Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

For The Record  

FTR #828 Miscellaneous Articles and Updates

Dave Emory’s entire life­time of work is avail­able on a flash drive that can be obtained here. The new drive is a 32-gigabyte drive that is current as of the programs and articles posted by 12/19/2014. The new drive (available for a tax-deductible contribution of $65.00 or more) contains FTR #827.  (The previous flash drive was current through the end of May of 2012 and contained FTR #748.)

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This program was recorded in one, 60-minute segment.

Lee Harvey Oswald

Introduction: As a new year begins, we bring some stories up to date, introduce some others and reflect on the year gone by and the times to come.

Late last year, President Obama normalized diplomatic relations with Cuba. More than half a century ago, President Kennedy attempted to do the same thing–this at the height of the Cold War. It was one of the factors that led to his death. The broadcast opens with discussion of JFK’s ill-fated attempts at de-escalating the Cold War.

General Francisco Franco and Mentor

Updating information presented in FTR #825, we note that Mariano Rajoy’s government has–to a considerable extent–criminalized political dissent in Spain. Rajoy’s Popular Party might very well be termed a “kinder, gentler” Falange. (The Falange was the fascist political party of Francisco Franco.)

Ustachi with victim

Fascist revanchist policy is manifesting itself in Croatia as well. Birthed in the Balkans wars, the Croatian republic is among those NATO and EU countries that had its genesis in the World War II politics of the brutal Ustachi regime. The murderous World War II leader Ante Pavelic was commemorated in a mass in Zagreb, the capital of the “new” Croatia.

As the Holiday season recedes in the rear view mirror, we note that reactionary icon Ayn Rand helped with an investigation of the Christmas cinematic staple It’s a Wonderful Life. Seen by some as  “crypto-Communist” tract, the film is critical of some aspects of the financial industry–enough to put it in the investigative crosshairs of the GOP right. This is indicative of the mindset of many in the governing elites of our country.

Representative Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney’s running mate in 2012, has stated that “we are living in an Ayn Rand novel.” He is wrong, of course, but his attitude exemplifies the mentality of the GOP-dominated Congress. That Congress is embracing “dynamic scoring” by rejecting the current head of the Congressional Budget Office. To make a long story short, this will empower an utterly fantastic and fraudulent interpretation of economic data, reinforcing the austerity dogma advocated by the GOP.

Anthrax spores

Although the 2001 anthrax attacks have receded into historical memory, new information continues to surface casting doubt on the official “long nut” theory which pinned responsibility for the attacks on Bruce Ivins.

The program concludes with a look at a dire prediction by theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, that echoes Mr. Emory’s ruminations concerning the potential dangers of artificial intelligence.

Program Highlights Include: Paul Krugman’s assessment of global elite economic policies, noting the effects similar to those embraced by their counterparts in the 1930’s, when economic deprivation drove many into the arms of fascist dictators; the high-tech characteristics of the anthrax spores used in the 2001 attacks, indicating a level of technological sophistication that would likely be unavailable to a single individual; review of Mariano Rajoy’s jingoistic policies, pursued in the wake of Spanish economic deprivation; review of the restoration of neo-Ustachi elements in Croatia following the Balkans wars; indications that CIA-linked anti-Castro Cubans had learned of JFK’s attempts at normalizing relations with Cuba.

1. One of the bigger international news stories of 2014 was Barack Obama’s normalization of diplomatic relations with Cuba. When President Kennedy tried to do this in 1963–at the height of the Cold War–he was murdered (in part) for his efforts. The material presented here is from AFA #12, side d. The text excerpts are from the book Conspiracy by Anthony Summers.

2.We have an established history of blaming major events involving conspiratorial process on “lone nuts.” That appears to have been the case in the investigation of the 2001 anthrax attacks.

The GAO just released its assess­ment of the Bruce Ivins inves­ti­ga­tion: it appears that the Ivins may not have been the “lone nut” we were told he was. The anthrax spores showed signs of sophisticated development.

“Inquiry in Anthrax Mail­ings Had Gaps, Report Says” by William J. BroadThe New York Times; 12/19/2014.

A con­gres­sional inquiry into the F.B.I.’s sci­en­tific work on the anthrax mail­ings of 2001 has iden­ti­fied major gaps in genetic evi­dence that pur­port­edly links the germs to Bruce E. Ivins, the Army micro­bi­ol­o­gist blamed for attacks that killed five peo­ple, sick­ened 17 oth­ers and shook the nation.

The Gov­ern­ment Account­abil­ity Office study, requested in 2010 and made pub­lic on Fri­day, echoes ear­lier crit­i­cism from the National Acad­emy of Sci­ences. In 2011, its expert panel found that the bureau’s analy­sis of the genetic evi­dence “did not defin­i­tively demon­strate” a firm link between the mailed anthrax spores and a sam­ple taken from Dr. Ivins’s lab­o­ra­tory at Fort Det­rick in Mary­land, and more gen­er­ally was “not as con­clu­sive” as the bureau had asserted.

The G.A.O. had bet­ter access to F.B.I. records and deep­ened the genetic cri­tique, find­ing that the bureau’s inves­ti­ga­tion “lacked sev­eral impor­tant char­ac­ter­is­tics” that could have strength­ened its case. “A key sci­en­tific gap,” the 77-page report said, was the bureau’s fail­ure to inves­ti­gate whether sam­ples of anthrax spores could nat­u­rally mutate enough to obscure their puta­tive links to Dr. Ivins.

In 2008, shortly after he killed him­self, the bureau laid out a sweep­ing but cir­cum­stan­tial case against Dr. Ivins, an Army micro­bi­ol­o­gist, say­ing he had acted alone in con­duct­ing the nation’s first major bioter­ror­ist attack. It called the case Amerithrax and said that unique muta­tions in the anthrax spores had helped put Dr. Ivins under the spotlight.

In an inter­view, Tim­o­thy M. Per­sons, the G.A.O.’s chief sci­en­tist, cred­ited the bureau with work­ing hard to cor­rect some of its sci­ence defi­cien­cies but said its evi­dence fell short in the anthrax case, which was offi­cially closed in 2010. “They needed bet­ter sci­ence and mea­sure­ment in order to be more con­clu­sive,” he said. “It sounds nit­picky, but that’s impor­tant in build­ing up the sci­en­tific evi­dence for an impor­tant case.”

The bureau said it agreed with the G.A.O.’s advice on improv­ing its foren­sic science.

The deadly wisps of anthrax, com­ing just after the Sep­tem­ber attacks, set off new waves of panic. Over the years, a grow­ing num­ber of out­side expertshave asked whether fed­eral inves­ti­ga­tors got the right man and whether the F.B.I.’s long inquiry brushed aside impor­tant clues.

To the regret of inde­pen­dent sci­en­tists, the report made no men­tion of an issue beyond genet­ics: whether the spores dis­played signs of advanced man­u­fac­tur­ing. They have pointed to dis­tinc­tive chem­i­cals found in the dried anthrax spores that they say con­tra­dict F.B.I. claims that the germs were unsophisticated.

Evi­dence of spe­cial coat­ings, they say, sug­gests that Dr. Ivins had help in obtain­ing his germ weapons or was innocent.

Mar­tin E. Hugh-Jones, an author­ity on anthrax at Louisiana State Uni­ver­sity, said the report was disappointing.

3. Supplementing FTR #825, we note the Rajoy regime’s active criminalizing of dissent, echoing the policies of Francisco Franco, whose fascist dictatorship spawned the “kinder, gentler” Falange embodied in the PP.

“Span­ish Gov­ern­ment Strips Away Protest­ing Rights” by Kevin Math­ews; Truthout; 12/23/2014.

What’s a gov­ern­ment to do when the peo­ple take to the street to protest the way the coun­try is being run? A sen­si­ble gov­ern­ment would change poli­cies to appease the peo­ple it is com­mit­ted to serv­ing. Alter­nately, a gov­ern­ment could take Spain’s cur­rent approach, which is to start fin­ing and arrest­ing peo­ple for protest­ing in the first place. Yes, that will solve the problem!

Spain is show­ing signs of fas­cism with its new anti-protest leg­is­la­tion nick­named the “Gag Law.” This past week, Spain’s lower par­lia­ment okayed the law, push­ing it much closer to real­ity. Among the restric­tionscemented by the law, pun­ish­able by a $700–37,000 fine:

* Hold­ing a protest with­out obtain­ing a per­mit from the gov­ern­ment first.
* Protest­ing the day before an elec­tion.
* Insult­ing a police offi­cer.
* Burn­ing a flag.
* Photographing/filming police offi­cers and shar­ing said photos/videos.
* Protest­ing at a bank.
* Block­ing a home fore­clo­sure
* Assem­bling near a leg­isla­tive build­ing
* Wear­ing hoods or masks, as they pre­vent author­i­ties from iden­ti­fy­ing you.

That’s not all. Even peace­ful protests can be shut down if police fear that the protest could at some point “turn dis­or­derly” (left to the police’s dis­cre­tion, obvi­ously.) Oh, and don’t even think about appeal­ing these fines in court. Peo­ple who appeal these fines will be made to pay the court costs.

A quar­ter of Spain’s pop­u­la­tion is unem­ployed, with half of the nation’s young adults lack­ing a job. By upping the finan­cial reper­cus­sions for protest­ing, the gov­ern­ment knows it can scare away peo­ple who can’t afford to pay these tickets.

Prime Min­is­ter Mar­i­ano Rajoy has pre­tended that this law is meant to “pro­tect” the cit­i­zens. “One of the oblig­a­tions of the gov­ern­ment is to guar­an­tee the lib­erty and secu­rity of all of its cit­i­zens,” Rajoy said, despite actu­ally tak­ing active steps to strip Spaniards of their liberties.

The good news is that the peo­ple of Spain aren’t tak­ing the news in stride. This past week, tens of thou­sands of peo­ple in more than 30 cities gath­ered to speak out against this attack on free speech rights. They might as well take advan­tage of their abil­ity to protest before it’s made ille­gal, eh?

4. A Catholic Mass was celebrated in the Croatian capitol of Zagreb in honor of the Ustacha leader Ante Pavelic.

“Nazi-Hunters Condemn Mass for World War II Croatia Leader” [Agence France Presse]; Global Post; 12/29/2014.

The Nazi-hunting Simon Wiesenthal Centre slammed Monday a Mass in Zagreb to commemorate Croatia’s World War II pro-Nazi leader, claiming it was a “badge of shame” for the Catholic Church.

“It’s hard to believe that in the centre of the capital of a member of the European Union, very close to Zagreb’s Jewish community, hundreds of people gathered yesterday to commemorate the memory of one of Europe’s biggest mass murderers,” the head of the centre’s Jerusalem office said in a statement.

Efraim Zuroff labelled the service marking the 55rd anniversary of Ante Pavelic’s death an “insult to the memory of Pavelic’s hundreds of thousands of innocent victims”, and a “badge of shame for the Catholic Church”.

Masses on the anniversary of Pavelic’s death are regularly held in a basilica in downtown Zagreb and in Split, on the Adriatic coast.

Pavelic headed a Nazi-allied Croat state from 1941 to 1945.

He died in Madrid on December 28, 1959, reportedly from wounds inflicted in an attack on him two years earlier in Buenos Aires, where he had fled after the Axis defeat in 1945.

Pavelic’s World War II Ustasha regime killed hundreds of thousands of Serbs, Jews, Roma and anti-fascist Croatians in concentration camps.

Almost 90 percent of Croatia’s population of 4.2 million are Roman Catholics.

The former Yugoslav republic joined the EU last year.

5. Award-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman notes that the policies being pursued by the world’s global elites are producing political dynamics similar to those of the 1930’s, when economic hardship drove many into the arms of fascists.

“Twin Peaks Planet” by Paul Krugman; The New York Times; 1/02/2015.

. . . . Elsewhere, however, we see the rise of nationalist, anti-immigrant parties like France’s National Front and the U.K. Independence Party, or UKIP, in Britain — and there are even worse people waiting in the wings.

All of this suggests some uncomfortable historical analogies. Remember, this is the second time we’ve had a global financial crisis followed by a prolonged worldwide slump. Then, as now, any effective response to the crisis was blocked by elite demands for balanced budgets and stable currencies. And the eventual result was to deliver power into the hands of people who were, shall we say, not very nice.

I’m not suggesting that we’re on the verge of fully replaying the 1930s. But I would argue that political and opinion leaders need to face up to the reality that our current global setup isn’t working for everyone. It’s great for the elite and has done a lot of good for emerging nations, but that valley of despond is very real. And bad things will happen if we don’t do something about it.

6. With the holiday season now fading from view for another year, we christen it with our own unique brand of champagne. NB: GOP Presidential candidate Rand Paul was named for Ayn Rand. Paul is being promoted by good ol’ Ralph Nader, no doubt seeking to outdo his de facto efforts on behalf of George W. Bush in 2000.

“Ayn Rand Helped the FBI Inves­ti­gate Whether ‘It’s a Won­der­ful Life’ Was Com­mie Pro­pa­ganda” by Michael Win­ship, Moy­ers & Com­pany; Raw Story; 12/23/2014.

 A num­ber of years ago, I was telling a long­time city dweller friend of mine yet another story about the small, upstate New York town in which I grew up.

Simul­ta­ne­ously baf­fled and cap­ti­vated, he said, “I think you were born and raised in Bed­ford Falls,” the fic­tional burg at the cen­ter of Frank Capra’s clas­sic Christ­mas movie, “It’s a Won­der­ful Life.”

Well, I wasn’t. Actu­ally, I grew up about 27 miles west of there. Its real name is Seneca Falls, NY – yes, the same place that’s also the birth­place of the women’s suf­frage move­ment. While not absolutely cer­tain, there’s a com­pelling body of cir­cum­stan­tial evi­dence that Capra had the town in mind when he cre­ated his cin­e­matic ver­sion of Bed­ford Falls. The steel bridge over the canal, for exam­ple, like the one from which the hero George Bai­ley con­tem­plates jump­ing in a sui­cide attempt, only to dive in to save his guardian angel, Clarence. The old Vic­to­rian homes, the design of town streets, a large Ital­ian pop­u­la­tion, men­tions of nearby cities Rochester, Buf­falo and Elmira are just a few of the other sim­i­lar­i­ties. There’s even the per­haps apoc­ryphal tale of Frank Capra find­ing inspi­ra­tion after stop­ping in Seneca Falls for a hair­cut on his way to visit an aunt.

Enough coin­ci­dences abound that Seneca Falls now holds a yearly “It’s a Won­der­ful Life” fes­ti­val, and although it may not draw as many vis­i­tors as the nearby Women’s Rights National His­tor­i­cal Park, there’s also an “It’s a Won­der­ful Life” museum. What­ever the ulti­mate truth, there’s no deny­ing that the movie is a sto­ry­book evo­ca­tion of bygone small town Amer­ica, places like Seneca Falls and my own home­town, right down to the under­side of greed and mal­ice that often lurks just around the cor­ner from the film’s com­pas­sion and whole­some neigh­bor­li­ness. As for Frank Capra, as he pre­pared to make the movie, he told the­Los Ange­les Times, “There are just two things that are impor­tant. One is to strengthen the individual’s belief in him­self, and the other, even more impor­tant right now, is to com­bat a mod­ern trend toward atheism.”

Which makes it all the cra­zier that when the movie first came out, it fell under sus­pi­cion from the FBI and the House Un-American Activ­i­ties Com­mit­tee (HUAC) as Com­mu­nist pro­pa­ganda, part of the Red Scare that soon would lead to the black­list and witch hunt that destroyed the careers of many tal­ented screen and tele­vi­sion writ­ers, direc­tors and actors.

Screen­play cred­its on “It’s a Won­der­ful Life” went to Frances Goodrich and her hus­band Albert Hack­ett, Capra and Jo Swer­ling, although a num­ber of oth­ers took turns at dif­fer­ent times, includ­ing Clif­ford Odets, Dal­ton Trumbo and Marc Con­nelly – not an unusual sit­u­a­tion in Hol­ly­wood. But a 1947 FBI mem­o­ran­dum, part of a 13,533 page doc­u­ment, “Com­mu­nist Infil­tra­tion of the Motion Pic­ture Indus­try,” first went after the writ­ers Goodrich and Hack­ett:

“Accord­ing to Infor­mants [REDACTED] in this pic­ture the screen cred­its again fail to reflect the Com­mu­nist sup­port given to the screen writer. Accord­ing to [REDACTED] the writ­ers Frances Goodrick [sic] and Albert Hack­ett were very close to known Com­mu­nists and on one occa­sion in the recent past while these two writ­ers were doing a pic­ture for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Goodrick [sic] and Hack­ett prac­ti­cally lived with known Com­mu­nists and were observed eat­ing lun­cheon daily with such Com­mu­nists as Lester Cole, screen writer, and Earl Robin­son, screen writer. Both of these indi­vid­u­als are iden­ti­fied in Sec­tion I of this mem­o­ran­dum as Communists.”

Wait – it gets nut­tier. Accord­ing to the media archival web­site Aphe­lis,“Among the group who pro­duced the ana­lyt­i­cal tools that were used by the FBI in its analy­sis of ‘It’s a Won­der­ful Life’ was Ayn Rand.”

“Abbott and Costello Meet Ayn Rand” – what a com­edy hor­ror pic­ture that would have made. Rand’s group told the FBI:

“The pur­pose of the Com­mu­nists in Hol­ly­wood is not the pro­duc­tion of polit­i­cal movies openly advo­cat­ing Com­mu­nism. Their pur­pose is to cor­rupt non-political movies — by intro­duc­ing small, casual bits of pro­pa­ganda into inno­cent sto­ries and to make peo­ple absorb the basic prin­ci­ples of Col­lec­tivism by indi­rec­tion and impli­ca­tion. Few peo­ple would take Com­mu­nism straight, but a con­stant stream of hints, lines, touches and sug­ges­tions bat­ter­ing the pub­lic from the screen will act like drops of water that split a rock if con­tin­ued long enough. The rock that they are try­ing to split is Americanism.”

But redemp­tion of an odd sort came for “It’s a Won­der­ful Life” at the infa­mous Octo­ber 1947 House Un-American Activ­i­ties Com­mit­tee hear­ings. Just days before the appear­ance there of the Hol­ly­wood 10 – writ­ers (and one direc­tor) who refused to tes­tify and sub­se­quently went to prison — a parade of “friendly wit­nesses” (includ­ing Ayn Rand, Gary Cooper, Ronald Rea­gan and Walt Dis­ney) came before the com­mit­tee to insin­u­ate and weave dark tales of Com­mu­nist infil­tra­tion and sub­ver­sion in the movie busi­ness. One of them was a for­mer Com­mu­nist and screen­writer named John Charles Mof­fitt.Aphe­lis reports:

“When asked by HUAC Chief Inves­ti­ga­tor Robert E. Stripling if Hol­ly­wood is in the habit of por­tray­ing bankers as vil­lain­ous char­ac­ters, Mof­fitt takes the oppor­tu­nity to try to clear the rep­u­ta­tion of Frank Capra’s movie ‘It’s A Won­der­ful Life:’ he tries to argue that the film isn’t, in fact a Com­mu­nist movie.”

MR. STRIPLING. The term “heavy” has been used here as a des­ig­na­tion of the part in which the per­son is a vil­lain. Would you say that the banker has been often cast as a heavy, or con­sis­tently cast as a heavy, in pic­tures in Hollywood?

MR. MOFFITT. Yes, sir. I think that due to Com­mu­nist pres­sure he is over­fre­quently cast as a heavy. By that I do not mean that I think no pic­ture should ever show a vil­lain­ous banker. In fact, I would right now like to defend one pic­ture that I think has been unjustly accused of com­mu­nism. That pic­ture is Frank Capra’s “It’s a Won­der­ful Life.” The banker in that pic­ture, played by Lionel Bar­ry­more, was most cer­tainly what we call a “dog heavy” in the busi­ness. He was a snarling, unsym­pa­thetic char­ac­ter. But the hero and his father, played by James Stew­art and Samuel S. Hines, were busi­ness­men, in the build­ing and loan busi­ness, and they were shown as using money as a benev­o­lent influence.

At this point, there was a bit of com­mo­tion in the hear­ing room.

THE CHAIRMAN. Just a minute. Come away. Every­body sit down. Will all you peo­ple who are stand­ing up please sit down? And the photographers.

MR.MOFFITT. All right.

THE CHAIRMAN. Go ahead.

MR. MOFFITT. Well, to sum­ma­rize, I think Mr. Capra’s pic­ture, though it had a banker as vil­lain, could not be prop­erly called a Com­mu­nist pic­ture. It showed that the power of money can be used oppres­sively and it can be used benev­o­lently. I think that pic­ture was unjustly accused of Communism.

7. A little-noticed item concerning the new GOP-controlled Congress concerns the fact that they are moving to replace the previously-independent head of the Congressional Budget Office with their own hack, who can be expected to turn their ideological fantasies into political reality.

“Report: New Con­gress Dump­ing CBO Chief To Clear Way For Spe­cial GOP Bud­get Math” by Daniel Strauss; TPM Livewire12/22/2014.

The incom­ing lead­ers of the new Republican-controlled Con­gress have opted against reap­point­ing Doug Elmen­dorf as head of the Con­gres­sional Bud­get Office, Bloomberg News reported Mon­day cit­ing an “aide briefed on the deci­sion.” The move helps clear the way for so-called “dynamic scor­ing” — a Holy Grail of con­ser­v­a­tive GOP bud­get wonks who don’t like the way the costs of tax cuts are cur­rently calculated.

Elmen­dorf pre­vi­ously served as an econ­o­mist with the Trea­sury Depart­ment and the Fed­eral Reserve. He was appointed to lead the CBO in 2009 after Peter Orszag, the pre­vi­ous direc­tor, was nom­i­nated to run the White House Office of Man­age­ment and Bud­get. After that, in 2011, Elmen­dorf was con­firmed for a four-year term after Repub­li­cans took over the House of Representatives.

Over the past few months Repub­li­cans have renewed their focus on chang­ing the way CBO scores bud­gets if they were to take con­trol of the Sen­ate and keep con­trol of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. Dynamic scor­ing cal­cu­lates bud­gets through a con­tro­ver­sial view that tax cuts both cre­ate eco­nomic growth and counter lost rev­enue. Cur­rently the CBO does not use dynamic scoring.

Both Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the incom­ing chair­man of the House Ways and Means Com­mit­tee, and incom­ing Sen­ate Major­ity Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) have argued in favor of dynamic scoring.

8. As we enter the new year, a major motion picture titled “The Theory of Everything” is in theaters, highlighting the life of award-winning theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking. Hawking recently warned of the potential danger to humanity posed by the growth of AI (artificial intelligence) technology.

“Stephen Hawking Warns Artificial Intelligence Could End Mankind” by Rory Cellan-Jones; BBC News; 12/02/2014.

Prof Stephen Hawking, one of Britain’s pre-eminent scientists, has said that efforts to create thinking machines pose a threat to our very existence.

He told the BBC:”The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.”

His warning came in response to a question about a revamp of the technology he uses to communicate, which involves a basic form of AI. . . .

. . . . Prof Hawking says the primitive forms of artificial intelligence developed so far have already proved very useful, but he fears the consequences of creating something that can match or surpass humans.

“It would take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate,” he said.

“Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete, and would be superseded.” . . . .

9.  In L-2 (recorded in January of 1995) Mr. Emory warned about the dangers of AI.

 

Discussion

One comment for “FTR #828 Miscellaneous Articles and Updates”

  1. Here’s a fun look at what constitutes “economic populism” within today’s GOP:
    First, let’s take a look at the “economic populist” from the 2012 election cycle. The economic populist name Rick Santorum. You read that right. Rick Santorum was a GOP economic populist in 2012. It’s a relative ranking:

    New Republic
    Rick Santorum, Closet Populist?

    Alec MacGillis
    December 29, 2011

    Amid all the talk of Rick Santorum’s surge in Iowa, I’m a little surprised more people aren’t noting that he has something in common with 2008 caucus winner Mike Huckabee other than the obvious, their shared base of support among the state’s social conservatives. Namely, that Santorum, like Huckabee, is coming the closest to articulating an economically populist in a message in a field that is otherwise in thrall to tax-cutting, upper-crust orthodoxy.

    With Huckabee out of the running this year and voters even more economically insecure than they were four years ago, it seemed likely that someone else would emerge to make the populist case. Perhaps Tim Pawlenty, the son of a truck driver? But even before Pawlenty made his early exit, he had passed up the Sam’s Club mantle, instead adopting a tax-slashing economic plan that could have been written by the Club for Growth. The only candidate who has come closest to the semblance of a populist message is Santorum. He has not been nearly as outspoken on that score as Huckabee was. But he has talked eloquently about the decline of manufacturing in his home state of Pennsylvania, and he has dared to speak the truth that social mobility in the land of Horatio Alger is now below that of supposedly class-bound Western Europe. It may just be that what some Iowa voters are responding to in Santorum is not just his talk of faith and family but his acknowledgment of their anxiety about their future in an increasingly unequal and insecure economy.

    And just as happened with Huckabee, the powers that be are taking note and moving to quash such talk Thus we have Erick Erickson warning that Santorum is in fact insufficiently conservative on economic matters:

    Most damning to me is Rick Santorum’s actual record in the Senate and House of Representatives. I keep hearing him say he was such a paragon of fiscal conservative virtue, when he was anything but that. He was as go along to get along as all the other Republicans who led to our downfall. Making Santorum worse, he was always the guy saying, “I had to do this, but wait till I get to leadership. I’ll be there for you in leadership.” It’s what he is saying now. Only it isn’t true and never was.

    He supported steel tariffs in Pennsylvania, which did him little good in his own re-election effort. He supported No Child Left Behind. He supported the prescription drug benefit. …He voted against the Farm Bill in 2002, but he voted to extend milk subsidies to save the poor Pennsylvania farmer. In the House, Santorum opposed NAFTA and offered legislation to impose steel tariffs. He wanted to tax imported honey and Chinese imports.

    Taxes on imported honey! Man the barricades, the pitchforks are banging at the gate.

    Yes, by talking about the decline of manufacturing and recognizing the collapse of social mobility in America (i.e. acknowledging reality), Rick Santorum a populist! At least compared to the rest of the GOP field. And this article was written about week after Rick made the news for explicitly endorsing income inequality.

    So if acknowledging the decline of manufacturing and growing working class woes (while celebrating the income inequality that helped fuel those woes) is all it takes to become a GOP economic populist, just imagine what a speech by Rick about why Reagan would be ashamed of today’s GOP because it doesn’t do enough to care about the poor would do to solidify Rick’s populist cred. He’s just dripping with populism after a speech like that!

    Think Progress
    Rick Santorum Explains Why Ronald Reagan Would Be ‘Appalled’ By Today’s GOP

    by Igor Volsky Posted on June 20, 2014 at 11:22 am

    Rick Santorum appeared to make the case for greater government involvement during a speech at the Faith & Freedom Coalition on Friday, adopting a populist message at odds with Republican rhetoric.

    The former Pennsylvania senator, who is exploring a 2016 presidential bid, quoted President Ronald Reagan to make the case for a more robust government that can provide assistance to lower and middle income Americans. He argued that the Republican would “be appalled today” by GOP lawmakers who tailor their policy prescriptions to conservative orthodoxy rather than the economic problems at hand.

    “One of [Reagan’s] famous quotes was, ‘government isn’t the answer, government is the problem.’ But here is what he said in the beginning of that quote, ‘in this current crisis,’” Santorum declared. “Ladies and gentlemen, we have a different crisis in America, we have a crisis of people in the middle of America feeling disconnected to this country and the opportunity they can provide.”

    Santorum, who just published a book focused on economic populism, called on the GOP to adopt an agenda “that speaks across the economic spectrum” and become “the party of the worker, not just the party of business.” That agenda includes a greater focus on American-made manufacturing, vocational education, and building “the infrastructure of America.”

    “Republicans, it’s okay for people to just work from 9 to 5 and have the opportunity to raise a family on the wages that you make,” he added, reiterating that he is open to raising the federal minimum wage.

    Woah! Reagan would be ashamed by the abandonment of blue collar workers? Rick wants to raise the minimum wage(a whole 50 cents a year for three years)? Behold, the GOP economic populism!

    So is Rick Santorum’s 2016 campaign going to be defined by his bold new brand of GOP economic populism? Well, let’s just say that Rick is definitely going to try to make that be the case, but if even Fox News doesn’t buy what he’s selling, it might not be so easy this time around:

    Crooks & Liars
    Chris Wallace Smacks Rick Santorum On Flat Tax Myth That Helps The Rich

    By John Amato

    6/07/15 12:00pm

    It’s hard to try and pass yourself off as the true champion of the working class in America if your fiscal policies are pro-rich. And anyone who proposes the fraudulent flat tax scheme as a way to fix our economy is more charlatan than candidate. That’s Rick Santorum’s problem in the nutshell. Everyone knows he’s a die hard religious Conservative to his core, but in his attempts to separate himself from his right wing fellows, he’s acting like the emperor trying to dress up in new clothes. (Robert Reich has a nice take down of the flat tax con job here)

    Chris Wallace takes apart Santorum’s plans and disses her bogus defense for his flat tax scheme pretty easily.

    WALLACE: You wanted only two income tax rates, 10 percent and 28 percent. Tax capital gains at 12 percent. And corporate taxes at 17.5 percent.

    Here’s the problem: the Tax Policy Center said the middle class, on average, would save $4,000, while the top 1 percent taxpayer would save, on average, almost $350,000. And you would cut federal revenues by 40 percent.

    Question: how do you pass, create, impose a flat tax that, one, isn’t going to gut the federal treasury, that’s going to raise enough money, and, two, isn’t going to be a bonanza for the top 1 percent?

    SANTORUM: Well, first off, those numbers are based on a static model. That means that nothing is going to change in the economy if you create all sorts of incentives for people to grow the economy and for people to work with lower tax rates. And I just reject that. I mean, that’s just a flat earth way of looking at economic growth.

    One of the things I believe in is that you —

    Here’s a tip, Rick. Just saying you reject something doesn’t mean it’s so.

    WALLACE: But if you lower the tax rate, as much as you are for the top, they’re going to do a lot better than the middle class because they’re getting a bigger reduction.

    SANTORUM: The whole idea is to treat everybody fairly. That’s the reason we’re looking at a flat tax. We’ll have provisions in there that make sure that lower and middle income Americans are not going to pay more taxes — in fact, pay less taxes.

    The bottom line is, we have to create growth. You want to reduce the deficit. You want to grow — you know, you want to grow jobs in America, then you have to do something to create jobs. And that means economic growth. And that’s — means you create incentives for people who grow the economy.

    So, yes, I am — that’s why I said that the Republican message is a good message on growth, cutting taxes, supply side economics, but we have to make sure we orient that growth in areas where people who are suffering in America today, manufacturing, energy, construction, those types of jobs that create opportunities for good-paying jobs for working men and women, that those jobs are created here in America.

    The canard that he wants to treat everybody fairly is also another typical conservative rouse to support the flat tax. If Santorum truly wants to help the working class in this country – he needs to supports policies that help those workers and not ones that favor the 1%.

    It really is that simple, but little Rickie is running as a Republican and he can never abandon the rich elites. The rich don’t need tax cutting incentives to create jobs because the billions they make off their backs is incentive enough.

    With the economy rebounding like it has, it’s hard to try and promote a bogus plan like the flat tax, but that won’t stop Santorum or others that will use this horrible plan because they know they can spin it like a yoyo.

    Yes, Rick Santorum’s brand of economic populism is so regressive that he got called on it on Fox News:


    WALLACE: You wanted only two income tax rates, 10 percent and 28 percent. Tax capital gains at 12 percent. And corporate taxes at 17.5 percent.

    Here’s the problem: the Tax Policy Center said the middle class, on average, would save $4,000, while the top 1 percent taxpayer would save, on average, almost $350,000. And you would cut federal revenues by 40 percent.

    Question: how do you pass, create, impose a flat tax that, one, isn’t going to gut the federal treasury, that’s going to raise enough money, and, two, isn’t going to be a bonanza for the top 1 percent?

    SANTORUM: Well, first off, those numbers are based on a static model. That means that nothing is going to change in the economy if you create all sorts of incentives for people to grow the economy and for people to work with lower tax rates. And I just reject that. I mean, that’s just a flat earth way of looking at economic growth.

    A 40% cut in Federal revenues via a tax cut that gives gives the top 1 percent a cut that’s 87.5 times larger than the cut for the average middle class tax payer is Rick’s idea of populism. Good thing he’s in favor of income inequality or there might be a problem there.

    But don’t worry about seeing all those federal programs that actually help the bottom 99 percent disappear. Why? “Well, first off, those numbers are based on a static model…And I just reject that”.

    So there’s your contemporary GOP economic populist: Massive tax cuts for the rich that apparently won’t destroy the budget due to the magic of “dynamic scoring” and supply-side economics), plus a nice little minimum wage boost for the rabble.

    Ricky is no doubt making the populist ghost of Reagan very, very proud.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 8, 2015, 2:50 pm

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