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.

Don’t Be Distracted by This Bourgeois Drama!

If you have been paying attention to the mainstream media over the last week or two you know that the usual outlets are running around with their hair on fire over Pres. Trump getting dirt on Joe Biden from the Ukrainian government. Now with all the evidence I have seen and read, it’s almost undeniable that Trump is guilty of what he is accused of.

That said, the GOP is now busy attacking the non-Rupert Murdoch owned media outlets of being part of a larger deep state conspiracy against Trump and the Right-wing, in general. And, of course, the progressives refute this argument saying FOX News and their print and online cronies are serving as “state media” in the service of the present administration.

Now this is a great soap opera for all of us to watch (I am guilty, too). But it’s sucking up all the oxygen in the mass media coverage of the world. What needs to be covered by the mainstream press is even being pushed further to the margins. This infighting between bourgeois puppets should not be covered. The real story is socio-economic status conflicts all but ignored by the bourgeois media.

I know that before this latest row the mainstream press has never given the proper coverage to the issues that really matter. I’m talking about issues from the astronomical prices of prescription drugs here in the U.S. to the effects of neoliberal policies on the Third World.

The essence of my argument is that the mainstream/bourgeois media currently have a godsend in the form of a juicy drama between bourgeois actors in a bourgeois arena. But it would be completely outside of that arena for CNN or MSNBC to cover issues in the interest of the people.

All this media coverage is drama, not important news to us. Don’t let it fool you. Keep your eye on the prize: media serving the interests of the working class. The rest is just games.

NYT: Many Top Corps Paying 0% Taxes Driving Some to Far Left Organization

We want what the people want:

Mr. Robertson, the carpet cleaner, has his own idea: nationalizing the companies. “I think forcing them to pay higher alone is inefficient,” he said, “and taxation alone is inefficient.”

www.nytimes.com/2019/04/29/us/politics/democrats-taxes-2020.html

“False Consciousness” Through Tucker Carlson

If you are not familiar with the Marxist concept of “false consciousness” and you hate FOX News, this is the post for you.

Below is a video from Vox.com that exposes that ridiculous man Tucker Carlson who hosts a nightly prime time “news” show over at FOX News for what he is: master of redirection. Now the art of redirection I am speaking of is called “false consciousness” if you haven’t heard it already from a Marxist or a sociology teacher…wait!

Before I get to far, let this entertaining and informative short vid from Vox explain it in a much more fun way [we need more laughter over here at STL]…

Let’s Give Them A Push: Americans Already Favor Near Far-Left Policies

As I have mentioned before, I consume a good amount of mainstream news to keep a finger on the pulse of what the American people are learning. And what I have learned is that the American people are much more favorable to far leftist policies than the pundits and “anchors” would have you believe.

Notice these two linked articles below, one from Fortune and one from FOX News:

“Support for raising taxes is widespread, according to a new poll, which found that 76% of registered voters want the wealthiest Americans to pay more.”

http://fortune.com/2019/02/04/support-for-tax-increase-on-wealthy-americans-poll/

“Voters prefer increasing spending on domestic programs over cutting taxes and reducing spending, and their preferred way to finance that spending — is tax the wealthy.”
https://www.foxnews.com/politics/fox-news-poll-voters-favor-taxing-the-wealthy-increasing-domestic-spending


This is completely contradictory to the picture painted by the entertainers on cable news that is brushed every night. These supposed “news shows” would have you believe that such opinions are too far to the left to be held by the citizens of the United States. But as you can see from the objective measures quoted/linked above, one of the main tenets of the rad left platform is favored: redistribution of wealth through a strong state.

Now notice these two linked articles on healthcare policy in the U.S.:

“Six-in-ten Americans say it is the federal government’s responsibility to make sure all Americans have health care coverage, including 31% who support a “single payer” approach to health insurance, according to a new national survey by Pew Research Center.”
https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/10/03/most-continue-to-say-ensuring-health-care-coverage-is-governments-responsibility/

“Some 56% of respondents said they favor Medicare-for-all, in which all Americans would get their insurance from a single government plan.”
https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/23/politics/kaiser-medicare-for-all-poll/index.html

Universal healthcare is right within our grasp.

As I have put forth in past posts, in Chomsky’s “Manufacturing Consent”, the news media only allows a spectrum of valid opinions and political stances the rich and powerful deem acceptable. That’s why the news media is center-right. The talking heads dismiss polling results that are too threatening to those in power. They are dismissed by political commentators as “pony promises” if endorsed by a candidate.

Sure, these opinions are not exactly pure Marxist reforms, but it shows that the people could be exposed to far-left ideas not too much further to the left than the ones they already possess. Taxing the rich at a high rate, and Medicare-for-All is not too far from the redistribution of wealth and universal healthcare coverage. There’s an opening there.

In conclusion, polls show that the American people are far further to the left than the news media would have you believe. And this is a function of the breath of the spectrum of acceptable political opinions sanctioned by the rich and powerful. The people are closer to a positive view of the far-left than you would believe. Let’s expose them to it through various forms of organizing and propaganda and let’s see what happens.

Proposed Tax On Million Dollar Living Spaces Serving As Second Home

“For properties valued between $5 million and $6 million, a 0.5 percent surcharge would be added on the value over $5 million. Fees and a higher surcharge would apply to homes that sold for more than $6 million, topping out at a $370,000 fee and a 4 percent surcharge for homes valued at more than $25 million.”

This would be huge in NYC where so many high end living spaces remain empty for they are just investments.

Would be great for a subway system revamp, and any leftover for remedying the housing crisis there.

www.nytimes.com/2019/03/11/nyregion/mta-subways-pied-a-terre-tax.html

Expanding the Mainstream Media Spectrum to the Far Left

I watch and read a lot of mainstream news right now because that is what the public consumes. Now there are great leftist media sources out there I like to watch/read, such as DemocracyNow!, Libcom.org, or even the centrist PBS Newshour. But most Americans do not watch or listen to those outlets. What they do read/watch is FOX News, CNN.com, and whatever else flows across their social media news feeds. And the one thing I observe in the mainstream media most glaringly in terms of a leftist movement is the argument made by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky in their classic analysis “Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media.”

Herman and Chomsky argue in MC that there is only so wide of a spectrum of allowable opinions which can be covered and/or expressed by journalists and/or pundits. E.g., The “Medicare-for-All” movement which, I admit, has finally started to squeeze in to the margins of discourse, has been outside of the spectrum of possibilities for decades. The journalists and pundits always put forth the arguments that it would be too expensive, or that it would lead down the slippery slope towards Soviet-style communism. But according to a Nov. 7, 2018, AP poll, nearly 6 in 10 voters said it should be the responsibility of the federal government to make sure that all Americans have health care coverage. So, the majority of people want, following that simple logic, a Medicare-For-All law, a public option, or a fully socialized healthcare system. And even though all other industrialized countries have healthcare provided to there citizens by the government, it has always been off the spectrum of acceptable media discourse here in the U.S. until the last few months, I estimate.

Therefore, leftists must widen that spectrum to the left the best ways we can. Rather it be on a blog, or podcast, or through social media, we must provide an alternative to the mainstream news because we mostly control these media. Even though we can complain about FB or Twitter suspending accounts in the name of “proper discourse,” it’s still the Wild West out there. If we spread the word, like what has happened with Bernie Sanders’ supporters who first argued for Medicare-for-All in 2016, we can expand the spectrum. But this will be tough, e.g, the public has supported stricter gun laws for decades, yet NRA lobbyists keep it taboo on the GOP congressional floor. But if we remain tenacious in our efforts, we can affectively expand the mainstream media’s spectrum of acceptable discourse.

The mainstream media is influenced by blog posts and Tweets, if even subconsciously through retweets and responses read by readers, but do not think it is going to happen overnight. Yet it shouldn’t be given up on by good radical leftists all over the world.

Yes, Ms. Burns, Let’s Tax the Hell Out of the Rich!

The headline reads above an article from the leftist publication “In These Times”, published on February 8th, 2019, by Rebecca Burns, “Tax the Hell Out of the Rich, When They’re Alive and When They’re Dead.” Without saying, I was already on-board.

What the article outlines is a comparison of the three proposed ways that Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Sen. Bernie Sanders want to create a fairer tax system for the 99%. Here’s the rundown:

First Warren’s plan

…(A) 1 percent tax on the wealthiest 0.1 percent, or those with assets of over $20 million. Warren’s proposal would tax fewer people—those with more than $50 million in assets, an estimated 75,000 families—but she would bump up the rate to 2 percent. Households with more than $1 billion in assets would get a 3 percent rate.

Yet,

Where Warren’s proposal would probably be insufficient on its own is that it wouldn’t offer a particularly aggressive corrective to inequality over time. It would raise trillions for social programs, which is crucially important and would certainly have other beneficial political effects. But, as a result of the tax, the fabulously wealthy would be only slightly less fabulously so.

But right now, correcting the immense rate of economic inequality in American society is not going to fix itself with one tax plan. So, don’t get down, writer Rebecca Burns. That’s going to take something truly radical to happen (hint, hint).

Second, AOC’s plan as outlined in a “60 Minutes” interview,

“You look at our tax rates back in the ’60s and when you have a progressive tax rate system. Your tax rate, you know, let’s say, from zero to $75,000 may be ten percent or 15 percent, et cetera. But once you get to, like, the tippy tops—on your 10 millionth dollar—sometimes you see tax rates as high as 60 or 70 percent.”

But,

By even the most optimistic estimates, this would bring in only a quarter of the revenues Warren’s plan would generate.

So, once again, it will not cure the economic inequality in our society as Warren’s will neither. Yet, it is a starting point and one that may be more palatable to everyday-progressives.

And lastly, the Sander’s plan,

Bernie Sanders’ plan involves restoring top marginal tax rates on inheritances to where they were in the 1970s: 77 percent for estates over $1 billion.

The plan would also decrease the threshold for the inheritance tax from $11.18 million to $3.5 million and impose a 45 percent rate on this lower (but still very rich by any normal standard) tier. Even with this new threshold, just 0.2 percent of Americans would ever pay an estate tax. Thus, in the style of Occupy, the plan is called “For the 99.8 Percent Act.”

Yet,

Again, Sanders’ plan would probably raise less revenue than Warren’s: About $315 billion over a decade.

Then it continues,

But by taking aim at the ultra-rich as a class, it also singles out the kind of dynastic wealth that allows a few families to wreak havoc on our political system. Just three families with multi-generational wealth—the Waltons, the Kochs, and the Mars—have a combined fortune of $343 billion, more than 3.5 million times the median wealth of U.S. families. And they use that wealth to fund all manner of right-wing policies.

The Sanders plan makes the least revenue for the government and will not even come within seeing distance to the eradication of the exspanse of inequality in the United States. But it could be the most acceptable not only to progressives but even centrists if the argument is framed properly by Sanders.

What I am trying to do up above is, first and foremost, to educate everyone on the strides made by modern politicians (two of the three deeming themselves so-called “socialists”) towards income equality which would have been unimaginable 10 years ago. It’s almost amazing, when you really think about it.

Yet my main point comes out of the analysis of the Warren plan, namely, that her plan is the most effective regarding a shrinking of the income gap in this country, but it does not really even make a scratch. As Burns was writing above, “the fabulously wealthy would be only slightly less fabulously so.” That’s all. And this is the reason why we need real change in this nation. We need real radical leftists in power, not just democratic socialists, but real revolutionary thinkers. That is the only way to get any immediate help with the income gap in the U.S. and, later, around the world.

So, I am greatly impressed with the ITT article by Burns in that, first, it has a cool title and, secondly, she respects that even these so-called sweeping tax plans will not truly affect the disparity between the rich and the poor in this nation.

But it’s a start…now let us take advantage of it.

Leftist Revolution: How to Run The Initial Days

In my previous post, I expressed the opinion that a major mistake made by Communist nations, both past and present, is that they moved too fast to make radical economic changes after their respective revolutions. Stalin’s “Five Year Plans”, Mao’s “Great Leap Forward”, and the very radical economic and societal moves made by Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge left tens of millions dead. What I propose instead is that once a revolution is won here in the U.S., and a vanguard/transition party is established, we then move slowly into a socialist system.

Now, we can make major societal changes regarding human rights issues like LGBTQ issues, women’s equality and abortion rights, and of course, minority rights. And we should also start socializing major industries, like utility companies, the medical system, and other day-to-day human rights issues. But the last thing we want to do is something as radical as eliminating the money-based system or forcing people into collectives.

The reason for this is because the people are not yet informed about the nature of the Socialist/Communist system as of today. We need to create a new hegemonic culture based on equality and the new government-to-citizen relationship first. Italian scholar and Communist Antonio Gramsci iwrote about how capitalism is the hegemonic culture. So everything we know is based on that brutal system and, therefore, it is hard to think outside of it, especially in America where the entire history of our young nation is nothing but capitalism. We don’t have the history of a feudal system. Other nations do. So they have something to fall back on, culturally. So that’s why we need a vanguard/transitional party so immensely.

In conclusion, we must make a gradual change in our economic system. This will help the masses ease into a new leftist system. I arrived at this notion because, according to scholars, it took France’s democratic system to work itself out all the way from the storming of the Bastille in 1789, until 1898. So we must be patient and live with a gradual economic change. Plus, Ionce comfortable with the socialist system, the masses can then move into a Communist system for they will be educated in terms of the next steps towards emancipation.

So we cannot have a radical economic change in the U.S. after a far left revolution. The people need to be eased into a new system. Then we will be ready for a Communist system in the a post-socialist stage… even if it takes 100 years.

Communism: Learning from the Past and Present

As I have put forth in my previous posts, a socialist government is the best political system to be realized today in the interests of the 99%. But if we are going to move towards having the power taken back from the rich and given to its rightful owners, the workers, we must avoid making the mistakes made by Communist countries today and in the past.

One of the most dangerous actions taken by the radical leftist governments of the past is that they tried to realize unrealistic goals too soon. E.g., China had its “Great Leap Forward,” the Soviets under Stalin always put forth these “5 Year Plans” that hurt the Russian people at the hands of Stalin’s vain attempts at greatness, and the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia killed over a million of their countrymen partially due to economic reforms. And these often just occurred to catch up with capitalist countries in the areas of industry, science, military, and infrastructurevtoo fast. Foolish.

The are two reasons why this is true, namely:

  1. Revolutionaries have no idea how to run a country. This often leads to unspeakable hardships and suffering for the reasons mentioned above in the pursuit of grand ideals.
  2. The three countries outlined above, i.e., Stalin’s Soviet Union, Mao’s China, and the Khmer Rouge’s Cambodia, were ruled under brutal dictators, or very small groups of leaders, who ran authoritarian governments. They involved purges, gulags, and mass murders of so-called “enemies of the people.” And these things are still taking place in North Korea under the rule of the Kim family and their latest criminal, thug leader, Kim Jong Un.

But in terms of the socialist experiment in Cuba, we could learn a lot of positive things from them. The U.S. capitalist media would have you believe that the Castros are no different than Stalin or Un, but what they don’t report are the great strides towards equality taking place in the small island country. E.g., they have redistributed land to the peasants through land reform. Once the Cuban peasants were slaves to rich plantation owners, but as a result of the revolution, the land owned by the corporations and plantation owners has now been divided amongst the people who work the land. And that is just one example of the successful reforms. They have also gotten away from just being a sugar-dominated economy and even become a powerhouse in the research and development of new medicines that are often purchased, yes, by the U.S. government.

Yet this has succeeded by not having some grand goal of building a developing country into a society where they are immediately just as technologically advanced as  the U.S. These are examples of how ideas and policies could be learned from a socialist society to be translated instilled in a more equal America.

So in conclusion, the brutality of Stalin’s Soviet Union, Mao’s China, and Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge is due to harsh authoritarian governments, not an attempted realization of a fully socialist society. These dictatorships had vain rulers trying to advance mostly Third-World countries into global players too fast. Yet we can look to somewhere like Cuba for positive ideas to enact here in the U.S. in pursuit of a more egalitarian society.