Transcript #139

2008 In Review: The Right Is Relentless, But Ultimately Unsuccessful

Partially hyperlinked to sources.

Special note: This podcast summarizes the year's shows.  The transcript directly following indicates for each topic discussed, the number of the relevant show.  The transcript for that particular show (or for shows without a transcript from early in the year, that show's entry on the data resources page) will contain the sources for that topic


As you've heard the previous two Decembers, at the end of the year, I like to give you a whirlwind tour of what we've covered in Blast The Right.


I won't list sources at the beginning of this year-end summary podcast, since the list would take up the whole show.  You can look at today's transcript, where I've included the podcast number of each topic I refer to.


Before I give you 2008 in review, let me restate the overall framework I always use when I talk to you about these issues.  You've heard bits and pieces of the framework before, but not, I don't think, in one place.


It starts out with this maxim:


Everything the right-wing does is designed to accomplish one of two things, either (a) transfer wealth from everyone else to the rich, or, (b) distract everyone else from the fact that (a), that wealth transfer, is occurring.


Domestically, Ronald Reagan and Rush Limbaugh tell you how that's accomplished:


audio: Ronald Reagan

I've always felt the nine most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government, and I'm here to help.'

audio: Rush Limbaugh

Roosevelt is dead.  His policies may live on, but we're in the process of doing something about that as well.

Demonize government.  Destroy the New Deal.


In the foreign policy realm, just after World War II a major State Department official explained what this means on the global stage:


We have about 60 per cent of the world's wealth but only 6.3 per cent of its population. Our real task in the coming period (will be) to maintain this position of disparity… We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford the luxury of altruism and world benefaction ... the day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are hampered then by idealistic slogans the better.

In other words, the right will crush, trample and kill whoever and whatever stands in their way. 


That's why right-wing policies inevitably increase human misery, suffering, pain and death.  Both at home here, and abroad.


And all the while, the right-wing will offer great-sounding reasons for doing what they're doing.


But as the late John Kenneth Galbraith put it:


The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.


Ok, that's the framework.


Onto 2008.


I'll start off with domestic issues.


Other than campaign '08 itself -- more on that in a few minutes -- Blast The Right covered economic topics more than anything else.


We started off the year as we closed it (117, 138), with a review of the noxious doctrine of Social Darwinism.  It holds that the poor are poor, because they're unintelligent, lazy and immoral.   Radio talk show host Bill Cunningham is one right-winger who just blatantly comes out and says so:


audio: Bill Cunningham

The reason people are poor in America is not because they lack money, it's because poor people in America lack values, character, and the ability to work hard.

Many of the poor in America are the working poor, holding full-time jobs. Right-wingers don't tell you that the founder himself of conservative economics, Adam Smith, felt it a matter of basic morality that full-time workers earn enough to live on. (119)  


Right-wingers  probably don't even know that American Revolutionary War hero Thomas Paine advocated an estate tax, progressive taxation, and a social-security type system. (116)  All things right-wings fight to the death against.


You learned on Blast The Right how after World War II, the Federal Housing Authority used racist policies to prevent countless African-American GI's from getting home mortgages.  A large hunk of most people's wealth is in their houses.  The African-American community was shut out of this process. (116)


How many times this year did you hear the right-wing lie about the state of the economy?   As late as the last week of August, Sean Hannity was asking you to believe him, not your lying eyes (131):


audio: Sean Hannity

Hannity:  It’s funny, with all the good news out of Iraq, and the war has been a success—we didn’t lose it; the surge has been a success—it didn’t fail.  Obama’s going to make the case the economy’s faltering today—did anyone show him the economic numbers?

Guest:  The ones that just came out.

Hannity:   The unemployment rate in this country has been—and we won’t hear this tonight—has been lower than the average of the last four decades; interest rates low, inflation low; we got out of the Clinton/Gore recession, and the negative impact of 9/11 on the economy.   

…Here’s the point—for the Democrats to do well, they’ve got to make the case that the war is lost, the surge has failed, and the economy’s in the tank.  And all the evidence is to the contrary.  Did anyone not tell Barack Obama what’s happening in the country right now?  What’s happening in Iraq?

Another thing the right always touts is economic mobility in America.  Anyone can get rich.  But the truth is, mobility between economic classes is actually much less than many Americans think.  We're way behind Canada and many European nations in this regard.  Things have gotten worse since right-wing economic policies took hold in the early 1980's. (114)


And wouldn't you know it: an analysis actually shows that the economy grows faster, and the economic pie is more fairly divided, when Democrats are in office. (134)


Let me not neglect to tell you here, as I did during the year, that right-wing policies also caused the current financial disaster.  It was their deregulation frenzy and refusal to allow the derivatives market to be supervised, that's led to a global economic crisis. (120)


Progressives had some small scale and some large scale victories in 2008.  For example, workers in the tomato fields won a multi-year battle for improved wages and conditions. (125).  And of course, on el grande scale, Obama won.


No, he's not a pure progressive.   But he seems to have picked a very progressive, pro-union, pro-worker Secretary of Labor.


The right is already gearing up for an epoch battle over labor's number one priority, the Employee Free Choice Act, including their usual campaign of lies.  It does seem as if the Obama administration will be on the correct side of that issue. (137)


Up next, you'll get more on the year 2008 in review.  Stay tuned!






Continuing domestically, on the regulatory agency front, you heard how right-wing hatred of even necessary regulations led to tainted batches of the drug heparin finding their way into the country.  Dozens of Americans died. (122)


The Bush EPA also issued far too lenient rules about the amount of ozone that can be in the air.  They ignored their own scientific panel.  People will get ill and die as a result.  (119)


Yet right-wingers still claim that there's too much government regulation of business. (115)


To add insult to injury, the Bush administration is issuing a flood of last-minute regulations in a host of fields, virtually all of which will allow the further degradation of our air, water and products we use. (136)


Fortunately, Obama has had dozens of advisers 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.


You were aware of all this if you've listened all year.


In the health care field, a study showed that those without adequate insurance die from cancer needlessly because of late diagnoses.    (125)


Indeed, study after study put our right-wing, private insurance health care system to shame.  Millions of Americans with advanced cancer had to decline care because they couldn't afford it.  Across the board, people are having to cut down on medications because of the cost.    And the United States continued to fall behind the rest of the developed world in our infant mortality rate.  (136)


Despite all this, and more, right-wingers will still claim we have the best health care system in the world.  In fact, by many measures, we have the worst health care system in the developed world.  (115, 129)


What do right-wingers care?  After all, as George Bush famously said:


audio: George Bush

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


George Bush also let loose some amazingly cruel immigration policies in 2008. (129)



Wrapping up what your heard in the domestic arena during 2008 is the subject I spent the most time on: the presidential election.


Do you remember my early 2008 show about Ralph Nader? 

(118)  Boy, did I catch flack about that! 


The gist of my analysis was:


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.


I kept you informed about efforts to protect our vote from GOP electronic voting machine theft.  (116, 135)


As the campaign heated up, you heard me debunk a whole slew of right-wing lies and smears. 


About earmarks (132)


audio: Sarah Palin

I told the Congress "thanks, but no thanks," for that Bridge to Nowhere.  If our state wanted a bridge, we'd build it ourselves.

About Bill Ayers (134)


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

The lies of Hannity and others about Michelle Obama's college thesis (119), Acorn and Rezko (134)


I'm sure you remember all these important issues from the campaign that the right, and the corporate media, harped upon so much.


Yet they ignored clear signs of a dangerous mindset in John McCain, as evidenced in these two clips you heard me play (133):


audio: John McCain

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

audio: John 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.

I think the world really dodged the bullet with McCain's defeat, don't you think?


One of the most pervasive right-wing lies was about taxes (115).  Distorting the past to enable the continued future transfer of wealth from everyone else to the rich, Hannity managed to spew out three big lies in one breath (116):


audio: Sean Hannity

Hannity: I didn't know that Reagan, who gave us the longest period of peacetime economic growth in history and ended the Cold War, was such a demonized figure. Is that the new hard left of your party?

Guest: Well, there are some folks in the Democratic Party that are concerned about Wal-Mart, and, of course, there's a lot of people that think Reagan added to inequality while doing some other things for the economy. So when --

Hannity: You mean 21 million new jobs that he was creating, doubling the income to the federal government, longest peacetime -- period of peacetime economic growth in history. Those were   awful moments in history, weren't they?

A triple falsehood.  Reagan created only 16 million jobs, revenue adjusted for inflation increased only 15%, and Clinton has the record for longest peacetime economic growth.


I also played for you John McCain's (123) and Dick Morris's (127) and yes, again, Sean Hannity's (116, 123) explicit lies about Democratic tax plans, and you heard how to debunk their falsehoods.


Hannity lies a lot, doesn't he?  I guess that's why he got the Media Matters Misinformer of the Year Award.


Do you recall the last big lie of the campaign: the right screaming "Socialism".


O'Reilly even continued it after the election (136):


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.   

Something you found really useful, if my email is any indication, was my Ten Reasons to vote for Obama podcast. (133).  The ten reasons encompassed the areas of


1. Proper Role of Government
2. Supreme Court
3. Right To Choose
4. Taxes
5. Minimum Wage
6. Unions
7. Health Care
8. Safeguarding Our Food, Water & Air
9. Presidential Vetoes
10. War and Peace


We progressives will have to push Obama in all these areas.


On a humorous note, remember the show about how right-wingers were spinning the election results? (136) They claimed Obama's victory shows the public embraces right-wing policies.


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


Coming right up, you'll hear about foreign policy as covered by Blast The Right in 2008.  As well as what I think is the most amazing thing I've covered in the three and a half years I've done this podcast.


Stick around.






Heading over to the foreign policy field, after reviewing the year, I was surprised how relatively little I covered it.  I'll make up for that in 2009.


About Iraq, you did hear about how the multinational oil companies were already gaining a toehold in that country.  (126, 128)


Two major segments dealt with the Bush administration's pro-torture policies. 


I created for you a movie script that if it had been submitted to a producer before the Bush presidency, would have gotten you laughed out of the office. (124)


But the script was all literally true.


In essence, Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin Powell, CIA Director George Tenet and Attorney General John Ashcroft all sat around in White Housing meetings, deciding how best to torture individual prisoners.


As the year wore on, many additional jaw-dropping revelations about the Bush torture program came to light, including right-wing efforts to hide abuse from the Red Cross. (127)


Actually, there have been a slew of even more revelations since I last covered the topic, and it will be high on the agenda for an early 2009 show.


The latest: Dick Cheney virtually bragging in a recent interview that he authorized waterboarding.  He seems to be defying anybody to prosecute him for this war crime.


I also touched on the horrendous economic exploitation of the Third World. 


Do you recall early in the year the story about hungry Haitians resorting to eating cookies made of dirt? (117)


How about the food riots around the world, as the right-wing global economic system increasingly put the basics of life out of the reach of countless additional people? (121)


A critically important podcast was when I set out for you, what I call the four pillars of how the West exploits the Third World economically. (137)


The pillars are:

1 - sweetheart contracts for natural resource extraction
2 - unfair conditions of international trade
3 - dubious loans to corrupt Third World governments
4 - imposition of onerous Structural Adjustment Programs on loan recipient nations

Understanding these gives you the key to interpreting so much of what you read about foreign affairs in the corporate-owned press.


I told you of progressive forces in the Third World fighting back, for example, progressive Mexican legislators occupied both their houses of Congress in protest of a proposed oil law. (121)


And I told you of some victories.


The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Jubilee Act providing debt relief for Third World nations. (121)


And the Bishop of the Poor was elected President of Paraguay.(138)


I did neglect developments in Venezuela and Bolivia.  I need to cover these early in 2009.


OK, that about wraps up your whirlwind tour of what you heard on Blast The Right in 2008.


What's always important to remember when interacting with your friendly local right-wingers, is that public opinion is on our side.  On issue after issue.  For example, the periodic pre-election polls by Rasmussen of the top ten issues.  Sometimes with as many as all ten, the public chose the progressive position. (126)


In the meantime, let's be nice to one another.  I tried to do my part by letting you know how progressive activist Nick Dupree needed some help relocating from Alabama to New York, to get better services in connection with his disability. (130)  Nick was able to relocate, and I hope he's doing well.


I'll close by reminding you of the bottom line: right-wing policies increase human misery, suffering, pain and death, all in service of achieving greater wealth for the already rich.


I was thinking about the last three plus years, and if I had to pick the most unbelievable thing I've covered in all the time I've been doing this podcast, it would be the right's deciding to suffocate coal miners. (45)


A labor-industry commission said miners needed a 48 hour oxygen supply for emergencies.  The current law required only one hour.  So Democrats said, ok, let's change the law to require that 48 hour supply.  The right said no, and only agreed to increase the amount to 2 hours.  Meaningless.  Let 'em suffocate.  Can’t cut into profits, you know.


Listen to this.  Virginia Moore was the fiancée of Terry Helms, a coal miner killed in a mining disaster.  She summed everything up for you when she testified at a Congressional hearing:


audio: Virginia Moore

We want to make safety here today first priority, so no other family has go [through] what we're going through.  The only thing is, if they had a family member in the mines, then I'm sure they would be the first ones to jump on the bandwagon with us and say, 'We need safety'.  But, you know, all they think is the dollar.

On behalf of all living beings subject to the depredations of right-wing policy, let's you and I, let's all of us progressives keep up the good fight in 2009!



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