My post-election message: What progressives won this year

A jittery week at the polls, huh? One measure of our political anxiety is that liquor sales spiked this week. Also, it’s probably not a coincidence that a new breakthrough in drug legalization was made on Tuesday, when 56 percent of Oregon voters said YES! to sanctioning the use of “magic mushrooms,” which are said to relieve anxiety and depression.

Political pundits have rushed out to say (even gloat) that Tuesday was a debacle for Democrats, especially for the progressive movement – and we certainly did not match our extraordinarily high expectations. But hold the mushrooms.

Read on…


Jim Hightower’s Radio Lowdown

Alert: Kartoonus Americanus Is Going Extinct!

Right before our eyes, an invaluable American species is fast disappearing from view. Kar-toon-us A-mer-i-kan-as. These are the newspaper cartoonists who’ve long delighted readers and infuriated power elites. And there’s nothing natural about their sudden decline – its not the result of a declining talent pool, and certainly not due to a lack of political targets. Rather, what’s happening is that their media habitat is being intentionally destroyed. Around the start of the 20th century, some 2,000 newspapers featured their own, full-time cartoonists, but in just the last decade, those healthy media environments have shriveled. So now, only a couple dozen newspapers have these vibrant artistic journalists on staff. One major reason is that most US papers have been gobbled up by profiteering hedge funds that have merged, purged, and plundered these essential local sources of news and democratic discourse. The overriding interest of these Wall Street owners is to cash out a paper’s financial assets and haul off the booty to boost their personal wealth – journalism and democracy be damned. Thus, they view cartoonists as a paycheck that can be easily diverted into their corporate pockets, dismissing the fact that enjoying good local cartoonists ranks as one of top reasons people give for buying the paper. Note that this mass extermination is not old-school media censorship, but slight-of-hand money censorship by the new monopolistic order of newspapering. Political cartoonists are still free to express any opinion they want – but the Wall Street system locks them out of their primary marketplace. Censorship is ugly, but eliminating paychecks… well, that’s just business. The good news is that these freewheeling artistic spirits of the cartooning craft are inventing new ways to connect with America’s strong consumer demand for their fun and important work. To get connected and get active with them, go to EditorialCartoonists.com.

Save the Whales! Save Polar Bears! Save Political Cartoonists!

I never dreamed of growing up to be a political activist/ commentator, but here I am, and it’s worked out pretty well for me. I’ve been lucky enough to have a voice in public matters and eke out a modest living running my mouth as an independent populist agitator. Still, I have to confess to the sin of Job Envy. Not in the sense of being resentful, but regretful about my own inability to lift the trade of journalistic commentary to the heights attained by a small, feisty collection of unique public opinionators: Political cartoonists. In framing issues and rallying people to think and act, these journalists have an unfair advantage over us mere word crafters. They can literally draw a picture to make their point! They reach masses viscerally as well as cerebrally. And visceral usually outpunches cerebral. Editorial cartooning is a profession made up largely of progressive mavericks who enter the social-political-cultural fray with an abundance of anti-establishment audacity, an eye for irony, a fondness for the underdog, an ability to laugh at absurdity…plus artistic talent. Because cartooning is an expression of the human spirit that has been irrepressible since cave drawings, generation after generation of pen-and-ink champions of democracy blossomed. The general public’s appreciation and demand for the cartoonist’s unblinking honesty and satire have never flagged, even increasing whenever the artists come under public assault by autocrats, plutocrats, screwballs, and assorted other censors. Beyond popularity, though, these graphic editorial artists matter. Again and again, the pointed ink pens of generations of political cartoonists have roused the public to rise up and put down corporate and political scoundrels, incrementally advancing our nation’s democratic possibilities. As in the natural world though, even the most beneficial creatures can be driven to extinction. Check your own local newspaper – are your favorite cartoonists still there?

Jeff Bezos Reveals His Desiccated Soul

The morning after December’s horrific nighttime tornado smashed a huge Amazon warehouse in Illinois, killing six workers, corporate CEO Jeff Bezos issued a personal video message. Was he distressed and sorrowful? No, Boss Bezos was perversely giddy. That’s because the narcissistic gabillionaire had not made the video to mourn the deaths, but instead had chosen this hour of tragedy to gloat to the world that his private space tourism business had just rocketed a small group of extremely rich thrill seekers on a 10-minute joy ride. The “Popular Information” newsletter reports that Bezos, dressed in a pretend astronaut costume, exclaimed that everyone involved was really “happy.” Back on Planet Earth, though, the families and co-workers of the employees crushed when Amazon’s cheaply-built structure collapsed on them were not happy with him. It took Bezos some 12 hours after his self-congratulatory media event before he finally issued a perfunctory tweet professing to be “heartbroken over the loss of our teammates.” But they weren’t “lost” – they were killed by a deliberate corporate culture that routinely cuts corners on worker safety to put more profit in corporate pockets. First, the building itself was thrown up quickly with cheap preassembled, 40-foot-high concrete walls that collapse inward in a tornado; second, Amazon’s employees were expected to stay on the job that night even though there was a high risk of tornados; third, nearly all of the workers were classified as “contractors,” letting Amazon dodge liability for on-the-job harm. This is Jim Hightower saying… Oh, and Jeff might also want to reconsider one more bit of corporate arrogance he revealed in this ugly incident: Those dead workers were not his “teammates,” as he so cynically called them – even a high-flying captain doesn’t treat teammates as throwaway units, carelessly sacrificing their lives for a few more dollars in corporate profit.

Looking for older commentaries?

You’ll find them over on the Hightower Lowdown now, in the radio archives. Note: we post new episodes there on Tuesdays and Thursdays; however, some radio stations around the country air Hightower’s commentaries on their own schedule.


 


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Meet Jim Hightower.

Looking for photos and more of Hightower? Check out the media kit.

National radio commentator, writer, public speaker, and New York Times best-selling author, Jim Hightower has spent four decades battling the Powers That Be on behalf of the Powers That Ought To Be – consumers, working families, environmentalists, small businesses, and just-plain-folks.

Twice elected Texas Agriculture Commissioner, Hightower believes that the true political spectrum is not right to left but top to bottom, and he has become a leading national voice for the 80 percent of the public who no longer find themselves within shouting distance of the Washington and Wall Street powers at the top.

Hightower is a modern-day Johnny Appleseed, spreading the message of progressive populism all across the American grassroots.

He broadcasts daily radio commentaries that are carried in more than 150 commercial and public stations, on the web, and on Radio for Peace International.

Every month he pens a rousing newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown, that blasts through the corporate media blockade to lend new reporting and populist perspective on the events of the day.

A popular public speaker who is fiery and funny, he is a populist road warrior who delivers more than 100 speeches a year to all kinds of groups.

He is a New York Times best-selling author, and has written seven books including, Thieves In High Places: They’ve Stolen Our Country And It’s Time To Take It Back; If the Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates; and There’s Nothing In the Middle Of the Road But Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos. His newspaper column is distributed nationally by Creators Syndicate.

Hightower frequently appears on television and radio programs, bringing a hard-hitting populist viewpoint that rarely gets into the mass media. In addition, he works closely with the alternative media, and in all of his work he keeps his ever-ready Texas humor up front, practicing the credo of an old Yugoslavian proverb: “You can fight the gods and still have fun.”

Hightower was raised in Denison, Texas, in a family of small business people, tenant farmers, and working folks. A graduate of the University of North Texas, he worked in Washington as legislative aide to Sen. Ralph Yarborough of Texas; he then co-founded the Agribusiness Accountability Project, a public interest project that focused on corporate power in the food economy; and he was national coordinator of the 1976 “Fred Harris for President” campaign. Hightower then returned to his home state, where he became editor of the feisty biweekly, The Texas Observer. He served as director of the Texas Consumer Association before running for statewide office and being elected to two terms as Texas Agriculture Commissioner (1983-1991).

During the 90’s, Hightower became known as “America’s most popular populist,” developing his radio commentaries, hosting two radio talk shows, writing books, launching his newsletter, giving fiery speeches coast to coast, and otherwise speaking out for the American majority that’s being locked out economically and politically by the elites.

As political columnist Molly Ivins said, “If Will Rogers and Mother Jones had a baby, Jim Hightower would be that rambunctious child — mad as hell, with a sense of humor.”

    You can leave a message using the contact form below. For immediate media inquiries and needs, please call Laura Ehrlich at 512-477-5588, ext. 1.

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    Books

    Swim Against the Current (2008)

    Swim Against the CurrentThe New York Times bestselling author and America’s funniest activist gives the lowdown on how to put up-not shut up-in the fight for our future.

    Hightower, the country’s #1 populist, has picked up some useful advice over the years, from “never eat at a café featuring ‘bargain kebobs'” to “never hit a man with glasses; hit him with something much heavier.” As he and his longtime co-conspirator Susan DeMarco have rambled through grassroots America, however, they’ve also come up with more serious words of wisdom to share here, namely: question authority, trust your values, seek alternatives, break away, stand up for your beliefs, and swim against the current!

    Their book introduces readers to people across the country who have actually done this-people in business, politics, health care, farming, religion, and other areas who are taking charge, living their values, doing good, and doing well. Hightower and DeMarco show how they are doing precisely what the elites want us to believe can’t be done: changing their lives and making a difference. He tells the stories of these people and offers inspiration and information that will help readers tap into their own maverick potential in order to navigate a different, more satisfying course of their own.

    Whether they are young and just starting out or older and searching for a different path, the commonsense folks in this book have escaped the corporate tentacles to find their own way toward a richer life and a better American future. They are creating a new, deeply democratic model for the country, edging it back onto the long road toward egalitarianism and the common good.

    Hightower and DeMarco are at their contrarian, sharp-witted, and straight-shooting best as they celebrate the triumph of grassroots gumption over the tight-fisted grip of corporate control.

    Thieves in High Places (2004)

    Thieves in High PlacesAmerica is at an historic divide between rulers and rulees and the rulees are restless. Hightower’s THIEVES IN HIGH PLACES is an epistle to the American people about vision and choices, and it’s a clarion call to action. The question Jim Hightower is asking is: What kind of country do you want America to be? Not only for you, but for your children and theirs? In THIEVES IN HIGH PLACES Hightower takes on the Bushites, the Wobblycrats, and the corporate Kleptocrats, digging up behind-the scenes dirt that the corporate media overlooks like BushCo’s “Friday Night Massacres”, what’s happened to our food, and the Bush plan for empire. Also drawing on Hightower’s Rolling Thunder Down-Home Democracy Tour, Hightower has tapped into the thriving activist networks that are our country’s grassroots muscle, and his book tells their uplifting stories of retaking control of their communities.

    Let's Stop Beating Around The Bush (2004)
    Let's Stop Beating Around The BushThe bestselling grassroots guru is back with his incisive take on the state of the union and life today in the good ol’ U.S.A.

    America in 2004 is color coded — and it’s not just a matter of red, white, and blue. The terror alert bounces from yellow to orange. The economy offers up a hundred shades of red ink. The environment is turning brown. National security is cloaked in gray shadows. And, as he did in the bestselling Thieves in High Places, Jim Hightower covers it all with uncommon insight, political fearlessness, and laugh-out-loud humor.

    America’s #1 populist gives us Let’s Stop Beating Around the Bush — a hard-hitting, fact-filled review of the real state of the union that you won’t get from the establishment media. With his daily radio commentaries and award-winning monthly newsletter, no one has chronicled the madness of King George the W, the wimpiness of corporate Democrats, and the aggressive avarice of Wall Street with the thoroughness and tenacity of Hightower. Now he brings that investigative punch into this wild and woolly hook of fiery essays.

    With his satirical “Six Perfectly Good Reasons to Re-elect George W. Bush”; his mix of damning indictments and uplifting stories; and side bars, cartoons, games, and puzzles, Hightower has clone the impossible: he has created a subversive read that makes politics fun again.

    The People Are Revolting! (In The Very Best Sense Of That Word) (2003)

    The People Are Revolting! (In The Very Best Sense Of That Word)

    With his aw-shucks charisma and no-nonsense attitude, he dishes out what’s wrong with the eroding integrity of our democracy: politicians for sale to the highest bidder, the economic boom of the 90s not trickling down to the regular folks and more corporate scandals than you can shake a stick at. Offers a compelling collection of Hightower talks plus the best of his daily “Common-Sense Commentaries” on radio, all with an introduction by the late Senator Paul Wellstone.

    • Buy from Indiebound — support independent booksellers
    • Buy from Powells.com — independent, too!
    • Digital versions: Android, Apple and MP3/CD
    If the Gods Had Meant Us to Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates (2000)

    If the Gods Had Meant Us to Vote They Would Have Given Us CandidatesJim Hightower, America’s favorite subversive, is still mad as hell, and he’s not going to take it anymore. But he will give you a sizeable piece of his mind on Election 2000. This plain-talking, name-naming, podium-pounding populist zeros in on everything that ails us, from the global economy and media to big business and election winners everywhere. In his hard hitting commentary and hilarious anecdotes, Hightower spares no one, including the scared cows — and especially the politicians — who helped steer us into this mess in the first place. An equal opportunity muckrucker and a conscientious agitator for “We the People”, Hightower inspires us to take charge again, build a new politics for a better tommorow — and have a lot of laughs along the way.

    There's Nothing in the Middle of the Road But Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos (1998)
    There's Nothing in the Middle of the Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead ArmadillosRevised, and with a New Introduction by the Author

    “I am an agitator, and an agitator is the center post in a washing machine that gets the dirt out.”
    –Jim Hightower

    Hightower is mad as hell and he’s not going to take it anymore! He’s also funny as hell, and in this book he focuses his sharp Texas wit, populist passion, and native smarts on America’s political, economic, scientific, and media establishments. In There’s Nothing in the Middle of the Road But Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos, Hightower shows not only what’s wrong, but also how to fix it, offering specific solutions and calling for a new political movement of working families and the poor to “take America back from the bankers and bosses, the big shots and bastards.”

    “If you don’t read another book about what’s wrong with this country for the rest of your life, read this one. I think it’s the best and most important book about out public life I’ve read in years.”
    –Molly Ivins, author of Molly Ivins Can’t Say That, Can She?“When do we get to vote for Jim Hightower for president? Will somebody please tell me? When do we get to vote for Jim Hightower for president?.”
    –Michael Moore, author of Downsize This!

    “Listen to Jim Hightower. His is a two-fisted, rambunctious voice unafraid to speak truth to power, eloquently and clearly…He’s one of the best.”
    –Studs Terkel