A Few Small Gripes

Karoli points out that many African Americans are not exactly wallowing in sympathy for the pepper-sprayed OWSers.

Police brutality is an issue, but then, it’s always been an issue, and it should definitely be a part of this national conversation we’re having about inequality. Handcuffs, rubber bullets, pepper spray and clubs are routine for people of color. Routine. So he and others have a point when they ask why it’s only an issue now. Whether you agree or disagree with Black Canseco, I think there are points of agreement about the militarization of police. They’ve perfected those arts in neighborhoods where many would never go.

This is sorta kinda what I was saying a few days ago, after much shrieking that the U.S. had entered into some unprecedented state of police brutality. And I said, it has always been the case that any group that could be singled out as “fringe” or “not one of us” could be brutalized with impunity in the U.S. Only very occasionally has brutality carried out on behalf of the establishment evoked any widespread public sympathy for the victims. Most of the time the public sides with the police (or military/militia/hired muscle), if they even hear about it.

The NYPD and LAPD have long and very public histories of brutality. Doesn’t the name Abner Louima ring any bells, people? In recent years many incidents came to public attention only because someone caught the situation on video.

I keep reading that OWS participants are disproportionately white (and male), and this gives us a clue why. The attitude that NOW police brutality is an issue must be a turn off.

This also points out why it’s terribly ineffective to try to be a movement for progressive change in government and the financial sector while behaving like a counterculture. Making yourself an easy target for the establishment is counterproductive in the long run.

But there seems to be a lot of collective amnesia these days. Steve Benen wrote a post seconding Nicholas Krostof’s post about the things Obama has accomplished. Many of the comments amount of a lot of “Obama is no better than Bush” screeching.

One guy complained that Obama is really a moderate Republican, if you look at Republicans of 30 years ago. I’d say 40 years, but yes, that argument could be made. But you could make exactly the same argument about Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, both of whom were mostly center-right on many issues based on that same standard. (Note that since LBJ, Democratic nominees who came across as liberals were all defeated in a landslide.) So where has this guy been since the mid 1970s?

And another was complaining that she’d never thought she’d see a Democrat threaten the safety net. Again — Clinton? Welfare reform? The repeal of Glass–Steagall (not Clinton’s idea, but he didn’t see to fight it very hard).

It struck me that it’s like people have been asleep for 40 years and just woke up and blame Obama for everything that’s gone wrong since the fall of Saigon.

11 thoughts on “A Few Small Gripes

  1. I know that Clinton “only” signed NAFTA into law and that it was crafted under the Bush 1 administration and Ross Perot had it right about that giant sucking sound.

    But Clinton did not have to sign NAFTA.

  2. Well, in all fairness, when it fall, Obama WAS in Hawaii, which is, after all, right next to Saigon!

    I’m waiting to find out how they tie him the ‘The Grassy Knoll.’ Barack Hussein Obama – infant assassin!

  3. I know that Clinton “only” signed NAFTA into law and that it was crafted under the Bush 1 administration and Ross Perot had it right about that giant sucking sound.

    Was Perot right? Did a bunch of jobs go to Mexico?

    Free trade is a crazy thing. It can’t help but bring about macroeconomic benefits – someone makes something cheaper than you can; you can make something cheaper than they can; free trade is essentially certain to mean more goods and services for less money for both sides.

    Over the long run, we assume that those economic benefits will benefit everyone. In the immediate terms, there’s almost always job losses. Coupled with a strong safety net… ah, but this is America, isn’t it? Poor people often have access to a refrigerator, which means they’re no longer poor, and therefore don’t need a safety net.

    Anyway: I don’t think that Mexico has taken a lot of US jobs. I think that the embracing of free trade has caused problems, but not *NAFTA*. It was reasonably assumed that it would, but investment in Mexico petered out (if I understand correctly – and I might not).

  4. “Anyway: I don’t think that Mexico has taken a lot of US jobs.”

    That’s because the wealthy families in Mexico decided that they’d make more money shifting the jobs that were supposed to come from their country, overseas, for more profits.

    There are always unintended consequences to any trade deal. And, NAFTA’s was that the wealthy in Mexico proved to be just as ruthless to their own people, as the ones who proposed and signed the treaty here were to American workers.

    Just like their American counterparts, Mexican workers heard that same giant sucking sound that Perot described.

  5. It’s no shock that Americans have short memories when we remember that we’ve been called the Land (of the Free) nope, The Land of Soft-Boiled Eggs.

  6. Yes, I can sort of excuse someone who isn’t old enough to have spent most of the 1990s griping about how Clinton wasn’t liberal enough, but I don’t see how anyone who voted in 2000, and experienced the aftermath, can have such profound amnesia. I mean, I voted for Ralph Nader in 2000, and that was a mistake, but at least I learned from it. (At least I live in California, which Gore won easily despite my malfeasance.)

    And who the hell cares what Republicans were like 30 or 40 years ago anyway? Republicans now are the kind of people who will use a national calamity like 9/11 as a pretext to invade Iraq, and whose only economic policy is to dismantle the government (except for the Border Patrol, the Defense Department, and whatever new agency they’d like to create to police America’s wombs). Democrats generally aren’t. That’s kind of important.

    (That’s one of my favorite wingnut contradictions, by the way–they want a limited government that will ensure that not a single person is ever present on US soil without having their documents in order.)

  7. It’s really difficult to know all the ins and outs and ups and downs on NAFTA. So often salient reasons to support or not support an issue or policy get mixed up with politics and a great haze settles on the whole mess.

    We’re still using the red-herring of being in the clutches of the Middle East because of its oil when in actuality the top supplier of oil to us is good old Canada (Mexico may be second, can’t remember.)

  8. By today’s standards, the last three Republican presidents (before Bush II) would also be pretty middle of the road Dems. Heck, Nixon might even be a liberal.

  9. buckyblu: Nixon was a STATESMAN compared to the “7 dwarves” running for GOP nomination right now. Which of them would actually SUPPORT the concept of an EPA? Perry probably can’t even SPELL it.

  10. tom B… If they are the seven dwarfs I’m sure Herman Cain isn’t the one they call bashful.. With an introduction like…” Hi, I’m Herman, now come sit on my face” he’s anything but bashful. Was there a dwarf called sleazy?

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