2008 In Review: The Right Is Relentless, But
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
will contain the sources for that
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.'
Roosevelt is dead.
His policies may live on, but we're in the process of doing something
about that as well.
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
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
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.
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
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)
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
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?
The ones that just came out.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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,
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
Do you remember my early 2008 show
about Ralph Nader?
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.
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
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
That old Beach Boys song,
"Bomb Iran"? Bomb, bomb,
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
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
Guest: We shouldn't be
fearful about that, because what we have to do --
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
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
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.
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.
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
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:
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
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
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!