- Today is the 41st anniversary of Robert F. Kennedy's funeral.
- A guest on the show tomorrow will be Abraham Bolden. Chosen personally by JFK, Bolden was the first African American Secret Service agent assigned to protect the President.
- Article: Congress Helped Banks Defang Key Rule.Tim Geithner has quietly shut down the program where the banks could sell toxic assets to private investors. They said they were going to solve the problem of "toxic waste" on the balance sheets of the banks. They've got notes and credit default swaps and loans and mortgages and things that they're holding on their books as worth a million dollars when in fact they're worth five or fifty thousand or five hundred thousand, so they were going to allow private investors to come in and buy these things and take a chance. And maybe they can resurrect them and make money on them.
It's sort of a variation on the loan collection business, which is a fair-sized business in the U.S. The loan collection business is where companies which go to other businesses which extend credit direct to their customers, like auto dealers, or let people use now and pay later, like phone companies, and who have customers who have not been paying and seem unlikely to pay. The loan collection company will buy the overdue collections for ten cents on the dollar. The collection company then calls the customers and tries to collect the money, and try to recover more than they paid. By aggressively focusing on collection they hope to squeeze the money out of the consumers and make a profit.
Tim Geithner's plan to save our banks was to let them sell their bad debt to third parties who will then try to collect or collateralize or remortgage it. The banks may have foreclosured properties for which, when they try to sell them, they would get a lot less than the value of the mortgage. A new industry similar to the loan collection business would take the toxic waste and convert it into something of some value.
At the same time that this was happening, the banks were lobbying the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) to blow up their rules, "mark to market", that the banks had to list the toxic assets on their balance sheets at their real market value. But the banks want to keep the assets at their original, like the original value of a mortgage, not the much reduced value. That makes the banks look profitable, it helps their stock price, to which the executives' compensation is tied. That's why the executives are particularly interested in continuing this scam. If the banks had to won up to the reduced value of their assets - if they had to mark their assets to the market - they are in big trouble.
But here's the weird thing. If they want to sell those toxic assets, once they sell them, they go on their balance sheet at whatever they sell them for. So Geithner says we are going to help sell them in the market place, and the market place values them at a much reduced rate, low enough that they should be able to make a profit out of them. Tim Geithner wanted free enterprise to solve the problem with the banks. But the minute the banks sell, their balance sheets go south and they suddenly look as if they are not profitable. The emperor has no clothes and suddenly everybody realizes it.
What Geithner has been trying to do ever since the last year of the Bush administration, and tragically they are continuing to do into the Obama administration, is pretend that the emperor - the banks - actually has some very nice clothes; some decent assets. So the banks were refusing to sell these toxic assets.
If you want the whole story, Robert Kuttner has a great blog about this over at Huffington Post. The bottom line is that FDIC, the Treasury, the Federal Reserve, the whole thing, they were going to split the whole thing 50-50, the government was going to guarantee the losses, the government would put up to 94% of the capital if private investors would put up only 6%, so there was no risk at all to the equivalent of the collection agency companies buying this crap off the balance sheet of the banks. It was a good deal, a good idea for them. The problem was that the banks succeeded, as we talked on the show about when it happened, in getting the federal government to stop forcing them to use mark to market accounting principles.
What it is doing is that they are trying to keep the house of cards intact, but I'm telling you, the smallest wind is going to knock it over. This is a really bad sign for the future of the economy, unfortunately.
But on the other hand, there is an incredible opportunity in this; something we all should know about and all should get on. Listen to today's podcast to hear what that is.
- Article: Fantasies of Green Shoots, Robert Kuttner.
- A lot of typesetting business is going to India. Small business loans for small businesses? TARP was top down, Obama is now going to do bottom up. Let the government print our money.
- Article: Why This Crisis May Be Our Best Chance to Build a New Economy by David Korten.
- Article: How Pharma and Insurance Intend to Kill the Public Option, And What Obama and the Rest of Us Must Do by Robert Reich.
- Article: Democrats Weigh Health Mandate as Obama Urges Taxing Wealthy by Laura Litvan and Ryan Donmoyer (Drudge report titles the story, "Obama Seeks Tax on Wealthy to Fund Health Overhaul...").
- As TJ said on the morning show, call it tax rate not tax burden.
- Bumper Music: Call Me, Blondie (video).
- Bumper Music: Crazy, Gnarls Barkley.
- Article: Boulder nudists claim landlord discrimination by Laura Snider.
- Article: New report finds big problems in war spending. AP.
- Article: Top Chinese banker Guo Shuqing calls for wider use of yuan by Malcolm Moore.
- Article: U.S.-Backed Alliance Wins in Lebanon. By Michael Slackman.
- Lebanon has a variety of Christian groups as well as Muslim. Kudos to Obama, an alliance of politicians backed by the U.S. seems to have beaten Hezbollah.
- Banking, toxic debts, have we reached a period where there is institutionalized corruption at every level, becoming the norm? There is a broad consensus about America, but corporate media not telling the story.
- Article: Keeping Them Honest. By Paul Krugman.
- Book: "10 Excellent Reasons for National Health Care", edited by Mary O'Brien, MD and Martha Livingston, MD, Foreword by John Conyers.
- Low corporate tax rates, why aren't the media reporting on them? They pay them too.
- Bumper Music: I Still Believe, The Call.
- Article: U.S. Protests N. Korea’s Treatment of Journalists, David E. Sanger and Choe Sang-hun.
- The TALKERS Convention. Rush Limbaugh's speech was fairly decent for those in the radio business. Stephanie Miller and Thom gave the keynote speech. They were on a panel with right wingers, one question was about Obama and North Korea. North Korea just sentenced two U.S. journalists to hard labor. They were documenting what life was like there. David Sanger's article. Obama is seeking way to interdict cargo and search for missiles, weapons or nuclear technology. Keep your eye on this, it could be another Cuban missile crisis, Thom is glad it is Obama and not Bush.
- Merkley is for single payer. Call Wyden, the trigger is a scam.
- Armin suggested reframing the opposers to health care, they are trying to push corporate tricklenomics healthcare. Do you want your health care to filter down through a CEO? Do you want the government deciding who your doctor is? Yes, if the alternative is a CEO siphoning money off.
- Schwarzenegger can't raise corporate taxes because he needs a 2/3 vote. Many corporations pay nothing, on average they pay 7% because of loopholes.
- Guest: Scott Wheeler, Executive Director of the National Republican Trust PAC. "The National Republican Trust Political Action Committee (NRT PAC) was formed as an independent organization to help promote American values and support federal candidates for Congress, Senate and the Presidency who share those values. The NRT is committed to continuing the legacy of Ronald Reagan. As such, the NRT PAC promotes a political vision that includes several core ideas...". His forthcoming book, "Hamas in America". Obama's speech "an invitation to attack America again". The Lebanese election yesterday; in contrast to them embracing Hamas when Bush was president, a U.S. backed alliance has won. Before the election polling said that Hezbollah would win, he said that was because people were afraid of it. Cognitive dissonance. It was an outrage to say holocaust happened because he related it to mistreatment of Palestinians? It was a completely different part of speech. He said Obama blamed Jews. He is using fear mongering and pandering rather than looking at what is really going on. Factcheck said that their ad was the sleaziest ad of the campaign. Illegal aliens. They've been saying that we are at war, blow up the constitution, torture people, and the more rational among us say we are facing criminals, and to marginalize them. The first WTC attackers are in jail, he said Clinton did not get Osama bon Laden, Thom said that Bush had had years.
- Bumper Music: Six Of One, Half A Dozen (Of The Other), Joe Nichols.
- The Supreme Court has turned away a challenge to 'don't ask don't tell'. Obama could have told the military to stop enforcing it. A majority of Americans, even conservatives want it to stop.
- Article: Supreme Court case with the feel of a best seller By Joan Biskupic, USA TODAY.
"BECKLEY, W.Va. — In a small town, a local resident claims wrongdoing by a big corporation and wins a multimillion-dollar award after a jury trial. The corporation's CEO then pumps enough campaign money into a judicial election to get a new judge on the state supreme court. During an appeal, that judge casts a critical vote siding with the corporation — and reversing the resident's victory.
Sound like the plot of a John Grisham novel?
It is — his 2008 best seller, The Appeal. But it also resembles a real dispute between West Virginia coal mining rivals that now is before the U.S. Supreme Court. The decade-long dispute, a reflection of the growing questions surrounding judicial elections, tests whether an elected judge's refusal to take himself off a case involving a chief financial backer is unconstitutional.
The Supreme Court case of Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal began when Donald Blankenship, chairman and CEO of Massey, lost a $50 million verdict in a fraud lawsuit brought by Hugh Caperton and his small, independent Harman Mining Co. over the cancellation of a long-term coal contract.
As the case moved toward appeals, Blankenship contributed $3 million to help unseat incumbent Democratic Judge Warren McGraw in his race against a Republican, Charleston lawyer Brent Benjamin — 60% of the total spent in favor of Benjamin and against McGraw. Benjamin won. Three years later, when Massey's appeal got to the West Virginia Supreme Court, Benjamin cast a crucial vote to overturn the verdict that had favored Caperton."
- Article: Four Right-Wing Supreme Court Justices Argue That Buying Off A Judge Is No Problem by Ian Millhiser.
"Although the result in this narrowly-decided case hinges on the vote of retiring Justice David Souter, it appears that Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor agrees with Souter that judges cannot be for sale. In a 1996 speech, Sotomayor argued that “[w]e would never condone private gifts to judges about to decide a case implicating the gift-givers’ interests,” yet “our system of election financing permits extensive private, including corporate, financing of candidates’ campaigns, raising again and again the question what the difference is between contributions and bribes.”"
- Bumper Music: Uneasy Rider, Charlie Daniels (video).
- Article: The hop idol: Frog that changes colour worshipped in India as a god by Virginia Wheeler.
- Thom says free the frog.
- Many still believe Obama is a Muslim. Black border ad in Dallas. Viral email. There are people, right wing foundations, who will pay people to go onto message boards with sock puppets, debate themselves, with the right wing sock beating the left wing sock, who concedes.
- Article: "You Scare Me": An Open Letter To President Obama from Lou Pritchett.
"AN OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA:
Dear President Obama, You are the thirteenth President under whom I have lived and unlike any of the others, you truly scare me.
You scare me because after months of exposure, I know nothing about you.
You scare me because I do not know how you paid for your expensive Ivy League education and your upscale lifestyle and housing with no visible signs of support.
You scare me because you did not spend the formative years of youth growing up in America and culturally you are not an American.
You scare me because you have never run a company or met a payroll.
You scare me because you have never had military experience, thus don’t understand it at its core, and you have never done a patriotic thing in your life.
You scare me because you lack humility and ‘class,’ always blaming others [especially the last president].
You scare me because for over half your life you have aligned yourself with radical extremists who hate America and you refuse to publicly denounce these radicals who wish to see America fail.
You scare me because you are a cheerleader for the ‘blame America’ crowd and deliver this message abroad.
You scare me because you want to change America to a European-style country where the government sector dominates instead of the private sector.
You scare me because you want to replace our healthcare system with a government-controlled one.
You scare me because you prefer ‘wind mills’ to responsibly capitalizing on our own vast oil, coal and shale reserves.
You scare me because you want to kill the American capitalist goose that lays the golden egg which provides the highest standard of living in the world.
You scare me because you have begun to use Chicago-style ‘extortion’ tactics against certain banks and corporations.
You scare me because your own political party shrinks from challenging you on your wild and irresponsible spending proposals.
You scare me because you will not openly listen to or even consider opposing points of view from intelligent people.
You scare me because you falsely believe that you are both omnipotent and omniscient.
You scare me because the media gives you a free pass on everything you do.
You scare me because you demonize and want to silence those who offer opposing, conservative points of views.
You scare me because you prefer controlling over governing.
Finally, you scare me because if you serve a second term I will probably not feel safe in writing a similar letter in 8 years.
- Thom debunked a selection of the points in the email.
- Bumper Music: Political World, Bob Dylan.
- Article: Corporations behind efforts to label Sotomayor ‘racist’ By Larisa Alexandrovna and Muriel Kane.
- Article: The Federalist No. 10: "The Utility of the Union as a Safeguard Against Domestic Faction and Insurrection" by James Madison.
- Coalitions, proportional representation. If we had a coalition of Democrats, Greens, etc, they would win? Madison bemoaned first past the post, winner take all, said don't form factions. Early democracies were the same. In 1861 John Stuart Mills laid out proportional representation, now most democracies have it, and some others have Instant Runoff Voting. Republicans were always corporatist, wealthy, not enough of those to win, so they brought in Evangelicals, racists - the Southern strategy.
- 200 years ago one of America's most famous patriots, Thomas Paine, died.
- Article: Rights of Man, Thomas Paine.
- Article: Common Sense, Thomas Paine, 1776.
- Article: Agrarian Justice. Thomas Paine.
- Article: The Crisis. Thomas Paine.
- Article: Book: "Thomas Paine and the Promise of America", Harvey Kaye.
- Guest: Harvey Kaye, Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin - Green Bay, author of "Thomas Paine and the Promise of America" (a must read), contributor to the Guardian.
Paine was the original progressive, very progressive by today's standards, left of FDR. Glenn Beck is rewriting "Common Sense", reinventing him as a conservative icon. He is in Philadelphia, Paine's city; tonight he will be at a university panel about Paine. He arrived last night, went today to Independence Square, went to lots of places, could not find any reference to Paine. "Rights of Man" was a progressive thesis, but the "Age of Reason" openly embraced atheism so he was blackballed. For Paine it was Deism. He rejected the authority of churches and clerics. Ben Franklin brought his memory back. Paine pushed for political democracy. In 1790-2 he laid out his vision for social security. "Agrarian Justice" argued for the taxing of the landed rich to provide stakes for everyone at 21 to set themselves up, and for pensions for the elderly. Under Reagan lots like Glenn Beck were trying to lay claim to him. His books have never been out of print, so Glenn Beck knows how powerful he is. What would he be most concerned about now? The role of America in the world, and the gross inequality that has emerged over the last 30 years. Bailouts is like giving money to aristocrats. There were no political parties at first. With Democrats like these who needs Republicans? Thom is a great voice for tradition.
- Bumper Music: Better Than I Ought To Be, Randy Rogers Band.
- Guest: Geri Jenkins, RN, California Nurses Association, Guaranteed Healthcare. Last week Dr. Flowers was on the show, who was arrested at Max Baucus' hearing on health care. She was part of the group who met Baucus afterwards. He admitted leaving single payer off the table was mistake, it was disingenuous to leave out what everybody else has. This is a significant step. Obama wants something by October, Baucus said it was too late to bring in single payer, which shows they are not willing. They are not willing to cost it through Congress, and it would save 30% straight away. Thom thinks many Democrats are in the bag with the health industry, it has spend $135m lobbying. No political will - no political courage. The implications for labor for single payer or public option? Many are on board. More and more of the burden is on workers. They want a meaningful fix.
- Bumper Music: Speed of Sound, Coldplay.
- Article: Clashes Force More Karens to Thailand by Saw Yan Naing.
- Article: China to Require All PCs Include Internet-Censoring Software by Matthew Yglesias.
- Book: "Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace...One School At A Time", Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.
- The tail of the missing Air France jet has been discovered.
- Article: Iran's 'Macaca' Moment? Ahmadinejad's Rivals Circulate Video Highlighting His Bizarre "Light" Claim by Nasser Karimi.
- Proportional representation, 7 Western countries do not have it. Support the Green party, who support Instant Runoff Voting.
- Book: "Threshold".
- What would it take to get Thom to Wisconsin this year? He will be in Milwaukee for his book tour, details are being worked out.
- Karl Rove, Rumsfeld, Cheney all go a long way back, these kind of guys don't go away, there will be Bush people still around in 30 years. Michael Ledeen extolling the virtues of Mussolini fascism.
- Article: European elections 2009: Nicolas Sarkozy's UMP triumphs in France By Henry Samuel.
"President Nicolas Sarkozy's centre-Right UMP group and the Greens triumphed in France's European parliamentary elections, final results show, but the opposition Socialists fared terribly – punished for their incessant in-fighting and lack of ideas.
With just under 28 per cent of the vote, the UMP was the first presidential party to come out on top in EU elections since 1979, in a major boost to Mr Sarkozy. Although he is deeply unpopular on the domestic front, the French approved of his energetic six-month stint at the helm of the EU last year.
The opposition Socialists, on the other hand, only narrowly escaped the Gordon Brown-style humiliation of coming third. They won 16.48 per cent of the vote, claiming just 35,000 votes more than the Europe Ecologie list."
- Bumper Music: Change, Tracy Chapman.
- Article: Hospital officials say Obama's wife deserved big raise, Mark Memmott, September 27, 2006.
- Victoria Jones of Talk Radio News. It was good to see her last week. Talk show host Blanquita Cullum introduced Thom to a U.S. general who had charge of the Southern half of Iraq, they talked about Afghanistan, Thom asked if he had read "Three Cups of Tea". Thom asked him about strategy, and he said we are not going to kill our way out of this thing, but restore civil society, help them build infrastructure. He invited Thom to go over in August or September. White House Briefing. She was a pool reporter and so attended the start of the cabinet meeting, roadmap to recovery, accelerate implementation, 600,000 jobs in the second 100 days. Obama got a target from each department, for example Justice said they would keep or hire 5,000 more law enforcement officers, National Parks will hopefully include California. The Supreme Court agreed with Obama, and are not hearing the 'don't ask don't tell' appeal. "Rationally related to the government's legitimate interest." Executive order? Maybe slow legislation.