June 17th Wednesday
Hour One: "Obama the Terrible...czars, peasants and the 'shame' of being rich" Thom confronts Dan Gainor of the Business and Media Institute www.businessandmedia.org
Hour Two: "Banks have declared war on consumers...what you can do to survive" Thom talks with consumer rights attorney Alan Jablonski www.ajconsumerwatch.com
Hour Three: "The legacy of Watergate" John Dean, former White House Counsel in the Nixon era, joins Thom on the anniversary of the infamous break-in www.findlaw.com
You mentioned the BRIC conference. Did you see this March 14th Asian Times article about the perilous dollar.
Scary times, indeed!
On "Morning Joe" this morning, Dem. Sen. Mark Warner comments on Obama's plan to put the Fed. in charge of banking rules oversight and transparency:
Interesting discussion on "Morning Joe" with long-time mideast correspondent Richard Engel on internal changes in Iran:
White House chief economic advisor Dr. Christina Romer in the hot seat regarding Obama's banking oversight plan (Obama will discuss this at about 1 p.m. ET today):
('Sounds like Obama has accepted Sen. Mark Warner's suggestion to have a banking oversight committee, not just the Fed.)
'Sorry for all the "Morning Joe" clips, but these were actually pretty timely and informative.
Top down because THIS time, also- the rich have no money? Whereas in the last Great Depression, at least the rich still had cash! No- no one has money and this could be why Obama though knowing he should build from bottom up, does instead remain top down perhaps just to restore American currency?
How much did the transnationals have to do with the Great Depression? I am asking this because I truly do not know.
Russia, China, Brazil May Trade U.S. Treasuries for IMF Bonds
woops - typo " No- no one has money " should be "Now.....no one has money."
Say, what does Allen Jablonski think of Obama's creation of a new consumers agency. I heard this announced yesterday on the news.
I’ve been to a few meetings in Berkeley where George Lakoff has spoken, and I’ve left each of the meetings on a little bit of a down note.
I’ve appreciated the insight into framing and the basic human-primate-mammal instinct toward empathy, but his note of there being a need of big money to back communication leaves me flat.
The analogy that comes to mind is that of an emergency neighborhood sewer leak. There has been an earthquake; no one is around to help but the neighbors. Sewage is spewing all around. There are shovels and strong backs and willing teenagers and a couple of guys who’ve built most of their own houses and know quite a bit about plumbing. Between the neighbors there are probably enough parts to fix the leak.
One of the guys (George) says that the neighbors should have a back hoe to dig the trench and maybe someone across town would provide it to him. He wants people to wait while he drives over to get it. They don’t.
After work and sweat and perseverance and ingenuity and determination the leak gets fixed. It isn’t pretty and it isn’t efficient but the job gets done. The young kids get experience in doing plumbing and everyone gets experience in working together.
We’re at the big sewer leak right now when it comes to health care and the regressive tax system. We have to communicate as best we can with the tools we have. We’ll learn to do better with experience. Some of us will get dirty. We’ll kick ourselves forever if we don’t try.
The major form of mass communication in the thirties was newsprint. The vast majority of newspapers were owned and run by conservatives. Electronic communication wasn’t nearly as important as it is today. The movies, on the rare occasions when they opined about politics, were split down the line between liberal and conservative. Somehow Progressives learned to communicate anyway. During the next forty years almost everyone in the country got more prosperous, there was a big increase in life expectancy, and Civil Rights took big steps forward.
One of the things that George has complained about that does interfere with effective Progressive action is competition among Progressive elected officials. Why didn’t every Progressive congressperson have a link to Wexlerwantshearings.org (or Progressiveswanthearings.org) on his website? Wexler stuck his neck out and only got 240,000 signatures online for hearings to impeach Cheney and Bush. I would have expected at least five million signatures.
Maybe next time George or someone else can suggest how we work around the lack of big money for effective coordination of Progressive ideas. The DLC and the DCCC are not the answer.
Ah- one more thing, Be sure to know that if having to move to an apartment, that landlords CAN be negotiated with. There are children and irresponsible slobs for adults that do far more damage than certain pets. Make sure you can shunt a window or glass sliding door or install a pet door in the case of fire, or for happy kitties!
Why has Allen not been referring some of these people to the Consumer Credit Counseling http://www.nfcc.org/ They are wonderful to work with and will consolidate credit card balances and will coach one through it all. They will also do the actual negotating. They are a non profit and have been operational for something like 50 years. Be careful of those who camaflouge themselves to be like CCCS.
for mr. dean; international laws where broken with the bush administration's torture program . do you have anymore information on judge garzon of spain case?. also any other countries going to seek prosecution against the bush administration?
Responding to Thom's call for tariffs. I have worked in politics for many years and I know that Washington DC's best are going to cling to their past positions as hard as they can. One way to get around that is to give them a new out: rename the term tariff. Then the US Congress members have an "out".
How about something like "deficit reduction fee"? The fee could be based on the status of trade deficits with a nation. The higher the deficit in their favor, the higher the fee. The more balanced the trade, the lower the fee.
Other triggers that could be applied could be wage differences, environmental costs, etc. if the deficit isn't the best trigger. Just trying to provide the politicians with an escape route from past policy. Trade deficit might gain public support for such "fees".
One of your callers just mentioned how we are stuck with money talking too much as long as corporations are considered persons.
If corporations are persons, why are they allowed to buy and sell each other? Isn't that slavery?
Real persons aren't allowed to buy and sell each other, not even themselves or parts of themselves. Can we sue all the big corporations for illegal slave trading and put them "in jail"?
I just signed Bernie's petition. Since my senators are a Republican and Evan Bayh (not to be redundant), my views clearly aren't being represented in the U.S. Senate, except for my unofficial senator from Vermont.
Bill Clinton discussed policy positions with Richard Nixon. Nixon was a strong "free" trade advocate. Clinton supported Nixon's position.
Sounds good. How about wage differential fee?
The current California budget impasse has not been getting much national press, but it's exactly the "starve-the-beast" strategy at the state level. I highly recommend Sheila Kuehl's website commentary (see www.sheilakuehl.org) about this. My request is that you read her "Budget Blues" newsletters on the air.
Here's the latest:
May/June Budget Blues, part Two:
California Is Terminated
by Sheila Kuehl
This is the second in a series of new essays on the current (May-June 2009) state of budget considerations and analyses on contributing factors.
A Brief Review of the Road to Termination
I'm picturing a cartoon, perhaps in the style of political cartoonist Rex Babin of the Sacramento Bee: Arnold is presented as the Terminator, holding high two pieces of a broken state of California, with children and old people raining down out of the break, broken, themselves.
And it was so unnecessary. A few years before Grey Davis was recalled, then-State Senator Tom McClintock railed on the floor of the Senate (a fairly regular event) about, among other things, the unfair burden of the "Car Tax" (California's Vehicle License Fee, a 2% declining tax on the value of your car, which we had all been paying, pretty much without noticing, since 1935).
The conservative radio blahblahsphere immediately seized on this as a juicy item, and, in the ensuing cacophony, the Legislature became convinced that we could only shut down the whining by suspending the fee for a year or two, since California was doing ok for money (remember those days?). It seemed harmless enough because, built solidly into the adopted legislation was a provision that, should the state budget fall below a certain amount, the Vehicle License Fee would return to its historic level.
Shortly thereafter, state revenues did begin to dip from their expected amounts and, pursuant to the law, the vehicle license fee was set to automatically return. Sen. McClintock and others immediately decried Gov. Davis for "raising" their taxes and a petition was filed that eventually led to Davis ' recall and the election of our Republican Action Hero In Chief.
Never one to pass up a great visual or a (bussed-in) rally, the Governator smashed up a car and declared that the Car Tax had to be voted out permanently. The Legislature, dazed and cowed by the recall and the new Governor's apparent popularity, caved.
Result: a loss of revenue that, if aggregated since then, would have been about the same as the current deficit.
The Budget(s) Shortfall
The Legislature voted twice to adopt budgets in September 2008 and February 2009. The 08-09 budget was cut by over 18 billion dollars and the 09-10 budget by 8.6 billion. Since any hope of achieving significant gains by cutting "waste" or other phantasmagorical leftovers from past rhetoric is long gone, the actual big losers in those cuts were schools, healthcare and social services. Even deeper cuts were averted by the adoption of a one cent, two-year, increase in the sales tax, and the once-anathema Vehicle License Fee was partially restored to 1.15%. Strangely enough, large corporations got a tax break, worth about 2 billion a year, when fully implemented.
However, since revenue continues to precipitously decline, month to month, the General Fund now faces an additional shortfall of 24.5 billion dollars (19 if you don't count the very generous reserve the Governor proposes).
The Governor's Solution: Devastation to the Safety Net
In his "May Revision" proposal to the already-adopted 09-10 budget, as well as the current budget, the Governor proposes such deep cuts that, were they to be adopted, California would become the only state in the nation to have thoroughly destroyed its social safety net. The Legislature is considering alternatives, which will still require deep cuts, but will contain some revenue enhancements, as well.
To set out the discussion for you, here are the Governor's proposals:
* A (somewhat large) reserve fund of 4.5 billion dollars
* 16 billion dollars in additional cuts:
* In education:
o 5.3 billion further reduction to K-12
o 700 million further reduction to Community Colleges
o 1.8 billion in "deferred" spending, including cuts that would do away with 85% of the money spent to transport kids to schools
o 3 billion further reduction for UC and CSU
o 300 million dollars in cuts to Cal Grants, including phasing out the program
* In Health and Human Services- 5.6 billion in cuts, by cutting MediCal, eliminating CalWorks, eliminating Healthy Families (children's healthcare), massive cuts (750 million) to in home support workers, and eliminating adult day healthcare.
* One billion dollar cuts to prisons, a portion of which is realized by eliminating rehabilitation programs.
* Almost two billion in cuts to transportation and another two billion in funds withheld from local governments.
* Cuts all state employees an additional five percent (most have already lost 10% of their income through furloughs)
* Proposes entering into a lease for oil drilling off the coast of Santa Barbara .
* Eliminates all general fund support for State Parks and requires that the entire system operate only on special funds and fees, resulting in the possible closure of 80% of our State Parks.
* Accelerates revenues by 4.7 billion by increasing withholding percentages, tapping fees and shifting funds.
* "Borrows" almost 2 billion from funds the voters and legislature adopted for specific purposes.
* Sells a portion of the State Compensation Insurance Fund.
The Legislature's Options
A joint legislative Conference Committee on the Budget has been holding public hearings every day for the last few weeks to hear from thousands of Californians who are frightened to death by these proposals. The Committee has already rejected eliminating Cal Grant loans and several members of both houses have indicated they cannot, in any kind of conscience, completely eliminate CalWorks and Health Families, and make California the only state with absolutely no safety net for its most vulnerable citizens.
Even so, it is difficult to ascertain whether protection of the safety net will win over a resigned air of inevitability. There appears to be little stomach, however, for balancing the budget purely through cuts. Even though additional, severe cuts must be part of the "solution", the Legislature can take specific steps by majority vote to increase revenues, even temporarily, and to lessen the unacceptable impacts of a "cuts-only" budget fix.
Next: Majority Vote Options and Why They Are Necessary
Barack Obama, it must be admitted, did not campaign for a single payer—or even a public option—healthcare plan. Perhaps he was waiting until after election to propose a bold plan. But if this was the case, he should have gone for the whole pie—meaning a single payer system—right from the start, and persuaded the Democratic leadership to support it, even if they were afeared of antagonizing the mob-right. Obama should have had a coherent plan ready to present to the public, even if he had to borrow one. The single payer system should have been the frontline position to be beaten and battered. The public option should have been the eventual fall-back position. Instead, what we have is single payer system offered-up as a straw man that was quickly blown away, and never seriously considered. The public option is the frontline position, to be beaten and battered into oblivion, no thanks to the cowardly Democrats.
Obama and the Democrats should be aware of the fact that most people want to be lead, and by bold leadership; wishy-washy leadership breeds contempt and apathy—as may well happen in Iran, because if the progressive or moderate Iranian voter feels his or her vote is meaningless, then they will simply drop-out of the process. Democrats have learned nothing from the Republicans during their 12-year control of Congress: they were able to pass laws harmful to the stability of the country even though they never possessed a filibuster-proof majority. They simply had an agenda and never wavered from it. Rather than have a bold plan for the future, Obama has selected economic advisers who are not bold at all in their thinking, and who only want to return the country to the status quo—apparently as it was during the “golden years” of Bush administration. It almost seems as if Obama is doing the cowardly Democratic leadership a “favor” by not being bold.
The refusal to allow an American observer to the conference in Russia should also be a warning that all the flowery talk about the U.S. turning a new foreign relations cheek may have the unintended effect of breeding a lack of respect for and a diminution of U.S. influence and power. If the U.S. cannot get its own house in order, it is nothing more than a paper tiger. How long will superior firepower be able to mask the rotting guts behind it?
I’ve spent the past couple of weeks reading Eugene O’Neill’s drama “The Iceman Cometh,” where a barfull of drunken day-dreamers never act on their dreams. One of them, Larry Slade—a former anarchist and syndicalist (a labor activist supporting trade union control of manufacturing production)—explained why he gave-up his “pipe-dream”:
“I saw men didn't want to be saved from themselves, for that would mean they'd have to give up greed, and they'll never pay that price for liberty.”
“I was born condemned to be one of those who has to see all sides of a question. When you're damned like that, the questions multiply for you until in the end it's all question and no answer. As history proves, to be a worldly success at anything, especially revolution, you have to wear blinders like a horse and see only straight in front of you. You have to see, too, that this is all black, and that is all white.”
The Republicans, for better—or rather, for worse—have recognized the former and taken advantage of it in order to act in the latter manner. The problem with the Democrats is that they allow the former to be an excuse not to do the latter.