I’m sure the content has nothing to do with their choice.

This is rather amusing.

From The Week:

Obama’s press secretary decorates home with Soviet propaganda

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney and his family are featured in a worshipful profile in this month’s Washingtonian magazine.

It’s the sort of adoring journalistic exercise reserved for only the most handsome of the power elite. In it you can find out details about the Carney dog (a cousin to presidential pooch Sonny!), and how much the press secretary’s tie costs ($135).

But keen observers may notice the kitchen decor in the photo: Soviet propaganda posters. They really are the perfect pop of color whether you are the dour and sincere Nikita Khrushchev or the cheeky press-wrangler for a president who is constantly accused of being a socialist himself. –Michael Brendan Dougherty

I’m sure they just admire the … efficiency and technique of those posters, much as we would read, say, Gramsci or Alinsky and conclude, “Yep, they were pretty good at what they did, alright!”

But… then again… I wouldn’t decorate the most used room in the house with their images.

Didn’t one of Pres. Obama’s closest advisers cite Mao as a hero?

I think we need a permanent revolution against this sort of politician.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. majuscule says:

    Hmmm. I wonder if there is any significance in the design on the little girl’s pajamas.

    Bats? Mustaches? Or something more sinister…?

  2. KevinSymonds says:

    Fr. Z., some time ago, you mentioned a Latin quote that went something like “Homo homini lupus, foemina foeminae lupior, sacerdos sacerdoti lupissimus.” This was popularized by Gramsci, who himself appears to have received it in connection with the Modernist heretic Alfred Loisy. [I would very much like a source for that!]

    Just a little bit of interesting information, nothing of much importance. Came across it last year and thought you’d be interested. I’d give the links, but I’m afraid I don’t understand the HTML tags for WordPress very well….

  3. BLB Oregon says:

    Are we sure this isn’t some kind of satire? Tongue in cheek? That is the cheesiest “political family” shot I have ever seen…as in, well beyond the usual Dad-you-so-owe-me-for-this cheesy. Their pajamas color-coordinate, and they are pressed. There are enough donuts and sweet rolls for 40 people, and no one spreads their sandwich bread out like that.

    I think it is supposed to be some kind of a joke.

  4. majuscule says:

    Go look at the article. I don’t think it’s satire. But the pictures are a hoot, complete with prices for the fashions they’re wearing–ala fashion articles. This may be a sexist tactic. It must be aimed at women–gasp!

    In another picture they’re in front of a bookcase and I’d love to read the titles on those books!

    Disclaimer: I didn’t actually read the article.

  5. mburn16 says:

    I put my vote in the “satire” box. Look at the other props inside the kitchen – it looks like a perfect cross between a bakery and a fruit market.

  6. colospgs says:

    Yes, Father…That was Anita Dunn.

  7. St. Corbinian's Bear says:

    The pictures are clearly staged for humorous effect. The article says they met in Moscow, so perhaps they do decorate with Commie Kitsch. It wouldnt surprise me. Maybe their just rubbing our noses in it. Their little boy is named Hugo. The girl is named Che. (Okay, I made up “Che.”) I’ve seen the same poster in the TV Cold War spy show ” The Americans” at the Soviet Embassy.

  8. Has to be satire. I don’t believe anybody in Obama’s immediate circle cooks for themselves.

  9. Absit invidia says:

    The photos from the Washington Magazine show a father neglecting to dress his son in appropriate male attire.

  10. Sonshine135 says:

    Maybe we should send them a last supper painting for the wall, and while we are at it, some Z swag and some Mystic Monk Coffee.

  11. Absit invidia says:

    Obama, Jay Carney, and their socialist experiment is like that giant Jenga game they’re playing – except on our nation. A perfectly fine solid block of foundational pieces placed there by better men from a better age is being tinkered with by these recklessly destructive ignorant amateurs. Sooner or later one of these fools is going to bring the whole thing down with one of their predictably self-destructive turns at destroying the thing that was built by better men before them.

  12. SKAY says:

    Wonder how many more people working within this administration are married to
    members of the MSM? It would explain “some” of their biased coverage.
    We know Oprah’s best friend, and CBS morning show host, Gayle King, is very good friends with
    Mrs. Obama–as is Robin Roberts of the ABC morning show. Consequently coverage is all sunshine and butterflies of course. Jay’s next job may be a morning show too–like George S. (GMA)-Clintons former White House spokesman.
    I have visions of where this kind of coverage is going with stories like this–given the obligatory political correctness mindset.

    Yes–Anita Dunn quoting Mao and his image on a Christmas ornament hanging on a White House
    Christmas tree. Sort of set the tone.

  13. Gratias says:

    Note that the Red Army poster above Claire Shipman’s shoulder shows the red star insignia. It is the same star used by the Russian tanks now occupying the Ukraine. Importantly for US it is the exact same insignia we find in Macy’s shopping bags. I have been horrified at the use of a Communist symbol by an American dominant corporation but no one pays attention to what I see. Macy probably thinks its pro-Communist symbol will not be identified for what it is. Next up Che Guevara shopping bags.

  14. Rachel K says:

    They met in Moscow. The whole article is about women working outside the home, they state how they don’t get enough time together as a couple or with their children. Isn’t this the aim of Communism? To separate the family as much and as soon as possible after children are born?
    And to get women out of the home, where they can have a benign influence, and into the male- orientated workplace?

  15. James Joseph says:

    If one goes to review the article at the Wash. Mom. magazine, upon closer inspection of the second book shelf behind the prompter, he will see that the book collection has been digitally edited. And, poorly digitally edited at that.

    Is that a tiny bust of Nixon or Gorbachev?

  16. ReginaMarie says:

    Is it worth noting this from the article…??

    Favorite Way To Spend Sunday Morning – Sleeping.

  17. Kerry says:

    Dittos to permanent revolutions. I am permanently revolted by them.

  18. Charles E Flynn says:

    The red star in the Macy’s logo comes from a tattoo that the founder, Rowland Hussey Macy, got when he was a teenager after working on a Nantucket whaling ship, long before there were any Communists:


  19. robtbrown says:

    Jay Carney was also a Russian major. I don’t take the posters as anything but an indication of his study and both having worked (and met) there. When he was on the McLaughlin Group, he seemed like a bright guy. As press secretary, barely literate–he seems ill suited for the job.

    Most of the media is liberal, so it would be hardly news that Carney & Shipman are, especially as a DC Power Couple. Mark Leibovich author of “This Town”, which is about DC political life, said the big change in DC from, say, 50 years ago, is how many people moved there in order to become rich.

  20. robtbrown says:

    Rachel K says:

    They met in Moscow. The whole article is about women working outside the home, they state how they don’t get enough time together as a couple or with their children. Isn’t this the aim of Communism? To separate the family as much and as soon as possible after children are born?
    And to get women out of the home, where they can have a benign influence, and into the male- orientated workplace?

    Capitalism has also done a pretty good job of separating the family ASAP after the children are born. Aristotle speaks about Acquisitive Societies, in which the family exists for the acquisition of goods rather than the other way around. (In an Ideal Society, the family exists for the state rather than the other way around.)

  21. Priam1184 says:

    To echo another commenter I know that Claire Shipman worked in Moscow for many years for CNN after the fall of the USSR. I have zero love for Jay Carney or for his boss, but there is the possibility that those are souvenirs; who knows?

    And I agree with robtbrown: we don’t need the help of Soviet Communism to destroy the family. We have done quite well in that regard all by ourselves…

  22. Elizium23 says:

    The Cold War never ended, my brethren in Christ. The fall of the Berlin Wall, the “collapse” of the Soviet Union, this was all a façade designed by Satan to deceive us in the West that we were triumphant. Not yet, not until the Second Coming of Our Lord in glory will we be triumphant, and so we must always be on the alert for the infiltration of Unchristian values. I am not saying that just because something is seen as “tainted” or infected by Communism or Socialism it should be rejected out of hand. There are certain glimmers of light in these -isms which can be turned towards the good. But not so much with the Despot-in-Chief we currently have, who is running roughshod over Christian values all at the same time as claiming to be one. People claim he is a secret Muslim but I feel he is neither Muslim nor Christian but a crypto-atheist. That would explain the communistic tendences. It would explain the overt hostility to faithful Catholicism. There is no question he denies Truth. The question comes to Christians who supported and still support him because they perceive that he is “helping” the country. What good to a man if he gain the whole world yet lose his soul in the process? This is the question that needs to be asked and answered by all the power-hungry, status-worshipping climbers in the world. Save your soul first and the world will come naturally, in God’s time.

  23. Suburbanbanshee says:

    You don’t keep souvenirs of evil on your wall in your kitchen. Trophies of conquering evil you might keep in your den, but nobody pulls a swastika off a building, stomps on it, and then puts it in the kitchen for the kids to look at every morning.

    I used to work at the archives that had the papers of one of our ambassadors to the USSR during the Cold War. The man collected pieces of old Russian enamelled ware and such. He was showcasing the best of the country’s heritage and craft, not some crappy USSR copy of the Uncle Sam and Lord Kitchener “I want YOU” posters. He wanted to remember the Russian soul, not the Soviet savagery. But apparently some people in the State Department love a dose of evil every morning with their coffee.

    As for Macy’s using a five-pointed red star as its symbol, that dates back to the founding of the store in 1858 and meant “success” to sailors of the day. It would seem that Macy’s should have sued the USSR for copyright infringement.

  24. robtbrown says:

    Re DC politicians and the media:

    The days of the great DC reporters is over. David Broder, Robert Novak, and Jack Germond are dead. They had spent years in DC, knew everyone, and spent hours tracking down info. (I remember while driving in DC in 1986, seeing Roland Evans talking with someone on a street corner.

    In these days the DC VIP politicians, lobbyists, and media types not only know each other, they often socialize together.

  25. Charles E Flynn says:

    The source for the Latin quotation is Gramsci’s “Prison Notebooks”, volume 3, Eighth Notebook (1930-1932), paragraph 94:

    “Homo homini lupus, foemina foeminae lupior, sacerdos sacerdoti lupissimus.”

  26. What Suburbanbanshee said.

    Is there a meaningful moral difference between:

    a) Castro/Che
    b) Hanoi
    c) Khmer Rouge
    d )Maoist
    e) Nazi
    f) Soviet?

    I’ll be interested to see if any reporter asks Mr. Carney about the appropriateness of having Soviet Communist propaganda displayed in his home. I expect he’ll do his usual, contemptuous eye-roll. But given that he’d be roasted if it were Nazi propaganda, I think he should at least apologize.

  27. Vecchio di Londra says:

    James Joseph: well spotted about the digital photo-shopping of the bookcase. I was wondering why James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’ (the book that is top left in the right hand bookcase) had managed to compress itself into what looks like a slimline glossy hardback of little more than 200 pages. Joyce’s opus is, famously (notoriously?) 700-900 pages (though it can seem a lot longer to the reader) and its spine is usually about three inches wide. I was racking my brain trying to work out just how the publisher had managed it. Perhaps a very cut-down abridged version, I thought, a sort of ‘Ulysses for Dummies’ : “Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, and said yes I will Yes.” Job done.
    Btw did anyone read that hilarious bit in the interview about the mother having discovered ‘through her research’ [into the ‘science and sociology of self-assurance’] that her daughter ‘is a tomboy…strong-willed and doesn’t care about conventions.’ Aw bless, discovered it through her research…. Of course. Because there’s no other way of finding out such obvious facts about your daughter, is there…

  28. Kathleen10 says:

    This is just plain weird, whether it is satire or not. I didn’t read it. But they can’t be serious with those graphics on the wall, the staged pajamas, the scene. They “met” in Moscow? Who meets in Moscow? Ok, this is going to sound a bit out there, but, I have been reading recent accusations of powerful Connecticut legislators who are considered bonafide communists, as in, been to Russia, studied there, and brought their agendas back to the US. I feel uneasy about this odd spread. Either way it’s odd. Why do a spread like this, especially with those posters. With our country in such a contentious mess, do they really have time for such goofy activities, or whatever their purpose is in going to all this trouble. I find it bizarre, but let’s just add it to the collection I suppose.

  29. Kathleen10 says:

    I cannot believe at all the posters were accidental, the camera just having caught them perfectly in the photo. Everything about that photo is staged completely. There is no way the posters were just in the shot. This was intentional. But why. What is the intended message, and to whom.

  30. MrTipsNZ says:

    “I Absolutely Won’t Let Kids . . . They can never treat people badly. Being rude or less than caring produces draconian consequences and much-dreaded family meetings.”

    Oh my, Guantanamo in their own house? No surprise I guess. Save the children, please.

  31. BLB Oregon says:

    “This is just plain weird, whether it is satire or not…”

    On this, I fully agree. The piece means to publicize a book co-authored by Shipley (Carney’s wife) on the importance of confidence in women’s success. How ironic that the message of this picture seems to be: “First of all, whenever you present yourself in public, whatever you do, do NOT be yourself!”

    In light of what the piece says about the daughter’s willingness to defend her own mind, it is unclear how they could have possibly talked her into this if it were NOT an obvious joke, since she has put her foot down with regards to other projects in photographic falsification.

    As for what the “message” is, I’m not inclined to believe the piece was treated to so much thought as that. It is so over the top, no one could take any “serious message” very seriously. Still, the posters suggest that this household considers propaganda to be a sport or a craft, and not serious business that touches on the formation of the soul. That may have been a million miles from their intention, but any press secretary has to know that some of the most powerful messages are the ones you had not intended to send.

  32. doozer125 says:

    I don’t know what the big deal is. I am about as conservative as they come and I have some Polish Anti-Ronald Reagan Posters in my house. I would actually like to have her posters, as well.

    Why are everyone’s knickers all bunched up over this?

  33. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Following up on James Joseph and Vecchio di Londra’s comments, have a look at


    (Which includes: “Like YOU don’t use kids’ fingers for bookends”.)

    I think St. Corbinian’s Bear is on to something with, “Maybe their just rubbing our noses in it.” But how, exactly?

    As BLB Oregon well observes, “the posters suggest that this household considers propaganda to be a sport or a craft, and not serious business that touches on the formation of the soul.”

    The whole manner of all of this seems a campy revelling in kitsch – but is it a simply clueless one, especially where the posters are concerned (like that of all those of the Che-image-swag buyers who have no idea what a murderous thug he was?), or an ‘in your face’ one? The latter seems more likely.

    Not that some sort of ironic enjoyment of totalitarian propaganda, and derivative kitsch is impossible – recall the pre-Fall-of-the-Wall work of Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid – but is that what we are seeing, here?

  34. BLB Oregon says:

    Exactly. It isn’t that including Soviet propaganda posters in a camped-up picture depicting the “home kitchen” of the press secretary to the President of the United States is all that alarming. It doesn’t mean the family is made up of not-very-closet Communists. It is surprisingly clueless, though, in a family that makes its living pedaling public perception. The Communists and their propaganda are not of such “last century” irrelevance as that!

  35. Absit invidia says:

    I’m sure that boy couldn’t hold a solid grip on a hammer or vice grip. But it sure looks like he could hold a grip for a photo op.

  36. robtbrown says:

    I gave my Buffalo Bill Wild West Show poster away about a year ago, so I guess I don’t have to worry about criticism from PETA.

  37. SKAY says:

    Senator Ted Cruz’s father was thrown in communist Castro’s jail in Cuba. He does not remember it as a pleasant experience so I doubt that he would think this is funny.
    He also remembers what led up to the communist takeover of Cuba — the Cubans had no
    idea what true communism really meant–Castro was their hero–until—
    Isn’t it one of Satin’s favorite tactics to convince us that he does not exist so that evil can proliferate? Ignorance is a favorite tool.

  38. TravelerWithChrist says:

    Another example of “Mom can do it all”; dad isn’t in the picture (when he is, he’s a bumbling buffoon). Look at Mom (wearing dad’s pj’s) making a feast for the TWO children, (when and what children are so full of gusto so early-perhaps they’ve already had a round of sweets) then mom goes off to work??? What happens after this ‘shot in their life’ – mom grumbles something about being late, get yourselves ready for school, and the maid throws the excess in the trash and the nanny comes in to take over the raising of the children and walk them to school? God gave us 2 parents because that is the natural order, and women who try to take over both roles are miserable on the inside and over-achievers on the outside. Yes, we in the US aren’t far behind. Funny thing Russia is now finding God, we’re still on our way down. Will we learn from history?

  39. Urs says:

    Yeah, Valerie Jarred cited Mao as a hero in the SAME SENTENCE with Mother Teresa as a hero… BARF!

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