Monday, February 28, 2011

Randi Rhodes: Solidarity

Over the weekend there were rallies in all 50 states in support of the workers in Wisconsin (photos). The Republicans have finally united the people of America—standing up to the Republicans. People all across America are coming together to support the workers in Wisconsin. The problem is coming up with a snappy solidarity slogan. “We’re all Cheeseheads now” just doesn’t have that heroic “Joe Hill” ring to it.

Despite the threat of arrest, about 600 protesters chose to stay in the Wisconsin state capitol while it was being cleaned on Sunday evening. I think Scott Walker was literally trying to mop up the protesters. Walker’s theory must have been, if you can’t use tear gas on the protesters, see if you can get them to leave by using the smell of Lysol. No bedrolls or backpacks were allowed when people came back into the building today. Scott Walker is treating the protesters the same way he’s treating state workers—he knows he can’t get totally rid of them, but he’s doing everything he can to make them uncomfortable.

The hacker activist group “Anonymous” is trying to organize a boycott of the Koch brothers’ products. One of the Koch’s biggest products is toilet paper. There’s your boycott slogan—“I wouldn’t even wipe my ass with Koch brothers products!” Koch paper products also include Brawny paper towels. That’s right, the Koch brothers are behind the Brawny guy, the gayest advertising icon in the world. So if you want to join the boycott, you’ll have to find a different paper towel with a gay spokesperson. Maybe it’s time for Bounty’s Rosie to come out of the closet.

Finally, Charlie Sheen is demanding a big raise, or he won’t come back to “Two And A Half Men.” At the very least, Charlie Sheen has been acting so childish that, if he does come back, they should change the name of the show to “One and Two Half Men.” Or “Jon Cryer, A Kid, And A Big Baby.”

Today’s Homework | Discuss

The plan to try to get the Oscars to appeal to younger viewers by having James Franco and Anne Hathaway co-host just ended up turning off viewers of all ages. A few reasons why:

Thom Hartmann: Governor Walker...but Wait! There's More...

ThinkProgress has pointed out some lesser-known provisions that Scott Walker and his Republican colleagues are trying to slip through the state legislature that should worry many Wisconsinites. Even if protestors successfully defend their rights to collectively bargain - they still have to deal with a GOP-led assault on the several health, environmental, and economic programs including a bill that will allow the state's uber-conservative Health and Human Services Secretary to override state Medicaid laws to make deep cuts into the critical health care program.

There's also legislation that will exempt local governments from having to disinfect their waters - and a similar bill that exempts large tracts of wetlands from environmental oversight. It just so happens that many of those wetlands are owned by a rich Republican about cronyism.

The GOP wants Wisconsin voters to have to show an ID when they vote from now on - a move that could disenfranchise many elderly, urban, and low-income voters.

And finally - there are two bills that drastically increase Governor Walker's powers, including giving him authority to write rules for the state's ethics watchdog agency - and allowing Walker to turn 37 state civil servants into political appointees thus politicizing critical social services.

What we're seeing in Wisconsin is not the agenda of a Republican governor - it's the agenda of a radical autocrat. And if Walker is successful - Wisconsin is screwed.


(What next? Tell us here.)

Who Owns the U.S.? by Greg Bocquet

provided by

Regardless of how much closer Obama's budget brings our economy into a balance of payments not seen since 2001, we will continue to run deficits for the next decade, and the national debt will keep growing every year that happens.

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While most of the country's $14 trillion debt is held by private banks in the U.S., the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve Board estimate that, as of December, about $4.4 trillion of it was held by foreign governments that purchase our treasury securities much as an investor buys shares in a company and comes to own his or her little chunk of the organization.

Looking at the list of our top international creditors, a few overall characteristics show some interesting trends: Three of the top 10 spots are held by China and its constituent parts, and while two of our biggest creditors are fellow English-speaking democracies, a considerable share of our debt is held by oil exporters that tend to be decidedly less friendly in other areas of international relations.

Here we break down the top 10 foreign holders of U.S. debt, comparing each creditor's holdings with the equivalent chunk of the United States they "own," represented by the latest (2009) state gross domestic product data released by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Obviously, these creditors won't actually take states from us as payment on our debts, but it's fun to imagine what states and national monuments they could assert a claim to.

©Radar Communication

1. Mainland China

Amount of U.S. debt: $891.6 billion

Share of total foreign debt: 20.4%

Building on the holdings of its associated territories, China is undisputedly the largest holder of U.S. foreign debt in the world. Accounting for 20.4% of the total, mainland China's $891.6 billion in U.S. treasury securities is almost equal to the combined 2009 GDP of Illinois ($630.4 billion) and Indiana ($262.6 billion) in 2009, a shade higher at a combined $893 billion. As President Obama -- who is from Chicago -- wrangles over his proposed budget with Congress he may be wise to remember that his home city may be at stake in the deal.

2. Japan

Amount of U.S. debt: $883.6 billion

Share of total foreign debt: 20.2%

The runner-up on the list of our most significant international creditors goes to Japan, which accounts for over a fifth of our foreign debt holdings with $883.6 billion in U.S. treasury securities. That astronomical number is just shy of the combined GDP of a significant chunk of the lower 48: Minnesota ($260.7 billion), Wisconsin ($244.4 billion), Iowa ($142.3 billion) and Missouri ($239.8 billion) produced a combined output of $887.2 billion in 2009.

3. United Kingdom

Amount of U.S. debt: $541.3 billion

Share of total foreign debt: 12.4%

At number three on the list is perhaps our closest ally on the world stage, the United Kingdom (which includes the British provinces of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man). The U.K. holds $541.3 billion in U.S. foreign debt, which is 12.4% of our total external debt. That amount is equivalent to the combined GDP of two East Coast manufacturing hubs, Delaware ($60.6 billion) and New Jersey ($483 billion) -- which was named, yes, after the island of Jersey in the English Channel. The two states' combined output in 2009 came to $543.6 billion.

[World's Most Innovative Companies]

4. Oil Exporters

Amount of U.S. debt: $218 billion

Share of total foreign debt: 5%

Another grouped entry, the oil exporters form another international bloc with money to burn. The group includes 15 countries as diverse as the regions they represent: Ecuador, Venezuela, Indonesia, Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Gabon, Libya, and Nigeria. As a group they hold 5% of all American foreign debt, with a combined $218 billion of U.S. treasury securities in their own treasuries. That's roughly equivalent to the combined 2009 GDP of Nebraska ($86.4 billion) and Kansas ($124.9 billion), which seems to be an equal trade: The two states produce a bunch of grain for export, which many of the arid oil producers tend to trade for oil.

©MS Illustration/Public Domain

5. Brazil

Amount of U.S. debt: $180.8 billion

Share of total foreign debt: 4.1%

Rounding out the top five is the largest economy in South America, Brazil. The country known for its beaches, Carnaval and the unbridled hedonism that goes along with both has made a big investment in the U.S., buying up $180.8 billion in American debt up to December. That's almost equal to the $180.5 billion combined GDP of Idaho ($54 billion) and Nevada ($126.5 billion), a state that is no stranger to hedonism itself.

6. Caribbean Banking Centers

Amount of U.S. debt: $155.6 billion

Share of total foreign debt: 3.6%

You have to have cash on hand to buy up U.S. government debt, and offshore banking has given six countries the combined capital needed to make the Caribbean Banking Centers our sixth-largest foreign creditor. The Treasury Department counts the Bahamas, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, the Netherlands Antilles, Panama and the British Virgin Islands in this designation, which as a group holds $155.6 billion in U.S. treasury securities. That's equivalent to the GDP of landlocked Kentucky ($156.6 billion), whose residents may not actually mind if they were ever to become an extension of some Caribbean island paradise.

[The Top Franchises For the Money]

7. Hong Kong

Amount of U.S. debt: $138.2 billion

Share of total foreign debt: 3.2%

At No. 7 on the list of our foreign creditors is Hong Kong, a formerly British part of China that maintains a separate government and economic ties than the communist mainland. With $138.2 billion in U.S. treasury securities, the capitalist enclave could lay claim to Yellowstone Park and our nation's capital: The combined GDP of Wyoming ($37.5 billion) and Washington D.C. ($99.1 billion) totaled $136.6 billion in 2009.

©MS Illustration/Public Domain

8. Canada

Amount of U.S. debt: $134.6 billion

Share of total foreign debt: 3.1%

They say that a friend in need is a friend indeed, and our neighbor to the north has proven to be a kind and generous creditor in our time of financial need. Canada holds about 3.1% of our foreign debt, or $134.6 billion. If friend were to become enemy and Canada were looking to annex some U.S. land to cover the debt though, the country would have an easy time of it. The combined GDP of Maine ($51.3 billion), New Hampshire ($59.4 billion) and Vermont ($25.4 billion) comes close to Canada's debt holdings at $136.1 billion.

Residents of the three states in our extreme northeast corner should start practicing their French: They might become Québécois one of these days.

9. Taiwan

Amount of U.S. debt: $131.9 billion

Share of total foreign debt: 3.0%

Taiwan, an island barely 100 miles off the coast of China, is claimed by the People's Republic of China, despite having its own government and economic relations with the outside world. Part of those economic relations includes the island's holding of $131.9 billion of U.S. debt, roughly equivalent to the combined GDP of West Virginia ($63.3 billion) and Hawaii ($66.4 billion), which totals $129.7 billion.

Unless we get our spending in check, we risk losing some of our most visually stunning territory (West Virginia, obviously) to our friendly neighbors on the other side of the Pacific Ocean.

10. Russia

Amount of U.S. debt: $106.2 billion

Share of total foreign debt: 2.4%

Starting off the list of our major foreign creditors is Russia, which holds about 2.4% of the U.S. debt pie that sits on the international dinner table. Its $106.2 billion in treasury securities is equivalent to the 2009 GDP of our sparsely populated North: The combined output of North Dakota ($31.9 billion), South Dakota ($38.3 billion) and Montana ($36 billion) matches up nicely with the Russian holdings, at $106.2 billion.

Let's hope Russian president Dmitry Medvedev doesn't come to collect.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Randi Rhodes: Shame & Crazy

It’s Friday, ya bastids!

Well, the Wisconsin Assembly pushed through Scott Walker’s union-busting bill in the wee hours of this morning, when nobody is awake, except possibly Charlie Sheen. OK, definitely Charlie Sheen. More on that later.

Nationwide protests tomorrow!

Meanwhile, Wisconsin Governor Walker’s budget cuts could mean school budget reductions as much as $500 per student. Glenn Beck is going to have more of a budget for chalk and chalkboards than most schools in Wisconsin will have. They’re going to end up with classes so big that they’ll exceed the number of people that the fire code allows in the classroom. It’s a good thing there won’t be anybody to enforce the fire code either.

Overseas, Muammar Gadhafi is going more and more daffy. (Say it out loud.) He made a bizarre and rambling phone call to Libyan state television. Libyan television needs call screeners to weed out the real nut cases. As soon as someone says that they are Muammar Gadhafi, you know it’s either someone pretending to be Gadhafi, in which case they’re probably crazy, or it really is Gadhafi, in which case they’re definitely crazy. Gadhafi said that Al Qaeda was giving young people hallucinatory drugs. Wow. There’s one that even the conservatives in the US didn’t think of—linking Islamic terrorism with the hippies and their LSD! Hardcore Islamists want to turn the US into a caliphate, and they’re going to do it with Phish concerts! Gadhafi literally said “they put hallucinatory pills in their drinks, their milk, their coffee, their Nescafe.” OK… so what we thought was a political uprising is really just the Electric Nescafe Acid Test.

In news of crazy people who aren’t running states or countries, Charlie Sheen called an LA radio show, and proceeded to vent in an 18 minute rambling screed that really can probably only be translated by Gadhafi himself. All he needed was Nightranger’s “Sister Christian” playing in the background while a Filipino guy lights firecrackers. Wow. There’s “drunk dialing.” I think what we have here is a case of “half-the-cocoa-crop-of-Bolivia-dialing.” Or else it sounds like somebody has been drinking too much of the Nescafe.

Today’s Homework | Discuss

Wisconsin Assembly Democrats erupted and shouted “Shame!” at exiting Republicans after they rammed through the anti-union bill at 1:00am this morning…

Thom Hartmann: What's the point in lobbying politicians - when you can just BUY politicians?

The American Petroleum Institute - the largest lobbying organization for big oil polluters - announced yesterday they would start contributing to political candidates this year in preparation for the 2012 elections. The executive vice president for government affairs at API said about the announcement, "This is adding one more tool to our the end of the day, our mission is trying to influence the policy debate." It's perhaps more than a coincidence that API made this announcement on the heels of President Obama announcing he will pursue cutting oil subsidies - a policy that the API said was, "a bad idea."

This isn't the first time the API has gotten in the game of politics. Last year - Greenpeace uncovered an internal memo at API revealing the organization attacked environmental regulation by creating and funding a fake grassroots movement. At the same time - API spent nearly $7 million lobbying Members of Congress in 2010. But of course - after Citizens United - what's the point in lobbying politicians - when you can just BUY politicians.

And I think these guys are going for the big fish - they want the presidency.


(Is there any likely presidential candidate they won;t be able to buy? Tell us here.)

Rally to Save the American Dream

AMERICA: Rallies to support the Wisconsin protesters happening TOMORROW, 2/26, in all 50 states!

Rally to Save the American Dream

In Wisconsin and around our country, the American Dream is under fierce attack. Instead of creating jobs, Republicans are giving tax breaks to corporations and the very rich—and then cutting funding for education, police, emergency response, and vital human services.

On Saturday, February 26, at noon local time, we are organizing rallies in front of every statehouse and in every major city to stand in solidarity with the people of Wisconsin. We demand an end to the attacks on worker's rights and public services across the country. We demand investment, to create decent jobs for the millions of people who desperately want to work. And we demand that the rich and powerful pay their fair share.

We are all Wisconsin. We are all Americans.

This Saturday, we will stand together to Save the American Dream. Be sure to wear Wisconsin Badger colors—red and white—to show your solidarity. Sign up today to join in!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Randi Rhodes: Governor Punking

Hour One Guest: Ian "David Koch" Murphy, editor in chief of and the man behind the prank call to Gov. Scott Walker.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker fell for a prank phone call (listen). Just how dumb is this guy? They should have seen how far they could have pushed that envelope. Ask him if his refrigerator is running. The important thing is that this prank phone call exposed the pranks Scott Walker is perpetrating on the people of Wisconsin. A website editor pretending to be billionaire David Koch got Governor Walker to talk to him for 20 minutes. You think that would be a clue for the governor right there. The real David Koch wouldn’t have 20 minutes to waste on a minor lackey like Scott Walker. He’s got toilet paper factories to run.

Scott Walker was supposedly not taking calls from anyone when he took this 20 minute phone call from someone he thought was David Koch. Well, maybe he’s not taking calls, but he is evidently taking orders. I’m not surprised that Walker took this call. I’m surprised he doesn’t wear an ear-piece so he can receive minute-by-minute instructions from the Koch brothers. When the fake David Koch suggested “planting some troublemakers” among the union protesters, Scott Walker admitted “we thought about that.” Of course since he thought he was talking to David Koch, it wasn’t really “admitting.” It was more like two co-conspirators talking. Walker was willing to consider planting people to provoke trouble among a peaceful crowd of protesters with their kids in strollers. That’s because conservatives have a lot to fear from peaceful protest, but a lot to gain from a riot.

A former attorney general of Wisconsin says that Scott Walker may have engaged in violations of ethics laws, election laws, and labor laws. Throw in the law of unintended consequences, too. This could require an inquiry from Wisconsin’s ethics accountability agencies… hopefully before Scott Walker de-funds all of them. Right now, Wisconsin state government is accountable only to the Koch brothers.

By the way, when the Koch impersonator said MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski is a fine piece of ass, Governor Walker didn’t object. Maybe he was just being deferential to David Koch, but I think that Walker would have spoken up if Koch was talking about how nice Joe Scarborough’s ass is.

Today’s Homework | Discuss

Thom Hartmann: Two children died in a fire in Philadelphia on Tuesday - and budget cuts could be to blame

Two children died in a fire in Philadelphia on Tuesday - and budget cuts could be to blame. In an effort to cut spending - the city of Philadelphia "browned out" - or closed some of it's fire stations for a day. One of those fire stations that were closed was Engine 61 - and it just so happened to be the nearest company to the fire that killed those two children - and thus would have been first on the scene. As local firefighter Mike Cane said, "Whether...that company was in service, they would have made a difference?

Nobody can answer that...what we can say is, maybe if they were there...Maybe them kids would have had a shot." These are the real-life consequences of budget cutting.

It's time we roll back the Reagan tax cuts instead of rolling back critical funding for firefighters who keep our communities safe. The purpose of a budget is not to give tax breaks to the rich in order to screw over everyone else.


(How far back would you roll taxes? Tell us here.)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Randi Rhodes: State House Threats

Hour Two Guest: John Nichols, journalist and Wisconsin native on Gov. Walker and the on-going standoff in Madison

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker went on TV last night to talk to the people of Wisconsin. The speech boiled down to “Do what I say, and nobody gets hurt.” Walker said that if the union busting bill isn’t passed the way he wants it, he will lay off 1,500 state workers by July and another 6,000 over the next two years. I don’t want to say the speech was a threat, but Walker might as well have instructed that the bill be delivered in a plain brown envelope. All that was missing was Walker demanding a getaway vehicle. And maybe a sex-change operation for his lover.

Meanwhile, Democratic lawmakers in Indiana had to flee the state to avoid giving a union-busting bill a quorum, just like the Wisconsin Democrats. These states literally have a running budget battle. The Indiana Democrats and the Wisconsin Democrats both fled to Illinois. Illinois is going to find itself on a Republican list of state sponsors of Democratic politics. The next step will be for Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin and Indiana to call for an invasion of Illinois. They’re probably fixing the intelligence now. I wonder if Scott Walker’s plans for the Wisconsin National Guard includes extended deployments in Illinois. Get ready, Wisconsin National Guardsmen—you might be shipping out soon to Peoria.

Fox News broadcasts from the scene of the union demonstrations have been unable to avoid protesters chanting “Fox lies!” The chants were so loud that it became difficult to hear Fox’s lies. Not that the lies aren’t predictable. Now Fox News is telling its viewers that liberals are Gadhafi supporters. If you believe that one, I have a whole conspiracy theory about communists and Islamists that I’d like to sell you. In reality, George Bush restored full diplomatic relations with Libya. In 2008, George Bush became the only US President to ever speak to Muammar Gadhafi on the phone. Of course, since this is George Bush we’re talking about, there’s always the chance it was a wrong number. Why was Bush willing to speak with an autocrat who was responsible for so many human rights abuses? Maybe because that describes George Bush as well as it describes Muammar Gadhafi. At least they had things in common.

Today’s Homework | Discuss

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker fell for a prank call yesterday from BuffaloBeast editor Ian Murphy pretending to be David Koch…

Thom Hartmann: This political battle has the Koch brother’s fingerprints all over it....

Yesterday – we reported about a little known provision in Governor Walker’s anti-union bill that would allow the state to sell of publicly owned power plants to private industries if it’s “in the best interests of the state.” That provision could allow Walker to sell off power plants to one of his top political contributors – Koch Industries – and give the Koch brothers a vertical monopoly on electricity in the state – owning the production, distribution, and sale of power. We’re talking billions in higher profits. Well – now it looks like the Koch brothers may be trying to follow-up on that deal – a new Koch industries lobbying firm has just opened up in Madison – down the street from Walker’s office – employing 7 lobbyists to work with Republicans state lawmakers. And yesterday – the Koch funded Tea Party group Americans for Prosperity – announced it will begin running ads against union protestors in Wisconsin and President Obama – and the ad encourages people to, “Stand with Walker.” Just like the 2010 midterm election – this political battle has the Koch brother’s fingerprints all over it.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Randi Rhodes: Something Stinks in Cheesevill

Hour Two Guest: Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) on finding common ground between liberals and libertarians, the corporate takeover of the Tea Party, etc.

In Wisconsin, protesters are still occupying the state Capitol, and the Koch brothers are still occupying the governor’s office. The Koch brothers are the money behind the front group Americans for Prosperity, who would be more correctly named Americans for the Koch Brothers’ Prosperity. Americans for Prosperity bussed in counter-protesters to the demonstrations in Wisconsin. That has to be a long bus ride for those people—all the way to planet earth. The Koch brothers actually assembled a group of protesters to agitate for the interests of billionaires over working people like themselves. I don’t know what Koch Industries sells, but if they can sell that, they can sell anything.

Union leaders have already conceded to the Governor Scott Walker’s fiscal demands. They’re just trying to stop him from stripping their collective bargaining rights. Scott Walker doesn’t want to win the debate, he wants to end the debate. This isn’t about money, it’s about power. Well, actually it’s about the power of money.

Developing: Dems in Indiana have reportedly fled the state to stop GOP union-busting

The GOP House passed a budget bill on Friday at 4:30 a.m. Well that makes sense. 4:30 in the morning is the time you generally do things this stupid… or shameful. I’ve done some pretty twisted things at 4:30 in the morning, but I’ve never been so completely out of it that that I hurt millions of women and poor people. If the House Republicans had a shred of dignity left, they would have spent all day Saturday calling up everybody they hurt at 4:30 in the morning and apologizing. The New York Times reported “Republicans seemed to grow more excited as the final vote neared shortly after 4:30 a.m.” Growing excitement at 4:30 a.m… I think that’s usually followed by a severe nosebleed. But then to my knowledge, no coke or speed freak has ever done anything nearly this damaging in the wee hours of the morning. And I’ve watched a lot of A&E’s Intervention. Republicans were in some kind of feeding frenzy at 4:30 in the morning. Actually, the opposite of a feeding frenzy—a frenzy of pulling food out of other people’s mouths. Hello, the budget has to also go through the Senate and be signed by the President. The Republicans in the House need to realize that they can’t just dictate what’s going to happen. Who do they think they are… the Governor of Wisconsin?

And it was just a matter of time of time before the “Jasmine Revolution” reached Libya. Between yesterday’s 20-second ‘van down by the river’ speech (below) and today’s rambling diatribe, Muammar Gadhafi has already made Hosni Mubarak seem sane, rational, peace-loving and well-adjusted.

Today’s Homework | Discuss

Thom Hartmann: Could be the beginning of the end for our Democracy?

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker told the media yesterday and again this morning that he is unwilling to compromise on his so-called "budget repair" proposal that limits state workers' collective bargaining rights - essentially destroying their union. In response, the state capital in Madison has been the scene of a weeklong protest against Governor Walker and Republican state lawmakers. 14 Democratic state Senators who fled Wisconsin to prevent the bill from being passed have now reportedly raised more than $280,000 from 11,000 donors all around the country to fight for the cause.

And it appears that public opinion of Governor Walker could be slipping. According to a new poll released by the AFL-CIO - Walker's job approval rating has slipped to just 41%. Today - Republicans in the state senate will resume legislative business with or without the democrats. State senate rules require a quorum of 20 senators present to vote on fiscal legislation like Walker's budget bill - but only 17 senators are required to vote for all other matters. Since there are 19 Republicans in the senate - they have a quorum to conduct business without the minority present.

And there are talks that Walker's bill may be repackaged as non-fiscal legislation and passed this week with only the Republicans present and voting. One overlooked part of Walker's bill that could get passed solely by Republicans allows the state to sell off heating, cooling, and power plans to private companies. Guess who would benefit most from that? The Koch brothers who own several power companies in the state! The same guys who gave Walker more than $40,000 in political contributions, affiliated with the groups who laundered over $3 million through the Republican Governor's association to get Walker elected, and spent god knows how much bussing in Tea Partiers over the weekend to confront union protestors. Talk about a quid pro quo.

If Governor Walker succeeds in dismantling the unions in Wisconsin - then this could be the beginning of the end for our democracy and the rise of one-party rule in America. If you can get unions out of the way - then just the billionaires and transnational corporations are left to run politics in America. As the Middle East ascends in democracy - America descends into kleptocracy.


(Will this be the end of democracy or the end of Governor Walker? Tell us here.)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Randi Rhodes: Happy President`s Day!

“Washington’s Birthday” was first observed as a federal holiday in 1880 and was limited to Washington DC government offices. It was expanded to include all federal offices in 1885 and was celebrated on the anniversary of President Washington’s actual birthday (Feb. 22, 1732) until 1971, when the observation date was changed to the third Monday in February – ironically decreeing that the holiday would never again be celebrated on Washington’s birthday.

The official name of the federal holiday under law is still Washington’s Birthday, however because over the years several states wished to make the annual observance more inclusive of other past presidents, the more generic “Presidents’ Day” designation has taken hold in the lexicon (and in car dealership sale flyers).

George Washington died over 211 years ago, but not a day has passed without someone using some narrow part of his legacy to justify his or her own present-day political agenda. So, I will not bother piling on – instead I will use this space to share a few of President Washington’s own words…

“Every post is honorable in which a man can serve his country.”
Letter to Benedict Arnold – Sept. 14, 1775

“Example, whether it be good or bad, has a powerful influence.”
Letter to Lord Stirling – Mar. 5, 1780

“It may be laid down, as a primary position, and the basis of our system, that every citizen who enjoys the protection of a free government, owes not only a proportion of his property, but even of his personal services to the defense of it…”
Letter to Alexander Hamilton – May 2, 1783

“Democratical States must always feel before they can see: it is this that makes their Governments slow, but the people will be right at last.”
Letter to Marquis de Lafayette – July 25, 1785

“My first wish is, to see this plague of mankind banished from the earth, and the sons and daughters of this world employed in more pleasing and innocent amusements, than in preparing implements, and exercising them, for the destruction of mankind.”
1785 statement on war

"It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one."
Letter to niece, Harriet Washington – Oct. 30, 1791

“We have abundant reason to rejoice, that, in this land, the light of truth and reason has triumphed over the power of bigotry and superstition, and that every person may here worship God according to the dictates of his own heart. In this enlightened age, and in this land of equal liberty, it is our boast, that a man's religious tenets will not forfeit the protection of the laws, nor deprive him of the right of attaining and holding the highest offices that are known in the United States.”
Letter to the members of The New Church in Baltimore – Jan. 22, 1793

“Make the most of the Indian hemp seed, and sow it everywhere!”
Note to his gardener at Mount Vernon – 1794

“When one side only of a story is heard and often repeated, the human mind becomes impressed with it insensibly.”
Letter to Edmund Pendleton – Jan. 22, 1795

“Harmony, liberal intercourse with all nations, are recommended by policy, humanity, and interest.”
The Farewell Address – Sept. 17, 1796

Happy birthday, Mr. President!

Thom Hartmann: What will the world look like in 2050?

What will the world look like in 2050? Well - according to scientists attending a conference yesterday with the American Association for the Advancement of Science - the planet will be "unrecognizable." With a population over 9 billion by then - we'll have to produce more food in the next 40 years than has been produced in the last 8,000 years. And as income in the developing world is supposed to increase - more people will be eating more food - thus leading to a far higher rate of resource depletion in the world. We're in for some dark time ahead - unless we can transform our culture and try to live WITH our world - and not opposed to it.


(What do you expect the world to be like in 2050? Tell us here.)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Randi Rhodes: The People Are Coming

It's Friday, ya bastids!

In the battle of Wisconsin, Democrats have beaten a strategic retreat. Democratic legislators have fled to Illinois in order to deny the Wisconsin Senate the necessary quorum to conduct its dirty business. Think of it as a filibuster conducted with your feet. Police in Illinois, or for that matter in Wisconsin, have no authority to bring the fugitive lawmakers in. There is no crime being committed—this is an action intended to prevent a crime from being committed. You know, if these fugitive lawmakers really want to rub Governor Scott Walker’s face in it, they should submit invoices for travel per diems for the time they’re out of state.

Governor Walker says the state of Wisconsin is in a crisis. He should know—he put it there. Intentionally. Just last month, Walker gave away $140 million in tax breaks—which accounts for all of the budget shortfall Wisconsin is now facing. If Wisconsin has no money, it’s because Walker has been giving it away. Walker created an economic crisis, and now he’s trying to exploit it. It’s a smaller-scale version of what Republicans are doing by using massive tax cuts for the wealthy to say we need to slash entitlements. In reality—not a place a lot of conservatives are familiar with—Wisconsin is in better shape than most states… except for the fact that Scott Walker is the governor.

It could be worse—look at Florida, where Governor Rick Scott has rejected $2.4 billion in federal money for a high-speed rail line, essentially throwing Florida’s economic recovery off the rails. Now both Republican and Democratic lawmakers are trying to bypass Rick Scott, like they’re laying a railroad line and Rick Scott is some sort of Florida swamp that they have to find a way to cross. Hey, if America could build a Transcontinental Railroad over the Rocky Mountains, we should be able to figure out a way to build a railroad over Rick Scott’s stupid intransigence. There is already talk of a recall swirling around Rick Scott—and Florida doesn’t even have a law for recall elections... yet. Nobody ever envisioned the voters in Florida making a mistake as big as Rick Scott. Yeesh. Wouldn’t it just be easier if progressives bothered to vote in off-year elections?

Today’s Homework | Discuss

A Wisconsin teacher explains that the protests have nothing to do with paying more for her benefits – which she’ll gladly do – rather, this is just good ol’ union-busting…

Thom Hartmann: Will Governor Walker take the high road - or will he take the Hosni Mubarak road?

Democratic state senators in Wisconsin are still AWOL - preventing Republicans lawmakers from passing Governor Walker's union-busting legislation that will strip state workers of their collective bargaining rights. As one Senator told the Washington Post - "We're going to be staying away until we hear that [the Republicans] are taking the right to organize seriously." As a sign of solidarity with the 25,000 protestors who showed up outside the state capital building in Wisconsin yesterday for the third day in a row - 14 Democratic senators boarded a bus and headed across state lines to Rockford Illinois to prevent the state legislature from having a necessary quorum to hold a vote. Soon after - state troopers were dispatched to round up the Senators - but were unsuccessful - leaving Republicans to go back to the drawing board to figure out what to do next.

The stand off in Wisconsin is gaining national attention now. Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner applauded Governor Walker's efforts to bust the unions - and President Obama threw his support behind the protestors pointing out that Walker's bill amounts to "an assault on unions." A general labor strike may be what's next in the state - and as for Governor Walker - his only options are ending his war against organized labor - or calling in the national guard and declaring marital law to put an end to the protests. Will he take the high road - or will he take the Hosni Mubarak road? Similar legislation was introduced in Ohio by Republican Governor John Kasich - and now that state is seeing similar results.

Nearly 25,000 union protestors showed up outside the capital to demonstrate against THEIR governor's anti-union agenda. What we're seeing here is the overreach of power by Republicans who want one-party rule. This could be the start of the nationwide labor movement getting back its mojo - a populist similar to some of the smaller independent parts of the Tea Party - that helps Democrats take back power next year. Let's hope so.


(What do you think will influence his decision? Tell us here.)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Randi Rhodes: The Bad Ol' Days Are Back

At least Republicans are only in charge of half of the legislative branch in Washington. But what a sorry state our states our in! In Wisconsin, the bill to strip Wisconsin public employees of their collective bargaining rights passed out of committee yesterday despite massive protests. If this bill passes, massive protests will be the only voice workers have. Governor Scott Walker has threatened to the National Guard against the unions. Wow. If he’s going to call the National Guard to attack workers, I think he’s going to have to call 1925. The people of Wisconsin want a governor who attacks problems, not one who attacks the people of Wisconsin.

A group of former and current players for the Green Bay Packers issued a statement supporting the rights of the workers. And why not? The Packers are a team that’s actually named after workers in a heavily unionized industry. In fact, the two teams that made it to the Super Bowl, the Packers and the Steelers, are the only teams in the NFL named after workers… unless there are actually any professional Vikings or Giants out there.

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour is refusing to denounce his state’s plans to honor the KKK’s first Grand Wizard Nathan Bedford Forrest with a commemorative license plate. Haley Barbour wants to be president! But it’s not clear if he wants to be President Thomas Jefferson, or President Jefferson Davis. Does he honestly think he can win a general election in America after taking stances like this? Let’s pray that Haley Barbour is every bit as wrong about America as he is wrong for America.

In Florida Governor Rick Scott has rejected $2.4 billion in federal dollars to build a high-speed rail line in his state. If Rick Scott has his way, the only modern rail line in the state of Florida is going to be the monorail at Disney World. Is Rick Scott determined to keep Florida’s rail transportation system mired in the 19th century? Word to Rick Scott—the Orange Blossom Special is no longer the cutting edge of rail technology… even if it’s still a hell of a song.

Today’s Homework | Discuss

Thom Hartmann: This is all about defunding the Democratic Party and having Republicans end up with one-party rule

Protests in Wisconsin are expected to continue today for the third day in a row. Yesterday - Madison, Wisconsin was nearly shut down as ten thousand protestors assembled outside the state capital to protest Governor Scott Walker's proposal to strip state workers union of their collective bargaining powers in an effort to balance his state's budget. 40% of teachers working in the Madison school district called in sick to attend the protest - forcing the Superintendent of Schools to cancel classes.

Today's classes have also been cancelled in 15 school systems around Madison - as another couple thousand teachers are planning to show up outside the state capital again this afternoon. The reality here that everyone is missing is that Governor Walker is not facing a budget crisis at all - in fact Wisconsin is doing better fiscally than most other states in the nation. And a memo by the state's Legislative Fiscal Bureau showed that Wisconsin is actually facing a budget SURPLUS at the end of the year - not a deficit that would require painful cuts.

Governor Walker is telling a lie about his state's fiscal situation in order to justify busting unions. It's a classic Republican union-busting thug strategy that's been going on for centuries, but went on steroids since Ronald Reagan. They're doing it because Unions are most often major campaign supporters for Democrats - both in cash and feet on the ground.

This is all about defunding the Democratic Party and having Republicans end up with one-party rule - and we can't let Wisconsin's governor get away with it.


(Is he going to get away with it? Tell us here.)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Randi Rhodes: So Be It

Heard the latest quip from John Boehner? “In the last two years, under President Obama, the federal government has added 200,000 new federal jobs. If some of those jobs are lost, so be it.” (video below) So be it? I don’t know who writes this stuff for him, but I suspect they must be secretly on the DNC payroll. Maybe that was the merlot talking. If so, somebody needs to get the merlot on the distribution list for the talking points. Boehner was talking about the effect of GOP budget plans on federal employees. Well, to all those people who keep asking “Mr. Boehner—where are the jobs?” I think they’re buried in a crawlspace under John Boehner’s house. If this is the Republican attitude on jobs, maybe there is a chance for Donald Trump to be their presidential nominee. It actually fits for them to have a candidate whose catchphrase is “You’re Fired.” Meanwhile, Boehner is pushing for a totally unnecessary and wasteful $3 billion defense program that benefits his home district. I guess if pork barrel money for John Boehner’s district explodes the federal deficit… well, so be it.

Hour One Guest: Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) on Boehner's remarks, the looming threat of government shutdown, and life under GOP House rule.

Every time you think Glenn Beck has gone completely insane, he manages to go even further crazy. Beck is the Ferdinand Magellan of going crazy. One of these days he’s going to circumnavigate the loony globe. Not satisfied with his forced marriage of communism and Islam, now Beck has thrown MSNBC, CBS, MTV, and Google into the mix for a veritable paranoia orgy. Beck says “Maybe we should start watching those networks a little bit and seeing what their news coverage is like.” MTV? Really? I’ve seen their news coverage. It’s mostly about Justin Beiber. Is he in on this? Glenn, PLEASE do not start watching MTV. There is no telling what kind of bizarre conspiracy theories a mind like yours would come up with when exposed to MTV. My God, look what happened when Charles Manson listened to the Beatles!

Hour Two Guest: Eric Boehlert from Media Matters with the latest conservative media craziness and his report, Fox News Insider: "Stuff Is Just Made Up"

Oh, and Glenn also warns his listeners not to use Google. “Google is pretty deeply in bed with the government.” You know what this means… Glenn Beck is coming up with his own search engine, probably one that uses chalk. That’s all we need—a search engine that makes connections like Glenn Beck does. Every single search would just lead back to ACORN, George Soros, or Woodrow Wilson.

Today’s Homework | Discuss

Thom Hartmann: Two Paths: Bust Unions or Raise Taxes on the Wealthy?

While austerity measures are sweeping the nation - and Republican governors like Scott Walker in Wisconsin are going after middle class workers to balance state budgets - Minnesota's Democratic Governor has a different idea. Instead of balancing budgets on the backs of working families - Governor Mark Dayton is proposing a 5% tax increase on the wealthiest people in Minnesota - or the top 5% of income earners in the state. What Governor Daytona sees is the same thing that most progressives see - the easiest solution to both state and federal budget deficits - raising taxes on the rich.

America collects fewer taxes by proportion than most of the industrialized world - and taxes are lower right now than at any other point in the last 50 years in this nation. It's not a coincidence that this drop off in taxes corresponds with massive levels of debt. It's simple - banksters got us into this mess because they had too much money in their pockets thanks to the Reagan and Bush tax cuts - and used the cash to speculate on Wall Street - which led to our economy crashing.

So the banksters - and not working families - should now have to make some sacrifices to get us out of the mess.


(Which path do you think will be taken? Tell us here.)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Randi Rhodes: Unrest in Middle East & Wisconsin

In the wake of the revolution in Egypt, thousands of protesters have clashed with security forces in Iran. Of course, your first question is, how does this work into Glenn Beck’s conspiracy theory? All I know is that, according to Beck, this will prove everything that he’s said so far. Iranian police used tear gas on the protesters. Something tells me they’re not customers of Combined Systems International of Jamestown, Pennsylvania. Thanks to their anti-American stance, I’m sure the Iranian authorities have to make do with substandard non-American tear gas. Do you know how hard it is to be a repressive regime without using crowd control products made in the USA? It’s like trying to make Thanksgiving dinner for a bunch of vegans.

What happens in Egypt doesn’t necessarily stay in Egypt. The Iranian regime supported the uprising against Mubarak specifically, but they don’t support uprisings against repressive regimes in general. I wonder how they would feel about Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin.

Governor Walker, who is trying to bust the public employee’s unions in his state, says he will call out the National Guard if workers refuse to make concessions. I think Governor Walker is confusing negotiation with extortion. Walker wants to eliminate the right of state workers to collective bargaining. Of course, how effectively can they bargain with National Guardsmen pointing rifles at them? As bargaining stances go, it’s hard to beat a stance that includes an automatic rifle. Governor, there is a reason they’re called the National Guard, and not the Governor’s Personal Guard. The National Guard is supposed to be there in case of a disaster. Well, I will admit, Governor Scott Walker is pretty much of a disaster.

Oh, by the way, Governor Scott, if you’re looking for some quality crowd control products, I hear Combined Systems International of Jamestown, Pennsylvania has an excellent track record. On that note, I wonder if Governor Scott has looked into using camels against the public employees unions? A charging camel might not intimidate a bunch of Egyptian protesters, but I bet it would scare the hell out of a Wisconsin state office worker.

Today’s Homework | Discuss

President Obama addressed the situation unfolding in Iran at a press conference earlier today…

Thom Hartmann: Are Progressives in California are turning the tables on Darrell Issa?

Progressives in California are turning the tables on Darrell Issa. While the Republican Chairman of the House Government Oversight Committee solicits the help of lobbyists and transnational corporations to kill government regulations - an organization known as the Third Lantern is digging up the dirt in Issa' past - looking into past business and personal relationships.

The goal is to counter any frivolous investigations Issa is planning to launch against the White House with unsavory revelations about Issa's own background. The group plans to run television advertisements in an effort to, "shine a bright light on Darrell Issa...and to better understand who is this guy who is demanding so many documents and delving into so many investigations."

While the tactic may seem underhanded - when it comes to taking on the GOP - sometimes you have to beat them at their own game.


(What do you think will happen to Issa? Tell us here.)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Randi Rhodes: Dictators & Divas

In Egypt, Hosni Mubarak is suspected of having squirreled away some $70 billion. It seems being a dictator in Egypt is almost as lucrative as being a lobbyist in the United States. While Mubarak and his cronies amassed wealth, 40 percent of Egyptians make less than $2 per day. They may be struggling to get a political system like ours, but they already have an economic system a lot like ours.

Sign of the times: the official site for the Egyptian Presidency is literally “under construction.”

With all the craziness in Egypt, we’ve barely had time to look at the craziness at home. This weekend was CPAC, the biggest gathering of loons outside of waterfowl migratory routes. Conservatives are searching for their 2012 presidential candidate. It’s hard—they have to find someone who they like that a person in their right mind would also like, and there’s no overlap there. Case in point, Ron Paul won the CPAC straw poll for the second year in a row. Mitt Romney came in second. The fact that people like Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty command even a little respect at CPAC proves that conservatives don’t have to be crazy. You can succeed to a degree by just pretending to be crazy. Sarah Palin, who did not attend, only got three percent of the straw poll vote. But then I’m sure that if she had chosen to attend, and to speak before the conference, that number would be a lot lower.

Hour Two Guest: David Weigel, journalist for Slate & MSNBC, will join Randi to recap the CPAC convention.

Old school conservatives are upset about “disrespectful libertarians” who they say have hijacked the CPAC conference. Conservatives want to give the rich and corporations free reign to do whatever they want. Libertarians agree with that, but they want everybody else to have free reign too. In the libertarian world, we’d all be at the mercy of the wealthy, but at least we’d be able to get stoned and forget about it.

Did you catch the Grammy Awards show? After successfully performing in a tribute to Aretha Franklin, Christina Aguilera took a pratfall on stage. I guess the poor girl can’t remember lyrics and walk at the same time. Justin Beiber’s fans are livid that he didn’t win the Grammy for best new artist. I would tell Justin Beiber’s fans to grow up, but then they wouldn’t be Justin Beiber’s fans, would they?

Today’s Homework | Discuss

Hosni Mubarak says farewell and offers his special thanks to America in this SNL spoof…

Thom Hartmann: Egypt isn't the only site of discontented state workers ...

Egypt isn't the only site of discontented state workers - Wisconsin is too. Since coming into office in January - Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has made it clear - he does not represent state workers. He hasn't negotiated with these workers once - and has now put forward a plan to break their union, cut their pay, and limit their bargaining rights. With a Republican state legislature - Walker's plan will be enacted swiftly. And if any labor disruptions occur as a result - Walker has pledged to bring in the National Guard to help enforce it. That's right - Walker is cutting worker's pay by 8% - and stripping them of their rights to negotiate over workplace safety conditions. Then - he's threatening to call in the National Guard to suppress any labor strikes. Is Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker the new Hosni Mubarak?


(How do you rate his chances? Tell us here.)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Randi Rhodes: Freedom Friday

It's Freedom Friday, ya bastids!

Protesters in Egypt were originally calling today Farewell Friday. Then for a few hours it looked like it was going to be Frustration Friday. But all of that’s over now. There’s joy and delirium in the streets of Cairo. It’s like watching a celebration of the LA Lakers winning the NBA championship… except there’s no violence in Cairo.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has officially stepped down… no matter what you may have been told by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. First he’s in, then he’s out. The only way this could have been more confusing is if the Stanford University marching band had been involved.

This entire story has done several 180’s in the past 24 hours. Thanks a lot, Hosni. Some of us have a blog to put together, you know. Egyptian officials are saying that Mubarak flubbed his lines in his speech last night. If so, this was the most misdirected speech since Michele Bachmann’s State of the Union rebuttal. As resignation speeches go, that one left a lot to be desired. I think I missed the resignation part. I’m going to have to look at the tape again, slowing it down like an NFL replay official on a disputed call. Then I can come out from under the hood and announce “After review, the president of Egypt failed to maintain possession of the presidency all the way to the ground.” That’s officially a turnover. First down, democracy protesters.

Mubarak’s speech last night was a classic. Really Hosni, why waste your breath? You could have said the same thing with a simple and classic hand gesture. Evidently Mubarak wanted to stick around. He might as well have given the speech while handcuffed to the podium and clutching the presidential seal. Mubarak was speaking in front of dark blue curtains, but it might as well have been a wall of sandbags. And then it turns out he was leaving all along. Evidently he was willing to quit, but he just refused to tell people that he was quitting.

Well, Egypt, it’s been 30 years. Get the party started. When that’s done, you can get some political parties started. The U.S. is preparing a new package of assistance to Egypt designed to help with election organizing. Say, they might want to look into sending one of those packages to Florida.

Today’s Homework | Discuss

It took just 30 seconds for VP Omar Suleiman to announce the end of the 30-year Hosni Mubarak regime…

Thom Hartmann: Secret sabotage campaign by the Chamber of Commerce

As Joe Biden would's a "B.F.D." The Chamber of Commerce is involved in a major controversy after thousands of emails were released yesterday to reveal a secret sabotage campaign by the Chamber directed at political opponents, progressive media, and Wikileaks. These emails were acquired by the hacktivist organization known as "Anonymous" from a private security firm working on behalf of lawyers for the Chamber. At a price of more than $2 million - three private security data firms - HB Gary Federal, Palantir, and Berico Technologies - collectively known as "Team Themis" plotted to release fake documents about the Chamber of Commerce to entice progressive blogs like ThinkProgress to pick up the fabricated stories and publish them. Upon doing so - Team Themis would release evidence showing the documents were fabricated - and thus damage the credibility of the sites that reported on them. Team Themis also circulated emails containing the private information of political opponents - like the name of their spouses, their children, their sexual orientation, and their place of worship. Among the organizations targets by the Chamber of Commerce - ThinkProgress, Change to Win, the labor organization SEIU, and the US Chamber Watch - among others. So the question is - if the Chamber of Commerce is going to such great lengths to silence their political opponents...what do they have to hide?


(What do you think they have to hide? Tell us here.)

Thom Hartmann: Secret sabotage campaign by the Chamber of Commerce

As Joe Biden would's a "B.F.D." The Chamber of Commerce is involved in a major controversy after thousands of emails were released yesterday to reveal a secret sabotage campaign by the Chamber directed at political opponents, progressive media, and Wikileaks. These emails were acquired by the hacktivist organization known as "Anonymous" from a private security firm working on behalf of lawyers for the Chamber. At a price of more than $2 million - three private security data firms - HB Gary Federal, Palantir, and Berico Technologies - collectively known as "Team Themis" plotted to release fake documents about the Chamber of Commerce to entice progressive blogs like ThinkProgress to pick up the fabricated stories and publish them. Upon doing so - Team Themis would release evidence showing the documents were fabricated - and thus damage the credibility of the sites that reported on them. Team Themis also circulated emails containing the private information of political opponents - like the name of their spouses, their children, their sexual orientation, and their place of worship. Among the organizations targets by the Chamber of Commerce - ThinkProgress, Change to Win, the labor organization SEIU, and the US Chamber Watch - among others. So the question is - if the Chamber of Commerce is going to such great lengths to silence their political opponents...what do they have to hide?


(What do you think they have to hide? Tell us here.)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Super Bowl of Socialism

The Super Bowl of Socialism: By David Sirota The Super Bowl was a bewildering assault on t... @truthdig

The Super Bowl has become a true televisual non sequitur—a bizarre “Rocky”-style montage mashing together as many divergent strands of American culture as possible.

This year’s blockbuster was no exception. There was former President George W. Bush sitting next to coach John Madden, who was obsessively texting. There was actress Cameron Diaz feeding popcorn to baseball bad boy Alex Rodriguez. There was Christina Aguilera belting out a “Naked Gun”-worthy version of the national anthem. There was even a melding of hip-hop, hair metal and sci-fi, as the Black Eyed Peas joined Slash for a rendition of “Sweet Child o’ Mine”—all in front of neon “Tron” dancers.

This was a bewildering assault on the senses, to say the least—and nothing was more singularly mind-blowing than the NFL using a Ronald Reagan eulogy to kick off a sports-themed tribute to socialism.

Reagan, of course, made his political name regularly invoking the “s” word to demonize government. For such bombast, he gained many followers, most of whom nonetheless cherished the doctrinaire socialism that undergirded their communities in the form of public infrastructure and services.

This Reagan-inspired paradox of cheering anti-socialist platitudes while supporting socialism in practice was the tale of Super Bowl XLV. The game began with a jubilant Reagan biopic that approvingly flaunted his red-baiting past, including his 1964 warning about America “tak(ing) the first step into a thousand years of darkness.” The game ended with victory for professional sports’ only publicly owned nonprofit organization, the Green Bay Packers—a team whose quasi-socialist structure allows Wisconsin’s proletariat to own the means of football production.

Green Bay’s win, though, doesn’t tell the Super Bowl’s entire socialist tale. The game was held in one of the NFL’s government-funded stadiums. Additionally, training for many Super Bowl players was subsidized by taxpayers when those players honed their skills at public high schools and universities. Meanwhile, fans arrived at the event on public roads, the contest was broadcast on public airwaves, and the Navy spent $450,000 of public monies flying jets over the game in order to stage a momentary TV image.

Except for The Nation magazine’s Dave Zirin, none of the major media examined any of this. The Super Bowl was presented as a seamless jaunt from Reagan hagiography to trophy ceremony with no mention of the socialist context. Why?

Some would argue that the sports commentariat was laser-focused on the game itself. Others might say that in trying to break the players’ union, NFL management intentionally trumpeted an anti-union president—and the management-worshiping media avoided highlighting the Reagan celebration’s underlying hypocrisy in order to avoid humiliating the owners.

Both theories are likely rooted in truth, but there was something reflexive at work, too—a deliberate self-censoring.

Yes, even though we clearly embrace socialism in everything from professional sports to telecommunications, the politicians and corporations who frame our public dialogue have long stifled honest discussions of our socialist reality because they know such discussions would show that America primarily champions a particular form of socialism—a corporate socialism leveraging public resources for private profit.

Like the few municipal services that still remain in today’s era of Reaganomics, the publicly owned Green Bay Packers are a rare exception to this norm. That’s why the story of the team’s organizational structure is suppressed—because it shows the most important question facing our nation isn’t about accepting or rejecting socialism. We’ve already accepted it. Instead, the real question is about what specific type of socialism we want: the current kind that works only for those in the luxury box, or the kind that starts working for the rest of us?

David Sirota is a best-selling author whose upcoming book “Back to Our Future” will be released in March of 2011. He hosts the morning show on AM760 in Colorado. E-mail him at, follow him on Twitter @davidsirota or visit his website at


Randi Rhodes: People Power

Hour Two Guest: Ron Reagan, author of My Father at 100, on growing up with his dad, Reagan myth vs. reality, and what it’s like when millions think they know your own father even better than you do.

In spite of hours of reporting that Hosni Mubarak was going to step down today, the nearly 83-year old president of Egypt has instead defiantly vowed to stay in place until September. Just wait until you see the size of the crowds tomorrow!

Here at home, GOP Congressman Chris Lee has resigned after sending shirtless photos of himself to a woman on Craigslist. Lee contacted a woman who had posted on the “Women seeking Men” section of Craigslist. In fairness to Congressman Lee, I don’t think Craigslist has a “Women seeking married Congressman” section. It’s not a total embarrassment for Congressman Lee. He looks quite decent without a shirt for a 46-year old guy. He actually looks a lot younger, but maybe that’s because he’s posing like a 17-year old would. He reminds me of Will Farrell playing Ron Burgundy in the movie “Anchorman.” “The only way to bag a classy lady is to give her two tickets to the gun show... and see if she likes the goods.”

Arianna Huffington says it’s time to move beyond left and right, which is her way of saying it’s time to start making money, by concentrating on whatever sells. People forget that Arianna used to be a rightwing hack. This woman has switched teams more often than Brett Favre.

And Rush Limbaugh has a few thoughts on how black women see the world. And these thoughts are every bit as insightful as his thoughts on Donovan McNabb. A Pepsi ad during the Super Bowl inspired Rush to opine that “One of the biggest pet peeves black women have, in recent decades, is black men marrying or pairing up with white women.” Rush, let’s make a deal. If you don’t set yourself up as an authority on how black women feel, Oprah Winfrey won’t set herself up as an authority on how white racists feel.

Today’s Homework | Discuss

Google executive Wael Ghonim, one of the principal organizers of the protests in Egypt, spoke yesterday about starting the revolution and being ready to die for it…