Monday, September 14, 2009

Projection Squared, no, Cubed

Blue Texan (FDL): Human Events: Obama’s a Very, Very Angry (Black) Man

I'll take racist dog whistles for $500, Alex.

The anger that seemed President Obama’s central theme in his September 9 speech to Congress was palpable, almost shocking. He demanded action now, and threatened to “call out” those who -- he claimed -- were spreading falsehoods about his healthcare nationalization plans.

Obama does not seem to realize that the fire and brimstone of the campaign trail have to be left behind when a man enters the Oval Office. Presidents who exude confidence, competence and principle usually succeed. Anger belies the self-confidence that has been Obama’s trademark. It may soon replace it.

Obama is, again, the incredible shrinking president. His anger -- in speech after speech about healthcare, before and after the address to the joint session of Congress -- is not just unpresidential, but has a constant negative effect, a gradual whittling away of whatever influence he may have abroad that has not already been surrendered in his June speech in Cairo.


Barack Obama substitutes anger and naïveté for passion and style

Shorter Jed Babbin: hide the white women, Obama's on a rampage!

Here's an excerpt from a speech by the extremely presidential and confident -- but not at all angry -- George W. Bush from 2005.

While it's perfectly legitimate to criticize my decision or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began. (Applause.) Some Democrats and anti-war critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people about why we went to war. These critics are fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community's judgments related to Iraq's weapons programs.


The stakes in the global war on terror are too high, and the national interest is too important, for politicians to throw out false charges. (Applause.) These baseless attacks send the wrong signal to our troops and to an enemy that is questioning America's will. As our troops fight a ruthless enemy determined to destroy our way of life, they deserve to know that their elected leaders who voted to send them to war continue to stand behind them. (Applause.)

For some reason, I can't find an article by Jed Babbin or in Human Events that bemoans how shockingly angry and unpresidential Bush's accusing his critics of lying was.

Brilliant!. Blumenthal does the 9/12 Tea Party.:

This is from the comments of a NYT's Opinionator article titled:
Is It Because He’s Black? It is a perfect example of RW thinking. Really remarkable: — Kirill

Racism is a given variable in certain members of the American population. When we elected Obama, we knew that; some people in this country have varying degrees of racism, ranging from subconscious discomfort, to racist rhetoric. That’s something that will not change quickly and is engrained in our culture. That doesn’t make it okay but we always have to assume it is, to some extent, present.

But it wasn’t raised as an issue like it is now for the first nine months of his presidency. Racism in the US population is a given, but Obama’s actions are the variable here, not a sudden outburst of racism. He has chosen to promote primarily liberal policies, casting himself as a labor leader, slightly protectionist, and heavy into government assistance. He has chosen to not promote conservative or Republican policies for the most part. He’s of a different race and he’s promoting very divisive policies, that he believes are necessary, but that are not catering to people of all political dispositions.

It’s unfortunate that people in this country categorize by race and political disposition. It’s unfortunate that this narrow-mindedness is present. But Obama is not transcending this divisive, narrow-minded state of affairs. He is only promoting one side of the coin. Thus, he is promoting a narrow-minded agenda to a population that is narrow-minded as well. Of course it’s going to cause a fight.
digby: Viruses
Valtin at Daily Kos writes:

This story reports on an extraordinary 2004 article by a Harvard lecturer and former Chief of Neuropsychiatry at Guantanamo Bay, which made the shocking claim that "hard-core zealots" had "brains that are structurally and functionally different from us." Furthermore, the article stated, 100,000 "zealots" within the Muslim body politic would have to be eliminated, the way "malignant [cancer] cells" are removed from a healthy body.

The author of the article, "Terrorism - The Underlying Causes," in the Winter/Spring 2004 issue of the Intelligencer, Journal of U.S. Intelligence Studies (PDF), house organ for the American Federation of Intelligence Officers (AFIO), was William Henry Anderson, M.D. Anderson's piece received a stinging protest letter to the editor from psychologist and military ethics expert, Jean Maria Arrigo, but I'm not aware of any other complaint regarding this racist, fascistic article in the pages of a major intelligence services journal.


The article starts out as a bloviating howler. Anderson quotes Sun Tzu, recapitulates the Aristotlean causal categories, and fulminates about "credulous enablers" and "useful idiots" that sabotage U.S. efforts to mount an effective defense against its enemies. Anderson regrets that the enablers and idiots will be with us for a long time, as they represent unfortunate but necessary aspects of human nature.

It is only when we get to the "zealots" that we, supposedly, enter new territory. The zealots are "a pathological departure" from "human nature" (emphasis added to quote below).

No, the zealots are another kind of person. They may be thought of as cells of a social body that have undergone malignant change.
Let us consider terrorism with an analogy from medicine -- that of terrorism as a cancer. There are about 1.4 billion Muslims in the world. Embedded withing this healthy body are, perhaps, 100,000 people who are eager and active in pursuit of the goal of killing us. Just as successful treatment of cancer requires killing of the malignant cells, we will need to kill this small minority, since we have no evidence that they can be induced to change their minds.
(Keep in mind that this is someone who was the head neuropsychiatrist at Guantanamo.)

I'm sure you can hear the obvious echoes in that passage. Valtin spells it out:
Anderson's scientific racism calls to mind the similarly medicalized racism of the Nazis, as psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton described it over 20 years ago. In his book, The Nazi Doctors, Lifton quoted Nazi doctor Fritz Klein, in words not too different from Harvard lecturer and Massachusetts General Hospital Senior Psychiatrist Anderson:
Of course I am a doctor and I want to preserve life. And out of respect for human life, I would remove a gangrenous appendix from a diseased body. The Jew is the gangrenous appendix in the body of mankind.
There's so much of this stuff out there that we are forced to just accept because we aren't allowed to look in the rear view mirror. It's there in the record, but it's going unaddressed. It's scary prospect that people such as he were in such high positions, whether it's at Harvard or Guantanamo. I guess we'll have to let the historians put it in perspective and it isn't going to be pretty when they do.

And, naturally, the conservatives are using everything people sort of know and feel about all this, by projecting that the Democrats are the fascists. It's brilliantly diabolical.
DougJ: Meanwhile, back on planet earth

After inflicting Sully’s Tory fantasies on you, I thought a more accurate description of tea baggerism might be in order, from Glenn Greenwald:

What’s really happening with these protests is that the genuine rage and not unreasonable economic insecurity of these citizens is being stoked, exploited, distorted and manipulated by movement leaders for entirely different ends. The people who are leading them—Rush Limbaugh, the Murdoch-owned Fox News, Glenn Beck, business-dominated organizations of the type led by Dick Armey—are cultural warriors above everything else. They’re all in a far different socioeconomic position than the “middle-income Americans” whose anger they’re ostensibly representing. Their principal preoccupation is their cultural contempt for various groups (illegal immigrants, the “undeserving” poor, liberals) and their desire to preserve the status quo whereby the prime beneficiaries of government policies remain themselves: the super rich and the interests that control Washington. It’s certainly true that many of these protesters are driven by the standard right-wing cultural issues which have long shaped that movement—social issues, religious fears, cultural and racial divisions, and hatred for “liberals” as Communist-Muslim-Terrorist-lovers. For many, all of that is intensified by the humiliation of being completely thrown out of power, at the hands of the first black President. But much of it is fueled by the pillaging of the corporations and Wall St. interests which own their government.

As Taibbi notes (Glenn quotes this too), there’s nothing unusual about this:

Actual rich people can’t ever be the target. It’s a classic peasant mentality: going into fits of groveling and bowing whenever the master’s carriage rides by, then fuming against the Turks in Crimea or the Jews in the Pale or whoever after spending fifteen hard hours in the fields. You know you’re a peasant when you worship the very people who are right now, this minute, conning you and taking your shit. Whatever the master does, you’re on board. When you get frisky, he sticks a big cross in the middle of your village, and you spend the rest of your life praying to it with big googly eyes. Or he puts out newspapers full of innuendo about this or that faraway group and you immediately salute and rush off to join the hate squad. A good peasant is loyal, simpleminded, and full of misdirected anger. And that’s what we’ve got now, a lot of misdirected anger searching around for a non-target to mis-punish . . . can’t be mad at AIG, can’t be mad at Citi or Goldman Sachs. The real villains have to be the anti-AIG protesters! After all, those people earned those bonuses! If ever there was a textbook case of peasant thinking, it’s struggling middle-class Americans burned up in defense of taxpayer-funded bonuses to millionaires. It’s really weird stuff.

I realize that we’ve probably quoted the paragraph above many times before here. But I like it.


Former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) appeared on Fox News this morning to criticize Democrats for, of all things, considering reconciliation for health care reform. At the same time, he endorsed his own effort to expand government intervention into health care while adding hundreds of billions of dollars to the national debt.

It was quite an interview, even for "Fox & Friends." Frist said the Medicare Part D legislation is "a great bill." That he and his GOP colleagues didn't even try to pay for it, or address the "donut-hole" problem, didn't come up. Frist went on to boast that he didn't try to pass the measure through reconciliation, which he denounced as a method of cramming legislation "down people's throats."

He was, not surprisingly, cheered on by the hosts. Steve Doocy, for reasons that are unclear, referred to reconciliation as a "loophole." Brian Kilmeade, in an apparent attempt at a pun, told Frist, "The term is they are using a 'Rahm' it down your throat."*

But routine Fox News nonsense notwithstanding, hearing Frist bash reconciliation is pretty interesting. After all, as recently as June, Frist told Bill Bennett, "[Reconciliation is] legal, it's ethical, you can do it."

For that matter, Bill Frist supported using reconciliation to pass Bush tax cuts in 2001, 2003, and 2005. At the time, he was unconcerned about cramming legislation "down people's throats."

The degree of shamelessness here is almost impressive.

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