Friday, August 14, 2009

Sorry, that ship has sailed already.

Hello everyone.

Yes, I’ve been away…but…now, I’m back…um…well, I’m here, yes…here. Here is a good word to use and describes quite well my present mindset which considering the week long trek up to Boy Scout Summer camp has left me feeling both tired, and slightly less than rested.
However, I did take a moment to sit on a rock and ponder the lake, Shaver Lake that is. A man made water hole with a bit of interesting history.
Apparently the area under the lake was a small river running through what most easterners would call a “dell.” Up river a wee bit was an Indian village and down river a wee bit was a small town. The residents of the small town decided to “settle” the issue of the “Indian” up stream by wiping them out, whole sale. The chieftain, Chiwanakee, is said to have led three other warriors in a stop gap measure to delay the white men’s plans to kill the entire village. Thus giving the villagers time to split the scene.
Of course, as the government usually does, it settles these things by building a dam in 1911 and flooding the whole area.
Kind of settles the whole “this is my land” debate.
Go argue with the fish.
So I’m sitting there on this boulder over looking the lake and across from the Scout summer camp was another camp that seems, at least to me, to be a public camp. From there I can hear the screams of coeds in both fun…and um…pleasure.
“Give me back my panties!”
Ahahahaha…haha…ha...uh brother.
Sound carries over placid water…unfortunately.
Since I’m not a crowd man, I “volunteered” to stay and watch the camp fire as the boys went to the last camp fire of the week.
The coeds across had been having fun at the scouts expense, and I have to say, some scouts got an anatomy lesson from passing female boaters and skiers.
[Things that tell you the boy’s are seeing something that they are a little to young to see is when you hear a couple of them with binoculars saying, “Oh my G-d. Look at what those two girls are doing! That is so hot!”]

Anyway, back to my ruminations on the rock over the placid waters echoing the shrills of the coeds under a sky of blinking stars…I gave our country some serious thought…well, namely, I thought about the health care, the cries of “socialism”, and of course the pandering of the Republican talking points about how “evil” Obama is…really, that is what they are pandering. Not how we’re going to pay for the Health Care bill, or why they’re protecting their patrons asses forcing Americans to ask a for-profit insurance company whether or not they can get a treatment…nah…they use the tried and true… ”FEAR!”

In an exchange between a Congress critter and his district this exchange occurs.
“Madam, what are you afraid of?”
“I’m afraid of Obama!”
“Who told you to be afraid of Obama?”

“Glenn Beck showed me why!”
“Madam, may I suggest you turn off Glenn Beck.”

There you go our American democracy at work, G-d help us all.

So, as I sat on that rock, I had an epiphany, nay, a revelation supplied by a week of no news, and some time to process the crap…and here it is….

Ladies and Gentlemen of America.
Boys and girls, friends and foes, Republicans, Democrats, and everyone else lend me your ear for a brief, oh so brief moment.
You, yes all of you, me included, are all up in arms about the issue of health care, am I not correct on this?
Some have shouted, “I’m afraid of Obama’s socialism!”
Some have shouted, “Obama is a socialist!”
Others have snarled, “Death to Obama!”
While some have even suggested, “Obama is an Islamo-fascist!”

Now, ladies and gentlemen, I will not quibble that Universal Health Care is a socialist program, it is; however, I want to take you back a few years…yes, just a few so you can completely and fully understand the subject.

You, me, and the rest of the Americans of this former Republic have been, for the past forty years slowly, and progressively choosing Socialism. But wait, there are other things that have contributed to our steady rise to a Socialist polity.
You see, for the whole twentieth century has been one long growth of socialist government programs aimed at trying to enhance you, the average Joe and Jane American’s lives a little.
Public education…socialism.
Fire departments…socialism.
Police protection…socialism.
Social Security…socialism
Food Stamps…socialism
Business subsidies…Socialism
Cooperate bailouts…Socialism
Unemployment checks…socialism
Disability insurance…socialism
There are so many social's hard to count them all.
In fact, a great deal of our Government’s mandates are socialistic in that they are geared to help you, me, and our neighbors as well.
You see socialistic programs are not bad things, and have been run quite well…perfectly? Not so much, but they have been around for a very long time, and we all have benefited from them.
Therefore, what you, me, and everyone else has been voting for the past thirty years is which Socialist program we want.
The Republican Socialist program, or the Democrat Socialist program.
The Republican Socialist program can be summed up in five words, “Socialism for our rich donors.” or Corporate Socialism.
Yes, if you are rich, and are willing to share a few paltry dollars with the Republican party you too, can have a slough of Social programs aimed at you: Tax cuts for the wealthy in which you get to keep your dollars while the dwindling pretenders in the middle class with the proudly growing poorer class shoulder more of the national debt. On top of those tax cuts comes the promise of tax-payer bailouts for your companies, insurance institutions, and of course your investment companies all supplied by those pathetic putzs in the middle and poorer classes. All in all, the Republican Party has proven itself a trustworthy partner with the Rich in protecting them and keeping them rich.

The Democrat Socialist program can be summed up in seven words, “Dude, seriously, we’re trying to help you.”
Now, the Democrats aren’t the classiest bunch in the classroom, but their hearts are in the right place. They want everyone to have equal access to the good life.
You in the trailer park with the keg for a belly, drinking your third case of bud for the day, flipping your mullet to impress the wife and the twelve year old girl next door…even though you are the laughing stock of the neighborhood, and the proud example of what our poor education system has produced even you are deserving of having a shot at the good life.

So when you get your panties all bunched up in a knot in your crack about Obama being a Socialist, or Socialism in general try to remember that we’re already a Socialist nation…the debate truly is…which Socialist Platform do you want.
Republican or Democrat.


  1. Sheer-

    Excellent post. Amazing what a bunch of summer camp coeds can do to stimulate the mind.

    I sure wish I kept the link to an article I read a couple of years ago, as it addressed the Neocon adoption of identifying the opposition as "evil" to mobilize the great unwashed. So, here's a synopsis from memory:

    The wingnuts first started really trying to define the world as the battle between "Good" (The Neocons) and "Evil" (everyone and anyone they opposed, or opposed them) during the Regan administration. Remember the "Evil Empire"? While Regan was not as malleable as most of today's Right Wing players, he did adopt a bit of the "Great Battle against All Evil" theme, and it did resonate with the masses.

    Along came Bill Clinton, and he, along with his wife, became the personification of "Evil". Why? Well, he won the election, for starters. Thus, the 8 years of attempts to overturn the express will of The People through investigations and impeachment. As a neighbor said, "Do realize that this president has taught my grandson that oral sex is good? He is pure and simply EVIL!" It is interesting to note that in the past couple of years, quite a few high profile right wing pols have crashed and burned for also having problems with where their winkies had led them, to include the fellow the American Conservative identified this past March as a significant "hope" for the party, Mark Sanford.

    And then along came GWB and the choir. Or was it Karl Rove and the Choir? Read GWB's speeches, and "evil" is a constant theme, and a regularly used term, and the identification of "Evil" became an art form, and championing "Good" could be accomplished by the sacrificial act of simply "shopping".

    And, following GWB, think about how being on the side of "Good" can not just redeem sin, but elevate it to a virtue. Case in point? Sarah Palin's daughter, Bristol. How many ultra-conservatives who once beat the drum of "teen and pre-marital sex is bad, teen pregnancy is worse" suddenly switched flags and championed this young unwed mother as a model to emulate? Bill Clinton got a BJ and is forever condemned. Bristol appears to have regularly balled her boyfriend, probably in the Palin house, and is a runner up to the Virgin Mary in Salvation history. But then, Bristol chose having the baby over abortion, and that's "GOOD".

    Now, the whole "Good" versus "Evil" thing, as used by the Neocons is very interesting. Look at he underlying themes and motifs they use. One can be defined as "GOOD" simply by being opposed to "EVIL", and often, just the party's selected "Evil". One need not do anything intrinsically and actively "good", such as providing care for the least fortunate around you. As long as you oppose "evil", you meet the test for being "good". And, the more threatening and imposing the "evil" you oppose is defined, the more "good" you are. In a way, it is similar to "Supporting the Troops" by bumper sticker alone, and we have discussed that extensively.

    It is easy to convince people that "Evil" must be eradicated. Thus we wage "War" on drugs, crime, terrorism, etc. And since "evil" must be eradicated, any violence involved to achieve this highest of callings is readily justified at best, and glorified at worst. Thus, the assassination of abortionists and civilian collateral fatalities in an attack on "terrorists" are simply acts of "Good" conquering "Evil".

    So, we now have a non-Republican President, and by definition, he must be "evil", as he espouses policy positions that the Neocons oppose. All that proceeds from "evil", by definition, must be "evil". If you guys haven't figured that out yet, it's because you are not "Good".

    While poor deluded people have been suckered into a very simplistic understanding of humankind, it is a truly elegant political tool, and the complexities of dealing with it are immense. The American people are profoundly F-ed up.



  2. Wow, Al and Sheera, you've perfectly described the problem.

    What's the solution?

  3. Hey all, been away for a while and missed some good posts.


    Agree with what you say, but I'm sure you realize the other side uses the "evil" label too.

  4. That's because the rightwingers really ARE evil... they are in favor of concentration camps, torture and wars of conquest... hard to put a Sweet Baby Jesus spin on that.... not to mention the constant fear, anger, and hatred they spew. If you go far enough to the Left you get the same thing, but it's only one sidestep to the right and you're deep in it.

  5. I think the proper term for our state of affairs is a "mixed economy" with elements of capitalism and socialism. This is as it should be... the extremes of either don't work out so well.

  6. Sheera's good post and this go together quite well:

    Krugman from the same site:


  7. "social" isn't the same as "socialism"

    U.S. Americans often mix that up.

  8. Sheer, this is an outstanding post. You need to vacation more.

    In his comment, Sven makes a good observation about the difference between social programs and socilism, but I know you, too, know that difference. I also know where you're coming from and I think your point is well taken.

    Evil? Well, as old even-handed Andy points out, the other side, meaning the Dems, also uses the word. It's now seemingly become the "go-to" word in the political handbook. For me, there are two results of this constant use of "evil." First, it makes the eyes glaze over and one tends not to pay close attention to the rest of the diatribe, perhaps missing something as a result. The second is that we run the risk of losing sight of what's truely evil. Gerson—I think it was Gerson—had an interesting column in the WaPo yesterday about the use of "Nazi." Gerson, who worked in the Bush White House, doesn't like the use of Nazi in describing Obama, principally because while Obama is clearly not a Nazi, there actually were very real Nazis not all that long ago. Gerson fears that this current use of the word poses the risk that Nazism might be demoted to the banal political realm instead of remaining as one of the worst manifestations of evil in human history. I agree with that line of thinking and I think it works with "evil" or "socialism" as well. Use 'em too often and they lose their punch.

    Al provides a good history of this whole Republican "evil" thing, and I totally agree that this party—which I'm on record as saying should be consigned to the dustbin—is proving to be totally irresponsible and essentially worthless to the huge majority of American people. It's clear this major political party no longer believes in the political glue that's held the nation together. Instead, it believes in unfettered capitalism—unless a rich capitalist needs a bailout—and is clearly interested in doing away with the tattered safety nets that have enabled millions to exist. It's my sense that not only are they callous—or evil if you will—they're also stupid. Noblesse oblige is not only about doing the right thing, it's also about survival in a world where the few have much and the many have little. If they keep raping the many, who ultimately will have the money to spend to keep the engine going that enables the few to live in luxury?

    I think we also need to realize that the ranks of the Republicans are dwindling. Yes, they've got their faithful, but it's clear the majority of Americans have had enough of their brand of poison. If you analyze Obama's victory honestly, and in light of what he has going against him, that victory was a landslide. Yes, he "only" got 52 percent of the vote, but how do you think a charismatic white man—not woman—would have done in this bigoted nation? I'd say landslide. The Dems have 60 senators and a huge majority in the house. Granted, some seem to be "DINOs," but the fact is the Democratic Party is ascendant. And, if they play their cards right, and, looking at the demographics, they could have quite a long run.

    Unfortunately, the Democrats are not playing their cards right. Obama is making his own mistakes—health care, Afghanistan, bailouts, etc.—while the Congress is making their own mistakes. Each seems to be doing their damnedest to minimize the differences between them and the Republicans. By misplaying their hand, the Democrats will almost surely allow the Republicans the opening they need. We can only hope they continue their practice of self-inflicted wounds, but I fear they will smarten up some day.

    Personally, I think we've already become an oligarchy. And I think the system is going to just wither up and die at some point in the not too distant future. Too many vital life juices have been sucked out of the body. It's clearly now on life support, but the oligarchs just keep sucking. Mosquitoes at least leave you some blood so they can keep coming back. Not these guys.


  9. Found this in today's IHT. Seems Investor's Business Daily said, in an editorial about the President's Health Care proposal that Stephen Hawking “wouldn’t have a chance in the U.K.,” where the health service would have deemed his life “essentially worthless.”

    When it was pointed out to IBD that Hawking was a Brit, and that Hawking credited NHS for his longevity, they deleted that reference, and added a note, "Editor's Note: This version corrects the original editorial which implied that physicist Stephen Hawking, a professor at the University of Cambridge, did not live in the UK." Of course the original wording did more than imply that Hawking did not live in the UK, but what the hell, later in the opinion piece, they put forward the "page 425" crap as concrete fact.

    WASF, and all too many of the people are clueless to that.


  10. Thank you all.
    I think the political definition of "socialism" has morphed from it's original birth, and has taken on a far more nebulous state of malleable flux.
    I have come to realize as I reviewed my own biases on that rock that socialism has pretty much lost it's bite.
    Considering that many of the Democratic programs from the 70's and 80's were heavily socialistic in nature, the mace from which the Republicans have used to compare them too has lost much of it's...heft.
    That mace of course was the USSR, which the comparison of socialism was used to distinguish the "Republican's" vs "Them Union of Socialists aka Democrats."
    So today, as we look at what I'm hoping is not just my viewpoint is that we have grown the fuck up...well, perhaps...yes...I'm being a wee bit too hopeful...ah was I?
    Crap...lost my train of thought.
    Dam, dam, dam!
    To many thoughts crowding my head right now.
    Dam...alright, I'll seize this one, what can we do about it? which seems to keep floating to the top of my brain pan.
    I think that when it comes to the actual putting rubber to the road the thing we have to do is remind people, not during hte shouting matches because that is just plain idiotic and nothing is ever accomplished except perhaps the satisfaction that comes from beating down a complete tool physically or boy...right...uh...there we are...but rather remind them in quiet times that the country has embraced socialistic programs that are quite beneficial to the average Joe and Jane...and of the cooperation as well (greedy bastards that they are!). I think then we'll be able to undo the idiocy that has embraced the minds of so many.
    And I also think that many people are going to come to realize that the "Public Option" blows chunks...single payer...that is the only sane and rational system that makes financial sense.

  11. /facepalm

    "and of the cooperation as well (greedy bastards that they are!)"

    Should read "corporation".


  12. You need to go on vacation again until your spelling improves ;-)

    More seriously, have you ever reminded these people during a quiet moment that they have benefited from the socialism of the 60's and 70's? Being something of a contrarian, I have done so and am here to report to do so is to risk your own health and sanity in the cause of futility.

    The range of responses runs from outright disbelief (most common response, after all we wouldn't have enacted SOCIALIST programs during the Cold War, would we?) to pugnaciousness (them's fightin' words, bub) to rebellion (let's get rid of medicare right now, those old folks will thank us when we free them from government tyranny) to thoughtfulness. Sadly, the last response is the most unlikely and the least likely to last.

  13. Pluto-

    I would venture to guess that most folks have no idea of "socialism" really is, nor what "social programs" are. Just as they have no concept of what "Nazi" means (in terms of a form of government, or "Fascism". All they know is that they are all "BAD". No inkling of why they are bad, just that they are bad.

    Just as our son told us that his co-workers at the mega defense contractor in TX disliked Obama because he wanted to "Europize" America, not because he's black. Of course, no clear definition of "Europize", other than, "You know, like socialized medicine". I just let it pass.

    Much like the lady in BB's YouTube railing against the US becoming like "Russia". If questioned, I'm sure she hasn't a clue what "like Russia" means, but it sure is BAD.

    As was the case in the IBD Hawking blunder linked above, facts and knowledge are irrelevant in American society. Just slogans and buzzwords, please. We've become "The land of the sheep and the home of the Know-Nothings".



  14. To be fair, not even socialists agree on what "socialism" is exactly. It's one of those words into which one can pour almost any meaning and is therefore useless for most anything but polemic arguments.

    Whatever one thinks of "socialism" I think there are a number of people in this country who do not like the ever-increasing role of the federal government in many aspects of people's lives. I share this concern to an extent because I like the federal system and I do not want to see states reduced to meaningless and largely identical administrative divisions within a "federal" government that has all the real power. Maybe that is, or maybe it isn't, socialism, but I do think it's accurate to acknowledge that the power of the federal government has increased considerably relative to state and local government, even with Reagan and the Bushies who were supposedly more hostile to federal power (but weren't really). I think it is this feeling, a fear of ever-growing federal power, that the current health care debate over single payer or a public option has tapped into. Will this trend of increasing federal power continue to its logical conclusion? I don't know, but I hope not. The current weakness of the states and their various financial problems does not give me confidence.

    Nor does FDChief's comment a few posts ago that the center of American is not holding. I've thought about that a lot since and think he is right. I was also reading recently about redistricting and gerrymandering and think I confirmed what I intuitively knew - that gerrymandering inexorably removes the center from political power. It's almost always the moderates who get gerrymandered out of office, for example. Over time this gerrymandering changed the political character of the House which shifted away from the center and toward the "base" of each party. Money and a primary system that gives the base control over candidate selection ensures incumbency for less moderate politicians. A curious side effect is the deception politicians must engage in to gain national office - first they must be one thing to appease the base to gain nomination, and then they must appease the more-moderate electorate to win office. What a crazy, fucked-up system we have.