Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Sunday Night

with 6 comments

* Understanding fracking.

* Fewer than half the leases require companies to compensate landowners for water contamination after drilling begins. And only about half the documents have language that lawyers suggest should be included to require payment for damages to livestock or crops.

* Most leases grant gas companies broad rights to decide where they can cut down trees, store chemicals, build roads and drill. Companies are also permitted to operate generators and spotlights through the night near homes during drilling.

* In the leases, drilling companies rarely describe to landowners the potential environmental and other risks that federal laws require them to disclose in filings to investors.

* Most leases are for three or five years, but at least two-thirds of those reviewed by The Times allow extensions without additional approval from landowners. If landowners have second thoughts about drilling on their land or want to negotiate for more money, they may be out of luck.

* There is not a single new manned combat aircraft under research and development at any major Western aerospace company, and the Air Force is training more operators of unmanned aerial systems than fighter and bomber pilots combined. The drones of war.

* The New York Times on the new student activism.

* Germany as postwar America.

* And Mitt Romney, struggling to break out of his tailspin in Florida, tests out his dog whistle. I’m genuinely curious if people see some non-racist interpretation of this claim. What does it mean to assert, in the face of all available evidence, that Barack Obama has never had a job? What would motivate Mitt Romney say such a trivially untrue thing, and what would motivate a crowd to respond approvingly? If this is racism, it is easy to understand; if it isn’t racism, it’s almost impossible. I think Amanda Marcotte probably had the best line on all this a few days ago, when it was Gingrich with basically the same line on Juan Williams: “Gingrich is so committed to ‘black people don’t work,’ he claims it of a man he knows in a professional capacity.” That’s Romney tonight.

6 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. “I’m genuinely curious if people see some non-racist interpretation of this claim. What does it mean to assert, in the face of all available evidence, that Barack Obama has never had a job? What would motivate Mitt Romney say such a trivially untrue thing, and what would motivate a crowd to respond approvingly?”

    Obviously racism is central to this claim. But it’s inextricable from another sort of bias too, namely, about what is and isn’t “real work”. Think about what Romeny might say if called on this claim: he’d simply dismiss teaching, community organizing and being a politician as not counting as jobs. The idea that there is a parasitic elite (which David Graeber said such interesting things about in the pdf you linked to yesterday) — who may have “jobs” but don’t have *jobs* — is central here. You could even argue that it’s more central — I think that that Romney might say this to a white man with Obama’s CV too. (I remember Robert Reich talking about a radio interview in his memor of being Labor Secretary, and someone asked him if he’d ever worked a day in his life (or words to that effect), and he mentioned he taught, and the caller took this as “no”.) I don’t know if I’d go that far, but I’d be tempted to.

    Now, again, I’m not saying that racism isn’t central to it. (A big part of demonizing the cultural elite, of course, is the usually implicit, sometimes explicit claim that one of their parasitic functions is to take money from deservnig whites and give it to undeserving blacks.) The two biases grew up together, played in a sandbox together, went to school together, and were the best men at each other’s weddings: they are, as the saying goes, inseparable. But I think that the other bias is doing its fair share of the work here too.

    SF

    Stephen Frug

    January 23, 2012 at 10:55 am

    • Think about what Romney might say if called on this claim: he’d simply dismiss teaching, community organizing and being a politician as not counting as jobs.

      Sure, I thought about this. But how can “vulture capitalist” count as a job if those things — and especially “attorney,” which is work Obama did as part of a private firm in the 1990s, a “job” even within the very narrow scope of the term you’re talking about here — don’t? That’s putting aside the fact that Romney had everything handed to him from the day he was born and Obama had to work for everything he got.

      I think it’s possible that Romney would say what he said of a white man with Obama’s CV, but honestly I doubt it, just as Newt hasn’t found time to berate any white journalists for not knowing what work is. I definitely saw Internet commenters saying this sort of thing about John Kerry in 2004, but I don’t recall it reaching the level of campaign surrogate, much less coming out of the mouth of the actual candidate.

      gerrycanavan

      January 23, 2012 at 11:05 am

      • “But how can “vulture capitalist” count as a job if those things — and especially “attorney,” which is work Obama did as part of a private firm in the 1990s, a “job” even within the very narrow scope of the term you’re talking about here — don’t? That’s putting aside the fact that Romney had everything handed to him from the day he was born and Obama had to work for everything he got.”

        Well, obviously it can’t if we’re talking about any minimal standard of honesty or truth, but we’re talking about conservative rhetoric here. And I think the basic progression here is that the liberal elite jobs don’t count, and that ones that feel manly and tough and conservative do.

        Which isn’t to say that your boy Newt couldn’t possibly do something good with *Romney* never having had a job, somewhat along the lines that vulture capitalist doesn’t count either, if it weren’t for the awkward facts of his own CV. (Hell, maybe he will anyway.)

        Another way to put the same point: I think the criteria is that anything done for any values *besides* money don’t count. Vulture capitalists are all about Gordon Gekko values, so they do count. Again, not saying this is a defensible position, just how (it looks to me like) they think.

        Making people who have everything handed to them seem like workers, and those who have to scrabble for anything seem like moochers is how they roll, and they’re good at it. It’s central to who they are. As I said above, race is a key part of this, but I don’t think it’s all of it.

        As for whether he’d say it of a white man… it’s a counterfactual, so it’s hard to say. Certainly lots of stuff is said about Obama that flat-out wouldn’t be said of a white man, that is clearly just racial dogwhistles (or just out-and-out whisltes) — “food stamp president” being the most prominent example. But I’m not sure this counts. I grant your point that it was said by internet commentators not surrogates (or candidates) in 2004, but I’m not sure it’s dispositive: after all, a lot of this campaign has featured things previously said only by net commentators said by surrogates or candidates. The bile is trickling up. So I think maybe. But, again, yeah, it’s hard to say.

        SF

        Stephen Frug

        January 23, 2012 at 11:28 am

      • > I think the criteria is that anything done for any values *besides* money don’t count.

        Ooh, could this really be it? Let’s trot out some conservative values jobs and see if it breaks the hypothesis:

        Is a minister a real job? Or a writer for a think tank? What about an anti-abortion community organizer?

        Alex Chaffee

        January 23, 2012 at 12:53 pm

      • Ooh, could this really be it? Let’s trot out some conservative values jobs and see if it breaks the hypothesis: Is a minister a real job? Or a writer for a think tank? What about an anti-abortion community organizer?

        Eh, maybe. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear them say that ministers & anti-abortion activits are selfless people who have forgone jobs (i.e. vulturistic capitalist enterprises) in order to serve higher callings. And certainly think-tank writers are parasitic elites not job-holders — not Romney contrasts himself quite explicitly with those who work in any government or quasi-governmental capacity.

        I mean, sure, at some level there’s a rhetorical disjunction here, which is just to say that the lines of conserative fushionism are (always already) breaking between the (so-called) values wing and the (so-called) laissez faire wing. You can always cite rhetoric from the former as coutner-examples of rhetoric from the latter — not sure what it proves except that there are fault lines within conservative rhetoric.

        Stephen Frug

        January 23, 2012 at 1:33 pm

      • Just as a data point, the “never had a job” line was flung at Kerry with specific, explicit reference to his military service. So this particular ideological snakepit contains multitudes.

        gerrycanavan

        January 23, 2012 at 1:35 pm


Leave a Reply to gerrycanavan Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: