Socialism

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The recent nomination of a democratic socialist in a NY congressional district has awakened the great red scare among some conservatives.

The standard conservative line regarding socialism is that there isn’t one successful socialist country and it is a stepping stone to communism.

But that begs the question.

There isn’t one successful libertarian country either, but that doesn’t stop many of those same conservatives from suggesting that an unfettered free market is the solution to all that ails us.

So let’s start with a simple definition of what socialism is and the fairly successful history of socialism in this country.

Here’s the definition of socialism from dictionary.com

A political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.

Just for the purposes of comparison, here the definition of democracy.

A system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives.

Notice the difference? Democracy is a system of government. Socialism is a political and economic theory.

A democracy can operate on socialist principles. There are many successful examples around the world. They generally provide a high level of services supported by a high level of individual and corporate taxes. In addition to taxation, industries are also highly regulated, workers generally have a place at the table when decisions are made, and public resources like air and water are protected. Fundamentally, the government is run by representatives, just like this country, who are elected by citizens who have decided that this is the way that they would like their government to operate, just like this country.

A dictatorship can also claim to operate on socialist principles, though that dictator would have to be benign. But just saying you are a socialist country, doesn’t make you one any more than just saying that you are a democracy, as Russia does, means that all elections are fair, opposition parties are free to campaign, and voters really have a choice.

Milwaukee was dominated by a Social-Democratic party for the first 60 years or so of the 20th century. The focus there was worker’s rights. They successfully eliminated child labor and ushered in the 40 hour work week. All this was accomplished in addition to all of the day to day operational needs of big city.

By definition, police and fire departments, our military, public schools, public libraries, and public infrastructure are all examples of communities getting together to provide a service that is owned collectively and regulated either locally or nationally.

Suggesting that socialism is bad for free markets also misunderstands both free markets and socialism.

We have seen over and over that free markets operate best in well-regulated environments. Those regulations and laws also provide a means of enforcement and a method where those who have been injured can seek redress. If you don’t pay your bills, someone can take you to court in order to get paid. If you fix prices or inhibit competition in order to illegally inflate your profit, the government can levy a penalty that could include repayment to those who were harmed. Google was fined $5B by the EU for that very reason. If you want to sell a drug, you have to prove to the FDA that the drug is effective and that all of the potential side effects are well known. If you want to start a bank, there are all kinds of rules to insure that your bank is going to be able to manage your deposits in a responsible way.

All of this regulation fits the definition of socialism. The community (voters) are agreeing to regulate the means of production/distribution/exchange for the benefit of the community.

So the REAL discussion should be HOW MUCH socialism is appropriate.

This is the same discussion that we should be having about libertarianism – HOW MUCH government is appropriate.

Serious questions have been raised that the United States is not really a democracy, at least if you look at the outcomes of legislation. A ground breaking study suggests that we are really an oligarchy where the rich and powerful, though a small minority of the total population, are the ones who benefit from virtually all of the legislation and rule-making done by our elected representatives. That study has since been questioned by a closer examination of the alignment between middle class and upper class interests. But clearly the poor are not well served in this democracy even though they represent 15% of the population.

There are good reasons to have a discussion about how healthcare is delivered in this country. The facts are that we continue to spend more money per person on healthcare than any other country in the world, but our outcomes are far worse than even the average among our industrialized peers.

There are good reasons to have a discussion about income inequality and economic mobility. The number one factor in this country that influences future success is your father. In other words, if you are the child of a poor father, the barriers to you becoming wealthy are significantly higher than if your father was wealthy, even if everything else in terms of talents, ambition, and determination are the same. The reasons are that poor kids simply don’t have access to the same levels of nutrition, healthcare, education, and investment that are available to wealthy kids. That’s not the case in the rest of the industrialized world. All children have access to healthcare. All children have access to high quality education. All children have access to good nutrition. The best and brightest have a much easier time rising to the top in other countries than they do here. That said, those who have received their education elsewhere are attracted to our country because of the advantages available for the well-off.

There are good reasons to talk about the influence that money has in our politics. Corporations and wealthy individuals have tilted the playing field to their advantage. The result is that taxpayers and small investors end up subsidizing CEO pay, for example, because of tax and trading rules that are in place. Other countries (e.g. Austrialia) have taken successful steps to rein-in corporate pay without damaging their economy.

There are good reasons to talk about the cost of higher education. Our current system is warping the future of kids with huge student loan debt when they graduate. Rather than start their own companies, they are forced to work for big companies that pay well for a decade or more so that they can pay off that debt. Other industrialized countries subsidize the cost of higher education which frees up those graduates to take more risk early in their careers than their peers in this country.

There are good reasons to talk about our spending priorities in this country. We spend way more money on defense and far less money on infrastructure, education, and social services than our industrialized peers.

Trump’s message to Make America Great Again was in part a promise to get government working again for those who felt government has ignored them.

The conversations that I’ve suggested that we need to have are motivated by the same interest. We need to get the government working better for those who aren’t getting healthcare benefits from their employers. We need to get the government working better to help working people who are not getting their fair share of the benefits of economic growth. We need to figure out how government can be made less responsive to the wealthy and more responsive to the majority of voters. We need to figure out what role government can play in making higher education more accessible to those who can’t currently afford it without going into debt.

None of these topics are specifically socialistic, but all of them can be organized under the larger banner of making government work better for the majority rather than the minority.

No one is suggesting that we dismantle our current representative democracy.

What is being suggested is that voters have a serious discussion about the way our government currently operates.

What is being suggested by some candidates who call themselves Democratic Socialists is that if they are elected, they will advocate for changes to the way government operates in some of the areas that I’ve listed. The ONLY way that these changes will occur is if a majority of voters agree that these changes make sense.

How different are these changes than the changes that outlawed child labor, the 40 hour work week, public schools, or public libraries?

IMHO, there is no difference.

So let’s try to have these needed conversations without the hysteria that the country is being overtaken by some evil force. It’s not, unless that evil force is the people who resist change and are willing to demonize even a discussion about change as a slippery slope into communism.

48 Responses to “Socialism”

  1. Keith says:

    A very simple comment – the less government does the better. The less government provides the better. Why? Because if government can give you something it can also take it away. And I understand that is overly simplistic.

    There are things that necessitate governments involvement, I agree, both in providing a service or regulating them. However if we reduce too many things to the lowest common denominator then that’s where get uncomfortable.

    Hope you are well. Forgive me for the lack of responses. I’m knee deep in travel and work.

  2. Jeff Beamsley says:

    A very simple comment – the less government does the better.

    Government is not the problem.

    The influence of private money in government is the problem.

    If our government were truly responsive to the majority of voters, you would feel very different about the role of government in your life. That’s because government would be working for you.

    As it is, our government is working for the small number of people who are able to invest the largest amount of money to influence the political process.

    When you suggest that government is wasteful, for example. You jump to the conclusion that the waste is result of bureaucracy. But it could also be the result of a “deal” that a company won for themselves. Big Pharma, for example, has been able to prevent Medicare from negotiating lower drug prices in the same way that private insurance companies can do today. Is that the fault of too much government, or too much Pharma money IN government? But the direct result, is that Medicare and Medicaid cost taxpayers more than they otherwise would.

    https://www.politifact.com/wisconsin/statements/2017/jan/17/tammy-baldwin/tammy-baldwin-federal-government-prohibited-negoti/

  3. Keith says:

    I was referring to the Govt getting to the point of “requiring” they provide to you, I.e. controlling you and your behavior in ways you are no longer free… slippery slope.

  4. Jeff Beamsley says:

    I was referring to the Govt getting to the point of “requiring” they provide to you, I.e. controlling you and your behavior in ways you are no longer free… slippery slope.

    Sorry, but you are going to have to be more specific. There are plenty of laws requiring you to do or refrain from doing something. You have to honestly report your taxes, as just one example. You can’t build something on someone else’s property without their specific written approval. If you live in an area with zoning laws and building codes, you can’t build whatever you want on your property. In the past if you were of a certain age, you were required to serve in the military. That was a severe restriction of freedom for those who served. I could go on for quite a while, but I think that you’ve got the picture.

    IMHO we don’t go far enough in regulating externalities. Those are the costs that the taxpayer typically supports, but that companies create. A simple one is the developer who builds a subdivision but isn’t required to support the costs for building another elementary school for the kids in that neighborhood. Or the company that extracts tax relief to build a factory, but then isn’t responsible for retraining the workers when they close that facility.

    I would be interested in some examples that you might have of the government “controlling” you in ways that you feel are inappropriate. While you’re at it, I would be interested in how you propose to distinguish between impositions and necessities. IMHO as long at a majority approves it and the courts uphold it, I’m ok.

    BTW, in the context of socialism, there are plenty of things that local, state, and federal governments have “provided” to the people for decades. None of them resulted in the weakening of democracy. Clearly if Trump’s election proved anything, it is we are still willing to live with the outcomes of our elections, no matter how bad they may be.

  5. Keith says:

    YS) IMHO as long at a majority approves it and the courts uphold it, I’m ok.
    MR)sorry but you’ve clearly never supported this idea. Homosexual marriage, I mentioned several times a few years ago that it had never passed when on a ballot. You’re good with that now? Majority rules? Surely not….

    Example you asked for above – govt controls to the point, futuristic I’m conceding, you can have access to government services but you must subscribe to x, y & z. What are those I don’t know but given time I could imagine.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/09/opinion/if-we-silence-hate-speech-will-we-silence-resistance.html#commentsContainer

    Maybe it looks something like that link

    So, in other words, the author, in our comments above GOVERNMENT, was ok with the fascist tactic of silencing someone he didn’t like, but now he realizes how many of his favored groups also spew hate…

  6. Keith says:

    Or way forward how about those not having the mark of the beast not being able to do commerce? How does that happen we can only guess.

  7. Keith says:

    Observation.

    21 white nationalist , idiots who don’t matter, showed up in Charlottesville. National news and all the mainstream media were there reporting on it. Classic example of the media playing the race card hopeful to help decide us. More people gather to talk about big foot. Media bias?

    Meanwhile 80% of companies reporting Q2 earning expectations. I believe the avg increase in earning over last year is 25% or so. Great news for the economy.

  8. Keith says:

    https://www.infowars.com/antifa-vows-bullets-for-political-enemies-media-ignores-threat/

    I know you don’t like infowars but do you find any mention of Trumps murder or bullets to conservatives in the national media?

    21 people have n Charlottesville got national coverage leading up to and during the “rally.”

    92% of Trumps coverage is negative. Surely you can see the narrative? Bias doesn’t have to be factual errors. Cheerleading for the home team is enough.

  9. Jeff Beamsley says:

    YS) IMHO as long at a majority approves it and the courts uphold it, I’m ok.
    MR)sorry but you’ve clearly never supported this idea. Homosexual marriage, I mentioned several times a few years ago that it had never passed when on a ballot. You’re good with that now? Majority rules? Surely not….

    You clearly didn’t think about my comment very deeply.

    I do believe in democracy and the rule of the majority. I also believe that the courts and the constitution protect the right of the minority. But when BOTH a majority approves AND the courts agree that it is consistent with the constitution – then it doesn’t matter what I think. If I believe in democracy and the rule of law, then I’m going to have to accept the outcome.

    BTW, your stat regarding ballot initiatives isn’t an accurate measure of public opinion. Prior to the SCOTUS ruling, 36 states had PASSED laws legalizing some form of marriage equality. I would suggest that this is indication that it was sufficiently popular in those states for a majority of elected representatives and in most cases the governor to sign the legislation. At the moment, 67% of Americans approve of marriage equality.

    Example you asked for above – govt controls to the point, futuristic I’m conceding, you can have access to government services but you must subscribe to x, y & z. What are those I don’t know but given time I could imagine.

    Some people are also concerned about the “singularity” – the time when AI robots are able to control their own replication and will revolt. Sorry, “some point in the future” doesn’t cut it as a legitimate example of current government overreach.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/09/opinion/if-we-silence-hate-speech-will-we-silence-resistance.html#commentsContainer

    Maybe it looks something like that link

    So, in other words, the author, in our comments above GOVERNMENT, was ok with the fascist tactic of silencing someone he didn’t like, but now he realizes how many of his favored groups also spew hate…

    This is an interesting issue.

    Free Speech in this country has ALWAYS had limits. The famous, “yelling fire in a crowed theater” is the normal example. So the discussion isn’t whether speech can be limited. Rather it is what the appropriate limits are. Right now the legal limits appears to be speech the incites violence. That leaves it up the courts to decide, which is probably where that decision should be made.

    Here’s a thoughtful article from the Wash Post on the subject.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/the-losing-math-of-hate/2018/07/28/87ee562c-91b3-11e8-b769-e3fff17f0689_story.html?utm_term=.f7bafbe6e28c

  10. Jeff Beamsley says:

    Or way forward how about those not having the mark of the beast not being able to do commerce? How does that happen we can only guess.

    Would require some change to constitution to implement something like that.

    But as far as discrimination is concerned, there have been plenty of examples where appearance was cause for abuse. We have since passed laws that make it illegal to discriminate based on race. Do you think that is government intrusion, or simply a logical extension of a constitutional right?

  11. Jeff Beamsley says:

    21 white nationalist , idiots who don’t matter, showed up in Charlottesville. National news and all the mainstream media were there reporting on it. Classic example of the media playing the race card hopeful to help decide us. More people gather to talk about big foot. Media bias?

    Nope.

    Trump has provided White Nationalist a platform by failing to reject them in the strongest way possible. I agree that they get more press than their numbers probably support, but the do represent a significant minority in this country.

    IMHO that is one of the good things about the Trump presidency. It has brought this particular perversion out into the open where it can’t be ignored and has to be dealt with. The reality is that most of these groups are deeply disappointed in the Trump administrations failure to deliver on what they perceived was going to be a white nationalist resurgence. Those who organized the first Charlottesville rally are dealing with lots of legal issues. Those who have been outed have lost their jobs. Many are now turning their focus to Europe where they hope they will find more support.

    Simply reporting on their actions is NOT playing the “race card”. It is simply reporting the news, and if you bothered to read some of the news being printed about these groups by credible news sources, you would have read many of the same things that I just posted.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/21/us/white-nationalist-rally-charlottesville-mayor.html

    Meanwhile 80% of companies reporting Q2 earning expectations. I believe the avg increase in earning over last year is 25% or so. Great news for the economy.

    Please post something to support your claims, particularly on wages.

    In fact, middle class wages have gone down when you take inflation into account.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/paloma/the-finance-202/2018/07/19/the-finance-202-republicans-have-a-tax-cut-problem-here-s-how-they-want-to-fix-it/5b4f69b61b326b1e6469543a/?utm_term=.4c87daf2c74c

    What is NOT great for the economy is the huge debt that these tax cuts are creating. The deficit (not the debt) is expected to top $1T next year.

    https://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-deficit-now-projected-to-top-1-trillion-starting-next-year-2018-07-19

  12. Jeff Beamsley says:

    https://www.infowars.com/antifa-vows-bullets-for-political-enemies-media-ignores-threat/

    I know you don’t like infowars but do you find any mention of Trumps murder or bullets to conservatives in the national media?

    That’s because it likely isn’t true.

    Here’s a story in the Wash Post covering Antifa in Portland.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2018/08/04/protests-again-convulse-portland-ore-as-groups-on-the-right-and-left-face-off/?utm_term=.982fa8bb58a5

    21 people have n Charlottesville got national coverage leading up to and during the “rally.”

    Already commented.

    How big do you think Antifa is? Yet you were complaining that they DIDN’T get enough coverage. Can’t have it both ways.

    BTW, there were a lot more than 21 people at the Unite the Right rally a year ago. So an anniversary rally with such a small turnout is news from a historical point of view. It indicates that the movement, at least in this country, is likely weakening.

    92% of Trumps coverage is negative. Surely you can see the narrative? Bias doesn’t have to be factual errors. Cheerleading for the home team is enough.

    You’re just wrong here. The news is the news regardless of whether it is positive or negative. First please post a reference to your 92% quote. Second, please post some examples of “cheerleading for the home team”. If the visiting team is losing, is it bias or cheerleading to report the fact that the visiting team got beat? No. It’s just news.

    When Trump LIES every day, he is going to get coverage that points out those lies. Is that bias?

    If he would just keep his mouth shut and stay off twitter, whatever good news is also being printed would predominate.

    We’ve had this discussion before.

    Most White Houses control their own narrative by working with the press to get their story out. Trump has chosen to demonize the media. That was his choice. He has been paying the price ever since. That price is that they are going to fact check everything. That’s their job. It is neither bias nor cheerleading the “home” team.

    The top story on google news today was Trump calling Omarosa a “dog”. That’s HIS fault.

    It was also his fault that he used the “n” word and then denied it.

    His tweets lately sound like a guy who is mentally unhinged. They are all news. They are mostly all lies. NO ONE IS FORCING HIM TO DO THIS.

    So please stop making this about the media. It is not.

    It is about the guy in the White House and those who continue to support him.

  13. Jeff Beamsley says:

    BTW, here’s a Wash Post article about Antifa in DC. It was not complimentary. But was significantly more honest and balanced than the infowars article that seemed to be the substance for your last couple of posts.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/local/wp/2018/08/13/antifa-protesters-couldnt-find-any-fascists-at-unite-the-right-and-harassed-the-press-instead/?utm_term=.c532f5fbea61

  14. Jeff Beamsley says:

    BTW, one more thought on Inforwars given the context of your previous comments. If the mainstream press is somehow raising the profile of White Nationalists by reporting on their most recent poor attendance at scheduled rallies, that raises a question for me. How big is Infowars?

    Best estimates say that it has 97 employees and generates a little over $400K in annual revenue. If those figures are true, that means that the average employee makes only 4K/year. So that 97 employees figure is likely an exaggeration and includes a lot of stringers who are only paid when one of their stories is printed. What is more likely is that they have around 40-50 employees. That is significantly smaller than most small market newspapers who rarely get national recognition.

    That’s also why many much larger websites have started to drop them from their coverage. That’s because they realize that displaying infowars content on their site is costing them money in lost viewers who object to what infowars publishes.

    The ONLY reason why infowars has such an outsized presence in the media market is that they are willing to post inflammatory content of questionable origin that no other credible site will touch. The result is that those fringe groups in our society (e.g. white nationalists) who believe that mostly fabricated content is true are willing to spread it through social media because it supports their political point of view.

    We have always had conspiracy theorists. It is one of the costs of not restricting speech.

    We have also always had hate speech. It is another cost of allowing free speech.

    What is new in this mix is a leader in the White House who has convinced his followers that the ethical media who have a commitment to tell the truth are the ones who can’t be trusted and the unethical media who only have a commitment to their own bottom line are the ones that should be trusted. He has stated that this is his strategy to discredit media who dare to print stories that are critical of him. Just think about that for a minute. Our president is willing to punish ANYONE who prints a story critical of him whether it is true or not. What would happen to our country if the media were no longer able to publish stories critical of the president? Is that really a policy that you support? If not, then how can you support a president who advocates that policy?

  15. Keith says:

    YS)What would happen to our country if the media were no longer able to publish stories critical of the president? Is that really a policy that you support? If not, then how can you support a president who advocates that policy?

    MR) you’re right. I no longer support him. Let’s impeach him.

    Again look at what he DOES not all the circus. Like it or not that’s who he is. Our choice, in the end, was him or her. We choose him.

    Economic data is very good. Jobs are everywhere. Two great nominees to the Supreme Court, tax reform, cutting regulations left and right, fighting for “fair trade with our partners around the world, etc. sorry but I’m not watching the circus as you are…. I’ll vote for someone else if HOPEFULLY someone else is better at the above. NIKKI HALEY!!!!! Condo Rice, I’d vote for Kasish. Marco Rubio. Until and unless someone like that pops up and I’ll vote against Hillary or Joe Biden, though I like him, or Bernie, or any other leftist out there.

  16. Jeff Beamsley says:

    Again look at what he DOES not all the circus. Like it or not that’s who he is. Our choice, in the end, was him or her. We choose him.

    I’ll post something on this in more detail, but what he has done is effectively change the perception of a large percentage of the voting public with regard to a number of the foundations of our democracy, not the least of which is a free press.

    His POLICY is that if you criticize him, you are punished. That punishment not only includes his public rebuke, suggestions that you should not have the right to say what you are saying, and in some cases removal of security clearance. That can’t be characterized as just a circus. It has gone way beyond that.

    Economic data is very good. Jobs are everywhere.

    Job may be everyone, but middle class pay is flat. So if you are middle class worker, the news is not so good.

    You are welcome to vote for whomever you choose. That is up to you.

    The next election is in a couple of months. Those who care about limiting that damage that THIS president can do until he can be voted out of office are voting for every democrat they can find.

  17. Keith says:

    As Trump hurls racial invective, most Republicans stay silent – The Washington Post

    He called Omarosa a dog…. the basis for the article. The Washington posts stays with the racists narrative. He calls lots of people lots of names. How is calling her a dog racist?

    Note -he should never call anyone ANYTHING!!!!! Washington Post should be labeled race hustlers for this?

  18. Keith says:

    Your comments regarding Trump shutting don’t the media? I think he tweeted yesterday about all voices being heard as it pertains to censorship…

  19. Jeff Beamsley says:

    He called Omarosa a dog…. the basis for the article. The Washington posts stays with the racists narrative. He calls lots of people lots of names. How is calling her a dog racist?

    If you have problems with a particular article, please post a link to it.

    If it was a news article, then it is appropriate to mention that one of the common claims of racists is that African Americans are an inferior species. Here’s more detail from the NYT.

    Linda-Susan Beard, the director of Africana Studies at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, said there is a long history in the United States of black women being compared to dogs.

    “He’s drawing on a history of discourse that is so hate-filled and so historic that it all came together in these 34 words,” she said of Mr. Trump’s tweet about Ms. Manigault Newman, which was actually 35 words. “The statement is brilliant in its ability to do double duty: to offer an attack that is simultaneously racialized and gendered.”

    Providing this background is not “race hustling”. It is explaining WHY African Americans in particular found this tweet offensive.

  20. Jeff Beamsley says:

    Your comments regarding Trump shutting don’t the media? I think he tweeted yesterday about all voices being heard as it pertains to censorship…

    The context was that he was objecting to various mainstream services including Facebook, YouTube, Apple, and Spotify, and most recently Twitter dropping Alex Jones and Infowars.

    The facts are that online services can write their own rules. Those terms of service, which Alex Jones and Infowars had to sign in order to post include prohibitions on hate speech.

    What is particularly ironic about Trump’s comments on the subject is that HE is the one who has advocated censorship of news stories that criticize him. That IS a violation of the first amendment since any of the censorship that he has called for would come from the government. There may also be a case for violation of first amendment rights when he punishes individuals who speak out against him by taking away their security clearances.

    If he were a sincere advocate of “Let everybody participate, good & bad, and we will all just have to figure it out!” he would not be trying to limit the ability of the press to print the stories they feel need to be printed. He wouldn’t punish organizations like CNN by leaving their reporters out of the press pool. He would be taking away the security clearances from those who speak out against him.

    Please don’t suggest that this cynical tweet deserves any kind of pat on the back. As you’ve said, actions should speak louder than words, and all of Trump’s actions suggest that the want LESS freedom of speech, not more.

  21. Jeff Beamsley says:

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-media-keep-falling-into-the-trump-trap-1534892905

    Interesting read.

    Another opinion piece that completely ignores the important role that a free press pays in a democracy.

    The press are doing their job. That job is to report the news.

    When Trump lies, that’s news. He lies every day.

    When Trump sends out irrational tweets, which he does every day, that becomes one of the top stories in the news. If he doesn’t want to see those stories, stop tweeting.

    The suggestions that the media is ignoring the economic good news is fantasy. What the media are doing, however, is also reporting the fact that the benefits of the current economic boom are not being evenly shared. They are also reporting that Trump’s trade policies are hurting specific parts of the economy. Finally, they are also reporting that the most recent tax cut is NOT going to pay for itself. Instead it is going to generate annual deficits that exceed $1T. If Trump doesn’t want to see those stories, then he and his communications staff need to provide the press with reasons why the data coming from their departments somehow doesn’t tell the whole story.

    The failures of the White House to engage the press is a productive way is the result of the press not giving his agenda a “fair shake”?

    As I’ve said before, the President is the one who chose to pick a fight with the media. So he should certainly bear at least some of the responsibility if he feels that the media isn’t reporting things the way that he would like them reported. They have to print stories every day. EVERY other White House has provided the media with good stories that they can report every day and treated them with respect for the job that they do. This White House has chosen a different path. Blaming the press for that path is drinking the authoritarian koolaid.

  22. Jeff Beamsley says:

    Just another thought on this subject, which might become a full post.

    The White House claims that the press is misbehaving because they have a liberal bias against his conservative presidency.

    He is not the first conservative to occupy the White House.

    He IS the first occupant of the White House to call the press an enemy of the people.

    We have the benefit of history to see how other authoritarian regimes have treated the press.

    Stalin was the one who invented the phrase “enemy of the people” when talking about the press.

    As I’ve previously posted, one of the things authoritarian leaders quickly do is silence a free press. They persecute them. They jail them. They kill them. They seek to control the information that the public has access to. That’s why China’s internet is censored. That’s why all Russian media is state owned.

    Trump’s war against the press has exactly the same flavor and he has convinced his followers that the press is part of the larger conspiracy that is holding him back and holding them down. To the extent that he has been successful, he has weakened democracy.

    IMHO the choices here are stark and clear.

    The reason Trump doesn’t like the press is because they are critical of him. He feels that this criticism is unfair, but let’s look at what has happened so far.

    Without the press, there would have been no Stormy Daniels story. Without the Stormy Daniels story there would have been no investigation into Michael Cohen. Without the investigation into Michael Cohen, there would have been no admission of guilt in payoffs for affairs that Cohen claims were directed by Trump. If Trump did direct these payoffs and then lied about them, that is a crime for which he should be held accountable.

    Without the press, Flynn would still be security chief. If Flynn were still security chief, Comey would likely also still be FBI director. If Comey were still FBI director, there would be no Mueller investigation.

    Without the press the Russians (and now the Iranians) would be attacking our country without anyone knowing about it.

    I am not going to suggest that the press if perfect. They also make mistakes. But generally the ethical press acknowledge those mistakes and take steps to correct them.

    So which would you rather have?

    An aggressive press that is willing to speak truth to power?

    OR

    A passive press that only prints what the powerful in this country want to have printed?

    Trump would clearly prefer the later. That’s why he is unfit for the office he currently holds.

  23. Keith says:

    YS)Trump’s war against the press has exactly the same flavor and he has convinced his followers that the press is part of the larger conspiracy that is holding him back and holding them down. To the extent that he has been successful, he has weakened democracy.

    MR)your furor is entertaining. 😄
    Do you think Trumps displeasure with the media is new to conservatives? Did you hear one minute of Newt Gingrich’s speeches when he ran for president? Etc etc etc???? You choice of words that trump has convinced his followers” is a bit of a fantastical comment. We’ve known how the media treats Conservatives for decades.

    Also it was Hillary who went on TV and said “let’s take a deep breath, this is all just a right wing conspiracy.”

    YS)if trump did direct those payments and lied about it then it’s a crime and he should be held accountable for it.

    MY) again you are dillusional. Simply- what “crime” did he commit by lying? You’re growing even more fantastical. All lies are crimes now? So President Obama committed a crime by saying if you like your doctor you can keep them……..?”

    Jeff get real.

  24. Keith says:

    As to deficits, let’s watch and see if the revenue to the treasury rises or falls. We can already agree economic activity is robust due in some measure to Trump and certainly he gets credit for the jump in the stock market to these levels… the economy will have to hold it near and so far so good.

  25. Jeff Beamsley says:

    Do you think Trumps displeasure with the media is new to conservatives? Did you hear one minute of Newt Gingrich’s speeches when he ran for president? Etc etc etc???? You choice of words that trump has convinced his followers” is a bit of a fantastical comment. We’ve known how the media treats Conservatives for decades.

    You missed the point again.

    Trump is the only President or Speaker of the House to call the press the “enemy of the people”. THAT’s the difference.

    The polls indicate that Trump supporters are seriously out of step with the rest of the country.

    1. When asked in a Quinnipiac Poll if the press are an important part of our democracy or an enemy of the people – over 50% of Republicans said “enemy of the people”. Over 75% of all polled said important part of democracy.
    2. A series of summer polls indication that 70% or more of Republicans and 85% of those who consider Fox News their most trusted source believe that the Mueller investigation is a “witch hunt”. That’s compared to a Fox News poll that showed that 59% of all registered voters approve of the Mueller investigation.
    3. 75% of the populations says that immigration is good for American. 70% of Republicans want to build a wall.

    This has all happened in Trump’s watch. So please don’t try to tell me that he had nothing to do with it. Trying to blame it on the media is ludicrous – but we do seem to be living in a time when the ludicrous is celebrated.

    Also it was Hillary who went on TV and said “let’s take a deep breath, this is all just a right wing conspiracy.”

    Will there ever be a time when you allow HC to fade away into the background? Do you even remember why she said that? Regardless of what she said or did, she is not the president. She is a private citizen. Though she was investigated several times, she has never been indicted. Nor have any of her staff been indicted. So please stop using HC as some excuse for the failures on this president.

    again you are dillusional. Simply- what “crime” did he commit by lying? You’re growing even more fantastical. All lies are crimes now? So President Obama committed a crime by saying if you like your doctor you can keep them……..?”

    I know you aren’t this dense. Lying in and of itself isn’t a crime, unless you are under oath. Then you can be prosecuted for perjury. Bill Clinton was not impeached because he had an affair with Ms. Lewinsky. He was impeached in part because he lied to a grand jury under oath about that affair.

    It is illegal to lie to a federal agent or investigator. When you lie to bank it’s fraud. That’s what convicted Manafort and Cohen.

    Finally if you lie about a crime that is being investigated, particularly if you are someone like the President who oversees the justice department, it is obstruction of justice. That’s because the investigation is being hampered. Bill Clinton was also impeached for obstruction of justice because his lies about the Lewinsky affair intentionally misled those investigating the case. Same thing applied to Trump.

    But the bigger issue, which you completely ignored, is that Cohen claims that Trump directed his actions to pay off two women in order to prevent those stories from coming out before the election. Trump’s defense is that this is only a crime if the payoff money comes from the campaign. According to many legal experts, that’s hogwash. Here are some examples.

    “Directing” Cohen to commit such a crime would make Trump a co-conspirator, legal experts say.

    “What we know about the facts would provide substantial evidence to any jury that these payments were all about influencing the election at a crucial moment, rather than purely personal matters — and thus, the payments were violations of federal election laws,” he wrote.

    Jeff get real.

    I strongly suggest that I AM NOT the one who has lost a hold on reality.

    This is not a case of everybody does it, or Obama did the same thing, or biased media, or Hillary Clinton. This IS a case of a sitting President being accused in a federal court of breaking the law and lying about it. It is only going to get worse for Trump and at some point you are going to have to admit that you can no longer continue to defend him. Are we there yet?

  26. Jeff Beamsley says:

    As to deficits, let’s watch and see if the revenue to the treasury rises or falls. We can already agree economic activity is robust due in some measure to Trump and certainly he gets credit for the jump in the stock market to these levels… the economy will have to hold it near and so far so good.

    Did you look at the numbers?

    This is from the CBO.

    There is literally NOTHING that COULD happen to the economy that would prevent trillion annual trillion dollar deficits through the rest of the decade.

    The reality is stark.

    We don’t have enough workers to be any more productive. Instead of bringing in more workers we are deporting them. Instead of increasing our exports we are reducing them. Instead of embracing emerging markets like renewable energy, we are investing in preserving coal jobs.

    The other stark reality is that we are going to have a recession (probably sooner rather than later). When that happens the deficits will only get worse.

    The final stark reality is that baby boomer retirement is going to demand more spending for Social Security and Medicare.

    The numbers simply don’t support your argument that we can “grow our way out of this”.

    If this were the only failure of this administration, it would be sufficient to put Trump in the history books as the worst president ever. Instead his failure will be epic and those who support him will share the responsibility.

  27. Keith says:

    https://pjmedia.com/trending/google-search-results-show-pervasive-anti-trump-anti-conservative-bias/

    If true, and I didn’t check it, but this would confirm my bias that it’s the narrative that’s created more then false facts. If all the media does is report negative things then they have created a negative narrative. So google could, again I didn’t check their finds, be confirming my bias.

  28. Keith says:

    Hi Jeff,
    YS)I know you aren’t this dense. Lying in and of itself isn’t a crime, unless you are under oath.
    MR) And you aren’t this dense. He HASNT lied under oath. MY POINT. What crime? It’s why I called you fanatical. He hasn’t been under oath my friend!!!!

    As to the qunnipeac poll. The question is framed. It was either or. Yes the press is necessary. It also is bias also. They got the result they were looking for. Just tell me when coverage from ththe mainstream media has favored a conservative or conservative opinion. Hardly if ever. We will agree to disagree there.

    Trump is a carnival barker. I can’t and won’t think of anything he said in any light other then that. I’m only consented about his signature. Sorry, and I wish it were different but it’s not. It was him or Hillary.

    Trumps a carnival

  29. Keith says:

    YS)ant part of democracy.
    2. A series of summer polls indication that 70% or more of Republicans and 85% of those who consider Fox News their most trusted source believe that the Mueller investigation is a “witch hunt”. That’s compared to a Fox News poll that showed that 59% of all registered voters approve of the Mueller investigation.

    MR) I could respond several ways. So fox influences that high a percentage of the poeple or the poeple flock to the source of their brand. The convers is true is FOX has that level of influence and people are truly sheep being lead. Main stream media has the same ablilty to influence?

    I bring up Hillary only as a point of reference.

  30. Keith says:

    YS)
    3. 75% of the populations says that immigration is good for American. 70% of Republicans want to build a wall.

    This has all happened in Trump’s watch. So please don’t try to tell me that he had nothing to do with it. Trying to blame it on the media is ludicrous – but we do seem to be living in a time when the ludicrous is celebrated.

    MR) this is all getting so old. Imagration good, illegal imagration bad.
    What does a wall have to do with legal imagration? Somehow you want to believe a wall means conservatives don’t want imagration. Just jump right to your point and call us racists. That’s the liberals point anyway. Conservatives are racists…. pathetic.

  31. Keith says:

    YS)There is literally NOTHING that COULD happen to the economy that would prevent trillion annual trillion dollar deficits through the rest of the decade.

    MR)you put words in my mouth. I was speaking of revenue to the treasury, not the deficit. Spending is the only reason deficits would go up if revenue goes up. When we replac President Obama’s $9 Trillion debt financed at the cheapest rates in history with even moderately higher priced debt it all falls apart.

    Meanwhile the Georgia fed estimates 3Q GDP increase up to 4.6. I’m still hearing the past administration says the new normal is 1.6-1.8% forever. They had that right from their view of economics. President Obama missed the opportunity to be a great president by ignoring the economy and that’s unfortunate.

  32. Keith says:

    YS)The final stark reality is that baby boomer retirement is going to demand more spending for Social Security and Medicare.

    MR) “we tried to pass social security reform. We failed.” Great applause and standing ovation from the Dems side of the house. -GW 2006 state of the union.

    Do you know how many liberal friends I have that are just learning the SS is going bankrupt and may not be fully funded for them or look differently then they’ve been told. Let’s see the Dems and the repub answer for this. They’ve had plenty of time. I’m now of the opinion all our major problems will end just like Detroit. Politicians will not want to touch them until it’s too late and bankruptcy is the only answer. (This in the form of an emergency manager)

    Sad but true

  33. Jeff Beamsley says:

    https://pjmedia.com/trending/google-search-results-show-pervasive-anti-trump-anti-conservative-bias/

    If true, and I didn’t check it, but this would confirm my bias that it’s the narrative that’s created more then false facts. If all the media does is report negative things then they have created a negative narrative. So google could, again I didn’t check their finds, be confirming my bias.

    PJ Media is not a reliable source. They have a strong right wing bias. So I’m not surprised that you’ve found some comfort there.

    Here are a couple of academic studies on the same subject.

    https://guides.lib.umich.edu/c.php?g=637508&p=4462444

    https://www.cjr.org/innovations/measure-media-bias-partisan.php

    This second one is particularly interesting because they raise the very real question of whether or not any sort of objective measure would change minds. One of the perfect examples they provide are the two organizations that are dedicated to tracking media bias – The Media Research Center and Media Matters. They both reject the idea of a universal bias “detector” because they both feel that they have proven their case. MRC is convinced that the media has a leftward bias and has the stats to prove it. Media Matter is convinced that the media has a rightward bias and has the stats to prove it.

  34. Jeff Beamsley says:

    MR) And you aren’t this dense. He HASNT lied under oath. MY POINT. What crime? It’s why I called you fanatical. He hasn’t been under oath my friend!!!!

    You continue to cherry pick my responses.

    It is also illegal to lie to a federal investigators, thought there isn’t any indication that he has done that. A number of the people who work for him did lie to federal investigators and are now going to jail.

    Finally it is also illegal to lie about a crime that is under investigation. That is obstruction of justice. This does not require anyone to be under oath. It does not require anyone to be speaking to an investigator. It is, however, harder to prove because it requires intent. Fortunately, Trump has provided plenty of evidence of his own intent to obstruct several investigations.

    I think that there may be nine separate investigations currently in flight. Your pal Dershowitz feels that the NY State investigation may be the most dangerous one for Trump. That’s because Cohen plead guilty and is cooperating and they just started to interview Trump’s CFO.

    “I think he has constitutional defenses to the investigation being conducted by Mueller,” Dershowitz said. “But there are no constitutional defenses to what the Southern District is investigating. So, I think the Southern District is the greatest threat.”

    All of these investigations will eventually attempt to get Trump to testify.

    If Mueller declines to subpoena Trump, it likely means that he doesn’t need his testimony to prove his case. If he does subpoena Trump, the case may go to the SCOTUS. I predict that we won’t know until after the November elections. If the Dems gain control of the House, Mueller will have some political support to subpoena Trump. If the Republicans retain control of the house, Trump may end up firing Sessions and daring Congress to oppose him.

    If Trump does testify in any of these investigations, it will be all over. There is no way he will be able to explain his actions without also admitting that he lied. If he admits that he lied, he is open to obstruction of justice charges. If he continues to lie, he is open to perjury charges.

    You are clearly willing to accept his lies, but they are NOT harmless and ultimately they will be the cause of his downfall. That’s because you can’t lie about a crime without consequences. You can’t lie about an investigation in an attempt to undermine it without consequences. Finally, you can’t lie under oath without consequences.

    Carnival barker or not, Trump’s lies have painted him into a corner. In the past when he has found himself painted into a corner, he simply denied that he had ever said the things that got him boxed in. He won’t be able to do that in front of a judge. He could use the Reagan defense and claim that he no longer remembers the things that he may have said, but in the end that didn’t work out well for Reagan either.

  35. Jeff Beamsley says:

    YS)ant part of democracy.
    2. A series of summer polls indication that 70% or more of Republicans and 85% of those who consider Fox News their most trusted source believe that the Mueller investigation is a “witch hunt”. That’s compared to a Fox News poll that showed that 59% of all registered voters approve of the Mueller investigation.

    MR) I could respond several ways. So fox influences that high a percentage of the poeple or the poeple flock to the source of their brand. The convers is true is FOX has that level of influence and people are truly sheep being lead. Main stream media has the same ablilty to influence?

    You missed the point again because of careless reading.

    The influencer here is Trump. He has convinced his supporters that the Mueller investigation is a “witch hunt”. Fox News has become Trump’s propaganda arm – just as they were for Bush II. As a result a lot of Trump supporters watch Fox News because it tells them what they want to hear.

    Fox News does a poll which includes people who ARE NOT Fox News viewers. The poll finds that 59% of registered voters (as opposed to Trump supporters or Fox News viewers) SUPPORT the Mueller investigation. Are you now going to put Fox News into the dreaded “mainstream media” column because they didn’t toe the party line on this particular item?

    Instead this is just one example of how Trump has lead his supporters to place where they are out of step with the majority of voters. The danger of dragging his supporters to positions that have no basis in fact, is that it weakens democracy and the rule of law.

    Trump was saying our election system was rigged after he WON the election. How are he and his supporters going to react if he loses the House in November, or when most likely he is defeated in 2020?

    If the Mueller investigation comes up with damaging information, how are Trump and his supporters going to react?

    If he loses a battle in court to respond to a subpoena and still refuses to show up, how will his supporters react?

    These are just some of the problems democracy has with autocrats who feel that they are not accountable to anyone and are above the law.

    I bring up Hillary only as a point of reference.

    A point of reference regarding what? Ms. Clinton did win the popular vote by a substantial margin but lost the election. Is that her fault, the fault of the mainstream media, or some other excuse that supports your particular bias?

  36. Jeff Beamsley says:

    MR)you put words in my mouth. I was speaking of revenue to the treasury, not the deficit. Spending is the only reason deficits would go up if revenue goes up. When we replac President Obama’s $9 Trillion debt financed at the cheapest rates in history with even moderately higher priced debt it all falls apart.

    The CBO did not forecast any increases in spending other than those that are already on the books.

    Even the administration isn’t claiming that growth is going to offset the huge reduction is tax revenue that Trump signed. This is NOT a spending problem. This is a revenue problem, and it appears at least in your case to be a math problem.

    Obama has nothing to do with this, so please stop trying to blame it on him.

    Trump signed both the tax bill and the spending bills that pretty much sealed the fate of the deficit according to the CBO.

  37. Jeff Beamsley says:

    MR) “we tried to pass social security reform. We failed.” Great applause and standing ovation from the Dems side of the house. -GW 2006 state of the union.

    That was a terrible idea and deserved to fail. Privatizing SS is not a “reform”. It was just a big handout to wall street. Just think how that would have played out in 2007-8. All those folks with their private SS account getting wiped out by the greatest financial crisis since the great depression.

    Do you know how many liberal friends I have that are just learning the SS is going bankrupt and may not be fully funded for them or look differently then they’ve been told. Let’s see the Dems and the repub answer for this. They’ve had plenty of time. I’m now of the opinion all our major problems will end just like Detroit. Politicians will not want to touch them until it’s too late and bankruptcy is the only answer. (This in the form of an emergency manager)

    Sad but true

    Obama was widely criticized for not doing anything to improve the health of the social security system. Trump and the Republican party appear to be trying to kill it.

    You can blame everyone in the past that you want, but the only people who can fix it are in office right now and they are making it MUCH worse than any previous administration ever did. Let’s start by holding them accountable and then we can work backwards.

  38. Keith says:

    https://www.newsbusters.org/blogs/culture/ashley-rae-goldenberg/2018/04/16/censored-how-online-media-companies-are-suppressing

    Not the facts but the narrative that can be bias. What’s reported and by whom. When it’s reported. Where in the newspapers it’s reports. Above the fold NYT’s ornin sextion G page 21.

  39. Keith says:

    Hi Jeff,
    Regarding deficits. Reread what I said. You’ve extrapolated why more then what I wrote. I said let’s watch revenue and see if it’s increasing. If revenue is increasing. If revenue is increasing then the tax cuts didn’t decrease revenue. Spending is a whole separate matter.

    And I like the GDP growth. How about you?

  40. Keith says:

    Obama was widely criticized for not doing anything to improve the health of the social security system. Trump and the Republican party appear to be trying to kill it.

  41. Keith says:

    YS)Obama was widely criticized for not doing anything to improve the health of the social security system. Trump and the Republican party appear to be trying to kill it.

    MR) how so?

    Work force participation is up. More people contributing, therefore more SS dollars collected. How is that killing it? Please explain.

    Jeff, you’re going to have to stop taking everything I say as agruementive. By saying. SS hits home to most everyone, except bill gates. No one is fully aware ofNwhats going to happen in about 11 years or so it will be able to pay 79% of promised benefit. (That’s what my last statement said.) Something needs to be done. I’m not blaming anyone only pointing out nothing is being done, and other then Bush’s attempt no one has tried. That’s not arguementitive. There are simple solutions.

    Means test. Over $300k? Pick a number
    Increase the ceiling $200k
    Raise gradually the start date, 69? (Earlier for heavy labor jobs?)
    Used chained inflation
    Portion in private accounts and or treasury bills.

    What else? A combination of any or all the above. Done!
    Etc…. not hard. But dems will want their way and Republicans theirs.

  42. Keith says:

    YS)You are clearly willing to accept his lies,
    MR) I am? You are much to presumptive my friend.

    You accepted President Clinton’s lie under oath. You had tolerance for Monica.

    As for me I will wait to see if in fact he lies’ under oath and what or if he lies about. Most dems on the hill, if you haven’t heard, are in no way inclined to try and impeach if he lies/lied about his affairs or something way long ago. They remember that didn’t go so well last time. If it’s more signification then that then maybe.

  43. Keith says:

    YS) He could use the Reagan defense and claim that he no longer remembers the things that he may have said, but in the end that didn’t work out well for Reagan either.

    MR) don’t ever forget how many times “The smartest wonamon earth” at the rip old age of 44 – 46 said “I don’t recall” during white water (?)
    She also said I don’t recall under oath.

    She also answered I don’t recall or variations of that 21 out of 25 times when answering questions about her private email server. You and patients with her.

  44. Jeff Beamsley says:

    MR) I am? You are much to presumptive my friend.

    You accepted President Clinton’s lie under oath. You had tolerance for Monica.

    As for me I will wait to see if in fact he lies’ under oath and what or if he lies about. Most dems on the hill, if you haven’t heard, are in no way inclined to try and impeach if he lies/lied about his affairs or something way long ago. They remember that didn’t go so well last time. If it’s more signification then that then maybe.

    I never said I accepted Clinton’s lies about his affair with ML. I questioned whether his personal life had anything to do with this ability to govern. If you recall, a LARGE majority of the country held exactly the same view.

    This isn’t a case about Trump lying about his past affairs, though he has certainly done that. This is a case of him lying about paying them off not to go public with their information BECAUSE he was concerned that it would negatively affect the outcome of the 2016 election. It’s that part of the bargain that is illegal.

    As I pointed out before, lying under oath is only one of the crimes that you can commit when you lie.

    So are you willing to accept it if he lies to an FBI investigator even though he isn’t under oath?

    Are you willing to accept it if it can be proved that he lied to interfere with an ongoing investigation, even though he wasn’t under oath?

    Both of those are also crimes.

    What about if he refuses to testify under oath?

    Hopefully the Dems will be smart enough, if they win a House majority, to refrain from attempting to impeach him without some clear path for that impeachment process to succeed in the Senate. If the votes aren’t in the Senate, then I agree that there is no value IMHO to passing a bill of impeachment in the House.

  45. Keith says:

    YS)I never said I accepted Clinton’s lies about his affair with ML. I questioned whether his personal life had anything to do with this ability to govern. If you recall, a LARGE majority of the count

    MR) yes this is what I remember. Didn’t mean to miss interpret a comment made years ago. The last part of that is what I remember.

    Let’s remember first the sin, King David, then the lie, then getting exposed. When is comes to He’n and she’n, as granny from the Beverly Hillbillies called it, there’s nothing new.

    I absolutely want more from our President.

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