Thom Hartmann: We Live in a Country That Has a Totally Corrupted Political System

As the school shooting in Parkland, Florida has shown, what was considered insanely corrupt political behavior 40 years ago is now normal. And you can thank right-wingers on the Supreme Court.

Back in 1982, the late novelist Robert B. Parker was hard at work on one of his Spencer novels, titled The Widening Gyre. In the book, a local businessman owns a local politician; the politician then makes tax decisions and real estate zoning decisions that help the businessman. Both the politician and the businessman are working as hard as they can to cover it all up.

In 1982 this sort of thing was a major, career-ending scandal for both the politician and the businessman. A wealthy man owning a politician, who, in turn, changed the tax code and altered regulations to increase the businessman's profits, was considered a symptom of intolerable corruption.

But what Parker and most Americans didn't realize was that, in 1982, the die had already been cast and the oligarchs had already begun seizing the levers of power in America; a seizure that would lead to the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans.

The billionaires doing the seizing of our nation just didn't come out about it until the presidency of Barack Obama, when the Koch Network, Adelson, the Mercers and the Waltons all became openly, and in some cases braggadociosly political in their "giving."

As I noted in my book The Crash of 2016, The American Legislative Exchange Council was founded in 1973, right after Lewis Powell's memo - suggesting a propaganda program to promote the interests of big business and the rich - began circulating through top corporate and high-net-worth circles. That year, too, the Heritage Foundation was created. And in 1977, Charles Koch and friends founded the CATO Institute.

While the efforts of these groups have been multifaceted, their most obvious and deadly impact has been on the ongoing proliferation of weapons of war in America, and the denial of healthcare to millions in so-called red states. With the installation of Reagan, big business and billionaires were finally to get the tax breaks and other goodies that they wanted from Congress and the Executive Branch, while waging war on unions and working people.

Read more here.


Hephaestus's picture
Hephaestus 6 years 17 weeks ago

Not a lot of people know this!

Legend 6 years 17 weeks ago

I like the woman that sent a donation check to her Senators and Congressman. She signed and dated it. Where you write down the amount for the check she wrote "THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS and 00/100".

Legend 6 years 17 weeks ago

The Righty/Fascist ignore the rights of the citizens. What were the rights of the 50 killed and 500 wounded in Las Vegas? The killer certainly had Righty/Fascist protected rights to buy unlimited assault rifles, bump stocks and ammunition. Why was the only right that the citizens had at the concert was to be targets? The dead at these mass murders at least receive "Thoughts and Prayers". What do the wounded receive? Lifelong medical bills. Loss of limbs. Permanent handicaps. Mental anguish. What are their rights? I would like a good Righty/Fascist answer.

Hephaestus's picture
Hephaestus 6 years 17 weeks ago

Huh! The last paragraph just about sums up human love from the rich

Bet they are all up there on a Sunday though as good Christians

Perhaps when you have millions and billions you begin to believe that you're immortal

Born from the void of chaos

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 6 years 17 weeks ago

One very important thing to consider when recognizing the damage Citizens United has done is that we are all not vulnerable to Fascist propaganda. Fascists like the Kochs, Murdoch, and Putin only succeed in confusing citizens if those citizens have no access to political truth. I keep beating this to death with our local Indivisible group. It won't matter how good our candidate is if Kochpublican voters are still unaware they're just suckers for billionaires, they'll just thoughtlessly continue to vote for their team.

We all need to do our best to inform local citizens that Foxaganda and Putinganda are fomenting the exact same thing....anti-american sentiment worded to subvert representative government. If we arm our friends and neighbors with the truth before November, it doesn't matter how much the Fascists spend .....why can't we neutralize Citizens United with truth and facts?

For example, the kids in Florida have a national platform right now, they need to communicate that one party is for gun control and one is clearly against it... voting for Democrats will create a possibility to ban assault weapons. This needs to be said loudly.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 6 years 17 weeks ago

Coffee: I got thinking about my knee jerk sarcasm. I'm afraid some of my responses to your comments may be lost on you. Grabbing somebody without their permission the way Trump does isn't meant to be taken seriously.....I never know with you guys.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 6 years 17 weeks ago

Legend: As you probably know, countries that have banned assault weapons have met with great success in limiting death by bullet. In these true democracies the vast majority exercised their right to overrule an extreme minority of gun nuts. Figured I'd answer just in case the righties refuse to.

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 6 years 17 weeks ago

As I said 3 days ago...on this blog

Hollywood movies and video games are also to blame.

Most of these mass murders are by males under 30. Perhaps they need special testing before being allowed to purchase a gun. Notice the Military always trys to capture young 17 to 25 year olds....Before they know what they are getting into.

NO One on depression drugs...Prozac et al. should have guns.

These mass murders are also mostly in cities.

The majority of gun owners would have jumped in front of those bullits to save those kids in a heartbeat. Why punish them??

So maybe cities & rural areas should have different laws, the life circumstances are different. Can take a policeman an hour or more to get where I live. Takes 30 min. to get to an area where there is cell ph. service. Yet where I live you can't carry or purchase easy at all.

This point your finger at the other side game is for people who don't really care about the problems and just want to keep jabbing their finger at the other. One size shoe won't fit every foot.

Some people really want to solve problems and some people just want to complain.

Kend's picture
Kend 6 years 17 weeks ago

. Thom Hartmann: We Live in a Country That Has a Totally Corrupted Political System

We all live in a country where the political system is corrupt . The truth is in the last election Clinton out raised and out spent Trump. With all the Hollywood and .com money pouring into the left it evens out It gives me great pleasure when I think of all the corporations and Hollywood elites that thought they bought a visit to the Whitehouse with their huge donations only to see her loose to a long shot

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 6 years 17 weeks ago


I agree with you on the MMPI.

The grabbing stuff I find childish, and not condusive to problem solving. But thank you for you comment.


You asked what do you need a gun for.

I used my gun to shoot 1 bullit into a sandpile last summer to scare away the 4 or 500lb bear on my porch that wouldn't let me go to my truck and get my groceries. I did not shoot at the bear. I think he wanted the chicken roasting in my oven.

Now I'm avoiding the Bobcat and 2 mountain lions in my area. I wouldn't shoot them but I would use it to scare them away.

There are also home invasions in my area.

When I lived in S.F. I did not have a gun because I had two teenage boys at home and a police dept. close by.

That's what I meant when I said people live in different circumstances.

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 6 years 17 weeks ago


I totally agree.

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 6 years 17 weeks ago

By the way.....If you have never lived around bears they are unbelievably quiet...

and most will run from you...but not all of them.

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 6 years 17 weeks ago

Well I wonder what's in Muller's report Casey doesn't wanrt people to see.

Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D-Pa.) on Sunday warned special counsel Robert Mueller against issuing a report on his findings in the ongoing investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election near the upcoming 2018 midterm elections.

Speaking to radio host John Catsimatidis on New York radio station AM 970, Casey said he couldn’t make any assumptions about where the Mueller investigation is going in light of indictments issued on Friday. But he added that he would recommend Mueller not release a report on his findings near the midterms when it would distract from elections or cause people to question the election’s integrity.

“I don’t think we’ll know anywhere near the full story until [Mueller] issues his report,” Casey said. “But once you get into the summer, and you get close to the election, I think it’s a mistake for him to release it late. I think you should wait until after [the election]” Casey said.

FLIPz's picture
FLIPz 6 years 17 weeks ago

Here's a question for our Second Amendment defenders: If you could bring back the kids at Parkland in exchange for a ban on asault weapons, would you do it? Anything less than a quick and emphatic "Yes" is sad and unfortunately, our Republican Congress would not answer "Yes."

Legend 6 years 17 weeks ago

#13. What probably cost Hillary the election was the FBI annoumcing that they were re-opening the investigation into her emails days before the election. At least it had an affect. No matter how much you hate Hillary this country would be a lot better off right now with her in office. Every day is an absolute embarassment. This POTUS is so nuts I could see him declaring a national emergency and shutting down elections. Why were 13 Russians and 3 companies indicted for meddling in our election and Trump does nothing? These were illegal spies. Why has he not kicked every Russian out of the country. Where are sanctions? Putin is what Trump wants to be. A dictator with Oligarch billionaires for friends.

What does this sentence mean? "The grabbing stuff I find childish, and not condusive to problem solving. But thank you for you comment."

Dianereynolds's picture
Dianereynolds 6 years 17 weeks ago

@#15 Your "when did you stop beating your wife question is pathetic. I could retort with, "if one of your loved ones was being attacked and I as a passerby had a firearm and was clearly capable of stopping the attack, would you,

a. Want me to use any force necessary to save the life of your child?

b. Call the police and wait until they arrive with their guns?

See, I can also ask stupid questions.

I will encourage all of you to read a link addressing that "assault weapon topic with, yes Rick Steve, documented facts from a wide variety of government sources.

If you want further well documented sources to back up the claims of gun supporters here are a few.

Now, banter between a very few mis-informed people here on the gun topic is futile. I could spend another four paragraphs debunking Thom Hartmann's bullshit and complete lack of knowledge on the topic or firearms. All that could be put to bed if Thom would put on a "Mid-day with a knowledgeable pro gunner" hour. Again, I challenge Tom to have himself buried in facts. I know it won't change his mind but it will poke holes in the vast majority of his memes. Thom, if you pretend not to be able to get an individual that really knows his/her stuff, you have my e-mail I will help you find one that will travel to your studio for the live discussion.

HotCoffee, your comments on violent electronic games (check the #1 and #2 sellers) , Hollywood movies, and the free wheeling dispensing of psychotropic drugs rather than discipline is right on.

I see two really glaring points with respect to school shooters.

1. All of them have occurred in "gun free zones" None that I am aware of have happened in a campus that allows carry permits and there are over 18 states that do allow this.

2. Most of the time the shooter has given off many signs that something was wrong and intervention was needed. Cruz being a prime example. The local police and FBI could have gone a long way to preventing this individual and been within the law in doing so as they publicly admitted.

I don't expect much agreement from knee jerk leftie/socialists but I feel better.

Kend's picture
Kend 6 years 17 weeks ago

What probably cost Hillary the election was the FBI annoumcing that they were re-opening the investigation into her emails days before the election.

Legend if this is what you believe it is no wonder the Republicans have the whitehouse. Congress and Senate. Don't forget this all started because Clinton deleted the emails. Not Trump.

Kend's picture
Kend 6 years 17 weeks ago

Hot coffee you are so right about bears. You can usually smell them before you see them. We have a great bear dog, he chases them away keeps us safe without having to kill the bear. Again I think you need to limit the size of the clips. 4 or 5 is all you need.

jefflisse's picture
jefflisse 6 years 17 weeks ago

#17 reynolds
All your banter.. And l bet I've forgotten more about guns than you'll ever know.
WTF does "pro gunner" mean?
Explain yourself. In a civil manner please...
Instead if just talking shit!

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 6 years 17 weeks ago

Coffee: Video games and movies produced in this country are distributed worldwide. As I already commented, the countries that have banned assualt weapons have met with success in limiting/ending massacres. The kids in those countries play the same video games and watch the same movies as kids here. The Hollywood crap is just another fascist talking point and you know it....must be those Hollywood liberals are to blame..LMAO, just like Hillary or Obama must have done it.

BTW: Hey, we agree on something, your childish comment about stopgap elicted a knee jerk sarcastic response from me.

Legend 6 years 17 weeks ago

Diane, How about answering the question in Post #3.

Kend, How conveient that you left out the next sentence when you cut and pasted. "At least it had an affect." The email thing was another Republican Party/Fox News manufactured crisis, just like BENGHAZI!!!!!!! Where are Bush and Cheney's emails? Where are any of Bush Cheneys Sectratary of State emails? The Republicans have lived of of manufactured scandels and Fox News making a huge deal about it.

jefflisse's picture
jefflisse 6 years 17 weeks ago

I was raised in a family that enjoys the sport of hunting. And we all own guns. Mostly long guns. And almost all of them for hunting game. NONE of my guns have 20+ round magazines. You absolutely dont need it for hunting.
And yes... I'd have a real problem giving up my guns.

That being said..
I do believe we as Americans should be able to own firearms. But, the ownership should come as a privilege. NOT A RIGHT!
There should be firearm safety schooling, testing and licensing before ownership is allowed. And then there should be strict, uniform,
Nationwide background checks, with a 10-14 day waiting period, before you can take possession of ANY firearm.
My god... Its harder to get a drivers license than it is to purchase and own a gun!
And the" gun show loophole" drastically needs to be eliminated!! Anybody...and l mean ANYBODY, can virtually buy anything they want at gun shows, with almost no oversight.. For over 40 years, I've been to countless gun shows, in numerous states. And they're all basically the same.. It doesn't matter who you are. Or what state of mind your in. If you got enough "green" in your pocket.. You can walk out with anything!

And I've NEVER joined the NRA! And l never will. They do NOT represent me as a gun owner at all! In fact, they're not here to represent any gun owner!! But, they've sure done a beautiful job of suckering-" Joe and Jane sixpack" into believing they do... When in reality... They're an extremely powerful, extremely dangerous, and absolutely huge lobbying group! And its sole purpose, is to represent the gun, and ammunition manufacturers!!
Buying up politicians with their corrupt, corporate, dark money..
Repealing, removing, and deregulating our gun laws nationwide..
And insuring the insane proliferation of firearms for no other reason than greed and corporate profits!!

Kend's picture
Kend 6 years 17 weeks ago

legend I am just saying, the last election the Dems focused on LGBTQ, and attacking Trump for whatever anyone said proven or not. What you don't get is most Americans could care less about that crap. They want a job and a good wage. Exactly what is happening now. What are you all still focused on, Russians. A ghost. Wake up. "So Trump says some questionable things who cares I clear $200 a week more" that are all that matters to the average person trying to make a living.

Legend 6 years 17 weeks ago

Kend, and you are the one that rips Obama for deficits.

Dianereynolds's picture
Dianereynolds 6 years 17 weeks ago

Rick Steve. You ask an unanswerable question and you know that so a rational response is impossible and will not be given. Now school kids do have a right to be protected because they are required to attend school.

I like the Israeli method of protecting kids in school.

1. One entrance only protected by a armed soldier(s). Trained armed anonymous teachers as we have currently in 18 states is also a big plus.

2. No one gains entrance without proper credentials.

3. A fence surrounding the school to prevent attacks by vehicle.

4. Profile everyone just as they do with their airlines.

@#20 & #23 Arguing with know it all individuals that have their heels dug in is a waste of both of our times. As I stated before, if you look at my provided links they will inform you of very hard documented facts that destroy ill informed leftie/socialist memes. As far as you being afraid of guns or not I could care less. I have been dealing with malcontent bloviating leftie/socialists for years and not much bothers me so have at it.

TIrving's picture
TIrving 6 years 17 weeks ago

"Hard work", the mantra sold as the norm for what is expected of a labor force that still works 40-plus hours a week and where unemployment remains in the millions, counted and uncounted. Unless a secure and untamperable vote along with protections for registered voters from being "kicked-out" of the voter rolls happens, it will take a militant action to get our democracy back.

We are long over due for a Constitutional Congress to be called. Even then, getting the laws we need to bring a peaceful and prosperous society back will be difficult. The "deep state" which works for the aristocracy and the money the rich will spend to preserve the status quo, is going to make these needed changes bloody. Hopefully, we can remove some of these bad elements in the aristocracy/plutocracy from our world.

"Live long and prosper"

Legend 6 years 17 weeks ago

Interesting that nobody can answer my question in post #3. So Diane cannot even take a stab as to what the rights of the dead and injured students are. She comes up with a list of ridiculous security suggestions for schools. Every one? But ignores the Las Vegas Concert scenario. Something is going to have to be done to control weapons and their users. There has been a school shooting every 60 hours in 2018.

Register all guns.

Insure guns.

Require gun locks.

Place a high tax on guns and ammo that provides medical insurance for those that are injured by guns in illegal shootings.

Database for how many guns people own.

Database alert for large ammo purchases.

Allow Psychiatrists to immediately put someone on a watch list and have guns taken away and not allow the purchase of guns.

Just a few for starters

TIrving's picture
TIrving 6 years 17 weeks ago

Response to #23 & 26:

Gun ownership wasn't put into our Constitution for the the sake of hunting. Nor was the right to form "millitias" put in for hunting. These precepts are their because the founding writers of our nation knew that money and power corrupts and must be resisted to preserve a democracy. George Washington wrote " no democracy can last as long as a standing army exists". Now that's insight and was prophetic. School shootings are a result of a society that teaches violence as a normal response for unhappiness and self indulgence above all, as virtures. Coupled with economic and civil injustice we've allowed our society (promoted by the aristocracy) to digress into a divided and distopic state. The "cure" is not going to be easy or painless. History truely repeats itself, but doesn't have to.

TIrving's picture
TIrving 6 years 17 weeks ago

Response to # 26:

Cowardice is not going to work. The dupes of the right are to blame for the loss of our democracy and declining quality of life in the U.S. and around the world. If you think a species can survive by cannablizing it's own for greeds sake and power-lust you're truely ignorant.

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 6 years 17 weeks ago

Legend, & anyone else who wishes to,

Please go back to my post at #14 Greg Palast ...He asked a very important question, Do you hate Trump enough to.....

If you wouldn't mind I would like your response. And most everyone on the left knows who Palast is and that he is not at all on the right.

I read Palast & Thom because as I've said many times in these posts, that up until Hillary I voted a straight Dem ticket my entire voting life. I've never had the stomach for Bush, Cheney et al. but the left really went to far with Hillary.

jefflisse's picture
jefflisse 6 years 17 weeks ago

# 30
Form millitias? LOL!!
Maybe 200 years ago..

Give me fuckn break!!!
When the shit hits the fan...
The only enemy we'll be using our "guns" on is..

And lets not forget.. Our Constitution was written by the "aristocrats" of the then British colonies. These men were the wealthy,land owning, slave owning 1% of the colonies!
Im not really sure what they meant by "We the People"?!?
Because they sure weren't talking about women..
Or men who didnt own land..
And they sure as hell..weren't talking about the "black people",that they considered their property!!

Kend's picture
Kend 6 years 17 weeks ago

Legend, Obama spend billions on failed enviromental projects like Solyndra, No new roads, bridges, or any real changes in infrasture. Trump is spending it on hard working Americans. Everyone gets a tax break and all that money will pour back into the economy. Obama just gave it to a few of his buddies.

Legend 6 years 17 weeks ago

Kend, You really suck up the Fox News Koolaid. Please read the references so that you do not live in ignorance. Solyndra was a bad investment. One of many that were sucessful. It was all part of the recovery from the Bush/Cheney years. The Bush/Cheney Crash brought on by lowering taxes on the wealthy and raising defense spending. As far as infrastructure spending the Republicans voted down and filibustered any attempt. If you want to refute pleas post a reference not just opinion.

Hephaestus's picture
Hephaestus 6 years 17 weeks ago

#10 - Sorry! Any excuse to have a gun huh!

As if there is no other way of doing things

So sad!!!!

Nobody NEEDS a gun


HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 6 years 17 weeks ago


I don't need an excuse or a nanny state or your permission as long as I'm a decent human, responsable for my actions and not a threat to anyone.

I realise you claim not to like dictators...unless you get to dictate. However I will agree that there are people on this blog I wouldn't want to see own a gun.

Bpgfis's picture
Bpgfis 6 years 17 weeks ago

The powerful are organized with the resources necessary to win the war of actualization of their own greedy self interest and are so winning it. The threat is plain to see for anyone who chooses to look. The progressive cause seems like a supine Europe in the face of the Mongol invasions of the 1240's with its middling lackluster tepid uncoordinated response to the relentless assault on and impending demise of our republic. I may not live long enough to see it happen but my grands sure will. We need action.

pauline m overby's picture
pauline m overby 6 years 17 weeks ago

never happen...As long as "gun" control or "gun Ban" are used it puts fear into legal owners and users.Emotional approaches don't work. BUT there is a way and every cop, every carry instructor and hobby shooter and hunter world be up in a uproar.......................................................First the All men are created equal must be explained, so that police, and civilians know they must both obey the law equally. Second the Government ATF must be put in charge of the change in law. It must reclassify the definition of a military weapon. . This has been done before.Weapons have restrictions as to use and ownership. Try buying a machine gun. The fee's and restrictions are outrageous. BUT IT WORKS. New regulations must change the military use. Add the Semi auto loader to military use only. MEANING that all semi and full autos would be banned for Police, hunters and collectors.Home owner and the under counter guns in some stores. Police would no longer have 12 to 2 0 shot hand guns. No more AR 15's or AK 47's. Even the 22 rifle autos.Auto load shotguns gone. back to lever action, bolt actions, revolvers, single shots and double barrels. Run a study on what guns are used in crimes. School shootings, cop murders,mass shootings. THE SECOND AMENDMENT IS STILL NOT EFFECTED. BUT it would end the overkill. A buy back program could start the new law, it could be used for 5 years. then a Jail sentence if found with an auto loader. My best friend would be upset he loved his Remington 1100. I preferred the O/U. I got 4 shots in the time he used his 3. But we are too old now.He is gone and soon I will be soon. All people carrying in the US would be subject to the same law, all men would still be equal. On base military would still use and train on auto as they do now. but off base would have to go with legal arms.

Mulakush 6 years 17 weeks ago

Here is the best analogy for what Libertarians really are from a climate warrior:

I hope that Thomm has him on his show!

Thom's Blog Is On the Move

Hello All

Thom's blog in this space and moving to a new home.

Please follow us across to - this will be the only place going forward to read Thom's blog posts and articles.

From The Thom Hartmann Reader:
"Never one to shy away from the truth, Thom Hartmann’s collected works are inspiring, wise, and compelling. His work lights the way to a better America."
Van Jones, cofounder of and author of The Green Collar Economy
From The Thom Hartmann Reader:
"Thom Hartmann is a creative thinker and committed small-d democrat. He has dealt with a wide range of topics throughout his life, and this book provides an excellent cross section. The Thom Hartmann Reader will make people both angry and motivated to act."
Dean Baker, economist and author of Plunder and Blunder, False Profits, and Taking Economics Seriously
From Screwed:
"I think many of us recognize that for all but the wealthiest, life in America is getting increasingly hard. Screwed explores why, showing how this is no accidental process, but rather the product of conscious political choices, choices we can change with enough courage and commitment. Like all of Thom’s great work, it helps show us the way forward."
Paul Loeb, author of Soul of a Citizen and The Impossible Will Take a Little While