Populist Daily

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Fair and Unbalanced

February 3rd, 2011 · No Comments · Capitalism, Politics

People want us to be fair and impartial. Not seeing conspiracies behind every voting booth. So perhaps we can attempt to be fair and yet firm. That’s what we’ll be from now on. We’ll let the videos show you how preposterous are some of the statements by the talking heads. If you are perceptive, as it is clear you are, you will make the associations between what is simply hyperbole or hysteria and what is clearly propaganda.

But one thing must be said. Every issue cannot be resolved by one side’s pointing out the facts and then the other side’s rebutting by telling a lie with no one challenging the lie. Let’s say that twelve people see a robbery and actually stand close enough to the robber to reach out and touch him. In court, 12 family members come up and claim that there exists someone who looks identical to this person but only those twelve have seen him. The weight of that evidence must be clearly on the side of the prosecution.

So it is with news about politics. We have an entire industry on one side, the Right Wing, whose function is entirely…entirely…to counter legislation and political points of view by simply telling lies that make an opposite point of view. If it is the truth, then that is good, solid argument. But very often the counter argument is not only false but it is an outrageous lie. And no one challenges it.

So while we would be less conspiratorially minded, if we could there are some things that simply cannot be overlooked. If you tell seniors that they must pay double what other countries pay for drugs, and that they cannot go either to Mexico or Canada to buy cheaper drugs, and if you tell Medicare that they are forbidden to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies for better drug prices, then one must logically assume that whoever does such a thing (Republicans in the House and Senate and President Bush did…no dispute about it) favors drug companies over Senior Citizens. That is almost indisputable…not conspiratorial.

To make the point even more dramatically about conspiracy, consider the pedophile. Is it not very difficult to believe that someone would literally have sex with or sodomize a small child? Isn’t it so horrible that most people would say that the person doing it is “sick” or “deranged?” We cannot believe that anyone his or her right mind would do such a thing.

And so what do we do? We put them away. We warn families with children if such people should move into the neighborhood. We do all these things to protect ourselves from predators that we can hardly believe exist.

But we do so because—as hard as it is to believe such a mentality is possible—these kinds of deviant behaviors do exist, sane or demented. We are not conspiring against them. They exist. It is a fact. And so we protect our children. No conspiracy.The thing may be hard to believe, but if it has been proven, then we act forcefully to stop it from happening again.

For some Americans it is just as difficult to believe that a billionaire, born into wealth and privilege could sponsor forces trying to bring down the lives and well being of American families. Or that the most advantaged in our society could knowingly spread toxic chemicals into the landscape endangering lives, causing disease and death. Or that they would give campaign funds to influence Republican lawmakers to leave the unemployed with no jobs, no unemployment checks, and when they retire, no Social Security.

And even if that is senseless, it makes even less sense if those billionaires treat their own workers better, pay them more, and provide them with health care. Why wouldn’t they cut their own workers wages if they are so bent on defeating labor and shutting down health care and attacking a fairly reasonable and rational President.

We don’t want to pick on one arch conservative billionaire. There are certainly billionaire and centa-millionaire families in the hundreds who feel the same way. They seem to be motivated by some perverse idea that only when they are maximizing their wealth by making the average American poorer are things in proper perspective. Once again…facts. There are 18 families who have spent millions of dollars in lobbying funds to avoid paying any…any…federal inheritance taxes, going so far as to pay legislators (give campaign funds) to Republican legislators to call inheritance taxes “death taxes.”

Can you imagine? You do nothing for, let’s say, fifty million dollars. Someone dies. You get the fifty million. The government says that in return for all the benefits you receive you should pay some of that found money in taxes. It will help them support regulators who will try to help you protect your investments and your bank accounts, protect you from danger with the FBI, the Justice Department, the state attorneys general and local law enforcement, from danger in the air with traffic controllers and air marshals and the Homeland Security people…and all these protections underpinned by a laws administered fairly by an elected judicial system.

So, they say, we will take from you, just as we do from all WORKING families, a certain amount in taxes. According to experts, it comes to something like about 20% on average. Now the first $10 million is a deduction which you earned, apparently, by not having died before you inherited the money. So you keep $40 million. Is that such a burden?

The Koch Family is distinct in that they have spent money far greater than they have given away in charity to establish organizations whose entire function is to return the United States to the size and quality of life that existed in the latter part of the 19th Century, to the era of Carnegie and J.P. Morgan. They are among those who seem to feel, give the appearance of feeling that they should have very special treatment.

It isn’t a conspiracy theory. They really did found something called the Cato Institute. There really is a FreedomWorks and an Americans for Prosperity. They really do work to eliminate the minimum wage, fight pro-union legislation by exaggerating it to the point of telling what is essentially a lie. You can judge for yourself by reading what these “think tanks” which are essentially lobbying organizations put out. Everything they do is published in white papers justifying their willingness to screw the Middle Class. They don’t hide it.

As an example, they really did pay for 40 buses or more and other expenses to bring people to Washington for FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity rallies that were labeled “grass roots” assemblies against health care reform. They were co-sponsored by the health insurance industry and the pharmaceutical industries. It isn’t hidden. They all must report these things to government, because they give money to campaigns so they must report where the money comes from.

So how do you measure these things? How do you know it was not the child crying wolf and the adult who was not a pedophile? It is not difficult to figure out whether something bad happened if someone sees it, if it happens in daylight, unobscured. Do you remember when Glenn Beck called the President a racist? Many national advertisers were upset and over 200 canceled his program.

Anyone in national advertising will tell you that if a program on a national network receives even 50 advertising contract cancellations, it is long dead. But Beck is still on the air. Still, by the way, has a declining audience despite his outrageous and vicious…not just loony…but serious assertions that President Obama is a Fascist on Monday and then on Tuesday will somehow have converted to Communism.

The point is…if he is not profitable, and he is not….if he is not palatable to the customers of national advertisers, and they feel he is not…and if the more he rants the smaller his audience gets—why is he still on the air?

So let’s stop for a minute. Is there anything unreasonable in asking that question? Is it “conspiratorial” to wonder why an unprofitable, unpopular, Right Wing (and that he is for sure) commentator would remain on the air, attacking the President of the United States, night after night?

One might say–to offer an opposite viewpoint. No. It’s not “opinion.” It’s not a contrary position on anything. It is the kind of thing that Herr Goebbels used on the Jews…ridicule, laced with bigotry, followed by enormous lies. Oh, yeah. The President is a big boy, smart,educated, even statesmanlike and Beck is formerly literally a drunken bum. And he has no education, no real point of view. He is a propagandist.

Is he on the air because he entertains about a million people? That ain’t enough to keep a program on the air nationally, friends in prime time. No, he stays on the air because he says exactly what the Right Wing, the American-haters (American Middle and lower classes that is) want to hear. Is that a conspiracy? Then if the facts are true, and they are and television is a business where programs like “ER” and “Survivor” and “Law and Order” are cancelled every day if their ratings drop…why is he on the air? Murdoch is high-energy Right Wing and he owns the company.

Frankly, some people who don’t agree with Glenn Beck watch him because he’s entertaining. If he were completely boring, the audience would have dropped much more precipitously than it did.

But, again, that is not the point. Television is a business and in the parameters of that business, under those norms, people in television will tell you he should have long since been history. But according to ratings…not enough by half.

So we have spent some time on Koch and a lot of time on Beck. Both Koch Brothers and Beck are acknowledged Right Wingers. The Kochs because they go out of their way to sponsor organizations that try, for example, to confuse and create chaos the need for better and safer health care for all Americans.

But they have also gone so far as to tell outrageous lies about it in order to defeat it through the Town Halls and FreedomWorks meetings. They pay the bills for FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity. So whom do you think controls the message?

Back to the basics about whether we really believe that there are evil people. Or do they hear voices? Or are their minds clouded? The pedophile is often an attractive, intelligent person, not some troglodyte. So why does the pedophile not date mature women? What made him a deviant?

Why does a billionaire with everything to live for, every thing he wants or could ever have with only a fraction his money, try to beat down the average worker in society? What kind of deviant mind worries daily that the average American is making too much money, has too comfortable a retirement or can afford basic health care when he has more money than he could spend if he did nothing else all day and all night every day for the rest of his life?

It could be ignorance. If you run very large corporations, live in New York City and, even if you endow a number of charities, it is possible you could lose touch with the average man. It is possible that they believe that the million people who go bankrupt for lack of health care each year are simply stupid.

Do they think that the 45,000 people whom the medical profession tells us die each year for lack of access to treatment are lazy? Do they think that some 50 million Americans who live on the edge of disaster would not want the peace of mind that comes with a good health care plan?

So, everyone else is ignorant or stupid or lazy or foolish because they did not, as the Koch brothers did, inherit the largest private oil company in the United States? Is that what makes them so much smarter than the rest of us? OK, that was a cheap shot. But the question remains….why are they so impersonal and downright cruel? Remember the pedophile. We don’t try to understand him. We merely protect our families from him.

Beck is not much better. Perhaps he’s even worse. Once again, we will provide evidence. Let’s say that the criteria is something like: the greatest good for the greatest number. Not Socialism. Within a Capitalist framework. Can we all agree on that? Assuming that we all will work if we can find work, that we will all try to maximize our potential, obey the law, help our neighbor when asked and take pride in the accomplishment of others.

Can we agree that much government work is mostly mundane but worthwhile? Fixing the streets, handing out speeding tickets, teaching distracted children, checking the water meters and collecting the taxes….none of those sound particularly attractive to a lot of people. But we need some government. Bashing good people who serve other people helps no one.

We need traffic cops, teachers, road crews, water meter readers, and bookkeepers to keep city and state and federal government moving…to help us in our daily lives. Maybe not for the Koch Brothers and maybe not for now multi-millionaire Glenn Beck, but for the rest of us normal people these things are necessary.

Should it cost less? Maybe. It should definitely cost us an amount commensurate with the job. It should also take into consideration the fact that we want to give people more security so that they stay in the job. We don’t want the cost and the inefficiency of training someone new when the economy heats up or when someone offers them a more attractive opportunity. We want stability in government.

The way we have always motivated people to stay in government is by offering them a little more relaxed pace, more days off…all the official holidays…and a good, secure and sufficient retirement. A pension.

Now Glenn Beck the “born again” upright citizen who makes millions by talking trash on television has said that government workers are carpet baggers. They have huge pensions while other workers have lost jobs (so have government workers) and the values in their 401Ks. So Beck’s thought is that we should simply cut back those pensions (but don’t tax anyone.)

He says we should convert these pensions that people have been promised and paid into for twenty or thirty years, so…apparently…that these government workers can be brought down to the same miserable condition of those who have been laid off or lost the value in their 401Ks. That’s what he wants to do. No conspiracy. Watch him. Listen to what he says. You may agree. Reverse capitalism. Take everything away from those who have earned anything and then cut more taxes for the rich.

Middle class citizens should also be impoverished to balance things out. Of course that is not his intention. He thinks somehow “everything will work out” if we convert everything that is public to some kind of private Valhalla. You can trust him if you want to. He also was in favor of a $700 billion tax cut for (oh…himself…and) billionaires and going full tilt with wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He’s trying to stir up war with Iran! Watch him and you’ll see. No conspiracy. Just watch and listen. He doesn’t hide anything.

The October 2008 collapse of the financial markets burst the bubble of prosperity and let us all know that we were taken to the cleaners by the big banks and investment firms in exactly the same way as Bernie Madoff’s clients. For example, is your house worth more than it was in September 2008? If you don’t know, or if you think the answer is “yes,” stop reading right now and go check it out. You’re in trouble.

As this blog is being written, the Neocon Republicans in the Senate, including the new Tea Baggers who are supposedly “populist” (and it certainly must be obvious to anyone by now that they are simply more Neocon than the Neocons) have added an amendment for repeal of health care to a piece of legislation that will create 280,000 jobs! If you want a job, in other words, forget about affordable health care. Another ransom note from the Republican Senate.

This legislation seems to be no more than a normally bi-partisan investment-based, private contractor development of needed airport expansions. And the Republicans will say that it is expenditure and it should be postponed until we get the country into balance. But that is not going to happen when we have 15 million people out of work.

The way to balance the budget is to put people back to work. If we expand an airport, then more planes can land and take off, more businesses can use it, and more local businesses will have new customers. This country is built on expanding, not contracting.

Now some will say that, yes, expand, but do not expand government. Everyone would agree with that, if we had a business community that would begin to invest. But they don’t. They are already moving in the same direction as they were in the mid-Bush Administration. The new financial house of cards…we don’t know what it is any more than we knew what the last scheme was…will collapse again.

The Neocons have telegraphed their intentions. We know who they are. For example, if health care reform is such a bad idea, then why did the Republicans not try to amend and improve it? They didn’t. They simply said they wanted to and then every time a vote came up in the Senate…and there were literally hundreds of votes in the Senate, they would filibuster…even sometimes their own amendments! The President gave them a national hearing, on television, to lay out some plans to help the people. They grunted and talked about medical liability reform. (.46% of all medical costs.)

What is their “plan?” It is easy to summarize. First, health savings accounts. Here’s the problem with those. You have a savings account, if you have money, of about $7,000 which you can save tax free. You get an insurance policy with a $7,000 deductible but you’ll notice there is always a top-end maximum, unlike Obamacare. And that’s it.

Problem…the family that has $7,000 savings these days has good health insurance. Many people…in the tens of millions…don’t have the ability to fund a health savings account. Second, it doesn’t do anything to control costs. You’d actually be worse off than you are now. Neocons say it will control costs. If they are so concerned, why did health insurance premiums go up over 20% again last year? There was no appreciable change in 2010 or 2011 from 2009 except that 15 million people remain out of work. That can’t create conditions that would cause a 20% increase in rates.

So why spend $400 million to defeat health care reform for the poor. When you do that, you make yourself a little less credible. And when you cry repeal the day after the legislation is signed. And if you offer only foolish programs that have repeatedly rejected and reject programs that both political parties formerly approved.

Remember who the people are who are telling you to “trust” them. These same people are the ones who would not grant unemployment insurance or health care for dying “9/11 first responders” until the President caved in on $700 billion more tax breaks for the rich. Is it conspiratorial to say that we read the vote? Is counting numbers of Republican votes to aid billionaires on the backs of the poor…radical?

They are the same Republican House and Senate members who voted with President Bush to prevent Medicare from negotiating for better prescription drug prices for seniors and wouldn’t even let seniors go to Mexico or Canada where prices are less than half what we pay.

These are the same people who want to make sure that you cannot sue your doctor (which only happens about one-half of one percent of the time) if he operates on the wrong body part or accidentally leaves something inside that isn’t supposed to be there.

There’s no conspiracy. This is simply what they say, what they do, how they vote. Is it weird? Maybe. Or maybe you think that they are right. Once again, could you, in your wildest dreams imagine the mind of a pedophile? So don’t try to figure out why the Neocons are after your life with a baseball bat, even some of their commentators encouraging fanatics to kill abortion doctors or to shoot congresswomen. Some people do not think as normal people do.

Real conservatives wanting real “austerity” can probably rationalize to themselves that we should cut Medicare and Social Security while giving billionaires tax cuts…but most of us can’t. We have too much humanity. How do you rationalize giving $120,000 a year for ten straight years to the top 1% of Americans while creating two wars? We literally borrowed money from China to conduct two wars and give two tax cuts to the wealthy.

Wars are expensive. Halliburton alone cost us $15 billion dollars over 5 years. That’s $3 billion a year. Did we get roads, airports, schools, hospitals…? No. But Iraq did. On our dime. Thank Dick Cheney and George W. Bush. No conspiracy. They did it. On purpose. They don’t deny it. Cheney’s answer to the question…”Won’t people object to all this war spending” was “So…?” His answer was “So (what)?” In other words…why should I, Cheney, care?

The Neocon policy of spoil the rich and attack the rest of us can be rationalized. It can be economically justified. Most things can be if you twist a little here and a little there. But you cannot say that to report that it happened is conspiratorial. These things happened and it is public knowledge.

Was it a conspiracy? We can’t get into their minds any more than we can get into the mind of the pedophile. But we protect ourselves from them.

If you think that giving multi-millionaires and billionaires tax cuts in an economy $13 in debt is a good idea, then you probably have no problem with the Koch Brothers or Beck or Cheney or Bush. Some of us think being a Neocon–steal from the poor to help the rich–is a very bad idea, when you want to pay for it by cutting Social Security which every single working person paid into every working day of his or her life.

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