No Really–Democrats Are Socialists

Democrats are socialists.

Well, not necessarily, but two can play at this game.

The argument of “No Really—What’s the Difference Between a Democrat and a Socialist?” appears to be that socialism is indistinguishable from communism; therefore, democratic socialists are not socialists, but democratic socialists, which term is interchangeable with socialists, but which is not actually socialism.

Hey! it’s her logic, not mine.

Bloomberg‘s Arit John writes:

After DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz failed to answer a question on the difference between a Democrat and a socialist, we asked a political scientist.

No other political scientist was available for comment, apparently. Or perhaps the writer was pressed for time.

Skipping ahead in the story a bit, it turns out that the sole political scientist consulted by Ms. John was one “John Ahlquist, an associate professor at the School of Global Policy and Strategy at the University of California at San Diego who has focused on the politics of economic inequality.”

There were no full professors available?

At the risk of inducing LOLs by Ms. John (“no, really”), “the politics of economic inequality” has a bit of a Leftist ring to it, yes?

What’s the difference between a Democrat and a socialist? As self-described democratic socialist Bernie Sanders makes a play for the Democratic presidential nomination, party chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz says there are more pressing questions at hand.

Or at least questions she has a fighting chance of answering.

This from the right-wing nutjobs at the Washington Post:

When he first won election to the House in 1990, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) embraced his political identity. “I am a socialist and everyone knows that,” Sanders said, responding to an ad that tried to link him to the regime of Fidel Castro.

What changed in the intervening years is not so much Sanders’ self-identification (although he is now more careful to append the word “democratic” to the word “socialism” than he once was), but the Democratic Party itself.

Back to Bloomberg:

During an interview on MSNBC’s Hardball Thursday, host Chris Matthews asked Wasserman Schultz if she wanted Sanders, a Vermont senator, to represent the party at the Democratic National Convention. Then he asked her what the difference is between a Democrat and a socialist.

I’ve often bagged on Tingles, but props to him for even asking the question, let alone trying to pin Wasserman Schultz down on for an answer.

“I used to think there was a big difference, what do you think it is?” Matthews asked.

Wasserman Schultz laughed, then dodged the question. “The difference—the more important question is, what’s the difference between a Democrat and a Republican?” she said.

Her non-response is as good an indication as to the accelerating Leftward drift of the Democratic Party as any analysis I might come up with.

The right-leaning Washington Free Beacon published a clip of the interview, which was also picked up by conservative sites like Hot Air, NewsMax, the Washington Examiner, and The Daily Caller. The story caught on among conservatives because it fits into a narrative that liberal extremism (in this case, socialism) is becoming mainstream in the Democratic Party. As Hot Air wrote in response to Matthews’ question, “Answer: Not much at all, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz knows it.”

When Republicans React!

No, the story caught on among conservatives because it fits the facts on the ground. More on that later.

As to the assertion that socialism is “liberal extremism,” that construction demonstrates how completely historically worthless the term “liberalism” has become; that which was commonly understood to be liberalism now requires the prefix “classical” to differentiate it from soft Leftism. But I digress.

The thing is, there is a difference. Specifically, there’s a difference between a democratic socialist (how Sanders identifies), a socialist (what Matthews and others in the media call him) and a Democrat, explains John Ahlquist, an associate professor at the School of Global Policy and Strategy at the University of California at San Diego who has focused on the politics of economic inequality. “The modern American Democratic Party has very little to do with anything resembling what we would consider to be socialism or social democracy,” Ahlquist said during a phone interview.

As Alex Griswold at The Daily Caller noted,

Socialism is just an economic system; “democratic socialists” merely believe it should be enacted by democratic means (as opposed to through revolution or totalitarianism).

So not only does associate professor Ahlquist (complete with a “politics of economic inequality” Leftist dog-whistle) argue that the Democratic Party is not socialist, but it is also not social democratic; in other words, Mr. Ahlquist says that socialism and social democracy (presumably democratic socialists advocate the latter, unless we are pretty much defining “is”) have little to do with the Democratic Party.

Therefore, democratic socialists are not socialists, nor are they representative of Democrats–but socialists and social democrats can be lumped together when arguing that neither are representative of Democrats.

In other words, you can’t get here from here.

Democrats, he said, are a centrist coalition that includes some groups that are left of center. Traditional socialism, other hand, is a political-economic system that organizes the economy purely around the needs of the people.

Some groups?

Gallup weighs in:

Democratic candidates for the 2016 presidential nomination face a significantly more left-leaning party base than their predecessors did over the last 15 years. Forty-seven percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents now identify as both socially liberal and economically moderate or liberal. This is compared with 39% in these categories in 2008, when there was last an open seat for their party’s nomination, and 30% in 2001.

Oops.

See also, Tim Groseclose.

See also, Evan Bayh’s famous warning:

Whenever you have just the furthest left elements of the Dem party attempting to impose their will on the rest of the country — that’s not going to work too well.
Back to Bloomberg:

“The basic idea is that production decisions and everything else are not organized around the desire to make a profit, they’re organized by a cooperative group to produce stuff that people think they need,” Ahlquist said. “There’s no public figure in the Democratic Party who is advocating for social ownership of the means of production, Bernie Sanders included.”

Here you have the crux of the typical argument that democratic socialists are not socialists. It boils down to using socialism as rhetorical proxy for communism, which is fine as far as it goes–Marx, et al, did pretty much the same thing. “Workers’ control of the means of the production” is perhaps the defining goal of communism. But conflating communism and socialism cuts both ways. As noted earlier:

Socialism is just an economic system; “democratic socialists” merely believe it should be enacted by democratic means (as opposed to through revolution or totalitarianism).

So if people on the Left try to play word games, and attempt to obscure the relationship between public control of much of economic activity with public control of all economic activity, they’re implying that the only difference between democratic socialism on the one hand, and communism on the other, is a matter of degree, and of the means used to achieve that control.

It bears noting (although it’s pretty much common knowledge now) that Sanders’ lifelong hero was and is Eugene Debs, the five-time Socialist Party of America presidential candidate in the early twentieth century. The Socialist Party’s platform boiled down to: nationalize everything that isn’t tied down:

The collective ownership and democratic management of railroads, wire and wireless telegraphs and telephones, express service, steamboat lines, and all other social means of transportation and communication and of all large scale industries.

The immediate acquirement by the municipalities, the states or the federal government of all grain elevators, stock yards, storage warehouses, and other distributing agencies, in order to reduce the present extortionate cost of living.

The extension of the public domain to include mines, quarries, oil wells, forests and water power.

The further conservation and development of natural resources for the use and benefit of all the people . . .

The collective ownership of land wherever practicable, and in cases where such ownership is impracticable, the appropriation by taxation of the annual rental value of all the land held for speculation and exploitation.

The collective ownership and democratic management of the banking and currency system.

And so on.

As Debs said in 1904:

Let me say at the very threshold of this discussion that the workers have but the one issue in this campaign, the overthrow of the capitalist system and the emancipation of the working class from wage-slavery.

Back to Bloomberg:

When people talk about Sanders and his ideology, they’re discussing social democracy, the idea that “the elected government has a responsibility to ensure that the functioning of a market economy adequately provides for basic needs for everybody,” Ahlquist said.

So it’s simply a matter of degree, and how it is achieved–not to mention less threatening rhetoric–that differentiates communism/socialism from democratic socialism.

And we are left to wonder what “the functioning of a market economy [so that it] adequately provides for basic needs for everybody” means when the rubber hits the road. Probably not what the “classical liberals” had in mind when they talked about property rights and the rule of law.

Social democracies have been popular in Europe, especially in the Scandinavian countries which Sanders often cites as examples of ideal policy. For example, here’s how Sanders described what it means to be a democratic socialists to Vox in an interview published this week:

“What it means is that one takes a hard look at countries around the world who have successful records in fighting and implementing programs for the middle class and working families. When you do that, you automatically go to countries like Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, and other countries that have had labor governments or social democratic governments, and what you find is that in virtually all of those countries, health care is a right of all people and their systems are far more cost-effective than ours, college education is virtually free in all of those countries, people retire with better benefits, wages that people receive are often higher, distribution of wealth and income is much fairer, their public education systems are generally stronger than ours.”

That is an argument for another day, the reflexive fondness that the Left has for European democratic socialist models. Suffice it to say that Leftists talk a good game about the internal contradictions of capitalism, but seem averse to addressing the internal contradictions of socialism for some odd reason.

Sorry, democratic socialism.

European social democracies don’t eradicate capitalism, but put in place a strong regulatory system alongside it to ensures a minimum standard of living for all citizens, Ahlquist said. The “democracy” part of social democracy means that the regulations need to be put in place gradually, by legitimately elected officials.

Gradualism, yes. So as not to alarm the Kulaks.

To paraphrase the old perfume ad: Promise them anything, but give them Socialism.

Sorry, democratic socialism.

That’s the long version. If Ahlquist had been asked the same question, his response would actually have been similar to Wasserman Schultz’s.

Really?

“I would laugh,” Ahlquist said. “No one is actually talking about or seriously proposing—at least among the mainstream American political parties—seriously, traditionally, socialist platforms.”

Yes, we understand that most Democrats are not calling for the abolition of private property and the workers’ control of the means of production. Thanks for the analysis.

Oh wait, now traditional socialism is the descriptor? A rhetorical moveable feast.

I’m thinking that if it isn’t really socialism, maybe you should call it something else.

Like…Progressivism?

And the beat goes on.

Forrest Trump

TrumpGumpOrForrestTrump

CNN: OPM Director Not Vetted Properly By…Republicans

ArchuletaFrom Evan Perez and Wesley Bruer at CNN comes a wonderfully funny article: “OPM Director Katherine Archuleta steps down.”

Washington (CNN) Office of Personnel Management Director Katherine Archuleta resigned Friday, a day after revealing the recent data breach of government computers was vastly larger than originally thought.

Which is also a day after she vowed to stay put.

Thought by whom? Do you mean, vastly larger than Archuleta claimed?

Archuleta confirmed her departure in an email to OPM staff.

“I write to you this afternoon to share that earlier today, I offered and the President accepted my resignation as the Director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management,” she wrote. “Leading this agency and serving with all of you has been the highlight of my career.”

You have to really screw up to get shitcanned by this Administration.

Starting Saturday, Beth Cobert, currently the U.S. Chief Performance Officer and a deputy director at the Office of Management and Budget, will take over as acting director of OPM.

Interestingly, Ms. Cobert came to OMB from McKinsey & Company, which has “offered some of the worst advice in the annals of business.”

Archuleta acknowledged Thursday that her agency had discovered in April that hackers had breached sensitive personnel databases and had stolen the personal data of 22.1 million current, former and prospective U.S. government employees, and their family members.

What is that sentence trying to say? That Archuleta and OPM have been underestimating the extent of the hack since it was made public? The figure of 21 million was announced by OPM yesterday. OPM consistently low-balled its estimates: On June 4, “OPM publicly [announced a] data breach of personnel data systems affecting as many as 4.2 million current and former federal employees. Some officials [said] those estimates undercount[ed] the true scope of the attack.”

Support for Archuleta crumbled after her testimony. But she had never received a thorough vetting of her qualifications for the job.

Testimony? What testimony? Do the authors mean her June 25 testimony before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee? Then say so. Are we supposed to be mind-readers?

But the most interesting part of that paragraph is that it sets up the following narrative: No blame is assigned to the Obama Administration for nominating an unqualified, inexperienced political hack for OPM Director; the real issue, per the authors, is the failure of the Senate to knock down her nomination in general, and the failure of Senate Republicans to do so in particular. Hey you guys! Why didn’t you go after the Latina nominated by the Obama Administration!

Uh huh.

When she won Senate confirmation to lead the Office of Personnel Management, the chief objections from lawmakers who voted against her focused on Obamacare.

That was October, 2013, and the 62-35 vote reflected the political concerns at the time about how the agency, which serves as the federal government’s HR department, would implement parts of the health care law opposed by Republicans.

Read that as: Republicans were so obsessed with Obamacare that they failed to adequately vet Archuleta. Democratic Senators, and President Obama, get a pass.

Less attention focused on the agency’s role in handling government security clearances and how it safeguards some of the most sensitive U.S. government databases.

Damn Republicans. If only you would have done your job.

Even less was paid to why Archuleta — whose most recent job was as a national political director for Obama for America, the President’s reelection campaign — was the person to help fix what was an agency already struggling to deal with technology problems and serious data breaches.

Because there’s nothing Democrats love more than the optics of Republicans obstructing Presidential appointments when it can be made to seem that racial animus and/or sexism is the motivation.

So even less attention was paid, certainly by the authors, as to why the President nominated her in the first place.

Note the passive voice: “was the person to help fix….” Again, the President nominated her. The passive voice deliberately obfuscates where the responsibility lies.

Aides to Republican lawmakers who voted for her confirmation now acknowledge they didn’t pay enough attention to the importance of technology in the agency Archuleta was taking over.

Yep, you got us. We totally dropped the ball.

Seriously?

U.S. investigators believe Chinese government hackers are behind the breach, the worst ever against the U.S. government. Some of the most sensitive security background check data, including information on mental and drug histories of federal job applicants, is now in the hands of Chinese intelligence, according to U.S. authorities.

Who are these vague “investigators” and “authorities”? Are you people journalists?

Also, that information is likely already “in the wild,” so limiting it to “Chinese intelligence” is wildly incomplete.

Also, nothing about phishing.

House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday became the highest ranking lawmaker to call for Archuleta resignation. He was joined by Democratic Sen. Mark Warner, of Virginia. In recent weeks more than 20 other lawmakers had demanded she be fired.

Maybe this can be written in such a way as to blame Republicans for both her firing and her confirmation?

Critics now call her a political hack who shouldn’t have the job, even though she got the job with bipartisan support and her political past played little role in her Senate confirmation.

So basically, this is passing around the gun to make sure everybody’s fingerprints are on it.

Administration officials privately acknowledged Archuleta has performed poorly in hearings and briefings, and that she has made missteps to hurt her own cause. At a recent hearing she was asked if she had met with FBI Director James Comey to discuss the investigation, given the seriousness of the breach. No, was her answer.

Hold my beer. I got this.

Her briefings for lawmakers have come across as misleading, in part because she stuck by a public estimate that only 4 million people were affected by the breach, even as Comey had told lawmakers the number was nearly five times larger and cited OPM’s own internal data.

Then why did you write, earlier in the article, that “Archuleta acknowledged Thursday that her agency had discovered in April that hackers had breached sensitive personnel databases and had stolen the personal data of 22.1 million current, former and prospective U.S. government employees, and their family members”?

The White House was saying even Friday morning that President Barack Obama continued to have confidence in her.

I can’t even.

Even before Archuleta took the job, there were signs of trouble at OPM that demanded attention. Internal audits found the agency was woefully behind in meeting security standards for sensitive databases.

Signs of trouble? As Jeffrey Lebowski said, THE G**DAMN PLANE HAS CRASHED INTO THE MOUNTAIN!”

And more suchlike nonsense….

People get paid to write that sort of nonsense. ‘Murica.

#CLAHomeworkAssignment 6/30/15: Progressive Mass Hysteria

The brilliant Victor Davis Hanson never disappoints:

What started out just days ago as a reasonable move by the state of South Carolina, in the aftermath of the Charleston mass shootings, to remove the Confederate battle flag from public display on state property, within hours had descended into something like the mob’s frenzy over Mytilene. We have now gone well beyond removing state sanction from a flag that represented an apartheid society. Indeed, Americans of the new electronic mob are witch-hunting the past with a vengeance, as private, profit-driven companies seek to trump one another’s piety by banning the merchandising of Confederate insignia….

These outbursts of public frenzy at supposed enemies may reflect grassroots furor, but they are also orchestrated by progressive grandees who are inconsistent in their targeting of history’s villains — offering context and exemption for liberal fascist and racist thought, speech, and iconography, while connecting their present-day political rivals to the supposed sins of the country’s collective past. Manipulating the past, in other words, becomes a useful tool by which one can change the present….

Manipulating the past, in other words, becomes a useful tool by which one can change the present. In another analysis, Thucydides reminds us, in regard to the stasis at Corcyra, that in frenzied efforts to reconstruct both the past and present to fit ideological agendas, “Words had to change their ordinary meaning and to take that which was now given them.”

Be sure to read the whole thing.

#CLAHomeworkAssignment 6/28/15: Kevin Williamson re SCOTUS

Boy howdy, an epic short read from Kevin Williamson at NRO:

In the matter of the so-called Affordable Care Act, the Supreme Court ruled that the law must not say what it in fact does say because it would be better if it were not to say what it says and were to say something else instead. In the matter of same-sex marriage, the Supreme Court rules that the law must say what it does not say because it would be better if it were to say what it does not say instead of what it says. Which is to say, the Supreme Court has firmly established that it does not matter what the law says or does not say — what matters is what they want….

We can debate all day about how many Angels in America can have their first dance on the head of Anthony Kennedy’s pen, but we know that the Court’s liberals are going to vote one way, that some of its conservatives will probably vote another, and that John Roberts and Anthony Kennedy will, if the goblins in their heads are sufficiently insistent, ratify whatever Starbucks-customer consensus exists for 80 miles on either side of Interstate 95.

Ouch. Read the whole thing. You must.

International Talk Like the Rat Pack Day

You heard it here first.*

Now we just need a propitious date. Suggestions, Jack?

ratpack

(*i.e., Copyright By Publication)

Here’s a good start: http://www.angelfire.com/jazz/thecoparoom/ratpacklexicon.html

 

Fun with graphics (Hendrix)

hendrix2video

hendrix2video2

hendrix2video3

#CLAHomeworkAssignment 6/12/15: The OPM hack and why it matters

Today’s #CLAHomeworkAssignment will contain several sources, rather than just one; the importance of the subject calls for more detail than usual.

The hacking by China of in-depth personal information about U.S. Federal employees is an easy story to miss. Each week brings another round of cybersecurity stories, so the Chinese breach of Office of Personnel Management computers might seem like just another story from just another news cycle.

It’s not just another story.

First, an epic Twitter rant from @TheRickWilson:

There’ll be some DC whining, a Congressional hearing, an unread report and nothing. The Chinese have the greatest intel coup in history….

Frankly, despair is a rational emotion in this circumstance. This breach is so big, so shitty, so consequential.

Be sure to read the whole thing.

Likewise @EsotericCD–be sure to read his Twitter comments yesterday and today:

I know it smacks of narcissism to insist rest of Twitter share my priorities, but I can’t understand why ppl’s hair not on fire re OPM hack….

Good morning. Most impt story of day/week/month/year remains OPM hack. Yet now we’re consumed w/some dope who masqueraded as a black person.

Yep.

A great overview from John Schindler AKA @20committee:

The other day I explained in detail how the mega-hack of the Office of Personnel Management’s internal servers looks like a genuine disaster for the U.S. Government, a setback that will have long-lasting and painful counterintelligence consequences….

Armed with lists of Chinese citizens worldwide who are in “close and continuing contact” (to cite security clearance lingo) with American officials, Beijing can now seek to exploit those ties for espionage purposes.

Again, read the whole thing.

Jim Geraghty weighs in:

How did we reach the point where an event like this is something an administration can simply wait out until public interest moves on?

Good question.

Last but certainly not least, Ed Morrissey:

Some on Twitter now call this a “Pearl Harbor” in cyberspace, but that may actually undersell the damage that we now know the US took in the hack on the Office of Personnel Management. On one hand, no one’s been killed; the US lost 2,403 lives and another 1,178 wounded in that battle. Within months or even weeks, the US had repaired much of the damage and went on offense in the eastern Pacific. In this attack, the damage to more than 2 million federal employees is permanent and irreparable….

Meanwhile, the news cycle moves on, and this story has made barely a ripple.

#CLAHomeworkAssignment 6/11/15: ‘Too Much Information, Much of It Lies: Welcome to the Web’

Another great piece by one of the best conservative/libertarian writers out there, Charles C.W. Cooke at National Review: “Too Much ‘Information,’ Much of It Lies: Welcome to the Web”:

“Orwell,” Postman reflected, “feared those who would deprive us of information.” Huxley, by contrast, “feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism.” The likely consequences of these prognostications were, necessarily, divergent. “Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us,” Postman submitted. But “Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance.”….

But, as Huxley anticipated, man is flawed, his appetite for distraction is infinite, and his interest in discernment is limited by his lust for feeling. “An unexciting truth,” Huxley noted in Brave New World Revisited, “may be eclipsed by a thrilling falsehood,” especially in such circumstances as that truth’s being disseminated across a medium that is “concerned in the main neither with the true nor the false, but with the unreal, the more or less totally irrelevant.”

Read the rest here.

I’d like to thank all the little people…

…who made my inclusion on this list possible.

Fistbump for stout reading comprehension skills,

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