Nino Erba: Candidate for Dubuque City Council 2019

Bleeding Heartland welcomes guest posts by candidates for local offices in Iowa. -promoted by Laura Belin

Greetings, Iowa!

My name is Nino Erba, and I’m a candidate for Dubuque City Council this year. I’m running in Ward 4, which encompasses downtown and the wealthier households over the bluffs of our city. I’m running because after being involved for so long in city politics and understanding what’s going on in our city and why things happen, it’s time for a radical change. And I believe I’m best equipped for bringing about that change.

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Society, socialism are collectivist concepts

In the turbid arguments of screen socialists and comment-section capitalists, Gwen Hope elucidates the ironic truth behind society’s collectivist roots. -promoted by Laura Belin

Socialism, along with its typically-juxtaposed companion, capitalism, are virile terms capable of inciting endless vitriol. Meaning countless different things to nigh-countless different people, these terms can singlehandedly turn friend against friend, neighbor against neighbor, and online threads ablaze like another of one of history’s great fires.

However, if you wade into those frothing comments sections, you’ll find more is similar than it appears. Most, if not all, of the systems and positions typically argued-for exist within the context of a society with formalized organization, a government, yet most of my fellow keyboard-tappers are oblivious to the true irony of the situation. For, in fact, the idea of a society itself is a collectivist notion which makes it kin to socialism, which also finds root in the collective.

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Tea Party movement can't grasp meaning of "socialism"

So the North Iowa Tea Party covered up their Mason City billboard that juxtaposed pictures of Adolf Hitler (“National Socialism”), Barack Obama (“Democrat Socialism”) and Vladimir Lenin (“Marxist Socialism”) over the slogan, “Radical leaders prey on the fearful & naive.” (Here’s a photo.) Activists in statewide tea party circles repudiated the billboard. Ryan Rhodes, chairman of the Iowa Tea Party movement, wants fellow travelers to educate the public about freedom and U.S. history. Rhodes’ problem was the Hitler imagery, not the underlying message that we’re headed toward socialism.

I know I’m supposed to be outraged that right-wingers would compare Obama to Hitler, but I’m too stunned that anyone paying attention to the news could view Obama as “socialist.” I got a window onto the tea party mindset from Bob Johnson, one of the Mason City billboard’s creators. For your weekly dose of unintentional comedy, I recommend Jennifer Jacobs’ interview with Johnson on the Des Moines Register blog. Among his insights:

“It was absolutely not the aim to just create controversy. Nobody’s more surprised about the thing than I am,” Johnson said. “This billboard was misunderstood. I’m not going to say it was a mistake.” […]

“We had some hesitations about it,” Johnson said, “but for those that understand it, it’s just such a powerful billboard, so we said screw it and go ahead with it.” […]

“When we put that Hitler up there, it just totally overwhelmed everything on the billboard,” Johnson said. “That’s the one thing that just destroyed the whole concept we did not realize the power Hitler still has, the emotion.” […]

“When you want to compare the present administration to Hitler, Hitler took over the banks. Gee, what’s this administration doing? Hitler took over the health care. Gee. Hitler took over the transportation and what’s this administration doing? If that wasn’t a direct comparison to socialism, I don’t know what is.”

Let’s consider the so-called government takeover of health care, a major area of concern for the tea partiers. Under socialized medicine (as exists in real socialist countries), the government employs all the doctors and runs all the clinics and hospitals. Under single-payer health care (as exists in Canada), the government pays for medical care, but most doctors and medical institutions are privately operated.

In contrast, Obama had his top aides cut deals with health industry interests, working closely with the most corporate-friendly Congressional  committee drafting a health reform bill. The key staffer charged with writing that committee’s bill, Liz Fowler, came straight from one of the largest health insurance companies. Obama broke many significant campaign promises on health care so as not to tread on corporate interests. As a result, key industries got virtually everything they wanted from the bill that passed. Private health insurance companies are now guaranteed millions of new customers in the coming years, with no new competition from government-run entities. Completing the circle, Fowler is now working for the Obama administration to help implement the health reform law.

Rest assured, no corporate CEO in America is lying awake at night worried about “socialist” health care the way Johnson says he worried people might bomb his house because they didn’t like his billboard.

Most of the Obama administration’s economic team came straight from the Wall Street culture, and the president hasn’t tried to “take over” or even break up major financial institutions.

I have no idea what Johnson is talking about when he suggests the Obama administration has been taking over the transportation sector.

Anyone who has such a skewed view of this corporate-friendly administration could gain perspective from spending a few weeks in a socialist country.

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Oh please

Representative Steve “10 Worst” King hasn’t lost his touch for grabbing attention with outlandish statements. Speaking to a conservative radio program, King asserted,

If there’s a push for a socialist society where the foundations of individual rights and liberties are undermined and everybody is thrown together living collectively off one pot of resources earned by everyone, this is one of the goals they have to go to, same sex marriage, because it has to plow through marriage in order to get to their goal. They want public affirmation, they want access to public funds and resources.

The Hill has more ridiculous assertions from the interview, including King’s opinion that “Not only is [same-sex marriage] a radical social idea, it is a purely socialist concept in the final analysis.” Matt Corley at Think Progress posted the full transcript, with an audio clip.

King’s logic eludes me. Perhaps someone can explain how individual rights are supposedly undermined when same-sex couples gain legal rights already available to heterosexual couples. Maybe King just wants to show that he really is as wingnutty as any Iowa Republican on the subject of gay marriage.

Having spent a fair amount of time in the former Communist bloc, I can assure King that the socialist world was extremely homophobic. Same-sex relationships had no legal status in any communist country, and homosexuality was a crime for decades in many of them.

Jed Lewison and John Deeth have further comments on King’s absurdity. Please add your own thoughts in this thread.  

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Seeking Republican willing to denounce armed rebellion

Now that we’re done with the Joe “You Lie” Wilson sideshow, I want to talk about a different kind of Republican disrespect for normal political disagreement.

Having been raised by a Republican of the now-extinct Rockefeller variety, I am often struck by how extreme the GOP has become. Chuck Grassley and Terry Branstad were on the far right in the early 1980s, but many Iowa conservatives now consider them “moderate” or even “liberal.”

Mainstream extremism in the Republican Party is depressing on many levels. It fosters ignorance, as when Iowa Republicans are led to believe that the judiciary is not supposed to interpret the constitution. It encourages politicians to put their theology ahead of civil laws.

Most troubling is when prominent conservatives use language that condones physical violence or “revolution” to resist Democratic policy proposals. I fear that people will get hurt or killed if some mentally unstable person takes these appeals too literally.

More thoughts on this subject are after the jump.

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Can Obama Save Capitalism?

The whole house of cards seems to be crashing. The funny thing is, the capitalists, through their greed, did it to themselves. If they had left in place the safeguards and regulations established in New Deal welfare state capitalism, this depression – brought on by the housing bubble collapse – would not be happening. Instead we would have seen the continued slow grinding erosion of working class living standards we have had since the late 70’s. Which was working out pretty well for the capitalists – inequality had reached record levels in the 90’s and 2000’s. But no, they had to completely tear down all the stabilizers built into their own system. They thought, hey there’s no Soviet Union any more, communism and socialism are dead, so we can just go hogwild and take everything we want, let the average American citizen pay the price.

Well, now we are all screwed.

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