“Where were they?”

Maybe Trump is a fascist who will destroy America. But where were these people when Obama was bombing wedding parties in Kandahar, or training jihadist militants to fight in Syria, or abetting NATO’s destructive onslaught on Libya, or plunging Ukraine into fratricidal warfare, or collecting the phone records of innocent Americans, or deporting hundreds of thousands of undocumented workers, or force-feeding prisoners at Gitmo, or providing bombs and aircraft to the Saudis to continue their genocidal war against Yemen?

Where were they?

That question was asked by Mike Whitney over at CounterPunch. And it’s a good question, directed at liberals. Where were they? It’s a question I take seriously, as I’m sympathetic to the liberal cause, even as I’m frustrated by liberal failure. Whitney states, “Can we agree that there is at least the appearance of hypocrisy here?” After a lifetime of observing liberals up close, I’m strongly inclined to argue that it is far more than mere appearance. It easily could be taken as straight hypocrisy. And I have no doubt that hypocrisy was involved for many.

But to be fair, there was much else going on. From a personal perspective, I have to admit that I never protested in the streets about Obama’s wars, although for damn sure I made my voice heard as best as I was able. I didn’t vote for Obama in 2008 and so it wasn’t as if I felt he was my responsibility. I was openly and vocally complaining of Obama even before he was elected, often arguing with partisan Democrats about him. And I didn’t stop my criticisms in the following 8 years.

The thing is I did protest against the Iraq War during the Bush administration. It was the largest protest movement in world history, at least at that time. And it happened before the war even began. Even the Vietnam War protests only happened after many years of fighting and many soldiers dead. The anti-war protests under Bush were impressive and they included people across the spectrum. Most Americans initially did not support that war and it required a lot of beating of the war drums along with deceitful propaganda to change that.

Yet public opinion and public outrage meant nothing. Not even the largest protest movement in world history could stop the oligarchs from doing what they wanted. When Obama came along, he was simply repeating the policies of Bush. Sure, new countries were involved, but it was the same old shit. It was a continuation of the War on Terror, which plenty of Democrats supported even under Bush. It’s not like Obama’s wars were shocking and came out of nowhere.

I didn’t protest because protest was proven impotent. I realized that, unless the public was well informed and unless a new narrative could take hold in the public mind and unless we the public could force politicians to comply by threat of force if necessary, outward forms of political activism could accomplish nothing. The Bush years left me demoralized. And I never believed Obama’s bullshit. It was obvious to me that Obama would do little if anything good while in office and I was proven right.

So, what were we supposed to protest? That the same old shit continues no matter what we the public do. What concerns me is that the next time I care enough to protest it will mean we are on the verge of revolution. And that might come quicker than some expect. The coming years likely will radicalize many Americans.

Obama’s Lack of a Legacy

This is when a president’s legacy becomes a central focus.

Barack Obama has been positioning his post-presidential role and trying to frame his legacy. This becomes much more important for the fact that Obama supported Hillary Clinton in her candidacy as the official representative of his continuing legacy. Instead, his party has faced one of the greatest losses and public shamings in living memory.

Many others have discussed the issue of how Obama will be remembered. There are those who think he will be seen as one of the worst presidents. There is an argument for this, as even many of his supporters have been severely disappointed by his weak and ineffective presidency. And no doubt the other party winning with such a pathetic and hated candidate does feel like a powerful rebuke. But it goes far beyond the loss of power by the Democratic Party in Washington and across the country.

It’s true, for example, that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has turned out badly and will make it all the more difficult for future politicians to push for genuine reform. Most Americans wanted healthcare reform that was further to the left, but instead they got yet another corporatist policy that didn’t solve the problem and for many people made it worse. This was a major reason for why most eligible voters, including partisan Democrats, couldn’t get all that excited about yet another corporatist, i.e., Clinton.

Yet I doubt Obama’s presidency will be recorded in history books as a failure. He simply wasn’t all that memorable of a president.

His signature ‘achievement’ was the ACA. But it was based on and inspired by healthcare reforms that had been pushed and implemented by both parties going back to the middle of last century. In the long term, Obama won’t get much credit or blame for the ACA. It’s not that significant by itself, just another half-assed corporatist policy. The only significance it might have is if, in its failure, future politicians are forced to remedy it with effective policies that actually ensure and make accessible healthcare for all Americans.

Even his being the first black president won’t necessarily be all that important to those looking back from a century or two in the future. Give it enough time with a few more non-white presidents and later generations won’t fully understand why it was ever a big deal. It will likely just be a footnote in the history books.

Compare this to JFK, the first Catholic president. JFK being remembered fondly by most Americans has nothing to do with his Catholicism, despite a Catholic president having been unimaginable before that time. It is hard for young people today to grasp that Catholics were once one of the most hated and feared groups in the Anglo-American world and were one of the main targets of the Second Klan.

When a norm has been shattered and a new norm established, it stops seeming all that unusual to following generations. A new normal makes nearly incomprehensible what came before. When an event passes far enough out of living memory, the world that gave it meaning can be seen as foreign and strange.

Besides, as legacies of black leaders go, Obama’s presidency will always be overshadowed by the greater legacy of Martin Luther King, jr. All that Obama succeeded in showing is that a black president doesn’t really change anything. He had no more genuine concern about poor, disenfranchised blacks than did George W. Bush. Class politics trumps all else because class privileges and class disadvantages go across racial divides. This is something MLK understood and Obama did not. Obama represents everything that MLK fought against.

The reality is that Obama was a mediocre president. He had two terms to prove his worth. But all that he proved was that he was solidly entrenched within the Democratic establishment and the political elite, that he was yet another neoliberal and neocon as all presidents have been for decades. This is emphasized by his having continued so many of his Republican predecessor’s policies on war and economics, demonstrating that the two parties in recent history have been more alike than different.

Not even his failures were all that unique and impressive. He is just another professional politician, a typical example of an all too familiar variety of political elite. In the end, he represented his party, his cronies, his class, and his corporate donors more than he ever represented the American public.

At most, his administration will be remembered as the end of an era. His legacy will be that of the last president who attempted to maintain a failing status quo, at a time when the American public was demanding change. As an individual and in his presidency, though, he isn’t that important. He won’t be remembered as either a great president or a horrible president. In his legacy, he won’t even be considered a major representative of this era now coming to an end.

The best that Obama can hope for is that Trump’s presidency will be so undeniably bad that people will feel nostalgia for Obama’s mediocrity. Maybe over time that nostalgia will make the details of his presidency so fuzzy that all of the failures and lost opportunities will be forgotten. But hoping that the next administration will lead to even worse results is not an inspiring way to end a presidency.

Losing Hearts and Minds and Money

A book about the quagmire in Iraq came out a few years ago. It was written by Peter Van Buren, a former government official. It’s about the losing of hearts and minds and lots of money.

I haven’t read the book itself, but came across some discussion about it online. The supposed reconstruction of Iraq sounds like a key example of bureaucracy taking on a life of its own, where having the results looking good on paper became more important than ensuring actual results. Massive amounts of money were thrown around to make it look like something was being accomplished, with large numbers of troops there for almost a decade to help in the process.

Here is the book and some related stuff:

We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People
by Peter Van Buren (excerpt at Rolling Stone)

Murray Polner, Review of Peter Van Buren’s “We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle For the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People” (Metropolitan Books, 2011)

‘We Meant Well’: An Attempt To Rebuild Iraq (NPR audio)

“We Meant Well” by Peter Van Buren (Youtube video)

On a related note, there is a good Wikipedia article on the Withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

The popular support for the war evaporated and by 2007 most registered voters supported troop withdrawal. The U.S. government had been discussing withdrawal in the last years of the Bush administration with Congress making a decision for withdrawal in 2007 and Bush signing an agreement involving withdrawal in 2008, although Bush had already begun withdrawal in 2007.

Obama, once in office, followed Bush’s official agreement with the Iraqi government. It would have required Obama to break Bush’s agreement for him to have refused the already declared and agreed upon plans for and promises of troop withdrawal. The plans were already set in place and already being implemented before Obama took office. For him to have changed course would have meant not only breaking a formal international agreement but changing the then established US foreign policy toward Iraq that was based on troop withdrawal.

In a Reuters article by the above author, Peter Van Buren, this pessimistic conclusion was given:

As for any sort of brokered settlement among the non-Islamic State actors in Iraq, if 170,000 American troops could not accomplish that in almost nine years of trying, retrying it on a tighter timetable with fewer resources is highly unlikely to work. It is unclear what solutions the United States has left to peddle anyway, or with what credibility it would sell them, but many groups will play along to gain access to American military power for their own ends.

It failed the first time around — according to Van Buren, it was a failure early on because of lack of leadership, seemingly because of the false assumption by the Bush administration that all it takes to win a war is large numbers of troops and large piles of money. Power and wealth. There is no evidence that leadership has improved over time.

I would add that winning the Iraq War, in the traditional sense of winning, may never have been the purpose in the first place. Even leaving the country more stable might have always been irrelevant to whatever the agenda was in seeking to maintain hegemony in the Middle East. Maybe simply destabilizing the area was always the purpose, a common strategy by both the US and USSR during the Cold War.

Mission accomplished?

Irreparable Damage, Voting Subjects, & Direct Action

I get the feeling that Barack Obama has done irreparable damage to the political left. So many Americans genuinely believed in and were excited by his message of hope and change. I bet even many people from the political right voted for him.

There was such a profound sense of disappointment and betrayal once he had been in office for a while. It turned out he was just another professional politician and that the hype had meant very little. He continued many of the same policies from the Bush administration. Worse still, he passed healthcare reform that was originally a Republican idea which favored insurance and drug companies, rather than the leftist single payer reform most Americans wanted.

Obama’s presidency has made many Americans far more cynical than they’ve been in a long time. No one expects Republicans to genuinely care about the poor and needy, to fight for the rights and opportunities of the lower classes. But many do expect this from Democrats, however naïve that might be.

I know of those who supported Obama in 2008. Some of them now support Clinton, Obama’s nemesis back then. The heir of hope and change is Bernie Sanders. Yet many have lost faith that hope and change is possible. It’s not just fear of Trump. These Clinton supporters, in many cases, have simply resigned themselves to the notion that Clinton is the best that the Democratic party will ever offer. It’s either take that pathetic choice or get nothing at all, so it seems from this jaded mindset.

Older voters, in particular, feel wary about trusting that genuine progress and reform is possible. They don’t want to be betrayed again. They’d rather go for the cynical choice because at least that way they’ll know what they’re getting. When cynicism overtakes the citizenry, that is the most dangerous moment for a democracy.

That is what Sanders is fighting against.

* * *

For US citizens, voting is a right. But it is also a privilege.

For one thing, not all US citizens have the right to vote, besides the young. Convicts and many ex-cons don’t have the right to vote. Many others who technically have the right to vote are politically disenfranchised and demoralized in various ways, by both parties in elections and in the presidential nomination process.

Another issue is that, for all intents and purposes, the US is an empire. Most of the people directly and indirectly effected by US policy aren’t voting US citizens. Who and what you support with your vote impacts not only non-voting Americans but also billions of people around the world.

This includes millions harmed, millions made homeless refugees, millions starving, and millions killed. Those impacted, mostly innocent victims, come from wars, including wars of aggression, proxy wars, and drug wars; CIA covert operations, such as inciting of governments coups, propped-up puppet dictators, US-backed authoritarian regimes, arming of paramilitaries, and School of the Americas military training; post-colonial resource exploitation, unfree trade agreements, US-aligned IMF-enforced austerity policies, and harmful sanctions; et cetera.

As a subject of the empire, you benefit greatly from US policies. It is other people, mostly poor and brown people, mostly in other countries that have to pay the full costs of these imperial benefits.

You are never making merely a personal decision when you vote. You are part of a privileged class of people on this planet. Your vote matters and the results are powerful. This is true, even as the system is rigged against American voters. The last thing you should ever do is support a candidate who supports the corrupt status quo of neoliberalism and neoconservatism.

We Americans should take all of this much more seriously. For those who have personally experienced US power, this isn’t idle campaign rhetoric. What is at stake is their lives, their families, and their communities. This isn’t about your party or candidate winning. It’s about morality and justice. Be sure you’re on the right side of history. You are complicit in what you support. Choose wisely.

* * *

When I was a child, I played soccer. My main talents were that I could run fast and take pain. I often played defense because I was good at stopping things. I demonstrated this talent during one game when in elementary school. I was probably playing halfback that day, as it requires a lot of running around. A halfback’s purpose is to be a go-between, to go where and do what is needed. It requires adaptability to the situation, whether defense or offense is required.

Anyway, in whatever position I was in, it was further up the field. The game had just begun. The other team had the ball. One of their players dropped it back and got out of the way. A giant girl came forward and kicked the ball all the way down the field. She was their one great weapon. It forced everyone on my team to immediately run back down the field. After a second time of this, many on my team were already running before the ball went flying. After observing this predictable situation, a brilliant idea popped into my mind. Why not simply stop the ball before it goes flying? So, at the next opportunity, I ran full speed right at that girl and took a body blow. Every time they did it again, I took another body blow. It stopped the ball and allowed my teammates to push the play forward, instead of backwards.

It was a proud moment of my childhood. But I’ve always wondered what the life lesson was from this incident. Well, besides the willingness to take a hit for the team. A few things come to mind. A basic lesson is to look for the obvious. Another is that direct action can be a good thing. Also, it’s much easier to prevent something than to react to it once it has already happened.

I’d apply these lessons to the entire society I live in. Politics most of all. I’ve come to realize how rare it is for people to see the obvious. Partisan politics shows the power of groupthink. Everyone sees the situation as inevitable and then reacts to it. This feels justified, as every0ne else is reacting as well. Strategy usually consists of trying to react more effectively. It doesn’t occur to many people that, if there is an obvious problem, maybe we should do the obvious thing to stop the problem.

Our society is full of obvious problems. The solution or prevention to these problems is often just as obvious. Yet we seem stuck in a mentality of endless reaction, always chasing the ball down the field. But what if we simply threw ourselves in front of that ball. Would it hurt? Yes. Would it stop the problem and make life easier for all involved? Yes, a thousand times over.

If we want to reform our society and make the world a better place, then we should do it. In the simplest, most direct way possible. We’ve already wasted enough time tiring ourselves out by running the wrong direction down the field, again and again and again. One would think that we as a society would finally grasp the obvious.

Let’s stop the problem first. Then we can act as a team to move forward.

Partisan Apologetics, Bipartisan Bullshit

Someone pointed out to me two articles, one by Paul Street and the other by Thomas Frank. They are about liberal apologetics or rather standard partisan rhetoric.

I often feel wary about liberalism as a label, especially as applied to the Democratic Party. Barack Obama’s liberalism is to Martin Luther King’s liberalism as Jerry Falwell’s Christianity was to MLK’s Christianity. But that is neither here nor there.

The point is that the apologists in question are defending the status quo. I’m not sure if it even matters how such apologists self-identify or what kind of rhetoric they use, just as it doesn’t particularly matter how they identify their opponents and their opponents identify them. Depending on who you ask, Obama is a liberal or a neoliberal, a socialist or a corporate shill, a radical mastermind or a weak moderate, and much else besides. It’s all so much empty talk.

What does matter is what is being defended, beyond all labels and rhetoric. It’s party politics. And I’m sure at least Paul Street understands that the two parties are basically the same, even if one of them is consistently and persistently more despair-inducing than the other.

The point is that Obama isn’t being inconsistent about his beliefs. The more likely explanation is that he is acting according to his principles and values, despite it not being the hope and change some thought he was bringing. His presidency, as such, isn’t a failure, but a grand success. It doesn’t matter what one calls it. Obama serves power and money, just like Bush Jr. It’s the same old game.

It isn’t a failure of the Democratic Party. It isn’t a failure of democracy. It isn’t a failure of liberalism. All of that is irrelevant. It’s a show being put on. It is politics as spectacle. Sure, Obama will play the role of a liberal in giving speeches, but it’s just a role and he is just an actor, although not as great of an actor as someone like Reagan, not that the quality of the acting is all that important.

For that reason, the apologists should be criticized harshly. So should the partisan loyalists who so much wanted to believe the pretty lies, no matter how obvious they were.

After he was elected, I was for giving Obama a chance to prove his intentions, not that I ever bought into the rhetoric. That is why I hoped he would get elected to a second term (instead of Romney), so that no one could ever claim that he wasn’t given the full opportunity to implement what he wanted. As his presidency draws to a close, it is fair to conclude that he has proven beyond any reasonable doubt what he supports. Of course, that should have been obvious long ago to anyone paying attention.

The healthcare reform was a good example of what he supports. As explained in one comment to Frank’s article:

“Obama was able to get the ACA through with no Republican votes, relying fully on Democratic support. Why then, didn’t Obama push a single-payer plan through? The only answer is that either Obama didn’t want single-payer, or the Democratic establishment didn’t want single-payer.

“So instead the Democrats went for the individual-mandate, proposed by the far right-wing Heritage Foundation in the 1990’s, and implemented by Romney in Massachusetts.

“Instead of a truly public health care system, the Democrats mandated that We The People need to subsidize private-sector, for-profit corporations.

“Not to mention, this ‘recovery’ has seen a drastic increase in the stratification of wealth, where the uber-rich have gotten far richer while the middle-class shrinks.

“But under a President McCain or a President Romney, would we have really expected anything to be different?”

Democrats typically argued that Obama’s healthcare reform was a good compromise for pushing progressive change. Meanwhile, Republicans typically argued it was either socialism or a step toward it.

What was mostly ignored by both sides of mainstream politics is that Obamacare first and foremost served the interests of big money, which in this case meant big insurance. The only time big money gets mentioned is when campaign season goes into full gear and even then it’s never about serious concern for getting money out of politics (along with related corporatist issues such as ending revolving door politics, stopping  regulatory capture, etc).

How does this kind of corporatist policy lead to either progressive or socialist results? Why not just call it what it is and leave it at that? Why are so many people willing to play these political games of doublespeak?

People have their minds so twisted up with convoluted rhetoric that I suspect many of them couldn’t think straight, even if they tried. Heck, looking at this ideological mess, I must admit that I also find myself struggling to make heads or tails out of it.

Besides standard political power-mongering, the agenda is hard to figure out. Is it just mindless defense of the status quo? Why don’t those in power see how destructive this is, even to the system itself in the long run?

My Thoughts During Election Night

Before the Election Results Started Coming In 

————-

I’m curious about how likely others think Romney could win.
 
I remember that earlier in the campaign season all of the MSM experts kept stating that no recent president was ever re-elected with that high of unemployment numbers. That seemed mostly irrelevant to me for I saw a different dynamic going on. I predicted long before even the campaigns began that the election was Obama’s to lose. I still see it that way.
 
The real issue has been how willing Obama was to fight for it. I must admit that Obama hasn’t consistently fought hard in his campaign, especially in the first debate. The election would never have even gotten this close if Obama hadn’t started out of the gate so slow.As an independent, it is hard to get too excited about the whole thing. But it is fascinating from a larger historical perspective. We are in the middle of a major shift right now such as with racial demographics which is why the GOP has been so motivated to push voter suppression.
 
Does anyone think the GOP attempt at voter suppression has been successful enough to have a significant impact? Who feels Obama should have campaigned harder against this voter suppression and focused on it in his speeches?

The swing states typically are Midwestern states.
 
This is the same regional dynamic that has existed since the Civil War. The North eternally has to maintain the Midwest to keep the darkness of the South at bay. We Midwesterners live on the geographic boundary of ideologies and of cultures.
 
The Southern aristocracy didn’t like American democracy when they sought to first force slave laws onto the entire country and, failing that, when they sought to secede. The Southern aristocracy still doesn’t like American democracy. There is good reason for this. Their continued power is dependent on it.

If all Americans or even just all Southerners voted, the present Republican party would never win a single election. The large part of the population that doesn’t usually vote, especially in the South, votes Democratic when they do vote. If political participation increased, the South would be solid Blue. That simple fact scares shitless the Republican ruling elite and, sadly, scares many white people.

The saddest part about being a liberal American is knowing that you are part of the majority. On many key issues, the average American are surprisingly liberal. Polls showed, for example, that most Americans were dissatisfied with Obamacare because it wasn’t far enough to the left.
 
Why this is sad is that we have a conservative political system. It was intentionally created this way because the founding fathers were afraid of the lower classes which is why after the founding of the country only something like 8% of the population had the right to vote. This is why the electoral college was created. Most Americans don’t understand this. Americans don’t vote for the president. Rather, Americans vote for the people who vote for the president.
 
The problem with the electoral college system is that, because of demographics, it empowers the groups that have maintained power throughout US history. Low population states tend to be rural and rural areas tend to be conservative and white. Because of the electoral college, the vote of white conservatives is worth more than the votes of typical urban residents: minorities, liberals, feminists, gays, environmentalists, etc.
 
Along with political disenfranchisement, this is why the left has had to work harder to reach out to more Americans while conservatives can focus narrowly. If every American’s vote was counted equally, we would regularly have presidents far to the left of Obama.

After the Election Results Started Coming In

 
I heard the best comment tonight on Public radio.
 
They were discussing the Republican strategy of going for the white vote. One of them said that Republicans were hoping the white vote would be a winning strategy at least through this election before whites shift toward their position as the new minority. He then added, “The future came early.”
 
I’m glad to hear it. I’ve seen this shift coming since 2000. Republicans have been using a strategy that isn’t sustainable. And by doing so, they turned the growing minority majority and an entire new generation against their party. In time, they will come to realize what a steep price they have paid.
 
Will Republicans finally wake up to reality now that the future has slapped them in the face? They attempted voter suppression and now they’ve been publicly shamed. Last election, the youth and blacks gave victory to Obama. Now, women and Latinos have shown the GOP what power they have. The tide has turned.
 
I remember when I first heard about Romney picking Ryan. I instantly realized that Republicans were repeating the same strategy from 2008. They put forward a bland white professional politician and then paired him with a Tea Party right-winger. Since it didn’t work in 2008, why did they think it would work in 2012?

As an Independent, I don’t care about the partisan politics. I’m still not a fan of Obama or a supporter of the Democratic Party. No matter which of the two parties wins, the third parties I love always lose.
 
But in the end, I’m just another typical liberal who wants everyone to get along. Republicans have made clear that they don’t want to get along. Romney stated in no uncertain terms that he despise 47% of Americans. Other Republicans have said equally disgusting comments from claiming legitimate rape to dismissing minorities.
 
I don’t want to hate on Republicans. I don’t want conservatives to go away. Rather, I want them to the table as equals treating others as equals. I want to see them chastened and humbled. The right can get very ugly when they get full of themselves. Nonetheless, their voice matters as everyone’s voice matters in a democracy. I want them to understand this.
 
Republicans have a choice. They can learn a lesson and change their ways. Or else they quickly find themselves heading toward a fate of third party status… which is how the Republican Party began.
 
I understand that Republicans are afraid. I want them to know everything is going to be all right. America is a strong country. It is diversity that makes America strong. I hope they know that there always will be an open invitation to them to join the rest of Americans. We are all in this together.
 
Republicans hear this: Liberals, minorities and poor people aren’t your enemy. We are your potential allies in turning this country toward the future.

I’m constantly wondering what would allow conservatives to let go of their fears.
 
Obama is a socialist? Comparison shows that Obama holds the positions and promotes the policies that have been typical of moderate Republicans for much of the last century.
 
Democrats stole the election? Nonpartisan research shows voter fraud is extremely rare.
 
The fears of conservatives have nothing to do with reality or facts. They create things to fear and then they go about fearing their fearful creations. They don’t fear anything specific. They just fear anything that is new and different. They fear change. The fear they have never goes away because it simply shapeshifts into something else.
 
It’s sad. I understand fear. We all deal with fears. The world can be a scary place. It’s not like us on the left are living in a leftist utopia where all our dreams come true. We on the left fear growing tyranny more than even conservatives.
 
The difference is that conservatives have a way of getting stuck in a mindset of fear. Liberals can get pulled into fear like anyone else and it brings out the worse in liberals, but it isn’t where liberals like to dwell. Optimism is the natural resting point of the liberal predisposition. Liberals are curious about the new and tend to get more excited about the possibility of change.
 
Even conservatives are capable of thinking outside of fear. During economic good times, conservatives can become quite open and accepting of the world around them. But such moments don’t tend to last long and so the conservative never remains for long outside of fear. There is always another thing to fear just around the corner.But does it have to be that way?

We humans are capable of doing so much when we work together. All of civilization is a collective achievement. On the other hand, when we don’t work together, humans are vicious and destructive. Conservatives tend to only be inspired toward collective action when they wish to fight some perceived enemy and even then it isn’t really collective action so much as it is emotional groupthink, their group against everyone else, just an extension of self-interest.

What needs to change to help conservatives to trust democracy and believe in the American Dream again? What would help them to see strangers as potential friends and allies instead of enemies? What would help them to see all Americans as real Americans, to see all humans as worthy humans? What would help them to believe that win/win solutions are possible and desirable?

Romney’s Class War

I’ve been saying for a while that this election is Obama’s to lose, but I have to admit recently that Romney is doing his best to lose. I’m not even speaking as an Obama supporter.

The media is particularly getting excited about Romney’s comment that 47% of Americans are freeloaders with a victim mentality and that these people will inevitably vote for Obama because they are looking for handouts from government. Two things stand out to me. First, Romney is admitting there is a class war and that he is fighting on the side of the rich. Second, this recording simply proves what many rich Republicans say in private when around other rich Republicans.

Even though I’m not an Obama supporter, I have decided to vote for Obama. My decision came before this recent event. What brought me out of voter apathy was the endless attacks by Republicans to suppress the votes of the poor and disadvantaged. This became most clear recently with the changes to state voting laws, although it had already become clear with the morally depraved attack on and destruction of ACORN, one of the few organizations that helped lower class Americans.

It forms a truly dark picture of cynicism. This class war that isn’t just about economics, isn’t just about unemployment and stagnating wages, isn’t just about ensuring tax cuts for the rich, isn’t just about outsourcing American jobs, isn’t just about redistributing America’s wealth to the already wealthy, isn’t just about eliminating the remains of the safety net. More fundamentally, the voter suppression tactics demonstrate Republicans are trying to disempower and disenfranchise all Americans who aren’t apart of the upper classes. Republicans are flirting with plutocracy and the Republican elite seem to have already fully embraced their role as plutocrats.

I find this disturbing. I know the Democratic Party has its own problems. I realize Democrats haven’t always been the best defenders of democracy. But at least Democrats aren’t actively attacking average Americans who are just trying to get by.

That is why as an Independent I’m voting for Obama. I’m not voting for the lesser of two evils. My vote isn’t about party politics. I’m voting for Obama in order to vote against those who attack democracy. I’m rather fond of democracy and I don’t want to see it any further harmed. Democracy and plutocracy are incompatible. Every generation must choose democracy again and so every generation faces the possibility of losing democracy.

 
Unlike Romney, I don’t see all of this as a simple class war. There are rich people for democracy and lower class people against democracy. The American Dream of an egalitarian society isn’t about attacking the rich and giving to the poor. It’s about making a better life possible for everyone.

Occupy Protests Obama & Democrats

I think I’ve been wasting my time with a troll, but I always like to give people the benefit of the doubt. Some people are unintentionally misinformed. So, I treat people as if they actually care about facts and reality until they prove otherwise. The person in question goes by the name Thomas Harbit and here is what he wrote to me in the comment section of the local Iowa City newspaper:

“I follow what Occupy does, or doesnt do in the case of pretty much going hands off with Obama.  OKAY, lets just use your “logic.” By your logic, these occupiers SHOULD BE confronting Obama at the WH(it’s where he lives and/or operates) and should have the occupy people in Hawaii doing the same.  ALL I EXPECT from a “movement,” that allegedly wants to get rid of corporate and political greed/corruption, is to apply their activities even handedly sir. And your “movement,” has failed miserably at this.”

Another commenter, Skeet Newman, decided to lend support to his fellow troll, partisan hack, ignoramus or whatever properly describes this kind of person:

“We both know that protesters are not actively camping out at the WH or in Hawaii to protest Obama.”

I have such a respect for truth and such a desire for self-education that such people truly boggle my mind. I spent a few minutes of websearching. In that brief perusal, I came across hundreds of news reports and videos disproving these anti-Occupy claims.

The following links, in fact, just came from the first pages of results, quite a few from the very first page of results (based on three different searches combining the terms ‘occupy’ and ‘protest’ with either ‘white house’, ‘obama’ or ‘hawaii’; but some of the results I found were also about protests in Iowa, including against Obama’s campaign offices here); and, on those pages, all of the results I noticed were relevant, although most were just different sources reporting on the same events (sources included both mainstream and alternative, both national and local, both conservative and liberal).

The links below include Occupy protests of Washington DC including the White House, protests in Hawaii including Obama’s residence and the APEC summit, protests of fundraisers and speeches Obama attended, and protests of Obama’s campaign offices around the country. The links, however, are in no particular order other than those about Hawaii being at the end:

http://www.myfoxdc.com/dpp/news/dc/police-arrest-11-occupy-dc-protesters-outside-white-house-122011

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QTfcGAIggXs

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occupy_Wall_Street#The_White_House

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-250_162-57350023/occupy-protesters-arrested-at-paul-dems-hq/

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2011/11/06/129455/thousands-surround-white-house.html

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/occupy-protesters-set-up-camp-outside-obama-campaign-hq-in-iowa/

http://www.americanindependent.com/207607/occupy-tampa-protest-obama-national-defense-authorization-act

http://obrag.org/?p=51405

http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Congressman-Asks-Why-Occupy-Protesters-Allowed-to-Camp-at-McPherson-Square-135538653.html

http://www.mediaite.com/tv/president-obama-heckled-by-occupy-protesters-during-new-hampshire-speech/

http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/30/occupy-protesters-mobilize-for-obamas-visit/

http://irregulartimes.com/index.php/archives/2011/12/30/iowa-occupy-protesters-demand-obama-end-links-with-wall-street-and-homeland-insecurity/

http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2011/12/01/occupiers-protest-obama-fundraiser/

http://motherjones.com/mojo/2011/12/occupy-protesters-arrested-iowa-democratic-party-headquarters

http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2011/12/17/occupy-protesters-rally-at-obamas-headquarters-in-iowa/

http://articles.boston.com/2011-12-18/news/30531896_1_obama-campaign-spokesman-activists-campaign-offices

http://www.wmnf.org/news_stories/occupy-tampa-protests-at-obama-campaigns-ybor-office-calling-for-veto-of-defense-spending-bill

http://content.usatoday.com/communities/theoval/post/2011/11/singer-sneaks-occupy-protest-into-obama-summit/1

http://hpulamalama.com/occupy_wall_street.php

http://my.hsj.org/Schools/Newspaper/tabid/100/view/frontpage/articleid/480499/newspaperid/4859/Small_but_worthy_Occupy_movement_gains_momentum_in_Hawaii.aspx

http://www.kitv.com/r-video/29499148/detail.html

http://www.mauinews.com/page/content.detail/id/555093/Police-arrest-Occupy-Honolulu-protesters.html?nav=5031

http://www.deoccupyhonolulu.org/apps/calendar/showEvent?calID=5999930&eventID=162776408

http://nation.foxnews.com/rep-nancy-pelosi/2011/12/30/occupy-hawaii-island-movement-plans-protest-near-pelosis-posh-hawaiian-hotel

http://www.democracynow.org/2011/11/14/occupy_honolulu_hawaiian_musician_makana_performs

http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/story/16417412/occupy-protesters-pushed-out-of-thomas-square

http://www.hawaii247.com/2011/12/30/occupy-groups-protesting-at-kukio-dec-31/

http://www.radiohc.cu/ing/news/world/3681-occupy-activists-protest-apec-summit-in-hawaii.html

http://www.bet.com/news/national/2011/12/19/occupy-protestors-target-obama-campaign-offices.html

Re: Poor investments

I came across an interesting article in my local university paper:

Poor investments by Shay O’Reilly

This whole Solyndra mess is kind of a big deal — until you consider some of our more tenuous, poorly planned investments. There will not be a Congressional inquiry into the Bush administration’s pre-emptive war against Iraq founded on lies or into the Obama administration’s murder of more than 2,000 civilians, 160 of them children, in Pakistan as a result of continuing drone strikes.

Even on a purely monetary scale, the money lost to Solyndra is overwhelmed by the amount spent on other failed causes. The money squandered on Solyndra is measured in hundreds of millions, but a Brown University study released earlier this year puts the total cost of our “War on Terror” at $4 trillion — nearly one-third of the national debt.

There’s no return on investment, either: As I’ve written about before, the burgeoning security state and bloated surveillance industry have left us with a dearth of evidence that we are any safer now than we were 11 years ago. Meanwhile, both Afghanistan and Libya have fallen into civil war after their supposed “liberation.” And in purely humanist terms, our post-9/11 foreign policy has led to unquantifiable suffering in the form of the war crimes that inevitably stem from hostilities.

Of course I stand opposed to corporatism, whether it comes in the form of preferential treatment for loans or fat payouts to military contractors. If Solyndra circumvented the usual procedures because of politics or cronyism, there should rightfully be disciplinary actions extending to the highest level of government.

But I’m flummoxed by the incessant media attention given to these more mild cases of waste. War, and particularly the kind of nebulous open-ended war that we began after Sept. 11, 2001, is a far worse investment than Solyndra. But this is the truth that no one dares speak, and it is practically a civil heresy: Our wars have primarily been tremendous and catastrophic failures. Where they have “succeeded,” (and what counts as success?) they have led to suffering and moral compromise.

It’s a good article which I thought expressed well the problems we face. However, in the comments section, I was given example of how people can miss the point of such criticisms.

G_Dispersion wrote: “Good point Shay, It is just varying degrees of 1 F up after another.”

Here is my response to that comment:

Actually, that misses the point. It’s not about “1 F up after another”. Rather, it’s about how the money could be better spenton programs that help the American public and which the American public supports. Most Americans aren’t anti-government, although most Americans are against corporatism and the military-industrial complex.

https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2010/01/23/us-demographics-increasing-progressivism/

However, it is easy to get people mad over the mistakes and corruption of government. That is the problem. The vast majority of things the government does well rarely gets much reporting. It’s the same reason deaths get reported all the time while people going on living isn’t news-worthy.

This is explained well by Francis Fukuyama in his book ‘The Origins of Political Order’:

It is quite legitimate to argue that modern governments have grown excessively large, and that they thereby limit economic growth and individual freedom. People are right to complain about unresponsive bureaucracy, corrupt politicians, and the unprincipled nature of politics. But in the developed world, we take the existence of government so much for granted that we sometimes forget how important it is, and how difficult it was to create, and what the world would look like without certain basic political institutions.

It is not only that we take democracy for granted; we also take for granted the fact that we have a state at all that can carry out certain basic functions. Fairfax County, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C., where I lived for many years, is one of the richest countries in the United States. Every winter, potholes appear in the county’s roads as a result of the seasonal freezing and thawing after winter storms. And yet by the end of the spring, all of those potholes get magically filled so no one has to worry about breaking an axle in one. If they don’t get filled, the residents of Fairfax County get angry and complain about the incompetence of local government; no one (apart from a few specialists in public administration) ever stops to think about the complex, invisible social system that makes this possible, or why it takes longer to fill potholes in the neighboring District of Columbia, or why potholes never get filled in many developing countries.

Indeed, the kinds of minimal or no-government societies envisioned by dreamers of the Left and Right are not fantasies; they actually exist in the contemporary developing world. Many parts of sub-Saharan Africa are a libertarian’s paradise. The region as a whole is a low-tax utopia, with governments often unable to collect more than about 10 percent of GDP in taxes, compared to more than 30 percent in the United States and 50 percent in parts of Europe. Rather than unleashing entrepreneurship, this low rate of taxation means that basic public services like health, education, and pothole filling are starved of funding. The physical infrastructure on which modern economy rests, like roads, court systems and police, are missing. In Somalia, where a strong central government has not existed since the late 1980s, ordinary individuals may own not just assault rifles but also rocket-propelled grenades, antiaircraft missiles, and tanks. People are free to protect their own families, and indeed are forced to do so. Nigeria has a film industry that produces as many titles as India’s famed Bollywood, but films have to earn a quick return because the government is incapable of guaranteeing intellectual property rights and preventing products from being copied illegally.

The degree to which people in developed countries take political institutions for granted was very much evident in the way that the United States planned, or failed to plan, for the aftermath of its 2003 invasion of Iraq. The U.S. administration seemed to think that democracy and a market economy were default conditions to which the country would automatically revert once Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship was removed, and seemed genuinely surprised when the Iraqi state itself collapsed in an orgy of looting and civil conflict. U.S. purposes have been similarly stymied in Afghanistan, where ten years of effort and the investment of hundreds of billions of dollars have not produced a stable, legitimate Afghan state.

Political institutions are necessary and cannot be taken for granted. A market economy and high levels of wealth don’t magically appear when you “get government out of the way”; they rest on a hidden institutional foundation of property rights, rule of law, and basic political order. A free market, a vigorous civil society, the spontaneous “wisdom of crowds” are all important components of a working democracy, but none can ultimately replace the functions of a strong, hierarchical government. There has been a broad recognition among economists in recent years that “institutions matter”: poor countries are poor not because they lack resources, but because they lack effective political institutions. We need therefore to better understand where those institutions come from.

Obama: Secret Commie Seeking to Destroy America

What Happened to Obama? Absolutely Nothing.
He is still the same anti-American leftist he was before becoming our president.
By Norman Podhoretz 

“Of course, unlike Mr. Westen, we villainous conservatives do not see Mr. Obama as conciliatory or as “a president who either does not know what he believes or is willing to take whatever position he thinks will lead to his re-election.” On the contrary, we see him as a president who knows all too well what he believes. Furthermore, what Mr. Westen regards as an opportunistic appeal to the center we interpret as a tactic calculated to obfuscate his unshakable strategic objective, which is to turn this country into a European-style social democracy while diminishing the leading role it has played in the world since the end of World War II. The Democrats have persistently denied that these are Mr. Obama’s goals, but they have only been able to do so by ignoring or dismissing what Mr. Obama himself, in a rare moment of candor, promised at the tail end of his run for the presidency: “We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.”” 

[insert evil laugh]
 – – – 
A Republican doesn’t like a Democratic president… oh my. A right-winger projects his conspiracy-minded paranoia onto a perceived conspiratorial left-wing… you don’t say.  There is nothing unexpected from this opinion piece. I’ve heard it all before, and I have no doubt I’ll hear it many more times.
 – – – 
From my perspective, Obama is just another professional politician, probably no better or worse than Bush. I don’t know Obama’s real opinions any more than this writer knows. He is merely expressing the fears of the right, but his interpretation is based on massive amounts of speculation.
 – – –
I really don’t care about Obama. He doesn’t represent me or people like me. I have never changed my opinion about him. I didn’t support him when he was running and I don’t support him now. Obama is far to the right of actual left-wingers such as Nader and Chomsky, how far to the right I don’t know. Between left-wingers and right-wingers, Obama is somehwere in the middle, well within the mainstream of Washington. He is just a corporatist politician beholden to big money, just like most other politicians. All two party politics is a sham.

There is a lot of misunderstanding and misinformation about socialism and communism.

“Like their communist ancestors of the 1930s, the leftist radicals of the ’60s were convinced that the United States was so rotten that only a revolution could save it.”

There has been wide differing opinions among left-wingers. The socialists who did gain power (such as the sewer socialists) believed in democratic reform from within the system rather than revolution to overthrow the system.
 – – – 
The “S” Word
By John Nichols

pp. 108-109
While Lenin was dismissive of municipal socialism, he was not arguing for inaction. His was a tactical objection based at least in part on the distinct experiences of different countries, and the American Socialists tended to see it as such. Unperturbed, they read their Marx with an eye toward the sections that recognized the role of incremental progress while tending to reject suggestions that “the rigidity of the class structure prevented the achievement of meaningful reforms for the worker until the demise of capitalism.” Many of the most radical Americans, especially those associated with the Industrial Workers of the World’s “One Big Union,” objected to the whole idea of waiting for a right revolutionary moment, which they ridiculed as a “pie-in-the-sky” promise that had about as much meaning for hard-pressed working families as the preachers’ assurance that they would get their just deserts in the next life.
[ . . . ]
The “sewer socialists” were not averse to heavenly rewards, but felt that serving up some deserts in the here and now might be necessary to advance the cause. This incrementalism put them at odds with more radical players, including old allies in the IWW at home and leading Communists abroad, over the question of whether it was ever appropriate to employ violence. To this end, many of the “sewer socialists” took counsel from the pragmatic German socialist Eduard Bernstein, who asserted that, while theory, plotting and preparation for the glorious revolution had appeal, a practical plan for putting food on the table might inspire the masses to mobilize. Among those who most highly regarded Bernstein’s view that it was possible to “[dispense] with the need for violence” was Victor Berger, the great proponent of american socialism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Berger, the man who drew Debs to the cause, declared that “we do not care a [wit] whether our socialism is Marxian or otherwise, as long as we change the present system and emancipate the people.”
Berger understood and respected America as a democracy, even if it was imperfect in his time and might remain so. “[It] is foolish,” he explained, “to expect results from riots and dynamite, from murderous attacks and conspiracies, in a country where we have the ballot, as long as the ballot has been given a full and fair trial.” Tthe point was to achieve “the revolutionizing of the mind” — something Berger sought to do as a newspaper editor, magazine writer and author of four decades’ worth of campaign pamphlets. “In the world’s history there are no sudden leaps, he preached [ . . . ]
 – – – 
They often stated their pride in being Americans. If it weren’t for socialists fighting for the right of free speech during the WWI, people like Podhoretz wouldn’t have the right and freedom to criticize the president. Many socialists made sacrifices in order to defend the rights we now accept as being normal. Some of those socialists spent time in prison for criticizng the president and the government during war time.
 – – – 
p. 60:
And when their popular leader was prosecuted for exercising his freedom of speech during a time of war — and condemned for identifying himself as an internationalist when nationalism was all the rage — Eugene Victor Debs rejected the notion that he was at odds with America.
Yes, Debs acknowledged, without apology or the caution of a man facing a long prison term; he was a critic of the military and economic policies that a ruling class had imposed upon America. Yes, he proposed to change these policies in order to transform America. Yes, he believed that he had much in common with radicals in other lands. But these were not imported ideas, not a “foreign disease” contracted from afar, as Glenn Beck might imagine. These were, Debs explained to his prosecutors, American ideals expressed long ago by the pamphleteer whose words George Washington ordered read at Valley Forge to the soldiers of a revolutionary army. Further,
“It is because I happen to be in this minority that I stand in your presence today, charged with crime. It is because I believe, as the revolutionary fathers believed in their day, that a change was due in the interests of the people, that the time had come for a better form of government, an improved system, a higher social order, a nobler humanity and a grander civilization.
[ . . . ]
My friend, the assistant prosecutor, doesn’t like what I had to say in my speech about internationalism. What is there objectionable to internationalism? If we had internationalism there would be no war. I believe in patriotism. I have never uttered a word against the flag. I love the flag as a symbol of freedom. I object only when the flag is prostituted to base purposes, to sordid ends, by those who, in the name of patriotism, would keep the people in subjection.
I believe, however, in a wider patriotism. Thomas Paine said, “My country is the world. To do good is my religion.”
 – – – 
We are at war now and yet Podhoretz has the privilege of not going to prison for his speaking so freely.
 – – – 
“But whereas the communists had in their delusional vision of the Soviet Union a model of the kind of society that would replace the one they were bent on destroying, the new leftists only knew what they were against: America, or Amerika as they spelled it to suggest its kinship to Nazi Germany.”
 – – – 
Talk about hyperbole. Actually, many socialists and communists didn’t hold any allegiance to the Soviet Union (Do Republicans hold allegiance to China simply because China is a republic?). They considered themselves American and they didn’t see socialism as a contradiction to the American tradition. They based their views on great American thinkers of the past such as Thomas Paine. And there were many socialist-friendly social gospel Christians like MLK who modeled their radicalism on the radicalism of Jesus. If you ask many leftists, they’ll go into great detail explaining what they are for. Did you realize the Republican Party was started by radical left-wingers (socialists, abolitionists, agrarian reformers, suffragists, labor activists, etc)? Most American left-wingers see their values as inherently American.

Mr. Podhoretz is against the president of the United States. Does that mean Mr. Podhorettz is unAmerican? Does it mean that Mr. Podhoretz has a delusional vision of Nazi Germany? No, of course that would be a silly thing to say… but it’s what he is saying about the left. People like him can and do call people like me unAmerican commies. And, in return, people like me could call people like him unAmerican fascists. However, I don’t think that is helpful or beneficial on any level: political, moral, or societal.

While socialists were being imprisoned for defending free speech, some businessmen of the time were associating with fascist leaders from around the world. Did these privileged businessmen go to prison for supporting fascism? Nope. Which was the greater threat: the socialists without free speech or the fascist businessmen who had immense power?

“Thanks, however, to the unmasking of the Soviet Union as a totalitarian nightmare, they did not know what they were for.”

What about the unmasking of fascist Germany or Italy as a totalitarian nightmare? Trying to associate all socialists with the Soviet Union is like trying to associate all capitalists with Nazi Germany. It’s a silly and childish game to play.

“Yet once they had pulled off the incredible feat of taking over the Democratic Party behind the presidential candidacy of George McGovern in 1972, they dropped the vain hope of a revolution, and in the social-democratic system most fully developed in Sweden they found an alternative to American capitalism that had a realistic possibility of being achieved through gradual political reform.”

Sure, left-wingers did gain some influence over the Democratic Party, just as right-wingers took over the Republican Party. So what? The parties have shifted. But no one could honestly claim that the Democratic Party is a left-wing love-fest. The only socialist in Washington, Bernie Sanders, is an Independent. Socialists know that they have little representation within the Democratic Party. Left-wingers like me don’t even vote for the Democratic Party.

The vain hope of revolution? It’s right-wingers who are always going on about starting a new Civil War or a new American Revolution, about secession, and about watering the tree of liberty. Good Lord! Many socialists hate violence and are often outright pacifists. It’s the socialists who went to prison for speaking out against war. Most American socialists don’t want revolution. Most just want to not be oppressed. In this world of big money politics and corporate media, socialists don’t have much of a voice. Did you know that newspapers earlier last century often had labor sections as a balance to their business sections? Not anymore. MSM with a left-leaning bias? I wish.

Anyway, what is wrong about democratically seeking gradual political reform? That is what has been happening since the country began. When socialists and other left-wingers started the Republican Party as a new third party, they were doing so to challenge the two party system of their day. They didn’t try to start a revolution. They simply tried to start a political movement under the banner of a new party. Why is that such a horrible thing to someone like Mr. Podhoretz?

“Thus, not one of the six Democratic presidential candidates who followed Mr. McGovern came out of the party’s left wing, and when Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton (the only two of the six who won) tried each in his own way to govern in its spirit, their policies were rejected by the American immune system.”

He admits that the left-wingers have never had much influence over the Democratic Party. Jimmy Carter was no great left-winger. Volcker’s policies under Reagan actually began under Carter.

http://www.historyisaweapon.com/defcon1/zinncarebu21.html

The presidency of Jimmy Carter, covering the years 1977 to 1980, seemed an attempt by one part of the Establishment, that represented in the Democratic party, to recapture a disillusioned citizenry. But Carter, despite a few gestures toward black people and the poor, despite talk of “human rights” abroad, remained within the historic political boundaries of the American system, protecting corporate wealth and power, maintaining a huge military machine that drained the national wealth, allying the United States with right-wing tyrannies abroad.

And Clinton was the model for the modern centrist/corporatist Democratic Party. Left-wingers had little power in the 1990s. That was the era of right-wing culture wars, right-wing militants, and the rise of right-wing media. Clinton repealed Glass-Steagall which was one of the major acts of deregulation in recent history.
 – – – 
http://www.laprogressive.com/economic-equality/progressives-predicted-clinton-welfare-reform-law-fails-families/
 – – – 
Now, a new report shows that the Clinton welfare law is performing exactly as opponents feared, as the nation’s deep recession allows states to force families off aid and into destitution. It is an American tragedy, largely ignored because the victims are primarily low-income women and their children.
 – – – 
Welfare reform was one of Clinton’s proudest achievements. Leftist? I think not.
 – – – 
“It was only with the advent of Barack Obama that the leftists at long last succeeded in nominating one of their own.”

You can speculate that Obama’s policies might eventually lead to left-wing policies, but that is a whole lot of speculation. The most major acts that Obama has taken have been the continuation of Bush policies: wars, Patriot Act, Abu Ghraib, bank bailouts, etc. Obama refuses to talk about increasing tax rates and instead, with no Republican asking him to do so, throws Social Security and other programs on the chopping block. Obama hasn’t even supported gay marriage because it’s against his Christian beliefs. None of these acts make left-wingers happy. To be honest, many things Obama has supported/promoted has been to the right of the American public. With health care insurance reform, Obama put forth the Republican idea of a mandate which forces people to buy insurance which grows the customer base of insurance companies (while ignoring the majority supported single payer and public option). Even to the degree Obama may be moderately left-leaning, he is so far away from socialism as to make that comparison ridiculous.

At first, Mr. Podhoretz claimed leftists were wanting revolution; and then he argues that leftists should feel like they won by getting a corporatist politician elected. Huh? If there was a violent communist revolution, politicians like Obama would either be killed or put in prison. It’s a good thing that American socialists are so supportive of the democratic process. In fact, American leftists tend to believe in American democracy more than American right-wingers. If there is going to be a violent (i.e., anti-democratic) revolution, it probably won’t come from the left. The last time there was a serious internal threat against American democracy was the Business Plot which was an attempt at a fascist takeover that involved some major American business leaders.
.
“To be sure, no white candidate who had close associations with an outspoken hater of America like Jeremiah Wright and an unrepentant terrorist like Bill Ayers would have lasted a single day.”

This is what is called a double standard, an issue Frank Schaeffer has noted.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/frank-schaeffer/obamas-minister-committed_b_91774.html

When Senator Obama’s preacher thundered about racism and injustice Obama suffered smear-by-association. But when my late father — Religious Right leader Francis Schaeffer — denounced America and even called for the violent overthrow of the US government, he was invited to lunch with presidents Ford, Reagan and Bush, Sr.

If you look at Obama’s voting record prior to becoming president, it is all mainstream Democratic positions. In his career, Obama has never been one to go out on a limb to push for radical reform. He is a professional politician just like George W. Bush. America won’t look much different after Obama than it looked after Bush. The same type of policies continue and the same problems continue as well.

As for socialists, too bad we don’t have a country run by socialists who would, like earlier socialists, defend our constitutional rights. The socialist-run cities were considered some of the most well run cities in the entire nation’s history.

The “S” Word
By John Nichols

pp. 110-11:
The immediate mission of the Socialists in Milwaukee—as it was in many of the other cities where they won control of local government, from Butte to Bridgeport—was to prove that government could operate honorably and as an extension of the people, rather than as a burden to them.
Berger, the great philosopher and tactician of the “sewer socialist” movement, understood that socialists could only make the case for government ownership of power and gas plants, waterworks, transit systems and other services if they established a reputation for absolute honesty and “good burgher” management. While Democrats and Republicans held out the hope of honest governance as an end in itself, Berger said: “With us, this is the first and smallest requirement.” His acolyte Frank Zeidler would write that the “sewer socialists” were distinguished by “a passion for orderly government; and by a contempt for graft and boodling.”
It was that contempt that opened the way for the first great Socialist Party victories in the United States.
“Before the Socialists took charge, Milwaukee was just as corrupt as Chicago at its worst. Our mayor at the turn of the twentieth century was David Rose, a political prince of darkness who allowed prostitution, gambling dens, all-night saloons and influence-peddling to flourish on his watch. Grand juries returned 276 indictments against public officials of the Rose era. ‘All the Time Rosy’ escaped prosecution himself, but district attorney (and future governor) Francis McGovern called him ‘the self-elected, self-appointed attorney general of crime in this community,’ ” recalls Gurda. “In 1910, fed-up voters handed Socialists the keys to the city. Emil Seidel, a patternmaker by trade, won the mayor’s race in a landslide, and Socialists took a majority of seats on the Common Council.”

pp. 125-127:
Amusingly, the socialists were also recognized for practicing what might today be referred to as “fiscal conservatism.” Because they feared “bondage to the banks,” Hoan and his fellow “sewer socialists” operated on a pay-as-you-go basis that eventually made Milwaukee the only major city in the United States that was debt free.
Urban affairs writer Melvin Holli and a group of experts on local government would in 199 hail Hoan as one of the finest mayors in the nation’s history, with Holli observing: “Perhaps Hoan’s most important legacy was cleaning up the free-and-easy corruption that prevailed before he took office. Hoan’s quarter century in office made the change stick, and it seems to have elevated Milwaukee’s politics above that of other cities in honesty, efficiency and delivery of public services.”