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Spreading the wealth around

Somebody better tell Barack Obama his communism is showing:

But, the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and of more basic issues such as political and economic justice in society.

To that extent, as radical as I think people try to characterize the Warren Court, it wasnít that radical. It didnít break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution, at least as its been interpreted and Warren Court interpreted in the same way, that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties.

29 Responses to “Spreading the wealth around”

  1. Vote For David Says:

    I think this one may have some legs. I heard it on the radio this morning, and mentioned it to a co-worker who listens to entirely different stations and he’d heard about it, and now Uncle has it…usually it takes a week or more to hear a story from all 3 places.

  2. Metulj Says:

    You know, I think you are smart guy. But I don’t think you’ve read Marx and Engels.

    I point this out to red baiters as often as I can (they usually descend into hoots and clicks about me being a communist too): Obama cannot be a communist if he operates within a democratic system. To paraphrase Engels, someone who admitted that he would be one of the first to get it in the neck, revolution cannot come at the hand of a capitalist system like electoral politics. It’s merely shuffling the blinds around to hide the power of capital in the system.

    Also, that quote questions the charge that the Warren Court was radical and whether or not the courts are a place where redistributive policies can be enacted. Seems very wonky academic to me and exactly orthodox. Where is it advocating a radical ideology? The “I’m not optimistic” part? Example: “I am not optimistic in using universalized human rights laws that enforce criminal codes for justice are the way to promote and practice the protection of human rights.” (Me at a conference in Budapest). Even the folks that did not speak English as a first language knew what I meant and that I was not advocating for “universalized human rights laws that enforce criminal codes for justice.”

    C’mon. Reaching again. If they come for you, you are armed. Isn’t that the point?

  3. SayUncle Says:

    been a while since i read the manifesto (some college class). I dunno but equating ‘social justice’ with ‘redistribution of wealth’ seems radical to me.

  4. Nate Says:

    Your right, Metulj, no communist has ever come to unjust power by perverting a just system. Nothing to see here, Obama says he’s for “spreading the wealth” but he doesn’t mean what you think he means. It’s not marxism, just ask all of his followers!
    Please don’t piss down my back and tell me it’s raining.

  5. Yu-Ain Gonnano Says:

    metulj, there are 2 issues in your last comment. Cummunism within Democratic government and Obama’s statements on the courts and their relationship to redistributive policies.

    Strictly speaking you are right on both counts. However (you knew there had to be a however), Marx and Engles believed true Communism could not exist in the presence of *any* goverment. It was supposed to have been a stateless system. Thus, by using the strict definition from Marx and Engles, neither Lennin nor Stalin were communists because both were part of a governmental system. This all but renders the adjective “Communist” useless. So I would suggest that adhering to such a definition is of little practical value.

    Secondly, Obama may not have said anything counterfactual. I don’t know one way or the other, so I’ll stipulate that “[the Warren court] didn’t break free” of the negetive liberty approach. The issue is the later implied “But I wish they had”.

    But ultimately, it comes down to the section you mentioned that Uncle didn’t quote. The “I’m not optimistic” part. Essentially what that quote comes down to is that Obama has realized that the courts are the wrong means, not that redistributive policy is the wrong ends. And that is the real issue. Saying “I want to do *insert repulsive policy here* but the courts aren’t set up to handle that, so we’ll have to do it by other means” shouldn’t be giving you the warm and fuzzies about the person’s plans just because he won’t use the courts to enact them.

  6. Xrlq Says:

    When I warned of the new Warren Court, TGirsch saind I was”losing it” and spewing “hyperbole you can believe in.”. Apparently the analogy was unfair indeed, but in the opposite direction. “Hypobole,” anyone?

  7. Manish Says:

    ah, the latest from a drowning campaign. Ayers didn’t work out so well, calling a 3% rise in the top marginal tax rate socialism didn’t work out, the Joe the Plumber stuff isn’t working, so lets take a radio interview to call him a commie. Meanwhile, Republican-after-Republican is endorsing Obama and even Arizona is looking competitive.

  8. SayUncle Says:

    ‘ah, the latest from a drowning campaign.’

    I’m a campaign?

  9. Dad Says:

    Ďah, the latest from a drowning campaign.í

    ” Dewey Defeats Truman ”

    We will see, it’s not over til the fat lady sings….Anybody seen Rosie?

  10. thirdpower Says:

    Well of course you are. You, Me, McCain, we’re all bought and paid for puppets of the NRA.

  11. Metulj Says:

    Uncle: The trouble with the Manifesto and using that as the baseline for a discussion of Marx in relation to anything else viz Obama is that it directly refutes this conflation of an ideology that is clearly NOT EVEN CLOSE to Marx with someone who is attempting to get elected in a capitalist democracy.

    Steps to Communist society:

    1. Dictatorship of the Proletariat
    2. Redistribution of Wealth (and lots of other stuff).

    Number 1 is achieved by any means possible, which does mean that a democratic election could be an avenue, but Marx discounts this possibility all throughout his body of work (cf. his letter to Engels in 1852 that ridiculed social democrats citing capital’s use of violence at the ballot box in America, of all places). I am a complete nerd about this, I know, but that’s part of my job. I think Marxism is totally off base, but I can’t stand that it gets misrepresented as it does. I also can’t stand that Adam Smith gets misrepresented either. Or Ricardo. Or Malthus. Or Friedman. Or Keynes. Or. Or. Or.

    Gatt: I addressed your concern about the “I’m not optimistic.” It’s wonk speak, not an endorsement of something not said.

  12. Manish Says:

    Oh and a debunking from Volokh

    Iím a campaign?

    oopps..I didn’t realize that it came from bad. Well atleast he didn’t claim to have been beaten by a dyslexic Obama supporter.

  13. SayUncle Says:

    i’m not a campaign and i don’t read drudge either.

  14. Vote For David Says:

    Me too, Uncle, but I can spot somebody who wants to steal my America out from under me from an election away.

    It’s dominating today’s news cycle for one reason: People with the creeping willies about ‘spreading the wealth around’ can hear the unspoken ‘but if I ruled the world’ that BO didn’t say.

    Sorry, if you think (as he did at least 7 years ago) that the Constitution is a “deeply flawed document” then you don’t get to be President. America-Haters LOSE Presidential elections in America, even if they hide it.

    As far as strict adherence to definitions goes, we don’t need it. Coming close enough for the likings of Lenin, Stalin, Pol Pot, Hitler (yes him too), Mao, et. al., was pretty bad for the health of over a hundred million people.

    Some Germans thought they would be able to fix their country at the next election, if Hitler was elected. The comparison isn’t quite there yet, I know. Yet.

  15. Manish Says:

    iím not a campaign and i donít read drudge either.

    This is not a comment about you, but the ultimate source of the material..whether you read that source directly or if it was a chain of people who read it and linked to it, is irrelevant.

    Sorry, if you think (as he did at least 7 years ago) that the Constitution is a ďdeeply flawed documentĒ

    except that if you actually listen to it in context, he’s not saying that.

  16. Yu-Ain Gonnano Says:

    I assume you were addressing me as gatt since I was the one who brought up the “I’m not optimistic” issue and gatt isn’t on this thread (yet).

    I did see your assertion that it was wonk-speak and I concede it was (well, an attempt anyway). But since wonkishness has to do with adherance to minor details, if you’re going to be wonky, you have to get the details correct. And while it is true that the court is an unlikely place to see enacting redistributionist policies, the wonkishly correct statement is that it is the *inappropriate* place to enact redistributionist policy. (We’ll leave aside the issue of the correctness of such policy).

    Just as a criminal court’s job is to determine whether I violated criminal or civil law, it is the Supreme Court’s job to determine whether the gov’t has violated govermental law (i.e. The Constitution). Since the Constitution is heavily skewed on the side of what gov’t may not do, then the courts are properly bound by that same skewness. If you want the courts to properly have grounds to determine if the gov’t is violating goverment law by not doing what it must do, then you need to amend the Constitution to say that the gov’t must do it first.

    It would be inappropriate for a criminal court to find me guilty of failing to mow my neighbor’s yard unless there is first a law stating that I have to. In the same way, it would be inappropriate for the Supreme Court to find the gov’t guilty of not enacting redistributionist policies unless there is first an amendment to the constitution stating that it has to as well.

    So just because Obama was making a wonk-ish statement doesn’t make it OK.

  17. Manish Says:

    So just because Obama was making a wonk-ish statement doesnít make it OK. what he read in context:

    Obama in that interview said, “If you look at the victories and failures of the civil rights movement, and its litigation strategy in the court, I think where it succeeded was to vest formal rights in previously dispossessed peoples, so that I would now have the right to vote, I would now be able to sit at a lunch counter and order, and as long as I could pay for it, Iíd be OK.”

    “But,” Obama said, “The Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth and sort of more basic issues of political and economic justice in this society. And to that extent, as radical as I think people tried to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn’t that radical. It didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution, as least as it’s been interpreted, and Warren Court interpreted in the same way that, generally, the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties, says what the states can’t do to you, says what the federal government can’t do to you, but it doesn’t say what the federal government or the state government must do on your behalf. And that hasnít shifted.”

    Obama added, “one of the, I think, the tragedies of the civil rights movement, was because the civil rights movement became so court focused, I think that there was a tendency to lose track of the political and community organizing activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalitions of power through which you bring about redistributive change, and in some ways, we still stuffer from that.”[….]
    Burton continued: “In the interview, Obama went into extensive detail to explain why the courts should not get into that business of ‘redistributing’ wealth. Obamaís point — and what he called a tragedy — was that legal victories in the civil rights led too many people to rely on the courts to change society for the better. That view is shared by conservative judges and legal scholars across the country.

    nice try though.

  18. Yosemite Sam Says:

    What context?

    He states explicitly that he wants to use the government to redistribute wealth. Full Stop.

    He may not think that the courts are the way to go, mainly because they have some shred of respect for the Constitution, but he has no problem whatsoever with redistributing wealth through the aegis of laws passed by Congress. He believes, as he stated in the interview that the Constitution is a document of negative liberties, of things the government cannot do, and he believes that the governement should grant, I’ll call them positive liberties(eg. free health care).

    The problem is that in order to give away so called positive liberties, you have to take away liberties from other people. This is anathema to the founding principles of this country.

    This is radical and the American people, I suspect, disagree with this phlilosophy.

  19. Vote For David Says:

    He also doesn’t want to take away our guns. And doesn’t have the votes even if he did…

  20. Manish Says:

    He states explicitly that he wants to use the government to redistribute wealth. Full Stop.

    Colin Powell addresses this better than I could, so I’ll leave you with that..beyond that, what do you call opposing the Bush taxcuts because the benefits disproportionately affect the wealthy? Or raising taxes on oil extraction to give a larger check to Alaskan families? Ah, but Obama is the communist.

    This is radical and the American people, I suspect, disagree with this phlilosophy.

    Don’t look now, but the American people seem to be supporting Obama over McCain. Doesn’t mean they support him on everything, but it does mean they support him more than they support McCain.

  21. Yosemite Sam Says:

    You sure like to play with strawmen.

    The point is that Obama has explicitly stated that he supports wealth redistribution. Using tu quoque arguments doesn’t change this.

  22. emdfl Says:

    WEll, yes, tax cuts will ALWAYS benefit people who pay taxes more then people who don’t; and all things being equal (which I’m sure manish is in favor of), people who pay more taxes will get a larger tax cut.

  23. Yu-Ain Gonnano Says:

    Exactly, the people that pay 60% of the taxes should get 60% of the tax cut. Those who pay 0% in taxes should get 0% of a tax cut.

    As for the “Courts should not” point, You’re own quote supports my contention:
    1) It was Burton who is summarizing that Obama believes the “court should not”, not Obama’s own words. ‘Cause we all know journalists are always completely faithful to the facts and would never skew things. /sarcasm
    2)”was that legal victories in the civil rights led too many people to rely on the courts to change society for the better. That view is shared by conservative judges and legal scholars across the country.” This quote also deals only with expected success not appropriateness. ‘We shouldn’t rely on the courts’ is not the same thing as ‘The courts are the inappropriate place’.
    The exact same thing can be said of his statements about using other means. His words are that other means are most likely to succeed. Not that they are the only *right way* to succeed.

    You can make the claim that that is what Obama meant by saying those things: That Obama was speaking in general terms. But you then can’t defend them as being “Wonk-speak”. You can’t (legitimately) claim that it’s Obama’s adherance to archane technicalities that makes him misunderstood and then simultaniously claim that archane technicalities don’t matter.

    Either he was and they do matter, or he wasn’t and they don’t. You only get to pick one.

  24. SayUncle Says:

    So, metulj, you’re really arguing that there can be no communists because of capitalism?

  25. Yu-Ain Gonnano Says:

    “‘Cause we all know journalists are always completely faithful to the facts and would never skew things”

    Should read:

    ‘Cause we all know journalists are always completely faithful to the facts and would never get things wrong and skew things”

  26. Yu-Ain Gonnano Says:

    What it appears metulj is saying is that there can’t be communists within *any governmental system* because “True” communism (according to Marx) is stateless.

    Since communists can’t exist within any governmental system it, by definition, can’t exist within Democracy.

  27. SayUncle Says:

    So communism doesn’t exist? that’s a relief.

  28. Metulj Says:

    Yu-ain has it about 95% right. You can have a communist overthrow of a democratic governmental system (has that ever happened?), but they ARE NOT going to operate within that system to effect the overthrow. It would be a head-to-the-hills type operation or an insurgency, not labor union unrest or the introduction of price controls, etc.

    The thing that folks need to understand is that capitalism is not an economic system. It’s a ideology of governance from which economies arise.

    Anyhow, there are still communists in this world, but no more marginalized political movements exist. Thankfully.

  29. Yu-Ain Gonnano Says:

    As I said earlier. This is a definition that means Stalin, Lenin, Mao, weren’t really “Communists” since they operated within a governmental system.

    I find this definition meaningless in any practical sense, but theoretically it is correct.

    Of course, in theory there is no difference between practice and theory, but in practice there is a great deal of difference.

Remember, I do this to entertain me, not you.

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