Friday, February 19, 2016

What Difference Does a Name Make?

I get emails and posts from all over the world; mostly political of course. Some are from individuals but most are from organizations pleading their cause---from both the political left and right, as well as the middle. Many of the stories are BS; inflated of some event. Some are downright false or misleadingly provide some imaginary "what if" scenario. When you write as often as I do on the subject of politics, especially global politics, it just comes with the territory. But it seems that most of emails and posts I get that are the worse at misleading comes from the political extremes. By that, I mean the ones I find most troubling in how they attempt to mislead their perspective readers. Let me give you an example, in fact, the most common example and the one which seems to be showing up the most, especially with the Presidential primaries under way and the unexpected death of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Scalia.

There's been this sudden rash of "news" (very much in quotes) claiming the Scalia was "murdered" while on his hunting trip in Texas; a misconstrued report that there was a pillow over his head. It turns out that the pillow was up against the headboard above his head, not over his face. But never let the facts get in the way of a good story as the late great William Randolph Heart said (as would some more modern media outlets would still agree). It seems, as they claim, there was a "conspiracy" by a secret "Communist" or "Socialist" (the terms are used interchangeably) within or associated with the Obama Regime to silence this great arbiter of the Conservative Right. Uh, no. No conspiracy. He simply died of a heart attack in his bed. Now, as for this secret "Communist" or "Socialist" cabal, that raises another matter.

It seems that too often---all too often---the political Far Right allege that there is a "Communist" or "Socialist" plot afoot or that somehow America is being transformed in a neo-Communist (or, again, Socialist) worker's gulag. Some even allege that Obama and Company have been working hand in red glove with Russia's Putin or with China to overthrow the government. Listen folks, as much as I dislike Obama and just about everything he stands for (which is something of an oxymoron), there is no Marxist plot here. Sorry. Yes, Obama has done some really stupid things (the "Fast and Furious" blunder comes immediately to mind), I think this is more of a reflection of his lack of political and professional experience (yes, Obama had some questionable influences on his early life, not to mention a somewhat mysterious adolescence and early adulthood). That lack of "seasoning" is reflected in his refusal to stop illegal immigration and gutting ICE and the Border Patrol instead of enforcing the Will of the American People. But to be fair, Ronald Reagan set the stage when he authorized amnesty for illegals then living in the United States, and then all of his successors, including George W. Bush, repeatedly refused to do anything about illegals in this country except provide a lot of lip service until they decided to just ignore us altogether.
Then too, Obama has done just about everything he can to prod us into a boot war with Syria while doing little with regards to ISIS, Boko Harem, or even Al Qaeda (yes, Osama bin Laden was eliminated under his administration, but it was the independent actions of the Secretary of Defense and Joint Chiefs of Staff which made it happen amid Obama's tendency to delay which is why he looks to dumbfounded in the photos I suspect) and opening the doors for Moslem refugees. But again to be fair, "Dubya" was the one who opened this hornet's nest (more like Pandora's Box) when he toppled Saddam Hussein without either a long term occupation plan or contingency plan (because they didn't understand the regional politics) in case things went south. Turned out there was no weapons of mass destruction. Just a bunch of greedy Western bastards looking to control oil and gas reserves while tweaking Iran's and Russia's noses. But, none of this constitutes "Communism" or "Socialism". Just basically incompetence combined with a power grab for control of resources.

What about Benghazi? Well, that again wasn't about "Communism" or anything else except internal US politics, mishandling of intelligence, a lack of political fortitude, incompetence (again) and a cover up that appears to be nothing less than treasonous or perhaps criminal behavior (or both). In fact, none of this is any indication of "Communism" or "Socialism, but I think I know what is. The Affordable Healthcare Act or as it's more commonly known, Obamacare. It seems this one item is where this all starts. The idea is that healthcare is a "right" and that all Americans are entitled to basic health coverage. The concept isn't unique to Obama. It's not even unique to Bill Clinton's administration. Actually, national healthcare goes back decades. Even folks like Teddy Roosevelt, his cousin FDR, Truman, Kennedy, Johnson and even Richard Nixon thought some form of national healthcare was a good idea. However, none of them tried to enact it because they thought (correctly) that the political Will just wasn't there, as well as the fact that it would be a hard sell to the American Medical Association, national insurance providers, doctors, hospitals and so forth. However, in Europe and most of the developed world, some form of national healthcare exists. Most of it paid for through the government in the form of taxes, either individual and/or corporate. The US was the only industrial nation without some form of national healthcare for all its citizens. Kind of embarrassing if you think about it.

Where the Obama Regime went wrong was in both the type of healthcare it proposed and how it was enacted. The type of coverage most legislators were willing to at least consider, and would be the most easily administrated was the Single Healthcare Payer Program. This would provide a single source for insurance with different healthcare agencies opting to provide specific programs or underwriting a basic policy; additional coverage could be purchased via the marketplace depending on need and income level. Even most unions and small businesses agreed that this made the most sense. However, as we all know, that's not what we got. Secondly, the Supreme Court took the highly unusual (and some argue illegal) step of rewriting the bill brought before it. The Supreme Court is supposed to vote up or down on an issue, not rewrite it to fit the intent, which it did by redrafting it as a tax instead of leaving it as a policy proposal. As written, it was unconstitutional. As a tax, however, it was constitutional. In addition, Obama lied--blatantly and knowingly lied--to the members of Congress and more importantly, to the American People, about what the new law would allow. He wanted ACA to be his legacy. It will be his lie that will ultimately be his legacy. But is this "Socialism" or "Communism" any more than Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, or unemployment? Personally, I see it as a social safety net just like these and other programs, albeit done in a backhanded way. So, just what is "Socialism" and "Communism" and is that really where we're headed?

Socialism, which is an age old philosophy, calls for the common ownership of property, including the means of production and distribution with decisions to be made equally by the common ownership, that is, democratically. Direct democracy and republican democracy are an offshoot as well since the people decide among themselves how to govern. Think of it as a business where the employees are the owners. They all participate equally in the day to day operation of the business, as well as the decision making (unless agreed by vote otherwise) along with sharing the profit...or loss...equally. It's been in use in varying degrees in Northern Europe and Scandinavia with success since the end of World War II. There is, however, private ownership of homes, cars and so forth. However, with the recent influx of immigrants from Africa and the Middle East, mostly uneducated and untrained, the system throughout has begun to falter since the premise is that everyone contributes to the system. Many, if not the majority of these individuals have discovered that they can simply draw on the system without contributing anything back, so perhaps the greatest failure in the system is the lack of a common work ethic and a sense of community.

Communism, which has been discussed philosophically for more than two millennia in various forms, gained notice with the 1871 Paris Commune uprising following the fall of France's Napoleon III. However, other various attempts were made by agrarian and religious groups including some early and recent Christian sects. Nevertheless, it owes its familiarity to Germans Karl Marx and Freidrich Engels through their works, "Das Kapital" and "The Communist Manifesto". Essentially, Communism espouses a classless society where all are treated as equal in every aspect with common ownership of the means of production and distribution under worker councils or "soviets" in Russian with the ultimate goal of doing away with government altogether. What changed was it application with the success of Lenin's Bolsheviks in 1917, wherein a "dictatorship of the proletariat" was imposed in order to "aid in the transition" to a Communist society. Lenin's successor, Joseph Stalin, ensured that the dictatorship remained permanent and all control---economic, social and cultural---fell to the State; nothing would remain in private hands. Not home ownership, not businesses, not capital, not the media, not wage distribution and obviously, not guns or home defense; nothing. The State controlled workforce was viewed as a nationalized union managed by a single political party---the Communist Party. Even children were regarded as property of the State. Ultimately the system failed because it decayed from a lack of individualistic innovation; there was nothing to motivate productivity, quality or advances in technology, and it couldn't up with the Cold War.

Now, does either of these sound like what's happening to you? No, I didn't think so. So, where does that leave us? It leaves us with ideology which is just as bad as Communism and that is Fascism. It's origins date back to the ancient Greek Oligarchs of Athens, Rome's Caesars, other authoritarian governments. Modern Fascism came about through Italy's Benito Mussolini, who also referred to it a "Corporatism". Fascism is somewhat similar to Communism except in place of the State, corporations control government. Fascism borrows ideas from socialism and Communism such as national healthcare, unemployment, and so forth. However, unions are either outlawed or made impotent; to serve the needs to the corporation only by keeping employees on the work line and off the strike line; by making them accept whatever cuts or changes management deems necessary. With Fascism, corporations and government work hand in hand, though usually corporations have the senior hand while government serves as intermediary and manager but not always as each nation's traditions and culture is different and Fascism is nothing if not adaptable. This often includes public funding of corporations for private profits, a government/corporate "revolving door" , corporate dictate of government policies, influence or indirect control of elections and the judicial system and so forth. Essentially politicians wind up as little more than pawns or puppets and mouthpieces.

Under Fascism, we often see an increase in the militarization of law enforcement, gun control, surveillance and repression of opposing groups not to mention character assassinations, national militarization including "demonizing" other ideologies and governments as well as (justifying) direct and indirect military ventures, a perpetual "enemy" and an increase in propaganda through control of the media. Worse yet, is we tend to see an decline in wages, greater debt, and a separation of wealth. In most countries where Fascism was been applied, we see extreme wealth side by side with extreme poverty; a society of elites and one of everybody else. Both Fascism and Communism tend to had a single political apparatus. Under Communism, the party is the State which is also the powerbrokers. However, under Fascism this is not set in concrete so long each political party understand who is master. Also, capitalism, as an economic system, isn't compatible with Communism while it is with Socialism and Fascism (principal difference being in its application).

America, as most of you know, is now an Oligarchy, especially ever since the Supreme Court's error in upholding the Citizen's United ruling which determined corporations were "individuals" with the same rights as you and I, except one critical one. The Justices decided that money represents "free speech" and as such, corporations were free to donate what they like while you and I are capped. Obviously, some are more equal than others. This means corporations can essentially buy who they want openly and regardless of party affiliation. Meanwhile, we've all but lost our middle class with our largest and deepest income divide between the rich and everyone else. We have a surveillance state and a militarization of the nation's police forces, not to mention a perpetual war on "terror" and "war economy" to keep the nation's economic engine chugging along. With high unemployment and serious debt among the nation's youth (especially minorities), who also just so happen to be in the military recruitment range, we have a steady stream of available candidates for economic ventures under the guise of national security and expansion of "democracy". Meanwhile the government continues to make life easier for its corporate benefactors while chanting its populist rhetoric and all but ignoring our Founding Documents.

So, now that you have a better grasp of the definitions, where do you think America is actually headed now? The next time you read or hear someone say something is "Socialist" or "Communist" just ask yourself who benefited. You'll recognize the truth. In the end, your party affiliation doesn't matter, it's who benefits. For the diehard political partisans, drink up your blue or red Kool-Aide because as every six grader knows, blue and red makes green and that's the only color that matters.

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