Straw Man Socialism

Ileana Johnsongrew up in Romania under the Nicolae Ceaușescuregime and immigrated to the US in 1978.  By 1982 she had become a citizen and went on to earn two advanced degrees.  Johnson has written several books, including one on her experiences under Communism in Romaniaand anotheron the United Nations sustainable development plan known as Agenda 21.

On Monday she posted “We are Serving the Working People” at The Bull Elephant.  This essay amounted to a fascinating strawman definition of “socialism.”  A sample: 

Do they understand that socialism suppresses individuality, forces collectivism, causes mass starvation, imprisons people with divergent ideas in labor camps, herds them off their properties into high rise cinder block apartments, nationalizes all industries, and confiscates all private property and wealth?

This accurately describes East European and Russian political economies up to the end of the Cold War, so in a way Johnson comes by this view honestly.  She experienced it this way.  And because everyone called this kind of political and economic system “socialism” or “communism” back in the day, this is pretty standard-issue conservative rhetoric about the dangers of making sure the economy and political system work for everyone.  I wonder though how much this has to do with protecting corporations and the wealthy from calls for a more equitable distribution of economic productivity than it does with any real concern over liberty.  It’s not as if our system protects citizens from voter suppression and gerrymandering in a way that restricts elite power.  In the end the conservative project looks a lot like a defense of corporate rights to profits while showing little concern for what liberty looks like to people who have to work two jobs so they can pay the rent and keep dinner on the table.  

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Does the Constitution Give Congress the Power to Regulate Immigration?

Thanks to Ampersand over at Alas, a Blog, I ran across two articles by Ilya Somin arguing that the Constitution includes no enumerated power to restrict immigration.  Go check Amptoons out – he’s a killer cartoonist.

In the first, at Reason Magazine, Somin suggests that President Obama had the power to defer deportation for four million immigrants through executive order.  He thinks this is so in part because he doesn’t think the Constitution gives Congress no power to regulate immigration in the first place.  Later, in the Washington Post, Somin argues that the Migration and Importation Clause (Article I, Section 9) doesn’t fix this because it refers to slavery. Continue reading

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Speaking Event: The Electoral College

The Williamsburg-James City County Indivisible group has invited me to speak about the Electoral College at their meeting on 29 August.  This talk will take place at the James City County Library at 7770 Croaker Road in Williamsburg from 6:30 to 9:00 PM.

Here’s a link to the Facebook Event page.

I’ll discuss how and why the men who wrote the Constitution settled on this method for selecting a President, including how slavery created the conditions that made direct election of the President all but politically impossible.  I’ll also discuss efforts to eliminate the EC or render it moot.

Please join me and the WJCC Indivisibles for an informative evening and a chance to meet new Democratic activist friends.

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