Friday, December 17, 2010

Political Correctness, GOP-Style

When Juan Williams was ousted from NPR for (select one or both): a)speaking out of turn about Muslims; b)violating, repeatedly, NPR policy discouraging opinionated punditry on other news outlets, he responded, in part

Political correctness can lead to some kind of paralyses where you don't address reality.

When Rush Limbaugh, using the phrase itself, defended himself against criticism of his criticism of Rahm Emanuel's use of the phrase "f------ retarded," he contended

You know, they're the PC Police, and they hammer us outta office. They drive us out of our careers when we violate their speech codes.

When the rightist Conservapedia, which finds the fact-based Wikipedia too liberal, defined "political correctness," it noted

Political correctness or P.C. also means the alteration of ones choice of words in order to avoid either offending a group of people or reinforcing a stereotype considered to be disadvantageous to the group.

Notwithstanding the origin of the concept of political correctness in resistance to literature dominated by dead, white European males (DWEM), so much of the outrage toward political correctness is focused language. And so much of the right, which is mostly, though not exclusively, exorcised over "pc," use it as a lazy shorthand for "liberalism."

On a seemingly unrelated issue, Shahien Nasiripour writes in The Huffington Post:

The four Republicans appointed to the commission investigating the root causes of the financial crisis plan to bypass the bipartisan panel and release their own report Wednesday, according to people familiar with the commission's work.

The Republicans, led by the commission's vice chairman, former congressman and chair of the House Ways and Means Committee Bill Thomas, will likely focus their report on the explosive growth of subprime mortgages and the heavy role played by the federal government in pushing mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to purchase and insure them. They'll also likely focus on the Community Reinvestment Act, a 1977 law that encourages banks to lend to underserved communities, these people said.

The Republicans' report is expected to conclude that government policy helped inflate the housing bubble and that prices weren't expected to crash because the government pushed homeownership so aggressively. They say that the report will note that once the bubble burst, a financial panic followed because firms weren't adequately prepared.

Frustrated in part by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission's chairman, Phil Angelides, and the tenor of the panel's preliminary findings, the Republicans are choosing to ignore the five Democrats and lone independent and issue their document ahead of the commission's Jan. 15 release. Angelides is described as a demanding boss who's said to be difficult to work for. Both Thomas and Angelides pledged in January that they'd strive to reach bipartisan consensus.

The Republicans' move indicates that the highly-partisan nature of Washington has infiltrated the commission's work and threatens to derail it. With four commissioners now essentially going around the panel to describe their thoughts on the roots of the financial crisis, the public may not get the full picture when it comes to understanding how the actions of a few led to the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

Instead, the public will receive a report that could be discredited as being partisan, and another that is expected to largely conform with a Wall Street-friendly view that blames government for the crisis.

And how best to pretend that it wasn't behemoth financial institutions which almost brought this country to its knees?

During a private commission meeting last week, all four Republicans voted in favor of banning the phrases "Wall Street" and "shadow banking" and the words "interconnection" and "deregulation" from the panel's final report, according to a person familiar with the matter and confirmed by Brooksley E. Born, one of the six commissioners who voted against the proposal.

Banish the words and phrases that are uncomfortable and voila! the problem vanishes. History vanishes. Reality vanishes. And with it, the interests of the middle class. Nasiripour explains:

The shadow banking system refers to the part of the financial system in which investors and other nonbanks like hedge funds and investment firms provide credit to borrowers, as opposed to more traditional banks. Interconnection refers to the links that bind financial institutions to one another, like derivatives, borrowings, and investments.

"I certainly felt, and I think the majority of the commission felt, that deleting those phrases would impair the commissioners' ability to give a full and fair and understandable report to the American people about the causes of the financial crisis," Born said.

"Certainly, it's hard to imagine Wall Street wasn't involved," she added.

Yea, kind of. It is perplexing, though: just as Republicans on the Hill were demonstrating that nothing- nothing- can come between them and tax cuts for the rich, we get mixed signals. If tax cuts come first, surely omnipotent corporations are nipping on their heels as beneficiaries of GOP dogma. Pharmaceutical companies, oil and gas firms, international bankers- does it matter? Where the wealthy and the powerful are, there the GOP is.

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Overwrought Reaction

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