June 11th 2009 Thursday

tackett-imagesHour One: Mark Potok www.splccenter.org on the rise of hate groups

Hour Two: Thom challenges Matthew Vadum www.capitalresearch.org on the Museum shooting...left claims vindication on "malicious DHS report"

Hour Three: "Is the KKK still a threat to America?" Thom speaks with Brian Tackett, former Grand Dragon of the KKK, about his new book "Inside the Ku Klux Klan" www.authorhouse.org


Mark (not verified) 13 years 42 weeks ago

I suppose you would have to walk in Thom’s shoes to know life on his side of the tracks; my guess is that life is pretty damn good. I give Thom credit, however, for fighting for the common man, like Charles Foster Kane. When asked by his Wall Street patron why he was upsetting his own applecart, Kane replied that someone with money had to look out for people without money, because he didn’t want them to turn on him.

Thom has disturbed me again by suggesting that if wasn’t for the “old dinosaurs” in this country, there would be no racism. This after he talked about the rise of far-right political parties in Europe feeding on nationalistic and racist paranoia. Thom seems to be suggesting that the ADL and SPLC are lying in recent reports that show a dramatic increase in the number of hate groups in this country over the past eight years , even during times of alleged prosperity, in part riding the wave of anti-Latino sentiment. The recent killings in Pennsylvania and Long Island that occurred in an atmosphere of racial hate fueled by local officials and the media cannot be passed off as mere “coincidence.”

I’d hate to think that Thom and his listeners are fooled by the fact that since there are not currently widespread lynchings in this country that bigotry is waning in this country. It isn’t. Besides the ADL and SPLC exposes, a study last month reported that there are as many as 10,000 sites promoting race hate on the web with millions of hits daily; many of these sites target young people, and have infiltrated YouTube, Facebook and other popular websites. Why would anyone check-out hate sites if they did not want to read or hear something along the lines of their own thoughts?

The Tacoma News-Tribune printed the following “letter to the editor” from someone with a very Irish name who quoted the following Irish poem, reflecting his thoughts concerning the Sonia Sotomayor nomination:

“May those who love us love us.
And those who don’t love us,
May God turn their hearts
And if He doesn’t turn their hearts,
May he turn their ankles.
So we’ll know them by their limping.”

Is this guy “subtle” or what? Either he’s been listening to too much Limbaugh and Gingrich, or he’s just your typical low-level Irish bigot; yeah, I remember that photograph of a black lawyer being held by those Irish Bostonians while another was planting that flag pole in his belly.

Discrimination, of course, is the silent partner in all of this; a president, popular athletes and entertainers do not disguise the dark underbelly of real life. African-American unemployment has historically been twice that of their white counterparts, but as high as it is doesn’t tell the whole story: incarceration, homelessness, dropping out and “working” on the street places the jobless rate at least double that. Perhaps some people also recall the Texaco case, when executives denied they were discriminating against minorities until a manager taped a meeting where they discussed their efforts to cover it up. The whistleblower was later charged with illegal wiretapping.

Because of what Thom said, I began to wonder if he was going to try to marginalize Brian Tackett as someone who is “evidence” that hate groups are fighting a “losing” battle, rather than someone who realized that sitting in prison was no way to live one’s life. But the fight against hate goes on, largely because of attempts to marginalize the perpetrators and pretend they don’t exist. It was reported back in February that residents of a Nashville neighborhood received KKK leaflets inserted in their mail circulars, reminding them of the “ongoing” race war; these leaflets could only have been inserted by an employee or employees of the company that put together and distributed the circulars.

Making Progress (not verified) 13 years 42 weeks ago

The Daily Show has ramped up its ridicule of the "Main Stream Media". They had a hilarious segment last night where Jon Stewart takes on Joe Scarborough for the third straight show, mocking his credibility. In the second segment Jason Jones takes a behind the scenes tour of the NY Times. It’s really biting stuff. I thought it worth mentioning since Scarborough was just on your show. I’m so sick of all the mindless conjecture. Our society really needs to bring back the news and eliminate infotainment all together.

Mugsy (not verified) 13 years 42 weeks ago


You have probably seen by now the video of Liz Cheney denying President Bush ever suggested bring Gitmo detainees to the U.S. for trial in the U.S. court system.

So I posted the video of him saying just that (June 21, 2006)

KSUWildcat (not verified) 13 years 42 weeks ago

I'm writing to respond to yesterday's overall theme of calling our Congresscritters and letting them know about our support for the Public Option, if not Single Payer.

I live in Kansas. All of my Congressmen are Republicans. I called anyway.

When I got through, I asked the nice person on the other end of the phone if they knew whether or not that Congressman supported "Patient's Choice" in health care. Two said "yes", while the third, I guess I was stumbling over my words, which only served to confuse them. I then pointed out that, as a patient, MY choice would be the ability to buy into the Public Option, if not full-on Single Payer. And, of course, I stressed the need for the plan to be comprehensive, so I wouldn't have to "go fishing" for two or three other policies elsewhere just to cover everything.

There were no arguments or confrontations, and in every instance, they took my comments down, and I should hope, will pass them on.

And that's it. They're pushing the notion of Patient's Choice, and I let'em know that MY choice is the Public Option, if not Single Payer.

Take care, y'all!


Richard Adlof (not verified) 13 years 42 weeks ago

I find myself having trouble with Republican and Democratic politicians who seem consumed by ensuring that health insurance companies do not have to compete competitively . . .

mstaggerlee (not verified) 13 years 42 weeks ago

Seems that our "friends" on the right are having a problem with the defecit. "It's gone way too high," they say, "we are mortgaging our children's futures!"

Am I mistaken, or wasn't lesson #1 of Reaganomics "Defecits don't matter?"

B Roll (not verified) 13 years 42 weeks ago


Mark Potak said that the growth of the right wing hate groups has been centered around immigration.

Now when your right wing guests mention immigration and at other times as well, you've been eager to inform them that your position on illegal immigration is that we have to starve the illegal immigrants out, because we don't have an illegal worker problem, we have an illegal employer problem.

Was it just an oversight that you didn't share that view with Mark Potak. After all, last week, you proudly bragged that your position on immigration is closer to uncle Pat Buchanan than to the the position of most liberal talkers.

Elizabeth (not verified) 13 years 41 weeks ago

Thom, Would you please remind anyone who mentions "eco terrorism" that while some groups have destroyed property, and that is wrong, none have ever killed a single human being.

Bill Jezzard (not verified) 13 years 41 weeks ago

Thom, this is off topic.
Thanks for your book the Edison Gene. I as born in 1948 and used to joke that if the ADHD conversation had been around when I was in school I would have been drugged to the max. Turns out to be true. I had parents who supported me even when I told them, at 15, that I wanted to be a professional artist. I am to this day, sculptor, jeweler, musician. This gives me the latitude to be interested in everything and incorporate it in my profession.
I have always thought that "bohemians" have been a fairly constant percentage of any population in any era. Any research that shows a correlation between the Edison gene and "Bohemianism"?
Thank you for the quality and evenhandedness of the dialog you promote.

B Roll (not verified) 13 years 41 weeks ago


I can see how facing difficulties when one is growing up can make a person more resilient. On the other hand, aren’t there difficulties that children shouldn’t experience? And don’t you think that difficulties are disproportionately distributed based on factors like geography, race, gender and ethnicity?

Does anyone need to toughen up by being hungry or homeless? It seems to me that children that experience extreme hunger and homelessness don’t grow up to be successful adults.

Even with a world population approaching 7 billion, we still have the ability to ensure that no one (child or adult) should have to endure hunger, homelessness or the lack of clean water.

There will always be challenges in life. Not everything will come easy to everyone and people have to work to progress as individuals.

Allison (not verified) 13 years 41 weeks ago

I think the big difference between Bush haters and Obama haters is this:
When Bush was President, he made it abundantly clear that he was not everyone's President. Those who disagreed with his positions were labeled as unpatriotic or un-American--that made patriotic Americans justifiably angry. Obama has tried time and again to represent a wide spectrum of Americans---he has made it clear that he is everyone's President. He doesn't vilify those who disagree with his positions, he actually bring them to the table. This makes Obama haters seem a bit nutty (and it makes true Progressives more than a little frustrated.)

Bill Jezzard (not verified) 13 years 41 weeks ago

B Roll,
Thank you for your stand.
My take on what Thom said was not that suffering is good but challenges can be. I think kids today aren't given enough opportunity to find satisfaction and success absent material abundance. The common remark I hear from my parents [great depression] generation is that "we didn't have much, but we had each other and that was more than enough."
Sadly, one of the side effects of the technological revolution is that people today don't need to be in each others presence to share information. Young people today can't read body language or physical clues and have little empathy because they don't spend physical time with each other.

brian a. hayes (not verified) 13 years 41 weeks ago

people must take respondsability in the words they use. how we frame the debates. it would be great for america if bill o reilly would come out and say he understood this. i feel everything in life is causality. we make causes through are words , thoughts and actions.

mstaggerlee (not verified) 13 years 41 weeks ago

Maybe it's just me. I'm beginning to think that America's wealthiest work from the position that, perhaps by divine right, ALL the money is THEIRS! It's common these days at corporate board meetings to refer to any opportunity to make a profit that was not pursued (for whatever reason) as money LOST.

Just 'cause that dollar is in your pocket NOW, doesn't mean that it doesn't really belong to KBR!

Katey in Hudson, MA. (not verified) 13 years 41 weeks ago

That guest, Matt, who characterized the KKK as a bunch of washed up drunks living in their Grandma’s basement is true NOW!
ONLY because the work of Morris Dees & the Southern Poverty Law Center suing the KKK and bankrupting them into oblivion!

These racist white men are just so terrified of reality that they will be the in the minority, by both race & gender, within a generation. I guess they believe they will be treated the same way THEY have treated minority races themselves. They are driven by the fear of Karmic Payback!

MaryH (not verified) 13 years 41 weeks ago

The discussion this hour shows how people can so differently internalize the same input (in this case information about the shooting yesterday and your description). In your discussion with Mr. Vadum, he seemed to me to be assuming the mantle of "right-wing extremist" for himself and he was totally unable to just see the term in an objective way. When the caller responded, he seems to have become effectively terrorized at even the thought of the idea domestic terrorism.

Steve (not verified) 13 years 41 weeks ago

A strange futuristic question.

When will the police say "You should have not been born that way."

brian a. hayes (not verified) 13 years 41 weeks ago

a story my mom shared with me about granma during the depression was that if people where coming to the door asking for food she would feed them. granma would say if i have at least a piece of bread i can share.

Katey in Hudson, MA. (not verified) 13 years 41 weeks ago

The bottom line of these cult-like organizations is to raise money!
Keep people ignorant, fill them with fear, then channel all that anxiety into to creating hateful attitudes that blames others for all the difficulties in their lives.
The REAL threat to these groups is education, ignorance is the cornerstone to their control over their followers.

B Roll (not verified) 13 years 41 weeks ago


The position you stated who is responsible for 911 isn't going to satisfy people who support the thermite and no plane at the Pentagon scenarios. In fact, the point you raised undermines those scenarios.

If multiple governments, intelligence agencies and the Clinton administration were warning the Bush administration that a major terrorist attack was coming, what were they telling them? Were they telling them that the Bush administration was going to attack the United States? That doesn't make sense, does it?

Among the claims that have been put 911 was an inside job is the claim that John Ashcroft stopped taking commercial airline flights around 2 months before 911. Ashcroft denied that he stopped taking commercial flights when asked about it at the 911 commission hearings.

But let's say that it's true that Ashcroft had stopped using commercial flights 2 months before 911. Doesn't that indicate that he (or whoever warned him) didn't know when the attack was going to happen and which flights were going to be hijacked? Maybe they'll say that it was an inside job but Ashcroft wasn't into it.

Recently there have been reports about how panicked and disorganized the administration was after 911. We all remember how Bush sat in the classroom looking stupid after being told about the attack. Why would they be panicked and disorganized if they were behind it. I would think that if the Bush administration was behind 911 and it was done, in part, to gain political capital, they would have had Bush spring into action looking heroic rather than sit on his ass and then go into hiding.

Bill Jezzard (not verified) 13 years 41 weeks ago

I think that evidence is showing what many of us believed years ago, that Bush and the Bush Administration are two distinct entities with more than two different agendas.

brian a. hayes (not verified) 13 years 41 weeks ago

i emial newt asking him if i need to be a christian to be a member of the republican party. no aswer yet

Katey in Hudson, MA. (not verified) 13 years 41 weeks ago

I just sent a donation to the Southern Poverty Law Center in honor of Stephen Tyrone Johns. Sending a donation to ANY anti-discriminaton group would be a way to support groups that work so hard to end these hate mongering groups.

AZAFVET (not verified) 13 years 41 weeks ago

The strange thing about the Weathermen and the Weather Underground was that they were a mostly apolitical group as they demonstrated against the Viet Nam war when Johnson was President as well as Nixon. They were not against Democratic or Republican agendas only the war that they were forced by conscription to participate in.

AZAFVET (not verified) 13 years 41 weeks ago

Great post Katey you deserve the member of the day award. Peace!

B Roll (not verified) 13 years 41 weeks ago

Bill Jezzard,

I recall that Thom talked about research in Hawaii (I think) that showed that very poor kids who suffered hardships grew up to be more resilient adults than children who hadn't grown up with such hardships.

His comment today brought his previous comment to mind. That's why I posted the comment you responded to.

My problem with material abundance you refer to is that it's bad for the ecology and is an indication of the unfair distribution of wealth in this country and worthwhile. You can still see children in underdeveloped countries that make their toys out of sticks and parts of old manufactured products.

It may be true that children and adults have become somewhat isolated due to modern electronic communications. But I don't think that most children have lost their ability to feel empathy. Some children and adults have it and some don't. I don't know if that's increased to any great degree lately. I don't know if children are any less able to read body language than they were before. There always have been people who are more intuitive about body language than others.

And there are benefits to the electronic communications. I've had the ability to meet people from around the world over the Internet, and I would never have been able to know them without the Internet. If we use electronic communications properly, it could expand our humanity.

Lately, I've been thinking about how our modern society has been affecting families. When my parents grew up, extended families often lived on the same or adjacent pieces of land. When I grew up, my immediate extended family lived in the same community, sometimes only a block away. When one family moved to another community, the rest followed. Now my generation lives in different cities and different states. With the next generation it's even different countries and continents. There are people I grew up with, in and out of my family, that I know so little about, I couldn't even tell you where they live or if they're still alive.

nedclark (not verified) 13 years 41 weeks ago

We need a new Public Service Advertising campaign to address the new ripples of ever-more-virulent gun-toting killers. Still most-common is the despondent "Ordinary Man", who kills his family and then himself out of humiliation over job-loss, gambling debts, etc.

But increasingly, Right-Wing `avenging angle' types have killed family planning providers, and attached the National Holocaust Memorial Museum out of pent-up, paranoid rages.

A PSA might keep the carnage to a minimum...the message would be simple and to-the-point:

"Are you stressed-out, feeling trapped, and wanting to kill someone?

Save time...
Save fuel...
Save ammo...

Put the first bullet between your OWN eyes..."

nora (not verified) 13 years 41 weeks ago

I agree with the caller who indicated that using the terms 'terrorist' and 'terrorism' to describe every violent, frightening act of Ideologues is a poor and dangerous choice. Those terms now carry the fear mongering taint of the Bush/Cheney Years of LIes and Misleading! Avoid them. They are now made too broad and emotional, meaning all things to all people and serving only propaganda purposes.

We can handle criminals by prosecuting them for SPECIFIC crimes. We do not need generalized, fear-mongering vocabulary to address their crimes and confuse the degree of their damage.

(Isn't a prison full of detainees with no specific criminal descriptions proof enough that the term "terorist" is too broad and confusing?!)

We have all kinds of crimes we can prosecute, like vandalism, stalking, arson, assault, murder. And the addition of legally formulated, clear criminal classifications and definitions of violent expressions of intimidation, hate, racism, sexism, and other bigotted ideologies that amp up the violent activities and foment further violence -- these would be SPECIFIC solutions to specific criminal behavior.

And don't dismiss these criminals as mere "CRAZIES". Their acts are NOT the acts of momentary emotional explosion. They learn and teach their violent ideologies, they ORGANIZE, they raise funding and RECEIVE funding from removed and secret parties, and plan longterm their hate mongering and violent acts.

When we angst about terrorism, we sacrifice our cool heads, risk our civil rights across the boards, and miss the opportunity to use logical, legal means to contain these elements of our population with easy to understand language and the resulting specific laws and legal approach.

Bill Jezzard (not verified) 13 years 41 weeks ago

B Roll
I hope I didn't give the impression that I support all the material junk that kids have these days. I do not. I agree with you for every reason you state and another. I think our kids have a diminished capacity to visualize.
I travel a lot in Asia and South America [Argentina is my new favorite place] and see [and play with] those kids using sticks and bottle caps and imagination to make the most marvelous creations. Those kids are visualizing.
I think technology is value neutral. Fire can burn your house down or create electricity. I love the fact that I can keep in instant touch with my friends overseas or across the country. I am no Luddite.
I think babies are hardwired to empathize and if that capacity is not nurtured it diminishes. There is an educator in Canada who saw kids at recess fighting to resolve disputes instead of negotiating and distinguished that empathy was missing. She created a program in which a baby was brought into a classroom and the students were told that the baby was the "professor" and the students job was to understand what the baby was telling them. Recess became peaceful as the kids started seeing other points of view and negotiated instead of using force.
Here's an interesting link: http://www.publicaffairs.ubc.ca/ubcreports/2005/05sep07/babypower.html
Thom gets into some stuff in the Edison Gene about how too much exposure to TV in children produces so much cortisol in their systems that their brains develop with flight or fight being dominant over reason and logic. I think when as a society we use TV as a babysitter and Baby Einstein to teach kids instead of talking and reading to them to give them a greater vocabulary and therefore more symbols to create with, society pays a price that results in a loss of community.
I think we need to be ever mindful that the rest of the world isn't like us. I am confronted by that all the time. The kids in my circle are nurtured, creative, verbal, curious, empathetic and inspiring. I see a brilliant future for the planet when I am around them.
I live in rural Texas and when I go to the grocery store I see a very different expression of childhood. I try to interact with those kids as much as I can, not to make their parents wrong but to be an example that they might do something with their lives besides getting pregnant at 15 and working in Walmart.
As to the body language reference, I did a weekend seminar about brain plasticity and that was something the leader mentioned. I'll ask him where that study was done.
I met you through technology and while we will probably never meet in person, I have enjoyed our communication. Thanks

ToddMalone (not verified) 13 years 41 weeks ago

The health-care "crisis" in America is the entitlement mindset. People hesitate to file claims against their auto and home insurance policies, but they file claim after claim after claim against their health insurance policies without blinking an eye.

Health insurance companies do NOT use health insurance company money to pay all those claims we file. They use POLICYHOLDER money.

No one spends someone else's money as carefully as they spend their own, and too many of us think government is using government money to fund all these "greater good" ideas. But government has no money except for what it first takes from its citizens.

ToddMalone (not verified) 13 years 41 weeks ago

It really is noble to want to help others. But who among us should have the authority, and power, to force others to support charities of our choice?

ToddMalone (not verified) 13 years 41 weeks ago

we sure do see a lot of people demonizing the health insurance companies. Why don't we see the same type of demonization toward medical providers for the prices they charge? If the medical providers did not charge so much, would our health insurance premiums need to be so high?

Forklift Driver (not verified) 13 years 41 weeks ago

During the office Water Cooler Wars, this comment always seemed to end the 'economic downturn'discussions...

"Well, that Tinkle-Down Economics, that worked out well, didn't it?"

People just wander off with very confused but thoughtfull looks on their faces. Now I've re-cycled it to break up the Single-Payer debates.

"Well, this Tinkle-Down Health Care, that's worked out about as well as Tinkle-Down Ecomnomics, hasn't it?".

And regarding "Social-ism", I explain that all societies are Socialist to varying degrees. Each draws a line between which sociatal costs are socialized and which are privatized.

Amazingly, I still have my job.

ToddMalone (not verified) 13 years 41 weeks ago

LiftDriver, how would you define "trickle-down-economics"? Reagan's plan was to lower the top marginal tax rate from 70% down to 35%.

I'm curious if you think it's fair to tax one American at 35% while another pays only 10%? And if you do think that, then why? Is it because you think one man 'can afford it' ? If so, then I'm curious to know where you or anyone else gets this power to determine what another man can and cannot afford.

You're right. All societies are socialist to some degree. But that WAS the beauty of America at one time. We once had a LIMITED central gov't, with states and municipalities free to pass all the laws and programs they wanted as long as the Bill Of Rights where adhered do. But those days are gone, aren't they, LiftDriver, replaced with a strong, centralized, one-size-fits-all gov't entity based in D.C. ?

And the more socialist we have become, have we gotten better or worse? How many years have we been waging "war on poverty" ?

The problem with our health-care system in America is that too many people THINK someone else is picking up the tab. And no one spends someone else's money as carefully as they spend their own.

Government is NOT the solution to healthcare any more that it's been the solution for financial security in our old age. Just look at the meager financial existence we have condemned so many elderly Americans to. And look at our current socialized medicine system, Medicare. It's going bankrupt, and our boomers haven't even started hitting the system yet.

B Roll (not verified) 13 years 41 weeks ago

Bill Jezzard,

Just in case you look back here:

I didn’t get the impression you were in favor of the material abundance we both commented on, quite the contrary. Maybe my response wasn’t clear enough. My position is mainly that from my layman’s perspective, I’m agnostic about the material abundance we have except from the ecological concerns and as an indication of the economic gap between the more and less privileged populations of the world. I hadn’t even taken into account issues of what it might be doing to our children’s brains.

I don’t know whether our children have lost the ability to visualize. I never thought about it. But now that you raised the issue, my instinct is that what and how they visualize may have shifted to ways that are more appropriate to the environment they grow up in. Their visualization may be more oriented towards electronic media which they experience constantly. This may be problematic for two reasons, at least: 1) No matter how digital our world gets, we’re still analog, at least for now. Who knows what the future holds. 2) The plug can be pulled on the electric/digital world from time to time. What will they do if their overly dependent on it? I would think it would be wise to raise our children to be competent in both the digital and analog worlds.

I’d agree that most children have a built in capacity for empathy and it’s either enhanced or diminished by their environment, mainly their families and cultures. It’s long been my theory that our thoughts (including emotions) are similar to physical skills. Physical skills tend to improve with practice and we know that neural pathways are created and strengthened through practice. I believe our thoughts are similar. If we have repeated opportunities to be empathetic it becomes second nature to us. If we practice being angry or self-centered that becomes our second nature, or as I sometimes call it our default setting. It’s like holding a branch of a tree into an unnatural position. But unless it’s held in that position for a very long time, it will snap back to its natural position as soon as you let go. Our conscious mind can push our thinking to go in a particular direction, but stress can loosen our conscious grip and we instinctively snap back to our old way of thinking.

That Canadian program sounds interesting, but I do have a few questions about it. The first is that I wonder if a kitten or a puppy would have the same effect. Maybe it would or maybe it wouldn’t. I can’t recall hearing of a child being afraid of babies, but I we all know that some children are afraid of animals. I can also see it as being possible that children might become more possessive towards an animal than they might over a little human.

I do remember that there have been programs in prisons that have shown that having an animal to take care of or even a garden to tend has many benefits, including reduced violence among prisoners involved.

The article isn’t very long and doesn’t give a lot of detail about the research. Articles like this usually mention the magic phrase, the gold standard of scientific research “double blinded”. I noticed the phrase isn’t in this article. You’d think, from the kind of people the article says were involved in the study, double blind protocols were used, but it isn’t stated. I wonder whether the people interpreting the behavior of the children knew which children were in the study group (with the baby) and which were in the control groups (without the baby)?

There are studies (probably many studies) showing that the expectations of the experimenters can have an effect on the results of the experiment. The study that is probably best know is one in which the experimenters were told that one group rats (or mice) were regular rats and another set were super intelligent. They were told that they were supposed to put the rats in a maze and see how quickly they were able to work their way to the end. But, as you probably know, the subject of the experiment was the experimenters not the rats. The result was that the experimenters handled the “smart rats” very nicely, but handled the “regular rats” roughly. The rats that were handled nicely performed better in the maze than the other rats, but they were all just regular rats.

The purpose of double blind studies is to eliminate experimenter bias as well as subject expectations. The purpose of peer review is to a large degree to make sure that proper protocols were set up and followed. Peer review wasn’t mentioned in the article either.

And then there’s the issue of repeatability. Can other researchers get the same results using the same protocols? It seems this is the only test of this method, and it may be the only test. This isn’t the kind of research that is tested by different teams.

I don’t know about the study that found that watching TV raises cortisol levels in children. I know that Thom has mentioned a study that found that mothers who experience a lot of stress during pregnancy produced high levels of cortisol which got into the systems of the children they were carrying and that led to the same result you described.

But if the study about TV is correct, I wonder if it’s the technology or the content that’s responsible for the raised cortisol levels.

Forklift Driver (not verified) 13 years 41 weeks ago


As for progressive taxation, history is full of justifications if you care to look, but to point out a couple of my favorites:

The wealthy should pay a larger share of society's support cost because they have a lot more to lose if it fails. Sorta like insurance against chaos. It costs a lot more to insure a Lotus than a 1970 a Dodge Dart. And if the brakes fail on my Dart and I smash into the Lotus, they'll get another Lotus & I'll get yet another Dart. And without a fist fight breaking out.

But all else aside, taxing extreme and inherited wealth is the best way we have of limiting the highly destructive effect of its inordinate influence and control over society. Reagan & Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy was used to buy more tax cuts & less regulation & more media outlets, etc. which produced more wealth, which was used to buy even more power & influence... This cycle continued to the point where there was so much wealth that it had no where left to go. So, 'it' influenced the creation of new 'investment instruments' where it could be parked (sold to us), That worked out well, didn't it?

You may consider it un-fair to some particular individuals, but most societies and most humans that value the welfare of society as a whole over the interests of a minority of individuals, consider it just. The rising tide that lifts both the yachts and the kayaks it's the rising tide of the middle class, and the waters remain much calmer, the weather more pleasant. When the yacht captain Tinkle's down into the harbor, the kayaks don't rise much and the whole place begins to stink.

As to your point about the linkage between what you call our rising American socialism and the demise of our country:

In the past, the world accepted child labor, education only for the wealthy, etc, but the work and human morality continued to evolve. As wealth increased, most saw the obvious societal dangers of weak links in the chain. They also saw the advantage to everyone of using some of that wealth to strengthen the fabric of society. And we're all better off, including the wealthy.

The 1950's in America were what you might define as our most Socialist era, in that we had highly-progressive taxation, well-financed public education, huge government infrastructure investments, and a large amount of free college education (the GI Bill). We churned out tons of engineers and unprecedented engineering projects, most notably in the fields of electronics & aerospace.

Today, the Scandinavians produce the largest and most complex engineering projects on the planet. These are produced by a proliferation of engineers, which result from their free college education to all who work hard enough to make the grade. Their entire standard of living, including health, longevity, birth rate, crime, disposable, and overall happiness, would be the envy of every American, if we only knew. They are not Socialists in that they have not privatized everything, but they also understand that privation is not the right answer to everything.

I guess I disagree with your contention that we have become more socialist as we have declined. I see just the opposite. In 1980, we were the Scandinavia of the day, but Reagan began a long process of moving that line between which societal costs were socialized and which were privatized. Jump forward 29 years, and now all we produce is financial contracts. Trickle-down/Voodoo economics was touted as a rising tide that would lift all boats. The only thing that rose was income disparity, which is why the working people of this country experienced is as Tinkle-Down Economics.

Todd, we were sold a whole raft of pigs, all in the same poke, complete with lipstick.

- The aggregate of universal self-interest will produce the most good, and that every citizen is entitled to only as much life, liberty, and happiness as they can wrestle away from everyone else. It's OK if more for 'Me' means less for 'We'.

- Wealth in the abstract is guided by morality. It can not harm society and will not use any means available to continue growing.

- A piece of paper called a Corporation has the same Constitutional rights as a thinking, loving, laughing, crying, wondering, caring, parenting, living, dying human being.

- Money is speech, and that those with more money are guaranteed more 'free' speech by our Constitution.

- And above all, a democracy's elections can be privately financed. (the word 'oxymoron' come to mind)

I would agree with you that the government (or 'socialism' by your definition) is not the solution to health care, or any other of societal issue for that matter. But neither is privatization. I will vote for the solution that mixes the two. Health care that is publicly-insured and privately-delivered. It's called Single-Payer.

My TowMotor awaits.

Regards, and please pardon the crummy writing
Forklift Driver

Frank Feuerbacher (not verified) 13 years 41 weeks ago

The discussion about right-wing crazies reminded me of my very own (yeash) John Cornyn's response to violence, including murder, directed towards Federal Judges and their families. He said that he could understand why people would become violent to judicial activists.

Cornyn, being a former Texas Supreme Court judge knew better. But his political ambition overruled the need for following the rule of law.

Frank Feuerbacher (not verified) 13 years 41 weeks ago

My political memory more or less starts with Reagan. it is apparent to me that the Republicans have been courting disaster by doing things to increase their appeal to more and more crazies. A short list: Vigilantes of the '80s, racist Democrats, aggressive anit-abortion groups, aggressively "conservative" Christians, attacks against "activist judges, undermining the judicial system, promoting disrespect for laws, judges, presidents, the poor and government itself.

In general it seems they want to create division, amplify it and capitalize on it. They want a bunch of one-issue people who they can control. Although by no means on the same scale, I find the tactics similar to what Slovendon Melosevic and other dictators used. I believe Sandra Day-O'connor spoke about the radicalization of America several years ago.

ToddMalone (not verified) 13 years 41 weeks ago

LiftDriver, you write "taxing extreme and inherited wealth is the best way we have of limiting the highly destructive effect of its inordinate influence and control over society."

I'm curious, LiftDriver, why you believe wealth concentrated in the hands of "public men" (i.e. elected officials) would be any less destructive than if concentrated in the hands of "private men".


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