Wednesday, February 20, 2019

December 10, 2010: the day Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) changed the discussion to inequality

First published December 11, 2010

It has occurred to me that yesterday was the perfect storm.

For the first time in my lifetime, a real man took the floor in the United States Senate, and fought for the soul of his country.

Senator Bernie Sanders, 69 years old, stood up on the floor of the Senate and over a period of eight and a half hours, gave the world an incredible history lesson and economics lesson about what has happened to the United States economically from 1928 to 2010.

I have never seen anything like this, and I doubt I will ever see it again.

But Bernie Sanders, armed only with facts, evidence, and the truth, laid out clearly, and unimpeachably, how Reaganomics -- which has controlled the financial wellbeing of the American people from 1980 to 2010 -- was merely a replay of the laissez faire economics which led up to the Great Crash of 1929, and the Great Depression which ensued.

I do not know what the future holds, whether Sanders's landmark speech will go unheeded like the great warning given to us by Theodore Roosevelt in 1910, or whether it will mark a turning point bringing us back from the abyss which lies ahead if present policy is continued, but either scenario guarantees that we will look back on yesterday, December 10, 2010, as a significant day in American history... the day the case was made for fairness by one Bernard Sanders.

In 1980, professional screen actor Ronald Reagan began one of the greatest con jobs in all of history, convincing a majority or at least a strong plurality of the American people that government is bad, and corporations are good.

This policy has been in the ascendancy for thirty years. The antitrust laws which prevented monopolization and ensured competition have been virtually torn out of the law books, the securities laws were rendered unenforceable by congressional action impeding private enforcement and staffing reductions impeding public enforcement, income tax and estate laws were manipulated to increase the burdens on the working class and to decrease the burdens on the wealthiest of Americans, the copyright laws were manipulated to favor large corporations over artists, creators, and the public, the laws which separated the financial markets and banks were eliminated, and on and on.

Republican Pres. George H. W. Bush of course continued Reaganomics.

And Pres. Bill Clinton, nominally a Democrat, continued it, too. He even expanded upon it, by foisting NAFTA upon the American people, and accelerating the export of American jobs to other countries, further obliterating the middle class that had been created by the protections of the New Deal for trade unions, and by social safety nets such as Social Security and unemployment insurance and the GI Bill. Bill Clinton's term created unprecedented opportunity for multinational corporations, all at the expense of the common man, to whom not a thing "trickled down". Although a Democrat, and most often labeled a "centrist", one would be hard pressed to find a single economic policy of Reagan and Bush which Clinton did not at least continue, and in many cases expand upon. His "centrism" helped to further weaken our country's "center", its middle class. So I reject the appellation "centrist"; he unfailingly represented the right wing's economic agenda. Unlike Reagan, Clinton probably wasn't doctrinaire about Reaganomics and trickle-down, he was willing to do whatever the polls said would be popular. And since Reagan's sales pitch had worked, he just went along with it. He of course never attempted to mount his own sales pitch for what he knew was right; that would be "leadership". We've had none of that.

Then Pres. George W. Bush came along, getting into power in 2000 only by election tampering and judicial cronyism, and clinging to power in 2004 only by massive election fraud, and in both terms continuing with great vigor the right wing, anti-people, pro-corporation policy of his admitted hero, Ronald Reagan.

The very first murmur of an end to Reaganomics was the campaign of then Senator Barack Obama in 2008, who made numerous campaign promises, among them that he would fight for a public option in health care, an end to the Hyde Amendment impairing womens' right to choose, and an end to the George W. Bush tax cuts for the rich.

Unfortunately it was only in the campaign that Mr. Obama waged those fights.

As President he has not fought at all for the things he represented that he believed in, and his healthcare reform was cause for great jubilation among healthcare insurance companies and the investors who held their stock, since its primary features were to force an increase in the number of policy holders, whether they could afford to buy the policies or not, and to prevent people other than those on Medicare [or in the employ of Congress] from having access to a public option.

In view of the strong sense of public outrage at Obama's backroom deal with GOP leaders to extend tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, in this time of massive deficit and economic depression, and the President's inability to convince the people that the nonsensical thing he is doing makes any sense, Pres. Obama further demonstrated his weakness by trotting out his Democratic Party, Reaganomics-loving, predecessor, Bill Clinton, to speak to reporters yesterday, in an attempt to deflect attention from Senator Sanders's historic speech.

How fitting. And how surprising that a longtime supporter of Reaganomics would argue for its continuation.

The "mainstream" media -- which ignored Senator Sanders's historic address on the floor of the Senate -- was quick to report on Clinton's tired talk with reporters in the Whitehouse briefing room, a vivid illustration of why the "mainstream" media are no longer "mainstream", and why no tears are being shed for their ongoing demise.

Among Twitter's 100 million plus members, the Bernie Sanders address trended #1 worldwide. It was clearly the most important story in the world that day: a battle for the soul of the most powerful country in the world, trying to pull it back from its government's love affair with the most powerful multinational corporations and aggregations of wealth the world has ever seen, whose greatest joys in life are the rape of forests, oceans, and mountaintops, the slaughter of everything that breathes, the building of armaments, the destruction of ancient peoples and cultures, and the privatizing of water needed by poor people for their survival.

Yesterday was the perfect storm. A perfect alignment of the forces of light versus the forces of darkness.

On one side, Bernie Sanders fighting for the people.

On the other, the corporatists, plutocrats, and oligarchs, and the corporate media who continually try to spin their malignancy as benign, fighting for the wealthy.

What a day.

I will remember it forever.

God bless Bernie Sanders.

Full transcript of Sen. Bernie Sanders(@SenSanders)'s historic 12/10/10 speech

Video of the speech

A paperback book of the speech

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  1. Thanks for a good summation! Found it via FDL.

  2. I love Firedog Lake.... their article was great.

  3. Great post. Yes the mainstream media did not cover Sen Bernie Sanders filibuster on the Senate floor at all and yes this is why I no longer waste time watching CNN, Fox, MSNBC, and their ilk.

    Once again, true news came only through Twitter and a couple of AM Talk Radio Shows that cover progressive topics.

    A friend of mine attempted to post Bernie's URL on his Facebook page, the URL was reported as Spam and all he could say was Google pathetic is that.

    Facebook, big on you not having any privacy and also big on censoring what Americans huge a fail as the mainstream media was.

  4. It's a real shame that his efforts won't mean anything in the long run. Sanders was wonderful. Thank Ray.

  5. In the long run... it matters a lot!

  6. The real Mr. Smith. I recorded it and have considered it to be the equivalent of one long appellate argument.

    Several honest folks voted Nay in the Senate:
    NAYs ---15
    Bingaman (D-NM)
    Brown (D-OH)

    Feingold (D-WI)
    Gillibrand (D-NY)
    Hagan (D-NC)
    Lautenberg (D-NJ)
    Leahy (D-VT)
    Levin (D-MI)
    Sanders (I-VT)

    Udall (D-CO)

    The legislature is not quite a wholly-owned corporate beast.

    /s/ grolaw

  7. Great post. Being over in Europe it's sometimes hard to get a feel for how much the MSM covers what I'm seeing as the important news items of the day, usually found via Twitter or the blogs that I follow. It's absolutely shameful that most Americans weren't exposed to Bernie's brilliance the other day. He's truly my hero.

  8. Missed this first time around. Exactly right. I wrote to both NYTimes & NPR about their abysmal coverages. I was out that day and listened to 'All things Considered' at 4pm..but did not learn about Sanders 'til signing on to Twitter!
    The next day, opening the NYTimes, for a flash second I thought it was Bernie on the front page. No such luck, just Clinton the tax-cut apogist. Yuck!

  9. Thanks Cindy.

    It's really pathetic that the "mainstream" media are now totally "lamestream"; they are nothing but tools.

    Thankful that we have some tools with which to get the word out.

  10. I'm starting to think it was a "turning point bringing us back from the abyss". I think it was the beginning of OccupyWallStreet

  11. Ray I will confer with you on the topic of mainstream media being lamestream media. I also agree there has been a sad lack of leadership in the White House for many years. Anyone that makes statements like all government is bad or all corporations are bad have not clearly thought their position or are misinformed. The historical economic and political lesson Sen. Bernie Sanders will be highlighted in history books in the future. As for now, Americans have divided themselves into the two distinct camps noted above. Often these divisions are along economic lines. When all Americans, including congress, can put away their "blame game" tactics, they will be able to seek a solution. Until then, it will all be rhetoric, delaying the time to a solution.

  12. Dear Dana

    I don't know anyone who says "all corporations are bad". Have never seen anyone who says that.

    Have seen a lot of rightwing idiots who say that "government is bad".

    Almost all for-profit corporations are essentially sociopathic in nature, in that their sole mission is to make money for their shareholders -- i.e. to help themselves. It is the job of government, which creates corporations by statute, to regulate the corporations, and to ensure that they are helpful, not harmful, to people.

    If you have a government which is controlled by corporations, rather than by people, it is the tail wagging the dog.

    And if you have a government controlled by a handful of wealthy people operating it for their own benefit, that is oligarchy, not democracy.

    In my opinion your comment was platitudinous, picking easy targets like "mainstream media", "lack of leadership", and people who say "all .... are bad".

    You ought to come out and say what you really believe. I have a hunch you're of the rightwing persuasion, but that's just a hunch.

    I wish you a healthy and happy new year, one in which "we the people" become the dominant political force in the United States, and start working to repair the damage the foxes have done to the hen house.

  13. Ray,

    In response, one of the dividing factors in our society has been labels such as rightwing and leftwing. Much of the rhetoric around the Occupy Wall Street movement has centered around the evils of corporations. Our society depends on corporations for jobs. Many of those jobs have shifted overseas driven by a desire to make more money and allowed by government policies. Globalization has created pricing pressure and wage pressure. Meanwhile, many corporations have overstepped their bounds including: CEO pay, ridiculous bonuses not indicative of performance, government bailouts with little accountability, and in some cases illegal activity.

    Policy and the laws that support policies have unintended consequences. Reducing regulations allowed US Corporations a way to compete internationally. The same regulations allows US Corporations the opportunity to keep international profits overseas and taxed only upon repatriation. It has also allowed corporations to ship jobs overseas.

    Regulations have a tendency to create an artificial barrier to entry for potential competition. GE can hire 143 tax attorneys to ensure they pay as little tax as is legally possible. Small businesses, accounting for 96% of job growth, cannot afford to do so. Thus, we become more and more reliant on big corporations for jobs.

    I am not making a statement that regulation is bad or good, just that it does have unintended consequences. Some of those consequences cannot be foreseen. Social Security being one of these regulations that has evolved into a much different program than was foreseen by FDR.

    As far as taxes, we have the lowest tax brackets of all time. Personally I am opposed to the 40 - 100 hours I spend every year and $1500 to my accountant to process my taxes. The tax rates must be increased. The question becomes who should bear the increases. I think everyone should pay more. Of course that depends on whether you think taxes are intended to run a government or as a vehicle for wealth redistribution. I am of the former persuasion.

    Regardless of your ideological position, we can all agree we cannot continue with high unemployment and government expenditures exceeding revenue. I would prefer we come up with a solution. Taxes need to increase at least to Clinton year levels, if not higher. Tax code needs simplification. Corporations need to be held accountable. All of this is very easy to say, but extremely difficult to find enough common ground to achieve. The solution leaves everybody unhappy.

  14. As a matter of fact the answers are much simpler than you make them out to be.

    We need to increase taxes on the wealthy, make corporations bring jobs back home, protect collective bargaining, enforce the antitrust laws, require alternate energy and green technology, rebuild the public schools and public libraries, reform copyright and patent law to stimulate rather than deter creativity, create a financial package to writedown mortgaged properties and to impose a moratorium on foreclosures, provide a workable public healthcare option, and require that Medicare's bargaining power be used to leverage down prices of pharmaceuticals.

  15. Wonderful, Ray. Thanks for sharing.


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