The Baystate Objectivist

The Baystate Objectivist

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Establishment Tool

Obama is No Radical

Back during the Vietnam War, when people were protesting by the thousands against U.S. policy, conservative elements of the media resorted to an old and dishonest trick to make the protesters look bad. They would single out the craziest looking person from the protest rally, interview them, photograph them and then put that protester on the front page as the most visible symbol of the entire rally. While most of those protesting were much more normal looking and acting than the crazy they singled out, people reading about the rally got the impression that it was only a buch of nuts that were opposing the war.

It's therefore ironic to see the same technique revived today from the Left to portray the critics of the Obama Administration. Media sources friendly to the Administration have been going to the numerous protests against President Obama's policies and focusing on the nontypical extremists in the crowd, hoping that the public will assume that is what those who oppose Obama are like. The thousands of working men and soccer moms attending with their children are ignored, while the two drunken rednecks accusing Obama of being a Nazi get all the attention.

Such techniques usually don't work in the long run if there are genuine issues to be raised. No matter how much the media tried to portray the anti-Vietnam movement as consisting of crackpots, doing so could not prevent the growing doubts of average Americans about the war. In the same way, the media attempts to dismiss the anti-Obama protesters has increasingly less traction as more and more Americans conclude that regardless of who is protesting and how, there are legitiment reasons for deep concern.

However, the protesters are wrong in their portrayal of Obama as a radical. Instead he is something much worse - Obama is defending and preserving an unacceptable and unsustainable status quo. Jesse Walker of Reason Magazine explains:

Most people on the right will tell you, quite accurately, that the Bush years didn't do much to shift the country toward greater social or economic conservatism. I expect most people on the left will say something similar when Obama exits office. Thus far, the president's domestic agenda has been many things, but radical it isn't. Radicals make sudden turns. Obama sometimes slams his foot on the accelerator-just look at projected spending for the next few years-but he hardly ever tries to change direction. Radicals tear down centers of power. When Obama is faced with a crumbling institution, his first instinct is to prop it up.

That was most obviously true with the bailouts, a series of corporate preservation programs that began before he took office and have only increased since then. Candidate Obama voted for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, the 2008 bailout for failing financial institutions, and he personally intervened to urge skeptical liberals to support it. After Congress refused to authorize a bailout of the car companies, Obama followed George W. Bush in ignoring the plain language of the law and funneling funds to them anyway. Like Bush before him, Obama took advantage of such moments to adjust the institutional relationship between these nominally private businesses and the state: firing the head of General Motors, urging the company to consolidate brands, pushing for new controls on Wall Street pay. But the institutions themselves were preserved, in some cases enriched. The radical thing to do would have been to let them collapse.

And no, I'm not using "radical" as a euphemism for "free-market libertarian." A radical Obama still might have extended assistance to the people displaced by the corporate failures, perhaps even setting up a generous guaranteed income scheme. He might have broken up the big banks. He might have done all sorts of things, some wiser than others. But he would not have strengthened the corporate-state partnerships bequeathed to him by Bush....

The president could pal around with militiamen, hook a money hose from the Treasury to ACORN HQ, and sleep each night with a Zapatista plush doll, but as long as his chief concern is preserving and protecting the country's largest corporate enterprises, the biggest beneficiaries of his reign will be at the core of the American establishment.

Sounds of Summer

This is a picture of a girl being attacked by a cadydid.

Here is the sound of a cadydid Jeff Ziff recorded when we heard it one summer night. Voices are Jeff, me and Jordan Williams. Click here to listen.

In case you want to wear bugs on purpose there are examples of bug jewelry on display in the window of the Skera Gallery in Northampton.

Today's Video

Frank Sinatra was undoubtedly a legend,, but too often overlooked is the brief but brilliant career of his daughter Nancy, who unlike her old man had the sense to retire before she was past her prime. I remember how my straight friends used to drag me to divey Springfield strip clubs where Nancy's These Boots Were Made for Walkin' was played several times a night while the strippers made stupid S&M moves. The audience always went crazy. Straight people - I'll never understand them. This is the best version of Nancy Sinatra's best song.

1 comment:

Arthur said...

I can't believe that more people are not mad about those bailouts. Oh, and those Nancy Sinatra photos are too funny.