February 20 2008 show notes

Topics, guests, upcoming events, quotes, links to articles, audio clips, books & bumper music.

Wednesday 20 February '08 National show

  • Article: America's economy risks the mother of all meltdowns.
  • Guest: John Berlau, Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship, Competitive Enterprise Institute. As Thom says on his blog,
    Today I had a chance to talk with John Berlau from CEI about the economic stimulus package. While we are both in agreement that the stimulus package won't work, we disagree on why. John supports higher taxes, while I support fixing America by fixing the infrastructure. During our discussion, at one point I had to ask "Am I hearing John Berlau of the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute calling for more government regulation?" What a shocker! I went on to point out that in the mortgage business, there's all this competition...and folks getting so called "ninja loans"...where everyone was competing to make a buck and it wasn't being regulated. Berlau countered that banking is a highly regulated industry...although he admitted he wasn't sure what regulation would have prevented the subprime mess. I suggested we have the folks who make the loans not be the ones who hold the money...or if we do let them hold the money, then we should regulate the heck out of them. Berlau said that's why we have Freddy Mac and Fannie Mae, however he agreed that they both got caught for phony accounting.
  • Bumper Music: Gunslinger, John Fogerty.
  • Article: Credit Suisse shocks with $2.8bn mark-down.
  • Clip:
    "Banker": Well then this debt, this mortgage, is taken, bought by a bank and packaged together on Wall Street with a lot of other similar debt.

    "Interviewer": Without going into much detail about what is actually…

    "Banker": Without going into any detail, no. It is far too boring. And so this is put into a package of debt and so, and then it is moved on to Wall Street and this is extraordinary what happens then; then somehow this package of dodgy debt stops being a package of dodgy debt and starts being what we call a structured investment vehicle.

    "Interviewer": An SIV?
    How The Markets Really Work from "The Last Laugh", John Bird and John Fortune.

  • Article: Midlife Suicide Rises, Puzzling Researchers.
  • Article: More suicides under Conservative rule, 18 September, 2002.
  • Bumper Music: Voting Machine, Billionaires for Bush.
  • Article: Mike Claims Vote 'fraud'.
    "Mayor Bloomberg charged yesterday that "fraud" was behind the unofficial results in the New York Democratic presidential primary that produced zero votes for Barack Obama in some districts. "If you want to call it significant undercounting, I guess that's a euphemism for fraud," said the mayor. Unofficial tallies on election night gave Obama no votes in 78 out of more than 6,000 election districts."
  • From the chat room: TimFromLosAngeles: ... "why all of a sudden NASA and the government is concerned about Hydrazine, when it was Space Shuttle Columbia who spewed hydrazine all over the southern states? Why spend billions that has been proven to not cause a problem?" Thom reckons there's a plutonium nuclear reactor, and to test star wars. And it was delayed because of weather!
  • Obama won Wisconsin, and likely Hawaii too. Washington State doesn't count.
  • Bumper Music: Say What You Need To Say, John Mayer (video).
  • The chat room is discussing who's proud of their country. Thom always has been. He's proud of Tom Lantos, Henry Waxman, Feingold, Bernie Sanders. He's also in many ways horrified; bombing of Afghanistan and Iraq. We are still holding the ideals of the Enlightenment.
  • Book: The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives by Zbigniew Brzezinski, Obama's advisor. Thom said he's an astute observer, but Obama needs to be able to say no to him.
  • How did we get where we're at?
  • Guest: Fred Kaplan, Slate contributor, author, "Daydream Believers: How a Few Grand Ideas Wrecked American Power".
    "America's power is in decline, its foreign policy adrift, its allies alienated, its soldiers trapped in a war that even generals regard as unwinnable. What has happened these past eight years is well-known. Why it happened continues to puzzle. In Daydream Believers, celebrated Slate columnist Fred Kaplan combines in-depth reporting and razor-sharp analysis to explain just how George W. Bush and his aides got so far off track -- and why much of the nation followed.

    For eight years, Kaplan reminds us, the White House -- and many of the nation's podiums and opinion pages -- rang out with appealing but deluded claims: that we live in a time like no other and that, therefore, the lessons of history no longer apply; that new technology has transformed warfare; that the world's peoples will be set free, if only America topples their dictators; and that those who dispute such promises do so for partisan reasons. They thought they were visionaries, but they only had visions. And they believed in their daydreams.


    Examples: "The world changed after 9/11 so we needn't pay attention to history". "America's now the sole superpower" - but it was weaker after the cold war, lost its coalition, and economic and other competitors disengaged and became stronger. "We can topple governments with small forces", but after that? North Korea.

  • Article: Obama defends wife's remark on pride in country.
    "In Milwaukee on Monday, Michelle Obama said: "Let me tell you, for the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country. Not just because Barack is doing well, but I think people are hungry for change"."
  • Michelle Obama made the same speech twice in one day. In the first she omitted the "really", in the second she included it. The video from Breitbart that Thom played a clip from, and the version that Fox News played, was the second speech but had the "really" muted out.
    "What we've learned over this year is that hope is making a comeback. It is making a comeback and let me tell you something, for the first time in my adult lifetime, I'm really proud of my country. And not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change. And I have been desperate to see our country moving in that direction and just not feeling so alone in my frustration and disappointment. I've seen people who are hungry to be unified around some basic common issues, and it's made me proud. And I feel privileged to be a part of even witnessing this, traveling around states all over this country and being reminded that there is more that unites us than divides us..."
  • Bumper Music: Not A Moment Too Soon, Tim McGraw.
  • Ellen Ratner of Talk Radio News. AP story abut Obama clarifying what Michelle said, and the videos. They are going to swiftboat the nominee. They must fight back, not clarify. A Clinton campaign teleconference said they have money. They will hit hard on her record. In Pennsylvania there isn't a full slate of delegates for Hillary. Last night Chris Matthews repeatedly asked Obama supporter Texas State Senator Kirk Watson, "Name some of his legislative accomplishments", when the man could not think of any. Neither side have put out list of accomplishments.
  • Guest: U.S. Congressman D-TX Rep. Silvestre Reyes, a senior Member of the House Armed Services Committee, and Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. FISA…why do the Republicans keep trying to terrorize Americans? In letter to Bush: "NSA can use its authority under the Protect America Act, enacted last August, to conduct surveillance here in the U.S of any foreign target. This authority does not “expire” on Saturday, as you have stated. Under the PAA, orders authorizing surveillance may last for one year – until at least August 2008. These orders may cover every terrorist group without limitation. If a new member of the group is identified, or if a new phone number or email address is identified, the NSA may add it to the existing orders, and surveillance can begin immediately. We will not “go dark”." The old rules were good enough to bring down a cell in Germany. Call the speaker or your Congress people and thank them. Why did the Senate did what they did?
  • Bumper Music: Belief, John Mayer.
  • Guest: Larry Scott, founder and Editor of VA Watch Dog. Veteran's Issues. Update: VA's New PTSD Policy Applies Only To Those Diagnosed While On Active Duty. Liberty Tax Service Files Free "Rebate" Returns For Disabled Vets Who Have No Tax Liability. Budget proposal; everybody hates it. Inside the Vietnam war.
  • Bumper Music: Learning to Fly, Tom Petty.
  • Guest: Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky. For Obama.
  • Bumper Music: Heroes and Friends, Randy Travis.
  • Guest: Dick Gephardt, former minority/majority leader who twice ran for president. For Hillary.

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