Obama’s Empty Speech on Ferguson

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

If you are a long-time Naked Capitalism reader, you’ll remember that we like to use our magic markers to color important speeches, both to highlight the clever use of rhetorical figures for emulation, and to call bullshit where needed. And is it needed. I would have posted this immediately after the speech, but I was, if not incapacitated, not exactly capacitated, and this evening was my first chance.

Let it never be said that Obama always gives the same kind of speech; what follows, when the St Louis County Grand Jury returned no true bill of indictment in State of Missouri v. Darren Wilson, is extraordinary by virtue of its plain, even barren, style. It does not soar; it does not exhort. For example, there only two cases of Obama’s favorite rhetorical device, anaphora, the first at paragraph five: “That means… It means… It means.”

So I’m not going to get to use a lot of my coding! The speech is mostly free of Secular religion, Populism, Bipartisan shibboleths, and Neo-liberal catchphrases (see full table below). But there’s still plenty of room for terminological inexactitude and lawyerly parsing and weasel wording, so we’re good.

I can’t speculate on why Obama chose such a low-key approach; perhaps he assumed, or was warned, that with the “insanely reckless, and inexplicably late hour of 8:00 pm” announcement the split screen that did occur was likely.

So to the Wordle, which shows with unusual clarity what Obama thinks the situation in Ferguson is about, or at least what he would like us to believe he thinks the situation in Ferguson is about:


“Community law enforcement.” That’s what Obama believes the Ferguson “situation” is about. The Ferguson protesters use fewer words. But punchier ones, in fact a Twitter hash tag:


Argue the merits of “community law enforcement” vs. “black lives matter” if you will as policy, but I know who I want doing my messaging. And Obama was supposed to be the maestro of messaging, at one point. Oh well.

So, now I want to go through Obama’s speech line by line. As so often, we will see that what Obama doesn’t say is more important than what he does say. For reference, here’s the White House transcript. And the table of color coding follows.

* * *



Secular religion

A mish-mash of phrases from the Framers, Lincoln and MLK echoes, and so forth


Bathos is an abrupt transition in style from the exalted to the commonplace

Neo-liberal catchphrase

“Free market,” “innovation,” “hard choices” etc.


“Our most vulnerable citizens”

Bipartisan shibboleth

“The troops,” for example

Dead metaphors/cliche

“Ring the changes on,” “take up the cudgel for,” “toe the line,” “ride roughshod over,” etc. (Orwell)

Sheer nonsense

Word salad

Falsehood or truthiness

A terminological inexactitude


Lawyerly parsing and weasel wording


“Ladies and gentleman,” and so forth.

* * *

As you know, a few moments ago, the grand jury deliberating the death of Michael Brown issued its decision. It’s an outcome that, either way, was going to be subject of intense disagreement not only in Ferguson, but across America. So I want to just say a few words suggesting how we might move forward1.

First and foremost, we are a nation built on the rule of law 1. And so2 we need to3 accept that this decision was the grand jury’s to make4. There are Americans who agree with it, and there are Americans who are deeply disappointed, even angry. It’s an understandable reaction. But I join Michael’s parents in asking anyone who protests this decision to do so peacefully. Let me repeat Michael’s father’s words: “Hurting others or destroying property is not the answer. No matter what the grand jury decides, I do not want my son’s death to be in vain. I want it to lead to incredible change, positive change, change that makes the St. Louis region better for everyone.”5 Michael Brown’s parents have lost more than anyone. We should be honoring their wishes.

  • 1. A two-fer: I’ve coded this both Secular Religion and Falsehood. That America is governed by the rule of law is the Secular Religion part; and it’s also a self-evident falsehood. This is the President who voted for retroactive immunity for the telcos for felonies under Bush’s warrantless surveillance program; this is a President who put a U.S. citizen on his kill list disposition matrix and then whacked him, without any due process at all; this is the President whose Justice Department declined to prosecute banks that were too big too fail. Rule of law sounds like a fine idea; perhaps we should try it.
  • 2. “So” is question begging; Obama assumes what he has yet to prove: That the Grand Jury’s verdict conformed to the rule of law, as commonly understood.
  • 3. I hate the “you need to”/”we need to” locution. It’s a personal crotchet of mine, I know, but it just seems finger-wagging and authoritarian. Anyhow, whaddaya mean, “we”?
  • 4. No, it very wasn’t. The duty of a grand jury, as Obama the law professor at the University of Chicago — remember that one? — surely must know, is to weigh the evidence and decide whether there’s enough to warrant an indictment (a “true bill”). It’s not to determine guilt or innocence, which is a court should do and the Wilson grand jury did. I’m going to outsource this to Marcy:

    The one substantive comment I will make for now is the way the standing prosecutors, Kathi Alizadeh and Sheila Whirley, spoon fed the witnesses, and especially Darren Wilson, and otherwise slanted everything imaginable, to support the exoneration of Wilson is just disgusting. I have read countless grand jury transcripts over the years, and I have NEVER seen anything that remotely resembles this kind of biased, for the defendant, dog and pony show. Again, it is simply insane and unheard of.

    Okay, this entire grand jury was a farce, a charade, and a lie. It was a cravenly engineered whitewash by Bob McCulloch from start to the criminally reckless end with Ferguson in flames last night.

    It’s bizarre — agnotologistically bizarre — that Obama would tell anybody either that the decision that the Grand Jury made (innocence) was theis to make, or that we would have to accept it if it were.

  • 5. I’m marking this bathos because of how Obama sucks the human dimension out of Mike Brown’s father’s words by decontextualizing them. Here’s Black Agenda Report on what followed McCulloch’s “insanely” timed, prime announcement:

    It was Zero Hour. The authorities had just spoken through the voice of prosecutor Robert McCulloch… The teenagers and young adults of Ferguson gave McCulloch their answer [on the split screen], in perfect synch with the spontaneous outcry of Michael Brown’s step-father, Louis Head. “Burn this M.F. down, burn this bitch down,” he shouted, cradling the head of his distraught wife in his arms. “I think he was expressing a sentiment that a lot of folks in that crowd felt,” said St. Louis Alderman Antonio French, who was standing nearby.

    As people here know, I’m an advocate of strategic non-violence, a discussion to have another time. I say that, from deep in my armchair, to make it clear that though I might think most violence cathartic at best, ego-driven and manipulative at worst, I can’t imagine putting Head’s reaction into the “[dis]honoring the wishes of the family” box, as Obama does. For one thing, Head is part of the family, for another, when Obama says “Michael Brown’s parents have lost more than anyone,” that could well not be true: Plenty of other St Louis citizens have lost family members to police violence, one killing done between Brown’s and the Grand Jury verdict, and it would be strange if none of them were at these demonstrations. Now, I’m not saying that Obama could have known Head’s reaction; after all, he was on TV at the time. But when Obama plucked Mike Brown’s father’s words out of context, as he did, a savage irony was bound to happen, as it did. The distance between the fiery context of a father’s pain and President’s words on TV is the depth of the bathos. I don’t think Obama should have used those words, because he clearly didn’t know what he was getting into. It’s he did this whole speech without any advance work. Phoning it in!

I also appeal to the law enforcement officials in Ferguson and the region to show care and restraint in managing peaceful protests that may occur6. Understand, our police officers put their lives on the line for us every single day. They’ve got a tough job to do to maintain public safety and hold accountable those who break the law.7 As they do their jobs8 in the coming days, they need to work with9 the community 10, not against the community, to distinguish the handful of people who may use the grand jury’s decision as an excuse for violence —11 distinguish them from the vast majority who just want their voices heard 12 around legitimate13 issues in terms of how communities and law enforcement interact14.

  • 6. Falsehoods. This from the President who coordinated a 17-city paramilitary crackdown of Occupy (and the crackdown the St Louis region is of a similar scale, as the dozens of DHS vans and 200 FBI agents show).
  • 7. Falsehoods. One of the duties of the Ferguson Police Department and court system is raising revenue from fines and fees, and they do that mostly from the wrong side of the tracks like Mike Brown. This has nothing do with “holding people accountable,” and it makes a mockery of the law; Ferguson might as well be a colony. Did nobody in the White House brief Obama about the realities on the ground?
  • 8. Obama could not have known this, but “do their jobs” is an specially unfortunate locution, because that’s just what Wilson thought he was doing when he whacked Brown: “I was doing my job.”
  • 9. An example of antithesis, the juxtaposition of contrasting words: “with… not against.”
  • 10. “Community.” All I can say — I don’t really have an interpretation for how neo-liberalism hijacked the the concept; readers? — is that maybe somebody on the White House speechwriting staff thought that resurrecting Obama’s past as a community organizer would be useful.
  • 11. A rare unforced error in delivery at a telling time. And no wonder. It’s thoroughly appropriate for the man who said “I’m really good at killing people” to stumble on the word “violence.” To be fair, Obama no doubt feels he has real reasons, as opposed to an excuse.
  • 12. No, they don’t “want their voices heard.” They want some assurance that “black lives matter.” Of many concrete policy steps, one would be to look into what DOJ can do. Marcy again:

    And do not, like so many on social media seem to be doing, think the DOJ is going to bail the situation out by indicting Darren Wilson on federal charges. Even DOJ veterans say it is unlikely. I say there is not a chance in hell of an indictment against Wilson personally.

    I suppose they’re all busy hounding James Risen. Oh well.

  • 13. As opposed to which “illegitimate” issues?
  • 14. Falsehoods. For there to be any sane and humane way for the authorities and the citizens of Ferguson to “interact,” law enforcement would have to stop being a profit center, even if personal and institutional racism were eradicated tomorrow[1]

Finally, we need to recognize that the situation in Ferguson speaks to broader challenges that we still face as a nation. The fact is, in too many parts of this country, a deep distrust exists between law enforcement and communities of color. Some of this is the result of the legacy14 of racial discrimination in this country. And this is tragic15, because nobody needs good policing more than poor communities with higher crime rates. The good news is we know there are things we can do to help. And I’ve instructed Attorney General Holder to work with cities across the country to help build better relations between communities and law enforcement. 16

  • 14. Huh? “Legacy” makes it sound like racial discrimination is dead. It isn’t.
  • 15. No, it isn’t “tragic.” It’s sad, or painful, but not tragic.
  • 16. Whatever “better relations” means. This is the first of several paragraphs that Obama ends with an action item that is so vague as to be meaningless. The figure is like epistrophe, where each sentence ends with the same words (the opposite of anaphora) except with (non-)concepts, not words.

That means17 working with law enforcement officials to make sure their ranks are representative of the communities they serve. We know that makes a difference. It means working to train officials so that law enforcement conducts itself17a in a way that is fair to everybody. It means enlisting the community actively on what should be everybody’s goal, and that is to prevent crime18.

  • 17. Anaphora: “That means… It means…. It means.”
  • 17a[2] This is a weird category error. “Law enforcement” cannot “conduct itself”; only beings with agency can conduct themselves.
  • 18 False. Once again, this can never be achieved while Ferguson treats law enforcement and the courts as a profit center. Obama persists in his delusional belief that law enforcement is only about preventing crime.

And there are good people on all sides of this debate, as well as in both Republican and Democratic parties, that are interested not only in lifting up best practices18 — because we know that there are communities who have been able to deal with this19 in an effective way — but also who are interested in working with this administration and local and state officials to start tackling much-needed criminal justice reform20.

  • 18. Contrast the bloodless, Beltway, managerial “best practices” with “black lives matter.”
  • 19. What?
  • 20. A second paragraph ending with an action item so vague as to be meaningless.

So those should be the lessons that we draw from these tragic events. We need to recognize that this is not just an issue for Ferguson, this is an issue21 for America. We have made enormous progress in race relations over the course of the past several decades22. I’ve witnessed that in my own life. And to deny that progress I think is to deny23 America’s24 capacity for change.

  • 21. Antithesis once more: “This is not just an issue…. this is an issue.” Also, “issue” is another bloodless, Beltway, managerial word.
  • 22. Missed opportunity for shout-outs. If Martin Luther King is too contentious, how about Frederick Douglass?
  • 23. An example of conduplicatio, the repetition of a word or words in adjacent phrases or clauses, either to amplify the thought or to express emotion: “To deny… is to deny” amplifies the thought.
  • 24. Not sure the protesters would agree it’s America that has to change (although America would be changed).

But what is also true is that there are still problems and communities of color aren’t just making these problems up. Separating that from this particular decision25, there are issues in which the law too often feels as if it is being applied in discriminatory fashion26. I don’t think that’s the norm.27 I don’t think that’s true for the majority of communities or the vast majority of law enforcement officials. But these are real issues. And we have to lift them up and not deny them or try to tamp them down. What we need to do is to understand them and figure out how do we make more progress. And that can be done .28

  • 25. I can’t figure out who Obama thinks his audience is; and whoever it is, it’s not the protestors or the Mike Brown family. “Problems” is another bloodless word, and who does “aren’t just making these problems up” speak to?
  • 26. The same sort of category error as with “law enforcement”; the law is not sentient; it cannot feel.
  • 27. It most certainly is the norm in Ferguson!
  • 28. A third paragraph ending with the assurance that there must be an action item that is not vague or meaningless.

That won’t be done29 by throwing bottles30. That won’t be done by smashing car windows. That won’t be done by using this as an excuse to vandalize property. And it certainly won’t be done by hurting anybody. So, to those in Ferguson, there are ways of channeling your concerns31 constructively32 and there are ways of channeling your concerns destructively. Michael Brown’s parents understand what it means to be constructive. The vast majority of peaceful protesters, they understand it as well.33

  • 29. Anaphora: “That won’t be done…. That won’t be done…. That won’t be done…. That won’t be done…
  • 30. I’ve said what I have to say on violence above.
  • 31. “Concerns,” like “issues” are bloodless, Beltway, and managerial.
  • 32. Antithesis once more: “Constructively… destructively.”
  • 33. Sounds great, and it would sound much better if we didn’t know that Obama, along with other Democratic mayors and governors, like Missouri’s Jay Nixon, had not organized the 17-city paramilitary crackdown on Occupy. Obama has no respect for peaceful protest whatever.

Those of you who are watching tonight understand that there’s never an excuse for violence34, particularly when there are a lot of people in [sic] goodwill out there who are willing to work on these issues. 35

  • 34. “What never?” “No never!” “What, never?” “Well, hardly ever!” — Gilbert & Sullivan, HMS Pinafore.
  • 35. Again the bloodless, managerial “issues.” There is, I would urge, immense good will among the protesters; but “black lives matter” just isn’t commensurate with “law enforcement in the community.”

On the other hand, those who are only interested in focusing on the violence and just want the problem36 to go away need to recognize that we do have work to do here, and we shouldn’t try to paper it over37. Whenever we do that, the anger38 may momentarily subside, but over time, it builds up and America isn’t everything that it could be39 .

  • 36. “The problem” seems rather ill-defined.
  • 37. Unlike the Grand Jury report itself, all thousands of pages of it.
  • 38. “[T]he anger”? Whose?
  • 39. A fifth paragraph ending a vague or meaningless action item.

And I am confident that if we focus our attention on the problem and we look at what has happened in communities around the country effectively40, then we can make progress41 not just in Ferguson, but in a lot42 of other cities and communities around the country.43

  • 40. “[L]ook at what has happened in … effectively.” Churlish, I know, but does this mean “look at what’s been effective in…”?
  • 41. Whatever that means.
  • 42. Oh? How many?
  • 43. And it just ends. No boilerplate “And may God bless the United States of America,” no nothing. Weird.

* * *

I cannot but think that for some erstwhile Obama supporters — those who believed that Obama was an avatar of racial healing, for example — this must have been a disheartening speech; long stretches of cliche punctutated by falsehoods with occasional interludes of vague promises about policy. An empty, windy, nerveless nothing of a speech, though mercifully short. It’s very sad. Such high hopes. We’re seeing not just a failure to rise to the occasion, but a headlong falling beneath it.

Obama can’t even say that “Black lives matter.” At best, the same White House team that built version 1.0 of the ObamaCare website was curating the Twitter, eh? Inexcusably bad staffwork. So here we are.

[1] I’ve been working on a trope that “one hand grasps, the other manipulates,” as you hold a bottle with one, and open the cap with the other; and so it seems to me that the financial hand grasps, and then the identity hand — in Ferguson, clearly based on race, and that goes for housing too, surprise surprise — manipulates. But it may be the wrong trope, and this might not be the post for it.

[2] Sorry, not renumbering. Sue me.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. ambrit

    No boilerplate ending because he doesn’t know how it will all end, in the real world. I think that this is a man who has internalized a world view that believes that words are the world. Ferguson is showing him in no uncertain terms that this belief is false. He is now beginning to enter a period of personal “rootlessness.”
    I can imagine him having an internal dialogue something like:
    “Despite all of our messaging, those people on the ground still don’t get the greatness of our system.”
    “They insist on rioting and behaving irrationally.”
    “Are they irrational, or am I?”
    “What will this do to my Legacy?”
    “I am a part of the Elite, right?”

    1. James

      The phrase “make progress” is key. In the absence of concrete results (in the right direction!), we need to settle for “make progress” toward something better, which will conveniently always be just out of reach. And so it is that Obama reveals himself yet again to be nothing more than the commercial front man for the people who actually own the place. In his defense I’ll concede that it’s at least possible that he’s a good man held hostage by threat (and which definitely exists in any case, whether or not it’s the sole reason Obama’s become such an unapologetic craven boot licker), but I doubt it. His sellout was confirmed within the first few months of his first taking office in 2009, so I think it’s fair to say he’s a career man in that respect.

      1. ambrit

        Re “commercial front man”…
        I’ve always wondered how much Ronald Reagan controlled his presidency vs. his shadow backers controlling it. How much is a President just a mediator between competing interests? (That is the basic definition of politics, right?)
        In both cases, indeed, in general, strength of character is paramount. A mini thread on another post concerning the role of Philosophy in life comes into play.

        1. Art Eclectic

          I hate to put on my tin-foil hat this early, but my take on it is that no one ascends to a major position of power without being vetted and approved by The Backers (FIRE sector & War sector).

          The President is a mediator between two sides of major political interests and the public. The public is bought off with promises of a bigger share of the economic largess (SS, social programs, ACA, new libraries, etc..) The major political interests are bought off by promises and legislation protecting the business models. Balancing how to keep bribing the public with their own dollars and allowing businesses to keep more of their profits is a delicate act and as soon as one group feels like they are getting too small a slice of the pie you’re out of office at the next election.

    1. sd

      He is. If you are not part of his elite 1% community of the wise all knowing masters of the universe, then ergo, you must be an ignorant loser with little more than a second grade understanding off the world. He’s such an ()*()

  2. PaulArt

    If we have learnt anything from Obum’s two terms and the man himself, we have learnt how incredibly naive, purblind and cloistered elitists are. Their internment into the elitist prison begins when they secure admission to an ivy league school like Harvard, Princeton or MIT. From thereon they never get to see or experience the real world. Obama’s obsession in his first term with getting GOPer votes can only be explained by his intimacy with people like Bob Rubin and Bill Clinton and the DLC morons. These people really believe that one can do business with the GOPers. Rubin drinks the ‘bipartisan’ Kool-Aid because he got most of his highway robbery bank legislation passed with GOPer help. So when Obums becomes Rubin’s protege, it is easy to understand where this bipartisan apple sauce that boils in Obum’s frontal lobe came from. When we extrapolate from the case file of Obums we can also easily gauge the strength of the rot that has set into the Ivy league schools. Look at Obum’s cabinet and all his appointments in the executive cadre, all elitist morons, every single person. All of them cloistered jackasses not unlike the children of noblemen in the 15th century. The exception that some of these cretins have middle class backgrounds actually works in reverse because they are brushing shoulders with the 0.1% permanently rich ‘Blue Bloods’ and it is so easy with their background of poverty to be overawed and impressed and say something so fatuous as, ‘Jamie Dimon is a great friend and great banker’. This is what Obums is. An academically bright but intellectually shallow man with zero understanding of how society can work for the good of all. The Obums of this world, their lives are spent mostly whining and pawing at the windows of the grand castles of the ‘permanent 0.1%’. Their entry into such circles will never be accomplished.

    1. Gerard Pierce

      A minor quibble: These people really believe that one can do business with the GOPers because they ARE doing business with the GOPers – while pretending that they are an opposition party.

      1. jrs

        Maybe that’s the speech’s target, GOP voters. I mean I can see them saying “Obama was really presidential in that speech, I don’t like Obama but he put it well” (well the type that will give Obama credit when they agree with him).

    2. Doug Terpstra

      Superb diagnosis of elite sociopathy. Almost makes me feel sorry for Obama, trapped in his guilded cage, almost. Almost, because elite sociopathy, a depraved and reprobate mind, is a carefully, consciously acquired blindness.

      1. jo

        Well, Obama is trapped…trapped by the truth. Folks, sad as it is, and as much as we’d like not to believe it, this hulking troubled violent youth committed the proverbial ‘suicide by cop.’ IF you attack a police officer AND you go for his/her weapon AND you ignore repeated orders to stop, you are likely to be shot. Probably even shot to death. Yes, there are conflicting accounts of what happened –after– the struggle through the car window but at that point the situation had only one possible ‘good’ outcome based on standard police protocol; subject lying on ground with cuffs on. Police officers are not trained to drive away and let obviously dangerous individuals go about their business–even if back-up is on the way. If you lived on that street would you want to see that? Wilson didn’t drive away, no, he proceeded to do his job, a dangerous one, which was to arrest Michael Brown. At this point you have to choose which story to believe, the one told by the officer and the most credible witnesses or the one/s told by others. Given the forensic evidence and the circumstantial evidence of Michael’s history (including very recent assault) it’s hard to remain on Michael Brown’s side. Yes, Obama was trapped… by the truth.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          “hulking troubled violent youth” Oh, jeez. Can you deploy any more tropes? Troubled enough to be going to college (though granted, if he was going to a frat at UVa, I might be willing to consider looking into “troubled”).

          NOTE “Conflicting accounts” are why we have trials, if there’s a prima facie case for conviction. McCullough systematically avoided building that case. I wonder why?

        2. OIFVet

          “Wilson didn’t drive away, no, he proceeded to do his job, a dangerous one, which was to arrest Michael Brown”.

          Interesting. Given the spate of police murders of unarmed civilians I had been left with the impression that their job was to kill first and let friendly prosecutors and union lawyers get them off the hook. And “hulking”? It’s hard to find footage of storm police lately where well-fed large white boys don’t dominate the scene of a police murder or brutal Occupy crackdown.

      2. hunkerdown

        “Guilded” — nice pun, neoliberalism being about professionalizing the bureaucracy and all…

      1. hunkerdown

        For real. Anyone invoking Hanlon’s Razor in this day and age ought to be humiliated in the town square until they cry like Nancy Kerrigan.

    3. James

      If we have learnt anything from Obum’s two terms and the man himself, we have learnt how incredibly naive, purblind and cloistered elitists are.

      Not that you’re wrong, but your tones sounds dangerously close to making excuses for them. This latest mess in Ferguson is just completely beyond the pale, from the entire Obama administration all the way down to the Ferguson PD. At some point we all have to stop scratching our heads and wondering if these idiots can actually be that tone deaf, and simply say that this crap is just plain CRIMINALLY WRONG coming from anyone of either party, at any time, and in any place, and NO, THIS F***ING SH*T JUST AIN’T ACCEPTABLE ANYMORE!

      What Obama’s response to Ferguson tells me is that he’s not merely another benign tumor on the American zeitgeist, as my previous most optimistic assessment of him would have it, but that he’s indeed part of the larger aggressive malignancy that grips the world today. Is that a hopelessly naive statement in light of the fact that Obama’s open checkbook for the MIC’s assorted wars of opportunity for the past 6 years have totally eclipsed those of his predecessor? Probably. But it is what it is nonetheless. Human consciousness and biases being what they are, it’s always amazing what it is exactly that causes a person to wake up and finally say, “NOW I GET IT!” But I have to say, the Michael Brown lynching has finally done it for me.

  3. Vince in MN

    Poor Obama. Clearly the job has taken a toll and his great oratorical skill is in decline. Never one for much substance, now he even scores badly on style points.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      I’m not so sure. When your goal is to reassure self-righteous white trash and sanctimonious liberals that “there is never [ever] an excuse for violence [except by the president, police or military]” then the usual exalted oratory of ivy-leagalese is probably counterproductive. As for Black “folks” the pot shouldn’t condescend to or patronize the kettles when preaching about violence — a bit too reminiscent of the lecherous Bill Cosby. I think it struck just the right chord: vague, vacuous, morally amiguous, and utterly without commitment to any action whatsoever.

      1. Art Eclectic

        Violence is only condoned when done at scale (billions of dollars) in a well planned resource grab. This petty stuff is not to be tolerated, the big players can’t make enough money at it.

  4. JoeK

    His supposed rhetorical gifts have been a chimera since he first became well-known 10 years ago, likewise his supposed “brilliance,” as anyone who’s actually spent time at one of our best universities can attest to. He’s always been a con man, and conned progressives twice.

    It’s understood that he didn’t write this speech, some of his hacks did, but you can’t get through a freshman English course (or couldn’t when he attended) without getting immediately called out for unattributed “this”es. That’s really a sophomoric, ahem, mistake. But I quibble.

    The content is truly disgusting, even by the LCD standards we’re now holding him and every other public figure to. Using the father’s words of generosity and healing against his family and countless other victims of racism is disingenuous, to choose the least offensive term that comes to mind, and he knows it is. What a lickspittle he’s become, or rather revealed himself, again, to be.

    1. James Levy

      Do you remember George Schultz, the Secretary of State? He went to Princeton in the late 1940s. He was totally incapable of making a public speech–even reading one. And how about George Herbert Walker? Or Dubya? They went to Ivies in what we’ve all been told was a “golden age of higher learning.” None of them could speak coherently or extemporaneously worth a damn. So go a little lighter on the “Obama couldn’t have passed Freshman English”, please. You don’t have to be a product of affirmative action to have learned nothing from what might have been a superb education if you gave a shit about it as anything but a finishing school and a place to make connections.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        And Eisenhower was a famous mumbler. Then again, Eisenhower wasn’t sold as the greatest orator of his time, and didn’t get tipped as Presidential timber on the basis of a convention speech. Obama and his supporters set the bar very high for themselves.

        1. Joek

          What Lambert said.
          I’ll add that very generally speaking, there were two types of students in the particular school I went to, and I’d wager this is, or was, widely true: those who got in on the strength of their academics, and those who got in because of connections, familial or otherwise. I think we all know which camp the Bushes fall into.

          Next, to quote one of my profs., sloppy writing indicates sloppy thinking.

          Last, what Lambert said above. So to LS, thanks for your work!

  5. semiconscious

    his speechwriters continue to milk the ‘mad libs’ formula, i see (in more ways than one :) )…

    me, i still prefer watching what they do, & not listening to what they say. i feel there’s little to be learned or gained from attempting to analyze the words of these pathological liars / con artists, other than that they’re every bit as deeply disturbed as one might imagine…

    1. James

      He got his seat at the Big House main table for the big holiday feast. After that, all else is gravy, which is the slop he was serving up here. Holiday leftovers for the help. Come git it y’all! Even the dogs turned their nose up at this shite.

  6. mad as hell.

    History’s door is starting to close on Obama’s presidency. While he looks back in contemplation as to what he has accomplished there is not much there. Couple of wars that are reigniting, a give away healthcare program that enriches the industry while screwing the general population. Surveillance on a Orwellian scale. Race relations on almost a civil war level. I could continue with decline of the American middle class, bankruptcies, failed government programs, crapification of institutions and industry. Enough.

    So in order to make that Presidential library in Chicago have some pretty glitzy displays, he better start swinging for the fences with his executive mandates on immigration and pollution. Filling those display cases is gonna take some work. Some how I don’t think an interactive cash for clunkers display is going to be worth a trip to the Chicago Presidential library.

    1. OIFVet

      I keep hoping against hope that the library will end up in Hawaii rather than on the South Side. Unfortunately the University of Chicago has too much pull, and Obama’s Chicago FIRE benefactors too much profit at stake: the library will be a perfect opportunity to gentrify yet another part of the South Side and push poor black people out. Yet that will be a rather fitting compliment to the legacy of the first half-black prez. That, and Obama’s Section 8 pre-presidency scams with Valerie Jarrett, ought to fill out a few displays…

      1. optimader

        He is surely too vain to have the library left justified out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
        Putting it in Chicago enables easy consumer impressions allowing the fiction to be polished, so I’m guessing that’s a done deal. A good location for the Library would be adjacent to the Star Wars Museum, leverage it thematically as part of a Fantasy Campus.
        I would be horrified if I were a residential neighbor and BHO decides to maintain the family residence as part of the charade, which would be consistent with locating the Library in Chicago.. If I were in a a 3 block radius my house would be on the market now. His street will be Jersey barriered in perpetuity and the surrounding streets will be similarly “secured”. Police state havoc in an urban environment.
        BHO is the first white president who happens to be ethnically half black. Most of his right wing detractors still haven’t figured that one out yet.

        1. OIFVet

          It’s pretty much a done deal. What’s left to be determined is the exact location: either somewhere in Washington Park by Midway, or in Woodlawn just south of Midway, or else in Bronzeville on part of the land formerly occupied by Michael Reese hospital. Either place will result in major displacement of black people, and lots of condos and Michelin-starred restaurants to attract the very Lakefront Liberals who hypocritically bemoan the plight of poor black people even as they keep voting for Obama and Rahm Emanuel. My guess is Woodlawn: plenty of (currently) cheap land and very close to campus, Jackson Park next door and currently undergoing extensive and expensive renovation to restore it to Olmsted’s original vision.

          As for his residence, the area has been jersey-barriered since early 2008, with permanent police and SS presence. I am sick of showing the area to every out-of-town friend that comes to visit. I hope that rumor of him buying a place in California is true: every time he comes to Hyde Park everything gets blocked and displaced.

          1. optimader

            It will play out to be the most monetizable location for the developers..

            As for the residence, yes of course it is secured now. From the perspective of a neighborhood resident , it had the prospect of becoming a normal neighborhood again if the BHOs sold it, but as a consequence of the successful bid for second term, and the location of the library all but confirmed as being located in Chicago it is unlikely the residence will ever become a conventional private home again, so the neighbors have a low prospect of living in a normal quiet neighborhood in the future.

            1. OIFVet

              “It will play out to be the most monetizable location for the developers”

              Absolutely. I just don’t see Chicago State and UIC as competitive; CSU because it is too far from the loop and its site is too close for comfort to the Koch brothers’ petcoke heaps, and UIC because it already gentrified the Halsted corridor and there really isn’t much room for additional developments. Most of all, neither of them have the political connections and mullah of the University of Chicago. It wants to attract the Harvard crowd instead of the crowd that had to “settle” for it. Obama’s library is part of the strategy for that.

              That said, its Garfield location is crap compared to Jackson Park – it is further from the Lakefront and not nearly as nice as Jackson Park from “creative class” perspective. Plus: Jackson Park golf course for Obama!!! Bronzeville has lots going for it: Rahm overpaid for the Michael Reese site and wants a return on the investment. No better way than to drop the library there, and the site is close to the Loop and just across Lake Shore Drive from the Lakefront. Lots of room for condo developments, retail developments, parks. Perfect site with the best profit upside, and still very close to Hyde Park.

              1. OIFVet

                Duh, how could I forget: the Garfield location is also bad because it is on the other side of Martin Luther King Drive. Major psychological and physical barrier from the perspective of white people. Even though it would celebrate the “first white president who happens to be ethnically half-black.” I like that observation BTW.

              2. optimader

                UofC makes sense, an easy historical thread to reengage for the narrative and that’s where his pal David Axelrod dropped anchor w/ his “Institute of Politics”. They can riff off each other.

          2. hunkerdown

            I’d prefer he alight for Paraguay. Seems he’d get a better reception from his art-loving neighbors down thataway.

        2. DJG

          Rahm is currently trying to put some kind of basketball stadium for DePaul U on the Michael Reese plot, which makes no sense, given that DePaul is some five miles away, but there’s that TIF money in the TIF slush fund just itching to be spent.

          The comment about the Lucas museum of narrative art (or whatever it is) is amusing. The proposed design is a giant vampire squid, a symbol of how cities that once had industrial might and middle classes are now “world class” if they are playgrounds for the wealthy.

          I have a feeling that the University of Chicago will get the prez library and the chance to create its site. The intense desire at UChicago (its new official brand) to be “world class” has sent them into all kinds of pretzel logic, even more pretzelly than years of Friedman and Becker caused.

          1. OIFVet

            The DePaul Arena: another private enrichment scam financed with money taken away from the public schools, with a budget that has now ballooned to $250 million (http://www.nbcchicago.com/blogs/ward-room/DePaul-Arena-Price-Balloons-to-250-million-report-283066111.html). Money quote (literally): “the two sides are struggling with a price tag that has soared to as much as $250 million, about 75 percent more than the original estimate” of $140 million”. It is a replay of the Millenium Park scam, only this time the land for the development is going from property tax revenue producing private ownership to property tax exempt public ownership. Rahm’s criminal sociopathy knows no bounds.

            You are wrong about the location though: the Arena is to be just north of McCormick Place West, on Cermak. Additionally, upscale hotel and retail spaces will be built to compliment the arena. The $55 million in TIF money will go toward the hotel now, because DePaul decided not to accept them for the arena after the heavy public shaming that was heaped upon it. Rahm had a ready solution for what to do with the public largess though: give it to Marriott. Playground for the rich financed with property tax dollars diverted from the public schools: welcome to Rahm’s Chicago. I never thought I would say this, but Rahm makes Richie Daley seem like an honest advocate for the working class in comparison.

            1. DJG

              I keep up by reading Ben Joravsky’s coverage. Adjacent to McCormick Place? You’re right, and I misinterpreted the location (that explains the whole issue of trying to condemn even more private property than I suspected). That area is already a traffic disaster, too. And money to Marriott? Why not Hyatt? I avoided voting for Richie, but at least he wanted Chicago to be like Paris. With the Barack / Rahm / Arne / Pritzker crowd, we’re going to be the gringo version of Tegucigalpa.

              1. OIFVet

                No one covers Rahm’s reign of theft and police malfeasance better than Joravsky and Mick Dumke. As for Hyatt, they had already got their share of the TIF pie to build on 53rd and Lake park in Hyde Park. Gave Penny Pritzker too many headaches because she was on the unelected school board too when the transfer of TIF money from the schools to the Hyatt happened. I guess it was Marriott’s turn to feed at the public trough.

                Very illustrating, isn’t it, that so many of the white players around Obama feed on TIF money diverted from the CPS, whose enrollment is majority black children?

        3. Doug Terpstra

          Jersey barriers are so ugly and off-putting (and doubtful the permanent destruction of I-80 could spare any). More aesthetic and appropriate: moat and drawbridge, in Versailles style, with fountains and parterres. Might require a bit more urban “renewal”, but the real estate reverends would love that.

          1. OIFVet

            There already is such property a block and a half away from his current house. It has the fountain and everything except for the moat but that’s easy to fix. I even think it is currently listed, but a simple sale might make the Revs, the developers, and UChicago feel left out. You are right, let’s have Urban Renewal Part Deux and push some black people out.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        I read the comment in isolation, and thought you were talking about Ferguson; apparently there’s been a plan to gentrify West Florrissant Avenue since 2012. It’s almost like the same playbook is being used all across the country (with variations for the local venue, naturally).

        1. OIFVet

          I feel that way too. Matter of fact I had originally written that Chicago is a larger Ferguson but edited it out. I shouldn’t have, much like Ferguson local government relies on fines aimed in large part at minorities and the poor in order to fill out the budget, CPD kills unarmed black men regularly (and even had the infamous torturer Detective Burge), and the local black misleadership (including the real estate reverends and aldercreatures) are firmly committed to being good house negros for the white “elites”.

          1. ambrit

            I give them more credit than that. Racism may be a fact of life on Planet Earth, but Classism is much more pervasive and insidious.

    2. James

      In the end, it will probably be revealed that BHK’s only true purpose was to discredit minorities in positions of power. Regardless of what happens in the next two years, I’d say he’s been a resounding success.

    3. different clue

      He remains focused on the money he will be paid after leaving office for what he did for various rich people and groups while in office. As long as he gets all the beautiful money, he will consider his place in history rather secondarily.

  7. Uahsenaa

    Slight rhetorical quibble: “feel” here is being used in its copular (A =/~ B) sense and not transitively, as when someone says, “that feels good.” The inflection of sensation/perception is being applied to the person enunciating the statement, not the explicit subject of the sentence.

    Which is, to my mind, even more insulting and bordering on victim blaming. The problem, according to the fairy tales of PR speak, is not that there are discriminatory policies in place but rather our perception (with the implication of false perception) that they are discriminatory. If we just “communicate” better rather than, oh I dunno, actually eliminate the policies/activities in question, then everything will be a-ok. This then feeds back into the PR fantasia, which will then be mustered to produce ever more contorted propaganda to convince us that something that does demonstrable harm to the citizenry is somehow in everyone’s best interests.

    1. Anon

      Less a “slight rhetorical quibble” and more a critical insight into a common political manipulative tactic — the use of a sympathetic identifier to subtly mask a dismissive stance the speaker adopts towards his audience.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      You could be right; and I like the idea of a category error used as a sleight-of-hand form of dismissal.

      Nevertheless, “that feels good” implies something that “that” is; a touch, for example.

      “That feels good”

      “The cool air feels good.”

      “Bare feet feel good.”

      “The feel-good movie of the year.”

      I think if we substitute in “the law feels good” it’s weird; so weird your reading never occurred to me. But if corrected, I stand corrected!

      1. Uahsenaa

        Regardless of which parse is correct–I agree that it’s weird–the phrase “feels as if” is remarkably condescending and yet flies under the radar of what qualifies as patently offensive. It’s reminiscent of what you might say to a teenager after their first big break up, “now, dear, I know it feels as if the world is ending…” meaning, the world is not, in fact, ending, so get over yourself. Except, in this case, it really is discriminatory, so to come along like “the voice of reason” and try to assuage the “children” (another offensive trope so often applied to people of color) that it only feels like discrimination, and thereby invalidate their justifiable anger, is cruel and demeaning.

        Anyway, to reinforce my point about the copular, you could substitute some form of “to be” for most of your examples (obviously not “feel-good”) and still be left with a perfectly grammatical statement, albeit without the same nuance, e.g. “that is good,” “the cool air is good,” “bare feet are good,” etc.

  8. Oink oink snuffle squeal

    Thank you for reprinting the impunity manifesto of mealy-mouthed shitstain Barack Obama. Despicable Tom Barack Obama also mumbled plenty o’ diversion and misdirection, the traditional mainstay of speeches devoted to Getting Away With It. That’s harder to get at with specific ripostes.

    This guy dissects a related apology for another government crime that came up in Geneva. The writer is way too obsequious but for all the groveling and cringing he does finally get at the rigged pageantry of redress that is central to US government criminal enterprise.

    A central part of the impunity ritual was putting fetching spokesmodel Barack Obama up there to say some bullshit at the foregone conclusion of the joke grand jury, almost as if the outcome mattered. The pig is going to retire and live in a cheesy development full of pigs. The speech he gives to the other pigs celebrating how he got away with it, that’s the speech I want to hear.

  9. Demeter

    I would pay good money not to have to listen, read, or think about Barack Obama ever again.

    He could have phoned this in. It has less life than reading from a phone book, in fact.

  10. grayslady

    Shorter Obama: I really don’t want to be tagged as an “angry black man”, so I’m handing over all efforts at soothing race relations to Eric Holder, who, in case you’ve forgotten, has already turned in his resignation. By the way, since Mr. Holder believes it is okay to kill Americans without due process, please don’t expect much from him.

    1. James Levy

      It’s amazing how much these people’s programming, whether it comes from within or from elite backers, sticks. How can Obama witness all this, and the hate directed at him by millions of people who just despise him for being half-black, and just fob it off with mealy-mouthed twaddle? Why doesn’t he get mad? His career is over. His presidency has effectively slipped away. Is there nothing within him that says, “what the hell?” He is such a bizarre, twisted, and damaged individual, in style so different from his predecessor yet in some ways strangely like him; it’s as if the psychopathology of those aspiring to the presidency has locked in place the types who will grab the big brass ring now and going forward.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Delusion is a helluva a drug. Obama is simply the most prominent Obot, but he is no different than the Obots except he’ll still be obsessed with himself when he is no longer on the public scene. When the crowds don’t show up to applaud Obama, it won’t be Obama’s fault but ours for not clapping sufficiently.

  11. Kokuanani

    Given how much of the speech is highlighted in brown, perhaps that color should stand for “bullshit.”

  12. DJG

    Lambert on the locution “needs to”: I agree that it has to be wiped out. “I need to” these days very seldom describes a need. As an editor and writer, I keep seeing sentences like, “You need to learn isotope numbers.” That is not a need. Typically, the speaker / writer wants to use “need” (which describes things like sleep, eating, health) rather than address the thorny problem of moral obligations, which would lead to the dreaded words “should” or “must” or “ought” (a verb nearly obsolete in American English).

    1. hunkerdown

      Good catch. That’s managerialism run amok for you. (Funny how Third Wayers unironically pledge allegiance to one of Newt Gingrich’s favorite axioms and still have the effrontery to call themselves “Democrats” of any sort.)

    2. Jeff W

      Ben Yagoda, professor of journalism and English, said “…need to is just the thing for the currently very popular tense I call the kindergarten imperative, as in, ‘I need you to put away your crayons now,’” and described the phrase as “slightly infantilizing and definitely underhanded” back in 2006.

  13. DJG

    I think that Obama is trapped in several poorly built structures, and ironically, he seems also to have inherited the moral laziness of his father. [I don’t want to do more than put that out there as an irony, because it is more likely to be coincidence.] Obama was brought up largely in Hawaii, where racial relations and categories are different. I sometimes wonder if he doesn’t understand the urgency of the mainland racial mess. Although the the original sin in Hawaii was the destruction of the native population, the forcible conversion of the bewildered remnant to evangelical Protestantism, and the overthrow of the monarchy, slavery was not a factor. That isn’t much of an out. I think that Obama’s elite and protected education–which extends all the way back to the early grades–is not an adequate explanation. Harvard and Columbia have produced their share of radicals. What concerns me most about Obama is that he is all tactics and no strategy, the perfect lieutenant, the perfect junior executive. What concerns me is his supposed moderation, which seems more fearful than moderate. What concerns me has been his willingness to squander his advantages, the majorities in both houses of Congress, international goodwill, the intense desire for productive change in the populace. In the end, his strategy of squandering has led him to rely on moral absurdities like the remote-control killing of Osama bin Laden as accomplishments. He is the perfect postmodern president–lots of talk, lots of mixed-up categories, few deeply held beliefs, all to allow the experiment of the Enlightenment and modernity to burn out.

    1. jrs

      Yea from what I’ve heard the racial issues in Hawaii are different, mostly focusing on Hawaiian natives versus mostly white non-natives. There seems to be a strong native movement, which some whites feel excluded from. No comment on any of that, but that has little to do with the realities in Ferguson. But how much book knowledge does it really take to understand the Ferguson issues? I mean we’re not talking some “yokel” from Hawaii who has never been outside of the state.

  14. Paul Niemi

    The remarks met a rather low bar, but I have noticed the President seems tired. Thinking about the topic, I realized I know very little about the White House staff devoted to legislation. I have heard there is a 270 person National Security staff, located just across an alley, but I don’t know who in the executive writes legislation, and little is reported about that. By contrast, Presidents like Johnson and Nixon had big staffs for legislation, and they generated proposals to address most all problems that emerged in the news. Whether or not the legislation went anywhere was beside the point, it was written and put in play. Today, there is a sense that little can be done about much of anything, and trying legislative fixes seems pointless. For a long time, I have thought that this Presidency would benefit from a chief of staff who actually knows how to write legislation. I would love to see outgoing Senator Tom Harkin as the next staff chief. That may not happen, but he is an example of someone who has the traditional Democratic party values written in his bones. I’m talking about the values that were widely admired, before all the neo-liberal policy and rhetoric began debasing the base. Well, its a thought. Now that the Republicans are in majority in both houses of Congress, having a legislative expert heading the White House staff would seem to make sense.

    1. hunkerdown

      Nobody in the Executive writes legislation per se (in theory) — but the Office of Legal Counsel does write Executive orders and memoranda.

      Now that the Republicans are in majority in both houses of Congress, having a legislative expert heading the White House staff would seem to make sense.

      Why, when the GOP will do everything Obama ever wanted and eagerly, proudly wear the label of “heel”? Harkin as CoS would never happen. The Democratic Party doesn’t bend that way anymore.

  15. Mel

    “I’ve been working on a trope that “one hand grasps, the other manipulates,” … ”

    I would have trouble seeing that. I see an ambidextrous response with a neoliberal hand that holds and handles using financial means, and a neoconservative hand using violence, as the situation may require. It’s the two systems that Jane Jacobs described in Systems of Survival, combined in a conspiracy to commit whatever acts the situation may require.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      How interesting. I have Systems of Survival, I should shovel it out and look at it again. (I’m worried about it as a trope because it’s binary, although I suppose when you consider what is grasped, it’s trinary (better)).

    1. James Levy

      It’s hard to say if he is worse than Bush because Bush had such powerful enablers and could be seen as doing something–most of it stupid and/or counterproductive, but something. Obama has always seemed incapable or thwarted in public perception, and that for a president is deadly. We here might speculate on the “inside game” and how much of the neoliberal and neoconservative agenda he was able to either get into effect or avoid doing anything to prevent while pretending to be what most Americans think a “Democrat” is, but I think the average person simply sees a man unwilling or unable to do anything positive in the public interest.

      1. James

        Which is to say, the “average” person sees a man – an elected president after all – unable and/or unwilling to act on their duly elected interests. Is that a crime? If not, perhaps we should get to work on defining it as such.

  16. Jay M

    I admit a certain nostalgia for Bush 2. Better a straightforward blackguard than a disingenuous hypocrite. I additionally did not expect Obama to be so qualitatively worse than Clinton, though wasn’t expecting him to be much better.

    1. neo-realist

      Bush 2’s re-election gave us Roberts and Alito. While we may not have gotten all that effective a Presidency for Main Street from Kerry, he wouldn’t have installed such right wing troglodytes on the SC.

      1. Splashoil

        Democrats such as my Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell enabled the nominations of Alito and Roberts in a carefully scripted dance: first they vote to end the filibuster when they know the votes are there to get them in. Then they vote against the respective nominations in classic kabuki. Which team do you like the best? Washington Generals or the Harlem Globetrotters?

        1. neo-realist

          I understand that Vichy democrats are a huge problem. My main point is that a Democratic figurehead as opposed to a Republican one in the oval office wouldn’t have selected such extreme right wingers to the SC regardless of the composition of democrats and republicans in Congress.

  17. ian

    I don’t know why this is such a surprise.
    Obama is not really that good of an orator – he is way overrated. His use of language is ok, but I don’t find his speeches really motivate or inspire anyone. I find I can’t remember a word he said in any of his speeches an hour afterwards.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      He is a spectacle. The only profound statement Obama has ever made was a recognition people projected their values on him, and Obama has a nice little story in a country racked with racism and filled with non-nuclear families which are often treated as secondary.

      There is an Obama at every local Chamber of Commerce. They just lack his story.

  18. Keynesian

    Officer Wilson’s police report of his actions and Brown’s leaves out critical information that would give an entirely different interpretation of the events. One important question is who first made physical contact, Wilson or Brown. According to one eye witness report Officer Brown was the first to make physical contact by grabbing Brown by the throat while still seated in the patrol car. This doesn’t appear to be good police practice to reach out of the patrol car and grab a person by the throat and goes against all principles of officer safety for how to approach a suspect. There is a method of choking a suspect that is taught by police academies and involves very specific steps in order to avoid lawsuits. And even the official method of choking is only used in extreme cases since choking could cause cholesterol to break from the carotid artery resulting in a stroke. I believe there is no police department in the United States that teaches its officer to choke a person with one hand while sitting in a patrol car because most suspects can escape a one handed choke hold.

    A person grabbed by any chocking throat hold will try to break free just out of reflex in order to breathe. The breathing reflex is the key to this shooting. Any officer can choke a person with one hand and that person–it doesn’t matter who they are–will try to breathe by escaping the hold and this is the foundation Wilson used to claim Brown was resisting arrest. As Brown tried to get a breath of air, Wilson could now claim Brown was resisting arrest and then upholstered his service. Brown’s DNA inside the patrol car was the result of being pulled inside by Wilson and then shot at close range. Of course, any person who hears “I am going to shoot you” and seeing a firearm pointed at them will put their hand up to vain attempt to block a bullet—that also is a reflex. With Brown struggling to breathe, and then raising his hand, as he was about to be shot, Brown could later interpret the struggle as an assault and resisting arrest. Officer Wilson had carefully thought out this sequence beforehand that uses the arrestee’s own reflexes to breathe as an alibi for charging them with resisting arrest, or for a set up to use deadly force.

    1. James

      Save your breath. This has all been rehashed ad nauseum already.

      The Coward Darren Wilson and TPTB are lying. Period. Does anything after that really matter? There now, wasn’t that easier?

    2. Jim in SC

      This is getting more and more nonsensical. Who would reach out a car window and grab someone by the throat? Who is so slow as to not be able to simply step aside and avoid the grab? Physics and physiology are all on the side of the person standing outside the car.

  19. cripes

    “in which the law too often feels as if it is being applied in discriminatory fashion”
    Yeah, a truly bad choice of words ( did Obama or his scripters do this? I suspect Obama), in which he is not-so-clearly implying that people “feel”–not that the law feels. Subject object confusion I believe, not actually meaning what was said.
    Otherwise James, yeah, this gibberish can be reduced to a dissembling sack o’ sh*t.
    I notice that, although we understand the Obummer is a paid flack for TBTF and corporate interests everywhere, it astounds how the (lack of) character in the man prevents him from ever standing for anything, anywhere, ever.
    If presented with a choice of mustard or ketchup for his hot dog, the douche would, dare I say, drone on interminably until the server simply dumped the lot on his plate and walked off.

  20. djrichard

    He lost me @ “So I want to just say a few words suggesting how we might move forward”.

    What a fool and what a tin ear. This is pure emotions at this time. And he wants to move forward. I can’t imagine his wife lets him get by with that tactic. What makes him think it works differently in this context.

    Protesting is the equivalent of “can you hear me now?”. Obama is basically saying he’s not interested in listening or having any type of conversation with the protesters or people who represent them. Instead he’s heard enough; he’s now willing to jump in with his supposed solutions, to move the conversation forward, when there hasn’t been one, so there doesn’t need to be one.

  21. cripes

    “I can’t imagine his wife lets him get by with that tactic.”

    For some insight into the thinking of Mrs. Obama, a cursory review of her college thesis entitled “Princeton—Educated Blacks and the Black Community by Michelle LaVaughn Robinson” helps.
    I think it can be summarized thusly: How can I get in the elite?
    She’s with Barry pawing at Jamie Dimon’s window hoping he will let them in.

  22. Sam Kanu

    “Community law enforcement”? Yeah, would like to hear more about his ideas of community law enforcement on Wall St. Isn’t it time they straighteb out their act and “pull their pants up”?

  23. dannyc

    10. “Community.” All I can say — I don’t really have an interpretation for how neo-liberalism hijacked the the concept; readers? — is that maybe somebody on the White House speechwriting staff thought that resurrecting Obama’s past as a community organizer would be useful.

    From today’s links : Documents Show How eBay’s Meg Whitman and Pierre Omidyar Conspired to Steal Craigslist’s Secrets — Mark Ames, Pando

    “Enter eBay founder and chairman Pierre Omidyar. As early as May 2004, court documents allege, eBay’s executives understood that Omidyar was their best and stealthiest weapon vis-a-vis Craigslist. The founder’s disarming demeanor and New Age cant about “values” and “community” was exactly the sort of thing Craigslist’s two legendary founders, Craig Newmark and Jim Buckmaster, wanted to hear. Omidyar could convincingly talk the Craigslist talk, even though in reality he walked the Big Tech billionaire walk.

    “Omidyar told them all the things they wanted to hear…”

    It’s not unlike how neo-liberals hijacked the term “reform.”
    Telling people what they want to hear, isn’t that the point of polling and focus groups? Isn’t that what the neo-liberal Media does?

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