May 26th - Tuesday

sotomayor-images1Hour 1: Judge Sonia Sotomayor - How will the media and conservatives go after her? Chris Slattery

Hour 2: Is GM the tipping point for Free Trade? Thom confronts Dan Gainor of the Business and Media Institute

Hour 3"Fear and the Flu...are conditions ripe for a major pandemic?" Thom speaks with Laurie Garrett of the Council on Foreign Relations


pilsner (not verified) 15 years 4 weeks ago

Sotomayor for SCOTUS: Republicon Senators Demand "Up-or-Down Vote"

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison
"They have gotten away with obstructing by exploiting the filibuster and denying Justice Owen a direct vote. Now, unfortunately, we must take action to ensure President Bush's nominees are getting the up-or-down vote they deserve." (4/21/05 statement)

Sen. Orrin Hatch
"...I think we should bind both Democrats and Republicans that presidential nominees for the judiciary deserve an up-and-down vote once they reach the floor..." (Orrin Hatch discusses debate in Senate..., NPR, 5/19/05)

Sen. Jon Kyl
"All we seek is a return to 214 years of tradition in allowing presidential nominees the courtesy of an up-or-down vote." (Kyl Calls for `Up or Down' Vote on Judicial Nominees,' Capitol Hill Press Releases, 5/18/05)

Sen. Rick Santorum
"The time has come for the Senate to reestablish that tradition, to end these destructive judicial filibusters and to give all judicial nominees the up-or-down vote they deserve." (Should the Senate end Filibusters When Considering Judicial Appointments, Duluth News Tribune, 4/25/05)

Sen. Trent Lott
"...I felt they deserved up-or-down votes. It was not a popular action with my colleagues, but I didn't think it was right to filibuster judicial nominees then. And it's not right now." (Lott Sets the Record Straight on Judicial Confirmation Issue, 4/26/05)

Sen. John Cornyn
"And we need to get a fresh start. And that means, I believe, an up-or-down vote for all presidents' nominees whether they be Republican or Democrat." (U.S. Senator John Cornyn Holds a News Conference on Judicial Nominees, CQ Transcriptions, 5/9/05)

Sen. Mitch McConnell
"Let's get back to the way the Senate operated for over 200 years, up or down votes on the president's nominee, no matter who the president is, no matter who's in control of the Senate. That's the way we need to operate." (Senators Durbin & McConnell Discuss Issues Facing the Senate, CNN, 5/22/05)

Sen. Jeff Sessions
"This past election in large part hinged, as George Allen said, on a debate over the judiciary and whether or not obstruction was justified. I think the American people sent a clear message and I believe it's time for this Senate to make sure that judges get an up-or-down vote." (U.S. Sen. Allen & Other Senate Republicans Hold a Media Availability on the Possibility of a Democrat Filibuster, CQ Transcriptions, 3/15/05)

Sen. Richard Burr
"But denying these patriotic Americans, of both parties, who seek to serve this country an up-or-down vote is simply not fair, and it certainly was not the intention of our Founding Fathers when they designed and created this very institution." (Sen. Burr Speaks Out on Judicial Nominations, 4/20/05)

Sen. Sam Brownback
"All of the president's nominees-both now and in the future-deserve a fair up or down vote, regardless of whether some members of the Senate feel they can be filibustered based on whatever they define to be extraordinary circumstances." (Sen. Brownback Issues Statement on Judicial Nominees, 5/24/05)

Sen. John Thune
"However, I still believe that all judicial nominees with majority support deserve the fairness of an up or down vote on the Senate floor... Something is broken when you can't get a fair up or down vote, not because of qualifications or character, but because of politics." (Senators Find Good in Filibuster Agreement, AP, 5/24/05)

Sen. George Allen
"They want Senators to do their jobs and hold a straight up-or-down vote on nominees based on their qualifications, not the baseless negative rhetoric of the left...In summation, Priscilla Owen, Janice Rogers Brown, and all of the President's nominees, deserve a fair up-or-down vote." (U.S. Senator George Allen Deliver Remarks on the Senate Floor on Judicial Nominations, CQ Transcriptions, 5/18/05)

Sen. Chuck Hagel
"I am disappointed that the agreement reached by 14 senators does not guarantee up-or-down votes on all of the president's nominees...That is a basic principle that should have anchored any agreement." (Hagel Calls Senators' Pact Inadequate, Omaha World-Herald, 5/25/05)

Sen. Pete Domenici
"Since the day I came to the U.S. Senate in 1973, I have believed strongly that every nominee deserves an up or down vote. That is why over all these years, I have never once voted to filibuster any nominee, even the ones that I ended up opposing. I am truly saddened that the Senate has reached this point. We should resume our long-standing tradition of giving judicial nominees who reach the floor an up or down vote." (Sen. Domenici Laments Continued Judicial Filibusters, 5/19/05)

Sen. Charles Grassley
"The current obstruction led by Senate Democratic leaders threatens that balance. Priscilla Owen and Janice Rogers Brown deserve an up or down vote. It's high time to make sure all judges receive a fair up or down vote on the Senate floor." (Grassley: Give Judges a Fair Up or Down Vote, CQ, 5/23/05)

Sen. Wayne Allard
"I'd made my position clear. I wanted to have an up- or-down vote on the judges." (Freshman Salazar Stands with his Seniors, The Denver Post, 5/24/05)

Sens. Larry Craig and Mike Crapo
"We are pleased that three of the President's judicial nominees will receive fair up-or-down votes - it is about time. However, we continue to stress that the Constitution requires the Senate to hold up-or-down votes on all nominees. We will continue to work to ensure that is the case." (Craig, Crapo React to Judicial Nominees Deal, 5/25/05)

Sen. Ted Stevens
"I may not have always agreed with a judicial nominee pick, but I've never voted against cloture on a judicial nomination. There have been some petitions. And I've always agreed that we should allow an up-or-down vote on judicial nominations on the Senate floor. These nominees deserve our vote." (Press Conference on Judges, Federal News Service, 5/19/05)

Sen. Jim DeMint
"My goal is to confirm highly qualified judges by ensuring timely up-or-down votes for all nominees... Every nominee, no matter if the President is Democrat or Republican, deserves an up-or-down vote," (Sens. DeMint, Freshman GOP Call for end to Judicial Filibusters, 4/20/05)

Sen. Elizabeth Dole
"I think that it's very important that we reinstate the tradition, the Senate tradition, of 220 years, throughout the entire history of the United States. We've had a system that worked, that, when a nominee on the floor has a clear majority of the senators in favor, that they're going to get that up-or-down vote." (Interview with Senator Elizabeth Dole, The Big Story with John Gibson, 4/21/05)

mstaggerlee (not verified) 15 years 4 weeks ago

Sorry, folks, but the first post in here today is gonna be TOTALLY OFF-TOPIC with regard to anything Thom intends to discuss today.

I read a fascinating and important book over the holiday weekend, Greg Mortenson's "Three Cups of Tea". It is about how a true American hero has been waging the "war on terror", since 1993, by building schools, mainly for girls, in the area that has been called "the most dangerous region on Earth for an American", the mountainous region along the borders between Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India.

Do you all remember how, around this time of year over the past 8 years, we'd get a look, and share a laugh and a wink, over Dubya's alleged summer "reading" list? I would suggest that THIS book should be MANDATORY summer reading for President Obama, Secretaries Clinton and Gates and for YOUR Senators and Congressmembers (oh - and for you, too)!

Below is a link to Amazon's info page for this amazing book. Get a copy for yourself, and forward the link to anyone who you think might be able to lend a hand with this struggle.

Thank you.

mstaggerlee (not verified) 15 years 4 weeks ago

Oops - someone beat me to the first post. :-)

Brian in Tacoma (not verified) 15 years 4 weeks ago

May we be reminded that Democracy was borrowered from the Native Americans who appointed women to power because every deciscion made within a tribe whould have to benefit the 7th generation and beacuse women can reproduce, theey should have this power and influence...

KMH (not verified) 15 years 4 weeks ago

What women really fear? FORCED PREGNANCY- it is already done in the meat industry- they chaining down of pig mothers and their piglets.

I am very pleased with what I saw of President Obama's pick today. Also, did you hear President Obama say today that she was a Republican nominee?

Mark (not verified) 15 years 4 weeks ago

First I'd like to say that these whining women who are calling need to take a long hard look in the mirror, and examine the blanket stereotypes and prejudices they harbor; to me, it sounds like misandry and feminist propaganda. Frankly, onthe abortion issue, I see very ethical or moral discussion coming from the "women's choice" camp--it's always about "me, myself and I." I'd also like to point out that these complaints against Obama's Supreme Court nominee has nothing to do with her being woman; if she a far-right activist, the "cons" would have no issue. What they do have an issue with, even if they don't express it out loud, is that she is Hispanic, period.

I'd also like to mention that many on the left have accused Barack Obama of back-tracking on campaign promises, but in the case of closing Guantanamo, while initially the idea resonated with many Americans' sense of guilt, on reflection irrational fear has taken hold. I’ve spoken with otherwise left-leaning persons who don’t want the prison closed because they have this fear that these people will end-up on the streets their town. They even have this fear of the effect detainees might have on the general population of prisoners, although it is unlikely that they will be jailed among them. Meanwhile, the U.S. Sentate voted overwhelmingly against funding for closing Guantanamo, and Dick Cheney is continuing his campaign of fear and paranoia, trying to convince the gullible that the Bush administration placed a high priority on obtaining “truth”—such as from paid opportunistic Iraqi expatriates, and through torture.

moonbat666 (not verified) 15 years 4 weeks ago

I remember when there was concern and worry about voting for a Roman Catholic as president . This would be the 6th Catholic, if confirmed to sit on the court. Thomas was a convert after arriving on the court. He attended church with Scalia whom he admires so much that he is not required to even think for himself. I'm concerned that this could well be the tipping point for overturning Roe v Wade. I know that Sonia was divorced, but I'm not sure if she had that marriage annulled. Perhaps this no big deal since the Pope was a former member of the Hitler Youth. As an athiest, I would like to see a secular person on the court. It's a damn shame that to deny the BS of relgion would be political suicide.

Mark (not verified) 15 years 4 weeks ago

If I had edited my prior comment properly, I would have said I see very little morality and ethics coming from the "women's choice" camp on the abortion. So there.

Mundy (not verified) 15 years 4 weeks ago

Who do these people suppose will be buying all these cars in America, when nobody has jobs anymore?

edward capo bch (not verified) 15 years 4 weeks ago

slave labor and wall street....china is controlling both our political parties and have face companies lobbies writing our trade policy. china is the wall street k- street capital hill communist party! republicans at the forefront, we are nothing but expendable consumers and they do not care if we have a standard of living anymore that fits the cliche's we have forced to worship....

KMH (not verified) 15 years 4 weeks ago


With reference to 'whining women' What you really want is control and power and it makes you feel tough to be able to disrespect your Mother, yes?

KMH (not verified) 15 years 4 weeks ago

Breaking news- Moments ago, the California Supreme Court ruled to uphold Prop. 8 — although the court said that the 18,000 couples who got married last year can remain married, no more same sex couples can get married under the current law. This is a sad and angry moment, but we cannot let it feel like defeat. We must use this as an opportunity to move forward in the fight for marriage equality for all Californians — a fight that we will take to every corner of this state.

Scott B (not verified) 15 years 4 weeks ago

I want a printout of Alexander Hamilton's laws on trade that Thom described today. the actual text and then Thoms interpretation of them. It was really quite revealing of our current practices. If we can make the economic argument to the conservatives based on Hamilton's laws , one of our founders, they have to listen and agree. Don't they? I mean they are always going back to the founders intent........right?

Al (not verified) 15 years 4 weeks ago

Re. your globalization argument, I basically agree. It has been terrible for the US workers and potentially dangerous in the long run for national security when we have such a dependence on imports (steel, oil, cars, etc.) But, I do have one big concern: what about when the big US industries collude and sell the American public poor products? The auto industry first comes to mind. Europeans and Japanese took over the market with better autos at a better price. As a long time music collector I also remember when the US music corporations fought tooth and nail to keep out European and Japanese companies who put together much, much better collections of American music. I worked in music retail and it was a shame how a handful of corporations tried to foist shoddy reissue LP's and CD's from our great American heritage of Blues, Jazz, Rock'n'roll, etc. onto an American public when the Japanese and Europeans reverentially reissued our own music with superior packaging, sound, etc. Music collectors were very glad for a true choice.

Quark (not verified) 15 years 4 weeks ago


My husband, son and I have college degrees (my husband has 2), yet we all have jobs where we work with our hands to create or fix things. We have always gotten more satisfaction from this than anything else.

There's an interesting article which talks about this phenomenon in Sunday's NYTimes Magazine. I think it really speaks to our country's need to get its manufacturing base back, for more reasons than just the obvious. I think it might give us a better society. Here are some excerpts from the piece:

"The Case for Working With Your Hands"

(Matthew B. Crawford lives in Richmond, Va. His book, “Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work,” from which this essay is adapted, will be published this week by Penguin Press.)

Published: May 21, 2009

"The television show “Deadliest Catch” depicts commercial crab fishermen in the Bering Sea. Another, “Dirty Jobs,” shows all kinds of grueling work; one episode featured a guy who inseminates turkeys for a living. The weird fascination of these shows must lie partly in the fact that such confrontations with material reality have become exotically unfamiliar. Many of us do work that feels more surreal than real. Working in an office, you often find it difficult to see any tangible result from your efforts. What exactly have you accomplished at the end of any given day? Where the chain of cause and effect is opaque and responsibility diffuse, the experience of individual agency can be elusive. “Dilbert,” “The Office” and similar portrayals of cubicle life attest to the dark absurdism with which many Americans have come to view their white-collar jobs.

Is there a more “real” alternative (short of inseminating turkeys)?

High-school shop-class programs were widely dismantled in the 1990s as educators prepared students to become “knowledge workers.” The imperative of the last 20 years to round up every warm body and send it to college, then to the cubicle, was tied to a vision of the future in which we somehow take leave of material reality and glide about in a pure information economy. This has not come to pass. To begin with, such work often feels more enervating than gliding. More fundamentally, now as ever, somebody has to actually do things: fix our cars, unclog our toilets, build our houses.

When we praise people who do work that is straightforwardly useful, the praise often betrays an assumption that they had no other options. We idealize them as the salt of the earth and emphasize the sacrifice for others their work may entail. Such sacrifice does indeed occur — the hazards faced by a lineman restoring power during a storm come to mind. But what if such work answers as well to a basic human need of the one who does it? I take this to be the suggestion of Marge Piercy’s poem “To Be of Use,” which concludes with the lines “the pitcher longs for water to carry/and a person for work that is real.” Beneath our gratitude for the lineman may rest envy.

This seems to be a moment when the useful arts have an especially compelling economic rationale. A car mechanics’ trade association reports that repair shops have seen their business jump significantly in the current recession: people aren’t buying new cars; they are fixing the ones they have. The current downturn is likely to pass eventually. But there are also systemic changes in the economy, arising from information technology, that have the surprising effect of making the manual trades — plumbing, electrical work, car repair — more attractive as careers. The Princeton economist Alan Blinder argues that the crucial distinction in the emerging labor market is not between those with more or less education, but between those whose services can be delivered over a wire and those who must do their work in person or on site. The latter will find their livelihoods more secure against outsourcing to distant countries. As Blinder puts it, “You can’t hammer a nail over the Internet.” Nor can the Indians fix your car. Because they are in India.

If the goal is to earn a living, then, maybe it isn’t really true that 18-year-olds need to be imparted with a sense of panic about getting into college (though they certainly need to learn). Some people are hustled off to college, then to the cubicle, against their own inclinations and natural bents, when they would rather be learning to build things or fix things. One shop teacher suggested to me that “in schools, we create artificial learning environments for our children that they know to be contrived and undeserving of their full attention and engagement. Without the opportunity to learn through the hands, the world remains abstract and distant, and the passions for learning will not be engaged.”

A gifted young person who chooses to become a mechanic rather than to accumulate academic credentials is viewed as eccentric, if not self-destructive. There is a pervasive anxiety among parents that there is only one track to success for their children. It runs through a series of gates controlled by prestigious institutions. Further, there is wide use of drugs to medicate boys, especially, against their natural tendency toward action, the better to “keep things on track.” I taught briefly in a public high school and would have loved to have set up a Ritalin fogger in my classroom. It is a rare person, male or female, who is naturally inclined to sit still for 17 years in school, and then indefinitely at work.

The trades suffer from low prestige, and I believe this is based on a simple mistake. Because the work is dirty, many people assume it is also stupid. This is not my experience. I have a small business as a motorcycle mechanic in Richmond, Va., which I started in 2002. I work on Japanese and European motorcycles, mostly older bikes with some “vintage” cachet that makes people willing to spend money on them. I have found the satisfactions of the work to be very much bound up with the intellectual challenges it presents. And yet my decision to go into this line of work is a choice that seems to perplex many people.

After finishing a Ph.D. in political philosophy at the University of Chicago in 2000, I managed to stay on with a one-year postdoctoral fellowship at the university’s Committee on Social Thought. The academic job market was utterly bleak. In a state of professional panic, I retreated to a makeshift workshop I set up in the basement of a Hyde Park apartment building, where I spent the winter tearing down an old Honda motorcycle and rebuilding it. The physicality of it, and the clear specificity of what the project required of me, was a balm. Stumped by a starter motor that seemed to check out in every way but wouldn’t work, I started asking around at Honda dealerships. Nobody had an answer; finally one service manager told me to call Fred Cousins of Triple O Service. “If anyone can help you, Fred can.”

As it happened, in the spring I landed a job as executive director of a policy organization in Washington. This felt like a coup. But certain perversities became apparent as I settled into the job. It sometimes required me to reason backward, from desired conclusion to suitable premise. The organization had taken certain positions, and there were some facts it was more fond of than others. As its figurehead, I was making arguments I didn’t fully buy myself. Further, my boss seemed intent on retraining me according to a certain cognitive style — that of the corporate world, from which he had recently come. This style demanded that I project an image of rationality but not indulge too much in actual reasoning. As I sat in my K Street office, Fred’s life as an independent tradesman* gave me an image that I kept coming back to: someone who really knows what he is doing, losing himself in work that is genuinely useful and has a certain integrity to it. He also seemed to be having a lot of fun.

Some diagnostic situations contain a lot of variables. Any given symptom may have several possible causes, and further, these causes may interact with one another and therefore be difficult to isolate. In deciding how to proceed, there often comes a point where you have to step back and get a larger gestalt. Have a cigarette and walk around the lift. The gap between theory and practice stretches out in front of you, and this is where it gets interesting. What you need now is the kind of judgment that arises only from experience; hunches rather than rules. For me, at least, there is more real thinking going on in the bike shop than there was in the think tank."

*Fred owned his own motorcycle repair shop.

B Roll (not verified) 15 years 4 weeks ago


re: the Calif. Supreme Court upholding Prop 8

I'm against Prop 8, but I think the 2 points you raised in your brief comment were inaccurate.

The 2nd point you made was that they chose a good day to release the ruling, because it would be eclipsed by Obama's nomination of Sonia Sotomayor. The problem with that idea is that it was well known that the California Supreme Court was going to announce the decision today. I think I heard that they planned to announce the decision last week, but Governor Schwarzenegger asked them to hold the announcement until after last weeks elections. (I can't verify this story though.) On the other hand, I don't know if we knew exactly when Obama was going to announce his pick.

Your first point was to point out the contradiction between ruling that it would now be illegal for same sex couples to marry in California, but that the 18,000 same sex couples that already married can remain so.

I don't think that's a contradiction. In fact, it's very common for laws to "grandfather in" things that are outlawed in new laws. Think of a power plant that is allowed to remain in operation even though it violates regulations that will be applied to new power plants.

I believe that the intent of Prop 8 was to prohibit future same sex marriage and nullify past same sex marriages. But apparently, California Supreme Court ruled that the existing marriages can remain valid.

Let me reiterate that I am against the prohibition of same same marriage. But I think Thom's comments weren't accurate or applicable.

Quark (not verified) 15 years 4 weeks ago

I would like Mark to know that much female "whining" comes from experience. I'm so tired of the "old white boys" (boys, emotionally) who created so many world-class messes without a second thought, guided only by their greed, testosterone and their "gut." As a parent, I often picture these people out in the "sandbox" having tantrums trying to outdo each other.

KMH (not verified) 15 years 4 weeks ago

Prop 8 ammendment versus revision issue and was not applied retroactively- weird, did the Supreme Court rule this way out of fear of being recalled? Well at least we can now take this to the Federal Supreme Court. How about a law where we do not allow you to wear yellow on Thursdays. How about bringing back slavery?

B Roll (not verified) 15 years 4 weeks ago

To KMH and Quark

I think it's important to make an attempt to understand why people feel the way they do and say what they say.

In Mark's case, anyone who's read his comments for a period to time knows (or at least suspects) that he's Hispanic and feels anger at the way his people are treated. That doesn't make everything he says right, but you have to be aware of the ideas he's expressed on this blog to understand where he's coming from.

I think his "whining women" comment is out of place, but I think it comes more from a feeling of anger over how Hispanics are treated than from a male anger toward women. Sometimes, our feelings in one area bleed over into other area.

I also disagree with his view that conservative opposition to Sonia Sotomayor simply because she is Hispanic. I guarantee that if the Bush was still in office and nominated a far right conservative, most conservatives wouldn't complain. After all, they were supporters of Clarence Thomas and in fact, the right accused Democrats of being racist for opposing the nomination of Thomas.

Richard Adlof (not verified) 15 years 4 weeks ago

My anger burns hotter than a thousand white hot suns for the sins they committed in our name. We, the People, are better than these fear-filled plutocrats have inflicted. The blood of our blood has been spilt for hundreds of years in the name of Justice and they defaced all that we have readily given.

We, the People, have been broken all belief by those who are supposed to be the guardians of the Commons and the protectors of our Constitution.

The chicken-hawk bastards in the just prior Administration intentionally chose and willfully planned and executed TORTURE in your and mine and We, the People’s name. They violated everything every principle America stands for to forward a fascist plutocratic land grab and seared their mark on the face of our planet and in history in the blood of American troops and Iraqi citizens.

The current Administration under the expert hand of that just right of the middle of the road centrist is fighting to avoid doing the righteous thing and deal with the situation in a JUST and LAWFUL manner. They do this on the dirt hollowed by the name of a man who commanded that no man be tortured and a goddess named for justice and inclusion of all.

The great and good goddess Columbia wears a blindfold and carries scales and sword for all humans. It is time that she be allowed to do her job.

B Roll (not verified) 15 years 4 weeks ago


I’ve heard you use the example of Iroquois Confederacy, the fact that women selected their “male” leaders and Ben Franklin’s comment about 1000 years of peace as an argument for women in leadership.

I’ve been hearing you mention these things for years, but I’ve never heard you offer to give up your vote or to try to convince other men to do so. I really question whether you’d want to live in a country where only women had the right to vote and only men had the right to hold office.

As far as the Iroquois Confederacy goes, I question the accuracy of Ben Franklin’s claim that they had 1000 years of peace. Since they had no written language, their history and their historical calendar would have had to be oral. Both oral and written histories are subject to distortion and change.

The advantage that written history has over oral history is that there’s an opportunity check later written histories against earlier written histories, because the earlier written histories are more likely to survive the death of their authors. Oral histories can change from generation to generation with the earlier versions more likely to be lost forever.

I tend to look at the Iroquois Confederacy as being similar to the NATO. It provides for peace among member nations, but those agreements don’t apply in the same way to other nations. The individual member tribes of the Iroquois Confederacy often engaged in warfare against non-member tribes, and even formed alliances of member tribes against non-member tribes. If you don’t believe me, ask the Algonquians.

And there’s the case of Tuscarora, who became the sixth member of the Iroquois Confederacy that joined as a non-voting member. How is that democratic?

I think your comments are another case of you idolizing people who seem to comport with your views.

Mark (not verified) 15 years 4 weeks ago

It seems like every year there is a different flu "scare, " but because it seemed there was an "unusual" concentration in Mexico City--which has a metropolitan area population of 22 million--people north of the border are consternated, and these days anything with the letters "M-e-x" tends to cause consternation. It also should be noted that the few reported Swine Flu-related deaths in the U.S. have been attributed to other illness, but which the flu may have exacerbated. The boy in Texas suffered a heart defect, and a teacher who died had several chronic medical conditions.

I was talking to someone whose brother is a doctor about the cost of medical care, and he pointed out that while use of, say, a CAT scan, may be relatively inexpensive, but you are not just paying for the use of the machine--you paying everyone from the receptionist, the maintenance worker, the nurses, the doctors, the $100-an-hour specialists. The actual use of the machine may cost only a few dollars, but most of the the rest of the $2 or $3,000 bill is paying for personel costs.

David Alexander (not verified) 15 years 4 weeks ago

Although I agree with the main point of the discussion of how the conservatives have used debt to strip the working class of their wealth, I disagree that is a matter of oversupply as it was during the depression.

During the depression, valuable goods were actually manufactured in the US. The “oversupply” that exists now is largely in such “goods” as toxic bundled mortgage securities. As foreign investors purchased these and other financial “services” (accomplished the “service” of stripping them of their money), wealth was brought into the US. The large amounts that foreigners paid for financial services showed up as part of the high productivity numbers. This showed up as part of GDP along with the large retailing productivity which was caused substantially by the large percentage markups of goods produced cheaply overseas. When we can’t afford to buy goods from the rest of the world and are forced to use our limited manufacturing capacity to produce goods that have real value, our productivity numbers won’t seem nearly as impressive.

When the dollar collapses, there will be massive inflation in the cost of real goods which will mean scarcity rather than shortage. The collapsing dollar will cause the use of sovereign wealth funds to increase as other countries try to get the last remaining value for their reserves. One of the last remaining types of goods with real value that the US produces is agricultural goods. However, much of this value will soon be consumed by the rest of the world. I recently read that the Chinese were planning to use part of their sovereign wealth fund for massive purchases of soybeans from the US which will likely create a major shortage of soybeans. When oil prices rise again as a result of the collapsing dollar, we will have to sell much of our agricultural production to purchases oil. A substantial amount of oil is needed just for agricultural production and to transport what is produced.

Rather than oversupply, the situation that we will soon face is a rapidly shrinking economic pie. Through burdening the middle class with debt, the conservatives are trying to get a larger share of what will soon be rapidly diminishing wealth of the US.

B Roll (not verified) 15 years 4 weeks ago

You're wrong again Thom.

Anything that comes from Graham Hancock is as nutty as it sounds and your belief in the ideas of Hancock and his ilk makes you seem as nutty as you sound. Hancock only has credibility among the uninformed and believers in pseudo-scientific nonsense.

I remember a few years ago when you had David Hatcher Childress on as a guest and you described him as "The real Indiana Jones", although the fictional Indiana Jones was a university professor and Childress is a college dropout who sells books about time machines and anit-gravity machines, not to mention that he has written that dinosaurs lived in Mexico as recently as 5000 - 6000 years ago and that aircraft occasionally go down in Alaska because of mid-air collisions with flying dinosaurs.

Oh and lets not forget that you said that Richard Greene is your favorite Air America host. On that show, Greene mentioned David Hawkins who he said (as Hawkins claims) that he can measure the spiritual development of a person or thing through the use of "muscle testing" (i.e., having a person hold their arm parallel to their body and pushing it down) . Hawkins claims to be so good at this that he can make those measurements on a scale of zero to one thousand.

Thom, you can believe whatever you want to believe, but with so few "progressive" talkers on the air, I hate to see you damage your credibility like this. But I guess there's no stopping you.

Mugsy (not verified) 15 years 4 weeks ago


To the caller who asked why Sotameyor's gender or ethnicity matters:


Republicans arguing that SC judges should apply "strict adherence to the law" apparently don't understand the role of the SC. When the SC hears a case, they apply their own experiences and interpretations to decide whether or not is violating a plaintiff's rights. Arguing "rule of law" here only shows how poorly these people even understand the issue.

Mark (not verified) 15 years 4 weeks ago

I would like Quark to know that as someone regarded as a "Mexican" by most people I encounter, I've experienced far more dehumanizing and ignorant behavior than she will ever know. I work at an airport, and I've filed three complaints so far against the port police for harassment, and have frequently been the subject of "special attention" from HS and customs and immigration people. And their attitudes are merely reflective of the country as a whole. I'm not blind; if white men are 1a in this country, she is 1b. The rest of us rank somewhere further down the social and economic ladder.

David Alexander (not verified) 15 years 4 weeks ago

In response to Quark, I agree that there is great importance in what are considered dirty jobs. There would be more people willing to do these jobs, but the pay is too low relative to easy office jobs.

In spite of seeming like drudgery at times, office jobs do have many benefits compared to other jobs. People who do them get to sit at a desk all day instead of standing up and doing often dirty physical labor and they usually get to work regular hours. They also get the benefit of the prestige that goes along with having an office job. It’s much more impressive say to someone of the opposite sex that you have an office job than it is to tell them that you are a mechanic which people still think of as “grease monkeys”.

Many office jobs, especially those at lower and mid levels have far more applicants than there are open positions. In contrast, I recently read about a job handling crabs in the hot sun in Maryland had no applicants even though it paid $14.00 per hour which is comparable to some lower level office jobs.

Rather than being a law written in stone that college graduates will always earn more than those who do what are considered menial jobs, the current situation is caused by an imbalance in the labor market. As manufacturing jobs were outsourced before office jobs, the pay gap was increased as manufacturing wages fell. Now there is much downward pressure on white collar wages, but wages are what economists call “sticky” in that they don’t adjust downward as easily as they adjust upward. Even without union contracts, stickiness can be caused when office workers are offered a certain wage for a year during their annual review. If new workers were hired at lower wages, the benefit of this would be offset by discontent within the office. When employees have their next annual review, those who had their wages lowered first would be discontented. White collar wages tend to remain stable while more jobs are outsourced and there are plenty of workers in Asia who are capable of writing software code who are currently standing in the hot sun behind a plow or working in dirty factories who would be willing to work for much less than the pay in the US for the same job. Part of the reason why current employees are being overworked is a result of the extent to which employers are not able to reduce wages.

What will eventually reduce the imbalance is inflation which eliminates the problem of stickiness of wages. If office wages are not raised in an inflationary environment, a company that had 50 applicants for one job might have only forty, but would still be able to find someone very well qualified for the job.

Because of the cultural attitude that those who do white collar jobs need to be paid more, many employers probably don't realize that they could pay less and still get esentially equally qualified employees. However, they will find this out when there is inflation but they still have a pool from which they can find a qualified applicant. They will then see that they have no reason to raise wages in an environment of narrow profit margins. Although there is an increasing use of technology, technology actually makes jobs easier as often as it makes them more complicated, so no shortage of technologically skilled workers is created.

I’ve heard it said that when there are more applicants for one job, employers just become more selective and continue to pay the same wages. However, these comments often come from those who still have jobs these comments are likely a result of wishful thinking that their pay won’t be lowered. This thinking also boosts the egos of those who still have jobs by letting them think that they still have jobs because they are the most qualified even when it is actually a result of such factors as increasing age discrimination. With profit margins squeezed, many companies are quicker to lay off older workers with higher health insurance costs.

When inflation occurs, unlike in the past it will not be accompanied by increasing demand and the need to hire more workers. Instead, it will be caused by a collapse of the dollar and a shrinking economy and a squeeze on profit margins. Instead of increasing white collar wages in an inflationary environment in proportion to the rate of inflation, real wages will be allowed to be inflated away. If a company that used to have fifty applicants for one position only has forty applicants after allowing wages to be inflated away, he would still likely be able to fill the position with a qualified applicant. If inflation was fifteen percent and if an employer could find an employee who was 1% more productive from the pre inflation pool of 50 applicants, he would at most pay about 1% more rather than 15% more to completely adjust the wage for inflation.

As real white collar wages fall in an inflationary environment, employers such as the one who has no applicants for a job handling crabs in the hot sun will be under even more pressure to raise the wage offered for that job. As a result, as the economic pie shrinks, at least those who do the dirty jobs will get a larger share.

David Azevedo (not verified) 15 years 4 weeks ago

For those who complain that ethnic or gender "diversity" should not be a consideration when chosing a Supreme Court nomination, this fact should be remembered: back in the early days of our nation, going back to President Washington, when only white males were deemed qualified to serve in politics and the judiciary, Supreme Court seats were distributed by geography. When one justice resigned from a particular region of the nation, that spot was filled by another justice from that same region. This was done so that all parts of the country were represented equally on the court.

If the Founders deemed it worthy to consider geography an important qualification for particular seats on the Supreme Court, then how is this so different from the idea that we should have X-number of women, blacks, hispanics, etc on the court today?

Ben (not verified) 15 years 4 weeks ago

Sometime last week someone came up with a great analogy regarding water in a tree, I think that you could take that analogy even further. Below is my explanation.

Take a look at a balanced system in our ecosystem, water. If the water system was not balanced, life could not survive. As in wealth, water accumulates in areas and is scarce in other areas. Deserts have the least and oceans have the most. Most of the water in our ecosystem ends up in an ocean at some time. The question is what keeps the balance? The answer is evaporation and rain. Evaporation prevent too much water from accumulating in the oceans and redistributes it in the form of rain in other areas. This keeps the cycle going. If the evaporation and rain would stop, all water would end up being accumulated in the oceans and the rest of the world would be without water.

If we compare this to an economy, naturally money will flow to the people that have money as they usually have the means to satisfy some need in society. Big business is very efficient at delivering goods in order to take our money from us. This is the nature of a free market. However, like the system of water in our ecosystem, there needs to be an equalizer that redistributes the money when companies and individuals accumulate too much of it. That system is known as taxes and government programs. Taxes act like evaporation. Money is skimmed off the top. The more money you have the more money will be skimmed. This is true of the water systems too. Government programs act like the rain. They distribute money in areas that need it. Sure, there is no perfect system. This is also true of the water system as deserts do exist. The wealth is not distributed evenly, as it shouldn't. But, the system does help keep everything moving, which will benefit everyone.

Quark (not verified) 15 years 4 weeks ago

B Roll and Mark,

Thank you for your comments and clarifications. I really appreciate the insights you offer; maybe they will make me a better, fairer human being. (I hope I can reflect that in my daily interactions and thinking.)

I know I have been fortunate in many ways. However, I have also experienced a number of horrific situations that cut to the center of my very being (no, that is NOT hyperbole) in my life because of my gender. Those I wouldn't wish on anyone, either.

I would guess that most sentient, caring beings have their own "hells" on which to reflect. Thank you for sharing a little of yours.

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