Talk radio never has been as big a deal on the left as it is on the right, but some lefty talk hosts have found a sizable national audience. One of them, self-described democratic socialist Thom Hartmann, has been a staple in the top ten of Talkers magazine's Heavy Hundred host rankings (he was #8 on the 2012 list, just behind Mark Levin and just ahead of Glenn Beck). Hartmann's program airs live from 3 to 6 p.m. Eastern time on commercial and noncommercial terrestrial stations as well as on SiriusXM satellite radio and Free Speech TV.
Here's a rundown of Hartmann's most notable comments of 2012, listed by air date. Almost all pertain to his dual obsession with the alleged madness and depravity of today's Republican party as well as with Ronald Reagan's presidency, which Hartmann views as a ruinous turning point for America.
The GOP: a fascist Mafia
"There's a significant difference between the way that Democrats conduct wars and Republicans. Republicans conduct wars as a business opportunity. Democrats conduct wars, with the possible exception of LBJ, because there's really no choice."
"What have the Republicans accomplished in the last seventy years? I can't think of anything."
"[Tea-partiers] carry a bizarre ideology. They and their billionaire funders say that the government should play no role whatsoever in the welfare of its citizens, condemning millions of Americans to live in poverty and, without health care, to die alone in the streets. This Paul Ryan, Republican, Ayn Rand, bizarre, right-wing, libertarian ideology...is destroying America...If fully implemented, [it] would lead to the death of the United States as we know it. We would become Somalia, whereas the Occupy movement simply wants to bring back what's already been tried and true...We used to have regulations on Wall Street. We used to have fair taxes on the rich and corporations."
"The genuine extreme left has no political power [in the U.S.], but the Communists' counterpoint, the extreme right...they do have political power. In fact, right now, the fascists have control of the House of Representatives, and they just passed a fascist budget."
"Paul Ryan and the Republican fascists passed a budget that gives a $3 trillion tax cut to the wealthiest Americans and the big transnational corporations...The Paul Ryan budget strips away laws to safeguard the public and keep our air, water, and food clean so that corporations can maximize their profits while we all choke."
"You look at the history of right-wing movements and left-wing movements -- why is it that the right-wingers seem to be more inclined to violence, and if you look at the political history of the United States, who are the people who actually get assassinated? Jack, Bobby, and Martin...the liberals...I think it's because the right-wing mentality is grounded in fear, and, by the way, this is true whether we're talking about the right in the United States, the Ralph Reed fundamentalists, or whether you're talking about the right in Afghanistan, AKA the Taliban. Right-wingers are all about fear and control."
"I think of the Republican party more as an organized-crime syndicate [than a political party]. It's behaving like the Mafia. Power at any cost. 'Aaah, you gotta kill a few people.' Both Paul Krugman and Nick Kristof, brilliant pieces in the New York Times in the last couple days about how Mitt Romney's health-care policies would cause people to die. You think when I say, 'Oh, yeah, kill a few people,' [that] I'm exaggerating? No, no. I'm not. Cause people to die."
"The question for today, as the Republican party fighting, infighting, spills over onto the national stage, is whether they'll go back to the center-left positions of Eisenhower and start winning elections again, or if they'll double down on stupid to satisfy the Kochs, the Adelsons, the Murdochs, and the Limbaughs of their party. What do you think is gonna happen? I'm betting they're gonna double down on stupid, 'cause that's where the money's comin' from."
Reagan: Death Valley Days, indeed
"You know, right now, we're actually safer than we've been at any time since the end of the Reagan administration? Murder rates started to spike when Ronald Reagan came into office as the economy crashed, and they actually reached a peak in '91, about three years after Reagan left office, before Bill Clinton was able to turn it around by raising taxes."
"Crime [increased] during the Reagan administration, and I would submit to you that it was going up because [Reagan] had destroyed the economy and a lot of people felt that...the only option that they had was to steal something, or whatever the crime may [have been]."
"Reaganomics...finds its roots in Victorian England, in stories like A Christmas Carol, where working people are condemned to Bob Cratchit poverty, forced to toil long hours under modern-day Ebenezer Scrooges, with crappy pay and no benefits."
"Black Friday, in reality, is a symptom of the plight that thirty years of Reaganomics has brought to working people in America. Right along with the frenzied rise of shoppers willing to fight each other at retail outlets across America, we've been steadily, for the last thirty years, watching the destruction of organized labor...of decent pay and wages and conditions for working people."
"The top tax rate on the top one percent or even the top five percent, frankly, I think should go back to where it was before Reagan, back to 74 percent. It would fix our economy."
"What's causing that massive unemployment [in Detroit]? In large part, our insane trade policies...[and] what's causing our insane trade policies? The fact that you've got such a concentration of political power in the hands of a small number of corporations and...billionaires...[A]ll of that came out of the Reagan tax cuts for the very, very wealthy and Reagan stopping the enforcement of the Sherman Antitrust Act. All of this came out of the '80s. This didn't exist before the '80s, and we pretty much didn't have that big a problem with gun crime in the United States before the '80s."
Totalitarianism: Lessons from China
"We need to be in a world where we're living with all the countries of the world and we're trying to move them all in a more positive direction, and, frankly, [China is] trying to move us in a more positive direction. I mean, China is pointing out that we have problems with human rights. Look at the racial composition of our prisons, for example, or look at the lack of health care in the United States, and on and on."
"The Communist menace was never a military menace. It was an economic menace to the laissez-faire supercapitalists, and now you've got capitalists who have, basically, taken over the world."