Monday, October 22, 2007

How Bill Clinton set the stage for George W. Bush

Ed Brayton at Dispatches from the Culture Wars presents some of the evidence that Clinton's presidency differed in degree, not kind, from Bush's:
If you despise the Bush administration for weakening constitutional protections, zealously increasing executive authority and weakening the checks and balances inherent in our constitutional scheme, preferring secrecy to accountability, being in the pocket of big business and sending American troops on one foreign military adventure after another, you should recognize that the Clinton administration that preceded this one differed only by degree, not kind, on those matters. And there is little reason to believe that a second Clinton administration would be all that much better.
The book All the President's Spin, by the folks who ran the blog during Bush's first term, makes a similar point about how Clinton managed the media.

It was under Clinton that we got not one but two attempts to censor the Internet with the Communications Decency Act.

On the other hand, there were far fewer American lives lost in military action and we did get the export controls on encryption loosened, so that users of PGP didn't become criminal exporters of munitions just by carrying a laptop to another country.

In a conversation last week, a friend of mine suggested that Hillary Clinton will win the presidency and will demonstrate her military hawkishness by doing something like invading Syria, and will end up making followers out of the right-wingers who currently hate her, ultimately sending us further down the road towards fascism and complete disregard for the rule of law.


Michael C. Rush said...

Of possible relevance:

Hume's Ghost said...

I have to disagree with your friend. There is nothing Hillary Clinton can possibly do that will make the conservative movement or "right-wingers" (I use the scare quotes because I hate using the right/left dichotomy) will ever approve of her. There is already an increase in rhetoric from pundits equating "liberals" with being fascists or Nazis, and a developing narrative that there is a Hillary/Soros conspiracy to install a fascist/socialist/S-P one world goverment.

I think what will lead us further down the road to fascism is this:

Authoritarians within the conservative movement are comfortable investing their leaders with vast power beyond the rule of law. But when that power is in the hand of The Enemy (Democrats) they are thrown into a panic that they are living under a nightmare totalitarian regime.

If Hillary gets elected I expect the militia movements and survivalists will come back out of the woodward and start arming and training themselves to conquer their "fascist socialist" (borrowing pseudo-libertarian Neal Boortz's terminology) president. And I would not be surprised if someone - perhaps one of the returning neo-nazis (that have infiltrated the army) vet comes back and believing he's been stabbed in the back by "liberals" decides to take Coulter up on her suggestion and blows up the New York Times.

That Democrats continue to attempt to triangulate Republicans contributes to this dynamic. As they shift right (The Economist observed that Clinton's foreign policy would be considered conservative in just about any other western democracy), reactionary movement conservatives shift even further right.

This see-sawing I fear is going to stress democracy past a breaking point.

olvlzl said...

The problem of Democratic triangulation is a direct result of the media being lock-step with Republican-fascism. Any Democrat who speaks up for democracy or anti-militarism will immediately be targeted by the fascist media which is in full control of broadcast and cable. That is the environment that any progressive politician has to live in. It is the reason that Bill Clinton accepted a lot of things that I am certain he wouldn't have if the political world in the United States was better. Ironically, it will will only be if federal laws break up and force diversification of the electronic media that the situation doesn't promote the policies we all deplore. Pretending that "the media" exists in the state that print has for the past two-hundred years is willfully unrealistic. Broadcast and cable have overturned that situation, ignoring that fact is the greatest danger to democracy in the United States today. "The market" is what has produced the situation governing political reality, it is the problem, not the solution. Hillary Clinton isn't the problem, she's not even a remote danger, Democrats are the last glimmer of hope, faint though that might be.

olvlzl said...

Just as a point of interest, the random character generator just came up with "jsuyja". Perhaps it's a sign?

Einzige said...

So, olvlzl, your solution to the media being in "lock-step" with the government is greater control of the media by that same government? (What else would you call the enforcement of content, which is essentially what you are proposing?)

olvlzl said...

Einzige, this is what I said:

Ironically, it will will only be if federal laws break up and force diversification of the electronic media that the situation doesn't promote the policies we all deplore.

Where in that do you find any kind of content regulation? Looking at things like this from a preddetermined ideological vantage point results in seeing what you want to or expect to see. I don't believe in the market religion, I am not a free speech absolutist, I believe that "freedom of the press" is a right given to corporate entities only for the purpose of them serving democracy through informing the public so they can make informed decisions. If the press doesn't serve the interests of democracy no one will have to take away that right, they have ensured its loss by betraying its guarantors. A press that doesn't serve honesty and the truth has no reason to exist.

It is The Market which will always and in every case, when possible, regulate content to its own advantage. It was with the destruction of the Fairness Doctrine under Reagan that any diversity in broadcast disappeared. The absolute proof that an unregulated media market will result in a homogenized, biased, dishonest and self-interested "news" environment is here to be seen in the United States today.

Einzige said...

You're going to have to clarify what you mean when you say "force diversification of the electronic media", if that doesn't mean, in effect, some form of prescriptive content regulation.

Wasn't the Fairness Doctrine, in essence, regulation of content?

Isn't the assertion that "the press must serve the interests of Democracy" an explicit declaration that its content must be regulated?

It is The Market which will always and in every case, when possible, regulate content to its own advantage.

The mistake you're making there is in believing that it's the media that "regulates" anything. If we accept the notion that the news media is very often indistinguishable from entertainment (and I'm not one to argue against that) then its content - whether true or false - is entirely the fault of the consuming public. Profits, in a free society, are greatest when you give the people what they want.

Einzige said...

One last thing...

"A press that doesn't serve honesty and the truth has no reason to exist."

Who's "honesty"? What truth, olvlzl?

My impression of your "truth", to the extent that you believe in socialism, is that it is complete lunacy. When we're deciding what goes on the boob tube, then, who gets to be the arbiter between us?

Who decides "the truth" between Jews and Muslims? How about between Catholics and Protestants?

Who? A democratic majority? A Republican Christian president?

Lippard said...

Einzige: olvlzl means diversification of ownership, not content prescriptions.

I think we've had a huge burst of diversification of ownership with the Internet, though we're moving back to consolidation in some areas (e.g., U.S. telecom).

Einzige said...

Diversification of ownership is no guarantee that they'll suddenly start "serving the public" in the sense that olvlzl means.

It's certainly no protection against "a homogenized, biased, dishonest and self-interested" media, since that's what olvlzl thinks we have today, in spite of the reality that we have much more diverse means of obtaining news today than we did in the Reagan era.

Hume's Ghost said...

I'm opposed to the Fairness Doctrine but along with public financing of election I consider undoing the deregulation of the media one of the most vital steps we must take to restore democracy.

Back in the early 80s about 50 corporations owned the majority of the media. That's down to about four or five. I look at that precipitous decline as being concomitant to the decline and erosion of American democracy. It's tantamount to a re-feudalization of the public sphere.

Take NBC for instance. BIll O'Reilly calls them a far left S-P America hating station. That "S-P" station is owned by GE. GE makes money off of military contracts. GE makes money when we go to war. Seems like a conflict of interest doesn't it?

Here's a resource on media reform.

olvlzl said...

Einzige, the truth, For example, the facts as discovered by a reporter, supported by two independent sources judged by the reporter and their editor to be reliable and truly independent and published after this process is complete. The truth relied on by voters to cast an informed vote is the product of hearing these truths, and in much rarer circumstances today, of reading it. You remember, the kind of thing the media used to do before they were allowed to not serve the public interest.

The Fairness Doctrine was not content regulation, it was content neutral except in that a broadcaster couldn't slant their content to a particular side. It didn't matter what side it was.

Isn't the assertion that "the press must serve the interests of Democracy" an explicit declaration that its content must be regulated?

Whatever else it might be, it's a simple matter of fact that an uninformed public or one that is kept from knowing reality will be unable to govern themselves and almost certainly some form of despotism will gladly step into the vacuum. Unless the press serves the interest of democracy it will lose freedom of the press which only exists within the framework of a democracy. If the press lies to the public, they won't be able to print things the despot that results doesn't want them to. Freedom of the press is something you use or you lose. And, in the process, we all do.

Jim Lippard, there is media and then there is media. The media that is most effective, that the most people get their "news" from is the media that really matters politically. The oligarchs of the United States have been perfecting the art of controlling that media and using it to marginalize other media, ridiculing reality and making it respectable, in effect. It really doesn't have much of a political effect if an under-financed, tiny magazine publishes the truth if it's drowned out by the voices of the corporate state. I'd say TV and right-wing talk radio have had such a damaging effect on the population that it will take a lot of work to fix the damage to democracy.

Ideology is no substitute for facing reality. Democracy is about extinct and it is the unregulated media that has killed it.

By the way, Einzige, before this goes on much father, you are the first to call names on this thread.

Einzige said...

Whom did I call what name?

Hume's Ghost said...

I also would suggest that the profit driven orientation of corporate media contributes to the news as entertainment angle of the news. Last night O'Reilly (can you tell hating him is my hobby-horse?)cited his ratings to "prove" NBC hates America.

What we need is journalists who are willing to live by these principles and editors/publishers who believe in them and put principle before profit.

I can't recommend THe Elements of Journalism highly enough. I think every citizen should read it (it only takes an afternoon.)

olvlzl said...

Einzige, sorry for the imprecision, I had an appointment to call someone at 2:00 my time, 11 on this blog so I was sloppy in my phrasing. I should have said the first to make disparaging, personal remarks.

olvlzl said...

And this could read, ridiculing reality and making it un-respectable, in effect.

Einzige said...

As near as I can figure it, you are considering my assertion that I think a belief in socialism is complete lunacy to be a disparaging personal remark. Right?

Well... um... okay, I guess.

olvlzl said...

So,you were implying I was a lunatic but you meant it in the nicest possible way. Interesting, as Mr. Spock might have said.

Just for your information, the socialism comes from my experience that unregulated capitalism is a danger to democracy. Democracy is the basic value, socialism is just in support of democracy. I'd have to say that anyone who witnessed the last thirty years in the United States and didn't think the situation of relying on markets to provide people with the information they need to cast an informed vote has been out in the moonlight too long. It is sheer silliness to believe that markets, when able won't propagandize people in the direction of their own financial interest. Anyone who had experienced advertising and not realized that probably shouldn't be allowed to handle significant amounts of money.

Einzige said...

You might be interested in my critique of democracy, here.

If democracy is the basic value, then should whatever gets decided in a democracy automatically be considered "just"?

I vehemently disagree that there has been such a thing as "unregulated capitalism" in this country in the last 30 years.

It is sheer silliness to believe that governments, when able, won't propagandize people in the direction of their own financial interest.

Unlike governments, the "market" is a pure abstraction. As such, "it" doesn't exist in such a way that "it" can "propagandize" anything. The "market" is you and me and everyone else, too.

Lippard said...

The media that most people get their news from has changed several times in the last century and I believe it's in the process of changing again.

Newspapers->radio->Broadcast television->Cable television->Internet

Actually, all of these are in the process of merging into Internet-provided media.

Don't underestimate peer production of content. I think we're going to start seeing more and more cases of Internet peer-produced media hitting mainstream consumers (bubbling up from thousands/millions of niche audiences along the "long tail").

olvlzl said...

If democracy is the basic value, then should whatever gets decided in a democracy automatically be considered "just"?

Only if you are the victim of habitual all-or-nothing thinking. In order for democracy to be superior to the alternatives it only has to be better, not perfect. Seems I heard someone say something like that before. What's your alternative?
As you can see from my part in this I recognize that democracy depends on an informed citizenry, it also depends on a sense of the common good and of basic justice and equality. I have to say that this exchange has pointed something out to me about which I'm going to be writing at length.

It is sheer silliness to believe that governments, when able, won't propagandize people in the direction of their own financial interest.

The CBC which is solely funded by the Canadian government is many times more critical of the government than the commercial American media is of Republican governments here. The BBC used to be much more critical, though its performance is more uneven. Many of the European national services do a far better job than the American corporate media do in reporting the news. For crying out loud, before it was ruined under Reagan the VOA did a better job than the commercial media does and its mandate was to promote the United States. Again, it's that all-or-nothing thinking getting in the way of the real world. It's the cost of an ideological way of looking at things.

"The Market" is in no way pure, even Adam Smith knew that given the chance most capitalists will rig the thing in their favor. I think it wasn't Marx who pointed out that not only would they, the market is bound to reward those who do rig things in their favor and to the loss of most people. Your definition of The Market as all of us is chamber of commerce piety, it's hogwash in reality. The highest profit at the lowest cost, WalMart junk instead of jobs at living wages. Wow, what a deal.

The Market doesn't propagandize? You do own a TV, don't you?

olvlzl said...

Jim Lippard, How many people get their news from the internet? How many from print? Now, compare that to those who get it from TV and radio. And what internet sources are they using? If it's FOX or MSNBC they might as well be getting the lies through their ears.

Lippard said...

olvlzl: A *growing* number of people get their news from the Internet, especially among younger people. Sources like blogs are more and more frequently breaking stories that are then picked up by the mainstream media.

AT&T, Verizon, and Qwest are already offering digital television over the same physical circuits they use for Internet to the home, as are the cable companies.