The Anti-Information President

President Barack Obama, speaking this past weekend at the commencement ceremony at Hampton University

And with iPods and iPads; and Xboxes and PlayStations — none of which I know how to work — (laughter) — information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation. So all of this is not only putting pressure on you; it’s putting new pressure on our country and on our democracy.
…combined two of the uglier strains of thought that have succeeded over the past century in knocking the classical liberalism out of modern liberalism, namely…
  • That regular folks need to be protected from information because, unlike the elites who have had truth revealed to them, common folks cannot be expected to separate information that is important from information that is not, and
  • That the flow of information must be controlled in a way so that what does reach the people is in service of a proper revolutionary purpose.
Both the left and the center in this country really need to give some consideration to what it means for the leader of the free world to be telling college students that the free flow of information is dangerous to democracy.

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Jake
Jake
11 years ago

Wow, reading (or listening) comprehension problems?
He’s bemoaning exactly the OPPOSITE of what youre claiming. His complaint is that many of these devices serve only as entertainment devices for many, distracting them from paying attention to real issues. He’s asking them to use information technology FOR knowledge and information, not as a glitzy distraction from reality.
That’s why he highlighted *gaming* devices like the Playstation, as opposed to, say, the Internet.
I happen to disagree with his notion that this is a serious issue, but his point has meriit we could debate.
But somehow I think you know this and are just eager to spin anything Obama says into a negative.

Russ
Russ
11 years ago

I always suspected that AnchorRising bloggers got their information on foreign policy from Xbox. Now it’s confirmed!

Russ
Russ
11 years ago

You stealing your ideas directly from the John Birch Society now?
The Chilling Effect of Obama’s Attack on the iPad

So I run down most hurriedly
And joined up with the John Birch Society
I got me a secret membership card
And started off a-walkin’ down the road
Yee-hoo, I’m a real John Bircher now!
Look out you Commies!

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

Stated like a fool.
What he said is the equiv. of what responsible parents and teachers have been saying for decades….
TURN OFF TH TV AND READ AND HAVE ACTUAL EXPERIENCES.
Sometimes, in your zealous quest to find a plot behind every word, you miss the point!
So, let me get this straight. If we ONLY have a desktop and a laptop, and no ipad or xbox, that allows Obama to control the flow of information.
What a sad reach.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
11 years ago

I own no video gaming gear-never did.
I have no Ipod,Ipad,Blackberry,Laptop,MP3 player(what is it anyway?)-I do have a desktop(obviously)and LOTS of books and dvd’s.TV generally sucks except for CSPAN,History,TLC,Discovery,Travel Channel and a few other things.
Obama is not out to lunch here-we’ve become a little TOO wired maybe and we’re forgetting what life’s about.
I opposed getting a PC because I thought the internet was inimical to real reading.Instead I found it to be a greaat source to pursue even further reading and a good place to research things as long as you keep the same critical eye you’d have when picking up a book.
It’s not a medium that can be faulted-it’s the use of that medium.
The Internet is super for shopping-saves a lot of energy use as opposed to driving around to compare prices and availibility.
Just my 2 cents here.I don’t see this issue as political at all.

OldTimeLefty
11 years ago

Thank you Jake, Russ and Stuart for taking air out of Carrol Morse’s ridiculous balloon.
Notice how he found no words for the Gulf oil spill, but that’s a real problem that goes beyond Mr. Morse’s political myopia.
OldTimeLefty

Falstaff
Falstaff
11 years ago

Get ready. This will be the right-wing meme of the week that Obama said verbatim “Unfiltered information is dangerous”. Of course, if you read the whole speech (context is not your strong point fellows, I get it…..which is why the irony of the musing is not lost on me) you find that the filter Obama is referring to is the college education these graduates have now. But of course, we all know, the Ivy League educated Conservative pundits such as Laura and Ann like to rail on academia and all that liberal dogma cluttering egghead’s minds while they preach to their “unfiltered” base.

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

Yes, Andrew, knowing via facebook that your friends baby just farted is not a threat to the free world. Neither is the inability to see Obamas Kenyan Birth Certificate in 3-D.
Of course, the right wing pundits must never have read about Obamas technology guru and the incredible advances in one year in what can be found online…..
http://www.whitehouse.gov/open
Inconvenient facts…

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
11 years ago

Stuart-I know you’re soooo smart and all,but the crack about Obama’s”Kenyan birth certificate”made me think of something.
Obama could be a dual or triple citizen even though he was born in Hawaii.
Here’s how-if Kenyan immigration is similar to ours,and I have no idea if it is,he would’ve derived Kenyan citizenship through his father.Or could have,depending on the intircacies of their laws.He could POSSIBLY have acquired Indonesian citizenship by virtue of being adopted by Mr.Soetoro.
Again,I didn’t have to learn Indonesian and Kenyan immigration law in the Academy,so ??.
Just saying that a person can have multiple citizenships just by being born to particular people.It takes no affirmative act and it doesn’t affect anything that I know of except it may allow someone to legally hold a few different passports.
A person’s US citizenship is untouched by merely acquiring another citizenship automatically.
Naruralizing in another country is a whole different ball game.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
11 years ago

OTL-You have a pretty myopic view yourself-you conveniently never mention the rape of the earth,sky,and waters in the former USSR,Eastern Europe under the Iron Curtain,and China.I know,those are leftists and cannot be criticized.Who said that to Joan Baez?
Jane Fonda.It was in reference to Baez’ principled excoriation of the Vietnamese government’s slaughter/imprisonment of hundreds of thousands of Souh Vietnamese.Small matter to people like you,I guess.

OldTimeLefty
11 years ago

Joe, If I were in or among the Soviet Union at the time, I believe that I would have demonstrated in opposition to the ecological damage being done by Moscow or Beijing. I don’t know how much of a hero I would have been.
I try to follow the advice of my Italian grandmother who said that when you have a devil in your yard and another in the kitchen, you better deal with the one in the kitchen first.
Being a citizen of the United States, I believe in cleaning my own house before attempting to pick up my neighbor’s yard. Good grief, It is difficult enough to stir the government of the country in which I live. It is impossible and futile for me to move a foreign government.
F.Y.I I have been concerned about the state of Lake Baikal for years, but I couldn’t get Khrushchev or any of his successors to budge.
Very unworthy comments from you here, joe.
Your pal,
OldTimeLefty

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

Hah, Joe, Beck is on now…isn’t he?
Realistically, the sane among us don’t dwell on your Kenyan theories. It is and was the job of the Congress and the Supreme Court to assure us the President is legitimate…..so take it to them and let me know the results.
In terms of questionable presidents, I’d say GW Bush being appointed by the Supreme Court will take the historical prize. However, few on the right seemed to have a problem with the LACK of democracy shown by a President with less votes getting appointed by the specific Supremes who were/are of his party and thinking.
Assuming this country exists for a couple more centuries, that one will be an infamous moment in history. Even the Supremes who appointed him said their decision should not be used as law or basis in the future…that took real nerve!

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
11 years ago

Stuart-you are really ignorant and a liar too.WHERE did I suggest Obama wasn’t legitimately elected?I didn’t.I’d ask for an apology,but it’s something you couldn’t man up to.
Beck is on,really?
I supplied information,period.If you don’t like it,print it out and use it to wipe your rear end.It beats doing that with your brain,which I suspect has been happening.

Falstaff
Falstaff
11 years ago

Andrew,
You are attempting to combine two seperate parts of his speech. All I see here is talk about how media overwhelms our senses with a lot of nice toys to listen music and play video games (And this reminds me of his “Turn off the TV” fitness speech some on right got hung up on as a pre-cursor to the evil of socialized medicine, like no President of either party before has ever encouraged kids to go out and play) that have zip to do with politics, and later he mentions blogs and talk radio and being able to filter what is truth and what is propaganda. I’m guessing what really annoys you most here is that he would have the nerve to encourage or cajole someone to use one’s brain and educational curiosity to do some research and not just take whatever Hannity or Malkin said on their show/blog/FOX News today as gospel, pure fact and validation of one’s proper vote at the ballot box. You know liberals, they just seem to love that critical thinking BS as opposed to just being reactionary and demanding birth certificates.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
11 years ago

Mr. Obama’s statement can be taken simply as it is synopsized in the expression of the day “that is more information than I need”.
But, it is equally reasonable that he has an “agenda” and would prefer that “unfiltered information” first pass through a “responsible” sourcem such as the White House Press Corp.
I wonder how the “press” was ever divided into “corp”. I wonder if there is further subdivision into battalions, regiments, etc.

Monique
Editor
11 years ago

“Just saying that a person can have multiple citizenships just by being born to particular people.It takes no affirmative act and it doesn’t affect anything that I know of except it may allow someone to legally hold a few different passports.
A person’s US citizenship is untouched by merely acquiring another citizenship automatically.”
Ohh! Interesting. Thanks for explaining that, Joe.

Russ
Russ
11 years ago

Interesting that no denial is forthcoming about this blog parroting talking points from the neo-fascist John Birch society. No surprise, I wouldn’t cite my source either given where you’re getting this tripe.
What next guys, posts on the coming “negro soviet republic?”
I found this line hilarious…

That regular folks need to be protected from information because, unlike the elites who have had truth revealed to them, common folks cannot be expected to separate information that is important from information that is not

Yes, in the righwing echo chamber the Bush administration never suggested that the “regular folk” lacked the ability to parse what constituted accurate information in the corporate media without the help from our fearless leader or from certain fair and balanced mouthpieces. I can’t think of a single instance, can you?
“God willing, we will prevail, in peace and freedom from fear, and in true health, through the purity and essence of our natural… fluids. God bless you all!”

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
11 years ago

Russ-there is more racial diversity in the National Speakers Bureau of the John Birch Society than in some of your leftist groups here.
You are really over the edge.Go read a Noam Chomsky book-you’ll feel better.
Funny that you don’t mind earning a living from a major corporate entity.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
11 years ago

BTW Russ-I am not politically correct-I think Obama and his whole retinue,most of whom are White,just flat out suck and we’ll be well rid of them in 2012.Hopefully they can be made irrelevant this year.

Russ
Russ
11 years ago

Whoa, guess I touched a nerve. So you’re big fans of the JBS over here.
Not sure of your other point. Yes, I work for a corporation. I’ve even founded a couple of them and paid corporate taxes. So what?
Exhausted Noam Chomsky Just Going To Try And Enjoy The Day For Once

joe brnstein
joe brnstein
11 years ago

Russ-I speak for myself-I barely know anyone else on this site-I’ve met BobN,Monique,and Andrew-that’s about it.
The JBS has been vindicated with regard to their warnings about the one world direction we’ve been heading in for a long time now.
You wanna throw”accusations”-throw ’em at me-no one else here should take heat for me.I welcome your negative attitude that I support the JBS.They make good sense to me on many issues.
Bizzarely enough,you have frequently espoused some positions that are very similar to what the JBS believes.It’s like a Venn diagram-even apparently opposite thinking folks can sometimes see the same truths.
BTW I made a DVD for the JBS on immigration-it was pretty well recived- little informal and it got a little off-topic,but that’s just me.
If you think it’s a treasure trove of bigotry,you’d be very disappointed.

Russ
Russ
11 years ago

Bizzarely enough,you have frequently espoused some positions that are very similar to what the JBS believes.It’s like a Venn diagram-even apparently opposite thinking folks can sometimes see the same truths.

I was just commenting on that in the other diary. You can even listen to Chomsky saying something similar. You were wrong though; watching it didn’t really make me feel better!

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
11 years ago

Russ-sometimes seeing or hearing the truth won’t make you feel better,but it’s still the truth.
Like the cancer diagnosis I got when I was 34.I’d a rather heard something else,but that wouldn’t have changed waht was.
Okay-I get the idea you want one world-I don’t.It looks like we’re heading towards more and more separate nations almost daily.Like most progressives you seem to think people don’t know what’s good for them.You do of course,but the fools just won’t listen,right?
I’m not sure what IS best for anyone,myself included.I am fairly certain it isn’t one world government,though.I think if it were here,you mighn’t like it either.Be careful what you wish for.

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

>when the President says that that access to too much information
I didn’t think Fox was big on the ipad, iphone and xbox anyway!
C’mon, Andrew, it is the RIGHT which always tries to frame debate in one word to 5 word talking points. Obviously too much information would make their heads explode!
Let me give a few examples:
Socialism
ObamaCare
Drill Baby Drill
Born in Kenya
The problem you and other righties are having is that this President is too dang good for you…not in the Presidential sense, but he actually thinks about thinks and does not make colossal mistakes daily. So, you have to find some words….somewhere, and then construe them into something which fits your world view.
As far as access to information, maybe you can point me to all the REAL blog entries you wrote while Bush was making certain that no independent reporting of the Iraq an Afghanistan debacles were going on……the whole idea of embedded Press Pools was brilliant! Yet you probably never noticed.
C’mon, there really must be an actual issue that you can present which has a minimum of truth in it, as opposed to complete BS which you reverberate back from the right wing talkers? Really, there must be an actual issue…..

Russ
Russ
11 years ago

President Obama’s remarks were all over the internet on Sunday, the day when I read them, and the day before the JBS item you linked to above was posted.

I haven’t check all of those links, but sure I saw those two. Here’s a typical headline…
“Obama bemoans ‘diversions’ of IPod, Xbox era”
Note that the article talks about the use of technology for diversions. However you and you’re comrades (or is it anti-comrades) over at JBS jump to the notion that Obama is against information.
But let’s leave aside that you start from this false and misleading non sequitur. Information management is something I know more than a little about. Access to data is not the same as access to actionable information. For instance do you benefit more from watching a single news program or from attempting to watch all of them at once? As a society that has access to more information than at any time in history, would you argue that we have become as a result orders of magnitude more democratic?
As to classic liberalism, I agree that modern conservatives essential worship at the feet of dead liberals. I personally don’t view blind adherence to centuries old dogma as a core component of liberalism. There’s some irony here that you assume I agree with “the mindset of a political left” without bothering to define what that means.

Russ
Russ
11 years ago

Oops, wishing I could edit those typos.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
11 years ago

Russ-the way to approach the massive availibility of information,regardless of your political leanings,is to force yourself to use discernment.
Make choice or two and concentrate there until you believe you’ve gooten what you need there.
“Channel-surfing” behavior can result in confusion and loss of focus for anyone on any particular issue.We can only multitaks so much.
The greatest revolution in modern(20th Century)has been the exponential increase in speed,availibility, and”bandwith”if you will,of communication.
In my growing up days events rarely came to you “live”-some did,but not that often.We are living real time history now,and it is a sea change.
Reading books is a necessary speedbrake on the overload-it’s healthy for your mind.It isn’t good to be wired like a cybernaut all day,every day.At least that’s what I think.
If you EVER get a chance to see “Close to Eden”,a Russian film set in Mongolia,you’ll see what I’m talikg about.It’s available on VHS at ACME Video.Brook Street,Providence.The pont come across in a very subtle but effective way.

Russ
Russ
11 years ago

It isn’t good to be wired like a cybernaut all day,every day.At least that’s what I think.

That’s the real kicker. Obama was essentially right, unless you read some type of luddite conspiracy into his comments (e.g. Obama wants to return us to the preindustrial era).

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
11 years ago

I didn’t see any conspiratorial aspect to his remarks.I get very disturbed by cable tv,in particular,whether Fox or MSNBC or any other outlet constantly repeating the same video clips in a sort of pattern.It seems like conditioning.I think the motive is less political than ratings driven.
The initiation of events,rather than the reporting of them-the insertion of the media into the ongoing event if you will,has changed the parameters in a bad way.
I’m reminded of Nancy Grace hounding a murder suspect untl the woman killed herself without revealing what she did to her son.
I mean,she was no loss to the world,but it was the f***face Nancy Grace who horned in and affected events so that in the end,the family got no resolution.
They should’ve been able to bury their little boy.Any of ’em-Grace,Rivera,I don’t care if they’re left,right,center,or none of the above-they are perverting the medium of informaation transfer.
Obama had a point.Occasionally he does.

Russ
Russ
11 years ago

If there is a proto-fascist component to this (and I think there is), it’s in the Orwellian use of language to suggest that a complaint about video games and text messaging is akin to being against the spread of information necessary for a functioning democracy (I take it you don’t have a teenager in the house, who are clearly the most informed citizens in our democracy, right?). I suppose I should thank you for providing a neatly packaged example for the question I asked the other day. It’s “truthiness” without any grounding in fact, and nearly devoid of analysis except for a tired rehash of the strawman argument that liberal elites don’t care about we “regular folks.” All of this makes sense only if we ignore that Obama has embraced new media more than any other President. According to White House Director of New Media Macon Phillips, the Barack Obama administration is using social media to amplify its message, make the government the most transparent in history and get citizens to participate in the policy-making process. What has the White House been doing? Pre-Obama, it was without Face-book and Twitter accounts. The White House now boasts nearly 500,000 fans and 1.7 million followers, respectively (of course, the numbers pale in comparison to President Obama’s 7.7 million Facebook fans), while webcasts, Facebook chats and YouTube Q&As with the public are becoming pretty much standard fare. “We are looking at lowering [the] barrier of participation,” Phillips explains, while noting that technology is changing the way people consume information online… Phillips says the ultimate goal is to give people ownership of the government, while “demystifying” the process.” “The final piece is to figure out a way to give the public a way to participate in their government, both in terms of asking questions… Read more »

Russ
Russ
11 years ago

What say you to this, Andrew?
Undoing Bush: Obama orders easier access to public records

President Barack Obama, in his first full day in office, revoked a controversial executive order signed by President Bush in 2001 that limited release of former presidents’ records.
The new order could expand public access to records of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney in the years to come as well as other past leaders, said Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists.
“It’s extraordinary that a new president would address this issue on his first full day in office,” Aftergood said. “It signifies the great importance he attaches to open, accountable government. The new order suggests President Obama will take a narrow view of executive privilege and assert it in a much more limited way than what we’ve seen in the recent past.”
Under Bush’s order, former presidents had broad ability to claim executive privilege and could designate others including family members who survive them to exercise executive privilege on their behalf.
Obama’s new order gives ex-presidents less leeway to withhold records, Aftergood said, and takes away the ability of presidents’ survivors to designate that privilege.
Separately, an Obama memorandum issued Wednesday also appears to effectively rescind a 2001 memo by President Bush’s then-Attorney Gen. John Ashcroft giving agencies broad legal cover to reject public disclosure requests.

Again I think there is room for criticism, but there is no question as to the most secretive and unaccountable Presidency for anyone who cares to actually dig deeper than the partisan spin.

Russ
Russ
11 years ago

I’d say you should ask Justin, the anti-information blogger, who agrees with the President that not all information is critical to a functioning democracy!

We’re already well past the point at which too much information becomes too much information.

What else does the JBS have to say? Surely there is a new outrage to replace last week’s strawman?

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