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Robert Reich begins, "Maine Governor Paul LePage has ordered state workers to remove from the state labor department a 36-foot mural depicting the state's labor history. Among other things the mural illustrates the 1937 shoe mill strike in Auburn and Lewiston. It also features the iconic 'Rosie the Riveter,' who in real life worked at the Bath Iron Works. One panel shows my predecessor at the US Department of Labor, Frances Perkins, who was buried in Newcastle, Maine."

Portrait, Robert Reich, 08/16/09. (photo: Perian Flaherty)
Portrait, Robert Reich, 08/16/09. (photo: Perian Flaherty)

Why We Need a Fighter in the White House

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog

24 March 11

RSN Special Coverage: GOP's War on American Labor


Why Governor LePage can't erase history, and why we need a fighter in the White House.

aine Governor Paul LePage has ordered state workers to remove from the state labor department a 36-foot mural depicting the state's labor history. Among other things the mural illustrates the 1937 shoe mill strike in Auburn and Lewiston. It also features the iconic "Rosie the Riveter," who in real life worked at the Bath Iron Works. One panel shows my predecessor at the US Department of Labor, Frances Perkins, who was buried in Newcastle, Maine.

The LePage Administration is also renaming conference rooms that had carried the names of historic leaders of American labor, as well as former Secretary Perkins.

The Governor's spokesman explains that the mural and the conference-room names were "not in keeping with the department's pro-business goals."

Are we still in America?

Frances Perkins was the first woman cabinet member in American history. She was also one of the most accomplished cabinet members in history.

She and her boss, Franklin D. Roosevelt, came to office at a time when average working people needed help - and Perkins and Roosevelt were determined to give it to them. Together, they created Social Security, unemployment insurance, the right of workers to unionize, the minimum wage, and the forty-hour workweek.

Big business and Wall Street thought Perkins and Roosevelt were not in keeping with pro-business goals. So they and their Republican puppets in Congress and in the states retaliated with a political assault on the New Deal.

Roosevelt did not flinch. In a speech in October 1936 he condemned "business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering."

Big business and Wall Street, he said,

"... had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.

"Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me - and I welcome their hatred."

Fast forward 75 years.

Big business and Wall Street have emerged from the Great Recession with their pockets bulging. Profits and bonuses are as high as they were before the downturn. And they're spending like mad on lobbying and politics. After the Supreme Court's disgraceful Citizens United decision, there are no limits.

Pro-business goals are breaking out all over. Governors across America are slashing corporate taxes as they slash state budgets. House and Senate Republicans are intent on deregulating, privatizing, and cutting spending and taxes so their corporate and Wall Street patrons will do even better.

But most Americans are still in desperate trouble. Few if any of the economic gains are trickling down.

That's why the current Republican assault on workers - on their right to form unions, on unemployment insurance and Social Security, on public employees, and even (courtesy of Governor LePage) on our common memory - is so despicable.

And it's why we need a President who will fight for workers and fight against this assault - just as Perkins and FDR did.

By the way, Maine's Governor LePage may be curious to know that the building housing the US Department of Labor in Washington is named the "Frances Perkins Building." He can find her portrait hanging prominently inside. Also portraits and murals of great leaders of American labor.

A short walk across the mall will bring Governor LePage to an imposing memorial to Franklin D. Roosevelt, should the Governor wish to visit.

Governor, you might be able to erase some of Maine's memory, but you'll have a hard time erasing the nation's memory - even if it's not in keeping with your pro-business goals.

Robert Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written thirteen books, including "The Work of Nations," "Locked in the Cabinet," "Supercapitalism" and his latest book, "AFTERSHOCK: The Next Economy and America's Future." His 'Marketplace' commentaries can be found on and iTunes. your social media marketing partner


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+64 # jon 2011-03-24 21:50
Alas, Obama is no FDR.
+51 # George D 2011-03-24 23:29
Quoting jon:
Alas, Obama is no FDR.

Obama isn't even "Obama". At least he's not the Obama he represented himself to be during the campaign.
I can't help but wonder how a man with such intelligence and confidence became so complacent and, either cowardly or lazy. He just hasn't done much of anything to help the causes he pretended to champion.
Time to move him out and find a real leader to take his place. Make the speech Obama.... You know the one. "If nominated I will not run; If elected, I will not serve..."
+17 # tomo 2011-03-25 10:07
I'm with you, George D. Obama should step aside for 2012. Not only will I not campaign for him as I did in 2008, but I will do all I can to dissuade others from nominating him, and if worse comes to worst, from voting for him. Leaders are not leaders simply by having the title "President." A great Confucian principle is "the rectification of names." The person who has the title "leader" must either live up to it, or step down. If Obama cannot live up to the title, he should step down gracefully. If he cannot bring himself even to that point of self awareness, he should be dumped by the party--i.e., denied re-nomination.
-2 # switepine 2011-03-27 12:44
You smell like a troll! I smell allot of Troll in here as a matter of fact! Yes have Obama step aside nad maybe Kucinich can get elected ahahahahahahha LMFAO!
-4 # switepine 2011-03-27 12:38
I think all you Obama Haters stink of thinly veiled Racism! Obama has No support because you all gave up on him as soon as you celebrated the novelty of a Black Man in his office and then you realized it would take time to make it work so you tucked your tails between your legs and started looking for a tuff white guy to take his place because down deep you knew just like your father knew, that a black man cannot lead! Shame on all of you! The hardest thing about combating racism is seeing that you yourself are one and fighting the man in the mirror! God forbid that a Liberal would have to face that harsh truth!
-2 # George V. Williams 2011-03-30 10:02
AMEN to you! How refreshing to read a comment that is thoughtful, analytical, objective, AND INTELLIGENT, on a now-sensitive subject such as this one has become!
+25 # rf 2011-03-25 05:21
Obama is a pro-business Democrat like Bill Clinton...(Pro- bussiness=Repub lican who is a wuss)
+28 # AndreM5 2011-03-25 09:23
Obama has asked for the same thing FDR asked for and needed to succeed: Make me do it! Push me so hard and be so loud so that I have a weapon to fight the money, so that the opposition knows it can't win, so that they know the next election will not be close enough to steal.

We must overwhelm at the ballot box to balance the corporatist assault.
+19 # Dave Griz 2011-03-25 11:08
He had the majorities for two years. What did he need to push him, every seat in the House and Senate to be progressive Democrats?
+24 # CTPatriot 2011-03-25 11:41
I'm convinced that even with 100% of the seats in congress, Democrats would still find excuses on why they can't do the things they promised or claimed to have stood for during the campaign.
+9 # RIco 2011-03-25 11:49
Apparently, what was needed was a filibuster-proo f majority in the Senate.
+20 # Robert Griffin 2011-03-25 12:10
He didn't have that majority in the Senate until Franken's election was accepted in Summer 2009. At the same time, there were a number of Democrats in Congress whose positions were far closeer to the Republican positions than to Obama's.
When Obama and Reid allowed Congress to start their vacation before completing health care, they set themselves up for 7 months of attack, and lost a lot of momentum.
+1 # switepine 2011-03-27 12:40
A majority of Democrats is exactly that a majority of middle of the road dems a few left wing progressives and a WHOLE lot of old racist Conservative Democrats. Do the math!!!!!! Huh? Do the MATH!
+1 # George V. Williams 2011-03-30 10:04
Excellent! I don't really want to face the truth of much of your comment here, but, doggone it! I must. It is, unfortunately, right on the money, pun intended!
+1 # switepine 2011-03-27 12:43
No he did not, not even in real numbers let alone real progressive Democrats! Do the math! Se that is the dif between Republicans and democrats, Repubnatcants stick together and fight the fight til it is over, Democrats scatter in fear as soon as the going gets tuff! So sad how we are eating our own children right now to save face!
+21 # CTPatriot 2011-03-25 11:47
You're right that real change has to come from public pressure. You're wrong that Obama's request bears any resemblance, other than an empty one, to that of FDR.

The difference is that FDR sought pressure to help him gain crucial support for the things that he WANTED to accomplish and therefore welcomed it. Obama, on the other hand, while he asked for pressure, has responded to it in the exact opposite manner -- by throwing up road blocks, insulting and rejecting the part of his base that was bringing pressure to bear, and using party organs like DNC and OFA to thwart that pressure.

In other words, like so many other things Obama said during the campaign, his request that we make him do it was nothing but empty rhetoric, a part of his award winning presidential marketing campaign.
-2 # J D 2011-03-27 09:57
Quoting jon:
Alas, Obama is no FDR.

Alas Alas FDR was no FDR, at least not the FDR history/histori ans worship. He was a tool of banking.
+1 # MJ 2011-03-28 14:27
You guys are as disillusioned as you were in 2008. Obama won in 2008 because there was lot of hate against Bush and that converted into Obama's win. On top of that McCain wasnt a conservative enough candidate to reviatlize right-wing nut jobs. Leaders only comes once in generation, bunch of loonies that we are seeing in White House are mere politicians who will do and say anything to get elected and stay in power. We donot have a leader that nation can rally with and unfortunately we are in dire need of one.
-1 # George V. Williams 2011-03-30 09:59
Nor, I am compelled to add, was FDR an Obama.
+74 # jak 2011-03-24 22:10
That we need a fighter in the White House means that we need someone other than Barack Obama. Unfortunately, he is unwilling to fight for the American people. My fear is that no one will, but what that means is that WE THE PEOPLE MUST!
+44 # George D 2011-03-24 23:11
I'm starting to think that the people that have a grip on American policy are not the people we elect. As much as I detest GWB and his disaster of a presidency, I never really believed he was in charge. He was more like the dumb, frat boy that was told, "just listen to your elders on this one" and he even carried that mantle forward with "I'm listening to my generals" as a way to pass the buck and dodge responsibility. Sadly, Obama must be falling into the same mold that was created for him by the previous administration. Maybe we are all to blame; We accepted the "honor the troops" and "listen to the generals" line and it endures today. When do we say LEAD, or GET THE HELL OUT OF THE WAY to Obama?
I said it before and I'll keep saying it; Obama needs to make the LBJ speech and America needs a Howard Dean to run in his place.
NO MORE "kids" in the White House and no more OLD GUARD either!
+23 # Observer 47 2011-03-25 08:20
It could be that Obama actually WAS bought and paid for by the corporations as soon as he began his election campaign. I wouldn't be a bit surprised. Neither would I be surprised if some anonymous person sat him down in December, 2008 and said, "There was a man elected in 1960 who fought greedy corporations. He tried to fight corruption in government, and tried to break the secret hold that some forces have over the government. Remember how that ended. The same thing will happen to you or your family if you don't follow orders."
+82 # Beth Coffelt 2011-03-24 22:23
Robert Reich's voice is the clearest of any currently speaking.
I actually search for his comments, and intend accessing
his books and, if possible, attending his lectures in Berkeley. Thank you, Mr. Reich, for the clarity of your thinking and your
effort to make it available.
Beth Coffelt
+51 # Ralph Averill 2011-03-25 01:09
Paul Krugman of the NY Times speaks with the same depth and clarity. He has been seeing through the smoke and mirrors of the charade known as Republican free market economic policy since the beginning of the Bush II Administration.
+34 # Rita Walpole Ague 2011-03-25 04:48
Beth Coffelt, you and I and so many more are on the same page. Yes indeed, Robert Reich's voice/writing is clear, and most prophetic (a.k.a. truth telling).

Who it is he would most like to see take now Pres. Obama on in the primary. Or, does he believe we the sheeple should get behind a 'workers party' candidate? Dicey it would be, given our fraud laden election system in state after state. Careful we must be to not once again be Bushwhacked.

Perhaps our best chance, outside a French style revolution, is to dump Obama in the primaries, and get a real true progressive running and elected, a fighter of the first order. And then, protect them like hell, to a avoid their joining the likes of true fighters for liberty and justice for all fighters, JFK, RFK and MLK, in their martyrdom.
How about getting behind Kucinich, or giving Howare Dean another opportunity?

Please Prof. Reich, keep educating and leading us, for our sake, the whole world's sake, and the sake of our kids, grandkids, and generations to come, in our fight to tell the villainaires to go to hell, and our fight to actually.....

+45 # H.M. Sutton 2011-03-24 22:30
Mr Reich, please do some writing that projects what all this Republican pro-corporate activity will bring us in the future--the kind of hell which we will get!
+15 # Ron Maier 2011-03-25 05:12
Please read The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood.
+15 # in deo veritas 2011-03-25 07:41
Lyndon Larouche has been telling those will listen what will happen and has been doing it since 1987. He has been right on target every time. The only way to save the economy and the country is to force Congress to reinstate Glass-Steagall to separate the real banks from the speculator banks that put us in this mess. Obama would likely try to veto it-would that be a surprise to anyone?
+2 # tyr 2011-03-25 08:55
you want to see the future look at the USSR corportatism is the same socialist agenda as ruled the SOVIET SOCIALIST REPUBLIC for fifty years. When it could steal no more from the people the leaders became the OLIGOST with Puten as the emperor remember Bush wanted to be the deceider.
+51 # James Becket 2011-03-24 22:43
Incredible, and it's the labor department. I am curious given that it's a mural if it means destroying it to remove it. I hope it in some fashion it will be preserved so when hopefully things change it can be restored. What is the reaction in Maine to this destruction of art and history?
+24 # DaveW 2011-03-25 10:18
James Becket,"this destruction of art and history." This is all part of the corporatist playbook. The "victors" in any battle "write" the history.In this instance "corporate America is simply "re-writing" history,from the destruction of murals in Maine to the removal of "objectional" material in McGraw-Hill's Texas schoolbook factory. Phyllis Schafly occupies more print than Thomas Jefferson in one particular "history" book now in production.In Orwell's "1984" it was lead character Winston's job,along with others in the "Ministry of Truth" to erase "real world" events that might cast a negative shadow upon the state and "replace" them with a lie,that once repeated enough "became" history.We are rapidly entering into this realm and once fully immersed we "will not" come out whole skinned.I don't believe Obama is an evil man,he is simply the wrong man.He is now fully in the grip of the MIC, Wall St.,and the multi-national corporations who actually dictate policy,both here and in much of the world. As in "1984" the dissemination of information to the masses is increasingly "controlled" by powers that are nefarious in design and scope.War is a "standard" way of life,the rich "must" become richer to bestow upon the rest of us a few crumbs and "truth" is the mortal enemy of the state. Whoever confronts this will have a target immediately upon them. "History" paints their fate.
+4 # Observer 47 2011-03-25 14:36
Bravo, Dave!
+4 # sark 2011-03-26 12:23
The Koch brothers are making sure the same thing happens at the Smithsonian. rewrite history and remove science.
+3 # genierae 2011-03-27 08:08
DaveW: What is written in our history books is less important than what is written in our hearts. Empire has worn out its welcome, we are witnessing its suicidal death throes. Those who are in the driver's seat are on the verge of collapse; their policies carry the seeds of self-destructio n. The race is on between mind-control and consciousness-r aising, and the latter is reaching critical mass. We must work to enlighten everyone that we can reach, while at the same time keep a positive frame of mind. We are all co-creators, let us work together to create a new world where everyone counts equally, and honest needs are met abundantly. If we persevere, we will overcome.
+27 # Alturn 2011-03-24 22:50
This is a different time and a different president. The leader who speaks the truth is the World Teacher Maitreya, who is already been speaking on American television. This time it is not the rise of America that will save the world, it is the rise of ordinary people everywhere who stand together and demand justice that will. As Maitreya's close associates have said, "It's the people, not the politicians", "the voice of the people is the voice of wisdom", "Humanity is the superpower. The will of the nation and country will be based on the will of the people. The people will make sure politicians do not make mischief." It is the people who must learn to tell Obama and the politicians what to do, not the other way around.
+3 # in deo veritas 2011-03-25 07:43
LOL! We are the sheeple.
+23 # StillStanding 2011-03-24 22:53
Geraldine Doyle, the model for the Rosie the Riveter, was from Lansing, MI. My hometown, Lansing was a wonderful place to grow up, get an education, and work. Lansing has been decimated right along with American Labor in the last ten years. I don't know if it will ever return to it's former prosperity.
+47 # Trish 2011-03-24 23:00
You can't remove paintings made of blood sweat and history from a state house until you add your own. Too many died for our freedoms to work in a safe protected world that did not indenture us to the companies who would hire us.
+12 # in deo veritas 2011-03-25 07:44
What will LePutz do replace it with his own picture? Corporate fascists deserve the fate of Dorian Gray.
+28 # ted cloak 2011-03-24 23:11
We just passed the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Co. fire. Frances Perkins was actually there, in the neighborhood. She saw the women jumping to their deaths, and she never forgot that. Read her excellent biography.
+14 # in deo veritas 2011-03-25 07:48
And if the shills in Washington continue to serve their Wall Street paymasters, we will see this tragedy again when there are no safety regulations, etc. Wake up America before it's too late-if it isn't already......
+20 # Maryelizmc 2011-03-24 23:15
Yes, this is the peoples' fight. On NPR Thursday evening the Marketplace addressed three of four year old legislation when corporation with huge profits from overseaswere given significant tax breaks for investing that money in creating jobs. Not one was; this was followed by a discussion on PBS, middle class, Republicans and Democrats together with no jobs or money, no thing. This is the peoples' fight. Who or where is the leader(s)?
+10 # in deo veritas 2011-03-25 07:50
Any question as to why the shills in the HR voted to stop funding NPR? It is the last source we have for truth and truth like sunlight will kill these vampires and their masters.
+10 # readerwoman 2011-03-24 23:39
We need YOU in the white house...
+1 # albertchampion 2011-03-24 23:54
WELL, you got a fighter in the white house. fighting pakistani, afghan, and a number of other civilians.

what did you think a creation of david rockefeller was going to be doing?

why do you think a former operative of the cia was going to be serving any interests other than those of the bosses?

you doing medical marijuana?
+7 # in deo veritas 2011-03-25 07:53
Where did you come up with this CIA operative stuff-give us a source. LOL. Where are you getting your cannabis?
+7 # TBL 2011-03-25 00:00
Thank you for your insightfulness Secretary Reich.I look forward to reading your articles when I can.Even if there is know chance of winning,and the third party backs out to avoid a "Nader effect" and end up with God knows who? The public atleast for "those who have ears to hear and eye to see" could come to understand what we face as Americans.P.S How does Reich & Sanders/or Sanders & Reich sound?
+21 # sharag 2011-03-25 00:00
Obama has bought into the system. He has to think of his future. He will not fight for ordinary Americans. That is for us and us alone to do. Few politicians will join that fight.

Government organized by Wall Street along with the government organized mob(Congress)wi ll be difficult to fight, but fight we must. Perhaps the people of Maine can now join in, organize and push back..hard.
+6 # in deo veritas 2011-03-25 07:54
By whatever means are necessary to preserve and protect the Constitution of the United States of America-our only chance for survival and redemption for our complacency.
+17 # GTrout 2011-03-25 00:18
What twists of childhood and early life created this group of people who seem to sincerely believe they are so much better than everyone around them? So much better that they feel they have the right to both run and ruin the lives of others, to determine whether they should live or die by withholding communal aid if they are ill or of below normal intelligence or demented or old, to cut their wages and foul their environment and deny them education? So much better that they believe only they warrant the receipt of fine clothing, food, housing, technology, education and - let's not omit it - massive quantities of money? Money in excess of the dreams of avarice? What could it be? Is it genetic? Did their parents or the local bully take away all their toys, or, conversely, did their parents lavish them with any and all toys they ever desired? It has ever been thus, from the dawn of humanity - but with all of our learning do we not by now possess the means to end this nightmare? Perhaps if someone could identify the inception of this fearsome need to dance on the graves of his fellow men, their withered corpses ground to powder beneath their feet and tortured souls wailing into oblivion, we could develop a vaccine to be administered before adulthood.
+1 # in deo veritas 2011-03-25 07:56
Simply the boomers sense of entitlement and it will earn them their seats in hell if they even believe in an afterlife, which I doubt. Money is their god.
+7 # tomo 2011-03-25 10:29
GTrout: I do think we can locate where this destructive tendency of which you accurately write began. It began with the Puritan sense of Mission, which was to provide a sense of being among "the elect," and which made John Winthrop describe as our destiny to be a "city on a hill"--a hill from which we would run down and wreak "hell on earth" on indigenous Americans, and eventually on anyone else whom we thought impeded the accumulation of wealth which we regard as our manifest destiny. That we have become in the process the objects of our own wrath is one of the great ironies. What goes around, comes around.
+5 # Jorge 2011-03-25 11:23
GTrout- For me the power of evil people made sense by the explanation of Martha Stout, Ph.D, author of "The Sociopath Next Door". She writes that 4% of people are born without a conscience and never develop a conscience. Hence, anything goes in terms of money/power.... no guilt, no punishment is ever justified for one's actions. And these people end up as CEOs of big corporations, military generals, top dogs in government. If we understand the enemy's orientation then it becomes less overwhelming to fight back.
+23 # Anagnorisis 2011-03-25 01:11
Labor union issues aside, the destruction of a work of historic art ought to be considered anathema and illegal. Ah, but legal and ethical no longer conjoin at the hip. Murals are walls that can't be stuffed in the back room. When it's gone, it's gone. Speak out, art historians. No, Obama won't.
+28 # Critical Thinker 2011-03-25 01:11
How soon we forget our history of the military and police shooting at the first attempts to form unions. Can that happen again as the GOP and the Koch brothers are determined to start a class war.

Perhaps we need to take guidance from the Egyptian protesters, who changed their government.
+9 # in deo veritas 2011-03-25 07:59
The moment that these fascists open fire on anyone, it will be all over. Considering the moral and intellectual bankruptcy they function on, it may be just a metter of time.
+14 # Observer 47 2011-03-25 09:24
I wish I had faith that you're right, deo. People have been arrested for over a decade for peacefully protesting. They've been spied upon for merely belonging to anti-war or environmental organizations. They've been confined without being charged and without resort to legal counsel. They've been tortured and they've been rendered to other countries. All of this has been "allowed" to happen, in the name of national security. I have every reason to believe that when the fascists open fire in this country, they'll wrap themselves in the flag, AND they'll get away with it.
+13 # tomo 2011-03-25 10:45
Along the lines of your comment, Observer 47, "they're getting away with it" in the case of Bradley Manning just now. I can't imagine ANYBODY attempting even a rational case for keeping Bradley Manning NAKED in his cell. "They" did exactly this kind of thing in Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan; "they" did the same thing at Abu Ghraib in Irag; and now "they" are doing it to an American citizen at Quantico Marine Base in the United States. I keep putting "they" in quotation marks to point up an issue. "They" are not "a few bad apples." "They" are the present masters of the American people.
+12 # Observer 47 2011-03-25 11:18
I was thinking of exactly all the instances you mention, Tomo, when I wrote my comment. Manning's treatment is just a recent story in the long line of crimes committed by our government and its employees/contr actors/represen tatives/allies in the name of "national security."
+5 # Sven 2011-03-25 11:29
Another reason for a Dem to challenge Obama in the Dem Primary. I suggest Dr. Dean, he can do it.
+5 # Observer 47 2011-03-25 12:14
Only if you believe that he wasn't deliberately shot down in 2004 by the corporate-owned MSM. I, too, thought Dean was the man who was going to turn the country around, until I saw how easy it was for the powers-that-be to tank his campaign.
+32 # Ralph Averill 2011-03-25 01:12
It is a small step from destroying art to burning books.
+14 # in deo veritas 2011-03-25 08:01
Just another aspect of fascism as practiced by Uncle Adolf. There is no defense for these vampires. They live only in darkness and the sunlight of truth will turn them to ashes.
-5 # Edward White 2011-03-25 01:30
Why haven't any republicans been shot?Only a democrat.
+7 # in deo veritas 2011-03-25 08:02
Reagan was and they lied to us about the severity of his wound.
+5 # lisa d. 2011-03-25 22:11
Quoting in deo veritas:
Reagan was and they lied to us about the severity of his wound.

because in general, democrats have tried to speak truth to power ... who do you think shoots them?
+17 # genierae 2011-03-25 09:11
Lincoln was a Republican, but the Republican party was different back then. It had members who were genuinely good people. No one cared more about the American people than President Lincoln and because he was killed, reconstruction turned into a vicious assault on blacks, which finally turned into Jim Crow. Can you imagine any Republican politician today caring at all about poor people? They don't even care about the middle class. What a sad species is the Republican animal.
+9 # tomo 2011-03-25 10:59
Yes, Genierae; anyone who studies men like Seward and Stanton is likely to realize that their effort, however far it fell short, involved every ounce of their energy and was totally dedicated to the future well being of the American people, black no less than white, and Southerner no less than Northerner. Such things are so nearly inconceivable among Republicans today, that one may think I am including an undercurrent of sarcasm as I write. I'm not. There were once very good reasons for being a Republican. These seem to have gotten lost somewhere along the way.
+6 # JD Negro 2011-03-25 13:36
+6 # aikidokurt 2011-03-25 17:31
Quoting Edward White:
Why haven't any republicans been shot?Only a democrat.

R Reagan was shot by Bush family friend's son and wan-a-be lover of Jody Foster (what a joke!), John Warnock Hinckley, Jr.
+33 # maddave 2011-03-25 01:42
REALITY CHECK: You hear talk about a "coming revolution", but forget it, Beloved! The revolution came and went . . . and we The People lost!

What revolution, you ask?

It was peaceful. Revolutions are historically rather benign affairs in which a new faction takes over peacefully. It is not until the The Old Guard counter-revolts (to regain access to the treasury) that things get messy & blood flows.

Here's what's happened to us:
- Organized Labor lost (gave up) its voice in politics.
-Labor's 20th Century advance to Middle Class status was reversed.
- "Elected officials" are beholden to, represent & pander to Corporate America which paid for their elections & re-elections.
- Despite robust economic growth since the 80's, WORKERS' buying power & wages are bogged down +/- 1970 levels.
- The USA is now a full-blown plutocracy in which power is held by the ultra wealthy . . . with whom Obama, if he wishes to be re-elected, must walk a thin line.

Obama is NOT his own man any more than "W" was - or to a lesser extent, Clinton before him. Further, he is NOT the crisis leader that these times require.

The only remedy is government financed elections: absolutely NO private money allowed.
+5 # denfig 2011-03-25 10:47
Mad Dave,

You are a man after my own heart. Well said.
+5 # JD Negro 2011-03-25 13:35
I agree with you 100%. However, I wonder about public financing of elections. It would be financed by our taxes which I don't feel the public would support. Any polls saying otherwise?
+4 # aikidokurt 2011-03-25 17:41
"The only remedy is government financed elections: absolutely NO private money allowed."
mmm, I like that! almost sounds like some sort-of "campaign finance reform" But how can the wealthy influence an election and a get a politician to serve them if they cannot use their blessed potency? you want the rich to vote with the rabble? priceless!
+3 # sark 2011-03-26 16:07
I like the idea of government financed elections but that still does address another extremely important problem, we cannot count on Our Votes being counted as cast because we vote on electronic machines that are easily hacked and the vote count manipulated. As long as voters ignore this, elections just give us the illusion of an occasional victory while the very wealthy owners of corporations really run the show.
+1 # switepine 2011-03-27 12:47 it, Instant Runoff Voting is the only chance but it wil never happen.
+15 # Lilly 2011-03-25 02:52
Well said Mr. Reich, sadly we have a similar situation in the UK, and the opposition party is still whimpering having had its stuffing knocked out by the majority of the manipulative media that gave it a good bashing pre election and continues to this day. The right wing using the mantra of 'they left us with this deficit thats why we need to make these cuts'. The scales are falling from most peoples eyes now, but we don't have a strong opposition to take the fight on to save our services and jobs. As someone said earlier we'll have to do it for ourselves.
+22 # Tom Miller 2011-03-25 05:06
If the people don't fight, why should Obama? Go Wisconsin!
+22 # fredboy 2011-03-25 06:45
I supported Obama, not realizing that he fears big business. And is afraid to truly lead. Our nation was at a pivotal crisis point when he was elected. He blew it.

While some may say Hillary Clinton may have been the right choice, I remind them that she pledged to bring back Alan Greenspan. That cost her my vote. Yet it is as if Greenspan is back, in spirit, and the spirit of brutal business and selfishness rules the land.

And the minions, lemmings, and losers support and vote for this while losing any chance of a future.
+8 # fredboy 2011-03-25 06:47
Alturn is correct: The tail is wagging the dog.
+33 # flitedocnm 2011-03-25 06:58
Does LePage even have the authority to destroy, by his own royal decree, property that belongs to the people of Maine -- not to him? Last time I checked Maine was still part of a democracy, not a royal principality. Why can't this be stopped?

Robert Reich's comments are dead on.

I'm sick of 11-dimensional chess. I'm disgusted by the perceived need to bow down to Wall Street. The whole point of being President isn't simply to be re-elected, it's to lead. Otherwise, what's the point of being elected at all?
+14 # Margarita Denevan 2011-03-25 08:57
filedocnm, you are right to ask. . . Can a Governor destroy public property at will? Please, people of Maine speak up. . . protect your wonderful history. It is so reassuring to read comments from "the peope". . to know that so many are awakening to the fact that Obama is not the man we were given to believ him to be.
+24 # liberalman 2011-03-25 08:06
The great American Hoodwink is underway, wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross, protecting all unborn citizens even if products of rape & incest. The dupes are lined up thick & wide, salivating dumbly, nodding in approval as the message from the wealthiest are broadcast through the lips of well paid commentators whom I do not need to name. Propaganda has been elevated to an art-form with the advent of 24/7 news media & the internet.
This blatant assault on the poor & working class has been in the works for a long time but is now seeing fruition & if Americans allow it to continue we will all sink like the Bismark.
Uprise Now!
+8 # in deo veritas 2011-03-25 08:08
These corporate fascists will find sooner than they think that there are enough REAL Americans left who WILL NOT bend over or get on their knees to them that their days are numbered. If any of them believe in God they have to know that they will not be able to plea bargain or talk their way out of their final sentence. On the other hand it becomes more obvious that money is their only god.
+12 # fhunter 2011-03-25 08:22
We need a President. Period! Obama does not have the strength, character, stamina and ABILITY to lead.
+4 # mikberg 2011-03-25 08:43
The reality is we also need a Democrat who can get elected. Roosevelt was not black. Kerry couldn't beat an ignorant President who was in the middle of an unpopular war. I support President Obama with all of his faults; he is way better than Mitt Romney would be.
-2 # switepine 2011-03-27 12:50
Thank You thank you! A refreshing voice amongst the cowardly and I suspect racist lot here as well as a Bunch of trolls poseing as liberals bringing Obama down!
+17 # A. Lazar 2011-03-25 08:45
When we elected Obama, do you remember how many of us wrote to him to tell him "Now is the time to appoint Paul Krugman Treasury Secretary," with Reich as Labor Secretary, we would be living today in a different country. Do we still live in a democracy? Indeed, the memory of what this country is about is being systematically destroyed.
+10 # ruth mckenney 2011-03-25 09:10
+16 # genierae 2011-03-25 09:22
The people of Maine need to "go Wisconsin" and demand that these murals be kept right where they are. They need to camp out there and refuse to leave until the Governor relents. This would create a great deal of interest across the nation, and give protesters the same kind of advantage that they had in Wisconsin. The American people are behind workers, and this creates an opportunity for bringing down these selfish, ignorant governors. Solidarity will win the day, if the people refuse to give up.
+14 # giraffee2012 2011-03-25 09:28
I agree with ALL of you -- but Please do NOT vote for a Republican and Please VOTE -- If President Obama does "anything" -- the right slaps him and spreads the birther thing, etc.

I will vote for Obama and expect him to act like he "can" in his second term.

Reason: Nobody is running against him except Republicans.

Do you really want a R as President? R's are funded by the Kock brothers who are supported by the Supremes.
+5 # BradFromSalem 2011-03-25 10:01
Rule #1 - Vote in the General Election - Always
Rule #2 - Never vote for a Republican - in a General Election
Rule #3 - Vote in the Primary - Always
Rule #4a - When the Progressive is a shoe-in as the Democrat in a Primary follow 4b.
Rule #4b - If possible vote for the worst candidtae on the Republican ballot in the Primary

Obama will not, and an argument can be made that he should not, be the front person in a Populist Progressive movement. But conversely, when he wins in 2012, if everything is in place for such a movement to be handed the political reins of setting policy; Obama may be the best hope of keeping the Righties from going commando.
+3 # genierae 2011-03-25 11:11
LL: I agree with your comment and all of your rules except 4b. We cannot allow ourselves to stoop to the level of Republicans, we must do all things honestly. The end is always corrupted by dishonest means.
+5 # GTrout 2011-03-25 15:12
LL, I used your 4b plan for 20 years against Jesse Helms - but to no avail. But I did gain the satisfaction of voting against him twice. And I paid a terrible price: I had to register Republican in those days to vote in the R primary, and I'm still on the R mailing list - UGH!
+3 # sark 2011-03-26 16:17
If you voted against Jesse and are still in NC, you are voting in a state that has "good voting laws" but those good laws still don't protect your vote to assure it is counted as cast. The only audit is for a state wide election so all the other elections can be easily manipulated on the machines you use. The machines have been shown to have problems yet the people still seem to believe that their vote is safe, how sad. Sure, we need to vote but we also need to make certain that our vote is counted as cast and there is no way to do that in this country with the voting equipment being used.
+1 # genierae 2011-03-27 07:35
Just so, sark. I live in Ohio where, courtesy of Ken Blackwell, Kerry won but Bush got "elected". I think that people are so distracted by the bad economy that they can't find the energy necessary to demand fair elections.
+9 # Buckles 2011-03-25 09:34
When I heard this Main Govenor lost his senses it tells me there should have been a riot from the working class, or from most of the democratic party mainly from the President who was supported by the middle class. What next from Lepage's corporate cronies, the Torch from the Statue of Liberty?
-5 # giraffee2012 2011-03-25 09:50
Why do so many Dems believe President Obama can "riot" etc. The people voted this creep into office and the people should scream, shout, have a "baby-type" temper tantrum - etc.

And those people should vote D in 2012 - or have LePage removed after a "year" (or whatever the state's rules allow.

Vote 2012 - and look who backs your candidate (their financials are online) - We know what the R's will do to this country.

Maybe the USA should divide into 2 countries -- the religious right + banks, Wall Street biggiers, etc., (and they can have the Supremes) and Main Street of the middle and poor. We will beat them in prosperity -- CA will be part of the second group.
+2 # fhunter 2011-03-25 09:35
Governor Lepage: You can remove the murals and rename Conference rooms, but there are lots of books that praise Roosevelt, Frances and the Unions. This weekend would be just the appropriate time to collect those books that don't keep with your Administration' s pro-business goals and burn them in front of Blaine House. You seem to appreciate history. Important era started with book burning 78 years ago, and the people participating in it wrote their name into History. You can do the same. Congratulation!
+11 # Ruth Friend 2011-03-25 09:49
The removal of the mural is really a huge disaster for all Americans. It should be announced nationally before it happens. we should all go and stand in front of it and keep it up!
Mr. Reich we will stand with you. Lead the way.

Ruth in Mill Valley
+4 # AverageJoe 2011-03-25 10:11
Can't change the world... can change yourself, and then find yourself in a different world. Has anyone read John Perkins' "Confessions of an Economic Hitman" yet? Obama is no different from any South American president who gets a visit from the world bank.
-2 # Tucker 2011-03-25 10:20
Anyone who knew how the obama campaign was financed knew this was coming. And if they had written their concerns about the political parties being bought by fascists on this forum then all you obamatons would have "thumbs downed" till you got arthritis. Don't act surprised now! There were plenty of people
telling you that a George Soros creation would work only for Wall Street. There are plenty of people who were saying that Obamas policies were to be more "free trade", globalization, perma-war and corporate swindle bail out. Now that you realize you've been conned, don't let it happen again. Now go keep trying to peel all those embarrassing change stickers off your bumper.
+8 # BradFromSalem 2011-03-25 10:39

The only persons that were conned were the ones not paying attention.

The MSM does not allow a real Progressive a voice. Dennis Kucinich was totally ignored. Other progressives are lost in memory. And I am only discussing 2008.

So, we got the best we could. Yes, we are disappointed. But to say that those of us that were paying attention are surprised shows that you really don't understand that the MSM always selects kool-aid. We just get to pick which flavor, instead we would have much preferred something a little stronger.
+4 # Tucker 2011-03-25 11:25
I dont know about you liberal libertarian, but I, for one, don't think this fight is over! Your view has the tone of someone who's been defeated and knows it. You've really got to get over this "best we can get" thing you've got going. It's not helpful now and it want helpful then. It's simply pessimism disguised as pragmatism. Sure there are MANY factors tainting our political process and preventing us from getting a real candidate. However... if people would ask the right questions and vote for policy over popularity we could force a candidate to run on a platform and stick to it! Don't be content just accepting the flavor of "kool aid" that you get. The presidency is OUR office, not Obamas. We just let him live long as he acts right! He still has the authority to act like a United States president and WE still have the power to make him do it or replace him with
someone who will.
+9 # DenFig 2011-03-25 10:39
It seems to me that this is a simple problem. Democrats and non-Republicans must battle the GOP propaganda machine. Thus any first term president must sacrifice much to attaining their second (and final) term. I hold out hope that a second term for Obama will feature more focus on the Main Street population.

Simply replacing Obama with another first term president only assures the continuation of the first term stalemate. If Democrats or any other party could assemble a spine the first term stalemate would be a non-issue. Unfortuantely if you consider the battle within the Democratic rank and file for the first two years of Obama's first term there was a COMPLETE failure to provide the necessary support for real change.

We in effect govern ourselves, we need not look much further than ourselves to lay blame. Soldarity regardless of the personal cost may be our key to a better future.
+5 # wfalco 2011-03-25 10:52
It seems this is a tactic that would be imposed by a dictator intent on eliminating ideas from prior history. This is what makes it so dangerous. The Repugs are so nasty when it comes to public debate.The right-wing must destroy all referances to our history that shines positively on progressive programs or leaders.
Unfortunately Obama is a product of our times-having grown up in post-radicalize d America. He was likely taught to be a careful liberal-to pick and choose battles that can be won-albeit incrementally. I get the philosophy and the belief to tread softly- so not to offend too many white Americans. But this may be the burden that our first African-America n President must bare. Perhaps he feels that this is the only tactic available to him. Because of this strong possibility I am willing to throw him a pass as not being vociferous in his leadership and defense of leftist economics.But.. .the time may have to come where he takes advise from the ghost of FDR and leads us into battle. My gut feeling is that Obama intends to do so after his re-election. But his aversion to risk/calculatin g style may be his downfall.
+7 # Sven 2011-03-25 11:45
Obama is a Harvard-trained elitist/corpora tist, forget the image as a community organizer. That was to get poor and middle-class votes (he now golfs with Goldman-Sachs banksters). Follow the money. We need a proven Progressive, e.g. Reich, Krugman, Dean, Sanders, Kucinich, Ed Schultz, Thom Hartmann, to challenge Obama in the primary.
+6 # Moe 2011-03-25 10:58
I laugh at some of the comments regarding no voting for President Obama again. What Republican are you going to vote for this time, or not vote...same results.

Mr. Reich is dead on, with one exception. President Obama can not move forward without clear messages from the American people. He felt he got one in November 2010. We as Americans have a responsibility to our country and our democracy. The people of Maine, if they want to perserve the history their new governor is tearing down need to find their voice.

One person, one vote. We can have change we believe in, if we participate.
+10 # Observer 47 2011-03-25 12:08
We tried that, "one person, one vote," thing back in 2000. Too bad the Supreme Court actually decided who would move to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, despite the fact that Gore won the popular vote. Then in 2004, Ohio actually went for Kerry, but then, sometime in the wee hours, SOMEHOW, that vote got turned around. Don't ever believe for a minute that the voters' choices prevail.
+1 # fhunter 2011-03-25 11:03
What happened with the voters of Maine? They sent two outstanding Senators, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, to Washington, then go and elect this totally deranged Lepage for Governor!?
+12 # genierae 2011-03-25 11:51
fhunter: Do you really believe that Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins are "outstanding"? They may be the least objectionable of the Republicans in congress, but they are far from outstanding. Their constant caving to the hard-core righties has cost the American people big time.
+5 # Lulie 2011-03-25 11:03
When we read articles such as this one by Reich, we should not just bemoan the fact that Obama is weak, or that we have to vote for him to avoid a Republican. Let's get behind these people with whom we actually agree and whom we support. HOW ABOUT ROBERT REICH FOR PRESIDENT? If a true liberal would challenge Obama in the next election, I think a lot of us -- including me -- would vote for him/her.
-4 # Jagan N Sharma 2011-03-25 11:18
You supported this lazy Corporate guy who is a liar
+6 # Drake 2011-03-25 13:13
With Teagagger Paul LePage as Governor, I honestly hate to admit that I'm from Maine for the first time in my life. He got in on a support for the underdog ticket and much was made about how he had been homeless when he was young, so it was assumed that he would care about the ordinary citizen. It was a complete lie, much like his campaign was. He was not elected by a majority of the vote, for he received only around 30 percent of the total votes. With any luck he will be just a one-time governor.
+5 # wrodwell 2011-03-25 13:59
Several commentators mentioned Howard Dean as a replacement for spineless Barack. Do proponents of such "magical thinking" seriously believe that someone nurtured by an irredeemably corrupt and rotten political system will produce the necessary quantum changes before we completely disappear down the toilet? Our present political system is garbage and should be tossed in history's dumpster. Remedy: A visionary leader arises and disbands Congress and the Supreme Court. A country-wide search for replacements is made among the unemployed and barely employed. All Congressional perks like their special Social Security program, lifetime pensions for 4 years of work, and the proviso that the "Kids of Congress" are exempt from repaying their college loans would all be revoked. Political contributions would be outlawed and replaced by taxpayer funding during an 8 week election season. Obama's Health Care would be scrapped and replaced with affordable Universal Health Care. The Pentagon budget would be cut by 50% and the money used for job creation programs. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq would end. A 50% tax on gross income of the upper 2% of the super-rich would be imposed. Public school funding would increase in order to create smaller, more manageable classroom sizes. This is one "tsunami" that would be welcomed.
+5 # pirugenia 2011-03-25 14:34
LePage should commision NEW MURAL with his LABOR HEROES: Mao, Himmler, Pol Pot, Kochroach bros, Belzebu... Too bad Diego Rivera is not around to paint it! Wait a minute maybe he has reincarnated. Pronto! We need a painter (excessive talent not necessary) to paint LePage amidst the happy bunch. Any suggestions? How about the right spot, the right WALL for the mural? Wall I said, hmmmm
+3 # María Eugenia Sáez 2011-03-25 14:44
LePage should commision NEW MURAL with his LABOR HEROES: Mao, Himmler, Pol Pot, Kochroach bros, Belzebu... Too bad Diego Rivera is not around to paint it! Wait a minute maybe he has reincarnated. Pronto! We need a painter (excessive talent not necessary) to paint LePage amidst the happy bunch. Any suggestions? How about the right spot, the right WALL for the mural? Wall I said, hmmmm
+6 # propsguy 2011-03-25 16:54
the state workers should refuse to take down the mural. didn't we complain when other regimes (the soviets for example) rewrote history to suit their politics? we have become that which we reviled
+4 # Joan Mocine 2011-03-25 17:38
The Democrats will not push liberal legislation unless we push them hard. They, almost as much as the Repubs, are beholden to big business and won't act on our behalf without massive demos and lots of letters and phone calls.

I also don't thin Mao belongs with Pol Pot, Himmler, etc. His movement overthrew a demonic government (backed by us) headed by criminals. I'm sure Diego Rivera would agree that Chiang Kai Shek belongs on that mural along with Pinochet and the government of South Africa before Mandela's victory. Oh yes, and let's not forget Franco in Spain. I think it should be on a big billboard on the Mall in D.C.
+11 # enrique 2011-03-25 18:42
We have a fighter, his name is Kucinich. Why the hell don't you people see this?
+9 # Diane Sayer 2011-03-25 21:57
This reminds me of the time, not so long ago, when the Taliban destroyed the historic Buddhas in Afghanistan. Destroyers of history there and here!!!!!!
+8 # DallasTroy 2011-03-25 23:10
Seems to me that the people of Maine should remove LePage from office, rather than the mural. If I remember correctly, he won by a fairly narrow margin.

It is so obvious that all of these anti-labor actions are part of a concerted effort nationwide. Add to that: cuts to public education, Medicaid, voting rights, etc.

Do Republicans really want a country in which they must be chauffeured around in bullet-proof limos -- for fear of the desperate poor that might rob them? And literally step over the sick and old on the streets on the way to their plush homes & offices?

Anyone this myopic and avaricious is only inviting a serious revolution in which they will surely and deservedly lose everything.

Prof. Reich is the only columnist whose articles I'd be willing to share on Facebook before I'd even read them. However, I'm always eager to read his brilliant columns right away!
+5 # Kayjay 2011-03-26 15:47
Alas the idea of our political leaders following a constitutional mandate to "promote the general welfare" of its people is long gone. If we continue to enable those in office to promote corporate interests, our constitution may be replaced entirely by corporate jingles I agree that a remedy may be strict government financed campaign spending, term limits and a tenacious public awareness/activ ism, re. people of Wisconsin. I would like to see any other Democrat have a legitimate chance of of challenging Obama in '12. But MONEY has so corrupted our political system, that incumbents are now coronated at conventions. No decent candidate can raise the MONEY to challenge them. I'm really tired of any office in this nation always going to the highest bidder.
+2 # Gary in Midwest 2011-03-26 19:47
The whole world, including the Communist Chinese, has entered the age of Darwinian capitalism which if you really look at it is exactly like feudalism. Serve the kings for an average world-wide salary of 28 cents an hour, fourteen hours a day, seven days a week, children doing labor and as sure as night is day, it's coming to this country someday just like it came in the early 1900's in the time of the robber barons. It took years and years of hard struggle by unions and courageous politicians who had at least an ounce of compassion for their fellow man and like a house of cards it can be easily knocked down and taken away just as we see it happening today. The better-than-tho u attitude is at the root of this and no one exemplifies it better than George Bush and Barack Obama. I use these two names together because I don't see ANY difference between the two in policy, except oh yeah, Obama's got us in three wars instead of George's one.
-4 # switepine 2011-03-27 12:52
I think you all you Obama Haters stink of thinly veiled Racism! Obama has No support because you all gave up on him as soon as you celebrated the novelty of a Black Man in his office and then you realized it would take time to make it work so you tucked your tails between your legs and started looking for a tuff white guy to take his place because down deep you knew just like your father knew, that a black man cannot lead! Shame on all of you! The hardest thing about combating racism is seeing that you yourself are one and fighting the man in the mirror! God forbid that a Liberal would have to face that harsh truth!

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