April 11, 2010

"People have got to know whether or not their President is a crook"/"The question has been raised about whether or not our president is a socialist."

There's this Ron Paul quote that's getting some attention:
"The question has been raised about whether or not our president is a socialist. I am sure there are some people here who believe it. But in the technical sense, in the economic definition of a what a socialist is, no, he's not a socialist."
And what strikes me about it is the rhetorical similarity to the famous Nixon quote:
"People have got to know whether or not their President is a crook. Well, I'm not a crook. I've earned everything I've got."
Rhetorically, the acknowledgment that there is a question has more impact than the denial. Indeed, the denial seems to underscore the seriousness of the question.

Now, Nixon was denying his own guilt. Ron Paul is raising the issue about the President and providing the denial. Nixon stepped in it. Ron Paul is doing something else. But what?

Let's pull it apart:

1. The beginning of the statement, paraphrased, says: There's an important question about whether the President is a socialist. We should address it. Some people believe it. You ought to take it seriously. That's the opposite of a denial. That's massaging the concern about socialism into our heads.

2. Next we hear that there is a technical, economic definition of what socialism is, and according to that restricted definition, Obama is not a socialist. We are left to think that there is some less technical definition that would include Obama.

3. Ron Paul's next statement is therefore key: "He's a corporatist. And unfortunately we have corporatists inside the Republican party and that means you take care of corporations and corporations take over and run the country." It seems that Paul is warning about some vast alliance between government and business that isn't technically socialism but is dangerous in the same or worse way.

So, lefties, don't get all excited about that Ron Paul statement. He's not on your side.

59 comments:

Meade said...

More or less left or right I can live with.
Is "corporatism" authoritarian?

That is where he loses me.

rhhardin said...

Ron Paul is making no sense, is my first reaction.

There's an open question what Obama is up to, that is to say what we're in for.

You can leave out the quesiton whether it's intentional, whatever it is. I suspect the consequences won't be intentional in any case.

AllenS said...

Anybody who hangs out at Cominsky Park can't be all that bad.

Beth said...

Thanks for the warning, but really, who needs to be warned not to get all excited about Ron Paul? I don't want him on "our" side.

danielle said...

he's clearly not on the side of the left.

But he does call into question a lot of the rhetoric of the Tea Partiers, and the Republicans. And he does call the Republicans' bluff, basically saying they'd be doing similar things to Obama .... recall it was George Bush who took the first steps to prop up the banks, interest free.

Fred4Pres said...

There is a socialist current and agenda in the Obama administration and the Democratic party, but Ron Paul does make a valid point. Ron Paul and especially many Paulistians/Paulbots can be nut jobs at times, but his cautions about the ties between corporations and government are well made. This is something Eisenhower warned against in the fifies with defense contractors and the government.

The difference now is GE, Siemens and others are falling over one another to cash in on so called "green technology". Cap and trade is a huge boondoogle. The trouble is most of these reforms do not pencil out, will not work, and are completely inefficient. They make us less strong, especially by drawing venture capital from solutions that would work and will pay off in time. We see that also with health care "reform" and the medical/pharm industry. Trouble is at least military government spending, while often wasteful, did protect the nation. This stuff seems destined to just weaken it further.

Big Mike said...

Obama could clarify things immensely if instead of referring to his unelected and essentially unvetted minions as "czars" he used the more correct term "gauleiter."

lucid said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JayC said...

His definition of "corporatism" is wrong. It does not mean "corporations run everything" (that's plutocracy).

Corporatism means replacing the traditional dynamic of Big Business vs Big Labor with a cooperation between the two, brought about by Big Government.

In the end, Big Government runs everything, but the means of production are operated by corporations.

This is different than traditional socialism, where government operates the means of production directly. However, since gov't (and politicians) make all the big calls, it's still a form of socialism. It certainly isn't capitalism.

This is the basic economic theory of fascism, as put into effect in 1930s Italy.

So, Paul is effectively saying "Obama is not a socialist, he's a fascist" Decide for yourself how you feel about that.

lucid said...

Obama is not technically a socialist, but then socialism is an old-fashioned ideology that doesn't apply to modern economies.

Obama and people like Pelosi get power and control by making government bigger and more intrusive.

In their view, they really don't work for us. We work for them.

The government doesn't work for us. We work for the government.

That is why they can ram through laws that American citizens oppose.

That is why they can tell us what to do, from what kind of car we can drive to what kind of health insurance we have to buy.

And that is why they can tax us and take our money without limits.

They are a new dominant class--the politically powerful, sitting atop an intrusive government.

The more powerful the government becomes, the more powerful they each become as individuals.

The bigger government becomes, the more others must fear and defer to them. The mainstream liberal media are their courtiers, offering "blow jobs" in exchange for career-enhancing access.

While Obama and Pelosi are notionally our "elected representatives," they are the ones who fly on private jets and live lives of outlandish opulence and tell us what to do--all of which we who work productively get to pay for.

The laws they make don't apply to them. That's why Charlie Rangel and Tom Daschle and Timothy Geithner don't have to pay taxes on income.

This is the new American reality. We now work for the government, for the President, and for the Congress (the political aristocracy).

They own our output and our wealth. They acquire power at our expense. Their power dervies from the degree of their intrusion into our lives.

Say hello to the new bosses.

And remember to vote in November.

Almost Ali said...

In light of Caterpillar (et al) vs. socialized medicine, the term "corporatist" needs a new and improved definition.

And, would a true corporatist embrace a value-added-tax as the way to reach corporate Nirvana?

Leave it to Ron Paul to always find the best way to shoot himself in the foot.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

President Obama is clearly not a socialist. Someday he may become a socialist, if he moves enough to the right. But I don't think that's too likely.

Expat(ish) said...

One day both Beck and Paul seemed to make sense to me.

Luckily I keep an emergency 1L container of Ketel One in my office freezer.

-XC

Solar said...

The very insurance industry the left openly vilifies, will now benefit after it takes in billions upon billions of dollars from private citizens. It's the law.

I'd say Obama's Socialist tendencies fit nicely with the corporatist reality.

I have nothing against corporations. But when the government gets in bed with whole industries and siphons off private individual tax payer funds and hands it to corporations, (in essence choosing life's winners and losers by bypassing the free market), that's the corporatism Ron Paul is talking about.

AllenS said...

Count me as someone who doesn't think Obama is a socialist. I just don't think he knows what he's doing.

John said...

"Fascism", the political party/ideology developed by Mussolini is explicitly socialist. Mussolini was a loudly self-professed Marxist socialist till his dying day.

The very name "Fascism", from the "fasces" or sticks bundled together cries out collectivism.

"National Socialism" (often miscalled NAZISM)was also explicitly socialist.

They both incorporated a lot of corporatism.

One definition of socialism is control of the means of production. It doesn't matter whether the corporations technically remain in private hands. What is important is who controls them. If it is the government, it is socialism. Naturally, the government does it for the good of the people.

Thus, we have privately owned Pharma, insurance, hospital companies. But under Obamacare the owners have little control.

Seems like it meets the classic definition of socialism to me.

John Henry

rhhardin said...

Obama is Dr. Kevorkian, as Rush put it, probably better than anybody.

MayBee said...

I don't know what Obama is. He's a do-gooder. He doesn't have a defined philosophy. He's always had someone taking care of him, making sure he gets what he needs with as little effort as possible from him.
Lawrence Tribe at Harvard.
The publishers who agreed to extend and pay for his first book well beyond the deadline.
Tony Rezko in Chicago.
University of Chicago, which hired him and then gave him time off to write his personal book while never requiring him to publish for them.
Bill Ayers w/ the Chicago Annenberg Challenge.
Valerie Jarret, David Axelrod getting Senate opponents taken out of the race.

When making money is easy, it's easy to imagine giving it away to "help" others. No real rhyme or reason is necessary.

Kirby Olson said...

Obama's an opportunist who is destroying the opportunities of others.

Unemployment among the under-25s is now over 20%.

He did say he studied with Marxist professors.

He also said that one of his favorite books is Niebuhr's Moral Man and Immoral Society, which is a Lutheran pastor's first important book, and is clearly written from a socialist perspective.

(Niebuhr later denounced his own book.)

Hagar said...

"Socialist" and "socialism" are very flexible and stretchable concepts. Sometimes too much so. Karl Marx once was moved to state that he was not a "marxist." However, Obama's statements seems to indicate that on economics, he is somewhat to the left of some people who still claim to be "socialists" in these times.

On the other hand, when my boss goes off on a rant about "socialists" and "socialism" I tell hin, "No, Chuck. Socialists are serious people; totally wrongheaded of course, but very serious, and they have carefully thought out their wrongheadedness. These people are not serious."

MayBee said...

Count me as someone who doesn't think Obama is a socialist. I just don't think he knows what he's doing.

Yeah, I should have just said what AllenS said. Obama is a "someone should do something about this" kinda guy. Not especially good at thinking through the consequences.

edutcher said...

The Zero is more communist than socialist in the colloquial sense. He has, in addition to the usual belief that the private sector is the enemy, some very specific, not necessarily pacifist, foreign policy stances and has a real antipathy to this country as it has existed for 235 years.

While not a "Today Europe, Tomorrow the World" view, he certainly takes the side of any and all enemies of the US and penalizes its friends.

Believer in Big Government? Absolutely!

Believer in Big Coercion?
Looks like!

Ann Althouse said...

Ron Paul's next statement is therefore key: "He's a corporatist. And unfortunately we have corporatists inside the Republican party and that means you take care of corporations and corporations take over and run the country." It seems that Paul is warning about some vast alliance between government and business that isn't technically socialism but is dangerous in the same or worse way.

As usual, Paul is on his own planet. What he defines is the relationship between the Hitler government and industrial giants like Farben and Krupp.

John said...

"Fascism", the political party/ideology developed by Mussolini is explicitly socialist. Mussolini was a loudly self-professed Marxist socialist till his dying day.

...

Thus, we have privately owned Pharma, insurance, hospital companies. But under Obamacare the owners have little control.


Similar, but not entirely the same, as the form of economics known as state capitalism practiced by Lenin. Although not all means of production were owned by the state (IIRC), Mussolini had his Blackshirts in the factories making the day to day management decisions the same as the commissars.

Had Ernst Rohm gotten his way, Germany would have been similar. As it is, John's description of ZeroCare is classic National Socialism. I think we disagree only in the amount of degree needed.

MadisonMan said...

The question has been raised about whether or not Ron Paul beats his wife. I am sure there are some people here who believe it. But in the technical sense, in the practical definition of a what a wife-beater is, no, he's not a wife-beater.

Trooper York said...

But he does have the t-shirt.

Mick said...

Well he's not a Natural Born Citizen either.

http://puzo1.blogspot.com/2010/04/founder-and-historian-david-ramsay.html

http://www.thepostemail.com/2010/04/10/lifelong-democrat-breckinridge-long-natural-born-citizen-means-born-on-the-soil-to-a-father-who-is-a-citizen/

Jennyo said...

Most of my Progressive Student Union lefty college friends have always thought (and believe they are being proven right) that Obama is a corporate sellout. So while Ron Paul is clearly not on their side, his comments make them feel vindicated. That is why the ones I know are cheering about the comments on their facebook statuses.

Theo Boehm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hagar said...

Many of Obama's statements strike me as quite old-fashioned sophomoric - like something out of Aldous Huxley or Dorothy Leigh Sayers - dressed up with a fresh coat of "behavioral economics" to appear new and forward-looking.

Julius Ray Hoffman said...

You don't want to accept Ron Paul into the opposition, then... Guess what? You'll lose. The Democrats will stay in control of the government and it will be same old, same old.

Beth said:

...who needs to be warned not to get all excited about Ron Paul? I don't want him on "our" side.

Well, fine. Fuck you then. And fuck your Republican party.

I don't approve of Obama. But if I'm not welcome to support a Republican because I'm a "Paulbot", then I won't. And neither will lots of people like me. The Republicans will lose, the Democrats will stay in power, and Beth and her cohorts can enjoy the comfort of their ideological purity while watching the election results.

New "Hussein" Ham said...

A better question is:

Is Barack Obama a fucking murderer?

Does the President of the United States have the power to authorize the murder of an American citizen without any due process?

Where does it say that in the Constitution?

I could care less whether, frankly Barack Obama is a socialist according to Ron Paul's definition. Barack Obama is an asshole too, but that's his right as an American.

However, he's a criminal.

And we shouldn't be aliding right over that question.

Bob Ellison said...

One of the fascinating tendencies of leftists is their consistent urge to separatism. "Socialist" is inappropriate to describe a liberal; "liberal" is demeaning to a socialist; "Marxist" is some kind of libel to almost anyone on the left.

On the right, people mostly say "conservative" and are comfortable with that. It doesn't describe everyone, but it's a broad term that catches various political preferences we all understand.

Ron Paul is what we on left and right call a "wacko". He doesn't seem to know where he stands. For the most part, he's an anarchist, but he would hate the term, like a leftist.

Obama is clearly a socialist. That's what he stands for. Why not say so?

Big Mike said...

@Julius Ray, Beth is a Democrat

master cylinder said...

What's the big stink on Ron Paul?
I would think he would be revered in Tea Party thinking.

kynefski said...

So, lefties, don't get all excited about that Ron Paul statement. He's not on your side.

Actually, the claim that Obama's administration is corporatist is quite popular among some on the left, so it depends on which lefties you're talking about.

mtrobertsattorney said...

New Ham is onto something important.

Does Obama claim any legal authority for his astonishing pronouncement that he has the power to order the assassination of an American citizen without any indictment or trial? If so, let's see it.

If not, we have much more to fear than mere socialism.

Roger J. said...

What AllenS said. Using Occam sometimes the simplist explanations are the best.

Xmas said...

Obama is a Statist. Just like almost all of our presidents since 1930. Every 2 years, we get to elect the flavor of Statist that makes us happiest, to represent us in Congress. Every 4 years, a flavor of Statist to represent us in the executive.

I'm enjoying the Tea Part folks because they are most definitely anti-Statist, though most of them don't realize that is what they are.

I'm also find it funny that leftists are getting all pissy at Obama for his Statist moves (corporate bailouts, "hollow" health care bill, assassinating American citizens) claiming that their too right wing. If the roles were reversed, right wingers would call the same moves by a Republican president too left wing.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

New Ham said...

Does the President of the United States have the power to authorize the murder of an American citizen without any due process?

Yes, if we are at war and that citizen is a valid military target.

Where does it say that in the Constitution?

Article 2, Section 2.

Scott said...

"Ron Paul is what we on left and right call a "wacko". He doesn't seem to know where he stands."

Just because you don't know where he stands doesn't mean that he's not understandable. It just means that you're ignorant and are willing to accept your ignorance by labeling him a "wacko".

Comfort with one's own ignorance is a hallmark of bigotry.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Comfort with one's own ignorance is a hallmark of bigotry

Bite Me.

Scott said...

I find JayC's argument at 4/11 12:01 persuasive.

My suspicion is that Ron Paul does believe that Obama is a fascist. But Paul is also astute enough as a politician to know that he could never get away with calling him that on the record. So, he calls Obama a corporatist, which is a little more obscure and a little less fragrant.

The modern Presidency is by design an institution built on a fascist blueprint, from its "bully pulpit" qualities to its Oval Office console of buttons and levers to steer bureaucracy and the "Military-Industrial Complex" (Eisenhower's term, intended as a warning). Calling Obama a fascist shouldn't be suprising or offensive. It is what it is.

edutcher said...

master cylinder said...

What's the big stink on Ron Paul?
I would think he would be revered in Tea Party thinking.


Guess again.

Xmas said...

Obama is a Statist. Just like almost all of our presidents since 1930.

More like 1860, but you're in the ballpark, regardless.

Daniel said...

what strikes me about it is the rhetorical similarity to the famous Nixon quote...

What strikes me is that Nixon said that famous Nixon quote. Ron Paul said this Obama quote.

We are left to think that there is some less technical definition that would include Obama.

Yeah. The ad hominen, you don't know what it means definition. Like calling someone douchebag, when, technically, he or she is not, in fact, a literal douchebag.

It seems that Paul is warning about some vast alliance between government and business that isn't technically socialism but is dangerous in the same or worse way.

It ISN'T socialism. It just isn't. Corporatism is its own thing. Stop with the airy bullshit. What is the similar danger between corporatism and socialism? You said it. Defend it.

So, lefties, don't get all excited about that Ron Paul statement. He's not on your side.

Ron Paul's not on the side of the American left? Who knew?

However, unlike the Tea Partiers, who party in his name, and the Republican leaders who weakly hang on the coattails of the Tea Party, at least he has the intellectual honesty to recognize the obvious fact that Obama is not a socialist, and the balls to say it in public.

Scott said...

Bite Me.

The comment wasn't directed at you. And in any case, I didn't pick that stupid name, you did. >:^P

mtrobertsattorney said...

Ignorance is Bliss on Obama's new-found assassination power: "Yes if we are at war and that citizen is a valid military target."

1. Obama has told us there is no "war" on terrorism.

2. Where are the legal guidelines for determining whether an American citizen is a "valid military target" and what are they?
Are these questions left to Obama's discretion?

Ignorance is Bliss said...

1. Obama has told us there is no "war" on terrorism.

President Obama has told us all kinds of lies.

2. Where are the legal guidelines for determining whether an American citizen is a "valid military target" and what are they?
Are these questions left to Obama's discretion?


I would assume they would be the same guidelines as determining any other military target.

Beth said...

Hi Big Mike,

Ha! That was funny to both of us, I bet.

If it matters, I'm a liberal, but not a Democrat. I changed my registration to Independent the first year of Clinton's first term. The only time I've regretted that was 2008, when I was unable to vote in the presidential primaries.

Beth said...

Why does this thread make me miss Ross Perot?

Pogo said...

Is Obama a socialist or a corporatist?

It's like arguing whether a thief uses a gun or a knife to rob you.

roesch-voltaire said...

On a structural financial level this country is primarily run for the benefit of multinational corporations whose well paid representatives ( Goldman Sacks folks) are marbled into our government--notice that under both administrations Wall Street took the tax payers to the bank. To think that our politicians, who are the best money can buy, will turn us into socialist is to ignore reality. Ron Paul seems to understand the obvious and went on to say:
"Conservatives spend money on different things. They like embassies, and they like occupation. They like the empire. They like to be in 135 countries and 700 bases."

Seven Machos said...

So Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich, Al Sharpton, and Pat Robertson are sitting at a bar. Bartender says...

Seven Machos said...

Beth -- There's no question that the tea party activists very largely overlap with the people who swooned for Perot in 1992. Same basic platform, really.

The question is: do you see the mainstream media reporting the same basic phenomenon the same basic way? If not, why not?

Meade said...

Bartender says...

"Sorry guys, but we don't serve your kind."

Seven Machos said...

"...but there is a bar across the street called the Wacky Loon. You guys'll fit in great over there. The crowd will even pay for your drinks and a gourmet dinner every night if you put on a good show."

Meade said...

lol!

traditionalguy said...

Interestingly enough both Paul and Obama are fascists. The want the power to run the world their way and will then suddenly strike to kill opposition groups. Who cares if the socialists or the communists or the Corporatists get the credit for the philosophy. It is a State monopoly of all life and violence that Paul knows since he is one too.

Comrade X said...

stop questioning my socialism!

GMay said...

I love how lefties/liberals can only recognize "socialism" if it fits the basic textbook terms.

Ironic coming from those who worship at the altar of nuance.

Jeremy said...

Whatever he is...he's getting things done that are good for the country and the entire world:

Deal With U.S. Reached As Major Nuclear Security Summit Begins... Gathering Of World Leaders Is Largest In America Since United Nations Was Founded In 1945.

DE-NUKED: UKRAINE TO GIVE UP ALL WEAPONS-GRADE URANIUM