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Announcer: The David Pakman Show at www.DavidPakman.com.
David Pakman: Welcome to the show. I’m David Pakman. You know, Louis, our audience is brilliant, essentially. And so between us, they know and we know that Fox News is not fair and balanced, right? I mean, I know that that’s what we hear, but our audience is bright enough to know that that’s not the case.
Louis Motamedi: Right.
David: Well, Fox News insists that their news is fair and balanced, regardless of the commentary shows.
Louis: And they say it. They say it all the time.
David: They say it regularly. But even in discussions, when executives have actually been asked, they say no, listen, we’re not going to deny that the commentary shows are conservative. That’s true, but when we talk about hard news, it is completely unbiased, it is hard news right down the middle. And even other mainstream media, for the most part, are reluctant to call Fox what it is.
Now, I know that while most of our audience gets it, if you look on YouTube, you’ll see that not everybody does, so I have to keep repeating this so that people don’t forget. Eventually people will get it into their heads that this is not mainstream news, it is not fair news, it is not reasonable news in any way. I don’t know how many times I’ll have to say it. Probably many more, right?
Louis: I hope not.
David: Well, now we actually have a leaked email. This is extraordinary, this is just, you’re gonna love this, Louis. We have a leaked email from Bill Sammon, he’s the Washington managing editor of news, not of commentary, for Fox News, of news, hard news, the unbiased stuff, right?
David: The facts. And this relates to a lot of what we’ve been talking about recently on the show. There is a Republican pollster, let me set the stage for you, Louis, bear with me here, this is just brilliant. Republican pollster Frank Luntz, you know who I’m talking about. This is the words matter guy, he knows how to phrase things optimally for Republicans. He was on Sean Hannity’s show on August 18th, OK?
David: Luntz goes on, he scolds Hannity, this is in the middle of the health care debate, he scolds Hannity for referring to the “public option”, and he says, ‘You know what, Sean? You should call it the “government option” instead. If you call it a public option, the American people are actually split.’ Not even true, if you actually call it a public option, the American people are in favor. Frank Luntz knew that. Let’s just skip past the, you know, the obvious lie there. But, “If you call it the ‘government option’,” says Frank Luntz, “the public is overwhelmingly against it.” And he explained, Luntz did, that the program would be sponsored by the government, and he also said it would be paid for by the government, wasn’t true, and Hannity says, ‘You know what? That’s a great point, Frank! From now on, I’m going to call it the government option.’
Sean Hannity was against the public option, fine, commentary show. So far, so good, right? Hannity’s eating this right up, though. He… it’s like Frank Luntz is spoon-feeding this stuff to him, and Hannity is just, he can’t get enough. And it actually carries over to Bill Sammon. Bill Sammon gets ahold of this, and shortly after that, we hear that wait a second, Fox News is not going to use that terminology anymore.
October 26, 2009, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced the inclusion of a public insurance option that states could opt out of in the Senate health care bill. That night, “Special Report”, this is the program, it used to be Brit Hume, now it’s Bret Baier, used “public” and “government” interchangeably. OK, and I actually have some video of this, just so you know I’m not making it up, not that anybody would ever think Louis or I would make anything up on this show, right? I mean, nobody would think that.
Louis: I hope not.
David: But just in case, I actually have some of the video for you, and I’ll play it for you here. Take a look at some of the terminology that’s being used. It’ll just take a second, but I know that we have it. I’m confident. I’ve been told time and time again that any second we’re going to have this video and audio for you. Right, Louis?
Bret Baier: … problem. I do want to turn the topic to health care reform and what the House speaker said today. Mara, she said in this press conference that she may be OK with the public option not being in the bill, the Senate bill, and going along with whatever the trigger is. She says the trigger will bring on a very robust public option, though. She’s essentially backing away from…
Maria Liasson: No, I think she just read the stage directions a little too early. I think what she said…
David: OK. And as you can see, on-screen, it actually says “government option”, so at this point, the terms are being used completely interchangeably, right, Louis?
David: So so-called public option, public option, government-provided insurance, there’s a numbe of terms being used here. The next morning, OK, October 27, Bill Sammon sends an email to the staff of “Special Report”, “Fox News Sunday”, FoxNews.com, reporters, producers, he’s sending this thing everywhere, and the subject is, “friendly reminder: lets not slip back into calling it the ‘public option’.” And he specifically says what here, he says we should call this, “‘government-run health insurance’ or, when brevity is a concern, ‘government option’ whenever possible; 2) When it is necessary to use the term ‘public option’ … use the qualifier ‘so-called’,” so in other words, the “so-called public option”. Kind of the same way you would say the “so-called news” that we get on Fox News. Same type of thing, that’s what he wants used, right?
David: Here’s another way to phrase it. The public option, which is the government-run plan, also if guests say public option, we can’t really do much about that because quotes are quotes. But if they could, they’d do something about those damn quotes, too.
So this is an email, Louis, Sammon’s email had an impact. Next day on “Special Report”, unlike the previous broadcast, no references to the public option without using versions of, you know, these pre-approved talking points here, “the so-called public option”, “the public option, which is government-run”, so on and so forth. So this is evidence, Louis, not that most of us needed any confirmation, right, but just for those…
Louis: Confirmation of an agenda.
David: Confirmation that Fox News is literally getting bright ideas from GOP talking point experts. Frank Luntz is great at what he does, right?
David: And it’s no surprise Republicans want to use those talking points. But if you were trying to deliver fair and balanced news, why would you use talking points developed by Republicans, developed even by people like Wendell Potter, who was on the show, of course, the Cigna whistleblower. They’re taking advice based on what a Republican pollster said is language that makes people be against the public option, and they’re making it a rule, not on commentary shows, Louis, but on hard news on Fox. What else do we need? It’s pathetic!
Louis: There it is.
David: Now, this is exactly where many people… many defenders of Fox News will say the same things Fox says when you call them out on bias. They say, ‘Well, listen, on the Bill O’Reilly show, we have 12 liberal guests a week and 12 conservative guests a week.’ During the 12:00 news hour, to go to hard news, we have just as many Democratic congressmen as Republican congressmen. And that’s not a lie. What they won’t mention is this pervasive, active, proactive decision to use language that has been hand-crafted by GOP pollsters as more effective in turning people against whatever it is, in this case it’s the public option, and towards the narrative that Republicans and, lo and behold, big coincidence, also Fox News wants to put out there.
Now, Bill Sammon claimed not to know it was a GOP talking point. By the way, he’s been introduced… if you say he’s just a news guy, he’s been introduced by Bill o’Reilly, by Chris Wallace, as conservative, he doesn’t dispute it. Here’s some of the names of the books he’s written: “At Any Cost: How Al Gore Tried to Steal the Election”. “Fighting Back: The War on Terrorism from Inside the Bush White House”. “Misunderestimated: President Battles Terrorism, Media Bias, and Bush Haters”. These are the books he’s written, right?
And it turns out that in this case, Louis, not only was speculation right that Fox News was just kind of casually against the public option, they were taking GOP talking points developed by Frank Luntz and passing them around to reporters, I’m trying to make this as clear as possible, and saying, ‘This is the rule for how we report on health care.’ We report on health care the same way that GOP pollsters and talking point developers have said helps Republicans.
David: That’s the policy.
Louis: But anyone with a good head on their shoulders who watches Fox News could draw their… could come to this conclusion, but…
David: I’m not going to say…
Louis: But now we just have an email that gives us proof.
David: That’s exactly right.
David: But of course, we can deny. People will deny this. I can see the comments now: No, no, you guys are wrong, that’s not what it is, it’s just that it is a government-run option, so that’s the way that Fox decided to do it. They said this was the most accurate way. That’s what it is.
Louis: Perhaps whoever leaked this email will be arrested for rape or molestation or something like that, you know?
David: That’s right. You know what? Julian Assange, there’s calls for Julian Assange to be taken dead or alive, preferably dead, according to some. Whoever leaked this email, Louis, these are secrets! We can’t be revealing that Fox News is using GOP talking points as a point of fact for hard news.
Louis: Shouldn’t have pissed off Rupert Murdoch.
David: It’s treason, Louis. It is treason, and we need whoever leaked this email dead or alive.
Louis: Whoever leaked this email is anti-American.
David: [Laughs] That’s right. They hate this country.
Louis: They do. They’re terrorists.
David: They’re also against, apparently, government-run health care, which is… it’s like… government-run health care is like somebody who’s pro-abortion, they want as many abortions as possible.
David: We laugh about it, but it’s, hey, if anybody knows how to use language effectively, it’s Republicans.
Louis: The language exists.
David: Fox News is saying what the hell, Republicans are controlling language, let’s just use the exact same language on our airwaves. No reason to use unbiased language, let’s use the great biased language that the Republicans have developed.
David: Should Qatar host the World Cup in 2022, Louis?
David: You say yes?
Louis: Oh, yeah.
Louis: I just think it would be great for that area of the world.
David: But they… let me give you my arguments against you.
David: Number one, they don’t really have a soccer history, and there’s so many other countries that have never had a chance to host a World Cup that really have a richer history of soccer.
Louis: Yeah, but I mean, are we really going to have the World Cup in Iran?
David: No, but why do we need that?
Louis: Well, there’s a lot of history of soccer there.
David: Even without Iran, we can still have many other places. Here’s the real issue, though…
Louis: But if you had to pick somewhere in the Middle East?
David: Well, who says we have to?
Louis: Well, let’s just say that’s the area, where would it be?
David: Yeah, I don’t know. I’m not sure. What other teams… what other Middle East teams, anybody back there know, what other Middle East countries have soccer teams that are somewhat…
Louis: Iraq? I’m pretty sure Iraq does.
David: Yeah. They’re obviously not going to have one there. Libya?
Natan Paman: Iran.
David: We can’t hear him.
Natan: Iran does, and Israel.
Louis: Iran, Israel, yeah.
David: Well, I don’t think we’re getting any World Cup in Israel anytime soon, that’s for sure.
David: Here’s my real issue with it. There are no laws against domestic violence in Qatar. There’s no shelters, there’s no women’s groups offering assistance to women who have been the victims of domestic assault. Sexual violence against women and children is rising in the country; since 2004, there’s been 3000 cases reported to the Qatar Foundation for the Protection of Women and Children, which is the country’s key group. And in a related issue, and this impacts men and women, Qatar is a known transit and destination point for human trafficking. Is this a reason not to have a World Cup there? Having a World Cup is a huge boom to the economy, it is a huge honor. Should we be rewarding countries that are doing that?
Louis: But think about it this way. Having the World Cup there could have a social impact on the area.
David: I get that.
Louis: It could be a good thing. It could be a catalyst for change.
David: Here’s the thing. I looked… I know that this last World Cup was very recent. South Africa? Women’s rights exist on paper, but there’s significant violence and discrimination. From the research I’ve done, there’s no indication that anything has improved. I know it’s only been a few months. We’ll see some years from now.
Women continue to face discrimination in law and in practice. They are inadequately protected, violence within the family. Family law discriminates against women. I don’t know. I mean, at the same time, you’re right, having the World Cup there could shine a light on the country. But what’s the line? I mean, would we have a World Cup in North Korea to shine a light on what’s going on there? Because you know, we do that, where’s all the money going?
David: It’s going to Kim Jong-il. Would we have a World Cup in Iran? Is having a World Cup in any way complicit of the way the country is run, of the government? To some extent, it has to be, does it not?
Louis: Perhaps, I suppose.
David: You don’t think there’s any reflection on the opinion of the country from who decides where World Cups are based on what goes on in that country? You believe they are completely disconnected?
Louis: No, they are obviously connected.
David: So where is the line? If it is not Qatar, is it North Korea? Is it Iran?
Louis: Well, the country has to be willing to host the event. And I’m not saying the world wants one in North Korea, but I don’t know.
David: If North Korea was willing to host it, would we say, “Sure, we’ll do it, it might shine a light on what’s going on there,” or maybe we don’t even mention that, we say, “They want it, we do a World Cup there.”
Louis: You know what? I would be for a World Cup in North Korea.
David: You would be… you think that it would expose what’s going on there?
Louis: Definitely. Of course it would.
David: I don’t know.
Louis: It’ll never happen, though.
David: I think it’s a bad idea. I don’t think it should happen. Let’s take a break, we’ll come back. Today on the bonus show we will be talking about some interviews that we’re working on. You will be shocked somebody that may be on the show soon. I don’t even want to mention it because I don’t want to ruin it. We will also talk about the global cooling propaganda that’s circulating, Tony Perkins in a Fox News love-fest, so much more. And much more on the show, too, so stay tuned.
Announcer: The David Pakman Show at www.DavidPakman.com.
Announcer: Welcome back to The David Pakman Show.
David: All right, we’re back on the show. Joining us on the phone is Brad Friedman from www.BradBlog.com, one of our top show prep sites, Louis, which I know you’re on regularly. Hey, Brad, thanks for calling in.
Brad Friedman: Hey, great to be here, David. How are you, sir?
David: I’m doing well. Hey, so let’s talk about Wikileaks a little bit.
David: I’m so confused with what’s going on there because immediately Republicans and conservatives flipping out about it, they’re the ones with the natural distrust for government, wouldn’t they want to be aware of what is being released here?
Friedman: Well, you would think. Now, of course, you said Republicans and conservatives, I think.
Friedman: There’s a huge difference.
David: There is?
Friedman: The Republican Party that we have today is not conservative, not by any stretch of the imagination, so yes, a real conservative, a real conservative who gave a damn about things like the Constitution, protection of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of expression as detailed in the Constitution, yes, would be fighting like hell for Wikileaks as opposed to running out there and declaring them to be, you know, enemy combatants and terrorists and targeting them…
David: Calling for the death, yeah.
Friedman: For assassination.
Friedman: You know, everything that is extraconstitutional, extralegal, and you know, essentially big government control of whatever big government decides they don’t want people to be talking about or knowing about.
David: I mean, maybe this is why Ron Paul is, maybe he is actually a conservative and that’s why he said he’s for it.
Friedman: Ron Paul absolutely is a conservative, there’s no question about it, and you may agree or disagree with Ron Paul on any given thing, but he is a conservative, a real conservative, not the phony right-wingers who call themselves conservative who have taken over the Republican Party. And so, yeah, you would think that they would absolutely be calling for freedom of expression, they would be outraged at this notion that, you know, Sarah Palin puts forward that Wikileaks and Julian Assange should be declared enemy combatants…
Friedman: Which means they should be targeted for assassination. It’s absolutely absurd, but that’s how backwards our country has now become, I’m sorry to say.
David: Julian Assange on the same plain as Osama bin Laden. You know what, it might be good for Julian Assange, because it’s been 10 years we’ve been looking for bin Laden, and no such luck. It could be the best thing that happens to him to be put on that same list.
Friedman: Yeah, exactly right. He’s home free if they declare him an enemy combatant, yeah, we’ll never find him. But yeah, that’s what’s going on, and it’s remarkable, and I must say that it’s not just… you know, we expect these right-wingers, these phony conservatives, to, really to say what they’re saying, to do what they’re doing. What has been for me more of a surprise, more of a disappointment is seeing folks who are not right-wingers echoing those same calls, and even people in the media. And this is where it’s most extraordinary, where you’ve got folks in the media saying oh, this is, you know, Julian Assange should be stopped, and there’s nothing new in these documents, which is just absolutely nonsense. These documents are extraordinary, and we’ve only seen, out of this latest batch, you know, these diplomatic cables, there’s supposedly some 250,000 of them, we have yet to see anything but about 1200 of them… yeah, about 1200 of them in total. That’s about 0.5%.
David: It’s incredible.
Friedman: And we have already learned an extraordinary amount of stuff from those cables.
David: I want to get on to Fox News, but just real quick on Wikileaks, by the logic we’re hearing, maybe Bob Woodward also should’ve been arrested.
Friedman: Well, that’s right. Bob Woodward, New York Times, CNN, Fox News, and, sounds good to me, let’s go ahead and arrest everybody at Fox News. Yeah, you know, because we are talking about targeting this group, this guy, Julian Assange, and yet, for what? He has been charged with absolutely no crime in regard to these cables or any of the leaks that he’s put out. I interviewed last week Dan Ellsberg, who was of the Pentagon Papers.
David: Right. Of course, yeah.
Friedman: The man who leaked those back in 1971, you know, and he has come out and said not only is Julian Assange a hero, but so is Army Private Bradley Manning, the guy who reportedly is the one who stole all of these documents. Now, he did break the law.
David: Right, yeah.
Friedman: He should be charged with that, but…
David: So whether you like what he did or not, he may have been doing something illegal, and if so, he has to receive whatever punishment is due, but we can still talk about the value of what we’re seeing.
Friedman: Well, that’s right. And you can determine if in fact he was, you know, he is to be found guilty of what he is charged with, you know? He did have a contract, if you will, with the government, with the U.S. Army, to not steal these documents. But charging him is a different matter. And Dan Ellsberg, as I said, he was the first guy ever charged with the Espionage Act of 1917, and it’s, you know, there’s a reason why it is tough to get folks on these charges.
But you know, there’s an extraordinary irony, then, when you add to it the fact that the people yelling the loudest to destroy Wikileaks and to bring Julian Assange to justice are the very same folks who backed up Dick Cheney, Scooter Libby, George W. Bush, the White House, when they, for the first time in history, outed the name of a covert CIA operative.
Friedman: You know, I mean, it is just absolutely insane, and there are very few, unfortunately, there are very few folks out there in the progressive blogosphere and in the progressive media, such that we have one anywhere, who are actually out there calling this as it is and saying no, you’ve got to back up Wikileaks for what they’re doing, we’ve got too much government secrecy, it’s only getting worse under Obama, and this needs to stop. So I’ve been very disappointed, frankly, in the progressives out there for not making more noise about it. It seems like the hackers, the hacktivists, if you will…
David: Anonymous, yeah.
Friedman: They seem to get it more than anybody else.
David: Hey, real quick on Fox News, we don’t have a lot of time left, what’s your thought on this leaked email? I mean, it’s not new, it just confirms what many of us in the world of logic and reason knew for a long time. Any real impact will come of it, you think?
Friedman: No, I think absolutely no impact will come of it. We have known, you know, about this, we’ve known that Fox “News” is not… I even hate saying Fox News, because when I write them, at least I can put quotes around the word “news”, because they’re not a news…
David: Well the new thing… No, what we have to do, Brad, is use Bill Sammon’s talking point and say “so-called Fox News”.
Friedman: Yeah, exactly, so-called Fox News. That’s exactly right.
Friedman: And the other thing that we have to do is say that, you know what, we know that Fox News is a propaganda outlet, they’re a bunch of liars, there’s no question about that. Here’s the problem, the Democrats who have had control of Congress and of the White House, most importantly, and therefore the FCC, have done absolutely nothing to restore balance, real balance, real fairness, to our public airwaves, where they allow right-wing liars to use our public airwaves day after day, hour after hour, across the entire broadcast spectrum, to put out these lies 24/7. And I would argue that has a far greater impact, you know, more people listen to Rush Limbaugh in a day than listen to… than watch the entire Fox News primetime lineup. So for those people who are not paying attention to how this information, how these insidious lies actually get disseminated, it happens over our public airwaves, and the Democrats and Barack Obama are not doing a damn thing about it, and it’s just…
David: Well, yeah. You bring up the whole other issue which we’re going to open up, actually, in the next couple of days with FreePress, which is doing a lot of great work on that. Unfortunately, we are out of time. Brad Friedman, www.BradBlog.com is the website. Brad, thanks for calling in, and keep up the good work.
Friedman: My pleasure, David. And you.
David: Thank you.
Friedman: You bet.
David: All right, Louis, fascinating stuff from Brad Friedman.
Louis: Yeah, yeah. Good interview.
David: Before we go to break, I mentioned that we’re coming up with names for the membership program. In other words, right now, it’s level 1, 2, 3, 4. We need to have some cool names, we really do. And I opened it up the other day to people, and we just got a ton of different options. I’m going to keep this open a few more days. We’ll put up the choices to a vote on Thursday, and then we’ll see what the audience thinks, but I should go through a few of these, right?
David: So we have the Pac-Man theme, which would be level 1 is Ghost, 2 is Pac-Man, then Ms. Pac-Man, and then Super Pac-Man. Someone actually said, “I’d pay an extra 10 bucks a month for the level of Ms. Pac-Man.” That’s funny.
The corporate structure, secretary, manager, executive, CEO. It’s not bad, I just don’t know that it’s that interesting. What do you think of that one?
Louis: I’m not a big fan of that one. I do like the Pac-Man one.
David: Drugs. We could go Street Dealer, Midlevel Supplier, The American Connection, and then a Politician, would obviously be like the top level if we went on a drug scheme.
Planets, Mars, Venus, Saturn, Jupiter. If we’re going by size, I don’t know that everybody’s into astronomy to this degree that it would just be obvious.
David: Platinum, Gold, Silver, Bronze, a little ordinary. Presidential, Congressional, Gubernatorial, Delegate. Maybe. We could go with police, Cadet, Constable, Captain, Commissioner. I don’t know.
Louis: It’s OK.
David: A Commissioner of The David Pakman Show. I’m not sure. There’s the wingnut scale, which would go Socialist, Marxist, Communist, Antichrist at the top. I don’t really like that because, it’s actually really good, but just the other day, Jay Tomlinson from our friends over at “Best of the Left Podcast”, are going with something similar.
And then we’ve got Jedi. We’ve got Initiate, Padawan, Knight, and Master would be at the very top. But again, a lot of these, I feel like we’re kind of putting ourselves into a corner in a sense, right, because of the, you’ve got to be into that to even get it. In a sense, maybe the police one, even though I don’t really want to be associated with police ranks, might be the most logical that’ll resonate with people. I don’t know. I’ll open this up informally now, you can email me which of these are good and what other ones we should consider, and we’ll put up a vote of the best ones on Thursday, and then we’ll do it. What the audience wants, we will provide.
David: I’m worried about the Pac-Man one, I think it’s just… I don’t know, people seem to like that, but I have my reservations about it.
Louis: I’m voting for the Pac-Man one.
David: All right, let’s take a break, we’ll come back, we’ll talk about a lot of other stuff including the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell vote. We’ll hear a professional debunking of Bar Stool Economics, and much more. Stay tuned.
Announcer: The David Pakman Show at www.DavidPakman.com.
Announcer: The David Pakman Show at www.DavidPakman.com.
David: My former economics professor Richard Wolff is joining us, Professor Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts and also teaching at the new school in New York City. Great to see you again.
Richard Wolff: Thanks for inviting me.
David: So there’s been this thing floating around the internet. People have emailed it to me, there’s a video of it, and the idea is that it’s a very simple way of understanding taxes in the U.S., and it’s called Bar Stool Economics. Now, I did a pretty lousy job of explaining why it’s simply not valid a couple of weeks ago. Our audience was nice enough that half actually said it was good, but I wanted to bring in, you know, the real experts to analyze this thing with me. You had a chance to review this thing, I’m guessing.
Wolff: Yes, I did.
David: So the idea is that it likens taxes to a bar scenario, and it says that if 10 guys went in to drink one beer each, the people who make the least would get the beer for free and the guy who makes the most would pay the most. Let’s start at the beginning. Why is this just fundamentally not a good representation of the tax system in the U.S.?
Wolff: Well, it’s on so many levels I kind of wonder where to start.
David: That was my problem.
Wolff: Exactly. And you know, in a sense, to be fair, that’s the genius of a good simplification, that it gets away from the details and leaves whoever you’re telling it to with a sense that maybe they’ve grasped the complexity in this little simplified story.
David: That’s right. And I even said, you know, the great thing is you can explain that in 30 seconds and it was going to take me 10 minutes to debunk it.
Wolff: Right. [Laughs] Right. So you know, you have to take your hat off to the cleverness of it.
Wolff: But once, as someone once said, the devil is in the details, once you actually unpack this story, things get very much more complicated and the outcome is pretty much the opposite of what’s said.
Basically, the best way to get at this is historically. What the video talks about basically is the personal income tax and how it works in terms of how it impacts different parts of the community, in terms of raising the money that the government needs to provide services. So when you teach anyone about the tax system, you always have to look at two sides. One, who’s paying it and how much, and on the other hand, who’s benefiting from it and how much, in order to get a sense of it.
This video cuts all that process short. It makes a very factually incorrect assumption because it has all the fellows at the bar getting the drinks they need and want as if everybody, rich and poor alike, get the same services from the government that their taxes pay for. But that has never been true, that is not true now, and in fact, everybody listening or watching what we’re doing today knows that. They know that in the neighborhoods where rich people live, everything is cleaner, everything is nicer, the plantings are better.
Everyone knows, for example, that if you go to the most expensive colleges in the United States, Harvard, Yale, places like that, and you ever study them, you’ll discover that they pay no taxes. They are given an incredible allowance being billion-dollar corporations that they pay no taxes at all on the income they earn, the tuition payments, the stock and bond income they earn, and so on, and that allows them to make the education, the four-year education of young people rich enough to go to Harvard and Yale much, much cheaper than it would otherwise be if those people had to pay for a university that in turn had to pay taxes. So you get a completely different payout from government services if you are poor or middle than what you get from the government in services, tax exemptions, and so on if you are rich.
David: So there’s two analogies here to the Bar Stool Economics. Number one is the analogy that everybody is getting the same beer is wrong, but number two, the fact that everybody is even drinking at the same bar is wrong.
Wolff: Absolutely, which everybody knows. Everybody knows that if you have a certain kind of money, you’re much more likely to be found in an expensive bar, in an expensive lounge, etc., etc., than if you are your average person going to a neighborhood bar, etc., etc. So the game here is to begin, which is what this story does, by positioning everyone equal, which is just plain silly.
The second way to get at the confusion here is just to remember the history of the income tax, because it says really the whole thing. The income tax in the United States was passed in 1910, so we’re literally a 100-year-old system. When it was passed, there was great anxiety among the mass of people that they would now suffer a new tax from the government. So when it went through Congress and was passed by the two houses and signed by the president, the promise was made that this tax would never change, and now let me underscore this, from its initial intent, which was to be, and I quote, “a tax on the rich”. It was to be a tax that went after the top 1% to 4% of the American people, the richest, because, and this was the argument that was made, they were the most able to pay, and they should be called upon to contribute to the common well-being according to their capacity.
David: And that’s the text in the original legislation.
Wolff: Yes, that’s the debates, I mean, I don’t have the words in front of me, but yes, that was the whole context.
Wolff: And it was passed, and it was levied at first on the rich, and exclusively on them. And the vast majority, 95-or-more percent of the people had no income tax to pay. What you had in the last 100 years, to make a long story short, is a sustained political effort by those at the top to spread the income tax off of their exclusive shoulders and onto everybody else’s, and this for two reasons, the more the average person up and down the income distribution had to pay income tax, the less of the special pressure would come on the super-rich to pay that money.
But even more important, the more the tax was spread, the rich understood, the more the mass of people would become their allies in arguing against an income tax, or at least in arguing to keep it down. So what we have is a current income tax that has achieved most of the desires of the super-rich. They now don’t pay all of it, they don’t even pay anything like all of it. The vast bulk of the taxes are paid by up and down the income distribution. Really only the people at the bottom are exempted from the income tax. Virtually everybody else has to pay it. So if you look at the sweep of history, they have done really extraordinarily well.
David: All right, so the full interview with Professor Richard Wolff will be up on our YouTube channel. We actually went on and talked about a number of other things, including the effect of tax cuts and how those really work, so make sure to get it on our YouTube channel. A whole other, I don’t know, seven or eight minutes with Professor Richard Wolff.
Let’s talk real quickly, Louis, about the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell vote. I don’t want to get fully into a whole thing here, but I at least want to mention that on Friday, the Senate blocked debate on the Defense Authorization Bill, which includes the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal, 57 to 40. So what exactly happened here? 97 votes, why didn’t everybody vote on this?
Well, Republicans Sam Brownback and John Cornyn just didn’t vote. I don’t actually know the history… does anybody back there know why they didn’t vote? No, we’re not sure. They just didn’t. Massachusetts Republican Senator Scott Brown supports repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, he voted against it on Friday because he just doesn’t want to move on that before the tax cut vote.
Here’s the interesting one. Democrat Blanche Lincoln was at the dentist, and she missed the vote by three minutes. Now, why on Earth, Louis, would she be at the dentist when there’s going to be a vote on something so significant? Wouldn’t she know it would be coming up?
Louis: I assume so.
David: Well, the answer is she should know, she didn’t, because Harry Reid decided to run this vote. Now, why would he do that? My belief is it’s for a very specific calculation that Harry Reid made. News was starting to leak about significant opposition about the tax cut compromise in the House of Representatives among Democrats. And this was essentially going to become, I don’t know if I would say front-page news, it was going to become news, and it was certainly going to become a headline heading into the weekend.
So Harry Reid worried that that would become the headline and it could hurt the prospect on that front, it could make the Democrats seem divided, which they are, by the way. It wouldn’t be incorrect if that’s the way things appeared. Harry Reid says, ‘You know what?’ I’m going to put this vote together, I’m going to call this vote now, no matter what happens, pass or fail, and I assume he knew that it would’ve failed, that will replace House Democrats turning against Barack Obama, or however it was that it would’ve been presented, into the front-page news, or at least the news in the political world over the weekend.
And you know what, it worked. And now, as we head into this week, there’s hundreds of stories confirming that even through their opposition, House Democrats are likely not going to hold this up. So in a sense, Harry Reid, I don’t know, maybe he was right in doing this. In the end, House Democrats aren’t going to hold it up, right, Louis?
David: And Harry Reid managed to keep it out of the news. Good move or bad move? I mean, the issue is what does it do to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and we will get a new vote on that eventually.
Louis: Eventually, right.
David: Was this a politically savvy move by Harry Reid?
Louis: Seems like kind of a neutral thing.
David: I think if anything, it just makes the impression of Democrats appear to be even a little bit more negative. I mean, Blanche Lincoln’s at the dentist, she clearly doesn’t know that this is happening. It’s… the timing is strange. I don’t know that this was really a great move. If the goal was just to keep House Democrats turning against the tax compromise out of the news, which I propose it was, then I guess it worked, and we can’t say much more than that.
Few new members I want to say hello to before we go to break. Johanna N., Clint L., Amy C., Eric U., and Martin S., new members on The David Pakman Show membership program. Of course, Louis, www.DavidPakman.com/membership. Louis rabidly logging on now to get yet another membership for himself. We’ll be back after this.
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David: We’re back on The David Pakman Show. A few days ago, I had the chance to speak with Nate Phelps, who is the estranged son of Pastor Fred Phelps, of course, the God Hates Fags Westboro Baptist Church. We’ll play some highlights from the interview here. It goes 30 minutes, it’s extraordinary, so I encourage you to log on to our YouTube channel and get the full thing, but let’s take a look at some of the highlights right now.
David: … Phelps, who is the estranged son of Fred Phelps, of course of Westboro Baptist Church fame. Nate, thanks for joining us today.
Nate Phelps: My pleasure, Dave.
David: So give us the background. I mean, I’m fascinated to be walked through this. You were born in Topeka, Kansas where the Westboro Baptist Church is?
Phelps: Yeah, I was born in ’58 there. I was the sixth child of what eventually became 13.
David: And so you are Shirley Phelps-Roper’s brother?
Phelps: Yes. She actually was born on Halloween the year before I was born.
David: So how early on does the very direct anti-gay rhetoric start?
Phelps: As early as I can remember. He considered homosexuality to be a unique sin against God because he saw a passage in, I think in Romans about God giving them up to their vile affections, as evidence that this was a unique sin that you couldn’t return from, that, you know, God gave you away, that you can’t turn back and be saved. So homosexuality was considered particularly evil in his eyes.
David: Now, as a kid, I’m guessing you have no point of reference to evaluate the statements that you’re being told, so what happened… Well, first of all, when you first were exposed to that type of thing, did you just believe it? You thought that that was the truth?
Phelps: Oh, absolutely. I mean, just like you said, what choice do you have? A child gets their idea, their notions of the world, from their caregivers, in this case, from our father. And you know, as you grow older, then of course you start seeing and hearing ideas that are contradictory or in violation of what you’ve been taught, but especially in those early years, and especially because of the way my father taught us, that there was, yeah, you’ll go out there in the world and you’ll hear these other ideas, but they’re evil, they’re of the Devil. And so, you know, that’s just how we incorporated that information in. We just expected that the rest of the world was evil.
David: So this makes me think kind of of, you know, nature versus nurture. Something happened within you that did not
happen within Shirley, for example, or other siblings, which made you question and not just accept at face value what
you were told. Do you… what do you think of that? I mean, is it something genetic? Was there something you were
exposed to that they weren’t? Where do you see that?
Phelps: Yeah, that question ultimately in my mind is impossible to answer with absolute clarity.
Phelps: I think that… I think it’s a little bit of both. I think that there’s this notion, I don’t know if I articulate it well, but there’s this notion of kind of a feedback loop that as we start getting information about our world and who we are and how we fit into it, then we take that in and then we start viewing the world within that context. So very early on, as I started asking these questions to myself, understand clearly, you don’t ask these questions of our father, because it’s just not acceptable.
Phelps: But as I started asking these questions, then it came out as a, I don’t know, passive-aggressive defiance of my father’s authority or his position. So he and I became, you know, we were at odds fairly early on in my life. So that kind of feeds the whole process as well. So by the time I’m 16, 17 years old, I’m convinced that I have no business there, that I don’t belong in that situation.
David: So how old were you when you finally did leave?
Phelps: Well, I left on the night of my 18th birthday. I had decided that I was going to do it, so I started making plans and I bought an old, gosh, this thing was a year younger than God, it was a Rambler Classic. And it barely ran, and I bought it, and I hid it up the street so no one knew that I owned it, and then as my birthday approached, I started packing my belongings a little bit at a time and hiding them in the garage. So on the night of my 18th birthday, I, once everybody was asleep, I went out, got the car, and backed it into the driveway and loaded all my stuff up, and then stood down in the living room and waited for the clock to hit midnight. And then I left.
David: Why did you wait, just so it was completely legal you waited for midnight? Is that what it was?
Phelps: Yeah, because my older sister, Catherine, had tried to leave when she was 17, and so once again, the younger children were able to observe my father literally forcing her back physically.
Phelps: And she went through about three or four months of just brutal physical abuse as he tried to beat her into submission.
David: So Fred Phelps, he beat your sister for trying to leave?
Phelps: Oh, he… yeah. He was very physically violent with all the kids and with his wife for years, you know. He called it Biblical discipline, but it was the worst kind of abuse.
David: So where did you go when you left?
Phelps: Well, actually, I spent my first three nights sleeping in the bathroom of a gas station because I had absolutely… gave no consideration to what it was going to look like, I just wanted to be gone from there.
Phelps: And eventually ended up moving in with a friend and rented a room upstairs in their house for a time, and then from there, got involved with… connected up with my brother Mark and moved forward from there.
David: So since then, I mean, what level of contact do you have with your family?
Phelps: Virtually none. There was the odd situation here and there, like they flew out to… I had moved to California and was working with my brother Mark in the printing industry, and a group of them were coming out to Southern California for some trial lawyers’ convention and got in touch with me and said they wanted to see me. And at that point, I was struggling a lot with the decisions that I had made and with, you know, the anxiety I had about the notion of God’s anger and that kind of thing, so I basically just told them, if you want to see me, that’s fine, but we’re not going to talk about God or religion. And they agreed to that, so we spent a nice evening having dinner, and then… but that’s probably about the only time I’ve seen or spent time with any of my siblings that are still there.
David: So that’s interesting because the impression that I get and my audience has of Shirley, and we’ve interviewed her a couple of times, is that there’s no turning of the God-talk with her, but you’re saying it is, in small doses, it was possible?
Phelps: Well, yes, and you’ve got to remember now, we’re going back to the early- to mid-80s.
Phelps: And you can’t look at this campaign that started, you know, in 1991, and so we’re talking almost 20 years now that this has been going on.
Phelps: You can’t look at this and not say that this thing has ramped up. And you know, they’re now involved in an endgame, because they truly believe, Shirley said this at a, you know, on-camera at Obama’s inauguration, their belief system and the idea that they’re moving forward with is that God is going to come back on July 21st of 2012, and he’s going to take them up into Heaven, so none of them are going to have to die, and then the Tribulation is going to start here on Earth.
David: July 21st, 2012?
Phelps: 2012. So…
David: Do you believe that they are capable of some kind of cult suicide? I mean, what do you think is going to happen on that date?
Phelps: Well, I don’t know. All I can say is when I think in terms of… or, try to put myself in their shoes and think in terms of an endgame, that there is going to come a specific point in time when all this is over, the very least I can imagine happening is that they become even more aggressive, take greater risks, that, you know, their rhetoric’s going to ramp up, they’re going to make people that much angrier, and you know, it’s frightening to consider the possibilities. I, you know, there’s no evidence that they can or that they have or that they would, you know, commit violence on themselves or someone else, but you know, this is a dynamic that most of us can’t even get our minds around.
David: All right, so there’s part of our interview with Nate Phelps, the estranged member of the Westboro Baptist Churh of God Hates Fags fame, Louis.
David: And the whole interview, of course, on our YouTube channel, and I encourage you to check it out. It’s pretty incredible.
Let’s get on to emails and new stations we want to welcome. New stations airing the show: Lowell Telecommunications Corporation in Lowell, Massachusetts and Lunenburg Access TV in Lunenburg, Massachusetts.
The current poll up on www.DavidPakman.com, will the proposed tax cut compromise be good or bad for Democrats and Obama in 2012? I say bad. We’ll see what the answer is on Thursday.
Email about the bonus show from Gary Anderson. “I, for one, love Louis’s crazy stories on the bonus show. I also love hearing him curse. You need to tell him to let it out more. The fact that he feels the need to ask you for permission to curse signals some type of inhibition on his end. Tell him to unleash the full fury of Krakatoa or Godkiller or whatever his band is and curse, even if it’s in that metal language that no one understands.” What do you think of that, Louis?
Louis: That’s great. I love it.
David: Of course, you can email us through our webiste, www.DavidPakman.com. On the Mark Potok interview: “Potok and the SPLC are sewer rats who attack anyone who isn’t a liberal or a minority a hate group.” OK, odd grammar. “Funny though that CARE, La Raza, Black Panthers, and the Black Fist haven’t made their list, though, isn’t it? Hypocrites! Perkins proved this jackass a liar on ‘Hardball’. He was chewing on his foot and it was hilarious.” All right, this email is almost completely unreadable. The gist of it is they don’t like the SPLC. If you think…
Louis: And they claim the SPLC is a hate group itself.
David: Right. If you think Perkins proved that Mark Potok is a liar on “Hardball”, there’s nothing I can say to you to convince you otherwise, so we’ll just move on.
Another email about Mark Potok, “The irony is that it takes an enlightened heterosexual like David Pakman to hammer on the Family Research Council. Anderson Cooper is so afraid that if he says a cross word to Tony Perkins, people will say he’s biased because he’s gay. This, of course, not even having been proved or acknowledged by Anderson Cooper.” OK, I think I get the point.
On the tax cut compromise: “Yep, we’re getting bamboozled. That’s the way it appears to me, anyway.” A lot of people think that, Louis. Not you, of course. “Thanks for a clear, orderly dissection and discussion of this agreement with the Republicans. It pains me greatly to write this, but I must. President Obama is a profound disappointment.” And lastly, “I totally agree, David. The Dems had a clear 100% advantage on this deal, multiple polls behind them, people didn’t want tax cuts for the wealthy. This is sad for Barack Obama, how much more ammo do you need?” We’ll see you next week.
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