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 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.


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.

Leave a Reply