Thursday, November 6, 2014

Plutus Loves Potus

  What rout, whomping, tsunami, thumping, shellacking, rejection? All you had to do was look at President Obama's body language at his Wednesday press con to realize that a few Democrats losing their seats in the meh-terms will not upset the neoliberal order of which he remains the powerful front-man. He's even looking forward to slurping Bourbon with his new BFF Mitch McConnell. He is still hopey and not at all, he said, "mopey."

Why should he be? Hell is emptying out, and Plutus continues to rise, the hoards of wealth safe, hidden and secure thanks to Potus* and all his devilish minions.

 
Barack and Mitch to Plutus: Arise, Repatriate Thyself! (h/t William Blake)

  And if Obama's calm, self-satisfied demeanor didn't convince you that the plutocracy is triumphant, then maybe his actual words will:
The point is, it’s time for us to take care of business. There are things this country has to do that can’t wait another two years or another four years. There are plans this country has to put in place for our future. And the truth is, I’m optimistic about our future. I have good reason to be.I need Americans all across the country who are determined and big-hearted and ask what they can do and never give up and overcome obstacles, and they inspire me every single day.
I think that the president's confident persona was more a message to his global compatriots than to a disgusted, fearful American constituency. That's because Obama's next order of business-caretaking and obstacle-overcoming will be his trip to Asia,where he hopes to finally seal the deal on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). He was quite shameless in his goal to work with Republicans to ram through this corporate coup behind our backs. Majority Leader-in-Waiting McConnell is equally as eager to get the job done for his cronies.

The president really does need Americans to be about as engaged  (around 30%) as they were on Election Day, when they foolishly thought they were sending a punishing message to the huckster-in-chief and his minions. Obama did admit that he is also listening to the two-thirds of eligible voters who didn't show up. Their silence must indeed be very inspiring to him:
 So, the most important thing I can do is just get stuff done and help Congress get some things done.
Ironically (and stupidly) enough, though, the next round of TPP negotiations is being held at the US Embassy in Beijing so as to avoid possible eavesdropping by the Chinese government, which is not part of the 12-nation partnership. Obama will ostensibly be in China as part of the separate Asia-Pacific Cooperation Forum (APEC). So, despite the optimism for bipartisan cooperation for trade deals displayed by Obama at his presser, there is a silver lining for the proles:
There are concerns that the TPP countries holding their own meetings in Beijing could irritate China, which is not part of the initiative, as such meetings might take the limelight away from the APEC ministerial and summit meetings China is hosting this year.
U.S. President Barack Obama had said he envisioned a substantial outcome on the TPP in time for his trip to Beijing, but U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman recently admitted there would be no agreement during the APEC forum.
The TPP countries have struggled to strike a deal due partly to Japan-U.S. bickering over market access for agricultural products and autos.
So, while Obama might be "determined" to complete the corporate coup by the end of the year, the rest of the world might not be quite as willing to succumb to multinational corporate greed. Or, the individual greedy interests of the potentates involved might not jibe enough "to get the job done." And if we're really lucky, the Embassy will be bugged and some enterprising Chinese Ed Snowden will leak the goods on how the ruling class plans to stick it to the little guy. 

A withering editorial published Wednesday in the Chinese Global Times should also give the president pause. Here's what passes for the welcome mat from China's official government press organ:
US public opinion has downgraded Obama. Former president George W. Bush met with criticism due to his failure in the war on terror.
Obama always utters "Yes, we can," which led to the high expectations people had for him. But he has done an insipid job, offering nearly nothing to his supporters. US society has grown tired of his banality.
Undoubtedly, Obama is one of the post-Cold War presidents who had to undergo difficult times. He has encountered the global financial crisis and the decline of US influence. He has found many thorny problems because he is the first African-American president in history. As a result, he can only get limited tolerance and acceptance.
Obama has behaved much more prudently than most of his predecessors, and has thus lacked the ability to push forward complicated issues. What's worse, Obama is in the midst of a time when partisan politics is becoming more extreme.
That party interests are placed higher than the interests of the country and its people is an inherent shortcoming of Western political systems. The problem is particularly acute when the US undergoes difficulties. Cohesion in American society is diminishing.
Obama's best performance is empty rhetoric, while he achieved nothing on issues such as lowering the income gap. The American people have not benefited from the economic recovery.
Ouch. Of course, the Chinese people working in the Wal-mart and Foxconn factories for pennies an hour haven't exactly benefited from the Chinese economy either. So this editorial is likely, at least in part, some empty rhetorical payback on the international playground of oligarchic bullies. But still.

All the salesmanship posturing by Obama might be moot anyway, since there's also a ray of bright domestic sunshine to augment the international silver lining. Lori Wallach of Public Citizen writes that Tuesday's Republican "rout" will further reduce Obama's chances of gaining so-called Congressional "fast track authority" to take care of his Big Business clientele:
The issue is not who is Senate Majority leader. The fight over trade authority is always won or lost in the U.S. House of Representatives. Recall that second-term Democratic President Bill Clinton lost a bid for Fast Track in 1998 in the GOP-controlled House with 171 Democrats and 71 GOP members voting “no.” (Clinton had Fast Track for only two of his eight years. Indeed, in the past two decades, the only president to obtain Fast Track was President George W. Bush, and winning that five-year grant required a two-year effort at the start of Bush’s first term and a lot of political capital, after which Fast Track passed by one vote in a GOP-controlled House in 2002.)
The reason that the GOP controlling the Senate could make Fast Track’s passage less likely is related to who will now be writing a trade authority bill. The old Fast Track trade authority mechanism faces a significant bloc of GOP House opposition and virtually no House Democratic support. Outgoing Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) had undertaken an inclusive process to get input to write his own version of trade authority, which he dubbed Smart Track. That process and its outcome could have broken the bipartisan House opposition to the old Fast Track system.
(snip)
A significant bloc of House GOP does not want to delegate more power to Obama, especially as the GOP has been attacking him as the “imperial president” who grabs legislative authority for his own. Tea party activists oppose Fast Track per se and anything that empowers Obama, which leaves GOP lawmakers who support Fast Track exposed to the dreaded tea party primary threat. To make political matter worse, House GOP lawmakers know that even if the GOP votes were available to pass Fast Track on a party line vote, almost no Democrats will vote to give their own president such authority, so any fallout from future trade pacts would be owned solely by the GOP.
Gridlock does occasionally have its unintended benefits for regular people. Remember, it was only because of Tea Party intransigence that Obama was unable to ram through his cuts to Social Security and Medicare in 2011, after his last "shellacking."

But wait. With the very crafty and sly Mitch McConnell in power, beware of a reprise of the Bill Clinton-Newt Gingrich partnership from hell that saw, among other atrocities, the repeal of Glass-Steagall and the end of direct cash aid to poor people. Obama and McConnell are already plotting a way to "repatriate" offshore wealth stashes at little to no cost to the greedy hoarders. They could also very well sidestep the "fast/smart track authority" stumbling block altogether, and get some kind of a deal passed in full public view, with the full advice and consent of Congress. In oligarchic paradise, anything is possible. Since the whole purpose of capitalism is continued growth, if they have to relinquish their secrecy, so be it. Public opinion be damned.

The majority of Americans declare themselves disgusted with politicians. But far from being chastened, Obama and McConnell appear on the world stage in full triumphalist mode. "I'm optimistic about our future," crowed the president in the wake of his pseudo-whomping. "I have good reason to be."

So we can't let our guard down. Especially in states where they're celebrating pot legalization. The powers that be would love for you to be permanently mellowed out as they get on with their bipartisan creative destruction.

**Potus: Beltway insider-speak for President of the United States.

14 comments:

Pearl said...

Minimum Wage Measures Pass Easily in Four Red States http://bit.ly/1s9YkP4 via @BillMoyersHQ

Perhaps the people who don't support either party will start to push for change now?

Pearl said...

Capitalism Is a Tumor on the Body Politic, What's the Alternative? http://shar.es/10ksnW via @sharethis

Interesting article by Henry Giroux just in.

Denis Neville said...

This was the billionaires' election, billionaires of both parties.

How did the party of FDR as well as the anti-Vietnam and Civil Rights movements morph into today’s Democratic Party elite of bankers, venture capitalists, and technology entrepreneurs?

Smug liberal elites tend to focus on voters being stupid or selfish or both. They talk about the Fox News and talk radio bubble that many Republicans live in. But they inhabit a similar bubble - MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, Stewart and Colbert’s Comedy Central, and Paul “Sloppy Wet Kiss in Defense of Obama” Krugman.

Thomas Frank, “What’s the Matter with Kansas?” on the utter and final repudiation of the Democratic Party’s historical decision to remake themselves as the other pro-business party:

“By all rights the people…should today be flocking to the party of Roosevelt, not deserting it. Culturally speaking, however, that option is simply not available to them anymore. Democrats no longer speak to the people on the losing end of a free-market system that is becoming more brutal and arrogant by the day…But along the way the things that liberalism once stood for – equality and economic security – will have been abandoned completely. Abandoned, let us remember, at the historical moment when we need them most.”

Beware “the gospel of backlash.” “This movement speaks to those at society’s bottom, addresses them on a daily basis. From the left they hear nothing, but from the Cons they get an explanation for it all. Even better, they get a plan of action, a scheme for world conquest with a wedge issue. And why shouldn’t they get to dream their lurid dreams of politics-as-manipulation: They’ve had it done to them enough in reality.”

Why did Kansas voters choose self-destruction? “Liberalism ceased to be relevant to huge portions of its traditional constituency, and we can say that liberalism lost places like Shawnee and Wichita with as much accuracy as we can point out that conservatism won them over.”

Matt Stoller, in his review of Al From's The New Democrats and the Return to Power:

“Everything is put on the table, except the main course-- policy. Did the Democrats run the government well? Are the lives of voters better? Are you as a political party credible when you say you’ll do something?

This question is never asked, because Democratic elites - ensconced in the law firms, foundations, banks, and media executive suites where the real decisions are made - basically agree with each other about organizing governance around the needs of high technology and high finance. The only time the question even comes up now is in an inverted corroded form, when a liberal activist gnashes his or her teeth and wonders-- why can’t Democrats run elections around populist themes and policies? This is still the wrong question, because it assumes the wrong causality. Parties don’t poll for good ideas, run races on them, and then govern. They have ideas, poll to find out how to sell those ideas, and run races and recruit candidates based on the polling. It’s ideas first, then the sales pitch. If the sales pitch is bad, it’s often the best of what can be made of an unpopular stew of ideas.

Still, you’d think that someone somewhere would have populist ideas. And a few - like Zephyr Teachout and Elizabeth Warren - do. But why does every other candidate not? I don’t actually know, but a book just came out that might answer this question. The theory in this book is simple. The current generation of Democratic policymakers were organized and put in power by people that don’t think that a renewed populist agenda centered on antagonism towards centralized economic power is a good idea.” - Matt Stoller, “Why the Democratic Party Acts The Way It Does,”

https://medium.com/@matthewstoller/its-al-froms-democratic-party-we-just-live-here-5d0de7f89c3e

We are the only advanced industrial power in the West that does not have a viable third-party alternative. Who will be our bold leaders to lead grass-roots activism, public protests and demonstrations, and a true, independent third party.

Fred Drumlevitch said...

@Pearl:

Thanks for bringing the new Henry Giroux article to our attention.


@Denis:

Correct, and well-said, Denis. I haven't read the Al From book, but as soon as I saw that its foreword was by Bill Clinton, and that a contributor was Alice McKeon, I figured that it would have some major omissions and spins of analysis (but, ironically, be revealing in its self-justification).

From the publisher's description, which can also be seen at Amazon:

"In 1984, [Al From] led a small band of governors, US senators, and members of Congress to organize the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC). Their mission: to rescue the party from the political wilderness, redefine its message, and, most importantly, win presidential elections. [...] Here, Al From explores the founding philosophy of the New Democrats, which not only achieved stunning validation during Clinton's two terms, but also became the model for resurgent center-left parties in Europe and throughout the democratic world. Here, he outlines for the first time the principles at the heart of the movement, including economic centrism, national security, and entitlement reform, and why they are vital to the success of the Democratic Party in the years ahead."


From the website of the Walker Marchant Group:

"As a vice president at the Walker Marchant Group (WMG), Alice McKeon provides strategic communications, campaign planning and senior-level strategic counsel for clients in the public, private, and non-profit sectors. [...] Previously, Alice served as Press Secretary for the Democratic Leadership Council, handling messaging and materials for a variety of policy and political issues, including the environment, health care, and national security. During her tenure at the DLC, Alice worked with the 2008 Presidential Inaugural Committee, where she assisted the political department with logistics and creating briefing books for Cabinet Members, VIPs, Members of Congress and then-President-elect Barack Obama. [...] Before moving into communications full-time, Alice worked in political research, developing campaign messaging for races all over the country, from Texas to Ohio."


And if all that ain't enough to frost the balls of any genuine progressive, chew on these two quotes from the cover (apologies for my mixing of metaphors):

“'Before 1992, the Democratic Party had moved too far to the left to win national elections. Too little credit is given to Al From, whose book tells the story of how he helped move his party back toward the common sense center.' — Haley Barbour, former governor of Mississippi"

"'The American business community owes a big debt of gratitude to Al From. With vision and persistence he helped lead a major political party back to the principles of private sector growth, trade, jobs, personal responsibility, and fiscal stability. This book proves that the political center can win politically and govern effectively. Both parties — and the American people — would be wise to learn from Al's inspiring story.' — Thomas J. Donohue, President & CEO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce"

Denis Neville said...

Karen, bang on comment to Krugman’s “Triumph of the Wrong”

The best illustration of Obama’s lack of remorse was the Washington Post’s juxtaposed headlines: Obama to Voters: ‘I hear you’ and Obama seems indifferent after another ‘shellacking’

Cenk Uygur, Obama’s upbeat tone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_WAG2CpMtOQ

Tell us of our accommodations in steerage, Mr. President. I hear they are quite good on your corporate ship of state.

Jesse at Cafe American: “Obama was a pawn of the moneyed interests before he even took office. He didn't sell out; he was a well engineered product with a well targeted brand, selected and groomed for it. Less a politician than a thoroughly modern manager, Obama's primary objectives are to please his shareholders, whomever those may be. And they were certainly not the people who voted for him. He is not any kind of progressive or reformer once one scratches the surface.”
http://jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com/2014/11/why-democrats-got-their-clocks-cleaned.html

Bob Herbert, Losing Our Way: An Intimate Portrait of a Troubled America, asks:

“How did this proud and triumphant nation, a dynamic and robust country that served as the economic and cultural model for much of the world, end up in such deep trouble, so deeply wounded? How did we reach a state of affairs in which the outlook had grown so dim? Why was there so much suffering in the United States – families crushed in the economic downturn, thousands upon thousands of GIs struggling with terrible physical and psychic wounds inflicted in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and millions of children whose futures were being foreclosed by poverty and shrinking opportunities?”

How much worse will things have to get before the American people fight back?

Karen Garcia said...

Thanks for the links,everybody. Henry's latest is one of his best in awhile.

I wish Cenk were still on MSNBC instead of being replaced by Obama minion Al Sharpton. His (Cenk's) ouster order is said to have come direct from the Obama White House. Now, I wonder why that is.

Here are my Times comments from today. Krugman again gave Democrats a complete pass and in the process, quoted John Boehner on the need for "belt-tightening." So I did a quick Google search and came up with Obama saying almost the exact same tripe several months BEFORE Boehner:

"We came into office facing a budget deficit of $1.3 trillion for this year alone, and the cost of confronting our economic crisis is high. All across America, families are tightening their belts and making hard choices. Now, Washington must show that same sense of responsibility." -- Barack Obama, weekly radio address, 4/25/09.

Fast forward two years and despite the austerity agenda that began the destruction of the Democratic Party, John Boehner still wouldn't accept Obama's further offers of cuts to Social Security and Medicare. Crazy Tea Party intransigence saved the day. Then.

Fast forward another three years and the awful specter of a Clinton-Gingrich reprise of punishing the poor and rewarding the rich looms large on the horizon. Both Obama and McConnell are anxious to ram the job-destroying corporate coup known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership down our throats. Obama himself, far from chastened at the well-deserved public drubbing of the cowardly and Wall Street-beholden "New Dems" boasted he is not "mopey" at all and even waxed enthusiastic about "taking care of business."

Republicans "won" because the relative handful of older white people who bothered showing up are scared of Ebola, terror, and a black president. Democrats "lost" because they are afraid of being seen as too populist. No one dared utter the words "poverty" and "health care" and "inequality" and "jobs."

Only Elizabeth Warren X 100 could ever redeem this bankrupt vestige of a pity party.

Tim Egan's column today bemoans the boring prospect of a Hillary-Jeb matchup and how we should probably all just take a two-year nap. (One more "centrist" NYT pundit who wants to make you tear your hair out!) My response:

The powers that be would love it if we all fell into a two-year coma. Because behind all that phony gridlock and scandals that the media love to kvetch about, there's plenty being kept out of public view.

How about that corporate coup known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would effectively give sovereignty to multinational corporations, superseding the governments and courts of the 12 individual countries involved? This secretive "free trade" pact would allow such atrocities as making life-saving drugs so expensive that they will be out of the reach of the countries that need them most. The TPP would allow corporations to remove Internet content that they don't like, without benefit judicial process. It would allow Big Tobacco to market its toxic product to children in third world countries. It would override legislation, like Dodd-Frank, that reins in banks.

Barack Obama says he wants to get this deal done by the end of the year. So does Leader-in-Waiting Mitch McConnell. So does that cabal of plutocrats, the US Chamber of Commerce.

Then there's the much-suppressed Senate report on torture. Obama and most of Congress and all of the CIA would love for us to nod off over that one.

The last thing in the world we need is to turn into a nation of Rip Van Winkles. If we do, we'll either wake up in a full-blown oligarchy, or we won't wake up at all.

There's more to being a good citizen than going to the polls every two or four years. Our very lives depend upon it.

Denis Neville said...

That was a sad day when Cenk was replaced by Obama minion Al Sharpton.

Two criminals singing praises for each other: Attorney General Eric Holder has praised Al Sharpton and Sharpton sang the praises for Eric Holder, when Holder resigned.

Matt Taibbi on Attorney General Eric Holder, the chief architect of the crazily elaborate government policy of surrender, secrecy and cover-up:

“Holder's Justice Department struck a series of historic settlement deals with Chase, Citigroup and Bank of America. The root bargain in these deals was cash for secrecy. The banks paid big fines, without trials or even judges – only secret negotiations that typically ended with the public shown nothing but vague, quasi-official papers called "statements of facts," which were conveniently devoid of anything like actual facts.”

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-9-billion-witness-20141106

Al Sharpton says he's helping the White House pick Eric Holder’s replacement as Attorney General.

Glen Ford on the Obama administration’s “go-to guy in the sewers,” Al Sharpton:

“The fact that Al Sharpton is the administration’s “made man” tells us a great deal about what President Obama’s team really thinks about Black people. The White House seems drawn to Sharpton’s amorality and infinite capacity for corruption – his usefulness as pit bull and King Rat.”

http://www.blackagendareport.com/content/al-sharpton-king-rat

Jay - Ottawa said...

NASA is not telling us something. Noticed how we don’t send space ships to the orbiting space lab anymore? The Russians were given a big pat on the back and got suckered into that go-nowhere task. Didn’t you think it odd at the time when the US turned over the fate of its own astronauts to Russia?

NASA must be busy on a hush-hush project that solves all earthly problems, at least for the big dogs. How? By leaving the earth to its fate and moving on to a better, cleaner neighborhood among the stars, a new planet with another couple of hundred years of easy-reach oil in the ground, fresh seas with lots of fish and an earth clean of pesticides. And not too many people. And soon to be, just the right number of very rich people. That’s the only rational explanation for the plutocracy’s sucking the earth and its people dry. They have no intention to weather out the coming storm with the rest of us who will be left behind.

They know climate change is going to do us in within a generation or two, maybe to the point of extinction. Not even their money could buy off the geological and social chaos that is coming down the road. What’s all that money in their hands for?

Spaceflight!

There’s a new movie out about this same thing. You think this is a coincidence? Look closely. The space uniforms and control centers look pretty real to me. Much too realistic and expensive to have been carpentered by set Hollywood set designers. Probably leftovers from the real missions themselves. It's a dog whistle for special people to start packing.

Recent elections in the West, the trade pacts that will soon put an end sovereignty, iPhones and other gadgets, your bank account – that’s all fake stuff to keep you occupied. Look up. They –– the people who really count, the billionaires and their techies –– have found another habitable planet out there among the stars. Their mission is the best way to save our genes, the genes of the human race.

That’s why Obama is not mopey, not wasting time on the economy, immigration, infrastructure, human rights, etc. Now that I know this, I too am not mopey but energized at the prospect that humanity is going forward.

Forget about taking sides in a pseudo-Marxian class war on earth. So yesterday. The issue is the survival of the human race, not the middle class. I think a lot of die-hard Republican and Democratic voters know this in their bones, even if they haven’t read anything serious since their high school copy of “Tom Sawyer.” That's why they keep helping the plutocrats take it all.

We should hope deeply that the 0.01% succeeds at piling up its wealth. Tickets to Earth II are pricey. Human genes themselves, not the middle class, are on the existential line. We should be thankful to the superrich and their helpers for finding the only way out of so many human dilemmas at once with one bold move.

Saviours of the Human Race, Bon Voyage.

Flame Thrower Pearl said...

Jay: Wonderful comment -could be made into a movie like AVATAR. (However, I remember when you had some surgery not long ago and Karen was worried about your brain being affected by the anesthetic and was relieved by reading your lucid comment afterward? This might explain your explanation for your space exploration vision today.)
Kidding aside - wonderful item - makes more sense than reality.However they are bound to develop terrorists in that outer space odyssey - it's in the genes.

Jay - Ottawa said...

Thanks, Pearl. You know, it's all coming back to me gradually. I was made to think I was in a hospital under general anesthesia. But now I dimly recall being kidnapped for a couple of hours by a spaceship. What really astounded me was that Boehner, McConnell and Obama were inside the mothership drinking beer with the aliens while signing some document. I think they sold us down the Milky Way.

Denis Neville said...

Jay said … “The issue is the survival of the human race, not the middle class.”

Bees have been kept for thousands of years. Bees are a barometer of our environment, another canary in the coalmine. We are now facing the prospect of a bee-less world.

“If bees were to disappear, man would only have a few years to live.” — Albert Einstein

The world may be on the brink of biological disaster if bee colonies do not survive. The collapse in the global honeybee population is a major threat to crops. The honey bee population in the United States is vanishing. In recent years honey bee populations across the continent have plummeted by as much as 70%. In 1950's there were 500,000 beekeepers in the US. Now there are less than 1600. Honeybees may be in terminal decline.

The plight of the honey bee affects us all. Our very existence is inextricably linked to bees. The bee's role is very important within the various life cycles of different species. Without bees, there would be no honey, but more importantly, certain plants would not be able to reproduce and would than become extinct. In turn, this would lead to the disappearance of certain animal species. It is estimated that a third of everything we eat depends upon honeybee pollination.

Meanwhile, in the center ring of the GOP denialist circus stands climate science denier (“global warming is a hoax”) Republican Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe, who is slated to become chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee, with oversight of the EPA.

The docile drones who inhabit the right do not want to hear valid science facts. They’ve been told that there will be pie in the sky: “Long-haired preachers come out every night/Try to tell you what's wrong and what's right/But when asked about something to eat/They will answer in voices so sweet 'You will eat, by and by,/In that glorious land above the sky/Work and pray, live on hay - You'll get pie in the sky when you die'/ - that's a lie!”

Spaceflight!

Look up, and you’ll see not pie, but a shiny and unreachable mammoth space station called Elysium orbiting Earth. The billionaires and their techies dwell in the wheel’s enormous rim, breathing an un-fouled atmosphere beside their private pools. Down below, the rest of mankind suffers, devastated planet Earth is just a dust heap and policed by ruthless robots.

The Milky Way … an astronomer's nightmare! Two-thirds of the world's population can no longer look upwards at night and see the Milky Way. The night sky, once the TV set of ancient peoples, is dimming as a result of light pollution: the inadvertent illumination of the atmosphere from street lights, outdoor advertising, homes, schools, airports and other sources. Every night billions of bulbs send their energy skyward where microscopic bits of matter - air molecules, airborne dust, and water vapor droplets -reflect much of the wasted light back to Earth.

Fred Drumlevitch said...

From Karen's sidebar (Jonathan Turley's blog):

http://jonathanturley.org/2014/11/08/canadian-students-not-accepted-at-new-elite-college-at-the-university-of-british-columbia/

Link wording suggests what this is about. At first glance, it might seem off-topic. But of course it's not. As Henry Giroux, elsewhere, often emphasizes, so many aspects of what's wrong in many places, but most extremely, here in the U.S. --- militarism and imperialism, globalism/ corporatism/ unfettered capitalism, educational co-optation and elitism, excessive profit-making on health care services and inadequate access --- are all interconnected, and often mutually reinforcing, in a system that pays little attention to genuine needs and desires. This latest item, from Canada, actually fits right in.

Comments, Canadian (and other) readers?

Karen Garcia said...

Jay,

Your scenario sounds like a variation of Robert Heinlein's "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" which unfortunately became one of the gospels of libertarianism, along with the Ayn Rand ouevre. I started reading it a long time ago, and had to quit after a couple of chapters. And to think Heinlein was once a lefty radical and friend of Upton Sinclair.

They actually discovered a planet in deep space made completely of diamonds. I suggested I think in the Times commenting section, that the zillionaires take a one way trip in that direction.

And Fred, I always enjoy reading Turley because of his sharp legal mind, humor, versatility re subject matter, and true nonpartisanship, all too rare in the blogsosphere.

Jay - Ottawa said...

When the People’s Republic of China suggested, ever so diplomatically, it was time for the Union Jack be lowered, folded and taken back where it came from, waves of Hong Kong Chinese bought first-class, one-way tickets to British Columbia. Haven’t we known for a long time that the PRC would sooner than later harmonize HK ways with mainland ways?

Unlike so many other immigrants around the world, HK immigrants land in their new homes with fat wallets. Vancouver seems to have attracted more of them than other cities along the Pacific Rim. Beautiful Vancouver isn’t quite “there” yet, but it may some day be the new Hong Kong. True, the BC cost of living has skyrocketed and crime stats aren’t far behind. Even though fortune cookies are often stale and encapsule downers, that’s no reason to avoid Chinese restaurants.

Canada needs people. In terms of land mass, Canada is the second largest sovereign state on the globe. But it’s only got around 33 million people spread across its six time zones. Canada decided a while back to encourage immigration in order to realize its potential.

Full Disclosure: I am not an alum of UBC, I have never set foot in Vancouver, the only article I’ve ever read about Vantage is the one on Turley’s site, and I am not now, nor have I ever been, either rich or Chinese.

At the core of objections over Vantage is Political Correctness. So what’s new about colleges strictly for the rich? Vantage is no pioneer on that score. So what if a college dedicates itself to a special group? Have we no precedents? Is Vantage taking money away from the rest of UBC, or do we keep reading instead that Vantage will become a cash cow for UBC with hunks of Vantage money going to other colleges within UBC? Yes, it’s for the rich; but if the rich (for once) pay full price plus tax and a kickback to the poorer colleges to make up for Conservative PM Harper’s austerity binge, aren’t we thrilled?

Yes, but Vantage will only admit foreigners. So what? Canadian students still have an abundance of fine schools to go to across this land. Or they can get student visas easily to cross the border into the US system.

Some context: Bryn Mawr is an outstanding school. And very exclusive. None of you brainy guys, even if you’re rich, need apply. Why not? Because you aren’t members of that special class called ‘women.’ And Bryn Mawr is only one of the so-called Seven Sisters. Hey, guys, let’s picket them.

Take a look at Barnard. For over a hundred years as an exclusive women’s college (highest rejection rate in its category, so I’m not scraping the bottom of the barrel to come up with this example), Barnard has been a side-car campus to the giant machine called Columbia University.

How about Morehouse College? This time, possibly two barriers you can’t overcome, because Morehouse is a college for black men. As for such places turning out narrow-minded ring knockers, Martin Luther King, Jr. was one of its graduates. True, Morehouse, like other historically black liberal arts colleges for men is loosening up and admitting a handful of whites. Still, looking over its long history, I have nothing to complain about. The country was a much better place because of such “exclusive” institutions.

One more exclusive college comes to mind: Gallaudet. Oliver Sacks wrote about Gallaudet, the college for the deaf, in “Seeing Voices.”

Yes, let’s cut Vantage a little slack. Its students have serious language and cultural needs that deserve special attention. Otherwise, they might fail. The foreign students of Vantage, many of whom are marking time until they qualify for citizenship, will regularly rub shoulders with students on the larger campus of UBC, as well as the BC locals of Vancouver. Vantage is not a walled ghetto.

Medical workers sometimes whine and have to be reminded of something by their peers: The patient is the patient. In the UBC context, the Canadian student is not the patient, the Vantage student is, even though he or she is rich and pampered. Drop the political correctness and grab the money.