150 thoughts on “Yet Another Reminder That When You Call Obama a Socialist Actual Socialists Think You’re Ignorant as a Gerbil

  1. Well, goody for CNN to finally ask the obvious people the obvious question.

    And the ‘bagger claiming that Obama is to the left of Senator Sanders (!) is obviously too ignorant to be a gerbil.

  2. I was going to write a big comment about this article. I’m having trouble formulating coherent thoughts about it, though, so I’m just going to say: Great link. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Corey Feldman @ 1:

    I read in an email that they’re setting up death panels to kill puppies and kittens.

  4. Mr Obama was interviewed on Australian television last night. Our Kerry O’Brien asked some fairly pointed questions, and got some very competent, bureaucratic and bland answers. I suppose it is not reasonable to expect the sort of rhetorical flourishes Obama uses to such great effect in his speeches, but I was a little sad that he sounded so much like our Mr Rudd.

    Don’t misunderstand me – both are fine men, and accomplished politicians (you can imagine what the Venn diagram for that statement looks like) but their interview technique seems designed to make you fall asleep into your dinner. Lulling. Soothing. Largely content free.

    But if they are calling him a socialist now, what the heck are they going to call him when he goes after the banks? He seems to be quietly and competently gunning for them, and I wouldn’t put it past him to actually achieve what he sets out to, even against the banking lobby.

  5. That’s spelled “So-SCHa-List”. Can’t you even read a sign when it’s being waved by an over-fed, agitated white man? Sheesh.

  6. I love the last line of the article. Sarah Palin was more socialist than Obama.
    But in reality using any broad term like socialist or liberal or conservative creates a gap in understanding. Very few decent politicians are as simple as those kinds of generalizations. Generalizations become mindless claptrap to create emotion in people who do not have a deeper understanding of the issues. They are now practically hyperbole.

  7. The people using this term don’t *care* what it means. It’s merely a codeword to get people on the Right stirred up and to demonize him as Not Us. The people who use this are either ignorant or evil, manipulative bastards who are more interested in their power than what might be good for the country.

    Using the N word would be out of bounds for most of them… so this is the next best thing.

  8. Funny. Or ironic. I just read that article.

    Even my thirteen and sixteen year old know the definition of socialism. Neither think that Obama is a socialist. Hmmm.

  9. Obama is not a card carrying socialist; he’s an oligarchist who believes that government intervention and government support of the economy is the wave of the future. Most card-carrying socialists aren’t too happy with Europe either because the government does not directly control the companies that make and sell products. Obama’s oligarchist tendencies have two consequences; the companies that are regulated by the government have more of an incentive to donate money to the Democrats in order to write the regulations that control their business and when these companies overreach(ie AIG/Fannie/Freddie thinking that housing prices would never collapse), he has more justification to have more government oversight and control over the free market.

  10. Lol, I know, personally speaking as a democratic socialist, I’ve been saying “Oh I soooo WISH!!!” when those nutjobs teabaggers scream that Obama is a socialist. I wish he were socialist … I TOTALLY wish he were socialist.

    Naturally, what they are meaning (or rather, evoking), is that he is ‘communist’, because they completely conflate the two, with no understanding at all about the fairly fundamental differences between them.

    Of course, this is in part fuelled by the fact that the ‘centre’ of US politics has moved so far to right compared to the civilised world, that anything even to left of Reagan is conflated as radical liberal moon-bat left-wing, so it makes sense that they would conflate everything on that side of the actor-president as all the same.

    But then, we are dealing with authoritarian right-wingers, so nuance, detail, complexity and subtly themselves are tools of the great black-helicopter-wielding, new-world-order, foreign, socialist conspiracy. Oh, and let’s not forget ‘reality’.

  11. I loved this line: “The role of government is to provide a safe environment to conduct business, not to take from one and give to the other,” says Quagliaroli, a financial planner who lives in Woodstock, Georgia.

    Here I thought the role of government was something to do with looking after its citizens or something like that. Huh. Must be my pinko commie Canadian roots showing.

  12. One other thing; it was the height of outrage for certain political parties and individuals when Cheney and the oil companies met behind closed doors to discuss and formulate the energy policy for the Bush Administration, yet the pet media, Code Pink, Move On, etc said nary a peep when Obama signed onto and pushed Bush’s stimulus/bailout and his own failed stimulus. Check opensecrets.org and check out how much the Goldman Sachs/Citigroup/JP Morgan execs donated to the Obama campaign. Hypocrisy much?

  13. Shaffer @15: “Failed stimulus” immediately discredits everything else you’re trying to say. Economists all over the planet agree that the stimulus *prevented* a worse Depression.

    Another one of those pesky facts from over here in reality-land….

    But I’m guessing, given your shout-out of Move On, Code Pink and other “liberal boogeymen” (What’s wrong? Couldn’t work ACORN in there?), you’re not particularly interested in facts.

  14. I will note that Ron Paul, who I normally don’t admire, recently had the honesty to tell a convention hall full of Republicans that Obama’s not a socialist. I doubt they listened, but I was impressed.

  15. Calling Obama a socialist is, in all probability, incorrect… though it can be hard to tell what he truly believes in after congress gets done folding, spindling, and mutilating everything within their reach.

    Of course the blame for this rightly falls on the school system, as there is precious little actual knowledge taught in most social studies classes anymore. Most folks who rely on the school system for their understanding of politics likely never heard the terms “social democracy”, “Fabian socialism”, “anarchy”, “oligarchy”, “plutocracy”, etc… so it’s a bit harsh to fault them for their inaccuracies.

    It’s almost as dumb as calling Bush “right wing”. Our political class has moved so far left they think Leibermann is some sort of closet conservative. In fact they’d stick that label on most post-WWII democrats if forced to judge them based on the body of their actual legislation and not myths about the “pre-Reagan” paradise.

  16. Gareth @ 16; may I remind you that Obama stated that without his stimulus package, the unemploment rate would skyrocket to 11 percent or greater. With the stimulus, unemployment was actually 9 percent. I refer you to this link
    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503983_162-5023220-503983.html

    Notice in that link that Obama claimed that with his stimulus plan the unemployment rate would top out at a mere 7 percent. By all rational measures, the stimulus package has failed. It would have been better to leave that money with the Federal Reserve as a backstop for the financial system. Then there is the Obama Administration’s claim that the stimulus “saved or created” 1 million jobs. Their math overlooked the fact that these were, for the most part, government jobs that the states were able to get funding for, not private sector jobs. Obama basically funneled federal taxpayer money to his buddies in the government unions to save their jobs. Once that stimulus money disappears at the end of the fiscal year, are we going to have another bailout of the states by Obama in order to keep the AFSCME happy?

  17. The GOP are the real socialists. They have sponsored so much corporate welfare ( even for corporations that send jobs overseas ) sure seems like socialism to me.

  18. From the article:

    “Not all socialists, though, want to confiscate personal property. Democratic Socialists are more interested in protecting ordinary people from unregulated capitalism through regulation and progressive taxation.”

    I’d say this is a pretty fair description of Obama. Therefore, describing him as socialist is quite accurate and fair, although admitedly it always brings defensive howls to his supporters. Whatever. Personally, I prefer to support or criticize specific policies or decisions, rather than throw such labels around.

  19. I’m in awe of how the word ‘socialist’ has been so misconstrued. Socialism is not a communist dictatorship, and it’s bizarre to see the word be treated as such. It’s also funny to see people who would actually benefit from more social programs treat anything ‘socialist’ as, well… the devil. This is why American politics is weird. I don’t see them (you?) getting anywhere without a few loud wake-up calls.

  20. @19: the economic disaster was bigger than the administration thought. Huge surprise.

    And no, it wouldn’t have been better to leave the stimulus with the Fed. It would have been better to turn the tax cuts in the stimulus into spending and to increase the size of it.

    And those gov’t employees are still shopping and buying in their communities.

    The stimulus was desperately needed and helped this country tremendously. Don’t try to pretend it didn’t.

  21. @ Christopher Shaffer – OK, if Bush had enacted the same stimulus (and NOTE that this started under him)…. would you still be decrying how it’s failed? Or would the fact that it was Bush in office have you (as I suspect) claiming what Obama partisans claim now… that the stimulus was a sucess in that it prevented a far worse economic disaster.

    Since it would make you sound like a hypocrite I don’t expect you to say “yeah if this were Bush I’d be cheering…” but let’s recognize this – a lot of the opposition to Obama is because he’s not Bush or a REpublican. The same people who bitched about how much the health plan cost kept excusing the deficits under Bush and had no issue supporting $800 billion to fight a war whose only justification was a lie.

  22. Watching the Tea Partiers discuss socialism is like watching video of captive pandas trying to figure out how to mate; it’s both hilarious and frustrating to see them find so many ways to boot what should be such a simple task.

    — Steve

  23. D @ 28 – so I take it you don’t use roads, schools, libraries, expect a fire brigade to put out your house if its on fire, expect the police to arrest the arsonist that lit your house on fire, won’t draw medicare when you retire, and don’t want the US to have a standing army?

    Cos those are all paid for with, like, taxes.

  24. Socialists scoff at the notion. They don’t applaud the passage of the recent health care bill either. They wanted a national “single-payer” health insurance plan with a government option.

    AAARGH!

    Socialism, in the context of health care, would involve something like the British system, where hospitals are run by government agencies, financed out of tax money, and the doctors who work there are all civil servants.

    In a single-payer plan, like Canada’s, health-care institutions are privately owned and run but the government pays for their services.

    If the “public option” had made it into the final version of health care reform, then a government-administered agency would have sold health insurance alongside private insurance vendors in certain markets.

    These are all DIFFERENT THINGS.

  25. Whether Obama is a socialist or oligarchist is still to be determined, though I lean toward the latter. Bush was never a conservative, though. He was, in my opinion, an oligarchist (as is Obama, likely). While Bush is demonized by many on the left, his stance on Medicare/Medicaid (Part D, prescription program), immigration, No Child Left Behind, and similar issues was very progressive.

    End result, those on the left will never appreciate Bush’ action on behalf of their causes nor will those on the right. Long term, he’s in a lose-lose position.

  26. Quoth one Tea Party loon in the article: “The role of government is to provide a safe environment to conduct business,

    After the biggest economic crash in over 50 years gets caused by unregulated capitalism, these nitwits think it needs defending? After over a decade of flat wages for the middle class, and a huge growth in wages for the wealthy, these goobers think the rich have too high a tax burden?

    And where were these fools when Iraq was being invaded for nonexistent WMDs? Cheering it on is where.

    Quagliaroli was not persuaded by the arguments of other socialist leaders who reject the idea that Obama is a socialist.

    “He’s just not socialist enough for them.”

    Quagliaroli says he doesn’t like socialism because it breeds mediocrity and encourages people to “live on the dole.” Capitalism “breeds excellence” because it encourages initiative, he says.

    Ask former Bear Sterns and AIG execs how “incentives” really work in a capitalist marketplace.

  27. re: Anton P. Nym @27:

    “Watching the Tea Partiers attempting to think is like watching video of captive pandas trying to figure out how to mate; it’s both hilarious and frustrating to see them find so many ways to boot what should be such a simple task.”

    FTFY.

  28. Oh man, I wish I had seen this before I wrote my blog on Fox news tonight. Maybe I can have some fun with it tomorrow. I do think President Obama is not much different than any other politician. They all make me want to bang my head.

  29. And here I thought that the role of government was to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty.

    silly me.

  30. I have a question for you John – when Bush was described as an extreme hard-core Conservative, did you nod along, or were you bemused at the absurdity of the claim? Because I can find at least as many articles from the right wing bemoaning Bush as no true Conservative as you can find from Socialists disavowing Obama. Medicare drug benefit? Dubai ports deal? Harriet effing Miers for SCOTUS? Bush was attacked from the right all the time, especially in the second term.

    The linked article is not particularly persuasive, because, in the US, unlike in Europe, no mainstream political party is willing to claim the label Socialist because of its well-earned negative connotations here. So of course if you find someone here in the US willing to claim the label they’re going to be on the fringe, to the left of Obama. But a real reporter, one digging for information, and not trying to make a political point, would have had a followup question when the absurd statement was made that Palin was the most Socialist person on the tickets. That question would have been, “So you’re saying, if the only two choices you had to vote for were Obama and Palin you would have voted for Palin?” And he would have either had to look like an idiot, or backtrack. And the reason cited for disavowing Obama was particularly silly – that instead of the public option he campaigned on he settled for instead just a set of regulations that will end up bankrupting the insurance companies so the public option can be added later.

    If Obama was a politician in various European countries, what party would he be? In the UK, almost certainly Labour. In Germany? Social Democrat. France? Parti Socialiste. Italy, I have no idea, as from my perspective I really can’t get a read on their politics, but in most countries there’d be a very good chance that whatever party he would most naturally fit into would be a member of the Party of European Socialists. He’s definitely on the left, but he’s never shown any particular Environmental activism, so the various Green parties would be unlikely, and he doesn’t appear hard enough left to be a member of any of the fringe Communist Parties.

    So, Obama – believer in the full platform of the Socialist Party USA, which is probably as much of a fringe group on the left here as the Birchers are on the right? No, of course not. Obama as a Euro-style Socialist, where the Socialist parties run center left to mid-left, and the center there is about equivalent to center-left here? Yup, pretty much.

  31. Obama as a Euro-style Socialist, where the Socialist parties run center left to mid-left, and the center there is about equivalent to center-left here? Yup, pretty much.

    Heh. You probably don’t realize that Obama’s social policies are to the right of Sarkozy, Brown and probably even Berlusconi. All of them support socialized health care. Not even the “public option” that was too far to the left for Obama to get involved with.

    Gordon Brown from the Labour party is centrist-right as far as Brits I know are concerned.

  32. If anybody wanted to really talk about a socialist in today’s government, they would be referring to Senator Sanders who has a perfectly useful definition of Democratic Socialism. One I wish we had a lot more of.

    Bush, like Reagan, is more of an evangelical corporatist (also known as a crook). Palin, on the other hand, is not smart enough to pull this off and so is reduced to simply being a grifter (a surprisingly successful one but simply a grifter).

  33. Skip @37. If President Obama were a European politician – in the Uk he would be a closer fit to the Conservatives than to Labour, although as Labour has moved to the right there is less to chose between Lab & Con than there used to be.

  34. Actually, John, the correct way to describe Obama is a former card-carrying socialist. He was a member of the the New Party, which was a branch of the Democratic Socialists of America.

    “New Party members are busy knocking on doors, hammering down lawn signs, and phoning voters to support NP candidates this fall. Here are some of our key races… Illinois: Three NP-members won Democratic primaries last Spring and face off against Republican opponents on election day: Danny Davis (U.S. House), Barack Obama (State Senate) and Patricia Martin (Cook County Judiciary).”
    - Update of the DSA ‘New Party’, October 1996

    New Party members and supported candidates won 16 of 23 races, including an at-large race for the Little Rock, Ark., City Council, a seat on the county board for Little Rock and the school board for Prince George’s County, Md. Chicago is sending the first New Party member to Congress, as Danny Davis, who ran as a Democrat, won an overwhelming 85% victory. New Party member Barack Obama was uncontested for a State Senate seat from Chicago.
    - Progressive Populist magazine, November 1996

    Furthermore, Obama supports at least five of the 10 planks of the Communist Manifesto. So, it’s not at all unreasonable to describe him as a socialist, although he’s no less beholden to Wall Street than Republicans like Bush and McCain are. It’s important to distinguish between a politician’s ideology and his pragmatic actions. In my opinion, the most significant thing about Obama is his extraordinary pragmatism. He will throw his ideology under the bus as readily as he did his grandmother and his preacher.

  35. @37 in the UK… I dunno, I think he’d probably be a Conservative, although maybe (maybe) New Labour is right enough. He certainly wouldn’t fit into the “old labour” mould.

    Hard to say because our issues, and our current position is so different from the US in a lot of ways. Obama probably could at least find a political party where he could feel at home here (Lab or Con), the American far-right would probably find out political landscape entirely unwelcoming.

  36. Skip @37

    I have a question for you John – when Bush was described as an extreme hard-core Conservative, did you nod along, or were you bemused at the absurdity of the claim?

    Or when Bush was called a Fascist? No.

    But then again our host has yet to denounce the current President for doing the precise things that most enraged him when Bush was President.

    And Bush never called for the assassination of an American citizen.

    In contrast, I criticize President Obama for the precise same things I criticized President Bush for. The difference is, Obama has done more of it.

    But to the point of the post, the question is not what came out of the sausage factory, but what the President would be willing to approve if he could get Congress to go along. In this I am in agreement with Vox Day @42.

    So, for instance, if he had a majority of people who held the same beliefs as Senator Sanders, would he be an obstacle or a participant? If the President could get British-style Social Democracy through Congress, would he, or would he stand opposed to it?

    Now I don’t know for sure, but my inclination is he would not oppose such policies and would instead be an advocate of them.

    Criticize the Tea Partiers all you want, but when the Treasury puts out a report that shows that our public debt plus liabilities totals $57 trillion and notes that our current path is unsustainable even if you tax the “rich” to the maximum, there is in fact cause for concern.

    And the problem with entitlements is not just how much they cost, but the social unrest you get when you have to take them away when you can no longer afford them.

    Greece is a current example.

    So the question of IS the President a Socialist is not answered by what he has managed to do with what he has; IS-ness is more fundamental to his nature and his core beliefs: What he would do if he could.

    And I think if he could, he would take America down the path of European-style Social Democracy.

  37. Vox Day:

    “He was a member of the the New Party, which was a branch of the Democratic Socialists of America.”

    No he wasn’t; he never joined or was registered with them. He was endorsed by the New Party for at least one of his elections, which is why the NP lit shows him as “theirs,” but he wasn’t a member. This has actually been discussed and dispensed with here in previous threads. Likewise, there’s a reason that only place you hear this is on the fringe, if Obama had actually ever been a real socialist, or even a member of DSA, that’s really the sort of thing reputable news sources would have picked up early and often.

    Skip:

    “when Bush was described as an extreme hard-core Conservative, did you nod along, or were you bemused at the absurdity of the claim?”

    I think I’ve always been pretty clear that I didn’t think Bush was a genuine conservative at all — I didn’t find much of a coherent political philosophy there, to be blunt — so I wouldn’t have nodded along, no. As evidence of this, here’s a choice quote on the matter from February, 2006:

    George Bush isn’t conservative or Republican, he’s just on the right… The current politics of the right have to do with genuine conservative thought as much as Beggin’ Strips have to do with thick-sliced hickory-smoked pork bellies, and just as dogs can’t tell it’s not bacon, so Fox News viewers can’t tell it’s not actual conservatism.

    I wish he been an actual conservative; his administration would have had a chance to be ethically and intellectually coherent, which it wasn’t.

  38. Frank @ 44:

    If pigs had wings they still wouldn’t be able to get airborne.

    Or to put it a different way, your speculations are mutually inconsistent and your conclusion is pulled out of thin air.

  39. If CNN says it, it MUST be true…..

    I’m just glad I found some new tax loop holes before I filed.

  40. I love Socialism. I’m going to do a lot of socialisming at the next con. Oh yeah! Yes, Obama is a bit of a socialist. So what?

  41. One of the things I like about President Obama is the fact he is such a hard core pragmatist. He is willing to do whatever is necessary and possible to get, what he feels, is the best outcome. Do I wish he would dream a little bigger, sure, but at this point and time I’d rather have someone in office who at least chips away at our problems then a visionary who accomplishes nothing.

  42. stevem @31

    Steve, I agree completely that Bush had a lot of progressive policies. Unfortunately he didn’t raise taxes to PAY for those policies, he just increased our debt. And then there’s his war in Iraq, and his idea of privatizing social security (thank heavens he didn’t do that, otherwise the current financial crisis would have farked us all), and his deregulation of the energy and financial industries. Unfortunately for us, Bush didn’t have a coherent philosophy. The result is that we have metric shitloads of debt, half-assed progressive policies that are failing because they aren’t properly funded, stagnant middle class wages, and a war we don’t need. Oh, and that awesome recession we’re in.

  43. “Safe environment in which to conduct business” means the mantra of socialized risk, privatized profit with which we’re all familiar from the Wall Street bailouts. It’s the mantra of the plutocrats who think that the government should provide infrastructure but not demand any taxes from business to fund that infrastructure; who want access to the courts to protect their property rights and contracts, but want to deny access to the courts to anyone who might hold them accountable for their actions; who complain about “a fragmented regulatory regime” when a state passes a law stricter than they like, then complain when the President wants to strengthen national regulations.

    They don’t want to drown the government in the bathtub at all. They just want to put it on a leash and teach it to sit up and beg.

  44. So, I’m curious; will the same pattern hold when a Republican is accused of being racist? Will CNN ask David Duke (or whoever is the leader of the KKK these days) if the person is actually a racist?

  45. Trying to judge what Obama thinks from what bills he signs is nuts. Trying to judge what Obama thinks from what he says in a speach is slightly less nuts, but still nuts.

    He could very well be to the left of Eugene Debs and we wouldn’t know it.

  46. “No he wasn’t; he never joined or was registered with them. He was endorsed by the New Party for at least one of his elections, which is why the NP lit shows him as “theirs,” but he wasn’t a member.”

    John, since the article clearly distinguished between NP-endorsed and NP membership, so unless you have seen the historical New Party membership lists, I’m skeptical that it has been proven that the NP and Progressive publications were incorrect to call him a member 14 years ago. Moreover, you have no reason to be aware that an endorsement by the New Party involved active commitment on the endorsee’s part.

    “The NP’s political strategy is to support progressive candidates in elections only if they have a concrete chance to “win”. This has resulted in a winning ratio of 77 of 110 elections. Candidates must be approved via a NP political committee. Once approved, candidates must sign a contract with the NP. The contract mandates that they must have a visible and active relationship with the NP. The political entourage included Alderman Michael Chandler, William Delgado, chief of staff for State Rep Miguel del Valle, and spokespersons for State Sen. Alice Palmer, Sonya Sanchez, chief of staff for State Sen. Jesse Garcia, who is running for State Rep in Garcia’s District; and Barack Obama, chief of staff for State Sen. Alice Palmer.”
    - Chicago Democratic Socialists of American September-October 1995 New Ground 42

    That doesn’t prove that Obama was a member – although I think that the party publication calling him a member is more than sufficient – but it does prove that he was willing to make a public and written commitment to the goals of the Democratic Socialists of America in the past.

    As to the question of which party Obama would belong to in Italy, there’s no question that in Italy he would be with the Partito Democratico, which is a member of the European Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats. He certainly wouldn’t fit with the PdL, the UDCC, or the Lega Nord. The IdV would be too small time for him and most definitely wouldn’t suit a Chicago politician.

  47. By the way, I should add two things. First, I couldn’t care less if Obama is a socialist or not. Debt knows no political ideology and that is the one and only problem that should be concerning Americans today. Obama didn’t create that problem and neither did Bush, for that matter. Both of them have made the issue worse, but practically every politician in both the Republican and Democratic party would have done the same.

    Second, there are no shortage of European socialists of the Democratic Socialist variety who, rightly or wrongly, consider Obama to be a socialist. Given that they are actual card-carrying socialists, I would be very reluctant to call them ignorant as gerbils, although their grasp of American politics is certainly questionable.

  48. Vox, you are holding on to something that has long sailed under the bridge. Specifically, right around October 8th, 2008 when this very thing was passed around the internet by many right-wing bloggers. New Day party membership was “confirmed”, which means they saw the same thing you quoted and passed it amongst themselves giving the illusion that something said often enough must be true. Yet the thread that you hold on to seems comforting to you to call him a socialist when he’s definitely not one. You even say that your quote isn’t enough to prove it, but it must be enough, right? You know what they say when people assume…

  49. Of course Obama’s not a “soialist”. The nearest historical equivelent is probably Itallian-style Facsism. However there are rules. You are only allowed to call Republicans fascists, not Democrats.

    Government ownership of corporations is Comunism. Government regulation to the point where you can’t really tell where the government ends and the company begins (health care, GM, etc.) is known as Fascism.

    This is because while Conservatives do not understand the meaning of the word Socialist, Democrats don’t understand the meaning of the word Fascist.

    I believe the new buzz word is “Corporatist” however.

  50. Gee, the Socialists I’ve known have never hesitated to deny that other people are socialists (even others to whom I’d certainly apply that term). Indeed, they’ve often seemed to be more vigorous in attacking those who prefer other flavors of Socialism than attacking Capitalists.

    So far, all I’ve seen of Obama suggests that he recognizes that society is of some importance, and that it’s a good idea to keep the lower economic classes prosperous enough that they won’t indulge in violent revolution — about what used to be called “enlightened capitalism”.

  51. Vox Day:

    “I’m skeptical that it has been proven that the NP and Progressive publications were incorrect to call him a member 14 years ago.”

    You may be skeptical all you like; you’re still wrong. See this page, with all the appropriate notes and references.

    Again, the reason this allegation never got any traction outside the wingnutosphere is that it’s not true and has been easily disproven. Belief he was a member of the New Party because of their endorsement is in the same category as believing he was born in Kenya, despite the voluminous evidence to the contrary.

    That being the case, let’s not continue to argue the point here.

  52. @ Vox:

    Seriously, the debt is not Bush’s fault? We had a budget surplus going into 2000 (236 billion), Bush passed a tax cut in 2001 and started two wars without a clear way to pay for them…all the sudden it’s “no one’s fault”?

  53. Mark Horning, the government hasn’t taken over healthcare. Not by a long shot. In fact, all it’s really done is force more people to buy PRIVATE insurance. It hasn’t touched actual health care providers, and although it more strictly regulates health INSURANCE, it’s certainly not a take over.

    I think the healthcare bill is a step in the right direction, but it really doesn’t go far enough. We need single payer, but a public option would have made me happy. We got neither.

  54. Take from the Rich, give to the poor! Make the suckers pay, more more more! I’m not a socialist, I’m a pimp, and you be my whore. Bend over rich boys, take it till you’re sore.

    What kind of semantic reality do we need before we can define a person as being a “socialist?” Personally, I’m looking forward to getting screwed by my pimp-daddy tax man. Let me work even harder, to pay even more, just because I like it. Harder please. More please.

  55. Frank @ 44
    Criticize the Tea Partiers all you want, but when the Treasury puts out a report that shows that our public debt plus liabilities totals $57 trillion and notes that our current path is unsustainable even if you tax the “rich” to the maximum, there is in fact cause for concern.

    *sigh*

    I get really tired of hearing Obama blamed for this, when both the extremely expensive war and the bailout are Bush responsibilities.

  56. The Gray Area, every nation on earth taxes its citizens. Currently, our income taxes are lower than have ever been, since the inception of the income tax. Even St. Ronald of Reagan had higher tax rates.

  57. Alright, fair enough John – you were basically alone in that view of Bush on the left side of the Blogosphere at the time.

    Josh @39, Labour as a center-right party? LOL, when people say things like that it’s hard to take them seriously. And you do realize that the public option was both something Obama called for on a number of occasions, and was in his platform, right? That he settled for something less now, that will lead to it later as a consequence is supposed to put him to the right of the center-right Euro guys? The center in Europe is a much different place than the center in the US. See, ex., center-right guys in Europe accepting policies that a good number of center-left politicians in the US won’t.

    The word Socialist in the US has negative connotations because of the long fight against the Soviet Union in the cold war, not to mention fighting against the National Socialist Workers Party in WW2, so no mainstream party here is going to claim that label, regardless of where the party’s beliefs lie. But it’s pretty clear that Obama (and by extension basically all of the Democrats in the US elected to federal office outside of the rural south) fit smack dab inside of the range covered by various parties that do claim the Socialist label in the rest of the world.

    Do some elements of of the right wing want to try to tie Obama to despotic Marxists by association with this label? Yes. But then again, given the large amount of Obama as Che imagery I saw during the campaign being proudly worn or carried by members of the left, it doesn’t seem that they were too concerned about being tied to despotic Marxists themselves. But my sense is that the larger number want to tie him to Euro-style politics. We’ve seen Europe, and we don’t want to go in that direction.

  58. jonesnori/Lenore Jones @64

    I get really tired of hearing Obama blamed for this, when both the extremely expensive war and the bailout are Bush responsibilities.

    Well first, I didn’t blame Obama for this though he has not shown leadership in addressing this.

    But neither did Bush.

    And I am not in the habit of blaming Presidents for either the economy or the debt. Both of these things fall more appropriatly in the lap of Congress.

    So while Obama has been President for about a year, the Democrats have been in charge for three. When they replaced the Republicans they promised fiscal responsibility because we hadn’t got any from the Republicans in many years.

    And while people were rightly critical of the Republicans, it has become clear that the Democrats not only didn’t keep their promise, they were much, much worse.

    Our economic problems have now gotten to the point of absudity. But sometimes things need to be taken to extremes for the majority of people to notice something is wrong.

    There is no doubt that both Bush and Obama have been enablers of Congressional misconduct, it’s just that since Obama came into office, the enabling has taken new and unprecidented heights.

    Now people want to hold the Republicans to their stated beliefs of smaller government and fiscal responsibility. Mostly because there is no hope whatsoever of getting Democrats there. They fell for it once in 2006. Then again in 2008. But that’s not going to happen again. This is why Tea Partiers are very selective about which Republicans they support; Rubio over Christ for instance.

    Well see in November which side people come down on. After all, elections are the only polls that matter.

  59. Keri@65, no, that’s factually incorrect. The top marginal rate at the income tax’s inception was 7%. It did spike to extremely high levels during WW1 and for a few years after, as it should have, then it dropped back to 25% for a few years.

    Then in the 30s, they spiked back to extremely high to pay for all the new social spending, turning a recession into the Great Depression, and stayed extremely high through WW2 and Korea, until first Kennedy had them cut from absolutely insane to only moderately insane, and then later Reagan cut them more (but still to a level higher than today). Then they were lower than today’s for Bush I as well.

    As a country we have two paths here – we can be a low-tax, low benefits self-reliant country, or we can be Belgium or France. I know which path I choose.

  60. Sorry Skip, I wasn’t exactly 100% correct. However, it IS true that taxes are now lower than they were when Reagan was in office. So The Gray Area should still stop whining, because we all have it pretty good right now regarding taxes.

  61. [L]et’s not continue to argue the point here.

    Sure, no worries. Your blog, your rules.

    Seriously, the debt is not Bush’s fault?

    No, most certainly not. He and Obama have both contributed more than their share, to the extent that a president can be blamed for Congressional spending bills. But between them, they only presided over 6 percent of the present total credit market debt and less than 38% of federal debt. Of course, 38% of federal debt in 2.5 presidential terms is staggering. But it’s still less than half.

    It’s not socialism, it’s not capitalism, and it’s not sustainable.

  62. Keri, I’m one of those wierd capitalists who thinks his hard-earned money is better off under his control, not the government’s. You may feel different because you’re just a more trusting, altruistic person than me, or just don’t have much wealth. And why should I feel obligated to pay more? Because someone wants me to? Because I don’t pay enough? What’s enough? I’m just curious.

  63. Wow, there are fewer replies to this topic than there were to the Cilantro topic in the same amount of time.

  64. The Gray Area, how else are we as a nation going to get out of debt? You can cut services all you like, but it still wouldn’t be enough to pay off our debt. And let’s not forget we’re still in the middle of two very expensive wars. We’ll still have to keep paying for them, and we’ll have to pay for all those soldiers who are now disabled or injured because of the wars. Perhaps I’m a bit more altruistic than you are, in that I’d rather help pay off our debt and get our budget balanced. Perhaps I’m not as selfish as you.

    And nice jab at me about how much wealth you think I have. You obviously have no way of knowing anything about me, and yet you assume that I’m poor because I think our taxes are low enough already. Good day, sir.

  65. Keri, you want to pay for other peoples’ mistakes, be my guest. Just don’t expect everyone to be happy about it. Like I said, how much do you want me to pay? Would you be happy with 70%?

    I’ve also noticed that it’s usually people who don’t have that go looking for help. I may be wrong, in which case you can correct me. National dept can be addressed in a number of ways, but sticking it to the tax payers is just another way of saying that it’s ok for the government to spend, spend, spend. Would you be happier as a communist? Because there’s China…oh wait, they’re “communist/capitalists now.” Never mind.

  66. Did nobody actually look at where Obama’s bailout money was spent? When the media and the President started saying it was a success only between 10-17% had been spent and even then the CBO was already admitting that the money had been wastefully spent and it would continue to happen, because of the lack of oversight and planning. Even now the majority of that money is still floating around without it being allocated. *I could go on and on… I’m not going to even get into the million jobs saved fraud investigation that’s pending.

    I hear all this talk of capitalism being the bad guy, but it isn’t. In the US, the government and private markets haven’t been compatible since pre-1933, and that time frame is debatable if it’s even possible. Our recession had more to do with government mandates that weren’t compatible with our Capitalistic society. It was just a ticking time bomb waiting to go off, with the wrong policies and certain situations being the fuse.

    For some reason Our country seems to have forgotten that we have a valuable document called the Constitution and that it puts limits the on our government. Ultimately this Obama Care violates the constitution in that in mandates that we purchase something and that it also supersedes the rights of the states to make certain laws. Politicians have been playing this word game with the law and the color of law so long and it was just a matter of time before someone stepped over the line. Plus I’ve read everything that’s out there on this bill and the regulations being put in place are not in the interests of the patients. It ultimately encourages the best and brightest to change vocations.

    Sometimes, and only sometimes I think our society is starting to mirror a Bradbury novel. The one where people are entertained and educated from their wall screens and the government has made everyone the same.

    This isn’t the first time, in the last century, that we’ve been presented with socialism and these types of ideas. This is just the first time that as a culture we’ve faced them after our value system changed. It’s slowly been building to this current state. If as a people we don’t fundamentally change we’re heading towards a macro scale mess. The end-game will ultimately be unrepairable without total collapse.

    Ultimately I think the only people we can really blame for any of this political and financial debacle is ourselves. As a whole, we voted in the politicians, we supported them with their big ideas, and we allowed them to pass the laws. How do we undo it and remember the premise and freedoms upon which our founders wanted us to have? There’s a lot of school of thought on that. I personally think that it’s got to be an inward change in each individual and what better way to evoke that than by effecting their pocketbooks. What I mean by that is that each individual would have to cut a check to the government every month instead of our current method. I think that kind of change would put a fire in peoples britches, so to speak, at least to do their homework, if not to be involved.

    Sorry for the hijack, but I felt it needed to be said. People need to realize that this mess is OUR fault. Commence the flaming/angry rebuttals.

  67. I hear all this talk of capitalism being the bad guy

    From whom do you hear all this talk?

    re @72, I’m always amused at people who go on about their ‘hard-earned money’, and ignore the government-supported infrastructure that enables them to earn that money.

  68. So, I have always wondered if those who support taxation (at least with this administration) avoid taking deductions and adjustments so that they can pay as much tax as possible? If one supports the admin and methods so much this would seem like a natural thing to do…..

  69. So, I have always wondered if those who support taxation (at least with this administration) avoid taking deductions and adjustments so that they can pay as much tax as possible?

    So, I have always wondered if those who oppose taxation avoid driving on roads, eating food the FDA has inspected, and calling emergency services of any kind?

  70. @31m steevem

    While Bush is demonized by many on the left, his stance on Medicare/Medicaid (Part D, prescription program), immigration, No Child Left Behind, and similar issues was very progressive

    Ask any teacher worth their salt what their opinion is on No Child Left Behind. As for immigration, remember 2004 when the Republicans were courting the Hispanic vote with talks about easing immigration, only to turn around and demonize immigrants in 2006? Yeah, that’s pretty progressive.

  71. DeepLite @79, do you also believe that people who support regular exercise for health ought to spend every free moment of their time at the gym, too?

  72. @82: The value of a opinion statement is directly in inverse proportion to the occurance of wingnut catchphrases like “ObamaCare” within said statement.

    I apologize for this somewhat off-topic comment, but I have to admit that I’m starting to warm to the label ObamaCare. I hope it sticks, just as I wish that Social Security were called FDR Security, and Medicare LBJCare (JohnsonCare takes us in the wrong direction entirely). It would serve to remind people of just who championed the programs they depend on.

  73. Labour as a center-right party? LOL, when people say things like that it’s hard to take them seriously

    New Labour is pretty much center-right. You could argue that it’s more centrist but left wing, hardly any more.

    They ditched “Clause 4″ of their constitution removing the demand for nationalisation of the means of production. They moved significantly rightwards on police and security issues. There isn’t really a gap between their economic policies and those of the last Conservative administration under John Major.

    You can also argue that Edward Heath, the Tory PM before Margaret Thatcher took over was significantly more left leaning than Tony Blair proved to be in office.

    Based on his public acts Obama would be a better ideological fit for Cameron’s Conservative party.

    The closest the UK now has to a centre-left party are the Lib-Dems who at least have the intellectual honesty to talk about tax increases and the like.

    But socialist? Tony Benn would laugh you out of the room at the suggestion – and he’s a REAL socialist.

  74. Having just completed my 3rd US tax return I wanted to say the following.

    I don’t like paying taxes. Then again I don’t like salad very much, nor do I like the dentist, going to the gym and a bunch of other things that actually work out pretty well for me.

    I did work out what my total effective rate was and frankly, as miserable as paying taxes makes me, I really not paying remotely enough tax. Which probably means the rest of us aren’t either.

    Given the current state of debt, the current levels of spending – I’m not sure I really see an alternative to tax increases, at least back to the levels of the 1980s (!), or even back to the halcyon days of the 1960s…

  75. Sorry to abruptly delurk, but when I read this above (from The Gray Area, #75):

    “I’ve also noticed that it’s usually people who don’t have that go looking for help.”

    I had to stop and register a Holy Shit, What an Idiot Moment.

    Let me see if I have this straight: is it actually your contention that when people who actually need help ask for it, it’s a socialist redistribution of wealth to give them any?

    That our country is a better place when our government rides to the rescue of people who, apparently like yourself, don’t need rescuing?

    Jesus God, man, do you even read what you write? I’m sure it sounded good in your head. At least I hope so. Because that would mean you thought about it before you typed it.

  76. Oh, and while I’m here?

    Josh C #77:

    No angry rebuttals here. I hope it made you feel better to get that off your chest. And thank you for sharing your thoughts on a subject you clearly care passionately about.

    What’s your favorite flavor of tea?

  77. Aw, geez. Here I go one more time:

    Gray Area? Seriously, I know that typos and such happen a lot on comment threads. If I have misunderstood what you were trying to say, I apologize. If it was a slip of the fingers, rather than the brain, I’m sorry to have jumped on you.

    I have been known to leap to conclusions. With both feet. Sometimes on somebody’s ribs.

    So again: if I have it wrong, I apologize. Peace be upon you and yours.

  78. All you need to understand about Modern American Politics can be summed up by one paragraph from a wise, wise man (who coincidentally links to this blog):

    “I really don’t understand how bipartisanship is ever going to work when one of the parties is insane. Imagine trying to negotiate an agreement on dinner plans with your date, and you suggest Italian and she states her preference would be a meal of tire rims and anthrax. If you can figure out a way to split the difference there and find a meal you will both enjoy, you can probably figure out how bipartisanship is going to work the next few years.”

  79. Frank @ 44
    “And the problem with entitlements is not just how much they cost, but the social unrest you get when you have to take them away when you can no longer afford them.”

    I care little what label we apply to Obama. Socialist? Pragmatist? Labels mean nothing. What counts are the actions Obama takes using the Presidental power we granted him with our votes. And he needs to take on the debt burden problem written about within this thread.

    Piling up the national debt whether Obama, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Reagan, Carter, et. al. will come home to roost. [Yes, I know Clinton ran a surplus at the end of his term, but hey, he ran far more deficits than that measly surplus on his watch.] Social Unrest if we are told the government can pay our entitlements? You had better believe it.

    I have paid into Social Security since 1974. When I retire that check had well better be there. And if taxes are as high as they can go and no one will loan us any money any more? Said excuses NOT accepted for cutting our boomer generation social security checks.

    Bring home the troops from around the world. Muster them out into private industry to be taxpayers not soldiers on the government payroll. Just get out the business of being a world military empire. Sell Federal lands and mineral rights west of the Mississippi. Sell Samao. Sell Guam. I mean it. Those social security checks had better be there; even if the Federal Goverment must hold the largest “garage sale” in world history.

    Social unrest indeed.

    Who cares if Obama is a socialist or not? He had well better grab Congress by the throat and together with the Congress start planning the means to deal with the debt we now have and stop piling on more debt.

  80. The next time Mr. Mythago gets on my case for making sweeping and unfair generalizations about the self-centeredness of Boomers, I’m going to point to @91′s “the US should rely entirely on mercenaries for self-defense if that’s what it takes for me to get Social Security” as Exhibit A.

  81. And props to mythago #92 for winning this week’s Pretend Somebody Is Saying Something They’re Not So I Can Make Fun of Them Without Addressing Their Argument(tm) Award.

    Nicely done.

  82. At the risk of a thread derail, I’d like to address this comment in @91.

    “I have paid into Social Security since 1974. When I retire that check had well better be there. And if taxes are as high as they can go and no one will loan us any money any more? Said excuses NOT accepted for cutting our boomer generation social security checks.”

    I’ve known since 1986 that Social Security for my generation was in deep trouble and deemed it likely that I would not see a single penny from my contributions. Maybe it’s because I was a politics geek in high school, but a few others knew about this as well and we did not count a Social Security check in our futures, or if they do cut the checks, they will be measly and certainly not enough to retire, even in the most modest of means.

    When I see comments like the one @91, I have to admit that I feel some of what mythago was expressing @92, but what I most feel is a sadness. Generation X (a label we never picked nor really deserved) is going to have to pick up the tab for the lack of generational thinking the politicians elected by the Boomers failed to do. People are living longer and the numbers (Boomers vs. SS tax-paying income earners) don’t really bear it out. And for me, it’s hard to feel a lot of sympathy to those who say “I better get my check” when I know the money I’ve put in over the last 20+ years is already forfeit.

    Again, sorry for the derail…this is one of those hot-button topics I have that is hard for me not to comment.

  83. Mythago @92

    Who said anything about relying on mercenaries for defense? Not me. I said bring home the overseas troops and muster them out to private industry as taxpayers. That leaves plenty of homebased soldiers still in uniform on the taxpayer’s tab. In effect what I said is that if our world empire must be sacrificed to pay our bills, then so be it. We should think about such things as we run up the massive debt.

    And why is it being self-centered to expect payback from Social Security when I have paid into it for 46 years and still am doing so for another probably ten years? In fact, during the Reagan years Reagan and Congress hiked our payroll taxes so that we were building up a trust fund for our own boomer retirement. Granted, the Social Security Trust Fund now consists of gadzillions of I.O.U.s to Social Security from the operational side of the Federal Government who spent the money to avoid raising income taxes. But hey! An I.O.U. is an I.O.U. and our Federal Government must pay those babies back to the Social Security system so it can write our boomer generation checks. I mean we paid in enough for the then retirees and us, too. How is it self-centered to want the system to keep its promises?

    As for Obama being a socialist which kicked off this entire thread of conversation, socialists are not by definition in favor of debt over fiscal responsibility. Socialists should want responsible government as well as anyone else of any other idealogical stripe.

    I seen precious little fiscal responsibility from either the Democrats or the Republicans in my lifetime. Both parties seem to prefer borrowing and spending to the conservative philosophy of spend only what you have collected in taxes.

    So even if Obama is a bonafide socialist, he should not be borrowing us into ruin. On the contrary, to fulfill his oath of office President Obama should be working very hard to stop the willy-nilly borrowing Congress after Congress seems intent on legislating.

  84. Tim @ 94
    Fact is Tim you are right. Many have been saying a long time that Social Security will fail because the boomers are just too big a bulge in the population demographics. There will not be enough wage earners paying in to tranfer the money to them. But…

    We knew this. So in the early eighties Reagan and Congress hiked payroll taxes to much more than was needed to make current payments to current retirees back in the eighties, nineties, oughts, and now. The surplus goes into the Trust Fund you see. In effect, for a generation we boomers have been pre-funding our own social security checks into a Trust Fund.

    But, and here is the second more evil but, for the past generation Congress and the Presidents since Reagan avoided hiking income taxes to cover all their spending programs by borrowing from that Social Security Trust Fund issuing promises to pay the money back when we boomers needed our social security checks.

    See the problem. Where will the Federal Goverment get the money to pay the IOUs back? Raise taxes? Even if they can do so, there is a practical limit to how much they can raise taxes. Borrow money from other nations? Sure, until the USA is considered a bad risk and the other nations decline to loan the US any more funds.

    All I am suggesting is that the debt we are piling up now is making a worst situation a disasterous situation. Our Federal Government will have to sell Federal assets and dismantle our world empire in order to honor all those IOUs issued for the past generation to the Social Security Trust Fund.

    I do see the irony here. We boomers paid social security to fund the retirements of our parents and grandparents and even ourselves since 1983. When we say we want those checks, we are not asking for the money we know went to our parents and grandparents, we are asking for the money we paid in advance into a Trust Fund for ourselves.

    People go to jail for white-collar securities fraud. If the boomers do not get their social security checks, then the greatest white-collar fraud in world history will have been done to them–by their own government officials. Willing to wager any money that any of those officials will go to jail for defauding an entire generation of Americans?

    I still do not care what we label Obama. Socialist, Pragmatist, Democrat, Liberal–what the heh. Who cares? He is our President and he is actually trying to do some good for us. Now if he would only get the coming debt disaster on top of his priority list and under control.

  85. MWStover @93, I prefer to make fun of people’s actual arguments; it’s less effort. I appreciate the passive-aggressive praise, mind you.

    Gary @95, my bad; you only want to replace lots of our armed forces with mercenaries. Still a bad idea, and not because it’s giving up ‘world empire’.

    What’s self-centered is the insistence that Boomers’ Social Security checks are to be paid no matter what – even if it means dubious ideas and long-term-bad ideas like letting private companies buy up Yellowstone Park, or selling Guam (won’t the people living there be surprised!). And then of course it’s going to be a little tough to meet future IOUs, what with running out of national parks and stuff when the sullen Gen Xers want their Social Security money. What then? Do those IOUs not count?

    Really, I agree with you that there are big, ugly looming issues that Obama needs to tackle, even if it means poking the Congress with pointy sticks. I don’t agree that ‘gimme mine and screw all y’alls, I’m owed‘ is a productive solution. And not just to Social Security.

  86. I’ve known since 1986 that Social Security for my generation was in deep trouble and deemed it likely that I would not see a single penny from my contributions. Maybe it’s because I was a politics geek in high school, but a few others knew about this as well and we did not count a Social Security check in our futures, or if they do cut the checks, they will be measly and certainly not enough to retire, even in the most modest of means.

    I can’t even begin to express how much of a myth that is. I can just about guarantee–short of the United States getting sucked through a giant black hole–that retirees will continue to get substantial Social Security checks for the foreseeable future, whatever the budgetary consequences. Seniors vote, in primaries and general elections; they are swing votes in exciting places like Florida, and there is no way in H*** that any vaguely self-preserving politician is going to do something to anger them.

  87. Mythago @ 97
    We do agree as you say. Obama does need to tackle the national debt gordian knot.

    I still think you misunderstand me on the mercenary issue. We have a massive military right now because we have been the world superpower and empire since WWII. I am only saying that for the Federal government to pay back those IOUs to the Social Security Trust Fund they must find a lot of money to stop spending in order to pay the IOUs. Our military will become a main target. We do need a national defense and military. But we can have that and not be a world superpower. I think they will defund a hugh chunk of the military and scale back our troops to, say, a few hundred thousand based here on our own soil. I do not think we would hire any mercenaries as replacement troops.

    We shall have to disagree on the self-centered bit. Since 1983 we boomers have pre-funded our own social security checks into that Trust Fund (now made up of a bunch of IOUs). Since we already paid for our own retirement checks I am simply saying I do think we ought to get them. It’s not like we are depending on you, the younger generation, to pay into Social Security so they can send your money to us. In my view we paid social security twice–once for our own retirement and once for the retirement of those who came before us. We should get paid back at least once. Only fair. But, as Scalzi notes: we are in the wrong universe for fair.

  88. Gary Willis @99:

    You were never pre-funding your own SS retirement money. That money went to the folks who were already retired then, just as the money I’m paying in now goes to today’s retirees and those on disability.

    I mean, when Social Security was first instituted, the government sure didn’t say “sorry old-timers, you haven’t had a chance to pay in yet, so you’re out of luck. Enjoy the cat food.”

  89. Mythago –

    I’m sorry you misinterpreted my strident mockery as passive-aggressive praise. Unless, of course, you’re shooting for a double-up on on the Pretend Someone Is Saying Something They’re Not So I Can Make Fun of Them Without Addressing Their Argument(tm) Award.

    In which case, I can only bow before the awesomeness of your ability to argue with shit nobody has actually said.

  90. Kevin @ 100
    I respectfully disagree. I was there in the early eighties. Reagan and the Congress explicitely said they were raising the payroll taxes to more than was needed at the time to pay out to then current retirees. The excess goes into a Trust Fund to keep the system solvent and make payments to the boomer generation. “Boomers (and everyone else) will now pay for current retirees and future retirees.” Research the litigation history of the law changes during Reagan’s first term. You will find this to be true.

  91. I vowed I would stay away from political discussions on this site, but I can’t help it on this one.

    @102 Gary Willis

    There is no Trust Fund. It’s a myth. By law, the excess money HAD to purchase Treasury Bonds.

    You know what that means? The money was spent on other things. The only way to redeem the bonds is thru new tax revenues. Any non-government entity doing business that way would wind up in the graybar hotel.

    I doubt I’ll ever see a penny of what I’ve put into Social Security. If they would quit taking money out of my check starting today, and give me the money my employer puts in, I’d sign away my rights to future payouts. I can do better on my own. Waaaaaay better.

    *****

    P.S. I agree that Obama isn’t a Socialist. Ron Paul was right on the money when he called him a Corporatist. In fact, virtually everyone in federal elective office falls under that category. Corporatism as an economic system means private ownership in name only, with the government controlling everything thru massive regulation, leaving the businesses vulnerable to the whims of the regulators, and turning them into cash cows for political campaigns.

    Woodrow Wilson was all about this. Know what another name for it is?

    Fascism.

  92. Dave in Georgia @103
    “The only way to redeem the bonds is thru new tax revenues.”

    Do you mean new taxes or increased rates of old taxes? Either way there are practical limits to both of those approaches called voter rage.

    I think when those bonds fall due and increasing tax rates or levying new taxes are tapped out to their maximum, that there are other sources of funds to pay the bonds held by the Social Security Trust Fund. Here are some.

    Redirecting spending from other programs. Considering the massive chunck we spend on our military around the world, military budgets will become a prime target. We currently still have troops in Germany based there since WWII. Do we really need a world empire? That question will be raised and answered in the negative, I think. We won’t strip our military down to nothing, but I think we will downsize it to a more reasonable US soil based force. The freed up dollars then pay the bonds.

    Asset sales.
    We joke that the Federal Government owns half the lands west of the Mississippi. Maybe not half, but still a lot of assets that can be sold and the revenue used to pay bonds. I personally think private ownership by taxpayers a good future for the bulk of those Federal lands out West.

    Territories.
    Think we could find some other nations who would like to consider Guam or Samoa theirs? We could sell our Federal assets on the two islands, and transfer sovereignity to another foreign power. Kind of the Lousianna purchase in reverse. Not likely but possible if we had to have the funds to redeem the Social Security trust fund bonds.

    Why avoid political discussions on this site? John invited this one over Obama’s alleged socialim. When we talk politics here we are engaged in “civil discussion” proving that we can all be adults and that we live in a time when such discourse can happen without guns and bombs being thrown.

  93. I like Dave in Georgia’s definitions of Corporatist, and to me that is just another description of big government. In the end it does not mater what you call it; socialism, communism, fascism, or corporatism, its all about government growing its power and control over “We the people”.

    In another words the growth of government for the sake of government. I still find it very amusing that people keep talking about Bush, and I guess that will probably never go away, and I am not looking forward to being drown in blame Bush rhetoric this November. But there is not much I do to stop that, other than talk to about how it is a waste of time.

    We have become complacent with our freedom, when guarding it from the greedy hands of government bureaucrats. The more power that they gain over us the less we have to guide and shape our futures according to our own will. More government is not the solution here, and if we continue to go to the government as the fix all for our problems, the more dependent we will become on government.

    Obama’s agenda = the growth of government. I don’t care by what name you call it.

    Also I understand, that names have power, and defining something, is a good way of framing how others think and talk about it. That is basically what politics is all about.

  94. In another words the growth of government for the sake of government.

    It’s really not. It’s growth in government for the sake of helping Americans. Or do you not consider those without health care “Americans”? And if not, why do you dislike your fellow citizens so much?

  95. After all the bullshit is said it comes down to how much government are people willing to pay for.

    So everyone, well most people, don’t complain about paying taxes in exchange for services. And most people understand roads, and cops, and national security are paid for by their taxes and are fine with that.

    And most people would like all kinds of other things, so long as someone else is paying for them.

    But we have got to the point where the obligations to our government far exceed our ability to pay as things currently stand. So the fact is that we are going to have to make some hard decisions or face disaster. It is clear that most people here recognize that and I think that’s great.

    Now it is also true that our tax system has become so progressive that most people do not have to suffer the result of the decisions that have been made. But that will have to change. The “rich” simply can not pay enough to fix this. And if we want everyting as it is today, everyone has to have some skin in the game. And they will one way or another. If it’s VAT, well then everyone pays. If we do nothing and everything collapses around us, everyone pays.

    So we will have a conversation about how much government we want to afford. Most here know where I stand: as little as possible. Many here would answer as much as possible.

    But one thing is for sure, we can no longer have a system where 10% of the population pays 90% of the taxes because it means that, like children, most people can demand everything while escaping the consequences. Not to mention the fact that this situation is just not sustainable any more.

    So soon we will see what people are really willing to pay for. And if the answer is a lot less than we are currently getting, be prepared for a period of civil unrest.

    Assuming we manage to get a political class with enough guts to say no instead of driving the country off the cliff.

  96. @106 Gary

    I try to avoid the political discussions on this website because I’m in a minority of about 10% and it tends to turn into poo-slinging despite the best efforts of our host. And being on the receiving end of a 9-on-1 battle can be exhilarating, unless you have to work or something.

    Cutting back the military sounds nice, but European fiscal silliness has mean that they’ve ceded the role of protection to us. If they had to pay for their own defense, they wouldn’t be able to continue their democratic socialist utopia, which is crumbling around their ears. (Demographics are killing Europe, thanks to their Bismarkian systems.)

    As for your other two ideas — HELL YES!!!!! Love ‘em both. A great idea, which means it won’t happen. Both of the other concepts reduce the scope and power of the government, and unless we get a whole new crew in there — from BOTH parties, ain’t a-gonna happen.

    @108 Silbey

    “Helping Americans.” You must mean whether they want the help or not. And they definitely don’t if you look at the reaction to the HC Insurance issue.

    We’re supposed to do for ourselves. It’s called being adults. And we help others voluntarily through charity, not through taking money via the police power of the government. At least, that’s how it’s SUPPOSED to work.

    @109 Frank

    When a minority of voters are actually paying income taxes, that’s when the whole system collapses. When people can vote themselves largess out of the national treasury, that system is doomed.

  97. Socialism – the State directs the Corporations for the benefit of the People.
    Fascism – the State directs the Corporations for the benefit of the State.
    Corporatism – the Corporations direct the State for the benefit of the Corporations.

    The USA is Corporatist and always has been. Obama is just somewhat more aware that all those economic units that the Corporations ultimately rely on to make their profits are called ‘Human Beings’ with rights and lives, and a government that long ago was expected to do something towards respecting and protecting those.

  98. @111 Obuga

    Actually, Mussolini referred to himself as a Corporatist as well.

    As for protecting rights, remember there is no such thing as a positive right. Rights per se do not involve requiring others to act in some way. That in itself is a violation of THEIR rights.

    Hence, there is no right to health care, etc., by definition.

  99. Actually, what I’ve put there should include – Communism: the People direct the Corporations for the benefit of the People

  100. In theory.

    In fact, in Communism, as in the other forms of collectivism, those in charge control things for their own benefit and screw the people — they don’t count. Because, after all, the Elites know best.

    Yeah, that’s worked real well everywhere it’s tried. Mass graves and all.

  101. All this smokescreen in favor of coercion scares the living crap out of me. Seriously.

    Elites do not know best. They never have. They know what’s best for THEM, and that’s obedience.

    The American Revolution was all about getting rid of that Elite Knows Best mindset. Back then it was called Divine Right of Kings.

    Now it’s called Progressivism. It’s the same old claptrap being sold under a different label. Just put on these chains folks, we’ll take care of you.

    Yeah, right.

  102. We’re supposed to do for ourselves. It’s called being adults. And we help others voluntarily through charity, not through taking money via the police power of the government. At least, that’s how it’s SUPPOSED to work.

    Really? We build roads for ourselves? We inspect food for ourselves? We created the Internet for ourselves? We pay for the air traffic control system ourselves?

    You pay for that stop light down the street from your house, do you?

    Charity donations support that fire department a few miles from your house, do they? Pay the police officers’ salary?

    I have no idea whether you’re smart or not; but your arguments are utterly moronic.

  103. “The American Revolution was all about getting rid of that Elite Knows Best mindset. Back then it was called Divine Right of Kings.”

    Dude. Take a breath. And maybe try reading a book.

    Say, a history book.

    Just an idea.

  104. Oh, and Dave?

    “As for protecting rights, remember there is no such thing as a positive right. Rights per se do not involve requiring others to act in some way. That in itself is a violation of THEIR rights. ”

    No such thing as a positive right?

    I have come across this horseshit before. Let’s start with an easy one: explain how the rights outlined in the Sixth Amendment are not positive rights. For example, have you ever been called for jury duty (compelled to serve due to the right to a trial by jury)? Is that an infringement of your rights? If not, why not? If so, why aren’t you ashamed to call yourself a citizen?

  105. Dave,

    “All this smokescreen in favor of coercion scares the living crap out of me. Seriously.”

    What are you talking about? I mean, really?

    First, they came and healed the sick, and I did nothing. Then, they came and protected the powerless from thieves, and I did nothing.  Then, they came for me.

    I mean, really, anti elitist in America? Here, in reality land professing disdain for elitists, with Obama as their dark overlord, amounts to saying “fuck people who know what they’re talking about.”

    can you seriously not tell the difference between Pol Pot and Barack Obama?

    and I have to say, the inability to distinguish meaningfully between the isms in theory and in practice and then to distinguish between that and the reality we live in really doesn’t help your hey-I’m-really-not-a-crazy-person stance.

    Your facts are wrong. Your logic is flawed. And your conclusions are meaningless.

  106. @116 Silbey

    When you talk about roads, fire, police, stoplights — those are all local functions. This argument has to do with the takeover of things by the FEDERAL government. These are all things that are supposed to be done at the state and local level, not by the Feds.

    @117 MW Stover

    Uh. I have. You might want to try it yourself.

    @118 MW Stover

    As a matter of fact, I have been called to jury duty before. I was excused before the trial (glad, too, since it was murder case where a kid did in an old lady with a fry pan. Two friends were on that jury, and it was uuuuugly.) What the hell are you talking about as an infringement? You’re not making sense.

    The Constitution does not grant rights to the people — it’s a safeguard against the federal government infringing those rights. When you start talking about positive rights, you’re talking about using police powers to force people to “serve” others to provide those rights, which is an infringement of THEIR rights. Logic, please.

    @119 Other Bill

    Listen, the “elite” are self-defined. These folks claim to know what’s best for everyone.

    Wrong.

    You are the expert on you. No one else. I listen to those who have good ideas, but in the end the decisions I make are mine, as are the consequences of those decisions, right or wrong.

    The whole economic mess we’re in right now was caused by governmental interference in the economy. By fiddling with interest rates, monetary rates, and other natural economic forces, it distorted the markets. That caused people to make decisions that matched the governmental edicts and the results from that weren’t so hot, just like always.

    Real estate bubble, stock bubble, etc. Leaving things alone to sort themselves out would have allowed an equilibrium to be reached somewhere between 12 and 24 months. Instead, all this fiddling around could give us another decade like the 30′s.

    Just because someone gets elected does not give them magical superpowers. It just means they have the ability to convince people that they have the answers. And as for hiring bureaucrats — ugh.

    Centralized planning doesn’t work. There are too many variables, and normal incentives don’t apply. Those making the decisions don’t feel the full impact of those decisions on a personal level. And that changes the way they’re approached.

    Making an omlet is one thing. Being the egg the government breaks to create that omlet is a whole different ballgame.

  107. Dave in Georgia:

    Listen, the “elite” are self-defined. These folks claim to know what’s best for everyone.

    Wrong.

    You are the expert on you. No one else.

    I agree. This is why, when I needed surgery, I performed it on myself. I ain’t lettin’ one of them elites–y’know, the people who’ve spent their lives LEARNING something, from BOOKS and TEACHERS and EXPERIENCE–tell me which part of the duodenum needs to be repaired.

  108. Dave, you were pretty convincing there, but as a long-time observer of trolls I have to deduct a few points. (Also, you know, Russian judge: it’s traditional.) Pretending that you think the Revolutionary War was about the Common Man vs. the elites? I suppose there really are people that ignorant, c.f. protesters wanting government to keep its hands off Medicare, but you’re a little too coherent and edumacated-sounding to persuasively sound like somebody who really believes that the Declaration of Independence was written by Ayn Rand.

    Not to suggest that educated = right or that people’s smarts are directly correlated with their book-larnin’, by any means, but one expects much less erudition from someone who professes to believe that the Revolutionary War “was all about getting rid of that Elite Knows Best mindset”. I believe that in the US, schoolchildren still learn that the reason we have an Electoral College and a Senate stems from certain Framers’ distrust of a wholly popular vote.

    I admit that the triple-posting was a good touch. Suggest you pick a new pseud and try again.

  109. “Listen, the “elite” are self-defined. These folks claim to know what’s best for everyone.”

    Nonetheless, in this wording you are defining them.

    “You are the expert on you. No one else. I listen to those who have good ideas…”

    So, then, those in duly elected positions who have come to different conclusions are “self defined elite” by necessity because of their democratically imbued power.

    But, you have adequately described the responsibility of an American citizen when it comes to exercising their vote.

    “but in the end the decisions I make are mine, as are the consequences of those decisions, right or wrong.”

    Yeah, fuck everyone who isn’t you. People victimized by insurance companies dropping them after years of payment because they actually got sick made the decision to be victims. They shouldn’t have been wearing their financial skirt so short, so to speak.

    Same to the people whose pensions were lost when a private financial system created a product they didn’t understand, coerced a private agency to deliberately not further understand so as to obtain top ratings for their new products and then let pension fund managers invest in them like they were actually triple a rated. Clearly the governments fault.

    “The whole economic mess we’re in right now was caused by governmental interference in the economy.”

    Wrong. Arguably, the opposite. And, see above.

    “Real estate bubble, stock bubble, etc. Leaving things alone to sort themselves out would have allowed an equilibrium to be reached somewhere between 12 and 24 months. Instead, all this fiddling around could give us another decade like the 30’s.”

    This assertion is against your logic that only you are an expert on you. You’re not having been there in the thirties to “know”.

    And, yeah, the fact that the private products created by the private companies inflated the housing market and then popped the global economy is clearly the fault of the government’s intervention.

    “Just because someone gets elected does not give them magical superpowers. It just means they have the ability to convince people that they have the answers…”

    You’re right, elected office does not imbue magical powers. I would concede the point if I had actually held the other end of that stick. It’s cute that you assume everyone that agrees with the argument of an elected official you disagree with was sold on snake oil charms. What’s the word? Are you calling everyone who disagrees with you a hooplehead?

    You believing you are the only expert on you and all. I guess this implies that this is how you feel all the time when your elected official disappoints you. Like a hooplehead stuck holding a bag of just plain beans.

    “Centralized planning doesn’t work. There are too many variables, and normal incentives don’t apply. Those making the decisions don’t feel the full impact of those decisions on a personal level. And that changes the way they’re approached.”

    Centralized planning, meaning communism, or authoritariansm, right?

    Your argument in this instance is against our system of a federal republic and representative democracy. If we were talking about communism, that might be a relevant point. But, we aren’t are we?

    Quipping that its decisions are akin to centralized planning is to make comparisons that are patently false. You insult the actual victims of authoritarian states. And that is the spirit of that language, is it not?

    Elitists, centralized planning, socialism, communism. You aren’t making a theoretical or scholarly case, you’re deliberately implying your duly elected representative government is the same as Pol Pot or Stalin or Mussolini or Hitler.

    Because if you aren’t, and you’re just trying to say that government is bad, you are the master of a failed argument from it’s outset.

    The most attention your nonsense deserves is a good mocking.

    You’re right.

    Obama is an elitist. He wasn’t really elected, he was annointed by the lame stream media in a corpratist deal structured between him and GE.

    The tea partiers are the only ones who get it, primarily because of the valiant effort of Fox News. Obama isn’t even an American. If he was, would he really ignore calls to produce a birth certificate instead of a certificate of live birth? Everyone knows a certificate of live birth is easily falsified, whereas a real birth certificate is carved in stone.

    And, thank god there are people to see through the smoke screen of lower taxes, improved economy, accountability for corporations and health care.

    These are obviously, against all verifiable evidence, proof of concentration camps for gun owners and death panels for grandmothers.

    The take your ju ju economics and go back to Kenya signs aren’t racist, they are the purveyors of the simple truth. Barack Obama is a secret Muslim Indonesian from Kenya ordained in the dark arts of witch craft.

    No, you’re right, that’s all nonsense streamed from the lame stream media by Obama supporters. You don’t think any of that.

    You just think he might just be the next pol pot with his smokescreen for nefarious coercion. Because that’s what your saying when you refer to the reality of our federal government as “centralized planning” and coercion.

    Substantiate your argument with facts and drop the quipped references to Stalin and the like and people may take your policy arguments seriously.

    That is, if what you wanted was to have a conversation involving the exchanging of ideas between reasonable individuals. Otherwise, you know, reasonable people generally meet deliberate nonsense with a fair measure of annoyance.

    This was fun though.

  110. When you talk about roads, fire, police, stoplights — those are all local functions. This argument has to do with the takeover of things by the FEDERAL government.

    Really? The interstates were built and funded by the states? Food inspection and safety is done by the states? Air traffic control? The Internet? The postal system?

  111. Dave, Dave, Daaave.

    Repeating a falsehood does not make it any more true, Glenn Beck notwithstanding. When I suggested you try reading a history book, I meant one about actual history, with facts and stuff. Or if actual history is too much for you, why not try high-school level civics?

    Let’s take a quick look at your most recent assertions about rights.

    “As a matter of fact, I have been called to jury duty before. I was excused before the trial (glad, too, since it was murder case where a kid did in an old lady with a fry pan. Two friends were on that jury, and it was uuuuugly.) What the hell are you talking about as an infringement? You’re not making sense.”

    The state has the power to compel you to serve on a jury. Every state, so far as I know, as well as the federal government. Which was why you had to be excused, rather than simply telling the judge to fuck off.

    The state is empowered to infringe upon your freedom of action, in service to a right specified in the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. How is the right to a trial by jury not a “positive” right?

    I apologize for your confusion; it is probably an inevitable side effect of spending my life in the reality-based community, instead of Daveland.

    And your other dispatch from Daveland:

    “The Constitution does not grant rights to the people — it’s a safeguard against the federal government infringing those rights. When you start talking about positive rights, you’re talking about using police powers to force people to “serve” others to provide those rights, which is an infringement of THEIR rights.”

    Again, slowly: the state has any number of legal remedies to “force you to ‘serve’ others to provide those rights.” Have you actually read the Constitution? Back to the Sixth Amendment, let’s try this clause, in detailing the rights of the accused in criminal proceedings:

    ” . . . to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor . . .”

    Now, I understand that there are several multisyllabic words in that one, but it should be clear enough.

    This is the fact: the state can, and does, use police powers to compel you to “serve” in accordance with, and support of, the Constitutionally guaranteed rights of others.

    “Logic, please.”

    Your appeal to logic is particularly germane here, because you’re not asking for facts. You’re asking for a chain of fallacies based on a false narrative, which can be considered logic. Useless and deceptive, but logic nonetheless.

    Even the chuckleheads who gas on about how positive rights are a bad thing (cf. Machan, Tibor R., “The Perils of Positive Rights” in The Freeman: Ideas on Liberty, April 2001 Vol. 51 No. 4) don’t go so far as contend that there’s such thing . . . well, okay, Machan tries to twist and wriggle by arbitrarily postulating that there can be no conflict between valid rights, but that’s just rhetorical logic-chopping, and this really isn’t the place to go on about all the reasons he’s an idiot. There are other idiots in more immediate need of mockery.

    [EDIT: extensive deletion of strident mockery. Said mockery will reappear as needed. --MWS]

  112. @MWS:

    About all you’re proving is that you’re a douchebag. I’m possibly closer to you than Dave, politically speaking, but he’s being a lot more mature about your disagreement than you are, so I’m more apt to listen to him.

  113. Wow, Kevin. Again I stand in awe. You task me for being immature, right after you call me a douchebag.

    Do you even understand the concept of irony?

    Do I actually have to delineate the distinction between what I was doing, which was refuting (and yes, mocking, I loves the mocking) a person’s arguments, and what you are doing, which is pitching in with childish personal invective? Name-calling really contributes a lot to the discussion. Thanks for that.

    Further:

    You don’t know what my politics are. Pretending that you do is offensive, even if you think you agree with me, which I hope you don’t. I believe it was Nietzsche who said that there’s nothing more humiliating than hearing one’s own ideas out of the mouth of a fool.

    If you’re more apt to listen to Dave’s ideas than mine, due to some perceived douchebaggery on my part, okay. Knock yourself out. I will endeavor to hide my shame.

    Further than that:

    The missive to Dave (above) is not a “liberal” defense, nor is it an “elitist” attack. It’s the truth. Presenting actual fact is not a political stance.

    Not in the reality-based community, anyway. It’s nice here. I’ll send you a card.

    Finally:

    Anyone who wants to call me names, please feel free to visit my own site, which is my handle here followed by a dot com. Please. This isn’t my house. Here, I self-censor out of respect for Our Eminent Host. (No, seriously. I really do. Sometimes I slip a bit — “Daveland” might have been over the top — but here I’m waaaay more polite and respectful than I am when I’m at home, because I don’t want Mr. Scalzi to ban me from his site.)

    So: anyone who want to know what I really think of any of you? Come over to my place and ask. Some of you may be surprised to discover I think you’re smart and I respect your positions even when I disagree with them.

    Kevin, though . . .

    Well, I hate to let the occasion pass without a bit of childish invective of my own:

    You want to get personal? Come over and try it in my yard, punk ass.

  114. Oooh, good one. Did you write that yourself?

    Uh, except apparently I must be worth at least some of your time, since you replied to my last post within a minute.

    There’s that whole irony thing again. I don’t think you’ve got the hang of it yet.

    Punk ass.

  115. All in all, I think that Obama is a political communitarian. Sadly, many Republicans are, too, just from different communities. The idea of doing for yourself rather than having others do for you is losing ground in this country.

  116. The idea of doing for yourself rather than having others do for you is losing ground in this country.

    You assume it ever existed.

  117. Um . . . just so you know . . .

    I have already apologized to Our Eminent Host for my intemperate language and behavior. I apologize similarly to you all. (Yes, even Kevin Williams and Dave.) I will not be returning to this thread.

    Though I may well be ruthlessly mocking certain parties (and the positions I may or may not be correct in ascribing to them) at my own place. My departure is solely out of respect for the premises. I see no reason to mess up somebody else’s yard.

    Anyone who wants more knows where to find me.

  118. I have decoded MWStover’s secret agenda: he is a deep-red socialist. In support, MWST is german for VAT (Mehrwertsteuer) which is clearly a socialist tax unlike good american Sales and Use Tax which is simple and logical. Obvious, no? And logical. And German Chancellor Angela Merkel is clearly a socialist even though she calls herself a centre-right politician. Oh, the irony.

    Oh and the thing about no positive rights? Wasn’t the 6th amendment in something called the Bill of Rights (maybe I’m wrong)? Now what might the Bill of Rights be about . . .

  119. Holy shit, this thread got dialed up to 11 after I left. It’s not often John sparks a four-day-long conversation on his blog, much less over the weekend.

  120. “Positive rights” are what the citizen can demand that the government do for them. The Bill of Rights — at least the original 10 — is entirely “negative rights”, a list of what the government is forbidden to do to the citizens.

    Back then, it was modern thinking to talk about “government powers” and “citizen’s rights”; these were considered to be eternally opposed. The Constitution describes a government of specifically enumerated powers — those which it may or must exercise — and as the 9th and 10th Amendments describe, any other powers and non-mentioned rights are reserved to the States and/or the Citizens.

  121. The Bill of Rights — at least the original 10 — is entirely “negative rights”, a list of what the government is forbidden to do to the citizens.

    Amendments 5, 6, and 7 disagree with you.

  122. Let’s look.

    Fifth Amendment

    No person shall be held to answer for any capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

    This is a list of things that the government must not do, with some limited exceptions. That the courts have held that property doesn’t have these rights is … interesting.

    ———–

    Sixth Amendment

    In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district where in the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.

    Some of this is, indeed, positive right. My bad.

    ——————-

    Seventh Amendment

    In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

    I read this as negative, in that the courts are prohibited (except …) from over riding fact decisions by juries.

  123. Here’s another great generalization, the Tea Party consists completely of racists, fascists, and nazis.

  124. The Fifth Amendment requires the government to compel its citizens to serve on Grand Juries; the Sixth Amendment (as you note) requires the government to compel its citizens to serve on “impartial juries” and compel witnesses to show up in court for a “speedy” and “public” trial; to help the defendant compel citizens to be witnesses and to compel lawyers to serve the defendant. Seventh amendment requires the jury again.

    Positive rights all over the place.

  125. Oh (my deepest apologies for the double-post), the second amendment allows the militia to be “well-regulated,” the Third Amendment allows the government to quarter troops in private houses “in a manner prescribed by law,” and the Fourth Amendment allows the government to search people’s houses as long as they get a warrant.

    Positive rights all over the place.

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