If you’ve noticed, Republicans allow themselves a lot more space for self-expression than do Democrats. Reps can fly as far right as their dark fantasies will carry them. So, their cohorts are dense with yahoos bent on refighting the Northern War of Aggression, rewriting the Bible to make it more business friendly, reviving slavery, removing fluoride from school books, and issuing Glocks to all newborns. They can candidly champion Vlad the Impaler because the extreme right, for all of its wackiness, is business friendly. Indeed, their lumpen legions have traditionally provided cheerleaders and strikebreakers for our corporate sector. Thus our body politic accepts them and our media heed them no matter what nonsense they spew. By contrast, the Democrats are intensely uptight. The uttermost sin in their ranks is any expression of leftism beyond what it takes to persuade voters that Dems are slightly more progressive than Reps. To put personalities on that policy, Pelosi is presentable but Kucinich is poison. Naderism, or anything to its port side, is the ultimate evil. The obvious reason is that leftism, as opposed to centrism and rightism, challenges corporate rule. And by leftism, I don’t mean Lenin, Mao, Che and bloody revolution. We’ve moved so far to the right in recent decades that even the business as usual we used to practice is now seen as subversive. Consider the case of Paul Volcker. A literal and figurative Wall Street giant at 6’8”, Volcker spent a lifetime serving the Rockefeller interests and presiding over the Federal Reserve under Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. Not exactly a pink resume. President Obama named Volcker as a top adviser on the economy. The problem is that the advice that Volcker is giving the prez is considered a pinch too old-style Democratic for the Obamacrats. Volcker, like FDR, wants to cut the wild bulls of Wall Street down to size by re-restricting banks to banking and brokerages to brokering. It was under such a regime that we enjoyed 60 years of a thriving industrial economy and few financial follies. “The banks are there to serve the public,” Mr. Volcker says, “and that is what they should concentrate on. These other activities [i.e., trading trash paper and extreme leveraging] create conflicts of interest. They create risks, and if you try to control the risks with supervision, that just creates friction and difficulties, and ultimately fails.” For its part, the Obama administration prefers to “let the giants survive, but…regulate them extensively,” the New York Times reports. Its desultory efforts in that direction are said to be “languishing” in Congress while the monster money houses commit usury as usual and lobby against any reform at all. When Obama named him to the newly created post of chairman of The President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board (PERAB), Volcker got an office in Washington. The Times says he “rarely if ever” uses it lately, preferring to remain in New York. Published reports have it that “his influence in the administration is fading.” Volcker’s days in Obamaland appear numbered. You can bank on it--at your nearest Goldman Sachs branch. This post originally appeared at The Karman Turn.
Pete Karman began working in journalism in 1957 at the awful New York Daily Mirror, where he wrote the first review of Bob Dylan for a New York paper. He lost that job after illegally traveling to Cuba (the rag failed shortly after he got the boot). Karman has reported and edited for various trade and trade union blats and worked as a copywriter. He was happy being a flack for Air France, but not as happy as being an on-and-off In These Times editor and contributor since 1977.