Footnotes: Research from TV 1/5/2011

Ok gang, it's time to do your homework. The research team has been putting together a lot of information for the show today, more than we could ever get to in an hour. We could do a whole week on this stuff, but you have to learn for yourself. E2 - Education. Check out the information below:

1) “The New Role of National Legislative Bodies in the Communist Conspiracy”

A reprint of “How Parliament Can Play a Revolutionary Part in the Transition to Socialism” and “The Role of the Popular Masses” By Jan Kozak Historian of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia—this is the bottom up, top down theory that Glenn always talks about—the document is dated December 30, 1961 and is from the Committee on Un-American Activities.

2) VAN JONES “GRAB THE WHIP”

COMMENTS MADE FACING RACE 2010 CONFERENCE IN CHICAGO, IL

3) IEA CHIEF SAYS “"OIL PRICES ARE ENTERING A DANGEROUS ZONE FOR THE GLOBAL ECONOMY.”

4) PELOSI BACKGROUND - PELOSI ON HEALTH CARE

§  If everyone in America was very, very pleased with his or her health insurance and had no complaints and had access to quality, affordable health care in our country, it still would have been necessary for us to pass the health-care reform bill because we could not sustain the system…

FULL ARTICLE ON PELOSI

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/44/2011/01/cantor-defends-house-republica.html?wprss=44

§  Earlier Tuesday, outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and a half-dozen members of the House Democratic leadership fired their own salvos at the GOP over health-care repeal.

§  "If everyone in America was very, very pleased with his or her health insurance and had no complaints and had access to quality, affordable health care in our country, it still would have been necessary for us to pass the health-care reform bill because we could not sustain the system," she said.

§  The dueling press conferences set the stage for what's likely to be the central battle in the opening weeks of the new Congress. New members of the House and Senate will get sworn in on Wednesday afternoon.

5)    History of Cloward-Piven influence

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/2319127/posts

Cloward and Piven recruited a militant black organizer named George Wiley to lead their new movement. In the summer of 1967, Wiley founded the National Welfare Rights Organization (NWRO). His tactics closely followed the recommendations set out in Cloward and Piven's article. His followers invaded welfare offices across the United States -- often violently -- bullying social workers and loudly demanding every penny to which the law "entitled" them. By 1969, NWRO claimed a dues-paying membership of 22,500 families, with 523 chapters across the nation.

Regarding Wiley's tactics, The New York Times commented on September 27, 1970, "There have been sit-ins in legislative chambers, including a United States Senate committee hearing, mass demonstrations of several thousand welfare recipients, school boycotts, picket lines, mounted police, tear gas, arrests - and, on occasion, rock-throwing, smashed glass doors, overturned desks, scattered papers and ripped-out phones."These methods proved effective. "The flooding succeeded beyond Wiley's wildest dreams," writes Sol Stern in the City Journal. "From 1965 to 1974, the number of single-parent households on welfare soared from 4.3 million to 10.8 million, despite mostly flush economic times. By the early 1970s, one person was on the welfare rolls in New York City for every two working in the city's private economy."As a direct result of its massive welfare spending, New York City was forced to declare bankruptcy in 1975. The entire state of New York nearly went down with it. The Cloward-Piven strategy had proved its effectiveness.

But New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani attempted to expose them in the late 1990s. As his drive for welfare reform gained momentum, Giuliani accused the militant scholars by name, citing their 1966 manifesto as evidence that they had engaged in deliberate economic sabotage. "This wasn't an accident," Giuliani charged in a July 20, 1998 speech. "It wasn't an atmospheric thing, it wasn't supernatural. This is the result of policies and programs designed to have the maximum number of people get on welfare."

Cloward and Piven never again revealed their intentions as candidly as they had in their 1966 article. Even so, their activism in subsequent years continued to rely on the tactic of overloading the system. When the public caught on to their welfare scheme, Cloward and Piven simply moved on, applying pressure to other sectors of the bureaucracy, wherever they detected weakness.

In 1982, partisans of the Cloward-Piven strategy founded a new "voting rights movement," which purported to take up the unfinished work of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Like ACORN <http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/groupProfile.asp?grpid=6968> , the organization that spear-headed this campaign, the new "voting rights" movement was led by veterans of George Wiley's welfare rights crusade. Its flagship organizations were Project Vote <http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/groupProfile.asp?grpid=6966>  and Human SERVE, both founded in 1982. Project Vote is an ACORN front group, launched by former NWRO organizer and ACORN co-founder Zach Polett. Human SERVE was founded by Richard A. Cloward and Frances Fox Piven, along with a former NWRO organizer named Hulbert James.

All three of these organizations -- ACORN, Project Vote and Human SERVE -- set to work lobbying energetically for the so-called Motor-Voter law, which Bill Clinton ultimately signed in 1993. The Motor-Voter bill is largely responsible for swamping the voter rolls with "dead  wood" -- invalid registrations signed in the name of deceased, ineligible or non-existent people -- thus opening the door to the unprecedented  levels of voter fraud and "voter disenfranchisement" claims that followed in subsequent elections. At the White House signing ceremony for the Motor-Voter bill, both Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Piven were in attendance.

6)      Excerpts from Giuliani’s speech “Reaching Out to All New Yorkers by Restoring Work to the Center of City Life” July 20, 1998

http://www.nyc.gov/html/records/rwg/html/98b/welfare.html

But maybe the single most permanent and most important thing that we can do is to change the philosophy of dependency that was destroying many, many people in the City of New York making it impossible for them to have decent and fulfilling lives. This wasn't an accident, it wasn't an atmospheric thing, it wasn't supernatural. It was the result of policies, choices, and a philosophy that was embraced in the 1960s and then enthusiastically endorsed in the City of New York. And it destroyed thousands and thousands of livesand sometimes into a second and third generation because it ignored one of the single-most important facts of Western philosophy and civilization and that is the value of the individual human being – and the value of that individual human being able to have a sense of their own importance realistically rooted in doing something useful for themselves and for their fellow individuals.

For a time welfare functioned, both around the nation and in New York City, as a bridge to self-sufficiency. It offered temporary help when people needed help but, as quickly and as reasonably as possible, a movement back to the workforce so that you can be your own self-sufficient human being. However, beginning in the sixties, the system began to expand rapidly. This happened around the country but most dramatically it happened in the City of New York. Let's look at the gross statistics and then the chart for a moment. Between 1960 and 1967 the size of the welfare rolls more than tripled. The 1960s began with about 250,000 people on welfare; by 1968 there were 800,000 people on welfare.From that point forward it would never drop below 800,000 any day, any month, or any year between 1968 and February of this year.

Frequently it reached as high as 1.1 million people. And if we look at that chart, it's really a fascinating thing to see. Because if you understand the history of modern times or contemporary times it's very interesting to wonder why this all happened. This is the number of people on welfare in 1955… This is the number of people on welfare as the sixties began: 200,000… 250,000. And it remained at this level for a very long period going way back to the fifties. All of a sudden, between 1961 and 1968 and then 1969 and 1970, all of this happened. The welfare rolls increased from 200,000 to 800,000 to a million people to 1.1 million almost.

This was not a period of economic depression. It wasn't a period of economic decline. In fact, the mid-1960s to the late 1960s was some of our greatest boom periods in the history of this country. This is not an effect of our national or city economy. This is the result of policies and programs designed to have the maximum number of people get on welfare. This is the period of time in which it changed from a program of enablement, a program in which you would help people for a period of time and enable them to get back to taking care of themselves and their families, to the word entitlement – to a program of entitlement – and the effect of the change in philosophy from enablement to entitlement was maybe 700,000 to 800,000 to 900,000 to maybe a million additional people on welfare than had been the case before.

And the worst tragedy of it is that it remained above that level for several decades. For all of the 1970s, all of the 1980s, and half of the 1990s. This is what you mean by generational welfare. This is where the philosophy of entitlement became a philosophy passed on from one generation to a second generation with families not knowing about work – about being involved in the workforce, about what work can do for you. This was a terrible thing to do to people. It was a complete misunderstanding of human nature and a complete misreading of hundreds and hundreds of years of acquired human wisdom about the human personality and it meant that many people never realized the ability to function for themselves.

This social movement down and now declining even more dramatically, it has had an impact on the atmosphere of the City. And ask yourselves, "Is the atmosphere of the City better today than it was back in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s?" and I think the answer to that is, yes. When you have three, four, five hundred thousand people moving from independence to dependence, you have a city that is becoming depressed. When you have a city in which three to four to five hundred thousand people are moving from having been previously dependent to now becoming either independent or moving in that exciting direction, you have the City that has the kind of optimism that this city has today and we want that to continue.

7)      Piven’s latest article in The Nation

The Nation, 22 Dec 2010

Mobilizing the Jobless

by Frances Fox Piven

As 2011 begins, nearly 15 million people are officially unemployed in the United States and another 11.5 million have either settled for part-time work or simply given up the search for a job. To regain the 5 percent unemployment level of December 2007, about 300,000 jobs would have to be created each month for several years. There are no signs that this is likely to happen soon. And joblessness now hits people harder because it follows in the wake of decades of stagnating worker earnings, high consumer indebtedness, eviscerated retirement funds and rollbacks of the social safety net.

So where are the angry crowds, the demonstrations, sit-ins and unruly mobs? After all, the injustice is apparent. Working people are losing their homes and their pensions while robber-baron CEOs report renewed profits and windfall bonuses. Shouldn't the unemployed be on the march? Why aren't they demanding enhanced safety net protections and big initiatives to generate jobs?

It is not that there are no policy solutions. Left academics may be pondering the end of the American empire and even the end of neoliberal capitalism, and -- who knows -- in the long run they may be right. But surely there is time before the darkness settles to try to relieve the misery created by the Great Recession with massive investments in public-service programs, and also to use the authority and resources of government to spur big new initiatives in infrastructure and green energy that might, in fact, ward off the darkness.

Nothing like this seems to be on the agenda. Instead the next Congress is going to be fixated on an Alice in Wonderland policy of deficit reduction by means of tax and spending cuts. As for the jobless, right-wing commentators and Congressional Republicans are reviving the old shibboleth that unemployment is caused by generous unemployment benefits that indulge poor work habits and irresponsibility. Meanwhile, in a gesture eerily reminiscent of the blatherings of a panicked Herbert Hoover, President Obama invites corporate executives to a meeting at Blair House to urge them to invest some of their growing cash reserves in economic growth and job creation, in the United States, one hopes, instead of China.

Mass protests might change the president's posture if they succeeded in pressing him hard from his base, something that hasn't happened so far in this administration. But there are obstructions to mobilizing the unemployed that would have to be overcome.

First, when people lose their jobs they are dispersed, no longer much connected to their fellow workers or their unions and not easily connected to the unemployed from other workplaces and occupations. By contrast workers and students have the advantage of a common institutional setting, shared grievances and a boss or administrator who personifies those grievances. In fact, despite some modest initiatives -- the AFL-CIO's Working America, which includes the unemployed among their ranks, or the International Association of Machinists' Ur Union of Unemployed, known as Ucubed -- most unions do little for their unemployed, who after all no longer pay dues and are likely to be malcontents.

Because layoffs are occurring in all sectors and job grades, the unemployed are also very diverse. This problem of bringing people of different ethnicities or educational levels or races together is the classic organizing problem, and it can sometimes be solved by good organizers and smart tactics, as it repeatedly was in efforts to unionize the mass production industries. Note also that only recently the prisoners in at least seven different facilities in the Georgia state penitentiary system managed to stage coordinated protests using only the cellphones they'd bought from guards. So it remains to be seen whether websites such as 99ers.net <http://99ers.net>  or layofflist.org <http://layofflist.org>  that have recently been initiated among the unemployed can also become the basis for collective action, as the Internet has in the global justice movement.

The problem of how to bring people together is sometimes made easier by government service centers, as when in the 1960s poor mothers gathered in crowded welfare centers or when the jobless congregated in unemployment centers. But administrators also understand that services create sites for collective action; if they sense trouble brewing, they exert themselves to avoid the long lines and crowded waiting areas that can facilitate organizing, or they simply shift the service nexus to the Internet. Organizers can try to compensate by offering help and advocacy off-site, and at least some small groups of the unemployed have been formed on this basis.

Second, before people can mobilize for collective action, they have to develop a proud and angry identity and a set of claims that go with that identity. They have to go from being hurt and ashamed to being angry and indignant. (Welfare moms in the 1960s did this by naming themselves "mothers" instead of "recipients," although they were unlucky in doing so at a time when motherhood was losing prestige.) Losing a job is bruising; even when many other people are out of work, most people are still working. So, a kind of psychological transformation has to take place; the out-of-work have to stop blaming themselves for their hard times and turn their anger on the bosses, the bureaucrats or the politicians who are in fact responsible.

Third, protesters need targets, preferably local and accessible ones capable of making some kind of response to angry demands. This is, I think, the most difficult of the strategy problems that have to be resolved if a movement of the unemployed is to arise. Protests among the unemployed will inevitably be local, just because that's where people are and where they construct solidarities. But local and state governments are strapped for funds and are laying off workers. The initiatives that would be responsive to the needs of the unemployed will require federal action. Local protests have to accumulate and spread -- and become more disruptive -- to create serious pressures on national politicians. An effective movement of the unemployed will have to look something like the strikes and riots that have spread across Greece in response to the austerity measures forced on the Greek government by the European Union, or like the student protests that recently spread with lightning speed across England in response to the prospect of greatly increased school fees.

A loose and spontaneous movement of this sort could emerge. It is made more likely because unemployment rates are especially high among younger workers. Protests by the unemployed led by young workers and by students, who face a future of joblessness, just might become large enough and disruptive enough to have an impact in Washington. There is no science that predicts eruption of protest movements. Who expected the angry street mobs in Athens or the protests by British students? Who indeed predicted the strike movement that began in the United States in 1934, or the civil rights demonstrations that spread across the South in the early 1960s? We should hope for another American social movement from the bottom -- and then join it.

Frances Fox Piven is on the faculty of the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. She is the author, most recently, of Challenging Authority: How Ordinary People Change America.

8)      Piven 1966 Article in The Nation

The Nation, May 1966

The Weight of the Poor: A Strategy to End Poverty

How can the poor be organized to press for relief from poverty? How can a broad-based movement be developed and the current disarray of activist forces be halted? These questions confront, and confound, activists today. It is our purpose to advance a strategy which affords the basis for a convergence of civil rights organizations, militant anti-poverty groups and the poor. If this strategy were implemented, a political crisis would result that could lead to legislation for a guaranteed annual income and thus an end to poverty.

The strategy is based on the fact that a vast discrepancy exists between the benefits to which people are entitled under public welfare programs and the sums which they actually receive. This gulf is not recognized in a society that is wholly and self-righteously oriented toward getting people off the welfare rolls. It is widely known, for example, that nearly 8 million persons (half of them white) now subsist on welfare, but it is not generally known that for every person on the rolls at least one more probably meets existing criteria of eligibility but is not obtaining assistance.

The discrepancy is not an accident stemming from bureaucratic inefficiency; rather, it is an integral feature of the welfare system, which, if challenged, would precipitate a profound financial and political crisis. The force for that challenge, and the strategy we propose, is a massive drive to recruit the poor onto the welfare rolls.

The distribution of public assistance has been a local and state responsibility, and that accounts in large part for the abysmal character of welfare practices. Despite the growing involvement of federal agencies in supervisory and reimbursement arrangements, state and local community forces are still decisive. The poor are most visible and proximate in the local community; antagonism toward them (and toward the agencies which are implicated with them) has always, therefore, been more intense locally than at the federal level. In recent years, local communities have increasingly felt class and ethnic friction generated by competition for neighborhoods, schools, jobs and political power. Public welfare systems are under the constant stress of conflict and opposition, made only sharper by the rising costs to localities of public aid. And, to accommodate this pressure, welfare practice everywhere has become more restrictive than welfare statute; much of the time it verges on lawlessness. Thus, public welfare systems try to keep their budgets down and their rolls low by failing to inform people of the rights available to them; by intimidating and shaming them to the degree that they are reluctant either to apply or to press claims, and by arbitrarily denying benefits to those who are eligible. A series of welfare drives in large cities would, we believe, impel action on a new federal program to distribute income, eliminating the present public welfare system and alleviating the abject poverty which it perpetrates. Widespread campaigns to register the eligible poor for welfare aid, and to help existing recipients obtain their full benefits, would produce bureaucratic disruption in welfare agencies and fiscal disruption in local and state governments. These disruptions would generate severe political strains, and deepen existing divisions among elements in the big-city Democratic coalition: the remaining white middle class, the white working-class ethnic groups and the growing minority poor. To avoid a further weakening of that historic coalition, a national Democratic administration would be constrained to advance a federal solution to poverty that would override local welfare failures, local class and racial conflicts and local revenue dilemmas. By the internal disruption of local bureaucratic practices, by the furor over public welfare poverty, and by the collapse of current financing arrangements, powerful forces can be generated for major economic reforms at the national level.

The ultimate objective of this strategy--to wipe out poverty by establishing a guaranteed annual income--will be questioned by some. Because the ideal of individual social and economic mobility has deep roots, even activists seem reluctant to call for national programs to eliminate poverty by the outright redistribution of income. Instead, programs are demanded to enable people to become economically competitive. But such programs are of no use to millions of today's poor. For example, one-third of the 35 million poor Americans are in families headed by females; these heads of family cannot be aided appreciably by job retraining, higher minimum wages, accelerated rates of economic growth, or employment in public works projects. Nor can the 5 million aged who are poor, nor those whose poverty results from the ill health of the wage earner. Programs to enhance individual mobility will chiefly benefit the very young, if not the as yet unborn. Individual mobility is no answer to the question of how to abolish the massive problem of poverty now.

It has never been the full answer. If many people in the past have found their way up from poverty by the path of individual mobility, many others have taken a different route. Organized labor stands out as a major example. Although many American workers never yielded their dreams of individual achievement, they accepted and practiced the principle that each can benefit only as the status of workers as a whole is elevated. They bargained for collective mobility, not for individual mobility; to promote their fortunes in the aggregate, not to promote the prospects of one worker over another. And if each finally found himself in the same relative economic nevertheless clear relationship to his fellows, as when he began, it was nevertheless clear that all were infinitely better off. That fact has sustained the labor movement in the face of a counter pull from the ideal of individual achievement.

But many of the contemporary poor will not rise from poverty by organizing to bargain collectively. They either are not in the labor force or are in such marginal and dispersed occupations (e.g., domestic servants) that it is extremely difficult to organize them. Compared with other groups, then, many of today's poor cannot secure a redistribution of income by organizing within the institution of private enterprise. A federal program of income redistribution has become necessary to elevate the poor en masse from poverty.

Several ways have been proposed for redistributing income through the federal government. It is not our purpose hereto assess the relative merits of these plans, which are still undergoing debate and clarification. Whatever mechanism is eventually adopted, however, it must include certain features if it is not merely to perpetuate in a new guise the present evils of the public welfare system.

First, adequate levels of income must be assured. (Public welfare levels are astonishingly low; indeed, states typically define a "minimum" standard of living and then grant only a percentage of it, so that families are held well below what the government itself officially defines as the poverty level.) Furthermore, income should be distributed without requiring that recipients first divest themselves of their assets, as public welfare now does, thereby pauperizing families as a condition of sustenance.

Second, the right to income must be guaranteed, or the oppression of the welfare poor will not be eliminated. Because benefits are conditional under the present public welfare system, submission to arbitrary governmental power is regularly made the price of sustenance. People have been coerced into attending literacy classes or participating in medical or vocational rehabilitation regimes, on pain of having their benefits terminated. Men are forced into labor on virtually any terms lest they forfeit their welfare aid. One can prize literacy, health and work, while still vigorously opposing the right of government to compel compliance with these values.

Conditional benefits thus result in violations of civil liberties throughout the nation, and in a pervasive oppression of the poor. And these violations are not less real because the impulse leading to them is altruistic and the agency is professional. If new systems of income distribution continue to permit the professional bureaucracies to choose when to give and when to withhold financial relief, the poor will once again be surrendered to an arrangement in which their rights are diminished in the name of overcoming their vices. Those who lead an attack on the welfare system must therefore be alert to the pitfalls of inadequate but placating reforms, which give the appearance of victory to what is in truth defeat.

How much economic force can be mobilized by this strategy? This question is not easy to answer because few studies have been conducted of people who are not receiving public assistance even though they may be eligible. For the purposes of this presentation, a few facts about New York City may be suggestive. Since practices elsewhere are generally acknowledged to be even more restrictive, the estimates of unused benefits, which follow probably yield a conservative estimate of the potential force of the strategy set forth in this article.

Basic assistance for food and rent: The most striking characteristic of public welfare practice is that a great many people who appear to be eligible for assistance are not on the welfare rolls. The average monthly total of New York City residents receiving assistance in 1959 was 325,771, but according to the 1960 census., 716,000 persons (unrelated or in families) appeared to be subsisting on incomes at or below the prevailing welfare eligibility levels (e.g. $2,070 for a family of four). In that same year, 539,000 people subsisted on incomes less than 80 per cent of the welfare minimums, and 200,000 lived alone or in families on incomes reported to be less than half of eligibility levels. Thus it appears that for every person on welfare in 1959, at least one more was eligible. The results of two surveys of selected areas in Manhattan support the contention that many people subsist on incomes below welfare eligibility levels. One of these, conducted by Greenleigh Associates in 1964 in an urban-renewal area on New York's upper West Side, found 9 per cent of those not on the rolls were in such acute need that they appeared to qualify for emergency assistance. The study showed, further, that a substantial number of families that were not in a "critical" condition would probably have qualified for supplemental assistance.

The other survey, conducted in 1961 by Mobilization for Youth, had similar findings. The area from which its sample was drawn, 67 square blocks on the lower East Side, is a poor one, but by no means the poorest in New York City. Yet 13 per cent of the total sample who were not on the welfare rolls reported incomes falling below the prevailing welfare schedules for food and rent.

There is no reason to suppose that the discrepancy between those eligible for and those receiving assistance has narrowed much in the past few years. The welfare rolls have gone up, to be sure, but so have eligibility levels. Since the economic circumstances of impoverished groups in New York have not improved appreciably in the past few years, each such rise increases the number of people who are potentially eligible for some degree of assistance.

Even if one allows for the possibility that family-income figures are grossly underestimated by the census, the financial implications of the proposed strategy are still very great. In 1965, the monthly average of persons receiving cash assistance in New York was 490,000, at a total cost of $440 million; the rolls have now risen above 500,000, so that costs will exceed $500 million in 1966. An increase in the rolls of a mere 20 per cent would cost an already overburdened municipality some $100 million.

Special grants: Public assistance recipients in New York are also entitled to receive "non-recurring" grants for clothing, household equipment and furniture--including washing machines, refrigerators, beds and bedding, tables and chairs. It hardly needs to be noted that most impoverished families have grossly inadequate clothing and household furnishings. The Greenleigh study, for example, found that 52 per cent of the families on public assistance lacked anything approaching adequate furniture. This condition results because almost nothing is spent on special grants in New York. In October, 1965, a typical month, the Department of Welfare spent only $2.50 per recipient for heavy clothing and $1.30 for household furnishings. Taken together, grants of this kind amounted in 1965 to a mere $40 per person, or a total of $20 million for the entire year. Considering the real needs of families, the successful demand for full entitlements could multiply these expenditures tenfold or more--and that would involve the disbursement of many millions of dollars indeed.

One must be cautious in making generalizations about the prospects for this strategy in any jurisdiction unless the structure of welfare practices has been examined in some detail. We can, however, cite other studies conducted in other places to show that New York practices are not atypical. In Detroit, for example, Greenleigh Associates studied a large sample of households in a low-income district in 1965. Twenty per cent were already receiving assistance, but 35 percent more were judged to need it. Although the authors made no strict determination of the eligibility of these families under the laws of Michigan, they believed that "larger numbers of persons were eligible than receiving." A good many of these families did not know that public assistance was available; others thought they would be deemed ineligible; not a few were ashamed or afraid to ask.

Similar deprivations have been shown in nation-wide studies. In 1963, the federal government carried out a survey based on a national sample of 5,500 families whose benefits under Aid to Dependent Children had been terminated. Thirty-four percent of these cases were officially in need of income at the point of closing: this was true of 30 percent of the white and 44 percent of the Negro cases. The chief basis for termination given in local department records was "other reasons" (i.e., other than improvement in financial condition, which would make dependence on welfare unnecessary). Upon closer examination, these "other reasons" turned out to be "unsuitable home" (i.e., the presence of illegitimate children), "failure to comply with departmental regulations'' or "refusal to take legal action against a putative father." (Negroes were especially singled out for punitive action on the ground that children were not being maintained in "suitable homes.") The amounts of money that people are deprived of by these injustices are very great.

In order to generate a crisis, the poor must obtain benefits, which they have forfeited. Until now, they have been inhibited from asserting claims by self-protective devices within the welfare system: its capacity to limit information, to intimidate applicants, to demoralize recipients, and arbitrarily to deny lawful claims.

Ignorance of welfare rights can be attacked through a massive educational campaign Brochures describing benefits in simple, clear language, and urging people to seek their full entitlements, should be distributed door to door in tenements and public housing projects, and deposited in stores, schools, churches and civic centers. Advertisements should be placed in newspapers; sport announcements should be made on radio. Leaders of social, religious, fraternal and political groups in the slums should also be enlisted to recruit the eligible to the rolls. The fact that the campaign is intended to inform people of their legal rights under a government program, that it is a civic education drive, will lend it legitimacy.

But information alone will not suffice. Organizers will have to become advocates in order to deal effectively with improper rejections and terminations. The advocate's task is to appraise the circumstances of each case, to argue its merits before welfare, to threaten legal action if satisfaction is not given. In some cases, it will be necessary to contest decisions by requesting a "fair before the appropriate hearing" before the appropriate state supervisory agency; it may occasionally be necessary to use for redress in the courts. Hearings and court actions will require lawyers, many of whom, in cities like New York, can be recruited on a voluntary basis, especially under the banner of a movement to end poverty by a strategy of asserting legal rights. However, most cases will not require an expert knowledge of law, but only of welfare regulations; the rules can be learned by laymen, including welfare recipients themselves (who can help to man "information and advocacy" centers). To aid workers in these centers, handbooks should be prepared describing welfare rights and the tactics to employ in claiming them.

Advocacy must be supplemented by organized demonstrations to create a climate of militancy that will overcome the invidious and immobilizing attitudes which many potential recipients hold toward being "on welfare." In such a (climate, many more poor people are likely to become their own advocates and will not need to rely on aid from organizers.

As the crisis develops, it will be important to use the mass media to inform the broader liberal community about the inefficiencies and injustices of welfare. For example, the system will not be able to process many new applicants because of cumbersome and often unconstitutional investigatory procedures (which cost 20c for every dollar disbursed). As delays mount, so should the public demand that a simplified affidavit supplant these procedures, so that the poor may certify to their condition. If the system reacts by making the proof of eligibility more difficult, the demand should be made that the Department of Health, Education and Welfare dispatch "eligibility registrars" to enforce federal statutes governing local programs. And throughout the crisis, the mass media should be used to advance arguments for a new federal income distribution program. *

*In public statements, it would be important to distinguish between the income distribution function of public welfare, which should be replaced by new federal measures, and many other welfare functions, such as foster care and adoption services for children, which are not at issue in this strategy.

Although new resources in organizers and funds would have to be developed to mount this campaign, a variety of conventional agencies in the large cities could also be drawn upon for help. The idea of "welfare rights" has begun to attract attention in many liberal circles. A number of organizations, partly under the aegis of the "war against poverty," are developing information and advocacy services for low-income people [see "Poverty, Injustice and the Welfare State" by Richard A. Cloward and Richard M. Elman, The Nation, issues of February 28 and March 7]. It is not likely that these organizations will directly participate in the present strategy, for obvious political reasons. But whether they participate or not, they constitute a growing network of resources to which people can be referred for help in establishing and maintaining entitlements. In the final analysis, it does not matter who helps people to get on the rolls or to get additional entitlements, so long as the job is done.

Since this plan deals with problems of great immediacy in the lives of the poor, it should motivate some of them to involve themselves in regular organizational activities. Welfare recipients, chiefly ADC mothers, are already forming federations, committees and councils in cities across the nation; in Boston, New York, Newark, Cleveland, Chicago, Detroit and Los Angeles, to mention a few. Such groups typically focus on obtaining full entitlements for existing recipients rather than on recruiting new recipients, and they do not yet comprise a national movement. But their very existence attests to a growing readiness among ghetto residents to act against public welfare.

To generate an expressly political movement, cadres of aggressive organizers would have to come from the civil rights movement and the churches, from militant low-income organizations like those formed by the Industrial Areas Foundation (that is, by Saul Slinky), and from other groups on the Left. These activists should be quick to see the difference between programs to redress individual grievances and a large-scale social-action campaign for national policy reform.

Movements that depend on involving masses of poor people have generally failed in America. Why would the proposed strategy to engage the poor succeed?

First, this plan promises immediate economic benefits. This is a point of some importance because, whereas America's poor have not been moved in any number by radical political ideologist, they have sometimes been moved by their economic interests. Since radical movements in America have rarely been able to provide visible economic incentives, they have usually failed to secure mass participation of any kind. The conservative "business unionism" of organized labor is explained by this fact, for membership enlarged only as unionism paid off in material benefits. Union leaders have understood that their strength derives almost entirely from their capacity to provide economic rewards to members. Although leaders have increasingly acted in political spheres, their influence has been directed chiefly to matters of governmental policy affecting the well being of organized workers. The same point is made by the experience of rent strikes in Northern cities. Their organizers were often motivated by radical ideologies, but tenants have been attracted by the promise that housing improvements would quickly be made if they withheld their rent.

Second, for this strategy to succeed, one need not ask more of most of the poor than that they claim lawful benefits. Thus the plan has the extraordinary capability of yielding mass influence without mass participation, at least as the term "participation" is ordinarily understood. Mass influence in this case stems from the consumption of benefits and does not require that large groups of people be involved in regular organizational roles.

Moreover, this kind of mass influence is cumulative because benefits are continuous. Once eligibility for basic food and rent grants is established, the drain on local resources persists indefinitely. Other movements have failed precisely because they could not produce continuous and cumulative influence in the Northern rent strikes, for example, participation depended largely on immediate grievances; as soon as landlords made the most minimal repairs, participation fell away and with it the impact of the movement. Efforts to revive tenant participation organizing demonstrations around broader housing issues (e.g., the expansion of public housing) did not succeed because the incentives were not immediate.

Third, the prospects for mass influence are enhanced because this plan provides a practical basis for coalition between poor whites and poor Negroes. Advocates of low-income movements have not been able to suggest how poor whites and poor Negroes can be united in an expressly lower-class movement. Despite pleas of some Negro leaders for joint action on programs requiring integration, poor whites have steadfastly resisted making common cause with poor Negroes. By contrast, the benefits of the present plan are as great for whites as for Negroes. In the big cities, at least, it does not seem likely that poor whites, whatever their prejudice against either Negroes or public welfare, will refuse to participate when Negroes aggressively claim benefits that are unlawfully denied to them as well. One salutary consequence of public information campaigns to acquaint Negroes with their rights is that many whites will be made aware of theirs. Even if whites prefer to work through their own organizations and leaders, the consequences will be equivalent to joining with Negroes. For if the object is to focus attention on the need for new economic measures by producing a crisis over the dole, anyone who insists upon extracting maximum benefits from public welfare is in effect part of a coalition and is contributing to the cause.

The ultimate aim of this strategy is a new program for direct income distribution. What reason is there to expect that the federal government will enact such legislation in response to a crisis in the welfare system?

We ordinarily think of major legislation as taking form only through established electoral processes. We tend to overlook the force of crisis in precipitating legislative reform, partly because we lack a theoretical framework by which to understand the impact of major disruptions.

By crisis, we mean a publicly visible disruption in some institutional sphere. Crisis can occur spontaneously (e.g., riots) or as the intended result of tactics of demonstration and protest, which either generate institutional disruption or bring unrecognizable eruption to public attention. Public trouble is a political liability, it calls for action by political leaders to stabilize the situation. Because crisis usually creates or exposes conflict, it threatens to produce cleavages in a political consensus, which politicians would ordinarily act to avert.

Although crisis impels political action, it does not itself determine the selection of specific solutions. Political leaders will try to respond with proposals, which work to their advantage in the electoral process. Unless group cleavages form around issues and demands, the politician has great latitude and tends to proffer only the minimum action required to quell disturbances without risking existing electoral support. Spontaneous disruptions, such as riots, rarely produce leaders who articulate demands; thus so terms are imposed, and political leaders are permitted to respond in ways that merely restore a semblance of stability without offending other groups in a coalition.

When, however, a crisis is defined by its participants--or by other activated groups--as a matter of clear issues and preferred solutions, terms are imposed on the politicians' bid for their support. Whether political leaders then design solutions to reflect these terms depends on a two- fold calculation: first, the impact of the crisis and the issues it raises on existing alignments and, second, the gains or losses in support to be expected as a result of a proposed resolution.

As to the impact on existing alignments, issues exposed by a crisis may activate new groups, thus altering the balance of support and opposition on the issues; or it may polarize group sentiments altering the terms, which must be offered to insure the support of given constituent groups. In framing resolutions, politicians are more responsive to group shifts and are more likely to accommodate to the terms imposed when electoral coalitions threatened by crisis are already uncertain or weakening. In other words, the politician responds to group demands, not only by calculating the magnitude of electoral gains and losses, but by assessing the impact of the resolution on the stability of existing or potential coalitions. Political leaders are especially responsive to group shifts when the terms of settlement can be framed so as to shore up an existing coalition, or as a basis for the development of new and more stable alignments, without jeopardizing existing support. Then, indeed, the calculation of net gain is most secure.

The legislative reforms of the depression years, for example, were impelled not so much by organized interests exercised through regular electoral processes as by widespread economic crisis. That crisis precipitated the disruption of the regionally based coalitions underlying the old national parties. During the realignments of 1932, a new Democratic coalition was formed, based heavily on urban working-class groups. Once in power, the national Democratic leadership proposed and implemented the economic reforms of the New Deal. Although these measures were a response to the imperative of economic crisis, the types of measures enacted were designed to secure and new Democratic coalition.

The civil rights movement, to take a recent case, reveals the relationship of crisis and electoral conditions in producing legislative reform. The crisis in the South took place in the context of a weakening North-South Democratic coalition. The strains in that coalition were first evident in the Dixiecrat desertion of 1948, and continued through the Eisenhower years as the Republicans gained ground in the Southern states. Democratic party leaders at FMT tried to hold the dissident South by warding off the demands of enlarging Negro constituencies in Northern cities. Thus for two decades the national Democratic Party campaigned on strongly worded civil rights planks but enacted only token measures. The civil rights movement forced the Democrats' hand, a crumbling Southern partnership was forfeited, and major civil rights legislation was put forward, designed to insure the support of Northern Negroes and liberal elements in the Democratic coalition. That coalition emerged strong from the 1964 election, easily able to overcome the loss of Southern states to Goldwater. At the same time, the enacted legislation, particularly the Voting Rights Act, laid the ground for a new Southern Democratic coalition of moderate whites and the hitherto untapped reservoir of Southern Negro voters.

The electoral context which made crisis effective in the South is also to be found in the big cities of the nation today. Deep tensions have developed among groups comprising the political coalitions of the large cities--the historic stronghold of the Democratic Party. As a consequence, urban politicians no longer turn in the vote to national Democratic candidates it hun faillng regularity. The marked defections revealed in the elections of the 1950s and which continued until the Johnson landslide of 1964 area matter of great concern to the national party. Precisely because of this concern, a strategy to exacerbate still further the strains in the urban coalition can be expected to evoke a response from national leaders.

The weakening of the urban coalition is a result of many basic changes in the relationship of local party leadership to its constituents. First, the political machine, the distinctive and traditional mechanism for forging alliances among competing groups in the city, is now virtually defunct in most cities. Successive waves of municipal reform have deprived political leaders of control over the public resources--jobs, contracts, services and favors--which machine politicians formerly dispensed to voters in return for electoral support. Conflicts among elements in the urban Democratic coalition once held together politically because each secured a share of these benefits, cannot now be so readily contained. And as the means of placating competing groups have diminished, tensions along ethnic and class lines have multiplied. These tensions are being intensified by the encroachments of an enlarging ghetto population on jobs, schools and residential areas. Big-city mayors are thus caught between antagonistic working-class ethnic groups, the remaining middle class, and the rapidly enlarging minority poor.

Second, there are discontinuities in the relationship between the urban party apparatus and its ghetto constituents which have so far remained unexposed but which a welfare crisis would force into view. The ghetto vote has been growing rapidly and has so far returned overwhelming Democratic majorities. Nevertheless, this voting bloc is not fully integrated in the party apparatus, either through the representation of its leaders or the accommodation of its interests.

While the urban political apparatus includes members of new minority groups, these groups are by no means represented according to their increasing proportions in the population. More important, elected representation alone is not an adequate mechanism for the expression of group interests. Influence in urban politics is won not only at the polls but through the sustained activity of organized interests--such as labor unions, homeowner associations and business groups. These groups keep watch over the complex operations of municipal agencies, recognizing issues and regularly asserting their point of view through meetings with public officials, appearances at public hearings and the like, and by exploiting a whole array of channels of influence on government. Minority constituencies--at least the large proportion of them that are poor--are not regular participants in the various institutional spheres where organized interest groups typically develop. Thus the interests of the mass of minority poor are not protected by associations, which make their own or other political leaders responsive by continuously calling them to account. Urban party organizations have become, in consequence, more an avenue for the personal advancement of minority political leaders than a channel for the expression of minority-group interests. And the big city mayors, struggling to preserve an uneasy urban consensus, have thus been granted the slack to evade the conflict-generating interests of the ghetto. A crisis in public welfare would expose the tensions latent in this attenuated relationship between the ghetto vote and the urban party leadership, for it would thrust forward ghetto demands and back them with the threat of defections by voters who have so far remained both loyal and quiescent.

In the face of such a crisis, urban political leaders may well be paralyzed by a party apparatus which ties them to older constituent groups, even while the ranks of these groups are diminishing. The national Democratic leadership, however, is alert to the importance of the urban Negro vote, especially in national contests where the loyalty of other urban groups is weakening. Indeed, many of the legislative reforms of the Great Society can be understood as efforts, however feeble, to reinforce the allegiance of growing ghetto constituencies to the national Democratic Administration. In the thirties, Democrats began to put forward measures to circumvent the states in order to reach the big-city elements in the New Deal coalition; now it is becoming expedient to put forward measures to circumvent the weakened big-city mayors in order to reach the new minority poor.

Recent federal reforms have been impelled in part by widespread unrest in the ghetto, and instances of more aggressive Negro demands. But despite these signs that the ghetto vote may become less reliable in the future, there has been as yet no serious threat of massive defection. The national party has therefore not put much pressure on its urban branches to accommodate the minority poor. The resulting reforms have consequently been quite modest (e.g., the war against poverty, with its emphasis on the "involvement of the poor," is an effort to make the urban party apparatus somewhat more accommodating).

A welfare crisis would, of course, produce dramatic local political crisis, disrupting and exposing rifts among urban groups. Conservative Republicans are always ready to declaim the evils of public welfare, and they would probably be the first to raise a hue and cry. But deeper and politically more telling conflicts would take place within the Democratic coalition. Whites--both working-class ethnic groups and many in the middle class--would be aroused against the ghetto poor, while liberal groups, which until recently have been comforted by the notion that the poor are few and, in any event, receiving the beneficent assistance of public welfare would probably support the movement. Group conflict, spelling political crisis for the local party apparatus, would thus become acute as welfare rolls mounted and the strains on local budgets became more severe. In New York City, where the Mayor is now facing desperate revenue shortages, welfare expenditures are already second only to those for public education.

It should also be noted that welfare costs are generally shared by local, state and federal governments, so that the crisis in the cities would intensify the struggle over revenues that is chronic in relations between cities and states. If the past is any predictor of the future, cities will fail to procure relief from this crisis by persuading states to increase their proportionate share of urban welfare costs, for state legislatures have been notoriously unsympathetic to the revenue needs of the city (especially where public welfare and minority groups are concerned).

If this strategy for crisis would intensify group cleavages, a federal income solution would not further exacerbate them. The demands put forward during recent civil rights drives in the Northern cities aroused the opposition of huge majorities. Indeed, such fierce resistance was evoked (e.g. school boycotts, followed by counter-boycotts), that accessions by political leaders would have provoked greater political turmoil than the protests themselves, for profound class and ethnic interests are at stake in the employment, educational and residential institutions of our society. By contrast, legislative measures to provide direct income to the poor would permit national Democratic leaders to cultivate ghetto constituencies without unduly antagonizing other urban groups, as is the case when the battle lines are drawn over schools, housing or jobs. Furthermore, a federal income program would not only redeem local governments from the immediate crisis but would permanently relieve them of the financially and politically onerous burdens of public welfare*--a function which generates support from none and hostility from many, not least of all welfare recipients.

We suggest, in short, that if pervasive institutional rescuer particular reforms are not yet possible, requiring as they do expanded Negro political power and the development of new political alliances, crisis tactics can nevertheless be employed to secure particular reforms in the short run by exploiting weaknesses in current political alignments. Because the urban coalition stands weakened by group conflict today, disruption and threats of disaffection will count powerfully, provided that national leaders can respond with solutions, which retain the support of ghetto constituencies while avoiding new group antagonisms and bolstering the urban party apparatus. These are the conditions, then, for an effective crisis strategy in the cities to secure an end to poverty.

No strategy, however confident its advocates may be, is foolproof. But if unforeseen contingencies thwart this plan to bring about new federal legislation in the field of poverty, it should also be noted that there would be gains even in defeat. For one thing, the plight of many poor people would be somewhat eased in the course of an assault upon public welfare. Existing recipients would come to know their rights and how to defend them, thus acquiring dignity where none now exists; and millions of dollars in withheld welfare benefits would become available to potential recipients now--not several generations from now. Such an attack should also be welcome to those currently concerned with programs designed to equip the young to rise out of poverty (e.g., Head Start), for surely children learn more readily when the oppressive burden of financial insecurity is lifted from the shoulders of their parents. And those seeking new ways to engage the Negro politically should remember that public resources have always been the fuel for low-income urban political organization. If organizers can deliver millions of dollars in cash benefits to the ghetto masses, it seems reasonable to expect that the masses will deliver their loyalties to their benefactors. At least, they have always done so in the past.

Ryan: Kanye West and the Great Society

Graphic by Alexander Somoskey.

Donald Trump has been name-dropped by nearly every major rapper of the last 30 years, starting with a reference by Beastie Boys on their iconic album Paul's Boutique, the Sgt. Pepper of hip-hop.

He's been mentioned by Jay Z. Ludacris. Young Thug. Nelly. Kendrick Lamar. Juicy J. Rick Ross. Eminem. Big Sean. A Tribe Called Quest. Scarface. Lil Wayne. The Coup. Master P. Ice Cube. Mos Def. Raekwon, Ol' Dirty Bastard, and various other Wu-Tang Clan affiliates. R. Kelly. Pete Rock. Nas. E-40.

And don't forget this surreal moment in our nation's history.

Then-candidate Trump on SNL ... dancing to a Drake parody.(Screenshot from YouTube)

When Bun B referred to Trump on the Chopped-n-Screwed anthem "Pocket Full of Stones," he was keeping with a tradition of rappers admiring Trump. This only changed a few years ago.

But then there's Kanye West, who proudly donned the red MAGA hat after discovering Candace Owens and being called "a jackass" by our nation's first black President. Then Kanye was hugging President Trump in the Oval Office? While wearing a Make America Great Again hat, supposed symbol of white supremacy, Nazism, hate, evil?

(Screenshot from YouTube)

People flipped. Everyone did. Longtime critics suddenly — and bizarrely — embraced Kanye as an ally, while longtime defenders disowned him, abandoned him like nail clippings, often mocking his struggles with mental illness and labeling him, if you can believe it, a white supremacist.

Then, in a moment that changed music history, Kanye released the single "Ye vs. the People."

Ye vs. the People (starring TI as the People) www.youtube.com

In it, he challenges what he sees as the unspoken rule that black Americans have to vote Democrat. He had hinted at the idea on his track "Black Skinhead," from the hauntingly gorgeous album Yeezus, but now he was addressing it head-on, with the passion of a man going to Confession for the first time in a decade.

Why should black folks have to abide by any set of cultural or political or artistic guidelines to begin with? And, he argues, the pressure to adhere to this longheld framework is itself undergirded by a subtle and cleverly masked racism, imposed by a group of people who portray themselves as the champions of race and enemies of white supremacy and destroyers of dumb yokel rednecks with their Rebel flags and monster trucks and fully-automatic AR-15 assault weapons. All of which, it turns out, is some next-level projection.

Kanye also confronts the presence of these expectations and stereotypes in hip-hop. The idea that rappers must invoke a negative persona in order to succeed. And the moment they deviate from that image they are rebuked or ignored, even though the persona is damaging to the black community as a whole. Which is especially ironic given that the people who voice the most outrage tend to be highly privileged, supposedly progressive white folks who love to rant about white privilege and black oppression.

Is it better if I rap about crack? 'Cause it's cultural?
Or how about I'ma shoot you? or f**k your b***h?
Or how about all this Gucci, 'cause I'm f****n' rich?

Best of all, Kanye has answers. And they differ from the erudite solutions offered by, say, A Tribe Called Quest, who, like Kanye, have modeled a healthy, positive image of blackness for the black community.

A central theme within "Ye vs. The People" is empathy as power, rebellion, freedom.

Make America Great Again had a negative perception
I took it, wore it, rocked it, gave it a new direction
Added empathy, care and love and affection
And y'all simply questionin' my methods.

This concept is an extension of the powerful devotion to positive energy that Kanye adopted around that time, a purview he has cultivated into a wild new form of electronic gospel.

But his personal transformation was tough.

That [MAGA] hat stayed in my closet like 'bout a year and a half
Then one day I was like, "F**k it, I'ma do me"
I was in the sunken place and then I found the new me.

This is a struggle that many Americans undergo. Researchers call it the spiral of silence. The idea that the news media and social media present biased opinions as though they are fact, and when the message conflicts with a person's opinions or values, they feel isolated, alone.

Kanye and T.I. during the making of "Ye vs. the People"(Screenshot from YouTube)

As Kanye raps in "Ye vs. the People"

A lot of people agree with me but they're too scared to speak up.

Because we have an incredible ability to sense public opinion. So when we suspect that we hold a belief that rails against acceptable thought, we tend to keep quiet about it. That silence makes the opinion seem even more taboo, resulting in a more widespread silence.

In reality, many of these supposedly taboo opinions are not only popular, they are normal and practical and logical. Healthy, even. And the real danger is in demonizing them. But too many people are afraid they'll be ostracized for expressing their beliefs.

Like how — despite what we've been led to believe — most Americans cannot stand political correctness.

But the small minority of people who champion it are powerful and loud. They're like that cardboard city in North Korea, just visible enough from the border to make it seem like a thriving community. They're the Wicked Witch of the West, or Iago from Othello, or Plankton from Spongebob Squarepants.

So far, they have been successful. Although "success" by their metric is anarchic and primal, all destruction and loudness and people nervous to speak their mind. And the cost of rebellion can be devastating.

By the time Kanye West wrote "Yay versus the People," he had gotten sick of this power dynamic. So he broke the spiral of silence."

*

In the words of German philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer, "Whoever has language has the world."

Humans alone have it.

But in order for us to know freedom in our world, our language has to be public, shared, active. Because each of us thrives constantly with language, a stream of it always in our mind. Aristotle defined "thought" as the infinite dialogue between the soul and itself. Conversation is the exchange of thought between people. When we converse, we simultaneously release our infinite dialogue and accept the other person's. By speaking, we shape the world and free ourselves.

*

Another way to say it is that Donald Trump might have inspired the song that could very well signify the end of Hip-Hop, which is not only the most popular genre of our zeitgeist, it's the most popular, and successful, form of music in American history, which is the most important era of musical history.

If the Beatles were bigger than Jesus, and Drake literally outpaces the Beatles, then, well, you get the point God forgive me. And Kanye is bigger than Drake. So who better to have the final word on the capacities of Hip-Hop than Kanye West?

Nobody.

Every genre must come to a close. There's a reason why people aren't eagerly awaiting the next great disco album, or flocking to arenas to hear the newest bluegrass superstar, or asking to get their hair done like the latest syringe-armed guitarist of Guns N Roses.

(Screenshot from Instagram)

The great era of Rock 'N' Roll ended roughly about the time Radiohead traded their guitars and drums for synthesizers and sequencers, not long after Kurt Cobain took an insane amount of heroin and cradled a shotgun in his guesthouse, only to be discovered several days later by an electrician. Even worse, Nickelback soiled Cobain's legacy with godawful anthems, and who have their own weird and contradictory and hilarious connection to President Trump.

These days, Rock N' Roll lives mostly via nostalgia, as evinced by the explosion of cover bands. Notice how you don't see any hip-hop cover bands. You will, someday. But, for now, Hip-Hop reigns supreme. And Kanye is the King.

The brilliant Nina Simone once told a reporter that "An artist's duty, as far as I'm concerned, is to reflect the times."

Because music accords itself to the gravity and creative truth of the era. And currently we entrust hip-hop with this complicated maneuver.

But the past year, Kanye has been crafting a new sound through his Sunday services, weekly jam sessions with acoustic musicians and a choir and everyone dressed in white, praying through song, herding us into a better place, looking above for guidance. If it's anything like his track "Ultralight Beam," it will bring calm to our divided culture.

Mark my words: The resultant album will usher in an entirely new era, a magical flash in human history.

So far, hip-hop has been the defiant child of R&B and Electronica, the grandchild of Spoken Word and Steve Reich Minimalism, with tinges of Punk. Not for much longer. Kanye will see to that. And, weirdly, President Trump has helped inspire this transformation.

Meaning, Donald Trump will have had a hand in reinventing music as a whole, in spreading a movement of positive reformation. Love him or hate him, it does not matter. What other politician can make that claim?

There's an optimism to this that Dave Chappelle captured in his now-infamous Saturday Night Live monologue, just days after Trump was elected, asking Americans to at least give the man a chance. And again in his special "Equanimity," when he said

I swear no matter how bad it gets, you're my countrymen, and I know for a fact that I'm determined to work shit out with y'all.

In a moment of now-tired irony, the usual suspects heaped a barrage of hate at Chappelle for these remarks. But their outrage does not matter, in the grand scheme of things. Because it is an incredible time to be alive. It's beautiful. We should never forget that, no matter how petty or outrageous daily life gets.

At the moment, we are a country that is — everywhere, secretly — hurting. But we are Americans. Together. This is America. And, every day, God delights in our greatness and our empathy and our endless gift for love. So open your heart and listen. Say what you need to say.

New installments of this series come out every Monday and Thursday. Check out my Twitter or email me at kryan@mercurystudios.com

Ryan: Michael Bennet, Little League

Photo by Sean Ryan

Every day, life getting shorter. Every day, life going faster. Every day, like a roller coaster. These were the kinds of things that Michael Bennet was saying.

Michael Bennet, God bless him, he seemed like a decent lad. All week he had his family there. He said his campaign was their family vacation. He had had prostate cancer but would you believe he survived?

"Life is getting shorter," he said. "Every day."

Photo by Sean Ryan

He was well spoken. Dry. Talked with an air of consultation. Like you were in his office, and he had things to tell you.

Like a Little League coach who could actually be a coach someday.

*

I would encounter Bennet again the next day, at the Iowa State Fair.

Having just seen Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) at a small Baptist church, we ventured to the fair to see Bernie Sanders' riot of a Sunday speech. Bennet was on before him, so I got there early, and I paced off to get a restroom break. The media center is in the basement of the administration building, right by the Political Soapbox stage.

For whatever reason, the first-floor men's restroom has giant windows along the wall, and you can see right out onto the walkway that wraps around the building. I did not realize that this was the path that the candidates take to get to the stage.

Photo by Sean Ryan

And, this far into the 2020 presidential election, they never went many places alone. They had a press swarm and their wives and maybe an old friend who relocated here when the hurricane sank his house.

I was rushing. Panicking, really. Because I heard all the commotion. But nature abides by its own pace. And as I shuffled to the sink to wash my hands, my pants fell all the way down. I was exposed. Out in the open and in such desperation, you clobber yourself outside of time. It was all slo-mo with the Chopped-n-screwed voices as I scrambled to lift my trousers and audibly gasped the words, "Well just no." At that exact moment, that "accidental Renaissance" painting occurred as I locked eyes with Michael Bennet, slowly maneuvering the walkway.

These sorts of things happened, didn't they? There you were in a restroom, at an NFL game or a concert or maybe a bar, and you see someone you work with, or someone from church or school, and you lock eyes for a moment in confusion then revert to cave talk and shrug and get on with what you were doing. But it's weird when only one of you is actively part of the etiquette and allowances of a restroom and one of you is held to a higher standard, for the sake of common decency. Now let's say that you, the restroom occupant, happen to be credentialed press, and the outsider, Michael Bennet, happens to be a candidate for president of America.

Once the herd passed by behind him, I laughed a bit, quietly, because life could be very funny.

*

Onstage, Bennet, a senator from Colorado, gave the performance of a cake falling into a pool. Like he had been ghost-busted. Like he had spent the last two months learning the Fortnite dance moves and now that he had mastered them, suddenly Fortnite was for losers, and Fortnite dances, well, they were even worse.

The Political Soapbox is great because every candidate has 20 minutes. Those 20 minutes were theirs. Most of the time, they got romantic like a Backstreet Boy singing up toward an open window. Occasionally, they lost it. Bennet did neither. He belly-flopped into hay bales.

Photo by Sean Ryan

Remember that the growing crowd had the dangerous feel of a natural disaster. And it was gaspingly warm that day. So neither the crowd nor the environment were ready to give Bennet a freebie.

He gave a ravishing speech, full of neat invective. Then looked up and realized he still had 14 minutes on the clock. Oof. That was most of it, and he'd already done the Floss and the Robot and the Electro Shuffle, and honestly his shoulder was a little stiff from all that dance practice. So he opened the floor for questions.

Now, that was not the greatest idea. For one, this was not the type of place for such a thing. They called it a soapbox because you were meant to live out the phrase "on a soapbox" by ranting and fist-pounding and all other theatrics.

The Bernie Sanders supporters hadn't arrived en masse yet, so most of the people around the stage were clad in Trump gear. And they all had their hands up ready to ask him questions. Well, firebombs, really, masked as interrogative statements. Bennet shouted without breathing, then said, "I want to find a non-male person who has a question."

This did not sit well with the males who did not like the trend of personalizing all things, cautious gendering, and the sudden change of direction so that now they had to just listen.

Most people did not care.

"I do not support Bernie's plan," Bennet shouted. But would you believe the Bernie supporters had literally just arrived, you could smell their hair dye.

They jeered, then acted exactly — and I mean exactly — like the Trump supporters.

"I would rather support free pre-school than free college," he shouted. "Many people talk about... " but the jeering was too powerful. And the Bernie supporters had likely just had quinoa açaí bowls at their pre-Bernie brunch, so they were unstoppable. Well God bless the man for scratching "Give Presidency a Try" off his bucket list. Because at least he had a bucket list.

What did they have? Student debt and a restraining order? They being the growing factions of Bernie and Trump supporters in the audience. You could not see any pavement. It was just people and faces like the Mediterranean in the evening, all the way to the towering walls of the Grandstand.

Looking out at all that chaos, all that latent disaster, Bennet must have felt a deep stirring.

The night before, Slipknot headlined at the Grand Stand, a sold-out show. Rollicking and bursting and howling. How many drumbeats could drummer Jay Weinberg get per minute? At one point, vocalist Corey Taylor unleashed a demonic bellow, then adjusted his mask and looked out to all those people, those devoted fans, because many of them had Slipknot tattoos, and maybe he, like Bennet, indulged a moment for himself, a personalization of the grand setting, then shrieked, then persuaded the audience to lift their hands into the air, maybe toward a constellation of their choosing, and extend their middle finger like it was an egg landing on a pillow, which symbolizes the human condition.




New installments to this series come out every Monday and Thursday morning. For live updates, check out my Twitter or email me at kryan@mercurystudios.com

President Trump couldn't personally make it to Houston for the 3rd Democratic Debate, so he paid $7,500 for a single-engine Cessna to fly in circles over Texas Southern University campus while pulling a banner that said, "Socialism will kill Houston's economy! Vote Trump 2020!"

For four hours, it chugged around up there. You could hear it everywhere. It was the soundtrack of the night.

You can just imagine Trump's face as he had the banner-plane idea. You can hear him putting in the order. You can see his list of demands. And at the very top, "I WANT THE LOUDEST PLANE YOU CAN FIND!!!"

*

Was that Bret Baier in the aisle, adjusting his reading glasses and thumbing at the strap of his comically small backpack as he crossed the blue-carpeted gymnasium? He looked like the human version of Wisconsin. He was saying something but all you could hear was the plane overhead.

Photo by Kevin Ryan

Bret Baier, the stoic host of "Special Report with Bret Baier" on Fox News and the network's chief political anchor. He's underrated, if you ask me. Legacy. Old-school. He just delivers the news, which is what most people want. He talks the way anchors used to talk, with the American accent unique to news anchors even though he was born in New Jersey and raised in Georgia.

I had spent the last year-and-a-half on a series of in-depth profiles on some of the major countercultural figures of our time. People like Jordan Peterson, Dave Rubin, and Carol Swain. So my first impulse was to rush over to Baier and profile the guy. Nobody else would, after all. The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Harper's. But they ought to. The man has a hell of a story.
He joined Fox News a year-and-a-half after it was founded, as the southeast correspondent in Atlanta. A few years later, on a Tuesday in September, nineteen terrorists hijacked four passenger airliners and crashed into America.

When the first plane hit, Fox producers told Baier to just get in his car and drive to New York City. They needed back-up reporters for the next day. When the second plane crashed into the south tower of the World Trade Center at 9:03 a.m., they said, "Step on it, Baier."

He and his producer were an hour outside Atlanta when American Airlines Flight 77 slammed into the Pentagon. Still a good 8 hours away, but closer to D.C. than to New York City. So they re-routed to Arlington, Virginia, as fast as they could. Past a blur of fields full of indifferent cows. Past houses full of people who could hardly talk, people who couldn't describe what they were seeing and hearing, all the smoke and the blood and the office-supply confetti. Past towns that barely moved, gas stations with nobody in them, people sunken into a far-away stare.

Yet there was the sun, with only a few bangles of cloud every so often. America had been paralyzed but the earth kept trucking along, quiet and unbothered. It must have felt strange for Baier, to speed down empty highways — toward literal death and chaos — under a perfect sky, below cascading light and color.

Nature doesn't care if we make it out alive.

*

That day, Baier reported live from a Citgo station across the street from the Pentagon, rubble in heaps of flame behind him. It was like he'd fallen onto a different planet and was reporting back to home.

The next day arrived and it was so quiet everywhere. Nobody knew a damn thing. We could not believe our eyes. We all turned to reporters and anchors for answers. Most often, they blurted out whatever they could.

Something about Bret Baier gave audiences a much-needed boost. Reliable, sturdy. Like he said what had to be said and not a word extra.

Fox kept him in D.C., indefinitely. A friend helped him find an apartment. He never went back to Atlanta. Two weeks later, Fox News appointed him Pentagon correspondent, a position that saw him travel the world, including 13 trips to Afghanistan and 12 to Iraq.

Halfway through George W. Bush's second term, Baier became Fox News' White House correspondent.

Then, a year before he would earn his current position as anchor, Baier became a father. His son was born with holes in his heart — five congenital heart defects. Twelve days later, the boy underwent open-heart surgery. Baier and his wife waited in tiled rooms drenched with flowers and ESPN and drab ultraviolet light, surrounded by machines full of beeps and whirring and beeps and whirring.

Baier's son has since undergone two additional open-heart surgeries, nine angioplasties, and one stomach operation. In an interview with Parents Magazine, Baier said that his son's health problems have "given me perspective about my job, going through policy and politics in Washington, D.C., to see the bigger picture."

*Part of the reason I couldn't tell whether or not it was Baier is he's usually up on the main stage. For the 2012 election, he moderated five Republican debates, and co-anchored FNC's America's Election HQ alongside Megyn Kelly.

The 2016 election would propel him into a much larger role. He anchored three Republican debates, but this time he had to handle Donald Trump.

Baier knew Trump personally, from before the election. They'd played golf together. He described Trump as "a nice guy outside of his TV persona" and never thought Trump would actually make a run for the Presidency. Onstage, Trump was much different. And Baier had been tasked with maintaining control.

A devout Roman Catholic, he appreciates a nice glass of wine and a fine cut of steak. He likes a good joke, too. In January, 2019, Baier signed a multi-year deal with Fox News to continue "Special Report." A few weeks later, he and his family went to Montana for a ski trip. The weekend was wonderful. But they had to get back to New York because Baier was scheduled to appear on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" that Tuesday.

Imagine him, again in a car hurtling toward a fateful destination. How he squinted through the frost-pocked windshield and gripped the steering wheel. As he guided the white SUV along the two-lane road to the airport. The land looked haunted, barren, lifeless. Everywhere, the world was frozen white. Snow and ice blanketing the fields, gauze over the sky.

At some anonymous intersection, Baier pumped the brakes, but the tires hit an ice patch, and the SUV spun loose. An oncoming car slammed into the driver's side, launching the vehicle into an embankment, wedged on its side. A man named Zach stopped his pickup truck and helped the family crawl free, and the Montana Highway Patrol rushed them to the hospital.

"Don't take anything for granted," Baier tweeted later. "Every day is a blessing and family is everything. It's always good to remind yourself of that before something does it for you."

Before every debate that he moderates, Baier spends 10 minutes alone, praying.

*

A Freedom of Information Act request in 2011 revealed that Fox News was actually right. That the Obama Administration really did hate them. And had intentionally excluded them from a press pool two years earlier. Then laughed about it.

The documents unearthed snarky emails between various high-ranking aides in the Obama Administration. In one, the Deputy White House communications director bemoaned Baier's reporting on the bias. "I'm putting some dead fish in the [Fox News] cubby — just cause Bret Baier is a lunatic." That same day, deputy press secretary Josh Earnest bragged in an email that "we've demonstrated our willingness and ability to exclude Fox News from significant interviews."

The Trump administration pulled a similar stunt in July, 2018 by banning a CNN reporter from the press pool. Trump and Fox News had developed a beneficial relationship by then. And CNN was a lifelong competitor, a public enemy.
That night, Baier delivered an official statement, "This decision to bar a member of the press is retaliatory in nature and not indicative of an open and free press. We demand better. As a member of the White House press pool, Fox stands firmly with CNN on this issue of access."

Fox News rebuked Trump in solidarity with CNN. It was a heartening gesture between two seeming enemies. Fox News were standing up for truth, defending journalism, rejecting tyranny even though the ban would have benefitted them as a company.

Who knows how many books and dissertations and articles have been written about Fox News, usually in relation to bias, usually with a scathing tone. The conclusions differ wildly, yet each one claims certitude.

Generally, academics and journalists have taken a doomsday tone when talking about Fox News. Accusations of evil, fear-mongering, bigotry, hatred, misinformation, propaganda, racism, homophobia, and so on.

Despite these outcries, Fox News has consistently held its spot as the most-watched network in the country. Imagine how that makes its critics feel.

In an August 3, 2018 appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Baier said, "the biggest problem is that the people who are most critical of Fox are usually people who have not watched Fox News."

Fox News is composed of two distinct departments. Punditry and straight news. Or "opinion news" and "descriptive news." Consistently, surveys of the public rate Fox News as both the least- and most-biased news network.
Last year, a survey found Fox News to be the second most-trusted television news brand in the country, after the BBC.

In a separate study, Democrats rated its bias score at (negative) -87, while Republicans placed it at (positive) +3. Which is like if, at a football game, one referee said "Touchdown," while the other referee said "Turnover, leading to Touchdown for the Defense." It can't be both, can it?

Public opinion may not be the best metric for understanding Fox News, especially in 2019.

Quantitative studies have offered clearer conclusions. In 2016, a content analysis used crowdsourcing and machine learning to examine over 800,000 news stories published over a year by 15 major outlets, from the New York Times to Fox News. They wanted to chart media bias.

What they discovered is that news outlets are far more similar than we believe. Much of the perceived bias is a matter of separating "opinion news" from "descriptive news." For conservatives, it's punditry. For those on the left, it's op-eds and long form investigative pieces, although the left tends to insist that they're not biased, that they are instead just more apt to tell the truth, even though research has disproven this belief.

The researchers found a much larger bias-divide in opinion news, whereas descriptive news was practically neutral. One of the researchers described Fox News' descriptive news as "guided by similar news values as more traditional, legacy media."

University of California Berkeley sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild wrote that "Fox News stands next to industry, state government, church, and the regular media as an extra pillar of political culture all its own."

Say what you want about Fox News, they play a crucial role in the so-called mainstream media. And, despite what Fox News will lead you to believe, they are definitely part of the mainstream. And they are by no means the innocent victim. And certainly not powerless. And they have all kinds of problems that I will not defend. But we'll talk about that in a later installment, the one about Kamala Harris at a gun control rally, advocating for propaganda.

*

After two months of political events, I suspected that different news networks have their own signifiers, like the distinct stripes and markings on various spiders.

Wall Street Journal reporters tended to carry old-timey notepads and interview any bystander they could find. Breitbart usually only sent one person, and he wandered around with his iPhone, recording every single thing. Politico, prim-suited men who could just as easily work on the stock market.

Most of the reporters dressed like that, in stagey business attire. Prim for a high school job fair. Meanwhile, the photographers, mostly men, looked like professional paintball players. The camera crews and technical staff were the only ones decked in tattoos and wearing sandals and generally not caring about the chaos all around them. On-camera talent were covered in makeup and shrink-wrapped into dresses or suits with chip-clips along the spine.

The Washington Post sent the classiest and most bored-looking people I have ever encountered. They never looked at their laptops as their fingers chopped at the keys, and you assumed they were pretending until you read their stories online. You could spot ABC because their camera crew wore faded red ABC hats. Associated Press looked like they had just come back from a battlefield assignment in Syria, and never donned the same press credentials as everyone else, preferring a tattered AP lanyard. And you always knew when someone was with the New York Times because they announced it to the entire room.

And Fox News? At democratic events, they usually hid. But not that day, in Houston, as Bret Baier walked up the aisle to a table a couple rows in front of me.

Most people arrived in the Media Filing Center several hours before the debate. Fox News got there just slightly after that, as everyone was wiggling in their seats and connecting their laptops to a shared outlet.

There were seven or so in the pack of Fox News, all grinning. They all had white to-go sacks from Chick-fil-A. And the room got quieter, so Trump's plane got louder. It was a double trolling event.

As host of the debate, ABC would be providing dinner. This information was included in the credentials email that all of us had received. So nobody else had brought food with them. No need.

Even better, I was familiar enough with that part of Houston to know that there was not a Chick-fil-A anywhere close to us. Who knew where they'd gotten that Chick-fil-A, but odds are it wasn't warm. Who knew if there was even any food in the bags.

They had brought Chick-fil-A into a building full of national media during the third Democratic Presidential debate. The 2020 election was already full of outrage about plenty of things, and one of them was Chick-fil-A. To some folks, the red chicken logo might as well have been a swastika. That very week LGBT activists had vehemently — cartoonishly — protested the opening of several Chick-fil-A's throughout North America. Chicken sandwiches had become yet another flag on the tug-of-war rope in the Culture War of our country.

To be clear, the political left was anti-Chicken and the political right was pro-Chicken. The media tended to lean anti-Chicken, and frequently wrote about anti-Chicken causes, often scolding pro-Chicken voices, or ignoring the struggles of the pro-Chicken community only to deny any opinion on Chicken at all. That was the cowardly part, of you ask me, the pretending like they weren't activists.

The Democratic candidates definitely leaned anti-Chicken. Sometimes they took it so far that it upset moderate anti-Chicken advocates. Because was it really so bad to eat Chicken? Couldn't you be anti-Chicken but also enjoy Chicken occasionally? Why did everything have to be either "all Chicken all the time unless you hate freedom" or "no chicken ever unless you support hate"?

The fight had spread everywhere. Airports, stadiums, malls, campuses. All had served as battlegrounds for the anti-Chicken versus the pro-Chicken.

The previous President was anti-Chicken. In fact, he may well have enflamed the entire movement. During his tenure, there were nationwide protests that saw pro-Chicken advocates angrily and proudly eating Chicken while anti-Chicken advocates protested outside and occasionally engaged in homosexual affection, which was being threatened by Chicken, according to them.

Every time the pro-Chicken folks bit into a Chicken sandwich, it was like they were gnawing away at the anti-Chicken people themselves. Degrading their identity. Because, for them, it was about the identity.

But the current President, unabashedly proud of his pro-Chicken stance, once served Chicken at the White House to some winning sports team, and the anti-Chicken activists saw it as proof that Chicken and hate go together. And maybe Chicken would even lead to the impeachment of the President they hate, which would mean the Vice President would become the President, but he's one of the most pro-Chicken people in America, so they'd have to impeach him, too. And the Supreme Court, it was overrun with pro-Chicken types.

This election, the Democratic front-runners competed for the bolder plan. They would end Chicken in America once and for all. They would obliterate our evil President and his Chicken Supremacy. Their stump speeches relied on harsh criticisms of pro-Chicken voters, who pretended to find the whole anti-Chicken movement amusing but were secretly enraged by it. In fact, they were certain that the anti-Chicken movement had been systematically silencing them for years, and that they had to fight for their Chicken in order to keep everything that they valued, even all the not-Chicken.

The media and the democrats and Hollywood and academia — all hated the Chicken, because they hated the pro-Chicken people. If they had their way, no more Chicken, ever again. And no more pro-Chicken deplorables. And tonight the anti-Chicken politico-culture complex would prove it, with long rants which get confirmed by glowing articles, calculated takedowns about the merits of anti-Chicken and the evils of pro-Chicken.

Yet here was Fox News, with actual Chicken. And they were smiling. Maybe in part because the police who were guarding us all tended to be pro-Chicken. And this was Texas, after all, an incredibly pro-Chicken state. But there were 49 other states and 14 territories, and all of them were fighting for or against Chicken.

Some experts even said we were on the cusp of a Civil War.


New installments to this series come out every Monday and Thursday morning. For live updates, check out my Twitter or email me at kryan@mercurystudios.com

We've heard the catchphrase "follow the money" so often that it's nearly a joke. It gained added attention in the 1976 movie All the President's Men, which follows the story of the two journalists who uncovered Watergate. "Follow the money," their source told them, "and you'll find corruption."

Problem is, corrupters hide their bad behavior remarkably well. They are masters of disguise. But if you look closely enough, you can spot the seams splitting in their choreographed routine.

One technique that magicians use for psychological misdirection is called the false solution. The goal is to distract the audience, to make them believe that they know what's really happening. All the while, the machinations of the actual trick are happening right in front of them, because "implanting an unlikely and unfamiliar idea in the mind can prevent participants from finding a more obvious one."

Billions of dollars. Lost. Gone.

I want to tell you a story of tremendous corruption, masked cleverly, using many of the same techniques that magicians have used for centuries. Only it's not a rabbit disappearing into a hat or a coin vanishing behind an ear. It's billions of dollars. Lost. Gone.

And the people responsible are the same people who have been so monstrously worked up about Trump's impeachment. The same people screaming about Trump's malfeasance with Ukraine are actually the ones misbehaving in Ukraine.

It's essentially an elevated, highly organized form of projection. Only instead of one person lashing out at the world, it's an entire political party, right up to the top. The very top. Barack Obama. It's right there on video.

Or how about the audio recording we uncovered, with Artem Sytnyk, Director of the National Anti-corruption Bureau of Ukraine, openly admitting a connection between the DNC and Ukraine?

So far, the story told by the Democrats and the media has been about Trump and Ukraine. Every so often, you hear mention of Joe Biden's dubious history with the war-torn country.

We were the first to talk about Joe Biden's connections to Ukraine back in April, with our candidate profile on Biden.

It turns out, the whole debacle was much worse than we thought. It stretched further than Uncle Joe. What we found out is that the DNC was working with the Ukrainian government.

This isn't a conspiracy theory. And we have the documents to prove it.

Read on to discover everything you need for a 30-second elevator pitch that you can give to your friend and say, "Look, here's what you need to know. Here's what's really going on."

If anyone is guilty, they should go to jail.

Last night, in Ukraine: The Democrats' Russia I revealed the elaborate misdirection taking place.

I said it last night and I'll say it again: If Trump is guilty, he should go to jail. If anyone is guilty, they should go to jail. Because this is too important to the Republic.

Watch the hands, follow the money.

Here are the documents, video, and audio that we found in our reporting. This is the hard evidence that will help you explain this unbelievable situation to other people.



  • June 2016 State Department memos detailing contacts between George Soros' office and Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland.




As you can see, we did a lot of research on this, and we've done our best to condense it for you. It still requires you to do your own homework, but there's a tremendous freedom to that.

You are seeking the truth.

You are bucking the mainstream media. You are rejecting them. And you are seeking truth. Because they abandoned truth a long time ago and they certainly aren't interested in recovering it now.