Thursday, April 14, 2011

Scientology & Objectivism Are 2 Equally Crazy Cults!

There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs ~ John Rogers, a screenwriter who resides in Los Angeles CA.

For many, Rand's Objectivism was a way station between L Ron Hubbard's Dianetics and Werner Erhard's est... not only has the Objectivist movement been a classic cult as defined in the dictionary, it may arguably be viewed as a destructive psychotherapeutic-religious cult ~ Jeff Walker, author of "The Ayn Rand Cult" (a quote from his book; published 1998).

If you know anything about Scientology it's probably something regarding how nutty it is. This is the religion founded by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard. Scientology postulates that all of humanities' problems are the result of an extraterrestrial ghost infestation. These ET specters, which Hubbard calls "body thetans" parasitically latch on to nearby humans, feeding them bad vibes. Only followers of Mr. Hubbard know how to exorcise the otherworldly spirits through a process called auditing, which is provided by the church for a fee. In other words it's a money making scam designed to separate fools from their money.

Another crazy cult you may or may not have heard of is Objectivism. Whereas Scientology appeals to those who are mentally ill, Objectivism appeals to sociopaths of the Gordon Gekko variety who believe greed is virtuous. Politically these rational-self-interest types are Libertarian or Republican. The leader of the Objectivist cult was a Russian immigrant and atheist who was born Alisa Rosenbaum but changed her name to Ayn Rand. Oddly enough many right-wing Christians have succumbed to her free market fantasies. They must believe that they can worship two gods.

While I'm sure that Objectivists would take exception to being classified as crazy cultists similar in any way to the loons that practice Scientology, I'm not going to make any significant additional comparisons between the two. I'm only going to make one additional minor comparison. They both have big budget films based on fictional (and incredibly long) novels written by their respective luminaries.

Randians had The Fountainhead, which was a 1949 film starring Gary Cooper (not too shabby). But now they a second film. A brand new cinematic version of Rand's 1957 magnum opus Atlas Shrugged. This gives them the opportunity to be as embarrassed as Scientologists are in regards to the Razzie award-winning John-Travolta-starring Battlefield Earth.

Well, perhaps not THAT embarrassed, but the reviews I've read indicate that it won't end up being "the greatest film the first half of this century". The description I just related to you was a pre-review authored by the blogger Rational Nation USA. He dropped this "momentary infomercial break [slash] non-paid advertising" nugget here (on this blog) in response to my one of my previous posts (which didn't have diddly to do with Rand or Objectivism). After checking around the interwebs I discovered he had shat the same comment on a quite a few of the Left-leaning blogs I frequent.

Obviously he's quite excited. "You got to check it out", he insisted, and so I did. The last time I heard of this movie it was a big budget Hollywood endeavor with Angelina Jolie attached. As far as I know, Angelina Jolie isn't a Right-winger (or at least she has done a lot of work with the UN, which Right-wingers hate), so I was never entirely sure why she wanted to have anything to do with bringing Ayn Rand's delusions to the silver screen. Now it's starring a bunch of unknowns, although it does have a 20 million dollar budget.

Libertarian PJ O'Rourke says, "Atlas Shrugged. And So Did I". The reason PJ shrugs is because the film is more than a little boring. Brian Calle of the Right-wing rag The Daily Caller thinks Atlas Shrugged "could become a cult classic". A CULT classic isn't the same as a genuine classic. Sometimes cult films are revered by a select group because the film is hilariously bad. In this instance, however, I think the word CULT is used because that is the only group of people who will be interested in this; people who are already members in the cult of Rand. But it could be hilariously bad too.

This film has a PART 1 attached to it, although the planned parts 2 and 3 aren't currently in production. I'd guess the reason is because the financers of this film didn't want to commit to making any sequels until the box office receipts are tallied for this installment. My prediction is that the free market will speak and it will soon become apparent that there isn't a large market for films promoting the "greed is good" mantra. Gordon Gekko was the villain in "Wall Street". Most people believe avarice is a sin, not something to be proud of. What I'm saying is I hope this film does poorly.

In an email I received today FreedomWorks' Matt Kibbe says "[this movie] has the opportunity to introduce millions more around the world to the philosophy of freedom". Instead of "introduce" I think the word he's looking for is "indoctrinate". Imagine a film that touted the virtues of a society where the contributions of everyone (not just the wealthy) were valued. A film in which the growing disparity between the rich and the poor was viewed as a problem and not simply the MORE VALUABLE citizens claiming their just reward. Would the Right not call such a film Socialist propaganda?

BTW, I'm not saying I'm opposed to products produced for a niche market, as I have my own niche market interests. My niche market interest is orchestral film music. Which is why I checked out who wrote the score for Atlas Shrugged. Turns out another thing Atlas Shrugged has in common with Battlefield Earth is that the background music in both was written by Czechoslovakia composer Elia Cmiral. I know this because I own a copy of the Battlefield Earth soundtrack CD. This made me wonder, is Elia Cmiral the go-to composer for films based on the books of crazy cult leaders?

I'd rather rewatch my Lord of the Rings director's cut DVDs instead of a film based on Ayn Rand's garbage, although I actually might be interested in purchasing a CD of the Atlas Shrugged film score if one is released. I listened to the "John Galt theme" YouTube on the official website, and I liked it. I was disappointed with the last CD of Mr. Cimiral's I purchased, which I would describe as "atmospheric synth droning". I've passed on several of Mr. Cimiral's CDs lately as I've grown tired of boring synth drones, but this theme is performed on a piano. There probably won't be a soundtrack CD, however. Many big budget Hollywood films don't get one, and this film already has very limited appeal.

Even if a CD is released I think I'll wait and try to pick it up second-hand. I'd prefer that NONE of my money ended up in the hands of anyone involved in producing Ayn Rand's propaganda as a rich-leeches-as-the-heroes fantasy flick. Republicans may fear a dystopian future where all citizens have access to health care and the wealthy pay a slightly higher tax rate, but my fear is of a present in which Paul Ryan's laughable "Path to Prosperity" is considered a STARTING POINT for budget negotiations.

Representative Paul Ryan's budget encapsulates the Republican dream of an America in which the wealthy pay a smaller percentage of their income in taxes than does everyone else. And all the money the government does spend for social programs is funneled though private businesses who first take their cut. Yesterday President Obama said he wouldn't allow that to happen while he was president, but that doesn't mean Republicans are ever going to stop trying to bring their vision of a dystopian society to fruition. Clearly we have a hell of a lot more to fear from Republican fascists than Democratic socialists.

Further Reading
[1] Ayn Rand's Philosophy by Gore Vidal. Esquire 7/1961.
[2] Atlas Shrugged is Absurd but Strangely Compelling by Sam Jordison. Books Blog 3/27/2009.
[3] How Ayn Rand ruined my childhood by By Alyssa Bereznak. Salon 4/4/2011.
[4] Atlas Shrugged. And So Did I. A review of the film by P.J. O'Rourke. The Wall Street Journal 4/6/2011.
[5] Growing Up Objectivist by Andrew Sullivan. The Daily Beast 4/11/2011.
[6] The Reviews Are In: Atlas Shrugged is Really, Really Awful! by Shaw Kenawe. Progressive Eruptions 4/20/2011.
[7] Rational Nation USA & The Atlas Shrugged Part 1 Movie, A Flop From 2011 That Lost Over $15 Million. DSD #34 9/23/2016.

SWTD #73

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Teabag Patsies Help Establishment GOPers Play Teabag Chicken

The perception of U.S. credit quality would be permanently impacted. The faith in the U.S. Treasury is the closest thing we have to risk-free securities. Playing a game of chicken with the debt ceiling is the nuclear option ~ Calvin Sullivan, chief strategy officer of fixed-income capital markets at Morgan Keegan & Co, as quoted in the 1/29/2011 CNN Money article "Playing Chicken with the Debt Ceiling".

Recently I received (via email) a "very important letter" from editor-in-chief Joseph Farah of WorldNetDaily. The very important information Mr. Farah wanted to impart was something he referred to as the Republican's "secret weapon". Apparently Mr. Farah believes House Republicans can have their way and cut every single Democratic program they disagree with. In the letter Mr. Farah asked the following questions...

Q1: How would you like to defund Obamacare now?

Q2: How would you like to end subsidies for NPR and PBS this year?

Q3: How would you like to stop taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood and dozens of other offensive and deadly programs even before Barack Obama leaves office?

How does Mr. Farah believe Republicans can accomplish these goals? Turns out all they have to do is deploy their secret weapon. Farah reveals that, "if Republicans refuse to raise the debt limit, the borrowing must stop - and hundreds of billions of dollars must be cut from the federal budget".

This is the NEXT battle. If you're thinking, "wait a minute, didn't we just have this battle" - you're partially right. The House teabaggers did just try to attach these exact same defunding riders to the budget bill. Now some folks may also be thinking - because there is an apparent tentative agreement and these items aren't a part of it - funding for ObamaCare, NPR/PBS and Planned Parenthood are all safe. Think again.

The odd thing is that Joseph Farah sent me this important letter over a week ago, at which point the possibility of a government shutdown still loomed (and perhaps there will still be one, as the budget agreement still hasn't been officially formalized). So why wasn't the secret weapon a government shutdown? Or why didn't he say there were TWO secret weapons?

We know that if there is a government shutdown Republicans are rightly afraid the public will blame them. Like they blamed the Republicans when Speaker Newt shut down government during Clinton's presidency (twice). Try as they might to deflect blame to the Democrats or the president this time, they KNOW their excuses won't be accepted by the public.

Did we really come close to a government shutdown, or was it simply a negotiating tactic - and the Republicans were always going to flinch? Certainly I believe the House teabaggers were stupid enough to shut the government down. But even if they are stupid enough to vote in favor of the US government defaulting on it debts - I seriously doubt establishment Republicans are that stupid (or I believe most of them aren't).

That is why I think this secret weapon is bullshit. The Republicans are playing a game of chicken with the Democrats (and the economy) and it appears to be working. Round one of Teabag Chicken was when the Republicans held middleclass tax cuts hostage. The hostages of round two were The Affordable Care Act (AKA ObamaCare), Planned Parenthood and NPR/PBS.

Unlike round one where they got their tax cuts for the wealthy, this time they didn't get what they wanted. They did manage to pump up the budget cut figure from 33 to 38.5 billion though. This makes me wonder if that wasn't their tactic all along. Are the establishment Republicans playing the teabaggers for patsies by using their issues (which they KNOW will won't pass the House/be vetoed by the president) to force Democrats to further cut economic stimulus (AKA government spending)?

A 10/29/2008 World Net Daily article titled, "Bush's $2.2 Billion Gift to Planned Parenthood" says, "the Bush administration has extensively funded Planned Parenthood. The total amount of federal funding (through 2006, the most recent figures known) being at least $2.2 billion. In Bush's first year (2001), he approved $202 million for PP; in the last year for which there is reporting (2006), Bush gave PP $337 million – a single year funding increase of 67 percent".

So, the question is: are establishment Republicans playing Teabag Chicken with the administration to get what they want (stimulus cuts that will negatively impact the economy and make it harder for president Obama to get re-elected) - and using/making patsies of their teabag faction? I think so. I also think Congressional Democrats and the administration should stop playing along, as the GOPers are playing them for suckers as well.

SWTD #72

Friday, April 08, 2011

President Obama & The Very Bad Deal

These economic royalists complain that we seek to overthrow the institutions of America. What they really complain of is that we seek to take away their power. Our allegiance to American institutions requires the overthrow of this kind of power ~ Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 32nd president of the United States (3/4/1933 to 4/12/1945) as quoted in his Speech to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (6/27/1936).

The following is an excerpt from the Thom Hartmann Radio Program, 12/8/2010, which I edited for brevity and clarity. The discussion concerns the president's tax cut deal with the Republicans that had not yet passed when the discussion took place...

Thom Hartmann: Greetings my friends, patriots, lovers of democracy, truth and justice, believers in peace, freedom and the American way. Thom Hartmann here with you. And of course the great debate going on now across the United States from living rooms to boardrooms to the United States Congress - what to do about this compromise that President Obama has come up with the Republicans to extend tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires for two years, and to extend unemployment benefits on a limited number of unemployed people...

Dan Pfeiffer is with us, he is the White House Communications Director. Dan, welcome to the program.

Dan Pfeiffer: Thanks Thom.

TH: This tax cut that was originally passed by George bush and the Republicans with less than 60 votes in the United States Senate, because it was passed by reconciliation. Why has the Obama Administration not attempted to use reconciliation in the last two years for any of their agenda items that could conceivably be passed by reconciliation - to expand Medicare for example, or in this case taxes?

DP: We did use reconciliation to pass the health care bill. You only get to use it once per budget year. [Even though the budget is from October to October] we don't have a budget for the next year yet [which is why we can't use reconciliation to pass tax cut legislation and instead need to get Republican votes].

TH: [Here's the problem I see with this deal...] unemployment only goes for a year, so Obama's going to be stuck during the election year, in 2012, during that entire year, trying to deal with unemployment. And at the same time the Republicans are going to come back and say, you know the Obama tax cuts just jacked the budget deficit and the debt up by almost a trillion dollars - and so we've got to cut more social programs.

DP: Well, Thom, I think it's important to understand a few things here. First is, because the Republicans had 42 votes in the Senate, and frankly there was not unanimous Democratic support for allowing the upper income tax cuts to expire, we were put in a position where you only have two choices, and there were only two. People can talk about this far fetched scenario or that far fetched scenario, but it boils down to two very stark choices.

Do we let taxes go up on middle class families who absolutely can not afford it - a tax increase of two to three thousand dollars next year - at the same time that the unemployed Americans, 2 million at the end of this year, will go without benefits, or do you try to find a compromise that works? Compromise means we are going to have to swallow some things we don't like and the Republicans are going to have to swallow some things that they don't like, but [the question is] is it a good deal for America? Is it a good deal for our economy? Is it a good deal for middle and working class people?

There is no question that this is a very good deal. The president was adamantly opposed to extending the tax cuts for the upper income brackets - he fought this for many years - but there is not a supermajority in the Senate that will allow that it happen. So if we can't do that, we need to get a deal that ensures that middle and working class families not only don't face a tax increase, but we were able to some things to help the economy in the long run.

TH: Dan, I would submit to you that there's a third option. Let me have 10 seconds, if I may [Thom plays audio of the FDR quote at the top of this post]. Why is the president not talking like that?

DP: Well, I think that is an excellent speech. A very historic speech. You're right, there is a third option, which is the same as the first option, which is to allow the taxes to go up, and then spend the next several weeks and months making a political case to the American people about why this is the Republican's fault.

TH: Do you really think, that if you just let these tax cuts expire, and then president Obama goes on TV and gives a [FDR type] speech, and says that, we already have legislation that has been passed by the House, [and all we need to do is present that legislation to the Senate and ask] are you guys going to vote for tax cuts for middle class people? Yes or no? You really think that they would not back down?

DP: They may eventually back down, but you would go months and months before that happened, and every day we were before the Senate making these political arguments, unemployed Americans would get no benefits. Middle class Americans would have a higher tax bill. The economy...

TH: [interrupts] Wait a minute. I was talking about tax cuts. Let's talk about unemployment. Don't you think he could go right now and... bring out some stories like Ronald Reagan used to do.

DP: When Democrats had 59 votes in the Senate it took nearly six months to pass unemployment benefits. There is...

TH: [interrupts] Because there was no presidential leadership, Dan.

DP: I entirely disagree with that Thom. [The choice was to] let taxes go up which endangers our recovery and hurts middle class folks who can't afford it, or you can cut a deal. This is a good deal. It, uh...

TH: [interrupts] Dan, when George bush sold this thing we were told that the average cut on a median income individual with a family of four was $300 a year. That was the Democratic response to George bush's tax cut, "It's only 300 bucks a year". If someone making 50 grand a year is only going to see their taxes go up $300 a year where's the damage?

DP: There's a huge damage. The president talks to middle class and working class folks all the time who are scraping nickles together to...

TH: [interrupts] But income tax rates right now in the United States are lower than they've been in 60 years.

DP: Thom, if you want to make an argument that we should allow taxes to go up on middle class Americans to prove a political point, then we are at a...

TH: [interrupts] No. I'm saying that if anybody should be held hostage, it should be the Republicans rather than working Americans.

DP: What the president has said is that he has gotten a very good deal for working Americans. And a lot of measures that are going to create jobs for unemployed Americans who don't currently have them, and...[music signifying the end of the segment begins to play].

TH: [interrupts] Dan, I'm sorry we're out of time. You're doing a great job. I wish you well, but I disagree. Thank you for coming on.

DP: Thanks Thom. [Dan Pfeiffer disconnects].

TH: [addressing the listeners] I'm suggesting that we all be calling our Senators and our Congressmen and say "filibuster this thing. Stop it. Kill it". [End of segment]

My Commentary: Normally Thom Hartmann does not continually interrupt his guests. This interview was very atypical for the Thom Hartmann program. The reason for the "rudeness" (if that's what you want to call it) is that Thom felt this was a very bad deal. In retrospect, I believe Thom Hartmann was entirely correct. President Obama got teabagged. This was a Republican trap that he walked right into. Due to his quest to be even more bipartisan - which is the message he wrongly believed the voters sent by turning the House over to the Republicans.

In the next segment Thom explained another aspect of this bad deal, which is that "part of this legislation is a two percent reduction in payroll taxes". In regards to the payroll tax holiday Thom says, "What's that going to do? Over the short term, not a whole lot. But if you could make that permanent, it would take such a bite out of Social Security that it would require you to consider privatizing part of Social Security, or cutting benefits, or raising the retirement age".

This is the strategy behind the payroll tax holiday - it's a stealth move to sabotage Social Security. If further cutting the taxes of working people is a good idea - then do it. There is no reason to specifically target funds that should be going to the Social Security Trust Fund.

Finally, because the extension of the bush tax cuts added significantly to the deficit, Republicans yelling and screaming about how we're "broke" gain a lot more credibility. All over the media and blogosphere Conservatives insist that "it doesn't matter how we got here, what matters is we're broke and need to do something about it".

Of course that "something" is to cut programs that benefit middle and working class Americans, which is exactly what Thom predicted. And it certainly does matter how we got here. We are where we are because Conservative deregulation created a housing bubble that crashed the economy.

What President Obama and the Congressional Democrats could have done to get us back on the right track would have been to kill the bush tax cuts. Immediately. Repeal should have been the first order of business as soon as Barack Obama assumed office. Failing that, they most certainly should not have been extended. Some Democrats say if Obama hadn't made the deal good legislation like the repeal of DADT or health care for the 9/11 first responders wouldn't have been passed.

President Obama was RIGHT when he said the GOPers were holding tax cuts for the middle class hostage, but he was wrong when he decided to negotiate with the hostage takers. You don't negotiate with TERRORISTS - which is what the Republicans are. If you negotiate with a terrorist the terrorist will surely return to terrorize you again. Because they know they can get what they want by doing so.

This is what is happening RIGHT NOW with the battle over the budget and looming government shutdown. This time it's the Tea Party Representatives doing the terrorizing. The question now is - will Obama cave and give them exactly what they want? Will the President allow himself to be teabagged yet again? The strategy has been working for the entire Obama presidency thus far, so I see no reason why they'd abandon it now.

SWTD #71

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Will Expletive R-tarded Liberals Ruin Obama's Chances for Re-election?

The gap between the soaring expectations that accompanied Barack Obama's inauguration and his wretched performance is the broadest such chasm in recent historical memory. This guy makes Bill Clinton look like a paragon of integrity and follow-through ~ Ted Rall (b. 8/26/1963) columnist, syndicated editorial cartoonist, and author who claims Liberals aren't going to vote for President Obama in 2012; as quoted in his 5/29/2009 Illinois State Register Journal article, "It's Increasingly Evident that Obama Should Resign".

Obama's Chances for Re-election in 2012 may be ruined. If the President does fail to secure a second term the obvious question will be - whom do we blame? Many have already began to speculate about which group of Democratic voters will torpedo Obama's re-election bid. You may have heard that Rahm Emanuel thinks thinks Liberals are "fu*king retarded"... because they aren't falling into lockstep with the Democratic leadership and actually DARE to criticize the president. So clearly they're the ones we should hold responsible if a Republican returns to the White House in 2013.

That's an opinion a blogger who calls himself Infidel753 agrees with. In the comment thread of a post on the blog Greedy Capitalist Pig 101, the Infidel blogger says...

Infidel753: Look how many disappointed leftists stayed home last year and saddled us with Rand Paul and Scott Walker and the rest of these thugs and nuts in the first place.

But this isn't the first time the Infidel blogger has complained about dissatisfied Leftists. I'm pretty sure he thinks Liberals fu*ked up the 2010 election and they're currently doing their best to fu*k things up in 2012. Later another blogger using the ID Bamboo linked to an article which he described as "very funny". In his funny commentary author Ted Rall makes the case that the next president might be a Republican because Obama won't be able to "Fool us Twice". In regards to what he terms Obama's "micro-mini-accomplishment lites", Rall says...

TR: [Will they] be enough to pry liberal asses off the sofa on Election Day? I think not. On the big issues that really matter - war, the economy, civil liberties - Obama is a Rightwing Republican. He's only a Democrat on the little stuff. Liberals won't turn out big for Obama in 2012.

Infidel is a moderate Democrat who believes the Tea Party won big in 2010 because Leftists stayed home. They did so because they were disgusted over the deal Obama struck with Congressional Republicans to extend the bush tax cuts - although personally he believes the deal was pretty good, the best Obama could do, or a necessary evil. Take your pick; I don't really care. Ted Rall is a political commentator (and cartoonist) propagating the meme that Infidel is buying into. Rall thinks the next president will be a Republican because Liberals won't vote for a president who so significantly let them down (and may as well be a Republican).

Seeing as Ted Rall is so very disappointed in Obama, he certainly can't vote for him in 2012. Luckily there is a possibility of "a strong primary challenge to Obama's left flank". Who might this strong primary challenger be? Citing the Libertarian Reason Magazine as his source, Rall says the challenger may be Russ Feingold. This causes me to question Mr. Rall's grasp of reality. Reason Magazine is a credible source concerning ANYTHING Liberal? How Liberals vote? How Liberals think? What Liberals may do?

Mr. Rall may agree with the Reason Magazine author he quoted, but Mr. Rall (and Reason Magazine) are wrong. Russ Feingold will NOT challenge Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination. Not unless Russ Feingold believes a Republican president is a better alternative (which I am positive he doesn't).

Ted Rall complains that President Obama is continuing many of the bush administration policies Liberals hoped he would quickly do away with. Indefinite detention, military tribunals and many of the other "lawless behaviors" of bush have been continued by Obama; and Ted Rall is unhappy (as are many Liberals). But instead of advocating that Americans work hard to pressure Obama to abandon these policies, Rall instead suggested Barack Obama resign the presidency - on 5/29/2009. On this date Barack Obama had been president exactly 130 days (or less than 4 months). I don't know how an Obama resignation would benefit Liberals (or the country). Was Ted Rall rooting for Joe Biden to win the nomination?

My conclusion is that I think Ted Rall doesn't have a freaking clue how the majority of Liberals (or Leftists) will vote (or not vote) in 2012. But the same holds true for the Infidel blogger; the polling data says they are both wrong. On the 4/4/2011 broadcast of the MSNBC program The Last Word host Lawrence O'Donnell said...

LO: All the talk has been that the president has a problem with Liberals because he has disappointed Liberals. We have polling that indicates that among Democrats, Liberal Democrats support the president more than any other group. They support him 83 percent. Moderate Democrats are lower than that at 77 percent. This is after his compromising with Republicans that may have had more support among Moderates than among Liberals. I don't see in the polling where the challenge lies for the president with Liberals.

In response, his guest Melissa Harris-Perry said...

MHP: Liberals are most happy with him because relative to the alternative, they are the farthest away from the alternative. Yea, I think that's right, the moderates are the problem. It's always that issue for a candidate. He's got to get those swing voters and keep his base mobilized.

FYI - I searched for the source of the polling Larry said he had, but couldn't find it. There was onscreen graphic showing the "polling results" at the time LO spoke of the support from various Democratic factions, but I don't recall if it said (onscreen) what the source for their data was. The transcript makes no mention of onscreen graphics.

I trust Mr. O'Donnell. He says Liberals are going to vote for Obama in 2012. I'm a Liberal and I plan on voting for President Obama again. The reason isn't that I'm not disappointed in ways similar to how Ted Rall is disappointed (which I am). Rall makes a lot of valid points, but his conclusions are wrong. The Infidel blogger who believes that Tea Party victories in 2010 were due to disappointed Leftists staying home is also wrong. While it is true a lot of people who voted for the president in 2008 didn't show up to vote in the 2010 midterms - those people weren't Leftists. They were the usual non-voting types who have traditionally not participated.

A study highlighted in a 11/24/2010 article posted on the Project Vote website reveals that, "two years ago, African-Americans, lower-income Americans, and young Americans all participated in the 2008 presidential election in decisive numbers, making it the most diverse electorate in history. In 2010, however, these historically underrepresented groups were underrepresented again, as they... largely stayed home".

The Democratic losses in the 2010 midterms can be blamed on politically inactive non-voters who got excited in 2008 and voted for Obama. Once Obama was elected and nothing significantly changed they went BACK to being politically inactive non-voters. The Tea Party victories in 2010 can NOT be attributed to Liberals or Leftists, so the Infidel blogger should stop pointing his finger of blame at them.

If President Obama loses his re-election bid in 2012 we should blame the aforementioned inactive non-voters as well as independent moderate swing voters. These dipshits who voted for President Obama may actually decide returning a Republican to the executive office is a good idea. To these wishy-washy middle-of-the-roaders I say, pick a political philosophy and stick with it.

The blogger Bamboo says an obama loss in 2012 should be blamed on "the elites of the Democratic Party that abandoned [him]". While I agree with Bamboo that neoliberalism is a scourge that has infected the Democratic party and is the primary source of frustration progressives have with the Democratic Party, I'm not so sure Obama isn't a Neoliberal convert. He suggested during the lead up to the election that a renegotiation of NAFTA might be possible, but quickly dropped that notion after winning the election. He also hired a number of ex-Clinton financial advisors, including the neoliberal-ish deregulation-loving Larry Summers.

In my opinion Barack Obama has shown himself to be a third-way Bill Clinton-emulating Corporatist. He may very well not be that much better an alternative to whomever the Republicans run. Obama may be, according to Ted Rall, "a right-wing Republican [who is] only a Democrat on the little stuff", but the Republican nominee will be a Democrat on NO STUFF, of that you can be assured.

Does Ted Rall believe we should throw in the towel and turn our country over to the plutocrats without a fight? Or does he believe our only hope is for a miracle to occur and somehow (impossible as it REALLY is) Russ Feingold gets elected president - or challenges Obama and pushes him to the Left (and after that Obama still wins, despite the fact that primary challenges usually weaken a candidate)?

By the way, the topic of my commentary thus far is, "which group of constituents do we blame if Barack Obama isn't re-elected". My answer was (and still is) NOT Liberals (or Leftists), but politically inactive non-voters and independent moderate swing voters. If the question were, "of everyone who might be responsible for an Obama defeat, who should we blame?", then the answer would be Barack Obama himself, as well as the Neoliberals and Corporatists who have corrupted the Democratic Party - which is a crying shame. I did have hope when I initially voted for BO that he would deliver on his promise of change.

Even so, my opinion is that we should re-elect President Obama - and then CONTINUE pressuring him to move to the Left. It may not work, but I see no alternative. In any case Obama may have no choice BUT to move to the Left if the economy crashes again; a goal the Republicans are actively working to achieve. If that happens, as is posited by Ravi Batra in his book "The New Golden Age", the American people may rise up and DEMAND change.

Mr. Batra's book is subtitled "The Coming Revolution against Political Corruption and Economic Chaos", so protests similar to those in Egypt may not be unthinkable. I hope it doesn't come to that, but it may be inevitable. Certainly we cannot continue down this same path for much longer; that path being the one where the rich get continually richer while everyone else is asked to sacrifice.

(Please note that I edited the quotes I pulled from "The Last Word" for brevity and clarity. They are not verbatim, but they are very close).

Further Reading
[1] The Narrative Continues by Bamboo, Bend With The Wind 4/6/2011.
[2] Obama's Liberal Problem by Joshua Green, The Atlantic 12/7/2010.

9/25/2014 Update: The blog "Greedy Capitalist Pig" was a temporary name change. The blog name is actually "Truth Shall Rule", which is the now-shuttered/closed-to-the-public blog of Joe Kelly (AKA "Truth 101", AKA Joe Hagstrom). If you click the link above all you will see is a notice that says the blog is "open to invited readers only".

SWTD #70

Monday, April 04, 2011

The Ballad of a Liberal Led Astray by Moral Depravity and Greed

One should judge a man mainly from his depravities. Virtues can be faked. Depravities are real ~ Klaus Kinski (10/18/1926 to 11/23/1991) a German actor who appeared in over 130 films, and is perhaps best-remembered as a leading role actor in Werner Herzog films.

"I'm sad to see you've sunk to such depths. This cannot be good for your mental health", the Liberal's life coach cautioned him. "You used to tell the truth, but now you're engaging in such depravities. The Right may believe that they are more virtuous, but they approve of cutting government programs that benefit the less fortunate. Private charities and individual giving will fill the gap, they say, even though the fact is that's a bunch of hooey".

"I'm sorry, but you can't appeal to the good nature of an individual who's morally depraved", the Liberal responded. "By the way, you're fired. Morally depravity is quite expensive and I can no longer afford your services. The booze, the women and the fine dining now consume all my discretionary income". "That is unfortunate", the life coach lamented. "Please get in touch with me if you ever decide to resurrect your former persona whose primary concern was spreading the truth".

"I will do that", the Liberal agreed. "I'm so schizophrenic that I may just circle around again to that personality". "That guy seriously needs help", the life coach thought to himself as the Liberal departed. "He didn't mention any harder drugs, but often times those are the substances morally depraved individuals will partake in. Perhaps I should contact his friends and family and set up an intervention".

Then the life coach remembered he had just been fired. "That Liberal may have been a good customer for awhile, but I don't work for free". He then put the troubles of the Liberal out of his head and promised himself that he'd concentrate on solving the problems of paying customers.

After engaging in morally depraved acts for several weeks the Liberal felt that he had been laid low. "I believe the saying, only the good die young, was most likely total bullsh*t propagated by sinners practicing the morally depraved lifestyle", the Liberal informed his doctor when asked what ailed him. "I agree with your diagnosis", the doctor responded. "However, you've been late in paying your bills, and my advice isn't free", the doctor continued. "Unfortunately I'm going to have to ask you to leave right now unless you can settle your account in cash".

"That's the solution!", the Liberal declared, jumping off the examining table and rushing out the door. Later he met with his stockbroker. "I've decided to become a greedy capitalist pig", the Liberal announced. "That's the spirit", the stockbroker shouted gleefully. "I've pooled my remaining funds and now hand everything over to you", the Liberal said, presenting the stockbroker with a suitcase filled with cash. "The winners I've selected are written on a piece of paper inside", he instructed. "Buy those stocks and we will both be rich men".

"Wouldn't you rather rely on my advice? That is what you're paying me for", the bewildered stockbroker queried. "I would not", the Liberal responded. "As you recall I am now a greedy capitalist pig, and as everyone knows - the system is rigged in our favor. The stocks I've selected will surely increase in value".

"If you say so, the stockbroker responded. Just remember that I get paid my commission either way". "Have faith", the Liberal reassured his financial expert. "I used to be an ayatollah, and it just so happens that I can still access those lines of communication. This information comes from on high".

"Plus", he revealed, "all one really has to do is examine what the Congressional Republicans are up to. Who are they voting against ending subsidies for? Which industries are they proposing be further deregulated? From which lobbyists are they receiving the most donations? The corporations that the Republicans favor will be the businesses that I buy stock in. In other words, if you can't beat em, make money with em".

The Liberal exited the room, leaving the stockbroker alone with the suitcase of money. "That guy's kukoo", the stockbroker thought to himself. "Still, let me check and see if his selections are any good". A smile crept over his face after opening the suitcase and examining the list. "Clearly that Liberal has successfully completed the transformation into a greedy capitalist pig".

Several weeks later the Liberal rolled up to his former place of worship in a brand new sports car. "I've decided to make a sizable donation to ease my conscience", the Liberal informed his pastor. "I was under the impression that you had forsaken your faith", the pastor responded. "After enjoying a life of debauchery for awhile I eventually decided to renounce all my vices except one", the Liberal admitted.

"As you probably deduced from the expensive sports car I arrived in, I am doing very well. I am now a greedy capitalist pig". "I am sorry to hear that", the Liberal's pastor consoled him. "As you know, being a Liberal myself (as was Jesus) I do not teach the prosperity gospel. That's a Conservative fairy tale Republicans use to justify their greed".

"I'm not looking to justify my greed, I'm only interested in mollifying my guilty conscience - hence the sizable donation". "I will accept your donation, as it will help alleviate the suffering of my many parishioners affected by this conservative-caused recession. I will also pray for your soul. May you once again spread the truth instead of succumbing to delusions of being a judge, an ayatollah, or a lord. May you also cease your acts of moral depravity" the pastor intoned, laying his hands upon the downtrodden Liberal.

"I believe you have lost your way, my son", the holy man remarked. "Otherwise you wouldn't have concluded that the Conservatives cannot be beat. Our creator said, For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth. In our time it is Rich Republican a-holes who are the evildoers that passage refers to", the pastor explained. "Why, I've never heard you speak like this from the pulpit!", the surprised Liberal exclaimed. "Of course not", the pastor revealed, "I don't want to lose my tax exempt status. I feel free to speak my mind in private, however".

"The only act which will wash away your guilt is for you to return to your former truth-telling ways", the pastor informed the Liberal. "I implore you to take some time and pray on it. If, however, in the meantime you decide to make another sizable donation...". "Thank you for the advice, I will certainly take it under consideration", the Liberal interrupted, pressing a check into the pastor's hand.

"Before you go", the pastor said, taking hold of the Liberal's wrist, "I want to let you know how much I enjoy your blog". The Liberal looked confused. Then he said, "I don't blog. I've never even been online. You must have me mixed up with some other morally depraved former truth teller who became a greedy capitalist pig".

"I guess so, unlikely as that sounds", the disbelieving pastor replied. "Perhaps my advice could help this other individual who traveled a remarkably similar path". "I think it could", the Liberal agreed. "Perhaps you should contact this other lost soul and similarly console him".

"I may do just that", the pastor said - but the Liberal had already gone. Looking out a window the pastor saw the Liberal hop into the front seat of his sports car and take off down the road at what must be a speed that quickly exceeded the legal limit. The pastor turned and sat down in front of his computer, opened a browser window and began surfing the internet.

Update 8/8/2015: The Liberal in this story, Joe Truth (AKA Joe Hagstrom, AKA Joe Kelly, AKA Truth101) has converted to Republicanism. Or, he is currently pretending to be a Republican. Or adopted a Republican persona for purposes of writing humorous commentaries on the website Mad Mike's America.

SWTD #69, PIF #5.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Tearing Down FDR

The test of our progress is not whether we add to the abundance of those who have much. It is whether we provide enough to those who have little ~ Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 32nd president of the United States (3/4/1933 to 4/12/1945) as quoted in his Second Inaugural Address (1/20/1937).

Welcome to the 3rd installment of "Will Hart Delusions" wherein I refute the comments of an individual who calls himself Will "Take No Prisoners" Hart (WTNPH).

Liberals have it all wrong regarding 32nd President of the United States and progressive icon Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Or they've got it partially wrong, at least. Today's progressives are so far to the Left that they make even FDR look like a moderate, or so one might believe if one were to listen to people like WTNPH spin it.

It began with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's attack on the public sector unions. Scott decided his first order of business when he entered office was going to be a big tax giveaway to benefit his state's corporations. Wisconsin was running a slight surplus, but Scott's proposed tax cut would put Wisconsin deep in the red. Scott determined that the solution would be to cut the wages and benefits of government workers. He knew he would take a lot of flack for this action, so he decided to blame the greedy unions (instead of himself) for Wisconsin's financial woes (which didn't exist prior to his taking office).

It turned out to be a two-for! Scott's corporate buddies got their tax cut paid for on the backs of working class public servants, and Scott got to engage in some old-fashioned union busting. Since the Republicans held large majorities in both of the state's Houses of Congress, the "union bosses" knew they would most certainly have to make some concessions. Which is why they immediately agreed to Scott's demands that they accept a pay cut AND contribute additional dollars to their health care plans and pension accounts. The only thing they asked is that Scott not take away their collective bargaining rights.

Scott, knowing that the greedy unions could be stopped once and for all, refused. He was only executing the will of the people. The stupid Conservative sheeple cheered him on; even FDR was on their side! We know this because FDR said, "...the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service". WTNPH used this quote in a post he titled "Straight From the Progressive's Mouth" (2/22/2011). All over the internets Conservatives pointed to this quote and drew the obvious conclusion - FDR and Scott Walker would have agreed that public sector unions are bad.

Most of these Conservatives quoted a 2/19/2011 Real Clear Politics article which stated that "FDR's Ghost Is Smiling on Wisconsin's Governor". Do they really expect us to believe that FDR would have been cool with Walker's partisan union busting? FYI, we know Scott's union busting was partisan because when the Wisconsin Democratic Senators fled the state to prevent a quorm, the Senate Republicans spun off the union busting provision of the "budget repair" bill into a separate piece of legislation. A quorum is only necessary when the legislation in question is fiscal in nature. In other words they ADMITTED that the union busting had absolutely nothing to do with "repairing" Wisconsin's budget.

On 2/21/2011 a Daily Kos blogger authored a post titled, "GOP Lying About FDR Again". In the post the DK blogger made the point that "FDR did not oppose public employee unions. He opposed strikes by federal public employee unions". Said DK blogger further explained that FDR opposed strikes because "Federal [employees have an] obligation to serve the whole people, whose interests and welfare require orderliness and continuity in the conduct of government activities".

Government workers provide essential services that (in many cases) the people DEPEND on. In the private sector if a product or service isn't currently available for purchase - because the employees that manufacture the product or provide the service are striking, then the consumer has the option to go to the private sector company's competitor. This isn't an option when the product or service is being provided by government workers. Thus FDR's concern regarding strikes by public sector employees is understandable.

However, aside from being opposed to public sector employees striking, FDR believed "organizations of government employees have a logical place in government affairs", and that "organization on their part to present their views on such matters is both natural and logical". This is according to a letter FDR wrote to Luther Steward, the president of the National Federation of Federal Employees; a letter in which he closes by saying, "I congratulate the National Federation of Federal Employees the twentieth anniversary of its founding...".

Why would FDR congratulate a public sector union on it's founding if didn't believe it should exist? Also, isn't collective bargaining one of the primary reasons for forming a union? WTNPH categorically rejected my reasoning. In response to my argument (as outlined above) WTNPH re-posted the initial FDR quote, this time in ALL CAPS. You can't argue with that logic, I conceded, eventually giving up and bowing out of the discussion.

FDR also once said "a conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned how to walk forward". The point is that times change. In 1962 President Kennedy signed an executive order giving public employee unions the right to collectively bargain with federal government agencies.

In FDR's day the US government stood clearly on the side of labor. Today that is not so much the case. In fact I'd argue that our government is now decidedly pro-corporate (see my 12/7/2010 post, "How The Wealthy Elites Stole Our Prosperity" for that argument). Given this fact would FDR still believe that collective bargaining "cannot be transplanted into the public service"? Even though there was nuance to his position which Conservatives apparently are missing (or are choosing to ignore), I believe his opinion would be slightly different today given the increasingly hostile environment Labor finds itself subjected to.

Linked to on Sue's blog "Hello Mr. President" AKA "The Left In Me" on 6/15/2011 & re my link, Leslie Parsley wrote "w-deverish. Excellent article. Thanks for the link".

SWTD #68, wDel #3.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Foul Play Suspected in the Disappearance of Liberal Blogger

Foul deeds will rise, Though all the earth o'erwhelm them, to men's eyes ~ William Shakespeare (baptized 4/26/1564 to 4/23/1616) an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's preeminent dramatist. A quote from the 1602 (date estimated) tragedy Hamlet.

Liberal HQ division chief Laura Fawkes picked up her phone on the first ring. "Hello Dervish", she said, noting the name that appeared on her caller ID. "This isn't Dervish, it's Janeane Garner", the voice on the other end of the line said. "I'm an investigator who works with Dervish. The reason I'm calling is because Dervish is missing. Until a few days ago he was in his office every day, then he simply vanished". "He probably decided to shut his blog down", Laura replied. "Although he hasn't filed the appropriate paperwork".

"No, I'm positive he had determined to keep the blog up and running", Janeane insisted. "In fact, I know that he was supposed to meet with a representative of George Soros to obtain additional funding for Sleeping With The Devil". "The representative called yesterday and said that Dervish didn't show up". "That is strange", Laura agreed. "I'll look into it and let you know what I find out".

"I've already started asking around", Janeane retorted. "The doorman Frank said the last time he saw Dervish was when he left for the day on Monday. I also called his home and his cell, but all my calls go to voice mail". "That is troubling" said Laura, growing concerned. "I've know Dervish for several years, and, although there have been times when he stayed away from the office for days at a time, I've always been able to contact him by phone". "There is a specific reason, however", Janeane interjected, "why I'm concerned that something untoward may have occurred". "What are you talking about!", Laura exclaimed, obviously alarmed. "You're not suggesting foul play, are you?".

"That's it exactly", Janeane replied. "Frank got back to me right before I called you". "He said he went out to the parking lot and Dervish's car wasn't there, but he did find a small amount of blood near his reserved space. And, even more concerning is that Monday's video surveillance footage DVD of the parking lot can't be found. Frank said only our security man has access to the surveillance room". "This is looking worse and worse", Laura concluded. "I'm going to schedule a meeting with our head of security, Rusty Farber. Please meet me in his office 30 minutes from now". "I'll be there", Janeane replied, hanging up the phone.

A half hour later everyone gathered in Rusty Farber's office - the division chief Laura Fawkes, SWTD investigator Janeane Garner and concierge Frank Lukas. Rusty stepped to the front of the room. "First of all, I want everyone to know that I am on top of the situation", Rusty began. "Here is what we know as of now - one of our bloggers, a Mr. Dervish has been missing since Monday. A small amount of blood was found in the parking lot near Mr. Dervish's space. Also, and these are the two things that concern me most, the surveillance DVD from Monday is missing and the GPS on Mr. Dervish's company car is non-functional. In my opinion someone STOLE the DVD and DISABLED the GPS tracking".

"Now, as you know we cannot go to the police, so we're going to have to handle the situation ourselves". "Why is that?", a questioning voice interrupted. Everyone turned and starred at the young woman who had just entered the room carrying a box of donuts. "What, did you just fall off the turnip truck young lady", Rusty inquired, clearly flustered. "Please excuse my newly-hired intern", Laura replied, "She just moved here from out of state". "That explains it", said Rusty.

"For the benefit of the young lady I shall elaborate", Rusty continued, "As almost everyone here already knows, a couple of weeks ago our new Republican Governor rammed the standard union-busting corporate tax giveaway legislation through the state senate. Shortly after passage the Governor appointed an Emergency Financial Manager to seize control of our city. Immediately EFM Reginald Kingston fired the mayor, all the local judges, and the entire police department - which he replaced with a private security firm. The salaries and benefits of city workers were of course severely reduced". "That's terrible!", Laura's intern exclaimed.

Rusty's salt-and-pepper mustache bristled, his brow furrowed, and his demeanor became dead serious. "Indeed it is. Nobody ever expected it would be this easy for the Republicans to kill democracy". "Unless Washington is willing to do something drastic, like send in the national guard, our city is now essentially a dictatorship", Laura Fawkes concurred. "So far President Obama doesn't seem willing to step in and address the issue", Laura continued, expressing her concern.

"Maybe he's preoccupied with the situation in Libya?" Frank asked. "Or perhaps the Republican governors have some dirt on him?", someone who hadn't previously been a part of the conversation suggested. Suddenly Barry Sotomeyer barged into the room, pushing open the door that had been partially ajar. "I've heard that his Kenyan birth certificate was discovered and is being used as leverage against him", Barry chirped.

"That's bullsh*t", Rusty growled. "Barack Obama was born in Hawaii". Rusty paused, starring menacingly at the newcomer. Then he asked, in a more even-toned voice, "what the hell kind of Liberal are you?". "Also, what the eff are you doing here? You weren't invited to this meeting". "Please excuse my intrusion", Barry apologized, his face growing red. "I heard about the meeting from Janeane - or actually, I heard her talking on the phone about it. I didn't mean to listen in, but she's in the office right next to me and - voices carry through the air ducts!", Barry feebly explained. "Anyway, the reason I'm here is because I have some information that might help in locating Dervish".

"Go ahead and spit it out", Rusty replied suspiciously. "Well, it's one of those officers from Tannis Protection, the private security firm hired by EFM Kingston. I saw one of them talking to Dervish last week. Dervish said the officer has been harassing him for awhile; trying to intimidate him into shutting down his blog". "I know all about it", Rusty said, cutting him off.

"The detective's name is Smurf Jones. He introduced himself as a member of the Thought Police when I meet him last month. Then he shoved a badge in my face that had Tannis Protection printed on it. I had no choice but to allow him access to the building. Anyway, everyone already knows this, as it was covered in the mandatory meeting I called immediately afterward".

"Of course, I remember the meeting Rusty", Barry retorted. "But I think that this Smurf fellow had a personal grudge against Dervish. He never bothered me, in any case". "Well, not that I needed your help deducing this, but I agree with you about Smurf Jones", Rusty replied, noticeably annoyed.

"I was actually going in that direction when you made your unwelcome entrance". Rusty paused, then turned back to his original audience. "Smurf Jones is involved, I feel it in my gut". "If that is the case, and I agree that it is", Laura Fawkes concurred, "The course of action that needs to be taken is clear. I will contact the Washington division immediately".

"Actually", Rusty cautioned, "My Washington source said to expect no help from them. All identified Washington agents are currently prohibited from leaving the city. My brother Randall is in charge there, and he said the new House leadership is looking for an excuse to arrest Liberals. According to him everyone in the Washington division is on the verge of being labeled an enemy combatant and disappeared". "I guess we've on our own then", Laura whispered, her face suddenly ashen.

SWTD #67, PIF #4.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Rebutting a Blogger Who Doesn't Believe in Taking Prisoners

Listen, you little wiseacre: I'm smart; you're dumb; I'm big, you're little; I'm right, you're wrong, and there's nothing you can do about it ~ Harry Wormwood, the antagonist & narrator (portrayed by Danny DeVito) from "Matilda", the 1996 film adaptation of the book by Roald Dahl.

This post was inspired by a blogger who calls himself Willis "Take No Prisoners" Hart (WTNPH). Recently WTNPH used his blog to go off on an individual (who he refers to as "JR") that offended him by insinuating he has an "agenda" of a Right-wing nature. This blog post was essentially a string of obscenities and insults, the gist of which was to suggest that anyone who gravitates to far to the Right OR to far to the Left (which is the case with JR), lives in a "cartoon-like universe of good and evil" and may very well be a "loathsome partisan lowlife".

How does one qualify to be labeled a "loathsome partisan lowlife" by the blogger who doesn't believe in taking prisoners? It's possible that acquiring this badge of honor may be as simple as disagreeing with any of the conservative POVs he puts forth, even though he insists his tirade was provoked when the object of his scorn "mischaracterized" his position. Whether or not this actually is the case isn't going to be the subject of my post, however.

The subject of this post is the application of another label WTNPH applied to someone he disagrees with. In my opinion he got it wrong. Way wrong. I often cite Thom Hartmann, a progressive political commentator with his own radio program, on this blog and elsewhere. Why? Because he's the number one rated Liberal talker in the nation and I listen to him daily. And I also happen to agree with the majority of his political opinions.

The discussion with WTNPH where this label application occurred concerned free trade. WTNPH is in favor of it. According to WTNPH, I (and other progressives, presumably) want to "nationalize industries, force people to join labor unions, raise the minimum wage to $20 an hour, [and] build a trade wall around the entire country". Then he threw out the old Conservative canard that "the Smoot Hawley Tariff Act of 1929 contributed greatly to the Depression".

This I had to respond to, as I believe the facts show this claim is total bunk (here's a link to an article by someone who uses the official government figures from the US Bureau of Economic Analysis to discredit this nonsense). I also quoted Mr. Hartmann who has written that he believes Smoot-Hawley "may have had a slight short-term negative effect on the economy (-1.4 percent at most according to many historians) [but] its long-term effect was to bring American jobs back to America". I also mentioned that Thom Hartmann has authored a book that covers the subject.

In response the Hartster wrote, "Mr. Hartmann is a partisan hack. Dick Morris and Newt Gingrich write books, too. Any idiot can write a frigging book - Sarah Palin wrote a frigging book" (3/29/2011 AT 7:19pm).

According to a "hack" is "a professional who renounces or surrenders individual independence, integrity, belief, etc., in return for money or other reward in the performance of a task normally thought of as involving a strong personal commitment".

Dick Morris is the a-hole who advised president Clinton to "pursue third way policies of triangulation that combined traditional Republican and Democratic proposals, rhetoric, and issues to achieve maximum political gain". The effect of Dick's advice was to move the Democratic Party forever to the Right (Obama being the second Democratic President to follow the Third Way). According to George Stephanopoulos, "over the course of the first nine months of 1995, no single person had more power over the president". Being a Liberal, I hate this guy intensely.

Dick Morris began working with the Clintons in 1978 when Bill ran for governor of Arkansas. When a prostitution scandal forced Morris to resign his advisory position in 1996 President Clinton "praised Morris as a friend, and thanked him for his years of service". After leaving the employ of the Clintons a grateful Morris embarked on a new career authoring a series of books trashing them. Dick Morris is a partisan hack.

Newt Gingrich pretends there is a possibility he might run for president. A 2/28/2011 Politico article reveals that Newt Gingrich raised 14.5 million dollars in 2010 via his fundraising organization "American Solutions". A large chunk of that money was paid to "The Gingrich Group" in return for "administrative services". This story was also covered by Rachel Maddow on 3/3/2011 with a story she called "He's Faking It". Pretending to run for president is only one of many Newt Gingrich scams designed to separate Right-wing fools from their money. Newt also gives out "awards" in exchange for the modest fee of $5,000. Newt Gingrich is a partisan hack.

Sarah Palin, taking a cue from Mr. Gingrich, does what she can to maintain the illusion that she might run for president. As long as there is a possibility she might run, interest in her books, speaking engagements, Fox News gig, and reality program remains artificially high. If Palin were not MAYBE running for president would interest in the half-term governor who quit be as high? Would she be raking in quite as much dough? I think not. Pretending to run for president, while not actual work, pays very handsomely. Sarah Palin is a partisan hack. (Another person milking this cash cow is, in my opinion, Mike Huckabee. Mike Huckabee will not run a second time. He's also a partisan hack).

Thom Hartmann, on the other hand, clearly believes in what he's selling (or not selling). Evidence of this is the fact that he's giving away books he has written for free. has serialized two of his books: 2010's Rebooting the American Dream and the newly revised edition of Unequal Protection (originally published in 2004). When informing his listeners how they could read these books online for free, Thom mentioned that his publisher was against it because his book (the first one) was selling quite well. He also allows non-commercial affiliates to carry his radio program at no charge.

Thom Hartmann also won't do suck up interviews. Occasionally the topic comes up and he says some politicians will only agree to come on the program if the questions are pre-approved, and Thom Hartmann refuses. This isn't something a hack would do. On 12/8/2010 Thom Hartmann had White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer on the program. Dan Pfeiffer came on to defend the deal President Obama had struck with the Republicans to extend the bush tax cuts (SWTD #71)... legislation which had not yet been passed at the time of the interview.

Thom grilled him for the entire nine-minute segment, all the time trying to convince Mr. Pfeiffer that the tax compromise was a bad deal. Afterward Thom remarked that he believed he probably burned some bridges with that interview and that he would not be asked back to the White House again, but so be it. This is not the kind of behavior you'd expect from a hack.

The accusation made by the doofus Hart that Thom Hartmann is a partisan hack is not supported by the facts. So why did he make it? I think it was simply because WTNPH didn't like the quote from Thom Hartmann I presented to him. In rebutting my argument in favor of protectionism Mr. Hart asked if I had ever heard of Frank William Taussig, an economist who (in addition to dying 61 years ago) is "credited with creating the foundations of modern trade theory". My bad, I guess if I'm going to argue trade policy I should've known who this guy is. WTNPH, having trapped me into admitting my ignorance, declared victory, pointing out that it "spoke volumes" that I "had heard of Thom Hartmann and not Frank William Taussig". Snap!

What irks me is that he goes off on another blogger for mischaracterizing his views when he had already mischaracterized Thom Hartmann as a partisan hack, a person WTNPH obviously knows very little about. As I've demonstrated, Thom Hartmann is anything but a partisan hack. And then the Hart who doesn't take prisoners belittles me when he asks if I've heard of some important economist and I admit I hadn't.

So my views on free trade are "cartoon-like partisan extremist illogical crap"... I can understand how a self-described moderate would reach that conclusion. Obviously I don't agree that my views are cartoon-like, partisan, extremist, or illogical, but whatever - that doesn't bother me (as bad as it sounds). What I don't care for is the hypocrisy. And the fact that whenever he makes what he considers a brilliant retort in response to my "crap" he concludes with an "LOL".

Further Reading
[1] Dick Morris Admits He Lied About Clinton, Reno & Waco by TheJushuaBlog 4/21/2010.
[2] Dick Morris' Clinton Book Is a Back-Stabbing Bio by News Hounds 8/11/2005.

SWTD #66, wDel #2.