined to address most of them, or at least the details. Since neither he or the Mass Media is addressing them well it is hard to be certain of what all these details are but there are some reasonably good assumptions that can be made based on the information available. The laws about corporate secrecy that enable the corporations to keep the locations of the subcontractors that manufacture all their products help prevent human rights groups from making sure that they don’t use sweat shop labor and they make it easier to force local workers to compete with sweatshop workers by shipping jobs overseas and reducing the number of jobs available in the US, increasing competition. He fails to discuss the fact that while the manufacturing expenses are being slashed advertising and public relations expenses are going through the roof. Additional expenses that don’t benefit the customer include sales analysis to study consumer complacency, campaign contributions and lobbying, to Obama as well as the republicans and other democrats and much more.
In short there is much more that he doesn’t mention but he appears good because he has such horrible competition and the Mass Media continues to decline to allow many other critics to have a voice that can reach the majority of the public. He did receive a potential boost in his reputation from the “daring rescue” which happened just before the SOTU speech. Regardless of how and why this happened at such a convenient time it has the potential to be a great propaganda story that portrays his as the leader of a great rescue. This may work with a large segment of the population that gets caught up with dramatic stories and is bored with every day stories about practical solutions that have a much bigger impact; but it is those boring stories that actually work in the long run. If more was done to address the social problems that leave these people in poverty then the problem of piracy and other crimes including terrorism would be much smaller. Furthermore, for every one of these stories where they have a rescue without killing anyone but the bad guys there are many more where innocents get killed and it would have been much better if the incident hadn’t happened in the first place. Addressing the boring details that make these events dramatically less likely doesn’t make as good a news story but it does work much better when it comes to actually solving problems.
Once this did happen Obama managed to make the most out of it, intentionally or not, he made a comment walking into the room to Leon Panetta, “Good job,” which seemed trivial at the time but the media played it up as part of a dramatic event. He didn’t cut down on the amount of hand shaking that he did on the way into or out of the Capital building and as soon as he was out of the auditorium he went to a room where he could place a call to the family of the relatives and have his picture taken while he informed them that their family was safe. This provides an enormous amount of hype that can keep people distracted for a little while, perhaps long enough to get reelected; but it does very little to actually address many of the most important issues.
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