Transcript #134-1

The Economic Pie Grows Faster And Is More Fairly Divided Under Democratic Presidents


Partially hyperlinked to sources.  For all sources, see the data resources page.



Most voters peg the economy as their number one concern.


If someone is still saying they're undecided, they may well be having a hard time determining whether McCain's or Obama's economic policies will be better for them, better for the country.


Honestly speaking, most voters don't have the analytical tools of professional economists, the kind of tools which would enable them to evaluate a set of economic measures.


So instead of trying to crunch the numbers to predict what will happen if Obama's plans are implemented vs. if McCain's plans are implemented, you can look suggest they look at what history tells us.


Is there a clear pattern since World War II as far as Democratic vs. Republican administrations?  If so, you can simply point that out to an undecided voter.


Well, good news, there is such a pattern.


Sources you'll hear in this segment include: the New York Times, the Washington Post,,, the website of the University of Virginia, and


The last time Princeton University professor Larry Bartels voted, was for Ronald Reagan in 1984.  He's now, he says, "an unusually apolitical political scientist."


So when he started out on the research project at hand, he didn't have any preconceived progressive ideological conclusions he wanted to find evidence for.


He just let the facts do the talking.


And the facts clearly said two things:


First, the US economy has grown faster when there were Democratic presidents in the White House, than when Republicans occupied the Oval Office.


Second, income inequality is reduced when there's a Democrat in the White House, but income inequality substantially increases, whenever a Republican is President.  Only Jimmy Carter was an exception.


The details:


From 1948 to 2007, there have been 34 years under Republican presidents, and 26 under Democrats.


Under Democrats, the gross national product grows over one and two-thirds times as fast as under Republicans.


Over an eight year term, that would produce an income rise over 9% per person.  That's far more than most people could ever get from a tax cut.


A recent example would be, the Clinton years vs. the Bush years.  It fits the historical pattern.


Many pundits tell you that presidents can't affect the economy that much.  But as a writer in the New York Times discussing this study put it:


[S]tatistical regularities, like facts, are stubborn things. You bet against them at your peril.

So you can tell any undecided voters you're speaking with, if they're concerned about getting the economy growing, expanding the economic pie, then having Obama, a Democrat, in the White House, would be by far the best bet.


Now maybe the undecided voter is concerned about economic fairness.  After all, many Americans are well aware that we presently have the greatest income inequality since the Great Depression.


The richest 1% have nearly tripled their share of the national income since 1980. 


And believe it or not, the 400 richest American families -- all billionaires -- have as much wealth as the entire bottom half of the nation. 


Yes, you heard me correctly.  400 top-of-the-pile families have as much wealth as 57 million other American households.


If someone wants to reverse these results, and let the fruits of the American economy be shared more equitably, well then, they'd also want to see Obama in the White House.


With Democratic presidents, both the rich and poor experience income growth.  But the poor experience income growth a bit faster than the rich, so income inequality goes down.


But when Republicans hold the highest office in the land, the wealthy experience income growth as much as six times faster than poorer Americans.  And thus income inequality rapidly increases.


Since the ascendancy of right-wing economic rule under Reagan, the reasons for this are clear:


Republican tax cuts heavily favor the rich, and, wages are kept down by Republican hostility towards unions and opposition to increases in the minimum wage.


On the other hand, Democrats don't give tax cuts to the wealthy at the expense of everyone else.  And Democrats increase the minimum wage, and work to strengthen unions, both of which lead to increased wages.


Professor Bartels concludes that


economic inequality is, in substantial part, a political phenomenon.

And what a phenomenon it is!


From the Washington Post:


Bartels uses the election of 2000 to illustrate, with a hypothetical example, how much difference presidential leadership realistically may make in the distribution of income in America. In Bush's first four years, families in the top 95th percentile of income received a 2-percent cumulative increase in real income. Middle-income families saw a decline of 1 percent, while poorer families saw a decline of 3 percent. Based on historical data for Democratic presidents, Bartels estimates that if Al Gore had been elected instead of Bush, the working poor would have seen an increase of about 6 percent, while the wealthy would have seen essentially no gain.

Ok, those are the facts.


How to appropriately address the undecided voter.


If you're talking to an undecided voter, they might be a bit uneasy with all this talk of income inequality, and fairness.  You don't hear much of that on the corporate media.


Well, you've got to reassure him or her that such economic justice concerns are clearly part of mainstream American history.


Teddy Roosevelt spoke of the need for a minimum wage high enough to live on.


So did his distant cousin, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.


Listen to FDR speaking to the 1936 Democratic Convention:


audio: FDR

An old English judge once said: "Necessitous men are not free men." Liberty requires opportunity to make a living-a living decent according to the standard of the time, a living which gives man not only enough to live by, but something to live for.

…Today we stand committed to the proposition that freedom is no half-and-half affair. If the average citizen is guaranteed equal opportunity in the polling place, he must have equal opportunity in the market place.

For more of this speech, it's quite, quite breathtaking, see podcast 110.


And Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke of this as well.


In an unrecorded speech, he said:


[I]t is a crime for people to live in this rich nation and receive starvation wages…It is criminal to have people working on a full-time basis and a full-time job getting part-time income.

You can also reassure the undecided voter that they won't be alone if this is the direction their thinking takes.


Tell them that a recent Gallup poll found 68% of Americans agreeing with the proposition, that wealth in this country is unfairly distributed. 


51% wanted the rich taxed heavily to redistribute wealth.  That's the highest number since the question was first asked in the Great Depression.


So there you have it:


When Democrats are in power, not only does the overall economic pie grow faster, but its fruits are shared more equitably across society.


A fine historical record to share with everyone, not least of which, any remaining undecided voters in these last few weeks before the election.


Let me add that, I'm actually not a Democrat, I'm a registered Green.  I'm far more progressive than Obama.  But I recognize the absolute necessity of throwing the right out of power, of stopping John McCain.


Only Barack Obama can do that.


Therefore my support for Obama.


I hope you agree.






Transcript #134-2

QuickBlasts: Ayers, Rezko, ACORN, Surge, McCain's Temper


Partially hyperlinked to sources.  For all sources, see the data resources page.



One of my mantras on Blast The Right is, everything the right-wing does is designed to accomplish one of two things: either (a) transfer wealth from everyone else to the already rich, or (b) distract everyone else from the fact that (a), that wealth transfer, is occurring.


In the prior segment, we addressed the transfer wealth issue.


I usually don't spend much time on the (b), distractions part of that equation.


Today I'll make an exception, because I received some emails requesting it.


I'm going to touch on three current right-wing, GOP distraction attacks: Bill Ayers, Tony Rezko, and the group ACORN.


I couldn't think of three worse irrelevancies.


Which is, of course, why the right-wing is going crazy with them.


You could devote an entire podcast to all the ins and outs of each one.


But I'm only going to devote a minute or two to each.


My reasoning is:


If a true undecided voter, or a wavering McCain or Obama supporter, a persuadable, has heard some of this trash, he or she may have questions raised in their mind.


So you give a dispositive fact or two to debunk the smear. 


At this point, a true persuadable will go yeah, it did sound crazy.


And then if you want to be aggressive, take a shot back at McCain for an actual true similar transgression.  So at worst it's a wash.


On the other hand, if you get thrown back at you a litany of additional facts about the smear, intended to show that Obama truly is the devil incarnate, then you know you're dealing with a committed right-winger, one who's been diligently studying the viral smear emails and memorizing Sean Hannity's daily talking points.


Such a committed ideologue may be worth arguing with at other times, but not now, three weeks before the election.  So at that point in your interaction, I'd suggest you politely disengage, and go find a truly persuadable person to work your charms on.


With all that in mind, here goes:


Sources you'll hear include: the New York Times,, the San Francisco Chronicle, CBS News, the Washington Post,,,, and for audio clips, YouTube and


Bill Ayers:


audio: Sarah Palin

Our opponent though, is someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect that he's palling around with terrorists who would target their own country

Palin's referring to Ayers.


Ayers was a member of the Weather Underground in the 60's and early 70's.  That group set off bombs designed to cause property damage, in protest against the Vietnam War.  Ayers has admitted being a part of this, but he was never convicted because of government misconduct in connection with his prosecution.


Obama was 8 years old when Ayers was doing these things.


When Obama met Ayers in Chicago in the 1990's, Ayers wasn't a radical violently attacking society.


Ayers was a respected professor at the University of Illinois.  His current title there is Distinguished Professor of Education.


Not long after Obama met Ayers, the city of Chicago awarded Ayers its Citizen of the Year Award.


One of the reasons why, was that Ayers had secured for the city a $49.2 million dollar grant from the Annenberg Foundation, to be used for educational reform.


Ayers and Obama both worked on this educational reform effort.


Some right-wingers claim this was some radical left project.




The Annenberg Foundation was set up by Walter Annenberg, a Republican all his life.  He was Richard Nixon's ambassador to the United Kingdom.  His widow, Leonore, chaired the foundation at the time.  She's currently endorsing John McCain.


So maybe McCain better disavow the support of this woman and return any contributions she's made.


In fact, send her to Gitmo for funding a terrorist like Ayers with $50 million.


The foundation's former development director recently said that


The whole idea of it being radical when it was…blue-chip, white-collar, CEOs and civic leaders is just ridiculous.

As reported in the press, on not only this project, but on others as well,


establishment Republicans and Democrats alike have collaborated with the present-day Ayers in educational reform.

Obama having a passing association with a mainstream figure in the world of Chicago politics and education is not surprising.


What is surprising is how the right-wing thinks they can get away with lying  and making such a big deal about it.


As for the counter-punch against McCain on "radical associations," you may recall a guy named G. Gordon Liddy.  Among the many fine things he's done, are


--serving four and a half years in prison for the Watergate and Ellsberg office break-ins

--plotting to kill Howard Hunt, and journalist Jack Anderson

--in the 1990's, telling his radio audience how best to shoot agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms


He said:


Go for a head shot; they're going to be wearing bulletproof vests.

…Kill the sons of bitches.

Liddy has contributed money to McCain over the years.  McCain has been a guest on Liddy's radio show.  Liddy welcomes McCain as an "old friend."  Just listen as McCain praised Liddy just last year:


Well, you know, I'm proud of you…[I]t's always a pleasure for me to come on your program, Gordon.  And congratulations on your continued success and adherence to the principles and philosophies that keep our nation great.


Next right-wing distraction attack is about Tony Rezko, a Chicago area businessman recently convicted on felony corruption charges.


You can dispose of this one in short order.


Obama has never been connected to any Rezko wrongdoing.


The right complains about a 2005 land deal.  Obama bought a house.  Rezko's wife bought the lot next door at the same time.  She later sold the Obama's a piece of the lot.  At that point, Rezko was under investigation.


Obama has called that last transaction "boneheaded" and a "mistake."


If someone thinks that disqualifies Obama from the Presidency, so be it.


You might want to mention to that person, however, in the counter-shot at McCain, that McCain was one of the Keating Five in the late 1980's savings and loan scandal.  Keating went to prison.  The Senate in 1991 rebuked McCain for "poor judgment" in his dealings on behalf of Keating.  McCain has called his conduct a "terrible mistake."


A boneheaded mistake vs. a terrible mistake.  At worst for Obama, a wash.



Finally you have the right-wing ranting and raving about the low-income community activist group ACORN, supposedly trying to steal the 2008 election, and how Obama is connected to them.


ACORN has conducted a nationwide voter registration drive.  They say they've registered 1.3 million voters. 


So far, over 10,000 of those forms appear fraudulent.  Things like the same person registering 17 or more times; names copied out of phone books; registering dead people.


First of all, that's less than 1% of the forms.


More importantly, this is fraud against ACORN.  It's just low-level workers trying to fill their quota of signatures, without doing the hard, slow work of actually finding legitimate non-voters to register.


ACORN wants real voters who will be able to vote.  It pays people to get the forms filled out legitimately.  If the worker submits fraudulent names, ACORN loses.  And the party which has funded ACORN to conduct the voter registration drive loses as well.


There's zero evidence that ACORN arranges for people to somehow go vote 20 times, or that it sends people to pose as the deceased, or as the people whose names the worker copied out of the phone book.


These fraudulent registration cards will have no effect whatsoever on the actual voting. 


And any connection Obama has with ACORN, is also therefore a non-issue.


As your counterpunch regarding McCain:


What is a real issue of election wrongdoing, is Republican voter suppression, the Republican Party's long, well-documented history of throwing legitimately registered minority voters off the voter rolls.  The GOP has for many years actually been under court order to refrain from such activities.


But they haven't stopped.


You can check out podcast 99 for more on this.


So, the interfering with the vote shoe is on the foot of McCain's party, not ACORN or Obama.


Ayers, Rezko, Acorn.  Nothing there.


More in a moment.  Stay tuned.






Ok, here are four more smorgasbord items you can deploy in your convincing-the-undecideds efforts, to point undecideds and persuadables in the right direction.


To start off with, a couple of quick analogies:


If you're asked, "Wasn't the surge a success, and McCain was for it and Obama against it?," you can say:


This is like a guy who ignores repeated warnings and recklessly drives your car into a ditch.  After he gets the car just half way out of the ditch, not only does he claim he deserves an award for good automotive skills, but says you should choose him as your exclusive driver for the next four years.  With an option for an additional four-year term.


Another analogy:


If you're hit with the argument that "Bush protected us, no domestic attacks, so his foreign policy was a success," a good reply might be:


That's like a guy who drives by a tinderbox-dry forest every day and flicks in a lit cigarette.  A forest fire never starts. Then they guy claims that because he threw in the lit cigarette every day, that was why there was no forest fire.  Obviously, it's despite, not because of what the guy did, that there was no forest fire.


Get it?


Next, a bit of verbal ju-jitsu.


You may already be quite tired of hearing about how McCain is a maverick, who bucks his party on all these issues.  A good retort might be, of course he has to buck his party on certain issues, since his party's policies, Republican policies, are so bad.  When he bucks his party, he winds up endorsing Democratic policies.  So why vote for the guy in the wrong party who's forced to buck his own party on issues.  Why not just vote for the guy who's already in the right party with the right policies already?


Finally, John McCain's hot temperament.


Sources are Investor's Business Daily, the Washington Post, and YouTube for the audio clips.


Here are four reasons to be scared of John McCain as commander in chief.




Republican Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi has served with McCain 30 years.  He said:


The thought of him being president sends a cold chill down my spine. He is erratic. He is hotheaded. He loses his temper and he worries me.

That's a conservative Republican speaking.




Former Senator Bob Smith, Republican of New Hampshire, knew McCain for 18 years in the Senate.


Smith's warning:


His temper would place this country at risk in international affairs, and the world perhaps in danger. In my mind, it should disqualify him.

Disqualify him.




Even worse, the hot-headed John McCain has a cavalier attitude, jokes about going to war.  Here he is earlier this campaign:


audio: McCain

That old Beach Boys song, "Bomb Iran"?  Bomb, bomb, bomb…



McCain doesn't even pretend to hide his war-mongering.  McCain promised us at a town hall meeting earlier this year that if he's elected…


audio: McCain

This is a tough war we're in.  It's not going to be over right away.  There's going to be other wars.   I'm sorry to tell you, there's going to be other wars.    

Other wars!  More than one even.  McCain's already planning for  them.


If you think this information would be impactful on an undecided voter, please make sure to tell them!



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