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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

watch it: “Franklin Roosevelt -Second Bill of Rights”

Remember America? *sigh* It used to be awesome



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  • JSW

    Provided, of course, you weren’t Japanese.

  • Bluejay

    MaryAnn, since you look favorably on FDR–and, I assume, on the New Deal–I thought I’d bring this article to your attention. (I posted something similar on the latest “Obama weekly address” thread.)

    Some relevant excerpts (emphasis mine):

    Yet there is one extremely consequential area where Obama has done just about everything a liberal could ask for–but done it so quietly that almost no one, including most liberals, has noticed. Obama’s three Republican predecessors were all committed to weakening or even destroying the country’s regulatory apparatus: the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the other agencies that are supposed to protect workers and consumers by regulating business practices. Now Obama is seeking to rebuild these battered institutions. In doing so, he isn’t simply improving the effectiveness of various government offices or making scattered progress on a few issues; he is resuscitating an entire philosophy of government with roots in the Progressive era of the early twentieth century. […] Indeed, the flow of expertise into the federal bureaucracy over the past year has been reminiscent of what took place at the start of the New Deal.

    Steve Benen adds:

    These are the kind of changes that have an enormous impact on the public, but which few of us even consider when evaluating a presidency. We’re dealing with obscure government officials in unseen government offices. When they do their jobs well, we have no reason to even notice. When they do their jobs poorly, it’s probably because there’s a Republican in the White House who’s unconcerned about public safeguards.

    It’s the kind of detail few Americans consider before voting, but when a president takes office, he/she does more than just become the head of the White House and a political party; he/she also leads a large federal bureaucracy with vast regulatory power.

    Just wanted to offer it as some context, next time you feel like dismissing this president out of hand. :-)

  • MaryAnn

    Provided, of course, you weren’t Japanese.

    Yes. That’s true. *sigh*

    Just wanted to offer it as some context, next time you feel like dismissing this president out of hand. :-)

    If were dismissing Obama out of hand, I wouldn’t be writing about him — and complaining about him — at all.

    To suggest that Obama is “progessive,” however, makes me laugh. He’s not even left of center. Corporate interests are still running the White House. If merely ensuring that a couple of regulrtory agencies are doing the already hobbled jobs they’re supposed to be doing is “progressive,” we’re in big trouble.

  • JoshB

    To suggest that Obama is “progessive,” however, makes me laugh. He’s not even left of center.

    And this is why framing politics in terms of the left-right spectrum is an exercise in futility.

    To the “right” Obama is a starry-eyed leftist, to the “left” he’s a right-winger in sheep’s clothing. Sort out at whirlpool of incoherence and you will know the sound of one hand clapping.

  • JoshB

    Sort out at whirlpool

    Sort out that.

    Sigh.

  • misterb

    Being progressive is a relative thing – progress depends on where you’re starting from. Those people who think of Obama as regressive are starting from the left and vice versa. However, Bluejay made a very good point. If Obama can repair the functioning of the Federal government from a decade of neglect, he blunts much of the anti-government rhetoric even though he won’t garner much press for his accomplishments. If that ends up being his legacy, he’ll have something to be proud of.

  • Bluejay

    If merely ensuring that a couple of regulrtory agencies are doing the already hobbled jobs they’re supposed to be doing is “progressive,” we’re in big trouble.

    It’s not just a couple of agencies. It’s across the board. And if the various agencies of the Federal government actually do function as they’re supposed to, we’ll be in a lot better shape than we were in for years.

    If were dismissing Obama out of hand, I wouldn’t be writing about him — and complaining about him — at all.

    That’s true. I appreciate that you do care enough to call attention to his policies on a regular basis.

    I just feel that if we only hear the complaints (not just from you, but in general), and never recognize significant accomplishments that we take for granted, we’ll get a skewed picture of this administration that’s more negative than it really is. Then we’ll be demoralized, and won’t show up at the polls. Then power is turned over to people we disagree with even more. And how does that help our cause?

    Of course, it’s your prerogative to focus only on the negative. Maybe I’ll just be the one who occasionally pops up to point out the good stuff.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    To suggest that Obama is “progessive,” however, makes me laugh.

    It should, cause it was never true. There were only ever two sorts of people who believed it: the sort who consider anyone left of Joe Lieberman to be a “leftist” and/or “socialist”; the sort enjoying the happy fantasy that a politician openly representing either political extreme could get elected president.

    He’s not even left of center.

    What is he then? Right of center? Maybe, but I think his policy goals would be different. He’d still get the same traction, though. Besides, take as an aggregate whole, the United States is right of center, and pretty much always has been.

    Corporate interests are still running the White House.

    Oh, so he’s well right of center? Is that your belief?

    If merely ensuring that a couple of regulrtory agencies are doing the already hobbled jobs they’re supposed to be doing is “progressive,” we’re in big trouble.

    To the far right, who find all regulation abhorrent, it is. That’s too be expected. But you describing it as such suggests that the far right is still controlling the conversation. That’s happening because the left is too busy squabbling over “who’s progressive enough” and “who’s too progressive”. Meanwhile, reaffirming the ability of regulatory agencies to do their job is an important incremental step toward the large scale goals.

    I appreciate that you expect Obama to change the face of America. I just wish you’d realize that it won’t happen overnight. Because even if it did, it wouldn’t last.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Y’know what? I retract everything I just said up there. Because trying to even think about having a rational conversation about politics (or religion, for that matter) on the Intarwebs just gives me a fucking headache.

    At least the sex conversations are fun.

  • Paul

    Obama isn’t the first president to have a rocky first year, and he won’t be the last. Let’s let the guy find his feet. He has a lot of damage to undo before he gets around to actual progress.

    And this is with the conservatives of both parties making his life hell even over moderate policies, and the Congress hijacking his Iran policy. Recently the Senate passed a bill requiring sancations against Iran over the nuclear issue, when our own intelligence agencies assert that Iran gave up on making nukes in 2003.

  • It used to be awesome…

    Oh, yes. Apart from Japanese internment camps, Jim Crow, lynchings, segregated military units, and the fact that people of my paternal ancestry could still get killed for daring to demand equal service in a restaurant while wearing an American military uniform, the America of FDR’s time was just awesome

    Seriously, if you think the progress being made by the current administration is frustrating, try researching the history of the American labor movement or the American civil rights movement some time.

    Few of the reforms we take for granted today took place overnight. More often, they were the result of long years of political effort.

    And while I don’t blame you for being impatient, I can’t but wonder how many reforms we take for granted today would be possible if the would-be reformers had threatened to leave the country every time they faced a bit of opposition.

    In other words, it might be time to talk more about what we can do and less about what we can’t do.

  • LaSargenta

    Pretty much seconding all that Tonio wrote…except it is by observation rather than my family’s personal experience as I’m white and so is nearly all of my family and even the Jewish part is also Sicilian, so they tended to get the “Wop” thing rather than the “Hebe/Kike” thing until people knew what religion they were.

    Yeah. Fucking awesome.

    And, change takes a really long time. My father was a long-time labor activist — from the early 1940’s when he worked in a chemical factory while in high school (which cause a permanent hole in his septum from fumes) until the day he died in 2008 after working in a labor union since 1949 — and saw a lot of changes and unfortunately, lived long enough to see it moving back against many of the changes he had helped create. We didn’t have half-way decent worker protection laws until 1971: OSHA. And we still have crap enforcement of them.

    I think someone said the Price of Freedom is Vigilance. And, if they didn’t, I’m saying it now.

  • Bluejay

    We didn’t have half-way decent worker protection laws until 1971: OSHA.

    Which is one of the regulatory agencies Obama is trying to shore up.

    FEMA is another one. Bush appointed the incompetent Michael Brown, who was previously the commissioner for the International Arabian Horse Association, to lead the agency. And of course we all remember its abysmal performance when Katrina hit.

    Had FEMA been led by its current director under the Obama administration, W. Craig Fugate, the response might have been different. (His qualifications speak for themselves.) We might have seen many more lives saved–and fewer outraged headlines as a result. Because good news often isn’t news at all.

    My point is that a president’s power to shape these agencies and departments, and make sure they’re well-funded and staffed by people who know what they’re doing, is nothing to sneeze at. It’s something that Republican presidents routinely have failed to do, and that Obama is doing right now, at all levels. (When was the last time the Secretary of Energy was a Nobel Prize-winning physicist?) It’s worth keeping in mind when discussing Obama’s accomplishments. A competent, expert-led, smoothly running Federal government can quite literally save lives.

  • Pretty much seconding all that Tonio wrote…except it is by observation rather than my family’s personal experience as I’m white and so is nearly all of my family and even the Jewish part is also Sicilian, so they tended to get the “Wop” thing rather than the “Hebe/Kike” thing until people knew what religion they were.

    Oops! When I used the term “people of my paternal ancestry” in my last post, I meant to imply that the people in question were of Mexican descent like my father’s family–not actual members of my family. Not that we don’t have our own stories to tell about discrimination back in the “bad old days”–but that particular type of incident we were spared, gracias a Dios.

    To give MaryAnn her due, few of these things–apart from the internment camps, of course–were actually FDR’s fault and I give him credit for being very proactive in regard to national problems compared to many other presidents before and since.

    However, he too had his feet of clay and if MaryAnn had been living in the 1930s, she might not have been as patient with him as she is back here in the present day.

    YMMV, of course.

  • Paul

    “The price of freedom is eternal vigilence” was said by Sgt. Slaughter in a GI Joe cartoon, but he was quoting Thomas Jefferson.

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