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Tag Archive: Socialism

The myth of a democratic socialist society funded by capitalism is finished

Posted: Thursday, September 6, 2012 (11:35 pm), by John W Gillis


Quote of the Day for Thursday, September 6th, 2012:

Janet Daley, in The Telegraph, explaining to her fellow Britons why “We should tune in to the Romney and Ryan show”:

What is being challenged is nothing less than the most basic premise of the politics of the centre ground: that you can have free market economics and a democratic socialist welfare system at the same time. The magic formula in which the wealth produced by the market economy is redistributed by the state – from those who produce it to those whom the government believes deserve it – has gone bust. The crash of 2008 exposed a devastating truth that went much deeper than the discovery of a generation of delinquent bankers, or a transitory property bubble. It has become apparent to anyone with a grip on economic reality that free markets simply cannot produce enough wealth to support the sort of universal entitlement programmes which the populations of democratic countries have been led to expect. The fantasy may be sustained for a while by the relentless production of phoney money to fund benefits and job-creation projects, until the economy is turned into a meaningless internal recycling mechanism in the style of the old Soviet Union.

Contrary to what many know-nothing British observers seem to think, the message coming out of Tampa was not Tea Party extremism. It was just a reassertion of the basic values of American political culture: self-determination, individual aspiration and genuine community, as opposed to belief in the state as the fount of all social virtue. Romney caught this rather nicely in his acceptance speech, with the comment that the US was built on the idea of “a system that is dedicated to creating tomorrow’s prosperity rather than trying to redistribute today’s.” Or as Marco Rubio put it in his speech, Obama is “trying ideas that people came to America to get away from”.

I’m not sure why it took a Brit [correction: she’s American born and bred, but has been “over there” since 1965] to distill the real essence of the political quandary facing the States this year, but Ms. Daley certainly sees through to the core of the issue at hand. I took the title for this post from the subtitle of the Telegraph article, and it smartly gets to the point that wealth has to be created – and that requires work. When everyone gets a free lunch, pretty soon, not only is the lunchroom trashed by ingrates contemptuous of the worthlessness they’re given, but there’s no longer any lunch to give out either, because the lunch-makers have stopped working at lunch, and are also awaiting their own free lunches. The truth of the matter is that entitlements can only be permanently effected using slavery.

As Daley notes, the West as a whole, including the U.S., is truly at a crisis point, where the direction chosen will not simply mean yet another recalibration of the extent to which the social politics of the late 19th century will dominate the culture, but will signify the readiness of self-governed man to admit fundamental mistakes, and forge a path of reform. I suppose she’s right that the U.S. is uniquely positioned to lead here, and if we fail, I think it’s hard to overestimate the wreckage that will  likely follow.

It’s not just that so much of the prosperity in the world is dependent upon U.S. prosperity. If, down the road, the U.S., incapable of functioning under its mountain of debt, significantly devalues the dollar, or outright reneges on its sovereign debt, China, swarming with women-less men who have no prospects of marriage due to their insane abortion practices, would be highly likely to perceive the move as an act of aggression equivalent to war – and understandably so – not unlikely responding so as to set off a proverbial World War III. The crisis, then, is not primarily about cozy retirement, or commoditized medical technology, or tax rates, or even about the immorality of intergenerational theft; it’s about whether the legacy of 20th century consumerism will amount to a 21st century of precarious but effective prosperity, or one that devolves into cruel warfare and the widespread grinding poverty that characterized so many pre-capitalist societies, but without a feudal system of patronage to fall back on.

The Communist Party was my Nurse Ratched

Posted: Monday, July 16, 2012 (11:49 pm), by John W Gillis


Movie Director (e.g. “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”) and Czechoslovakian expatriate Milos Forman had an op-ed in the NY Times last week, using his experiences under communism as a context for criticizing the use of the term “socialist” to describe President Obama:

The Communist Party was my Nurse Ratched, telling me what I could and could not do; what I was or was not allowed to say; where I was and was not allowed to go; even who I was and was not. Now, years later, I hear the word “socialist” being tossed around by the likes of Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and others. President Obama, they warn, is a socialist. The critics cry, “Obamacare is socialism!” They falsely equate Western European-style socialism, and its government provision of social insurance and health care, with Marxist-Leninist totalitarianism. It offends me, and cheapens the experience of millions who lived, and continue to live, under brutal forms of socialism.

Mr. Forman relates several anecdotes that paint a picture of just how disordered life was under Soviet domination, and how foreign it was to anything westerners experience as society, and at first blush, his seems like a very reasonable complaint. But when was the last time anyone sober suggested that Obama was trying to directly implement a Soviet-style order? Forman claims that Obama’s critics are “falsely equat[ing] Western European-style socialism … with Marxist-Leninist totalitarianism”, but that is an entirely false claim. I think the word “equating”, used in this sense, is one of the two or three stupidest words in modern parlance, but if Obama is being “equated” to anybody, it is to the Western European socialists whom Forman himself identifies by that very term! But he’s offended. Forman is either confused, or worse. After all, should we wait for him to criticize himself for calling the Western European-style practice “socialism”, when it clearly differs from Soviet-style communism? Does that usage also “cheapen the experience” of those who’ve lived under “brutal forms of socialism”? If we can’t call Obama a socialist without having to answer to the standard of Stalin, why don’t we have to answer to the standard of Stalin when we refer to the socialists whom Obama is actually “equated” to?

It turns out one can legitimately use the term “socialism” to refer to a whole trajectory of political thought and circumstance, some of which take on more brutal form than others. The point Obama’s critics bring to light, much to the chagrin of folks like Forman who don’t want to hear it, is that the, yes, socialist vision of Obama, and his Western comrades, differs from the brutal form of Soviet-style socialism in degree, not in kind – and that owing at least partly to method of implementation (what we could call evolution vs. revolution).

A later paragraph from Forman shows just how little he understands what’s at stake in the current struggle for America’s political soul:

I’m not sure Americans today appreciate quite how predatory socialism was. It was not — as Mr. Obama’s detractors suggest — merely a government so centralized and bloated that it hobbled private enterprise: it was a spoils system that killed off everything, all in the name of “social justice.”

Taking the ObamaCare debacle as a jumping-off point, do Forman, Obama, and the rest of the political left in America really not understand that the opposition to Obamacare is rooted not only in the valid fear of the thinly (if at all) disguised intent to hobble private enterprise through the centralization of government power, but also precisely in  disgust at the spoils system it inevitably creates, threatening to “kill off everything”, all in the name of “social justice”? Indeed, what a perfectly phrased indictment of the entire “tax and spend”, public-sector-centric, entitlements and subsidies mentality of the post-liberal left – whether American or Western Europe: a spoils system that kills off everything in the name of “social justice”. All we need now is a political movement aiming at establishing a classless society – one maybe where the “99%” decry the “inequality” represented by the “1%”, and begin the predative push to have them brought down to “our” level, and their un-equal privileges democratized… Forman, scarred by the crudeness of socialism’s full-bore frontal assault in Eastern Europe, can’t see it growing under his feet in the sophisticated West.

The western world is an end state: the comfy couch at the end of history

Posted: Wednesday, January 19, 2011 (10:03 pm), by John W Gillis


Quote of the Day for Wednesday, January 19th, 2011:

Walter Russell Mead, writing at The American Interest on the on-going decline – and largely unconsidered future – of the structures underpinning modern life in the West:

The word ‘developed’ contains an important assumption: that a historical process known as development (closely related to modernization — another problematic word) not only exists throughout the world, it culminates in a known end which has already been reached.  This word implies that countries like France, Canada and our own happy United States of America have reached the end of history, the summit of human achievement, stable and enduring arrangements in political economy that are unlikely to change much going forward.

Nothing could be stupider or less historically defensible than this belief, yet few assumptions are more widespread among the world’s intelligentsia, planners and, especially, bureaucrats.  Technological change has never been moving faster or with greater force than it is today as the implications of one revolution in IT after another work themselves out; the foundations of the global economic and political order are being shaken by the dramatic rise of new powers. Yet somehow many of us believe that the  western world is an end state: the comfy couch at the end of history rather than the launching pad for another great, disruptive leap into the unknown.

This is a smart essay from Mead that points out just how backward-looking the whole current debate over political economy is in America – and elsewhere. So-called conservatives are, of course, routinely accused of backwards, illiberal thinking (even though, at least in America, those known as politically conservative are almost uniformly advocating classically liberal policy). But even the left, with their pretentions of “progressing,” are not trying to move toward anything new, but are only doubling-down on a project that is already exhausted, even when viewed in the most favorable light.

Mead sees the best path forward in a new incarnation of liberalism. I suppose he’s right, at least at the white-board level, but the devil, as they say, is in the details. I think his view that the current state of liberalism is a continuing bulwark against socialism defies the growing evidence of the mainstreaming of a leftist politics of resentment, and the continued hostility to religion in public life emanating from the liberal institutions of influence (media, academia). Not to mention the ever-creeping scope of government. Maybe I’m misreading him. Then again, maybe he should similarly look at the evolution of socialism. Nonetheless, he’s a good read.

Free Speech and the Peaceful Public Order

Posted: Tuesday, January 11, 2011 (11:19 pm), by John W Gillis


I arrived home from my sister Mary’s funeral Saturday evening, and saw that Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and several other people had been shot during some kind of meet-and-greet in her congressional district. I’d never heard of Giffords, but was discouraged that such a thing would happen – it’s hard enough just given our political process to get good people to run for public office, and it was of course a terrible tragedy for the people involved. It seemed to me that it had been a long time since something like that had happened.

As I read the AP story published on Boston.com, I began to get increasingly uncomfortable as the report progressively shifted from providing information about the tragedy and background on the people involved, to inserting accusatory innuendo aimed at various opponents of the Democrat Party and overall leftist political agenda: repeatedly finding a way to mention Sarah Palin by name in a setting suggestive of her being a menace to the lives of her political opponents; dredging up a reminder of a man who once threatened Nancy Pelosi over the telephone; dropping in a reference about a mad gunman from California the article tied to “conservatives” while simultaneously reporting that he wanted to “start a revolution” (note to moronic left-wing journalists: conservatives, by definition, are anti-revolutionary); pointing out that Giffords’ TEA Party-backed Republican opponent this past fall had fired a gun at a rally during the campaign; and suggesting in less-than-subtle language that this tragedy should be interpreted as the culminating denouement of “a highly charged political environment” that had hitherto not “reached the point of actual violence.”

I was, needless to say, dripping with disgust at the sleaziness of the journalism by the time I finished the story. Even the sketchy details in the earliest stories were enough to make it obvious that this was the handiwork of a deranged idiot, not an attempted political assassination. But the willingness of the leftist journalist class (and I quickly discerned that several other “mainstream” propaganda channels had picked up essentially the same meme) to immediately exploit the tragedy as an opportunity to try to score political points was just truly revealing – and infuriating.

Over the next several days, as we all know, we have seen an avalanche of contemptible opportunism from the leftists, as they’ve tried not only to pin the blame for the violence on the usual opposition scapegoats (Palin, Beck, Limbaugh, talk radio in general…), but have taken to self-reporting a mysterious hubbub of “concern” over “inflammatory political rhetoric:” an ailment that quite obviously knows no medicine except the silencing of such opposition.

And this new ethic of “civility” is being trumpeted by even some of the most screwball partisans in the leftist media! Even Keith Olbermann is in on the act! Keith Olbermann! This is the man who, on his April 23rd, 2008 “Countdown” show, back when Hilary Clinton was an opponent to Barack Obama for the Democrat nomination for U.S. President, and therefore a legitimate target for leftist bile under the ethics of the revolutionary order, wished on the air for “somebody who can take her into a room, and only he comes out," this on account of the "negativity, for which she is mostly responsible."

Negativity? Gee, sound familiar? This despicable clown all but called for someone to snuff Clinton out in order to save the narrative of the left’s favorite candidate from criticism, and the other left-wing loonies in the so-called “mainstream media” largely yawned and looked the other way. Three years later, he’s in the vanguard of a reactionary assault force intent on suppressing criticism of the leftist agenda by exploiting a personal and national tragedy to call for political speech censorship – or “an end to inflammatory rhetoric.” Priceless. You couldn’t sell fiction this corny.

The history of the leftists, from the Jacobins to the Bolsheviks to the Olbermanns, routinely resorts to characterizing criticism as “extremism” or “reactionaryism” in an attempt to marginalize and suppress it – a useful tactic when you can’t win the intellectual battle, and are stuck trying to sell a bagful of lies. Not only is this chicanery in and of itself, but in the American context, it is thoroughly disrespectful of the reality of what this country has managed to nurture as its political life.

Admittedly, being called a racist, or some other clever form of ”hater,” simply for opposing a puerile and idiotic political agenda, is frustrating (not to mention mendacious on the part of the accusers). On the other hand, for some reason, left-leaning people in this country resent being called socialists simply for trying to advance socialist ideas. And for some other reason, libertarians often want to be called conservatives, even though about the only thing they want to conserve is their bankrolls (and, I suppose, the U.S. Constitution, which is ironically an archetypical document of liberalism).

So while, yes, there are fissures in the political fabric of our society, they are fissures that run only from philosophy to rhetoric – and branding, or marketing. Political violence in the U.S. is virtually unheard of – unlike so many places in the world. Why is the media fixating on the Giffords shooting while giving short attention to those who died in the shooting – including a U.S. District Court Justice and a nine year-old? It may very well be in part because Giffords is a Democrat (the judge, on the other hand, was a G.H.W. Bush appointee), therefore facilitating the propagation of the above discussed agitprop, but I suspect is has more to do with the fact that elected officials are so rarely targeted for violence in the U.S. Even looking more broadly, I can’t recall any political violence in the U.S. in about 40 years, save a couple of abortionists who were assassinated in retribution for their death-dealing. People like Hinckley (and Loughner) are  lunatics, not partisans.

The idea of “overheated political rhetoric” fomenting violence in the USA is absurd – and worse than absurd: it is a dangerous threat to the country’s ability to retain the relatively peaceful political climate we enjoy. The left would like to suppress dissent, but that cannot be allowed to happen. The liberals who formed this country were so much wiser than their unfortunate French cousins precisely because they understood the value of political moderation, and the value of allowing political opposition secure standing.

Some of the people being lambasted by the leftists today for their “inflammatory rhetoric” do indeed go over the top sometimes, and the Ed Schultzes and Keith Olbermanns on the left are even worse; and we’d all be better off if political discourse was always more polite and more thoughtful; but that’s not the important point at all.

Our institution of free speech is crucially important to maintaining not just an environment ripe for good intellectual discourse, but, more importantly, the very requirement of a peaceful public order that is capable of solving its political differences at the ballot box, regardless of how much yelling and screaming precedes it. Only a fool would fail to recognize what a good that political freedom truly is for society.

I can’t image that socialists are very good chess players.

Posted: Thursday, January 6, 2011 (6:21 am), by John W Gillis


Quote of the Day for Thursday, January 6th, 2011:

Some pseudo-anonymous commenter calling him/her/it-self “rabbit,” commenting on David Thompson’s blog, on a post about an article written by an English genius who is advocating what is for all intents and purposes the public annexation of spare bedrooms in “under-occupied” English houses:

I can’t image that socialists are very good chess players. They can never seem to see more than one move ahead.

Priceless. Don’t even ask me how I ended up reading that post – never mind the comments – but this comment is priceless, because it is so true.

Idealism Unencumbered by Reality: Obamacare, pt.1

Posted: Saturday, January 2, 2010 (6:03 pm), by John W Gillis


obamagig George Orwell, in his 1946 essay “Politics and the English Language” said: “Political language . . . is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” There is no more apt description of the political discourse that has defined the “healthcare” issue in this country over the past year. Now that we’ve seen what the Democratic leadership has proposed for legislation, would it be out of line to suggest that someone might owe Joe Wilson an apology?

Of course, it was almost impossible to know much of substance of what was being proposed until the 2,000+ page monstrosities were actually submitted as bills – documents our elected representatives wouldn’t even have read before voting on. For months, the public “debate” consisted of little more than partisan posturing from both major parties – save for some genuine disagreements over public funding of abortion, and the so-called “public option” insurance plan. Despite the constant “healthcare” rhetoric, the real target of political muscle-flexing is the medical insurance industry. Admittedly, questions around requirements for treatment rationing did arise while the public option was still on the table, so perhaps actual healthcare questions may come back into play at some point.

It is impossible to draft coherent policy without a sound understanding of the issues at stake, and it is impossible to understand the issues at stake without coherent definitions of the terms of the debate. The thing that bothers me most deeply about this obvious boondoggle is the almost total lack of interest – among politicians, journalists, or the general public – in making sure the issues are understood before taking a position or making a decision. As usual, we are, collectively, satisfied by an idealism unencumbered by facts, or by any kind of reasoning from ideas to consequences. I fear an economic train wreck coming, masquerading as yet more self-righteous do-goodism, and arrogating ever more power over people’s lives to the state. This is not reform, it’s simply the entrenchment of Big Brother.

The ideal at issue can be summed up as the universal right to healthcare. That sounds great, but what does it mean? In order to get from ideal to sound policy, all three terms (universal, right, and healthcare) need to be understood – not only insofar as their general implications through historical usage would suggest, but also precisely how they are being circumscribed by the current context. We are far from any useful common understanding of any of this. In discussion, this ideal is sometimes modified to propose that everyone has a right to adequate healthcare. The “adequate” modifier is a step in the right direction, recognizing at least that there is not a lately discovered unlimited right to whatever we call healthcare, but at the same time, it really just adds a fourth term to the question requiring resolution. If we don’t know what adequate healthcare is, how can we craft policy to achieve it?

The central term of the debate, healthcare, is so vague and ill-defined that it can mean whatever anyone wants it to mean at any given time, and it invariably does – and you can be sure that trend will continue. Not one of the main actors in this debacle would dare to publicly define exactly what constitutes “healthcare;” they’ll simply proclaim loudly that it must be reformed! It must therefore be noted that the central idea of President Obama’s primary domestic priority is a weasel word which nobody actually understands, or can articulate coherently! This is a textbook example of how a commitment to a vague concept can be abused for unrestricted leverage in policy determination. The point, after all, is not actually healthcare (whatever that means), but “shaping the future of America.”

I am reminded of a saying that I must confess I once accepted as axiomatic (as does virtually everyone on the progressive left): that the rich get richer while the poor get poorer. No doubt the poor, like everyone else, sometimes do get poorer, and there are indeed scenarios where the above dynamic would hold true (e.g. with land grabs by the wealthy, or other usurpations of finite resources). But the saying is usually invoked as a denunciation of wealth growth in a capitalist context, where it makes absolutely no sense. As American wealth has grown, all but a tiny fraction of the populace has seen their standard of living rise to levels simply unimaginable to the vast majority of those whom history has called the poor. It turns out that a rising tide does indeed lift all boats, whether the progressives like it or not. The problem is that all boats don’t rise equally, and envy perceives this lack of uniformity in progress as an injustice, despite the fact that the process is actually working for everybody. Thus, it is an envy-occasioned blindness that gives rise to the mischaracterization of universal but uneven improvement as being a case of “the poor get poorer.”

Likewise, the actual problems in our healthcare system, and/or our healthcare delivery system, hardly seem to me to be of crisis proportion (after all, our healthcare system, by and large, is excellent, and the envy of the rest of the world). I agree that is prudent to be concerned about the rate of increase in healthcare costs proportional to the rest of the economy, but a large part of that cost increase is traceable to the technical revolution in the medical field, which is making more and more treatments available to people, yet which do not – and cannot – come free. Twenty or thirty years ago, we spent much less on medical costs, but we got much less in return. I don’t see anyone trying to turn back the clock on medical technology.

Because of the prevalence of third-party payers, whose role ends up encouraging the over-use of medical resources for non-critical and even frivolous problems, and who in turn have to bundle increased usage costs from both non-critical over-use and constantly emerging technological advances into their own pricing structure, consumers encounter premium increases that may not reflect their own usage of the healthcare system, eventually reaching levels that are economically disruptive, and even pricing them out of the market. We can talk about subsidizing these costs, but unless the causal issues are addressed, the costs are merely being shifted from one pocket to another.

The presence of these third-party payers has also distorted the pricing models of the healthcare providers themselves, inflating the pricing of direct payment markets to sometimes ridiculous levels, effectively eliminating the option of patients paying directly for as-needed a la carte care from providers, as had been the almost universal practice until very recently. This is part of what frosts so many young people who would prefer to stay out of the health insurance market (and who are likely to be forced now to take on these spiraling prices of the third-parties, both directly through premiums, and indirectly through taxation), that the costs for services for those without insurance plans are far and away higher than the insured indirectly pay through their third-party payer. Those who are uninsured not by choice are in an even worse situation. Simply requiring open accounting of provider pricing could go a long way in empowering cash customers (i.e. patients) in search of a fair deal.

The fact that the Democrats tried so hard to include a “public option” in the reform package demonstrates clearly that they do not understand the problems inherent in third-party payer systems, fail to see how sound risk management on the part of payers can limit those problems, and somehow still fail to grasp how much more distorted (not to mention corrupt) the market would be with an increased role for public agencies. It’s not that problems don’t exist in the delivery system; it’s that the Democrats seem bound and determined to make them worse in the name of making them better.

If the basic practical problem is that “healthcare” has become too expensive, there is absolutely nothing in the structure of the proposed reforms that will ameliorate that – in fact, all the guilty parties involved in this know full well that costs will increase. The Chief Actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has suggested that, with the Reid bill in place, healthcare spending, as a percentage of GDP, will increase from 17% to 21% over the next decade. Nice reform. I also have to assume that this estimate is not assuming overall economic damage, due to the irresponsible tax increases associated with this plan, shrinking the projected GDP, which would almost surely raise the percentage of that GDP spent on government regulated healthcare to an even higher percentage.

If, as it appears, the primary objective is to make “coverage” available to more people, the obvious first step should be to repeal the anti-competitive 1945 McCarran-Ferguson Act, and the second step should be to set up supports for policy portability. What we get instead are Constitutionally dubious proposals to wreak havoc on the medical insurance industry, which appear so poorly thought out that it makes me wonder if this plan is really intended as a time bomb to get a nationalized program in place through the back door of private sector collapse. OK, that’s paranoid. Still…

And, of course, the one surefire way to realize immediate, significant healthcare cost reductions for everybody, tort reform, is, as always, nowhere on the Democrat’s radar as far as I know, despite the fact that, again, everyone involved knows what a real difference this would make. What a disgrace.

Eat the Rich?

Posted: Wednesday, November 18, 2009 (11:31 pm), by John W Gillis


So, a majority of people in the country, at least according to this poll, want somebody else to pay for the looming health care program – you know, like those rich people,  who are most likely rich because they’re cheats, anyway. Why am I not surprised? Isn’t this just the perfect embodiment – and inevitable end-result – of modernism’s rejection of personal responsibility in favor of paternalistic political super-structures? I suppose I exaggerate though; the actual end-results of these left wing muggings of the rich have not infrequently climaxed with their murder, not their robbery – but we’re more moral than that in this country, right?

The welfare state may start out with the intention of protecting the weak from their inability to compete successfully, but without a solid and explicit grounding in virtue, it ends up inculcating widespread irresponsibility, and finding itself having to resort to thievery to survive. How is it that we haven’t learned this yet? To those who do not look too deeply at the means being employed, confiscatory tax policies might give the appearance of achieving social justice, but they are driven by a politics of envy, systematically breaking down the bonds of communal charity, through both the embittering of the few through the violation of their property rights, and even more so in the coarsening of the many, whose capacity for gratefulness, goodwill, and even civic responsibility, is undermined by an ethic of entitlement and usurpation. If the means you employ are criminal (like, stealing), your results will not be just, regardless of what you choose to call them.

Given the opportunity, and enough easy living to break down the backbone of self-discipline, the reality is that way too many people will not only sign up for a free lunch, but will order the filet if it’s on the menu. The problem is that there’s no such thing as a free lunch, and those who advertise it as such are either knaves or fools. Of course, once they’ve targeted whom they will coerce the payment from, there’s no longer a lot of question as to which they are.

Slander as Political Fashion

Posted: Thursday, September 17, 2009 (11:57 pm), by John W Gillis


Boy, am I growing weary of the political environment. What George W Bush did for for international relations with his “with us or against us” rhetoric, Barack Obama is doing to the political climate within the country with his treatment of political dissent. Of course, nations actually do operate in an environment of mutual belligerence, which is forever flaring up as actual warfare in some corner or another, whereas nations are supposed to operate, internally, with a civility stemming from civitas, but why split hairs?

Perhaps it’s unfair to blame Obama for the whole mess, but then again, it’s not. He’s the unquestioned leader of the ruling left wing in this country, with the power and ability to set the tone, and he sits back and watches the fissure. Whether that’s because of incompetence, or because he senses political advantage in it, I’ll let the reader judge – we’ll assume he doesn’t enjoy it for its own sake. He may pose as someone seeking unity (show me a politician that doesn’t!), but in the real world, he uses and approves actions and tactics that reveal a very different kind of leader.

So, we have Rep. Joe Wilson being censured by the House for blurting out “You lie!” during an Obama campaign speech before the joint Houses. Can we call it that? Maybe an infomercial? No, he didn’t pay for it. I think “policy address” is the official term – I’m not sure – but whatever it’s called, it was nothing but a powerful man using the bully pulpit available to him to advance his agenda. Nothing wrong with that, but why is it being treated as if it were some kind of sacred religious service?

It’s kind of creepy, really, the way the setting is being portrayed in the public propaganda narrative. I will admit that, for a few seconds, I felt like I was watching British Parliament instead of the U.S. Congress, but the “sacred” halls of American power were built for the rough and tumble of modern liberal politics, not for the circumspect adulation of Divinely appointed royalty that the whole liberal enterprise set out to overthrow. And, like many, I don’t remember a previous occupant of the Pennsylvania Avenue throne whom the public propaganda narrative depicted as deserving of such circumspect adulation. Creepy, I tell you…

But I think what bothers me the most about the whole affair is that Wilson is being accused of introducing incivility into the proceedings. What a load of crap. Undoubtedly, Wilson was absolutely fuming over just having been called a liar in front of both Houses of Congress, on national TV, by the President. Obama set the tone from his pulpit, and Wilson fired back in defiance from the cheap seats. It had been only perhaps 15 seconds before Wilson’s outburst that Obama had accused opponents of his, who included “prominent politicians” (and while speaking to the joint Congress, it’s pretty tough to misconstrue that reference), of lying about the implications of his proposed end-of-life panels of experts: “It is a lie, plain and simple” he stated baldly. Even I was dumbfounded at the time that he would say such a thing, and I’m not even a radio or cable talk show host, nor a prominent politician.

So we see yet again that we reap what we sow. But who is even talking about Obama’s incivility, his tactics of divisiveness and marginalization, or his responsibility for setting the tone of discourse at the level of personal insult? Incredibly, Teflon Barak just accepts Wilson’s apology, and sits back while Wilson gets savaged by Obama’s supporters, even to the point of being slandered as a racist for his outburst. Incredible.

At least there’s people like Scott Harrington over at the Wall Street Journal uncovering the dishonesty of Obama’s characterization of the examples he uses in his demonization of the insurance carriers. All that really seems to matter here to the President is that people’s contempt for, and distrust of, the insurance companies is fed and enforced. President “Hope, Not Fear” is willing to fudge the facts in order to scare people into thinking they need to buy his socialist snake oil to protect them from the ogres of the business world. Disgusting. Disgraceful. And depressing.

Meanwhile, the left wing picks up this theme of the “racist” calumny, which has been, at a minimum, simmering in the pot since the election cycle, and which has ever since been pulled out, time and again, to smear Obama’s opponents, and they bring it to an absolute boil. It’s not just effete TV celebrities and fatuous journalists slinging the slander now, but high-level political leadership among the left wing, including former president Carter, Rep. Steve Cohen, Rep. Hank Johnson, and undoubtedly many more I could find if I wanted to waste my time Googling for the info.

Suddenly, the air is ablaze with insinuations that opposition to Obama’s policies involves “elements of racism.” The verbal trick here is to morph the idea that racists are opposed to Obama into the idea that people who are opposed to Obama are racists. The trick is made all the more clever by feigning subtlety by referring to “elements.” If racists are opposed to Obama, them some of the opposition to Obama is racially motivated, therefore opposition to Obama is at least partially racially motivated. Hence, the implication is clear: If you are opposed to Obama, you are part of the partially racist opposition, and therefore you are (at least) partially racist. Not that opposition to his agenda has anything to do with his person anyway, but there I go splitting hairs again, and getting off-narrative.

This is shameful, of course – and sinful – to be slandering people with the “racist” label as a means of trying to advance a political agenda. This is so regardless of how corrupt the political agenda is: even a noble cause is irreparably defiled by ignoble tactics. But aren’t such tactics the very warp and woof of progressive political argumentation? It angers me – as it is angering an increasing number of people – to be called a racist for being a political dissenter (as I snicker at the thought of what these same snide and cynical folks would have had to say about my support for Alan Keyes’ presidential bid in 2000), but in a sense, it’s just the typical fare that is served up for dissenters from the orthodoxy of progressivism. There’s just an assumption at work that if you reject the progressive orthodoxy, you have bad motives.

It’s not because you think the programs are bad, it’s not because you think you have a better idea, it’s not even because you’re mistaken, it’s because of your bad motives. Hence, if you oppose so-called liberal (socialist, really) policies concerning the welfare of the poor, it’s obviously because you hate the poor. It’s not possible that you think those policies will actually be bad for the poor, you just hate the poor. Case closed. “Hate” is a very important word in the lexicon of the left – it explains just about all dissent. How clever.

But this “racism” game is going to run aground before long. There are too many people seeing through the facile “solutions” of the left – and especially of the salesman-in-chief. That means there are increasing numbers of people who are going to be uneasy – if not outright offended – by the mean-spiritedness of the chimerical “racism” slander, and they’re going to push back.

Suddenly, Nancy Pelosi is fretting about the right wing stirring up a frenzy of violent opposition (shades of “right wing terror threats” in the form of returning Iraq veterans!), but she couldn’t be more wrong. People get violent when they’re angry, and the Rush Limbaughs of the world don’t get people angry (except liberals, that is). What gets people angry – angry enough to fight – is being insulted, having their character and integrity questioned.

Whatever anger is out there on the right is not there because of political activism or talk-radio manipulation, it’s there because these are good people, who are good neighbors, who love their country, and who are fed up with being told they are “haters” of one stripe or another simply because they retain some semblance of conservative moral and/or fiscal values. Nancy Pelosi is too much the stooge of her ideology to see that, but I think Barack Obama is politically astute enough to recognize it. When the violence comes, it won’t come from the right, from those folks “clinging to their guns and religion” who place so much importance on law and right public order, and I think Obama knows that too. What I don’t know is whether or not he thinks he can survive politically without ratcheting down the “hate” speech. I suspect that will depend on what happens over the next few months with his health insurance takeover plan. We shall see.