The America I Knew Has Almost Disappeared

Like an alcoholic family that won't discuss alcoholism (and proving Don Quixote's warning to never mention rope in the home of a man who's been hanged), far too many Americans are unwilling to acknowledge or even discuss the ongoing collapse of democracy in the United States.

President Jimmy Carter took it head on when he told me on my radio program that the Citizen's United decision:

"[V]iolates the essence of what made America a great country in its political system. Now it's just an oligarchy, with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or to elect the president. And the same thing applies to governors and U.S. senators and congress members. So now we've just seen a complete subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors, who want and expect and sometimes get favors for themselves after the election's over."

This "complete subversion of our political system" grew, in large part, out of Richard Nixon's 1972 appointment of Lewis Powell to the Supreme Court. Powell, in 1971, had authored the infamous Powell Memo to the US Chamber of Commerce, strongly suggesting that corporate leaders needed to get politically involved and, essentially, take over everything from academia to our court system to our political system.

In 1976, in the Buckley case, Powell began the final destruction of American democracy by declaring that when rich people or corporations own politicians, all that money that got transferred to the politicians wasn't bribery but, instead, was Constitutionally-protected First Amendment-defined "Free Speech." The Court radically expanded that in 2010 with Citizens United.

As a result, there's really very little democracy left in our democracy. Our votes are handled in secret by private, unaccountable for-profit corporations. Our laws are written, more often than not, by corporate lawyers/lobbyists or representatives of billionaire-level wealth. And our media is owned by the same class of investors/stockholders, so it's a stretch to expect them to do much critical reporting on the situation.

Read more here.

Comments

Outback 5 weeks 3 days ago
#1

Nicely summarized, Thom. Now tell it to the bovine masses that don't give a shit about anything beyond bread (pizza) and circus (Monday Night Football). We lost that battle several decades ago through the decline of decent public education.

Legend 5 weeks 3 days ago
#2

That is why I call it the Republican Fascist Party. Every time I refer to it from now on. Obamacare is now Trumpcare. When it fails it is Trumpcare that failed. He bought it. We are soon to have a depression, That should be called the Trump depression. This can be carried on to the Paris Climate treaty and Iran Nuclear treaty. Make Trump responsible for it by name. He is all ready denying it all.

Hephaestus's picture
Hephaestus 5 weeks 3 days ago
#3

#1 - And more!

Educational decline is intentional... the cause is also dictated... by and from wealth!

"keep the peasants ignorant" is an ethos of those in power... and has been for centuries

I call this influence fascism these days... against which 2 World Wars were fought... each yet caused by wealth

Wealth guard it like a mother will child

vitocaputo's picture
vitocaputo 5 weeks 3 days ago
#4

HEADS UP THOM

There is a volume problem on your TuneIn page. It seems to coincide with your relocation.

With the player volume @ maximum (way too loud for preceding commercial) your stream is close to inaudible. Either you're sending a very low volume stream... or they are snuffing you out.

DHBranski's picture
DHBranski 5 weeks 3 days ago
#5

Many believed the Obama years represented our last chance to bring the "masses" back together, working toward the common good. Just the opposite happened. We're more split apart by class, race and ideology than we were a decade ago. Democrats finished off dividing and conquering their own voting base. Liberals have deeply alienated much of their base with their years of promoting middle class elitism, etc. Race is too "touchy" to discuss.

So -- here we are. The hard right took power, and there is no opposition party. What happens, happens, and I think all we can do is adjust.

DHBranski's picture
DHBranski 5 weeks 3 days ago
#6

Actually, fascism came in the 1990s, when we stripped the poor of a list of fundamental civil and human rights. We do this because the poor are considered mere surplus population, not of current use to US employers, therefore of no worth. That's what fascism is.

Riverplunge's picture
Riverplunge 5 weeks 3 days ago
#7

Democracy cannot be discussed in public like it used to. the News used to get out with television. The rich own all the TV stations and all but a few radio stations. You only hear what you have been given.. Nothing.. Nothing but lies.

Hephaestus's picture
Hephaestus 5 weeks 3 days ago
#8

#8 Revolution

BUT... that needs a leader!

Courage is all but dispelled in the TV

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 5 weeks 3 days ago
#9

"Like a foxmerized family that won't discuss what fascist propaganda is, many American families are unwilling to admit they're being lied to."

In fact those same foxmerized citizens who voted for Crooked Donny are going to bare the brunt of his cuts to the ACA subsidies...something like 70% of those who will be harmed voted for him. If that doesn't prove my point, I don't know what on earth would. The guy is kicking you in the nuts and you still wave his flag with a grimace.

Speaking of the flag, the American flag has been turned into a fascist symbol, and that really pisses me off. My friends have taken to wearing patches of the original 1777 flag out of respect to our founders....in my opinion, the modern flag only symbolizes right-wing ignorance right now.

What will it take for Kochpublican voters to finally wake up and admit the party they voted for only represents its Fascist owners?

Has anyone tried to talk sense to a foxaganda victim recently? if you have, you know exactly what I'm talking about. A brick wall has more sense.

"Take a Knee" if you're a true Patriot!

Outback 5 weeks 3 days ago
#10

ErinRose: all of that was well put and I believe your assessment of the mindset of your parents and mine (oh, let 'em be kids) is generally true. But you also mention critical thinking skills. When I was in grade school they tought algebra. The the critical thinking skills developed in getting your head around subjects like geometry ant trig apply broadly to everyday life, and are not prep for only working a job. That disappeared somewhere along the way, and that's the reason I believe today's society is so easily befuddled by the media, our politicians and the establishment in general who share a common goal of subjugating the confused herd to their will. This will not change until we reexamine our social foundation.

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 5 weeks 3 days ago
#11

Erin Rose

If you add the people on both coasts that think food shows up at safeway by some miracle and eggs just grow in a carton... and not that the people they insult grow the wheat for their bread... or a rifle is used to put down an injured animal not just for shootings in the inner city....I agree with you 100%.

Once upon a time people could find a reason...at least one reason to show each other a little respect....sadly that is long gone. Disrespect is contagious.

Thank you for your story.

ErinRose's picture
ErinRose 5 weeks 3 days ago
#12

#Outback: I agree with you totally that we need to hit the reset button and have a complete reevaluation of things; we are just currently too mired in the weeds and our own denial.

As for critical thinking: You mention geometry and trigonometry as suppsed teachers of critical thinking. Who told you this, the teachers? I don't see these subjects as anything other than more skill sets. You have some guy at the front of the room ("I") "teaching" us ("thou"). The flow of information is one way with all the cards being held by the teacher and the students learning varying theories of math and rote regurgitating said same. Can the average student take this and apply it to politics and the human condition? I say not.

The "critical thinking" I'm talking about is Socratic Method. Guess I should have included this. My bad, and thank you for pointing this out to me.

Socratic Method is: Ask a question, then question the answer. It's a dialectic; not a monologue by some classroom teacher. By asking a question and then questioning the answer, you will also go far afield from the main question and examine other things and how they interconnect and relate. This stretches the mind into (forgive the designator but it's the best descriptor,) "global thinking" (and not in the current market sense of the word "global", but rather more of a panoramic view of things; the big picture.)

I believe everyone should be extensively trained in Socratic Method (and not just lawyers who have bastardized the process into some kind of Fagen trickery.) There are few greater joys than an agile mind :) Thank you for sharing your thoughts; I appreciate it very much.

ErinRose's picture
ErinRose 5 weeks 3 days ago
#13

I think the problems we face today are a combination of things: Many of our grandparents came from other countries. Their lives were hard and they came to America to seek a better system of life for themselves and their families. Many were very politically aware and activists in their own right. People were politically engaged. They hid their trials and tribulations from their offspring and sent their American children to school thinking non-critical thinking education alone would keep them safe. They developed this mantra about letting children have their childhood and not troubling them with the problems of adulthood. So, the kids went to school and became oblivious to the political and daily suffering and struggles of the previous generation. The new Americans grew up under the ever broadening democracy of the 1960's and 70's, and everyone believed nothing could ever stop or change this. Meanwhile, the forces of human evil (banksters, MI Complex, etc.,) were hard at work hatching a plan to dismantle democracy and return us to a feudalism now known as fascism.

Story: I was in Scandinavia several decades ago and heard the tale of Lapps/Sames having big problems with their reindeer. The previous year had seen a very tough winter and the Sames needed to drive their herds to offshore islands that were rich in senna (moss) for them to eat. In winter, the Sames usually drive the herds to the water's edge and then force them to cross over to the island(s) where they then spend the rest of the winter. However, this penultimate winter was so rough the Sames were afraid to drive the baby calves into the sea for fear of drowning them. So, the Sames built flat barges and ferried the calves over to the islands to winter there. Fast forward to the following winter: The Sames drove the herds to the water's edge but the now yearlings didn't want to go into the freezing Arctic waters. The Sames were having a terrible time of it because the reindeer were waiting for the barges to ferry them across!

The point here of this true story is, that our grandparents protected our parents from all they had gone through, and taught our parents to play, have fun, just go to school, enjoy life, stay young as long as you can, and don't worry about anything. Our parents passed this template on to following generations and most of us believe in allowing children to "have a childhood". I'm not stumping for child labor here. I am saying that children have to be taught about, or grow up with an understanding of the dangers of certain people who form classes and then try to OWN everybody else for the sake or their solipsistic egos and pecuniary gains. This is a real danger.

Another problem is that education has been manipulated to suit certain classes. We have been taught that capitalism is good and socialism and communism are bad. Schools at all levels have not taught about each system and delved into the pros and cons of each. Ever since Bernie Sanders came on the scene, we have had a struggle to get socialism into general discourse because we have been taught it is evil without even knowing what it really is (or that Jesus Christ was the biggest socialist the world has ever known.) When and where is Marxism examined and studied for any merit? Instead, we put blinders on, declare ourselves the best, believe we are inviolate, and the results have been disastrous.

I am a firm believer in good education. I'm not talking about reading, writing, and arithmetic; these are skill sets; not education. I'm talking about schooling kids in critical thinking; "Socratic Method", so they can tell the difference between right and wrong. I live in the Deep South and have done so for over a decade. One in-my-face take-away is that southerners have NO IDEA what the difference is between right and wrong; everything is cherry picked and negotiable according to local mores/politics and dominating families. Also, the South was agrarian. Animals were not kept as pets but represented products to be killed and sold. If you allowed yourself to become attached to a chicken or a goat, you ended up paying the emotional price when it landed on your dinner table because the crops failed that year. Even the family dog had to earn his keep in the fields or risk being put down merely because it needed to eat and that represented a net loss of income. This suggests a place to begin for their lack of compassion, while the boom-and-bust cycles of crops frequently dictated an all-encompassing poverty.

I believe that no matter what kind of job you do, everyone should be educated to the maximum possible; right down to refuse collection agents. I think it is a mistake to link education with what job you can get or do. This is just another form of feudalism or caste system. Everyone should be able to think and reason properly; it makes for a healthy society. My thesis is: If people are properly educated, they won't fall into the trap we now find ourselves in with a handful of narcissists dictating the life we all lead. We should pass on the ability to think properly to our children and this will give the society cohesiveness and resilience. This must be so, or we wouldn't have thugs like ALEC spending all kinds of money to be allowed into our educative system to manipulate what people are being taught. Garbage in is garbage out.

So, between grandparents and parents with good intentions and a lack of a uniform educative system that teaches critical thinking, people don't know how to take on the oligarchy who have been covertly at restructuring everything in their favor; and to our detriment. I have no idea how this all can be turned around at this time. My guess is, there is nothing that can be done; we are just going to have to go through it and hopefully the generations that follow will abandon their own poverty and a new cycle will begin. But many of us won't be around to see how this all plays out. Unfortunately, human beings are too prone to being bought off and doing the wrong things. Couple this with people (southerners) who have no moral compass (for all their self-promotion,) and the future looks dark, indeed.

Outback 5 weeks 3 days ago
#14

ErinRose: We disagree on one point. You ask "Can the average student take this (speaking of math skills) and apply it to politics and the human condition?" and answer in the negative. I take the position that the operative word in the phrase "critical thinking" is "thinking". The rest takes care of itself, Socratic method or otherwise.

ErinRose's picture
ErinRose 5 weeks 3 days ago
#15

#Hot Coffee: Thank you for this astute observation. I agree. Disrespect has reached epidemic proportions and it's appalling, to say the least. I watch B&W movies from the 20's & 30's, and people were far more respectful and aware of manners. Today, The Art of War, is the new Miss Manners handbook of etiquette. (Yikes!)

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 5 weeks 3 days ago
#16

I have tried to open up discussions here only to fall into the trap myself.

Your discourse is refreshing.

I haven't traveled much...was raisesd in San Francisco. The best part of that was eventually almost everyone comes to see you and you can learn much that way.

ErinRose's picture
ErinRose 5 weeks 3 days ago
#17

#Hot Coffee: I used to live in Marin; in Novato, for many years. I also was on T.I. when it was open years ago. There is NO PLACE like San Francisco, and if I had the money, I'd be living there now. What a beautiful place! (I've always wanted to attend the University Academy of Arts; fabulous!) :) I envy you your time in the city. There is nothing like the GG Bridge wrapped in a fluffy blanket of fog or the charming clang of the trolley bells as they slide up and down the rolling hills. Telegraph Hill and Coit Tower, yesssss! :D

ErinRose's picture
ErinRose 5 weeks 3 days ago
#18

#outback: Of course we can disagree. "Not all knowledge is contained in one school." I just think that people need practical application in a training program. You can teach someone about martial arts; you can even show them in demonstrations, but it's not quite the same as being punched in the stomach, face, or whatever, and then slammed to the ground. The reason I favor Socratic Method is that it is not tied to one discipline like geometry. One can have a Socratic dialog about anything. And for me, being in the trenches is more of a hands on than teaching a theory and then expecting the student to be able to know how to apply it to other things in the world at large. Better to take them over the course so they have practical experience with it on many subjects and topics. Years of this would tend to make a person quite discerning and less gullible to the machinations and manipulations of the aforementioned solipsistic purveyors of death and destruction. Just my take on it. But, no worries, you are certainly entitled to your take on it, too. :)

Outback 5 weeks 3 days ago
#19

ErinRose: The issues we face when trying to make sense of the firehose of information (and disinformation) directed at us today can't be addressed by a "practical application in a training program". The rules change too fast and indeed, get rewritten as we watch. Only the application of a little logic, rigorously applied, can help. If a concept as simple as "if A=B, and B=C, then A=C" is beyond the grasp of the general population, then we will get something as bizarre as the election of a Donald Trump. You didn't learn that logical construct in a Political Science course. Odds are, you learned it in sixth grade math, unless you were "coddled" and got to take Political Correctness 101 instead of the "hard stuff". And yes, reasonable people can disagree. Peace.

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 5 weeks 3 days ago
#20

That is similar to a point I wanted but failed to make about health care in this country.

From my perspective having Obama care or Trump care is less important than having care that is not dictated to you...and that you can choose care that fits you as an individual. In both plans as they exist you must this and you can't that...as decided from above.

As to learning...I also believe we learn through hands on experience...and that children sitting at a desk for 6 hours is unnatural... Children by nature are wiggly creatures an should not be drugged to maintain stillness. Then we complain that they are fat! Go fiqure.

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 5 weeks 3 days ago
#21

In my 20's my husband and I had the pleasure one summer of hosting a man and worman from England, A man fom Germany, two men that had just cossed the border from Mexico and a NY Jew ...it was one of the best summers of my life in San Franciso.

Soon after I moved to Marin.

Speaking of Art around the same time my Husband, I and our sons made tapstries that we sold at Harcourts Art Gallery in downtown S.F. It was a hands on family affair!

Did I also mention it was feast and famine>

tim1234 5 weeks 3 days ago
#22

The drastic change between the Andy Griffith vision of America FDR made possible and the Blade Runner dystopia towards which we sink was foreshadowed by Bob Dylan in his song of a generation ago "Sun Down on the Union". Reagan who first ran for the Republican Presidential nomination in 1968 I believe took advantage of the splintered Democratic Party that never recovered from Viet Nam. The Unions stupidly supported the war and wanted to beat the crap out of the hippies and civil rights protestors. They lost their way and then lost their Union and then lost their jobs and then lost their hope. The white working class is now a shattered mirror of of the 1960's. Generational divides and uninformed opinions based on loyalty and religion not facts have crippled the once great American Working Class.

Shockingly the institutions of the media which should be the watch dog of the country have drifted into tribalism and corporate anarchy. With horror I read in the Saturday New York Times an editorial that called Trump's miserable decision to try to undo the Iran nuclear disarmament deal "the correct decision for the wrong reason". Bret Stephens who wrote this incredible commentary is a well known successful right wing extremist. He denies climate change, supports the occupation of Palestine by Israel and still claims the Iraq war was justified to "promote Democracy". The right reason? So Israel does not have to engage in war with Iran. Why Israel wants war with Iran is a matter of conjecture. But saying American troops should die for Israel is treason. This is insanity pure and simple. The fact that the New York Times publishes this kind of drivel from David Brooks and others is the mainstreaming of far right extremist Neo Fascist propaganda. That is the greatest danger Americans face. Extreme right wing ideas that used to be the domain of crack pots who hide gold in caves rather than use banks, the John Birch Society and a handful of crazy millionaires now are presented by the Times as main steam if they are seen to benefit Israel or Wall Street. Inundated by propaganda the white working class drifts further and further into the haze of fascism. The corporate Democrats who cooperate with the far right have now created a monster they can't control.

deepspace's picture
deepspace 5 weeks 3 days ago
#23

Fascism is the key word. Its original meaning, as envisioned by Benito Mussolini, seems to reflect our political/economic reality more accurately than words like democracy, republic, socialism (the "commons"), or free enterprise. Runaway capitalism/consumerism and the rapacious greed of transnational super-monopolies run by unaccountable super-predators have now become everyone's patriotic cause, "wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross."

"Ruthless military empire plundering the world's resources, where the rich thrive and the poor die," are other words that can describe the horrifying reality of modern-day Ameeerkkka.

"...that all men [and women] are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." --We cannot hold these truths to be self-evident anymore!

Dianereynolds's picture
Dianereynolds 5 weeks 3 days ago
#24

I found Thom's admission that he was suffering TURD syndrome very telling. Seems there are a lot of leftie/socialits in that same boat.

Dianereynolds's picture
Dianereynolds 5 weeks 3 days ago
#26

Sooo, you support Marino's withdrawal or are you against? Your posted link is relevant to nothing.

ErinRose's picture
ErinRose 5 weeks 3 days ago
#27

#Outback: I didn't learn it in a math class. I learned it in a law school. Socratic Method is how lawyers are trained to think.

Outback 5 weeks 2 days ago
#28

ErinRose: If you didn't have a grasp of even that basic level of logic until you did your JD, I'm afraid you'd been cheated, my friend. You have a pretty narrow view of the world if you equate math with rote learning. I have a son (also a lawyer) that eschewed math through high school and college. I'm sure he's a fine lawyer, but there are times I question his logical development. I'm an engineer by training. The skills developed early on through exposure to mathemetics is key to a person's ability to think rationally, in my opinion. Wheather you call it "critical thinking", "logical thinking", "rational thinking", whatever, the exercise and development of the logic processing centers of the brain early on, I believe, is critical to later development. You can sit at the feet of Socrates all your life, but if the subject matter isn't conducive to that early brain development, you've missed something valuable. IMHO ;-)

Legend 5 weeks 2 days ago
#29

After being outed Your leader, Diane, still says

“a fine man and a great Congressman!”

Dianereynolds's picture
Dianereynolds 5 weeks 2 days ago
#30

Sooo, you support Marino's withdrawal or are you against? Your posted link is relevant to nothing.

Legend 5 weeks 2 days ago
#31

I am for Marino's withdrawel. You might read up on it.

https://news.google.com/news/search/section/q/tom%20marino/tom%20marino?...

Dianereynolds's picture
Dianereynolds 5 weeks 2 days ago
#32

So you would consider him a "fine man" for withdrawing his name due to a potential conflict of interest. Thank you. That puts you in the same boat as President Trump. At last we agree.

Legend 5 weeks 2 days ago
#33

So you really think that you have a "gotcha"? No, I think of him as a terrible person to be falling for big pharma dollars in the midst of an opiod crisis in America and promotting and extremely addictive drug. And to think that your leader nominated him. You are one sick person Dianereynolds!

Hephaestus's picture
Hephaestus 5 weeks 2 days ago
#34

#27 - Really?

I guess even sharks think... eat... sleep... make baby sharks

Legend 5 weeks 2 days ago
#35
Dianereynolds's picture
Dianereynolds 5 weeks 2 days ago
#36

Thom left.

Mark J Saulys's picture
Mark J Saulys 5 weeks 1 day ago
#37

Don't know how new this is, Warren Harding's administration was completely business captured.

The truth is, though, Democrats and lefties can blame themselves. The spoiled, college brats playing with politics and the corporate takeover of the Democratic Party causes the Left to lose working class people. The first has been happening ever since the New Left of the '60s approptiated Left movements from the workers and made them a plaything of students. The Left is now just an irrelevant intellectual elite that doesn't have the same concerns as workers and so can't speak for them. They are more concerned about gender neutral bathrooms than jobs.

Rust belt workers who voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012 and 51% of union households voted for Trump. In general, workers voted for Trump and big business Republicans deserted the party for Hillary. Trump at least promised - and delivered on - TPP, promised to do something about illegal immigration (which I'm not sure would be such a problem if it wasn't illegal), and last but not least, promised to stop the tyranny of PC culture.

You can appoint yourself leader of the workers but that doesn't mean they're gonna follow you.

Ou812's picture
Ou812 5 weeks 1 day ago
#38

Wow Saulys, I agree with you....the only part of your statement I question is where the left is called intellectual elite....there not intellectual at all, only a bunch off washed up lefties, with washed up ideas.

So you think You'll Get a Tax Break, or tax cut? Really?

A letter was sent out recently by the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians.

You're not hearing Breitbart News or Common Dreams - right or left - organizations or news sites with a point of view other than that they are committed to healing people.

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From Cracking the Code:
"Thom Hartmann ought to be bronzed. His new book sets off from the same high plane as the last and offers explicit tools and how-to advice that will allow you to see, hear, and feel propaganda when it's directed at you and use the same techniques to refute it. His book would make a deaf-mute a better communicator. I want him on my reading table every day, and if you try one of his books, so will you."
Peter Coyote, actor and author of Sleeping Where I Fall
From The Thom Hartmann Reader:
"Right through the worst of the Bush years and into the present, Thom Hartmann has been one of the very few voices constantly willing to tell the truth. Rank him up there with Jon Stewart, Bill Moyers, and Paul Krugman for having the sheer persistent courage of his convictions."
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From The Thom Hartmann Reader:
"Thom Hartmann seeks out interesting subjects from such disparate outposts of curiosity that you have to wonder whether or not he uncovered them or they selected him."
Leonardo DiCaprio, actor, producer, and environmental activist