Saturday, December 30, 2017

Practice runs in overthrowing the tyranny of Wall Street

GUEST: Jack, member of the Hudson Valley Antifascist Network, talks about the influence of Occupy and Black Lives Matter on ANTIFA, and of the organization's efforts in defending our communities through direct action, education and protest.

Jack didn't give his last name, and I understand why. ANTIFA has been criminalized by our media, ever eager to demonize organizations that have a real potential for social change.

ANTIFA isn't filled with Ivy League graduates. It resembles Occupy in that most of its younger participants are community college students or dropouts, a population that has felt America's economic decline more than the children of the rich elite. Occupy and ANTIFA are dangerous to our current kleptocracy simply because they represent the working class. 

Trump's biggest achievement has been to turn working class people into racists. How else to continue robbing them? If Trump can blame the thievery of the elite on Blacks, Muslims and immigrants, why then the ruling class can continue fleecing all the rest of us.

Occupy was made up of the sons and daughters of middle America. The alternative communities they tried to form were a working class revolution, virtually free from sexism, racism, homophobia and all the other contrived hatreds that the ruling class uses to keep us apart. Obama recognized the danger and worked secretly to have occupy torn apart.

Real change (not the hype of Obama's "change you can believe in" public relations campaign) will come when workers take power. Occupy and ANTIFA are practice runs in overthrowing the tyranny of Wall Street and the filthy rich. 


Friday, December 22, 2017

Off With Their Heads

Sadly and disturbingly the billionaires have won again, taking a trillion dollars over the next ten years for their obscene tax cuts.

We all know who will be hurt by their greed: children, students, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid recipients, those without healthcare, etc. In short, the richest are once again robbing the rest of us.

But why don't we call this by what it really is, murder. Those who can't afford medication and treatment will be killed because people like the Koch Brothers want more mansions and yachts. Billionaires are psychopaths; no amount is ever enough, and they are willing to murder any number of the poor to get more.

A sane society would lock people like this up. They are a mortal danger to millions of Americans. In fact, incarcerating them would protect them from the next parent who watches a child die for lack of adequate medical treatment, or from the next enraged spouse whose husband or wife couldn't afford insulin. Someday, people may go gunning for those who murder for limitless greed.

Whole societies have turned on their filthy rich when life became unbearable. The French Revolution beheaded a whole class of people who lived in vast palaces while millions starved. Perhaps it is only a matter of time before people in this country start shouting "off with their heads." Just three billionaires now own more than half of the entire population. When will a destitute and infuriated American populace finally march them to the guillotine?

Fred Nagel

He Will Make Us Great Again

"Drain the swamp" has been with us longer than Trump. Bill Clinton ran as an agent of change, the "Man From Hope" who would stand up to Washington insiders. Obama worked the reformist angle even better, convincing a new generation of voters that he would produce "Change We Can Believe In."

Clinton and Obama were clever charlatans, praying on the frustration of the majority at the outright corruption of the few. Once in office, they did the bidding of these same elites, enriching themselves in the process.

Trump's message was virtually the same, but with racist overtones. Once in office, he blamed the powerless for the corruption in Washington and the lack of economic progress for most of Americans. He attacked gays, immigrants, Blacks, and Muslims, and allied himself with white supremacists. The failure of both major parties to change the economic inequities in our society had created the opening for a demagogue.   

The most dangerous of demagogues have spoken to inner needs of the lower classes, and Trump is no exception. He creates a fable of white America and promises to restore its ethnic, racial and sexual purity. He will make us great again. 

By 1928, many industrialist in Germany had cast their lot with Adolf Hitler. So too have many billionaire corporate leaders given their support to Trump. He, like Hitler, personifies the end point of corporate corruption and its dominance of the political process. 

We the people must fight to save our democracy while there is still time. 

Fred Nagel

Late Stage Capitalism

America is the land of the incarcerated. With the highest percentage of its citizens in jail, our country is number one when it comes to being behind bars. 

The only group spared prison garb are the filthy rich, the politicians, the hedge fund managers, the CEOs and their fat bankers. That's because the wealthy elite make the laws and choose the judges. Supreme Court rulings like "Citizens United" have made it virtually impossible to lock up anyone in the upper reaches of our proud kleptocracy. 

There is no shortage of well heeled grifters. The corrupt leaders of both NY State parties have been convicted, only to be set free by the courts. Nationally, the stench is even more overwhelming. Our federal agencies are now run by the polluters, the banksters, and the criminally connected. We are all desperate to "drain the swamp," but where do we start in a rigged system?

The system, of course, is late stage capitalism. It has created the yawning gap between the rich and poor, with perpetual tax giveaways to the billionaires. It has led to the endless US wars in the rest of the world, with 5.6 trillion spent on invasions and occupations since 2000. Capitalism is even the driving force behind global warming, with fossil fuel profits put before our very survival.  

Surveys of 20 to 35 year olds show they have a higher opinion of socialism than capitalism. Perhaps it's time for the rest of us to consider a post capitalist society.

Fred Nagel

Not a burden but a delight

GUEST: Kamau Franklin, lawyer, grassroots community organizer, and Political Editor for the Atlanta Black Star, talks about Malcolm X, the Democratic Party taking Black voters for granted, and the role of white intellectuals in demanding racial justice.

The Real News

Black voters have always faced a daunting task when it came to picking a party to uphold racial justice. We talked about how this choice often became trying to determine which party is "less hostile" to minority rights.

US history has not been encouraging. By 1890, the Republican Party, the champion of African American rights after the Civil War, decided to join the Democratic Party in scapegoating Blacks for political gains. It was the beginning of Jim Crow persecution that was to last until the 1960's.

As a minority in the country well known for it personal and institutional racism, Blacks live in a precarious position. With the age of Trump, we could see a backsliding to white vigilantism and systemic discrimination. In effect, Blacks have to think outside the two party box, supporting Democrats who stand against racism, and abandoning Democrats who are just part of the corporatized duopoly.

We also talked about the huge economic hit that Black families suffered during the Obama presidency. Kamau thought that Obama was afraid to risk trying to improve the lives of African Americans. I am not so sure. He certainly sacrificed Black interests in his work as a "community organizer" in Chicago. His early political funding came from real estate moguls more interested in selling off public housing than in improving inner city lives.

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On another topic, Eli will be doing two programs a month starting in January. Sharon, who has helped me interview a number of guests, will also cohost two shows.

I am looking forward to the new year. At the height of the Gilded Age, the muckrakers of the early Twentieth Century were tearing into the miserable corruption and decadence of the rich elite. We have targets aplenty in this new Gilded Age of limitless wealth for the few and depravation for the millions. Exposing the lies of the elite is not a burden but a delight.



Learning how to think big

GUEST: Andrew Joyce, former political writer at Fusion and MSNBC, talks about his work at the NYC based political website, "Mic," a new media company like "Buzzfeed" and "Vice" that focuses on millennials.

Andrew and I had a good talk about new media. Mic is a source for politic analysis that targets a younger audience more interested in social justice. 

A good part of our discussion was based on this assumption that millennials are much more open to anticapitalist themes. Socialist in outlook, and are more willing to expose the damage caused to our democracy by the rich elite and their mammoth corporations. 

Andrew pointed to a general shift in leftist thought in the last twenty years. In 2000, third parties seemed to be the answer to a hopelessly corrupted two party system. Now that way seems more closed than ever. The Democrats successfully blamed Nader for Gore's loss, and nothing really changed. In the ensuing years, even the Green Party became coopted though its "safe state" strategy. 

Perhaps capitalism is the problem. Late stage capitalism is a frantic tearing apart of society in the pursuit of billions for the few. Trump himself is standing on the shoulders of sellouts like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, who promised social and economic justice but ended up as corporate shills. We have to read the new media, and learn how to think big. 


Monday, December 11, 2017

Bring down the corporations' mouthpiece

GUEST: Wendell Potter, former public relations executive for Humana, head of corporate communications for Cigna, and author of Deadly Spin andNation On The Take, talks about his crisis of conscience in working for corporate interests, and his creation of Tarbell, a new source of information about who really runs America.

Wendell Potter is a great guest to have on. His background in corporate communications means that he knows what he is talking about when it comes to lying. The corporate state is all about spinning and distorting reality into something that feeds their bottom line. Healthcare is a perfect example.

Most Americans don't know that all the other developed countries in the world offer their citizens universal healthcare. Why don't Americans know this, and demand what is considered a human right in the so many other societies?

US citizens are constantly given false information by the corporate controlled media. The pharmaceutical, medical, and insurance industries make too much money keeping people in the dark. To the mainstream media, universal healthcare is socialism, something to be avoided at all costs. Even the excellent healthcare system of our neighbor Canada is hidden and distorted. 

When we bring down the corporations, we will also have to bring down the mainstream media, the corporations' mouthpiece. 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Past the ballot box

GUEST: Josh Hoxie, director of the Project on Opportunity and Taxation at the Institute for Policy Studies and coeditor of Inequality.org, talks about his new report, Billionaire Bonanza 2017: The Forbes 400 and the Rest of Us. (Note: due to a studio problem, this program did not play from Vassar College Radio on November 30. It was re-recorded as a podcast and broadcast the following Sunday from 5 - 6 pm on www.PRN.fm.)

Josh Hoxie sounded like he was giving a speech at an occupy encampment, with those of us in the audience knowing full well that the outrageous things he was saying were all true. The billionaires are calling all the shots, and they are after the rest of the nation's wealth. 

Now, most Americans recognize that we are all bit players in a well established kleptocracy. The problem is that one way to break the system is to vote for a hate-monger like Trump. We all want to "drain the swamp" of elite rich men who work together in robbing the working class. Bernie had about the same message, without the explicit appeal to racist ideologies. Since Hillary was widely seen as part of the same swamp, the Republican Party seemed a more effective agent of change.

Now that Trump is cornered, he could easily start a Third World War to get himself out of impeachment. We are living in the most dangerous of times. Are these the "end of times" that his fanatical, Christian base so fervently believes in? 

So we can try to elect more Democrats in Congress, as Josh Hoxie urges us to. Or we can recognize that both parties produced the tyrant we now have in the White House. Middle of the road Democratic candidates will give us more Clinton/Obama betrayals, only to be followed by another lurch to the right. The system needs radical changes, starting with the breakup of both corporate controlled parties.

Vote for reformers, and follow up by taking to the streets. We are past the ballot box for really changing the system.