645 Comments

A remarkable time we are in, and Dr. Richardson, you report with such clarity. Biden is without doubt the leader for our times, and the tired, but dangerous republican rhetoric droning on in the sewers and stagnant backwaters of our national psyche are beyond the pale. Our new speaker of the house, I believe is particularly dangerous. He is very smooth, utterly arrogant and self righteous. He scares the crap out of me. Keep up the great work...we need you.

Expand full comment

Barry Goldwater saw the danger of a Mike Johnson: “Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control ofthe (Republican) party, and they're sure trying to do so, it's going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me.

Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can't and won't compromise. I know, I've tried to deal with them."

We need to only look to Hungary to see what “Christian” based facism looks like—and it scare the hell out of me.

Expand full comment

I’m a Christian! Li’ll Mikey and his ilk are satanists!

Expand full comment

Disagree. Sorry. "Li'll Mike" believes with all his heart that he is Christian and doing his god's work. Christianity (at least his brand of it) has gone off the rails. Jesus were he here in body today would disapprove greatly. And not for the first time. Don't blame this on Satanism. Look inward. Christianity has to come to grips with this utter warping of Christian values. I grew up in a Christian family with Christian values. This crap I see today from the likes of Johnson is Christianity gone mad.

Expand full comment
Nov 11, 2023·edited Nov 11, 2023

I think of it more as Paulism, or perhaps Calvinism. They honestly believe they speak for God, but they think by worshiping Jesus they are doing what they should. I personally honestly think that Jesus didn't want to be worshiped, he wanted to be LISTENED TO.

Expand full comment

Beautifully put! I concur. It's much easier to "worship" than to "go and do likewise," which is what Jesus' followers were ACTUALLY told to do. You know, help the people who can't do a darn thing for you! So inconvenient to be a true Christian ;-)

Expand full comment

Bears no relation whatsoever to what Christ taught. For them to call themselves Christians, is an insult to Jesus & God. And to all thinking, caring humans beings on the planet. The are plain a simple, a fascist cult.

Expand full comment

At some point, and I hope it is soon, Jesus will return to earth and file a huge defamation suit. He will

win of course. And all these holier than thou charlatans taking the lord’s name in vain will be sentenced to a very hot place for a very long time. Good riddance.

Expand full comment

"Greedy money changers"?

Expand full comment

Jay, much as I agree with the rest of what you say, I question whether Johnson geniunely believes, whether he truly has faith, or whether instead his posturing is all a sham to obtain power. His actions, past and promised, demonstrate beyond question that he is emphatically not a Christian, regardless of his professed belief. Actions really do speak louder than words. He's nothing better than a whited sepulchre, a golden calf worshiper, or a brass gong. He is nothing, despite his professed faith.

1 Corinthians 13, King James Version

13 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

Matthew 23:27, King James Version

27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.

And no, obviously he's not a Satanist, Louis - even Satan would deny Johnson and his ilk and it wouldn't take three tries, either.

Expand full comment

If it's not what Christ taught and practiced, it's not Christianity even if they call it that.

Expand full comment

Johnson is a wolf in wolf’s clothing.

Expand full comment

Wolves are superior animals; Johnson is an inferior animal.,,, one that should be termed "an abortion".

Expand full comment

A "christian"....err ahh.., like wtf.., Over..(?) Might as well be a 'bot'. So, let's take this picture which has 9 frames.., click on the ones showing a "Christian". Ooops., ERROR. Try again. Pretty hard to identify aren't they. Oh well.., being a D hydro driver, pilot, jet engine mechanic, GSX1100R rider, Ducati 996 (dry clutch) rider, 22yr vet, & a recent Grampa..., and human being. Works for me. As a fellow "human being" we just have to remember: Keep yerr guard up, and I sure agree.., DO NOT overlook "Li'll Mikey and the MAGA ilk.

Expand full comment

He’s a Christianist - a political, extreme Christian.

Expand full comment

Love you Louis! You are the Louis in Atlanta, right? Thanks for sanity. Please help get those rich Atlantans turned away from self-righteousness. Manifest destiny and American exceptionalism? No.

Separation of church and state as our founding fathers intended? YES.

Thank you. And if I have the wrong “Louis Giglio”, pardon me. I hope to God he and Andy Stanley are sharing the truth. So vitally important. Not in Atlanta any more. But if you are who I think you are, bravo! Thank you.

And if not?? Thank j you anyway.

Peace!

Carey Sipp

csipppaces@icloud.com. PACEs for science of positive and adverse childhood experiences - brain science we MUST share with people of faith - Sojourners, etc., as the brains of our infants and young children are being compromised by fetal alcohol exposure and the toxic stew created by the extreme stress caregivers are under. Keeps us weak, confused, vulnerable to addiction and incarceration; domestic violence and filling the school-to-prison pipeline that keeps the prison industrial complex packed; perpetuates the uniquely American form of enslavement of keeping young BIPOC men out of being able to be part of the solution.

Peace and let’s talk.

It’s a sermon for sure! ❤️🦋❤️

Expand full comment

Barry was right.

Expand full comment

Maybe the only intelligent thing Goldwater ever said.

Expand full comment

Jen Andrews -- I must disagree with you. Barry Goldwater was a very intelligent, very decent man who also in a sense saved the country by convincing President Nixon to resign.

Expand full comment

Not an expert, but seems to me religion is one of Satan’s best snares.

Expand full comment

Such "Christians" do not believe in God; they believe God believes in them.

Expand full comment

I really wonder if they are acting in the name of God. For one, I am reading that these so called Christian nationalists are complaining that Christ was too WOKE. If you do not want to follow Christ's teachings how can you be a Christian? Their God is a vengeful God, and as such they are vengeful as well as self righteous people. MAGA Mikey Johnson is a wolf in sheep's clothing. As such, he and the rest of his party are reminding me of the Soviet Union and its fascism. Having had my family cleaved in two when East Germany became a thing and then built a wall to trap their people in, I feel very cautious about the USA right now. I agree that Biden is a remarkable president, but with the media owned by the other party, it is hard to get the message out.

Expand full comment

The CINOs, as JLGraham aptly named them yesterday, scare the crap out of most everyone. When I add the friends and families of the million people who died of COVID while tfg mismanaged it and made it political, the millions who watched Jan 6 live on tv, and the many millions whose lives have been improved by our hard working President Biden, Vice President Harris and the entire administration, I have to wonder why elected Democrats keep asking for money rather than talking to the media with a clear message as Dr Richardson does so well.

Expand full comment

The media won’t give them the opportunity because of the need to ‘present both sides’ for ratings only. Competence and stability is boring; incompetence and chaos gets clicks and likes.

Expand full comment

I don't see much presenting of both sides. I see pandering to the viewers who want orange faced entertainment and sound bites, not items that require thought like GDP, union agreements, job sector growth, and such. The heavy coverage of TFG isn't needed, he always whines about the same stuff, blames the same people, and tells the same lies. Why, he rarely even wears a different tie. But he sells news time.

We need more main stream media spending real air time on actual news , where it's coming from and who it affects.

Expand full comment

They don't present both sides, they don't give any analysis as they do not research any longer and they let lies, hate, conspiracy be doubled down on.

Expand full comment

Margaret Sullivan, once an ombudsman for the NYTimes and the WaPo, had a great piece this week in the Guardian criticizing the press for treating the upcoming election like the typical horse race and failing to call out the right.

Expand full comment

In years long gone, every media outlet would have shouted the news that Trump is endorsing arrest of his opponents, deportation of Muslims, and other fantasies of a wannabe dictator.

Expand full comment

I agree. The media wants to make news rather than report it. But could they ignore 50 Democratic veterans talking about the draft dodger presidential candidate? Click. Click.

Expand full comment

Moron & Grifter Alliance = MAGA. America.., meaning The United States of America, has never ceased to be "great". To combine the the adjective and adverb (again) as the Moron Hisself did, re: MAGA, clearly illustrated his illness, distinct "delusions of grandeur", and the plague being suffered by most members of the new Republican Party. Ahh yes.., now comes Li'll Mikey. Alas, perhaps a religious zealot, he surely just suffers from humanitis.., e.g: A 'human being' whose thinking is fertilized by genetics and the environment one continues to evolve within. Keep yerrr guard up folks.

Expand full comment

This is the best and most accurate explanation of MAGA I've seen!

Expand full comment
Nov 11, 2023·edited Nov 11, 2023

I am amazed too that the potential (likelihood?) of a government shutdown gets so little time in the news! How long ago was this THE big story? Now, anything else on MSM.

An aside about Johnson's Repubs strategy: In order for their god/phoenix to rise out of the ashes, all must first burn down. Democrats are insufficiently doing so, thus they take on the odious task of bringing America to ashes out of the goodness of their hearts.

Expand full comment

Touche' ... Well said

Expand full comment

Yes! The new Speaker is dangerous, but fortunately for democracy, he is quickly proving incompetent. Like Trump. Why have Republicans got so extreme? Because they have no ideas to offer, and they know they are losing.

Expand full comment

Well, they are losing the logical argument, but where they can cheat, they don't hesitate.

Expand full comment

Because they are swamped with extreme Evangelical types, who want to remake "America" "in their own image"

Expand full comment

The new "Speaker" has a Jan. 6th flag outside his office? Proof that this is not a fascist worshipping at the maggot throne of the fg, but a domestic terrorist. Separation of church and state? G-d help us.

Expand full comment

But his Christo-Fascism will convince him he is too righteous, and he will not extend the debt limit or craft a passable budget.

Expand full comment

I disagree Johnson is proving incompetent. I believe his objective is to monkey-wrench the government by shutting down the House’s ability to legislate. McCarthy did not deliver on the “defund the government” agenda. Mike is doing it by running out the clock on legislating. When you are convinced of the imminent Rapture, your job is to burn down the House. The other gop have no spine to stand up against him, because they will be doxxed and their lives will be threatened. Classic Mob Tactics. Buckle Up. We are about to experience The Demon Drop.

Expand full comment

MLRGRMI: Yes--He is extremely competent at achieving his goals . . .

Expand full comment

I agree with your points entirely, most especially the first sentence. Heather’s split screen image was especially evocative today - one more example of how vividly she nails the big picture and then fills in the details.

It feels like we are moving towards some titanic struggle in a year’s time - the forces of good against the very misguided, but constantly threatening right. They are taking advantage of a geographical / political quirk - the capture of small state America. There is a yearning there for a better, more stable past. A slower moving time. Towns where everybody knew each other and all pitched in to help anyone in a crisis.

The problem is that they are not entirely wrong, as much as we would like them to be. The power of the United States rose to massive prominence in the aftermath of World War II as the richest, most militarily dominant power extant. President Eisenhower wisely did not tamper with what the Democrats had built under (mostly) Roosevelt. And for tens of millions of predominantly white Americans, small town America and the big cities co-existed mostly peacefully.

Naturally there were terrible things going on which we choose, in our longing for stability, to cast into the background. Nobody knew how the nuclear bomb problem would play out. Treatment of Blacks was better than 30 years previous, but still wretched and shameful. Conformity was seen as the summa cum laude of American life, and many potentially amazing Americans were stifled because of its reach.

Then life began to speed up, slowly at first and then with the advent of the computer and social media, all in a rush. The abolition of the Fairness in Media doctrine in 1987 remains one the great underrated calamities in American life. Unions were pummeled into submission. Illicit drugs grabbed a stranglehold on an astonishing number of Americans (and Canadians!). Suicides rose and we entered the era of Deaths of Despair. Life has become a whirlwind and one often feels like a mere leaf in it.

Through this time, large cities have remained blue. They are home to innovators and early adopters. Some of their innovations have been terrible in that they have gouged the soul, the spiritual, the essence out of life. I’m looking at you AI and you, social media and you, the gig economy.

But there is a plaintive call to slow down and not discard the old values in smaller centers and rural areas. There is the yearning for America to go back to white and Christian domination, as if they hold the keys to social order and public virtue. There is a much deeper rebellion against growing solitude in America. People don’t really want self-serve cashiers. They order from Amazon, but feel uneasy that they have lost something irreplaceable in brick and mortar. They want all babies to be born (just like in the old days, they think.

And under Trump their uneasiness and sense of a loss of personal autonomy has been given shape. It’s weird and illogical to us and especially surprising when it flipped over into open rebellion and anger.

And now he’s back, we think. Although I’m not so sure he’ll make it to the finish line. Supporters recognize the totality of his failed Presidency. They are uneasily aware of his crime compulsion. But they stick to him because of two things: 1) in the first place he *recognized* them, a massive political accomplishment. And secondly he plays on their fears and nostalgia like fiddle.

We will not defeat Trump by appealing to the better nature of MAGA. These people don’t want to hear criticisms of his hate-filled “policies” - they have adopted them, because Trump made sense to them.

And the biggest problem is that there are way more states of this ilk than there are New Yorks and Calififornias. The Republicans automatically have a 3-4 point advantage in the Electoral College (and thus in electing the President) because Utah = California in voting power.

Worse still each state (50, no less!) has a legislature that more or less mimics that in Washington. Here Republicans dominate and they are constantly churning out crazier, more belligène and deeply in democratic schemes. Keeping up with them is like non-stop Whac-a-Mole. On Tuesday the Democrats decisively won an election. By Friday, the response has been such that we are now thinking, maybe not so much.

This is the fight of America’s life. There will be tens of millions of Trump voters if he stays out of prison and captures the nomination. A sliver of them are ugly, hateful plotters who have wet dreams about white, Christian nationalist government. Behind them are the 98% you wouldn’t mind having as neighbors - if you never talked politics. Good people going down a frightening path.

I still believe good will triumph. Trump has gone to the well of his charisma too often. He is desperate and thus projects more and more laughably dystopian canvases of your great country. And he is whiny.

And Biden’s accomplishments are going to begin to resonate as they stick - just as the ACA has. (Please ditch the too cute by half term “Bidenomics” though)

When they get to the abyss, which for all practical purposes is Election 2024, Americans will pause. I believe they will reject nihilism and democracy will thereafter begin to thrive again. The table is being set.

As Churchill said, “Americans always do the right thing - but not before exploring all possible alternatives.

Ignore the polls - they are mere venting devices. But take the opposition seriously. Most of them are people who have thought long and hard about the frenzies of the last 50-60 years. The 1950s are calling them - and I don’t mean that in the least derisively. We must project a better alternative.

There is a dangerous sadness, which has mutated in

Expand full comment

The wealthy who earned their big bucks during the Industrial Age, in the days before an income tax, or voting rights for women, long to return to those times. They honestly believe they are the only ones who should be deciding what's good for the country and business, etc.

Even the early industrialist Andrew Carnegie, who was one of the few who started out as a regular guy when he was born to a working class family in Scotland, and believed that he was on the side of his workers, came to believe that he was entitled to rule with the other wealthy industrialists and the workers should be happy for whatever he wanted to give them.

This attitude is still their driving force. They are allowed to pour millions into twisting people's viewpoints, and they've gotten really good at it.

We are in for the battle of our lives. Even if Trump loses, they aren't going to change the view they've had for over 100 years.

Expand full comment

Totally agree about the wealthy putting up a fight. They are in a slightly different category now though than those who remember the Golden Age of the 1946-1965 period. The robber barons of the 19th century - Rockefeller, Carnegie Leland Stanford, et al, took advantage of new “tech” - railroads, oil, Western land to such an extent that they were finally reined in by the Antitrust Act of the early 20th century. During and after the Depression, their highest marginal tax rate roe steadily, poking its nose over 90% by 1959.

Today’s billionaire class made their money largely on Wall Street and new tech (again). But there was no high tax rate for them. Under Reagan’s espousal of trickle down theory, they have made out like bandits, paying much less in tax and learning the art of sheltering their money.

The vast majority of Trump supporters have been immiserated by today’s robber barons. Yet both groups put their trust in Trump, the larger one for no good reason, the smaller obscenely wealthy group do so because they know Trump will protect them. But even a few of the wealthy are starting to have second thoughts, recognizing the probability that Trump is likely to drive the United States over the cliff.

As you said, “We’re in the battle of our lives”. You’ll get no argument from me on that score.

Expand full comment

Eric: Thanks for, "immiserated"! Perfect!

Expand full comment

Thank you, Eric, for such a well-reasoned, fact-based response. You give this retired lawyer hope for the 2024 elections.

Your knowledge of American history applied to the breathless changes encountered in the last four decades provides a clear perspective of our current battle against Trump’s dystopian views - combined with the White/Christian ideology - versus our desires for a robust, inclusive democracy.

Your response helps me understand the deep chasm between me and my white Christian siblings who apparently feel disenfranchised by the “others”. Perhaps their longing to return to the halcyon days of the 50’s motivates their discontent - the void the radical “Christian” right is all to eager to fill.

Having total ignorance of the “Fairness in Media Doctrine” of 1987, your reference to it motivates further investigation.

Until Citizens United is overturned, I remain fearful that corporations and the 1%

will continue to control our government. That, combined with the evangelical movement, makes it even more challenging for equitable, rational policies and values to prevail.

Thanks, again, for your encouraging, enlightening response. I hope you continue to spread your wisdom far and wide. We are going to need it!

Expand full comment

Just to save you some time - up until 1987, the regulatory arm of the US government for media, the FTC, mandated that all networks had to present BOTH sides of an issue equally and fairly, given the radio listener or tv viewer the opportunity to make up her mind in an unpoisoned environment. Reagan cancelled this in his second term. This left media outlets the opportunity to take political positions (and make money doing so). It was not long before we got Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, Fox News, Breitbart News and hundreds of other outlets who present the Right side of every issue with with scant, if any, regard for truth. Of course there are left wing media outlets as well. By and large, they have not been as rabid and angry as the Right. But they too spin their stories.

The results have been devastating - a huge increase in polarization, an increase in hatred for “the other”, disbelief in any sources than the one a person chooses, and an increase in radicalization by media companies who see that hate sells.

It is difficult now to find a “middle” position in political thinking. Dismantling the concept of Fairness in Media is one of Reagan’s most devastating legacies.

Expand full comment

I appreciate learning about the "Fairness in media Doctrine", Eric. I never knew this part of history. Again, your salient views are honored very much by me, Eric. 🙏

Expand full comment

Precisely correct; thank you Eric. And Florence is no less correct in identifying the other necessary target that 'must' go - Citizen's United. Those are my targets.

Expand full comment

Good point. I don’t know if that should be more on my radar. My feeling was that the Citizen’s United ruling had, as a major effect, pushed many American politicians to go the small donor route as a way to fight back. That’s probably a terrible take.

The influence of money on elections is pernicious. I’d love to see Washington finance federal elections and each state finance state elections. No other money. Give each party a sum of money and set up rules for how they allot it. When the election is over, they could be audited appropriately, and lose part of the allotment in the next election if they can be proven to have spent beyond the limit.

As the richest country in the world, America could afford

to do that.

It’s probably a terrible idea, one that could be swatted away by a single informed commenter. But currently the amount of money in politics is obscene and the non-stop mass solicitations make my skin crawl.

I’d like to be more educated on this topic.

Expand full comment

Very well said! You know your history!

Expand full comment

"Life has become a whirlwind and one often feels like a mere leaf in it." This a beautiful line Eric, which you echo in your final sentence, "There is a dangerous sadness, which has mutated in...". I'd love to hear the rest of that thought.

Expand full comment

How did I not finish that?

“There is a dangerous sadness, which has mutated into a sullen, shared anger. That was Trump’s magic. He empowered the powerless to kick their self-loathing to the curb and turn it outward on others.”

Very much like the path of the incels.

Expand full comment

Wow ! Color me gobsmacked ! Eric, you have serious admirable skills. Not only do you know what I have known, you've put it all in a nutshell - then doubled down putting it to prose ! Set it to music, and here we have an anthem. Much admiration ~

Expand full comment

Thank you so much for taking the time to write this warm comment. I almost feel I should check to see if I’m the ‘Eric’ you are referring to. :)

I had 2 or 3 people sign up for my Substack, Cancel the American Dream, in the last couple of days. But you only receive an email address when your notified, not the person’s handle. So I’m not sure if you were one of the signups.

The Substack covers America from a critical perspective in the era 1950 to the present. There are about a hundred posts and it is completed now. You might like the *long* version of my my history and overarching thesis.

Right now I’m writing at longer intervals and when I do, commenting on current events.

Do you write a Substack? When I looked you up, it seemed as if you were about to start, but I possibly misinterpreted.

Thank you again. Your words are a wonderful tonic to start my Sunday.

Expand full comment

Thank you!

Expand full comment

Interesting points you make, Eric. Trump may “have gone to the well of his charisma too often”, but that has only ever been part of the bigger plan: to implode America. Mob Tactics keep the 98% of his supporters who “ you would not mind having as your neighbors...” very quiet, as they whisper prayers for it all not to turn out too badly for themselves, when the “Rapture” comes. Meanwhile the Big Boys are playing an actual game of World Domination. Come November 17th, as Mike Johnson allows the CR to run out and the Government to shut down, The Markets tank, the Military Positions left vacant because of his partner-in-crime, Tuberville’s extremist righteousness, create a National Security failure ala Bibi Netanyahu, as China invades Taiwan. Putin continues to hammer Ukraine, whose been abandoned by us. And Iran continues to fund and mechanize in the Middle East. And we sit in the lead up to the most consequential election in our lifetimes, receiving information from inept media sources algorithmically following the ad dollars. Biden’s accomplishments? Page 15, under the fold.

Expand full comment

This is a biting and chilling summary, touching on many things I didn’t think of at the time of writing my piece.

Your piece is deeply pessimistic but has the ring of possible actuality. I am perhaps a shade more optimistic - I think Biden is doing salutary work in mitigating the worst of the threats. I think that betting on the outcome would be a mug’s game - too many moving pieces. Like the startups in the tech world, new faces keep popping up in the geopolitical world to “move fast and break things”.

Scary.

Expand full comment

Not enough people are aware of Biden's accomplishments.

Expand full comment

Thank you, Eric. You've stated this extremely well. I've had the same outlook for many months.

As a boy and young adult, I was fascinated with the American Civil War. I very often today think that America is, in essence, in 1863 and the Confederates don't yet get that they have already begun losing the war. They will fight on, as will we, but the outcome is most likely now predetermined. By 2025 or 2026, I believe an attempted overthrow of American government, and other powerful and critical institutions, will have been thwarted. (A serious health event for Biden is the one huge joker in the deck, IMO.)

I also really support your perspective on this: the longing for simpler times, more personal connection, safer streets, far more stability in the world around us, etc. are huge drivers of what's happening now. Unconsciously, tens of millions want to bring those elements back, and MAGA tapped deeply into that longing (& offered up people to blame).

Unfortunately, progressives and liberals are in a difficult spot in fulfilling the above need. We tend to embrace new things with open minds, and some of them – like social media – have turned out to be disastrous on multiple levels. So has our "open mindedness" re: life-destroying and community-destroying addictive drugs.

IMO, a classical liberal path will be needed fairly soon, with much more compromising and respectfulness. Two responsible parties will be essential But first, the reactionary revolutionaries must be defeated for good. They are good people, by-and-large, who let themselves get propagandized. But nonetheless their movement is an enormous national threat.

Expand full comment

Your final paragraph really hit home with me. America needs exactly the remedies you suggest. The threat, however, is huge. Even though it’s a year away I can already feel the fear I’ll experience next November. If America turns its back on democracy, my country (Canada) will be up against the wall.

Expand full comment

Nailed it, again, Eric! Plus: "belligène"!

Expand full comment

So very well written! Many thanks.

Expand full comment

Heather, you left out the media! It is striking that they join hands with MAGAs in dumbing down the voter. The sad fact is it works because there are millions of people who vote for candidates for their looks. They have to have hair and vigor. Experience, smarts and wisdom come in second place. But journalists are in a place to lead these voters to a higher plane. To get voters to understand the amazing progress our country has made under Biden. They instead are cynically aiding and abetting those who want to destroy our democracy.

Expand full comment

They are determining the value of the stories based on what's going to get them reactions, ratings, clicks.

Reality TV, shock jocks, and Jerry Springer-type shows has made Americans so addicted to being entertained by outrage and drama that they're unknowingly choosing to determine what kinds of "news" we are going to get.

Jim Wright at Stonekettle is fond of saying "If you want a better country, be a better citizen", but it's really pretty true.

I'm not sure how we accomplish that.

Expand full comment

The professor perfectly portrays the essence of the fight for the nation’s future. The Biden campaign should use it as a template for 2024.

As for Mike Johnson, didn’t he have a leading role in “The Handmaid’s Tale”?

Expand full comment

I, too, think we are watching life in America on a split screen. But what seems so weird to me is how the media splits the screen with the negative Trumpism part being 80% and the positive Biden part as only 20%. No wonder people don't appreciate all the good things that are geared to help the middle and lower groups live better! It is so disheartening!

Expand full comment

Funny thing is, many on the liberal left look at MSNBC as the counterweight to FOX, but both are equally obsessed with Trump. You’d think that a real counterweight would be focused on Biden’s successes, but even though I bailed on cable news entirely after Russiagate, I’ll occasionally check in on MSNBC during a commercial during whatever sporting event I happen to be watching, and you know what story inevitably is being discussed? Trump’s legal shenanigans. It’s like the epitome of an own goal. Ratings, baby!

Expand full comment

The U.S. is at a tipping point: either retain a democratic republic or lose it to an autocratic mad man. The forces that motivate the white Christian nationalists were researched and published in Feb. 2018 by two Univ. of Kansas professors, the study entitled "The Anger Games: Who Voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 Election, and Why?" https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0896920517740615

One has to wonder, why would anyone vote for one who is obviously a cheat, a tax fraud, a rapist, a grifter, a criminal, an insurrectionist and a serial liar? It's because he represents their obsession with crushing their hated foes: women's rights advocates, immigrants, gays, Jews, Muslims, Blacks and other "undesirables." Their hate is stronger than their desire for a free society. The mistake that they make is that they think that an autocratic state would not, at some point, come after them, too.

Expand full comment

I don’t think it’s that simple. I think it’s far more a case of frustration in experiencing economic anxiety from flat wages and skyrocketing costs since the late 70s, which then lends itself to the ‘hate’ you describe.

To me, Trump is a reflection of a broken system, a symptom of a broken promise. Americans in the post-WWII period were led to believe that government would, not provide, but continually look to improve the lot of working people. That was shattered by the implementation of neoliberal economics, by both parties, to varying degrees.

Tipping point or not, until the cause of the frustration/hate is rooted out, we will continue to slide towards authoritarianism. The GOP as presently constituted welcomes this; the Dems, especially the Party establishment, seems to want to just prune the dead branches of the rotting tree instead of cutting it down. And on we go.

Expand full comment

Tom,

You make many valid points. But you are naive. Richard is right.

Please get in your car and drive the back roads of America. Stop at local diners, look at the signs on people's lawns, talk to guys at gas stations. There are states that are still fighting the Civil War. And sadly, they aren't all in the South. Millions of us have been encouraged to hate. Instead of pushing evil thinking under a rock where it belongs, the Oligarchs have fed the hungry and struggling poor with lies and hate. Millions of puppets who do their bidding.

THE driving force (and tool of the puppeteers) in the destruction of our nation right now is fascism/white nationalism. Hate of the "other". All those Americans that Richard listed are targets. And so are you and me when they get enough power. We are close to being Italy in pre-WWII. We have our Mussolinis. The new version is Mike Johnson. He wants to impose his magic man in the sky on me. That, sir, makes me more furious than anything else I have read this year. And it should terrify all of us. Mike Johnson is the main character in a real life version of "The Handmaids Tale". Compare that with the mistakes of some Democrats, please.

There is no question that the policies of both parties have fed this hate. I like to point to Bill Clinton and NAFTA. Now we have a president that is reversing that huge mistake. And why wouldn't you want to celebrate that? Talking about "neo-liberal" policies will cause folks to glaze over. Let's talk about who is really pulling the strings and sucking the life out of a shrinking middle class.

The venomous hate which drives the attitudes of Republicans has been preached in churches across America for 100's of years. Those rotten souls have always existed. The problem is that the morbidly rich have added gasoline to those fires instead of smothering that hate.

The difference now is that an entire political party has embraced that hate. Has embraced bigotry as a platform. Has become the American Taliban.

Of course some Democrats have messed up. Name a perfect person or organization.

So now we are at war, Tom. We have to pick a side. There is no middle. The people who embrace democracy and a level playing field - or the Oligarchs? The vast diversity of a wonderful national experiment or the American Taliban?

Expand full comment

You echo my sentiments and it’s why I don’t like hearing democrats talking about Biden’s age when it’s really not an issue. Republicans have absolutely NOTHING on Biden. Biden is clean and this is all they can come up with. We need to stand together and remove all doubt. No one is perfect and we all make mistakes but I would wager that Biden would be the first to admit his mistakes. In my book that’s a worthy human.

Expand full comment

Right on! We hit the road often and I have come face to face with MAGAQ bullies. Nebraska is still fighting the Civil War. I dred driving through that state. My Mexican-American nephew was refused service for hair cut in Indiana last month visiting his in-laws. He was also refused service at a public golf club. He did ask were the colored bathrooms were before he left. The bigots aren't hiding it anymore. Like a neighbor said, "we just didn't say it out loud like they do now." Wow.

Expand full comment

Wow indeed.

Expand full comment

Excellent summary of the conundrum our nationalist culture has created. I suspect the haters just needed a messiah to represent their supremacist beliefs.

Barry GoldWater nearly did and Reagan emerged as a possible. But the cultists needed a wealthy TV Celebrity to fill their needs and Trump surely filled their dream.

But it’s not he or abortion or even race as problems as much as it is the vision of a comfortable, entirely white society with air conditioning.

Expand full comment

And research has shown time and again J6 and trumpster voters are not our economically impoverished citizens. That’s a load of crap. They are the entitled citizens who are looking for scapegoats to problems that were sold to them by master propagandists

Expand full comment

So true for the Florida perspective. Even the cable and airwaves limit access to strong right wing media outlets. The balance is buried deep in the playlist IF it is even made available. Here is St Petersburg, FOX et all are in the low "double number" station choices, MSNBC has a four didget location. The university public broadcast bandwidth does not reach the rural areas due to limited infrastructure. This is likely the case throughout the less progressive states.

Expand full comment
Nov 11, 2023·edited Nov 11, 2023

Naive? We define this war differently.

I see the duopoly, under the grip of oligarchy, as the enemy. I have picked a side in that war. You think one part of the captured duopoly can save us, and you are willing to cozy up to it in the face of mendacious policy choices, from Ukraine to Gaza to innumerable fealty to capital on the domestic front, from health care to housing to student debt. I refuse to do so.

Lots of ways to define naive, I guess.

Edited to add, from Caitlin Johnstone: “You want to know how morally bankrupt Democrats are? Democrats are so morally bankrupt that right now they are angrier at people who say they refuse to vote for Biden because of his support for the Gaza massacre than they are at Biden for supporting the Gaza massacre.”

Expand full comment

I think we agree on a lot. I am just confused about your version of a solution. Let's say we are standing on a hill. We look down and see two armies. One is horrific. It works for the nobles. The other is far from perfect but it actually wants to improve the lot of the peasants.

Now the armies are climbing the hill. We have to decide which one to join. Or do we stand there and whine about how horrible they both are? I'm with the peasants. You?

Expand full comment

I divide my anger at the uninformed, naive, and gullible voters and the tfg and his cronies now.

Expand full comment

Yes, I am mad at people who say they oppose Biden because of his support of Israel, because I support Israel. We cannot have a ceasefire and establish peace with a terrorist group like Hamas. Hamas must be destroyed. Are all you ‘Free Palestine’ supporters embracing Sharia law? You are if you give Hamas a pass. Women can start wearing burkas and anyone gay can be executed. How’s that work for you? I support democracy and democratic nations; Hamas must go! And there is no genocide. That’s ridiculous. Gaza has 2.5 million people. Hamas says 10,000 have died. That count includes their soldiers, and is probably exaggerated. The total is a tiny fraction of the whole population. It’s terrible, but it’s not genocide.

Expand full comment

So will you vote?

Expand full comment

George HW Bush began NAFTA. Ross Perot ran against Bush/both on NAFTA. Clinton signed it.

Expand full comment

or the Oligarchs? I would add the corporations.

Expand full comment

Bill Alstrom, You are exactly right.

Expand full comment

Tom, you are speculating about a topic that has been researched and published. White Christian nationalism is the driving force.

Expand full comment

These things are not incompatible, esp. if you focus on the "white" and "nationalism" parts. Misogyny and racism are part of the mix: the widespread perception is that those government elites are behind the "great replacement" of native-born white Christian USians with non-white, often non-Christian immigrants. (White Evangelicals tend to have doubts that Catholics are real Christians.) And as soon as anyone starts railing about "elites," global or otherwise, it's a good guess that antisemitism is part of their agenda.

It's worth remembering that most of the people who supported Hitler at the beginning weren't card-carrying Nazis.

"Institutional failures" are probably a concern across the political spectrum. They're motivating union resurgence and the interrelated fights for an equitable health care system, environmental justice, and sane gun laws, among other things. The question is whether you're willing to try to improve things yourself or you want to put your faith in someone who's going to fix it for you. And just in general the right has been better at this than the left for decades, especially when it comes to abortion, gun rights, and, more recently, school curriculum. Fortunately we're getting better at it.

Expand full comment

Susanna, you write: " And just in general the right has been better at this than the left for decades, especially when it comes to abortion, gun rights, and, more recently, school curriculum. Fortunately we're getting better at it." Thomas Frank treats this in his book, "What's the Matter with Kansas?" published in 2004. The wealthy paid for propaganda to entice the white Christians to vote against their own best social and economic interests, using abortion, women's rights, immigration, etc. to dupe them. It's a sad case brought on by the lack of critical thinking skills among tens of millions of Americans, IMO.

Expand full comment

Susanna, you make a point about Catholics and fundamentalists. Once when I was teaching, i heard one of my students refer to Christians and Catholics. I thought this was a teachable moment, so I asked what the essence of Christianity is and after they answered, I pointed out that every Mass a Catholic recites this belief in the Creed. This school is in a very Catholic community with fundamentalists up the canyon and some within the towns. It was and still is an interesting place. I have friends there who lament what death star has caused among the people they know.

Expand full comment
Nov 11, 2023·edited Nov 11, 2023

I’m not speculating, I’m just quibbling with the assertion that Christian Nationalism is THE driving force. Is it the main driver? Perhaps. I’ve talked to far too many Trump voters who don’t belong in that bucket to accept any monolithic descriptor of their mindset being ‘crushing their hated foes/undesirables’, unless you expand that list to include government elites and the establishments of both political parties, and institutional failures across the spectrum.

Edited to add - When the minority voters who are duopoly voters vote for Trump because Biden reneged on an HBCU student debt promise, or the Muslim voters, and there will be some, vote similarly because of Biden’s absurd handling of Gaza, will those votes be due to Christian Nationalism and hate?

Again, I just don’t think it’s that simple, and that mindset is counterproductive to building the coalitions necessary to get us out of this downward spiral.

Expand full comment

'What History Tells Us About the Feel-Bad Economy' (NYTimes, Opinion, Paul Krugman)

'Start with the state of the economy. The simple reality of the past year or so is that America has accomplished what many, perhaps most, economists considered impossible: a large fall in inflation without a recession or even a big rise in unemployment. If you don’t trust me, listen to Goldman Sachs, which on Wednesday issued a report titled “The Hard Part Is Over,” noting that we’re managing to combine rapid disinflation with solid growth, and that it expects this happy combination — the opposite of stagflation — to continue.

What went right? Back in 2021, Biden administration economists published an essay on historical inflation episodes, arguing that the closest parallel to current events was the inflation surge after World War II, which subsided after the economy resolved wartime disruptions and readjusted to peacetime production. That analysis looked much too optimistic for a while, as inflation went much higher for much longer than the Council of Economic Advisers expected.

At this point, however, with a soft landing looking ever more plausible, it seems as if the council, while it underestimated the size and duration of the shock, got the basic story right.

'Yet voters aren’t happy. The most widespread story I’ve been hearing is that people don’t care about the fact that prices have been leveling off; they’re angry that prices haven’t gone back down to their prepandemic levels.'

'This makes some psychological sense. As of September, consumer prices were about 19 percent higher than they were on the eve of the pandemic. Average wages were also up, by about the same amount, and wages for nonsupervisory workers (the great bulk of the work force) were up considerably more. But human nature being what it is, it’s natural for people to feel that they earned their higher incomes, only to have inflation snatch away their gains. And lecturing voters about why that’s the wrong way to think about it is not, shall we say, a promising political strategy.'

'But here’s where my historical doubts come in.'

'This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a temporary surge in prices that leveled off but never went back down. The same thing happened after World War II and again during the Korean War, the latter surge being roughly the same size as what we’ve seen since 2020.'

'Unfortunately, we don’t have consumer sentiment data for the 1940s, although some political scientists believe that the economy actually helped Harry Truman win his upset election victory in 1948. But we do have such data for the early 1950s, and it suggests that people were relatively upbeat on the economy despite higher prices. Why should this time be different?'

'Also, it seems worth noting that many voters have demonstrably false views about the current economy — believing, in particular, that unemployment, which is near a 50-year low, is actually near a 50-year high.'

'Whatever is really going on, was there something Biden or the Federal Reserve could have done that would have mollified voters?'

'Here’s how I think about it: The supply chain disruptions caused by the pandemic made it inevitable that prices of some goods would rise sharply. The only way to have avoided overall inflation would have been to force major price cuts for other goods and services.'

'And everything we know from history suggests that trying to impose deflation — falling prices — on large parts of the economy would have had disastrous effects on employment and output, something like the quiet depression Britain inflicted on itself after World War I when it tried to go back to the prewar gold standard.'

'So what’s actually going to happen in the next election? I have no idea, and neither do you. What I can say is that if you believe that Biden made huge, obvious economic policy mistakes and could easily have put himself in a much better position, you probably haven’t thought this thing through. (NYTimes, Opinion: Paul Krugman) See gifted link.

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/11/09/opinion/biden-economy-unemployment-history.html?unlocked_article_code=1.9kw.pHeM.bRYqnLIzCjgH&smid=url-share

Expand full comment

Christian Nationalism is the vehicle the GOP is using to drive class hierarchy. It’s ultimately all about money and power.

Expand full comment

Tom, google and read "The Anger Games . . ." and then come back on. What is your explanation as to why Christian evangelicals support Trump? What is it about him that they like?

Expand full comment

Tom, please, the Biden/Harris administration has forgiven over $125 billion in student debt, for millions of Americans. And I believe additional loan forgiveness has been approved under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness programs. Have they forgiven every penny of every students' debt? No, however they never promised to do so.

Anyone that has decided to vote for Trump because Biden didn't forgive their student loan debt, either was never going to vote for Biden to begin with, or they haven't been paying attention to what has been forgiven. How much student loan debt has Trump promised to forgive? Or any of the other Presidential candidates for that matter? They would be voting to cut of their nose despite their face.

Expand full comment

At no point in my lifetime has the Middle East lacked for strife with no obvious path to solution. Biden is a politician, he has said what he has said about the current Israel/Palestine conflict. Maybe he's wrong in what he says, but is there such a thing as right he could say?

Expand full comment

I agree it’s not that simple and white Christian nationalism is not the core belief. This is a continuation of the civil war, which never ended in the south. I grew up in the South. Not everyone went to church, but everyone was racist. Everyone agreed that ‘colored s’ should ride in the back of the bus, use separate water fountains and bathrooms, have their own restaurants. It wasn’t proper for colored folks to eat in white establishments. The dream of being a plantation owner has never died. And the actual plantation owners figured out long ago that the way for the (vast) minority to control the masses was to pit folks against each other. That’s where religion comes in; it’s the perfect tool to put man against man. It’s a tool being used by the oligarchs to get us to fight each other and not take them out. It’s just a tool.

Expand full comment

This is the email that I received today from Donald Trump:

Patriot,

I’m writing to you from Trump Force One as I fly to New Hampshire – home of the FIRST-IN-THE-NATION primary.

After public surveys show that I won the THIRD GOP Debate (despite not even attending), I think we can all agree that the primary is effectively over.

Sadly, a few stubborn RINOs simply won’t accept reality just yet.

These self-interested RINOs have deluded themselves into believing they can win the nomination despite being 50 points behind.

And, in some cases, they’re actually hoping that I get convicted as an innocent man so they can use my injustice and persecution to jump in and take the nomination.

But I have disappointing news for them… The more I am targeted in these despicable witch hunts, the more our support in the polls skyrockets.

As I fly to New Hampshire to wrap up this primary ASAP so that we can FIRE the crooked man in the White House who is trying to turn America into a dictatorship, let’s show these RINOs that they have ZERO CHANCE of taking the nomination with a surge of grassroots contributions before Trump Force One touches down!

But, if you’re doing poorly right now due to the disastrous policies pushed by Crooked Joe, don’t even think about donating!

Please make a contribution to our Primary Victory Fund to WRAP UP the primary ASAP so that we can turn 100% of our attention to the REAL mission of firing Crooked Joe and winning back the White House.

CONTRIBUTE $24 >>

CONTRIBUTE $47 >>

CONTRIBUTE $75 >>

CONTRIBUTE $100 >>

CONTRIBUTE $250 >>

CONTRIBUTE OTHER AMOUNT >>

Thank you,

Donald J. Trump

45th President of the United States

Expand full comment

Along with corporate greed and biased media. Economic global awareness has been neglected in the the presentation of targeted issues. General population is vastly unaware or uneducated and seem to lack executive functioning level for comprehension and application of facts.

Expand full comment
Nov 11, 2023·edited Nov 11, 2023

The income frustration you express has not been experienced by the *leaders* of the MAGA movement. They are simply distorting and exploiting, aided by shallow newscasting that does not pointout that inflation has arisen primarily from increased profits and exporting labor opportunities to other countries. If those leaders provided a different message to their followers, there would be a different tone to our country's differences. If, for example, MAGA leaders supported better education, fair taxation, etc., then those feeling the economic pinch would be filled with enthusiasm, not hatred. When MAGA leaders convince their followers there is no way to improve their lot, then the frustration erupts, especially when they see the excesses of the rich.

Expand full comment

MAGA adherents are not the only ones experiencing frustration. Frustrations from those whose rights are being violated, whose votes are being diluted by gerrymandering and restrictions, whose educations are being stunted by inadequate offerings--those angers will erupt, too. Fighting back against invasions is not only happening in Ukraine and Gaza, it is happening here as well. Recent elections and judicial progress prove the point, even though the battles are being fought in legislatures, courts, and voting booths. Iwo Jima was a hard, uphill battle, but the flag of democracy was finally raised there. So too here the battle is uphill against the top.

Expand full comment
Nov 11, 2023·edited Nov 11, 2023

It is that simple. How do you explain 95% of Republicans are White? Surely other groups (especially Black people) have experienced economic woes and they’re not running to Trump.

White “Christians” justified slavery and Jim Crow. They’re trying to “take their country back” from what they perceive to be an invasion by inferior and unworthy people (judging people by skin color).

Republicans are not poor people frustrated about economics. They’re people who hate others thinking they’re the righteous people…along with greedy elites who want to keep the divides going so they can conquer the masses and profit from their manipulation.

White supremacy and misogyny are what need to be rooted out.

Expand full comment

Go Team Blue! You shore do stereotypes good!

Taken a look at minority support for Trump lately? No? Buckle up.

Expand full comment

No Tom, I don't believe Trumpism is a matter of broken promises. The appeal of an authoritarian leadership is more complex. For some it is just a simple way to deal with the complexity of democracy and an inability or unwillingness for critical thinking. Others are confident, strong and do not want a government that meddles in their lives, they distrust science, suspicious of experts. Then others are insecure in a changing society, a shift in racial and cultural citizenry, they can be classed as the white Christian nationalists. Partisanship destroys the very basis of democracy and opens the door to the power of money. Money protects the elite, corrupts everything and everyone who might challenge their privilege. Trump managed to appeal to all these factions.

Expand full comment

Jeramey Powell has it wrong on inflation, it is not all inflation it is the gouging by the conglomerate corrupt corporation that drive the prices up. Couldn't Biden put a stop to it?

Expand full comment

It’s a capitalist country. I don’t think the government is able or willing to control prices. There would holy hell if they tried, I’m sure!

Expand full comment

Able. Not willing. It has been done before; successfully I might add. But government just has to be willing (that word again) to counter the ‘holy hell’ it would receive from the capitalists by looking them in the eye, and saying, as FDR did, ‘I welcome your hatred’.

Expand full comment

The Democrats tried to pass an ‘excess wealth’ tax to discourage price gouging, but the Rs voted it down.

Expand full comment

The venomous hate gets pumped out every day by Fox. While not the only driver of the negativity in our political life, the incessant lies spread hate to a substantial degree, for profit. It is hard to counteract those daily lies.

Expand full comment

Talk radio in rural areas spread the same lies and hate.

Expand full comment

I was in rural Georgia when Sinclair bought up a bunch of stations, fired all the staff and just used the towers to transmit a central narrative, and that was in 2001, I think.

Expand full comment
Nov 11, 2023·edited Nov 11, 2023

Hate seizes the reptilian part of our brains and doesn't let go. It's also death salience: surrounded by reminders of death and used as a cudgel by Republicans, we fall victim to death salience, which becomes a powerful weapon for authoritarians. See https://spssi.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/asap.12143

Expand full comment

Richard, you make an excellent point in your last sentence. People assume that they are home free when some autocrat comes along and they kowtow to him. We once had a principal who was very adept at stirring the pot. So staff members with long held grievances about other staff members were busy kissing his rear and filling his ears full of complaints about anybody who they thought stood in their way. I think most of this came from the coaching corner. I knew he was keeping a file on them too just in case he needed to use it. Then we all found out that he had a file beyond the files that all principals keep and everyone was upset. After he left, I had staff members tell me that they were happy to come to work again. The tension before that was so thick, you could cut it.

Expand full comment

Reminds me of Republicans in the House.

Expand full comment

KAaa-Blammo!! Dead on, Richard :)) "It's because he represents their obsession".!! THEY... had had it with "equal opportunity"; "BLM"; gay "Rights"; same sex "Marriage"; trans-gender (boys) on the "Girls Team"; uni-sex rest-rooms in their "Daughter(s)" dormitory; immigrant "Free Healthcare, babies, etc"; and, let's not forget assault weapon "Bans". All things which THEY swear by.

Expand full comment

I think that those are definitely some of the issues, but to my mind, down deep inside, it's the race issue that dominates all the others, followed by the misogyny. What is it that causes the Muslims and the Christian Taliban to hate and disrespect the female sex so? Of course, the Roman Catholics have been doing it for two millennia now, but why the Protestants, the Evangelicals? Ironically, the last group of Americans to finally garner the right to vote (Black females) are leading the charge to save our right to vote.

Expand full comment

Goebbels demonstrated hate was the best unifier and most potent motivation in a society in the 1930s. It would be nice to believe Americans aren’t like that, but they are just as human.

Expand full comment

And if you watch how Trump is now ranting and raging at how cruelly he will treat the immigrants, you will see that the two professors who authored "The Anger Games" hit the nail on the head. Trump understands that it is hate that motivates his followers. Well, so much for the Evangelicals and their love of Jesus. They love Trump more.

Expand full comment

"The Anger Games" article has a paywall for the full article but I think the free abstract pretty much summarizes the authors' points. So you don't have to back up for the link, here it is again.

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0896920517740615

Expand full comment

Thank you for this info regarding "The Anger Games" Judith. I downloaded the article before the paywall was erected. I have forwarded that to those whose email addresses I have. I think that the demand for it turned out to be greater than the publisher originally anticipated.

Expand full comment

There are people on the left who say, there’s nothing I can do about it, when it comes to trump and his acolytes. But there is something we all can do. We can write letters or email the big three television networks, the cable news networks and demand less trump and more Biden. We can write directly to anchors and hosts. The President’s accomplishments are not getting through to people which is why we saw that upsetting poll the other week.

Expand full comment

Good news does not sell, never has. Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

Expand full comment

That’s a fair point. However we are talking about our freedoms. Do they think that under trump that they would be allowed to exist? Trust me, under him and Project 2025, any media source that opposes them will be shut down. Only government run media will be allowed.

Expand full comment

Project 2025 is frightening! Every issue erodes the 3 tier balance of power and the rule of law. Long in the making and only recently revealed to the public.

Expand full comment

I think this will not happen without a wild uproar.

I am afraid that the polls reflect how knee-jerk vacuous and self centered the voter is (or can be if it's a good sampling and the questions are not spoon fed). The journalists of corporate media, to an extent, take advantage of this state of mind for profit and ratings. Trump all the time. But we do need to know some of that. I think righteousness, appealing to people's sense of right and wrong, works somewhat too. Lazy and/or hardworking people turn on the TV and are ready for entertainment( which they get in the commercials) but they perhaps feel the need to know what is going on in the world. They are ripe for feeding> Thank goodness for NPR and PBS though they too are (or have been) somewhat constrained, funding threatened in the past by the Right.

I don't think many people want to go and sift through various venues. So they tune in to MSNBC or FOX or CNN and ingest.

Expand full comment

People are getting weary of all the negative, bad events news. We need some positive, uplifting news once in awhile. Here’s an example. On the Boston NBC News was the story about a traffic problem as a result of a roundabout. The story went on how straightening it out could improve traffic. A concern was funding for it. The reporter credited President Biden’s Infrastructure bill with providing funding for the project.

People in that community will now know that an improvement in their quality of life is because an action by President Biden. Hopefully there will be a temporary sign during the project indicating where the money for it came from.

Expand full comment

They don't think. This is the problem.

Expand full comment

They don’t want the citizenry to think. “I alone can fix all the problems” is the motto of authoritarians everywhere.

Expand full comment

I got an email yesterday from Indivisible. They’re starting a book club and the first book is by an author whose unusual name I can’t recall (Anand something?) but if you join the club you get the book free. It’s about how to talk persuasively to MAGAs and such. I joined

Expand full comment

I got the same email. As it pointed out, we have to avoid it with the more aggressive MAGAs. I’m paraphrasing.

Expand full comment

Hit them in the wallet if you want to get their attention! Cancel subscriptions!

Expand full comment

Those of us who have cable television and are required to have Fox News as part of the subscription should demand that it be removed.

Expand full comment

Polls can no longer suffice, they have proven that. Biden can make himself a powerful voice, I imagine.

Expand full comment

He can and I believe his campaign has not started in earnest.

Expand full comment

Thanks Tom. You easily put into words what I have been struggling to say for ages. And I am sad to say I think your view on why MSNBC, NPR, and others do this is for ratings, plain and simple.

Expand full comment
Nov 11, 2023·edited Nov 11, 2023

Once, on the basis of a Chris Hedges recommendation targeted at every American, I read Sheldon Wolin’s book Democracy Incorporated, and fully grasped the concept of inverted (corporate) totalitarianism, there was no turning back. We do live in the Matrix, and most are clueless about it; they might feel it, but don’t understand it enough to coalesce to fight it. It’s what makes the blame game so successful for the oligarchs.

Why the focus on ratings? In the paraphrased language of the Ned Beatty character (Jensen) in the film Network, ‘That’s where the money is, dummy!’

Still a classic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=35DSdw7dHjs

Expand full comment

Read the new book out by Joan Walsh, Nick Hanauer, and Donald Cohen, called Corporate Bullsh*t.

Expand full comment

Check out ‘Silent Coup’, by Provost & Kennard

Expand full comment

Will do. btw I couldn't recall ever watching Network (1976), so I watch the movie last night. Fox Entertainment.

Expand full comment

People are in business to make money. Period.

Expand full comment

Another comment, Tom. First of all thant you for your comment. I think it is spot on. I also think we, as people fed up with this idiocy need to send notes or make calls to media outlets and tell them they are losing our viewership because of their incessant coverage of everything dRumpf or the crazy clown congress. We need to encourage our representatives to keep highlighting the good things that are happening and perhaps the most important thing is to tell advertisers that we aren't going to shop at their stores or buy their products if they continue to advertise on these news "outlets". Money talks and BS walks.

Expand full comment

All pieces of a puzzle. The main thing is to be aware (that takes time/energy that many don’t have) and spread that awareness to others. Another piece is active engagement, as you note, beyond just the simple act of casting a ballot in an election. Until we overrule the SCOTUS on corporate personhood, we’re spitting into the wind, imo.

MoveToAmend.org

Expand full comment

Agree!

THAT is the core problem. Romney was right in a perverted sort of way. "Corporations are people". Yes. Morbidly rich people using corporations to suck the national treasure from the common person.

Expand full comment

How are you suggesting that SCOTUS be "dealt with" if people don't vote?

Expand full comment

Agreed!

Expand full comment

I believe 'telling' advertisers that we aren't going to shop at their stores or buy their products is less effective than actually stopping subscriptions and sales of whatever it is they are selling.

I miss my NYT subscription and stand firm. I cancelled cable tv years ago. I need product to run my business and refuse to shop at ULINE. Hit their bottom lines and they will get the message loud and clear.

Expand full comment

Unfortunately most of MSM is funded by cable subscriptions, not advertising. Cut the cable.

Expand full comment

The Lincoln Project had a truck with signage calling out advertisers parked in front of Fox headquarters on the day they were meeting with Fox executives.

Expand full comment

I keep MSNBC on most of the day with the sound off and captions on, and while they do of course cover Trump and all the insanity of MAGA world, they also cover many other important stories, such as the Israel/Hamas debacle and Biden’s successes. Their political commentary consistently debunks the criticisms about Biden’s age. And personally, I think the clearest path to saving our democracy is not by getting into the policy weeds (think Dukakis) but by constantly pointing out the dangers of a Trump Presidency, exposing his lies and criminality. Nobody wants to vote for a loser.

Expand full comment

I agree Maureen. MSNBC has very good coverage about Biden’s accomplishments, and also Trump’s travails and travesties which we need to be aware of. And the GOP’s complete surrender to Trump.

Expand full comment

You have a good point.

Expand full comment

Don't think MSNBC is getting GOP/Trump any votes! I usually change the speaker during Morning Joe's rants, but i tuned into his over the top rant after Tuesday's Dem successes just to feel more of the warm glow of victory!

Expand full comment

Half the country is in support of the Trumpublican Party and it's because of the propaganda envelope we live in. One basic aspect of propaganda is: the more successful the propaganda, the less likely the target is aware of it. And even though the Koch Kleptocrats have poured over 13 Billion into psy ops games, like creating the Tea Party in the shadows, it is the business model of media that has done the most... they make money from provoking their audience, and that lines up with pushing attention to Trump and his chaos clowns. If we fall into totalitarianism, it will be because of our brand of capitalism.

Expand full comment

Half???

Expand full comment

"The 2024 Polls Agree: Trump Has a Significant Lead Over Biden"

https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2023/11/polls-trump-leads-biden.html

Expand full comment

It has hurt, because I so admired her, but I have even walked away from Rachel Maddow. She has twice now turned me off. First time was when she stated that she has exclusive information that Merrick Garland was somehow carrying water for Trump by putting out a DOJ memo that any new investigations in the last couple of months before the election, into someone running for office in 2022 in needed to be run past the upper powers of DOJ first. She spoke as if this was remarkable and unusual. It has been SOP for quite a while. I was quite taken aback.

Last time I turned her on, a few weeks ago, she was waving her new book around, letting us all know we needed to read it. I have read some of her books, and her podcasts. They are very interesting, particularly Bag Man and Ultra, which were interesting history lessons. But she was using her show to sell her book.

I haven’t bothered to look for her since. I have no plans to watch her anymore routinely.

May I recommend this Substack piece by Teri Kanefield, if you haven’t found it yet? It is a good summary of this whole issue of what I think is best described as “Angertainment”. https://open.substack.com/pub/terikanefield/p/the-misinformation-outrage-cycle?r=1m7r2k&utm_medium=ios&utm_campaign=post

Expand full comment

Nicole Wallace is the best thing about MSNBC.

Expand full comment

Teri is a measured treasure and keeps me from being “hair on fire”. Her 5 points writing is gold.

Expand full comment

Thanks for the link. I quit Maddow when she lost her mind during Russiagate.

Expand full comment

Your loss

Expand full comment

Okay, what does "she lost her mind" mean in this context?

Expand full comment

Saying the Russians were hacking into the Vermont energy grid to her audience, specifically, but latching onto and trumpeting every Trump/Russia collusion propaganda story that came down the pike, from every magazine and government ‘intelligence expert’ pundit guest on her show. Without hard evidence. It was journalistic malpractice worthy of the Hannity crowd on the network that shall not be named.

Expand full comment

Thanks for answering.

Expand full comment

The most valuable part of MSNBC is the "print" commentary by Steve Benen, Ja'han Jones, Jessica Levinson, and others. I don't have a TV, so I only see some of the broadcast material, usually a day late, but the written stuff is excellent.

Expand full comment

Yep! And we all hate own goals!

Expand full comment

I think it depends on which show you watch. Rachel certainly talks about more than trump and always has. Unfortunately she is only on mondays now. But there is also Nicole Wallace, Joy Reid, Lawrence O’Donnell and Alex Wagner all of whom discuss more things than trump.

Expand full comment

I spend very little time on corporate run network TV.

Expand full comment

Follow The Money

Expand full comment

"...epitome of an own goal." So accurate!!

Expand full comment

"Decrepit" is the word being lightly tossed around the world's headlines. And is he not supposed to notice that? His courage and strength are amazing. And the new 4-hour daily Gaza truce to get people out - who engineered that? Certainly not Bibi. Doesn't rate a mention.

Expand full comment

I wish EVERY project funded by the Inflation Reduction Act and others had a prominent sign saying so.

Expand full comment

Stating clearly which congressional reps in that district voted for/against it!

Expand full comment

On a recent trip through CO we DID see such a sign...something to read while we slowed down through construction!

Expand full comment

SO incredibly sad, isn't it!?!

Expand full comment

Sad? it's outrageous. It moves me to anger, rather than sorrow. Do you remember the day we heard he'd won? Kamala Harris was out in the open somewhere (golf course?) and she had him on her cellphone, radiant with joy for him. "Joe! You did it! You've won!"

Expand full comment

It makes me angry too but, sad that people buy into the narrative. Joe Biden could be 100 and he would still be better than ANY republican out there! I guess as I see the "dumbing down" of America, that is what makes me sad. There are so many people who are willing to go down that rabbit hole!

Expand full comment

Thom Hartman did a piece on media ownership recently… most of the media has been purchased by right-wing billionaires since the advent of Rush Limbaugh. Just one of the reasons coverage is so stilted.

Expand full comment

Driving on a highway in New Mexico, I saw the first sign identifying the road construction as a project funded by the infrastructure funds. I cheered!

Expand full comment

That what you get when the majority of the media in the USA is owned by very few people.

Expand full comment

The corporate side of Repubs (which wants tax cuts & zero regulations) has roped in the despairing millions to believe Repubs need to have the “freedom to create jobs” & not be exposed to redistributive taxes that only help welfare cheats. The poor believe that, while they’re doing their best without any government help (!), “THOSE” people are living high off the hog on welfare benefits & food stamps & that liberals want to let more immigrants in so they can vote Dem. (It doesn’t all make sense, but they’ve been so brainwashed by FOX as well as CNN even (among other corporate media outlets) that they don’t have time yo think it through.

Expand full comment

The media helped elect Trump in 2016, and they’re doing so again.

For those who believe ending the Fairness Doctrine changed the meadow: it never applied to cable channels —only the public airwaves.

Expand full comment

Need to add another screen for the growing numbers who are shunning politics all together, assuming they can’t possibly make a difference. They’ve had it with candidates, media, and the seemingly rabid, current-events ranters within their own social groups. It’s gotten too tiresome and ridiculous for them. I fear the lost votes….

Expand full comment

It’s more like 90% Trump / GOP - 10% Biden / DEMS.

Expand full comment

We’ll said!

Expand full comment

I think that New YorkState's judicial oversight authorities are not going to give representative Stefonic's letter a great deal of their time. After all, this is a judicial proceeding for which there is a substantial trial record and verbatim transcript, which transcript would include defendant Donald Trump's maunderngs, and refusals to answer questions directly, and Trump's incessant attempts to give electioneering speeches, and treatment court proceedings as one of his political rallies. I have not read the five-page letter in which Representative Stefonic lays out her accusations, but is the quality of the legal scholarship and advocacy is anything like with the former president's lawyers have been peppering the court with over the past several months, New York regulators will be justified in rejecting her complaints out of hand. To paraphrase the late Christopher Hitchens, that which is asserted without facts to support allegations made, maybe rejected forthwith without elaborating on the reasons therefore. The New York authorities, I would think, would instead focus on the former president's inability to conform his behavior to the standard expected of any litigant in the courts of New York State, or any state, or judicial forum that comes to mind. With any luck, New York voters residing in representative Stefonic's district will send her packing in the next election. One would certainly hope so.

Expand full comment

Her actions are no better than Jordan’s when he held that sham of a hearing in NYC on the weaponization of government. I read that her letter is too legalize for a non-lawyer to have written. While she might be a college graduate, she is not a lawyer, she could not have written it without help. Either the state or county Democrat Party should organize peaceful protests outside her district office. She is using her federal office to interfere with the state judicial system based on highly partisan information that is unsubstantiated.

Expand full comment

The ridiculous "oversight" committees that Jim Jordan and several others run have wasted tens of millions of dollars and have proved absolutely nothing-- except that the GOP and Fascists and CINOs.

They quibble over cutting money from the IRS when that money actually brings in way more revenue than it costs.

Raising the corporate tax rate by 1% will bring in an additional $100,000,000 in revenue. Raise it 5% and we will close in on balancing the budget.

Expand full comment

The R's want to follow the Grover Norquist playbook and "starve the beast." That means breaking the federal government by breaking the IRS to deny funds to the government, especially to oversight.

Expand full comment

I hope we all realize that peaceful protests will be a thing of the past if the R's move into the WH in 2024.

Expand full comment

Great point, Mike - Dems should definitely organize around this and shine some light on her. If I'm not mistaken, there were notable gains in Republicans elected to office in 2 Long Island NY counties (Nassau, Suffolk). Ominous. I wonder who's paying for those campaigns...

Expand full comment

One of those districts is George Santos’s who will not be re-elected. The question is, will he be primaried and lose. Based on the new districts the Democrats have a chance to pick 4-5 seats in ‘24.

Expand full comment

Santos should have been thrown out of the House a long time ago.

Expand full comment

She’s auditioning for tfg’s VP, showing her bona fides.

Expand full comment

Who wants to be the next Mike Pence?

Expand full comment

"As workers at non-union plants begin to explore unionization, Honda and Toyota have already announced wage hikes to match those in the new UAW contracts, and Subaru is hinting it will do the same. "

I have never belonged to a union or worked in a unionized company, and I have sometimes strongly disliked some of the things I have seen individual unions do; but I strongly support them, as a necessary balance of power. Like Biden said, unions (substantially) enabled the middle class. That and anti-trust, which also needs (more) reinvigorating.

Expand full comment

I belonged to a union for 35 years, and a union officer, ( Financial Accountant) for 16 years, and there are a few things i disliked about our union too, but the really good things they did for us greatly overwhelmed the things i disliked about them.

Expand full comment

Unions have historically provide necessary balance to the power of concentrated money; a check and balance on plutocracy. That's more important than, I think, most people realize.

Expand full comment

I agree with you JL Graham. When Unions are run well, they provide a clear counterbalance to corporate businesses’ drive for feudalism.

Expand full comment

I worked for two companies before escaping corporate slavery (I did love my work and co-workers). One regional. Another international. Both would conduct union busting classes. And honestly, both companies treated their employees so well, there was no need for a union.

The regional company is long gone. Swallowed by a larger fish. The international one abandoned its original playbook of treating employees and customers well. Abandoned gathering ideas from the workers. Abandoned stock ownership incentives. Became just another monolith run by ivory tower inexperienced dictators.

If the workers of that company formed a union now, I would applaud. I would walk the picket line if they struck - a customer in total support.

This country needs a lot of "Norma Rae" moments.

https://youtu.be/bEKYfbcij-E

Expand full comment