AM1090 Forum in Kent: Kucinich shines, progressive talk show hosts mostly defend Obama

On Saturday about a thousand people went to the Showare Center in Kent, WA to hear speeches and a panel discussion by Dennis Kucinich, Ron Reagan, Jr., Norman Goldman, Randi Rhodes, Stephanie Miller,  Mike Malloy, and Mike Papantonio.

Kucinich

Kucinich got repeated cheers and standing ovations from the crowd. He said the expected things about ending wars, achieving fair taxation, raising the debt ceiling, protecting Social Security, and taking our government back from the corporations. He worked the crowd well.

There’s absolutely no valid reason why Washington, D.C. is talking about reducing Social Security. It’s rock solid through 2036. Besides, it’s easy to fix, raise the FICA cap above $106,000 so the rich pay their fair share, Kucinich said.

We need another New Deal.

The 1915 Federal Reserve Act took the money power from Congress (where, according to the Constitution, it belongs) and gave it to the Fed.

The other panelists and questioners from the audience were often talking doom and gloom, but Kucinich stayed positive and inspiring.

“Find a vision so that America’s future will be as bright as the day is outside.” (Seattle had sun for a change this weekend.) We need health care for all, jobs for all, education for all, and peace for all. We need an America dedicated to peace. End the American imperium. What’s our vision? Through our creativity and our love of our country we can take back America.

In response to a question from the audience about what practical steps activists can take, Kucinich said that door-to-door contact is important. People are too isolated. Reawaken the sense of citizenship. Stand up at small meetings and talk, like that brave guy in the Norman Rockwell painting. Reclaim our capacity for citizenship door-to-door, neighborhood-to-neighborhood, block-to-block, etc.

Robert Kennedy inspired Kucinich. In a 1968 speech in Capetown Kennedy spoke to students suffering under apartheid. Each time a man or woman stands up for an ideal or strikes out for justice, he sends out ripples of hope. Ripples create a current which sweeps out resistance. We can defy powers which seem omnipotent. I refuse to believe we cannot change the world. Project the fire. We can make the night a bright place.

With these words, Kucinich left for a red-eye flight back to Ohio. He left with a bang. The other panelists continued talking.

Mike Malloy said that when Kucinich speaks Malloy feels “sucked into his vortex of optimism.”

During intermission, Kucinich walked through the crowd, shaking hands. I shook his hand and asked him if he needs help running for Congress in Washington State. He said, “We’ll see.” A questioner also asked him if he’ll run in the 1st Congressional District, where Rep. Jay Inslee is vacating his seat to run for governor. Who knows? was the response.

I heard Kucinich speak at the NW Roots conference a few weeks ago, and that time I thought he went overboard on the sentimentality. This time he hit the correct tone: inspiring but not sentimental.

On Supporting Obama

During the two hour event, there was much criticism of the Democrats and Obama. But at the end most of the panelists agreed that Democrats should continue to support Obama in 2012.   As bad as Obama is on some issues, the Republicans will be even worse. If the GOP get control of the House, Senate, and White House, things will be very grim indeed. (Damn! Things are  already pretty grim, in my opinion.)

Stephanie Miller said  that people may call her an Obama apologist but , “I don’t have anythying fuckin to apologize for.”  Obama ended DADT and did a good job given what he had to deal with.   “Guess what? I’m a homo and a Jew.”  (Miller was drunk by now, perhaps. She was vulgar and crude throughout the event.)

Mike Malloy didn’t defend Obama. In fact, Malloy said, “The Democratic Party is dead.”

Norman Goldman disagreed with Malloy’s pessimism:  We may quibble about Obama’s policies but look at all the progress we’ve made over the years. We have a black in the White House. We’ve ended DADT.  I’m goddamn proud about what happened. Yes, we’re going backwards now. We’re up against forces of evil. It’s always darkest before dawn. I’m running out of cliches. We’re fighting very powerful forces. We’re on the right side of history. Don’t give up.  In 1841 abolitionists felt hopeless about change. Sometimes we’re short-sighted. (Yes, and it took a terrible Civil War to end slavery. I fear that things will get much worse before they get better in America, because the “forces of evil” are relentless.)

Randi Rhodes said: everything takes time. Half the problem now is that we didn’t show up to vote in 2010. (Is that our fault or Obama’s fault?) “We have an awesome president.” (Many of us disagree!)

Ron Reagan said that this fight is going to extend past our lifetimes. There are fundamental issues at stake.  Our side believes that we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers. The other side doesn’t believe that way. They think that if you’re poor it’s your fault.  The GOP lie to you. I know that we’re not supposed to say “lie” in the media. But it’s true. GOP’s McDonnell says that Obama asks Congress to raise the debt ceiling. That’s a lie. The US Treasury asks that.  If the GOP and take the Presidency, the House, and the Senate, we’ll never get it back. Understand that it’s a hard fight.

We’ll all be in Alabama.

Mike Papantonio said: we talk show hosts are in this for you. We were in it when there wasn’t a paycheck and when we were under legal attack. We are there for you. I promise you.

Details

Let’s rewind to the start of the event. Norman Goldman is such a nice guy! Several times he said, in a high voice and with sincerity, “I love each and every one of you.” At one point he said, “Pardon me for stealing someone’s line but, “I WANT MY COUNTRY BACK!” (in a child’s voice). What’s happening to the country is like a bad meal, painful when it passes through.

Goldman said, “I love you Seattle.” Seattle was his first radio station. He’s in LA now but they don’t have on on air there!

Bigger than the debt ceiling story is the story about News Corp and its hacking scandal. News Corp apparently paid over $680,000,000 to settle hacking lawsuits. The SOB Murdoch is on the run. Roger Ailes paid $11,000,000 to Patricia to keep her story quiet. Most disturbingly, one of the News Corp whistle-blowers ended up dead.

Too much of the mainstream media treats Fox News as a legitimate news organization. But it ain’t. Murdoch is a pig bastard, someone said.

Ron Reagan said that Murdoch at age 80 must be looking back at his life and realizing: my legacy is a giant empire of shit.

Journalism is a protected profession, according to the 1st Amendment. According to the 1934 Federal Communications Act, the airwaves belong to The People. Kucinich said we’ve gotten away from a vision of the Public Commons. Randi Rhodes said that nowadays there are no journalistic standards. Years ago broadcasters had to open their files and justify that they served the public interest. There was the Fairness Doctrine which required broadcasters to give equal time to opposing views. Journalists were trained professionals. Nowadays they hire some good-looking actress to read the news, and to renew your broadcast license you just send in a post card once every few years. The merging of media started with Bill Clinton’s signing of the Telecommunications Act.

The government should take Fox’s license away.

Citizen media (websites, blogs, etc) are very important. Commondreams, alternet, etc. The Networks are talking about stopping citizen media, which offer competition.

Stephanie Miller is traveling around the country promoting and holding her “Sexy Liberal Show.” She said that right wingers hacked into her website and twitter account. Conservatives hate it when liberals succeed at capitalism.

Randi Rhodes was sued by a defense contractor. Mike Malloy got fired for filling in for her. The powers that be disliked it when they spoke truth to power.

A questioner asked: how can progressive retake the Democratic Party from centrist Democrats like Obama?

Randi Rhodes said that we should all show up at Democratic meetings. It’s very simple. (As I always say, angry conservatives take over the GOP; angry progressives flee the Democratic Party.)

Mike Malloy said The Democratic Party IS DEAD. It’s almost as corrupt as the GOP.

Dennis Kucinich said that it feels like he’s almost doing missionary work with the Democrats. Don’t look for change to come from Washington. It’ll have to come from the People. He sees a lot of reawakening among the unions. Over the last 30 years many union members voted Republican, figuring that they were part of the Establishment. (Reagan Democrats) But with what happened in Wisconsin and with the Tea Party, union members are starting to realize that the GOP wants to destroy the unions. (Boy, it took them a long time to figure that out!) Ft. Lauderdale policemen changed from GOP to Dems. Probation officers in CA did too. Randi Rhodes said she’s often called on now to give speeches to unions that wouldn’t have called on her years ago.  Why  they want a post-menopausal women is beyond her.

Ron Reagan joked: it’s surprising how many men do want to be post-menopausal women. (Great laughter)

Alabama recently passed a law that criminalized driving an illegal immigrant to the hospital! The effect of such laws is that many farmers’ crops are rotting in the field in Alabama.

When GOP policies affect peoples’ pocketbooks, they’ll start revising their political views.

But the question is: are the Dems really much better?

The talk show hosts are funny, and they made us laugh a lot. One good scene was when Randi Rhodes got down on her knee and begged Dennis Kucinich to run for Congress in Florida. Ron Reagan begged too for something, and so did Mike Malloy.

Randi Rhodes said the critical change we need is public financing of elections. It takes $1 billion to become president and $1 million to run for Congress.

Stephanie Miller said that 70% of Americans agree with us on issues like ending wars, single payer, and fair taxation. But the politicians don’t listen to us.

Norman Goldman said there’s a big disconnect between the corporate leadership of the Democratic Party and the grassroots. We need lots of $5 donations and we need Internet activism, like Howard Dean and Obama got in 2004 and 2008.

Democrats need to talk about issues, not labels. We can win on the issues.

Democrats have lost our anger. [Yes, I agree: I saw this with Tim Eyman and other anti-tax nutcases who stood up tall and yelled their poisonous distortions at the King Country Metro hearings in Kirkland a few weeks ago.]

Mike Malloy agreed with Goldman: you can’t be a great lawyer unless you find your anger. People/voters respect anger.

[So, what wins? Love or hatred? Unfortunately, I think hatred and fear and anger usually win in politics.]

A questioner asked whether Hillary Clinton would have been tougher with the Republicans than Obama? Should we have chosen Hillary?

Stephanie Miller said, “If my aunt had a dick, she’d be my uncle.” In fact, Miller repeatedly said crude, profane things — up to a point where I and others were annoyed by her disruptions. She was drinking wine and offered some to others. Was she drunk?

Norman Goldman said that Hillary would have been another corporate Dem. Yes, she would have fought harder, but she would have fought for the wrong things. We have to stand by the choices that we make.

Dennis Kucinich pointed out that a huge number of Tea Party congressmen voted against funding the war in Libya. We need to build some coalitions on separate issues and forget about labels and parties. Forget finding someone who agrees with you on every issue. With 50% of discretionary spending devoted to the Pentagon, we need to be flexible about ending it.

Why isn’t ending the wars part of the debt ceiling debate?

Ron Reagan: We’re a military empire. It never works out. Just ask the British, the Spanish, the Dutch, etc.

Peter Papantonio (I think) said: We’re all victims of multi-conglomerates, who are like occupiers: they extract as much as they can (resources, labor) and move on. We’re targets of multi-conglomerates’ imperialism. They take away labor, resources, regulations, infrastructure..

Kucinich said: yes, but we don’t become victims unless we buy into it. (?????I don’t think that’s correct.) We need to break through fear. Get past militarization of thought. Get over us versus them.

Norman Goldman (whom I like!) said we need to concentrate on simple messages:

  • Downsize the empire. We spend $1 trillion a year on military.
  • Tax fairness
  • End corporate welfare

With simple sound-bites like this, separate from party labels, we’ll get 80% of the public support.

Stephanie Miller said: I got new batteries in my vibrator, so I got a second wind. (!!)

Kucinich said that trade is a race to the bottom. Trade agreements ship jobs overseas and weaken labor, environmental, and health standards.

Corporations invest in candidates. We got to check that the candidates we support actually support the issues we want. (I thought Obama would support more progressive issues.)

Mike Malloy said that we have to take the voting system away from the corporations. They count our votes. Our voting system has been privatized. Until we fix that, we’re screwed. (Yep.) Go back to paper ballots.

Asked what his dad would think of the current GOP, Ron Reagan, Jr. said that his dad would be more like Obama (a centrist) than like most of the GOP. Though he disagreed with many of his father’s positions, he’s certain that his father would not have supported torture. He did agree to raise taxes. On gays in the military, his dad would say “You don’t have to be straight. You just have to shoot straight.”

How much damage did President Reagan do? Norman Goldman asked an expert about this in 1982. The expert said: the damage that you can’t see (judges, rules, money) is immense. Over the past 30 years, the GOP has radically altered power in Washington, especially in the courts and agencies. Even if we want to pass progressive legislation, it won’t be enforceable.

Mike Papantonio said that he recalls an interview with Karl Rove that appeared in The New Yorker. Rove said that his top priorities were to destroy the labor movement and the justice system. And he wanted to create fear. Rove succeeded at getting judges to nullify our issues. We read the newspaper only above the fold; what’s hidden is more important.

NW Roots Conference: Joel Connelly and others at media workshop

Joel Connelly attended the NW Roots conference in Seattle yesterday and wrote these two articles about it: Inslee takes the edge off controversial idea and Red meat from a vegan — Kucinich.

The second article contains several taunts against Kucinich: “fiery old-time populism, mixed with New Age”, “is looking to Washington as a state where he once saw a UFO (staying at Shirley MacLaine’s home in Graham)”,  and “The congressman mentioned ‘violence against animals.'”  Even the title “Red meat from a vegan — Kucinich” is a taunt.

Curmudgeonly Connelly sometimes espouses progressive views, but he’s no apologist for progressives. As a professional journalist, he probably should be skeptical.

I lamented to him the loss of the Seattle P-I editorial page. He smirked and said that few people had read it, and it was boringly predictable in its liberal views. I said that at least it provided balance to the Seattle Times’ editorial page. I asked him why the P-I doesn’t raise the prominence of the P-I’s online editorial pages, so that readers can contribute and feel invested. He said they might. I asked him whether the Seattle Times is making money. He said: probably they’re losing money.

So far the Seattle Times — which I don’t subscribe to and avoid visiting, as punishment for their adamant opposition to I-1098 — does not mention NW Roots, at least on its home page.

At the media break-out session at NW Roots, Connelly and others, including Darcy Burner, discussed the prospects for finding a viable funding model for newspapers and investigative journalism. My question to the panel was about public funding for investigative journalism. Just as we need the police and the FBI and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention to protect us, we should fund independent investigative journalism. It would serve the public good and forgoing it is just stupid. But anti-tax craziness has overtaken the nation, and people are hardly even willing to fund public education.

Connelly responded that well-written, engaging journalism can both entertain and inform. He gave an example: an interesting story that had political impact. “Reports of newspapers’ demise have been greatly exaggerated.” People thought that file sharing would be the end of the music business. But iTunes shows that you can make money online. We need a similar model for news.

But I doubt it’s doable in general: I think that the Internet has doomed effective for-profit investigative journalism. Too few people are willing to pay for hard news, as opposed to smut and entertainment and financial advice. Furthermore, I think that in the long run, America will return to the balance between public and private that the Founders saw we needed. The US Constitution is a compromise between big-government Federalists and small-government Jeffersonians. It calls for the defense of the General Welfare, as discussed here. But recently America has lost its balance.

Other things said at the media break-out session:

Murdoch has moved from the gutter to the sewer (phone hacking, bribery). Britain’s news is even worse than America’s.

The Internet and Net Neutrality are our last great hope for media (Darcy). Millenials (under 30) don’t watch TV or read regular newspapers. They use facebook. Blue ocean territory.

The Right has set up virtuous cycles with huge return on investment. They buy politicians and media and both reward them.

Q: How can I get press accreditation (credentials)? Show you get your major income from journalism. (lol)

Recently, Rob McKenna refused to speak when a lefty cameraman appeared at a speech.

Journalists really do aim for accuracy and evidence. Too many bloggers eschew accuracy for opinion. (Connelly) Someone disagreed, saying, “Just because they’re paid to write doesn’t mean they’re accurate.” (Fox News) Unpaid bloggers sometimes break great stories (Bush torture). Connelly said: sometimes corporate media do it right and break good stories, even if it dooms them financially. (He gave an example of the Hearst Corporation’s plan to by the Tri-City Herald and the concurrent story in the P-I about a 25 year radioactive leak from a smokestack in that community.)

To attract readers, don’t use facts and graphs, as Drew Westen suggests in The Political Brain.

Ultimately people will have to pay for online content or no one will produce it. (I’m not getting paid for this!) Hard to get paywalls started; people go to free content.

More on NW Roots soon.

Norman Goldman, Bob Hasegawa, and Adam Kline speak at the WPC banquet

Saturday evening I attended Washington Public Campaign’s Annual Awards Banquet, held at South King County Community College.

The keynote speaker was progressive radio host Norman Goldman. State Senator Adam Kline was master of ceremonies . State Rep. Bob Hasegawa won the public leadership award.  I’ll summarize some salient points from their speeches and from the conversations I had with them afterwards.  You can find more details about the banquet and about WPC at http://washclean.org/.

Norman Goldman said “we’re fighting the good fight.”

Goldman spoke of losing his mother at age 6, to cancer, and his father at age 11 (to heart disease, I believe).   Goldman lived in an orphanage for six years. It was only thanks to meager Social Security survivor payments and, later, to the City University of New York that he survived and eventually thrived.  He worked as a lawyer for insurance companies before switching sides and using his knowledge to work for clients suing insurance companies.  He did pretty well but always paid his taxes.

I was somewhat surprised to hear Goldman make an Anthony Weiner joke. Something like: “Now that Anthony Weiner is out of work he’s available for talks. He couldn’t make it to this event so he said he’d tweet us some material. I said no thanks.”  Later Goldman said, “Thank you, Anthony Weiner, for adding more stupidity to America’s political dialog.”   I suppose that Weiner, like Clinton, should have been more discreet!

Norman Goldman at the WPC banquet
Norman Goldman at the WPC banquet (by Don Smith)

Goldman spoke of the “ideological corruption” of the court system, as evidenced by the Citizens United decision. What was most outrageous about that ruling is that the justices ruled on an issue that wasn’t even brought before them.  When you first become a judge you usually attend judges’ college, where the first rule they teach you is: rule narrowly. (Again, Goldman is a lawyer.) That is, only rule on the specific issue brought before you.  In the Citizens United case the justices ruled on a much broader issue.  Goldman called the 5-4 ruling “an impeachable offense.”

Goldman encouraged us to see the discussion of “cases and controversies” in Article III of the US Constitution. Judges should not manufacture the cases they are going to decide. The Wikipedia article about Article III says: “Only actual cases and controversies may be heard by the federal courts; the judicial power does not extend to cases which are hypothetical, or which are precluded because of problems with standing, mootness, or ripeness. Generally, a case or controversy requires the presence of adverse parties who have some interest genuinely at stake in the case.”

Goldman said “judicial radicalism is direct threat to democracy. We are in serious trouble.  I don’t mean to be a downer.”

He has a four point plan to rescue America. It starts, “We have witnessed a sustained, ‘institutional-style’ Republican assault on America for the last thirty-plus years.”  Yep.  His four points are, briefly:  (1) Run for office, (2) make a radio home for whistle-blowers, (3) use the ballot initiative process to beat back against conservative policies [Washington State Democrats should promote a ballot initiative to eliminate tax loopholes!], and (4) “create or find a quarterback to knit together the progressive infrastructure and get a coordinated message out in the public.”   Goldman spoke briefly only about this fourth point.

He makes the same point that I’ve been making for years: there are too many uncoordinated lefty groups.  He said that the right is top-down, with almost military discipline.  Roger Ailes and Rush Limbaugh give talking points and other conservatives repeat them.   They crushed even Newt Grinrich for questioning the wisdom of Ryan’s plan to destroy Medicare. Goldman said the right are “fascist.”    But, unlike conservatives, most liberals and progressives are not zombies. [I think this is an over-simplification, but his main points stand.]  So we need a way to herd the lefty cats.  We need to open a magic can of tuna so that the lefty factions all come together.  The Left needs to stop infighting. [But I actually think the main infighting we’re seeing is between progressives and “centrists” like Obama, who is barely on the left at all. Other groups do compete for “market share”, however.] We need to market progressive ideas with short slogans like “tax fairness” and “end corporate welfare.”

I’ve long thought that if all the people active in lefty advocacy groups instead became active in the Democratic Party, they could push it rightward and we wouldn’t need advocacy groups. Angry conservatives take over the GOP; angry progressives flee the Democratic Party and join advocacy groups or third parties.

When I spoke to Goldman, Hasegawa, and Kline after the event I asked them “Why can’t the Democratic Party take the leadership role that we need to herd the lefty cats?”    The answer I got was, basically, the Democrats are too corrupted by the need to raise corporate money.   Anyway, because of the lack of leadership from the Democratic Party,  both nationwide and here in Washington State, we have a proliferation of numerous uncoordinated lefty advocacy groups.  The Proposal for Washington Liberals discusses this point.

Rep. Hasegawa said we need to educate the public about what’s in their own best interest, so they stop voting for initiatives and candidates who harm the public good.  Hasegawa encouraged everyone to get their organizations to advocate for progressive tax reform and to support the State Bank (“Washington Investment Trust”).     State revenues are deposited currently in accounts at the Bank of America.  That’s crazy. Why should we be supporting that bank when, like North Dakota, we could keep the money in-state and avoid fees?

Hasegawa thanked House Speaker Frank Chopp, who was in the audience, for supporting the state bank.  Hasegawa joked that nowadays most people hate the state and hate the banks so calling it the “State Bank” is probably not a good idea.  In fact, the official name is “Washington Investment Trust.”

Hasegawa said we need to shift the tax burden back from the middle class to the rich. In the 1950s the top tax rate was 91%. Now it’s what? 35%? And capital gains are taxed at a lower rate than earned income.   Hasegawa acknowledged that the populist message about shifting the tax burden might not be the best way to frame the issue (presumably, because people might feel it’s unfair and petty to soak the rich).

Hasegawa is such a nice guy. He always is ready with a warm smile. When I spoke to him, he listened politely and was humble and self-deprecating. Personality helps!

Sen. Adam Kline is a solid progressive Democrat, being a leader on women’s rights, environment, and gun control.  His combined scores on the following three scorecards are 95, 88, and 96, respectively.

According to those scorecards, Kline, who is the Senate Judiciary chair, is the third most progressive state senator after Jeanne Kohl-Welles and Karen Fraser.  See this visualization of our state senators’ scores.

After the event I hung around to chat, take photos, and network.   I asked Kline about the lack of leadership on the Left in Washington State on the issue of tax fairness. Specifically, few Democrats are willing to educate the voters about the importance of progressive taxation and ending loopholes.  Kline said that in his district he can get away with talking about the issue, since Kline serves the 37th district, comprising part of South Seattle, all of Renton and one precinct in Tukwila.    But many Democratic legislators serve swing districts, where any mention of taxation would be radioactive.

I also asked about Governor Gregoire’s lack of leadership. Since she’s not running for governor, you’d think she could lead. Kline said that Gregoire probably waited to announce her plan not to seek re-election because she didn’t want to lose power and be a sitting duck.

Someone said that the reason Gregoire hasn’t led on the issue of tax fairness, as well as other issues, may be that she simply doesn’t care about those issues. She’s revealed her true colors.   Maybe, too, she’s giving the voters what they want.

Adam Kline said something that resonated with me to some degree. He said that a lot of lawmakers probably figure that if the voters are stupid enough to vote against fair taxation, then why should we second-guess them?  Let them reap what they sow.   I mentioned that I was chatting with my bus driver during morning commute and the issue of I-1098 came up.  The driver said that he voted against the initiative (which would have established an income tax on the top 1% of earners in Washington State). The bus driver seemed smart. He always was reading books during stopovers.  And he was a nice guy.  But after that conversation I was so angry that I never spoke to him again.  He works for the state and voted against fair taxation!

Everyone at the banquet seems to agree that the Left needs to fix the messaging problem. We need to make it safe for Democrats to state our truths. We need to frame the issues. Maybe host a gathering of local progressive leaders, as David Vicks reminds me.

Herding the cats needs to start with building a progressive website! It’s not hard: just get different advocacy groups and factions to agree to contribute. Share editing.

I networked with some activists and spoke about making progressive videos.

Rep. Hasegawa’s seriously lovely twenty-something daughters posed for some photos and then stood around holding out their smartphones and smiling at something. I figured they were watching videos, so I edged beside them to see what they were watching. It turns out that they were watching live videos of themselves — and now me — taken from the cameras on their smartphones.  One of them pointed to the little lens at the top of the screen. They were posing and smiling in their fancy clothes. Can’t blame them for enjoying their own images. After a bit, I commented, “Wow, those are dangerous devices. ” They laughed. I left.

In the car on the way home I turned on AM-1090. Lo and behold! Norman Goldman was hosting a show. He’s good!

The twelve-step program that works, but probably not for you

Over the last thirty years, Republicans, conservative Democrats, and their well-to-do allies have perfected a twelve-step program that has worked to transform America.

  1. Cut taxes and establish loopholes and subsidies for the rich and the corporations, to redistribute wealth upwards, drown government in red ink, and justify slashing of social programs.
    a. Lowest tax rates in decades for the well-to-do.
    b. Capital gains taxed at lower rate than earned income.    See CRAMER IS RIGHT: The Hedge-Fund Tax Loophole Is Outrageous, Simons Strategy to Shield Profit From Taxes Draws IRS Ire, and Questioning the Dogma of Tax Rates.  Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary.
    c. Social Security cap at $113,700, exempting most of a rich person’s income from Social Security taxes.
    d. International corporations allowed to avoid US taxes by shipping profits overseas.
    e. Many large corporations, such as GE and Apple, pay no taxes at all.  Many corporations (especially Big Oil) receive subsidies.
    f. Lowered estate taxes.
    g. Anti-tax initiatives (like Washington State’s 1-1053) that benefit the super-rich.
    h. Lax enforcement of existing tax laws.
    i. Wall Street bailouts of AIG, Goldaman Sachs and other politically connected banks and corporations.
  2. Maintain the country in a perpetual state of war, to enrich military contractors, to open markets for oil and other resources, and to justify decreasing funding for human needs.   Support regressive regimes and, when convenient, instigate coups.
  3. Keep politicians dependent on private campaign donations.
  4. Manipulate elections by: vote rigging (including the use of hackable electronic voting machines) by gerrymandering , and by suppression of minority turnout (e.g., restrictive anti-fraud laws that require voters to show photo IDs, purging of voters lists, shortening the time for submission of absentee ballots, and provision of insufficient voting machines).
  5. Manipulate news and concentrate the ownership of media, to hide the truth and mislead the public. This is accomplished both by owned media (Fox News, AM radio stations) and by well-funded right-wing think tanks that market misinformation, character assassination, and attack ads.
  6. Blame government, taxation, teachers, unions, and regulation for the nation’s problems. See Teaching People to Hate Their Own Govt. Is at the Core of the Project to Destroy the Middle Class.
  7. Corrupt, privatize and mismanage government agencies and the military, to enrich well-connected corporations and to destroy the People’s trust in government. Conservatives exploit public anger at government waste and corruption that they themselves are largely responsible for. So, conservatives win twice by their corruption and mismanagement: they profit directly from the kickbacks, and then they win at the polls when voters express their disgust with government waste.
  8. Exploit bigotry, religion, patriotism, and fear to divide the people and to distract them from the important issues.
  9. Destroy unions, education and public sector employment. Slash wages, raid pension funds.
  10. Export jobs overseas, via tax laws that reward such exporting and via “Free Trade” agreements that also weaken environmental and other regulations.
  11. Oppose regulation: of Wall Street, of toxins, carbon, health care, insurance, the mortgage industry, and financial transactions. Oppose all government initiatives and regulations that might inconvenience the corporations, help the middle class and the poor, reduce dependence on oil, or lower health care costs.
  12. Corrupt the courts and criminal justice system, by politicizing the Justice Department, stacking the courts with right wing ideologues, refusing to approve Democratic presidents’ nominations, privatizing prisons, protecting torturers, prosecuting whistle-blowers, and pursuing a senseless war on drugs that enriches drug gangs, harms minorities, and disenfranchises African Americans.  White collar crime, insurance fraud, and credit card fraud are rampant and largely unopposed, since the police and FBI are underfunded.

Quite a lot to fix.  First we gotta fix #5 by developing an effective progressive media that educates the public about the issues.

For further resources, check out Government is Good.

by Don Smith

The twelve-step program that works, but probably not for you