What’s the Matter with America? – Thomas Frank

Video ThumbnailThomas Frank, author of "What's the Matter with Kansas", joins Paul Jay to answer the question: "why was this election even close"? Transcript Paul Jay Hi, I'm Paul Jay. Welcome to theAnalysis.news podcast, and please don't forget the donate button at the top of the web page. As we are rec

Thomas Frank, author of “What’s the Matter with Kansas”, joins Paul Jay to answer the question: “why was this election even close”?

Transcript

Paul Jay

Hi, I’m Paul Jay. Welcome to theAnalysis.news podcast, and please don’t forget the donate button at the top of the web page.

As we are recording this podcast, Joe Biden is closing in on 270 electoral votes and it seems likely that eventually he’ll be inaugurated President of the United States. There are still many legal shenanigans that can take place, including something dramatic from the Supreme Court. But even senior people in the Republican Party apparently expect Trump will lose. That said, why the hell was this election even close? I don’t have to list the reasons why Trump should have been trounced and the Dems should have won the Senate and not lost seats in the House, as it looks like they are. If the Democrats don’t take the Senate, and at the moment it looks like they won’t, then there will be at least two years of gridlock, exactly what Wall Street wanted.

Now, joining us to answer the question, What’s the matter with America? is Thomas Frank. He’s a political analyst, historian, and journalist. He co-founded and edited The Baffler magazine. He’s written several books, most notably, What’s the Matter with Kansas? in 2004, and Listen, Liberal in 2016. And his most recent book is The People, No. Thanks for joining us, Thomas.

Thomas Frank

Paul, it is my pleasure to be here once again — one more time after one more disastrous election for Team Liberal. [Laughing.]

Paul Jay

Yeah, no kidding.

Thomas Frank

And here we are again.

Paul Jay

Now, the problem is, is when you and I interview, we always have so much fun. And the problem is, it ain’t no laughing matter what’s going on here.

Thomas Frank

I know; I know.

Paul Jay

But I suppose, what the hell?

Thomas Frank

The only reason I chuckle about it — and I know it’s not funny; it’s deeply frustrating — is because I’ve written about it for so many years. It’s like we’re in this eternal return [i.e., eternal recurrence], and it’s all out there, you know, anybody can see this. And yet the people responsible refused to do anything about it. Look, I’ve been writing about this for years. You’ve been talking about this for years. But they refused, you know, to do what needs to be done to make sure it doesn’t happen again. So, there is this kind of comical nature to it.

Paul Jay

I think the problem for the corporate Democrats — obviously, first of all, it’s their own self-interest — but I don’t know what they really believe in their heart of hearts in terms of what they want.

But I think they are terrified that the financial sector will simply go over to the Republicans whole hog if they don’t play this centrist, Wall Street-pleasing game, if they really go into — if you want to use the term — “left populism.” But which is, as you pointed out in your book and in our other interview, actually “populism.”

Thomas Frank

Yeah, that’s what it is.

Paul Jay

What is comes from, is “left populism.” But forget even the word “populism.” If they just go to an FDR-ish kind of position, Wall Street is not going to like it. And so, they play this tightrope act and then they get fooled by pollsters where they think they’re going to win. How could they be so wrong this time? Again.

Thomas Frank

Because it’s a crappy formula, Paul. The whole formula is designed to like, at best, eke out a tiny little marginal victory by sort of fighting over this swing faction of highly educated voters in the suburbs who used to be Republicans and today are more inclined to the Democrats. That’s what they’re fighting over. And that’s not a whole lot of people. So, by its very nature, this is a strategy that is not designed to yield Roosevelt-style majorities.

That was something different. That was when Roosevelt had the working masses of America behind him in enormous numbers. And that’s what the Democratic Party used to be. But they turned their back on that strategy, as you know, Paul. It took them decades to do it. But they do it all the time. I mean, they’ve been doing it all along and they have no intention of going back.

Today’s leadership of the Democratic Party: this is their sort of foundation, their generational “gift.” This is what they brought to the Democratic Party: to turn their backs on Roosevelt’s Democrats and make the Democrats into this party that could compete for Wall Street donations and Silicon Valley money and those affluent, highly educated voters in the suburbs.

And they think this is a triumph, by the way. This is a triumph, OK? Because, every now and then, they can win an election. And, as one of my friends said on Twitter today, all the consultants get Teslas. You know? I’m here in Bethesda, Maryland. I’m surrounded by Democratic lobbyists and consultants. You know how much money they spent just on their Senate races? Over a billion dollars. Just on their Senate races. I think they picked up one seat.

Paul Jay

It’s crazy.

Thomas Frank

Yeah, yeah. But somebody got rich there, Paul. [Laughs.] It just wasn’t you and me, and it sure as hell wasn’t the, you know, working people of America.

Paul Jay

Bernie Sanders, in the last few weeks, was telling Biden — practically pleading, it seemed, with Biden — to hammer this economic message, a real vision of what a different economy would look like. And he also said, forcefully, let AOC get out front. Use her to help gather the youth vote, the Latino vote. And they just wouldn’t do it. It’s like what you’ve said before. It’s not that they don’t like the left: they hate the left of the party.

Thomas Frank

Yeah, it’s the left represents that throwback. You know, it’s a relic of that older Democratic Party that this generation of Democratic leaders suppressed. And they absolutely despise it.

By the way, there are so many books and articles that I’m never going to get to write in my life. But one of them — and this completely mystifies me — is why they hate Bernie Sanders so much. He’s really not a menacing guy. He’s not a mean guy. He’s not an evil guy. He’s kind of friendly. You know, he’s not threatening. And they hate him so much. And I’m totally puzzled by that.

Paul Jay

Because he almost won.

Thomas Frank

Well, he almost won. But so, what? You know, somebody has to win. And it’s because he’s not part of this faction and he’s not part of this generational shift in the Democratic Party.

By the way, you mentioned at the start, you know, “Who are they? What do they stand for?” Well, Biden in this sense is, like, who knows what he stood for? I mean, well, he stood for one thing, that’s for sure: he’s a nice guy. He’s a friendly man.

But, oh, my God, did they ever get played again? Do you remember in ’16, I wrote that famous story for The Guardian about Trump winning, and I wrote it after watching Trump on the Internet do rally after rally after rally — totally unanswered by Hillary Clinton — in the closing weeks of the 2016 election?

He just did it again. And Biden? There was zero response. And we still don’t really know what Biden stands for. I mean, in his campaign, he has people on the left and he has people way to the right. You know, these retreads from the Clinton administration.

Paul Jay

And a group of neocon Republicans.

Thomas Frank

Yep, that’s right. He’s got those guys in there, too. And they’re going to be amply rewarded for the great success that they just engineered. So, you know, four more years for Trump to build his insane movement.

Yeah, anyhow. So, I’ve thought about this a lot, to go back to your very first question, this near miss. Biden barely just squeaked by against one of the worst presidents we’ve ever seen. What the hell?

Paul Jay

Assuming he does.

Thomas Frank

It’s not totally nailed down yet. But I expect to hear that the AP has announced it very shortly. I mean, sometime today [i.e., Friday, November 6th], is when I mean.

But here’s the deal: you and I and everybody else said all along — well, I don’t know if you said this — but me and all my dumb friends who were listening to the American mass media said that this election is going to be a referendum on Trump. Look how he bungled the pandemic. I said it myself many times: “Look how he bungled the pandemic. Look what a lousy president he’s been. Look at how the economy has collapsed. Look at his idiotic tweets, the stupid things he says in public, all of the lies that he tells. Look at his bigotry.”

OK. But I think this also was a referendum on liberals. If you go back and look at conservative rhetoric, it’s all about the horror of Wokeness, the horror of political correctness, all of the crazy stuff that’s going on. In some ways, they were able to engineer this as a referendum on us. Look, I’m on the left, obviously.

Paul Jay

I don’t want to be included in that “us.”

Thomas Frank

I know. It’s rhetorical, OK? I know it’s not you. You’re a Canadian, for God’s sakes. [Laughs.]

Paul Jay

No, I’m a dual citizen, so I guess half of the “us” would have been me.

Thomas Frank
[Laughs.] Anyhow, the one of the really annoying phenomena of 2016 that you and I have talked about before was all of these pundits who came out after the election was over and we’re saying, like, “I hate the American people.” These are liberals, mind you, liberals denouncing the people. Well, they’re doing it again, Paul, if you go on Twitter, which is where all the commentary happens today, they’re doing it again.

It’s like, you know, “We didn’t fail. The people failed.” You know, “They failed us,” not the other way around. Well, I’m here to tell you that attitude is a loser. All of this contempt that liberals constantly show for ordinary people, you know, demanding that we genuflect before this or that credentialed authority, calling people names, the whole “liberalism of scolding,” is what I like to call it. This really rubs people the wrong way.

Now, I think everybody knows that. The problem is when you say this and then your mainstream pundits here in America are like, “Well, what else is there?” They can’t even imagine, Paul, a majoritarian liberalism that appeals to a huge number of people. But, you know, you talk about Bernie Sanders and you talk about that sort of broad-based economic liberalism. I’m here to tell you that has, like, 80-percent appeal. That’s the kind of stuff that powered Franklin Roosevelt winning these overwhelming landslides. If you want a landslide and you’re a liberal, you’re on the left, that’s how you do it. You know, you don’t do it with this other crap, this liberalism of the highly educated elite scolding everybody else for being so stupid.

Paul Jay

The other thing I find in a way surprising — although, again, I get it because of who they are — but for years and years I’ve been arguing with corporate Democrat types that you cannot have a media like MSNBC and then CNN, which became as bad or worse, that’s purely a partisan set of cheerleaders for the Democratic Party and think that those sections of the working class and the population that might vote for Trump are going to watch it. There is such a media divide in this country that that the corporate Democrats and such don’t actually understand. They can’t even talk to half the country. They’re not listening to [i.e., liberal, Democratic] media either, whether it’s radio or television, so whatever their talking points, it’s almost irrelevant. It just doesn’t have a way to get to people.

Thomas Frank

I would actually go further than that. That is totally true. But there is also this sense in which, to keep talking about Roosevelt, if you will, there’s a sense in which media unanimity — and one of the things that you’ve missed in this country, Paul, the last four years; because you’re in Canada, you’ve missed it —

Paul Jay

No, no, I’ve been in the US most of the last four years.

Thomas Frank

OK, but this airtight cultural hegemony of liberalism — what they call “cancel culture,” which is kind of a weird euphemism for “hegemony.” These people run the show and if you speak out, you will be punished. And it’s happened to friends of mine who are totally decent. Like, way-to-the-left kind of people, you know, really good people. But you cannot challenge this hegemony publicly. And you see it in the news media. It’s everywhere. It’s in the art world. It’s in the medicine world. It’s in the university; in higher education. It’s everywhere you go.

This is a recipe for turning people off. In 1936, the media did the exact same thing to Roosevelt. They were on the other side back then. They were very, very, very conservative. Newspapers, were owned by these very wealthy men, like what’s-his-name in Chicago, McCormick. They hated Roosevelt. They came together against him with unprecedented unanimity, attacking him. Like, there’d be a city with two or three papers: all of them would be against Roosevelt, attacking him on the front page. Every news story was biased, you know. Just this incredible climate of hysteria against Roosevelt.

And, you know, one of the journalism studies of the day that I was reading basically said after Roosevelt proceeded to win this incredible landslide — he won forty-eight states, you know — this wipeout — and they attribute it in part not only to the fact that he was popular and was doing a good job as president, but to this incredible snob-union against him, this sort of common front of the assholes, you know, the rich and the conservative newspaper-owners, the newspaper barons. And it’s satirized in movies of the period. What is it called? Meet John Doe. Or Citizen Kane, you know, which isn’t really about the thirties, but Meet John Doe is. It’s a Capra movie in which this newspaper owner is plotting this kind of malign campaign. 

But, yeah, the public hated these people. Absolutely hated them. And we walked right into the trap. I mean, it’s the exact same thing all over again. I mean, Trump is no Roosevelt. Trump is just a jackass. But the mistake is exactly the same.

Paul Jay

Well, that’s what you’ve said many times. The right has captured the anti-elitism, even though they represent the worst parts of the elite.

Thomas Frank

Well, they used to: they’re slowly losing them. But, yeah, big oil. Big polluters. Yeah. Yes, that is exactly right. And they’re going to ride that for the rest of our lives.

Paul Jay

Oh, God, I hope not. But I go back to this media issue —

Thomas Frank

Paul, you’ve got to treat it as a spectator sport. Otherwise you’re going to go crazy.

Paul Jay

Yeah. I’m not going crazy. [Laughter.] So what Fox did, I think is a very important piece of how this unfolded. Fox showed a business model —

Thomas Frank

Yes!

Paul Jay

— not so much the political model; it was the business model: you make money throwing red meat to a segment of the society, meaning the hard right. And just keep throwing red meat at them and you will make money.

Thomas Frank

Yeah.

Paul Jay

MSNBC and CNN start falling down. They start really losing to Fox, so they start adopting a similar business model, which is totally anti-Trump, totally anti-Fox. No journalism, you know — just “liberal” (if you want to even call it that) red meat to their base. And there’s no journalism left, which means the people watching Fox who might be willing to look at a news network that actually did journalism and was willing to critique Obama in a serious way and willing to go after the corporate Democrats and so on, journalistically, there’s no such thing on a mass scale.

Thomas Frank

In America, that’s true. And I’m living testimony to it. I used to be on there all the time until I started criticizing Obama. And I mean, friendly criticism, remember. But even that is not acceptable. Now, how’s that for freaky in the land of the free press, you know? That’s crazy.

So, to go back to what you said about Fox News, you’re exactly right. I mean, that’s the whole cable revolution. That’s when they figured out you can make tons of money just by hitting a small demographic. Remember in the old days where there were only three networks, you tried for these gigantic mass audiences. The lowest common denominator, all that stuff. But cable comes along and they start figuring this out. And it was Roger Ailes who was Nixon’s campaign manager. You remember this? Roger Ailes was the boss of Fox News, and he figured out something very simple and yet, today, so obvious: a lot of this is really good entertainment. People get caught up in these stories. You know, the stories have a natural kind of human appeal. It’s all about, you know, Christians being persecuted or ordinary Americans being disrespected or, you know, the fantasy of the war on Christmas. You know, whatever the nutty fantasy of the day is, that stuff nevertheless is compelling and it really draws you in.

And so, news becomes entertainment and it becomes excellent entertainment. Remember Glenn Beck, you remember that show? I mean, to call that a news show was just absurd, but it was really compelling. You know, you’re surrounded by communists. They’re all secret. The president himself is probably one. [Laughing.]  It was berserk. It was nuts.

But anyhow, the others then just followed suit. They’re like, well, if Ailes could do this, we can do it, too. And you’re right: the result is absolutely loathsome. It doesn’t reach a mass audience. And when it does, like when you go flip on MSNBC — I don’t watch cable at all, but when I watch MSNBC or Fox or whatever — I mean, let’s take MSNBC because I used to be on there all the time. I watch it and I’m, like, what they’re saying is not correct. I mean, they’re just flat wrong about all kinds of things. And anybody can see this. Then they go around fact-checking. I mean, where the fuck do they get off fact-checking?

Paul Jay

We run a comedy show that we pick up from this Australian Juice Media —

Thomas Frank

Oh, I saw that. I watched it because you sent it an email. It was hilarious.

Paul Jay

It’s hilarious. They have this wonderful word which they didn’t make up but I didn’t hear it anywhere else before that. And they call it “government shitfuckery”. And, God, it’s so appropriate. [Laughter.]

I had a bizarre moment with Roger Ailes. I was covering the Democratic Party convention in 2016, and I had this little studio set up. I’m standing there, and in walks Roger Ailes, and he comes up to me — this is two weeks after he was fired from Fox.

Thomas Frank

Yeah, I was going to say, wasn’t that about the end for him?

Paul Jay

It was two weeks after he’d been fired. He comes over to me and gives me this big hug. And there are people taking photographs. There’s a film crew. And I said to my friend there, I said, “What could I have done wrong to deserve that? How on earth could — ?” [Laughter.] And then he goes over to one of the women working with us, puts his hand on her shoulder, and says to me, “You got to be good to your girls, Paul.” Two weeks after he was fired for sexual abuse!

Thomas Frank

Was he drunk?

Paul Jay

No, they were making a documentary about him. He did it knowing he was going to be filmed. It was

insane.

Thomas Frank

And did you know him before? Were you his friend, or anything?

Paul Jay

Didn’t know me from Adam. He was just going to different studios and shaking hands, and whatever, for this film to show that he was still —

Thomas Frank

That he was beloved. That he was beloved.

Paul Jay

But he is in such a bizarre bubble that he didn’t have any idea…

Thomas Frank

I think I know where you were. Were you on “radio row” at the Democratic Convention? Yeah, I remember that. I remember where that was.

Paul Jay

It was “TV row” because we had video and all that, but more or less the same thing.

Thomas Frank

Yeah, I remember that. I think it was the Republican convention where, like, Roger Stone was on the set of the Young Turks and almost got in a fight, a fist fight. Do you remember this? I think that was the Republican convention, and it was something crazy like that. Maybe it was Breitbart. I don’t know. I don’t remember anymore.

Paul Jay

So, I’ve been watching a lot of Fox the last week or two. In fact, I find it more interesting than CNN and MSNBC just because I hear stuff I wouldn’t hear there. And they’re going on and on about the Latino vote, and how on the Rio Grande in Texas, the Latino vote may be the thing that swung it to Trump. Of course, there’s lots of talk about Miami-Dade and anti-Venezuelan, anti-Cuban sentiments.

Thomas Frank

Yeah.

Paul Jay

But it shouldn’t be such a surprise, to me, I think, because it’s not like rightwing demagogues don’t do well in Latin America. They do win elections.

Thomas Frank

Well, it’s not like any particular group is automatically impervious to this stuff. It’s just that we counted on Trump’s racism to drive voters like that away. And so, you know, the Democratic Party has been taking people like that for granted for decades because they count on Republican racism to keep them away from the Republicans. I myself shared that [belief]. I mean, I thought, no way Trump can win with people like that because he’s such an asshole to them, you know? But it’s happening. I mean, I’ve also been saying sooner or later it’s going to happen. The Republicans are going to reach out to these people and have success with them. And it’s just happening a little sooner than anybody thought it would.

Paul Jay

Bernie Sanders did better than anyone thought. He came close to winning. If the Democratic corporate elites hadn’t all rallied to Biden when all the other candidates dropped out and supported Biden, Sanders might have given even much more of a horserace. Who knows? He might have won.

So, there’s a lot of popular support for a really progressive agenda out there.

Thomas Frank

Yeah.

Paul Jay

So now it looks like people are going to be facing probably a Biden presidency, probably a Republican Senate with full gridlock so Biden can barely pass anything. And I’m thinking — this is where I’ll put on my Canadian hat, because maybe what I’m saying is impossible — but what I think what people need to be demanding of a Biden presidency is, govern like there is no Senate. Don’t reach across the aisle, don’t negotiate any deals whatsoever, get legislation proposed in the House, get it passed, and then do an executive order and say, I’m doing this because the House said it was OK and I’m saying it’s OK. And the Senate can go to hell.

Thomas Frank

And just see what they do?

Paul Jay

What can they do except fight certain things at the Supreme Court? And it will be a problem at the Supreme Court, but it will become, you know, this war where the House, which is supposed to be the people’s House, passes legislation.

And the thing is this: if they don’t do this on climate issues and they don’t do it on this big green infrastructure plan — but a legitimate one, not a greenwashing one that just makes some sections of Wall Street money — call it a Green New Deal, or whatever.

Thomas Frank

I would love to see that, but, but — yeah —

Paul Jay

But if they don’t do that — excuse me, I’ll drop the f-bomb, too — we’re fucked. I mean, four more years of what will amount to climate denial because the Senate won’t pass anything? We’re running out of time here.

Thomas Frank

OK, fair enough. And you’re right about that. It would be nice if he could do something big, but unfortunately for Biden, big things are off the table. But there are all kinds of things he can do unilaterally as president.

And one of the things that you’re going to be hearing — we’re going to go right back to where Obama was. It’s funny, remember how Biden promised, basically, status quo ante? What you didn’t think was, not the status quo ante of 2009 when Obama had both houses of Congress, but the status quo of 2015 when Obama had neither.

And I was actively in journalism at the time here in America and was writing stories all the time — 2014, I guess — about, you know, this whole narrative that you’d see from mainstream pundits in this country that Obama couldn’t do anything as president. And it was wrong for people to demand that he could, that he do something, because, you know, everyone knows the president just doesn’t have a lot of power, which made me so angry because the president does have a ton of power and could do all kinds of things unilaterally.

And I went at the time — I’m going to do this again. I’ve got to make a note to myself to write this again. I went and called all of these sort of policy experts here in DC and asked them, what could Obama do on your issue without either house of Congress? And they all had an answer. There were all kinds of things he could do. He didn’t. And I wrote it, right? They published the story.

It’s not like Obama couldn’t figure this out. He didn’t do any of them. I’ll give you one example that remains true today. Antitrust is entirely at the discretion of the president, how to enforce antitrust. All our presidents since Reagan have declined to enforce it. Well, Biden can do whatever the hell he wants. He can call in whoever is attorney general, call him into the Oval Office and say, go to town on Google and Microsoft and all the rest of them — Facebook, you know, Apple — go get them. And Amazon, you know, go get them. And it would be incredibly healthful for this country.

And on the environmental front, he has enormous power.

Paul Jay

There’s nothing he can’t do.

Thomas Frank

Well, I don’t know about “nothing.” But he has enormous power over polluters. And so, all of Trump’s deregulation of polluters, that was all executive orders. He can reverse all of them on the first day. All.

Paul Jay

Oh, yeah. But if Trump can build a wall saying it’s some kind of national emergency? There’s no way — even if everything Trump said was threatening America from Mexico and Latin America, let’s say it was all true. It doesn’t come close to the threat of the climate crisis. Declare that a national emergency, roll out the massive infrastructure project, hold hearings in the House about why it’s necessary, and just educate the whole population about the real science of climate and then fight it out at the Supreme Court. Yeah, the Supreme Court will try to kill it. But that war has to be fought.

Thomas Frank

Yeah, you’re probably right. You’re probably right. The most important thing is that people regard this as an upper-class issue because environmentalism always has been one. So, that has to change. And they also regard it as a threat to their way of life. You know, the famous coal miners in West Virginia. And they have to be convinced that’s not the case, that, in fact, there’s all of these possibilities.

And the way to go ahead with that is just to go ahead with it. Just start building, and they will see, you know, and it’ll become obvious. But he has to get appropriations to do that. I mean, the Senate is secondary in that process, but he still has to get their sign-off. I don’t know how he gets it.

But look, Lyndon Johnson could do it. I mean, it’s not impossible. I know Mitch McConnell is, like, one of the biggest pricks ever to walk on the face of the earth. But it can be done.

Paul Jay

You know, I did an interview with Bob Pollin, the economist, the other day. If my memory is correct, in Pennsylvania, it’s something like 123,000 people have jobs in the fossil fuel business. This is, like, natural gas.

Thomas Frank

Sure. But then there’s all the stuff downstream from them. You know how these things work.

Paul Jay

But if you promise through executive order that anyone who loses their job because of the phasing out of fossil fuel will get paid until they’re trained and have another job? It’s such a pittance.

Thomas Frank

OK, but the problem with that — and we shouldn’t go into the weeds like this, the policy weeds. The problem with that is that we’ve done stuff like that before in this country and everybody knows that those promises were false. I mean, the Clinton administration was like, we’ll retrain people who are supposedly affected by NAFTA. Nobody got jack shit. It’s Democrats we’re talking about here, so everything has to be means-tested, you know, and not everybody gets it.

Paul Jay

We got to get out of the weeds here but it’s a really clear example. When I’m saying he should, he should. I’m not saying this because I think he will. I’m talking about what a people’s movement, if it really emerges, a popular people’s movement, what could be demanded. And through executive order, it could be done. And it’s a pittance of money to promise full wages for people. To simply just say, look, the whole society was in on this fossil fuel business. So, it’s not like a few workers should bear the burden.

But the reason Biden didn’t already say that in Pennsylvania — because maybe he would have clearly won it; whether he will or not, we’ll see — is because then he has to really admit and say that he is going to phase out fossil fuel in a reasonable time frame because the science of saying you need to do it. And he doesn’t really want to come out and piss off the fossil fuel companies, so he won’t say it.

Thomas Frank

Yeah, yeah, you’re right. You’re right. But once he’s elected, of course…

By the way, so I’m going to move up to Canada. You know, I’m thinking somewhere in Saskatchewan. It’ll become nice and temperate up there. [Laughing.]

Paul Jay

Yeah. I am lobbying for legislation that will build the wall that some people should be kept out.

Thomas Frank
[Laughing.] Don’t keep me out!

Paul Jay

No, no, no. I would say that I’m going to try to push that people I do interviews with should get in, but I don’t know if it works. [Laughter.] Thanks for joining me, Thomas.

Thomas Frank

You got it, Paul. Anytime. Anytime. By the way, not Saskatchewan. Like, the northern shore of Lake Superior. That’s where I’m going.

Paul Jay

Well, you’ll be able to grow mangoes there soon enough. [Laughter.] And that ain’t funny. It’s funny, but it ain’t funny.

Thomas Frank

Yeah.

Paul Jay

All right, thanks, Thomas. And thank you for joining us on theAnalysis.news podcast. Please don’t forget the donate button at the top of the webpage.

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  • What is meant by, “They (est. Dems) hate Sanders”? Would they kill him? They have connections. They could get a Novichok-type agent and blame it on the Russians. They “hate” the Russians, too. Two birds with one stone! FDR, he was really hated. I was just a boy of 13 when WW2 ended, but I remember for a long time how much FDR was reviled by what was then the far right. I recall names of his haters, Long, Fish, Nye, Flynn. His haters wrote books about FDR. They called him a traitor. That, to a boy, seemed like real hate! Then there were his lovers. Workers loved him. I don’t think Sanders’ supporters love him the way I recall people in my family loved FDR. They hung on his words. They believed in him. He didn’t deserve all the adulation. He didn’t deserve the hatred either. Looking back with more knowledge than I had at 13, I know that FDR did some terrible things. He sent a ship of Jews back to Germany to be slaughtered. He let the Spanish Republic die and regretted that later, not morally but as a strategic mistake. He forced the Nisei into US concentration camps. He accepted HST as a replacement for Wallace – his greatest mistake, in my opinion. Hatred? The hatred of FDR was deep and lasting. His name brings echos of that contempt down through the decades to this very day. That was hatred!

  • Talking of the discussion with Thomas Frank re the federal government promising no loss of income to those who would lose their jobs in Pennsylvania if fossil fuels were phased out, the option is not only to do that. There are options of alternative investment in the existing enterprises, provided the structure of the new or re-fabricated industries are done in consultation with the workers through works councils or unions. That would be a better way than having laid-off workers on enhanced welfare. Introduce some of the methods used over the past decades to modernize industry in Germany: all through joint union-management decision making. The government investment should also not be a gift to the enterprise, but an ownership stake, with a say in the outcome of the discussions between the enterprise and the workers.

  • It is simply impossible to discuss anything with people that I call Trumpsters. So, your premise is completely wrong. These people are simply irrational. The uneducated and brainwashed masses are totally lost. It is an illusion that we have to accommodate them. As for Trump himself, I ignored him entirely during the last four years. You will go crazy if you take him seriously.

    As for Fox and MSNBC, the best policy is not to watch either one of them. Fox is beyond hope and MSNBC is the Russiagate channel.