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When that "socialist: is Barack Obama! CNN Politics has this item: Ask the card-carrying socialists: Is Obama one of them?

"Socialized health care" is on its way. The "socialist agenda" is taking over America. And best of all, Barack Obama, a "committed socialist ideologue," is in the Oval Office.

But Wharton, co-chair of the Socialist Party USA, sees no reason to celebrate. He's seen people with bumper stickers and placards that call Obama a socialist, and he has a message for them: Obama isn't a socialist. He's not even a liberal.

 I got this from an e-mail from Frank Llewellyn, National Director of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA).  Read on below for more.

I am a charter member of DSA and have expressed my objection to that label being used as a pejorative here in many a diary.  Frank goes on to say this in his e-mail:

I was quoted extensively in a article on the oft repeated charge of Obama's socialism. We're always happy to let people know that he is not one of us.

There is more in the CNN article of interest from Wharton as well:

Obama's opponents have long described him as a socialist. But what do actual socialists think about Obama? Not much, says Wharton.

"He's the president whose main goal is to protect the wealth of the richest 5 percent of Americans."

He and others say the assertion that Obama is a socialist is absurd.

"It makes no rational sense. It clearly means that people don't understand what socialism is."

Definitions of socialism vary, but most socialists believe workers and consumers who are affected by economic institutions should own or control them.

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.

Some of the socialist agenda is already part of American life, according to Wharton and others.

Social Security, Medicare, unemployment benefits -- all reflect socialistic values, says Van Gosse, an associate professor of history at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, who has researched socialist movements in the United States and Latin America.

 Here's some of what they said about DSA:

Frank Llewellyn, national director of the Democratic Socialists of America, says the bailout had nothing to do with socialism.

Llewellyn says a socialist leader would have at least nationalized some of the troubled banks.

"He gave them [the banks] too much with no strings attached," Llewellyn says. "Banks that were too big to fail are bigger, and they can still fail."

How about Obama's bailout of the Detroit auto industry? During the bailout, the federal government assumed partial ownership of General Motors.

"It's not socialism," Llewellyn says. "The mere fact that the government owns something or has a stake in it, doesn't make it socialist. If that was true, you would say that we have a socialist army. The government owns the army."

Defining socialism is complex, Llewellyn says, but it starts with a simple goal: Socialists want to introduce democratic features into the economy to reduce inequality.

The economy has "to be run for the overall benefit of the entire population, not for the benefits of a very few people."

By that measure, Obama's economic policies are not socialist, he says.

"He's trying to save capitalism from itself rather than a radical trying to change into a new system," Llewellyn says.

This kind of name-calling is not new. Civil rights demonstrators and the politicians who passed Medicare were also called socialists and communists, Llewellyn says.

"Every time an expansion of the public's right has been put forward, Republicans have called it extreme, communistic and socialistic. It's a repeated tactic because they can't defeat the idea."

Then the article goes on to have a Tea Party member explain why Obama is a socialist. This is really funny:

Those arguments don't sway Conrad Quagliaroli, a Tea Party member who says Obama is a socialist.

He says that Obama's voting record as a senator was more to the left than the U.S. Senate's sole socialist, Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

He says Obama's association with radicals and his pledge to "spread the wealth" seal his socialistic credentials.

"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.

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.

They go on to ask Quagliaroli if he would refuse Social Security and he says he would not.   Llewellyn reminds everyone as he did in his interview on Fox News that the most socialistic candidate in the 2008 presidential race was Sarah Palin.

Once more it is worth reflecting on this kind of nonsense.  No other country I am aware of is as backward as this one about political science.  No other country is as out of touch with its own history.  Why?   Why are we like this?  Clearly our schools do not educate students.  Clearly our news media feeds on misinformation and stupid behavior.  What kind of country have we become?  Any ideas?

Originally posted to don mikulecky on Thu Apr 15, 2010 at 06:30 PM PDT.



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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (7+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marina, Shaviv, 1BQ, a girl in MI, jfromga, rb137, mojada

    An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

    by don mikulecky on Thu Apr 15, 2010 at 06:30:54 PM PDT

  •  I am pretty tired of folks (6+ / 0-)

    throwing this term around. If they just stuck to its precise meaning, that would be one thing. Lately, it just means "whatever the GOP and Teapublicans do not like today."

  •  When It's a Bocialist? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marykk, Shaviv

  •  but we should be afraid of socialists! they (5+ / 0-)

    believe in all sorts of scary things, like that everyone should have access to health care, and that people should be free to join unions without fear of being fired, and that everyone deserves a good education. And all sorts of other really scary things!

    •  I wrote the following... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      marina, don mikulecky, a girl in MI

      in response to an email sent by an acquaintance trying to convince me Pres. Obama is a Granny-killing radical.

      Let me consider the differences between the market-based system we have now, and a Medicare-for-all program.

      As we have it now, if you are old, you can sign up for Medicare. Not that Medicare works so perfectly - but physicians I've spoken with prefer dealing with Medicare than with private insurers, because Medicare at least pays up on time. But anyway... Yes, there are problems with Medicare, but fewer than there are with the private insurance market. And as far as I know, there are no legislative proposals that mandate or even suggest denial of life-saving care. (If such a proposal exists, please point to the relevant wording in whatever legislation.) There's stuff like experimental treatments or non-empirically supported treatments that aren't really covered, but hey, few plans do cover those things.

      And yes, "death panels" probably would save money - but they would be grossly unethical to actually have. We know this, because there are currently death panels in private insurance companies! The bureaucrats who decide what care is covered (i.e., what care you can get) aren't doctors, and they probably aren't even actuaries. But they get to make these decisions. Remember, medical care is more or less too expensive for people to pay for out of pocket. A visit to a physician already costs well over a hundred dollars. Plus, the whole thing about death panels in a government-run single-payer program was started by Betsy McCaughey, member of a conservative think tank.

      As for people like me?

      I'm a young adult, in reasonably good health. A typical private-sector insurance policy costs around $2400 a year. If I make claims, the insurer will do what it can to drop me - whether it's conveniently failing to send me bills, finding that I made a small typo on my contract papers, or jacking up my rates to get me to quit.

      Technically, I'm an insurance risk. Because of asthma I had when I was a child, although it doesn't bother me now, if I reported my medical records honestly, I could be turned down! Fortunately for me, back when I went to RCHP (later HIP), they lost my early medical records. So, since I've only been hospitalized once, and that was for a work-related zoonotic infection rather than respiratory issues, I don't count as having a pre-existing condition. But that's not right, that a healthy person could be turned away.

      To add to that, having insurance coverage basically grants access to doctors. Medical care in this country costs too much for people to pay for it on their own. One reason why, of course, is that our prescription drugs are sold at artificially inflated prices, rather than at the international market prices, thanks to pharmacorp lobbying. There's also CYA by doctors, performing or prescribing drugs or tests without need just to keep grumpy or lawsuit-happy patients off their backs. But let's disregard that. What I mean is that for the private insurers to not offer an affordable plan with good coverage is to consign the poor or previously ill to the ER - where their care costs us all more, and generally has poorer outcomes than earlier-stage care.

      Also, remember that $2400/year I mentioned? What's the medical loss ratio on that, eh? I bet it's well below 80%, meaning they spend more than 20% of it on administrative overhead, ridiculously high salaries to their CEOs and top staff, etc., etc. Compare that to single-payer programs, whose medical loss ratios are over 90%. Why? Because the people who run them are dedicated civil servants, not murderers for profit. Civil servants accept a lower salary than private industry could offer them, in exchange for fairly good benefits and fairly steady work.

      And single-payer systems don't turn people away. If you're a permanent resident or citizen, in most places with single-payer systems, you are automatically enrolled. Maybe you can opt out, certainly you can supplement the single-payer medical access with private insurance, but everyone has access to coverage.

      Look at the way the Canadians do it. Sure, there are long waits for care - for non-urgent conditions. If I'm having a stroke, I can go to the ER and they'll treat me immediately. If I have a sore shoulder, well, I can probably wait a few months and take aspirin in the meantime.

      "You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams." -- Dr. Seuss

      by Shaviv on Thu Apr 15, 2010 at 07:41:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  "Health care is a privilege, not a right." (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      marina, don mikulecky


      I'd love to meet a teabagger who'd listen to me for just a minute.

      Hey, 'bagger, here's one for ya:

      In "socialized medicine," the government pays the salaries of all the health care workers, including doctors, nurses, lab techs, etc.

      One position they don't pay for is claims processors. They don't need to. There aren't any claims!

      If you get sick, you go see a doctor. If you get injured, you go to the hospital. You get treated. You go home.

      The people who treated you - doctor, nurses, lab staff - get their government paychecks when scheduled.

      Why do you make such a big fat hairy deal about this? Do you really like paying co-pays and deductibles? Do you enjoy knowing that your capitalist insurance company is going to cover all the services that were provided to you? Or do you worry that they'll find some loophole that will enable them to stick you with the charges for all those services that aren't covered by your plan? Or deny your claim entirely because your last payment was 3 days late because your landlady said you don't have a grace period on your rent anymore because you've been late too many times?

      Hey, 'bagger, why do you hate America?

      "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag, carrying a cross." - Sinclair Lewis

      by 1BQ on Thu Apr 15, 2010 at 07:50:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It has FAILED wherever tried (0+ / 0-)

      it is a childlike worldview to put a "different" few in charge.

      •  Man are you uninformed! There are myriad (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        examples that make your statement nonsense!  In fact I'd say your use of


        is projection.  Where did you come up with it?

        An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

        by don mikulecky on Thu Apr 15, 2010 at 07:58:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  And here is an example... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        don mikulecky

        It has FAILED wherever tried
        it is a childlike worldview to put a "different" few in charge.

        ...of what happens in an intellectually neutered society, where critical thinking skills are deliberately discouraged and most institutions of learning have been purposefully redesigned to reward obedience, indoctrinate instead of educate, and create a condition of imposed ignorance.

        Illegal Alien: Term used by the descendents of foreign colonizers to refer to the descendents of indigenous people

        by mojada on Thu Apr 15, 2010 at 08:19:30 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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