June 9th 2009 - Tuesday

hard-core-con-imagesHour One: Is the political outcome in Europe a warming for Democrats here?

Hour Two: "THE LAST BEST HOPE: Restoring Conservatism And America's Promise" Thom challenges Joe Scarborough, host of MSNBC's "Morning Joe" about his new book www.msnbc.msn.com

Hour Three: Is it time to re-open Cuba to the West? JFK historian/co-author (w/Thom) of "Ultimate Sacrifice" and "Legacy of Secrecy" Lamar Waldron guests www.legacyofsecrecy.com


Mark (not verified) 13 years 42 weeks ago

It must be admitted, even by Thom, that there is a dissonance between change and what people are willing to accept to get it. This couldn’t be clearer than in the public desire to close Gitmo, and yet its unwillingness to allow the detainees into this country, even in prison, may keep it open indefinitely. Healthcare and immigration reform are also subjected to this dissonance between what the majority wants and allowing the thing to actually get done. As popular and charismatic as Barack Obama is, we can look to the past and see that being a popular and charismatic president isn’t often enough.

Thom likes to point to Teddy Roosevelt as an example of a president getting things done. But history likes to poke holes in perceived history. In the Lytle/Davidson book “After the Fact: The Art of Historical Detection,” real history shows us that Roosevelt was confronted by many of the same difficulties facing Obama today, and he didn’t usually get everything he wanted. Case in point was the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, which was passed and signed into law by Roosevelt after the uproar following the expose of the meat packing industry in the wake of Upton Sinclair’s novel “The Jungle.”

Passing legislation to insure that the public wasn’t exposed to food that was diseased and rotten seemed like a no-brainer to Roosevelt and his supporters in Congress, and a bill passed easily in the House. The Senate was another matter, where powerful senators in Roosevelt’s own party were in the pockets of the meat packing industry. Even public outrage following the release of a government report that was even more ghastly than Sinclair’s book (Roosevelt’s “big stick” in this case) did not sway these senators. In the end, a thoroughly gutted bill that did not even include dating and seemed ready to go down to defeat from lack of support from angry senators who wanted a tougher bill was signed by Roosevelt, because a watered-down bill was better than no bill at all.

Mark (not verified) 13 years 42 weeks ago

In regard to Thom’s conversation with Scott Wheeler—and in anticipation of his conversation with a former KKK member later this week—I thoroughly disagree with his contention that Clinton’s “marginalizing” of Timothy McVeigh as a lone nut was for the “good” of the country. Tell that to anyone who is a target of hate groups. Other than efforts by organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center, hate groups collect their weapons and prepare for a "race war" virtually unmolested by government and law enforcement officials.

Heavily redacted files forced from the FBI via a FOIA request reveal that only days before the OKC bombing Timothy McVeigh sought assistance from a neo-Nazi named Andreas Strassmeir at a white supremacist/paramilitary compound called Elohim City. At least one of its members were in Oklahoma City the day of the bombing. Yet, thanks to the Clinton administration, all of this was suppressed; this isn’t “conspiracy theory” stuff, it is simple fact. Those who aided McVeigh continue to roam free, and we shouldn’t question their desire to cause mayhem, if given the right atmosphere like the current anti-Latino immigrant sentiment; how many of you recall Michael Moore’s interview with the brother of Terry Nichols in his film “Bowling for Columbine”? In a conversation off-camera, Moore is clearly panicked when this psycho showed him the gun he keeps under his pillow.

A month ago a caller on Ron Reagan’s show suggested that blond, blue-eyed white people had to take off their shoes at airports in order to avert accusations of racism, and Ron joked that this was probably true. My response to him was that it was blond, blue-eyed white people like Timothy McVeigh who were members of groups that constituted the most dangerous home-grown terrorists in this country, and they were being allowed to roam unmolested.

jack (not verified) 13 years 42 weeks ago

Hi Thom,

I used to watch "morning joe" every morning, because I thought that Joe was pretty humorous and reasonable, for a right winger. But his staunch defense of torture and insistence that it produced good results just disgusted me, and I can't watch it any more.

Could you please ask him why he thinks torture was necessary? If he recants, I can watch his show again!

B Roll (not verified) 13 years 42 weeks ago


I think you were a little over the top with your celebration of the victory of pro-western March 14 Alliance in Lebanon. I know you probably had very little information about it, but still, I think it fits into two patterns you continue to repeat.

1) You assume that countries, governments, parties and groups that favor the United States are the good guys, because we’re supposed to be the good guys.

2) You want so much for Barack Obama to be the magical fixit man who is going to make everything better for this country and for this world. And you seem to think that if everyone just loves us, everything will be alright, because we’re good.

The problem with that is, and the record is clear, the elites who run the United States are interested in getting all the wealth and power they can and they have little concern for the harm their actions will cause.

Your enthusiasm for the electoral victory in Lebanon and your belief that Obama’s speech in Cairo, days before the election, has to be based on incomplete information. There are so many factors involved in the election and I know I don’t have enough information or ability to account for everything.

But I know that you said that the “pro-western” vote wouldn’t have been possible with Bush as president. I don’t recall if you said 1 year ago or 4 years ago. But since the last parliamentary election was four years ago, let’s compare results.

The March 14 Alliance won 71 of 128 seats in this election. They won 72 seats in the 2005 election. So in pure numbers, you could say that the “Obama Bump” produced 1 less seat. Of course, you can say a lot happened between 2005 and 2009. The biggest thing being the 2006 Israeli assault and invasion of Lebanon in which the United States did little to restrain Israel. The result was massive deaths and tremendous destruction of the Lebanese infrastructure. So, it’s possible that Obama talking about a more even handed Middle East policy may have swung some voters.

But a June 8 article in the Jerusalem Post notes the observations of Paul Salem, Beirut-based director of the Carnegie Middle East Center as seeing it differently.


“Salem said Obama's outreach may have helped the winning side in the sense that it is no longer seen as a liability in many corners of the Middle East to be aligned with the US.

But Obama's outreach did not appear to have resonated with the electorate as much as a last-minute appeal from head of the influential Maronite Catholic Church. Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir warned voters on the eve of the election of what he called an attempt to change Lebanon's character and its Arab identity, a clear reference to Hizbullah and its Persian backer, Iran.”

Opinions on Obama’s impact may differ, but there is more than one opinion. Maybe we should factor in an implicit warning from Israel that a Hezbollah victory would destabilize the region. That could be frightening coming from a country that reduced much of your country to rubble only 2 years ago and did the same to Gaza less than 6 months ago.

And don’t forget, as you said, the United States gave financial backing to the pro-western March 14 Alliance. I guess it’s OK for our government to spend your tax dollars to meddle in another country’s elections. You might want to reconsider that view when you look at how the U.S. economy is slipping while those of other countries have grown. Who knows who might decide to pour money into our elections?

And what do you know about the March 14 Alliance? The leader of the alliance is Saad Hariri, an MP in the Lebanese Parliament. The name Hariri may be familiar to you since Saad Hariri’s father was Rafiq Hariri, the assassinated former Lebanese Prime Minister. So there may be a bit of a family political dynasty here.

Here are a few Hariri family facts:

Rafiq Hariri was a very successful businessman. In fact, he was so successful that the inheritances each of his children received after his assassination in 2005 put qualified all 4 of his children the Forbes list of the 400 richest people in the world.

Forbes listed Saad Hariri as the 156th richest person in the world with a net worth of around $4.1 billion in 2006. By 2008, he had slipped to the 334th richest with a net worth of around $3.3 billion. Maybe the will had a clause that he had to get rid of around $1 billion in order to keep the rest. That would be a great idea for a movie.

Both the 2006 and 2008 Forbes listings show Saad Hariri’s country of citizenship and residence as Saudi Arabia, and the family construction business is named Saudi Oger with annual revenues of $9 billion. I’m guessing that Hariri has duel citizenship, but the brief bio in the Forbes list said that Saad Hariri ““Takes cover in Riyadh when security gets shaky in Beirut.” It lists him having residences in Riyahd, Saudi Arabia, the Middle East & Africa. (I thought Saudi Arabia and Lebanon were both in the Middle East.

Something you didn’t address is the question of who makes up this pro-western alliance. Of course, Hariri’s moderate Future Movement is the largest party, with the most seats in the parliament. There are many other parties. You might be familiar with the Progressive Socialist Party headed by Walid Jumblat, the fiercely anti-Israel Druze leader. Don’t worry, he’s also fiercely anti-Syria and anti-Iran. And the alliance also includes the Phalangists, who I’m sure you’re familiar with. As you recall, the Phalangists carried out the massacre of hundreds of Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Beirut when the Israeli Defense Forces let them into the camps after occupying the city.

So, the pro-western March 14 Alliance includes some folks you might not want to go to a wine tasting party with. But hey, they’re kind of pro-western, for now.

By the way, you didn’t mention that among the countries supporting the March 14 Alliance are those beacons of democracy, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

So what were you celebrating yesterday? It seems to me that if you like a country to be led by super wealthy plutocratic carpet-bagging oligarchs allied with murderous cutthroats and backed by some very undemocratic countries and a country described by Martin Luther King, Jr. as “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today”, I guess you can party hearty Thom Hartmann.

As for Obama’s popularity in the area, let’s see how it holds up when the people see the following:

Obama plans on keeping a residual force of tens of thousands in Iraq and is ramping up the war in Afghanistan, and still has around 250,000 private contractors in the two countries.

Obama is increasing the use of high flying drones for attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan causing increasing civilian deaths.

Obama is planning on spending over $750 million to build a huge embassy (around the size of 80 football fields) in Pakistan,

Of course, many people noticed that in his Cairo speech, Obama told the Palestinians that they should abandon violence, but didn’t tell the Israelis to do the same. He told the Israelis that “new” settlements on the West Bank (aka the future Palestinian state) aren’t acceptable, but said nothing about the existing settlements which take up a large portion and some of the best land there.

But lets deal with the important questsion: Thomas Jefferson, boxers or briefs?

edward capo bch (not verified) 13 years 42 weeks ago


brian a. hayes (not verified) 13 years 42 weeks ago

.we need to think of our country as a human body. to have a heathy life everything must be functioning corectly. every organ must be in harmony with the others. the head could be like the goverment and business. the trunk of the body is the commons of the nation. the arms and legs are the people of the nation.

Lore (not verified) 13 years 42 weeks ago

'WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER' is the ad that runs at various times for Michigan. This is done by Gov Granholm and others to pull the people of Michigan together. It can also work for all of the nation.

Quark (not verified) 13 years 42 weeks ago

You can see the Republicans ramping up their faux populist propaganda. This morning, Nora O'Donnell questioned House Minority Whip Eric Cantor on MSNBC. Cantor said that the stimulus package was not addressing the needs of small business as well as the massive loss of jobs in this country (plus creating unsustainable debt.)

I nearly fell off my chair! When did the Republics (in recent memory) seem to care about those basic national issues?

O'Donnell corrected a few of Cantor's more outrageous statements. Nevertheless, I was chilled to hear Cantor take on this populist mantel.

Here's an example of the rhetoric:

Obama's disapproval rating on the economy has risen from 30 percent in February to 42 percent, according to a Gallup poll completed May 31. Sensing weakness on a signature issue of Obama's presidency, congressional Republicans are renewing their criticisms that the stimulus plan has not shown results, only mounting debt.

"This is President Obama's economy, and his administration must provide results and specifics rather than vague descriptions of success that seem to change by the week," said House Republican Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia. "The administration looks dramatically out of touch as they highlight the creation of temporary summer employment in the face of job losses unseen in decades, record unemployment and massive deficits."


Richard Adlof (not verified) 13 years 42 weeks ago

RE Panetta's pronouncement today on torture picts & video . . . :

"Too big to fail" means the trust-busters need to do their job.

"Too dangerous to release" means the legal system needs to do its job.

brian a. hayes (not verified) 13 years 42 weeks ago

if you want to understand milton freidman check out a youtube titled milton freidman and greed.

brian a. hayes (not verified) 13 years 42 weeks ago

also read naomi kleins shock doctrine to learn more on milton freidman.

B Roll (not verified) 13 years 42 weeks ago


I'm baffled about what you are cynical about at times.

You talked about the right using electronic voting machines to maniupulate election results. OK, I'm with you there.

Then you talk about a situation in South Dakota (I think) in which a an alleged voting machine glitch added 500 votes in a precinct with 800 voters. You expressed your cynicism by say something like, "Yeah, a glitch."

I know people don't always think out their scams very well, but it doesn't make sense to jack up the vote by over 60% in a place where it would easily be noticed, which it was. What would the point be. If it was a test run, it could easily be tried out in private. It wouldn't take very long for a few people to cast 800 votes in a real life simulation.

The idea of pulling an electoral scam is to be able to get away with it. Of course, you could say that the idea was to get caught to get the public accustomed to the idea that that voting machines fail.

My frog... they're so brilliantly devious. How can we ever beat them!!!

brian a. hayes (not verified) 13 years 42 weeks ago

hey jo didn't raegan spend and spend on star wars. didn't regain put us in debt. it wasn't just bush its a conservitive thing spend lower taxes and put us in debt.

brian a. hayes (not verified) 13 years 42 weeks ago

did raegan every balance a budget? hell no

brian a. hayes (not verified) 13 years 42 weeks ago

listening to newt gingrich speech yestday. after the speech i felt that you must be a christian to be a member of the rebulican party.

ABC (not verified) 13 years 42 weeks ago

Would not it be easier for us progressives to take over the Republican party ! lol- sorry, I jest- but then....as George Bernard Shaw said, there is no such thing as a joke.

Please have the ilk of Morning Joe on again. He seemed at least a reasonable person.

B Roll (not verified) 13 years 42 weeks ago


I don't think you're realistic about the heyday of American capitalism. You often say tht the United States used to be an importer of raw materials and an exporter of manufactured goods. You say that like that was a good thing.

It may have been a good thing for the American economy and American workers may have benefited from it, but it relied on getting the raw materials from other countries at low prices which meant the impoverishment of the masses of people in those countries.

Maybe Hugo Chavez should give you a copy of Eduardo Galeano's "The Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent". The story is in the subtitle.

I think you refuse to accept the fact that capitalism, which developed in Europe and North America first, was built on pillaging the human and natural resources Africa, Asia (including South Asia) and the Americas. To a large extent, it still does so, even though some of the most dynamic capitalist economies are now based in Asia. They still get their resources from the less developed countries of the South and often set up factories in those areas.

Richard Adlof (not verified) 13 years 42 weeks ago

What I will think about when I hear Joe Scarborough . . .


Yes, everyone requires a vigorous defense BUT somethings are less than defensible.

Quark (not verified) 13 years 42 weeks ago


I was pulled out (1 of 4 people chosen from our high school) as a gifted student, too. Every year we went to the UW-Madison (WI) to take tests and be interviewed. Nothing ever came of it, though. (There was no early graduation allowed.)

BTW, I was pleasantly surprised to hear Joe Scarborough sound so rational. 'Gives me some hope.

onit2day (not verified) 13 years 42 weeks ago

Medicare is a deficit only because the elderly and disabled (biggest users of health care ins) are the only ones allowed. If we had Medicare for all it would always be solvent. You let Scarborough get away with his ignorant propaganda of how will we pay for it...Medicare will be bankrupt blah blah blah. The "big decisions" Joe is stopping the profiteering from greedy private ins. We'd have no problem paying for Medicare for all as it would amount to less than 10% of what we are currently paying AND include dental. A $1.7 Billion CEO package goes along way in covering the uninsured.

Are you getting too busy to prepare for your guests Thom? If Joe Scarborough has one moment of clarity he thinks he's a genius. Leaders of both parties are members of the "Money Party". Joe is an idiot and nothing he said was anymore than appeasement. Medicare for all is single payer not for profit and Joe is furthest away from ending the profiteering as possible. You don't know Joe or you would know how full of shit he is...he is an embarrassment and is willfully ignorant...just question him and you'll see. Thom you are so easily mislead in your desire to avoid conflict. Joe is a blatant idiot and you gave him a pass.

B Roll (not verified) 13 years 42 weeks ago

Joe Scarborough still is a right wing crazy on his show.

How hard was it to be "right on Katrina"? Is this the limbo? The bar keeps getting lower and lower.

Dwight Eisenhower overthrew Mossadegh in Iran for the sake of British Petroleum and overthrew Arbenz for the sake of the United Fruit Country.

I dislike Ike.

Quark (not verified) 13 years 42 weeks ago

Onit2day and B Roll,

I need to listen to the Scarborough segment again. I must have missed much of what you heard.

I guess the absense of shouting (from Joe) lulled me into a false sense of contentment! (LOL)


Mary Landreau has not been a particularly reliable Democrat in the past. This is more of the same behavior.

brian a. hayes (not verified) 13 years 42 weeks ago

thom, what are the tricks that conservitives do to get their books to #1 on the new yorks times best sellers list? i once heard they buy their own books in bulk.then some conservitive websites give them out as gifts if you buy the websites magazine.

AZAFVET (not verified) 13 years 42 weeks ago

Mary Landrieu's phones were busy so I sent her the following email even though I know she will never read it.

Because of you opposition to single payer, or any public option for health insurance that would benefit the poor people of your state whom you obviously care little about, I will be sending a campaign to your opponent in your next election. I am a real Democrat and having said that, I will send a donation to your Republican opponent should you survive a primary just to remove you from office.

You are a female Benedict Arnold.

DRichards (not verified) 13 years 42 weeks ago

I too was impressed with what little I heard from Joe Scarborough. He reminded me of the republican party I once knew.

Gabriel (not verified) 13 years 42 weeks ago

People of Nebraska and Louisana (Nelson and Landrieu) please get on your senators case about the public option. Call or go to their office if you have to. This is going to be a huge battle and we need your help.

onit2day (not verified) 13 years 42 weeks ago

One thing ignored and unexplained about JFK's assassination is the video clip showing the secret service being told to stand down and get off JFK's limo as it took off on its route...the one where the SS agent throws his arms out in disbelief as he was told to get off the car where he was "supposed" to stand. Only the SS had the authority to remove him at that moment. Hope your guest will explain that.

Jared Allaway (not verified) 13 years 42 weeks ago

What was the website for the Harvey J Kaye, Thomas Paine Promise of America?

B Roll (not verified) 13 years 42 weeks ago


I didn't base my comment about Scarborough on today's interview. I based it on what I've heard from him on TV. There was a time, when he was speaking out against the Iraq war when he seemed to be becoming reasonable, But after a while, he started slipping to the right again. It was like someone whispered something in his ear.

ABC (not verified) 13 years 42 weeks ago

When I type in www.dealeyplaza.net I get re routed to http://www.jfk.org/ is this right?

B Roll (not verified) 13 years 42 weeks ago

P.S.: In relation to my post about Scarborough and Eisenhower above and for people who may not know:

Mohammed Mossadegh was the democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran in the early 1950s. He ran afoul of the western powers when he decided to nationalize Iranian oil because Britain was taking an unfair share of the profits. This upset the Brits who asked President Harry Truman to help them get rid of the Mossadegh government. Truman said, “No.”

The Brits asked again when our hero Dwight Eisenhower became president. He said, “Okie Dokie,” and the CIA engineered the overthrow of Mossedegh and the installation of the playboy Shah of Iran who had been partying it up in Europe. Decades of brutal rule ensued. The Shah’s secret police, the SAVAK, trained by the U.S. and Israel, were infamous for their brutality.

Jacobo Arbenz Guzman, usually referred to as Arbenz was the democratically elected president of Guatemala. He was liberal, but not as liberal as Franklin Roosevelt. He was ousted in a CIA organized coup. He got on the wrong side of our country when his government decided to buy some of the vast unused land holdings of United Fruit Company, the largest landowner in Guatemala, with 85% of its holdings uncultivated. The Guatemalans decided this unused land could be used to grow food to feed their country.

To determine what they should pay for the land, they looked at how the United Fruit Company valued the land on its tax returns. Well, it seems that the United Fruit Company listed the land at a very low value so they could pay very low taxes. The Guatemalan government offered to pay United Fruit Company the value they listed on their tax returns. United Fruit Company wasn’t very happy. That made Eisenhower unhappy, so he told the CIA to get rid of Arbenz, which they did in 1954. Tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of Guatemalans were killed and tortured in the following decades. The United States and the repressive Guatemalan government have been on pretty good terms since then.

One of my big issues with Thom Hartmann is that he knows about these incidents and many more, but he refuses to include this information in his views on this country and its foreign policy. But these things are important because the U.S. has been doing this for quite a while.

Reading recommendations: “The People’s History of the United States” by Howard Zinn, “Overthrow” by Stephen Kinzer (a very middle of the road journalist), and “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” by John Perkins. Thom knows all these books, but it seems he can’t handle these truths.

Quark (not verified) 13 years 42 weeks ago

B Roll,

Thanks for the history lesson. I've read a couple of the books you referenced, but have forgotten about some of these events.

Once again, the military and corporate industrial complex shows how it runs the world.

DRichards (not verified) 13 years 42 weeks ago

Re: What was the website for the Harvey J Kaye, Thomas Paine Promise of America?


Quark (not verified) 13 years 42 weeks ago

B Roll,

It sounds a little like Eisenhower may have made his "beware the military industrial complex" remarks with hindsight regret, since he didn't seem to have a problem using the military for some of these pro-corporate, antidemocratic ventures.

B Roll (not verified) 13 years 42 weeks ago


You may be right. Eisenhower may have felt regrets later in his life. Smedley Butler felt that way after serving over 3 decades in the military. He said that most of the time he spent in the military he was "...a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism..."

There's a good short article on him at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smedley_Butler It has that full quote.

Thom's Blog Is On the Move

Hello All

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From Unequal Protection, 2nd Edition:
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