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April 12, 2010

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oh man i just shot marvin in the face

Not only did Reagan pursue nuclear arms reduction, he also raised taxes in order to keep the Federal deficit from getting totally out of hand. Bet that would make for an even bigger head explosion . . . if anyone were brave enough to point it out to the faithful.

Oh man... “Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power” -- Benito Mussilini

Got it now?

Got it now?

Well, first the quote was about Obama being a socialist, not a fascist.
Second, Paul called Obama a corporatist, that doesn't make him one.
Third, the contemporary definition of corporatism is something like modern Japan, not fascist Italy.
Fourth, just about any opinion on fascism can be supported with a single, isolated quote; the leaders and exponents of midcentury fascism were voluble and often inconsistent.

Got that?

In other news, rep Steve King agrees that Obama isn't a socialist, only he's got a slightly different take on the matter. “The question isn’t whether the president is a socialist,” King said. “It becomes what’s to the left of socialists.”
The punch line: he wasn't laughed off of the stage as a buffoon. Proof that there is not a just god.

From Carleton's cite:

In her speech, Bachmann said rural Iowans should be the vetters of presidential candidates in the first-in-the-nation caucuses.

“This is our country,” Bachmann said. “We own this country.”

Some rural Iowans are in for a rude awakening.

“The question isn’t whether the president is a socialist,” King said. “It becomes what’s to the left of socialists.”

In this country, approximately 14,592 graduate students, a couple of folks in a cheap crappy office in Central Square, Cambridge, MA, and a crazy guy with a dog-eared copy of "One Dimensional Man" who spends his days and nights riding the IRT talking 'bout the revolution.

Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power

In fascist Italy, the state held the whip hand in the corporatist merger.

Nowadays, it's the other way around.

What Russell said at 10.14 pm.

Thing is, if Marcuse had been elected to the House of Representatives he would have been gunned down in the street soon after.

Death Palin, King, and a fat redneck who will use the word "diddly" 12 times in his Presidential inaugural speech with Newtsputin weaving his anti-American murderous web alongside will destroy the United States without a single shot being fired.

I'm with Bachmann now. Round up the Republican Party and place them in internment camps.

Realizing their demagogic nightmare has becomes my life's work .. the confederate enemy scum.

TPM reports that the Tea Party Movement has now reached the military.

Read this guy's threat against the U.S. Government, from inside the military, and tell me why he shouldn't be court martialed for treason and executed now.

He's more dangerous than al Qaeda, in the here and now.

Or, we can wait until the Marines suppress the cocks*ucker coward's free speech and drum him out and create a FOX news and Southern Republican Traitor Leadership Council hero who will, with their help and encouragement, murder President Barack Obama and many of the rest of us.

A little blood now, or much more later, and we'll have to raise taxes to hunt down Republican filth remnants who have been permitted to do their traitorous worst.

They're trying to hire James Earle Ray #II as we speak.

TPM is late to the party

If calling Obama a socialist won't do the trick you can, like that nimrod Congressman John Fleming from Louisiana, claim that the President is undermining national defense "on purpose" (exact quote).

Fifty to one hundred people should follow this doofus around 24 hours a day shaming him for this lunacy.

Russell,

Your 14,592 more accurately describes the number of leftist splinter groups in this country, many of which have one or fewer members, hating each other with unmatched passion over long forgotten doctrinal disputes.

But my beloved Wobblies are still out there and actually having some small labor organizing successes....bless 'em.

"In fascist Italy, the state held the whip hand in the corporatist merger.

Nowadays, it's the other way around."

Given a certain mind set, I suppose you can look at somebody stretched on the rack, and see a masochist abusing power...

While I disagree with Paul on some issues, I think I agree with him at least as often, if not more often. I appreciate his consistency and his willingness to say uncomfortable things to his supporters (or folks on the right who might support him).

Obama is a corporatist, as is a significant chunk of the Democratic Party and nearly all of the GOP. He was the better corporatist option, IMO.

I'd like to believe that in a Paulite libertarian system would result in less corporate power & abuse, along with a vibrant economy and thriving individual rights, but I do not. I think it would be the 19th century all over again.

"Given a certain mind set, I suppose you can look at somebody stretched on the rack, and see a masochist abusing power..."

Wait, so it's your position that Mussolini was a helpless victim of Italian corporate power? Or am I missing something?

I'd guess that Brett is saying that American corporations are being stretched on the rack by our federal government. He's probably right, since they can't afford to pay their CEOs a decent wage.

"I'd guess that Brett is saying that American corporations are being stretched on the rack by our federal government"

Small businesses, maybe. Big corporations? No way. They practically right the laws and regulations. Which, unsurprisingly, benefit them and possibly harm the little guy (barriers to entry rock if you're the big dog).

Bah. WRITE, not right. Clearly I'm not firing on all cylinders this morning.

I'd guess that I'm saying that you have to be somewhat delusional to think that corporations have the whip hand here. A lot of what goes by the name of "bribery" is politicians extorting corporations. And a lot of the 'handouts' to corporations are just the visible part of politicians laundering tax money into their own pockets through corporations.

But I can understand the desire to see this as the otherwise upright and noble politician being corrupted by business: It makes the whole notion of 'reform' through government look rather hopeless, if you see that the government is one of the chief origins of corruption in our society, not a put upon victim of it.

But I can understand the desire to see this as the otherwise upright and noble politician being corrupted by business: It makes the whole notion of 'reform' through government look rather hopeless, if you see that the government is one of the chief origins of corruption in our society, not a put upon victim of it.

Yeah. It's not like the posters and commenters here at ObWi would bother to evaluate the actual reform policies based on reason or logic or facts. The participants on this particular blog gladly accept whatever the noble politicians do without question. Whatever.

https://opensecrets.org/orgs/summary.php?id=D000000129

Would you agree that the Republicans are extorting much, much more money from Exxon-Mobil than the Democrats?

Whatever disadvantages large corporate victims suffer at the hands of corrupt politicians should be pretty much wiped out by the Citizens United decision.

After next Fall, I expect corruption to be returned to the private corporate sector, where the Constitution says it belongs.

It's time government stop infringing on the private sector's turf.

A lot of what goes by the name of "bribery" is politicians extorting corporations. And a lot of the 'handouts' to corporations are just the visible part of politicians laundering tax money into their own pockets through corporations.

A reasonable point.

I'm happy to grant that the line between government actor and corporate actor, and between public and private, can be pretty damned hard to find.

"Whatever disadvantages large corporate victims suffer at the hands of corrupt politicians should be pretty much wiped out by the Citizens United decision."

Nah, now they return to being extorted into running campaign ads in favor of incumbants again, something they'd thought themselves done with. There's a reason CU didn't get any amicus briefs filed by for profit corporations, you know: It was a great decision so far as the non-profits were concerned, it sucked if you were a for profit corporation.

I suppose it's one of those figure-ground things, like the candle stick and two faces, whether you see bribery or extortion first in a corrupt exchange of money. But I do think it takes a certain amount of cognitive bias to think the organization with an army and police, passing laws that can put you out of business if it feels like it, is the powerless victim in a transaction...

Brett, should I assume that you ignored my point because you agree with me?

But I do think it takes a certain amount of cognitive bias to think the organization with an army and police, passing laws that can put you out of business if it feels like it, is the powerless victim in a transaction...

I wouldn't read too much into the metaphor reversal regarding who has the whip. Taken literally, well, it can't really be taken literally. But taken seriously, it's an overstatement. The point being that no one has described the federal government as a powerless victim. It's more like a compliant accomplice. I say that despite the supposed (liberals + federal government = BFF) framing you frequently seem to overlay onto your arguments, Brett.

Well, Julian, I think it's entirely possible that the Democrats are just being less clumsy about it, (Open Secrets doesn't track all of the ways politicians can get money from corporations.) but if you're asking if I think the Republicans are corrupt? They're crooked as a three dollar bill.

It's entirely possible that I will get some uncut diamonds in the mail today, but "entirely possible" is not synonymous with "likely" or "supported by evidence."

Actually, I was asking if you think Republicans are more corrupt than Democrats w/r/t ExxonMobil, the contributor I googled.

I think "compliant accomplice" is redundant, not to mention that is means the same thing twice over.

And I'm answering that I don't know, because Open Secrets doesn't cover all the ways a politician can be corrupt w/r/t a corporation. For instance, getting your relatives placed on corporate boards, being paid to do squat. On the surface it looks that way, though.

Actually, I was asking if you think Republicans are more corrupt than Democrats w/r/t ExxonMobil, the contributor I googled.

That's an odd question. Would "do you think Democrats are more corrupt than Republicans WRT pretty much all trade unions" be illustrative of how odd a question that is?

Just curious how the flip-flop of that question sounds to you, is all.

I'd guess that I'm saying that you have to be somewhat delusional to think that corporations have the whip hand here.

Corporations do very, very well here. You would have to be somewhat delusional to think otherwise.

A lot of what goes by the name of "bribery" is politicians extorting corporations.

And yet, those corporations seem to get beacoup benefits from these extortions. For some reason, the politicians who extort the cash also bend over backwards to write tax loopholes etc for their 'victims'.
Take the recent mining disaster- ooh, weep for the poor mining companies who have these donations extorted from them and then get lax safety regulations and poor enforcement.

But I can understand the desire to see this as the otherwise upright and noble politician being corrupted by business: It makes the whole notion of 'reform' through government look rather hopeless, if you see that the government is one of the chief origins of corruption in our society, not a put upon victim of it.

Here, you have described yourself- you must believe that government is evil, ergo even when corporations are obviously buying (and then wielding) tremendous influence you distort the picture so that they are the victims.

I suppose it's one of those figure-ground things, like the candle stick and two faces, whether you see bribery or extortion first in a corrupt exchange of money.

It's really not. Any more than it's hard to tell the difference between a mafia don extorting a grocery store and a baker who supplies the store with bread.
One takes money and provides nothing. The other takes money and provides a service.
Are you really claiming that you don't see the services provided by government in favor of businesses, both in particular and generally?

But I do think it takes a certain amount of cognitive bias to think the organization with an army and police, passing laws that can put you out of business if it feels like it, is the powerless victim in a transaction...

First, we're talking about individual politicians here. One Congressman can't put Exxon out of business.
Second, the government really couldn't put Exxon out of business without causing a tremendous amount of pain for itself. And, probably, getting a lot of pols voted out of office.
Third, the army really doesn't have anything to do with this, unless you're far into Hutaree territory.

Fourth, and most important, no one ever said that government, or individual politicians, were powerless victims. They're selling a service to the corporations. It's a voluntary transaction on both sides, and both sides win. The public loses.

To clarify: at least on my part, I don't blame corporations for buying influence. At least, not nearly as much as the politicians for selling it.
But it's genuinely hard for both parties: Corp A knows that Corp B will be buying influence, and feels it needs to keep up. But Pol A knows that his challenger will also be selling influence, and that *he* needs to sell to keep up.

The problem is the structure of the system, where legalized bribery is the accepted norm. Brett, I would think that the consistent Libertarian position is that this is caused by excessive government power- not because the government is 'evil' or 'extortionist'. The government has power to sell, the corporations have a use for that power, they make a deal- most natural thing in the world from a free market perspective, no coercion required.

So I think that we can maintain a moderate level of government power without excessive corruption. You presumably think that this can't be done. But there's no reason for these caricatured positions that you always choose to project onto everyone else here, eg that we think that government is some innocent lamb being corrupted by baddie corporations. I've never heard anyone here say anything remotely resembling this; it's irritating to try to have a reasonable discussion when the first few exchanges are just getting you to drop whatever nonsensical view you've chosen to attribute to liberals and get to the actual meat of the disagreement.

Why is it an odd question? I don't understand how your flip-flop question illustrates the oddness; I think your flip-flop makes sense, too. Maybe I should not use the word "corrupt." I mean that Republicans are much more inclined than Democrats to do the bidding of oil companies. It's possible that:

Republicans were going to do the bidding of oil companies anyway because of their sincere belief that pro-oil policies are best for America, and the contributions are just a correlation.

Republicans DON'T do the bidding of oil companies, and Exxonmobil just likes to give its money away in vain.

Republicans (the bounders!) cruelly extort money from oil companies in exchange for pro-oil policies, though I wonder how we distinguish extortion from mere quid-pro-quo.

However, I think it's more likely that the relationship is QPQ. I think the same construction makes sense for Democrats and any one of their special interest groups; I like Democrats better than Republicans not because the Democrats have no special interest groups, but because I am less terrified of the Democratic special interest groups.

What I don't like about Brett's "argument" is that he counters my link to contribution data ("the surface") with a theory about invisible unknowable kickbacks to Democrats. Why can't I argue that the same invisible unknowable benefits go to Republicans? If Open Secrets isn't a good enough source, please find me a better one (I'm serious), but don't just fabricate a hypo I can't test. I can do that too, it's a waste of our time.

But there's no reason for these caricatured positions that you always choose to project onto everyone else here, eg that we think that government is some innocent lamb being corrupted by baddie corporations. I've never heard anyone here say anything remotely resembling this

To be fair to Brett in this case, I'd say my comment that corporations held the whip hand could be construed as saying that government actors are some kind of innocent victim.

In fact, I don't believe that government actors are innocent victims. Lots of money and other perks generally flow their way as a result of corporate attempts to influence policy.

And to touch on slarti's point, it's not just for-profit corporations that play the game, but labor organizations and not-for-profits as well. Although for-profit corporations have the edge when it comes to downstream perks like nice fat private sector gigs when public servants decide to retire so they can make some serious money.

When I say that corporations hold the whip hand, I simply mean to draw a contrast with fascist Italy, where pretty much all institutions were required to align with the goals of the state.

Here, it's more a matter of bending public policy for the benefit of specific private interests.

I guess you could say that's just a very clever form of government actors laundering their own personal retirement funds, but a lot of that cake finds its way to the pockets of purely private actors as well.

In any case, it's corruption in both cases, and there was lots of money to be made in both contexts (fascist Italy and modern America).

I just make a distinction between whose interests had the higher priority.

I see a pretty simple solution, which is to get corporate money -- all forms of corporate money -- out of the political system, but in general folks find that even more offensive than the rampant corruption we live with now.

C'est la vie.

Brett: A lot of what goes by the name of "bribery" is politicians extorting corporations. And a lot of the 'handouts' to corporations are just the visible part of politicians laundering tax money into their own pockets through corporations.

Russell: A reasonable point.

Is it, though? Do politicians in general "extort" money from corporations to put "into their own pockets"?

I'm really asking. I don't know the answer. Maybe I'm naive, but it's my impression that politicians usually spend the money they "extort" on their campaigns, not on yachts and mansions for themselves. The difference seems important to me.

If Brett's Congressman "extorts" money from Exxon and spends it on TV ads designed to convince Brett that he will be better off if Exxon pays less tax, who is extorting who? Who is buying who?

Russell at 1:51 implies that the yachts and mansions come later, after the politician retires from Exxon Congress and gets a cushy gig as a lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute. I'm sure that goes on all the time. But it's hard to fit into Brett's "extortion" picture. Giving a millions-a-year job to the guy who has been extorting you for decades, and just at the moment when he's out of power, seems a bit illogical to me. Rewarding a good and faithful servant seems a more plausible description.

--TP

I'm somewhat sympathetic to Brett's sentiment there, actually, although it's less a picture of greedy, corrupt politicians extorting innocent little corporations as it is of a mutual corruption of many politicians and many corporations that unfairly disadvantages those who refuse to participate, in fundraising for politicians, and in government contracts or the regulatory environment for corporations.

Of course not all cases result in winners and losers in a particular industry, and corporations are pretty good at banding together to form trade groups to push for more favorable treatment of their entire industry or of business as a whole versus consumers or individual taxpayers. But businesses that just want a level regulatory environment or procurement rules suffer when others can exert influence to tilt things in their favor.

For me that's not the biggest concern. Corruption of politicians is top of the list - a system that results in the most corrupt politicians getting voted into office is not one that's going to get people with a good moral sense in general - and economic & welfare inefficiency is next, in other words, the tendency of a corrupted regulatory & procurement system to result in unfairness and excess cost. Problems of business fairness are somewhere further down the list.

Do politicians in general "extort" money from corporations to put "into their own pockets"?

No, I think it's more mutual than that. One hand washes the other.

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