Obama and socialism

I warned people close to me (mother, sister, etc.) that Obama was a socialist and they laughed at me and (quite lovingly, because they’re my mom and my sister) called me “extreme.”  I wonder if they would have laughed at Al Sharpton too, now that he’s finally let the cat out of the bag:

Al Sharpton isn’t the only one coming out of the woodwork.  David Leonhardt, writing with the New York Times’ approving imprimatur, spells out precisely what’s going on:

For all the political and economic uncertainties about health reform, at least one thing seems clear: The bill that President Obama signed on Tuesday is the federal government’s biggest attack on economic inequality since inequality began rising more than three decades ago.

Read the rest of Leonhardt’s euphoric socialist economic polemic here.

Stop me if I’m wrong, but didn’t the liberal media and the pundits go ballistic when all of us said that Obama’s statement to Joe the Plumber about “spreading the wealth” was a purely socialist notion?  They just think it’s a good thing that it should be the government’s responsibility to, hmm, let me see if I’ve got this right: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.”  Quiz those pundits and media-crities and they might suggest some authors for that famous expression.  Was that Adam Smith who said that?  No.  Reagan?  No.  Jefferson?  No.  Tell me that it was Karl Marx, the founder of modern socialism, and I bet they’d be surprised.

Finally, all the pieces have come together, and the MSM is still urging us to avert our heads and not to listen.

I’m sorry this post is incoherent, but I’m irritated, and still trying to get my thoughts organized right now.

“For ye have the poor always with you”

Jesus Christ spoke the words that are the caption of this post.  As I understand it, he was speaking about the transience of his time on this earth, as opposed to some of the more permanent features of life on earth, such as poverty.

Even Christ, though, couldn’t have anticipated the fact that Barack Obama would rejigger poverty calculations in America to ensure that, no matter how much the American standard of living rises, a certain percentage of the American population will always be described as poverty-stricken:

This week, the Obama administration announced it will create a new poverty-measurement system that will eventually displace the current poverty measure. This new measure, which has little or nothing to do with actual poverty, will serve as the propaganda tool in Obama’s endless quest to “spread the wealth.”

Under the new measure, a family will be judged “poor” if its income falls below a certain specified income threshold. Nothing new there, but, unlike the current poverty standards, the new income thresholds will have a built-in escalator clause: They will rise automatically in direct proportion to any rise in the living standards of the average American.

The current poverty measure counts absolute purchasing power — how much steak and potatoes you can buy. The new measure will count comparative purchasing power — how much steak and potatoes you can buy relative to other people. As the nation becomes wealthier, the poverty standards will increase in proportion. In other words, Obama will employ a statistical trick to ensure that “the poor will always be with you,” no matter how much better off they get in absolute terms.

My kids often ask me is “$X a lot of money?”  I always tell them that money has no fixed value. Things are worth what people will pay for them, and that the value of money is best calculated by people’s needs. To my kids, $100 is a lot of money; to Bill Gates, it’s less than chump change.

While there will always be people who have more money and people who have less money (and this is true even in ostensibly socialist countries where money is supposed to be irrelevant), the fact is that the best indicator of poverty isn’t money, which is variable, but standard of living.  The person who has food on the table, clothes on his back, and a roof over his head, is simply not poor as Christ, or the kid in Calcutta, would understand poverty.

This objective reality is obviously irksome to Leftists who need poor people to power their political anger engine.  There is no greater offense to their perpetual outrage machine than the fact that America is such a prosperous land that there are (thank God) very few on our soil who starve, go naked, and sleep in the open.  (And I’ll add that, if San Francisco is an example, many of those who do arrive at that state, not because America isn’t bountiful, but because of substance abuse problems.)  The only way to deal with the reality of America’s prosperity, clearly, is to play accounting games, aimed at creating a perpetual class of poverty-stricken individuals, people who, no matter their standard of living, will perceive themselves as victims, badly in need of government sustenance.

By the way, if you want to see what a permanent under class looks like, I can’t do better for you than to suggest that you go to Gerry Charlotte Phelps’ website, look at the left sidebar, and pick any chapter of her book about working with the perpetual poor.  Unlike the Ivory Tower sociologists currently wielding political power in D.C., Phelps has actually lived and worked in communities devastated by generations of poverty (often government induced), and has a lot of information and ideas.  By the way, don’t be put off by the fact that Phelps hasn’t updated her blog in a while.  She’s taking a hiatus from blogging and will return as soon as she can.

Jon Stewart: genuinely ignorant or just hiding the ball when it comes to socialism

I caught a few minutes of last night’s Daily Show with Jon Stewart, during which Stewart amused himself by taking potshots at a very big target:  CPAC.  I haven’t paid much attention to CPAC, so I can’t and therefore won’t comment on whether his shots were righteous or dishonest.  If you’d like to know more about CPAC from a couple of people who were there, I can recommend this and this.  My suspicion is that, unlike a tightly scripted Democratic function, CPAC was a genuine grass roots conservative gathering, representing a wide range of viewpoints, some more pleasing than others.  But, as I said, I don’t know, I’m just guessing.

What I do know is that Stewart had fun with that portion of Beck’s speech in which Beck spoke about two forms of socialism:  revolutionary and evolutionary.  From his grunts, sighs and moans, all of which passes for Stewart’s version of intelligent political commentary, I gather that Stewart found it (a) amusing that a right winger would even mention the word “evolution” and (b) impossible to imagine that, if something happens slowly, it could be akin to a socialist revolution.  By taking that latter position, Stewart either betrayed his historical ignorance or is intentionally trying to fool a credulous audience.

In fact, back at the turn of the last century, there was a very active evolutionary socialist movement called the “Fabian Society,” and the movement remains as a functional backdrop to today’s Labour and Democratic parties.  As is often the case for historic information that isn’t at the center of a political maelstrom, Wikipedia has a solid entry on the subject (emphasis mine):

The Fabian Society is a British intellectual socialist movement, whose purpose is to advance the principles of social democracy via gradualist and reformist, rather than revolutionary, means. It is best known for its initial ground-breaking work beginning late in the 19th century and continuing up to World War I. The society laid many of the foundations of the Labour Party and subsequently affected the policies of states emerging from the decolonisation of the British Empire, especially India. Today, the society is a vanguard “think tank” of the New Labour movement.

[snip]

The group, which favoured gradual incremental change rather than revolutionary change, was named – at the suggestion of Frank Podmore – in honour of the Roman general Quintus Fabius Maximus (nicknamed “Cunctator”, meaning “the Delayer”). His Fabian strategy advocated tactics of harassment and attrition rather than head-on battles against the Carthaginian army under the renowned general Hannibal Barca.

That it was slow-moving didn’t make the Society’s ideas any less hateful:

The Fabian Society in the early 1900s advocated the ideal of a scientifically planned society and supported eugenics by way of sterilisation.

If you’d like to see the charming side of Fabian Socialism, you should read Jean Webster’s two delightful books:  Daddy Long Legs and Dear Enemy.  Both are epistolary novels written in the 1910s.  One is set at a women’s college (Vassar-ish) and the other is set in an orphanage.  The former presents a pretty picture of Fabian Socialism and the latter sweetly and ardently advocates eugenics.  They are the perfect distillation of a Woodrow Wilson style Progressivism, which wanted to purge America of any impure people and then, once America was properly populated with nice, WASP-y people, to impose a wondrous socialist vision upon them.  Jonah Goldberg captures perfectly the time and the vision in Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Change.  In America, this “delicate,” incremental slide to the Left had a friendly, middle-class intellectual gloss.  In other countries, that same driving need to take away individual freedom and invest all power in government was less lovely (Germany, Russia, North Korea, China, etc.).

Whether Socialism is fast or slow moving, it’s still socialism.  And much as Jon Stewart wants to laugh at the labels (having great fun with CPAC pronouncements that variations of Leftism, such as Bolshevism, Communism, Trotskeyism, etc. are the enemy), the fact remains that any movement that seeks to divest individuals of their freedom and place maximum power in the government is the enemy.  Shakespeare understood that labels are useful, but that it is the substance that matters (“That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.”)  When it comes to political ideology, what matters is finding a happy medium between anarchy and totalitarianism — and the sad fact is that, whenever a political movement in a fairly well-functioning society forcefully or politely advocates the transfer of every greater power to the government, no matter that movement’s name, you are looking at a graceful slide into totalitariansim.

Communism is not cute, it’s evil, and Glazov and Beck are helping to educate Americans

The American intelligentsia has a love affair with Communism that will not die.  The dead Soviets, the dead Hungarians, Czechs, Albanians, Poles, Bulgarians, etc., the dead Chinese, the dead Koreans, the dead Africans, the dead Cambodians, the dead Vietnamese, the dead Cubans, and the dead Latin Americans are all irrelevant.  Those are just mistakes from Communism done the “wrong” way.  The Left has absolute faith that, done the right way — the “American way” — Communism will bring about a paradise of plenty and perpetual peace.  All of which shows, as I’ve learned rather painfully over me life, that brains and sense are not the same thing.

One of the worst things that has happened since 1989 is that a new generation is growing up educated by the Left about the joys of Marxism in the abstract, but without any offsetting evidence of the horrors of Marxism in practice.  Yes, China and Cuba are still out there, but China has become such an important trading partner, and Cuba is so whitewashed by Hollywood, the average kid doesn’t see either as an example of Communism.  Those of us who grew up during the Cold War could hear people at Berkeley or Columbia waffle on about the glories of the Soviet (and the evil that was Reagan), but the evidence of our own eyes was pretty compelling.  When people keep trying to escape their own country, you suspect that more is going on than meets the ideologically blinded academic eye.

Glenn Beck is trying to meet and challenge this scary cultural ignorance.  Although I don’t watch his show, I’ve heard from many that he’s been on an educational crusade, trying to make his viewers appreciate just how disastrous Communism in action is.  (Actually, I would broaden this to say “socialism.”  Communism was just one variation of this political plague.  The word “socialism” better encompasses alternative forms of this type of government, including the Nazis.)  Jamie Glazov is especially appreciative what Beck is doing, because his family suffered so terribly under the Soviets:

The tortures included laying a man naked on a freezing cement floor, forcing his legs apart, and then an interrogator stepping on his testicles, applying increasing pressure until the confession surfaced. Imagine the consequences of no surfacing confession. Indeed, many people refused to confess to a crime they did not commit.

Daughters and sons were raped in front of their fathers and mothers — for the sake of extracting “confessions.”

***

Both of my grandfathers were exterminated by Stalinist terror. Both of my parents, Yuri and Marina Glazov, were dissidents in the former Soviet Union. They risked their lives for freedom; they stood up against Soviet totalitarianism. They barely escaped the gulag, a fortune many of our friends and relatives did not share. I come from a system where a myriad of the closest people to my family simply disappeared, where relatives and family friends died under interrogation and torture for their beliefs — or for simply nothing at all.

Please read the whole thing.  It’s not just an indictment of socialism, it’s also an attack against the “intellectuals” who shunned dissidents who actually experienced the evils of Communism.  How much better to live in a world of intellectual theory, with PepsiCo as the big enemy, than acknowledge the fact that the ideology you so cheerfully embrace is responsible for more than 100 million deaths, and uncountable incidences of torture and suffering.

Open thread centered around a very important question

The holidays continue to make demands on me that take me away from my beloved computer and my blog.  I’ve managed to track enough news, though, to know that Reid managed to get his vote.  My question for you, and one I can’t answer myself, is this:

Will the health care bill, even if it destroys the current crop of Democrat politicians, be an unstoppable juggernaut that will inevitably lead to socializing America, or is this bill the final straw on the electorate’s groaning back that will lead to the revitalization of conservatism in America?

I’d like to think the second but, given the Republican party’s profound ineptitude and ideological weakness, I think Republicans are going to take lemonade and manage to reconstitute it as rotten, sour, unpalatable lemons.

***

As I finished typing the last paragraph, I got an email from Rob, at JoshuaPundit, with a link to his post about the dangers of despair:

Part of what fuels decadence (and eventual destruction and defeat) is the belief that everything is rotten beyond repair, so why even try anymore? If enough people feel that way, then they contribute to the defeat and it’s over. So it’s important to act with optimism and positive energy even when it seems hopeless.

One of the things that surprised me in reading Winston Churchill’s history of World War II is how frequently he succumbed to despair during the run-up to the Second World War when he could see where things were headed, and afterward,when he finally took power and the Nazis were expected to invade at any moment.

Sir Winston referred to these periods of depression as ‘the black dog’…but he made a point of never sharing these emotions with anyone, and indeed made a point of acting especially cheery and unperturbed when things seemed darkest. And there were plenty of such moments.

He understood instinctively one of William James’ basic principles of psychology, that moods are infectious and affect others and that a positive attitude, even a partially feigned one, can have positive results.

And there are positive results to be had. We have a country to win, and one that’s worth fighting for.

Please read the rest of Rob’s post.  It will make you feel better, as it made me feel better.  We have a wonderful country, and we cannot and should not give up!

Mark Steyn explains Democrats’ long term thinking *UPDATE*

It’s scary, but Mark Steyn is right:

I’ve been saying for a year now, in NR and NRO, that the object for savvy Dems is to get this thing passed in whatever form because, once you do, there’s no going back. Kim Strassel in yesterday’s Journal gets it:

So why the stubborn insistence on passing health reform? Think big. The liberal wing of the party—the Barney Franks, the David Obeys—are focused beyond November 2010, to the long-term political prize. They want a health-care program that inevitably leads to a value-added tax and a permanent welfare state. Big government then becomes fact, and another Ronald Reagan becomes impossible. See Continental Europe.

Just so. And that’s worth whatever hit they have to take in 2010. Every time I make the point, someone says, oh, Jim Webb this or Byron Dorgan that, or have you see Harry Reid’s numbers in Nevada? Oh, please. We’ve just seen what happens when you make Ben Nelson your Maginot Line. The Dems are thinking strategically; the Republicans are all tactics.

In other words, as of today, with Nelson’s willingness to sell his soul and the Democrats’ willingness to go forward with a plan everyone hates, we’ve lost not just the battle, but the war.  We can start writing the American eulogy.

UPDATEAnchoress is bummed out too.  She has faith in her faith, though, and it gives her consolation, especially at this time of year.

Two must reads *UPDATED*

American Thinker is a site I check regularly, at least twice a day.  It’s not just that the editors are kind enough to publish my work occasionally.  It’s because the articles that appear there routinely range from really good to out-of-the-park stupendous.

Today, there are two that fall in the latter category.  These are the kinds of articles that shouldn’t just be read, but that should be emailed to everyone you know.  Indeed, the one regarding socialism should be required reading in every American classroom.  So, without further ado, please, please, please read and discuss and forward:

What’s Wrong with Socialism, by Joe Herring

and

It Isn’t Political Correctness, It’s Shariah, by Pamela Geller

UPDATE:  Add military analyst Steve Schippert’s All the King’s Horses (about Afghanistan) to the list of things that will widen your horizons today.

Of course it’s socialized medicine! And that’s a good thing.

I don’t normally follow film critics to get my political information, so I missed what Roger Ebert wrote back in August to explain why Obama Care is a good thing.  Had I read it then, I would have learned that of course it’s socialized medicine — and that’s a good thing.  In a lengthy post responding to critics who whine about how un-American Obama Care is, Ebert offered a careful point-by-point rebuttal, including to the contention that Obama Care is socialized medicine:

¶ It is “socialized medicine.” Yes, it is. The entire society shares the cost. It does not replace private medicine. Just as in the UK and Canada, for example, we would remain free to choose our own insurance policies and private physicians. But it is the safety net for everyone.

¶ It is “socialism.” Again, yes. The word socialism, however, has lost its usefulness in this debate. It has been tainted, perhaps forever, by the malevolent Sen. Joseph McCarthy, who succeeded somehow in linking it with the godless Commies. America is the only nation in the free world in which “socialism” is generally thought of in negative terms. The only nation in which that word, in and of itself, is thought to bring the discussion to a close.

I feel much better now, don’t you?  Now I understand that socialism is just charity on broader terms.  So what if it’s forced charity?  And really, it’s silly to worry about the government using the IRS and its penalties to force this “charity” on everybody.  ‘Cause really, life in socialized countries is fine.  Just ask the citizens of the former Soviet Union, the former National Socialistic Party Germany (better known as Nazi Germany), the former Czechoslovakia, the former Poland, the former Romania, the former Albania, the current China, the current North Korea, the current Venezuela, the current Cuba . . . and on and on.

But those are extreme examples of a good thing run amok, I can hear Ebert saying.  Things are just great in semi-socialized countries.    Well, Mr. Ebert, I guess they’re okay if you don’t mind the government conspiring to change a whole nation’s social order, or the complete control of speech and thought (my example is in England, but check out speech codes and prosecutions in every other semi-socialized country in the world), or the fact that European countries have completely ceded their sovereignty to the EU (that is, whatever is left over after the UN has taken its cut).   And so on.  You get my point.

Socialism is great if your goal is perpetual childhood, free from the responsibility of caring for yourself.  If a minimal level of comfort and irresponsibility is your goal, who really cares if you give up your freedom to act, speak  or think.  At least the government will ensure that there is food on your plate and, provided you’re not to old or sick (see the second video at this link), some type of injection in your arm.  But I wonder, Mr. Ebert, just how many Americans, raised on a 233 year history of liberty are ready to walk quite so quietly into that socialist night.

(By the way, what’s really funny about the above is that it resulted from a conversation with a liberal during which I politely asked him to explain to me the support for his contention that health care is a “right.”  Once he realized that neither the Declaration of Independence nor the Constitution gave any authority for this government power grab, he sent me this link with the bald statement that this would address the whole “rights” argument.  And I guess it does.  In liberal land, we have no rights.)

Obama keeps Hitler analogy in the public eye

Is Obama telling a true story or not?  I don’t know and with Obama’s credibility gap, it’s impossible to tell.  It doesn’t matter, though.  What does matter is that, by relaying this anecdote, Obama is keeping alive the Obama/Hitler analogy:

President Obama at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation dinner last night, discussing false claims made about the health care reform bill, told a little anecdote.

“I was up at the G20 — just a little aside — I was up at the G20, and some of you saw those big flags and all the world leaders come in and Michelle and I are shaking hands with them,” the president said. “One of the leaders — I won’t mention who it was — he comes up to me. We take the picture, we go behind.

“He says, ‘Barack, explain to me this health care debate.’

“He says, ‘We don’t understand it. You’re trying to make sure everybody has health care and they’re putting a Hitler mustache on you — I don’t — that doesn’t make sense to me. Explain that to me.’”

You and I aren’t dumb.  We know Obama told this anecdote to a black group as a way to make it clear that, all he’s trying to do is help poor folk (read:  black folk) and he, a black man, is subject to the ultimate insult of being called Hitler.

Not that my blog has any impact on Obama and his acolytes, but let me try to set things straight for Obama and that “world leader.”  There is actually a legtimate reason why some (although by no means all, or even a critical mass) of ObamaCare opponents like ObamaCare to Nazi social policy and, therefore, liken Obama, the driving force behind ObamaCare, to Hitler, the driving force behind Naziism.  (And I’m NOT defending the use of the Obama/Hitler meme, I’m just explaining it.)  Although the historically ignorant keep trying to deny it, Naziism was a Leftism philosophy.  The party’s official name was the National Socialist Party.  Socialists socialize things:  they take whatever they can out of the private sector and put it into the government sector.  The more they take, the more control they have over their citizens.

Obama’s self-serving and vicious little anecdote aside, the ObamaCare issue is not about “mak[ing] sure everybody has health care.”  Putting aside the question of whether that’s even the government’s responsibility, there are actually lots of ways to make sure everybody has health care without giving the government more power.  Instead, there are myriad possible ways to expand health care that specifically result from giving the government less power.  You can create greater competition by allowing insurance to be sold across state lines, which would lower prices; you can decrease the thousands of regulations that hamper the sale of insurance and the practice of medicine; you can stop requiring insurer’s to sell premium insurance to everyone, whether they need or want it; you can put a cap on outrageous malpractice claims; you can take employers out of the equation so that individuals shop for health insurance just as they do for all other forms of insurance; and so on and so forth.

Alternative, to expand health care, you can do what Obama and his fellow socialists want and take over the medical system, making it a branch of the government. In that way, you can monitor how people work, what they eat, what they drink, how they exercise, perhaps how they procreate, whether babies deserve to be born, etc.  That’s rather extreme, but we know that, in even the most unextreme cases, rather like Santa doling out presents based on whether people have been naughty or nice, the government can start to dole out health care to those the government deems worthy — the young and productive.  The British have certainly gone this route.  While the average young or middle-aged Brit gets decent enough service for colds and appendix attacks, woe unto the Brit who reaches a hoary old age or gets a fatal disease.  If you’re salvageable, the care is adequate.  If you’re not, tough luck. That’s a slippery slope.

If you travel far enough down that slippery slope of government decisions about deserving sick people, you start getting to the Nazis.  No, Obama is not Hitler.  No, the Democrats are not Nazis.  But government health care opens the door to rationing on an extreme scale, with ever more categories of people classes as undeserving of government beneficence and, eventually, undeserving of life itself.  (My great uncle went that way:  A manic depressive one day; a Nazi created corpse the next.)  And once a government starts deciding that people are undeserving of life for health reasons (they’re a burden, not a benefit, to the state), government has a nasty habit of deciding that people are undeserving of life for other reasons, such as ethnicity, religion, political beliefs, etc.

Americans are a freedom loving people.  While Ken Burns may think that the only good idea ever to come out of America is the National Park system (this is true, ’cause his new show is named The National Parks : America’s Best Idea), I’d like to go out on a limb here and suggest that America’s best idea is limited government, with its emphasis an individual freedom and responsiblity.  History has shown, over and over, that unlimited government is a slippery slope, and whether one dresses Obama up as Clement Atlee, or Harold Wilson, or Mao, or Hitler (the most recognizable one of the bunch), the point is the same — like them, and possibly with the best intentions in the world, Obama wants to limit Americans’ freedoms by making every fact of American life subject to government mandate.

When Obama, speaking to a black audience, uses a “world leader” as his ventriloquist’s dummy to imply that conservatives are calling him Hitler because he’s a black man who wants to improve poor/black people’s lives, he is being dishonest or disingenuous.  The relatively small number of protesters who have made the Hitler analogy, while they definitely made a PR mistake, used the analogy to drive home a point about the ultimate dangers that can arise when we let government grow too big, and they’ve used the most memorable and recognizable symbol around to make that point.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

Liberals are correct: I have a serious problem with Obama’s color

Whenever I read the news, I’m being told that those who disagree with Obama do so based on his color.  Ordinary Americans simply can’t handle a black man in a power position and reflexively disagree with him and wish him ill.  It’s not even personal, we’re told.  It’s just that we’re bone-deep racists.

When Joe Wilson called Obama a liar for asserting in his big speech that no illegal aliens would be covered under the Democrats’ proposed health care plan, liberals were undeterred by the fact that Obama had just gotten through calling all of his opponents liars; by the fact that Obama was, to put it politely, misstating things when he made his claim about coverage for illegal aliens; and that Democrats had treated Bush just as rudely.  Nope, what mattered to liberals was the (to them) obvious fact that, because he is a Southerner, Joe Wilson’s sole reason for shouting out was Obama’s skin color.  Here’s Maureen Dowd to explain:

Surrounded by middle-aged white guys — a sepia snapshot of the days when such pols ran Washington like their own men’s club — Joe Wilson yelled “You lie!” at a president who didn’t.

But, fair or not, what I heard was an unspoken word in the air: You lie, boy!

[snip]

The congressman, we learned, belonged to the Sons of Confederate Veterans, led a 2000 campaign to keep the Confederate flag waving above South Carolina’s state Capitol and denounced as a “smear” the true claim of a black woman that she was the daughter of Strom Thurmond, the ’48 segregationist candidate for president. Wilson clearly did not like being lectured and even rebuked by the brainy black president presiding over the majestic chamber.

[snip]

But Wilson’s shocking disrespect for the office of the president — no Democrat ever shouted “liar” at W. when he was hawking a fake case for war in Iraq — convinced me: Some people just can’t believe a black man is president and will never accept it.

Dowd is not the only person accusing Americans of being racists for calling out the president for policy disagreements.  In connection with the Tea Party Tax protests, the always charming Jeanine Garafalo has been open in expressing her concerns about the racism that permeates American society:

You know, there’s nothing more interesting than seeing a bunch of racists become confused and angry at a speech they’re not quite certain what he’s saying. It sounds right and then it doesn’t make sense. Which, let’s be very honest about what this is about. It’s not about bashing Democrats, it’s not about taxes, they have no idea what the Boston tea party was about, they don’t know their history at all. This is about hating a black man in the White House. This is racism straight up. That is nothing but a bunch of teabagging rednecks.

Not to be left behind, Joan Walsh, writing at Salon, chimed in with a whole column devoted to just how racist ordinary Americans are.

You don’t have to look only to the celebrated liberal doyennes of New York and Hollywood to get the loud-and-clear message that the only reason one could possibly dislike Obama is because of his color.  Nor, as these gals show, do you need any actual, explicit racism to make that inflammatory charge.  An unknown L.A. Weekly blogger was equally strident when he discussed the implications of the now famous “Obama as the Joker” poster:

The poster, which bears a very superficial resemblance to Shepard Fairey’s famous Obama Hope illustration, has been pasted on freeway supports and other public surfaces. It has a bit of everything to appeal to the drunk tank of California conservatism: Obama is in white face, his mouth (like Ledger’s Joker’s) has been grotesquely slit wide open and the word “Socialism” appears below his face. The only thing missing is a noose.

When called on that last sentence, the blogger doubled-down:

The truth, again, is that the fears of the art lovers who champion the Obama Socialism poster are all about race – about losing their skin privileges, about the possible airing of old crimes and grievances committed against blacks. How else can you explain the mad surge to buy guns, to deny Obama’s American birth, the teary prediction that the White House is ordering up concentration camps, and the rock-solid belief that Obama’s lab-coated bureaucrats are coming to kill our grandmas? Who’s the real Joker here? And whose deck is that race card being played from?

The most recent development is that politicians are getting into the act:

“As far as African-Americans are concerned, we think most of it is,” said Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), when asked in an interview in between sessions how much of the more extreme anger at Obama is based upon his race. “And we think it’s very unfortunate. We as African-American people of course are very sensitive to it.”

[snip]

Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.), chairman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, agreed with his colleague that elements of the opposition can’t accept the reality of a black president.

“There’s a very angry, small group of folks that just didn’t like the fact that Barack Obama won the presidency,” Honda said, adding: “With some, I think it is [about race].

Said Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) about the race factor: “There are some issues that have been swept under the rug and we’re not witnessing them come out.”

Just today, Howard Kurtz assured his Washington Post audience that conservatives, independents and even some Democrats who keep questioning the unconstitutionality of Obama’s proposed health care plans are just using that ragged old document as code to hide their racism:

I began to suspect that race was a factor for at least some critics when I heard them shouting about “the Constitution” and “taking our country back.” Maybe Obama’s health-care plan is an awful idea and his budget is way too big, but how exactly is any of this unconstitutional? Clearly, for some folks, there’s a deeper rage at the man occupying the White House.

It seems that Kurtz has never heard of the 10th Amendment.  Let me remind him:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

In plain English, the federal government has only enumerated powers.  The power to turn our entire health care system into a government operation is not one of those powers.

Things have gotten so bad when it comes to charges of racism concerning our post-racial president that we’re now told that even our lily-white American babies are racists.

Well, I have a confession to make.  Here it is.   All of the liberal pundits are correct.  I do have a big problem, a really big problem, with Obama’s color. But my problem isn’t the color of Obama’s skin, which is completely irrelevant to me.  Instead, it’s with the color of his politics.  With every passing day, Obama is proving to be an old-fashioned Red – a true, bone-deep socialist.

Obama’s relentless push to place place our economy in the government’s hands, whether directly or indirectly, shows that he is a socialist.  Obama’s political advisors (Valerie Jarrett, Van Jones, etc.), many of whom hew, not just to the Left, but to the far Left, show that he is a socialist.  Obama’s disdain for free speech, demonstrated by his repeated statements that his opponents should shut up, and his support for people who want to destroy talk radio, show that he is a socialist.  Obama’s affinity for and deference to dictators shows that he is a socialist.  Obama’s manifest hostility to our traditional Democratic allies (most notably Israel and England) shows that he is a socialist.  Obama’s non-religious support for totalitarian Islamic governments is a good hint that he is a socialist, since the Left has long been in bed with those entities, since they, like the Left, are hostile to America.  Obama’s manifest disdain for America, bastion of capitalism and freedom, shows that he is a socialist.  And Obama’s life-long mentors (Frank Marshall Davis, Bill Ayers, Bernadine Dohrn, Jeremiah Wright) all of whom are active Communists, socialists or America haters, shows that he is a socialist.

Probably because I’m a word person, I truly am color blind.  When I read a blog report or a newspaper story, I have no physical image in my mind of either reporter or reportee.  The only thing that matters in my completely verbal world is the content of the speaker’s or writer’s character.  That Obama’s skin is darker than mine (and, honestly, everybody’s skin is darker than mine) is irrelevant.

What is relevant is the fact that everything I read about what Obama says, what Obama does, and who Obama chooses for his friends shows me that his real color, the color that transcends his skin and defines who he is, is RED, RED, RED.  And I, as someone with a deep and abiding affection for America’s Constitutional freedoms, and her marketplace economy, cannot think of any worse color for an American President to be.

Remembering Rick Rescorla — and the lessons of self-defense

One of the most frightening things about a nanny state is the way in which it saps each citizen’s ability to care for him or herself.  While others may have been hurling imprecations at President Bush in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, I reserved my bile for a nanny state that left thousands of people standing around, incapable of helping themselves.  All that they could even think of doing was to sit and wait for the government to come rescue them.  A community that had spent two generations in the arms of the welfare state, while it still had the notion of self-preservation, was incapable of putting into effect the desire to live.  Thousands of New Orleans’ residents simply stood helplessly on street corners.

I don’t blame those New Orleans citizens.  They did what they were trained to do:  wait for help.  Jim Prevor is worried that the health care plan is going to increase that tendency, turning all Americans into people who stand there and, rather than being vigilant on their own behalves, always look to the government for help:

Its [ObamaCare's] focus is on making the government responsible for providing healthcare. Which means, of course, that no child will ever be able to look at their father as I looked at mine growing up, that this man worked from dawn to dusk to fulfill his responsibilities to his family. He put food on the table, gave us shelter from the elements, clothes on our backs and, yes, he made sure we could go to the doctor or hospital when needed.

[snip]

So much of the argument against Obamacare is presented on prudential grounds–it is too expensive, the budget is too high, people will lose the chance to go the doctor they prefer, etc. Yet the bigger argument is that if you give people guarantees of material things–food, shelter, health care–regardless of how they behave, then more people will behave irresponsibly.

There is a whole literature out there on how welfare, subsidized housing, food stamps, and Medicaid all helped to diminish the importance of low wage earning men in their own eyes and the eyes of their family. Poor working men, who were once the best chance a family had, suddenly were superfluous; thus the explosion of children growing up without their fathers at home.

Now Obamacare promises to make breadwinners less important to all families–that is unlikely to encourage more responsible behavior among the citizenry.

Prevor’s instincts are right on the money.  As James K. Glassman explains in “The Hazard of Moral Hazard,” the more people are denied ultimate responsibility for their actions, the more irresponsible they become:

When someone insures you against the consequences of a nasty event, oddly enough, he raises the incentives for you to behave in a way that will cause the event. So if your diamond ring is insured for $50,000, you are more likely to leave it out of the safe. Economists call this phenomenon “moral hazard,” and if you look around, you will see it everywhere. “With automobile collision insurance, for example, one is more likely to venture forth on an icy night,” writes Harvard economist Richard Zeckhauser. “Federal deposit insurance made S&Ls more willing to take on risky loans. Federally subsidized flood insurance encourages citizens to build homes on flood plains.”

Bottom line, the more responsiblity we hand over to the government, the less we are able to care for ourselves.  At this moment, some might ask, why does it matter?  If the government can care for us, why shouldn’t it?  We want to live in a nice, safe place, free from stress and worry.  But as Hurricane Katrina and 9/11 show, that’s impossible.  Even the most beneficent, well-organized, protective government cannot protect us from all things.  And when the bomb explodes or the waters rise, if we have been completely leeched of any instincts or abilities towards self-preservation, we will die regardless of our long government.

All of which brings me to Rick Rescorla, who died on September 11, 2001 — but not before saving the lives of 2600 people.  Rick Rescorla was a veteran of both the British and the American militaries.  In both armies, he devoted his live to fighting against Communism.

On 9/11, Rescorla was in his office on the 44th Floor in the South Tower of the World Trade Center.  I’m going to do something I seldom do here and quote at length from another’s post to describe Rescorla’s last day on earth.  The emphasized language is mine:

In St. Augustine, Dan Hill [Rescorla's army buddy] was laying tile in his upstairs bathroom when his wife called, “Dan, get down here! An airplane just flew into the World Trade Center. It’s a terrible accident.” Hill hurried downstairs, and then the phone rang. It was Rescorla, calling from his cell phone.

“Are you watching TV?” he asked. “What do you think?”

“Hard to tell. It could have been an accident, but I can’t see a commercial airliner getting that far off.”

“I’m evacuating right now,” Rescorla said.

Hill could hear Rescorla issuing orders through the bullhorn. He was calm and collected, never raising his voice. Then Hill heard him break into song:

Men of Cornwall stop your dreaming;
Can’t you see their spearpoints gleaming?
See their warriors’ pennants streaming
To this battlefield.
Men of Cornwall stand ye steady;
It cannot be ever said ye
for the battle were not ready;
Stand and never yield!

Rescorla came back on the phone. “Pack a bag and get up here,” he said. “You can be my consultant again.” He added that the Port Authority was telling him not to evacuate and to order people to stay at their desks.

“What’d you say?” Hill asked.

“I said, ‘Piss off, you son of a bitch,’ ” Rescorla replied. “Everything above where that plane hit is going to collapse, and it’s going to take the whole building with it. I’m getting my people the fuck out of here.” Then he said, “I got to go. Get your shit in one basket and get ready to come up.”

Hill turned back to the TV and, within minutes, saw the second plane execute a sharp left turn and plunge into the south tower. Susan [Rescorla's wife] saw it, too, and frantically phoned her husband’s office. No one answered.

About fifteen minutes later, the phone rang. It was Rick. She burst into tears and couldn’t talk.

“Stop crying,” he told her. “I have to get these people out safely. If something should happen to me, I want you to know I’ve never been happier. You made my life.”

Susan cried even harder, gasping for breath. She felt a stab of fear, because the words sounded like those of someone who wasn’t coming back. “No!” she cried, but then he said he had to go. Cell-phone use was being curtailed so as not to interfere with emergency communications.

From the World Trade Center, Rescorla again called Hill. He said he was taking some of his security men and making a final sweep, to make sure no one was left behind, injured, or lost. Then he would evacuate himself. “Call Susan and calm her down,” he said. “She’s panicking.”

Hill reached Susan, who had just got off the phone with Sullivan. “Take it easy,” he said, as she continued to sob. “He’s been through tight spots before, a million times.”

Suddenly Susan screamed. Hill turned to look at his own television and saw the south tower collapse. He thought of the words Rescorla had so often used to comfort dying soldiers. “Susan, he’ll be O.K.,” he said gently. “Take deep breaths. Take it easy. If anyone will survive, Rick will survive.”

When Hill hung up, he turned to his wife. Her face was ashen. “Shit,” he said. “Rescorla is dead.”

The rest of Rick Rescorla’s morning is shrouded in some mystery. The tower went dark. Fire raged. Windows shattered. Rescorla headed upstairs before moving down; he helped evacuate several people above the 50th Floor. Stephan Newhouse, chairman of Morgan Stanley International, said at a memorial service in Hayle that Rescorla was spotted as high as the 72nd floor, then worked his way down, clearing floors as he went. He was telling people to stay calm, pace themselves, get off their cell phones, keep moving. At one point, he was so exhausted he had to sit for a few minutes, although he continued barking orders through his bullhorn. Morgan Stanley officials said he called headquarters shortly before the tower collapsed to say he was going back up to search for stragglers.

John Olson, a Morgan Stanley regional director, saw Rescorla reassuring colleagues in the 10th-floor stairwell. “Rick, you’ve got to get out, too,” Olson told him. “As soon as I make sure everyone else is out,” Rescorla replied.

Morgan Stanley officials say Rescorla also told employees that “today is a day to be proud to be American” and that “tomorrow, the whole world will be talking about you.” They say he also sang “God Bless America” and Cornish folk tunes in the stairwells. Those reports could not be confirmed, although they don’t sound out of character. He liked to sing in a crisis. But the documented truth is impressive enough. Morgan Stanley managing director Bob Sloss was the only employee who didn’t evacuate the 66th floor after the first plane hit, pausing to call his family and several underlings, even taking a call from a Bloomberg News reporter. Then the second plane hit, and his office walls cracked, and he felt the tower wagging like a dog’s tail. He clambered down to the 10th floor, and there was Rescorla, sweating through his suit in the heat, telling people they were almost out, making no move to leave himself.

Rick did not make it out. Neither did two of his security officers who were at his side. But only three other Morgan Stanley employees died when their building was obliterated.

Rescorla wasn’t a lamb to the slaughter.  He gave his life joyously, actively participating in his own defense.  As it happened, he was unable to save himself but, by ignoring a government mandate just to sit tight and let the government take care of things, Rescorla saved 2600 Morgan Stanley employees.

If you would like to learn more about Rescorla’s life — a life that was a training ground for his heroic death — please visit The Mudville Gazette and Blackfive.

Obama as the butt of the Joke(r) *UPDATED*

At first, only people in L.A. saw it.  Now we’ve all seen it:

Predictably, liberals are already crying “racism.” As for me, maybe I’m just out of touch with pop culture, but the Joker character never ranked up there in my mind with Uncle Tom or Sambo or any other stereotypical character created by racist whites to denigrate blacks. Just to refresh your recollection, this is what one of those images looks like:

If you don’t recognize that vile image, it’s Michael Steele, as reimagined by a liberal blogger.  Now that’s a racist insult.

We are being reminded, yet again, that anything negative about Obama is ipso facto racist.

The best I can do here is to leave the last words to Bob Owens:

A lot of people are getting their noses out of joint about a poster popping up around Los Angeles comparing President Barack Obama to the Joker.

Frankly, I don’t get it.

One embraces terrorists and madmen, is dedicated to anarchy and the destruction of capitalist society, and sends the population fleeing in horror from his creations.

The other is a fictional character played by the late Heath Ledger.

UPDATE:  The Anchoress is also bewildered by the racism charge:

This is political commentary; whoever came up with it is using a familiar visual image, and giving us an actual word which delivers a two-point message: he or she thinks the president is a joke, and a socialist.

This -until very recently- used to be called “free speech.” It is protected in this country, and thought very highly of. And protest or dissent, we have been told, is the very highest form of patriotism.

Before you hand over your money

Obama wants more and more of our money, so that they government can exercise more and more control over every aspect of our lives.  John Hindraker has the bottom-line about that worldview:

The real lesson of the Sanford fiasco is, given the frequency with which politicians display appalling judgment, weak character, and a pathological lack of self-control, why would we want to entrust them with more of our money and more power over our lives?

Socialism’s Waterloo? *UPDATED*

Since you guys have been a little slow in offering your much desired as guest bloggers, I’m going to take advantage of some of the gems you leave in the comments section.  Today’s gem is from Charles Martel, which he wrote as a response to my “Good deal all around” post:

I think socialism may meet its Waterloo in the United States, and that Obama may be its Napoleon.

(Let me define socialism as an economic system where the government, through its power of coercion, expropriates wealth and redistributes it according to both stated (and unstated goals), such as equality and stability (and the maintenance of political power and wealth for the government elite via the power of the purse).

In Russia and China, socialism was imposed on desperately poor countries that were already used to privation, government theft and lack of freedom. With no traditions of wealth or liberty to guide them, the subjects of those sorry countries shrugged and assumed their masters’ yoke.

Once the administrative powers of socialism insured a true equality of misery for the overwhelming number of subjects at the bottom of the heap, there was a sense of resignation followed by a distorted sense of progress–”At least there is no more civil war.” “Now we’re all in the same boat. Chin Lee can no longer lord it over us just because he once owned 80 pigs.”

In Europe, which had a high standard of living but then destroyed it in two wars, socialism was a combination of idealism, pragmatism and opportunism. Idealism in the sense that perhaps the sharing of resources would prevent future wars; pragmatism because people whose cultures have always stressed the state over the individual could be more easily swayed to accept a regulated economy than the Americans’ wild and crazy free market economy; and opportunism because the same Americans were providing military protection that freed up billions and billions of dollars for investment and allowed Europe to remake itself as a giant theme park.

So far, socialism has had a good run—at least in the sense of acquiring power over all wealth, which is its goal.

But when you get to America, the soil for socialism is less fertile. Yes, there are hot-house experiments with it that seem to be working, such as San Francisco, or Berkeley, or Washington, DC. But like all hot-house flowers, they are very fragile. These ones depend on fools and outsiders for their sustenance: tourists in San Francisco; the American taxpayer in Washington, DC; and in Berkeley a self-hating, self-deluding professoriate on one hand and thousands of dependent, subsidized students on the other.

On a grander scale, large U.S. socialist experiments like New Jersey, Michigan and California are coming to an end. You cannot run an economy on a fantasy, namely that you can keep fisting the Golden Goose’s cloaca without at some point rupturing and destroying the poor thing. That so many people who should know better hold on to the fantasy that socialism can work is a result of the Europeanization of large parts of the U.S. population. Europeans have never had a firm grasp on how wealth is created. To them it’s either a matter of whoever is the strongest stealing somebody else’s wealth (eastern Europe) or a benign state redistributing wealth that comes from some mysterious source (France).

In America, though, where people have been free for several centuries to create their own wealth, there is a direct knowledge that a government printing press or power of taxation has nothing to do with generating it. There are tens of millions of people who understand that and who nod instinctively in agreement with Tea Party signs that say, “Honk if I’m paying your mortgage!”

Now add to that a tradition of healthy skepticism toward politicians and government. Although Obama would like to intimidate people, there are way too many of us who have not been beaten down or conditioned by Chicago-style politics to take his bait. Watching that cosseted nancy boy strut and act all hoody elicits laughter among us, not shivers.

Then add the tradition of a free press, now remanifesting itself in Internet blogs, and couple that with the technological savvy of millions of young men and women who have not sipped the Obama-Aid. They are marvelous tools for organizing political resistance, tax strikes and, if someday necessary, the disruption of an overreaching government.

Further, add the scores of millions of guns owned by Americans who are not statists, “progressives” or leftists. The wusses in Britain and Canada may lay down their arms just because the local or provincial dhimmi government says to, but that’s not going to wash with most Americans. For every gun that the nanny state confiscates, there will be 10 that go undetected and uncollected.

Top it off with the rising trend toward homeschooling, which creates truly educated—as opposed to schooled—citizens, and millions of magnificently disciplined and trained (and mostly conservative) veterans who will have something to say if The Narcissist suddenly decides he’s macho and wants to toy with martial law or a suspension of constitutional rights.

Finally, a law of limits. Just as you cannot exceed the speed of light, you cannot exceed the total amount of wealth the world has in your never-ceasing quest to pillage it under socialism. If the U.S. economy is dragged down by Obamaism, what is left to plunder? Once that realization hits all the droolers who think there’s such a thing as a free lunch, they will turn on Obama. Napoleon’s own soldiers will finally see through him.

(I’m not too worried that they’ll turn on us. We’ll be armed—both with weapons and with the most devastating four words in the English language: “We told you so.”)

UPDATE: Tom Elia is also sees optimism out there.

A microcosm of socialism’s inevitable failure

Got this in an email from Richard Baehr:

An economics professor at Texas Tech said he had never failed a single student before but had, once, failed an entire class. That class had insisted that socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer.

The professor then said “Okay, we will have an experiment in this class on socialism.” All grades would be averaged and everyone would receive the same grade so no one would fail and no one would receive an A.

After the first test the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy.

But, as the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too; so they studied little. The second test average was a D! No one was happy.

When the 3rd test rolled around the average was an F. The scores never increased as bickering, blame, name calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else.

All failed, to their great surprise, and the professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great; but when government takes all the reward away; no one will try or want to succeed.

Could not be any simpler than that….

“I will change the world”

Obama said today, “I will change the world.”  Cal Thomas reminds us that he means it:

Is socialism too strong a word [for Obama's end goal]? Consider one of its definitions from dictionary.com and tell me it is something other than Obama’s economic philosophy: “A theory or system of social reform which contemplates a complete reconstruction of society, with a more just and equitable distribution of property and labor.”

A complete restructuring of society is what Obama advocated in a 2001 interview on a Chicago public radio station. According to Politico.com, in that interview, Obama, “reflecting on the Warren Court’s successes and failures in helping to usher-in civil rights, said, “I think where it succeeded was to vest formal rights in previously dispossessed peoples.” He has it backward. The Creator already endowed African-American people with these rights, which is precisely the argument powerfully made by Martin Luther King Jr. Any rights that are “vested” in people by other people may be removed by the same or future people. Endowed rights are “unalienable” and what America did was to finally recognize those rights. The distinction is crucial because it also relates to abortion and many other social issues. If a court can take away the right to life, then no endowed right is safe.

Obama continues with a comment that the “Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of the redistribution of wealth and sort of basic issues of political and economic justice in this society, and to that extent as radical as people try to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn’t that radical.” Does he mean that for real “justice” to have been achieved, the Warren Court should have taken from the rich and given to the black poor? Obama never said what would happen once the redistributed money ran out. Perhaps this was not to be a one-time event, but a lifetime of “reparations” for slavery, as some other left-wing black leaders have proposed.

My question for you:  Is the socialist dream really the world we want?

Victims of Nazi Germany would say no.  Victims of Soviet Russia would say no.  Victims of Communist Poland would say no.  Victims of Communist Eastern Germany would say no.  Victims of Communist Czechoslovakia would say no.  Victims of North Korea would say no.  Victims of Communist Bulgar would say no.  Victims of every foul Marxist regime in Africa would say no.  Victims of Communist China would say no.  Victims of Castro Cuba would say no.  Victims of Chavez’s Venezuela would say no.  Those watching Europe turn into Eurabia as the socialist dream turns into zero population growth creating a vacuum filled by radical Islam would say no.  Victims of Canadian socialized medicine would say no.  Victims of British socialized medicine would say no.

Take it from one who knows

I saw something rare today:  a car that not only had a discrete McCain/Palin bumpersticker, but that also had a big bumper sticker saying “Freedom vs. Socialism – November 4, 2008.

As I was standing there admiring this sight, the car’s owner hove into view.  I stopped her politely and said, “I have to tell you, I really love your bumper sticker.”

She smiled at me and, in a thick Russian accent, replied, “I don’t hear that often.”

I bet she doesn’t, but her accent explains precisely why the charge that Obama is a socialist resonates so strongly with her.  She knows socialism up close and personal, and she knows that a move in that direction is a simultaneous move away from a free society.

Now we’re selfish

You’ve probably heard that Obama called anti-socialists “selfish.” For more on the significance of that comment,this link is a good one, because it makes the point that, in Obamaland, you’re selfish if you don’t let the government take and distribute your hard earned cash. It’s useful to compare this with statistics showing that conservatives are much more generous when it comes to giving to charities, and the fact that both Biden and Obama have been exceptionally, ah, let’s say “careful” when it comes to giving their own wealth to charity.

Nattering nabobs of complete ignorance

During one of my endless circular drives transporting children today, I caught a minute of a phone call from one of Sean Hannity’s fans, who is nevertheless voting for Obama.  She has concluded that the Founding Fathers were entirely in favor of wealth redistribution, because they opposed the concentration of wealth in a small number of families.  Sean came back with a lot of good quotations from the Founders warning against concentrating too much power in government, but I think he failed to understand his caller’s fundamental historical ignorance.

In Old England, the concentration of wealth in a small number of families was the concentration of power in government.  Despite the fact that England was slowly moving towards a semi-republican form of government, and the fact that Glorious Revolution in 1688 had clipped the monarch’s wings, England was still ruled entirely by the hereditary aristocracy.

Almost all the power in England, and almost all the money, resided with a fairly small number of families who held that money and power by virtue of birth and heredity.  They didn’t earn it, and they didn’t achieve much benefit from investing it.  To the extent they plowed it back into society, they did so only because a sense of decency made some of them realize that it was unconscionable, in a static rural society, for the poor to be so abysmally poor.  It was only the unleashing of the economy to the twin engines of the Industrial Revolution and the massive expansion of the British Empire that saw people from non-aristocratic backgrounds begin to break into those monied and powered ranks.

What all of these nitpicky little historical facts mean is that, when the Founders warned against concentrating wealth and power in a small number of people, they were also warning against locking power in the government — and vice versa, because the two were one and the same in that era.

The beauty of America is that the potential for power and wealth is vested in each individual citizen.  All other systems, whether socialist, or aristocratic, or oligarchical or theocratic concentrate power in a small ruling class, and then keep it there.  That’s what Obama wants to do to America.  Even as he sprinkles a little economic largesse amongst the people, he intends to ensure that power flows solely to the government — and anything more un-American than that is impossible to imagine.  The Founders are rolling in their graves at the thought.

Obama wants the government to redistribute wealth *UPDATE*

Traditionally, Americans conceived of taxes as a way in which citizens paid for basic government services that benefited all (such as defense, infrastructure, etc.).  With socialism, the notion arose that the government was to take from the rich (as defined by the government) and give to the poor (as defined by the government).  Since the Civil Rights movement, the American tendency has been to take from the rich (as defined by the government) and give to the victims (as defined by themselves).

Conservatives have been deeply suspicious that Obama desires the White House to achieve precisely this socialist agenda:  He wants to use taxes, not to provide funds for basic government services, but to take from those he deems rich and to give to those he deems appropriate recipients of government largesse.  (Let’s not pretend he’s just talking about the poor.  Hint:  ACORN.)

When Obama had his little conversation with Joe the Plumber, and went into his “spread the wealth” shtick, he pretty much gave the game away to those who were listening.  Large swathes of America, however, not just the die-hards, but the ones who want to feel good about voting for Obama, rejected the obvious, however, and claimed he was just talking about ordinary taxes.

How, then, can they explain away a 2001 Public Radio audiotape, which Pierre Le Grand found on the always useful Free Republic?  In it, Obama carefully explained that it’s a tragedy that the Warren Court was too conservative to upend the Constitution and redistribute wealth, but that it’s not too late to use legislation to achieve precisely the same goal.

And please note, Obama uses and reuses the word “redistribute.”  No hiding here behind colorful, user-friendly expressions such as “spread the wealth.”  What Obama clearly envisions is a government program that takes away your money (and your incentive to work hard and make it the American way), so that the money can go to those Obama deems worthy:

I’ll give Pierre Le Grand the last word:

[I]f we had an honest press corp stuff like this wouldn’t depend on people like me to find. But since we do not have an honest press corp thank you Free Republic!

UPDATE: If you prefer reading over listening, Michelle Malkin has a transcript of the core discussion.

UPDATE II:  Of, if you feel like discovering some Obama gems for yourself, there are lots more early interviews with the Obamessiah at the same radio station.  I wish I had the time to plow through some of them.  They look intriguing.

Why Obama’s European-style socialism is a danger to us all

I’m still developing the same theme I’ve been hammering at for a week, because I think it’s important.  The ideas in this post should be familiar to you, but I’m trying to express them with more factual data and lucidity:

My mother, bless her heart, said something very important the other day. She said that Europeans are much more socially conscious than Americans and that’s why they have all those government programs (i.e., socialism or spreading the wealth). She was clearly trying to say that Americans are mean and selfish, and that’s why they’ve traditionally leaned to keeping their wealth, rather than allowing government redistribution. She’s completely wrong, of course, but wrong in a very interesting way.

What she neglected to consider with her pronouncement is that, traditionally, America and Europe had vastly different social and economic fluidity. While Europe has had an exceptionally rigid class system from which few escape, America has been since its inception a place in which people can “make it.” Every immigrant group (and such is the nature of America that all but the Indigenous Americans are immigrant groups), has managed to assimilate and rise economically.

Census records from the Lower East Side in New York, through which passed hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of immigrants from all over Europe, show that within two generations, all of the families that once lived there had moved into the working, middle or wealthy classes. Certainly, individuals may have suffered and failed but, en masse, the immigrants did well. They didn’t need to become the recipients of perpetual government largesse.

In Europe, however, there were no systems by which the lower classes (and that also always meant the poorer classes) could escape their stratum. Whether by accent, education, poverty, or tradition, they stayed there. (And, interestingly, even the educational opportunities socialism provided didn’t much change that. When I lived in England a couple of decades ago, after almost 40 years of free access to college education, most English people did not go on to college and people still gave away their class instantly just by opening their mouths.) Socialism, in other words, was just a totalitarian government substitute for the old noblesse oblige that saw the upper class (or, at least, the socially conscious ones) take care of the poorer orders, all the while ensuring that they stayed in their place.

The intense stratification of that system continues to exist with the new immigrants to Europe. Whether in Germany, Norway, Sweden, England, Italy or France, these new Muslim immigrants are instantly the recipients of government largesse that gives them housing and money — and that essentially tells them to get into their immigrant ghettos, and stay there, preferably feeling grateful to and voting for the government that was so good to them. Its a shock to the ruling class, and one that they can’t seem to understand, that these immigrants, rather than feeling grateful at being stuffed away into ghettos without any opportunities, loath the countries in which they live, and cheerfully envision their bloody overthrows.

My mother agreed with me on all of these points (how could she not?), but then produced her “a-ha!” to prove me wrong: “What about blacks in America (and, she could have added, Native Americans, too)?” To her, they proved I was entirely wrong in describing America’s social and economic fluidity. To me, though, they were just the extra evidence I needed to prove that when, as they do in Europe, a government provides too much for people, it consigns them permanently to poverty and social exile.

As you know, African-Americans (and Native Americans) differed from all other immigrant groups in America because the American system essentially imposed against them, for centuries (and in brutal and horrible ways) a European style stratification that prevented any upward movement. This is true whether one is looking at slavery, relocation, genocidal wars or Jim Crow. I’ll focus from here on out on what happened to blacks when Americans finally wised up to the error of their ways, but you can tell the same story about Native Americans.

Beginning in the 1940s (with the WWII economy) and continuing into the 1950s (with the Civil Rights movement), blacks started the same upward movement as other American groups. That is, once the nation began removing the artificial ceiling it had imposed on them, blacks too made social and economic strides. The strides were slow, because prejudice is slow to die, but they were real, and they created a rising black working and middle class composed of nuclear families. I have no doubt that, had the government continued to educate and police against discrimination, and otherwise left the market to do its work, African Americans would have joined other immigrant groups in realizing the American dream in a generation or two.

The death knell for this laborious, but real, social and economic ascent was the Great Society. The moment comprehensive welfare programs began (around the mid-1960s), government workers fanned out to black communities all over America and made huge efforts to tell blacks to stop working, because the government would pay for them. White guilt was at its apex, and government welfare was its expiation.

Being rational actors, blacks gave up bad, low-paying, often demeaning jobs for free money. And being rational actors, they gave up nuclear families and parental responsibility for even more free money. And so began the terrible slide of the African-American community. Even if you all don’t remember that time, you do remember what finally arrested this slide and helped put African-Americans back on the same, slow upward trajectory that existed before the Great Society: The fact that Clinton, under duress from a real Republican Congress, ended “welfare as we know it.” Once again, African-Americans, being rational actors, were given the incentive to shelter in the strength of the nuclear family and plug into the American Dream.

Obama wants to undo the American Dream and turn us into a European economy, where all benefits flow from the government, rather than individual effort. You can call it “socialism,” or “big government,” or “spreading the wealth,” or whatever else suits you, but the outcome will be the same: People will be locked into government induced poverty in perpetuity, the middle class will become slack, the economy will enter into stagflation, unemployment will rise, and service in every area of American life will fall as people lose their incentive (because they’ve lost the ability) to rise upwards and join in the American Dream.

(I’ve cross-posted this same article at Bloggers for John McCain (aka McCain-Palin 2008), which is a site that I urge you to visit.  It’s committed entirely to advancing McCain to the White House, and has smart, enthusiastic articles about all of the players in the upcoming election.)

Famous black socialists *UPDATED*

It’s gotten so that anything that is not pro-Obama is racist.  The latest attack is that it’s racist to call his positions “socialist” (and this despite his affiliation with the socialist New Party).  In the spirit of this attack, I hereby present a photo gallery of famous, black, self-admitted socialists:

Karl Marx

Karl Marx

Friedrich Engels

Friedrich Engels

Adolf Hitler

Adolf Hitler

Benito Mussolini

Benito Mussolini

Che Guevara

Che Guevara

Chairman Mao

Chairman Mao

Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

Josef Stalin

Josef Stalin

Fidel Castro

Fidel Castro

Kim Jong Il

Kim Jong Il

Okay, I was just kidding.  Not one of the really famous socialists is black.  So, though I’ve said it before, I’ll still say it again:  The only color that matters when it comes to Obama is RED.

UPDATENeo-neocon picked up on the flip side of this absurd new racism charge.  She quotes verbatim from the Diuguid article making the charge that “socialism” is a racist term, and then adds what is obvious (I guess) only to those who actually like facts:

If Diuguid actually knew the meaning of the word “shame,” he might feel some himself—because three of the four civil rights leaders he mentioned were in fact Socialists or even Communists, and the fourth was intermittently sympathetic to the cause.

Please read the rest of neo’s post, since it explains that she’s not just playing around with racist name-calling when she makes that statement.

Convincing people with ideas

I carpooled to a soccer game today.  The driver, who is someone I don’t know very well, is a very charming man who is quite obviously a potential Obama voter.  He wasn’t quite sure about me and, since he was a very civil individual, he never came out and either insulted McCain or lauded Obama.  He did say, though, that he thought it was the government’s responsibility to provide medical care.  He also characterized Vietnam as a complete disaster.  That gave me an interesting opportunity to explain to him a few historic facts he didn’t know — because very few people know them.

I started out by reminding him of something that most people forget:  the Vietnam War was a Democratic War.  Kennedy started it and Johnson expanded it.  (Nixon, the Republican, ended it.)  I didn’t say this in the spirit of accusation, because I wasn’t being partisan.  I said it to give historical context to a larger discussion about freedom versus statism.

I noted that, in the 1930s — and, again, most people have forgotten this — the major battle in Europe was between two Leftist ideologies:  Communism and Fascism.  When he looked a little blank, I pointed out that the Nazis were a socialist party, a fact he readily conceded.   I also reminded him that, in the 1930s, given that Stalin was killing millions of his countrymen, and that Hitler hadn’t yet started his killing spree, Fascism actually looked like the better deal.  World War II demonstrated that both ideologies — both of which vested all power in the State — were equally murderous.

Men of the Kennedy/Johnson generation, I said, saw their role in WWII as freeing Europe from the Nazi version of socialism.  When that job ended, they saw themselves in a continuing war to bring an end to the Communist version of socialism.  Again, they were reacting to overwhelming statism.

Thus, to them, it was all a single battle with America upholding the banner, not of freedom, but of individualism. They knew that America couldn’t necessarily make people free or bring them a democratic form of government, but that it could try to protect people from an all-powerful state.  That’s always been an integral part of American identity.  He agreed with everything I said.

I then moved to the issue of socialized medicine, which I pointed out, again, gives the state all the power.  The state, I said, has no conscience, and it will start doling out medical care based on its determining of which classes of individual are valuable, and which are less valuable, to the state. My friend didn’t know, for example, that Baroness Warnock of Britain, who is considered one of Britain’s leading moralists, announced that demented old people have a “duty to die” because they are a burden on the state.

A few more examples like that, and we agreed that the problem wasn’t too little government when it comes to medicine, but too much. Health insurer companies operating in California are constrained by something like 1,600 state and federal regulations.  I suggested that, rather than give the government more control over the medical bureaucracy, we take most of it away.  He conceded that this was probably a good idea.

Lastly, I reminded him what happens when government steps in as the <span style=”font-style: italic;”>pater familias</span>.  He didn’t know that, up until Johnson’s Great Society, African-Americans were ever so slowly “making it.”  As a result of the Civil Rights movement, opportunities were opening for Northern Blacks, and they — meaning the men — were beginning to make more money.  The African-American family was nuclear and starting to thrive.

This upward economic trend collapsed in the mid-1960s, and its collapse coincided absolutely to the minute with government social workers fanning out to black communities and telling them that the government would henceforth provide.  Since it seemed stupid to work when you could get paid not to work, black men stopped working.  They also stopped caring about their families, or even getting married, since unmarried mothers did even better under welfare than intact families.  In a few short years, not only did African-Americans as a group collapse economically, their family structure collapsed too.  Men were redundant.  The state would provide.  Again, my friend nodded his head in agreement.

The ride ended at that point but, as he was dropping me off, my friend told me (and I think he was speaking from his heart), that it was an incredibly interesting ride.  And I bet it was, because I gave him real food for thought in the form of facts and ideas that fall outside of the orthodoxy that characterizes our ultra-liberal community.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News and McCain-Palin 2008.

Why Obama’s “share the wealth” argument should hurt him

Joe the Plumber matters because he had the misfortune to ask Obama a straightforward question and, amazingly, elicit from Obama an honest answer about his plan to socialize the American economy.  (I say misfortune because the media is now bound and determined to destroy Joe for having the temerity to have asked the question that startled something honest out of Obama.)  And Obama’s answer matters because it finally spells out to Americans in concrete terms what we on the Right have been fussing about all along with our abstract talk about Obama’s socialism.

Let me remind you what Obama said:

The money quote, of course, comes near the end when Obama finally stops waffling on about his convoluted tax plans, and states his actual goal:  “When you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.”  Not so fast, Senator.

First of all, everybody listening instantly understood that the phrase “spread the wealth around” can mean only one thing:  The government is going to play Robin Hood.  It’s going to take from those it deems rich, and give to those it deems poor.  And Obama, in that incredibly long, discursive monologue, makes clear that he defines people who provide employment for others as “rich,” and those who actually don’t pay any taxes right now (or who pay almost no taxes right now) as “poor.”  Undressed, what he’s saying is “from each according to his ability [that would be us "rich" folks], to each according to his needs [that would be those "poor" folks].”  Hmm.  Where have I heard that before?

Right about now, thoughtful people might be worried that Obama’s statement, rather than being a death knell for his campaign, will shoot it into the stratosphere.  After all, there are a lot of “have nots” in America and this sounds as if it would be a very attractive plan for them.  They should be leaping all over it, creating a poor person’s revolution at the ballot box.  That conclusion, however, underestimates the blessed economic and social fluidity that is America, and the fact that most Americans can still readily imagine themselves, or their children, ascending America’s golden economic ladder.

Socialism, with all its many vices, was nevertheless a logical response to a very specific European (and very non-American) phenomenon: The almost complete absence of movement between one economic level and another, a stagnancy that was closely tied to European class lines.  Alan J. Lerner summed it up pithily in a song, famous to all who know My Fair Lady:

An Englishman’s way of speaking absolutely classifies him.
The moment he talks he makes some other Englishman despise him.

In a tightly stratified society, you never could escape the socio-economic status to which you were born.  Sure there were exceptions to the rule, but generally, once a peasant, or a serf, or a Cockney, always a peasant, or a serf, or a cockney.  Only breaking the system could break those limits.

America from its inception was different, in that it was always an incredibly fluid society, both vertically and geographically.  If you failed in Philadelphia as a tanner, you could try reinventing yourself as a printer.  If that still didn’t t work, you could move to Wyoming and try your hand at ranching.  And if that failed too, perhaps you could strike it rich in Nevada silver mines, or California (or Alaska) gold mines.  And once you were rich, you had social entre, even if people did whisper a bit behind your back.

How different from back home in England or Germany or France, where your forebears had lived in the same village for centuries, and were always known as the family too poor to have a separate barn.  (Although the cows in the middle of the one room house did provide some nice warmth during the winter.)

America’s promise, and its reality, was that immigrants could leave their poverty behind in a generation or two.  If you are ever lucky enough to visit the Tenement Museum in New York, you’ll learn that the descendants of those tenants — and they were people who lived in unimaginable squalor and poverty — all moved to the ‘burbs and became middle class.  Sure there were failures, those people who couldn’t make it and just settled into nothingness and vanished from history.  On the whole, however, these immigrants and their children joined America’s generally upward economic the trajectory, one that took them at least as far as working class-ness and, possibly, up to the comfortable middle class.

The only exception to that American truth is blacks, and even that isn’t quite the story most believe.  (That is, most believe that blacks have never had a fair shake, and have been down-trodden without exception.)  The truth is that, despite Jim Crow, African-American nuclear families in the 1950s and early 1960s were making steady economic gains.  They weren’t entering Forbes’ upper ranks, but they were becoming increasingly middle class.

What ended this slow upward economic movement was Johnson’s Great Society, which essentially socialized American blacks.  Rich Americans would henceforth support them.  Men who were working miserably hard, but who were still making it, suddenly scaled back, since a government handout was better than a demeaning, dangerous or back-breaking job.  Families soon fell apart when it became apparent that that they could do better economically if they reconstituted themselves as a single welfare mother with children, rather than as a struggling cohesive family ineligible for welfare.

With the exception of African-Americans (and I do wonder if they’re doing better since welfare changed in the 1990s), America is still a singularly fluid social and economic country.  That’s part of why, despite our vast immigrant influxes, we don’t have the banlieus of France (riot central a few years ago, as you may recall), or the tremendous immigrant unrest one sees in other European countries such as Germany, Italy and England.  Our immigrants start poor, work hard and, always, have the possibility of “moving on up” — and this is true even if not all of them are able to act upon that possibility.  It’s the American dream.

Obama’s plan, however, announces the end of the American dream.  In Obama’s USA, there’s no benefit to be had in moving on up.  If you move to the head of the line, his government is just going to bat you right back down again.

There’s no doubt, of course, that those who are really, really rich will probably still stay fairly rich, because their vast wealth may take decades of government siphoning before it vanishes entirely.  The problem is that those who wish to be rich — and who for America’s whole history could reasonably make that happen — will never get rich in Obama’s America.  That’s what Obama told Joe the Plumber.

Put in simple words, without all the waffle, Obama carefully explained that he was going to take from the ones ascending, and give it to the ones behind.  This will inevitably create an endless circle at the bottom of the socio-ecomic scale.  As soon as a person is lucky enough to “make it,” the U.S. government will snatch his money from him and give it to the person at the bottom of the ladder.  And down the top guy goes again, to await his turn to climb high enough to once again become a target for the government’s redistribution.

I think Americans, all of whom dream in some small part of their mind that they will become real estate mavens, or start a successful business, or get lucky in the stock market, or see their children graduate from college with professional degrees, recognize that Obama will destroy these hopes and dreams.  In his America, there is no up.  There’s only an ever shrinking pie (yup, Obama’s pie), with people constantly having to give up their biggish pieces and start all over again.