Farewell, Shepard Smith

This was the shocking farewell sign-off by Shepard Smith last Friday at the end of his “Shepard Smith Reporting” program. As a news host at the Right-wing Trump-lackey FOX News network, he dared to go against the grain. Though a sensationalist in journalistic style, he did speak truth to power, or as close to it as it gets in the mainstream media. He was the only one at FOX who ever put Donald Trump’s lies on trial. For example, as taken from the NYT story covering Smith’s departure:

A member of the network’s founding staff in 1996, Mr. Smith became increasingly conspicuous at Fox News for his skepticism on President Trump. “Why is it lie after lie after lie?” Mr. Smith asked during a 2017 newscast; this summer, he deemed the president’s attacks on minority female lawmakers as “misleading and xenophobic.”

In a separate article in the Times, they covered in-fighting between personalities at the self-proclaimed”fair and balanced”news outlet. Smith had even been clashing with FOX talking head Tucker Carlson on air (And now this only leaves poor Juan Williams, best known for his presence on “The Five”, straying from the lock-step behind Trump and his revolting march towards infamy).

Do not get me wrong, there are absolutely no real mainstream Left-wing news outlets here in the U.S. But in the battle that joins liberals and far-leftists together against FOX News, we lost an ally.

To Vote or Not to Vote?

voteOne weekend about a month ago, on MSNBC’s weekend roundtable show “Up with Steve Kornacki”, Mr. Kornacki interviewed former liberal Representative from Massachusetts Barney Frank. They were discussing the difference between the liberal “Occupy” movement vs. the conservative “Tea Party” movement and their affect on Washington. During the discussion Rep. Frank  stated something I found profound:

“The Left march, the Right votes.”

This statement shook me because I have never voted. I feel that no politician has yet to earn my vote. Both the Democrats and the GOP offer no real, meaningful solutions to our societal problems. They do not offer serious proposals for change, such as addressing the state of inequality between the rich and poor here in the U.S. and around the globe, or the problem of minority discrimination, or general issues of injustice. They are identical in this problem.

So what to do? The Tea Party has had success in affecting change within the narrow confines of power between two extremely similar ideologies in Washington. But so what? Should we then just take what we can and vote for Democratic candidates?

Today I want to propose the first Sparking The Left poll for our readers to participate in and we would love to read your comments on the issue, too: Should we vote for liberal candidates or not at all until a real voice for change can bare a real chance at winning office?


Fewer Americans Identifying as Conservative and 8 Polls on Economics Proving It’s Even Fewer Than Indicated

Gallup’s annual Values and Beliefs poll was released this week with the results showing the gap between those identifying as conservative and those identifying as liberal is closing greatly.  In particular, the gap on economic issues shrank quite a bit, as reported by Al Jazeera:

With respect to economic issues, 42 percent identified as conservative, 34 percent said they were moderate and 21 percent identified as liberal. While conservative economic identification remains dominant, the 21 percent advantage over liberals is much lower than in 2010, when the conservative advantage was 36 percent.

The 21%, however, seems artificially small, especially when we consider views on many economic issues.  It seems clear that much of what is actually liberal policy is not recognized as such.  The example of the older gentleman at the town hall meeting angrily saying the government needs to keep its hands off of his Medicare comes to mind here.  Let’s take a look at some polling data to drive the point home.

Progressive Taxes on the Wealthy

61% believe the rich are taxed too little, a number that has rarely fallen below 60% in the past two decades.  This is a clear indication of two liberal perspectives.  One, a majority are supporting a progressive tax system over the idea of a flat tax, which is just another give away to the wealthy.  And two, a majority believe some taxes are not high enough, a position commonly demonized by the right.

Minimum Wage

Roughly 70% believe the minimum wage should be increased and should be increased along with the inflation rate.  Just like taxes on the wealthy, this is also an endorsement of two liberal perspectives.

Government Job Creation

Over 70% are in favor of the government spending more to create jobs in areas like infrastructure, something that is easy to believe people have taken for granted at this point (roads, bridges, clean water, etc.) despite falling on the liberal side of the fence.

Saving Social Security

Whether Social Security was considered a social or economic issue in the Gallup poll, I’m not sure.  And it goes without saying, it’s socialism and a liberal position itself, one that a large majority of Americans favor.  But it has some small long-term problems that can be fixed rather easily and this is where the liberal economic position wins again and wins by a lot.  The two most strongly supported ideas to keep Social Security stable pretty much for good are both liberal: raising the payroll tax or lifting the payroll tax cap (both 60+% in favor).

Free Trade

You have to dig slightly deeper on this issue to get the reality, which is heavy support for the more liberal side.  Taking a look at China, people might be okay with free trade but in a more conditional way.  Over 80% support getting tougher with China on trade which could easily be coupled with large majorities wanting the U.S. to push China harder on human rights and environmental issues.

Business Regulation

In this case, pluralities (not necessarily majorities, in the interest of fairness) favor regulation on business and believe the government should carry out this task.  In addition, a plurality believes regulation on the financial industry did not go far enough after the 2008 crisis.  While these might be just below majorities, the numbers are still well above the 21% of people in the Gallup poll identifying as liberal.

Deficit Cuts

In the debate on reducing the deficit, liberal thought wins again.  Large majorities favored keeping liberal programs like Social Security and Medicare (69% in favor) and spending on the poor (59%) as is while asking for cuts to a conservative favorite, military spending (51%).

Wall Street Bailouts

This one is a little tricky for a few reasons, but let me explain.  First off, the bailouts are a liberal action since conservative policy is (and initially was) to let them fail and let the economy crash into complete oblivion, which would have been catastrophic.  Second, most people aren’t going to pay too much attention to this area of regulation unless the excrement hits the fan, as it did in September of 2008.  Third, and related to the last point, public attention to economic issues in September 2008 had double from the year before so the attention at the time of the bailouts was certainly there.  And what did all that lead to: 57% in favor of the government stepping in to keep the market from getting worse and only 30% opposed.  The point here is when things go bad in the economy, the public looks to the government to stop the bleeding and is okay with a heavy government hand in the marketplace when necessary.

21% of the public identifying as economically liberal-minded certainly seems low according to all of these poll numbers.  We have to assume that number will likely grow as more people become aware of what is and what is not liberal economic policy and become less afraid to identify with it.

The Myths of Inner-City Black Culture

leadA good, almost prose piece in The Atlantic that tackles the myths regarding the so-called “cultural pathology” of inner-city black culture and its pervasiveness across the politically-ideological spectrum.

Read Here.


Liberals/Progressives Not Leftist Tea Party Members

9aaac1e47A really good article in The Atlantic that contrasts the liberal/progressive members of the Democratic Party and the GOP’s Tea Party. It explains how they play differing roles within each side of the aisle and includes other great analyses with neat graphs.

My only issue with this article is that they do not put forth a good definition of liberal/progressive members of the Democratic Party when the Tea Party Republicans have defined themselves so clearly. They need this definition to accompany the included graphs.

Read Here.