Fighting corporate America

The left would have you believe that demonizing corporations (like Wal-mart) have nothing to do with any particular or historical socio-political agenda. Nay, when a liberal slips and praises, say, a communist dictator whilst simultaneously calling Bush a terrorist— well, we are probably taking the quote completely out of context, aren’t we?

American singer and human rights activist Harry Belafonte has called US President George W Bush "the greatest terrorist in the world" saying millions of Americans support the socialist revolution of Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez.

Belafonte led a delegation of Americans including actor Danny Glover, Princeton University scholar Cornel West and farmworker advocate Dolores Huerta that met the Venezuelan president for more than six hours late Saturday and attended his television and radio broadcast on Sunday.

"No matter what the greatest tyrant in the world, the greatest terrorist in the world, George W Bush says, we're here to tell you: Not hundreds, not thousands, but millions of the American people… support your revolution," Belafonte told Mr Chavez during the broadcast.

"We respect you, admire you, and we are expressing our full solidarity with the Venezuelan people and your revolution."

The 78-year-old singer, famed for his calypso-inspired music, including the Day-O song, was a close collaborator of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr and is now a UNICEF goodwill ambassador.

He also has been outspoken in criticising the US embargo of communist Cuba. sbs.com.au

Surely Mr. Bellefonte cannot be representative of liberal thought in America? His outlandish and obviously radical leftist views must be completely out of step with the true left who would never praise a communist dictator or claim that socialism would be a great idea to implement anywhere there is injustice being perpetrated upon the working class by the greedy and slavish oppressors commonly referred to as the corporate-class?

When Mr. Bellefonte shouted, "Viva la revolucion!" he probably meant the non-violent peaceful and democratic kind of revolucion which has historically been associated with communist parties ascending to power. Surely he meant that Americans should learn from Venezuelans how to bring about a peaceful socialist revolution... to learn how to, "Keep up the candlelight vigils," and continue the [peaceful] protests against the terrorist Bush.

Belafonte suggested setting up a youth exchange for Venezuelans and Americans to learn from each other. He finished by shouting in Spanish: "Viva la revolucion!"

He and Mr Chavez embraced at the end of the show as Belafonte's song Matilda blared over the speakers.

I'm sure that, "Viva la revolucion!" is actually NOT a phrase with any historical significance. It must be a generic phrase applauding 'good works' everywhere. Something like when members of the paramilitary group, a.k.a. the boy scouts, help little old ladies across the street.

For instance, I assume this is what Cindy Sheehan is talking about when she calls Bush a terrorist and demands her apathetic compatriots to do more to overthrow the 'illegitimate pretender' in the white house. "Viva la revolucion!"

But my point is this, America: the longer we let the illegitimate pretender to the White House and his conniving and callous gang of co-conspirators to continue, the more our collective humanity is damaged. Apparently, candlelight vigils do very little to stop, or even slow down a little, the carnage committed by the war criminals in DC.

...Even if one accepts this very low guess-ti-mate by George, his policies have been responsible for ten times the 3000 deaths on September 11, 2001. By his own admission, he is ten times the terrorist that Osama ever was.

...If I hear one more rendition of "We Shall Overcome" and then watch the vigilers or marchers go home and turn on their TV's and crack open a brewsky content in the fact that they have done something for peace that day, I am going to scream! We can't overcome unless we take the proverbial bull by the horns and overcome!

...Change will not happen until we make it happen. We can't make change happen by wishing or praying that it will happen.

We actually have to do something. michaelmoore.com

Since candlelight vigils are useless against 'war criminals', I'm not sure what she is referring to. But perhaps the Venezualans are coming, eh Harry?

Common cause or common ancestor?

Ideology is seldom an all or nothing deal. Ask any two conservatives what they believe and they will disagree on some issues and agree on others. This is true of liberals and progressives as well. It's difficult to say any one group subscribes wholly to any complete agenda. But we can make generalizations about a body of thought, and about the beliefs of groups as opposed to individuals.

Progressivism, liberalism, leftism, whatever you want to call it, is, in essence, the inheritor of the estate of Marx. This is a historical fact which is undeniable. We may argue about the degree to which many progressives subscribe to the ideal egalitarian society, how much evolution has occurred in progressive thought, or even the diversity of progressive positions, but there can be no doubt that the underpinnings and moral basis of progressivism are directly descended from 19th century socialism.

I say this in the same way I say that conservatism is the inheritor of the Laissez-Faire beliefs from the 19th century. In fact, not all conservatives subscribe to economic libertarianism, any more than all liberals are socialist. (Face it; some people don't have a clue why they believe something much less where those ideas came from.) But the body of ideas, the general sentiment of those who call themselves progressive follow an ideal that was borne of the same general ideology codified by Engels and Marx.

Thus we have a panoply of progressive, liberal, and leftist groups whose primary goal is to defeat the bourgeois, i.e. 'corporate interests', a.k.a. greedy corporations. Nevermind that the system they insist is oppressive feeds billions who would otherwise starve, cures those same billions who would otherwise die, and generally makes the lives of even some of the poorest among us who live under its shelter soft and 'civilized' in a way that fuedal royalty never dreamed was even possible.

There's nothing wrong with fighting for the underdog, that is, when there is actually a villain to fight against. But instead of fighting true oppression, many on the left seemed compelled to ally themselves with dictatorship and economic slavery.

Posted by Eric Simonson at January 9, 2006 2:19 AM
Comments
Comment #111291

Hugo Chavez is a socialist not a communist. I know its hard to wrap your mind around the concept but some people in Latin America are tired of having 70% of their population live in poverty while the remaining 30% are propped-up by the US.

I suggest you look at the entire continent. Venenzuela is not the only one choosing a different path than your Republican Dream.

Posted by: Aldous at January 9, 2006 3:29 AM
Comment #111292

btw… It does not surprise me at all that you support the violent overthrow of duly elected officials. It is typical Republican Hypocrisy that allows your ilk to whine about Freedom while trying to kill those who do not agree with your version of freedom.

Posted by: Aldous at January 9, 2006 3:32 AM
Comment #111293

Aldous how can you be so blind to the communist threat eminating from Venezuela? It is a racing doom that comes closer to our shore each day.

Posted by: Bob On Tour at January 9, 2006 3:49 AM
Comment #111303

‘World Briefing | Americas: Venezuela: Monitors Say Distrust Fed Low Turnout’

‘Two days after allies of President Hugo Chávez swept all 167 seats in congressional elections, monitors from the European Union and the Organization of American States said the elections were fair but marked by a deep distrust that led to voter turnout of just 25 percent. The five main opposition parties boycotted the election on Sunday. Juan Forero (NYT)’

I guess the elections were ‘free and fair’.
Why was the boycott in Venezuela ok and the one in Iraq by the Sunni’s was not? (according to the ‘left’).

Posted by: bugcrazy at January 9, 2006 7:37 AM
Comment #111310

Eric said: “The left would have you believe that demonizing corporations (like Wal-mart) have nothing to do with any particular or historical socio-political agenda.”

Is that everyone on the left, Eric? Does that include the left wing of the Republican Party and Senators like Coburn of Oklahoma and John McCain of Arizona? Does it include Democrats like Lieberman? This left of yours, does it include everone left of the Hawaiian Islands to the ports of Maine?

I just can’t take such attributions to a generic class like “the left” seriously. Your article is an excellent example of political spin designed to split Americans and divide our country, and a very unpatriotic piece of prose in my opinion.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 9, 2006 8:03 AM
Comment #111311
Why was the boycott in Venezuela ok and the one in Iraq by the Sunni’s was not?

Because the Sunni boycot led to about 1,000 US deaths and the failure of democracy in Iraq.

Posted by: American Pundit at January 9, 2006 8:04 AM
Comment #111313

work all night and a drink a rum
(daylight come and me wanna go home)
Stack banana till the mornin come
(daylight come and me wanna go home)
Come mister tally man tally me bananas
(daylight come and me wanna go home)
come mister tally man tally me bananas
(daylight come and me wanna go home)
lift six foot seven foot eight foot bunch…

…All that lifting for a few bucks and no pension or medical benefits!? Screw that. Workers of the world, unite!

Posted by: American Pundit at January 9, 2006 8:09 AM
Comment #111314

“Vive la revolucion” A call to mass murder and brutality on an epic scale. An appropriate cry from someone who idolizes murderous psychopaths like Che Guevara and Salvador Allende. Why is it that leftists have such love for “heroes” who slaughter their own people? Could it be their Marxist pedigree? The argument that Chavez is socialist not communist is semantic. There isn’t enough difference to amount to anything. (kind of like Republicans and Democrats)

Posted by: steve at January 9, 2006 8:15 AM
Comment #111315

‘Because the Sunni boycot led to about 1,000 US deaths and the failure of democracy in Iraq.’


‘I just love it when people quit in the middle and I win. When the going gets tough, the U.S. turns tail and runs!’ Osama —

Posted by: bugcrazy at January 9, 2006 8:21 AM
Comment #111316

The underpinnings of Modern Liberalism are not in Marx, but in John Stuart Mill: The greatest good for society is that which creates the greatest happiness for the most people. Marx’s response is to take control of the system and manipulate it to folk’s own ends. Some on the left take that point of view. Most, though, subscribe to the idea that our society benefits most from things like a growing economy, world-class medicine, and Civil Liberties, when those benefits are spread their furthest and their widest. We are prepared to regulate or create social progams to that end, but we are not prepared to come to depend on that alone.

We are willing to allow the market to do its job, but we’re not going to give over our lives to it entirely. We Liberals believe that not every good value can be determined by a price.

Regardless of where some of our ideas come from, the values we adhere to now are our own, and we come to them on our own terms. To suppose that our values are illegitimate because some of our predecessors adhere to discredited points of view is to forget that nearly every good idea is some lousy idea improved, or reconsidered. The ideas and ideology of the modern time must be judged on its own merits.

Your ideology is being so judged, and is being found wanting. From Katrina to Iraq, From Budget Deficits to illegal NSA wiretaps, the American people have been shown that the Bush administration not only can’t do things right, but that the promises of conservativism are hollow.

Now you can deflect attention towards celebrities speaking their own minds all you want to, and excoriate people for using strong words against a person whose supporters regularly say the worst of their opponents, but the fact remains that the Bush administation has shown that unchecked conservative power is no better than unchecked power of any kind, and that it’s time to start taking back some of Bush’s ability to simply coast along doing what he wants. It’s time for the mandate to shift and America to come back to its true center.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 9, 2006 8:26 AM
Comment #111317

Steve, our country was founded on just a Revolution. Our Civil War was one more example. Our race relations through the 1970’s were one more example of how America is little different from idealists like Che Guevearra who fight for the people against an oppressive people, or for a cause, (racial purity) as has been the case in the U.S.

Socialism is on the rise in the world. Fortunately, for the world, this socialist movement is married to ideals of democracy and not communism, and this socialist movement in the world, in large part, is a hybrid which does not, as its predecessor movement in the 1920’s did, reject capitalism or free markets, but, instead seeks to co-exist with them.

This co-existence of socialism and capitalism and free enterprise is precisely the mix which vaulted the United States to the status of the greatest economic nation in the world. I personally feel rather proud that socialist movement in the world today is emulating the American model of a mixed economy combined with greater democracy. Lenin is dead! Long live the American model.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 9, 2006 8:31 AM
Comment #111320

From the tone of these emails, I don’t think you have a loyal following here of hard-lined rightwingers. Most are seeing right through your gross generalizations and lack of knowledge as to why Latin America is electing leaders who will stand up to the like of Exxon and Indo-Suez. Unfortunately, Americans in the USA have no guts to do that.

As the the great benefits of corporate America, the reality is that 80% of new jobs in the past 20 years are coming from firms with less than 100 employees!! The likes of Exxon, GM, ATT, Citigroup, etc. have not been creating jobs since the 1970’s, yet our tax code gives them all the breaks and not small businesses.

I am all for the free market, but that is not what we have in the USA. The tax code is so skewed to benefit old industries (and I mean the ones that came out of the 19th century), that the burden then falls on small, new businesses.

Instead of a flat tax on individuals, let’s put a flat tax on corporate America. But you won’t hear that from the Republican Right. why? because that would dry up their lobbying dollars.

Posted by: acetracy at January 9, 2006 8:39 AM
Comment #111321

David,
I agree with your comment about the article being “a political spin designed to split Americans and divide our country.” How can there be any room for debate in this? What EXACTLY is the issue Eric speaks of? The article is full of hate. And yet the “left” supports dictators and murderous revolutions? There really is no room for debate in this article at all. Is this a call to the “left” to see who comes crawling out of the woodwork just to be met with a slew of hate? Hmmmm…….
Answer this for me, Eric, since we are generalizing so much, do you open your arms to “right” supporters such as Pat Robertson? Just wondering. Eric, how can you speak of the “left” in such a generalized way? Please give us a generalized version of the “right” so we know exactly where you stand.

Posted by: Karen at January 9, 2006 8:41 AM
Comment #111322

Tis all the same lot of rot, SocialCrats want the great big hug of all man kind, the rest of us know that will never happen, as most of man kind is useless, and should be left to their own devices.
I feel that if you love liberty, let each and every person make their own way, free to fail, or succeed on their own terms. I am not willing to give up my success and uniqueness for mediocrity. Some are and I say let them, the real problem we have is Leftist want to save everybody from themselves, and Rights want to punish everybody for everything, My brethren on the right, let everybody alone, who cares what they do to themselves or to consenting person. Only if they come for YOU or YOURS then hit them with both barrels.

I am looking forward to the Revolution when all Try and come for me.
May God Almighty Save the Republic of the United States Of America.

Sean

Posted by: Sean at January 9, 2006 8:45 AM
Comment #111324

To all:

Rather than trying to discern just who is “left” and who is right, let’s look at the people involved. Harry Belafonte created the image of a happy-go-lucky character with his music, but he is anything but that. He is a wrong headed, wrong minded racist man, as evidenced by his clearly racist comments comparing Colin Powell to a “slave” working for the “master” Bush.

I disagree with his political views, his political comments, and anyone who wants to support what Eric has quoted Belafonte should do so, or should denounce them. No fair standing on the sidelines.

As far as Pat Robertson goes, I think he must enjoy saying stupid things, or else just be very good at it. I am a Christian, and therefore believe in some of the same things Robertson does, but I denounce his comments about executing Chavez, along with his comments that Sharon’s ill health is a direct result of God’s work. While I believe that God is ultimately in control of the universe, and being omnipotent, has the ability to control such events, I don’t see that He does so in the way Robertson says. I’d disagree with those who believe as Robertson does on those two issues.

There!! I said it. Wasn’t hard to do. Didn’t focus on the “left” or the “right”. Didn’t point fingers at anyone, didn’t include anyone into a generic group, didn’t slam anyone other than the ones making the quotes. Anyone care to join in with their thoughts?

Posted by: joebagodonuts at January 9, 2006 9:03 AM
Comment #111326

jbod,

A) How is using “the race card” and emotional and offensive terms the same as “racism”?

B) Pat Robertson is worse than stupid. He is a fanatical christotaliban with Bush’s ears. That makes him much more dangerous than Belafonte, or Michael Moore, or even Chavez.

Posted by: Dave at January 9, 2006 9:14 AM
Comment #111328

Eric said: Something like when members of the paramilitary group, a.k.a. the boy scouts, help little old ladies across the street.

As a lifelong Republican with two sons who are in the Boy Scouts, I take a great personal offense to his statement about the Boy Scouts being a paramility group.

In the couple of years that my sons have been in scouting, they have learned more about nature than any other kids in the class at school. They also learned important lessons regarding Citizenship in the community, nation and world.

One of my son’s friends, who is also a Boy Scout, actually saved a teacher who was having a heart attack. Becuase of the training he received in the Scouts, he knew what to do while the other kids and some other adults just stood around gawking.

Before you open your liberal sounding mouth again, maybe you should do more research, say on the history of the Boy Scouts.

Posted by: Jim at January 9, 2006 9:38 AM
Comment #111329

The United States of America is now the Collective Foreigners of Defaulted America, sold out nation under bankruptcy, without liberty or justice for all. Political unrest is exactly what this administration that sold us out but feels we don’t need to know wants. Now is the time to put party bickering and blame aside and work together. When mortgages get called in and dividends plummett and people start to realize what the consequences of defaulting on trillions of dollars of loans means, political confrontation will be the last nail in our coffin.When foreign interests control the economy and society is in chaos, the foreign interests will take measures to restore peace so the economy can function.

Posted by: lucy at January 9, 2006 9:46 AM
Comment #111333

Eric,

Welcome back! I was missing your poorly researched and focusless articles while you were away. You must have been at your winter home in Stowe.

Thank God a new year has arrived, but your articles all remain the same - pick an outrageous quote from the newspaper, and with little or no regard for logic, use it to paint anyone to the left of Sean Hannity as a moonbat.

The trouble is that your rantings no longer create the response they once did. Maybe because the whole act has become so tiresome and predictable. Sure, you’ll get a few outraged comments from the left, but there is hardly anyone the right, except a few extreme newbies who haven’t figured out the game, who will play with you anymore, Eric. (Note to jbod: I guess you didn’t get the memo).

Anyway, just glad you’re back. You’re comments are always good for a laugh and a reinforcement of how twisted the right is these days.

What is it that the right is fond of saying? “When you run out of ideas, all you can do is attack the other side”? When was the last time you actually put forward an idea, Eric? Looks like you ran out of ideas long, long ago.

Posted by: Burt at January 9, 2006 10:22 AM
Comment #111336

Dave:

A) How is using “the race card” and emotional and offensive terms the same as “racism”?

I’m afraid I have no idea of what you are asking. I spoke of Belafonte making racist comments—-he has made such comments as calling Colin Powell a “house slave” and compared African-Americans working in the Bush administration to Jews working for Hitler during Nazi Germany days.

I’m not looking to get into a semantical discussion on the definition of “racism”. Lets leave it that what Belafonte has said is wrong. Do you uphold and agree with his comments, or do you denounce and disagree with them?

Posted by: joebagodonuts at January 9, 2006 10:26 AM
Comment #111337

Eric and joebagodonuts,

“There!! I said it. Wasn’t hard to do. Didn’t focus on the “left” or the “right”. Didn’t point fingers at anyone, didn’t include anyone into a generic group, didn’t slam anyone other than the ones making the quotes. Anyone care to join in with their thoughts?”

If a “far right” crackpot says something, he does it as an individual, but when Harry Belefonte makes a political statement he stands for all “liberals?”

Eric has a knack for looking for a person he has labled “liberal” to slip up so that he can make sweeping generalizations about everyone who disagrees with him and make the one or two “liberals” his sole evidence to back up his sweeping generalizations.

Posted by: Andre M. Hernandez at January 9, 2006 10:34 AM
Comment #111338

“There are no facts, only interpretations”.
Friedrich Nietzsche…

“Pay no attention to what critics say; no statue has ever been erected to honor a critic.”
Jean sibelius….

I have a very difficult time taking serious those who hurl insults at others. Irrespective of our political and social leanings at the core we all pretty much seek the same things; the greatest amount of peace and happiness and the least amount of pain and suffering. The fact that we disagree on the means just indicates that we disagree. However, disparaging one another only entrenches our differences.

We can propose solutions knowing that no one really has all the answers. To find the best course we really need to respect each others experiences and interpretations—it then won’t seem like surrender to contemplate a contrary view and the dialogue most likely will provide tangible solutions.

Too Pollyannaish?

Maybe. But I don’t see much fruit from the status quo.

Gary

Posted by: Gary at January 9, 2006 10:37 AM
Comment #111342

I’m having a great time reading what conservatives have to say on this topic. They complain about “liberals” supporting a “dictator” and they come up with a singer meeting with the elected president of Venezuela. Yeah, I’m sure every elected Democrat will follow Belafonte’s lead!

And they are so worried about Chavez in Venezuela but never stop to ask the question: why did the people of Venezuela elect him in the first place? Why are socialists doing so well in countries like Brazil, Paraguay and Chile as well?

Could it be that the people there have a legitimate gripe against free-market economics?


Posted by: bobo at January 9, 2006 10:46 AM
Comment #111346

Yes, I think that it is possible that they have a legitimate gripe against free market economics when it leads to grossly inflated companies who operate under little or no regulations. Or worse, so many regulations that they have created just as many loopholes for corruption. There’s my spin on companies such as “Wal-Mart.”

Posted by: Karen at January 9, 2006 11:04 AM
Comment #111347

Burt:

Sure, you’ll get a few outraged comments from the left, but there is hardly anyone the right, except a few extreme newbies who haven’t figured out the game, who will play with you anymore, Eric. (Note to jbod: I guess you didn’t get the memo).

I’m unclear as to why you’d single me out, when there are 18 responses to Eric’s thread. I really only commented on Belafonte’s words and included Robertson’s words since they are comparably stupid but from the right side of the aisle, so to speak.

While I might have “gotten the memo”, I tend to disregard “memos” that suggest who, what and when I should discuss. I make comments about those things that interest me. If Eric’s posts don’t interest you, then perhaps you should be taking your own advice and not commenting back to them, rather than suggesting that course of action to others.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at January 9, 2006 11:04 AM
Comment #111349

Steve,

“… someone who idolizes murderous psychopaths like Che Guevara and Salvador Allende. Why is it that leftists have such love for “heroes” who slaughter their own people?
As opposed to peace-loving gentle rulers like Augusto Pinochet? Come-on Steve, are you just hoping to spread misinformation here? Show me a link that substantiates your wild charges. Allende was aggressively socialist, but like Chavez he was popularly elected, and the slaughter did not begin until the U.S. government intervened in favor of Pinochet.

Brutal tyranny has been used to prop up governments of all kinds. This conflation of an economic system with dictatorship or democracy only serves to obscure the issues and promote divisiveness.

Posted by: Walker Willingham at January 9, 2006 11:06 AM
Comment #111351

Andre:

If a “far right” crackpot says something, he does it as an individual, but when Harry Belefonte makes a political statement he stands for all “liberals?”

I don’t agree with your assertion. Some people try to make it seem that way, and actually do it from both sides. There are those out there suggesting that Robertson speaks for all Christians, or for all right wingers, but I’d disagree with that notion as well.

Please note that MY comments were not in that vein. I spoke directly to Belafonte’s and Robertson’s comments, saying only that the comments themselves were wrong, and that people who disagree with such wrong comments would then be wrong themselves.

I think that would be in keeping with the Watchblog motto of “Critique the message, not the messenger”, dont you? And isn’t that what we ought to strive for?

Posted by: joebagodonuts at January 9, 2006 11:08 AM
Comment #111353

During the past few weeks, I have read these posts to many of the topics posted on this forum. I read them, more as an avenue to gain some perspective as to what the cross-section of the American public’s attitudes are regarding the different subjects. I have come to the conclusion that many of the folks who post here are frustrated politicians and are looking for a sounding board for their frustrations. Honestly, who gives a damn what Harry Belafonte says about anything?? Or, what Pat Robertson’s illogical rhetoric on his political beliefs or desired “hits” of political enemies might be? It astounds me that we are giving questionable individuals like these “air time”. Belafonte is a musically washed up has been and Robertson is a fundamental loser on the political scene. Belefonte should concentrate on his musical come back and Robertson on his congregation in the Norfolk area. What worries me is, that we might be beginning to witness the “Fall of the American Empire”? Judging by all of the negativity expressed on this forum, you’d think so. Thus far, I have read nothing but gripes about Bush; gripes about Clinton; gripes about the mine disaster; gripes about OSHA; gripes about the new can labeling and gripes about everything else. Instead of complaining about everything that is wrong, why don’t you do something positive to affect these issues? Complaining about it solves nothing! If you want the situation to change, get off your “duff” and do something about it. Left or right of the aisle, do something rather than b—-h about it!!
(Here endeth my first post to this forum.)

Posted by: Danny at January 9, 2006 11:15 AM
Comment #111355

Hugo Chavez is a dictator along the usual corporatist Latin lines so is Castro, so was Peron, Somoza etc. I think the word is caudillo.

Latin America has a pathological problem with property. Some people have too much; others have none at all. This seems to require a radical solution, but it doesn’t. Both sides in the Latin debate like to miss the point, which are you need to protect property rights AND enforce a reasonable rule of law. The poor people don’t have property rights. They sometimes have property and businesses, but the authorities can take them away or shut them down at will. The rich don’t have property responsibilities. They can own vast tracts of land and pay little or no property taxes. The whole system is designed to avoid a locus of responsibility for everybody. You can’t rely on institutions, so you fall back on friends and family and screw everybody else.

Unfortunately, the predominant Latin idea of governance has been corporatist. (There has been great progress recently, BTW. Castro is a fossil and Chavez is a throwback to the old days.) This kind of thinking flows easily into fascism, communism and various types of socialism depending on the rhetorical preferences of the speakers. They all distrust real market competition. They all pretend to value the poor and they all treat people as members of groups rather than individuals. And they all effectively use patronage of the government to maintain power and popularity. This disease threatens to affect the U.S. every once in awhile. Fortunately, we have been able to throw it off each time.

Harry Bellefonte is a great singer and an example of how a great sounding voice can make people believe his otherwise silly ideas. Not all of what Bellefonte says is silly, you know. But he has just seen legitimate problems and identified the wrong solution. Remember the earlier case of Paul Robeson. They are parallel in both talent and misdirection.

Posted by: Jack at January 9, 2006 11:17 AM
Comment #111358

joebagodonuts,

My question was more directed at Eric, but you can answer it. If someone on the right ex. Pat Robertson makes a ridiculous claim or statement we equate it to him being a “kook.”
When Harry Belafonte says something over the top or ridiculous it is attributed to a “liberal” mindset and becomes the rallying cry of all “liberals”, according to Eric.
This is a common practice from those on the “right.”
I’m just trying to understand how Eric and those who believe as he does can take one man’s words and apply it to everyone who he(Eric)has labeled “liberal.”

Posted by: Andre M. Hernandez at January 9, 2006 11:26 AM
Comment #111365

Stephen you said, “The underpinnings of Modern Liberalism are not in Marx, but in John Stuart Mill: The greatest good for society is that which creates the greatest happiness for the most people. Marx’s response is to take control of the system and manipulate it to folk’s own ends. Some on the left take that point of view. Most, though, subscribe to the idea that our society benefits most from things like a growing economy, world-class medicine, and Civil Liberties, when those benefits are spread their furthest and their widest. We are prepared to regulate or create social progams to that end, but we are not prepared to come to depend on that alone.

We are willing to allow the market to do its job, but we’re not going to give over our lives to it entirely. We Liberals believe that not every good value can be determined by a price.

Regardless of where some of our ideas come from, the values we adhere to now are our own, and we come to them on our own terms. To suppose that our values are illegitimate because some of our predecessors adhere to discredited points of view is to forget that nearly every good idea is some lousy idea improved, or reconsidered. The ideas and ideology of the modern time must be judged on its own merits.

Your ideology is being so judged, and is being found wanting. From Katrina to Iraq, From Budget Deficits to illegal NSA wiretaps, the American people have been shown that the Bush administration not only can’t do things right, but that the promises of conservativism are hollow.

Now you can deflect attention towards celebrities speaking their own minds all you want to, and excoriate people for using strong words against a person whose supporters regularly say the worst of their opponents, but the fact remains that the Bush administation has shown that unchecked conservative power is no better than unchecked power of any kind, and that it’s time to start taking back some of Bush’s ability to simply coast along doing what he wants. It’s time for the mandate to shift and America to come back to its true center.”

Great post.

While I disagree with much of your criticism of Bush’s conservatism (mostly because Bush is proving to be not that conservative and to lay the broken promise of conservatism at his feet is less than fair in my mind), I appreciate your explanation on the roots of modern liberalism.

Any chance you and Jack could colloborate to write an article that lays out the differences between modern American liberalism and conservatism that speaks to the ideals in a historic context rather than a present day one. I think it would make for a fascinating discussion on the merits of the two view points. It would be especially interesting to see where they converge and where they diverge.

Posted by: Rob at January 9, 2006 11:39 AM
Comment #111370

Andre:

I couldn’t tell that your question was “directed at Eric”, as you say, because you addressed your post to “Eric and joebagodonuts,” and then quoted MY post.

As I stated in my post, taking one person’s words and holding an entire group accountable for them is common, but its common on both the left and the right. You seem to think its just on one side, but its very obviously not.

Now, if the person is the head of a group, then that group needs to be held responsible. For instance, when Howard Dean speaks as the head of the DNC, its appropriate to hold the DNC responsible for what Dean says. Same too for Ken Mehlman.

But if Congressman Joe Jones says something, it speaks more for his own opinion, as opposed to speaking for his entire party.

Danny:

You are absolutely correct. There is one problem though. Often misstatements are made, and then held up later as “truth” simply because no one took the time to refute them. This happens on both sides of the political spectrum. John Kerry said nothing about the Swift Boat vets for a while during his campaign; political analysts have said that his delay in commenting hurt his candidacy. It didn’t indicate the accuracy or inaccuracy of the SB vets—-just that Kerry didn’t refute their claims, making the claims appear to be true.

But Danny, nonetheless, a very good observation and one that we would all do well to take to heart. Complaining for the sake of complaining gains nothing. Ideas of what is wrong are primarily worthless, unless you provide a better way.

If you tell someone they are doing a task incorrectly, but have no ability to tell them how to do it right, you’ve done nothing more than stop the process. You have not helped the process get better.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at January 9, 2006 11:55 AM
Comment #111374

Jack,

“Latin America has a pathological problem with property. Some people have too much; others have none at all. This seems to require a radical solution, but it doesn’t. Both sides in the Latin debate like to miss the point, which are you need to protect property rights AND enforce a reasonable rule of law. The poor people don’t have property rights. They sometimes have property and businesses, but the authorities can take them away or shut them down at will. The rich don’t have property responsibilities. They can own vast tracts of land and pay little or no property taxes.”

Wow, this is like deja vu all over again.

This can happen here in this country and virtually nothing is ever done about it. Connecticut, and other states and counties that are trying to attract new businesses to relocate, can claim eminent domain in order to raise the tax base.

BTW, as an asside to Belefonte. I was a project director for a freelance video crew during a series of concerts in 2000. Belefonte was the only act that wouldn’t allow the cameramen on stage because they weren’t union cameramen.

Posted by: Rocky at January 9, 2006 12:09 PM
Comment #111377

Once upon a time, a fisherman named Eric dumped a big bucket o’ chum off the back of his boat. Again and again he cast his line, but found that none of the fish seemed interested in the big stinky mass floating in the water. Little did he know that most of the fish in the lake were aware of all his overt, unsubtle tricks in trying to kill them. Circling his boat, the wise fish looked up at the frowning, angry face of the fisherman through the water and giggled and laughed. They thought it was funny how he wasted his time, for there was no way they were going to to be snagged upon that hateful, pointy hook!
With a final laugh, the fish flicked their tails above the surface of the lake, simply to taunt Eric the fisherman, and happily swam away.
The End.

Posted by: Adrienne at January 9, 2006 12:30 PM
Comment #111379

Nice post, Eric. That’s so true about the leftist in this country; they will actually back a disgusting, despotic ruler like Chavez, rather than backing our President who is completely different than Chavez (Thank goodness!)


My question to those that believe in these rulers like Chavez and Castro is, what would you do if they were in charge and you disagreed with them? Hmm? Protest? Smear campaigns? What’s your next move, ace?

Posted by: rahdigly at January 9, 2006 12:33 PM
Comment #111381

Adrienne,

I so love happy endings.

Posted by: Rocky at January 9, 2006 12:37 PM
Comment #111382

Democrats started our Middle East problems ….

‘In fact, the Truman administration put in place a secret policy intended to deny the possibility of Soviet control of Middle East oil. The doctrine stipulated that in case of an imminent Soviet takeover of the region, the United States would blow up the oil fields to deny the Soviets the power that would come with control of the oil.’
It has continued through both Democrat and Republican administrations….
‘In the 1950’s, the Eisenhower administration, concerned by the rise of regional powers such as that of Egyptian-Arab nationalist leader Gamal Abdel Nasser, extended this “oil-denial policy” to include “hostile regimes” in the region.’
Thus….
‘That raises the question of how worried U.S. leaders are about the increased power of a hostile Iran that could allow it to gain more influence over regional politics - and oil policy.

U.S. policy for decades aimed to prevent any single regional power from dominating and had thus aimed at maintaining a degree of balance between the region’s two strongest states, Iran and Iraq.’

And now…
‘Kennedy Clan Profiting from Hugo Chavez’s Oil?’
Who were the first to hop in bed with Chavez? Is it because of the need to continue to lock in the votes of the poor?
From the article:
‘Human rights groups have accused Chavez of curtailing press freedoms and criticized his treatment of political foes.
But Kennedy told the Globe he was not concerned about Chavez’s politics: “You start parsing which countries’ politics we’re going to feel comfortable with, and only buying oil from them, then there are going to be a lot of people not driving their cars and not staying warm this winter.”’
A Democrat said that?
So… We prop up Chavez now and when he really gets out of control we… do what?
Wait for a Republican President to ‘fix’ the problem and then call him a terrorist?

Posted by: daleibo at January 9, 2006 12:38 PM
Comment #111385

rahdigly,

“That’s so true about the leftist in this country; they will actually back a disgusting, despotic ruler like Chavez, rather than backing our President who is completely different than Chavez (Thank goodness!)”

Let’s look at synonyms for the word despotic;

” Roget’s II: The New Thesaurus, Third Edition. 1995.
despotic

ADJECTIVE: 1. Having and exercising complete political power and control: absolute, absolutistic, arbitrary, autarchic, autarchical, autocratic, autocratical, dictatorial, monocratic, totalitarian, tyrannic, tyrannical, tyrannous.
POLITICS. 2. Characterized by or favoring absolute obedience to authority: authoritarian, autocratic, dictatorial, totalitarian, tyrannic, tyrannical.”

How do you square this with your comment about a Democraticly elected President?

Posted by: Rocky at January 9, 2006 12:45 PM
Comment #111388

Rocky,

You should look up the word “debunk”, b/c that’s what you just did for the left in this country. They’ve been saying that about Bush for years and yet he’s been democratically elected.


Now, as for Chavez, he is a socialist that uses his oil to get in bed with other countries (including ours) and then plays to the poor to make himself look like he’s helping them out when what he’s really doing is keeping them in poverty so he can keep their votes. Sound familiar? It should, the left do that in this country. And, some of them also back Chavez, as well. That’s scary!

Posted by: rahdigly at January 9, 2006 12:58 PM
Comment #111391

rahdigly,

“You should look up the word “debunk”, b/c that’s what you just did for the left in this country. They’ve been saying that about Bush for years and yet he’s been democratically elected.”

You are so incredibly predictable. Nowhere in my post did I mention Bush. The topic was Chavez.

So if a Democraticly elected leader is a socialist he is automaticly bad?

Posted by: Rocky at January 9, 2006 1:09 PM
Comment #111393

rahdigly—

You should look up the word “debunk”, b/c that’s what you just did for the left in this country. They’ve been saying that about Bush for years and yet he’s been democratically elected.

That’s terribly inconsistent on your part. How are you going to fault another (“the left,” as you claim) for “saying that about Bush” when just a few posts ago you said the exact same thing about a “democratically elected” leader?

We now have a new word to look up: “Hypocritical.”

Posted by: mattLaw at January 9, 2006 1:12 PM
Comment #111398

Rocky,
“Nowhere in my post did I mention Bush. The topic was Chavez.”


I know it was Chavez and I responded about him:

“Now, as for Chavez, he is a socialist that uses his oil to get in bed with other countries (including ours) and then plays to the poor to make himself look like he’s helping them out when what he’s really doing is keeping them in poverty so he can keep their votes. Sound familiar? It should, the left do that in this country. And, some of them also back Chavez, as well. That’s scary!”

So, I stayed on the subject of Chavez, I think it’s so funny how the lefties make that same case against Bush. That was my point…

Posted by: rahdigly at January 9, 2006 1:35 PM
Comment #111399

rahdigly,

Tony Blair is a socialist, does that make him bad as well?

Posted by: Rocky at January 9, 2006 1:37 PM
Comment #111401

Rocky,

Uhh, no! Try responding to what I said about Chavez, instead. He’s trying to spread his “Revolution” throughout that Continent and elsewhere; Blair doesn’t do that so we’re not concerned. Besides, Blair can be reason with, not Chavez. Chavez even tried to give free oil to the New Orleans area after Katrina; as a gesture of “goodwill”. And, if you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you.

Posted by: Rahdigly at January 9, 2006 1:48 PM
Comment #111408

Sean said,

“I am not willing to give up my success and uniqueness for mediocrity
….May God Almighty Save the Republic of the United States Of America.”

Read Luke 18:22-23
Sorry to comment on an old post that might be considered off topic to begin with. But I found this too ironic no to comment on it.

Posted by: chantico at January 9, 2006 2:03 PM
Comment #111409

Mattlaw,
“That’s terribly inconsistent on your part. How are you going to fault another (“the left,” as you claim) for “saying that about Bush” when just a few posts ago you said the exact same thing about a “democratically elected” leader?”

That was my point, matt. I used that point to “debunk” the left in this country and their endless tirade into the Bush Administration, since he took office. As I’ve said before, they (lefties) will actually take the side of a punk, thug (that’s for you Rock) leader like Chavez over Bush. Real nice!

Posted by: rahdigly at January 9, 2006 2:03 PM
Comment #111411

Eric’s main problem here is that he sees the world in terms of monolithic “isms”, of which his, conservatism, is the only one he considers to be the work of rational human beings.

His argument’s function to discredit other people’s “isms” by associating them with radical, fringe, or defunct systems of government, or by alleging that what one person says, everybody believes.

In the meantime, he, like many others who play this game, fails to address practical concerns, and judge systems in their own contexts. In making Normative assumptions under the heading of Islamofascism, for example, he lumps people together as allies in his analysis that in real life are at each other’s throats. Additionally, when somebody starts talking about Armor or troop numbers, his response is not to address the situation, but rather to minimize it, or discredit the person bring the bad news as a partisan.

The problem with him, and quite frankly many of us here on all sides, is that we’re looking for the signs that signify the rightness of our own beliefs, rather than gathering facts in a reliable way, then coming to conclusions on that basis. People aren’t asking questions and digging up facts. They’re taking political points, then sticking with them, mindless of implications and results.

Eric’s approach is prototypical of what’s plaguing the Republican party: The defense of the right to govern put ahead of the earning of the right to govern. In other words, the quality of the reputation put ahead of the quality of what one does.

In the real world, it is far easier to clarify a mistatement than to undo a mistake. As we inevitably make mistakes, some try and use the ease of spin in order to avoid having to do the tough work of reform and replanning. Unfortunately, that’s like borrowing money to pay off debts. The Republicans need to realize that the best defense for a bad reputation is good faith efforts in taking care of mistakes.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 9, 2006 2:04 PM
Comment #111420

Rahdigly,

“As I’ve said before, they (lefties) will actually take the side of a punk, thug (that’s for you Rock) leader like Chavez over Bush. Real nice!”

Let me see if I have this right.

The democraticly elected socialist Chavez has a 70% approval rating in his own country, has survived a recall election (which he won by over 59%), and 2 coup attempts (one of which he has declared was backed by the United States), has offered oil assistance to the Katrina victims, but you regard him as a punk, thug?

Oh, and please show me where I supported him over Bush.

Posted by: Rocky at January 9, 2006 2:18 PM
Comment #111421

Great post, Stephen.

Posted by: mattLaw at January 9, 2006 2:19 PM
Comment #111429

Aldous,

Hugo Chavez is a socialist not a communist.

You may want to look at the history of these two terms, Aldous.

I suggest you look at the entire continent. Venenzuela is not the only one choosing a different path than your Republican Dream.

That is part of the reason for this post. Do you support Castro, Chavez, Morales, and other leftists taking power in Latin America?


David,

Is that everyone on the left, Eric? Does that include the left wing of the Republican Party and Senators like Coburn of Oklahoma and John McCain of Arizona? Does it include Democrats like Lieberman? This left of yours, does it include everone left of the Hawaiian Islands to the ports of Maine?

I just can’t take such attributions to a generic class like “the left” seriously. Your article is an excellent example of political spin designed to split Americans and divide our country, and a very unpatriotic piece of prose in my opinion.

Well, if you read the entire post ‘in context’ you had you would have read the following:

Ideology is seldom an all or nothing deal. Ask any two conservatives what they believe and they will disagree on some issues and agree on others. This is true of liberals and progressives as well. It’s difficult to say any one group subscribes wholly to any complete agenda. But we can make generalizations about a body of thought, and about the beliefs of groups as opposed to individuals.

I get your message though, loud and clear. The fact that you chose to sidestep my point entirely and instead call it ‘divisive’ is says a great deal.

If making generalizations about ‘the left’ is indeed divisive and unpatriotic is it unifying and patriotic to make generalizations about ‘the right’?


Stephen,

The underpinnings of Modern Liberalism are not in Marx, but in John Stuart Mill: The greatest good for society is that which creates the greatest happiness for the most people.

I don’t think the entirety of Mill’s writings adequetely represent present day liberal thought. If you want to claim that utilitarianism is the foundation of progressive thought you may have a better argument.

This quote, in isolation, doesn’t describe Mill’s philosophy at all. Especially not in regards to modern day liberalism or conservatism. Mill did write things that line up with some of your personal philosophy, but the majority of the left, that is the 25% of America that is solidly left, would not agree with Mill’s vision of economic freedom or the restraints that should be put on the state’s use of coercion for ‘the common good’.

Mill lays down “one very simple principle” to govern the use of coercion in society - and by coercion he means both legal penalties and the operation of public opinion; it is that we may only coerce others in self-defence - either to defend ourselves, or to defend others from harm. Crucially, this rules out paternalistic interventions to save people from themselves, and ideal interventions to make people behave “better”. It has long exercised critics to explain how a utilitarian can subscribe to such a principle of self-restraint. In essence, Mill argues that only by adopting the self-restraint principle can we seek out the truth, experience the truth as “our own”, and fully develop individual selves. utlitarianism.com/jsmill.htm

Liberals hold a range of beliefs, but liberalism as such has common denominators that do not include laissez faire capitalism.

Regardless of where some of our ideas come from, the values we adhere to now are our own, and we come to them on our own terms. To suppose that our values are illegitimate because some of our predecessors adhere to discredited points of view is to forget that nearly every good idea is some lousy idea improved, or reconsidered. The ideas and ideology of the modern time must be judged on its own merits.

So we cannot judge ideas by their past results? Only by what you claim their future results will be? Seems to be a rather odd standard.

Your ideology is being so judged, and is being found wanting. From Katrina to Iraq, From Budget Deficits to illegal NSA wiretaps, the American people have been shown that the Bush administration not only can’t do things right, but that the promises of conservativism are hollow.

What are these supposed ‘conservative ideas’ that are discredited by Katrina? There is a failure here to discriminate between apples and oranges and yet you exempt your own ideology from any past criticism on the grounds that it’s simply irrelevant? If Katrina is a conservative failure, what ideology should we ascribe the recent tsunami to?

As for Iraq, yes, this is entirely a conservative venture. No doubt about it. Let’s give credit where credit is due. Conservatives are responsible for freeing the Iraqi people and bringing democracy to the region.

Now you can deflect attention towards celebrities speaking their own minds all you want to, and excoriate people for using strong words against a person whose supporters regularly say the worst of their opponents,

I’m confused. If we cannot take those who call themselves liberals and judge them by their own words then how are we to judge your words? How can you say what liberalism is if you do not represent liberals?

For that matter how can you judge Bush’s supporters for ‘saying the worst of their opponents’ if to do so isn’t in fact ‘deflecting attention’?

Posted by: esimonson at January 9, 2006 2:44 PM
Comment #111434

Burt, your comments both critiqued Eric’s writing and Eric personally. The former is permissable under our policy, the latter is not. Since you are not new here, and have had ample opportunity to have seen our policy, I conclude it is not a policy you care to abide by. Therefore, your participation here is no longer welcome.

Posted by: Watchblog Managing Editor at January 9, 2006 2:55 PM
Comment #111439

I call gross stupid stereotyping.

Posted by: Max at January 9, 2006 3:01 PM
Comment #111443

Eric:

Maybe Bellafonte is a liberal, maybe he is not. Maybe Chavez is a liberal, maybe he is not. Stop calling people names.

Who is a leftist? I don’t know. Today, according to Republicans anybody who disagrees with Bush is a leftist. It’s a person’s viewpoint that counts. What is he for? What is he against?

If you want to have a logical discussion, discuss ideas, suggestions, bills, what people in power - not others you may drag out - are doing or want to do.

For example, are you in favor of making tax cuts for the rich permanent? Are you in favor of a minimum wage? Do you like what we’re doing in Iraq? Do you want a universal healthcare system or do you favor Health Personal Accounts? Do you think it’s OK that Bush thinks he is above the law?

It makes more sense to talk about Alito than about Bellafonte.

Generalities about “left” and “right” will get us nowhere. They merely increase shouting, blaming and emotional fatigue. Lets try to have a RATIONAL discussion.

Posted by: Paul Siegel at January 9, 2006 3:02 PM
Comment #111448
That was my point, matt. I used that point to “debunk” the left in this country and their endless tirade into the Bush Administration, since he took office. As I’ve said before, they (lefties) will actually take the side of a punk, thug (that’s for you Rock) leader like Chavez over Bush. Real nice!

rahdigly,

Why would we not hold Bush to a higher standard than Chavez? Bush is the leader of America, not Chavez. Bush was appointed President in 2000 by the SCOTUS and democratically elected in 2004, he works for us. Recently, he has not been able to get his approval ratings out of the 40s. We the People have an obligation, a duty to hold OUR leaders accountable for policies that reflect on all of America.

Chavez is the leader of Venezuela, he was democratically elected and re-elected, he works for the people of Venezuela, where he enjoys a 70% approval rating. The people of Venezuala should exercise the same obligation to hold THEIR leaders accountable, which they have done to a much greater degree than we have, in 2004 with a recall vote. Chavez held the Presidency with 59.10% of Venezuelans voting against recall.

So we cannot judge ideas by their past results? Only by what you claim their future results will be? Seems to be a rather odd standard.

Eric,

I agree, that is a rather odd standard, so why are we not allowed to judge the actions of the Bush administration based on the past results of the same actions?

Posted by: JayJay Snowman at January 9, 2006 3:14 PM
Comment #111456

Is it possible for Americans to discuss without a label being put on them?

Can we possibly take a look at something like Wal-Mart and explore the plus and minus sides?

Lowest prices possible is the best for the consumer. However, the lowest prices possible might lead to the lowest wages possible. Not just for the stores, but for the people creating the goods sold in the store.

Can the balance between these be discussed withouth dogmatic responses? I don’t know.

Most people clearly understand that to have a job and buy things they have to work for someone (some work for themselves, but that just makes their customer that someone).

If I talk about the wages a person makes not being fair, is that a redistribution of wealth? Let’s see.

If a person is creating wealth for a company he works for, in excess of his wages and benefits, then that is a good thing.

There are those heistant to want to tie his compensation to the wealth he creates for the company. His reward is his paycheck.

There are managers and executives that make much more money than can honestly be attributed to their contribution to the company (evidence salaries of companies losing money or in bankruptcy). I am not talking about founders of a business, but employees in manager and executive positions.

Plus, these employees want bonuses and stock options to induce them to loyality and to work harder.

To question the money they make opens a person up to being labeled.

Now… what all this has to do with a singer making a statement? I HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA!

But, I really do love how any topic can be turned around to beat up the opposing side.

Posted by: Darren7160 at January 9, 2006 3:27 PM
Comment #111462

Karen,

The article is full of hate.

Challenge: Please quote a single hateful passage from my post. Please.

By your apparent definition of hatred liberals are some of the most hateful folks in the world. I’ll repeat what I said for David, if generalizations are so evil why can you not recognize them on the other side?

It’s simply amazing that discussing liberalism is hateful but calling Bush a tyrant and the greatest terrorist in the world is not. I think what it shows in general is that the left believes that any criticism of their ideas is equal to hatred. Yet calling Republicans killers and corrupt and tyrants etc etc is not?

Eric, how can you speak of the “left” in such a generalized way? Please give us a generalized version of the “right” so we know exactly where you stand.

Well, there you go. You can get the generalized view of the right from the blue column on the left. This may be part of the reason you see any criticism of your ideology as hatred and fail to see any such ‘hatred’ from your side.

Are the following comments hateful?

Pat Robertson is worse than stupid. He is a fanatical christotaliban with Bush’s ears. That makes him much more dangerous than Belafonte, or Michael Moore, or even Chavez.

…It does not surprise me at all that you support the violent overthrow of duly elected officials. It is typical Republican Hypocrisy that allows your ilk to whine about Freedom while trying to kill those who do not agree with your version of freedom.


jim,

re: boyscouts as a paramilitary group

Ah, the sound of irony.

Because “paramilitary” refers to the organization, not the purpose, of a group, some groups could be called paramilitary whose purpose is not to fight. These groups adopt some aspects of military culture and military discipline, such as military courtesy or a strict hierarchy. In wartime, groups like these may be pressed into combat because they have the necessary discipline and organization.

Many of these are youth organizations, especially cadet corps or military auxiliaries. Examples include the Scouting movement, the Boys’ Brigade, the Hitler Youth, the US Civil Air Patrol, the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary, the United States Naval Sea Cadet Corps and the American Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps. wikipedia

Posted by: esimonson at January 9, 2006 3:43 PM
Comment #111466

Socialism is an ideology whose time has come and gone. There is too much information needed to make the world work for a government institution to handle. We need the pricing and information mechanisms of the market. Government can help create the conditions of prosperity, but it cannot manage them. Socialism kind of works in a small, homogenous place where change is slow and predictable. Such places are harder and harder to find.

For JayJay

Hugo Chavez is Venezuela’s problem and he will eventually ruin the country. It is not our business from one point of view, but we will get blamed. International investors will either stay away from Venezuela or demand a higher risk premium. This is perfectly rational, but conspiracy theorists will see this as a way to bring Hugo down or sabotage his plans, and in some ways it might have that effect. Oil wealth can support his bad habits for a long time, but not forever. When the fecal matter approaches the cooling device, everyone will call for us to pick up the pieces.

Posted by: Jack at January 9, 2006 3:47 PM
Comment #111470

Watchblog Editor:
“Burt, your comments both critiqued Eric’s writing and Eric personally. The former is permissable under our policy, the latter is not. Since you are not new here, and have had ample opportunity to have seen our policy, I conclude it is not a policy you care to abide by. Therefore, your participation here is no longer welcome.”

Seems to me that Burt WAS critiquing Eric’s message — trouble is, the majority of those messages seem to cover only ONE basic theme. That everybody on the left is BAD, UNPATRIOTIC, AND/OR WORTHLESS. And that the many, many people who stand on the left can be lumped together with anyone he doesn’t personally approve of and collectively spit upon.
Somehow this is considered okay. Week after week. Year after year. Personally, I just don’t get the rationale for why he should be allowed to stay just to keep flamebaiting the entire left side of the political isle, while those who call him on this obvious fact so often end up being banned from participation on this blog.
I for one, will miss reading Burt’s posts.

Posted by: Adrienne at January 9, 2006 3:57 PM
Comment #111476

Jayjay,
“Why would we not hold Bush to a higher standard than Chavez? Bush is the leader of America, not Chavez. Bush was appointed President in 2000 by the SCOTUS and democratically elected in 2004, he works for us.”

Bush was elected in 2000; it took the SCOTUS to rule that what the (liberal) Florida Supreme Court did was unconstitutional. I like how you tried to sneak that one in like I wasn’t going to catch it.

We certainly should hold Bush to a higher standard than Chavez. Calling Bush a “Tyrant”, “Hitler”, etc. is not holding Bush to a higher standard. Period. Many on the left just don’t get that.


Posted by: rahdigly at January 9, 2006 4:06 PM
Comment #111490

“We certainly should hold Bush to a higher standard than Chavez. Calling Bush a “Tyrant”, “Hitler”, etc. is not holding Bush to a higher standard. Period. Many on the left just don’t get that.”

And many on the left do.

Posted by: chantico at January 9, 2006 4:21 PM
Comment #111494

Jack,

Hugo Chavez is a problem for not only the U.S. but for the world as a whole. He is showing considerable influence to shape not only the political landscape of Venezuela, but also the whole region in general. Chavez has enacted agreements with other Latin American countries regarding trade and foreign aid, and is working towards creating a Latin American Union. If the U.S. wants a say in the direction that Latin America takes, then it is unwise of Bush to establish hostile diplomatic relations with Venezuela.

In 2005 Chavez asked all active-duty U.S. soldiers to leave Venezuela,and announced the creation of the Mission Miranda program, which encompasses a militia of 1.5 million citizens; as a defensive measure against foreign intervention or outright invasion. In October, Chavez banished the Christian missionary organization “New Tribes Mission” from the country, accusing it of “imperialist infiltration” and harboring connections with the CIA.

Hostile relations with Venezuela will only decrease any influence we may wish to have over the entire region, and serve to put us in the dark, much in the same way we have been in the dark in the Middle East.

Posted by: JayJay Snowman at January 9, 2006 4:24 PM
Comment #111496
We certainly should hold Bush to a higher standard than Chavez.

rahdigly,

Many on the right just don’t get that.

Posted by: JayJay Snowman at January 9, 2006 4:26 PM
Comment #111501

Chantico,

rahdigly: “We certainly should hold Bush to a higher standard than Chavez. Calling Bush a “Tyrant”, “Hitler”, etc. is not holding Bush to a higher standard. Period. Many on the left just don’t get that.”

Chantico: “And many on the left do.”


Well, let’s just hope that we can hear from that side of the left more often, so we can have a debate on issues.

Posted by: rahdigly at January 9, 2006 4:31 PM
Comment #111511

JayJay

We can’t have good relations with Chavez. He needs to tweak us to satisfy his core constituencies. No matter what our policies, he will find reasons to dislike them. He is using the U.S. instrumentally to achieve his goals. It buys him credibility with leftists of the world and will provide excuses when his own shortcomings become more apparent. We really are not the drivers of this policy or our relations with him.

I think we very often take a U.S. centric view of things and I think the left does it even more than the right. The U.S. is not the only player or one acting on inanimate material. It is a game of action and reaction. Chavez is playing too and he is pretty good at it. He is not merely reacting to our behavior. He is often using us for his goals.

In fact, Chavez is more likely to be the instigator, since Venezuela for U.S. foreign policy is a small potato in a big stew, while the U.S. for Venezuela is the main course.

Posted by: Jack at January 9, 2006 4:40 PM
Comment #111515

Burt,

Welcome back! I was missing your poorly researched and focusless articles while you were away. You must have been at your winter home in Stowe.

Thanks Burt, I freely reciprocate the sentiment.


Andre,

My question was more directed at Eric, but you can answer it. If someone on the right ex. Pat Robertson makes a ridiculous claim or statement we equate it to him being a “kook.”

When Harry Belafonte says something over the top or ridiculous it is attributed to a “liberal” mindset and becomes the rallying cry of all “liberals”, according to Eric.

This is a common practice from those on the “right.”

I’m just trying to understand how Eric and those who believe as he does can take one man’s words and apply it to everyone who he(Eric)has labeled “liberal.”

When Pat Robertson says something ‘we’ equate it to him being a kook? Andre, I have read some of your comments about the christian right, vehement is the word I would use to describe them. I’m not sure if they cross over the line into hateful as Karen and Adrienne would put it; I choose to think that they are uninformed.

But here you have the chance to set the example, by helping me become informed about your beliefs vis a vis the socialist thought in modern liberalism. Instead of saying I’m using an illigitimate tactic, perhaps we could discuss how I’m wrong about what the left believes.

This effort to say no one should ever take one person’s words and apply it to an entire ‘class’ of people is absurd. You can’t be serious. Since when are political leanings ‘protected’ from mischaracterization? If that were the case the progressives on watchblog are putting themselves in a class of hypocrisy all it’s own.

In your post about Pat Robertson’s comments you said:

Why not call the Far Right Christian Conservatives, the Far Right Uptight Bigots and take some of the pressure of pretending to be spiritual, religious and moral off their backs.

These are after all, not their strengths.

Or were we setting precedent when we said:

We are bombarded by the Christian Conservative Right, with their opinions on matters ranging from Supreme Court nominees, Intelligent Design being taught in our schools, Gay marriage, Gambling, Abortion and the War on Terror. If you examine their positions and charges on these issues, are the GOP and the “Christian” groups really sure of what those stances are?

…Pat Robertson calls for the assassination of Venezuela’s leader Hugo Chavez. This is a political statement made by the leader of the Christian Fundamentalists. Is this what any of us would consider a Christian thought?

Is Pat Robertson really the leader of the ‘Christian Fundamentalists’? or the GOP? or even Republican Christians?

Another post on Robertson’s comments in the Blue column came right out and hung them around Bush as well:

George W. Bush, who was elected because he has “moral values” and is a man of faith, does not think it important to denounce Robertson, a prominent leader of the Republican Party when he makes such obviously immoral statements. All any other administration leader can say is that Robertson is a private citizen. Amazing, isn’t it.

A good example of faith and “moral values” at work by an administration run by a guy that speaks to God every day. Bush’s “moral values” are in the same class as Robertson’s “moral values.”

Funny, no one on the left made any comment about hateful it was to generalize in this way. Not one liberal commenter said that it’s wrong to take one persons’s comments and attribute it to others. Hmm.

But let’s get back to the issue. Do you completely disagree with Bellafonte comments or do you only disagree with the timing and manner in which he said them?

Adrienne,

Once upon a time, a fisherman named Eric dumped a big bucket o’ chum off the back of his boat.

I feel some nibbles…

Posted by: esimonson at January 9, 2006 4:49 PM
Comment #111518

Jayjay,

rahdigly: We certainly should hold Bush to a higher standard than Chavez.


Jayjay: “Many on the right just don’t get that.”


Who the heck on the right is not holding Bush to a higher standard than Chavez?! The right holds Bush to a higher standard; they just disagree with him on occassions, not hate him daily like the left does.


Posted by: rahdigly at January 9, 2006 4:51 PM
Comment #111530

rahdigly,

No matter how you look at it, the 2000 election was decided by the SCOTUS. Bush recieved 50,456,002 or 47.87%, Gore recieved 50,999,897 or 48.38%. Gore was the true democratically elected President. Bush was appointed President by the SCOTUS, who blocked the recounting of Florida votes thereby giving Bush Florida’s electoral votes and the Presidency.

What the “liberal” Florida Supreme Court did was order a manual recount including 9,000 votes in Miami Dade county that did not register a vote for President for whatever reason. The SCOTUS did not rule that what the “liberal” Florida Supreme Court did was unconstitutional, but rather that the mechanism of the recount was not uniform, therfore a violation of the Equal Protection Clause, although I’m not sure how. The 9,000 voters in Miami-Dade were not equally protected.

Posted by: JayJay Snowman at January 9, 2006 5:09 PM
Comment #111534
Who the heck on the right is not holding Bush to a higher standard than Chavez?!

rahdigly,

Are you kidding? How many on the right have put the President above the law? How many on the right have tried to block investigations into Snoopgate, Plamegate, WMDgate? Who the heck on the right is holding Bush to a higher standard than Chavez?! I don’t imagine that they could get much lower.

Posted by: JayJay Snowman at January 9, 2006 5:16 PM
Comment #111535

Paul,

Maybe I want to have a conversation about why one would favor higher taxes and more government control but does not, for some reason, want to discuss the underlying philosophy they may or may not hold that guides them in their beliefs. Seems to me that a discussion of ideas would include political philosophy as well as support for any particular bill.

Posted by: esimonson at January 9, 2006 5:18 PM
Comment #111543

Pat Robertson and the way he sees the life of a christian,“Man enjoys the great advantage of having a God endorse the codes he writes; and since man exercises a sovereign authority over woman, it is especially fortunate that this authority has been vested in him by the Supreme Being. For the Jews, Mohammedans, and the Christians, among others, man is master by divine right; the fear of God, therefore, will repress any impulse toward revolt in the downtrodden female.” or anyone else that isn’t in the 700 club.
Steve

Posted by: Steve at January 9, 2006 5:24 PM
Comment #111568

To all:

Perhaps a bit off topic, or just perhaps, smack dab right ON the topic, or at least the headline of this thread.

Read the following article to find out what is GOOD with corporate America. Very interesting what good companies can do with good people.

You have your homework, people. Report back when you are done. :)

Posted by: joebagodonuts at January 9, 2006 5:53 PM
Comment #111570

And now for the link:

http://money.cnn.com/2006/01/06/news/companies/bestcos_undercover/index.htm?cnn=yes

Posted by: joebagodonuts at January 9, 2006 5:54 PM
Comment #111580

That’s great for the people who work for those companies. More should follow thier examples. Those companies deserve cheers for the what they have created, and the companies like wal-mart deserve every jeer they recieve.

Posted by: JayJay Snowman at January 9, 2006 6:09 PM
Comment #111590

Good Corporate America, personally I don’t see it. I grew up in the sixties and I can remember all the mom and pop shops, the gas stations, hardware stores, the local restaurants and sub shops. Everybody knew who you were, they knew your interests, hell most of them knew what you could afford and what your dream list was. The business’ of old had the family in mind with better benefits and genuine care about tradegies that may of happened at work (Saco Mine), they would take care of their own.
Today’s corporations could care less, they are more responsive to their shareholders than the guy or girl given the little extra something to make the business that much better. A cutback in benefits saves the company money, unless of course your in the right managerial tier, then of course your benefits aren’t touched. People are not robots, they have feelings, family and faith in their fellow human being. It is pathetic what the corporations think today, IBM comes to mind right away. Professionals taking a little less salary to gain valuable benefits to ensure that their famalies are taken care of in a castrophy, or that they can retire with a settlement worthy of their years spent with the company.
Personally, I would rather go into Leone’s and get a meatball sub and a how do you do, than a number 3 at McDonald’s.
Steve

Posted by: Steve at January 9, 2006 6:28 PM
Comment #111593

Eric:
“I feel some nibbles…”

Oh, I see you’ve cast yourself not in the role of the fisherman, but as the chum. Good call.

“Progressivism, liberalism, leftism, whatever you want to call it, is, in essence, the inheritor of the estate of Marx.”

That’s right, everybody on the left is a Pinko Commie who wants to overthrow the country. It’s the whole justification for the New Republican Cold War — where roughly half of the American people may be viewed as the enemy.
Nevermind that it’s complete and total bullshit, for the true believers: “This is a historical fact which is undeniable”!!!

But wait, I can make up half-assed extrapolations about Republican’s too, can’t I?
Let’s see…
Bush Jr. is an inarticulate, alcoholic, stupid rich boy and chronic liar whose family is the only reason he isn’t currently living in a run-down trailer park rather than The White House. Therefore, all Republican’s are just like that too.
Dick Cheney loves the idea of torture and is an evil, warmongering scumbag — so too, are all Republican’s.
Lynne Cheney wrote a lesbian novel, because all Republican’s are closeted homosexuals.
“Scooter” Libby wrote a novel where a child is forced into a cage to be raped by an animal, hence, all Republican’s fantasize about sadistic acts of pedophilia and bestiality.
Randy “Duke” Cunningham was easily bribed — naturally, he’s a Republican.
Tom Delay is a total crook, just like all the Republican’s.
Bill Frist engaged in insider trading, it’s a Republican tradition.
Karl Rove thinks that all Liberals, including those in the military, are in league with Al Qaeda — a belief he holds in common with all Republican’s.
Pat Robertson is a Far Right Fundamentalist who advocates killing the elected leaders of other countries, just like all Fundamentalists on the Right advocate killing in the name of Jesus.
Wow, that was just so easy to do — maybe I should start writing articles for Watchblog?

Posted by: Adrienne at January 9, 2006 6:32 PM
Comment #111607

Jayjay,
“No matter how you look at it, the 2000 election was decided by the SCOTUS. Bush recieved 50,456,002 or 47.87%, Gore recieved 50,999,897 or 48.38%. Gore was the true democratically elected President. Bush was appointed President by the SCOTUS, who blocked the recounting of Florida votes thereby giving Bush Florida’s electoral votes and the Presidency. What the “liberal” Florida Supreme Court did was order a manual recount including 9,000 votes in Miami Dade county that did not register a vote for President for whatever reason.”


Wrong! What the SCOTUS did was decide that the FSC did was unconstitutional b/c they overrided state elections laws by changing the process after the election. It was the Florida legislature that was to make the decision, not the FSC. Period.

And, Gore was certainly not “the true democratically elected” President b/c of the popular vote. It’s the electorate not the popular vote that decides Presidents. And, Bush won that 271 to 266; you need 270 to win. In this case, it’s the 271 that decided our “true democratically elected” President. You need to get over it and move on, brother…

Posted by: rahdigly at January 9, 2006 7:00 PM
Comment #111643

rahdigly,

Wrong, wrong, wrong! The per curiam decision of the SCOTUS was based on the equal protection clause. Period. Chief Justice Rehnquist, Justice Scalia and Justice Thomas wrote a separate opinion in which they expressed the concerns you mention, but was not part per curiam decision of the court.

Justice Stevens, Justice Ginsburg, Justice Breyer, and Justice Souter wrote opposing opinions with the view that the Florida legisature is bond by the state constitution which subjects it to judicial review pursuant to Article V of the Florida Constitution, and nothing in the U.S. constitution overrides this requirement.

And, Gore was certainly not “the true democratically elected” President b/c of the popular vote. It’s the electorate not the popular vote that decides Presidents. And, Bush won that 271 to 266; you need 270 to win. In this case, it’s the 271 that decided our “true democratically elected” President. You need to get over it and move on, brother

I am well aware of how the electoral college works. Bush was awarded the Presidency by the SCOTUS, by haulting the Florida recount, therefore I cannot honestly say that Bush was the democratically elected President. I can however say that Gore won the popular vote through the democratic process, that is more than Bush can claim.


Posted by: JayJay Snowman at January 9, 2006 8:42 PM
Comment #111657

Jayjay,

So, what you’re saying is that, you have a problem with Bush being “awarded” the Presidency via the SCOTUS; however, if they had not intervened, then Gore would have been “awarded” the Presidency via the Florida Supreme Court. The latter part is democratic to you?! Huh?!


Here’s something that you need to know; win you’re own state and you would be the President. Gore didn’t; he’s a tool and the US citizens were darn sure glad he lost (fair and sqaure) less than a year later (9/11). That’s just a cold, hard fact, Jay. Now, once again, you have to move on.


Posted by: rahdigly at January 9, 2006 9:23 PM
Comment #111665

rahdigly,

First of all, I was never under it and I have nothing to move on from on this issue. I simply made the statement that SCOTUS appointed Bush to the presidency because it is fact, and I cannot honestly say he was elected through the democratic process. You are the one that made it an issue, so maybe you need to move on.

So, what you’re saying is that, you have a problem with Bush being “awarded” the Presidency via the SCOTUS; however, if they had not intervened, then Gore would have been “awarded” the Presidency via the Florida Supreme Court. The latter part is democratic to you?

The latter certainly would have been more democratic than the former. The FSC ordered a recount, SCOTUS denied such an effort. The recount that FSC ordered in no way assured Gore would win Florida. In fact it is speculated that Bush still would have won by a 225-vote margin statewide. A statewide recount should have decided the outcome of voter intent, not SCOTUS.

Posted by: JayJay Snowman at January 9, 2006 9:54 PM
Comment #111675

Jayjay,

Because you say it does not make it a fact. It is your opinion that because the court made that decision it means they “appointed” Bush. The fact is that the court decision gave Bush the electoral win. It does not mean they appointed him.

The problem as you know is that a recount ordered by the FSC would have exceeded the time limit for certifying the votes. As you know election laws can not be changed after the voting.

Posted by: Mike P at January 9, 2006 10:36 PM
Comment #111678

Rahdigly,

I would very much like to thank you for ignoring my question entirely, saving me from the bluster and bs.

Posted by: Rocky at January 9, 2006 10:44 PM
Comment #111691
Because you say it does not make it a fact.

Mike P

SCOTUS ended the recount ordered by the FSC. That is FACT, not because I say it. How you interpret that is up to you.

Posted by: JayJay Snowman at January 9, 2006 11:10 PM
Comment #111697

Che Guevara wasn’t an idealist, he was a madman. He didn’t fight for oppressed people, he murdered them. He especially liked to slit children’s throats in front of their parents. He would often torture a father to death in front of his children. He personally murdered several hundred people and ordered the murders of thousands more. Salvador Allende was a Marxist who instituted a reign of terror in Chile. His cadres drug people out of their homes in the middle of the night, never to be seen again. They would arrest and execute people on trumped up charges. The atrocities common to Stalinist regimes were rampant. The country was in a downward spiral into barbarism. When military commanders went to Pinochet and begged him to put a stop to the madness, he did. The so-called “atrocities” committed under Pinochet were the families of the victims of Allende’s murderous regime taking revenge on their tormentors. When Pinochet learned what was occurring he ordered it stopped. As soon as Chile was stable and the rule of law re-established Pinochet voluntarily surrendered power and elections were held. The socialists of the world have never forgiven him.

Posted by: steve at January 9, 2006 11:33 PM
Comment #111717

Adrienne,

I sense some misunderstanding here. For instance the following quote:

“Progressivism, liberalism, leftism, whatever you want to call it, is, in essence, the inheritor of the estate of Marx.”

Is this a statement of hatred? Hardly. You obviously have some other agenda, or some other sentiment operating here that has nothing to do with my statements.

That’s right, everybody on the left is a Pinko Commie who wants to overthrow the country. It’s the whole justification for the New Republican Cold War — where roughly half of the American people may be viewed as the enemy.

Nevermind that it’s complete and total bullshit, for the true believers: “This is a historical fact which is undeniable”!!!

Are you pulling my leg Adrienne? You are, aren’t you?

I’ve actually been called a fascist outright… on this site in fact. Did it mean they were right? No. Did it mean that they hated me? I doubt it. I didn’t take it as such, especially if I know it’s not right from my point of view, how much easier is it to prove!

Political philosophy can be a very personal thing. It becomes part of your persona and as such when it is attacked you may feel as though you have been attacked too, but trust me you are not.

If I had said that Baathism was a derivative form of fascism, would that upset you? Of course not because such generalizations are necessary and proper, unless they are completely wrong and not just sometimes wrong. In which case, this is an opportunity for debate. It’s not a personal attack— because it is about ideas, not about you!

Now, I have a sincere belief that left-wing, leftist, progressive, and otherwise known as liberal political philosophy is based on the same principles as Marxism. I didn’t say that all democrats or liberals were commie pinkos ready for revolution. If I believed that then I would have said it. I believe there is a common ideological root between the two. That isn’t the same thing as saying that all libs are commies. Nor is it the same thing as saying Bush is alchoholic white trash.

There are many different groups within groups who disagree with parts of ideologies and agree with others, I assume this is true of leftists too. But the example I brought up was of prominent American liberal celebrities who made plain that their liberalism is exactly as I have described.

What I think is illustrative of how you are misperceiving this, is the counter-example you give:

But wait, I can make up half-assed extrapolations about Republican’s too, can’t I? Let’s see…

Bush Jr. is an inarticulate, alcoholic, stupid rich boy and chronic liar whose family is the only reason he isn’t currently living in a run-down trailer park rather than The White House. Therefore, all Republican’s are just like that too.

Dick Cheney loves the idea of torture and is an evil, warmongering scumbag — so too, are all Republican’s.

Lynne Cheney wrote a lesbian novel, because all Republican’s are closeted homosexuals.

“Scooter” Libby wrote a novel where a child is forced into a cage to be raped by an animal, hence, all Republican’s fantasize about sadistic acts of pedophilia and bestiality.

If you wanted to make a true comparison you might have said that Conservatism is based on fuedalism or corporatism or cronyism.

Instead you apparently equate my stating that liberalism is the ideological descendant of Marxism with calling individual Republicans ‘child rapists’, ‘homosexuals’, ‘crooks’, ‘alchoholic white trash’, and ‘evil’. Interesting.


Posted by: esimonson at January 10, 2006 1:18 AM
Comment #111805

Eric,

Talk about flip-flopping. Anyone who reads your articles and posts can see that you dance around on the ground upon which you stand. I’m sure that it is no surprise to you that you are often misunderstood and misinterpreted on this site. Ever wonder why? If you would like to post an article for debate, then perhaps it would be beneficial for you to brush up on your skills. Sticking fully to the subject with a bit less emotion would be advisable. Here is what your article was lacking:
“Now I have a sincere belief that left-wing, leftist, progressive, and otherwise known as liberal political philosophy is based on the same principles as Marxism……..I believe there is a common ideological root between the two……..There are many different groups within groups who disagree with parts of ideologies and agree with others, I assume this is true of leftists too.”
Do you not identify with your political party affiliation on a personal level? I find it rather amusing that you are so quick to criticize others who take your comments personally. The tone of your article was negative and it was aimed at “liberals.” Please tell me I’m wrong. Now then, if you disagree, then please inform this “uniformed” person of what were you getting at in your article? Are you basically pointing out that you believe there is a link between liberal philosophy and Marxism? Why didn’t you entertain that idea in a clearer manner? Are you a journalist? Have you ever had any formal training in that field? Have you any experience as an editor? Your article has been critiqued because it was poorly written.

Posted by: Karen at January 10, 2006 8:47 AM
Comment #111811

Eric-
The way you phrase things, it’s not difficult to see that your attitude about the socialist influence in the Democratic party is that of a doctor towards an infectious disease.

But what If I told you that the people in the lead on the president’s policies are the intellectual heirs of Lenin and Trotsky, that much of their approach, and therefore yours, is a descendant of the approach of political expedience those two employed to gain power? Given your attitudes towards a strong executive, able to work in secret, cover up embarrassing revelations for the good of all, able to determine for themselves, without really consulting all that much with the public on what they wanted, the case might be made that you’re neck-deep in this political philosophy.

That’s the truly infectious part of communism, of any system of tyranny. The part that whispers in your ear that the secret to maintaining power is keeping everybody else in the dark while you take the necessary steps to keep the revolution in motion.

Adrienne’s comment was a satire on your propagandistic approach, which takes the praise of a socialist (you call him communist) President(you call him a dictator) by some noted left-wing celebrities, and expands it to imply that the the controlling presence in the Democratic party is sympathetic to tyranny and communism. Any distinctions to the contrary, which you’re now claiming you made, go out the window if you look at but a single quote from your article:

Progressivism, liberalism, leftism, whatever you want to call it, is, in essence, the inheritor of the estate of Marx. This is a historical fact which is undeniable. We may argue about the degree to which many progressives subscribe to the ideal egalitarian society, how much evolution has occurred in progressive thought, or even the diversity of progressive positions, but there can be no doubt that the underpinnings and moral basis of progressivism are directly descended from 19th century socialism.

There are many problems with this assertion. You essentially lump most Democrats in together with those descriptions. Perhaps your thoughts are more precise than your words, but then that capacity for misinterpretation is your issue, not the reader’s.

The Claim of descent from Marxism is also dubious, as there was a strong Christian Progressive movement in that time, and liberal movements are tied into John Stuart Mill as well. I provide him as an alternative to disprove the notion that Marx was the only person putting forward the notion of government working for the collective good, rather than just the interests of the elite, and hoping the benefits trickle down to everybody else.

But also, I want to call your attention to the fact that people like me are not all fans of big government in the sense of one that is an overwhelming presence in people’s lives.

The fact that many left of center individuals have gravitated towards centrism and moderation in their politics indicates that Democrats in general had little problem with diminishing bureaucracy. The difference is, we still want government there capable of working for the collective good. While the right displays an outright phobia an pessimism towards a large scale government, we on the left recognize that we’re no longer living in agrarian times, but are now an industrial power, with business now wielding power approaching that of the state.

A balance has to be struck, and unfortunately, the Republicans keep on striking it in the wrong places because of their agenda.

With Katrina, we see the results of this.

FEMA failed in its job because it was never meant to do its job. It was meant to fail, though not on this scale. The Republicans wanted to devolve disaster relief down to the state and local level, making the homeland defense function primary.

They forced FEMA to go through private enterprise to perform many functions, an hybridization that proved as inefficient here as it did with Medicare’s drug benefit.

In the absence of true leadership and a culture of public service, FEMA lapsed into a kind of bureaucratic obliviousness, and under Bush’s administration, the staffing was used to reward political supporters rather than fill the ranks with professionals and experts.

In short, FEMA’s failure is reflective of Washington Culture under the Republicans.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 10, 2006 9:04 AM
Comment #111814

Stephen,

Bravo on the TONE of your post! I truly enjoy reading articulate comments.

Posted by: Karen at January 10, 2006 9:12 AM
Comment #111871

Regarding some of the previous posts:

I can’t remember if this is the “I hate republicans more than spinach” or the “I hate republicans more than my mother-in-law” thread.

Posted by: good king ned at January 10, 2006 11:57 AM
Comment #111906

king ned,

It’s the “I hate republicans more than hemorrhoids” thread. Keep up, now. :^)

Posted by: JayJay Snowman at January 10, 2006 2:06 PM
Comment #111907

king ned,

Its the “I hate republicans more than hemorrhoids” thread. Keep up, now. :^)

Posted by: JayJay Snowman at January 10, 2006 2:08 PM
Comment #111918

JayJay,
“The latter certainly would have been more democratic than the former. The FSC ordered a recount, SCOTUS denied such an effort. The recount that FSC ordered in no way assured Gore would win Florida. In fact it is speculated that Bush still would have won by a 225-vote margin statewide. A statewide recount should have decided the outcome of voter intent, not SCOTUS.”


Come on Jay, you seem like a smart guy, you can’t possibly believe that either one of the “Courts” deciding the Presidency is Democratic?! It’s up to the Florida State Legislature and local elections laws and those laws can’t be changed after an election. Bush won fair and square; close, but fair and sqaure. Period.

LET IT GO, BROTHER….

Posted by: rahdigly at January 10, 2006 2:52 PM
Comment #111920

Dictator’s are not voted into office. Chavez was. It is in the least careless to call Chavez, an elected leader, a dictator. More likely it is not careless but actually a careful attempt to portray Chavez as something he is not. Communist does not equal dictator. Like it or not he is the one they wanted in office.
I do not like the communist system because it lacks incentive to work hard but our system has it’s flaws as well. CEO’s who fail and are fired still get severance pay !00’s of times higher than what most of us will ever make. That is not a good thing. We must not reward poor leadership that way or it will lead people to communism.
If we wish to prevent other nations from becoming communist or socialist we should address the problems within our system instead of falsely portraying the other. If our sytem would have worked for the average person in Venezuala there would have been no need or desire for the “revolution”. It will only infiltrate into this country if the gap between the wealthy and the average person becomes to wide in an unjust way. Considering America now pays it’s CEO’s more than any other idustrialized nation, even the ones who fail or lead their company into bankrupcy, we should be worried. But we should fix the faults in our system that allows even demonstrably bad managers to make 400% more than the employees who do an honest days work. Not falsely portray others.

Posted by: zakquiet at January 10, 2006 3:13 PM
Comment #111928

rahdigly,

I let it go a long time ago. I have stated what I believe and I really can’t add anything else to what I have already said. I suggest you take your own advice, brother, and let it go.

Posted by: JayJay Snowman at January 10, 2006 3:28 PM
Comment #111946

Jay,

Sounds good to me. As long as you know not to try and “sneak” that tidbit in when you talk about the 2000 election with me. I believe Bush won fair and sqaure and you don’t. Later, brother…

Posted by: rahdigly at January 10, 2006 4:15 PM
Comment #111954

Karen,

Do you not identify with your political party affiliation on a personal level? I find it rather amusing that you are so quick to criticize others who take your comments personally. The tone of your article was negative and it was aimed at “liberals.” Please tell me I’m wrong.

I certainly do identify political affiliation on a personal level. I didn’t say that I didn’t. I am not decrying emotion. I am decrying the confusion and hypocricy of mixing an attack on an ideology and an attack on persons who hold that ideology.

Or perhaps you would like to take up my challenge and show me one statement of hatred in this post? Assume that if you judge something to be hatred that the standard should apply equally to any other statement made by anyone else as well.

Are you basically pointing out that you believe there is a link between liberal philosophy and Marxism?

I thought that was plainly evident. Or else what is the fuss about, and why claim it is ‘hatred’ to compare the two if that was not what you believed it was about in the first place?

Why didn’t you entertain that idea in a clearer manner? Are you a journalist? Have you ever had any formal training in that field? Have you any experience as an editor? Your article has been critiqued because it was poorly written.

If that were true then I doubt that you would have felt compelled to be offended. Was it poorly written in the sense of writing mechanics, or poorly written in the sense that it offended you?

Back to the point. Pointing out examples of American liberals supporting communism and socialism is hardly beside the point when saying that leftist ideology is built on Marxist roots. What’s so hard to understand? You may think it wrong, or not correct about a majority of actual liberals, but why not say so? Instead you refute it by saying it is hatred.

When I say it is not my intention to offend, I am not saying that if you are offended then it’s wrong. I’m saying that it is not a personal attack on liberals, only on your ideology, if this describes your ideology.

I have been wanting to write a post on the loony far-right, as I have been exposed to several people of late who hold views that I deem to be just as wrong and dangerous. Will you be as offended about my generalizations of the John Birch Society and their progenitors? I suspect not.

As I wrote in my post, many liberals (and conservatives for that matter), don’t always consciously know what they believe or why. This is not to say that your beliefs did not come from somewhere. They came from some philosophy or other. …Or some philosophy or other adequetly describes your predominant views about political philosophy.

You will find the following paragraphs in my original post. I wonder if you may not have skipped past them:

Ideology is seldom an all or nothing deal. Ask any two conservatives what they believe and they will disagree on some issues and agree on others. This is true of liberals and progressives as well. It’s difficult to say any one group subscribes wholly to any complete agenda. But we can make generalizations about a body of thought, and about the beliefs of groups as opposed to individuals.

…I say this in the same way I say that conservatism is the inheritor of the Laissez-Faire beliefs from the 19th century. In fact, not all conservatives subscribe to economic libertarianism, any more than all liberals are socialist. (Face it; some people don’t have a clue why they believe something much less where those ideas came from.) But the body of ideas, the general sentiment of those who call themselves progressive follow an ideal that was borne of the same general ideology codified by Engels and Marx.

Posted by: esimonson at January 10, 2006 4:33 PM
Comment #111969

Eric,

Your last post makes you sound like a nornal guy.
You keep this up and people will be mistaking you for a centrist.

Posted by: Rocky at January 10, 2006 4:55 PM
Comment #111984

Stephen,

The way you phrase things, it’s not difficult to see that your attitude about the socialist influence in the Democratic party is that of a doctor towards an infectious disease.

One can make the same assumption of yours toward Republicans and the Bush administration in particular. Does that invalidate your views?

Secondly, I didn’t mention the Democratic Party in my post. Certainly the Democratic Party is included in those who are liberal and on the left, but it also includes many others, including the Green Party, many anti-capitalist and anti-globalist groups, such as Code Pink, and many others.

But what If I told you that the people in the lead on the president’s policies are the intellectual heirs of Lenin and Trotsky, that much of their approach, and therefore yours, is a descendant of the approach of political expedience those two employed to gain power? Given your attitudes towards a strong executive, able to work in secret, cover up embarrassing revelations for the good of all, able to determine for themselves, without really consulting all that much with the public on what they wanted, the case might be made that you’re neck-deep in this political philosophy.

If I am not mistaken, a variation of this is actually voiced on this site in recurring posts. But I assume that most on the blue and middle aisle who agree with it take it for granted and do not conflate it with charges of ‘hatred’.

Adrienne’s comment was a satire on your propagandistic approach, which takes the praise of a socialist (you call him communist) President(you call him a dictator) by some noted left-wing celebrities, and expands it to imply that the the controlling presence in the Democratic party is sympathetic to tyranny and communism. Any distinctions to the contrary, which you’re now claiming you made, go out the window if you look at but a single quote from your article:

Adrienne’s comments are about apples to oranges. There is a distinction between saying Conservatism is bad, and saying Bush is an Alchoholic, Cheney is evil, and Republicans are child rapists. I think the fact that this is a source of confusion for many is an illustration of how any criticism of the left is unaccetable. In fact, the reaction is precisely what you claim plagues the Bush administration. A refusal to receive criticism of any kind and label critics as ‘haters’.

The Claim of descent from Marxism is also dubious, as there was a strong Christian Progressive movement in that time, and liberal movements are tied into John Stuart Mill as well. I provide him as an alternative to disprove the notion that Marx was the only person putting forward the notion of government working for the collective good, rather than just the interests of the elite, and hoping the benefits trickle down to everybody else.

But also, I want to call your attention to the fact that people like me are not all fans of big government in the sense of one that is an overwhelming presence in people’s lives.

The fact that many left of center individuals have gravitated towards centrism and moderation in their politics indicates that Democrats in general had little problem with diminishing bureaucracy. The difference is, we still want government there capable of working for the collective good. While the right displays an outright phobia an pessimism towards a large scale government, we on the left recognize that we’re no longer living in agrarian times, but are now an industrial power, with business now wielding power approaching that of the state.

The problem with this account is that these ‘centrists’ you speak of never advocate for the free market, they always demand more government control. Some indeed pay lip service to free markets and capitalism, but look at the posts in your column, Stephen. When’s the last time a ‘moderate centrist’ said that government should lower taxes, defund a government agency, or say that government should be smaller?

You mention the Christian Progressive movement This is a case in point. The Social Gospel movement was in fact part of the ascendant wave of 19th century socialism. They’re platforms are socialist in nature and most supported and worked for socialist government and causes. Is this a refutation of my thesis in my affore quoted paragraph?

Social gospel, also known as Christian socialism, was a moral reform movement of the late nineteenth century that helped pave the way for the progressive movement. Rapid urbanization and industrialization in the 1880s and 1890s aroused the interest of many Protestant clergymen in the need to secure social justice for the poor. They aimed to expand their appeal in the cities, where the Roman Catholic church was especially popular among the large immigrant population. The leaders of the social gospel movement were Washington Gladden, who sympathized with workers and urged them to seek unity in Christianity, William Dwight Porter Bliss, who worked with the Knights of Labor and the Socialist party, and especially Walter Rauschenbusch, a Baptist minister in New York City who called for a democratic cooperative society to be achieved by nonviolent means.

The social gospel movement had mixed results. It attracted a number of followers and helped liberalize organized religion and link Christianity with progressivism. It contributed to the efforts of political and social reformers like Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Jane Addams, and economist Richard Ely, all of whom were moved to look at reform in moral terms. But it failed to win over many urban immigrants, and it proposed few lasting solutions to urban problems. Social Gospel

I do know of what I speak. There is a thread of progressive ideas running through the 19th century. They are all similiar enough to be grouped together and Marxism was merely the most successful codification of this ideology of egalitariasm and the use of the state to bring about these ends. Those who proposed only marginal socialist ‘reforms’ achieved modest results that may or may not have been attributable to the reform, and nonetheless produced demostrable harm. Those who sought to bring this ideology to full fruition however proved beyond a shadow of a doubt the bankruptcy of both it’s aims and it’s means.

Posted by: esimonson at January 10, 2006 5:20 PM
Comment #112011

Rocky,

Eric,

Your last post makes you sound like a nornal guy.
You keep this up and people will be mistaking you for a centrist.

Hmm, this may be a first for watchblog, I’ve never been accused of being ‘normal’, but centrist? That’s beyond the pale. I’m not sure how to take it.

Should I be happy, glad, surprised, amused, shocked, or offended?

Thanks Rocky, let me know when whatever it is you’re taking wears off. I’d like to know what it is too, maybe I need some. ;)

Posted by: esimonson at January 10, 2006 7:13 PM
Comment #112066

Eric-
Look, if you’re a farmer, and you blast a shotgun at a shadow that startles you, it’s no good explaining to your wife that you weren’t shooting at her, especially if somebody’s going to have to pull buckshot out of her.

If you want to be interpreted specifically, target specifically. When I hear the words liberal, progressive, and left, I think of myself. I don’t think of socialists, any more than most republicans think of fascists or Stalinists.

You take Adrienne’s charges too seriously. She means to show you both the excess of your style and the absurdity that follows from it. The issue with criticism of the left is often folks like you completely miss what motivates us. This is the Liberal America of Saving Private Ryan not M.A.S.H. This is a nation in search of honorable, useful ways of dealing with its military power. That’s part and parcel of why Americans allowed the Iraq war to happen in the first place.

As for socialism? I’ve never said it wasn’t involved in modern American liberalism, I was just saying that you are ignoring Christian and secular roots that are just as important,if not more important.

At most you see social programs. America was never big on socialism. It had the Democrats instead. We took the country in a different direction. We weren’t a bunch of godless communists then, and we’re not now. We’re capitalists who understand one thing about society that the conservative capitalists fail to: Industry and business are part of the interests that drive a country, but they can no more be left to themselves than ordinary citizens can. You have to have laws and and a government able to enforce them. By understanding this, we bypass the need for creaing a frankenstein monster of socialism, because we don’t feel the need to put the companies directly under government control, to nationalize them.

I guess it all depends on whether names matter most, or what folks apply them to. After all, being called a Christian Democrat means different things, if you’re in America than if you’re in Germany.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 10, 2006 11:16 PM
Comment #112148

Stephen,

BRAVO! Once again! Very well written and debated. You have put into words what I was incapable of expressing towards Eric. Thank you for your intellect.

Posted by: Karen at January 11, 2006 8:45 AM
Comment #112174

Good article, Eric, I knew I could count on you for a much needed laugh. All liberals are really commies - what a great punch line!

Posted by: ElliottBay at January 11, 2006 10:29 AM
Comment #112270

Stephen,

If you want to be interpreted specifically, target specifically. When I hear the words liberal, progressive, and left, I think of myself. I don’t think of socialists, any more than most republicans think of fascists or Stalinists.

Whether you want to admit it or not, progressivism i.e. modern liberalism has it’s roots in Marxist doctrine. Some insist socialism and communism are completely different, but at the core they are the same. There are a myriad of ‘socialisms’ but they all descend from the same principles, that the collective has the right to order the lives of individuals. Liberalism as it is correctly defined is about individual liberty. However today this label is not an accurate one when we talk about progressive ideology. Especially in terms of economic liberty.

You take Adrienne’s charges too seriously. She means to show you both the excess of your style and the absurdity that follows from it. The issue with criticism of the left is often folks like you completely miss what motivates us. This is the Liberal America of Saving Private Ryan not M.A.S.H. This is a nation in search of honorable, useful ways of dealing with its military power. That’s part and parcel of why Americans allowed the Iraq war to happen in the first place.

I’m not sure we are reading the same words. For example, do you consider my post to be ‘hateful’ as Karen put it? And do you see a direct analogy in saying that an ideology is descended from another to saying Republican officials rape children? I am merely pointing out the incongruity and hypocrisy of calling things hateful because you disagree with them. Generalities are not hate speach.

As for socialism? I’ve never said it wasn’t involved in modern American liberalism, I was just saying that you are ignoring Christian and secular roots that are just as important,if not more important.

If I call something by another name does that make it any different in reality? If the solutions proposed and the ideas are the same then it doesn’t matter that I call it Christian or secular or socialist.

At most you see social programs. America was never big on socialism. It had the Democrats instead. We took the country in a different direction. We weren’t a bunch of godless communists then, and we’re not now.

Socialism has never been popular in America. Which is why what was once called socialism now has a million different names. Democrats came closest to adopting many of the policies of the Communist and Socialist Parties of the 30’s under Roosevelt. Have you ever heard of the National Industrial Recovery Act? As many on the left are characterizing Bush as a dictator and democrats in congress are saying Bush should be impeached for abusing Presidential Power, we have completely forgotten history. Roosevelt actually rounded up every japanese American in the US and put them in camps. He also enacted the NRA, which comes the closest we’ve ever been to a socialist state.

Of course, we must not look too closely at examples such as this because it will not comport with the idea that the left doesn’t really support socialism and just wants to ‘improve’ capitalism.

The National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) was enacted by Congress in June 1933 and was one of the measures by which President Franklin D. Roosevelt sought to assist the nation’s economic recovery during the Great Depression. The passage of NIRA ushered in a unique experiment in U.S. economic history—the NIRA sanctioned, supported, and in some cases, enforced an alliance of industries. Antitrust laws were suspended, and companies were required to write industry-wide “codes of fair competition” that effectively fixed prices and wages, established production quotas, and imposed restrictions on entry of other companies into the alliances. The act further called for industrial self-regulation and declared that codes of fair competition—for the protection of consumers, competitors, and employers—were to be drafted for the various industries of the country and were to be subject to public hearings. Employees were given the right to organize and bargain collectively and could not be required, as a condition of employment, to join or refrain from joining a labor organization.

The National Recovery Administration (NRA), created by a separate executive order, was put into operation soon after the final approval of the act. President Roosevelt appointed Hugh S. Johnson as administrator for industrial recovery. The administration was empowered to make voluntary agreements dealing with hours of work, rates of pay, and the fixing of prices. Until March 1934, the NRA was engaged chiefly in drawing up these industrial codes for all industries to adopt. More than 500 codes of fair practice were adopted for the various industries. Patriotic appeals were made to the public, and firms were asked to display the Blue Eagle, an emblem signifying NRA participation. ourdocuments.gov

History is history, and during that time especially there was a belief throughout the western world that planned economies were better than the chaotic ‘invisible hand’ of free market capitalism. I’m not demonizing at this point, I am merely stating facts. And yes, thankfully the support, and the resistance, to these kinds of measures was profound enough that those Democrats who were more socialist inclined dare not take them further than they did, but if you read about the Brain Trust around Roosevelt and if you read about the academic intellectual trends you will find that Marxism is highly regarded on the left.

As I stated in my orginal post there is nothing absolutely monolithic about this, but it is a fact that the core of leftist intellectualism has been marxist throughout this century.

There is also the fact that thoughout the cold war the Soviet Union funded many leftist intellectuals and political groups in order to promote communism and socialism, (just as we had similiar efforts funded to promote democracy and freedom from soviet tyranny in Soviet coutries.)

But then I remember you saying in comments that there really wasn’t a soviet threat at all, that we needn’t have built up our military under Reagan to defeat the Soviet Union because they weren’t really our enemies, or something like that. Maybe you could refresh my memory about that.

We’re capitalists who understand one thing about society that the conservative capitalists fail to: Industry and business are part of the interests that drive a country, but they can no more be left to themselves than ordinary citizens can. You have to have laws and and a government able to enforce them. By understanding this, we bypass the need for creaing a frankenstein monster of socialism, because we don’t feel the need to put the companies directly under government control, to nationalize them.

Here is where I partially agree with you, and partially disagree. True enough, most liberals in America (I’m not speaking for Howard Dean or Ralph Nader - or the entire town of Berkeley) seem to have caught on that communism/socialism is a dead end. That is is practically impossible to implement in 19th century style. But, I have personally had conversations wherein progressives say that the general theory of socialism is still a good one, and thus you have the green party for instance.

But more to the point, it is one thing to realize that socialism is impractical generally, but what your position shows is that what has not been abandoned is the idea that socialist solutions are an answer to the evils of capitalism. I don’t think that your understanding of capitalism has gone much further than the marxist definition of it.

Posted by: esimonson at January 11, 2006 5:22 PM
Comment #112721

Eric-
You still haven’t convinced me that Marxist Socialism is the predominant influence in modern liberal policy. There is a common source for a lot of the social reform and socialist movements, but its not what you think. You’re thinking in terms of labels, I’m thinking in terms of socials situations. I don’t think people tended to join unions because they were socialists but because organized labor had certain advantages over having to deal with your boss alone. That’s what you miss. You carry on as if people just got this bad idea in their head, and suddenly turned against communism. Truth is, though, nobody turned against capitalism, they turned against the conditions that is pure, unbridled form created.

As yourself: If those workers in the far east had their druthers, do you think they’d be working for chump change? Or do you take the assumption that these people are naturally grateful for their jobs, and wouldn’t ask for more? Which would you seek?

Many of the places where our jobs are going are not capitalist paradises, but places where the laws interfere with the workings of the market. China especially.

China’s manipulations are broad and unscrupulous. Yet you would let us suffer the consequences of that, because you believe in free trade and free markets. Well, I do too, but I recognize that sometimes the ideal of pure markets and pure trade is just that: an ideal, which not everybody lives up to, some purposefully. We’re not losing jobs because China is cheaper. We’re losing jobs because Chinese workers aren’t free to make themselves as expensive as they should be.

On the subject of hateful posts, I would say they strike me as obnoxious, but not hateful. I would also advise you that satire is not direct analogy, its exaggeration for the purpose of making a point about real world absurdities. In this case, the quickness you have in jumping to conclusions, and founding your arguments on taking special cases and making them general rules. A textbook fallacy of composition, compounded by a very biased appreciation of people’s politics.

Why do people feel insulted? Well, first, many Democrats and Liberals feel as lousily as you do about communism. Second, historically speaking, that erroneous claim has been the foundations of allegations that Democrats and Liberals are traitors to their own country, a claim revived in recent times. Third, you simply fail to ask people what they think, and try to tell them that which they naturally are the authorities on.

Where a person’s ideas come from, and how they organize it are important. Sometimes, two different systems can come up with similar solutions, have similar ideas. Go and read the gospels. There is plenty there which you might think was born with socialism, but which in fact predates it by almost two millennium. Additionally, different origins means that a person might hold and associate different views on a subject than their counterpart might. It’s not merely names that change, but company those certain ideas take. There’s one obvious way, for example, that Communism and Catholicism are separate, despite their notions of collective action to meet people’s needs.

Roosevelt’s actions were typical of a time when people inquired less into government dealings, and allowed more, a time in which leaders had more unconditional trust, and more leeway on the rules. They were also typical of a time where thinking and understanding of the world was more deterministic, and people thought central control was more practicable. The Liberalism of FDR’s time has had to evolve as the market has demonstrated more unpredictable behavior, and society has changed.

In reading about the Brain Trust, I would point out to you the Wise Men and the Best and the Brightest. Aren’t these folks fervent anti-communists? As for intellectuals on the left, I’d submit to you that people were listening to more varied voices on political subjects, than just the few airy left-wing intellectuals. You can’t just concentrate on liberals in localized areas, like you folks tend to do. Look wider, and you’ll find most liberals, though more sympathetic to those on the left, tend to be influence by moderate authors and intellectuals. They tend to be part of a culture that moderates whatever excesses of thoughts which are introduced. You don’t take that into account, instead you feverishly imply that we’re contaminated with a virus that takes over everything else in our lives. The reality is, Capitalism is more infectious than Marxism, and most Liberals are raised and educated in a capitalist society.

As for my comments about the Soviet Threat, I said it was exaggerated by the Neocons. I didn’t say it wasn’t there. We needn’t have gotten into an arms race in the last few decades of the Cold War, because indications already existed for sovietologists that the Soviets were in decline, and that Gorbachev never increased defense spending to match ours.

It is the tendency of the right to allege that all the current leaders of the Liberals are on the far left. The truth is, people like Dean are Centrists. Hell, Dean even supports the NRA. He’s just pugnacious, really, and he doesn’t like the war. Again, in GOP Cold War mode, that must mean he’s on the far left, but the truth is not so.

My definition of Capitalism is one that deals with a system, and artifical system built on fallible human thought, like they all are. We can pine for perfect systems all we want to. In truth, most workable systems combine different aspects of different systems, to deal with the complex and often unpredictable real world that our brains can only approximately model.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 13, 2006 8:09 AM
Comment #112961

I have a question regaurding the cold war comment made above.If the Soviets never increased the money spent on arms in two decades why would it be called a race? That statement seems flawed.

Now to disscuss the topic at hand. Socialism lends its hands in policy towards the poor. Period. Takeing from the haves and giving to the have nots. Not that helping our fellow citizens was not a noble idea, it just seems the more Government dips it’s hands in social issues the worse off they become.

Free markets are not free if special favor is given to one country, especially if that country is in dirsct competetion with the US. China, having the advantage of cheaper labor, should have been offset by tariffs that make the playing fields even on US soil. However, Large companies are not going to stop outsourceing US jobs untill it is less finacially prudent to do so. Also, Quality needs to come in to play with Americans, if your product is not superior in Quality, people are not going to buy it for a little more. So while unions do protect workers to a great degree. They also hurt them when they do not demand exzacting quality from their employees represented. If you are going to make such a high wage you darn well better be producing a far better product.

Posted by: Jerry at January 13, 2006 5:05 PM
Comment #113295

Stephen,

You still haven’t convinced me that Marxist Socialism is the predominant influence in modern liberal policy. There is a common source for a lot of the social reform and socialist movements, but its not what you think. You’re thinking in terms of labels, I’m thinking in terms of socials situations.

You’ll notice that part of my premise includes the fact that many don’t think of their beliefs as socialist. But if their beliefs are influenced by socialism, or they carry most of the characteristics of it’s ‘ideological progenitor’, then my premise is true.

The very definition you use to describe capitalism (as the problem) and a socialist solution (as the answer) is proof enough in general terms. The left has a great deal of factions and adherents to many various ideas. That is not the same as saying that there isn’t an underlying ideological set of premises common to them all.

I don’t think people tended to join unions because they were socialists but because organized labor had certain advantages over having to deal with your boss alone. That’s what you miss. You carry on as if people just got this bad idea in their head, and suddenly turned against communism. Truth is, though, nobody turned against capitalism, they turned against the conditions that is pure, unbridled form created.

Again, people joining unions because they are socialist is not my premise. The fact that the arguments and the philosophical framework used to sell unionism and the policies of the left is heavily influenced even today by marxism and socialist ideals is my premise. The disctinction may be difficult to make when one jumps to conclusions, but nevertheless it is a distinction I made.

As yourself: If those workers in the far east had their druthers, do you think they’d be working for chump change? Or do you take the assumption that these people are naturally grateful for their jobs, and wouldn’t ask for more? Which would you seek?

Many of the places where our jobs are going are not capitalist paradises, but places where the laws interfere with the workings of the market. China especially.

Jobs go where those who have those jobs to offer decide they go.

China’s manipulations are broad and unscrupulous. Yet you would let us suffer the consequences of that, because you believe in free trade and free markets. Well, I do too, but I recognize that sometimes the ideal of pure markets and pure trade is just that: an ideal, which not everybody lives up to, some purposefully. We’re not losing jobs because China is cheaper. We’re losing jobs because Chinese workers aren’t free to make themselves as expensive as they should be.

You define the problem as being “Ideal markets and pure trade”, but what is the solution? You say you believe in free markets but you also believe that free markets don’t work correctly unless guided by political control.

On the subject of hateful posts, I would say they strike me as obnoxious, but not hateful. I would also advise you that satire is not direct analogy, its exaggeration for the purpose of making a point about real world absurdities. In this case, the quickness you have in jumping to conclusions, and founding your arguments on taking special cases and making them general rules. A textbook fallacy of composition, compounded by a very biased appreciation of people’s politics.

I think I can recognize satire when I see it. I don’t think Karen’s purpose was satire per se. Exageration, yes. But satire? No. As it was, it illustrated the absurdity of calling what I said hateful by equating it with directly slandering individuals and concluding that all Republicans were slandered as well.

It’s also shows the hypocrisy of such criticism. Taking special cases and making them general rules? Isn’t that your whole argument about free markets? Because of special cases we must allow government interference as a general rule?

Beyond that it is ironic that one can criticize me for conflating issues through generalization and ‘labeling’ yet cannot see that it is done in virtually every post in the blue column. Or can we not assume that the ‘Republican culture of corruption’, and ‘total incompetence’ of the Bush administration is not a bit biased or generalized in any way?

Where a person’s ideas come from, and how they organize it are important. Sometimes, two different systems can come up with similar solutions, have similar ideas. Go and read the gospels. There is plenty there which you might think was born with socialism, but which in fact predates it by almost two millennium. Additionally, different origins means that a person might hold and associate different views on a subject than their counterpart might. It’s not merely names that change, but company those certain ideas take. There’s one obvious way, for example, that Communism and Catholicism are separate, despite their notions of collective action to meet people’s needs.

Again, you are trying to obscure the fact that a bad idea is a bad idea whether it is called Marxism or Progressive Christianity. If the idea is the same, and the policy advocated is nearly identical, then the fact that in one case the person doesn’t associate it with Marxism, and in another they do, the idea is still the same.

I like to use the concept of memes. If I call a meme a ‘socialist meme’ it is merely a name used to codify it. We can just call it progressive if you want. But if the proposals and policies that come from that meme are the same as those that have been tried before, it is not objectionable to bring attention to that fact. In fact, for the sake of free inquiry it is necessary.

My definition of Capitalism is one that deals with a system, and artifical system built on fallible human thought, like they all are. We can pine for perfect systems all we want to. In truth, most workable systems combine different aspects of different systems, to deal with the complex and often unpredictable real world that our brains can only approximately model.

Here’s is where I think I can help inform your model of what capitalism is. First and foremost it is not an artificial system that sprang from the pages of someone’s political ideology. It has been adopted and made idological as such over time, but it is not an ideological system in and of itself as socialism is. Instead, it evolved through human interaction— which makes it a natural system as opposed to an artificial one. This is why I think it works so well. It isn’t divorced from reality as you put it, it functions precisely because it is molded to reality not the other way around.

I think that your very conception of capitalism as a flawed artificial system which is imposed upon us is part of what has been inhereited from the Marxist definition of capitalism. Why is this important?

Well, as we all apparently agree the marxist model is an utter failure. But if we are using definitions from a failed artificial model, (knowingly or not) then it is likely that the premises and solutions we come up with based on that information will be flawed as well.

The policies and solutions the left puts forward is flawed for this very reason. If there are poor among us, does it follow that the ONLY way they can be helped is through a government program? The left (and obviously here I am generalizing) says repeatedly that funding of government programs to help the poor defines compassion.

Posted by: esimonson at January 15, 2006 12:20 AM
Comment #113489

Eric-
It’s instructive to look at entertainment to see the extent to which an idea can mutate. Spielberg did Saving Private Ryan, and all of a sudden everybody was doing war movies with grit and forensically graphic violence (Enemy at the Gates, The Patriot, Windtalkers, A+E’s The Lost Battalion) it’s style being emulated elsewhere. It’s not that everybody agreed with Spielberg’s opinions, It’s just that his style in portraying the war was useful to others trying to convey the horror of war.

This is what happens with ideas: People take them and make them their own. A German song about a Knife-Wielding Sexual Psychopath, when translated, gets turned by Bobby Darin into the innocuous hit, Mack the Knife. Little Red Riding Hood gets turned from a horror story where the girl inadvertantly eats grandma and gets seduced by the wolf to our modern day rescue story. It’s interesting to know how these things began, but it’s not always relevant to the current usage of the ideas.

Your deficiency on context is what concerns me. I deliberately posed that question about Chinese workers and the reason why they work so cheap, and your brush-off was basically that “Jobs go where those who have those jobs to offer decide they go.” Very tautological, really, and it doesn’t answer the question: How can you call this a result of free trade and the free market if the Chinese are surpressing wages, and therefore undercutting the value of our products by artificial means? Before you start thinking this is my idea alone, read the part in Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations where he talks about the way the market naturally drives wage costs up, not just down.

China’s manipulations violate Adam Smith’s notion of the free market. The fact that they are one of our biggest trading partners, and producer of electronic goods doesn’t seem to enter into your assessment of wheter the market is truly as free as you believe. It seems like your real definition of the free market is more a market regulated by benign neglect.

The market is not natural. It is the work of agreement and competition, dependent on practices and philosophies that are employed by those with in it. The Market is the second order result of a whole lot of artificials systems and therefore artificial itself.

My solution is to not both trying to control the market itself, but instead try and regulate some of the conditions around it, such as transparency and accountability. Done right, you free the market to do what it’s meant to do: negotiate prices and values.

The virtue of markets is not that they are more real, but that they allow for the correction of mistakes in a shorter period of time.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 16, 2006 1:20 AM
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