Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Why Did We Elect Him, Again?

I want to be oblivious, people, I truly do. I want to zombify myself into a nirvana of not knowing, not doubting, not seeming the obvious. I keep telling myself, "No, Obama is good, he will deliver on his campaign promises - eventually. Or at least he'll give a very nice speech explaining why he couldn't. And no, he is not in favor of strengthening governmental restrictions to the point where our every breath is regulated, and by "our" I mean that of the regular folks, not the banks, never that." But you can only be oblivious for that long before you can't disregard evidence any longer. Take this beautiful piece of news, for example:
The Obama administration has drafted new proposals to curb Internet piracy and other forms of intellectual property infringement that it says it will send to the U.S. Congress "in the very near future."
It's also applauding a controversial copyright treaty known as the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, or ACTA, saying it will "aid right-holders and the U.S. government to combat infringement" once it enters into effect. Those disclosures came from a report released today by Victoria Espinel, whom President Obama selected as the first intellectual property enforcement coordinator and was confirmed by the Senate in December 2009. There's no detail about what the proposed law would include, except that it will be based on a white paper of "legislative proposals to improve intellectual property enforcement," and it's expected to encompass online piracy. The 92-page report (PDF) reads a lot like a report that could have been prepared by lobbyists for the recording or movie industry: it boasts the combined number of FBI and Homeland Security infringement investigations jumped by a remarkable 40 percent from 2009 to 2010.
Nowhere does the right to make fair use of copyrighted material appear to be mentioned, although in an aside on one page Espinel mentions that the administration wants to protect "legitimate uses of the Internet and... principles of free speech and fair process."
It would have been nice, of course, if during his election campaign Obama had told all those bloggers and Facebook/Twitter users who were doing so much to put him in office, "Prepare, folks! In return for all your Internet activism on my behalf, I will slap you with a list of regulations, rules, FBI and Homeland Security investigations so long that the most anti-libertarian amongst you will secretly start collecting Ayn Rand's books. I will make you realize that what movie and recording industry have achieved with their lobbying for copyright restrictions is nothing compared to what will be done to your free and unimpeded use of the Internet. We will now supervise every breath you take online, and isn't that amazing? Yes, we can do this to you, Internet users. Yes, we can, indeed!"

What's so frustrating is that while the economy continues to tank, both major political parties are only interested in finding new and inventive ways of policing us into the ground. The Republicans want to police our bodies with their tightening of anti-abortion regulations, while the Democrats want to police our thinking and free expression.

I know that I have now angered both the Democratic and the Republican readers of my blog but I don't care. Unless we all snap out of our partisan oblivion as soon as possible, nothing is going to get better.

Thanks for the link, Mike!

42 comments:

Leah Jane said...

Gah! Stephen Harper rules Canada, the racist far-right anti-immigration Sverigedemokraterna got seats in Sweden, and the guy I helped elect in the United States has twisted his spine so badly to kiss corporate ass that it makes my scoliosis tingle.
Where on earth am I going to move once I have my Master's?

Anonymous said...

Both the Democrats and Republicans are largely focused on making sure the rich get adequate returns on the money forked over to their sponsored politicians.

The Democrats do a slightly better job of hiding it -- but not even that good a job, lately.

In a perverse turn, I am kind of hoping Sarah Palin gets elected President. It may push the country over the edge to revolution as it will be such a horrible experience.

But Americans are so complacent, I doubt anything would make us get off the couch. But that's my last hope.


-Mike

KT said...

He's not standing firm on Net Neutrality laws either. See here (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/timothy-karr/obama-fcc-caves-on-net-ne_b_799435.html) and here (http://act.boldprogressives.org/sign/sign_netneutrality_3things/)

It's so painful to see him cave in for big business interests every day at the expense of the electorates and his campaign promises. Oh well.

Patrick said...

What am I missing here? What's the problem with protecting intellectual and creative properties?

Have you checked out the credits on a movie or T.V. show? The vast number of people employed, who's professional existence relies upon the profitability of the production company. For every 20Million dollar actor (who internet pirates use as justification for thumbing their noses at copyright law) there are hundreds of crew and staff that work week to week, like much of the western world. If films and music are stolen (and it is stolen) online, then who pays the hairdressers, camera operators, gaffers, electricians, set builders, painters, etc. . .

Nick G said...

You're smarter than this. Obama has accomplished a great deal, even if he couldn't deliver EVERYTHING TO EVERYONE in two years in the middle of Great Depression: Part Deux. With an opposition party that has outright stated they will do anything to stop him, e.g. by abusing a stupid parliamentary feature at record pace.

I mean, he could advocate for gays a little more sincerely, and shut up about god in speeches but other than that it looks good from here.

Clarissa said...

This is not a minor thing, people. I believe that this is the most-far reaching process (ideologically and politically) that's taking place right now. Not just this set of regulations but this general drive to take Internet under control.

The Internet has brought an incredible kind of freedom. This is freedom for all of us. We now have a voice, every single one of us. An assault on that freedom is currently under way. I'm afraid that this kind of Internet that we are used to, the communal space of free expression, is being taken away from us.

Check out KT's links on net neutrality. That battle has been lost, and nobody seems to care.

"Take your government out of my Internet" should be on everybody's agenda right now.

Rimi said...

To add an anecodte to Mike's comment about complacent Americans:

This one time we were waiting for a bus. The wind was howling, and then, on top of the 2.5 feet of snow accumulated on the footpaths, it started snowing again. Not fluffy snow, but wet, heavy snow. We waited a solid 90 minutes and some spare change before a bus showed up... and didn't stop. We were almost pushing two hours when the real bus showed up. The driver knew a few regulars and was telling them how he delayed getting out of the shed 'cause of the awful weather.

This young man overhead and was furious. He made an impromptu speech to the effect that the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is publicly funded, so how dare the driver deprive shivering and wet tax-payers, that too because he was scared of venturing out into the snow in a warm, dry bus? He ended his little speech by exhorting us not to pay our fare, since the driver draws a salary and this will merely be a statement, rather than any actual damage to the MBTA.

I fully expected a moderate cheer from the people, if not a rousing one. And there *was* some support, right upto the moment the driver turned off the ignition and said we wouldn't move till the man paid up. Immediately, the entire bus (well, with three exceptions) rounded on the man. It had to be seen to be believed. Three elderly people advanced upon him and called him a communist (they used it like it was a swear word). In a minute, the entire bus was screaming at him to not be a cheap asshole/freeloader, and get his lazy socialist ass off the bus.

I'm still not clear how this man was identified as a socialist. He was touting consumer/tax payer rights, a very capitalistic democratic idea. Anyway, THEN, two police cars pulled up alongside the bus and of the four cops, two had their guns out.

Now I come from a place where only officers above a certain rank are allowed to carry guns, so seeing traffic police casually slung with firearms makes me VERY nervous. Anyway, the two unarmed cops got up on the bus, asked the man (who was right in front of the door) to step down, he refused, they grabbed his arms, twisted it behind him and marched him off the bus. The bus sped up amidst rousing cheer.

That was the day I started watching what I said and who I said it too in the USA. The feeling that the USA is a closely-controlled police state has never left me since, and it makes me very uneasy. I hoped for some time this was an aberration, but on two different occasions, that hope was dashed.

Rimi said...

Oh, and just to clarify a common misconception: the technical people on a film/TV team -- from make-up and hair to animation -- are not paid from the profits the venture makes. They don't even usually get bonuses from the profits. Their payment is inked into the budget that is delivered in full before the film goes into production.

So this move only prevents multi-billionaires from ratcheting up the star-payments and their own "top two percent" status. Of course, one might thinking depriving them of that is just as evil and every perpetrator should be jailed, but carrying coal to Newscastle? Meh. I couldn't possibly care less.

All I care about is that people stop making self-righteous or "gotcha!" arguments that are uninformed, or informed-by-lies. These laws are part of building a global monopoly market, which by definition is unregulated for cost or quality by any elected government.

Clearly, this wish of mine is going to go unfulfilled.

Clarissa said...

I know what you mean about guns, Rimi. Have you seen this post I wrote a while ago about guns in Indiana:

http://clarissasbox.blogspot.com/2009/05/coffee-shops-and-guns-in-indiana.html ?

It was quite a culture shock to me too.

Patrick said...

Rimi - I would respectfully disagree with you. Ripping off content from the web does hurt the long term viability of production houses, thus it will impact those 'little' people who work in the arts. Where does one suppose the 'budget' for a production come from? It comes from the retained earnings of that production company.

I'll make the wild assumption that you oppose plagiarism. Why should the internet be different?

Clarissa said...

Patrick: are you unhappy about what the Internet is, about how it works, about how it has changed your life? I mean, you personally. Are you in need of any profound changes? Do you like the idea that some content should be privileged (load faster and better) than other content? Should the Internet users be steered away from, say, my blog and towards the AT&T's website? Or is it OK with you if people continue to make their own free choices as to whether to come here to to AT&T's site?

Patrick said...

Rimi - a different perspective on your bus story.

Assume the bus driver had left the garage on time, and gotten into a horrible crash due to the poor road/weather conditions. The victims of that accident would scream bloody murder for the head of the driver, since he wasn't 'smart' enough to stay off the roads. From the driver's perspective, he's in a no win situation. If he causes you to wait at the bus stop, he's a lazy government worker not doing his job. If he drives in bad weather, he's reckless and endangers the public.

The proper course of action for your friend to take would have been to contact the transit authourity with his complaint. There is a proper place, time and means of raising issues. Trying to vilify a poor bus driver was probably the wrong choice to make.

Patrick said...

Clarissa -
I don't see the relationship between protecting your intellectual property and accessing the internet. If CNN picked up one of your articles - shouldn't you be compensated for it? I don't know if it's urban myth or not, but does it matter if Google lists their biggest advertisers first, over potentially more popular articles? I assume that anyway - whether it's true or not. I won't necessarily click on the top choice.

My understanding (and I stand to be corrected) is that the bill deals with copyright infringements and intellectual property - not internet access. These are separate issues.

Clarissa said...

Patrick: it's part of the same process that has several different stages. Net Neutrality was killed. Now there is this set of regulations. There is no doubt in my mind that we will see more soon.

Google has been good to me personally. My blog has been the first search result on quite a few stories and the second and the 3rd on many other searches. Actually, people who pay Google often lose out financially (from what I hear from my friends.) They are still the kind of engine that wants to bring the best, most useful links to people.

Rimi said...

Patrick, I would prefer it if you would take explicitly-spelled-out facts and strongly implied ones into account when making an alternative suggestion. But of course, this is a free world, and you may ignore such requests if you please.

Just to point out the factual voids in your alt. theory, though: as someone who grew up with snow you must realise that letting snow accumulate is the bad idea, not leaving right when it starts snowing. It impairs visibility, which is not a big problem in the afternoon (and which is why the bus goes reeeaaally slow), but the streets are stabler. This chap was supposed to arrive 20 minutes before the snow-warning hour, and 40 minutes before it actually started snowing.

Second, as most people who live and work -- esp. at driving buses -- in MA know, Greater Boston at least has an excellent and efficient snow-team, and Mass Ave (which was our route) especially is well-salted and pristine almost the moment after the snow starts falling. This was at the beginning of serious winter, so the winter budget coffers were still full.

Now for the explicit facts: the driver SAID the weather made him lazy and then when he was already late it started snowing, so he dallied an extra while and came even later. Effectively, he said, "So basically I knew I should do my run on time 'cause snow was coming, but I twiddled my thumbs till it actually started snowing, then I delayed even further to give it a chance to accumulate and make the roads skiddy, then I trundled out". So even the defence you propose, that somehow his laziness was linked to a desire to avoid accidents (and how does leaving late pre-empt that?) doesn't hold.

Sure, he wouldn't have admitted this had his mates not been on that bus, but surely honesty shouldn't excuse his ridiculously bad judgement?

I really like that you don't think along predicatble liberal/conservative lines, Patrick, but I would appreciate your input more if you took the provided details and their implications into consideration.

As for small production houses, from their marketing I think you'll find they encourage free sharing online, since they coudn't possibly have enough money to distribute in more than, say, five local theatres and a few prints for film festivals. And even then they are shared by very few people, as demonstrated by the seeder ratios between them and big budget films. So they WANT to be shared and become a rcognisable name, but they can't because people aren't interested. And now they won't even have that marketing tool left to them. Big business will have squashed the smaller of the small production houses. I hope you thought of that?

Patrick said...

Rimi said, "As for small production houses, from their marketing I think you'll find they encourage free sharing online, since they coudn't possibly have enough money to distribute in more than, say, five local theatres and a few prints for film festivals"

If a small production company wants to encourage online sharing of their material (which is common in music, and could become common in film) that is their choice. But it's rather simplistic to say that since one group wants to share their creativity, then all should be forced to.

I'm still quite foggy on how protecting intellectual property (as a writer of bad fiction, I have a personal vested interest in this) inhibits the ability of people to freely create on the internet. Enforcing copyright law does not stop Clarissa from posting her blog.

Clarissa said...

Patrick: feel free to promote your "bad" fiction here. I don't mind at all if people I know leave links to their creative efforts on this blog.

And then we can all see whether it is bad or not. :-)

Anonymous said...

Patrick, I am not sure how much you know about the history of copyright or even if you are a US citizen, but in the US at least copyright was envisioned to limit the rights of the creators, and make sure the rights of the general public got respected, not the other way around.

Now, it's the opposite and that's not how it's supposed to be -- though it seems that the copyright industry has caused many people, you included, to buy into that myth.

As an digression, personally I do not feel the least bit bad about downloading a song from a major studio that in nearly all cases is completely ripping off all but a few top artists (and even they get ripped off, but less so). It doesn't hurt the artist at all -- they would've never seen any money, anyway.

However, I don't want to derail the argument with that meandering, which it inevitably will.

So many people know so very little about the history of copyright in the US. I am going to assume that you are one of them until that is disproven evidentially.

I thumb my nose at copyright law because it is unjust, it privileges large players over smaller ones, it allows those same oligopolies to bully and crowd out more innovative, smaller possibilities. It has lengthened the time it takes items to go into the public domain (which was the entire intent of US copyright law -- look it up, I am not making this shit up) to over a hundred years, in most cases.

I could go on, but there's many good books out there that will do it for me.

My point is that copyright law is an unjust law, and unjust laws beg out to by disobeyed. Which I will gladly and loudly do.


-Mike

Clarissa said...

Oh, I'm glad that Mike joined the discussion because he is very knowledgeable on this.

Anonymous said...

Patrick, I am not sure about blogs, but copyright law kept the wonderful documentary Eyes on the Prize for being shown for many years.

Wikipedia has some information about this.

There are thousands of cases like this, and it will only get worse.

My larger point is that if we allow large corporations to lock up most of our culture for 100+ years, then it no longer belongs to us.

Yes, I agree that the creators of movies, music and ideas have some right to profit from them. But not for 100+ years. And it should be the creator profiting from them, not some corporation who forces anyone who wants to create into work-for-hire arrangements.

However, it is our culture, not Disney's. Not Miramax's. Not HBO's.

While I do agree copyright is desirable and necessary, it is not something that should be as one-sided as it is now. Right now, the large interests control the entire conversation and the entire legislative apparatus.

To understand a tiny bit about the history of copyright law and its intent in the US, this passage from Thomas Jefferson is a good start.

I will fight for my culture. I am a militant liberal and I will not allow big corporations to monopolize it just because they can pay off some legislators. It is my culture, and all of ours. That so many people are so willing to give it up so that Steven Spielberg can make another billion is very puzzling to me.


-Mike

Patrick said...

Mike - I'm not a US citizen, and my knowledge of the history of copyright law is cursory at best.

I agree with you in principle - bad laws ought to be ignored and ultimately changed. However, I think where we split is that I'm not overly concerned with the original intent of said law. I'm more concerned with the impact and usage in the here and now; more or less, the evolution in the application of the law, and whether or not it's suitable. And I strongly believe in the right of the creator to protect their creations.



Clarissa - you're not likely to be interested in my fiction - it tends to be of the fantasy genre.

Anonymous said...

And to ramble on even more, yes I know that was about patents, but the same philosophy was applied by Madison and Jefferson to copyright.

And before anyone even starts, I currently own 200+ CDs. Before they got stolen in the Army, I owned 1000+ CDs.

Including concerts, t-shirts, and all other forms of supporting music, I estimate I've spent somewhere between $20,000 - $50,000 on music and music-related items in the past 20 years.


-Mike

Anonymous said...

Mike
Who exactly do we have to pay a licensing fee to for the singing of Happy Birthday? Who owns that?

You make some great points - and there are obvious holes in the copyright legislation. However, I would believe that you would have to concede that there is a major difference between being inhibited from showing news footage from 40 years ago and recording a motion picture on your cell phone for 'online distribution' two days after release. The leash needs to be loosened, but not removed entirely.

Anonymous said...

Patrick, I agree that the creator (and the actual creator, not some large corporation) should have some rights to protect and profit their creation.

But not for 95 years after they die. And not at the expense and cost of the entire public.

Laws do evolve, that is true. However, when they evolve only in one direction -- to eternal copyright and no conception of the public domain while artists and the public get harmed -- I rebel.

About your fiction, feel free to post it up. I like fantasy and promise even if it's bad that I wont make fun of it (too much). :-)


-Mike

Clarissa said...

"I would believe that you would have to concede that there is a major difference between being inhibited from showing news footage from 40 years ago and recording a motion picture on your cell phone for 'online distribution' two days after release."

-There are tons of people (including me) who would not even consider watching a movie recorded this way. The low quality of the recording would make it useless to me.

"But not for 95 years after they die. And not at the expense and cost of the entire public."

-This 100-years before a work goes into the public domain has always seemed ridiculous to me. How much does the author care 80 years after they died, seriously?

Patric said...

Clarissa said - "There are tons of people (including me) who would not even consider watching a movie recorded this way. The low quality of the recording would make it useless to me. "

It's not a question of whether or not you would partake in the distribution, but whether or not the distribution in such a manner should be lawful.

Anonymous said...

"Who exactly do we have to pay a licensing fee to for the singing of Happy Birthday? Who owns that?"

Here's who owns "Happy Birthday to You."

And why should we pay anyone anything for "Happy Birthday to You?" The creator is long dead.

What possible benefit to society does paying someone for that song that should have long been in the public domain?

I am not sure if your question was intended to highlight the current ridiculousness of copyright laws, but whether that was intended or not, it did so.


-Mike

Patrick said...

Mike said, "I am not sure if your question was intended to highlight the current ridiculousness of copyright laws, but whether that was intended or not, it did so."

I checked out your link to the PBS documentary, and I was incredulous at the negative impact copyright laws had on a valuable documentary.

I think we're on the same road, Mike. I'm just in the right hand lane. :)

Clarissa said...

Arguing with Mike about copyright laws is useless because he knows everything. :-)

Opossums, however, are another matter altogether. :-)

Rimi said...

Patrick, just to point out how you deliberately ignore answers your comments provoke just to carry on a question that has been answered:

First, you specifically noted that your concern was about the welfare of technicians in the industry. I pointed out that do not, in fact, benefit from profits so your point was moot.

You then relocated your concern to small production houses and claimed their suffering rendered your metaphorical heart. And suffer they did because surely they were no pulling the big profits? I pointed out what Mike expanded on, to wit, copyright is being used to create market monopolies for enormous multinational conglomerates which cannot be regulated by any one elected government, and they're actively promoting internet policing to kill off small production houses -- the ones you expressed great sympathy for -- because they cannot afford to compete with more marketing budget than their ten year production budget.

You promptly turned around and said, "it's rather simplistic to say that since one group wants to share their creativity, then all should be forced to".

So to summarise, you care about the technicians and smal production houses and exhort us not to support Clariassa's cause because it shouldn't just be about thumbing our noses at big media. Then your assumptions are proved incorrect and you then care about... we're not sure yet, but exhort us not to support CLarissa's (and Mike's) cause because it shouldn't just be about protecting small media.

In other words, you've no opinion of your own, you lack the information to formulate one, but you'll keep attacking every other one that comes along? That must be it. You just like arguing, don't you? :-)

Anonymous said...

Patrick, I do think we're mostly in agreement. I am a bit high-spirited, but I don't like the idea of the entire culture being destroyed while 99.5% of items locked up in copyright are not in the public domain and not making anyone any money (most copyrighted items either earn out or earn nothing after 10 years, but do not return to the public domain for 100+ years, thus prohibiting any other use).

As for opossums, I did almost pet one in the dark one time, thinking it was a cat. That would've been a big mistake.

-Mike

Canukistani said...

”And no, he is not in favor of strengthening governmental restrictions to the point where our every breath is regulated”

Some government restrictions are needed. Today is the deadline for CRTC submissions. Here a partial text of my original comment:

“ A piece by Stephen Scharper in the Toronto Star stated that the CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunication Commission) “is seeking to relax restrictions concerning the broadcasting of specious information on radio and television.” Currently a Fox news or right wing American style radio shows cannot exist in Canada because the law stipulates that broadcasters “shall not broadcast any false or misleading news.” Last month the CRTC put a notice on its website that it wants to modify this law to “any news that the licensee knows is false or misleading and that endangers or is likely to endanger the lives, health or safety of the public.”
So who decides which information is false and endangers the public or is false and just funny entertainment for the masses? - A triumvirate appointed by (guess who?) our Conservative government. Of course we have nothing to worry about based on their long and distinguished commitment to transparency and evidence based policy i.e. two prorogations of parliament in one year, eliminating the census, increasing spending on prisons due to an increase in unreported crime. I could continue but I think that you get the picture. I can see in the near future where this new news channel which starts broadcasting in March could call the Liberal party a communist front organization which wants to bring a Soviet style regime to Canada while the CBC, referred to by conservatives as the Communist Broadcasting Company could not offer an accurate rebuttal without the threat of having its licence removed.”

Of course, the more that you learn the worse the story becomes. Here are some quotes from an article by Heather Mallick in the Toronto Star today,” The smartest NDP MP, Charlie Angus, seized the nettle in the House of Commons and said the initiative slithered out of the Prime Minister’s Office as a way of protecting Sun TV from spouting lies. The response? The MP who chairs the relevant committee said the change was a delayed bow to an ancient Supreme Court ruling that said Ernst Zundel couldn’t be charged for disseminating false information. It’s hard to find the lowest point to which this government will sink, but if you’re allowing law to be based on a Holocaust denier (and admitted neo Nazis) in a hard hat, this would probably be it.” As for the argument that you just change the channel she states, “Canadians are busy people. They have jobs and families, commutes and errands. They perpetually need a haircut. They do not have time to fact-check the news because this is Canada and we tell the truth here... So when Sun TV does an even more fair and balanced version of fair-and-balanced Fox, a lot of Canadians will take it on trust and repeat it.”

What can we expect? Here is Fox news segment on “Ethnic studies” in Arizona.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9A3JVLgLD8

At first I thought that it was just another stupid mistake like the map showing Egypt next to Iran but on further inspection I discovered it was really a carefully crafted segment to mislead viewers into thinking that the controversy is about afro-Americans rather than Hispanics without actually lying. The last sentence gives the game away.

Canukistani said...

Back to the topic. President Obama having taken a shellacking in the last election is continuing his move to the centre.

“Reports that President Barack Obama's upcoming budget will propose steep cuts in the government's energy assistance fund for low-income Americans ricocheted quickly on Capitol Hill Wednesday, spurring some intraparty squabbling. “ Huffington Post

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) wrote a letter to Obama asking him not to drop funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) by about $3 billion.

"I understand that difficult cuts have to be made," the Massachusetts Democrat wrote. "But in the middle of a brutal, even historic, New England winter, home heating assistance is more critical than ever to the health and welfare of millions of Americans, especially senior citizens. I request that the administration preserve LIHEAP funding at least to the Fiscal Year 2010 funding at $5.1 billion when it submits its FY12 budget proposal to Congress."

Meanwhile that commie, Hugo Chavez has decided to continue his program of free oil for low income Americans in spite of lower oil prices and an economic downturn in his country.

profacero said...

Canukistani, it's his move to the right of centre.

I don't know that he's in a position to do anything else. This is the dilemma of being an American President. Anyone would have this problem and the racist backlash only adds to it. I can't help thinking, though, that he could do better than this, and suspecting that he may be in more agreement with his own policies than some might hope.

Anonymous said...

Obama at election had a large Democrat majority, the largest economic crisis since the Great Depression and a huge electoral mandate.

FDR did more with less.

That Obama achieved so little indicates that he didn't really want to achieve all that much, and that he is not what he claimed to be to get elected.

No surprise for a politician, but disappointing still.

-Mike

eric said...

Despite his successes (a health care bill of any sort and DADT repeal) the president, like his mentor Clinton, subscribes to the 'third way' philosophy of a kinder, gentler neo-liberalism. At least the Teabagger-led Republicans are honest about what they want, which is neo-liberalism without its pragmatist sugar-coating, i.e. corporate fascism. (If I am sounding like Zizek here, that is because I find the form of argumentation in his critique of Ayn Rand appropo with regard to Obama's conforntations with the Tea Party right. Zizek argued that Rand was subversive because she espoused capitalism in its purest form, which is so offensive that not even right-wingers want to touch it--well, now they do!)

Clarissa said...

I'm not sure I get this, Eric. Can you give me a couple of examples of prominent Tea Partiers that would not make Ayn Rand want to barf? They are all religious fanatics, and we all know how Rand felt about that. They are all anti-choice, and she was passionately pro-choice. Also, her entire philosophy is based on feelings of profound superiority towards stupid people.

eric said...

While it's true that Ayn Rand had no taste for social conservatism (neither did libertarian politician Barry Goldwater, who was friends with Margaret Sanger), her economic vision resonates with the Tea Party (hello Rand Paul!?). As always, social conservatives are courted for votes, and once certain economic policies are largely in place, the values voters are cast aside. This happened with Reagan in his second term. So whatever the Teabaggers' moral views are is just window dressing for a deeper economic motive on the part of their financial backers (oil and medical insurance companies, etc.): the consolidation of a plutocratic state.

Clarissa said...

Ayn Rand's philosophy makes no sense if you take it apart and cherry-pick certain things you like from it. Her vision of capitalism only works for the kind of people she describes: those who are passionately and fanatically dedicated to their work and sexual realization. Unbridled sexuality is intimately linked with the kind of productivity that a person should achieve to be able to participate fully in the type of capitalism she proposes. Otherwise, the whole construct just falls apart.

Tea Party is so not what Ayn Rand would have welcomed.

Clarissa said...

In case people haven't noticed yet, I'm quite a fan. :-)

eric said...

I've read a lot of philosophy, analytic and Continental, ancient and mder, Eastern and Western, and have come to the conclusion that ALL of it can be cherry-picked! Though I am not a Rand fan (I don't really agree with any part of her philosophy), I didn't mean to get bogged down in a discussion on the finer points of her extant writings. As always, I enjoy your blog, as it is never boring! Keep rockin'!

eric said...

Sorry, I meant "ancient and modern".