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Going Easy on "Deranged" Charges that Seem like Mere Exaggerations of a Deeper Truth:

One reason why "deranged" rhetorical excesses proliferate in our political discourse is that most partisans are far less willing to condemn their own side's excesses than those of the opposition. Some of this is caused by simple bias and ignorance.

But some of it is also partly caused by a belief that your own side's rhetorical excesses are merely exaggerations of an underlying truth rather than completely wrong. Consider for example conservative charges that Barack Obama is a "socialist." I think that such claims are absurd. At the same time, I do fear that Obama is likely to vastly expand the scope of government and that some of the policies advocated by him and other liberals have flaws that are similar to those of full-blown socialism. From my perspective, there is a very important difference of degree between the two. But there isn't always a difference in kind. I think that "Obama is a socialist" accusations are seriously misguided and would never say such a thing myself. At the same time, it's hard for me to be as tough on those who make them as I would be on people whose rhetoric is in my view completely divorced from reality.

Consider, on the other hand, liberal charges that McCain and Palin are engaging in "racist" campaign tactics. Thoughtful liberals probably reject claims that McCain is a racist or even deliberately pandering to the racism of others. But many of them also believe that such charges are merely an exaggeration of the underlying reality that the Republicans have long sought to exploit racism for political advantage with their attacks on affirmative action, welfare, and so on. I actually think there is a measure of truth to this broader charge against the GOP, though not as much as many liberals believe there to be. Part of the reason why many liberals are reluctant to denounce the "McCain-Palin are racist" meme is that they think it reflects a deeper truth to a much greater extent than I do.

In sum, it is extremely difficult for people with strong political commitments to be as hard on their own side's "deranged" rhetoric as they are on the opposition's. Some of this is simple bias and hypocrisy that they have little incentive to correct because of rational political ignorance. Some stems from a genuine belief (albeit also influenced by bias) that their side's excesses are less blameworthy than the opposition's because they are merely exaggerations of an underlying truth, whereas the other side's are flat out wrong.

I don't have a good solution for this problem. But the beginning of wisdom is to at least be aware of it, and to try to remember that it applies to you as well as your opponents.

Doc W (mail):

At the same time, I do fear that Obama is likely to vastly expand the scope of government and that some of the policies advocated by him and other liberals have flaws that are similar to those of full-blown socialism.

"Obama's a socialist" seems to me like a reasonable, rough-and-ready shorthand for all that.
10.13.2008 10:05pm
Jerry F:
"Consider for example conservative charges that Barack Obama is a 'socialist.' I think that such claims are absurd."

I find it shocking that a well-informed libertarian like Somyn would say this. Obama was a member of the New Party, a socialist party. He has the most left-wing record in the Senate. He associated throughout his career with radicals, some of whom like Ayers were not only socialists but violent socialists. He has been widely endorsed by socialists.

http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives2/2008/10/021747.php

So we have a great deal of evidence that he is a socialist. Is there any evidence that he is NOT a socialist? Well, if he were a socialist with presidential ambitions, chances are that he would not run as a socialist. So, the answer is that, if he were a socialist, he probably would not advertise views that are any more extreme than what his purported views are. If Somyn wants to say that it is "absurd" to be 100% confident that Obama is a socialist, then I would agree. But it seems reasonable to say that it is more likely than not that Obama is a socialist. For the same reason, it is more likely than not that Obama is an atheist, even though I cannot say that I know with 100% certainty that Obama is an atheist.
10.13.2008 10:20pm
EH (mail):
Doc: The desire for "shorthand" is a big part of the problem. In other words, shorthand is not very reasonable since truth breaks down when examining the details of "rough and ready" terms.

To wit: How reasonable is it to say that McCain might be gay, since (by his own admission!) he lived solely with a group of men for five years? You can connect the dots in a certain way, but you have to admit that the point doesn't really hold up that well.
10.13.2008 10:24pm
gwinje:
I agree this thought process is common. For my own part, I think I'm a little more sensitive to crackpottery on my own side. I'm perfectly happy to make a fool of myself, but I hate it when I'm made to look like a fool by association.

Of course I'm voting for an athiest socialist, so . . .
10.13.2008 10:31pm
U.Va. Grad:
Is there any evidence that he is NOT a socialist? Well, if he were a socialist with presidential ambitions, chances are that he would not run as a socialist. So, the answer is that, if he were a socialist, he probably would not advertise views that are any more extreme than what his purported views are.

So the fact that he's not running a socialist campaign is proof that he's a socialist?
10.13.2008 10:34pm
winstontwo (mail):

At the same time, I do fear that Obama is likely to vastly expand the scope of government and that some of the policies advocated by him and other liberals have flaws that are similar to those of full-blown socialism

Again, the recent trillion dollar infusion of capital into the markets, nationalization of the largest insurer, etc. would seem to be largest step taken towards "socialism" in the past 40 years.

They occurred under the (republican) Bush presidency and both Obama and McCain voted for the "bailout". (Neither complained about the AIG purchase.)

So it is a bit puzzling why you believe that Obama presents the greatest danger in this scenario.
10.13.2008 10:34pm
Xanthippas (mail) (www):

So we have a great deal of evidence that he is a socialist. Is there any evidence that he is NOT a socialist? Well, if he were a socialist with presidential ambitions, chances are that he would not run as a socialist. So, the answer is that, if he were a socialist, he probably would not advertise views that are any more extreme than what his purported views are. If Somyn wants to say that it is "absurd" to be 100% confident that Obama is a socialist, then I would agree. But it seems reasonable to say that it is more likely than not that Obama is a socialist. For the same reason, it is more likely than not that Obama is an atheist, even though I cannot say that I know with 100% certainty that Obama is an atheist.


I'm sorry, but the last thing that made sense in any of that was "so". For this sort of foolishness, it's best to stick to the shorthand. If you try to muddy it up with explanation, people begin to realize that you might not know what you're talking about.

Also, it is my own personal belief that wild attacks gain so much traction because people are inherently lacking in logic, reason and ordered thinking. In other words, this stuff works because a lot of people just don't have any damn sense in their heads.
10.13.2008 10:37pm
neurodoc:
...an exaggeration of the underlying reality that the Republicans have long sought to exploit racism for political advantage with their attacks on affirmative action, welfare, and so on. I actually think there is a measure of truth to this broader charge against the GOP...
Have Republicans so clearly and so long sought to exploit racism for political advantage as the Democrats did? Any currently serving Republican senators who made their bones as KKK organizers and were elevated to Senate Majority Leader by their party? Which Republicans have the race-baiting, antisemitic credentials of a Reverend Al Sharpton, to whom Obama felt the need to reach out in this election cycle?

Some Republicans (e.g., the late, unlamented Jesse Helms) have certainly exploited racial divisions for the sake of political advantage, but let's not overlook the fact that Democrats have cynically sought to exploit racial divisions too, charging and counter-charging "racism" as it has suited them (e.g., Clintons).
10.13.2008 10:37pm
paul lukasiak (mail):
Thoughtful liberals probably reject claims that McCain is a racist or even deliberately pandering to the racism of others.

During the primaries, over at Corrente the game of Obama Golf was created. The premise of the game was to turn any statement about Obama from a non-supporter into an reason to accuse the non-supporter of racism using the least number of strokes.

So, if a non-supporter says something like "I thought that Obama's exploitation of the troops in his basketball playing photo-op was kind of cheesy", its a "par two" statement.

1) Basketball is a sport most closely associated with African Americans
2) You mentioned basketball to remind people that Obama is black -- that means you're a racist.

*******
The fact is that the ability of a candidate to get voters to identify with that candidate is a key to electoral success, and efforts to say "the other guy is not someone who you can identify with" is standard political fare -- Obama does it constantly when contrasting his "middle class tax cut" with McCain's "tax cuts for the rich"

And its really irritating to me that when Obama's opponents use the same "he's not someone you can identify with" rhetoric, the assumption is that there is a racist intent behind it.

Bottom line here is that unless there is clear racial intent behind an ad, accusations of "racism" should be kept to a minimum. While its perfectly legit to note that certain criticisms of Obama may have additional resonance with some voters because he's black, the only point at which criticism is justified is when the answer ia "no" to the question "Would the same criticism be made of an otherwise-identical white candidate?"

The fact is that Obama would not be the nominee were he not black, because it strains credibility to even suggest that someone with Obama's schtick and record would have gotten 78% of the black vote in a state like South Carolina against Hillary Clinton and John Edwards (who won the black vote in SC in 2004 with a 37% plurality) -- and absent the overwhelming black vote for Obama in that an later contests, he wouldn't have gotten close to the nomination.

Obama exploited "identity politics" to get where he is now, and it is identity politics (not merely racial identity, but generational identity) that is likely to result in his victory in November. But we aren't allowed to talk about that...
10.13.2008 10:37pm
winstontwo (mail):
Jerry F - powerline is not a credible source of anything - not even worth clicking on. Seriously.
10.13.2008 10:37pm
Duncan C. Coffee (mail):
The desire for shorthand may well be part of the problem, but if so it's an inherent problem with democracy. With the average voter having very little time or interest for the political process, they're not going to get very far beyond the shorthand in understanding these issue. The process would be helped along by a European- or Westminster-style party system, i.e., five or six strong, permanent, national parties that stand for consistent things year to year. No one argues if the Labor Party (UK) is "socialist" or not - they know it is not an argument over the party's name but its programme. And its programme (though it does evolve) doesn't change year to year based on who does well (looks good on television) during some inane "primary season" lasting longer than the lifespan of most early parliaments.

Is there a single significant way in which Obama is less socialist than Labour? Do you think he would be too right for its policy and saunter off to the Lib-Dems or something? I don't....
10.13.2008 10:45pm
John (mail):
Here's a tip: every four years go to Australia for a year.

Trying to parse the psychoses that drive our politics is itself a failure to understand reality, driven by the insane notion that through some form of analysis it can be understood.
10.13.2008 10:45pm
sbw (mail) (www):
Let's see: Take money from people who earned it and give it to someone who didn't earn it.

... Sounds like socialism.

Favor equality of result over equality of opportunity.

... Sounds like socialism.

Centralize control of virtually everything.

... Sounds like socialism.

Wikipedia on socialism: "state or collective ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods, and the creation of an egalitarian society"

Oh, they aren't planning on OWNING the means of production, just administering it. So it won't be socialism.

It will walk, talk, and quack like a duck... which means our goose will be cooked... but it won't be socialism.

Ilya, you are parsing things like an academic pedant -- a little too fine.
10.13.2008 10:46pm
OrinKerr:
Jerry F.,

I'm curious, do you think Hilary is a socialist? Is Bill Clinton a socialist? Is Joe Biden a socialist?
10.13.2008 10:57pm
Nunzio:
I think the best evidence Obama is not a socialist is that he makes a lot of money and lives in a really nice house and sends his kids to a great private school.

When JFK became President, the top income tax bracket was 94%. Obama's proposed tax increases are more in line with Bill Clinton's (although, to be like Clinton's Obama should kick in the highest bracket at closer to $400,000).

My problem isn't with Obama's tax proposals, it's with his spending proposals. While health insurance for everyone is a great idea, we can't afford it without cutting back benefits in Medicare and Social Security. Maybe we should, but Obama says he will have none of this.

If Obama can get his health care plan passed, it will be with us forever, which means we'll have to raise taxes a lot more and for good, unless we want to continue high deficits. I think the economies of France and Germany are ample evidence that high taxes and generous benefits are not good for the overall economy.

To be fair, McCain's taxing and spending proposals aren't much better than Obama's, but McCain doesn't want to embark on a massive new entitlement program. And he's the only candidate who would probably add means-testing to Social Security and Medicare,which are long overdue if the country wants to be fiscally responsible.
10.13.2008 10:58pm
Angus:
Let's see: Take money from people who earned it and give it to someone who didn't earn it.

... Sounds like socialism.

Not socialism. And has happened since ancient times, before the concept of socialism even existed.

Favor equality of result over equality of opportunity.

... Sounds like socialism.

You'll have to show me where Obama supports "equality of result." In any case, still not socialism.

Centralize control of virtually everything.

... Sounds like socialism.
This is at least approaching the definition of socialism, but the problem is that Obama is not advocating central control of "virtually everything."

Oh, they aren't planning on OWNING the means of production, just administering it. So it won't be socialism.
Except, that, y'know, Obama isn't planning either one.

Ilya, you are parsing things like an academic pedant -- a little too fine.
10.13.2008 11:02pm
Angus:
Oops, hit post instead of preview.
Ilya, you are parsing things like an academic pedant -- a little too fine.
In this case, pedantic parsing = truth. Which means...
10.13.2008 11:03pm
Moneyrunner43 (www):
Another manifestation of derangement is the attempt by ideologues to simply miss-state what an opponent says. For an example on this thread we have Jerry F. making the statement:

I find it shocking that a well-informed libertarian like Somyn would say this. Obama was a member of the New Party, a socialist party. He has the most left-wing record in the Senate. He associated throughout his career with radicals, some of whom like Ayers were not only socialists but violent socialists. He has been widely endorsed by socialists.

…followed by the observation that, in the US, a socialist would probably not run on a avowedly socialist platform for President. This is followed by the response of UVA Grad :

So the fact that he's not running a socialist campaign is proof that he's a socialist?



… a comment that is so off the wall that it defies description. And of course, the assertion by Winstontwo

Jerry F - powerline is not a credible source of anything - not even worth clicking on. Seriously.



Seriously, winstontwo, your response is a classic of it's kind.
10.13.2008 11:06pm
LTEC (mail) (www):
I don't buy the claim that the charges of racism are due to to an exaggeration of [the belief in] "the underlying reality that the Republicans have long sought to exploit racism for political advantage". The charges of racism were already flying during the primaries, only they were aimed at other democrats. I think there is something much uglier going on. If I weren't an atheist, I would say it was original sin.
10.13.2008 11:13pm
Cityduck (mail):
I'll give that the charge that Obama is a "Socialist," while extremely sloppy thinking, is at least mere "exageration" of the ordinary political discourse that he is excessively pro-regulation/government/progressive taxation etc. Frankly, I'm unconcerned with that charge because it serves only to discredit the speaker and is perceived to be in the realm of political opinion. It is no worse than calling McCain and Palin "Fascists," and about as accurate.

In short, that charge is different in kind from the Obama is the "Anti-Christ," "a Muslim," "an Arab," "a terrorist," etc. brand of wingnuttery that is wholly devoid of any legitimate factual basis.

I'm still waiting for someone to come up with anything that has been said about McCain that is anywhere near comparable to these totally deranged charges against Obama.
10.13.2008 11:23pm
PC:
So let me see if I've got this straight: President Bush goes around nationalizing banks and Senator Obama is the socialist.
10.13.2008 11:25pm
Cityduck (mail):
Nah. Obama supporters charge racism against his opponents because Obama's oppoents call him a "Muslim" or an "Arab," they (in the case of a recent McCain rally) bring a toy monkey with his name on it to a political rally, they emphasize his middle name "Hussein" to try to scare people and imply he's "other," they try to smear him by drawing similarities to his name and Osama bin Laden's (yesterday McCain supporters held up "Obama bin ..." signs at a McCain rally right in front of McCain -- who said nothing), etc.

Those Obama supporters must be crazy.
10.13.2008 11:28pm
Hoosier:
John
Here's a tip: every four years go to Australia for a year.


Because . . . the snakes, spider, scorpions, sharks, stonefish, or jellyfish might kill you, and then you wouldn't have to deal with any more elections?


Nunzio

I think the best evidence Obama is not a socialist is that he makes a lot of money and lives in a really nice house and sends his kids to a great private school.


While I don't think that Obama is a socialist, or a Socialist, I'm not sure of your argument. It's not even slightly deranged to suspect that Katrina vanden Heuvel has serious socialist leanings. And she has more money than God.
10.13.2008 11:29pm
Cityduck (mail):
You forget, President Bush is no longer a conservative because the conservatives don't like the results that his policies (the ones they wanted) have wrought. Still, Bush is a Republican, so they have to blame Obama.
10.13.2008 11:30pm
Hoosier:
Cityduck--Have to differ. Calling McCain a "Fascist" is not a mere exaggeration. It's a complete misunderstanding of what constitutes fascism. Which, for starters, had very little to do with deregulation.

I'm not sure what the "proper" exaggeration would be. But Franco was not McCain taken to a logical extreme.
10.13.2008 11:32pm
Skyler (mail) (www):

I'm curious, do you think Hilary is a socialist? Is Bill Clinton a socialist? Is Joe Biden a socialist?


Yes. Yes. Yes.

Add in both Bushes and double down for McCain. Socialism is so prevalent that even somewhat thoughtful people such as Ilya think that the desire to nationalize healthcare is not socialist.

Obama consorts with a man who calls himself a communist, and is a communist terrorist along with his wife. Obama claims himself in his books that his biggest influences in his life were communists and socialists. He has done nor said anything in this campaign that would contradict that he is a socialist.

So why are you tip toeing around trying to avoid calling him what he seems to so fervently believe himself to be.

Obama is a radical socialist. McCain is a radical socialist. That's why we're screwed for this election. The only real difference is that Obama wanted to lose the war in Iraq and McCain wanted to win it and McCain was right about how to win it when Obama was decidedly wrong.

But they both promise to make our nation more and more socialist. And that isn't even debatable, despite the feel-good sentiments of Ilya and others.
10.13.2008 11:32pm
Dave N (mail):
Cityduck,

How about wingnut claim (and it has appeared on both the left and right) that McCain is a Manchurian candidate because of his time as a P.O.W.?

"John McCain Manchurian" has 190,000 Google hits.
10.13.2008 11:34pm
LTEC (mail) (www):
The supposedly deranged charges that Obama is a "secret Muslim who sympathizes with terrorists" are really two very different types of charges.

The "sympathizes with terrorists" is a value and judgment call, based on things that Obama has said and on things that he has failed to say that he should have. In fact I would say that most faculty in my university sympathize with terrorists, most politicians do, and even many Israelis do. As an example, I consider that some of Condoleezza Rice's remarks -- such as comparing the plight of Palestinians to that of Blacks under Jim crow -- qualify as sympathizing with terrorists.

On the other hand, the "secret Muslim" charge is not merely interpreting facts in light of one's values. Rather, it is a claim that the true facts have been hidden from us by a conspiracy. And as is usually the case with such conspiracy theories, the lack of evidence for them merely shows what an excellent job the conspirators have done.
10.13.2008 11:35pm
Cityduck (mail):

Calling McCain a "Fascist" is not a mere exaggeration. It's a complete misunderstanding of what constitutes fascism. Which, for starters, had very little to do with deregulation. I'm not sure what the "proper" exaggeration would be. But Franco was not McCain taken to a logical extreme.


I'm not so sure of that. But perhaps the analogy is better when applied to Bush than McCain (who doesn't seem very dissimilar to Bush in his present incarnation). After all, Bush is nationalizing banks, bluring the distinctions between government and religion, and does not seem overly respectful of individual liberties. Exageration, yes, but not more so IMHO than calling Obama a Socialist.
10.13.2008 11:39pm
Cityduck (mail):
Dave N.,

I agree the charge that McCain is a "Manchurian Candidate" or has a "black baby" were deranged. But weren't these charges made in 2000? I don't see those attacks pushed on liberal blogs like DailyKos.
10.13.2008 11:41pm
richard cabeza:
So let me see if I've got this straight: President Bush goes around nationalizing banks and Senator Obama is the socialist.

I know this is difficult, since you admire Bush and his big-government policies; but yes, Bush tends to encourage big government. Bush and McCain are almost as socialist as what we pretend we know Obama would support (since nobody actually knows, we have to go by his policy statements and his supporters).

Sorry to burst your bubble, there pal, but the whole of politics has moved far left from where it was. Compulsory collectivism, ho!
10.13.2008 11:42pm
richard cabeza:
I don't see those attacks pushed on liberal blogs like DailyKos.

Well, neither do I, but maybe that's because I don't follow the little red book.
10.13.2008 11:44pm
just me (mail):
The fact is that Obama would not be the nominee were he not black,

I think John Edwards is essentially the white version of Obama-he didn't do poorly in his 2004 race, but he also didn't win it. I think if Kerry had been a better candidate the democrats likely would have taken the White House that year, but I do think Edwards' run is a pretty good indication of how Obama's race helped him in the primary season. I think they are only slightly different in ideology-although I think Edwards is slightly more populist sounding in rhetoric than Obama.

I think the problem with the "racist" charge is that thrown out too much things that to most clear thinkers isn't racist, it loses its effectiveness as a charge at all.

As for Obama being a socialist-I think it is a quick and easy label, probably not entirely fair, but Obama certainly has a lot of socialist ideas-and in some ways I think his ideal would be something along the lines of socialism found in European countries-but he understands that isn't going to fly here.
10.13.2008 11:44pm
Dan M.:
I agree with Skyler. Obama is a socialist, and so are "compassionate conservatives" like George W. Bush who like to nationalize banks.
10.13.2008 11:46pm
just me (mail):
I agree with Skyler. Obama is a socialist, and so are "compassionate conservatives" like George W. Bush who like to nationalize banks.

I actually tend to agree.

Compassionate conservative is probably a socialist with social conservative leanings and a little bit of populism thrown in. They mostly pay lip service to the concept of limited or small government.

But if you look at historical presidents-many of the democratic presidents would probably fit better in today's GOP than in the democratic party. The parties as a whole have gradually shifted the center to the left.
10.13.2008 11:54pm
Cityduck (mail):
Richard cabeza,

Did you read any of the links? The first is about Obama being portrayed as a Muslim "Manchurian Candidate." The second is tongue in cheek. Third is about Bush. The fourth is an indictment of the Washington Post reporting on the Muslim Manichurian Candidate argument about Obama. After that I gave up. Not that I'm denying that in the tens of thousands of posts on DKos there isn't a Manchurian Candidate argument about McCain somewhere, but I haven't seen it being pushed by anyone. It is very very rare if it exists at all.
10.13.2008 11:54pm
Ken Arromdee:
I think the best evidence Obama is not a socialist is that he makes a lot of money and lives in a really nice house and sends his kids to a great private school.

By this reasoning, Carl Rowan wasn't a gun control proponent.

This evidence just shows that he doesn't want socialism for himself and his family, not that he doesn't want to run the country by socialist principles.
10.13.2008 11:55pm
Cityduck (mail):

if you look at historical presidents-many of the democratic presidents would probably fit better in today's GOP than in the democratic party


Funny you say that. I've always thought that Ike would likely be a Democratic if around today, and maybe Nixon too. Not sure which Dem would feel comfortable as a Republican given the modern make-up of the party.
10.13.2008 11:57pm
therut (mail):
Obama is at least a Labor Party type European Socialist. Why can we not say that in the USA. Socialist,Socialist there I said it. Why anyone would deny this is beyond me. It reminds me of a Princeton Theology Professor I saw on C-span yesterday on Book TV. He did not consider Western European socialism socialism. Really who is he kidding? To him Socialism would have to be toltalitarian communism. I am tired of the lies.
10.14.2008 12:00am
24AheadDotCom (mail) (www):
1. BHO hasn't declared himself to be a soc., but it's safe to say he's soft on soc. However, trying to argue over to what extent he is and isn't a soc. is a useless argument. It's especially useless because you'd end up arguing agains the MSM, and they'd respond by portraying him as a moderate. Better to concentrate on cut and dried things, like his lies or the huge flaws in his policies.

2. The supposed rage at McCain rallies is largely just a manufactured story. If I had more time I'd look into where it started, but I think it might have been Douglass Daniel (link), who was shortly followed by Dana Milbank. After that, other reports fed off Milbank and other isolated incidents.

Now see this:
blog.eyeblast.tv/?p=112
10.14.2008 12:00am
John A. Fleming (mail):
This weekend:
Plumber to Obama: "Your new tax plan is going to tax me more. Isn't it?"
Obama: "It's not that I want to punish your success, I just want to make sure that everybody that is behind you, that they have a chance for success too. I think that when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody."


Exact words.

Hmm. A creates wealth. B takes a chunk of that wealth from A, first takes the vigorish, then passes out the now twice dimished wealth to C, D, and E, in the hope, the hope that C, D, and E will use it to create yet more wealth. Barry O is a Venture Capitalist, not a socialist reformer. Who knew?

And we have the dreary history of Twentieth Century socialism to see how well that hope worked out.

What, does Barry O have the magic touch? It must have been those missing years in Silicon Valley managing a VC fund that made millions for the investors. Clearly he's not a socialist, so that the "policies advocated by him and other liberals [that] have flaws that are similar to those of full-blown socialism" will be successful this time. Honest!

No he's not a socialist. He's just an ordinary politician who says "I'm going to pick your rich neighbor's pocket and give the money to you", while fully intending to give the money to his friends.

Oh wait, silly me, Barry O doesn't want to create more wealth, he just wants to spread around the wealth. That's gonna be so cool, he's gonna confiscate $80B from Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, send me a $250 check, and I'm going to be as rich as Warren Buffet. "It's good for everybody."
10.14.2008 12:01am
richard cabeza:
Why anyone would deny this is beyond me.

Because they're trying to hide it. Long con.
10.14.2008 12:03am
hawkins:

I do think Edwards' run is a pretty good indication of how Obama's race helped him in the primary season.


Perhaps this is true. But I think it comes down to Obama having a much more appealing personality and the fact that he is perceived (probably accurately) as more intelligent.
10.14.2008 12:03am
Cityduck (mail):
Obama is exacly just an "ordinary politician." Same as we've had since FDR on, including Reagan. What you deride as "socialism" is just regulated markets, progressive taxation, economic stimulus, and giving citizens who need it a helping hand.

Which is a far cry from widescale nationalization of the means of production.
10.14.2008 12:06am
richard cabeza:
Which is a far cry from widescale nationalization of the means of production.

If you keep criticizing them, they'll never get that far. Shhhh.
10.14.2008 12:06am
Sarcastro (www):
OMG! EVERYBODY'S SOCIALIST!

SAVE US RON PAUL YOU'RE OUR ONLY HOPE!
10.14.2008 12:08am
Nunzio:
Cityduck,

Truman and Kennedy would be Republicans. Truman got us into Korea and Kennedy got us into Nam. Their philosophy was very much the W. philosophy of spreading freedom abroad, by force if necessary, to enhance security at home. They might be confused that we're not fighting the commies anymore, but they'd take one look at Al-qaeda, the Taliban, and Saddam Hussein and say go for it.

And is there any doubt Bill Clinton is voting for McCain?

I do agree that Ike would like Obama.
10.14.2008 12:08am
Dave N (mail):
Cityducks,

Some of the links seemed serious. And there 980 Kos links for "Manchurian Candidate McCain." There were 9560 links on the Huffington Post for the same query.

I would acknowledge, though, that I do not read Kos out of general principle, since I consider it a hate filled blog and I don't want a dime to go to Markos Moulitsas because I happened to look at it out of morbid curiosity.
10.14.2008 12:10am
richard cabeza:
"They might be confused that we're not fighting the commies anymore," but they'd sure be hungry for brains.
10.14.2008 12:10am
Automated Robot (mail):
Hell, in some of the circles I run in McCain is a socialist.
I tend to agree even though my ideology is for 100% less government than those folks want.So does that make Obama a communist? a fascist?
10.14.2008 12:12am
Dave N (mail):
Sarcastro,

Good to see you have your computer up and running.
10.14.2008 12:13am
Sarcastro (www):
Dave N not half as happy as I am.
10.14.2008 12:17am
geokstr:
"...an exaggeration of the underlying reality that the Republicans have long sought to exploit racism for political advantage with their attacks on affirmative action, welfare, and so on. I actually think there is a measure of truth to this broader charge against the GOP..."

As a philosophical conservative, not a republican, I can easily make logical and principled arguments against affirmative action, welfare, and whatever your "so on" is, without having to resort to racism. So at least this segment of the right resents your implication that we are closet racists. That said, any discussion or these issues, because it must include the racial implications to have any meaning, has been so poisoned by the left with accusations of racism as to make even the discussion impossible.

I will hold my nose and vote for Palin/McCain because Obama has been literally immersed in Marxist/radical circles his entire life, and it would be difficult to see how he could pull that off successfully just by faking his agreement with their ideology for so many years. On top of that, he has learned well the tactics of Chicago machine politics, not to mention that he is an admitted disciple of the Saul Alinsky school of the-ends-justifies-the-means theory of "community organization" (which Alinsky considered just a euphemism for Marxist revolution). I find the combination of all of the above to be rather unnerving, especially since he and his party are about to be handed the keys to the kingdom, possibly without the opposition being in any position to actually oppose.

Given his history, his ability to position himself as a "moderate" is nothing short of astonishing, and has to be the greatest feat of sleight of hand since the Great Houdini was at the top of his game, even with the full support of the media.

He and the democratic leadership have already declared their intentions to shut down the speech of their opponents, through the "Fairness Doctrine". Obama's campaign has already engaged in some very nasty attempts to intimidate opponent groups and political blogs into silence. He wants his supporters to "get in the face" (his exact words) of every republican; this goes beyond persuasion again to intimidation. And of course the charges of racism if Palin/McCain even runs an ad that has a picture of him in it: "Look, a black man, racism".

Irrespective of what he wants to do to the economy, I find his attempts to stifle free speech to be beyond "socialistic" and border on the totalitarian instead. One of the means to implementing "1984" is to ensure that only ideologically approved speech is permitted.
10.14.2008 12:19am
Cityduck (mail):

Truman and Kennedy would be Republicans. Truman got us into Korea and Kennedy got us into Nam. Their philosophy was very much the W. philosophy of spreading freedom abroad, by force if necessary, to enhance security at home.


You ignore that Truman and Kennedy were New Deal Democrats. And I think that Eisenhower and Nixon were New Deal Republicans. Does such a thing exist anymore?
10.14.2008 12:27am
Nunzio:
Cityduck,

I think Ron Paul is the only non New Deal Republican. No candidate will touch Social Security or Medicare if they want to be elected.

Also, Truman was against gay marriage and abortion.
10.14.2008 12:38am
therut (mail):
Did anyone even talk about homosexuals or gay marriage back in the days of Truman? I graduated High School in 1977 and did not know what homosexuality was for goodness sake!
10.14.2008 12:44am
Dave N (mail):
therut,
Did anyone even talk about homosexuals or gay marriage back in the days of Truman? I graduated High School in 1977 and did not know what homosexuality was for goodness sake!
Gay marriage no. But if you were totally unaware of homosexuality in 1977 you were living a very sheltered life.
10.14.2008 1:03am
Oren:


I think Ron Paul is the only non New Deal Republican. No candidate will touch Social Security or Medicare if they want to be elected.


Most reasonable people would take that as a sign that the vast majority of the populace like those programs and do not want to see them dismantled. We have a representative government but it seems the wignuts don't want to see the people's will represented -- at least not where it disagrees with their personal preferences.
10.14.2008 1:21am
JosephSlater (mail):
Good to see you back, Sarcastro.

I wonder what this thread would look like if it contained an even semi-plausible definition of "socialism."
10.14.2008 1:25am
ed (mail) (www):
Hmmmm.

@ Ilya Somin

"Consider for example conservative charges that Barack Obama is a "socialist." I think that such claims are absurd. At the same time, I do fear that Obama is likely to vastly expand the scope of government and that some of the policies advocated by him and other liberals have flaws that are similar to those of full-blown socialism."

My bullshit-o-meter redlined and then broke.

I see when reading your posts I need to install the industrial strength version.
10.14.2008 1:25am
ed (mail) (www):
Hmmmm.

@ EH


"To wit: How reasonable is it to say that McCain might be gay, since (by his own admission!) he lived solely with a group of men for five years? You can connect the dots in a certain way, but you have to admit that the point doesn't really hold up that well."


I take it you're referencing McCain's stay in the Hanoi Hilton?

Frankly I didn't think anybody could top Somin but I can see now that I have a perspective limited by taste, logic and honor.

Good job!
10.14.2008 1:28am
David Warner:
JosephSlater,

"I wonder what this thread would look like if it contained an even semi-plausible definition of 'socialism.'"

For a lot of people it means communism without all the yucky stuff. In other words, what Jesus wanted. I don't know why the left gets all bent out of shape when people use it. Most people under 40 think it sounds like a good idea, not having any memory of anything different.
10.14.2008 1:32am
Duncan C. Coffee (mail):
I'm disappointed. I was hoping someone, preferably an Obama supporter, would be able to give me an example of something that sets him apart from a socialist. Is no one interested in this at all? I'm just curious, is all. I can't think of too many things that set McCain apart from a socialist either, but he doesn't make Robin Hood social justice a big part of his appeal.
10.14.2008 1:40am
Oren:
Duncan, if you think that McCain is a socialist (and probably the whole rest of the civilized world) then there really isn't much to argue about. If everyone else is crazy and you are the only sane one then why would you listen to a crazy person try to rationalize their insanity anyway?
10.14.2008 1:45am
LN (mail):
Let's see, I live in a country where people are forced to pay taxes and the government is a major part of the economy, redistributing wealth and paying for health insurance (among many other things) for many citizens.

This country is called America and it has been this way for several decades, under both Republican and Democratic leadership.

Barack Obama does not merit the description of "socialist" simply for continuing in this tradition. Unless, of course, we acknowledge that even Ronald Reagan was a socialist, and of course John McCain is also a socialist.

Shocking, I know.

The idea that "socialist" is a shorthand for "envisions a larger role for government" is disingenuous; "socialist" is a scare term that carries connotations of radical, subversive, anti-American.

Something like three quarters of Americans favor Social Security. So I guess many commenters here think most of their fellow countrymen are socialists. Why do they hate America?
10.14.2008 1:51am
Doc W (mail):
Having kicked off the comments by suggesting that "socialist" is actually a fairly reasonable rough &ready adjective for Obama, may I add in fairness that from where I stand "fascist" is not too far off for McCain either. Regarding the extent and possibilities of socialism/fascism in this country, we already have had socialized education and a socialist retirement program for some time and are moving rapidly toward socialized medicine. (And now we see the banks being partially nationalized.)

Someone suggested that people LIKE those programs; well, people are misinformed about the actual long-term effects of government meddling in the market, and fearful about their ability to cope without those programs. So, folks like me do our best to help them wise up. Aside from voting for Bob Barr, that's about all I can do.
10.14.2008 1:53am
Duncan C. Coffee (mail):
I really thought my last post was free of nastiness and name-calling. I've re-read it several times and I don't know where I called anyone crazy, or engaged in fear-mongering, or any of that. I compared Obama to a beloved English folk hero in my last post; in a post before that I compared him to fairly mainstream British political party. At no point did I compare him to a particularly radical socialist party like America's SLP (Marxist-Deleonist), or a Trotskyite, or any of that. Let me rephrase.

Outside of the United States, "socialist" is not used as a pejorative. It is just a collection of programmes, some of which are Marxist and some of which are not. Inside the United States (in marked contrast?) it's not always used a pejorative either, witness the several self-described socialist organizations. Try as I might I cannot forget the rest of the world, and adopt this peculiar American mindset that says, basically: "Socialism" is a dirty word and should never be used.

I remember listening to some Americans commenting on a televised meeting of the Labour Party - the one I have compared Obama to in my alleged attempt at "fear mongering". They were trying to figure out what "Tory" meant. They didn't know. One of them opined that it was obviously some Brit put-down meaning "Bastard", approximately.

I tried to set them straight, but to no avail. The names of political parties aren't necessarily insults. When applied in the lower case, they are mere assertions that so-and-so's programme is reminiscent of such-and-such party's. I can't figure out why this is considered rude. I don't particularly like socialism, though a few of the policies I advocate are, frankly, socalistic. Is that an accusation against myself that I am (slightly) insane?

Now that we have that incredibly long-winded intro to comparative ideology out of the way, is there any son-of-a-gun in the house who'd care to step up to the mic and tell me how Obama is ideologically different from the Labour Party? The SPD? Francois Mitterand?

And if you think all of the above-referenced European democratic socialists are insane, pray tell what leads you to believe I think this way? Who exactly do you think I am?
10.14.2008 2:12am
Duncan C. Coffee (mail):
I garbled my last para. Sorry. I meant to write:
if you think I think all of the above-referenced European democratic socialists are insane, pray tell ...
10.14.2008 2:15am
richard cabeza:
"socialist" is a scare term that carries connotations of radical, subversive, anti-American.

Gosh, where would we be without you to tell us what your ideological enemies really mean? Not since Stalin set us straight on the fascists has political dialog been so transparent in meaning.
10.14.2008 2:19am
Duncan C. Coffee (mail):
I'm trying to imagine this conversation between a couple of Europeans:

"Due to your reluctance to change our political and economic system in ways generally described as progressive, I'd have to describe your views as conservative."

"Conservative? Why do you have to report to name-calling? I'm not a Conservative. I'm not even from Britain! I'm a member of Germany's Christian Democratic Union."

"Oh sorry. I meant conservative, not Conservative. The CDU is a center-right party, no?"

"How dare you call us right-wing? We're a CENTER-right party."

"That's what I thought I said. Oops. My bad. So anyway, if you're a teensy-weensy bit right of center, couldn't you be called conservative?"

"Please! There are children around."

"So conservative is a profanity because no notable continental party calls itself that? Reminds me of America, where socialist is a dirty word because no major American party calls itself socialist."

"Socialist - now that's a label this center-right Christian Democrat can be proud of."
10.14.2008 2:36am
Loops:
Sometimes I feel like trying to parse out the truth from the news these days is enough to instill this Derangement Syndrome all on its own. Can any insightful folks here offer some perspective on this Washington Times article about Sen. Obama apparently campaigning in Kenya a couple years ago for opposition leader Raila Odinga?

Obama's Kenyan Ghosts

Everything is so slanted, it seems like you can't even trust things that are presented as basic facts. I've already seen a couple places that say the MOU was fake, but if he really was campaigning for him that still seems noteworthy. Or maybe the whole thing is just grossly distorted and in reality it was completely innocuous. *sigh*
10.14.2008 2:38am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
powerline is not a credible source of anything - not even worth clicking on


True. Some proof to support your statement can be found here and here.

Those items are proof of dishonesty. Aside from that, it's also fun to read hindrocket in 2005 making fun of Krugman for claiming there's a housing bubble.
10.14.2008 3:07am
John Moore (www):
As a conservative who sometimes refers to Obama as a "socialist" - here's my take on this discussion...

Most conservatives do not believe Obama is "socialist" in the literal sense. It is, as has been mentioned, a short-hand for someone with his policies and associations.

It is *not* a pejorative, but a descriptive, if inexact adjective. It is not a "scare word" - because it's use simply doesn't achieve that effect - not in today's world.

Politics is full of short-hand terms - terms of art, so to speak. This is just human nature - we don't have time to throw in ten paragraphs of precise description every time we want to transmit an observation or opinion.

We could call him a liberal, but that term, in the US, has two meanings - classical liberal which is close to a conservative, and modern liberal, which is a leftist, but usually not too far left.

A more exact adjective for Obama might be leftist, but that word also gets attacked.

Frankly, I don't know of any adjective one can use for Obama's political position that won't be attacked by his supporters.

On the other hand, conservatives are just plain happy to be called conservatives. We don't have to engage in word assassination to protect our identity.
10.14.2008 3:20am
Derrick (mail):
On the other hand, conservatives are just plain happy to be called conservatives. We don't have to engage in word assassination to protect our identity.


How about Progressive which is what I call myself, and I'm guessing isn't considered a slur. It's good that you like being called conservative, but if you aren't trying to insult then why call Obama a Socialist when its a word that he would clearly not want associated with himself. That's why we consider it a slur. Yet, time and time again in this thread as an example people want to label him something that he clearly wouldn't find an accurate descriptor of himself. Especially, when those who seem to throw it out the most still don't seem to have a good understanding of what being a socialist is.
10.14.2008 3:51am
richard cabeza:
If people think the term "socialist" is being misused, then what do they think about "central planning"?
10.14.2008 4:16am
Skyrocket (mail):
Ilya's post gives me the impression that both sides are equally guilty of excessive rhetoric. While you will always find nut cases on both sides, I would have to give the Democrats the prize for being the most unhinged. Is this my "partisan bias" as Ilya suggests?

I don't think so and here is why. When leaders of the Democrat party stand up in the Senate or the House and call President Bush a liar about Iraq (when they all had the same information and voted on it), this sets the tone. This is trickle-down rhetoric which gives license to each subsequent lower level to up the ante on the rhetoric. These Democrat leaders know darn well that Bush didn't lie -and yet they persist. I could cite other examples but in the interest of brevity, won't.

Lastly, the issue of Socialism and socialists. There are many types of socialism and not every type seeks nationalization of industry. Some merely seek to control the production from industry. Obama displays a characteristic that seeks to control industry in ways that affect production. From wind-fall profit taxes to CEO pay caps, not to mention annual increases of the minimum wage. This is indeed Socialism. People who espouse policies that seek to make things "fair" and "equitable" ARE socialists. How many times has Obama used these words. While McCain has made some similar statements and is all for some socialist policies, these tones aren't the running theme in his campaign. They are in Obama's.
10.14.2008 4:25am
Jerry F:
Professor Kerr: For all I know, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden could be socialists, but given the information that we have, I would say that it is more likely than not that they are not. They certainly support certain policies that would move America in a socialist direction, but I don't think that they are full blown socialists. And Bill Clinton could have done much more to move America in a socialist direction if that had been his principal goal; if he is a socialist at heart, it's safe to say he is not a very committed one.

Obama is a completely different character. He has a history of associating with the very far Left that Biden and Bill Clinton lack (Hillary has this only to a much smaller degree). Until very recently, he consistently took extreme positions on political issues (even if his amiable temperament masks his extreme views).
10.14.2008 4:31am
Angus:
Lastly, the issue of Socialism and socialists. There are many types of socialism and not every type seeks nationalization of industry.
That is the definition of socialism. If you are talking about something else, you aren't talking about socialism anymore.
From wind-fall profit taxes to CEO pay caps, not to mention annual increases of the minimum wage. This is indeed Socialism.
C'mon, seriously? Taxes are now socialism? The minimum wage? CEO caps are populism, which isn't the same thing. Here is Obama's position on capping CEO pay in the economy:

"The first-term Illinois senator has introduced "say-on-pay" legislation that would give investors more of a voice in setting executive compensation package."

So, because he wants investors to have more of a say, that's the same as a government takeover?
10.14.2008 4:59am
Toby:

How about Progressive which is what I call myself, and I'm guessing isn't considered a slur.

I don't care if you prefer being called Skippy, rather than Derek, but the term progressive, orignally a term for the policies of certain replican party members, has been adopted for two reasons only"

1) It sounds nice, while bbeing meaningless
2) It disassociates those who claim it from the long experience peole have with their policies

As such it is a made-up word designed to reduce clarity. Or else, you can describe what it means. I suspect it will sound similar to the policies of the old Labor Party, as described above.
10.14.2008 5:15am
Public_Defender (mail):
So many people so unintentionally proving the point of the original post by trying to refute it. Funny.
10.14.2008 7:10am
richard cabeza:
10.14.2008 8:21am
Public_Defender (mail):
Again, nintentionally proving the point of the original post by trying to refute it. Again, funny.
10.14.2008 8:40am
richard cabeza:
Friend, you have a strange definition of deranged, and no ability to argue your point.
10.14.2008 9:07am
Pierre Owner Bouncer Pink Flamingo Bar & Grill (www):
Count me in the Alarmist group...

Guess Michael Barone is an alarmist for warning of the coming Thugocracy...control of the press is one of the hallmarks of the good little socialists/progressives/whatever they are calling themselves at the moment to be elected. And yes I agree that the Republicans enacting McCain/Feingold was a terrible idea...it is about to get worse, much worse.

And because Powerline must never be clicked on we cannot consider their evidence of Barack's socialism/progressivism/whatever he is calling himself to be elected. But how about this source?


Rolling Stone Ben Wallace-Wells who writes...
This is as openly radical a background as any significant American political figure has ever emerged from, as much Malcolm X as Martin Luther King Jr. Wright is not an incidental figure in Obama's life, or his politics. The senator "affirmed" his Christian faith in this church; he uses Wright as a "sounding board" to "make sure I'm not losing myself in the hype and hoopla." Both the title of Obama's second book, The Audacity of Hope, and the theme for his keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in 2004 come from Wright's sermons. "If you want to understand where Barack gets his feeling and rhetoric from," says the Rev. Jim Wallis, a leader of the religious left, "just look at Jeremiah Wright."


Yea gosh how can Obama be a socialist...that is just so farfetched. Listening to Wright and Father Pfleger and realizing he uses them for sounding boards I agree Obama is no socialist...he is worse.
10.14.2008 9:16am
Sarcastro (www):
Richard Capeza's well chosen links are clearly the products of a rational and objective mind!

Campaigning for someone totally means you ascribe to everything they believe. That's why I like to think of Obama as just like Liberman!

And Bernie Sanders is suuch a socialist! I mean, he calls himself one, which is good enough for me.
Who cares how often he votes with mainstream Democrats? That just proves all the Democrats are socialist too, even if they don't say so!
10.14.2008 9:16am
DiverDan (mail):

But many of them also believe that such charges are merely an exaggeration of the underlying reality that the Republicans have long sought to exploit racism for political advantage with their attacks on affirmative action, welfare, and so on.


This is only "reality" if one concludes that there is no principled, non-racist basis to opppose race-based affirmative action. I reject that premise. Race-based affirmative action is bad public policy because (among many other reasons): (a) it invariably helps only those who least need the assistance (i.e., middle and upper class blacks, who had sufficient social and economic benefits to fairly compete on a level playing field), while utterly ignoring the true black underclass; (b) it does not address the true causes of inequality in educational opportunities that arise from substandard school systems in poor inner cities (which are overwhelmingly minority) and cultural value systems such as (1) when academic success by a black child results in isolation among his peers because he is perceived as being "too white", and (2) the assumption that the schools alone are responsible for teaching, resulting in the abdication of any parental responsibility; and (c) it perpetuates stereotypes by allowing others to assume that blacks cannot succeed without the boost of affirmative action. I cannot stop someone from believing that my opposition to race-based affirmative action is "racist", but I can reject the notion that that belief bears any relationship to "reality". It seems that cries of "racism" in that context are just illegitimate attempts to avoid any rational discussion or debate about the utility of the policies at issue.
10.14.2008 9:45am
Hoosier:
DiverDan: For what it's worth, I support affirmative action in several areas. But I understand why opponents think as they do, and I don't see it as racist. That claim is a form of intellectual bullying: Trying to shut down debate by making the other side fear being stigmatized.
10.14.2008 10:26am
Hoosier:
Angus:

Lastly, the issue of Socialism and socialists. There are many types of socialism and not every type seeks nationalization of industry.


That is the definition of socialism. If you are talking about something else, you aren't talking about socialism anymore.


Sorry, but I can't agree with that. Take a look at the party platforms of European SD parties. The German Socialists, Irish Labour, etc.--These are "mixed economy" parties. They aren't pushing for nationalization of industry in the majority of cases.
10.14.2008 10:32am
Sarcastro (www):

[I would say deraignment mostly comes from attributing corrupt motivations to actions you disagree with.

This leads to overemphasizing minor actions that fit you narrative of the evil opposition.

Thus, DiverDan, those who call you racist because you disagree with affirmative action are suffering from Fixation on Race Derangement Syndrome, or FORDS.]
10.14.2008 10:38am
Oren:


Someone suggested that people LIKE those programs; well, people are misinformed about the actual long-term effects of government meddling in the market, and fearful about their ability to cope without those programs.

Last I checked, a misinformed populace is still entitled to get what it wants from a democratic system.
10.14.2008 11:11am
Andy C.:
Whether Obama (or any other person) is a socialist or not obviously depends on the definition of "socialism". For instance, one can reasonably say that almost everyone is a "socialist" if you look at the Socialist Party Platform of 1928. In fact, as Milton Friedman pointed out almost 30 years ago, all ten of the Socialist Party's Platform of 1928 has been enacted into law in some form, and most people support them.
10.14.2008 11:20am
TruePath (mail) (www):
Hmm, that's a good point Ilya. One which I find myself agreeing with more and more as I read the comments.
10.14.2008 11:30am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
hoosier:

a form of intellectual bullying: Trying to shut down debate by making the other side fear being stigmatized.


You mean like responding to any criticism of the war as a form of treason and defeatism? The GOP would never do something like that, right?
10.14.2008 11:37am
Doc W (mail):

Last I checked, a misinformed populace is still entitled to get what it wants from a democratic system.


To repeat: So, folks like me do our best to help them wise up. Aside from voting for Bob Barr, that's about all I can do.

To elaborate just a bit--it is indeed possible for people to get hooked on things that are generally bad for them long-term: cigarettes and socialism come to mind. The difference between those two examples is that it is possible to indulge the former, but not the latter, without initiating force against your neighbors.

By the way, what we have is a constitutional republic. Unlike (apparently) many of the commenters here, I don't think the commerce clause amounts to a blank check for government interference in the economy. Nor do I think that wholesale robbery and coercion become ok just because enough people vote for politicians who engage in such activities.
10.14.2008 12:00pm
Hoosier:

You mean like responding to any criticism of the war as a form of treason and defeatism? The GOP would never do something like that, right?

Oh, right. I forgot that it doesn't count if there's an example of someone else doing it. Anymore.

I'll have to check for that update here, when I have a chance:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallacy

(It has some snooty Latin name. Tu boquet, or something. Croquet?)
10.14.2008 12:08pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
hoosier:

It has some snooty Latin name. Tu boquet, or something. Croquet?


If you can manage to remember the name, look up the wiki article and read the section about "Legitimate uses."
10.14.2008 12:34pm
Hoosier:
jbg--Of course you are going to claim your use is "legitimate." But that isn't correct.

Perhaps you are asserting Hoosier=GOP??? In which case you are commiting a "category error": It is not logically possible for me to be a political party, by definition of "party."

Or you are suggesting that I have at some point said that failing to support the war wholeheartedly is a form of "treason." Which would not be a logical fallacy. It would simply be wrong: since I have never been in favor of the war (in Iraq; Afghanistan is a different matter), I don't think I would have accused myself of treason.

Third option: You are saying my point is not valid because other people do something quite like that. But that's the ad hominem--tu quoque. Textbook case. As I so insightfully indicated.

Sorry.

But thanks for playing. (We have a lovely copy of Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations for you as a parting gift.)
10.14.2008 12:53pm
theobromophile (www):
Not sure why I'm wading into this cesspool....

Agree with Prof. Somin that "derangement" is often the result of exaggeration, as opposed to unfounded accusation. Thus, "Obama is a socialist," or "Palin is vindictive" are exaggerations, but "Obama is a Muslim" and "Palin's son is her grandson by incest" are deranged slurs.

If we are to quantify derangement, then we would ask about the number of totally unfounded, or massively ridiculous, slurs on each side. I'm not an Obama fan, so I haven't been keeping track of what the nuts on the right say about him (Muslim beliefs aside), but the stuff that has been said about Palin, with absolutely no basis in fact, is staggering. Incest? Adultery? Caused her son to be born with Down's? AmnioticFluidGate? Faking a pregnancy? Racist because she wore white to a campaign rally? (IIRC, someone at the DU called her "the grand princess of the KKK" for wearing white.) Faked SAT score sheets and grades - when she was on the honour society? That doesn't even include the things that have a tenuous at best basis in fact, but have been thoroughly debunked - and nevertheless repeated as truth: book banning, making rape victims pay for their rape kits, forcing creationism on the school systems, being against comprehensive sex ed, being at fault for Bristol's pregnancy... et cetera. Sick stuff.

I'm not saying that there are not similar problems with how Obama has been treated; there simply isn't enough time in the day to read about how everyone treats everyone else. I dislike criticism of Obama on false grounds, because I think his policies are bad enough to fight on their merits (Universal Voluntary citizen service, nationalised health care, Freedom of Choice Act, limited drilling, etc).
10.14.2008 1:16pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
hoosier:

It is not logically possible for me to be a political party


When you put a lot of effort into promoting the views of a certain group, you end up assuming a certain amount of responsibility for the behavior of that group.

Wittgenstein


I was expecting Naipaul.
10.14.2008 1:32pm
David Warner:
"When you put a lot of effort into promoting the views of a certain group, you end up assuming a certain amount of responsibility for the behavior of that group."

Whereas when one puts an insane amount of effort into doing nothing but, indeed pathologically perceives promotion as the relentlessly merciless destruction of the narrowly perceived "other" of that group, one is relieved of the opportunity of even gaining an awareness of the behavior of one's own group, and the perspective such awareness might foster, including the realization that other group identities, both more local and more global, might be relevant or even determinative.

Which gets to the point of the thread.
10.14.2008 2:15pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
My contracts stipulates that I'm not required to read any sentence with roughly 75 words.
10.14.2008 2:27pm
Hoosier:
David Warner:

In addition to which, juke has sought to avoid admitting his errors by attempting distraction. Again. (Hey, I tried.) Informal logic really is not that hard. If, that is, you are willing to abide by its rules.

If not, then I can't see much point in continuing.

346. Aber koennten wir uns nicht vorstellen, dass Gott einem Papagei ploetzlich Verstand schenkte, und dieser nun zu sich selbest redet?

Jawohl, Herr Dr. Wittgenstein! J e t z t koennen wir das.
10.14.2008 2:32pm
David Warner:
Which explains how you missed the entirety of Locke.
10.14.2008 2:32pm
Hoosier:
David Warner:

And Kafka

and Burke

and Hume (Not Brit. The fat one.)

and . . .

and now it's all starting to make sense.
10.14.2008 3:38pm
Randy R. (mail):
therut:"Did anyone even talk about homosexuals or gay marriage back in the days of Truman? I graduated High School in 1977 and did not know what homosexuality was for goodness sake!"

Well, I'm sure most homosexuals knew what homosexuality was, even back in 77.

Having sparred with several people here at the VC in the past, I would suggest that there are many people who seem to be against socialism but want the state to do what it can to prevent the spread of homosexuality.

That seems hypocritical to me.
10.14.2008 3:51pm
Randy R. (mail):
"People who espouse policies that seek to make things "fair" and "equitable" ARE socialists. "

So you would vote for people who seek to make thing unfair an inequitable?

Fairness is in the eye of the beholder.

Theo: "That doesn't even include the things that have a tenuous at best basis in fact, but have been thoroughly debunked - and nevertheless repeated as truth: book banning, making rape victims pay for their rape kits."

These two arguments haven't been thoroughlyl debunked. Debunked in part, but not totally untrue either. Perhaps the context was not fully considered, or other parts did not come to light, but certain facts were actually verified. Furthermore, her refusal to hold a press conference to more fully explain these charges or answer them merely adds fuel to the fire.

And when will McCain stop saying that Obama's tax plan will raise taxes for everyone when he knows that's not true?

Still, this does not excuse excess political garbage, of course. poeple want to talk about the big issues of the day, not the side stuff.
10.14.2008 4:01pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
hoosier:

avoid admitting his errors


What's the word for claiming that something is in a book when it's not actually in the book? I guess 'error' is one word, but it's not the only word.

and Hume (Not Brit. The fat one.)


You should think of your own lines. But maybe you just forgot.
10.14.2008 4:45pm
Hoosier:
You should think of your own lines. But maybe you just forgot.

Damn! I missed that one. Well-played.

I owe you a beer or something.
10.14.2008 6:04pm
Hoosier:
Randy R.:

So you would vote for people who seek to make thing unfair an inequitable?

Fairness is in the eye of the beholder.


Yep. Thus the question is "Who should be the arbiter of fairness?"

I assume you think the guv'mint?
10.14.2008 6:07pm
Randy R. (mail):
Hoosier: "Yep. Thus the question is "Who should be the arbiter of fairness?"

I assume you think the guv'mint?"

Not at all. I think the arbiter should be us gays. We are pretty good as arbiters of style and fashion, so why not fairness?
10.14.2008 6:50pm
David Warner:
Randy R.,

"I think the arbiter should be us gays. We are pretty good as arbiters of style and fashion, so why not fairness?"

"Life is never fair, and perhaps it is a good thing for most of us that it is not."

- Oscar Wilde
10.14.2008 11:03pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
hoosier:

Damn! I missed that one.


I'm sure it was completely unconscious. Or maybe you never even saw the original comment and it was just case of simultaneous invention. Quite possible. It was ungracious of me to demand credit.

I owe you a beer or something.


Thanks for the friendly offer. You can just send a couple of bucks directly to Obama.
10.15.2008 1:47am
Hoosier:
You can just send a couple of bucks directly to Obama.

You mean I should send him a bribe? Well, OK. But a couple bucks might not buy a beer in Cook County.


Also, I retract my statement about (David) Hume's lengthy sentences. Upon reflection, what, always annoyed me, about reading, Hume, was that he, used commas as, if he owned stock, in a punctuation, factory.
10.15.2008 12:27pm