Archive for the ‘socialism’ Category
There is a cottage industry in the making: “Obama the socialist” paraphernalia. One of the striking features of this industry is the confusion that stands behind it. As revealed in pictures above, some people don’t know the difference between National Socialism (fascism, Nazis; image one above: Nazi Brown Shirt/Obama) and Communism (sometimes called socialism; image two: Lenin/Obama). The two groups hated each other and fought bloody wars. Yet, for some, hey, a socialist is a socialist. And they want to make you believe that Obama is one, which will help to kill health care reform, for the fifth or sixth time in U.S. history.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three, four and five times, hand me the clown suit.
If one were to believe Fox News, the fear of socialism is running rampant in the Land. Folks who regularly depend on government sponsored hearth care, for example, the Medicare program and the Department of Veterans Affairs, or who will someday depend on them, appear to feel no compunction about attacking the public option in Obama’s health care plan. For some reason, it is socialism, but Medicare and Social Security are not. Of course, these are not the only individuals attacking Obama. There are radical free marketers who in principle just hate the idea of the government getting involved in anything. They would even kill Social Security. (I wonder how many of them don’t have health care or are in danger of losing theirs.) After all, if the government gets involved, it will undermine the private insurance companies, and with this undermining the fall of capitalism and America can’t be far behind.
What is the main argument against a government sponsored alternative: the government, which can’t seem to do anything right, will undermine well-run insurance companies, because a government sponsored option will be non-profit. The counterargument: if we don’t have good non-profit competition, the price of insurance will continue to skyrocket and help bankrupt the country.
There is a lot of fear in insurance land. We seem to have here companies that are afraid to compete with a government run program. I wonder why. Fear that their bloated profits might shrink? Fear that they will be put out of business?
But the magic of the market should be able to find a place for private companies, even with a government sponsored alternative. Does every vet choose the services of the Veterans Administration over private health care? Surely not. If the private insurance companies have good products to market, they will find patients, even with a public option available. The public option that Obama is recommending is not going to be so attractive that it will drive out of the market well-run and reasonably priced private insurance. But if the insurance companies don’t provide good service at reasonably prices, it should be their problem, not ours.
To return to socialism. The funny thing about this debate is that few young people have any idea about the dangers of socialism. That’s because they have grown up in a world in which there aren’t any dangers from socialism, at least not in the way in which the over 50 set remember. And those who seem to be most concerned (look at the crowds at some of the town halls), appear to be those currently benefiting from Social Security and Medicare or those who will be benefiting within a decade or two. This form of “socialism” is quite fine and dandy. (Just try to find a Republican member of the Senate who wants to do away with these programs.)
The danger for the young is not socialism; it is a capitalism that is malfunctioning and cannot compete. One way to hamstring the American system is by perpetuating the endlessly wasteful health care system that we now have. Many in big industry recognize this. The question is rather simple for them: how do we compete against countries whose overhead for manufactured goods is markedly less than ours because their health care expenses eat less of the pie?
If we let fears from another era get the best of us now, we will have no one to blame but ourselves and (some special interests) for a declining standard of living in the years to come.
Salem Witchcraft Trials (1692)
Question: What did the terrorist say to terrify Dick Cheney?
If one listens to the words of the former vice president, it is clear that he is telling us that terrorism has worked. We must now live in perpetual fear, which is, after all, one of the main goals of those who seek to terrorize. The danger is so great that we can no longer think about “middle ground” positions, say, those that question the need, value, or morality of torture, for “compromises” of any sort will lead to mushroom clouds in our cities. We can not defend ourselves against terrorism unless we recognize the pervasiveness and unique power of this evil. Enhanced interrogation techniques, a k a as torture, may be all that is standing between us and the abyss.
The [Obama] administration seems to pride itself on searching for some
kind of middle ground in policies addressing terrorism. . . . But in the fight
against terrorism, there is no middle ground, and half-measures keep
you half exposed. You cannot keep just some nuclear-armed
terrorists out of the United States, you must keep every nuclear armed
terrorist out of the United States….When just a single clue that
goes unlearned … one lead that goes unpursued … can bring on
catastrophe – it’s no time for splitting differences. There is never a
good time to compromise when the lives and safety of the American
people are in the balance. Behind the overwrought reaction to enhanced
interrogations is a broader misconception about the threats that still face our
country. You can sense the problem in the emergence of euphemisms that
strive to put an imaginary distance between the American people and
the terrorist enemy. (Vice President Cheney
Remarks at the American Enterprise Institute
Thursday, May 21, 2009)
You know, we have seen this mentality of before in American history. It calls on us to fight the Dark Side with every means at our disposal. Two instances come immediately to mind: the Salem Witchcraft Trials and the accusations of Senator Joseph McCarthy about communists in government and industry, the Red Scare. In both cases the same sort of categorical, fear driven, mind-set possessed otherwise good people. The fact that there were no witches and that the threat from communism was external, not internal, is irrelevant to the point at hand, namely, that leaders can use fear to drive the public into unacceptable actions. Cheney has been betting on this. And it’s not a bad bet since fear helped drive us into an unnecessary war against a country that posed no threat to us.
Here’s an experiment. With Cheney’s words in mind, read those of Cotton Mather, who sought to defend the persecution of witches back in 1689. Across centuries they reveal themselves as kinsmen who own the Truth and challenge the integrity of those who dare to think differently. As you read Mather’s words, think about Cheney’s claim that we can not jail 245 prisoners from Guantánamo in the U.S. because they are far too dangerous. While no one has ever escaped from a super maximum security prison in the U.S., we must still fear these men. Perhaps they possess powers akin to those of witches, and they will be able to fly over the walls of our prisons or cast spells on the guards. [The idiosyncratic grammar is in Mather's text.]
But I am resolv’d after this [incident with a witch-M.A.], never to use but just one grain of patience with any man that shall go to impose upon me a Denial of Devils, or of Witches. I shall count that man Ignorant who shall suspect, but I shall count him down-right Impudent if he Assert the Non-Existence of things which we have had such palpable. Convictions of. I am sure he cannot be a Civil, (and some will question whether he can be an honest man) that shall go to, deride the Being of things which a whole Countrey has now beheld an house of pious people suffering not a few Vexations by. But if the Sadducee, or the Atheist, have no right Impressions by these Memorable Providences made upon his mind; yet I hope those that know what it is to be sober will not repent any pains that they may have taken in perusing what Records of these Witchcrafts and Possessions, I thus leave unto Posterity. Memorable Providences, Relating to the Witchcrafts and Possessions (1689)
Of course terrorists are real and dangerous, while “witches” are not. But if one were to believe Cheney, it appears that we are fighting a supernatural power, a fight that requires us to sacrifice the Constitution, specifically the Bill of Rights, and our morality. Witches were so dangerous and possessed such demonic powers that torture was certainly justified, and the same is true of terrorists (or alleged terrorists) for Cheney. I bet he feels just as powerful and self-righteous as those who thought that they were saving us from demons and wizards, for one must be very powerful indeed to fight such foes. But one must also be very scared, perhaps even a bit of a coward, to believe in foes of this sort.
Written by Mitchell Aboulafia
May 23, 2009 at 12:57 pm
McCain’s Latest Desperate Move: Obama’s a Red, a Socialist (who will take all of your money and nationalize your toothbrush)
Yes, well, I know, it’s all very confusing. Red states are supposed to be Republican states and Blue ones Democratic. But McCain and his surrogates are running around suggesting that Obama is a socialist, which is of course just a kinder and gentler word for communist or Red. In any case, socialist/communist, what difference does it make if McCain feels that he can use the epithet to help him defeat Obama. Here is McCain’s latest campaign “strategy” as reported in today’s Los Angeles Times.
By Bob Drogin and Mark Z. Barabak, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers
October 19, 2008
CONCORD, N.C. — John McCain sharpened his attack on presidential rival Barack Obama’s economic proposals Saturday, accusing the Democrat of seeking to turn the United States into a socialist country and convert the IRS into a giant “welfare agency” that would dole out cash at Washington’s discretion….McCain, delivering a national radio address before setting out for stops Saturday in North Carolina and Virginia, said Obama’s approach sounded “a lot like socialism.”
McCain’s claim is patently absurd. Increasing income taxes on Americans making over 250,000 a year–by making their rates equivalent to what they were during the Clinton presidency–and lowering taxes on the middle class, doesn’t exactly sound like socialism to most Americans. And of course it’s not. As a matter of fact, only the most die-hard, right-wing ideologue, one who is opposed to progressive taxes, social security, medicare, etc, would be likely to make such an outrageous claim and actually believe it. So we have couple of choices here: McCain is an extreme right-wing ideologue OR he is lying and knows it.
Given the history of Red-baiting in this country, and the number of lives it destroyed, this is dangerous territory. Further, McCain is playing with fire on another front. He can’t directly raise the issue of race. But he can try to make Obama appear foreign and unamerican (you know, he “pals around with terrorists,” according to Palin). Here is a recent attempt from Palin to play the all-American card:
We believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard working very patriotic, um, very, um, pro-America areas of this great nation. This is where we find the kindness and the goodness and the courage of everyday Americans. Sara Palin, October 16, 2008
Now the really big guns have been brought out. Not only is Obama from the wrong part of the country–raised in Hawaii and schooled in big cities, so he is not really pro-American–but he may also be a socialist. If you know anything about actual socialism/communism, this is too silly to be believed. And it is even beyond silly, if that’s possible, since a conservative Republican administration has just semi-nationalized part of the banking industry. Nationalization is a lot closer to socialism than modest changes in our tax rates. (Marx would have a good laugh over this one, while he is turning over in his grave.) But one doesn’t have to be a pundit to figure out what is really being said here. Obama is not one of us, that is, don’t forget white America that he is black.
Written by Mitchell Aboulafia
October 19, 2008 at 4:41 pm
Posted in Blue States, Campaign, communism, conservatives, Democratic Party, Election, Marx, McCain, nationalization, News, Obama, Palin, politics, Presidential Election, race, Red States, socialism, taxes, Uncategorized, welfare
Tagged with Blue States, Campaign, communism, conservatives, Democrats, Election, government, John McCain, Marx, McCain, nationalization, News, Obama, Palin, politics, race, Red States, Republicans, socialism, taxes, welfare