Big Government

Don't Know Much About a Science Book, So DO SOMETHING!!!!

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We are Barack Obama, jobs are the polar bear

Commenter Dagny T. points us to a near-perfect distillation of the do-something mentality in The New York Times: Stanley Fish talking about what President Barack Obama should say (and do) in this week' jobs speech. Stand back and marvel at the authoritarianism:

Like most non-economists (and most economists, for that matter) I don't really understand how the economy works and I have nothing to offer in the way of substantive suggestions. No doubt, the president and his advisers know more than I do (at least let's hope so), and one must assume that they are busily trying to figure out what he should say when he speaks to the Congress and the nation on Thursday. […]

They heart action

After all the boiler-plate points have been made, and the array of policy suggestions has been presented, and the ritual blaming of everyone under the sun has been performed, do something immediate and peremptory. At the end of the speech, in the context of the obligatory call to action, act. Don't just recommend initiatives, perform a few, right there and then.

If we have learned anything in the past few years (and decades), it is that presidential powers are elastic. Often it's a matter of what the president can get away with. […] I haven't the slightest idea of what they might be, but I would bet that there are things Obama could do immediately without Congressional consultation or agreement, things that might arguably free up credit or create jobs or stimulate spending or jump-start the housing industry. […]

The point is not to offer something that is invulnerable to criticism (not a possibility anyway); the point is to display leadership by taking unilateral action, by delivering a succession of sentences that begin, "I hereby…." Whatever the content of those sentences and however effective or ineffective the initiatives they at once announce and perform, the mere fact that they have been spoken on a national stage will do considerable work, including the work of reminding Americans — and perhaps Obama himself — what presidential authority looks like.

There are plenty of similarly pure expressions of statism discussed within these past writings from me:

* The Cost of Doing Something
* David Brooks Surveys Economic Wreckage, Redoubles Patriotic Battle Against the "surge in vehement libertarianism"
* David Brooks: Who Let the Dogmatists Out?
* Andrew Sullivan Defends TARP, Criticizes Libertarians for "utter disengagement" with "political reality" (Like That's a Bad Thing)
* No Labels, and the Ideology of Post-Ideology

Reason on Stanley Fish, including his unstirring non-defense of free speech, here.

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  1. I hope Obama says he intends to revive the economy by shooting Stanley Fish in the head.

    After all, presidential powers are elastic, right?

    And it doesn’t matter if this will actually revive the economy. The important thing is demonstrating Presidential authoritah, right?

    If Obama announces a “Shoot Stanley Fish in the Head” Initiative I too will stand up and applaud the principle of unilateral action.

    1. That would certainly help my bottom line!

    2. Even though I don’t know who that guy is, I’m pretty sure that based on his comments I could have guessed that his name was Stanley Fish.

  2. You can’t fool me. That’s from The Onion.

    1. My fellow Americans, the only thing we have to fear is a crippling, decade-long depression, one in which thousands will die by starvation, riots, or even their own hand. This is the sort of depression that destroys the faith of a people in their nation. The sort of depression that does not make one stronger from the great challenge it brings, but, rather, weaker. Weaker from the hunger. Weaker from the idleness. Weaker from the sight of one’s friends and neighbors unemployed, financially ruined, and driven to an early grave. Weaker from the emotional, physical, and spiritual devastation that will surround us, day after day.

      I stand before you today with a message born not of hope, but of despair. Yes, misery awaits us all and there is nothing we can do to avert this grim fate. This economic depression is far too great for any of you to overcome, and there is nothing left for America to do but suffer. All is lost. The situation is hopeless.

      Be afraid. For you have very good reason. Banks are closing. Unemployment is at an all-time high and climbing every day. Stocks once worth hundreds of dollars are now worth pennies. Millions of you have lost your life savings in financial institutions you thought were secure but are not.

      And, lest you think otherwise, let me assure you right now that this misery will not end any time soon. No, you would be well advised to get used to this unhappy state in which you currently exist, for it will be a very long time, perhaps more than ten years, before your lot in life will finally get better. Most likely, you or someone in your family will die before that time. How will you endure this for so long, you ask? For many of you, the answer to that question is simple: you will not. You will die like a sick street rat in the gutter, penniless and trembling, your clothes torn and your face covered with the filth of the street.

      Yes, we as a nation are doomed.

  3. Stanley should sleep with the fishes.

  4. BTW –

    What is “reasonable” and why don’t I have it?

    1. “Me too”

    2. It’s a filtering and mark-up extension for Google Chrome.

    3. 1. Use Chrome

      2. Go here

      3. Winning

      1. Bad ASS. I’m switching over to Chrome just to use this.

      2. WHO WROTE THAT SHIT!!! I WANTS ME SOME!

  5. display leadership by taking unilateral action, by delivering a succession of sentences that begin, “I hereby….” Whatever the content of those sentences and however effective or ineffective the initiatives they at once announce and perform, the mere fact that they have been spoken on a national stage will do considerable work …

    How about:

    “I hereby resign, effective immediately.”

    I think that could actually help the economy.

    1. Uhh, Biden?

      1. Fucking awsome

      2. “Uhh, Biden?”

        Could he really be any worse?

        Okay, okay, how about:

        “I hereby, uh, declare that, uh, umm, Joe and, uh, myself, uh, both of us, resign effective, umm, immediately. Let me be clear, uh, Boner is, umm, now president.”

      3. It would be awesome having Biden as president.

        The stupid would be freakin’ epic.

        1. Lulz until Jan 2013, that’s for sure. Because nobody would be reelecting that clown, not even the most ardent yellow-dog.

          1. That’s the part I don’t get.

            Exactly what part of the Democrat coalition was Biden’s selection for Veep aimed at?

            1. Independents?

              It was hard to type that without laughing.

            2. He brought “Gravitas” to the ticket. I think that’s some eastern european liqueur. Whatever it is – he brought it.

              1. The lunch pail types: Ralph Kramden and Archie Bunker. That’s right, Joe Biden was brought on the ticket to ensure the dead continue to vote Democratic.

                1. That’s right, Joe Biden was brought on the ticket to ensure the dead continue to vote Democratic.

                  So Biden is a necromancer? It all makes sense now…

                2. I thought that’s what the Chicago guy was for?

            3. Biden represents the status quo. They had to have an insider on the ticket. I think he was also on one of the military commitees which they felt they needed as well with a rookie in office and two wars going on.

        2. He was brought on to make sure no righty loon took a shot at Obama. Same reasoning as Bush keeping Cheney around to protect himself from the loony left.

      4. No worries about Biden.

        He’s your run of the mill establishment democrat, not an ideologue.

  6. Great Googly-Moogly, Stanley Fish is still around pontificating on shit about which he has no clue?

    I thought his “star” burnt out with the slow demise of the post-Sokal Po-Mo trend.

  7. …but I would bet that there are things Obama could do immediately without Congressional consultation or agreement, things that might arguably free up credit or create jobs or stimulate spending or jump-start the housing industry.

    Embarrassing.

  8. If we have learned anything in the past few years (and decades), it is that presidential powers are elastic. Often it’s a matter of what the president can get away with.

    At least we all agree on something, although some of us consider the “elasticity” of presidential power a very bad thing.

    1. Not if, like, the right people are in charge!

  9. BALKOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

    Oh wait…What? This wasn’t a nut-punch?

    Sure felt like one….

  10. the point is to display leadership by taking unilateral action, by delivering a succession of sentences that begin, “I hereby….”

    I…uh…what?

    This is possibly the stupidest shit I’ve seen yet out of a NYT pundit retard, and that’s saying something. It doesn’t even make sense in the guy’s own mind–he basically says as much–but he feels the need to say it in a national column anyway?

    The sheer level of authority fellation is stunning. “The 4th estate” my ass; it’s more like “the 4th fluffer*”.

    * no offense, Fluffy

    1. I’m pretty sure I was a liberal in grade school & all of the texts we were forced to read made it out to seem like taking unilateral action was equivalent to slaughtering babies. (real ones, not the enwombed ones that don’t count)

    2. America has no King. America needs no King.

  11. omg. We have to do something or that polar bear will drown! Unless it swims to shore, but we can’t take that chance!

    1. No no, polar bears eat ice, so this one is ingeniously a-ok!

      1. If only there was some way to globally warm the planet and melt the ice so we could starve these ice eating terrible beast out of existance.

      2. Unfortunately, polar bears also eat humans. They’re one of the few predators that still have us on the menu, so I’m not certain I’d miss them.

  12. So if we’re talking about the environment the precautionary principle is in play. If we’re talking about the economy the OMFG-Do-Something! principle is in play. Honestly, I think we have a better handle on government actions’ effects on the environment.

  13. At the end of the speech, in the context of the obligatory call to action, act.

    Because if there’s one thing economic actors love, it’s surprise twists!

  14. Here’s what his speech should say, in its entirety:

    My fellow Americans, you can’t spend your whole life worrying about your mistakes! You fucked up. . .you trusted us! Hey, make the best of it!

    1. That would make for a pretty weak drinking game, Pro L.

      1. Sometimes, the truth is more important than sustaining a drinking game. I recommend, as a substitute, playing “Hi, Bob!” while watching The Bob Newhart Show.

    2. No, a better speech would be:

      My fellow Americans. This isn’t about whether we broke a few rules, or took a few liberties with the Constitution. We did. But you can’t hold a whole government responsible for the behavior of a few, sick twisted individuals. For if you do, then shouldn’t we blame the whole electoral system? And if the whole electoral system is guilty, then isn’t this an indictment of our democracy in general? I put it to you, John – isn’t this an indictment of our entire American society? Well, you can do whatever you want to me, but I’m not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America. Gentlemen!

      1. Well, yes, if you want to help the administration continue on its current course. I was hoping for some change.

        I hereby declare this government to be on Double Secret Probation.

  15. I hereby announce the elimination of the following departments, with corresponding reductions to the budget.

    1. How about “I hereby declare starting today a one week paid holiday for all non-essential Federal Government employees”

      Followed next week by “All non-essential Federal Employees are fired”

      1. But there are no “non-essential” federal employees. Didn’t you hear: the budget has already been cut to the booooooooooooooone.

        or

        Why do you hate paper pushing bureaucrats?

  16. That bear looks like its having a good time just chillin and doing nothing.

    1. It’s all about perspective; the photographer is standing on the shore.

      1. Can we get a picture of a photographer stuck on a broken iceberg?

      2. Maybe the polar bear was trying to get away from the annoying photographer.

    2. chillin’ and doing nothing huh? That bear must be on the dope. Someone needs to shoot his dog and confiscate his nice ice raft.

  17. I am way ahead of Stanley Fish on this one.

  18. At least she didn’t get “beloved” commenter status.

    1. I wasn’t going to say anything, but I do miss being beloved.

      1. You’ll be loved you’ll be loved
        Like you never have known
        The memories of me
        Will seem more like bad dreams
        Just a series of blurs
        Like I never occurred
        Someday you will be loved

    2. Yes, what happened? Why the downgrade?

      1. I think they found out she was two-timing them with some other–and clearly inferior–website.

        1. Raison? And it’s D?lit de Fuite blog?

          1. Make that “its.” I was contracting in French.

        2. They’re libertarians, they don’t mind a little website polyamory. They probably just found out she was Canadian, and thus had no concept of love.

          1. What is this hu-man emotion called love?

        3. Only two-timing? This is a sin now?

  19. “Umm, I’m not that smart and I don’t know what do, but I’m sure Great Leader knows and He should do SOMETHING to show us how great He is. Doesn’t really matter if it’s logical, legal, or will work, but I just need him to do SOMETHING so that I can go to sleep at night.”

    1. To a liberal, hearing their leader say stuff prefaced with, “I hereby …” is like angels singing…

  20. Don’t worry, green jobs will save us! And the polar bear. So it’s a win-win. Fish’s marvel at the power of presidential oration reminds me of a Matt Taibbi screed against Thomas Friedman: “Like George Bush, he’s in the reality-making business. In the new flat world, argument is no longer a two-way street for people like the president and the country’s most important columnist. You no longer have to worry about actually convincing anyone; the process ends when you make the case.” (http://www.nypress.com/article-11419-flathead.html) It was really awesome when we went to Mars, ended all tyranny, and stopped all steroid abuse a few years ago. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

  21. That is amazing. It’s like a standard bearer template that all progressive opinion makers should employ when crafting their columns from this day onward.

    “I have absolutely no clue about any of this stuff, so here’s what should be done about it under the force of law.”

    For further reading on what this one-rung-above-severe-mental-retardation level of logic looks like when it’s actually executed at the federal level, please see: Al Franken vs. technology.

    1. Even better. “I don’t know what the hell is going on, but by golly I’m gonna do something, and you know what? Fuck the law!”

      Depressingly enough, I can envision the crowds cheering after this.

      1. “I’m good enough. I’m smart enough. And doggone it, people like me.”

    2. Whatta you mean ‘one-rung-above’?

  22. “…display leadership by taking unilateral action…”

    God damn! They could teach GWB a thing or two!

    I thought unilateral was anathema in Progressville.

    1. Clearly you didn’t get the memo.

      Unilateralism is only bad if it’s not Progressive.

      Remember, just like dissent was the highest form of patriotism when the target was Dubya but became subversive and racist when BHO took office.

  23. the point is to display leadership by taking unilateral action, by delivering a succession of sentences that begin, “I hereby….”

    Interesting take on ‘leadership.’ But can one be called a leader if they give orders that no one follows?

    Whatever the content of those sentences and however effective or ineffective the initiatives they at once announce and perform, the mere fact that they have been spoken on a national stage will do considerable work, including the work of reminding Americans ? and perhaps Obama himself ? what presidentialIMPERIAL authority looks like.

    It amazes how desperately some people want to be slaves, how eager they are to submit their thoughts and actions to their “betters.” Maybe a man who has always been free has no concept of its value.

  24. This will be a piece of cake. Obama’s already one-upped King Canute by commanding the tides to cease.

  25. Strong with the Stoopid Statist this one is.

    Lack of knowledge he has. Knowledge he has not.

    Too derp for the training…

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