Everything is socialists now

>> Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I am some what fascinated by the right wings ability to kill words. The cottage industry they built up to manipulate the electorate through dog whistle and fear is as impressive at is scary. The relentless message discipline combined with an utter carelessness for the actual meaning of words has allowed them to turn what used to be words of art, words with actual definitions, into meaningless terms. The quintessential term that the right has flogged to death is liberal but i have a feeling that socialism is right behind it.

I chalk it all up to a combination of laziness, greed/entitlement, and an utter conviction that the are never wrong and no one else has good points. Laziness prevents the right from creating legitimate policy points open for debate. Greed/Entitlement tells them that they deserve to be on top, that they deserve to be rewarded regardless of merit. The utter conviction lets them rationalize everything they do to achieve their entitlement. The end result is a use of words like "socialism" as a scare tactic devoid of any real meaning.

Lets take the case of Rep. Steve King (r IA).

So in the end this is something that has to come with a, if there’s a push for a socialist society, a society where the foundations of individual rights and liberties are undermined and everybody is thrown together, living collectively off of one pot of resources earned by everyone. That is, this is one of the goals they have to go to is same-sex marriage because it has to plow through marriage in order to get to their goal. They want public affirmation. They want access to public funds and resources. Eventually all those resources will be pooled because that’s the direction we’re going. And not only is it a radical social idea, it is a purely socialist concept in the final analysis.

the first thing that pops to mind is that what he is describing sounds an awful lot like, communism and not socialism. Or maybe the first question is what does marriage have to do with owning the means of production? what does gay marriage have to do with economic theory? You might also ask whether or not we currently live in a closed interconnected system where everyone relies on the work of others. Finally you could ask yourself if representative king is in need of psychiatric help.

The result of rants like king's that just throw in the term socialism for no reason other to say BOO! is that the word becomes devoid of all meaning and is useless in actual debates. Think about how judicial activism is utterly useless in a debate about the role of the judiciary in our society. It has no meaning either proscriptive or descriptive. I feel like thats the point we are at with socialism. Sure it still has a general technical definition but the plain meaning of the word is totally worthless and vague. try and talk to a right winger about the details of what is and is not socailism and in all likelihood you will probably just hear about how crappy liberals and democrats are and how conservative women are hotter than liberal women.

The right thrives on shutting down intelligent conversation, thought and debate. Killing the meaning of words that are useful as part of debate fits perfectly with their mo. Reckless disregard for the truth or for any accuracy in what they are describing kills political discourse. Socialism has come to mean everything short of libertarian paradise of private firefighting and road making. why? why must they kill words?


Is Obama paying back David Paterson?

>> Monday, September 21, 2009

There has been a minor dust up regarding President Obama urging Gov Paterson of NY not to seek reelection. We saw Michael Steele make the assertion that it was "curious" on why the White House would ask New York Gov. David Paterson (D) not to run for reelection in 2010.

"I found that to be stunning, that the White House would send word to one of only two black governors in the country not to run for reelection,"
"It raises a curious point for me. I think Gov. Paterson's numbers are about the same as [New Jersey] Gov. [Jon] Corzine's. The president is with Gov. Corzine."

The implication here is that Obama is paying back Gov Paterson for not choosing Caroline Kennedy to replace Sen Hillary Clinton. This is the argument made forcefully by Professor Darren Hutchinson at Dissenting Justice here and here. I disagree with Professor Hutchinsons analysis on several points. He makes the link between Corzine just as Steele does but this is a bad comparison as steve benen points out.

First, Corzine and Paterson are not exactly in the same boat, and the comparison is silly. Corzine is running this year; polls show him trailing but closing the gap; and there wasn't a stronger candidate last year, waiting in the wings. Paterson is up next year; polls show him with almost comically low approval ratings; and state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo (D) is strongly favored by voters, both among Democrats and among voters in general.

Professor Hutchinson makes several other points involving the role that race plays here. I am not going to deny that patterson's opponents may be racially motivated. i dont have evidence either way. What i could say is that it places the president in an awkward position when Gov Paterson runs and gets trounced by Cuomo. He has to either support one of the only black governors in the country in a losing bid risking charges of racial bias or he has to back cuomo instigating charges such as the ones that prof. hutchinson makes, favoritism for elites, pay for play etc. It is better for Obama to try and head off this type of choice.

Developing a deeper bench of african american candidates is an important goal. backing a losing candidate because he is black is not. paterson running creates a mess and its not something obama will want to deal with. obama has shown himself to be adverse to these types of complications. he wants the safe noncontroversial candidate ala joe lieberman over lamont.

The point is that i think there are very compelling reasons for Obama to urge Paterson not to run that have nothing to do with the Kennedy appointment fiasco. the world wont end if paterson runs but it will make obama's life more difficult.


Race and Colorblindness

>> Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I have been extremely busy but David has a link and post up on racial views of children that have implications for the way we treat race in society and i wanted to discuss it.

It is a very good piece, particularly because it explodes a lot of myths. One is that diverse schools are not a panacea that will lead to cross-racial friendship and understanding. Apparently not: students in integrated schools still tend to self-segregate dramatically. Of course, they do that in segregated schools too -- the article claims that only 8% of White kids and 15% of Black kids have a "best friend" of the opposite race -- but integrated schools don't seem to help.

Second, the article takes aim at what I have elsewhere called colorphobia: the fear of race as a conceptual category. The article opens by noting the failure of a study which sought to measure the effect of multicultural and egalitarian messaging by parents to young children. The problem was that the parents resisted engaging in specific race-talk as required by the study parameters. Some dropped out entirely, others just didn't say anything beyond extremely vague bromides like "everyone is equal". And, unsurprisingly, this had very little effect on the attitudes of young children.

The first step in treating a problem is admitting that you have a problem. This post goes directly to the heart of a major problem in contemporary politics and American Society--the failure to acknowledge race as a legitimate factor in decisions. The recent trend among conservatives and the public at large seems to be in favor of a colorblind system akin to that exacted in france where race and ethnicity data wasnt even collected until recently.

We see strains of this thought most often in reverse discrimination cases where the majority is discriminated against. Personally im not really in favor of protecting the majority with the 14th Amendment in the way that prevents all considerations of race. reading the 14th Amendment to prevent racial considerations is a way to prevent direct action aimed at eliminating systematic discrimination. While it makes sense in theory to treat equally qualified people with no regard for skin color in truth there is no complete equality in two candidates. Each will be better than the other at certain things and racial diversity itself has value.

The study David cites shows that children who are not given serious information on race pick up the generally negative and seperational tendencies of our society at large. By not recognizing that the differences need to be addressed and not papered over we are locking in the traditional systematic views that regard racial differences as being important. It typifies the problems of the colorblind system. Existing problems cannot be ignored and they dont work themselves out.

Im sure there is a ton of literature on this out there but i just wanted to make the colorblind legal connection explicit


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