|Robert A. Hall at 73|
At the same time, Hall's email presents me with what is quite simply a not-to-be-missed opportunity.. because it is a perfect example of what is most pernicious about the way the Republican Right is manipulating voters. That entire email is a masterpiece of propaganda... carefully crafted to play upon your fears, speak to your life experience. What it is NOT... is sincere. Not in any way, shape, or form. He isn't who you think he is... and he doesn't have your best interests at heart.
Let's start with Robert A. Hall himself. I asked Allan to do some research on him, and the first thing he found is that the two photos on the email are NOT of the man who wrote it. They're both of the ACTOR, Robert Hall, from C.S.I. The dramatic picture in the email that shows a man covered with blood, facing what appears to be a brain... that man is NOT Robert A. Hall. And while that picture IS actually labeled truthfully, the other is not... and the juxtaposition of the photos with the email is DECEPTIVE. It creates the impression that the man writing the email IS the man in those photos.
The next thing Allan found out is that while Robert A. Hall claims to speak for the common man-- you know, the ones like YOU, who worked hard for 40 years and then couldn't afford to retire-- he actually has almost nothing in common with ordinary people. Though Hall claims he is being hurt by the policies of the federal government, he actually is not. In point of fact, he's been supported by government assistance (and hence, taxpayer's money) most of his life. He is eligible for Medicare, possibly receives Social Security, and enjoys an enviable lifestyle, due in part to his taking advantage of military benefits, serving as a public servant in the Massachusetts Legislature, and taking advantage of the educational system that is heavily subsidized by state and federal governments. (I'm just going to put in most of what Allan wrote here, and add in my own bit at the bottom...)
Hall neglects to add that he served as a Republican in the Massachusetts State Senate. This might explain why all his complaints are about Democrats, and why his intention is to demoralize voters during this off-year election.
When Robert A. Hall pretends he doesn't have enough money to retire, he's lying. By my count, he has at least 4 pensions, as a lieutenant in the Marines, as a former Massachusetts State Senator, as a worker in the private sector (Social Security), and, as executive director of non-profit associations since 1982, a 501(c)3 pension. We all wish we had that much retirement income. He owns his $250,000 condo free and clear. As a State Senator, he was able to shelter a portion of his salary from any taxes to invest in retirement instruments. His salary, as president of the American Association of Cosmetic Dentistry, from 2002 to 2007, was likely more than $150,000 per year, although he doesn't come clean about that. He also qualifies for federal health plans, Medicare and VA hospitalization.
Hall has also been writing right-wing articles for his blog and other publications. He's not saying how much money he gets for these, though others who do the same thing are not hurting.
Many of us are not so lucky as he. For example, those who had their retirement money in 401k equity accounts saw the accounts lose 50% of their value in 2008-2009. It will take years to recoup those losses, but of course people who are retiring don't have years to wait. But the people who lost their retirement funds are not to blame. They are the victims. The ones whose greed caused the financial meltdown are responsible for the suffering of millions. One of these, AIG, has donated $18 million to the U.S. Chamber of commerce since 2003. They still owe $50 billion to the U.S. taxpayers for their bailout. The CoC uses their donations to finance attack ads against people who voted to regulate the financial industry.
Hall's email contains a hodgepodge of false and prejudiced claims (... if you have favorite ones, pick them and I'll address them in detail-- otherwise, it would just be too time-consuming... and many of his complaints are too general). Its viewpoints about race and ethnicity are similar to those of white supremacist and other hate groups around the country. Hall hopes that he can get away with stoking hatred as long as he isn't wearing a sheet or a nazi uniform.
What Hall does NOT do is offer any solutions. He stirs up anger. He echoes frustration. But he leaves his readers with a feeling of hopelessness. It's quite clear his intention is to stop you from voting by piling up lie upon lie, prejudice upon prejudice, none of them backed up by facts, until you decide it's just not worth it to go to the polls.
The superwealthy heads of corporations, such as Rupert Murdoch, who owns Fox News, have been spending millions of dollars to buy this election, through front groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and willing stooges like Beck and Rove. The banks and stockbrokers are upset by the current administration's success in financial reform. The insurance industry is upset by the passage of health care legislation. The energy companies are concerned that their subsidies may be re-routed to renewable energy sources and companies looking for environmentally sensitive solutions. The New York Times reports that half of the $50 to $70 million the Chamber will spend to buy this election will ome from just 45 corporations, many of which received billions of dollars in bailout money from TARP. These 45 corporations are managed by just a tiny handful of superwealthy executives, like Rupert Murdoch. When asked whether stockholders would be consulted about his $2 million in contributions to Republican candidates, Murdoch replied no, that if the stockholders didn't like his actions they could vote him off the board, otherwise he would do exactly as he sees fit.
Hall's role in this election is an important one. If all the voters who would benefit from the decline of corporate influence stay home, the corporations will win and take back the government. Then, the hundred or so executives of those 45 corporations will make all governmental decisions from now on.
Robert A. Hall isn't tired... and he could retire if he wanted to. He just doesn't WANT to. He's wealthy, he's successful, and he's having fun, doing what he likes. Why would he retire? Frankly, I think he's more likely to run for another office... and accrue another pension.
Hall's task is to make you feel frustrated, powerless, and hopeless. So you won't bother to vote.
Don't succumb to despair. Vote.
Lee-- I'm sure you know all about propaganda. I also understand that this is a brother Marine... but I feel certain that not ALL Marines, in your memory, were worthy of that name. This one is NOT... because this one is STROKING you.
If you doubt anything that Allan has said, or feel that any of the statements put forth by Mr. Hall in his email deserve a further answer, please say so-- and be specific. I will be happy to produce documentation (which, I assure you, Mr. Hall will NOT) for any statement that I or Allan has made here, so that you may judge for yourself who is telling you the truth.
Robert Hall responds