The Thom Hartmann Program - Aug 30th 2018

It seems it's all racism, all the time w/the GOP...Neo-Nazi robocall hits Iowa on Molly Tibbett’s murder: “KILL THEM ALL. ” Richard Wolff drops by about the National Debt. Is it a disaster or an OK thing? Also - Trump & The National Enquirer - Is the Economy Here To Serve Us Or Are We Here to Serve the economy? Has America Become a "Grifter" Country? Check out our short podcast today https://www.thomhartmann.com/hartmann-report-podcast

Thom

Comments

deepspace's picture
deepspace 6 weeks 1 day ago
#1

(1 of 2)

OpEdNews - 3/16/2018 - From Alternet

"The Trump Administration Is a Government of Billionaires and Their Sycophants.

The GOP lackeys are eager to do the bidding of whichever oligarch will give them the most money."

By Thom Hartmann:

A few years back, former President Jimmy Carter told me that, because of Citizens United and its predecessors (like the Buckley decision in 1976), we're no longer a democracy, but instead, "an oligarchy, with unlimited political bribery."

For proof that Carter was right, one need look no further than Mike Pompeo taking Rex Tillerson's job, stepping into Thomas Jefferson's shoes as Secretary of State.

While Pompeo has an impressive resume on paper, something endlessly mentioned on cable news and other corporate media, the one skill-set that has truly enabled his rise to power, first in Congress and now in the Executive Branch, is his fine-tuned ability to suck up to #MorbidlyRich billionaires.

Prior to Trump arriving, Pompeo was one of Congress's single largest beneficiaries of money from the Koch brothersand groups associated with them. Forget Pompeo's army service and Harvard law degree; you don't get to be the favorite son of the morbidly rich if you don't know how to suck up to them.

Billionaire Trump, like so many others of America's billionaire oligarchs, doesn't take kindly to people who have their own minds. He wants fealty and sycophancy, not brilliance or competence.

For example, Rex Tillerson, actually looking at facts and political realities, made the mistake of pointing out to Trump that tearing up the Iran no-nukes deal at the same time you're trying to negotiate a brand-new no-nukes deal with North Korea was contradictory messaging. What country, after all, would want to cut a deal with a partner who kills agreements unilaterally without contractual justification?

Tillerson, of course, was right. But he wasn't sucking up to Trump in the way the oligarch wanted (and apparently, needed). Tillerson even occasionally put our nation's security ahead of his subservience to Trump. Big mistake.

Many members of today's billionaire class think of themselves as "self-made," and so have a sneering disregard for the working people of America who "merely" aspire to the American Dream of being in the middle class with a safe job, good benefits, and a secure retirement. These oligarchs are more concerned with their profits than with the impact of their products or services on our country.

And they only want people around them who share their vision of their own greatness; who, in other words, are pathetic suck-ups. Pompeo has developed this to an art form.

After years of sucking at the Koch teat, Pompeo apparently realized that Trump, too, wanted only to surround himself with people who eagerly agreed with him. Probably Trump is even needier than the Kochs, and so would only elevate people who tell him daily how brilliant and strong and noble he is.

Thus, Pompeo apparently saw a career opportunity to ingratiate himself with another billionaire oligarch.

To make it happen, Pompeo changed the normal daily routine by which the president is briefed by the CIA. Instead of it being done with clear, cold precision by a career intelligence officer, henceforth, Pompeo decreed, the Director of the CIA himself (Pompeo) would take hours out of his day to make the daily trek to the White House to hang out with Trump and give him a pleasant daily tongue-bath.

https://www.opednews.com/articles/The-Trump-Administration-I-by-Thom-Hartmann-Billionaires_Corporations_Government-Crime_Trump-Bully-In-Chief-180316-730.html

cont'd...

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 6 weeks 1 day ago
#2

Another Day, Another failed Democrat Narrative from Thom's only groupie!

deepspace's picture
deepspace 6 weeks 1 day ago
#3

cont'd (2 of 2)...

OpEdNews - 3/16/2018 - From Alternet

"The Trump Administration Is a Government of Billionaires and Their Sycophants.

The GOP lackeys are eager to do the bidding of whichever oligarch will give them the most money."

By Thom Hartmann:

Trump loved it.

Just like when he was a shill for the Kochs, Pompeo is more than willing to take any position -- regardless of how badly it may hurt America or risk war or environmental destruction -- that's being pushed by his new billionaire overlord.

One imagines Pompeo as a loyal dog, constantly eager to please his master.

On its surface, this seems like an indictment of Pompeo himself, but it's really not. It's an indictment of the entire political system in the United States, as it has been re-invented by a "conservative" Supreme Court that created a brand-new legal structure around the notion that "corporations are persons" and using money to buy politicians is First Amendment-protected "free speech."

No legislature or president had ever advocated those radical, anti-democratic positions, and neither had any American political party other than the Libertarians. The 1974 campaign finance reforms after the Nixon scandals, struck down by SCOTUS in 1976 with the Buckley case, were scrupulously bipartisan.

But Lewis Powell reached out to the oligarchs who often hired his legal services, and in 1971 his infamous "Powell Memo" charted how corporations and billionaires should take over virtually all the institutions of America, from Congress and the courts to our schools and local governments.

Later that year, Richard Nixon put Powell on the Supreme Court, where he dutifully made the Buckley case happen in 1976, throwing open the door to corruption of our political system by American oligarchs. Citizens United, in 2010, took it even further, allowing foreign governments and non-U.S. oligarchs to take a simple step through a U.S. corporation (like, for example, the NRA) to, themselves, own American politicians.

In a breathtaking power seizure not authorized by the Constitution, the Supreme Court singlehandedly created an entire new body of law, and thus began the process of turning America from a representative democracy into an oligarchy.

And now, predictably, we have a billionaire oligarch as president, multiple billionaire oligarchs in his Cabinet, and the billionaire oligarch Kochs committing hundreds of millions of dollars to oligarch-friendly Republicans in every election cycle.

In an oligarchic nation, there is one singular skill for political success: one must willingly, ably, and enthusiastically suck up to the rich and powerful, subordinating one's ethics, reason, and even humanity.

This is a tragedy for both the USA and for democracies all over the world that emulate us.

Oligarchy (and its companion, strong-man pseudo-populism) is spreading rapidly, subsuming former liberal democracies like Turkey, the Philippines, and Hungary while nibbling away at other democratic countries. China is holding oligarchy up as the new model for the world.

We must reverse these disastrous Supreme Court decisions with a Constitutional Amendment, explicitly stating that corporations are not people and that money is not speech; otherwise, our rapid march to total oligarchy will continue to gather speed and power.

And suck-up politicians like Pompeo will continue to rise to the top, eager and willing to do the bidding of whichever oligarch will give them the most money, prestige and power.

https://www.opednews.com/articles/2/The-Trump-Administration-I-by-Thom-Hartmann-Billionaires_Corporations_Government-Crime_Trump-Bully-In-Chief-180316-730.html

Dianereynolds's picture
Dianereynolds 6 weeks 1 day ago
#4

HotCoffee,

Every day is beautiful, some more than others, but since early Jan, 2017 and Trumps eraser came out and the leftie/socialists amped up their childish banter, each day gets better than the last.

If the house and the senate does go democrat party, it may be even more fun listening to Trump let the American people know just how crazy the democrats have become although, I think after the fools they made of themselves during the Kavanaugh hearings, the public already is clued in to these devious asshats.

There is just something uniquely odd about feeding Turkeys part of your Thanksgiving stuffing. I wonder if they know which end the stuffing is actually inserted. Those birds are lucky.

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 6 weeks 1 day ago
#5

LOL,

I sure they will be pleased with the end theirs is going in!

Wild Turkeys are very gamey I've been told.

San Francisco Spends $6326 A Vote To Register 49 Undocumented Migrants To VoteSan Francisco has triggered a national debate over its decision to register undocumented migrants to vote in school board elections. However, a more pressing controversy may be the amount of money spent on the effort. San Francisco scents( sic ) $310,000 to register just 49 people in the city. That translates to $6326 a vote. The measure has created an interesting split among advocates as some have warned the city could be giving ICE a ready-made list for roundups of deportations.

https://jonathanturley.org/2018/10/28/san-francisco-spends-6326-a-vote-to-register-49-undocumented-migrants-to-vote/

Brilliant!

Also,

https://refugeeresettlementwatch.wordpress.com/2018/10/18/texas-is-top-refugee-resettlement-state-in-the-nation-since-2008-blue-state-here-we-come/

deepspace's picture
deepspace 6 weeks 1 day ago
#6

@#2,5:

Oh, so you didn't read Thom's bio and are just commenting out of ignorance ...again? Or, are you just lying ...again?

The big question: In your Republican, brainwashed mind, why are you even here, óinseach?

If you're not doing your homework, if you don't read or listen -- or comprehend the import of -- what Thom is saying, then why are you even bothering to comment on his blog? Furthermore, why do you wear willful ignorance (stupidity) as a badge of honor, like most Trump sychophants?

And don't bullsh*t us with that long sad story about how you're a once-upon-a-time, phony Democrat who saw the light and is now on the side of right-wing righteousness. (Assuming others are as dumb as you is a classic Trump troll blind spot.)

Your stitched-together backstory still doesn't explain why you are posting right-wing lies on Thom's site. And don't assume (like you did before) that I or anyone else really gives a good feck about your contrived answers and twisted psyche; it's more of a rhetorical question you should ask of yourself.

So why not grace Limbaugh's sick little corner of hell, Chelsea's kindred spirit and favorite liar ...er, "entertainer?" His blog would seem to better suit your severely limited, wing-nut tastes, since you're also a deliberate and proliferate liar -- a virtual clone of Chelsea Clinton, aka Dianne Reynolds, another disgusting little troll who hasn't come clean as a Southern-bigot whack-job, spreading Republican lies and fringe conspiracy theories. What exactly is her raison d'être on Thom's blog, besides endlessly repeating her one and only most prized zinger, "leftie/socialist?" Oooh!

Some friendly career advice: Don't become an investigative journalist. You would really suck at it! If you don't contribute anything useful (in fact, quite the opposite) to in-depth "narratives" in search of truth, then what good are you?

Téigh trasna ort féin.

deepspace's picture
deepspace 6 weeks 1 day ago
#7
Dianereynolds's picture
Dianereynolds 6 weeks 1 day ago
#8

HotCoffee,

Apparently you have an admirer, maybe you should add this to your arsenal and present it to your favorite basement dwelling, closet drunk, Hartmann groupie. It's from a real leftie/socialist who is obviously a classic example of a Trump hating "educator". Gotta love the tattoo which will look really interesting as she gets up to real fighting weight.

Quite honestly, you can make this stuff up.

https://calnews.com/2018/04/19/fresnostate-probably-wont-fire-bigot-professor/

deepspace's picture
deepspace 6 weeks 1 day ago
#9

OpEdNews - 6/26/2018 - From Alternet

"Billionaire Activist Tom Steyer: You Want Trump Out? Buy Clear Channel.

The billion-dollar-plus cost of iHeartMedia shows just how powerful and valuable the right-wing media machine has become."

By Thom Hartmann:

If liberal billionaires like Tom Steyer want to have a real and lasting impact on American politics, they should seriously think about buying a nationwide radio network.

Bloomberg reports that iHeartMedia LLC, previously known as Clear Channel, is "open to takeover talks." It's the largest operator of radio stations in the nation.

The simple fact is that if Richard Nixon had had hundreds of radio stations in virtually every city or town in America of any consequence, with all of them running right-wing talk nonstop, it would have been difficult to impeach him.

If Nixon had had Fox News in addition to all that radio power, he could have safely and easily pulled an Andrew Jackson (who sneered at and ignored the Supreme Court's order to stop the Trail of Tears) and refused to turn over his tapes when SCOTUS ordered it, thus avoiding both impeachment and resigning office.

As Trump may well do when Mueller's final reports come out. (It's probably not a coincidence that Andrew Jackson's portrait now hangs in the Oval Office.)

Liberty Media made a $1.4 billion offer to buy 40 percent of the debt, and effective control, of iHeartMedia (it's bankrupt and massively in debt because of a failed takeover by Mitt Romney's Bain Capital, but that's another story) and iHeart turned it down as insufficient.

But with just a little more money, a progressive billionaire or two could own a nationwide radio network with virtually 100 percent penetration, and restore progressive voices to the nation's largest stations.

The billion-dollar-plus cost of iHeartMedia, along with the eye-popping profit numbers and immense political influence of billionaire Rupert Murdoch's Fox News and Wall Street Journal, shows just how powerful and valuable the right-wing media machine has become.

Back in 2004 when Air America was rolled out, it was successful for as long as it was in large part because it could lease stations owned by what was then Clear Channel and is now iHeartMedia: we were on over 50 Clear Channel stations in the nation's major markets, and drew very good ratings, even occasionally beating Rush Limbaugh and his ilk on competing Clear Channel stations.

Following a string of Democratic victories in cities and states where Clear Channel was leasing stations to Air America, the company was purchased in a leveraged buyout by Mitt Romney's Bain Capital and Thomas Lee.

Soon thereafter, Clear Channel began pulling Air America's progressive programming off the air, dramatically cutting Air America's audience and their advertising revenue; the new progressive network was soon bankrupt, and two years later so was Clear Channel (because of the debt load dumped on them by Bain's business model), then reincarnated as iHeartMedia.

Meanwhile the right-wing media machine continues to elect Republicans with big funding from right-wing corporations and the billionaires that own them and fund right-wing think tanks. As Ken Vogel, et al, point out in a 2011 article for Politico, "The Heritage Foundation pays about $2 million [a year] to sponsor Limbaugh's show and about $1.3 million to do the same with Hannity's -- and considers it money well spent."

To the best of my knowledge, none of the talkers on the left has ever been funded in such a fashion. Small wonder that Hannity now owns a real estate empire worth tens of millions, and Limbaugh can brag of an eight-figure net worth or more. But more importantly, the influence of those two well-financed talkers has altered America's political landscape in fewer than three decades.

What this shows is that the movers and shakers on the far right, the libertarian billionaires like the Kochs, understand the power of media.

Those of great wealth aligned with the left in America, however, have always largely ignored media, probably because they grew up in an America with the Fairness Doctrine and before the 1996 Telecommunications Act and they always just assumed that "the truth will eventually be known."

But investing in political media can produce both a huge return on investment, and can transform the politics of the nation.

That's certainly what Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch thought when they lost an average of $90 million a year for about five years before the Fox News Channel became profitable.

Brit Hume noted, in a 1999 interview with PBS: "This operation loses money. It doesn't lose nearly as much as it did at first, and it's -- well, it's hit all its projections in terms of, you know, turning a profit, but it's -- it will lose money now, and we expect for a couple more years. I think it's losing about $80 million to $90 million a year."

But that loss wasn't viewed by these right-wing billionaires as a "loss" -- rather, it was an investment.

It's what Reverend Moon believed, as his Washington Times newspaper lost hundreds of millions of dollars but spread right-wing perspectives that influenced the nation. It's how the Koch brothers have referred to the hundreds of millions they shower on right-wing politicians and causes. And it's what the people who started Air America Radio believed, although they couldn't get big funders to understand the stakes.

While Rupert Murdoch lost hundreds of millions of dollars (Air America's bankruptcy was for $14 million) in its first few years, Murdoch hung on and kept pouring in the cash. And it put George W. Bush into the White House, according to several independent analyses.

As Richard Morin wrote for the Washington Post back in 2006, asking rhetorically, "Does President Bush owe his controversial win in 2000 to Fox cable television news?"

The answer was an emphatic "yes!" according to academics who did exhaustive research into what they called "the Fox Effect."

As Morin reported:

"'Our estimates imply that Fox News convinced 3 to 8 percent of its audience to shift its voting behavior towards the Republican Party, a sizable media persuasion effect,' said Stefano DellaVigna of the University of California at Berkely [sic] and Ethan Kaplan of Stockholm University.

"In Florida alone, they estimate, the Fox Effect may have produced more than 10,000 additional votes for Bush -- clearly a decisive factor in a state he carried by fewer than 600 votes."

The analysis looked at the vote from 1996 to 2004 in 9,256 American cities and towns where Fox was available on basic cable.

"They found," reports Morin, "clear evidence of a Fox Effect among non-Republicans in the presidential and senate races, even after controlling for other factors including vote trends in similar nearby towns without access to Fox."

The researchers added, Morin wrote, that, "[T]he Fox effect seems to [be] permanent and may be increasing." And that was in 2006.

Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1786 to his close friend Dr. James Currie, "Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost."

But ever since Ronald Reagan stopped enforcing the Sherman Antitrust Act in 1983, leading to an explosion of acquisitions and mergers, and Bill Clinton signed the Telecommunications Act of 1996, leading to an even more startling concentration of media in a very few hands, freedom of the press in America has become as much an economic issue as a political one.

This is problematic, because no democracy can survive intact when only one voice or political perspective overwhelmingly dominates any major branch of the media.

Literally hundreds of right-wing talk show hosts, both local and national, are broadcasting every day, all day, in every town or city in America.

Progressive voices, on the other hand, are few and far between; in most parts of America (and virtually all of rural America), the only radio signal that carries any progressive programming whatsoever is SiriusXM, which requires a subscription and special receiver -- costs that are hard to bear among voters in the reddest states where Republican policies have destroyed unions and exported jobs overseas, thus leading to widespread poverty.

Jefferson made his comment about newspapers being vital to America just at the time he was being most viciously attacked in the newspapers.

The core requisite of democracy is debate. When there's only a single predominant voice in the media, American democracy itself is at greatest risk, be that voice on the right or the left.

If Tom Steyer wants to see Trump impeached, wants to see a semblance of balance on our airwaves, and wants a positive, healing, life-affirming progressive message available in every town in America, he should buy iHeartMedia tomorrow morning...

This article was produced by the Independent Media Institute.

https://www.opednews.com/articles/1/Billionaire-Activist-Tom-S-by-Thom-Hartmann-Billionaires_Clear-Channel_Impeach-Trump_Radio-180626-223.html

deepspace's picture
deepspace 6 weeks 1 day ago
#10

The old brain of a Trump fool.

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 6 weeks 1 day ago
#11

Perhaps you should wonder why you're the last leftie here instead of worring excessivly about me......Nov. 6th is almost here!

checkmate!

Dianereynolds's picture
Dianereynolds 6 weeks 1 day ago
#12

And bullseye.

Game, set, and match

deepspace's picture
deepspace 6 weeks 1 day ago
#13

Thom Hartmann : Biography

Thom Hartmann is a progressive national and internationally syndicated talkshow host whose shows are available in over a half-billion homes worldwide. He's the New York Times bestselling, 4-times Project Censored Award winning author of 24 books in print in 17 languages on five continents. Leonardo DiCaprio was inspired by Thom's book "The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight" to make the movie "The 11th Hour" (in which Thom appears), and Warner Brothers is making a movie starring DiCaprio and Robert De Niro from the book Thom co-authored with Lamar Waldron, "Legacy of Secrecy."

Talkers Magazine named Thom Hartmann as the 8th most important talk show host in America in 2011, 2012, and 2013 (10th the two previous years), and for three of the past five years the #1 most important progressive host, in their “Heavy Hundred” ranking. His radio show is syndicated on for-profit radio stations nationwide by Westwood One, on non-profit and community stations nationwide by Pacifica, across the entire North American continent on SiriusXM Satellite radio (The Progress, Channel 127), on cable systems nationwide by Cable Radio Network (CRN), on its own YouTube channel, via Livestream on its own Livestream channel, via subscription podcasts, worldwide through the US Armed Forces Network, and through the Thom Hartmann App in the App Store. The radio show is also simulcast as TV in realtime into nearly 40 million US and Canadian homes by the Free Speech TV Network on Dish Network, DirectTV, and cable TV systems nationwide.

Thom has spent much of his life working with and for the international Salem relief organization (www.saleminternational.org) and he and his wife Louise founded a community for abused children in New Hampshire (www.salemchildrensvillage.org) and a school for learning disabled and ADHD kids (www.hunterschool.org). His book "Attention Deficit Disorder: A Different Perception" sparked a national debate, both in the psychology/psychiatry community and among the general public, on ADD/ADHD and neurological differences ranging from giftedness to autism. His book "Rebooting The American Dream" so inspired Senator Bernie Sanders that he wrote a cover letter to accompany the delivery of the book to his 99 colleagues in the United States Senate and he read from it extensively on the floor of the Senate during his famous filibuster.

As an entrepreneur, he's also founded several successful businesses which still are operating, and lived and worked with his wife, Louise, and their three children on several continents.

An inveterate traveler and sometimes a risk-taker, Hartmann has often found himself in the world's hot spots on behalf of the German-based Salem international relief organization or as a writer, a situation which causes his friends to sometimes wonder aloud if he works for the CIA (he does not and never has). He was, for example, in The Philippines when Ferdinand Marcos fled the country; in Egypt the week Anwar Sadat was shot; in Uganda during the war of liberation by Tanzania; in Hungary when the first East German refugees arrived; in Germany when the wall came down; in Beijing during the first student demonstrations; in Thailand when the military coup of 1991 occurred; in Barbados during the 2004 anti-government strikes and shutdowns; in Bogota and Medellin, Colombia, during the spate of killings of presidential candidates; in Israel, in the West Bank town of Nablus, the week the Intifada started there; on the Czech border the week Chernobyl melted down; in Kenya during the first big wave of crackdowns on dissidents; at dinner in Moscow with Vladimer Putin and Mikhael Gorbachev as Donald Trump was sweeping the Republican field Christmas 2016; and in Venezuela during the 1991 coup attempt. He has been successful in avoiding some disasters, however. For example, he was out of the country when George H.W. Bush picked Dan Quayle as his running mate.

He was born and grew up in Michigan, and retains strong ties to the Midwest, although he and Louise have lived in New Hampshire, Vermont, Georgia, Germany, and Oregon...and now live with a small menagerie in Portland, Oregon.

deepspace's picture
deepspace 6 weeks 1 day ago
#14

OpEdNews - 3/24/2018 - From Alternet

"Facebook Turned Our Economy Into a Spying Operation.

Companies are selling our data to the highest bidder so we can buy more products we don't need."

By Thom Hartmann:

George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton sold us on the idea that we no longer needed a manufacturing economy in the U.S. because the internet was coming and it would provide entirely new business models.

Now we've seen what that new economy looks like: spying for sale.

Facebook takes all the information you give them, which they then use to create profiles to sell advertising to people who want your money or your vote.

Your internet service provider, with former Verizon lawyer and now head of the FCC Ajit Pai having destroyed net neutrality, will soon begin (if they haven't already started) tracking every single mouse click, reading every email, and checking out every one of your online purchases to get information they can sell for a profit.

Your "smart" TV is tracking every show you watch, when and for how long and selling that information to marketers and networks.

And even your credit card company is now selling your information -- what have you bought that you'd rather not have the world know?

To paraphrase Dwight Eisenhower's Cross of Iron speech, this is not a real economy at all, in any true sense. It's a parody of an economy, with a small number of winners and all the rest of us as losers/suckers/"product."

While it's true that Facebook's malignant business model may well provide a huge opportunity for a competitor to offer a "$3 a month and we don't track you, spy on you, or sell your data" plan (or even for Facebook to shift to that), it still fails to address the importance of privacy in the context of society and law/rule-making.

We cannot trust corporations in America with our personal information, as long as that information can make them more and more money. Even your doctor or hospital will now require you sign a form allowing them to sell your information to third parties.

It's been decades since we've had a conversation in America about privacy. What does the word mean? How should it be applied?

Much like the NFL provides solid rules for how football games are to be played, government sets the rules for how business is played. The Facebook crisis may well provide us with a great opportunity to again discuss privacy, and what should and shouldn't be considered "private information."

While the Fourth Amendment protects us from snooping and spying by the government without due process, nothing in the Constitution protects us from our ISPs or Facebook or our banks or supermarkets spying on ("tracking") us and selling our private information.

But lawmakers can easily set the "rules" of business to establish new privacy guidelines for the 21st century.

So, what should be private information that's worthy of protection? Where are the boundaries? And what rules should be set?

At the very least, government should mandate "transparency in spying." When Facebook, your supermarket, or your credit card company sells information about you, they should be required to tell you exactly what information they sold, and to whom.

Just this simple transparency requirement would solve a lot of these problems.

Business, of course, will scream that they can't afford compliance with such an onerous requirement. Every time they sell the fact that you love dogs but have a cat allergy and buy anti-allergy medications, they'll only make a few cents per sale, but it'll cost them more than that to let you know what part of you and your collective body of information they sold to the allergy medicine manufacturers.

And that may well be true. It will decrease the profitability of companies like Facebook whose primary business model is spy-and-sell, and will incrementally reduce the revenue to medical groups, credit card companies, and websites/ISPs who make money on the side doing spy-and-sell.

But we have a long history in America of saying to business, "If that business model is destructive to our society, you can't do it."

We did it with slavery, we did it with child labor, we're doing it with financially lucrative discriminatory practices from redlining to the race- and gender-pay-gap. Other examples include the minimum wage law, bans on predatory loan practices, and requiring companies not to pollute.

Just because a company can make money doing something doesn't mean it should be legal and/or unregulated.

The internet has, indeed, turned into a "thing" every bit as powerful and profitable as manufacturing once was.

But we had several centuries of trial-and-error experience with regulating industrial manufacturing, from wages to pollution to product safety standards.

It's time to develop real and meaningful standards for the internet economy and to get our personal data under control.

The Founders wrote the Fourth Amendment because they were concerned about an oppressive government that couldn't be fought or changed because it knew everything about us. They never envisioned a day when a few billionaires could do the same, even to the point of using mistruths in a data-targeted way to change an entire government.

We need a serious discussion of privacy: what it is, what the appropriate parameters of it are, and the role of government in protecting our privacy from predatory corporate actors.

And, at the very least, we need a "transparency in corporate spying" law right now.

https://www.opednews.com/articles/1/Facebook-Turned-Our-Econom-by-Thom-Hartmann-Facebook_Facebook-And-American-Politics_Internet_Privacy-180324-303.html

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 6 weeks 1 day ago
#15

The NPC MOB

·
NPC= Non Playable Character
The character or characters in a video game that are controlled by the game.
They speak scripted words. Say what they are told.
It's been noticed that the letters M, O, and B are each one letter position shy of N, P and C!

MOB or NPC, think of those "progressive" protesters who chant the same scripted words, seemingly with no original thought.

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 6 weeks 1 day ago
#16

DianeR,

:))...............yep a beautiful day!

is this DS hangin with hillary?

http://politicalclownparade.blogspot.com/2018/10/a-walk-on-wild-side_28....

deepspace's picture
deepspace 6 weeks 1 day ago
#17

OpEdNews - 2/22/2018 - from Alternet

''Two Simple Laws Could Solve America's Epidemic of Violence.

Let's regulate gun ownership the same way we regulate car ownership."

By Thom Hartmann:

Two simple changes to U.S. law, both things based in other laws that we already know and like, could solve most of America's gun violence problem:

  1. Treat all semi-automatic weapons in a similar way under the same laws as fully-automatic weapons.
  2. Regulate gun ownership and usage the same way we regulate car ownership and usage.

Here's the backstory and how each would work:

Semi-Automatic Weapons

Back in the prohibition era, before and during the time John Dillinger and friends were shooting up American cities from New York to Chicago to San Francisco, the National Rifle Association approved of two very consequential laws that restricted gun ownership and use. (The NRA didn't become a lobbying and promotional front group for the weapons industry until the 1970s when the Supreme Court's Buckley v. Valeo decision ruled that the #MorbidlyRich and wealthy gun-manufacturing corporations could legally buy and own their very own politicians. For nearly a century prior to that, the NRA supported rational gun control.)

The Uniform Firearms Act of 1931 in Pennsylvania was the harbinger of the federal 1934 National Firearms Act, which brought an end to the widespread legal availability of fully automatic "tommy guns," along with, later, silencers and sawed-off shotguns. But ownership of such automatic weapons isn't really "banned" -- it's just a somewhat complex process to get permission to own and use them.

First, you must find a local law enforcement officer who will vouch for you and perform a background check on you. His or her signature is the necessary first step to getting an Automatic Weapons Permit, and you must have an absolutely clean record, from a clean criminal record, to not owing any child support, to not having any past firearms violations. If you lie about this, or apply for your permit through a "clean" third party, you and your third-party could both end up in jail.

Then you need to pull together two sets of your fingerprints and two passport-type photos. Plus the $200 "tax stamp" fee for the permit. And get all the information you'll need on the gun you want to buy, including its serial number and details on its last owner.

Finally, you need to fill out an OMB No. 1140-0014 Application for Tax Paid Transfer and Registration of Firearm form, with such easy questions as category 14:

1. Are you under indictment or information in any court for a felony, or any other crime, for which the judge could imprison you for more than one year?

2. Have you ever been convicted in any court for a felony, or any other crime, for which the judge could have imprisoned you for more than one year, even if you received a shorter sentence including probation? (See definition 1m)

3. Are you a fugitive from justice?

4. Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?

5. Have you ever been adjudicated as a mental defective OR have you ever been committed to a mental institution?

6. Have you been discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions?

7. Are you subject to a court order restraining you from harassing, stalking, or threatening your child or an intimate partner or child of such partner?

8. Have you ever been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence?

You also have to provide the government with the reason why you think it appropriate for you to have a fully automatic weapon, sawed-off shotgun, or other "destructive device":

  • 13. Transferee Necessity Statement: I ___________, have a reasonable necessity to possess the machinegun, short-barreled rifle, short-barreled shotgun, or destructive device described on this application for the following reason(s) ________________ and my possession of the device or weapon would be consistent with public safety (18 U.S.C. 922(b) (4) and 27 CFR 478.98).

Karl Frederick, the NRA's president back when these laws were put into place, was enthusiastic. "I have never believed in the general practice of carrying weapons," he said. "I think it should be sharply restricted and only under licenses." When asked if he thought the National Firearms Act of 1934 violated a person's Second Amendment rights, he famously said, "I have not given it any study from that point of view."

The result of the restrictions on ownership of fully automatic weapons (and other "destructive devices") has been that they've pretty much vanished as the scourge on public safety that they were in the late 1920s and early '30s.

Thus, it's rare that either automatic weapons or the less-efficient-at-killing-lots-of-people revolvers and bolt-action rifles are used for mass murders. This is largely because the former are hard to buy/own, and for the latter the time necessary to re-co*k and re-load presents victims an opportunity to stop a mass shooting.

Remember, the only reason the shooter who tried to kill Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was stopped after "only" killing six people was that he had to replace his 33-shot magazine with a fresh one, and Bill Badger, a 74-year-old man standing near him (whom he'd just shot), tackled him and held him to the ground.

Thus, as the volume of production of semi-automatic weapons has increased in the past 30 years or so, and their price has come down, the older-fashioned pistols and bolt-action rifles have been replaced by a more recent generation of semi-automatic pistols, rifles, and assault weapons.

But if most handguns in circulation were revolvers, and most rifles were bolt- or break-action, there would be far fewer (or at least far less deadly) mass shootings.

Revolvers typically have a cylinder that holds from 5 to 10 rounds of ammunition, and each chamber in the cylinder must be individually loaded. While there are autoloaders and other ways to speed up the process, the gun is still largely limited, at least in an "active shooter" situation, to the rounds in its cylinder.

With a single-action revolver, the gun can't even be fired until it's cocked by pulling back the hammer (although a double-action revolver will accomplish this with the first part of the trigger pull).

Revolvers are very efficient killing machines, having been in widespread use since their popularization by the Colt Company in the 1830s, but while they're great for sport and self-defense (and were police weapons of choice just up until the past 30 or so years), for mass killings they can't hold a candle to semi-automatics.

Semi-automatic pistols are, in their modern form, a creation of the last century. They use the recoil force of a shot (some also use the exhaust gases) to load a new round into the chamber and co*k the gun, all in one seamless and nearly instantaneous motion.

As a result, semi-automatics can be fired as fast as one can pull the trigger, and the amount of trigger pressure a revolver would require to co*k the hammer is unnecessary. And, because they don't have a built-in cylinder like a revolver, the magazine in a semi-automatic that stores the ammunition (some as large as 50-shots) can be quickly replaced.

The rifle side of the equation is largely the same; while bolt-action rifles don't have a cylinder, they do require the shooter to pull back the bolt between shots, which ejects the spent shell, inserts a new one, and re-cocks the weapon itself. Variations on this include lever-action and pump-action rifles or shotguns, although all require action by the shooter between shots.

Semi-automatic rifles, on the other hand, like semi-automatic pistols, use recoil or gases to reload and recock the weapon, so that shots can be squeezed off as fast as the shooter can pull the trigger. And, because -- like semi-automatic pistols -- they have quickly replaceable magazines, they're far deadlier than bolt- pump- or break-action rifles.

Since the vast majority of mass murders of the 1930s were accomplished with fully automatic weapons, tightly regulating who could buy and own them pretty much removed mass murders from the streets of America. It's time to do the same with semi-automatic weapons, which are the new mass killers' weapon of choice.

All it would take is amending the National Firearms Act to put any semiautomatic gun of any sort under the same sort of oversight and permitting necessary for fully automatic weapons.

What We Learned From Cars

While there were a number of automobile manufacturing companies in the late 19th century, it was really at the turn of the 20th century that cars became a hot commodity in the United States.

R.E. Olds (I used to live in and run a business out of his mansion in Okemos, Michigan) rolled out the first assembly line in 1901, but it was Henry Ford who cranked the popularity of cars up a notch with his "first version" of the Model A in 1903, and then developed the assembly line to crank out the Model T in 1908.

By 1927, around the time he rolled out the "second version" of his Model A, he'd sold over 15,000,000 cars.

So it was that, around 1915, many states began to notice that cars were killing people. They were being hit on the roads, dying when drivers didn't know how to avoid running into trees or off bridges, and in accidents with horse-drawn carts and other automobiles.

Which presented the lawmakers of most states with a serious question: What to do to protect the public, including the car owners, from the dangers of death and disfigurement that cars presented?

The answer that most states came up with, and has now largely been standardized across the U.S. and most of the world, was a very simple and straightforward three-part criterion for car ownership and operation.

  1. Establish ownership. In order to be able to manage all the cars coming onto the roads, both as valuable pieces of theft-worthy hardware and to track liability issues, all cars were required to have a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), which was stamped onto the car during manufacture and followed it until the day it was destroyed or decommissioned. Similarly, the owner of that car and its VIN had to present himself to state authorities and sign a title of ownership, which had to be recorded with the state whenever title was transferred to a new owner.

  2. Prove competence. By the years around 1915 there had been so many fatalities and serious injuries attributable to cars that the states decided they only wanted people driving on public roads who actually knew how to handle a car properly. This meant defining rules for the road, having people learn those rules, and testing them -- both in writing and practically in person -- to show they truly could drive safely. When people passed the tests, they were given a license to drive.

  3. Require liability insurance. Because virtually all car accidents were just that -- accidents -- most people who "caused" accidents were at both financial and legal risk. Many were fine, upstanding citizens (in fact, because cars were expensive, most car owners fell into this broad category). And they wanted some defense against the chance of making a mistake and ending up in jail or broke because of lawsuits or the liability costs of caring for people they'd injured. What came out of this was the development of automobile liability insurance, and the establishment of a requirement for it to be carried by all owners/drivers. While most states adopted this requirement substantially later than 1915, it's now established as a fundamental part of the three steps necessary to drive a car.

Which brings us to today.

These three things that we do for owners of cars are perfect to deal with our American gun problem.

  • Registration and title -- as a requirement rather than an option -- would establish a clear chain of custody and responsibility, so when people behave irresponsibly with their guns they can be held to account.

  • Having a shooter's license be conditional on passing both a written and a shooting-range test would demonstrate competence and also insert a trained person into the process who could spot "off-kilter" people like the Parkland shooter. Taking a cue from most other countries, we could also require people to prove a need or sporting/safety use for a weapon.

  • Today, if a car had run down mass-shooting victims, their families would be getting millions from Geico, et al. Because a gun killed them, they get nothing. This is bizarre in the extreme; we all end up paying the costs of gun violence.

These three steps are nothing but common sense, and don't infringe on the "rights" of gun owners any more than they infringe on the "rights" of car owners. They could even provide a stream of revenue for gun-owners' organizations that chose to train people to prepare for their licensure test, and/or offer low-cost liability insurance.

Learning From Others

Just like most Americans have no idea that every other developed country in the world has already figured out how to inexpensively and efficiently provide health care for 100 percent of their citizens as a right, so too, most Americans have no idea how all the other developed nations of the world have managed to keep their gun-deaths-per-100,000-people below 0.5, while in the USA it's over six people killed with guns per 100,000 citizens.

But other countries have done it, and we can learn a lot from their experience.

This is largely the path Australia has taken. After a decades-long series of mass gun-shootings culminated in the 1996 Port Arthur massacres, that nation, in a moment of collective revulsion, chose to require a license to own virtually any type of gun, and to make semi-automatic pistols and rifles as tightly regulated as fully automatic ones.

They also put into place a series of national amnesty and gun-buyback programs, which pulled hundreds of thousands of now-illegal guns out of circulation in that country, while appropriately compensating former gun owners.

It's still relatively easy for hunters and sportspeople to get pistols or rifles. All they have to do is prove that they are who they say they are, pass a background test, and then prove on an ongoing basis that they're actually using their weapons for sport, at least annually.

Since the implementation of these laws in 1996, Australia has not yet had another mass shooting incident. In the first years after the laws took place, firearm-related deaths in Australia fell by well over 40 percent, with suicides dropping by 77 percent.

And it's not just Australia. Every other developed or developing country in the world has more stringent gun control lawsthan the United States. Which may be why no other such country has the horrific rate of gun deaths and mass shootings we regularly experience.

None of these solutions is difficult. We've done them all before in other venues (like car ownership and fully automatic weapons) and they've worked fine, and every other developed country in the world has successfully applied them to guns.

We can, too. All it takes is for the NRA to get out of the way, or for American politicians to gather together the courage to stop taking the NRA's money.

Thankfully, the young people of Parkland, Florida, are doing everything they can to make that happen. They deserve our support.

https://www.opednews.com/articles/1/Two-Simple-Laws-Could-Solv-by-Thom-Hartmann-Americans-Killed_Firearms_Guns_NRA-180222-512.html

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 6 weeks 1 day ago
#18

So you make you billions in oil & coal & hedge Funds ....and Thom & DS pass you off as the good guy enviornmental leader...such hypocrites.

In October 2012, Steyer stepped down from his position at Farallon in order to focus on advocating for alternative energy.[15][16] Steyer decided to dispose of his carbon-polluting investments in 2012, although critics say he did not dispose of them fast enough, and noted that the lifespan of the facilities he funded would extend through 2030.[17] A 2015 New York Times article said coal-mining companies which Farallon invested in or lent money to under Steyer had increased their coal production by 70 million tons annually since receiving money from Farallon, and that Steyer remained invested in the Maules Creek coal mine.[17] Prior to Steyer leaving Farallon, a student activist group called UnFarallon criticized the company for investments in companies with anti-environmental policies.[6] In 2016, some critics noted that Farallon had also invested in private prisons while Steyer was leading the hedge fund.[18] According to SEC filings, Steyer was at the helm as the hedge fund purchased nearly $90 million of Corrections Corporation of America stock (5.5% of the company's outstanding shares).[19] After leaving Farallon, Steyer hosted a two-day think-tank titled the 'Big Think Climate Meeting' to discuss how to address climate change.[20]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Steyer

deepspace's picture
deepspace 6 weeks 1 day ago
#19

OpEdNews - 4/4/2018 - from Alternet

"Political Corruption Is Underwriting America's Gun Control Nightmare.

Let's get the money out of politics. Then we can deal with the NRA."

By Thom Hartmann:

Parkland shooting survivor and activist David Hogg recently asked why John McCain has taken over $7 million from the NRA (not to mention other millions they and other "guns rights" groups have spent supporting him indirectly).

McCain's answer, no doubt, would be the standard politician-speak these days: "They support me because they like my positions; I don't change my positions just to get their money." It's essentially what Marco Rubio told the Parkland kids when he was confronted with a similar question.

And it's a bullshit answer, as we all well know.

America has had an on-again, off-again relationship with political corruption that goes all the way back to the early years of our republic. Perhaps the highest level of corruption, outside of today, happened in the late 1800s, the tail end of the "Gilded Age." (Gilded, of course, refers to "gold coated or gold colored," an era that Donald Trump is trying so hard to bring back that he's even replaced the curtains in the Oval Office with gold ones.)

One of the iconic stories from that era was that of William Clark, who died in 1925 with a net worth in excess, in today's money, of $4 billion. He was one of the richest men of his day, perhaps second only to John D. Rockefeller. And in 1899, Clark's story helped propel an era of political cleanup that reached its zenith with the presidency of progressive Republicans (that species no longer exists) Teddy Roosevelt and William Howard Taft.

Clark's scandal even led to the passage of the 17th Amendment, which let the people of the various states decide who would be their U.S. senators, instead of the State Legislature deciding, which was the case from 1789 until 1913 when that amendment was ratified.

By 1899, Clark owned pretty much every legislator of any consequence in Montana, as well as all but one newspaper in the state. Controlling both the news and the politicians, he figured they'd easily elect him to be the next U.S. senator from Montana. Congress later learned that he not only owned the legislators, but in all probability stood outside the statehouse with a pocket full of $1,000 bills in plain white envelopes to hand out to every Member who'd voted for him.

When word reached Washington, D.C., about the envelopes and the cash, the U.S. Senate began an investigation into Clark, who told friends and aides that, "I never bought a man who wasn't for sale."

Mark Twain wrote of Clark: "He is as rotten a human being as can be found anywhere under the flag; he is a shame to the American nation, and no one has helped to send him to the Senate who did not know that his proper place was the penitentiary, with a chain and ball on his legs."

State Senator Fred Whiteside, who owned the only non-Clark-owned newspaper in the state, the Kalispell Bee, led the big expose of Clark's bribery. The rest of the Montana senators, however, ignored Whiteside and took Clark's money.

The U.S. Senate in 1899 launched an investigation, and, sure enough, found out about the envelopes and numerous other bribes and emoluments offered to state legislators, and refused to seat him. The next year, Montana's corrupted Governor appointed Clark to the Senate, and he served a full eight-year term.

Clark's story went national, and became a rallying cry for clean government advocates. In 1912, President Taft, after doubling the number of corporations being broken up by the Sherman Act over what Roosevelt had done, championed the 17th Amendment (direct election of senators, something some Republicans today want to repeal) to prevent the kind of corruption Clark represented from happening again.

Meanwhile, in Montana, while the state legislature was fighting reforms, the citizens put a measure on the state ballot of 1912 that would outlaw corporations from giving any money of any sort to politicians. That same year, Texas and other states passed similar legislation (the corrupt Speaker of the House, Tom Delay [R-TX], was prosecuted under that law).

Montana's anti-corruption law, along with those of numerous other states, persisted until 2010 when Justice Kennedy, writing for the five-vote majority on the U.S. Supreme Court, declared in the Citizens United decision that in examining over 100,000 pages of legal opinions he could not find:

"...any direct examples of votes being exchanged for ... expenditures. This confirms," Kennedy wrote, "Buckley's [the 1976 decision that money equals free speech] reasoning that independent expenditures do not lead to, or create the appearance of, quid pro quo corruption. In fact, there is only scant evidence that independent expenditures even ingratiate. Ingratiation and access, in any event, are not corruption."

The U.S. Supreme Court, following on the 1976 Buckley case that grew straight out of the Powell Memo and was written in part by Lewis Powell, turned the definitions of corruption upside down.

That same year, they overturned the Montana law in the 2010 ATV v. Bullock ruling, essentially saying that money doesn't corrupt politicians, particularly if that money comes from corporations who can "inform" us about current issues (the basis of the Citizens United decision) or billionaires (who, apparently the right-wingers on the Court believe, obviously know what's best for the rest of us).

Thus, the reason the NRA can buy and own senators like McCain and Rubio (and Thom Tillis/$4 million, Cory Gardner/$3.8 million, Joni Ernst/$3 million, and Rob Portman/$3 million, who all presumably took money much faster and much more recently than even McCain) is because our Supreme Court has repeatedly said that corporate and #MorbidlyRich billionaire money never corrupts politicians. (The dissent in the Citizens United case is a must-read; truly mind-boggling and demonstrates beyond refutation how corrupted the right-wingers on the court, particularly Scalia and Thomas -- who regularly attended events put on by the Kochs -- were by billionaire and corporate money.)

So here we are. The Supreme Court has ruled, essentially, that the NRA can own all the politicians they want, and can dump unlimited amounts of poison into our political bloodstream.

Gun-control activists are only confronting the tip of the iceberg.

Activists struggle to fight for our climate, the rights of communities to be free of pollution from fracking or factory farms, the rights of citizens to health care and education, and dozens of other issues where the government has the ability to limit predatory corporate behavior. Unfortunately, because of corporate money, our federal and many state governments are making things worse for humans and the earth, while jacking up profits and tax cuts for corporations and billionaires.

But there are solutions. While we work as hard as we can to clean up America's gun problem -- and the Parkland activists have given us all a cause and a chance to make real change happen now -- we also need to work to get money out of politics. It was financial corruption, after all, that got us in this gun mess in the first place -- the history of the Heller decision is a horrible history of well-funded right-wing groups testing message after message until they found one that would stick with the Supreme Court.

There are three big ways to overturn the power that billionaires and corporations have seized through their corruption of the Supreme Court.

The first way is to replace enough members of the Court to ensure a moderate or even progressive majority. This looked like a very real possibility in 2000, when George W. Bush lost the national vote to Al Gore by over a half million votes, and, according to a recount done by a consortium of newspapers, would have lost, as the New York Times reported, the electoral vote as well had the Supreme Court not intervened and stopped the Florida recount.

The Times noted: "[A] statewide recount could have produced enough votes to tilt the election his [Gore's] way, no matter what standard was chosen to judge voter intent." Unfortunately, they buried that sentence in the 17th paragraph of a story with a misleading headline, because the country had just been attacked on 9/11 and Bush's "legitimacy" was important to preserve during a time of national crisis. And, of course, none of that includes considerations of the considerable voter suppression that Jeb Bush and Katherine Harris engaged in, as documented by E.J. Dionne in the Washington Post, and Greg Palast for the BBC.

More recently, to keep the Court in GOP hands, Mitch McConnell simply flatly refused to even recognize President Barack Obama's appointment of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, waiting for Donald Trump to put in one of the most hard-right justices, Neal Gorsuch, since the 1920s.

The second way around Citizens United is for Congress to pass legislation specifically undoing Citizens United. Their authority to do this is found in the Constitution, Article 3, Section 2, which says: "[T]he Supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make." Congress rarely does this (it's referred to as "court stripping"), although banning judicial review was pushed really hard in the 1980s, including by Reagan himself.

The third and most likely way to get around this corruption of our Supreme Court is to do the same thing we did when the Court, in Dred Scott v. Sanford, ruled that African Americans were property and not people under the Constitution. We amended the Constitution (the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments) to overturn the Supreme Court's ruling.

Numerous groups, from Public Citizen to Move To Amend, are working hard on this last effort to say that "Corporations are not people and aren't entitled to the rights of personhood," and "Money is not the same thing as speech." If successful, such a constitutional amendment would overturn the "new laws" promulgated (unconstitutionally) by the court in 1886 (corporate personhood) and 1976 (money = "free speech").

The NRA and their weapons-manufacturing buddies aren't the only bad actors trying to damage our democratic republic through what were once illegal methods to corrupt public officials. Companies from the fossil fuel industry to the GMO industry to Silicon Valley have been doing it for years.

They're all symptoms of the real and larger problem: that the Supreme Court has ruled that corporations and billionaires can own a virtually unlimited number of state and federal politicians. These newly empowered billionaires are now even bragging about that ownership, as you can see with the recent Koch brothers announcement that they're injecting an eye-popping $400 million into the election this fall.

Only when we get money out of politics, like the good citizens of Montana did back in 1912, will we be able to deal with the NRA and their ilk on anything like a level playing field.

https://www.opednews.com/articles/1/Political-Corruption-Is-Un-by-Thom-Hartmann-American-History_Corporations_Corruption_Financial-180404-975.html

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 6 weeks 1 day ago
#20

What happened to Russia! Russia!Russia! ? Otherwise known as Muller's Witch hunt.

https://polination.wordpress.com/

Attorneys for Concord Management Destroy JV Mueller Mob Claiming Mueller’s Position Is “I Did, I Did, I Taw A Puddy Tat”!!

deepspace's picture
deepspace 6 weeks 1 day ago
#21
deepspace's picture
deepspace 6 weeks 1 day ago
#22

OpEdNews -1/6/2018 - Thom Hartmann Blog

"How America Ended Up With Donald Trump"

By Thom Hartmann:

The thing that you are not going to hear so much about in the corporate media is how we got to here. How is it that we have this man as our president?

And it turns out if you do a deep dive into this, if you look at the research and the reporting that's been done on on Robert and Rebecca Mercer's company Cambridge Analytica and the incredibly good work that they did on behalf of the Trump campaign slicing, dicing and parsing information, we'll find out to what extent that they were using that information for micro targeting individual consumers at the level typically of Facebook, among other things.

But I think to some extent this is going to come out in the Mueller investigations, whether and who it was who was buying these Facebook ads and whether the Russian troll farms are being paid for by the Russian government or by Paul Manafort and all that other stuff.

These are things inquiring minds want to know. And it's not just Trump, but how did we get George W Bush and pretty much everything else. Arguably, how did we get Ronald Reagan?

And I would say it all goes back to 1976 in the US Supreme Court. In 1973 after Nixon resigned, Congress passed a whole series of really good laws to get money out of politics: you can't give over a certain amount to an individual politician, you can't give over a certain amount to a political party.

There were all these very specific limits on money and politics, and a bunch of billionaires said, no, we've got to be able to own politicians. And they took it to the Supreme Court. The case was Buckley v. Valeoin 1976 and the Supreme Court said, sure enough, giving money to politicians or giving money to influence elections is considered constitutionally protected First Amendment free speech, that money is speech.

I've never seen a dollar bill talk, but apparently in the world of Lewis Powell and William Rehnquist it does, and had it not been for that Supreme Court decision, the billionaires Robert and Rebecca Mercer would not have been able to go all in on Trump and he would have faded early on.

All the other Republican candidates wouldn't have had their own individual special interest billionaires.

You wouldn't have had the Democratic Party being corrupted by billionaires in the banking and pharmaceutical industries.

You wouldn't have had the Republican Party being corrupted by billionaires in the fossil fuel and chemical and defense industries.

None of this would have happened, or it wouldn't have happened with such severity if the Supreme Court had not discovered in the Constitution that the founders wanted rich people to be able to control our political system.

We have just a couple thousand people in the United States who fund more than half of all the political campaigns in this country. There's something fundamentally wrong with that. That's called oligarchy, as Jimmy Carter pointed out on this program.

And then once the oligarchs get their oligarch -- in this case Donald Trump -- they're going to do everything they can to defend him and keep him in place unless he's no longer useful to the oligarchs.

Throughout last year I kept saying the Republicans are going to throw Donald Trump under the bus as soon as they get their tax breaks, because the oligarchs who own the Republican Party are interested in only one thing: money.

Whether it's the money that they're going to make by having Ryan Zinke destroy Bears Ears so that they can mine uranium there, or whether it's the money that they're going to make by having Donald Trump and Congress say it's fine to drill in ANWR and destroy the environment up there, or whether it's the money that Georgia-Pacific will make if their pollution standards are loosened, or if it's the money that coal-fired power plants will make if those standards are lessened.

Coal miners in 2017 experienced the highest number of deaths of coal miners in years. We're dialing back safety requirements in our mines.

Now, it doesn't mean that we're hiring more miners.

It doesn't mean the miners are being paid more.

But Donald Trump did away with those job-killing regulations and put a mining industry shill in charge of the Mine Health and Safety Administration.

So it shouldn't surprise us when the people who are putting our politicians in office, essentially, by buying the elections, don't give a damn about governance.

They don't care about whether social security works. They don't care about Medicare or Medicaid working. They don't care about international relations as long as they can make their money. It's all about the money.

So the question was, if Trump could bring along the base to harass Congress to say, "yes, do those tax cuts," if Trump could do that, then they would leave him in power.

But now that he's done that and he's starting to say and do things that might make it less profitable for the oligarchs, in fact, largely what has happened is Toto has pulled back the curtain. We're seeing the Great and Powerful Oz as this short elderly guy who's just "I am the Great and Powerful Oz." No, you're not!

Now we're seeing that Donald Trump is unwilling to let the White House staff touch his toothbrush because he's afraid they're going to poison him. He's unhappy about eating food in the White House because he's afraid somebody's going to poison him. That's why he eats McDonald's and Kentucky Fried Chicken. Do you get this?

There's something deeply, deeply wrong here and I still haven't gone through the 11 explosive claims from the new book, but you probably heard them all in the media.

But what do we do about this?

Frankly, I think impeachment is going to be very, very, very difficult. But the 25th amendment? I think there's a real possibility there.

What do you think?

https://www.opednews.com/articles/1/How-America-Ended-Up-With-by-Thom-Hartmann-American-Capitalism_American-Hypocrisy_Elections_Oligarchy-180106-110.html

deepspace's picture
deepspace 6 weeks 1 day ago
#23

(1 of 2)

OpEdNews - 1/8/2018 - From Alternet

"Time to Overthrow Our Rulers.

Is it time to bring a monarchy to the United States, or time to end one?"

By Thom Hartmann:

Is it time to bring a monarchy to the United States? Or is it time to end one?

The New York Times recently ran a fascinating article by Leslie Wayne putting forth arguments from the International Monarchist League. Summarizing them, Wayne wrote, "Their core arguments: Countries with monarchies are better off because royal families act as a unifying force and a powerful symbol; monarchies rise above politics; and nations with royalty are generally richer and more stable."

What the author misses is that we already have an aristocracy here in the United States: rule by the rich. In fact, much of American history is the story of the battle between the interests of the "general welfare" of our citizens, and the interests of the #MorbidlyRich.

Here's where we are right now:

  • A billionaire oligarch programs his very own entire television news network to promote the interests of the billionaire class, with such effectiveness that average working people are repeating billionaire-helpful memes like "cut regulations," "shrink government," and "cut taxes" -- policies that will cause more working people and their children to get sick and/or die, will transfer more money and power from "we the people" to a few oligarchs, and will lower working-class wages over time.
  • A small group of billionaires have funneled so much money into our political sphere that "normal" Republicans like Jeff Flake and Bob Corker point out that they couldn't get elected in today's environment because they'd face rightwing-billionaire-funded primary challengers.
  • The corporate media (including online media), heavily influenced by the roughly billion dollars the Koch Network, Adelson, Mercers, etc. poured through their advertising coffers and into their profits in the last election, won't even mention in their "news" reporting that billionaire oligarchs are mainly calling the tunes in American politics, particularly in the GOP.
  • Former President Jimmy Carter pointed out on my radio show that the US "is now an oligarchy, with unlimited political bribery," in part as a result of the right-wing Supreme Court decision in Citizens United.
  • Nobody in corporate media, even on the "corporate left," is willing to explicitly point out how billionaires and the companies that made them rich control and define the boundaries of "acceptable" political debate in our country.
  • Thus, there's no honest discussion in American media of why the GOP denies climate change (to profit petro-billionaires), no discussion of the daily damage being done to our consumer and workplace protections, and no discussion of the horrors being inflicted on our public lands and environment by Zinke and Pruitt, the guys billionaire-toady Mike Pence chose to run Interior and the EPA. There's not even a discussion of the major issue animating American politics just one century ago: corporate mergers and how they damage small business and small towns.

It's been this way before in American history, though not in our lifetimes. The last time the morbidly rich had this much power in American politics was the 1920s, when an orgy of tax-cutting and deregulation of banking led to the Republican Great Depression.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt stepped up to challenge those he called the Economic Royalists, explicitly calling them out. In 1936, FDR said:

"For out of this modern civilization economic royalists carved new dynasties. New kingdoms were built upon concentration of control over material things. Through new uses of corporations, banks and securities, new machinery of industry and agriculture, of labor and capital -- all undreamed of by the Fathers -- the whole structure of modern life was impressed into this royal service.

"There was no place among this royalty for our many thousands of small business men and merchants who sought to make a worthy use of the American system of initiative and profit...

"It was natural and perhaps human that the privileged princes of these new economic dynasties, thirsting for power, reached out for control over Government itself."

"They created a new despotism and wrapped it in the robes of legal sanction. In its service new mercenaries sought to regiment the people, their labor, and their property.

"And as a result the average man once more confronts the problem that faced the Minute Man."

Roosevelt, then the president of the United States, even explicitly called for the "overthrow of this kind of power":

"These economic royalists complain that we seek to overthrow the institutions of America. What they really complain of is that we seek to take away their power.

"Our allegiance to American institutions requires the overthrow of this kind of power.

"In vain they seek to hide behind the Flag and the Constitution. In their blindness they forget what the Flag and the Constitution stand for.

"Now, as always, they stand for democracy, not tyranny; for freedom, not subjection; and against a dictatorship by mob rule and the over-privileged alike."

The American people overwhelmingly agreed with FDR, particularly after they'd seen how badly "dictatorship by the over-privileged" worked out for us in 1929. The result was that from 1932 until 1980 American politicians knew how important it was for government, representing the best interests of both our nation and all of its people, to hold back the political power that the morbidly rich could marshal with their great wealth.

This was such conventional wisdom in both parties that Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower wrote to his brother Edgar in 1956:

"Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history.

"There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid."

And business knew it, too. Big corporations and wealthy businesspeople largely stayed away from politics from the 1930s onward, not wanting to draw the ire of the American people.

Until 1971. In August of that year, Lewis Powell, a lawyer who largely defended tobacco and the interests of the Virginia's upper classes, wrote an apocalyptic memo to his neighbor and friend who was the head of the US Chamber of Commerce. In it, he suggested that America itself was under attack from "leftists" and people on "college campuses."

The solution, Powell proposed, was for a small group of very, very wealthy people to reshape American public opinion through think tanks, funding of universities and schools, and an all-out assault on the media. Take over the courts and at least one of the political parties, he suggested, and wrest control of our economy away from government regulation.

As I noted in The Crash of 2016:

Powell's most indelible mark on the nation was not to be his 15-year tenure as a Supreme Court Justice, but instead that memo, which served as a declaration of war -- a war by the Economic Royalists against both democracy and what they saw as an overgrown middle class. It would be a final war, a bellum omnium contra omnes, against everything the New Deal and the Great Society had accomplished.

It wasn't until September 1972, 10 months after the Senate confirmed Powell to the Supreme Court, that the public first found out about the Powell Memo (the actual written document had the word "Confidential" stamped on it -- a sign that Powell himself hoped it would never see daylight outside of the rarified circles of his rich friends). Although by then, however, it had already found its way to the desks of CEOs all across the nation and was, with millions in corporate and billionaire money, already being turned into real actions, policies, and institutions.

During its investigation into Powell as part of the nomination process, the FBI never found the memo, but investigative journalist Jack Anderson did, and he exposed it in a September 28th, 1972, column titled, "Powell's Lesson to Business Aired."

Anderson wrote, "Shortly before his appointment to the Supreme Court, Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr. urged business leaders in a confidential memo to use the courts as a 'social, economic, and political' instrument."

Pointing out that how the memo wasn't discovered until after Powell was confirmed by the Senate, Anderson wrote, "Senators...never got a chance to ask Powell whether he might use his position on the Supreme Court to put his ideas into practice and to influence the court in behalf of business interests."

This was an explosive charge being leveled at the nation's rookie Supreme Court Justice, a man entrusted with interpreting the nation's laws with complete impartiality.

But Jack Anderson was no stranger to taking on American authority, and no stranger to the consequences of his journalism. He'd exposed scandals from the Truman, Eisenhower, Nixon, and later the Reagan administrations. He was a true investigative journalist.

In his report on the memo, Anderson wrote, "[Powell] recommended a militant political action program, ranging from the courts to the campuses."

Back in 1936, Franklin Roosevelt had declared war on his generation's Economic Royalists and booted the worst of them out of the nation's political, economic, and cultural institutions. But now, two generations later, Lewis Powell was speaking of another war.

Powell's memo was both a direct response to Roosevelt's battle cry decades earlier, and a response to the tumult of the 1960's.

He wrote, "No thoughtful person can question that the American economic system is under broad attack."

When Sydnor and the Chamber received the Powell Memo, corporations were growing tired of their second-class status in America.

Even though the previous 40 years had been a time of great growth and strength for the American economy and America's middle-class workers -- and a time of sure and steady growth and increases of profits for corporations -- CEOs felt something was missing.

If only they could find a way to wiggle back into the people's minds (who were just beginning to forget the Royalists' previous exploits of the 1920s), then they could get their tax cuts back; they could trash the "burdensome" regulations that were keeping the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat safe; and the banksters among them could inflate another massive economic bubble to make themselves all mind-bogglingly rich. It could, if done right, be a return to the "Roaring 20s."

But how could they do this? How could they convince Americans to take another shot at what was widely considered a dangerous free-market ideology and economic framework and that Americans once knew preceded each Great Crash and war?

Lewis Powell had an answer, and he reached out to the Chamber of Commerce -- the hub of corporate power in America -- to lay out a strategy to reclaim their power with a strategy.

As Powell wrote, "Strength lies in organization, in careful long-range planning and implementation, in consistency of action over an indefinite period of years, in the scale of financing available only through joint effort, and in the political power available only through united action and national organizations." Thus, Powell said, "The role of the National Chamber of Commerce is therefore vital."

https://www.opednews.com/articles/1/Time-to-Overthrow-Our-Rule-by-Thom-Hartmann-Aristocracy_Corporations_Money_Politics-180108-611.html

cont'd...

deepspace's picture
deepspace 6 weeks 1 day ago
#24

cont'd (2 of 2) ...

OpEdNews - 1/8/2018 - From Alternet

"Time to Overthrow Our Rulers.

Is it time to bring a monarchy to the United States, or time to end one?"

By Thom Hartmann:

In the nearly-6,000-word memo, Powell called on corporate leaders to launch an economic and ideological assault on college and high school campuses, the media, the courts, and Capitol Hill.

The objective was simple: The revival of a Royalist-controlled so-called "free market" system.

Or, as Powell put it, using Royalist rhetoric, "[T]he ultimate issue...[is the] survival of what we call the free enterprise system, and all that this means for the strength and prosperity of America and the freedom of our people."

The first area of attack Powell encouraged the Chamber to focus on was the education system. "[A] priority task of business -- and organizations such as the Chamber -- is to address the campus origin of this hostility [to big business]," Powell wrote.

What worried Powell was the new generation of young Americans growing up to resent corporate culture. He believed colleges were filled with "Marxist professors," and that the pro-business agenda of Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover had fallen into disrepute since the Great Depression. He knew that winning this war of economic ideology in America required spoon-feeding the next generation of leaders the doctrines of a free-market theology, from high school all the way through graduate and business school.

At the time, college campuses were rallying points for the progressive activism sweeping the nation, as young people demonstrated against poverty, the Vietnam War, and in support of Civil Rights.

So Powell put forward a laundry list of ways the Chamber could re-retake the higher-education system. First, create an army of corporate-friendly think tanks that could influence education. "The Chamber should consider establishing a staff of highly qualified scholars in the social sciences who do believe in the system," he wrote.

Then, go after the textbooks. "The staff of scholars," Powell wrote, "should evaluate social science textbooks, especially in economics, political science and sociology...This would include assurance of fair and factual treatment of our system of government and our enterprise system, its accomplishments, its basic relationship to individual rights and freedoms, and comparisons with the systems of socialism, fascism and communism."

Powell argued that the Civil Rights movement and the Labor movement were already in the process of re-rewriting textbooks.

"We have seen the civil rights movement insist on re-writing many of the textbooks in our universities and schools. The labor unions likewise insist that textbooks be fair to the viewpoints of organized labor." Powell was concerned the Chamber of Commerce was not doing enough to stop this growing progressive influence and replace it with a pro-plutocratic perspective.

"Perhaps the most fundamental problem is the imbalance of many faculties," Powell pointed out. "Correcting this is indeed a long-range and difficult project. Yet, it should be undertaken as a part of an overall program. This would mean the urging of the need for faculty balance upon university administrators and boards of trustees." As in, the Chamber needs to infiltrate university boards in charge of hiring faculty to make sure only corporate-friendly professors are hired.

But Powell's recommendations weren't exclusive to college campuses; he targeted high schools as well.

"While the first priority should be at the college level, the trends mentioned above are increasingly evidenced in the high schools. Action programs, tailored to the high schools and similar to those mentioned, should be considered," he urged.

Next, Powell turned the corporate dogs on the media. As Powell instructed, "Reaching the campus and the secondary schools is vital for the long-term. Reaching the public generally may be more important for the shorter term."

Powell added, "It will...be essential to have staff personnel who are thoroughly familiar with the media, and how most effectively to communicate with the public."

He then went on to advocate that same system used for the monitoring of college textbooks be applied to television and radio networks. "This applies not merely to so-called educational programs...but to the daily 'news analysis' which so often includes the most insidious type of criticism of the enterprise system."

This was not, of course, the first time that American oligarchs and their supplicants plotted to subvert American democracy in favor of a harsh capitalist-controlled "free enterprise" system that handed virtually all the spoils of business over to a wealthy few.

In the early 1880s, railroad barons funded six major attempts at the US Supreme Court to create, from the 14th Amendment, a "right of corporate personhood." In 1886, although the Court rejected their theory for the last and final time, the Clerk of the Court, John Chandler Bancroft Davis, inserted into the not-legally-binding headnote of the Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad case that the Chief Justice had, offhandedly, certified corporate personhood.

Reacting to that and the general rise of the men then called robber barons, Democratic President Grover Cleveland, in his 1888 State of the Union address, said:

"The gulf between employers and the employed is constantly widening, and classes are rapidly forming, one comprising the very rich and powerful, while in another are found the toiling poor.

"As we view the achievements of aggregated capital, we discover the existence of trusts, combinations, and monopolies, while the citizen is struggling far in the rear or is trampled to death beneath an iron heel.

"Corporations, which should be the carefully restrained creatures of the law and the servants of the people, are fast becoming the people's masters."

From President Cleveland's comments, you can draw a straight line to the trust busting and inheritance tax of progressive Republican Teddy Roosevelt in the first decade of the 20th century.

But the oligarchs fought back and, in the election of 1920, regained the power to cut taxes and regulations sufficiently that the rich got explosively richer, while the entire economy was set up for the Great Crash. (Warren Harding ran for president with two slogans -- "More business in government, less government in business" [privatize and deregulate], and cutting the top tax rate from 90% to 25%...both of which he did.)

And Lewis Powell's contribution to today's problems is easily found in the 1976 Buckley v Valeo decision, which struck down many of the campaign finance laws that had been passed in the wake of the Nixon scandals. Money transferred from billionaires to politicians, he and his conservative friends on the court ruled, wasn't "money" -- instead, it was Constitutionally-protected First Amendment Free Speech.

Just in time for the Reagan Revolution, the morbidly rich could again own individual politicians, and with the 2013 McCutcheon case, the Court ruled that morbidly rich individuals could own a virtually unlimited number of politicians. Citizens United, in 2010, radically expanded corporate personhood and the rights of billionaires and corporations to influence politics.

Thus, here we are again.

We have a billionaire oligarch in the White House.

We have a man as VP who's such a toady to oligarchs he actually promoted the idea in 2000 that tobacco doesn't cause cancer, and today denies climate science on behalf of the petrobillionaires who have funded much of his political career.

We have an entire Republican Party that's been captured by toxic-emissions corporations, petro-billionaires, and others among the morbidly rich. On the left, thanks to the DLC and its heirs, substantial parts of the Democratic Party are beholden to the banking, insurance, and pharmaceutical industries (although the Congressional Progressive Caucus is working to change this).

The Washington Post recently ran an article about how the very institutions of America are beginning to break down under the sustained assault of the oligarchs (although the Post doesn't use that word). The main point of the article is that Donald Trump actually believes that both Bill and Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama, committed major crimes, and that the attorney general and others in the Department of Justice covered up those crimes.

Where did Trump get such a wild idea? It seems certain that he got it from billionaire oligarch Rupert Murdoch's Fox News. And because he actually believes that previous presidents got away with committing major crimes both to win elections and to stay in office, he apparently thinks he should be able to as well.

It's perhaps amusing to well-informed Americans when their friends and relatives spout the billionaire-enabling propaganda that Fox dishes out every day. But there's nothing amusing about a president of the United States believing, based on what he learns in right-wing media, that he can easily get away with breaking the law. This is the result of the billionaire capture of our public spaces, driving a "profits over democracy" mentality.

To save our republic, we must acknowledge that the American aristocracy of the morbidly rich is destroying our country. And then overturn (via constitutional amendment) the twin policies of right-wingers on our Supreme Court that say that billionaires can own their own personal politicians, and that corporations are "persons" with human rights.

Once we reject America's new self-appointed royalty, with their billionaire and corporate money fouling our system, our elected officials can restore protections for working people -- and we can once again see our wages begin to rise like they did for 40 straight years before the advent of Reaganism.

Only then can we bring back rules to keep the oligarch's poisonous money out of our political system, and begin to break up their control of American business and media so that small- and medium-sized businesses, unions, and local media can once again thrive. And, with them, we can return to something resembling a democracy.

https://www.opednews.com/articles/1/Time-to-Overthrow-Our-Rule-by-Thom-Hartmann-Aristocracy_Corporations_Money_Politics-180108-611.html

Coalage3 6 weeks 17 hours ago
#25

The vitriol from the left is outrageous. And this woman is glorified. No wonder we had the baseball park and synagogue shooting.

Excerpts from: https://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/trump-demons-discourse-liberal-media/

This morning, I heard the NPR morning news host, Lulu Garcia-Navarro, lead into a discussion with two academics about how language use drives extremism. The transcript is not yet available, but listen to the introduction. She ties people who talk about their concerns regarding the migrant caravan to Sayuc and to the Pittsburgh synagogue shooter. The framing was so irritating — and so typical of the media — that I turned the radio off.

I would very much like to know — seriously — if the mainstream media ever examine the extreme way some academics and left-wing thought leaders talk about whites, males, white males, conservative Christians, straight people, and others they consider to be the Other. Consider this language, for example, from a prominent Twitter account:

"Dumbass fucking Jews marking up the Internet with their opinions like dogs pissing on fire hydrants."

Same person:

"Oh man, it’s kind of sick how much I enjoy being cruel to young queer Latinas."

Same person:

1) Black women are bullshit.
2) No one cares about working-class white males
3) You can threaten anyone on the Internet, except cops.

By now some of you will have figured out that these were among many racist, sexist tweets sent out by Sarah Jeong, who was hired earlier this year as an editorial board member of The New York Times. She did not write the tweets as I have rendered them here. In truth, she wrote them all about white men, e.g., “Oh man, it’s kind of sick how much I enjoy being cruel to old white men.”

It is inconceivable that a person who tweeted things like that about anybody other than white men could get a job in the mainstream media, much less at the most powerful media organization in America.

Dianereynolds's picture
Dianereynolds 6 weeks 14 hours ago
#26

Morning HotCoffee, Another interesting day ahead.

Angela Merkel out of office

The Brazilians are tired of leftie/socialists running their country and they have a new leader who is just the opposite.

AL GORE WAS WRONG (AGAIN): Greenhouse Gas Emissions Dropped Nearly 3% In Trump’s First Year

https://www.dailywire.com/news/37685/epa-greenhouse-gas-emissions-dropped-nearly-3-joseph-curl

and,

as I sit here with MSNBC playing in the background, their little news ticker running across the screen is telling us Trump is responsible for pushing anti Semitism and thus is responsible for the PA shooting even though the shooter despised Trump and did not vote for him and completely ignoring the fact Trump so far has been the most ardent supporter of Israel to occupy the White House in years. Oh, they also forgot his son-in-law, daughter, and grandchildren are Jewish.

That leads me to this, I only tune Thom Hartman in on days when there is something of importance going on and even then it is for the first segment of his show. So, unless he brings in some lame congressman that needs attention, I predict Thom will spend his time today trying to connect and blame President Trump for this horrific event. Let me add he will also re-run any and all of his gun rants which are so filled with false facts and concepts.

So today for his first half hour, I will endure the myriad of commercials just to see if I am correct. Let's see how it goes.

Have a good one.

deepspace's picture
deepspace 6 weeks 13 hours ago
#27

OpEdNews - 2/22/2018 - from Alternet

''Two Simple Laws Could Solve America's Epidemic of Violence.

Let's regulate gun ownership the same way we regulate car ownership."

By Thom Hartmann:

Two simple changes to U.S. law, both things based in other laws that we already know and like, could solve most of America's gun violence problem:

  1. Treat all semi-automatic weapons in a similar way under the same laws as fully-automatic weapons.
  2. Regulate gun ownership and usage the same way we regulate car ownership and usage.

Here's the backstory and how each would work:

Semi-Automatic Weapons

Back in the prohibition era, before and during the time John Dillinger and friends were shooting up American cities from New York to Chicago to San Francisco, the National Rifle Association approved of two very consequential laws that restricted gun ownership and use. (The NRA didn't become a lobbying and promotional front group for the weapons industry until the 1970s when the Supreme Court's Buckley v. Valeo decision ruled that the #MorbidlyRich and wealthy gun-manufacturing corporations could legally buy and own their very own politicians. For nearly a century prior to that, the NRA supported rational gun control.)

The Uniform Firearms Act of 1931 in Pennsylvania was the harbinger of the federal 1934 National Firearms Act, which brought an end to the widespread legal availability of fully automatic "tommy guns," along with, later, silencers and sawed-off shotguns. But ownership of such automatic weapons isn't really "banned" -- it's just a somewhat complex process to get permission to own and use them.

First, you must find a local law enforcement officer who will vouch for you and perform a background check on you. His or her signature is the necessary first step to getting an Automatic Weapons Permit, and you must have an absolutely clean record, from a clean criminal record, to not owing any child support, to not having any past firearms violations. If you lie about this, or apply for your permit through a "clean" third party, you and your third-party could both end up in jail.

Then you need to pull together two sets of your fingerprints and two passport-type photos. Plus the $200 "tax stamp" fee for the permit. And get all the information you'll need on the gun you want to buy, including its serial number and details on its last owner.

Finally, you need to fill out an OMB No. 1140-0014 Application for Tax Paid Transfer and Registration of Firearm form, with such easy questions as category 14:

1. Are you under indictment or information in any court for a felony, or any other crime, for which the judge could imprison you for more than one year?

2. Have you ever been convicted in any court for a felony, or any other crime, for which the judge could have imprisoned you for more than one year, even if you received a shorter sentence including probation? (See definition 1m)

3. Are you a fugitive from justice?

4. Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?

5. Have you ever been adjudicated as a mental defective OR have you ever been committed to a mental institution?

6. Have you been discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions?

7. Are you subject to a court order restraining you from harassing, stalking, or threatening your child or an intimate partner or child of such partner?

8. Have you ever been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence?

You also have to provide the government with the reason why you think it appropriate for you to have a fully automatic weapon, sawed-off shotgun, or other "destructive device":

  • 13. Transferee Necessity Statement: I ___________, have a reasonable necessity to possess the machinegun, short-barreled rifle, short-barreled shotgun, or destructive device described on this application for the following reason(s) ________________ and my possession of the device or weapon would be consistent with public safety (18 U.S.C. 922(b) (4) and 27 CFR 478.98).

Karl Frederick, the NRA's president back when these laws were put into place, was enthusiastic. "I have never believed in the general practice of carrying weapons," he said. "I think it should be sharply restricted and only under licenses." When asked if he thought the National Firearms Act of 1934 violated a person's Second Amendment rights, he famously said, "I have not given it any study from that point of view."

The result of the restrictions on ownership of fully automatic weapons (and other "destructive devices") has been that they've pretty much vanished as the scourge on public safety that they were in the late 1920s and early '30s.

Thus, it's rare that either automatic weapons or the less-efficient-at-killing-lots-of-people revolvers and bolt-action rifles are used for mass murders. This is largely because the former are hard to buy/own, and for the latter the time necessary to re-co*k and re-load presents victims an opportunity to stop a mass shooting.

Remember, the only reason the shooter who tried to kill Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was stopped after "only" killing six people was that he had to replace his 33-shot magazine with a fresh one, and Bill Badger, a 74-year-old man standing near him (whom he'd just shot), tackled him and held him to the ground.

Thus, as the volume of production of semi-automatic weapons has increased in the past 30 years or so, and their price has come down, the older-fashioned pistols and bolt-action rifles have been replaced by a more recent generation of semi-automatic pistols, rifles, and assault weapons.

But if most handguns in circulation were revolvers, and most rifles were bolt- or break-action, there would be far fewer (or at least far less deadly) mass shootings.

Revolvers typically have a cylinder that holds from 5 to 10 rounds of ammunition, and each chamber in the cylinder must be individually loaded. While there are autoloaders and other ways to speed up the process, the gun is still largely limited, at least in an "active shooter" situation, to the rounds in its cylinder.

With a single-action revolver, the gun can't even be fired until it's cocked by pulling back the hammer (although a double-action revolver will accomplish this with the first part of the trigger pull).

Revolvers are very efficient killing machines, having been in widespread use since their popularization by the Colt Company in the 1830s, but while they're great for sport and self-defense (and were police weapons of choice just up until the past 30 or so years), for mass killings they can't hold a candle to semi-automatics.

Semi-automatic pistols are, in their modern form, a creation of the last century. They use the recoil force of a shot (some also use the exhaust gases) to load a new round into the chamber and co*k the gun, all in one seamless and nearly instantaneous motion.

As a result, semi-automatics can be fired as fast as one can pull the trigger, and the amount of trigger pressure a revolver would require to co*k the hammer is unnecessary. And, because they don't have a built-in cylinder like a revolver, the magazine in a semi-automatic that stores the ammunition (some as large as 50-shots) can be quickly replaced.

The rifle side of the equation is largely the same; while bolt-action rifles don't have a cylinder, they do require the shooter to pull back the bolt between shots, which ejects the spent shell, inserts a new one, and re-cocks the weapon itself. Variations on this include lever-action and pump-action rifles or shotguns, although all require action by the shooter between shots.

Semi-automatic rifles, on the other hand, like semi-automatic pistols, use recoil or gases to reload and recock the weapon, so that shots can be squeezed off as fast as the shooter can pull the trigger. And, because -- like semi-automatic pistols -- they have quickly replaceable magazines, they're far deadlier than bolt- pump- or break-action rifles.

Since the vast majority of mass murders of the 1930s were accomplished with fully automatic weapons, tightly regulating who could buy and own them pretty much removed mass murders from the streets of America. It's time to do the same with semi-automatic weapons, which are the new mass killers' weapon of choice.

All it would take is amending the National Firearms Act to put any semiautomatic gun of any sort under the same sort of oversight and permitting necessary for fully automatic weapons.

What We Learned From Cars

While there were a number of automobile manufacturing companies in the late 19th century, it was really at the turn of the 20th century that cars became a hot commodity in the United States.

R.E. Olds (I used to live in and run a business out of his mansion in Okemos, Michigan) rolled out the first assembly line in 1901, but it was Henry Ford who cranked the popularity of cars up a notch with his "first version" of the Model A in 1903, and then developed the assembly line to crank out the Model T in 1908.

By 1927, around the time he rolled out the "second version" of his Model A, he'd sold over 15,000,000 cars.

So it was that, around 1915, many states began to notice that cars were killing people. They were being hit on the roads, dying when drivers didn't know how to avoid running into trees or off bridges, and in accidents with horse-drawn carts and other automobiles.

Which presented the lawmakers of most states with a serious question: What to do to protect the public, including the car owners, from the dangers of death and disfigurement that cars presented?

The answer that most states came up with, and has now largely been standardized across the U.S. and most of the world, was a very simple and straightforward three-part criterion for car ownership and operation.

  1. Establish ownership. In order to be able to manage all the cars coming onto the roads, both as valuable pieces of theft-worthy hardware and to track liability issues, all cars were required to have a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), which was stamped onto the car during manufacture and followed it until the day it was destroyed or decommissioned. Similarly, the owner of that car and its VIN had to present himself to state authorities and sign a title of ownership, which had to be recorded with the state whenever title was transferred to a new owner.

  2. Prove competence. By the years around 1915 there had been so many fatalities and serious injuries attributable to cars that the states decided they only wanted people driving on public roads who actually knew how to handle a car properly. This meant defining rules for the road, having people learn those rules, and testing them -- both in writing and practically in person -- to show they truly could drive safely. When people passed the tests, they were given a license to drive.

  3. Require liability insurance. Because virtually all car accidents were just that -- accidents -- most people who "caused" accidents were at both financial and legal risk. Many were fine, upstanding citizens (in fact, because cars were expensive, most car owners fell into this broad category). And they wanted some defense against the chance of making a mistake and ending up in jail or broke because of lawsuits or the liability costs of caring for people they'd injured. What came out of this was the development of automobile liability insurance, and the establishment of a requirement for it to be carried by all owners/drivers. While most states adopted this requirement substantially later than 1915, it's now established as a fundamental part of the three steps necessary to drive a car.

Which brings us to today.

These three things that we do for owners of cars are perfect to deal with our American gun problem.

  • Registration and title -- as a requirement rather than an option -- would establish a clear chain of custody and responsibility, so when people behave irresponsibly with their guns they can be held to account.

  • Having a shooter's license be conditional on passing both a written and a shooting-range test would demonstrate competence and also insert a trained person into the process who could spot "off-kilter" people like the Parkland shooter. Taking a cue from most other countries, we could also require people to prove a need or sporting/safety use for a weapon.

  • Today, if a car had run down mass-shooting victims, their families would be getting millions from Geico, et al. Because a gun killed them, they get nothing. This is bizarre in the extreme; we all end up paying the costs of gun violence.

These three steps are nothing but common sense, and don't infringe on the "rights" of gun owners any more than they infringe on the "rights" of car owners. They could even provide a stream of revenue for gun-owners' organizations that chose to train people to prepare for their licensure test, and/or offer low-cost liability insurance.

Learning From Others

Just like most Americans have no idea that every other developed country in the world has already figured out how to inexpensively and efficiently provide health care for 100 percent of their citizens as a right, so too, most Americans have no idea how all the other developed nations of the world have managed to keep their gun-deaths-per-100,000-people below 0.5, while in the USA it's over six people killed with guns per 100,000 citizens.

But other countries have done it, and we can learn a lot from their experience.

This is largely the path Australia has taken. After a decades-long series of mass gun-shootings culminated in the 1996 Port Arthur massacres, that nation, in a moment of collective revulsion, chose to require a license to own virtually any type of gun, and to make semi-automatic pistols and rifles as tightly regulated as fully automatic ones.

They also put into place a series of national amnesty and gun-buyback programs, which pulled hundreds of thousands of now-illegal guns out of circulation in that country, while appropriately compensating former gun owners.

It's still relatively easy for hunters and sportspeople to get pistols or rifles. All they have to do is prove that they are who they say they are, pass a background test, and then prove on an ongoing basis that they're actually using their weapons for sport, at least annually.

Since the implementation of these laws in 1996, Australia has not yet had another mass shooting incident. In the first years after the laws took place, firearm-related deaths in Australia fell by well over 40 percent, with suicides dropping by 77 percent.

And it's not just Australia. Every other developed or developing country in the world has more stringent gun control lawsthan the United States. Which may be why no other such country has the horrific rate of gun deaths and mass shootings we regularly experience.

None of these solutions is difficult. We've done them all before in other venues (like car ownership and fully automatic weapons) and they've worked fine, and every other developed country in the world has successfully applied them to guns.

We can, too. All it takes is for the NRA to get out of the way, or for American politicians to gather together the courage to stop taking the NRA's money.

Thankfully, the young people of Parkland, Florida, are doing everything they can to make that happen. They deserve our support.

https://www.opednews.com/articles/1/Two-Simple-Laws-Could-Solv-by-Thom-Hartmann-Americans-Killed_Firearms_Guns_NRA-180222-512.html

deepspace's picture
deepspace 6 weeks 13 hours ago
#28

OpEdNews - 4/4/2018 - from Alternet

"Political Corruption Is Underwriting America's Gun Control Nightmare.

Let's get the money out of politics. Then we can deal with the NRA."

By Thom Hartmann:

Parkland shooting survivor and activist David Hogg recently asked why John McCain has taken over $7 million from the NRA (not to mention other millions they and other "guns rights" groups have spent supporting him indirectly).

McCain's answer, no doubt, would be the standard politician-speak these days: "They support me because they like my positions; I don't change my positions just to get their money." It's essentially what Marco Rubio told the Parkland kids when he was confronted with a similar question.

And it's a bullshit answer, as we all well know.

America has had an on-again, off-again relationship with political corruption that goes all the way back to the early years of our republic. Perhaps the highest level of corruption, outside of today, happened in the late 1800s, the tail end of the "Gilded Age." (Gilded, of course, refers to "gold coated or gold colored," an era that Donald Trump is trying so hard to bring back that he's even replaced the curtains in the Oval Office with gold ones.)

One of the iconic stories from that era was that of William Clark, who died in 1925 with a net worth in excess, in today's money, of $4 billion. He was one of the richest men of his day, perhaps second only to John D. Rockefeller. And in 1899, Clark's story helped propel an era of political cleanup that reached its zenith with the presidency of progressive Republicans (that species no longer exists) Teddy Roosevelt and William Howard Taft.

Clark's scandal even led to the passage of the 17th Amendment, which let the people of the various states decide who would be their U.S. senators, instead of the State Legislature deciding, which was the case from 1789 until 1913 when that amendment was ratified.

By 1899, Clark owned pretty much every legislator of any consequence in Montana, as well as all but one newspaper in the state. Controlling both the news and the politicians, he figured they'd easily elect him to be the next U.S. senator from Montana. Congress later learned that he not only owned the legislators, but in all probability stood outside the statehouse with a pocket full of $1,000 bills in plain white envelopes to hand out to every Member who'd voted for him.

When word reached Washington, D.C., about the envelopes and the cash, the U.S. Senate began an investigation into Clark, who told friends and aides that, "I never bought a man who wasn't for sale."

Mark Twain wrote of Clark: "He is as rotten a human being as can be found anywhere under the flag; he is a shame to the American nation, and no one has helped to send him to the Senate who did not know that his proper place was the penitentiary, with a chain and ball on his legs."

State Senator Fred Whiteside, who owned the only non-Clark-owned newspaper in the state, the Kalispell Bee, led the big expose of Clark's bribery. The rest of the Montana senators, however, ignored Whiteside and took Clark's money.

The U.S. Senate in 1899 launched an investigation, and, sure enough, found out about the envelopes and numerous other bribes and emoluments offered to state legislators, and refused to seat him. The next year, Montana's corrupted Governor appointed Clark to the Senate, and he served a full eight-year term.

Clark's story went national, and became a rallying cry for clean government advocates. In 1912, President Taft, after doubling the number of corporations being broken up by the Sherman Act over what Roosevelt had done, championed the 17th Amendment (direct election of senators, something some Republicans today want to repeal) to prevent the kind of corruption Clark represented from happening again.

Meanwhile, in Montana, while the state legislature was fighting reforms, the citizens put a measure on the state ballot of 1912 that would outlaw corporations from giving any money of any sort to politicians. That same year, Texas and other states passed similar legislation (the corrupt Speaker of the House, Tom Delay [R-TX], was prosecuted under that law).

Montana's anti-corruption law, along with those of numerous other states, persisted until 2010 when Justice Kennedy, writing for the five-vote majority on the U.S. Supreme Court, declared in the Citizens United decision that in examining over 100,000 pages of legal opinions he could not find:

"...any direct examples of votes being exchanged for ... expenditures. This confirms," Kennedy wrote, "Buckley's [the 1976 decision that money equals free speech] reasoning that independent expenditures do not lead to, or create the appearance of, quid pro quo corruption. In fact, there is only scant evidence that independent expenditures even ingratiate. Ingratiation and access, in any event, are not corruption."

The U.S. Supreme Court, following on the 1976 Buckley case that grew straight out of the Powell Memo and was written in part by Lewis Powell, turned the definitions of corruption upside down.

That same year, they overturned the Montana law in the 2010 ATV v. Bullock ruling, essentially saying that money doesn't corrupt politicians, particularly if that money comes from corporations who can "inform" us about current issues (the basis of the Citizens United decision) or billionaires (who, apparently the right-wingers on the Court believe, obviously know what's best for the rest of us).

Thus, the reason the NRA can buy and own senators like McCain and Rubio (and Thom Tillis/$4 million, Cory Gardner/$3.8 million, Joni Ernst/$3 million, and Rob Portman/$3 million, who all presumably took money much faster and much more recently than even McCain) is because our Supreme Court has repeatedly said that corporate and #MorbidlyRich billionaire money never corrupts politicians. (The dissent in the Citizens United case is a must-read; truly mind-boggling and demonstrates beyond refutation how corrupted the right-wingers on the court, particularly Scalia and Thomas -- who regularly attended events put on by the Kochs -- were by billionaire and corporate money.)

So here we are. The Supreme Court has ruled, essentially, that the NRA can own all the politicians they want, and can dump unlimited amounts of poison into our political bloodstream.

Gun-control activists are only confronting the tip of the iceberg.

Activists struggle to fight for our climate, the rights of communities to be free of pollution from fracking or factory farms, the rights of citizens to health care and education, and dozens of other issues where the government has the ability to limit predatory corporate behavior. Unfortunately, because of corporate money, our federal and many state governments are making things worse for humans and the earth, while jacking up profits and tax cuts for corporations and billionaires.

But there are solutions. While we work as hard as we can to clean up America's gun problem -- and the Parkland activists have given us all a cause and a chance to make real change happen now -- we also need to work to get money out of politics. It was financial corruption, after all, that got us in this gun mess in the first place -- the history of the Heller decision is a horrible history of well-funded right-wing groups testing message after message until they found one that would stick with the Supreme Court.

There are three big ways to overturn the power that billionaires and corporations have seized through their corruption of the Supreme Court.

The first way is to replace enough members of the Court to ensure a moderate or even progressive majority. This looked like a very real possibility in 2000, when George W. Bush lost the national vote to Al Gore by over a half million votes, and, according to a recount done by a consortium of newspapers, would have lost, as the New York Times reported, the electoral vote as well had the Supreme Court not intervened and stopped the Florida recount.

The Times noted: "[A] statewide recount could have produced enough votes to tilt the election his [Gore's] way, no matter what standard was chosen to judge voter intent." Unfortunately, they buried that sentence in the 17th paragraph of a story with a misleading headline, because the country had just been attacked on 9/11 and Bush's "legitimacy" was important to preserve during a time of national crisis. And, of course, none of that includes considerations of the considerable voter suppression that Jeb Bush and Katherine Harris engaged in, as documented by E.J. Dionne in the Washington Post, and Greg Palast for the BBC.

More recently, to keep the Court in GOP hands, Mitch McConnell simply flatly refused to even recognize President Barack Obama's appointment of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, waiting for Donald Trump to put in one of the most hard-right justices, Neal Gorsuch, since the 1920s.

The second way around Citizens United is for Congress to pass legislation specifically undoing Citizens United. Their authority to do this is found in the Constitution, Article 3, Section 2, which says: "[T]he Supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make." Congress rarely does this (it's referred to as "court stripping"), although banning judicial review was pushed really hard in the 1980s, including by Reagan himself.

The third and most likely way to get around this corruption of our Supreme Court is to do the same thing we did when the Court, in Dred Scott v. Sanford, ruled that African Americans were property and not people under the Constitution. We amended the Constitution (the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments) to overturn the Supreme Court's ruling.

Numerous groups, from Public Citizen to Move To Amend, are working hard on this last effort to say that "Corporations are not people and aren't entitled to the rights of personhood," and "Money is not the same thing as speech." If successful, such a constitutional amendment would overturn the "new laws" promulgated (unconstitutionally) by the court in 1886 (corporate personhood) and 1976 (money = "free speech").

The NRA and their weapons-manufacturing buddies aren't the only bad actors trying to damage our democratic republic through what were once illegal methods to corrupt public officials. Companies from the fossil fuel industry to the GMO industry to Silicon Valley have been doing it for years.

They're all symptoms of the real and larger problem: that the Supreme Court has ruled that corporations and billionaires can own a virtually unlimited number of state and federal politicians. These newly empowered billionaires are now even bragging about that ownership, as you can see with the recent Koch brothers announcement that they're injecting an eye-popping $400 million into the election this fall.

Only when we get money out of politics, like the good citizens of Montana did back in 1912, will we be able to deal with the NRA and their ilk on anything like a level playing field.

https://www.opednews.com/articles/1/Political-Corruption-Is-Un-by-Thom-Hartmann-American-History_Corporations_Corruption_Financial-180404-975.html

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 6 weeks 10 hours ago
#29

DS,

A fisherman is heading home at dusk. The river is narrow. Suddenly another boat is headed straight for him, coming faster and faster. He gets upset and starts to yell: “Watch out! Turn!.”

But the other boat crashes into him anyway. The fisherman is furious and starts yelling louder and louder. Until he realizes no one is piloting the other vessel. He was bumped by an empty boat. He now feels even more upset: he has nobody to blame.

Your life is full of boats adrift. And most of them are empty. But your mind clouds your perception. It urges you to find the pilot. When things don’t go well, you want to find who’s guilty.

When unfortunate events happen to you, how do you react? Do you find someone to blame? Or do you take responsibility for what is under your control?

Stop reacting and urging others to pay for what they (allegedly) did to you. That’s what blame is all about. Taming your mind will free you from pointing fingers.

‘Emptying’ the boats in your life will stop you from blaming others.

No One Wins the Blame Game“You do not blame your shadow for the shape of your body: Just the same: Do not blame others for the shape of your experience.” — Gillian Duc

An excellent piece about the human weakness to evade responsibility and to shift the blame on to others.

Every society needs to nurture a culture of accountability where people will accept responsibility for their actions.

Acceptance of fallibility is not weakness, it is a sign of wisdom.

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 6 weeks 10 hours ago
#30

DianeR,

Good day!

Been busy with clients this morning, no time to catch up on the news, thanks for the update.

Seems more caravans on the way, Hillary still wants to be president...imagine that.

Many countries getting fed up with lefties.

Did you see 60 minutes on Syria last night? Almost taliban free! Thanks to Trump & the Kurdish people.

Live well, love much and be happy!

more later.............

PS....My turkeys are 1/1024 % Bald eagle!!

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 6 weeks 10 hours ago
#31

A fount of analysis is available providing polling, trends, historical behaviors, and turnout models aiming to explain this election. But let’s imagine America as the Democrats are advertising.

First, it’s imperative that public discourse should address openly the historical failures of socialism. The generation clamoring for this collective government-sanctioned way of life has never been educated using historical texts speaking of the greatness of America’s Founders, or of the freedoms sought and established here by deliberate and careful construction of the Rule of Law — observing man’s tendencies and the need for a government that serves its citizens, not creates subjects of tyrannical reign.

Instead, the generation that is being led pitifully down the path of socialism has been indoctrinated by tenure-protected faculty who preach the gospel of secularism and shame the value of a true faith in God. These academics are the evangelists of the collective and manufactured rights available only to the devout who worship at the altar of Big Government — a government that replaces the family; redefines life, gender, and marriage; and speaks of equal outcome instead of equal opportunity.

Recent polling indicates that 57% of Democrats view socialism favorably. Surely, these folks are simply ignorant of the actual history of socialism’s implementation.

The fall of the Soviet Union in 1989 exposed the worst of socialism in a world power. China’s control over its production, information, and property enslaves its population. National Socialism (Nazis) and Marxist Socialism (Communists) murdered at least 100 million people in the 20th century.

Oh, but those are “extreme” examples, we’re told.

Today’s demand for “democratic socialism” is marketed via social media and Google algorithms and sent around by young adults who have no ability to critically think or reason. Ironically, without a free market in a nation that observes property rights, most people would not have access to the capital needed to have the smartphone that spreads their contagion. These comrade-wannabes also miss that the flow of information would be controlled by the state to ensure its subjects were compliant to the needs of masses, not influential on matters such as offering consent to be governed.

With the campaigns of Bernie Sanders (the modern prophet of socialism), Elizabeth “Fauxchahontas” Warren, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Beto O'Rouke on the Democrats’ slate of progressives, the promise of free college tuition with no strings tickles the ears. The “right” of health insurance seems logical when you’ve been indoctrinated to believe that government has its own money and economy without productive citizens lawfully paying their taxes, and that “free” health insurance is as simple as slinging pixie dust. A “universal wage” is equally appealing to those who have spent four, five, and six years completing a degree in women’s studies with a minor in Celtic History and find that their degree yields a job as often as one could find teats on a bull.

The allure of the version of socialism dished out by today’s Democrats is pure desperation for anything to draw voters to their partisan pity party of disgruntled and perpetually aggrieved victims.

So what would socialism look like in America? We could bring to mind Venezuela, where people are going without food, medicine, and social order, while rationing such simple items as toilet paper. We could also look at this “caravan of migrants” coming from Honduras, which is exporting its miserably poor because it refuses to import the currency of Liberty.

But more appropriately, take a look at America’s 31st state, California, to see how socialism takes root. With its vast wealth of population and natural resources, the Golden State has the fifth largest economy in the world, surpassing Great Britain. Yet it remains within the top 10 of these United States as having the highest tax burden on individuals and businesses. Inching toward a single-payer health insurance system, Californians provide illegal immigrants not only with safe harbor in the sanctuary state, but provide them with benefits such as health care, tuition and, even voting rights in local elections.

And what’s happening in this “democratic socialism” on the Left Coast? The state admits to about $1.3 trillion in debt (trillion, not billion). Headlines recently noted that typhus is on the rise. Yeah, that typhus, spread by fleas of rodents. Human feces are a problem in San Francisco, homeless camps are turning Los Angeles into a trash heap, and the call for more spending rings loudly as California proudly promotes itself as the destination for the invasion coming up from Central America.

The new “democratic socialism” turns the land of the free and the home of the brave into the land of disease and home of the depraved and enslaved. Wake up, America. Go Vote!

deepspace's picture
deepspace 6 weeks 8 hours ago
#32

OpEdNews - 2/4/2018

"Did Trump Just Announce His 9/11 "Unification" Strategy?

Trump believes that a "Trump war" will brings us together behind him."

By Thom Hartmann:

There are two bright-red warning lights flashing right now on the dashboard of what's left of American democracy. While Donald Trump is hyper-aware of both of them, the media and most of our politicians are ignoring them.

They are War and Crash.

War

War is one of the principal instruments of power-grabs by strong-man governments, and Donald Trump isn't missing a beat. While hundreds of thousands of civilians in Syria right now haven't had any humanitarian aid since November of last year and are literally dying as you read these words, Trump wants to amp up his bombing of that country.

But the biggest threat may be an unnecessary (but short-term politically useful) war with North Korea or Iran.

The day of his State of the Union speech, Trump met with a group of newspaper editors, and apparently harkening back to George W. Bush's strategy, talked about how useful a war could be for a politician who wants the entire nation to love him and unite around him. He said: "I would love to be able to bring back our country into a great form of unity. Without a major event where people pull together. That's hard to do."

Perhaps considering how Americans might react to such a statement from a president, he backtracked a bit in the next sentence: "But I would like to do it without that major event, because usually that major event is not a good thing."

Similarly, while campaigning in 1999, George W. Bush told his biographer, Mickey Herskowitz, that if he became president, he wouldn't make the mistake his father made in having only a short and limited war with Iraq; he'd have a big enough war so he'd become a "war-time president" with enough political capital to do things like privatize Social Security.

Cindy Sheehan talked about this when she testified in front of Congress in 2005. Speaking before a committee put together by John Conyers, she said:

"[I]in interviews in 1999 with respected journalist and long-time Bush family friend, Mickey Herskowitz, then Governor George Bush stated, 'One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as commander in chief. My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it. If I have a chance to invade, if I have that much capital, I'm not going to waste it. I'm going to get everything passed that I want to get passed and I'm going to have a successful presidency.'"

Now the only question is, which country will provide Donald Trump's unifying event. Will it be Syria, Iran or North Korea? Although Trump has radically escalated our military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, leading to a spike in both US soldier and civilian deaths, it's being largely ignored by the media.

But Iraq and Afghanistan are so George Bush. Thus, Trump reasons, he needs a "Trump war" to bring us together behind him.

Another possibility is that he's doing everything he can to both provoke North Korea and Iran, and piss off radicalized Muslims worldwide and in the US to attack us, so he can use that as well as George W. Bush used 9/11.

The Pentagon is apparently so freaked out about this possibility that it's refusing to hand over to Trump limited-war plans against North Korea. As noted in the New York Times: "[T]he Pentagon, they say, is worried that the White House is moving too hastily toward military action on the Korean Peninsula that could escalate catastrophically."

I wrote in 2003 about how wannabee dictators use attacks on a nation to consolidate power and strip human and civil rights from the populace; we need a national debate/discussion of how Bush exploited 9/11 and the long-term damage that exploitation has done to our national interests.

And we need to learn from that lesson and keep a wary and watchful eye on what Trump may do -- and perhaps even consider legislation to require a declaration of war from Congress (as the Constitution mandates) before he can engage in any more military actions.

Crash

A Great Crash is, as we learned with the Republican Great Depression (yes, that's what they called it until the 1940s) and FDR's rise to power, another way that a president can pull a country together. I laid this scenario out in my book The Crash of 2016 which, while mis-timed, still lays out a pretty clear vision of how the Powell Memo was used by billionaires to hijack democracy, and how it may play out.

Apropos of that, the bond market is right now going nuts. And it could take down our entire economy, largely because the #GOPTaxScam just forced our government to quickly sell almost $1.5 trillion in bonds (how our government borrows money) to pass -- hand that cash over to the #MorbidlyRich billionaire class.

Normal economics dictates that when a country is doing well, it should pay down its debt and invest in its people and infrastructure. During bad times, the nation then has the room to borrow to stimulate the economy and recover from a downturn.

As John Dizard wrote for the Financial Times, the Republicans have decided not to follow that simple game plan that has kept countries stable for centuries. He writes:

"Unfortunately, that is not the case. The administration and Congress have chosen to cut taxes when the economy is at full employment.

"So the Treasury has to push out bond issues, mostly at the shorter end of the yield curve, just as the Fed has finally decided to reduce the size of its balance sheet [sell bonds] and raise short-term policy rates. This is not good timing.

"A lot of older people and opioid addicts must rejoin the labor force and work efficiently to keep the economy ticking over without an inflationary blowout or a bond market crash."

And a bond market crash (a rapid increase in the yield that new bonds pay, dropping the value of existing/older lower-interest-paying bonds) can kill the boom in the stock market by increasing borrowing costs, particularly when companies across the nation are leveraged up to their ears as is the case today.

But billionaire Trump and the billionaire-funded Republicans (and their billionaire-owned "news" channel), true to color, are only interested in what will increase billionaire wealth over the short term, regardless of how badly it devastates working people or the nation long-term.

So when eight years of rational Obama policies (opposed by Fox and the GOP at every turn) handed Trump a strong and growing economy last year, he and his Koch-head buddies in Congress decided to borrow $1.5 trillion and hand it over to the billionaire class (along with a one-time "bonus" to a few workers).

Much of the trillions handed to corporations with the tax cut are being used right now by US companies to do stock buy-backs (illegal before Reagan, still illegal in many other countries), thus artificially inflating the companies' stock prices while adding exactly nothing to the economy or workers' wages.

This may stave off the stock market reckoning for as much as a year, but over the long term, it will make the fall all that much more violent.

We watched George W. Bush do the same thing, and it ended in the disaster of the Bush Crash of 2008.

Hang onto your seat and get ready. The Trump Reality Show, in all its sick horror, is just getting underway.

https://www.opednews.com/articles/1/Did-Trump-Just-Announce-Hi-by-Thom-Hartmann-Billionaires_Bush-And-911_Taxes_Trump-Cruelty-180204-367.html

deepspace's picture
deepspace 6 weeks 8 hours ago
#33

(1 of 2)

OpEdNews - 2/12/2018 - From Alternet

"How the GOP Used a Two Santa Clauses Tactic to Con America for Nearly 40 Years.

This scam has been killing wages and enriching billionaires for decades."

By Thom Hartmann:

"The only thing wrong with the U.S. economy is the failure of the Republican Party to play Santa Claus." -- Jude Wanniski, March 6, 1976

The Republican Party has been running a long con on America since Reagan's inauguration, and somehow our nation's media has missed it -- even though it was announced in The Wall Street Journal in the 1970s and the GOP has clung tenaciously to it ever since.

In fact, Republican strategist Jude Wanniski's 1974 "Two Santa Clauses Theory" has been the main reason why the GOP has succeeded in producing our last two Republican presidents, Bush and Trump (despite losing the popular vote both times). It's also why Reagan's economy seemed to be "good."

Here's how it works, laid it out in simple summary:

First, when Republicans control the federal government, and particularly the White House, spend money like a drunken sailor and run up the US debt as far and as fast as possible. This produces three results -- it stimulates the economy, thus making people think that the GOP can produce a good economy, it raises the debt dramatically, and it makes people think that Republicans are the "tax-cut Santa Claus."

Second, when a Democrat is in the White House, scream about the national debt as loudly and frantically as possible, freaking out about how "our children will have to pay for it!" and "we have to cut spending to solve the crisis!" This will force the Democrats in power to cut their own social safety net programs, thus shooting their welfare-of-the-American-people Santa Claus.

Think back to Ronald Reagan, who more than tripled the US debt from a mere $800 billion to $2.6 trillion in his eight years. That spending produced a massive stimulus to the economy, and the biggest non-wartime increase in the debt in history. Nary a peep from Republicans about that 218% increase in our debt; they were just fine with it.

And then along came Bill Clinton. The screams and squeals from the GOP about the "unsustainable debt" of nearly $3 trillion were loud, constant, and echoed incessantly by media from CBS to NPR. Newt Gingrich rode the wave of "unsustainable debt" hysteria into power, as the GOP took control of the House for the first time lasting more than a term since 1930, even though the increase in our national debt under Clinton was only about 37%.

The GOP "debt freakout" was so widely and effectively amplified by the media that Clinton himself bought into it and began to cut spending, taking the axe to numerous welfare programs ("It's the end of welfare as we know it" he famously said, and "The era of big government is over"). Clinton also did something no Republican has done in our lifetimes: he supported several balanced budgets and handed a budget surplus to George W. Bush.

When George W. Bush was given the White House by the Supreme Court (Gore won the popular vote by over a half-million votes) he reverted to Reagan's strategy and again nearly doubled the national debt, adding a trillion in borrowed money to pay for his tax cut for GOP-funding billionaires, and tossing in two unfunded wars for good measure, which also added at least (long term) another $5 to $7 trillion.

There was not a peep about the debt from any high-profile in-the-know Republicans then; in fact, Dick Cheney famously said, essentially ratifying Wanniski's strategy, "Reagan proved deficits don't matter. We won the midterms [because of those tax cuts]. This is our due." Bush and Cheney raised the debt by 86% to over $10 trillion (although the war debt wasn't put on the books until Obama entered office).

Then comes Democratic President Barack Obama, and suddenly the GOP is hysterical about the debt again. So much so that they convinced a sitting Democratic president to propose a cut to Social Security (the "chained CPI"). Obama nearly shot the Democrats biggest Santa Claus program. And, Republican squeals notwithstanding, Obama only raised the debt by 34%.

Now we're back to a Republican president, and once again deficits be damned. Between their tax cut and the nearly-trillion dollar spending increase passed on February 8th, in the first year-and-a-month of Trump's administration they've spent more stimulating the economy (and driving up debt by more than $2 trillion, when you include interest) than the entire Obama presidency.

Consider the amazing story of where this strategy came from, and how the GOP has successfully kept their strategy from getting into the news; even generally well-informed writers for media like the Times and the Post -- and producers, pundits and reporters for TV news -- don't know the history of what's been happening right in front of us all for 37 years.

Republican strategist Jude Wanniski first proposed his Two Santa Clauses strategy in 1974, when Richard Nixon resigned in disgrace and the future of the Republican Party was so dim that books and articles were widely suggesting the GOP was about to go the way of the Whigs. There was genuine despair across the Party, particularly when Jerry Ford began stumbling as he climbed the steps to Air Force One and couldn't even beat an unknown peanut farmer from rural Georgia for the presidency.

Wanniski was tired of the GOP failing to win elections. And, he reasoned, it was happening because the Democrats had been viewed since the New Deal as the Santa Claus party (taking care of people's needs and the General Welfare), while the GOP, opposing everything from Social Security to Medicare to unemployment insurance, was widely seen as the party of Scrooge.

The Democrats, he noted, got to play Santa Claus when they passed out Social Security and Unemployment checks -- both programs of the New Deal -- as well as when their "big government" projects like roads, bridges, and highways were built, giving a healthy union paycheck to construction workers and making our country shine.

Democrats kept raising taxes on businesses and rich people to pay for things, which didn't seem to have much effect at all on working people (wages were steadily going up, in fact), and that added to the perception that the Democrats were a party of Robin Hoods, taking from the rich to fund programs for the poor and the working class.

Americans loved the Democrats back then. And every time Republicans railed against these programs, they lost elections.

Wanniski decided that the GOP had to become a Santa Claus party, too. But because the Republicans hated the idea of helping working people, they had to figure out a way to convince people that they, too, could have the Santa spirit. But what?

"Tax cuts!" said Wanniski.

To make this work, the Republicans would first have to turn the classical world of economics -- which had operated on a simple demand-driven equation for seven thousand years -- on its head. (Everybody understood that demand -- aka "wages" -- drove economies because working people spent most of their money in the marketplace, producing demand for factory output and services.)

In 1974 Wanniski invented a new phrase -- "supply side economics" -- and suggested that the reason economies grew wasn't because people had money and wanted to buy things with it but, instead, because things were available for sale, thus tantalizing people to part with their money.

The more things there were, he said, the faster the economy would grow. And the more money we gave rich people and their corporations (via tax cuts) the more stuff they'd generously produce for us to think about buying.

At a glance, this move by the Republicans seems irrational, cynical and counterproductive. It certainly defies classic understandings of economics. But if you consider Jude Wanniski's playbook, it makes complete sense.

To help, Arthur Laffer took that equation a step further with his famous napkin scribble. Not only was supply-side a rational concept, Laffer suggested, but as taxes went down, revenue to the government would go up! Neither concept made any sense -- and time has proven both to be colossal idiocies -- but together they offered the Republican Party a way out of the wilderness.

Ronald Reagan was the first national Republican politician to fully embrace the Two Santa Clauses strategy. He said straight out that if he could cut taxes on rich people and businesses, those tax cuts would cause them to take their surplus money and build factories, and that the more stuff there was supplying the economy the faster it would grow.

George Herbert Walker Bush -- like most Republicans in 1980 who hadn't read Wanniski's piece in The Wall Street Journal -- was horrified. Ronald Reagan was suggesting "Voodoo Economics," said Bush in the primary campaign, and Wanniski's supply-side and Laffer's tax-cut theories would throw the nation into such deep debt that, he believed, we'd ultimately crash into another Republican Great Depression.

But Wanniski had been doing his homework on how to sell "voodoo" supply-side economics.

In 1976, he rolled out to the hard-right insiders in the Republican Party his "Two Santa Clauses" theory, which would enable the Republicans to take power in America for the next 40 years.

https://www.opednews.com/articles/1/How-the-GOP-Used-a-Two-San-by-Thom-Hartmann-America-Freedom-To-Fascism_American-Capitalism_American-Presidents_Debt-180212-210.html

cont'd...

deepspace's picture
deepspace 6 weeks 8 hours ago
#34

cont'd (2 of 2) ...

OpEdNews - 2/12/2018 - From Alternet

"How the GOP Used a Two Santa Clauses Tactic to Con America for Nearly 40 Years.

This scam has been killing wages and enriching billionaires for decades."

By Thom Hartmann:

Democrats, he said, had been able to be "Santa Clauses" by giving people things from the largesse of the federal government. From food stamps to new schools to sending a man to the moon, the people loved the "toys" the Democrats brought every year.

Republicans could do that, too, the theory went -- spending could actually increase without negative repurcussions. Plus, Republicans could be double Santa Clauses by cutting people's taxes!

For working people it would only be a small token -- a few hundred dollars a year on average -- but would be heavily marketed. And for the rich, which wasn't to be discussed in public, it would amount to hundreds of billions of dollars in tax cuts.

The rich, Reagan, Bush, and Trump told us, would then use that money to import or build more stuff to market, thus stimulating the economy and making average working people richer. (And, of course, they'd pass some of that money back to the GOP, like the Kochs giving Paul Ryan $500,000 right after he passed the last tax cut that gave them billions.)

There was no way, Wanniski said, that the Democrats could ever win again. They'd be forced into the role of Santa-killers by raising taxes, or anti-Santas by cutting spending. Either one would lose them elections.

When Reagan rolled out Supply Side Economics in the early 80s, dramatically cutting taxes while exploding spending, there was a moment when it seemed to Wanniski and Laffer that all was lost. The budget deficit exploded and the country fell into a deep recession -- the worst since the Great Depression -- and Republicans nationwide held their collective breath.

But David Stockman came up with a great new theory about what was going on -- they were "starving the beast" of government by running up such huge deficits that Democrats would never, ever in the future be able to talk again about national health care or improving Social Security.

And this so pleased Alan Greenspan, the Fed Chairman, that he opened the spigots of the Fed, dropping interest rates and buying government bonds, producing a nice, healthy goose to the economy.

Greenspan further counseled Reagan to dramatically increase taxes on people earning under $37,800 a year by doubling the Social Security (FICA/payroll) tax, and then let the government borrow those newfound hundreds of billions of dollars off-the-books to make the deficit look better than it was.

Reagan, Greenspan, Winniski, and Laffer took the federal budget deficit from under a trillion dollars in 1980 to almost three trillion by 1988, and back then a dollar could buy far more than it buys today. They and George HW Bush ran up more debt in eight years than every president in history, from George Washington to Jimmy Carter, combined.

Surely this would both starve the beast and force the Democrats to make the politically suicidal move of becoming deficit hawks. And that's just how it turned out.

Bill Clinton, who had run on an FDR-like platform of a "New Covenant" with the American people that would strengthen the institutions of the New Deal, strengthen labor, and institute a national health care system, found himself in a box.

A few weeks before his inauguration, Alan Greenspan and Robert Rubin sat him down and told him the facts of life: he was going to have to raise taxes and cut the size of government. Clinton took their advice to heart, raised taxes, balanced the budget, and cut numerous programs, declaring an "end to welfare as we know it" and, in his second inaugural address, an "end to the era of big government."

Clinton was the anti-Santa Claus, and the result was an explosion of Republican wins across the country as Republican politicians campaigned on a platform of supply-side tax cuts and pork-rich spending increases. State after state turned red, and the Republican Party rose to take over, ultimately, every single lever of power in the federal government, from the Supreme Court to the White House.

Looking at the wreckage of the Democratic Party all around Clinton by 1999, Winniski wrote a gloating memo that said, in part: "We of course should be indebted to Art Laffer for all time for his Curve... But as the primary political theoretician of the supply-side camp, I began arguing for the 'Two Santa Claus Theory' in 1974. If the Democrats are going to play Santa Claus by promoting more spending, the Republicans can never beat them by promoting less spending. They have to promise tax cuts..."

Ed Crane, then-president of the Koch-funded Libertarian CATO Institute, noted in a memo that year: "When Jack Kemp, Newt Gingich, Vin Weber, Connie Mack and the rest discovered Jude Wanniski and Art Laffer, they thought they'd died and gone to heaven. In supply-side economics they found a philosophy that gave them a free pass out of the debate over the proper role of government. Just cut taxes and grow the economy: government will shrink as a percentage of GDP, even if you don't cut spending. That's why you rarely, if ever, heard Kemp or Gingrich call for spending cuts, much less the elimination of programs and departments."

Two Santa Clauses had gone mainstream. Never again would Republicans worry about the debt or deficit when they were in office; and they knew well how to scream hysterically about it as soon as Democrats took power.

George W. Bush embraced the Two Santa Claus Theory with gusto, ramming through huge tax cuts -- particularly a cut to the capital gains tax rate on people like himself who made their principle income from sitting around the mailbox waiting for their dividend or capital gains checks to arrive -- and blew out federal spending.

Bush, with his wars, even out-spent Reagan, which nobody had ever thought would again be possible. And it all seemed to be going so well, just as it did in the early 1920s when a series of three consecutive Republican presidents cut income taxes on the uber-rich from over 70 percent to under 30 percent.

In 1929, pretty much everybody realized that instead of building factories with all that extra money, the rich had been pouring it into the stock market, inflating a bubble that -- like an inexorable law of nature -- would have to burst.

But the people who remembered that lesson were mostly all dead by 2005, when Jude Wanniski died and George Gilder celebrated the Reagan/Bush supply-side-created bubble economies in a Wall Street Journal eulogy:

"...Jude's charismatic focus on the tax on capital gains redeemed the fiscal policies of four administrations. ... Unbound by zero-sum economics, Jude forged the golden gift of a profound and passionate argument that the establishments of the mold must finally give way to the powers of the mind. ... He audaciously defied all the Buffetteers of the trade gap, the moldy figs of the Phillips Curve, the chic traders in money and principle, even the stultifying pillows of the Nobel Prize."

In reality, his tax cuts did what they have always done over the past 100 years -- they initiated a bubble economy that would let the very rich skim the cream off the top just before the ceiling crashed in on working people. Just like today.

The Republicans got what they wanted from Wanniski's work. They held power for 30 years, made themselves trillions of dollars, and cut organized labor's representation in the workplace from around 25 percent when Reagan came into office to around 6 [percent] of the non-governmental workforce today.

Over time, and without raising the cap, Social Security will face an easily-solved crisis, and the GOP's plan is for force Democrats to become the anti-Santa, yet again. If the GOP-controlled Congress continues to refuse to require rich people to pay into Social Security (any income over $128,000 is SS-tax-free), either benefits will be cut or the retirement age will have to be raised to over 70.

The GOP plan is to use this unnecessary, manufactured crisis as an opening to "reform" Social Security -- translated: cut and privatize. Thus, forcing Democrats to become the Social Security anti-Santa a different way.

When this happens, Democrats must remember Jude Wanniski, and accept neither the cut to disability payments nor the entree to Social Security "reform." They must demand the "cap" be raised, as Bernie Sanders proposed and the Democratic Party adopted in its 2016 platform.

And, hopefully, some of our media will begin to call the GOP out on the Two Santa Clauses program. It's about time that Americans realized the details of the scam that's been killing wages and enriching billionaires for nearly four decades.

https://www.opednews.com/articles/3/How-the-GOP-Used-a-Two-San-by-Thom-Hartmann-America-Freedom-To-Fascism_American-Capitalism_American-Presidents_Debt-180212-210.html

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 6 weeks 8 hours ago
#35

The Sad, Sad Culture of ProgressivismBy E.M. Cadwaladr

If you’ve ever read anything written by any progressive over the age of forty, chances are pretty good that you’ve been exposed to a certain weary, self-indulgent, spiritually-agonized tone. It is very recognizable, like the smell of decay that’s characteristic of a swamp. By comparison, leftists under the age of forty are likely to have more-or-less the same tone that they were born with -- the high-pitched tone of an infant that is not getting its way. Older leftists have usually run out of this youthful vigor, just like the rest of us. They do not participate in Antifa riots on the streets. They think about such youthful protests with a sense of nostalgia, remembering their wild, radical college days -- whether they actually experienced them or not. Lost in a kind of communal introspection, they gather to have a coffee and a chat about how infinitely, heartbreakingly hard it is to endure the misery of the world. It would be vulgar to point out that a nice income and a nice house in a nice neighborhood can do a lot to ease this unbearable sense of soul-wrenching angst. Moral anguish can actually be quite comfortable if you can manage to do it safely at a distance.

A few years ago, while researching an entirely worthless opposition article claiming Trump supporters are characteristically authoritarians, I ran across an editor at a progressive publication whose full title was “Senior Sadness Editor”. That’s exactly what it said: “Senior Sadness Editor.” No other title has ever so perfectly captured the tone of the intellectual left. A career of virtuous weepiness. A bleeding heart that suffers theatrically for public consumption. Christine Blasey Ford really should, and probably will, get an Oscar for her performance before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Or is it an Emmy, since the movie version isn’t out yet?

To someone raised in a leftist family, the drill is all too familiar. There may be variations, but my experience went something like this:

One is immersed from birth in Marxist critical theory like a chicken cooking slowly in pot -- not that one is ever told explicitly what Marxist critical theory is. In practice, the dogma is practiced as nothing more sophisticated than a lifestyle of continual dissatisfaction -- of one long sad and negative discussion after another. The ideal setting for such discussions really has become the coffee shop -- now a kind of secular parody of a church. There, one can ruminate, virtue signal to one’s fellow left-leaners, and sip slowly at the bitter cup of fair-trade, overpriced java picked by scenically depicted (but always comfortably far away) peasants from a third world hellhole du jour. If you miss the wafer normally offered in a more traditional sacrament, have a biscotti. One can tip the transgender barista graciously, earning a kind of progressive equivalent of merit, though not the least shred of actual grace. One can snub America simply by occupying the repackaged equivalent of a European institution. This is leftism by association.

The pilgrimage to the bookstore is another popular rite, though not compulsory. There, one finds all sorts of new and interesting topics to feel bad about. One can educate one’s sense of moral outrage, refining the palate to the subtler nuances of the same eternal whine. The vibrant Red whine: How bad western civilization is in general. The anti-American White whine: How bad America is in particular. All such reading fuels the same peculiarly self-destructive end. The progressive is taught to believe that an entirely unproductive and pathologically disheartened outlook is the mark of a superior being. Life is to be lamented from start to finish. Ordinary happiness is for the stupid. Such an ongoing narrative is as sticky and as lethal as a Venus fly trap. Try reading a little of the public intellectual Noam Chomsky. See how wonderfully acerbic and languid he is? Read a bit of the revisionist historian Howard Zinn. Such a blistering indictment of the West by a man who hasn’t troubled himself to examine any inconvenient historical data. Even a cursory study of leftist literature will make it plain to any conservative how leftists have developed an unspoken longing for cultural suicide. They have few or no children. They have no reason to be bothered if America is eventually transformed into just another Latin American failed state. They have been told their whole lives that it would serve us right.

Barack Obama was, himself, a master of the progressive tone. Even other progressives became conscious, after a while, that their narcissist-in-chief wasn’t actually going to do much other than express his universal disappointment. It was obvious to them that the world itself fell short of Obama’s grand and ideologically perfect expectations. It was obvious to the rest of us that he had no idea how to do his job. Good progressives made excuses for him. He was just too elevated a being to be anything as innately dirty as an American president. Conservatives were to blame -- it goes without saying. We interrupted Obama’s dramatic soliloquies with our stubborn refusal to swoon -- our meanspirited failure to sink to our knees and weep in adoration. We heckled the eight-year poetry recital that was his presidency. We offended his sensibilities with our loathsome, primitive ideas about “American exceptionalism.” How crude. How unsophisticated. Obama was, and still is, the very embodiment of what it now means to be a leftist intellectual: Pretending to be above it all. Saddened by reality. The only qualities he added to the standard narrative were bitterness, petulance, and vindictiveness. And even these were not uniquely his. Hillary outperformed these negatives on all counts. Obama did his share of damage, of course, but being a man of words rather than action he seldom let industriousness interfere with his persona or his golf game. Being a victim of heroic proportions requires neither brilliance nor effort. It only requires a certain look, a certain pose -- the shallow acting skills of a character not from history, but from a novel. In one sense, and one sense only, he really was a kind of Antichrist: he was a creature who hypnotized the people he inspired -- if the term “inspired” can be used so perversely. Leftist demagogues rot the inner strength of the nations they infest. We must understand that this is their role -- or, in their own pretentious language, their raison d'etre. They are the Svengalis of modern politics, leading their followers incrementally down the road to moral blindness and societal death.

The disease of progressivism is now widespread, though probably not the majority position some imagine it to be. It has infected all classes, from cynical elites who wish to placate the last shriveled remnants of their consciences to the cynical poor who wish to be made unpoor by a government willing to pick pockets on their behalf. The cultural decay is deep, giving people a false sense of goodness based of uttering magic words rather than on the difficult and costly work of genuinely moral behavior. The real obscenity of leftist virtue-signaling isn’t merely that it’s unproductive and self-serving, but that leftists are so blinded that their own hypocrisy is lost on them. What does virtue-signaling accomplished that could not be done more honestly with a secret gesture or a secret handshake? What does the middle-class progressive really want other than identification with “the enlightened,” the intelligentsia, and with those who wield power?

I will hardly be the first to observe that the left long ago lost the battle over facts. Ghettoes, crime, and overdose deaths are facts. The chaos in Western Europe is a fact. The degeneration of Detroit into semi-rural scrub forest is a fact. The “arc of history,” pretty as it sounds, is nothing but a literary dream. A castle of mere words. Socialism has always been, at heart, a literary façade for the same old centralization of power -- a petty tyranny at the hands of self-appointed and self-righteous planners and intellectuals. It’s a lie. In its death throes it has even lost the charm of being a beautiful lie.

Dianereynolds's picture
Dianereynolds 6 weeks 8 hours ago
#36

Nice work HotCoffee, Toi those leftie/socialists that seek to change our constitution and live in socialisn, there are plenty of opportunities to test it's merits in other countries. I hear there is a large one in South Aperica just ripe for Bernie's ideas as to how to repair their once triving economy.

I had the radio on for Thom's first segment but yet again some wannabe politician took up the slot so that was that. I can only guess his rants were the usual quack, quack, quack.

Limbaugh was right on point.

In case you missed it, in a press briefing today, Sarah Sanders response to one of the idiot reporters who was hounding her about the shooting, "The first thing President Trump did was publically condem the act. The first thing the press did was blame President Trump"

and yet they wonder why he does nothing but call them fake news.

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 6 weeks 8 hours ago
#37

DianeR,

I did turn to Thom's FSTV during a commercial and saw he was talking to a political shill, I left the show about 60 seconds later. I wanted to hear Sarah but the phone is ringing off the hook this AM.

Will catch up as the day goes on.....did hear about the troops headed to the border...and yes, yes, yes!...Ca. has it's wall!

A friend is leaving tomorrow for TX to see her daughter, I,m sure she will have plenty to fill me in on.

Meanwhile DS temeper tantrum continues....LOL

deepspace's picture
deepspace 6 weeks 8 hours ago
#38

WARNING! # 35:

Copying long passages of someone else's work without their permission (or their publisher's) and posting them on a different website is illegal. However, Thom's own work may be posted in full on his own website, with proper attribution.

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 6 weeks 7 hours ago
#39

Warning #38 you have no clue if I got permission or not....but you do like to make false accusations don't you? Did Thom make you the blog police or did you grab that position for yourself?

If you're real crappy maybe Thom will let you dress up like him for halloween!

deepspace's picture
deepspace 6 weeks 7 hours ago
#40

Well, óinseach, if you don't have formal permission, amendable to all parties involved, that makes you both a liar and a plagiarist. Pardon me for pointing out boiler-plate publishing laws.

Or, like Trump, maybe you don't think the kingdom's laws apply to self-righteous hypocrites, such as him and you. Regardless of your claim, however, the alleged transgression is duly noted, on record, and in the archive.

Téigh trasna ort féin.

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 6 weeks 7 hours ago
#41

For some reason I'm not so sure Thom wants to be teathered to your hateful speech from your 1st post on up to todays childish finger flippin. Might just be why he abandoned his blog!

No worries though no one will be posting anything you've written.

You might want to pass off Thom stuff to Soros and Bloomberg though.

Dianereynolds's picture
Dianereynolds 6 weeks 7 hours ago
#42

Hey HotCoffee, glad you are busy. Sarah Sanders is my hero and she handled the press with ease. Here is the video,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMyY5EqL8cw

Trump has 5000 troops at the ready for the border issue. Once again, the leftie/socialists blew this one. It is a real republican vote getter.

Interesting tidbit out of Pennsylvania. Just 4 days before the Synagogue shooting the Pittsburg school board voted down 8-1 a proposal that would permit the police officers in schools to be armed.

I always ask lefties if they were in a place where there was nowhere to run, would they be more comfortable knowing someone among their group of friends was carrying a gun and was trained in its use or, would they prefer no guns in the room? That's when their stammering starts.

"Dad at McDonald's with kids shoots and kills masked gunman who opened fire"

As far as your malcontent friend is concerned, he/she/alphabet is very easy to ignore.

Since Keith Olbermann took a clue and simply went away people ask where are all the mentally unbalanced left wing paranoids coming from to fill the void?

I think we have found the answer.

See ya!

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 6 weeks 7 hours ago
#43

Don't Black lives matter to CNN??

*******************

Forty-three people were shot, including five who were shot fatally, over Halloween weekend in Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Chicago.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported that beginning with Friday, each day in the weekend became more violent. For example, “three wounded and one killed Friday night, 11 wounded and one killed on Saturday, and 25 shot — three fatally — on Sunday.”

The five individual killed were 16-year-old John Pena, 23-year-old Kenjuan D. Scott, 30-year-old Deshawn Jacobs, 20-year-old Detavious Beeks, and an unidenified 33-year-old male. All were fatally shot while standing on a sidewalk, walking, or inside a vehicle.

The forty-three shot over Halloween weekend represents a marked increase in gun crime compared the he Halloween weekend of 2017, when 30 were shot, including two fatalities.

On September 4, Breitbart News reported Mayor Emanuel’s announcement that he would not seek a third a term in office. His decision to step came just weeks after the number of shooting victims in Chicago surpassed 2,000 for 2018.

Fox News reported that over 1,000 people were shot between Memorial Day and September 3, 2018, in Emanuel’s Chicago.

By AWR Hawkins - is an award-winning Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News, the host of the Breitbart podcast Bullets with AWR Hawkins, and the writer/curator of Down Range with AWR Hawkins, a weekly newsletter focused on all things Second Amendment, also for Breitbart News. He is the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at awrhawkins@breitbart.com. Sign up to get Down Range at breitbart.com/downrange.


deepspace's picture
deepspace 6 weeks 6 hours ago
#44

OpEdNews - 2/19/2018 - From Alternet

"We Live in a Country That Has a Totally Corrupted Political System.

The young people see this situation for what it is: Corruption."

By Thom Hartmann:

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 braggadociously, 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.

But to Lewis Powell, a lawyer by training and the author of the infamous blueprint for billionaires to take over America (now known as The Powell Memo), nothing was more important than targeting the courts.

In his memo, Powell wrote, "Under our constitutional system, especially with an activist-minded Supreme Court, the judiciary may be the most important instrument for social, economic and political change."

He noted, "This is a vast area of opportunity for the Chamber, if it is willing to undertake the role of spokesman for American business and if, in turn, business is willing to provide the funds."

Laying out specifics, Powell added, "The Chamber would need a highly competent staff of lawyers. In special situations it should be authorized to engage, to appear as counsel amicus in the Supreme Court, lawyers of national standing and reputation. The greatest care should be exercised in selecting the cases in which to participate, or the suits to institute. But the opportunity merits the necessary effort."

In the 1970s, as the US Chamber of Commerce focused on the courts, employing high-priced, savvy lawyers, and flooding the Supreme Court chamber with amicus briefs, a string of explosive decisions throughout the decade gave the #MorbidlyRich what they needed to eventually overthrow FDR's New Deal and to radically reinterpret the 2nd Amendment.

In 1976, in Buckley v. Valeo, the Supreme Court (to which Nixon appointed Lewis Powell in 1972, the year after Powell wrote his infamous memo) ruled that political money is constitutionally protected free speech, changing American law so that those who have the most money would have the most "First Amendment free speech" in our political system. And if there was anything that the NRA was getting good at, it was raising money from weapons manufacturers and others.

That same year, in United States v. Martin Linen Supply Co., corporations -- as persons -- were given Fifth Amendment protections against double jeopardy, limiting the ability of citizens to go after gun manufacturers, among others.

And in Virginia State Board of Pharmacy v. Virginia Citizens Consumer Council, the Supreme Court ruled that corporate advertising (including promoting M15 weapons of war to our kids) is a protected form of free speech. (Ironically, William Rehnquist was the sole dissenter; he argued that corporate "speech" [advertising] was often deceptive. But the deed was done; Caveat emptor became the new American normal.)

A year later, in 1977, in First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti, the Supreme Court overturned state restrictions on corporate political spending, saying such restrictions violate the First Amendment rights of corporations, and giving the NRA and other interest groups an added lever to use to extract legislation.

In their dissents in that case, Justices White, Brennan, and Marshall argued, "The special status of corporations has placed them in a position to control vast amounts of economic power which may, if not regulated, dominate not only our economy but the very heart of our democracy, the electoral process."

But their warnings were ignored.

Then came the Federalist Society, founded in 1982 with millions of dollars in funding by the Koch-connected Bradley Foundation.

They built a nationwide network of jurists, attorneys, legal scholars, and politicians to indoctrinate a new generation's legal system with billionaire-friendly interpretations: Corporate personhood is real, money is speech, democracy is not sacred, and organized money should always have privilege over organized people.

They also helped lay the case for the Hellerdecision, which, for the first time in nearly 230 years, found a "right to individual gun ownership" in the 2nd Amendment.

In 2010 the Supreme Court wrapped its gift to corporations and gun manufacturers all up in a neat little bundle with their 5-4 Citizen's United ruling. With that decision, America was nearly completely turned over to the wealthy and corporations.

Thereafter, oligarchs like Adenson and the Kochs began openly bragging about how much they were spending to buy politicians, legislation, tax breaks, and the deregulation of consumer protections.

President Obama called this out in his 2010 State Of The Union speech:

"It's time to require lobbyists to disclose each contact they make on behalf of a client with my administration or with Congress. It's time to put strict limits on the contributions that lobbyists give to candidates for federal office.

"With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that, I believe, will open the floodgates for special interests, including foreign corporations, to spend without limit in our elections.

"I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests or, worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people."

Hard-right corporatist judge Sam Alito silently (and disrespectfully) mouthed, "Not true!" at Obama, but history shows that Alito was the one in error, not Obama. Right on down to the ability of foreign entities to influence our elections and lawmaking by, for example, the possible laundering of campaign money through the NRA.

And so, a few days after Paul Ryan shepherded through Congress a law that confers potentially billions of dollars in tax benefits to them, the Kochs and their friends put a half-million dollars into Ryan's fundraising committee, while the NRA continues to shower him and Mitch McConnell with support.

In Robert B. Parker's 1982, this would have been the end of Ryan's career, and the Kochs and the NRA would be vilified as corrupters of the political process.

In 1971, only 175 companies had registered lobbyists. By 1982, there were nearly 2,500, and today there are over 12,000 lobbyists just registered in DC. Oligarchs were dumping huge amounts of money lobbying for favorable legislation, although it still isn't really visible to most Americans until tragedies like mass shootings give us an insight into how it all works.

As the Reagan administration rolled into power in 1981, so, too, did the #MorbidlyRich oligarchs, who were seeding brand-new right-wing think tanks devoted to espousing the same free-market, Andrew Mellon/Warren Harding ideologies that led to the 1929 Great Crash: massive tax cuts, deregulation, and privatization.

Back during the era of Nixon, Americans understood the power and dangers of corruption.

As Lamar Waldron and I point out in our book Legacy of Secrecy: The Long Shadow of the JFK Assassination, when the milk producers association wanted the Nixon administration to increase milk price supports (to increase their profitability by over $3 billion), they hid/laundered their "campaign donations" through local GOP groups and a briefcase with $3 million in cash, which were later determined to be illegal, an event that became a major part of the Watergate-era Nixon scandals.

But that was all so pre-1976, the year when the Supreme Court's Buckley decision ruled that rich people (or rich corporations) owning their own personal politicians wasn't corruption; it was free speech.

While it's taken us over 40 years to fully integrate the 1976 Buckleydecision and its spawn into our body politic, the corruption of this entirely new interpretation of the First Amendment is systematically taking apart our nation. And has made it easier and easier for maladjusted people among us to stockpile weapons of war.

For example, can you imagine Richard Nixon lying about how environmentally destructive some industrial poisons are? Nixon couldn't imagine it; he put into place the Environmental Protection Agency. And he was fine with the fairly strong gun control laws that several states, from California to New York, had in place.

But today's Republican Party (with a few very, very rare exceptions) is so in debt to -- so owned by -- a few petrobillionaires and coal multimillionaires and oil companies that they're perfectly willing to look the world in the face and lie through their teeth about the science of global warming.

They're so fully-owned by the gun lobby/NRA that they've made it illegal for the US government to do any meaningful research into gun deaths; they've banned doctors, in a number of states including Florida, from even asking kids if there's a gun in their home; and McConnell and Ryan have successfully prevented any sort of meaningful legislation to restrict guns from getting a vote even when they know it would pass.

As a result, we're the laughingstock of the world, and we lose over 30,000 people a year to guns and another 40,000 a year to a lack of access to health care. That's a lot of blood on GOP hands.

Good government was perceived, prior to the Buckley decision and its embrace by the Reagan administration, as the singular hallmark of American democracy. Today it's a joke.

In the wake of the most recent Florida school shooting, we find politicians who've taken literally millions of dollars through their careers from groups like the NRA refusing to engage in any meaningful discussion about gun control. Forget legislation; they won't even allow a debate.

This echoes the legislators who've taken Koch or ExxonMobil money and refuse to discuss climate change.

Or those indebted to Big Pharma who won't talk about reforming Medicare Part D so the government can negotiate discounted drug prices.

Or those taking money from agricultural chemical and seed companies who ignore evidence of cancer and other problems with GMOs and the herbicides and pesticides associated with them.

The young people of Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida see this situation with new and clear eyes. They see it for what it is: Corruption.

And they're mad as hell about how that corruption has led to the deaths of 17 of their friends and teachers.

Every new assault -- be it from an "active shooter" or a corporate raider -- shows us how the radical shift in the Supreme Court starting with the 1976 Buckley decision has turned America from a democracy into an oligarchy. Even former President Jimmy Carter came onto my radio/TV program in 2015 to proclaim it:

HARTMANN: Our Supreme Court has now said, "unlimited money in politics." It seems like a violation of principles of democracy. Your thoughts on that?

CARTER: It violates 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. The incumbents, Democrats and Republicans, look upon this unlimited money as a great benefit to themselves. Somebody's who's already in Congress has a lot more to sell to an avid contributor than somebody who's just a challenger.

The most effective way to solve this problem is to pass a constitutional amendment that will proclaim, clearly and unambiguously, that corporations are not persons and that money is not "free speech." Groups like MoveToAmend.org and Public Citizenhave been working on these campaigns for years, and they're bearing fruit.

Once the power of money is stripped from our political system, the power of gun manufacturers through the NRA will largely evaporate.

During the years I lived and worked in DC, several Republican politicians confided in me -- off the record -- that they would love to be out of the clutches of their wealthy donors. And that they'd quickly vote with Democrats to get free of the need to fundraise for hours every day. This could easily become bipartisan quickly, with the right leadership.

The NRA's essentially outright purchase of senators like Richard Burr ($6.3 million in 2016), Marco Rubio ($3.2 million in 2016), Roy Blunt ($3 million), and Rob Portman ($2.2 million) -- and Donald Trump ($30 million in the presidential race) -- is so obviously corrupt to many of the students in Parkland that they're furious.

We should all share their anger, and use it to fight to amend our Constitution to undo the damage these oligarchs and their toadies on the Supreme Court have done to our republic.

https://www.opednews.com/articles/1/We-Live-in-a-Country-That-by-Thom-Hartmann-Guns_Money_NRA_Political-Values-180219-536.html

deepspace's picture
deepspace 6 weeks 6 hours ago
#45

OpEdNews - 3/2/2018 - From Alternet

"How to Prevent More Billionaires from Happening.

How did we end up with an infestation of billionaires?"

By Thom Hartmann:

Imagine a society with no billionaires.

Numerous countries have tried to accomplish this, but nearly every time they do, the United States intervenes, sometimes covertly like Reagan did in Central America with the contras, and sometimes overtly and explicitly, as JFK did with the attempted invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs.

We love and defend our billionaires and multimillionaires; after all, we have more of them than any society in the world. The result is that our political system has been corrupted to third-world levels, our middle class has been reduced to servility and deep indebtedness, and a UN representative who recently visited the American South was shocked to find infant mortality, lifespans and hookworm infestations as bad as in some of the world's poorest nations.

And this is the official policy of the United States.

Bill Gates, arguably one of our more benign billionaires, was recently on TV proudly noting that he and his wife have given away "more than $40 billion." Without specific government programs allowing monopolistic behavior and extending government intellectual property protections for extended periods (something Jefferson fought against unsuccessfully), Gates would merely be a multimillionaire.

Does society benefit from having billionaires? And if not, why do we "allow" (and in fact, openly promote) such wealth accumulation, and where did this all begin?

Prior to the agricultural revolution, roughly 7,000 to 10,000 years ago, virtually all of our ancestors lived as hunter-gatherers. As Peter Farb (Man's Rise to Civilization), Marshall Sahlins (The Original Affluent Society), Daniel Quinn (Ishmael) and others have documented over the years, their societies were broadly equal and egalitarian. They were what we'd today call "communist," in that the community was the first priority and individual accumulation of wealth was entirely subordinate to the needs of the community.

Potlatch societies across North America prior to Columbus, tribes across Africa (the San are most famous; see the movie The Gods Must Be Crazy), and even European tribes were very much based on the idea that the purpose of organizing into a tribe or community was to benefit all, rather than to benefit one family.

The purpose of government, and of an economy, for that matter, was to benefit society, rather than to create a class of the morbidly rich.

Jefferson was so enamored of the idea that his red-haired ancestors in the British Isles prior to the Roman invasion lived tribally and in an egalitarian fashion that he wrote extensively about Paul de Rapin de Thoyras's History of England, sometimes referred to as the first among the "Whig histories," which documented how tribal Brits organized their communities and societies in egalitarian fashion. Hume, the main British historian studied in Jefferson's time, who rejected the Whig histories, was, according to Jefferson, a "fraud."

While Jefferson and many of his contemporaries enjoyed their wealth, it was, as I document in my book What Would Jefferson Do, more of what today we'd call the upper middle class.

For example, John Hancock, the wealthiest of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, had assets worth a bit over $700,000 in today's money. The absolute majority of ratifiers of the Constitution in 1789 were farmers, teachers and others among the working class; the most wealthy more often opposed ratification.

Jefferson, like Washington, died broke. None wanted to emulate England with their multi-generational "landed gentry," and in fact, not a single fortune from that era lasted more than two generations. A billion-dollar insurance company may bear Hancock's name today, but there is no direct line from his modest wealth to that company.

So how did we end up with an infestation of billionaires, and how have other societies, from Northern European nations to 100% of our ancestors for most of human history, avoid this poverty- and crime-producing plague?

Daniel Quinn is perhaps the most eloquent in pointing out that it all began when the agricultural revolution allowed us to live in climates where food wasn't produced year-round. Spring, summer, and fall led to large harvests, which could be used for food through the long winters characterized by the farther north and south above and below the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn.

But with the seasonal food surpluses came the emergence of the first humans who would prey on and lord over other humans as a way of life. The most efficient of the farmers learned that if they could simply lock up their food surplus throughout the winter, they could force others to serve them or face starvation during winter months.

While equatorial peoples still largely "lived in the hands of the gods," having a year-round food supply and typically spending less than three hours a day "working" to get and prepare food, those in the far north and south created highly unequal societies; what we today call kingdoms, empires and dynasties.

Although it was replicated in other cultures around the world, from Asia to South America, the history of Northern Europe is probably best known to most Americans. Kings built castles where they stored food, and demanded that the serfs who grew the food had to turn most of it over to them, to be doled out to those who won their favor.

Even in recent history we see this: during the Irish potato famine, as over a million Irish died of starvation, that island exported to the lords and King of England every year amounts of food products (particularly wheat, which the Irish were forbidden to eat) in quantities far exceeding what would have been necessary to prevent famine in Ireland.

In fact, the American Revolution was, in large part, a rebellion against this very sort of predation, in that case by the world's then-largest corporation, the British East India Company. After the British Parliament in 1773 granted the corporation a Trump-sized tax cut (the Tea Act of 1773), enabling it to more easily drive smaller American tea sellers out of business, the colonists had had enough.

The citizens of the colonies gathered to throw off one of the corporations that had for almost 200 years determined nearly every aspect of their lives through its economic and political power. They were planning to destroy the goods of the world's largest multinational corporation, intimidate its employees and face down the guns of the government that supported it.

A pamphlet was circulated through the colonies called The Alarm and signed by an enigmatic "Rusticus." Posted on trees all over Boston, it made clear the feelings of colonial Americans about England's largest transnational corporation and its behavior around the world:

"Are we in like Manner to be given up to the Disposal of the East India Company, who have now the Assurance, to step forth in Aid of the Minister, to execute his Plan, of enslaving America? Their Conduct in Asia, for some Years past, has given simple Proof, how little they regard the Laws of Nations, the Rights, Liberties, or Lives of Men...Fifteen hundred Thousands, it is said, perished by Famine in one Year, not because the Earth denied its Fruits; but [because] this Company and their Servants engulfed all the Necessaries of Life, and set them at so high a Rate [price] that the poor could not purchase them."

But within a generation after the American Revolution, those who would aspire to morbid riches began to again use the British model of monopoly and predatory practice to gain and accumulate wealth. America got her first millionaire in 1799.

While Lincoln railed against New York banks and speculators, and Grover Cleveland included in his 1887 State of the Union address a specific criticism of the "iron heel" of "corporate masters" upon the "necks" of working people, the U.S. president who most clearly called out the Morbidly Rich was Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Accepting the nomination for his second term in Philadelphia in 1936, the sitting president of the United States called out the modern equivalent of Quinn's "locking up the food":

"That very word freedom, in itself and of necessity, suggests freedom from some restraining power.

"In 1776 we sought freedom from the tyranny of a political autocracy -- from the 18th-century royalists who held special privileges from the crown. It was to perpetuate their privilege that they governed without the consent of the governed; that they denied the right of free assembly and free speech; that they restricted the worship of God; that they put the average man's property and the average man's life in pawn to the mercenaries of dynastic power; that they regimented the people.

"Since that struggle, however, man's inventive genius released new forces in our land which reordered the lives of our people. The age of machinery, of railroads; of steam and electricity; the telegraph and the radio; mass production, mass distribution -- all of these combined to bring forward a new civilization and with it a new problem for those who sought to remain free.

"For out of this modern civilization economic royalists carved new dynasties. New kingdoms were built upon concentration of control over material things.

"Through new uses of corporations, banks and securities, new machinery of industry and agriculture, of labor and capital -- all undreamed of by the fathers -- the whole structure of modern life was impressed into this royal service.

"There was no place among this royalty for our many thousands of small businessmen and merchants who sought to make a worthy use of the American system of initiative and profit. They were no more free than the worker or the farmer.

"Even honest and progressive-minded men of wealth, aware of their obligation to their generation, could never know just where they fitted into this dynastic scheme of things.

"It was natural and perhaps human that the privileged princes of these new economic dynasties, thirsting for power, reached out for control over Government itself. They created a new despotism and wrapped it in the robes of legal sanction.

"In its service new mercenaries sought to regiment the people, their labor, and their property. And as a result the average man once more confronts the problem that faced the Minute Man.

"The hours men and women worked, the wages they received, the conditions of their labor -- these had passed beyond the control of the people, and were imposed by this new industrial dictatorship. The savings of the average family, the capital of the small business man, the investments set aside for old age -- other people's money -- these were tools which the new economic royalty used to dig itself in. ...

"Throughout the Nation, opportunity was limited by monopoly. Individual initiative was crushed in the cogs of a great machine. The field open for free business was more and more restricted.

"Private enterprise, indeed, became too private. It became privileged enterprise, not free enterprise.

"An old English judge once said: 'Necessitous [hungry, homeless, or deeply poor] men are not free men.'

"Liberty requires opportunity to make a living -- a living decent according to the standard of the time, a living which gives man not only enough to live by, but something to live for.

"For too many of us the political equality we once had won was meaningless in the face of economic inequality.

"A small group had concentrated into their own hands an almost complete control over other people's property, other people's money, other people's labor -- other people's lives.

"For too many of us life was no longer free; liberty no longer real; men could no longer follow the pursuit of happiness.

"Against economic tyranny such as this, the American citizen could appeal only to the organized power of Government. ...

"The royalists of the economic order have conceded that political freedom was the business of the Government, but they have maintained that economic slavery was nobody's business. They granted that the Government could protect the citizen in his right to vote, but they denied that the Government could do anything to protect the citizen in his right to work and his right to live.

"Today we stand committed to the proposition that freedom is no half-and-half affair. If the average citizen is guaranteed equal opportunity in the polling place, he must have equal opportunity in the market place.

"These economic royalists complain that we seek to overthrow the institutions of America.

"What they really complain of is that we seek to take away their power. But our allegiance to American institutions requires the overthrow of this kind of power.

"Now, as always, they stand for democracy, not tyranny; for freedom, not subjection; and against a dictatorship by mob rule and the over-privileged alike."

The morbidly rich are once again "thirsting for power," reaching out for control over government itself.

The Maine state co-chair of the Koch-funded ALEC, Rep. Nathan Wadsworth, R-Hiram, has introduced legislation calling for a new Constitutional Convention, the first since 1787, to rewrite our constitution.

Republicans in over 30 states have already done the same; they're within a few states of pulling it off, and have already had annual rehearsals of the Convention in Washington, DC, for the past several years.

In recent years, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus like Rep. Mark Pocan have played the role of Rusticus and FDR in our modern era.

Unfortunately, as a result of a series of legislative, FCC, and Executive Branch actions, most of our major media is now owned outright or controlled in large part by the morbidly rich, so their voices are rarely heard as loudly as those of Paul Revere or Franklin Roosevelt were in their days. (For a vivid example of how this works, check out www.theyrule.net.)

While the morbidly rich have had periods of virtually absolute rule in America -- during the Andrew Jackson era, the Gilded Age in the late 1800s, and during the Roaring 20s -- have always been American patriots (Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, arguably even JFK/LBJ) who have stood up and blocked their plans to turn American into a neo-feudal state.

If they're able to rewrite our constitution, however, even the thought experiment of a nation without billionaires will become impossible. They will have not only locked up the food, but pretty much everything else as well.

The fate of American democracy, and the future of what's left of our middle class, now hangs in the balance.

And as both FDR and Sanders/Warren/Pocan have repeatedly pointed out, only the power of organized people can restrain the power of organized money.

https://www.opednews.com/articles/1/How-to-Prevent-More-Billio-by-Thom-Hartmann-Billionaires_Corporations_Democracy_Money-180302-394.html

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 6 weeks 6 hours ago
#46

I'm done with him/her/whatever....and ready for the 6th! A week from tomorrow...Yes!

Time for dinner & the game.

Sarah is a national treasure, her Dad too.

I've been on email & phone detail with our fire resistant home construction business. So posting and bugging Dumb Shite has been easy. However you/re right enough is enough.

Drink in another awesome evening!

deepspace's picture
deepspace 6 weeks 6 hours ago
#47

OpEdNews - 12/16/2017 - From Alternet

"The Uncanny, Frightening Ways That Trump's America Mirrors Hitler's Germany.

Even the usually restrained Barack Obama warns Americans we're slipping dangerously close to authoritarianism."

By Thom Hartmann:

President Obama has come right out and said it: "You have to tend to this garden of democracy, otherwise things can fall apart fairly quickly. And we've seen societies where that happens."

Yes, he invoked Nazi Germany, adding, "Now, presumably, there was a ballroom in Vienna in the late 1920s or '30s that looked and seemed as if it -- filled with the music and art and literature and the science that was emerging -- would continue into perpetuity. And then 60 million people died. And the entire world was plunged into chaos."

It was a shocking reminder of Milton Mayer and his seminal work, They Thought They Were Free, first published back in 1955 by the University of Chicago Press.

Shortly after World War II, Mayer, an American journalist and college instructor, went to Germany and befriended a small group of 10 "ordinary Germans" who had lived and worked through the war, and interviewed them in depth.

Mayer's burning question was, "How does something like Nazi Germany happen?"

What he learned was every bit as shocking as President Obama drawing the same parallels. He wrote, presciently, "Now I see a little better how Nazism overcame Germany -- not by attack from without or by subversion from within, but with a whoop and a holler. It was what most Germans wanted -- or, under pressure of combined reality and illusion, came to want. They wanted it; they got it; and they liked it.

"I came home a little bit afraid for my country, afraid of what it might want, and get, and like, under combined pressure of reality and illusion. I felt -- and feel -- that it was not German Man that I met, but Man. He happened to be in Germany under certain conditions. He might be here under certain conditions. He might, under certain conditions, be I.

"If I -- and my countrymen -- ever succumbed to that concatenation of conditions, no Constitution, no laws, no police, and certainly no army would be able to protect us from harm."

Mayer tells the story largely through the words of the Germans he got to know during his year in Germany after the war. One, a college professor, told him:

"What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could understand it, it could not be released because of national security....

"This separation of government from people, this widening of the gap, took place so gradually and so insensibly, each step disguised (perhaps not even intentionally) as a temporary emergency measure or associated with true patriotic allegiance or with real social purposes. And all the crises and reforms (real reforms, too) so occupied the people that they did not see the slow motion underneath, of the whole process of government growing remoter and remoter. ...

"To live in this process is absolutely not to be able to notice it -- please try to believe me -- unless one has a much greater degree of political awareness, acuity, than most of us had ever had occasion to develop.

"Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, 'regretted,' that, unless one were detached from the whole process from the beginning, unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these 'little measures' that no 'patriotic German' could resent must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. One day it is over his head."

In this conversation, Mayer's friend suggests that he wasn't making an excuse for not resisting the rise of the fascists, but simply pointing out an undisputable reality.

This, he suggests, is how fascism will always take over a nation. And it seems that even President Obama is now realizing the gravity of the moment that Trump, Pence, and their enablers have brought us to.

Another one of Mayer's Nazi friends told him:

"Pastor Niemoller spoke for the thousands and thousands of men like me when he spoke (too modestly of himself) and said that, when the Nazis attacked the Communists, he was a little uneasy, but, after all, he was not a Communist, and so he did nothing: and then they attacked the Socialists, and he was a little uneasier, but, still, he was not a Socialist, and he did nothing; and then the schools, the press, the Jews, and so on, and he was always uneasier, but still he did nothing. And then they attacked the Church, and he was a Churchman, and he did something -- but then it was too late....

"You see, one doesn't see exactly where or how to move. Believe me, this is true. Each act, each occasion, is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next.

"You wait for the one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join with you in resisting somehow. You don't want to act, or even to talk, alone; you don't want to 'go out of your way to make trouble.' Why not? -- Well, you are not in the habit of doing it. And it is not just fear, fear of standing alone, that restrains you; it is also genuine uncertainty.

"Uncertainty is a very important factor, and, instead of decreasing as time goes on, it grows.

"Outside, in the streets, in the general community, everyone is happy. One hears no protest, and certainly sees none. You know, in France or Italy there will be slogans against the government painted on walls and fences; in Germany, outside the great cities, perhaps, there is not even this.

"In the university community, in your own community, you speak privately to your colleagues, some of whom certainly feel as you do; but what do they say? They say, 'It's not so bad' or 'You're seeing things' or 'You're an alarmist.'

"And you are an alarmist. You are saying that this must lead to this, and you can't prove it. These are the beginnings, yes; but how do you know for sure when you don't know the end, and how do you know, or even surmise, the end?

"On the one hand, your enemies, the law, the regime, the Party, intimidate you. On the other, your colleagues pooh-pooh you as pessimistic or even neurotic. ...

"But the one great shocking occasion, when tens or hundreds or thousands will join with you, never comes.

"That's the difficulty. If the last and worst act of the whole regime had come immediately after the first and the smallest, thousands, yes, millions would have been sufficiently shocked -- if, let us say, the gassing of the Jews in '43 had come immediately after the 'German Firm' stickers on the windows of non-Jewish shops in '33.

"But of course this isn't the way it happens. In between come all the hundreds of little steps, some of them imperceptible, each of them preparing you not to be shocked by the next. Step C is not so much worse than Step B, and, if you did not make a stand at Step B, why should you at Step C? And so on to Step D.

"And one day, too late, your principles, if you were ever sensible of them, all rush in upon you. The burden of self-deception has grown too heavy, and some minor incident, in my case my little boy, hardly more than a baby, saying 'Jew swine,' collapses it all at once, and you see that everything, everything, has changed and changed completely under your nose.

"The world you live in -- your nation, your people -- is not the world you were in at all. The forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring, the houses, the shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays.

"But the spirit, which you never noticed because you made the lifelong mistake of identifying it with the forms, is changed.

"Now you live in a world of hate and fear, and the people who hate and fear do not even know it themselves; when everyone is transformed, no one is transformed. Now you live in a system which rules without responsibility even to God."

Mayer's friend pointed out that this was the terrible challenge faced then by average Germans, and today is faced by people across the world, as formerly democratic governments from Turkey to the Philippines are taken over by authoritarian, corporatist -- fascist -- regimes.

And here, too, in the United States, this grand alliance of bigots, billionaires, and authoritarians have seized control of much of our media and virtually total control of the Republican Party.

As Trump uses Goebbel's Big Lie techniques to draw in frightened and Fox-brainwashed white people (while vilifying Democrats, liberals, gays, women, Hispanics, Blacks, Native Americans, and pretty much anybody else who's not a right-wing white Christian male) thoughtful people are asking if we're really on this road to fascism or not.

A few years ago on my radio show, President Jimmy Carter came right out and said that we're no longer a functioning democracy but, because of Citizens United, instead we're "an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery."

"How is this to be avoided, among ordinary men, even highly educated ordinary men?" Mayer's friend asked, perhaps rhetorically.

And, without the benefit of a previous and recent and well-remembered fascistic regime to refer to, Mayer's German friend had to candidly answer his own question with: "Frankly, I do not know."

This was the great problem that Mayer's Nazis and so many others in their day faced.

As another of Mayer's Nazi friends noted:

"I do not see, even now [how we could have stopped it]. Many, many times since it all happened I have pondered that pair of great maxims, Principiis obsta and Finem respice -- 'Resist the beginnings' and 'consider the end.' But one must foresee the end in order to resist, or even see, the beginnings. One must foresee the end clearly and certainly, and how is this to be done, by ordinary men or even by extraordinary men?"

And here we are.

Nazi leaders and propagandists of the 1930s used the phrase Lugenpresse ("lying press") at every opportunity to describe the media of their day; today Trump and his supporters are both undermining our faith in our press, and preparing us for a crackdown on press outlets like this one.

And once net neutrality is done away with, they merely have to work with their friends in the multibillion-dollar ISP corporations who, like with the 2006 AT&T scandal and others, are more than happy to help "intelligence" agencies and the administration out.

The phrase "Fake news" is simply the Trump version of Lugenpresse, and the goal and trajectory are the same.

Even Mike Godwin, the inventor of Godwin's Law (basically, that "whoever first mentions Hitler automatically loses the argument"), is now writing in the Washington Post that, "If you're thoughtful about it and show some real awareness of history, go ahead and refer to Hitler or Nazis when you talk about Trump."

Fritz Thyssen was a very wealthy and politically active German industrialist in the 1930s -- arguably the Murdoch/Koch/Adelson/Mercer/etc. of his day in Germany -- helped fund the rise of Hitler because he thought it would be good for his business and that Hitler would cut his taxes.

When I read his book I Paid Hitler, part apologia and part rationalization, I couldn't help but wonder how the heirs of today's GOP/Trump-financing billionaires will look back on this era. That's assuming, of course, that any sort of real history of the events of this time survives Trump and Pence's dual assault on our news organizations and net neutrality.

As Hitler's propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels famously said, "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State."

Big lies are in full form now in America, from seemingly trivial things like crowd sizes to country- and world-changing lies about taxes and Iran.

At the same time, we're facing the classic fascist technique of discrediting the press and suppressing voices of dissent with draconian threats of jail time or surveillance for simply participating in protests or even visiting a protest website.

This reckoning was brought on us by a small group of authoritarian/libertarian billionaires and their minions, with the help of a compliant Supreme Court that has declared, without the authority of the Constitution, that corporations are persons and that money used to buy politicians and legislation is First Amendment-protected "free speech."

Given that the only force that can defeat organized money is organized people, whether our republic will withstand this assault is now in our hands.

Democracy is not a spectator sport; we must get involved before "the corn is over our heads."

Tag, you're it.

https://www.opednews.com/articles/The-Uncanny-Frightening-W-by-Thom-Hartmann-America-Freedom-To-Fascism_Hitler_Nazis_Obama-171216-349.html

deepspace's picture
deepspace 6 weeks 6 hours ago
#48

OpEdNews - 11/11/2017 - From Thom Hartmann Blog

"It Doesn't Cost Billionaires Anything To Oppress You."

By Thom Hartmann:

There's a simple reason why Republicans default to the culture wars. It is because it doesn't cost their donor class any money.

If Republicans pass laws banning transgender people from bathrooms, that doesn't hurt the Koch brothers, it doesn't hurt Sheldon Adelson, it doesn't affect them at all.

If the Republicans pass legislation saying that Muslims can't run for political office, unless there's a Muslim right-wing billionaire out there it doesn't affect them.

And that's why Republicans attack gay people and the whole spectrum of LGBT, they attack people of color, they attack people whose first language isn't English, they attack immigrants, because none of those attacks cost the donor class of the Republican Party a single penny.

The Republicans will never ever speak out against pollution because the donor class is making money on that, against guns because the donor class is making money on that, against the obscene profits the pharmaceutical industry is making because the Republican donor class is making money off that.

Many industries are making obscene profits as a consequence of the extraordinary expansion of our trademark and copyright laws, largely at the behest of companies like Disney and Microsoft, so that those companies have these government-granted monopolies that last for centuries in some cases, decades certainly.

The Republicans will never talk about any of those things because those are the things that affect their donor class but they will enthusiastically kick around people of color.

The good news here is that the Republicans went all-in on Trump's racism over the last three weeks in Virginia. Ed Gillespie, everybody thought it was going to be a neck-and-neck race.

Ed Gillespie went in full racism in the last couple weeks of this election and it looks like it actually hurt his numbers, and when the Republicans figure that out then the donor class will start being concerned about race.

The billionaire class will get that they can't just rely on the votes of white people anymore.

https://www.opednews.com/articles/It-Doesn-t-Cost-Billionair-by-Thom-Hartmann-Billionaires_Election_Republican-171111-941.html

Dianereynolds's picture
Dianereynolds 6 weeks 5 hours ago
#49

HotCoffee, I saw this ad and it convinced me to vote democrat party.

https://youtu.be/gjzeNBSZFUo

deepspace's picture
deepspace 6 weeks 5 hours ago
#50

Published on Wednesday, October 17, 2018 by Common Dreams

"The Fascists Are Coming for Your Social Security and Medicare

The warning signs are already here." --by Thom Hartmann:

The billionaire fascists are coming for your Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. And they’re openly bragging about it.

Right after Trump’s election, back in December of 2016, Newt Gingrich openly bragged at the Heritage Foundation that the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress were going to “break out of the Franklin Delano Roosevelt model.” That “model,” of course, created what we today refer to as “the middle class.”

This week Mitch McConnell confirmed Gingrich’s prophecy, using the huge deficits created by Trump’s billionaire tax cuts as an excuse to destroy “entitlement” programs.

“I think it would be safe to say that the single biggest disappointment of my time in Congress has been our failure to address the entitlement issue, and it’s a shame, because now the Democrats are promising Medicare for All,” McConnell told Bloomberg. He added, “[W]e’re talking about Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid.”

These programs, along with free public education and progressive taxation, are the core drivers and maintainers of the American middle class. History shows that without a strong middle class, democracy itself collapses, and fascism is the next step down a long and terrible road.

Ever since the election of Ronald Reagan, Republicans have been working overtime to kneecap institutions that support the American middle class. And, as any working-class family can tell you, the GOP has had some substantial successes, particularly in shifting both income and political power away from voters and toward billionaires and transnational corporations.

In July of 2015, discussing SCOTUS’s 5 to 4 conservative vote on Citizens United, President Jimmy Carter told me: “It violates the essence of what made America a great country in its political system. Now it’s just an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery…” He added: “[W]e’ve just seen a complete subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors…”

As Princeton researchers Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page demonstrated in an exhaustive analysis of the difference between what most Americans want their politicians to do legislatively, versus what American politicians actually do, it’s pretty clear that President Carter was right.

They found that while the legislative priorities of the top 10 percent of Americans are consistently made into law, things the bottom 90 percent want are ignored. In other words, today in America, democracy only “works” for the top 10 percent of Americans.

For thousands of years, economists and economic observers from Aristotle to Adam Smith to Thomas Piketty have told us that a “middle class” is not a normal byproduct of raw, unregulated capitalism—what right-wing ideologues call “the free market.”

Instead, unregulated markets—particularly markets not regulated by significant taxation on predatory incomes—invariably lead to the opposite of a healthy middle class: they produce extremes of inequality, which are as dangerous to democracy as cancer is to a living being.

With so-called “unregulated free markets,” the rich become super-rich, while grinding poverty spreads among working people like a heroin epidemic. This further polarizes the nation, both economically and politically, which, perversely, further cements the power of the oligarchs.

While there’s a clear moral dimension to this—pointed out by Adam Smith in his classic Theory of Moral Sentiments—there’s also a vital political dimension.

Smith noted, in 1759, that, “All constitutions of government are valued only in proportion as they tend to promote the happiness of those who live under them. This is their sole use and end.”

Smith added a cautionary note, however: “[The] disposition to admire, and almost to worship, the rich and the powerful, and to despise, or, at least, to neglect persons of poor and mean condition… is the great and most universal cause of the corruption of our moral sentiments.”

Jefferson was acutely aware of this: the Declaration of Independence was the first founding document of any nation in the history of the world that explicitly declared “happiness” as a “right” that should be protected and promoted by government against predations by the very wealthy.

That was not at all, however, a consideration for the architects of supply-side Reaganomics, although they appropriated JFK’s “rising tide lifts all boats” metaphor to sell their hustle to (boatless) working people.

Far more troubling (and well-known to both Smith and virtually all of our nation’s founders), however, was Aristotle’s observation that when a nation pursues economic/political activities that destroy its middle class, it will inevitably devolve either into mob rule or oligarchy. As he noted in Politics:

“Now in all states there are three elements: one class is very rich, another very poor, and a third in a mean. … But a [government] ought to be composed, as far as possible, of equals and similars; and these are generally the middle classes. …

“Thus it is manifest that the best political community is formed by citizens of the middle class, and that those states are likely to be well-administered in which the middle class is large, and stronger if possible than both the other classes, or at any rate than either singly; for the addition of the middle class turns the scale, and prevents either of the extremes from being dominant.”

This is how America was for the Boomer generation until about two decades ago: a 30-year-old in the 1970s had a 90 percent chance of having or attaining a higher standard of living than his or her parents. But, since the 1980s introduction of Reaganomics, there’s been more than a 70 percent drop in “social mobility”—the ability to move from one economic station of life into a better one.

So, if our democratic republic is to return to democracy and what’s left of our middle class is to survive (or even grow), how do we do that?

History shows that the two primary regulators within a capitalist system that provide for the emergence of a middle class are progressive taxation and a healthy social safety net.

As Jefferson noted in a 1785 letter to Madison, “Another means of silently lessening the inequality of property is to exempt all from taxation below a certain point, and to tax the higher portions of property in geometrical progression as they rise.”

Similarly, Thomas Paine, proposing in Agrarian Justice (1797) what we today call Social Security, said that a democracy can only survive when its people “[S]ee before them the certainty of escaping the miseries that under other governments accompany old age…” Such a strong social safety net, Paine argued, “will have an advocate and an ally in the heart of all nations.”

Tragically, Republicans are today planning to destroy both our nation’s progressive taxation system and our social safety net, in obsequious service to their billionaire paymasters.

Flipping Jefferson and FDR on their heads, Republicans last year passed a multi-trillion-dollar tax break for the rich, with a few-hundred-dollars bone tossed in for working people.

Meanwhile, Republicans are already hard at work dismantling the last remnants of the New Deal and the Great Society.

As Ian Milhiser notes, “Republicans in the House hope to cut Social Security benefits by 20–50 percent. Speaker Paul Ryan’s plan to voucherize Medicare would drive up out-of-pocket costs for seniors by about 40 percent. Then he’d cut Medicaid by between a third and a half.”

This is not, of course, the first time Republicans have tried this. They’ve been trying to dismantle Social Security since 1936, and Reagan himself even recorded a 33 RPM LP calling LBJ’s Great Society proposal for a program called “Medicare” as “socialism,” saying that if it passed then one day we’d all look back “remembering the time when men were free.”

And it’s always been in service to the same agenda—handing political and economic power over the morbidly rich and the corporations that got them there.

In earlier times, we had a word for this takeover of democracy by the morbidly rich and the corporations: fascism.

As I’ve written before, in early 1944, the New York Times asked Vice President Henry Wallace to, as Wallace noted, “write a piece answering the following questions: What is a fascist? How many fascists have we? How dangerous are they?”

Vice President Wallace’s answer to those questions was published in the New York Times on April 9, 1944, at the height of the war against the Axis powers of Germany and Japan.

“The really dangerous American fascists,” Wallace wrote, “are not those who are hooked up directly or indirectly with the Axis. The FBI has its finger on those. ... The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information.

“With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public,” Wallace continued, “but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power.”

In this, Wallace was using the classic definition of the word “fascist”—the definition Mussolini had in mind when he claimed to have invented the word.

As the 1983 American Heritage Dictionary noted, fascism is: “A system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with belligerent nationalism.”

Vice President Wallace bluntly laid out in his 1944 Times article his concern about the same happening here in America: “American fascism will not be really dangerous until there is a purposeful coalition among the cartelists, [and] the deliberate poisoners of public information...”

He could have been describing Fox, right-wing hate radio, and the billionaires who keep today’s GOP in power.

Noting that, “Fascism is a worldwide disease,” Wallace further suggested that fascism’s “greatest threat to the United States will come after the war” and will manifest “within the United States itself.”

Watching the Republicans of his day work from the same anti-worker playbook they are today, Wallace added:

“Still another danger is represented by those who, paying lip service to democracy and the common welfare, in their insatiable greed for money and the power which money gives, do not hesitate surreptitiously to evade the laws designed to safeguard the public from monopolistic extortion.”

As Wallace wrote, some in big business “are willing to jeopardize the structure of American liberty to gain some temporary advantage.”

In a comment prescient of Donald Trump’s trashing of “Mexican rapists” and “gangs” in Chicago, Wallace wrote:

“The symptoms of fascist thinking are colored by environment and adapted to immediate circumstances. But always and everywhere they can be identified by their appeal to prejudice and by the desire to play upon the fears and vanities of different groups in order to gain power.

“It is no coincidence that the growth of modern tyrants has in every case been heralded by the growth of prejudice.”

And that prejudice would be exploited to win elections so that the fascists could rob the people and enhance their own power and wealthy.

But even at this, Wallace noted, American fascists would still have to lie to the people in order to gain power. And if the day ever came when a billionaire opened a “news” network just to promote fascist thinking, they could promote their lies with ease.

“The American fascists are most easily recognized by their deliberate perversion of truth and fact,” Wallace wrote. “Their newspapers and propaganda carefully cultivate every fissure of disunity, every crack in the common front against fascism. They use every opportunity to impugn democracy.”

In his strongest indictment of the tide of fascism the vice president of the United States saw rising in America, he added:

“They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective, toward which all their deceit is directed, is to capture political power so that using the power of the State and the power of the market simultaneously they may keep the common man in eternal subjection.”

In the election of 2018, we stand at a crossroad that Roosevelt and Wallace only imagined.

Billionaire-funded fascism is rising in America, calling itself “conservativism” and “Trumpism.”

The Republican candidates’ and their billionaire donors’ behavior today eerily parallels that day in 1936 when Roosevelt said, “In vain they seek to hide behind the flag and the Constitution. In their blindness they forget what the flag and the Constitution stand for.” President Roosevelt and Vice President Wallace’s warnings are more urgent now than ever before.

If Trump and the billionaire fascists who bankroll the Republicans succeed in destroying the last supports for America’s enfeebled middle class, including Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid—and succeed in blocking any possibility of Medicare for All or free college and trade school—not only will the bottom 90 percent of Americans suffer, but what little democracy we have left in this republic will evaporate. History, from Greek and Roman times through Europe in the first half of the 20th century, suggests it will probably be replaced by a violent, kleptocratic oligarchy that no longer shrinks from words like “fascist.”

The warning signs are already here, and, in the face of nationwide election fraud based in Republican voter purges, we must turn out massive numbers if we’re to preserve the American Dream and finally make it available to all.

This article was produced by the Independent Media Institute.

The Thom Hartmann Program - Aug 30th 2018

It seems it's all racism, all the time w/the GOP...Neo-Nazi robocall hits Iowa on Molly Tibbett’s murder: “KILL THEM ALL. ” Richard Wolff drops by about the National Debt. Is it a disaster or an OK thing? Also - Trump & The National Enquirer - Is the Economy Here To Serve Us Or Are We Here to Serve the economy?

Latest Headlines

Who rejected United States-North Korea peace talks?

There were conflicting reports on Sunday regarding a recent proposal for United States-North Korea peace talks which was allegedly made before North Korea"s recent nuclear test

U.K. Pound Falls As Markets Get Brexit Jitters

Bloomberg said on Monday the pound had sustained its biggest fall against the dollar in 11 months

Clinton: I'll defend Israel but push for 'two-state solution

Hillary Clinton believes both Republican candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz "missed the mark" with their approach to the Israel-Palestinian Arab conflict
From Unequal Protection, 2nd Edition:
"Beneath the success and rise of American enterprise is an untold history that is antithetical to every value Americans hold dear. This is a seminal work, a godsend really, a clear message to every citizen about the need to reform our country, laws, and companies."
Paul Hawken, coauthor of Natural Capitalism and author of The Ecology of Commerce
From Unequal Protection, 2nd Edition:
"Hartmann combines a remarkable piece of historical research with a brilliant literary style to tell the grand story of corporate corruption and its consequences for society with the force and readability of a great novel."
David C. Korten, author of When Corporations Rule the World and Agenda for A New Economy
From The Thom Hartmann Reader:
"With the ever-growing influence of corporate CEOs and their right-wing allies in all aspects of American life, Hartmann’s work is more relevant than ever. Throughout his career, Hartmann has spoken compellingly about the value of people-centered democracy and the challenges that millions of ordinary Americans face today as a result of a dogma dedicated to putting profit above all else. This collection is a rousing call for Americans to work together and put people first again."
Richard Trumka, President, AFL-CIO