Transcript #136-1

Right-Wing Spins '08 Results


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



Sources you'll hear in today's show include: the New York Times,, the Gallup polling organization,, USA Today,, the Washington Post and Reuters.


So, what kind of post-election spin from the right have you heard?


Whatever the variety, their spin is designed to rev themselves up, and to demoralize us.


Won't work, I'm afraid.


Let's take three right-wing attempts to delude themselves. 


The most idiotic take I've heard is a repeat from prior presidential elections.  Right-wingers present a map of the US color-coded blue-red not by state, but by county.  The country is awash in red.


Tom Brokaw even was on the air talking about this.


Such a map is meaningless.  Sparsely populated counties voted for McCain.  There are a lot of square miles there.  But few people.  That's why McCain lost.   Few people.


What, is this Empty Acres for McCain?


Now, another doozy I've heard purports to tell us, that Obama's victory shows the public embraces right-wing policies.


This, amazingly enough, comes from people who mere days before, were warning the nation that Obama was espousing socialism.


Brent Bozell is the head of a right-wing media watchdog group called Accuracy in Media. 


A week before the election, Bozell said on Fox & Friends:


audio: Bozell

But when you go through the entirety of the campaign saying the kind of things that you're saying in the debates, where on, for every question, you've got a redistribution of wealth answer, where you've got socialism, where you've got the government controlling every aspect of life. You don't expect a reporter to ask you, "Is this socialism?" Because the media don't ask that question.

Ok, you'll recall that my entire last podcast before the election, was devoted to debunking that final right-wing attack line, that Obama plans to turn the country into a socialist state.


Yet listen to what Bozell said, three days after the election, on Fox News' America's Newsroom:


audio: Bozell

[T]he fascinating thing, Bill, is that Barack Obama ran as a Reaganite and won over the fiscal -- the public as a fiscal conservative. That's what the polling data shows…Barack Obama won as a conservative. That means that Barack Obama does not have the mandate to enact the left-wing agenda he wants to enact. He didn't run on it, he ran from it. So, this is not necessarily bad news for conservatives.

So, Obama ran as a Reaganite.  But I thought he ran as a socialist.  A Reagan socialist, perhaps?   No, no, of course, it's a socialist Reaganite…


Arguing that government must step in to strengthen the social safety net, that we must raise the taxes on the wealthy, those are certainly Reagan-like positions, huh?


The right-wing capacity for self-delusion is seemingly endless.


Okay, the third right-wing spin attempt, is to admit that Obama ran to the left and still won, but that the country remains a "center-right" nation.  That's the term du jour:  center-right.


Republican Senator Lindsay Graham told the Associated Press:


I think this is a center-right nation. America did not wake up one day and become liberal…

Wrong.  For a complete, detailed debunking of this, you should check out my three part series, called Reason To Cheer.  It's in podcasts 105, 106 and 108.


In short, several polls from major polling organizations show that Americans support progressive policies on most every economic and social justice issue, that our progressive majority is growing larger and larger, and, that increasingly left-leaning youth will turn the country increasingly progressive.


That last item was pretty prescient, huh?


What issues are these?  For starters, try the overall role of government, health care, taxes, and moral values.  Yes, moral values.


Majorities, sometimes even super-majorities of Americans, believe that:


--the government should provide more, not less services

--the government should guarantee health care for every American.

--the distribution of wealth in this country is unfairly concentrated

--the wealthy pay too little in taxes

--Democrats reflect the nation's moral values more than do Republicans


Gallup just found that 51% of the public wants to heavily tax the wealthy in order to redistribute wealth.  Two-thirds of the public supports a government guarantee of health care for every American.


You may also run into right-wingers who are now bringing up a post-election poll that says Americans describe themselves as conservative, moderate and liberal in the same percentages as four years ago.  That would be 34% conservative, 44% moderate, and 22% liberal.


Part 2 of the series, addressed this very mystery, that if more than half, often two-thirds or more of Americans espouse progressive positions, shouldn't two-thirds or more of Americans describe themselves, given the choices liberal-moderate-conservative -- as liberal?


They should, but they don't.  Why not?


A couple of reasons, according to analyses and polls: the word liberal has become so demonized, that many people espousing progressive positions will instead call themselves moderates.  And perhaps the main reason, many self-described moderates and conservatives don't understand their positions are actually progressive, not moderate or conservative.


Ok, enough with absurd right-wing spin, and abstract ideology.  Up next: what are the dire real-life effects on flesh-and-blood humans when right-wing policies are actually put into effect?


See you in a minute.



Transcript #136-2

Shameful Health Care Statistics


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



The last couple of weeks you heard a lot here about right-wing smears in the campaign.


But what always should remain paramount, and will be now that the election is over, is showing how right-wing policies are wrong because they increase human misery, suffering, pain and death.


For me, it's not a question of, oh, that ideology sounds better to me, or more logical.


No, I look at results.   I like to think of myself as a humanitarian pragmatist.  If right-wing policies did well by the average person, then I'd be for right wing policies.


But they don't, and so I'm not.


That's why I fight against them so hard.


Our current health care system is right-wing health care, except for two parts progressives pushed through -- Medicaid for the poorest of poor, and Medicare for those over 65.


Everyone else, you're on your own, Charley, you're on your own Charlotte.


As George Bush put it:


audio: Bush

I mean, people have access to health care in America.  After all, you just go to an emergency room.

Just recently, we had more evidence of this sad, right-wing-caused state of affairs:


One in eight people with advanced cancer turned down recommended care because of the cost, according to a new analysis from Thomson Reuters, which provides news and business information.

It's even worse for those at the bottom of the economic scale.  For those earning less than $40,000 a year, fully one in four feel it necessary to refuse treatment for advanced cancer.


The cost of cancer care has doubled in recent years.  Maybe that's why 25% of cancer patients or their families have their savings wiped out by the cost of treatment.


People you may know, or you yourself, can face a horrible dilemma.  As one oncologist put it:


Do they pay out of pocket — sometimes in the thousands of dollars — or do they forgo the therapy to preserve for their family what modest assets they may have?

Such are the Hobbesian choices a right-wing system forces upon you.


And It's not just cancer care.


Across the board, Americans are being forced to cut back on needed medications.


As people around the country respond to financial and economic hard times by juggling the cost of necessities like groceries and housing, drugs are sometimes having to wait.  

For example:


"People are having to choose between gas, meals and medication,” said Dr. James King, the chairman of the American Academy of Family Physicians…

“I’ve seen patients today who said they stopped taking their Lipitor, their cholesterol-lowering medicine, because they can’t afford it…I have patients who have stopped taking their osteoporosis medication."

People employ various strategies, like splitting pills, taking them only every other day.  One 56-year-old accounting manager said:


Don’t tell my wife, but if I have 30 days’ worth of pills, I’ll usually stretch those out to 35 or 40 days

You’re trying to keep a house over your head and use your money to pay all your bills.

Here's another fact that came out during the weeks just before the election:


The United States is continuing to fall further behind in our infant mortality rate.  That's the percentage of babies who die before the end of their first year of life.


Shamefully, we're 29th in the world in this regard.


Right-wingers rant and rave about freedom all the time.  No freedom means anything if you unnecessarily die of a medical condition.


Nobel Prize winner and Harvard Professor Amartya Sen has spoken of the need to eliminate "unfreedoms," deprivations that prevent people from living long and healthy lives.


Unfreedoms.  Well, a great American progressive hit on that very point, speaking of liberty:


audio: Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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.

That was Franklin Delano Roosevelt.


So remember the bottom line.  The right doesn't give a damn.  The only reason they ever offer plans to improve the nation's health care system, is to have something to say to answer progressive advocacy.


But right-wing plans are phony plans.  The White House admitted Bush's plan would only have provided health coverage to one in ten that needed it.


Up next: maybe you'll feel as disgusted and outraged as I was, when you hear how as they're on their way out, the Bushians are seeking to take medical care away even from those who already receive inadequate treatment.


Stay tuned.



Transcript #136-3

Bush's Last Minute Regulatory Massacre


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



The title of this New York Times editorial says it all:


So Little Time, So Much Damage

What are they talking about?


Nothing less than this:


President Bush’s aides have been scrambling to change rules and regulations on the environment, civil liberties and abortion rights, among others — few for the good. Most presidents put on a last-minute policy stamp, but in Mr. Bush’s case it is more like a wrecking ball. We fear it could take months, or years, for the next president to identify and then undo all of the damage.

Envision hordes of corporate lobbyists descending upon the Executive Office Building, pleading for a loosening of restrictions and speeded up decision-making.


Why?  Because they "fear that industry views will hold less sway after the elections."


The Bush administration is responding favorably.


Their unfortunate actions already cover a wide range of human activities.


The Bushians will weaken drinking water standards.


Make it easier to engage in destructive mountaintop coal mining.


Reduce standards designed to prevent and contain oil spills.


They're going to allow the commercial and recreational fishing industries to police themselves.


How about pristine federal lands?


The Interior Department is hell-bent on selling oil and gas leases on millions of acres of fragile wilderness.


The Bushians will further allow health care providers to refuse to tell women about abortion referrals, emergency contraceptives and other reproductive health care options.


And clean air?


Forget about it.


The right-wingers will allow more pollution from power plants, oil refineries, chemical factories and other industrial operations.


John Walke of the Natural Resources Defense Council says these changes "will force Americans to choke on dirtier air for years to come, unless Congress or the new administration reverses these eleventh-hour abuses."


At the end of the last segment I said the Bushians want to cut back medical care for those already not getting enough.


[T]he Bush administration on Friday narrowed the scope of services that can be provided to poor people under Medicaid’s outpatient hospital benefit. [source]

Nice, huh?


Let more poor people suffer and die.


The usual effect of right-wing policy.


Don't take my word for it.


John W. Bluford III, president of Truman Medical Centers in Kansas City, Mo.:


This is a disaster for safety-net institutions like ours…

Richard J. Pollack, executive vice president of the American Hospital Association:


The new regulation will jeopardize important community-based services, including screening, diagnostic and dental services for children, as well as lab and ambulance services.

Doing this is especially horrific in a time of economic crisis.


Ann Kohler, executive director of the National Association of State Medicaid Directors:


More and more people are coming onto Medicaid.  People are losing their jobs and running out of unemployment benefits. Some employers can no longer afford to provide health insurance to their workers.

Reducing Medicaid benefits is the exact opposite direction Congressional leaders and President-elect Obama have been trying to go.


As usual, I've give you a brief taste -- could you really tolerate much more? -- a brief taste of the typical blather the right-wing offers as a defense when they get caught red-handed in their evil-doing.


This is from Tony Fratto, White House spokesman:


This administration has taken extraordinary measures to avoid rushing regulations at the end of the term… [T]hey're well reasoned and are being considered with the best interests of the nation in mind.

Which nation is that, I wonder?  Certainly not the nation George W. Bush is president of.


Well, he won't be president of it for too much longer.


In the last segment, you'll hear what President-elect Obama has been up to in preparing to meet the right in battle on the regulatory front. 


I'll also give you my personal reaction to Obama's victory, as well as some thoughts on the best way for progressives to pressure the Obama administration to move in a clear progressive direction.


Stick around.



Transcript #136-4

Ensuring A Progressive '09 And Beyond


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



Ok, we just spoke about the Bush on-the-way-out regulatory massacre.


Well, Obama's been doing some intensive counter-work in this arena.


He's had four dozen advisers working for months identifying regulations and policies he can change with the stroke of a pen after he takes office.


So far they've identified two hundred.  That list will certainly get longer after the Bushians execute their last minute flurry of rule-making.


The Obama team is consulting with liberal advocacy groups.  In fact, the founder of one, John Podesta, is the co-head of Obama's entire transition.  Podesta started the Center for American Progress,, the progressive think tank Thom Hartman is always citing.  Many of the Center's staff members are involved in the transition.


Three items expected to be at the top of the list of Obama reversals are:


--Bush's restriction on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research


--Bush's global gag rule against abortion counseling by groups receiving US aid, and


--Bush's denying California the right to regulate CO2 emissions from automobiles.



Now let me get a bit personal.  Let me tell you how I feel right now.


Before the election, every day I'd wake up and dread what I'd see when I clicked on the computer, what kind of vicious, cruel, illegal, unconstitutional, deadly, immoral things would the Bush administration be doing today, or have revealed that they'd already done?


And every day, what they were doing or proposed or had revealed they'd done earlier, was worse than I could have imagined.


Discussions in the White House about what particular tortures to apply to which prisoner?


So after the election, when I felt as if something was missing in my psyche, it didn't take too long, before I realized it was that part of me which had dreaded each day's revelations.


That part of me was expecting to have far, far less, maybe most often nothing to do come January 20.


All won't be sweetness and light, far from it.  But the runaway train heading hard right has been stopped.


In my show about the un-wisdom of voting for Ralph Nader, which I caught a lot of flack for, I said that if a runaway train is heading towards you, all you want first thing, is it to be stopped.  You don't care if the person stopping it is a great person, you don't care whether they'll reverse the train, if they understand how to prevent runaway trains, or if they'll improve our national rail system.


First and foremost, right now, you just want the damn train stopped in its tracks.


You and I were facing a runaway train, the right-wing project to transform this country into economic feudalism and soft fascism.  Another eight years of right-wing control of the reins of government, and we may well have been past the point of no return.


I wasn't a big fan of Obama during the primaries.  Nor of Clinton.


Obama's change mantra drove me nuts.


I didn't really care as between him and Hillary, it was just whoever could stop the Republican candidate  the best.


When Obama got the nomination, I saw him as the only human being on the face of the earth who could throw the right-wing out of power.


That's why I supported him so whole-heartedly.


Not because he was the incarnation of progressive purity.


I maxed out my contribution to Obama in the last weeks of the campaign.  I figured, if kicking the right out of power wasn't worth $2300 to me, what was??


I, personally, am greatly relieved that the right-wing has been kicked out of power.  Even idling in neutral, if that's all we get, will be infinitely preferable to continue racing full speed down the road to ruin.


In my own mind, I've already gotten close to 100% of the minimum I wanted.


Of course I'll fight with all my heart and soul for much, much more.



Now, what's inside Obama?  What's his core?


I'm encouraged that both after college and again after law school he turned down lucrative corporate world possibilities to work as a low-paid community organizer helping the poor.


I'm encouraged that as a law professor, he created a course on racism.  He required students to look at horrific pictures in a 1919 catalog of lynching victims.


And Biden?


When I was organizing civil disobediences in the 1980's against aid to the contras, Biden did vote against that aid.


On the other hand, Obama has recently made negative comments about Hugo Chavez, echoing right-wing talking points.


Certain things Obama may have to be pressed much harder on than others.


Remember: FDR didn't run on a progressive platform.  His first acts weren't progressive at all.  He told progressive activists if they wanted powerful change, "Go out and make me do it."


Tom Hayden has advocated much the same thing:


The task is ours to build a social movement and create a climate that organizes the pressure that will enable [Obama] to do the right thing. I don't know of any political leaders who will go beyond what their base has made possible.

And for a bit of grass roots wisdom, how about this:


“America wants a microwave,” said Pernell Vassell, 40, an assistant manager of a gas station who hopes to go back to school in Norwalk. “We have to slow-cook our way back. It’s like if you have the flu. You don’t expect to be all better tomorrow.”

So please, let's not start off by immediately smashing Obama in the face with a baseball bat.


Some of the email I'm getting is really disturbing to me.


Certain progressives purport to be simply horrified that Obama selected Rahm Emanuel as his chief of staff.  Almost like having Dick Cheney as your vice-president, isn't it?



Let's criticize Obama's policies when necessary, not the man, not his motives or character. 


Say, President Obama, you weren't elected to do that.  That's against your own principles.  Against your own philosophy.


That's against Christian principles


This will be counterproductive to the goals you want to achieve


Please rethink your decision.


We can't support this.


If you change, we'll have your back big time.


The right-wing is already well underway in their efforts to destroy the Obama presidency.  Obama represents a terrifying paradigm to them, with his heavy youth support and burgeoning minority voting.  Add to that a decline in the right's ability to pull off touch screen vote machine fraud and vote caging voter suppression.  No wonder the right is scared of being on the outside for a generation or more.


Listen to Bill O'Reilly the day after the election:


audio: O'Reilly

Guest: We shouldn't be fearful about that, because what we have to do --

O'Reilly:   I am fearful. I am. I'm scared to death that I'm going to be living in San Francisco on Long Island.  I don't want San Francisco values.  I don't want socialism, I don't want any of this stuff.   

Let's be smart about this.


I'll leave you with some FDR and some… Jay Leno.


Remember I said earlier that I wasn't in love with any particular ideology, that I'm a humanitarian pragmatist, that I'm interested in whatever works to reduce human misery, suffering, pain and death?


This about sums it up:


audio: Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Governments can err, Presidents do make mistakes, but the immortal Dante tells us that divine justice weighs the sins of the cold-blooded and the sins of the warm-hearted in different scales.

Better the occasional faults of a Government that lives in a spirit of charity than the consistent omissions of a Government frozen in the ice of its own indifference.

Or as Jay Leno put it a few weeks ago:


audio: Leno

Vice President Dick Cheney had to cancel appearances this week after doctors discovered his heart had an irregular rhythm.  Well, the first clue that Cheney's heart was irregular--it was beating. 

Actually it was a four-hour procedure.  Four hours!  Well, the first two hours were just waiting for the heart to thaw.

I believe Obama has the FDR attitude, not the Dick Cheney one.


Obama does not have an icy heart of indifference that needs to be thawed.  For that alone, I rest a bit easier at night.


Maybe you should as well.



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