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thomhartmann

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Name: Thom Hartmann
Gender: Male
Hometown: Portland, OR
Home country: US
Current location: US
Member since: Mon Nov 6, 2006, 08:54 PM
Number of posts: 3,954

About Me

NY Times bestselling author and talkshow host

Journal Archives

From the 1870s to the 1950s the "race extinction" theory was widely embraced in the US...

When I did the research on this and read Hoffman's book, I was truly shocked, and I thought I was way past that at my age...

https://twitter.com/Thom_Hartmann/status/1418958763797610496

Death is Their Election Strategy

Dr. Jonathan Reiner, a CNN Medical Analyst, said last week, “A surprising amount of death will occur soon...” But why, when the deadly Delta variant is sweeping the world, are Republicans and their media warning people not to get vaccinated?

There’s always a reason. People don’t do things — particularly things involving a lot of effort and a need for consistency — without a reason. It just doesn’t happen. No matter how bizarre, twisted or dysfunctional the reason may be, there’s always a reason.

Dr. Anthony Fauci told Jake Tapper on CNN last Sunday, “I don’t have a really good reason why this [unwillingness to get vaccinated] is happening.”

But even if he can’t think of a reason why Republicans would trash talk vaccination and people would believe them, it’s definitely there.

Which is why it’s important to ask a couple of simple questions that all point to the actual reason why Republicans and their media are discouraging people from getting vaccinated:

1. Why did Trump get vaccinated in secret after Joe Biden won the election and his January 6th coup attempt failed?

2. Why are Fox “News” personalities discouraging people from getting vaccinated while refusing to say if they and the people they work with have been protected by vaccination?

3. Why was one of the biggest applause lines at CPAC: “They were hoping — the government was hoping — that they could sort of sucker 90% of the population into getting vaccinated and it isn’t happening!”

4. Why are Republican legislators in states around the country pushing laws that would “ban” private businesses from asking to see proof of vaccination status (they call it “banning vaccine passports”)?

5. Why, when President Biden suggested sending volunteers door-to-door into low-vaccination communities to let people know how and where they could get vaccinated, did rightwing media go nuts about “government thugs” coming to your door to “force” vaccines on you?

6. Why are about half of all the Republicans in Congress refusing to say if they’ve gotten a vaccine or not? For that matter, why do the CPAC speakers who are trashing vaccines refuse to say if they’re vaccinated or not?

7. Why would a Newsmax host trash-talk vaccines saying, “I feel like a vaccination in a weird way is just generally kind of going against nature”?

8. Why did Republican Governor Kristi Noem of South Dakota downplay the dangers of Covid last week by bragging that she never shut her state down (and Ron DeSantis did) when SD has 230 Covid deaths per 100,000 people while similar low-population states like Vermont and Oregon are at 41 and 66 deaths per 100,000 respectively?

I hope I’m proven wrong on this, but the only possible explanation I can see for all this activity that seems so well-coordinated and largely consistent is that they all think there’s something in it for them. And what might that be?

Political power. And, of course, the eventual wealth that often comes with political power, particularly corrupt power. Retired Republicans make a lot of money.

Put simply, I believe these Republicans are trying to promote outbreaks of Covid in America to soften or damage Joe Biden’s red-hot economy on the assumption that if the economy tanks then people will vote out Democrats and vote in Republicans in 2022 and 2024.

As Pat Buchanan wrote today: “Are the Democrats headed for their Little Bighorn, with President Joe Biden as Col. Custer? The wish, you suggest, is father to the thought.”

They’re not just willing to let tens or hundreds of thousands of Americans die just to win the next two elections, they’re actively encouraging that outcome.

Death is their electoral strategy.

Is there any other possible explanation?

They’re not stupid (although they’re banking on their audience being, at least, poorly informed) and most have college degrees (and Lauren Boebert finally got her GED). Even if a few of them fell down the Facebook or YouTube rabbit hole into anti-vaxxer territories, they still have no shortage of actual medical experts and staffers who know how to use Google available to them.

It’s remotely possible they just hate and want to damage the US, and a few who are pushing vaccine “hesitancy” like Ron Johnson and John Kennedy recently celebrated the 4th of July in Moscow, but it’s unlikely that they’d take the chance of coordinating with a foreign power to kill Americans (even if much of the foreign troll activity on social media is also trashing vaccines to American social media users).

A bizarre faux masculinity could be behind it, the way Trump tried to promote the idea that only wimps wear masks, but, seriously, do you really think these folks are taking fashion/appearance tips from an obese geriatric guy with a huge comb-over who wears absurd amounts of makeup, contacts, men’s diapers and false teeth? And what’s “masculine” about slowly dying by drowning in your own snot? Or becoming unable to get an erection, as happens to a significant number of men who get Covid?

It’s certainly not fear of, or concern about, the vaccine itself; whether they’ll admit it or not, virtually all of these Republicans and media stars telling people to be afraid of getting a shot have been secretly vaccinated themselves, just like Trump and his family were in January. As CNN Medical Analyst, Dr. Jonathan Reiner, said, “Over 100 members of Congress, all of them GOP members, refuse to tell their constituents whether they have been vaccinated. They’ve all been vaccinated, every single one of those characters have been vaccinated.”

This also has nothing to do with “conservative” ideology. Vaccination has been a part of the American landscape since George Washington ordered his troops inoculated against smallpox during the Revolutionary war, and Republican President Dwight Eisenhower (and his VP, Richard Nixon) had schoolchildren across the nation get the polio vaccine in the 1950s (I was one of them who lined up in school to get it and remember it well).

As California governor, Ronald Reagan oversaw a public school system that required vaccination for admission and conservatives like Bill Kristol and George W. Bush are proudly vaccinated against Covid. Mitch McConnell, who had polio as a child, said, “As a victim of polio myself, I’m a big fan of vaccinations, and if I were a parent who had a child … being subject to getting any particular disease, I would come down on the side of vaccinations.” This is not about fearing or not understanding vaccines.

They’re certainly not being paid by “big Pharma” to trash vaccines, and you can bet your last dollar that the billionaires who pay for big Republican events are not only themselves vaccinated but have made sure the entire staff of their multiple mansions, from the cooks to the pool boys to the masseuses and the live-in chefs are all vaccinated.

So, what’s left?

Politics, and the power and money that derive from it.

The reason why Donald Trump spent much of 2020 desperately encouraging people to keep shopping and working was because he knew that when an economy collapses in the 18 months before an election, the party in power always loses.

In his desperation to get the economy back in shape, Trump even issued an executive order forcing mostly Black and Hispanic meat-packing and slaughterhouse employees back to work under threat of imprisonment.

But, sure enough, the economy tanked anyway and Democrats now control the White House, Senate and House of Representatives.

Thus, it appears that today’s entire GOP strategy of encouraging “vaccine hesitancy” is to try to replicate that dynamic, to tank the economy, only this time in a way that works in favor of Republicans.

Encouraging Americans to die so they can win elections. That’s how low today’s GOP has sunk.

(Original post with hotlinks to references at HartmannReport.com

Oligarchy: When Brutal Capitalism Becomes More Important than Democracy

In an oligarchy, the rich can get away with anything and average people who try to stop harms to themselves and their communities get crushed. We’re now there; the question is whether we’ll pull back from this horror show, or whether it’ll continue its evolution toward a full-blown police state.

The Sackler family, whose criminal Oxycontin drug-dealing killed over a half-million Americans and destroyed the lives of millions more, is close to a deal with the states to keep around $10 billion of their ill-gotten gain in exchange for giving the states a bit over $4 billion over a nine years. Nobody will go to jail or even suffer an inconvenience like no longer being able to use a private jet or give up one of their many mansions.

And it’s not like they were caught in a one-off crime. In 2007, they reached a settlement with the government over their illegal and deadly marketing practices, promising to behave like good citizens. Then, as the Washington Post noted yesterday:

“The family members — including Richard Sackler, David Sackler, Mortimer D.A. Sackler, Kathe Sackler and Jonathan Sackler (who is now deceased) — demanded in 2012 that company executives come up with a plan to generate greater revenue in response to slumping sales, according to the Justice Department settlement.”


Recidivists. Repeat criminals. Billionaires. But because the crime they committed was mostly against average Americans rather than against big companies or rich people, they’ll quietly retire to one of their chalets or mansions.

Meanwhile, Jessica Reznicek was just sentenced to serve 8 years in prison for damaging an oil pipeline that she believed threatened the water supply of Iowa and surrounding regions and is contributing to climate change. Nobody died. Nobody got addicted. She didn’t make any money doing it. She’s not rich.

Instead, she was trying to save lives and prevent further ecocide. During her sentencing this week, Jessica said, “The toxins we enter into our waterways here in Iowa enter into the Mississippi, which enters into the Gulf [of Mexico]. … Going to this extreme was out of character for me.”

Ironically, on the same day she was sentenced a senior Exxon executive and lobbyist told a reporter that his company had no intention of going along with a carbon tax and that he could stop any kind of serious climate legislation because, with his company’s billions, he had about a dozen senators, including Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, in his back pocket.

The death toll from the “heat dome” caused in part by Exxon’s product (and their decades of funding climate denialism every bit as horrific as the Sackler’s marketing efforts for Oxycontin) has now officially killed over 116 people in Oregon, probably twice that in Washinton State (which has a much larger population), and over 500 people in British Columbia.

Nobody from Exxon is going to jail or even paying a fine, while the fossil-fuel money keeps rolling in to Manchin and Sinema. And if the voters try to mobilize to do anything about it, the Supreme Court said last week, Republican election officials can simply purge them from the voter rolls, make sure they face 8 to 10 hour lines to vote, or go to prison if they make a single mistake.

What we are watching is the final stage of the 40-year Reagan-started transition of our nation from a forward-looking and still-evolving democratic republic into a white supremacist ethnostate ruled by a small group of fascist oligarchs.

Some years ago, Trump economic adviser Stephen Moore (before he was Trump’s advisor) was a guest on my radio/TV program. I asked him, “Which is more important, democracy or capitalism?“

Without hesitation, Moore answered, “Capitalism.“

That philosophy (of capitalism being more important than “We the People” democracy), has held the Republican Party in its thrall for the past 40 years, and has brought America to this moment of great crisis and danger.

It has transformed America from a democracy to an oligarchy, and the point of no return is now visible. And that presents a true crisis for America, because oligarchy is almost always merely a transitional phase in the evolution of full-blown tyranny and/or fascism.

Oligarchies are inherently unstable forms of government because they transfer resources from working people to the oligarchs. Average people, seeing that they’re constantly falling behind, first become cynical and disengage, and when things get bad enough they try to revolt.

That “revolution” can either lead to the oligarchy failing and the nation flipping back to democracy, as happened here in the 1860s and the 1930s, or it can flip into full-blown strong-man tyranny, as happened recently in Hungary, Turkey and Russia, and nearly happened here on January 6th.

Oligarchies almost always become police states where any average person who dares seriously challenge the ruling oligarchs is squashed like a bug, while the oligarchs themselves are immune from prosecution and get to keep their billions regardless of how many people die because of their crimes.

Oligarchic governments almost always do a few predictable things, as I lay out in The Hidden History of American Oligarchy:

* They change laws and regulations so their rich buddies can take control of most of the media.

* They stack the courts and regulatory agencies with oligarch-friendly ideologues or outright corrupt toadies, while massively eliminate regulatory protections for average citizens.

* They cut taxes on the rich and drive wages low on working people while criminalizing and cracking down on dissent, particularly if it involves any sort of direct action or property damage.

* They distract voters from their own looting by demonizing minorities and encouraging racism and regionalism.

* They actively suppress the vote among people inclined to oppose them (typically minorities and the young), or outright rig the vote to insure their own victory.

* And they transform their nations into police states, heavily criminalizing demonstrations, nonviolent resistance or “direct action” property damage while radicalizing and encouraging rightwing vigilante “militias” to put down the inevitable rebellions as people realize what’s happening.

To stop this trend, Congress and the White House must take definite steps to undo a series of disastrous Supreme Court decisions that culminated with Citizens United in 2010, and thus reduce the political power of billionaires, giant corporations and their lobbyists. We need to get money out of politics, and return politics to the people through public funding of elections.

The starting point to back down oligarchy now, in this era, is found in the House of Representatives’ first proposed legislation, HR1, also known as the “For the The People Act.” Tragically, because this legislation doesn’t involve budget issues, it’s subject to a Republican filibuster, forcing a required 60 votes in the Senate to pass.

That’s why Americans must reach out to lobbyist-aligned Democrats like Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, demanding they help the rest of the Democratic Party end the filibuster now or at least transform it into a “Jimmy Stewart Filibuster.” (The phone number for the Senate is 202–224–3121.)

If we don’t reclaim democracy now, the next generation of Americans may well grow up in the dystopia George Orwell imagined in his novel 1984 and Europe suffered under in the 1930s. And more and more average people who rise up to try to save our environment and country, people like Jessica Reznicek, will be thrown into prison while more and more Sackler-type billionaires will get away with more and more crimes.

Between great wealth, control of the media, police-state tactics and social media’s algorithmic radicalization of the American mind, tyranny is itching to take over completely. We must stop them before it is altogether too late.

How The Reagan Revolution Collapsed America & the Florida Condo

Thought y'all here on DU would appreciate this.

The collapse of the Champlain Towers South condo building in Florida, the deterioration of infrastructure all across America, and our failure to plan for or respond to the threat of climate change all have the same source: greed. And it’s killing us.

Prior to the 1980s, Americans understood the need to keep a healthy cash-flow going or set aside reserves to cover the future cost of maintaining things. We had a top personal federal income tax bracket on the morbidly rich of around 74% and an almost-50% top corporate income tax bracket for those corporations that were essentially money machines.

As a result, infrastructure dating all the way back to the transcontinental railroad system built during the administration of Abraham Lincoln were well-maintained and reliable. Roads, schools and hospitals were shiny-new and state-of-the-art; even the older buildings constructed during and before FDR‘s New Deal were well-maintained. And, although we hadn’t yet heard of the need to concern ourselves with climate change, our government was able to fund itself to deal with crises.

When Ronald Reagan took office in 1981, for example, the US national debt stood at a mere $908 billion; we funded things with taxes and mostly maintained a necessary national debt so savers and federal and state agencies would have a safe place to park cash in treasuries.

And we understood that investing in America produced great returns on that investment. When World War II ended and our national debt was 119% of GDP (about where it is now), President Dwight Eisenhower borrowed even more money to build the interstate highway system, which produced such an explosion of economic activity that the added tax revenues paid down the national debt to 60% of GDP by the end of his presidency.

Similarly, the GI Bill that gave 7.8 million mostly young men free college and low-interest home loans proved a fabulous investment.

Since college graduates make so much more than people who only have a high-school education, and higher-income people pay higher tax rates, every $1 invested in the educational part of the GI Bill during its life from 1944 to 1956 produced an additional $7 dollars in tax revenue to our government over the lifetime of those now-well-educated veterans.

Condos have a slightly more checkered history, but it parallels the mentality of the “greed is good” Reagan Revolution. While the idea of condominiums goes back to the 19th century, the first modern condo built in America was Graystone Manor in Utah in 1960.

When a developer builds and then sells condo units, there are two parts to the selling price that buyers take into consideration: the sale price and the HOA (Home-Owners Association) fee. That fee covers maintenance and operation of the condo, from painting and landscaping to replacing carpeting to fixing leaky pipes, and is typically a few hundred dollars a month.

From a buyer’s point of view, the monthly HOA fee is mentally added to the monthly mortgage payment to determine how much they can afford to borrow to buy the condo. Thus, the lower the HOA fee, the higher the mortgage the buyer can afford and the higher the initial price the developer can charge — money that the developer walks away with.

Therefore, for most of the 80 years developers have been selling condos, they’ve ignored long-term maintenance costs when calculating HOA fees to keep them low, making the sale of the condos more profitable to the developer. And, for similar reasons, HOA boards are often reluctant to raise monthly fees to build a reserve for future major maintenance projects because it lowers their own resale values.

The problem comes 20, 30 or 40 years down the road when the condo needs a new roof or major repairs and there’s nothing in the reserves to pay for it. Which is why the residents of Champlain Towers South were, just in the past few months, hit with an $80,000-per-unit one-time assessment to pay for the structural deterioration the 2018 survey found.

The developer walks away with the initial cash, previous homeowners got a free ride, and people who bought-in during later years get hit with the costs of major repairs, particularly when HOA boards choose to run the condo with no consideration of the future like Republican’s have run the country since 1981.

Which is pretty much the same thing that Reaganomics brought us with the entire nation. The billionaires who owned Reagan didn’t want to continue paying a 74% top tax rate, so they got him and Congress to drop that top rate all the way down to 25%.

To deal with the loss of revenue, we essentially stopped maintaining the country while Reagan and the first President Bush subsidized the wealthy by more than tripling the national debt to $2.6 trillion in their 12 years.

Which is why today our rail system can’t support a fast train, our water systems are polluted and unreliable, our schools and bridges are collapsing, and our electric grid can’t handle a winter storm or summer heat in Texas.

Meanwhile, the billionaires of the fossil fuel industry have known for over 50 years that their product would produce a global climate emergency that would cost trillions (indeed, has already cost America trillions).

Instead of planning to shift to green power over time, though, they funded a multi-decade national campaign to lie about global warming so they could keep churning their profits, leaving future generations — and us, now — to deal with the costs and consequences, including millions of annual deaths worldwide.

Several states have changed their condo rules to either require (Florida has not) or “recommend” that developers write HOA rules that require a reserve fund for future major repairs, although enforcement is rare and these rules simply don’t apply for substantial long-term needs in most states. (Hopefully the Champlain Towers South experience will cause some states to wake up and change these laws and rules.)

Similarly, some states (almost exclusively Blue States) have raised state taxes enough over the years to be able to continue to repair and rebuild their states’ infrastructure, given that the federal government has largely abdicated that responsibility ever since 1981’s Reagan Revolution.

Red states, with their infamously low taxes, have become sacrifice zones when it comes to infrastructure and, ironically, will benefit the most from President Biden’s infrastructure proposals.

Looking forward, condo developers should be required to set HOA fees high enough to build long-term reserves, our nation and the world need a carbon tax on the fossil fuel industry, and federal and red-state governments have to raise taxes on wealthy people and corporations back to pre-1981 levels to cover improvements and long-term maintenance.

If we fail to reverse the Reagan Revolution and again plan/build for the future, this 40-year con by wealthy developers, fossil fuel companies, and morbidly rich billionaires who’d rather shoot themselves into space than pay their taxes will continue.

And more people will die.

(If you want to drill into links, the original post is at HartmannReport.com)

Trickle-Down Economics Isn't Even a New Con

America has to reinvent our understanding of economics after 40 years of living under a tax-cutting, austerity-imposing, Republican-promoted trickle-down Reaganomics scam and return to a Keynesian system that still works in those countries like Norway, New Zealand or Denmark that never adopted “austerity.”

The core idea of Reaganomics is that if we give huge tax cuts and multi-billion-dollar subsidies to billionaires and giant corporations, that will “incentivize” these “job creators” to expand the economy and raise prosperity all around for everybody.

In fact, all those giant corporations and billionaires have done is put all that cash in their money bins and use it to buy 400-foot yachts and rocket rides into outer space…while destroying unions and holding down wages on working-class people.

A recent study from the London School of Economics has now totally debunked the Reaganomics notion that tax-cuts for rich people incentivize them to “create jobs” or lead to economic growth. In fact, such tax cuts only serve one single purpose: to move more of a nation’s income and wealth from the bottom 99% up into the money bins of the morbidly rich. And they do nothing whatsoever for the overall economy.

To the contrary, Reaganomics has devastated America. As a result of Reagan/Bush/Trump tax cuts, notes former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, “Since the start of the pandemic, just 651 American billionaires have gained $1 trillion of wealth. With this windfall they could send a $3,000 check to every person in America and still be as rich as they were before the pandemic.”

Reich adds: “Yet at the same time, more than 20 million Americans are jobless, 8 million have fallen into poverty, 19 million are at risk of eviction and 26 million are going hungry.”

So, how did we get here, and have Republicans yet copped to this giant, 40-year-long hustle that’s still being taught in our colleges and universities by professors subsidized by rightwing billionaires?

Back in 1980 Repbulican candidate Ronald Reagan promoted trickle-down economics as a “new idea,” representing the latest, state-of-the-art thinking from billionaire-funded so-called “conservative” economists. At first, even Republican politicians recognized it as a con; in the 1980 primary, Reagan’s main opponent, patrician multimillionaire George HW Bush, called it a con job that he labeled “Voodoo Economics.”

Bush and actual economists then knew what any student of economic history knew: trickle-down was just a money-grab by Reagan, who was fronting for his patrons among the very richest Americans. And, since the Supreme Court had just (in 1976 and 1978) legalized political bribery by billionaires and corporations under the rubric of money being the same thing as “free speech” and therefore protected by the First Amendment, Reagan and his friends were all in.

But trickle-down wasn’t even a new con. Back in the 1890s it was called “Horse & Sparrow Economics,” the sales-pitch before the era of cars being that if you fed horses more oats than they could normally digest they’d drop all that undigested oat in their manure for the sparrows to pick at; rich people’s excesses would spill over to the average person. It not only didn’t work; it was blamed, in part, for the Panic of 1896.

Warren Harding revived Horse & Sparrow Economics in 1920 when he campaigned on dropping the then-91% top tax bracket down to 25%. He was elected and kept his promise, the result being the “Roaring 20s” when the rich got fabulously richer while working people saw their wages actually drop (leading to an explosion of unionization efforts by pissed-off workers that were violently suppressed by employers and police).

It all came to a startling and final end in 1929 with the Great Crash that set off what was then called the Republican Great Depression (the “Republican” part of that label largely wore off after the election of Republican President Dwight Eisenhower in 1952). Republicans stopped talking about horses and sparrows around that time, but the theory never really died; Reagan simply reinvented it in 1980 as “Supply Side Economics,” aka trickle-down.

Back in 1896 and 1929 people didn’t need a detailed multi-decade, multi-country analysis of Horse & Sparrow to know it was bad news: the Great Panic and the Republican Great Depression pretty much convinced everybody.

But somehow — even after 4 economic crashes (the Reagan stock market crash of 1987, the Bush Great Recession of 1992, the Second Bush Great Recession of 2008 and the Trump Depression of 2020) and spreading poverty — most voters never managed to put together the cause-and-effect of trickle-down Reaganomics.

This most recent study of trickle-down is probably the most comprehensive effort ever made to figure out what happens when you radically cut taxes on the morbidly rich. The researchers used “data from 18 OECD countries covering the last fifty years to investigate the effects of major tax cuts for the rich on income inequality, economic growth, and unemployment.”

And when they compiled those 50 years of data over 18 countries that had engaged in what we call Reaganomics and most of them call “austerity” economics, it wasn’t even close to what Reagan and his billionaire buddies told us would happen.

“Our results show,” the researchers write, that “major tax cuts for the rich increase the top 1% share of pre-tax national income in the years following the reform (𝑡+1 to 𝑡+5). The magnitude of the effect is sizeable; on average, each major reform leads to a rise in top 1% share of pre-tax national income of 0.8 percentage points.”

So the rich got richer. But did these “job creators” use any little bit of that money to, well, create jobs? “No,” say the economists at the London School of Economics.

“The results also show that economic performance, as measured by real GDP per capita and the unemployment rate, is not significantly affected by major tax cuts for the rich. The estimated effects for these variables are statistically indistinguishable from zero…”

So what is the single largest result of a nation embracing Reaganomics trickle-down austerity tax-cut policies?

“Overall,” their study summarized, “our analysis finds strong evidence that cutting taxes on the rich increases income inequality but has no effect on growth or unemployment. Our results … suggest that lower taxes on the rich encourage high earners to bargain more forcefully to increase their own compensation, at the direct expense of those lower down the income distribution.”

Americans seem to have largely figured this out: last year, for example, Arizona voters approved a ballot measure (Prop 208) that raised taxes by 3.5% on wealthy people making more than $250,000 a year. It was designed to raise $940 million a year from those taxes that would all go to fund the state’s crisis-ridden public-school system.

But when working-class people are gutted and billionaires make more billions, the stability of democracy suffers — particularly in a nation like the USA where the Supreme Court legalized political bribery in Citizens United.

Which explains why this year, when the Prop 208 tax increase on rich people was to take effect, the Republican-controlled, billionaire-funded Arizona legislature passed the largest tax cut for the rich in the state’s history.

Altogether, Arizona Republicans passed and Governor Ducey signed a $1.9 billion tax cut that, as the Prescott Valley News notes “mainly benefits the wealthy” to “shield high-earning taxpayers from the effects of a new 3.5% tax surcharge voters approved in November to boost education funding.”

Until we get money out of the body of our political system, any effort to pull these billionaire leeches off our backs will be somewhere between extremely difficult and futile.

The For The People Act goes a long way in this regard, which is why billionaire-funded groups like Freedomworks are working so hard to kill it. It explicitly requires transparency from so-called “dark money” donors and groups, an important first step toward restoring voter faith in our political system.

That’s also why no Republicans in the House voted for it and Republicans in the Senate have filibustered it. They don’t want the depth of how sold-out they are to become public.

It’s crucial Democrats change senate rules with their 50 votes and end the Senate filibuster so America can get this Act into law and solve our parasitic billionaire problem. And then fix the holes the GOP has bored into our tax system so billionaires pay more than the 1% to 3% most are paying (and giant corporations pay nothing) while average Americans pay an average 24.2%.

If we fail in this, our democracy will continue to crash and burn, the attacks on it funded by rightwing billionaires will increase, and more members of the working class in America will slide into poverty.

Vaccine Passports Could Save Us From Trump's Final Massacre

J. R. R. Tolkien wrote, “The burned hand teaches best. After that, advice about fire goes to the heart.” It’s a painful truth that people in red states, and red counties in blue and purple states, are about to learn.

Here comes Donald Trump’s Final Massacre.

While multimillionaire well-vaccinated Fox “News” hosts continue to sow doubt about masks and Covid vaccines to jack up the billions in revenue the channel brings in every year for the Murdoch family, the CEO of a hospital chain in Missouri is begging them to tell the truth.

“The Delta variant is in the Ozarks,” tweeted Steve Edwards, CEO of hospital chain Cox Health in Missouri. “We have been interviewed by NPR, CBS News, MSNBC, AP, Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, NYTimes but not @FoxNews.”

This is a crisis now for Missouri because the Delta variant of the Covid virus is not only far more contagious than previous strains, but also more deadly. As Heather Hollingsworth writing for the AP notes, vaccination rates are very, very low in that state with one county clocking in at 13% and most counties “well short of 40%.”

People in red counties across America are reporting on social media the same thing Louise and I saw when we visited a rural town in Oregon last weekend: nobody’s wearing masks or practicing social distancing. They believe rightwing media’s lies that Covid’s “just like the flu” or “vaccines are experimental” or “it’s all a Democrat hoax.” They’re following Trump’s notion that masks make men look “weak.”

As a result of this, Eric Frederick, the chief administrative officer of Mercy Hospital in Springfield, Missouri, tells the AP that they have been “inundated with COVID-19 patients as the variant first identified in India rips through the largely non-immunized community.”

And it’s not just hitting the elderly. “These patients are also younger,” Hollingsworth writes, “than earlier in the pandemic — 60% to 65% of those in the ICU over the weekend at Mercy were under 40, according to Frederick, who noted that younger adults are much less likely to be vaccinated — and some are pregnant.”

When the Covid virus first showed up in the United States in January of last year, then-president Donald Trump quietly told reporter Bob Woodward that it was both deadly and airborne.

"This is deadly stuff," Trump told Woodward on February 7th, 2020. “You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flu.”

That’s not, of course, what Trump and his lackeys told the American people, as they set up the deaths of over 600,000 Americans with more to come this year. “I wanted to always play it down,” Trump told Woodward a month later. “I still like playing it down…”

It’s a mantra Trump carried on right through his last weeks in office when he got himself and his wife secretly vaccinated in the White House, and, according to research published by the Brookings Institution, killed at least 400,000 Americans (and sickened millions more) who could have avoided infection if they’d listened to doctors instead of Republicans and rightwing media.

But there was a method to Trump’s homicidal madness. He knew what every politician who’s ever run for president or studied the history of presidential elections knows: when the economy goes into the tank before an election, the incumbent always loses.

Just ask Herbert Hoover; it was over 20 years until Republican Eisenhower retook the White House, and 60 years after the Republican Great Depression before Republicans regained solid control of the House of Representatives for more than a single congressional cycle.

Trump’s strategy to keep the economy on track was straightforward: keep people shopping, working and playing so our production and consumption would keep the economy going throughout the election year. No matter how many people died, especially if they were Black.

After giving in to his science advisors for a few months in March and early April, he went right back to downplaying the virus and discouraging people from even wearing masks.

That turnaround came literally the week after the day, April 7th 2020, when the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN and Fox all led their news with the news that Black people were disproportionately dying from Covid relative to white people.

Suddenly rightwing media was all over the idea we must spread the virus far and wide to achieve “herd immunity,” a move Trump and his people thought would largely spare Red state white people but decimate the Black community and Blue states as I documented here.

The virus beat Trump, of course; Joe Biden is now president and Democrats took control of the House and Senate, but the echo of that murderous political strategy is still killing Americans.

And with the Delta variant, which kills unvaccinated people of all ages but only rarely causes illness in people who are fully vaccinated, Covid is about to plunge Trump’s devotees into a world of hurt.

As Cox Health CEO Edwards pleaded in his tweet: “Fox is the most popular cable news in our area - you can help educate on Delta, vaccines and can save lives @TuckerCarlson.”

While Red states generally ignore the threat, Blue states are doing everything they can to get ready for the onslaught of the Delta variant: New York and California are rolling out digital vaccination certificates people can show on their smartphones to get into restaurants and sports/entertainment events.

California Governor Gavin Newsom, knowing which way the political winds are blown by my colleagues on rightwing talk radio and Fox, went out of his way to say they’re not passports.

“I want to make this crystal clear before folks run with it,” Newsom told the press. “It’s become so politicized — almost everything in the state, nation — that there’s no mandates, no requirement, no passports in that respect.”

But vaccine passports are what will save us, particularly since the Delta variant has already spawned a new variant of its own, Delta Plus, that’s “more transmissible, more easily binds to human cells, and is potentially more resistant to antibody therapy” than even the deadly Delta variant itself.

This is why more than half of Americans surveyed want vaccine passports now, as do many business owners. When it’s impossible to know if the person sitting next to you on a plane or in a restaurant is vaccinated or a Trump-humper who’s trusting in Jesus or hydroxychloraquine, many people are still reluctant to dine out, vacation, or go shopping the way we did before the pandemic.

Which hurts what is now Joe Biden‘s economy — which is exactly what Republicans want. But they are playing with fire.

Particularly given how deadly the Delta variant is, and how often it can even create “breakthrough infections” in fully vaccinated people when they’re heavily exposed to the virus. As Boston’s NBC affiliate Channel 10 TV noted in a recent headline, because of the Delta variant “Nearly 4,000 Breakthrough COVID Infections Have Now Been Reported in Mass.” (That’s a drop in the bucket, and most don’t get very sick, but still…)

The original and early variants of the Covid virus required repeated or sustained exposure to become infected; the new Delta Plus variant can apparently be caught by simply walking past an infected person. A single case in an airport limo driver in Australia shows how it works, reports today’s The Washington Post:

“Video footage shows the limo driver infecting strangers at a shopping mall and in a cafe through only fleeting contact, which scientists say proves it is possible to catch the virus simply from sharing the same airspace as an infected person.”


The Post article adds, “The cluster began last week with an airport limousine driver and has grown to 36 cases…”

As the BBC reported this week:

“India’s health ministry says studies showed that the so-called Delta Plus variant — also known as AY.1 — spreads more easily, binds more easily to lung cells and is potentially resistant to monoclonal antibody therapy, a potent intravenous infusion of antibodies to neutralise the virus.”


And Delta and Delta Plus are just the June varieties; there are almost certainly more contagious and deadly varieties to come as evolution continues to work its magic on the virus.

The next few months will hopefully become a “Great Awakening” in America relative to the politicized lies that Trump, Fox and rightwing media have been spewing for over a year about the dangers of Covid. And that will lead to a new wave of mask-wearing and vaccinations.

If not, it’ll be the “Great Dying” for Trump followers and Fox viewers.

Original post: HartmannReport.com

The Demise of Local Entrepreneurialism is the Death of the American Dream

Entrepreneurialism is what builds vibrant local economies and a strong middle class, but ever since major changes in the enforcement of anti-trust laws as part of the Reagan Revolution in the 1980s, entrepreneurialism has been dying. The Biden administration now has a chance to fix this!

For most of the history of our nation – and even the centuries before the American Revolution – one dimension of “the American Dream” was to start a small local business like a cleaners, clothing store, hotel, restaurant, hardware store, theater, gift store, travel agency, etc., and then not only run it for the rest of your life but be able to pass it along to your children and grandchildren.

These companies generally paid well and, in part (along with unions in larger businesses) created the American middle class.

Today, instead, the few entrepreneurs left follow a very different business model: start a company and build it as fast as you can so you can sell it to a corporate giant before they squash you like a bug. This is an entirely new thing in American history.

I’ve been an entrepreneur my entire life. My dad (who worked in a locally-owned Tool & Die shop) had an entrepreneurial dream: he and his best friend, Jerry Miller, started a vitamin company they called Millhart Laboratories. I remember as a little kid sitting in our basement filling vitamin bottles from giant bags of big brown pills.

Dad and Jerry lost their shirts on that business, but I learned a lot. I started my first business 10 years later when I was 17, a TV/stereo repair shop in the back of a Head Shop in East Lansing across the street from MSU. Within a few years I employed five people and had a thriving business, but then made the typical beginners’ mistake of trying to grow too fast and killed the business.

Since then I’ve started 9 other businesses, and four of them did quite well. This is a common entrepreneur’s story; most serial entrepreneurs have had at least as many failures as successes.

But entrepreneurs today are struggling like never before in our nation’s history, and that’s a very dangerous thing for our communities and our economy.

Today’s landscape is dotted with low-wage big chains and boarded-up small towns; it was once local and vibrant. Prior to the Reagan Revolution, you could see that vibrancy in every town in America.

Small businesses, being close to their community and employees, almost universally pay better, have better benefits, and a better relationship with their employees and customers. They’re not just in the local community; they’re part of it.

Local entrepreneurs don’t become morbidly rich but they do well and their companies becomes part of the wealth of the community as they pay their property taxes, business taxes and engage in the entire local economic ecosystem.

When Louise and I owned an advertising agency in Atlanta, our employees formed a baseball team and competed against other small, local companies. Our herbal tea company employees in Michigan back in the early 1970s formed their own union, and eventually took over the company when we sold it to them (as we later did with the advertising agency) and retired to New Hampshire. Life was good for all, unlike the poor wage slaves at Amazon warehouses.

This was once the norm in America.

The first four years of the 1960s saw a brand new TV show — first in black & white and then in color — starring Martin Milner and George Maharis. The two guys drove their sports-car on the nation’s only coast-to-coast highway, Route 66, every week, stopping in small towns and mixing it up with the locals.

In the trailer for the classic DVD set of the show, Maharis asks Milner, “How many guys do you know who have knocked around as much as we have, and still made it pay?”

“Oh, we sure make it pay,” Milner replies. “Almost lynched in Gareth, drowned in Grand Isle, and beat up in New Orleans…”

I was nine years old when the show hit the air, and still remember being fascinated by the geographic, cultural, and linguistic diversity of the towns they visited.

Every town was unique and was generally identified by the names of the local businesses, which often provided a job for a few days for Tod and Buz as they explored our country.

Today, you could parachute out of an airplane from a few miles up, land in any city in America, and be totally unable to figure out where you are.

Instead of the “Peoria Diner,” it’s Olive Garden or Ruby Tuesdays. Instead of the “Lansing Hotel” it’s Marriott. Instead of local stores named after local families, it’s Walmart or Amazon that’s providing the goods Americans want.

But with the giant chains workers become cogs in a multinational machine, losing their humanity and individuality. And these corporate giants have also spent the past 40 years strip-mining the wealth from our towns and neighborhoods.

One of the reasons small towns are dying all across America is because of this death of local retail entrepreneurialism. In the pre-Reagan days you’d go downtown and visit the Armchair Bookstore, Jacobson‘s clothing store, and the Schneiderman Brothers corner drugstore to do your shopping.

Each being a locally-owned business, they would deposit the money from their sales that day in the locally-owned bank. The bank, in turn, would loan some of that money out to newer, smaller businesses, as well as local folks who wanted to buy a home.

A dollar spent in a community like that could circulate for months before it left town, producing multiple dollars in local value, economically enriching the community and everybody in it.

A major part of the Reagan revolution was establishing new rules for our economy that allowed giant, multi-state and multinational companies to come into local communities and wipe out their local businesses.

The rationalizations and details of how they pulled this off are fascinating and, if you’re interested in the deep dive, I wrote an entire book about it: The Hidden History of American Monopolies.

In summary, though, the big change now is that at the end of the business day the manager of the local Walmart or other multinational chain store, gas station, restaurant or hotel simply pushes a button and all the money from all the customers in that local community is immediately transferred from the local town and off to Walmart headquarters in Arkansas, etc..

Outside of a few paltry wages, none of that money stays in the local community any more: giant interstate chains like this act like a massive vacuum cleaner system sucking up cash from towns all across America and depositing it in the bank accounts of distant, giant corporations.

In many cases these massive companies don’t even pay property taxes because they promised “jobs” to the local community to get 10- or 20-year tax abatements and often even free land.

While the wealth of the morbidly rich Walton family has bloated to around $250 billion, towns all across America are now left as dead, dry husks. During the time of Walmart’s greatest expansion, in the 90s and early 2000s, it was estimated around 100 small, local businesses would go out of business for every big-box retailer that opened their doors.

And it’s not just Walmart, of course. Restaurants, hotels, fast food joints, drugstores, furniture stores, groceries, banks, clothiers, furniture stores, gift shops, jewelers, pharmacists, toy stores, and even the local hospital have all been replaced by giant chains.

None of them circulate money in local communities; all of them extract massive amounts of cash and transfer it every night to their far-away corporate headquarters for eventual distribution to overpaid executives and fat-cat shareholders.

Like giant suckers from an alien, octopus-like spaceship, when you see a national chain in your local neighborhood know that they are extracting wealth from you and your community that will never return.

One of the most ironic aspects of this is the impact it has had on politics. Republicans have relentlessly promoted this business aspect of Reaganomics which, in turn, has blighted rural and small-town America. Poverty in these areas has exploded, leading to increased levels of crime, suicide, addiction and general insecurity.

Insecure people often look to authority figures to “save the day” for them, and that’s what the GOP has been selling since the era of Barry Goldwater. “We’re the business experts and tough guys; we’re on your side,” they lie as they brand themselves with hunting rifles, Country music and NASCAR.

So the very communities wiped out by Republican economic policies become the hottest of Red-state Republican hotbeds. As Thomas Frank famously said, it’s “What’s The Matter With Kansas.”

Now that Democrats control the White House and both branches of Congress, if we’re really going are to “Build Back Better” we can break this cycle of local economic devastation.

The Biden administration and Congress can now repudiate and discard the discredited economic ideas that Milton Friedman and Robert Bork sold to the GOP and Ronald Reagan and he, in turn, imposed on the American business landscape.

Vigorous use of the anti-trust legislation that Reagan formally and explicitly stopped enforcing in 1983 — and hasn’t been meaningfully enforced since then — can be brought back to the fore. It’s all still on the books!

Poor communities, from rural West Virginia to urban Chicago and Oakland, need investment in local businesses that will keep money circulating in the local economies. Breaking up the big monopolies and oligopolies is step one.

Entrepreneurialism could become possible and fashionable again, and America’s communities can begin a serious, long-term recovery to the vibrancy those of us around before the Reagan Revolution remember well and you can still watch today on reruns of Route 66.

Original post with links at HartmannReport.com

Can We Stop Psychopath-Driven Inequality From Making Society More Sick?

Inequality is literally killing us, both individually and as a society, and its two main drivers are monopolistic business behavior, and greedy CEOs and politicians. Both are a result of psychopaths taking over politics and business.

Decades ago, when I was doing international relief work, I visited a school for Aboriginal children way up northeast near Cairns, Australia in a little town called Lockhart River.

One of the teachers there, a white guy who’d grown up in Sydney and was my guide around the place, told me the story of an “amazing, life-changing” revelation he had the first week he was teaching at the school.

He was supervising after-school activities, and a large group of the kids formed into two teams and were playing soccer. The game’s score went back-and-forth, back-and-forth with the two teams, fairly evenly matched, taking turns with who was ahead.

“They played for about an hour,” he told me, as I recall. “And then they stopped. They said the game was over, and I couldn’t figure out why.”

The revelation for him came when they told him that, by their rules, the game was over when both teams had achieved the same number of points. When things were even.

This is how things were across much of humanity before the psychopaths took over.

Humans are wired for cooperation and empathy; these are among the highest values in societies the predate the Agricultural Revolution and in cultures today who still remember their roots in such ancient societies.

The advent of agriculture 7,000 years ago, however, produced seasonal bursts of food from harvests, often followed by long, hungry winters. This gave some people — the psychopaths — the ability to (as Daniel Quinn wrote so eloquently in his book Ishmael) “lock up the food.” It was the original sin of greed, the forbidden fruit of the garden, something that’s considered a crime or a mental illness in Older Cultures.

Those greedy few who controlled the food had the power of life and death over everybody else, eventually coming to be known as kings, robber barons and CEOs as humanity moved into the modern era.

Although humans are wired for empathy, collaboration and cooperation, there is a small percentage — most estimates run between .5% to 2% — of people among us who are psychopaths; these people rarely feel empathy and view cooperation as a sign of weakness rather than strength.

And, tragically, these psychopaths have mostly come to dominate the worlds of politics and business.

Most stunning, multiple studies show that as many as 20% of American CEOs are psychopaths, accounting for a brutal business culture and a winner-takes-all economy.

Depending on party affiliation, those numbers probably hold true in politics, as well; if psychopaths are over-represented in the Republican Party (Trump is the latest and most visible example), that would account for their brutal style of politics.

If psychopaths are under-represented in the Democratic Party, that would account for why Dems constantly want to compromise and work things out. Such behavior is, after all, the baseline norm for humans who are not psychopaths.

While psychopathic CEOs and politicians battling it out in their own realms may seem remote for the average person, the reality is their psychopathic, greedy behavior accounts for much of the massive inequality we see in the world today.

And that psychopath/greed-driven inequality is making us, as a society, sick.

Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett of the Equality Trust in the UK have spent years documenting how the more unequal a society is the greater will be their rates of crime, mental illness, violence, homicide, suicide, drug addiction, obesity, unwanted pregnancy and a whole host of other medical, psychological and social ills.

On the other hand, the more egalitarian or equal a society is the less frequently these societal ills present themselves. They’ve shown this is true from country to country, and even did an extraordinary break-down state-by-state in the US showing the exact same effect.

And now we’re finding that just playing games that are based on psychopathic behavior like trying to wipe out your competitors and take all their assets triggers similar reactions in people to societal inequality itself. And some games are worse than others at this.

And the game that’s the worst is Monopoly.

Back in 1903 Lizzy Magie, a British feminist and socialist, patented the board game that we know today as Monopoly. She invented the game as a warning about the dangers of unrestrained, unregulated capitalism, although over the past hundred years that has been almost completely forgotten.

As Chris Melore reports, “Monopoly stands out as the most debated — and most forbidden — board game of all time. In a recent survey of 2,000 U.S. residents, 20 percent say that their game nights with friends or family members are often or always disrupted by competitive or unfriendly behavior.”

Perhaps the “good” news is that “only 11% of respondents said they witnessed a physical fight break out,” but Monopoly — a game that is based on the prime psychopathic value of taking everything for yourself and thus increasing inequality — seems to trigger the worst in us.

Nobody’s calling for a ban on the game of Monopoly, but as the Aboriginal kids taught their “westernized” teacher — and the extraordinary scientific research of the Equality Trust clearly shows — we will all be better off if we can reform our political and business cultures to be less greed-driven (psychopath-friendly) and more collaborative and fair (humanity-friendly).

Those psychopath-proofing reforms range from tackling actual business monopolies, to getting corporate and billionaire money out of politics, to strengthening our democracy by establishing an absolute right for all Americans to easily and comfortably vote like in other democracies (see: HR1).

It’s a big lift, but if we all work together we can still make it happen.
Posted by thomhartmann | Fri Jun 4, 2021, 09:59 AM (4 replies)

Grand Dragon of Today's Ku Klux Kaucus? Donald Trump.

Donald Trump dumped his blog because he has nothing to say that anyone wants to hear beyond one single message.

He’s not thinking deep thoughts about the economy, or the state of the nation’s infrastructure, or offering insights into the Middle East. There’s literally no philosophy Trump holds — other than one single idea — that truly matters to the vast majority of the Republicans who support him.

He’s not Richard Nixon, who could be actually thoughtful on foreign policy. He’s not Ronald Reagan, who completely bought into the idea of supply side economics. He’s not George W. Bush, who had a story to tell us about why it was so important to attack the second-most oil-rich country in the world and hand their natural resources over to Dick Cheney’s company.

The only thing Trump has to offer his followers is open and blatant racism, and that is the core and foundational base of his support.

This is not unique in our history, and it’s not even unique in recent, 20th century American history.

When Republicans took the White House in 1921 and held it for 12 years, their rise in power was paralleled by a rise in the visibility and influence of the Ku Klux Klan.

By 1926, 150,000 cheering white people lined miles of Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington DC to watch 30,000 Klan members dressed in full, white-hooded Klan regalia.

As a reporter for the New York Herald wrote: “30,000 men and women, clad in the white robes and conical hoods of the Ku Klux Klan paraded down Pennsylvania Avenue today from the capitol to the treasury. It took nearly three and a half hours for the colorful procession to pass.”

The official membership of the Klan at that time was around 3 million; their support among white Americans however, was much vaster and deeper.

Starting in the 1960s, however, the Klan fell out of public fashion and white people drifted away from its membership, joining the Republican Party instead.

This was one goal of Richard Nixon’s 1968 “Southern Strategy,” implemented by his consultants Lee Atwater, Roger Stone and Paul Manafort as an outreach campaign to the “silent majority” of America’s white racists.

Thus, the Klan never really went away; they merely changed their brand. And the Grand Dragon of today’s Republican Klan? Donald Trump.

It’s appropriate they’re digging up the remains of Klan founder Nathan Bedford Forrest now, because Donald Trump has replaced him as their leader.

A few weeks ago, an Axios-Ipsos poll found that about half (48%) of all Republicans disagree with the assertion that “America is a racist country” with an ongoing racism problem, compared to only 4% of white Democrats who say the same thing. “No problem here,” say members of the GOP.

While 87% of white Democrats believe America needs to continue working to give Black Americans equal rights, only 19% of white Republicans agree.

Fully 60% of white Democrats think the protests over the police murder of George Floyd raised an important issue in America and had an overall positive impact, but only 8% of white Republicans agree.

When the #2 Republican in the US House of Representatives, Steve Scalise, ran for election in Louisiana saying that he was “David Duke without the baggage,” white people in Louisiana knew exactly what he was saying. He was the perfect guy for GOP leadership.

There’s a simple reason why Republicans have now introduced legislation into 47 states to make it harder for non-white people to vote: the Republican Party is today’s version of the Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s.

Today’s GOP’s white male foot soldiers don’t care about foreign policy or the federal budget deficit or what tax rate corporations pay. They don’t give a rat’s ass about Keynesian versus Trickle Down economics, or whether the US government is doing well in the Space Race to Mars.

They just want to make sure that Black people and other racial and gender minorities — along with “their” white women — are kept under their thumbs.

In the years following the Civil War, the Klan was at the forefront of efforts to intimidate Black voters; soon Klan members in state legislatures were passing state laws presenting legal barriers to minority voting. The GOP is leading a similar charge today, recruiting 10,000 “poll watchers” to intimidate voters in communities of color and passing voter suppression laws that are as thinly-veiled as was the old “Recite the Constitution” trick.

History is quite literally repeating itself.

What’s at stake right now in American politics is the future of multiracial democracy. The Republican Party, almost entirely white, wants to “take America back” to the “glory days” of the 1920s when white people proudly displayed racist emblems and paraphernalia and Black people and other minorities “knew their place.”

The virtually all-white MAGA mob that attacked the capitol on January 6th drew disproportionately from counties in America where white populations are slipping, relative to minorities. They came from places where “white replacement anxiety” is the greatest, as documented by the New York Times.

The GOP’s multiple and competing armed-white-militia groups are simply today’s version of the old Klan “Night Riders” who wore hoods and waved crosses while chasing and shooting at Black people from horseback.

The Democratic Party is in denial. They’ve had all the evidence of this in front of them since 1968, and they continue to refer to the Republican Party as if it were the kind of legitimate political party seen in other advanced democracies. It is not; Richard Nixon reinvented it, and the Party never looked back.

Democrats and the media need to start dealing with Republicans the way they would deal with the Klan. The GOP truly has become the Ku Klux Kaucus.

Original post: HartmannReport.com
Posted by thomhartmann | Thu Jun 3, 2021, 09:53 AM (2 replies)

Is It Too Late For Democracy?

Republicans in the US Senate just filibustered a January 6th bipartisan commission, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer failed to take the opportunity to call for a vote on a rules change in the Senate to end the filibuster. That’s a disaster.

People think the January 6th insurrection against our republic was over that evening; the truth is that it never really stopped, and is now spreading across our nation like a virus that’s infected the GOP.

Let’s just speak the truth: the people who’ve taken over today’s Republican Party hate democracy. And now they’re doing everything they can to destroy democracy in the USA and replace it with a full-blown fascist oligarchy.

This is no longer Dwight Eisenhower’s Republican Party. Instead, it’s become the party of racists, fascists and oligarchs: the question is if it’s too late to stop them.

They kicked off the Reagan revolution with the Big Lie that the American government was, itself, the core cause of society’s problems rather than the cure for society’s problems. Reagan put down that marker in his first inaugural address on January 20, 1981.

Then they tweaked and changed and sometimes just ignored laws to allow an avalanche of anti-democratic big money to flow into their party from right wing billionaires, massive corporations and conservative foundations.

They sought to exploit democracy’s weaknesses by exacerbating racial tensions and shouting out encouragement, first in code and now explicitly, to our country’s white racists. As a result, white supremacist groups are erupting all over the country.

Every Republican administration since Reagan’s has made a practice of putting lobbyists and other special-interest advocates in the highest positions of power within government.

As Gillens and Paige documented so brilliantly in 2014, Republican obstructionism has been so successful since the beginning of the Reagan Revolution that the vast majority of laws passed over the past 30 years are not only not what the majority of Americans want, but they are what the majority of Americans explicitly don’t want.

As these researchers said, in academic-speak: “The preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy,”

Republicans have now introduced over 400 pieces of legislation in 47 states to make it more difficult for people to vote and, in most cases, to give Republican elected officials the ability to decide which ballots to count and which to throw out.

As President Biden said, “What I'm worried about is how un-American this whole initiative is. It's sick. It's sick.”

And now they’ve launched an attack on an almost “pure democracy” process available to the citizens of about half our states: the ballot initiative.Just this year, over 144 laws have been introduced in 32 states to make it harder for average citizens to get issues on the ballot.

Republicans watched as everything from medical marijuana to increases in the minimum wage were voted into place by citizens in Red states, and they are over it. Never again, they say, should average voters be able to get a law on the books through the ballot box.

That’s why, of those 144 bills to block ballot initiatives, 19 have already been signed into law by various Republican governors.

Democracy in America is being hacked to death by a thousand blows from dozens of different directions, all originating with the GOP and their billionaire and corporate owners.

And they’ve been so successful at selling it that when Republican voters were asked if “changes to voting rules” will set things up in America so more Republicans “will win once those changes are in place,” more than half of the Republican voters said they’d go along with it.

As my colleague David Sirota notes:

“But now, another Overton Window has shifted. Super Pac and dark money spending flooding elections are the norm, and voter suppression tactics and legislation are considered by many to be just another totally permissible aspect of the political competition.”

The bottom line is that Republicans have chosen to embrace a form of government generally referred to as oligarchy rather than democracy and this is extraordinarily dangerous for a major party in a democratic republic.

There are now sitting congressmen openly calling for armed rebellion against our country. A third of Republicans believe in Qanon conspiracy theories that Democrats drink the blood of children, a libel that has historically been used against Jews, while the most-Q GOP congresswoman, Marjorie Taylor Greene, pushes the idea that wearing masks to stop Covid is the same thing as Hitler’s Holocaust.

Meanwhile, Republicans are pretending to negotiate things to run out the clock, and a small handful of Democrats are playing along.

They are playing with a fire that could burn down our nation, and Democrats must get control of the Senate now and nuke the filibuster so they can pass the laws that will protect our democracy, like the For The People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, that have already passed the House.

As Senator Bernie Sanders warns us, “The American people want action, not never-ending ‘negotiations’ and obstructionism… This is an unprecedented moment in American history. … Yes, the future of the country is at stake.”

If the Democrats — and Chuck Schumer — fail in this, democracy in this country won’t survive past 2025.

Original post: HartmannReport.com
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