Wednesday, March 04, 2009

A Listening Session

The only thing worse than the Obama administration's rabble-rousing hatred of billionaires is its patrician contempt for the common man.

Claire Suddath reports; you decide:

Last Friday, Vice President Joe Biden and seven White House cabinet members traveled to Philadelphia to kick off the inaugural gathering of President Obama's Middle Class Task Force. The task force will convene monthly in cities across the country to confront the problems faced by average Americans. It's an admirable goal....

Still, the middle class may have a better shot at making ends meet than at influencing the Middle Class Task Force. That's because no member of the Middle Class Task Force is actually middle class.
Worse yet, they're not even interested in getting input from the middle class...unless it comes from people who are able to go "online," and "surf" the "web":
While middle class Americans are invited to submit questions and ideas through the task force's website, and tickets for the Philadelphia meeting were distributed to labor and environmental groups, the task force did not accept questions from the audience.
Okay, so maybe this callous plutocratic task force is seeking a certain amount of middle-class "influence," through some kind of impersonal computerized punchcard system that only a PhD could master. But that only makes matters worse, amirite?

And besides, these people are so goddamn smug with all their talk of progress, and helping people, and stuff.
In Philadelphia, the task force members and panelists spent a long time congratulating one another one on their good intentions before turning to the meeting's single topic: green jobs. The stimulus package bestows $500 million for green job training programs, $6 billion in loan guarantees for green industries, and $5 billion for a weatherization assistance program that could save homeowners up to $350 per year on utilities. Van Jones, president of Green For All, made an impassioned plea to "give young people the chance to put down that handgun and pick up a caulking gun." Greg Nelson, official Middle Class Task Force liveblogger, commented on an argument between representatives from Portland, Los Angeles, and Philly, who tried to out-green each other for the title of most environmentally friendly city.
A veritable Walpurgisnacht, you'll agree. It's like the Bilderbergers, Bohemian Grove and a Skull and Bones hazing rolled into one; the only thing missing is Henry Kissinger prancing around in the nude with a lampshade on his head.

It may seem as though this narcissistic, cyber-elitist task force has a few ideas that could possibly benefit the middle class, sort of. But what if those ideas don't work? And what if they do work, but only to an extent that is not yet known? What do we really know about anything, when you come right down to it? Why does every dialectic take refuge in negation, without founding it dialectically and without even being able to establish it as a problem? And more to the point, who threw the overalls in Mrs. Murphy's chowder?
The task force didn't specify the number of jobs it hoped to create in the green sector, or how much of an impact the programs are expected to have on the middle class as a whole. Annie Tomasini, Biden's deputy press secretary, says the Philadelphia meeting was just "a listening session" and that the task force will not actually make any decisions regarding green job creation. They'll have to go back to Washington to do that.
And that, remarkably, is where the article ends.

This appears to be the latest MO for AP writers: present a snapshot of a process that has barely begun, and compare it unfavorably to whatever outcome the process is intended to accomplish. If part of the process is to decide what ought to be accomplished, and how, so much the better, because this proves that nobody knows anything and all is darkness.

Be sure to tune in next week, when Suddath blows the whistle on Martha Stewart: she says she's making a cake, but all we see is some sort of unappetizing yellowish mess in a bowl. She calls it "batter," and maybe it is. But what if it isn't? Remember, too, that cakes sometimes fall, or burn. This one may not, granted, but it's also true that some people don't like cake, while others like it perhaps too well. Isn't she being rather imperious on the one hand, and rather irresponsible on the other?

Some say "yes," and some say "absolutely." Time will tell who's right. But for now, it seems very likely that no good can come of any of this.

(Illustration: The inaugural gathering of President Obama's Middle Class Task Force. Photo courtesy of AP.)


Anonymous said...

I'd "borrow" the excellent and very funny Martha Stewart analysis you employ here to counter knee-jerk stimulus opponents, but I don't think they'd understand the device. Instead they'd recognize the tone and nod enthusiastically and say, "I know, right?"

Jazzbumpa said...

To Festoonic's point (but otherwise totally off topic)have you ever had the experience of, for comic/ironic effect, interjecting into a conversation the most absurd, over the top thing you can think of, and have your interlocutor nod, and say something along the lines of, "You know, that's right, Bubba!"

Then what the hell do you do?

WV: revicou. I think this is the answer to my question.

Anonymous said...

"give young people the chance to put down that handgun and pick up a caulking gun"

Oh, so they're creating jobs for THOSE kind of people.

Anonymous said...

Freemasonry opens doors, you know.

Nice to see AP further embellishing its reputation for journamalistic excellence.