Welcome to this weeks edition of The Daily Banter Mail Bag! Today, we discuss the continued idiocy of austerity, whether there is a double standard when it comes to racism, and the point of Wolf Blitzer.
Greece is about to default on its debt, Spain has 25% unemployment, Britain is in recession, France has had no growth. The common thread? All of them followed austerity measures and all of them are in deep s#*t. Why on earth would any politician in the US want to attach himself to austerity policies given what's going on over there? How is it possible for people like Romney, Gingrich, Graham, Ron Paul etc etc to keep banging on about deficits and cutting spending??? What the hell is going on???
Bob: It's sabotage. In early 2009 when the economy was mostly dead (deliberate Princess Bride reference), I wrote something about how the fiscal hawks would (thankfully) shut up for a while and let Keynes take over. Then, once the economy was fully stabilized and chugging along again, we should take a good look at the deficit. But in addition to the Republican Opposite-Day strategy (doing the opposite of the president, regardless of what it is), the Republicans have determined that a weak and unstable economy is good for their 2012 chances and so they're deliberately sabotaging the economy by blocking any further stimulus spending. This is where austerity comes in: they know full well that large scale budget cuts will harm growth, but they don't care. They're going to do whatever hurts the president, even if it craps up the economy and backslides us into another recession. They're just that irresponsible. And yet they're still taken seriously by half the country.
Chez: First of all, calm down. It's politics -- and politics is inherently awful. The reason the right continues to push austerity is simple: It's only the government and the people the government helps who are forced to be "austere." The people at the top of the food chain don't suffer from austerity measures, and the Republican party is about protecting that top financial tier at all costs -- literally. The interesting thing is that those measures, as seen through the GOP prism of sociopathy, wouldn't affect things like the defense budget or other the one or two others areas of the government the right holds sacred -- they'd mostly be applied to programs that help people, what the right derisively considers "entitlements." Eliminating social government programs has been at the heart of the Republican political design for years -- and if it happens here we'll likely see at least some of the same upheaval happening in Europe.
Ben: Hi Jon, I'm as frustrated as you on this. As clear as the sky is blue, austerity measures are a gigantic failure and it defies logic that any sane politician would argue their merit. However, you must understand that we live in an age dominated by the cult of the free market. It's a highly dangerous cult because it is not only based on a philosophy that is evidently absurd, but is actively dangerous. The mythology is perpetuated by the business community and the rich because it works in their interest (at least in the short term), and blank slate politicians like Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich will parrot whatever their paid to say. Romney isn't an idiot and he probably understands that without government spending, the economy will continue to shrink. But he doesn't care, he just wants to get elected and will say whatever he needs to in order to get in.
This is mostly directed at Chez. Your piece on double standards in racism was very interesting and I kinda agree. I think the 'White guilt' thing in the media is taken to an extreme. I don't like Fox, but sometimes they have it right. Sometimes there is racism against white people and it needs to be called out. I don't think this is a racist view, but the liberal media seems to act like it is.
Chez:For years there's been a debate over the definition of "racism" -- whether it involves simply judging someone based on the color of his or her skin or the subjugation of a less powerful race by a more powerful one. I don't really know where I stand on this, but I'm not sure I feel comfortable calling the black-vs.white double-standard in news coverage "racist." I'm not even sure if it's wrong -- I simply pointed out that it does in fact exist. My issue when it comes to Fox being willing to go ape-shit over all these supposed examples of "reverse racism" is that the network absolutely doesn't care one bit about fairness or journalistic ethics -- it's not doing it for some noble reason but rather to throw handfuls of red meat to its angry white audience. I don't think it makes anyone a racist to ask questions about the difference in the way the media can occasionally cover stories dealing with race -- particularly race and crime -- but I really don't think Fox News is the outlet to champion the cause of fairness for white people in the news. Honestly, I'm kind of burned out on talking about this subject, but there's a companion piece to my original that runs today. Feel free to check it out.
Ben: I have a hard time calling out racism against white people, even though it clearly exists, mostly because I think the racism inherent in American (and British) society has been so incredibly damaging throughout history that it's sort of irrelevant. Sure some white kids get their butts kicked because of their color, but compared to hundreds of years of slavery, murder, rape, theft and impoverishment, it isn't exactly a pressing problem. Whites are not oppressed in America for one good reason: They overwhelmingly control government, police and business. Blacks are severely under represented in virtually every sphere of influence and have no way of fighting back against institutionalized prejudice, and this is something no white person will ever fully be able to understand. Look, personally I hate racism in any form. I've have black people make assumptions about me because of my race, and I'm sure I've inadvertently done the same - as has everyone if they're honest. The difference is, as a privileged white person, my prejudice can seriously affect the life of a black person. And generally speaking, it rarely works the other way around. So no, I don't think the media needs to start breaking stories on black on white racism. Just go back 50 years and the Klu Klux Klan were hanging blacks on trees for supposed crimes they had committed against whites. We don't want to see a repeat of that.
Bob: You're creating a false equivalence. There's not racism against white people in the U.S. The minority would have to be in a position to racially and economically oppress the majority, and that clearly isn't happening in America -- nor has it ever happened. Racism oppresses back the advancement of minorities at both the societal level and on an individual level. Racist beliefs, racist language and racial discrimination requires an ability to control and manipulate the other race. White people control the press/media. White people control the government (there are exactly ZERO African Americans in the U.S. Senate). White people control industry and the financial system. African Americans at almost every level have very little recourse for justice, given that whites control law enforcement and the judicial system as well. For the entire history of this country, white people have enslaved, oppressed and exploited African Americans in the worst ways imaginable, and one of the two major political parties, the GOP, along with the right-wing press, Fox News and talk radio, is actively demonizing African Americans in order to stoke white anger and, thus, angry white conservative voter turnout and ratings, respectively. This is otherwise known as the Southern Strategy. I assure you, not even the most militant African American group could ever come close to oppressing whites. What you might be observing are fringe examples of anti-white resentment (hmm -- I wonder why?) and anti-white bigotry (again -- why?). We're talking about a sliver of a fraction of a percent of the American population hates white people -- nowhere near equal to the systemic racial intolerance coming from the white power structure. But there's no such thing as anti-white racism. Also, the term "white guilt" is an insulting, simplistic term. It reduces the noble pursuit of racial sensitivity and an understanding historical context to a trivial colloquialism. And finally, I urge you to read this DailyKos post by author Tim Wise: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/07/15/884494/-Reading-Racism-Right-to-Left-Reflections-on-a-Powerful-Word-and-Its-Applications
What is the point of Wolf Blitzer? Can anyone explain his existence to me?
Bob: He's an unwaveringly monotone anchor-unit devoid of human emotion. Honestly, when I see him talking, I envision his face popping open to reveal a tiny Men In Black space alien controlling various toggles and servo motors inside Blitzer's polymer-alloy skull. Seriously, though, I think he's the "face" of CNN. He's their straight news guy. Their "look! we're very serious!" guy. If CNN lost Blitzer, I think the network would crumble.
Ben: I believe Wolf Blitzer was the prototype of the modern news anchor created in a giant lab somewhere in Atlanta. The corporations wanted someone completely bland and innocuous to run their news shows in order to not piss off advertisers, and through trial and experimentation, they came up with Wolf Blitzer. They've had to fill his show up with holograms and spinning pie charts to stop people falling asleep, but generally speaking, he does a great job.
Chez: Wolf actually is a wolf. He can summon the creature at will and only the elders buried deep beneath CNN Center can contain it. Speak of this to no one.
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