July 13th 2009 - Monday
Quote: I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear--- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Hour One: "Federal hate crimes law...is protection for one group discrimination against another?" Thom confronts Pastor Bill Keller www.liveprayer.com
Hour Two: Is it time now to break Ford and Clinton's precedents and begin to hold even Presidents responsible for their actions?
Hour Three: "Where in the world is President Obama considered a 'conservative'?!" Thom speaks with activist/author George Lakey www.trainingforchange.org
John McCain was just unreal on "Meet the Press" yesterday. He stated very clearly that water-boarding was torture, that the US was guilty of it and that the orders came from the top circles, but of course there should be no investigation.
The Pretzel Logic makes my head hurt.
ISRAEL IS THE SECOND GREATEST STATE SPONSOR OF RIGHTWING TERRORISM, MASS MURDER, APARTHEID, INHUMAN RIGHTS AND FASCISM IN THE WORLD.
AND THOM IS AN ENABLER, HYPOCRITE AND EXCUSE MAKER
WHAT A SHAMEFUL EXCUSE FOR "HUMAN BEING" WHO CLAIMS TO BE ENLIGHTENED AND PROGRESSIVE.
HE'S NEITHER....SEE WHAT THE BLOODTHIRSTY KKKRISTIAN CULT AND ITS INDOCTRINATION DICTATES?
As bad as the economy is now, it seems to me that it has been in slow-burn mode for some time. I was recently informed by two acquaintances at an athletic apparel and shoe company I formerly worked for that there was talk of bankruptcy, and then rumors of the company being bought out. I haven’t been able to confirm this, and my personal feelings about the situation are decidedly ambivalent in any case. When I was first employed at this company, it was good times: they had acquired a large account from a major shoe retailer, and had healthy business with a few other sporting goods chains. A second warehouse was leased for the following year, to be stocked with “healthy” quantities of every style and size shoe in the catalogue, with the promise of same-day shipping for every order received. But there was a catch: these “sales” were already in large part transactions made before September 11, 2001; while bulk shipments looked good on paper, how they looked on the account sheets was a mirage. Perhaps 9-11 created some initial consumer insecurity, but it couldn’t account for all of the long, drawn-out fall of sales for products there whose quality was just a good as the competitors, if not better.
It was like the phony money of a stock market bubble; what looked good on paper inevitably collapsed. The next year saw the second warehouse filled with tens of thousands of cases of shoes from bulk orders that had been abruptly canceled, followed by tens of thousands of unsold shoes, courtesy of an overly generous return policy that the larger competitors would never have agreed to. The “healthy” stock of every shoe turned out to be decidedly unhealthy. By the end of the year most of the large excess was sold-off—for a fraction of the wholesale cost—to some cut-rate distributor. The company still turned a profit, or so we were told, probably through some creative accounting. But sales went down every succeeding year; large accounts that were lost were replaced by smaller accounts, or small companies were acquired to make it appear the company was “growing,” but instead turned-out to be liabilities. After losing another major sporting goods chain account, a major retail chain account was acquired, except the financial terms of the deal insured that the company made almost no money from it. The competition was doing the same thing, but they were bigger and had more resources..
Inevitably, the company couldn’t do enough creative accounting to hide the fact that it was in the red. Someone had to be blamed. The “chief operating officer,” who I had first mistook for a refugee from a trailer park (her view of me was certainly from that perspective), had little to do save insinuate herself in the minutiae of warehouse operations, much to the annoyance of the warehouse manager. Since she couldn’t control him, she instigated his removal and brought in a man with no warehouse managerial experience, who she could control; whenever someone’s management “style” is “hands-on,” you know you’re in trouble. This move, based on a personality as well as a power clash, had little effect on sales, needless-to-say.. At the same time, major shipping companies like UPS and FedEx were losing revenue, so instead of charging a flat rate over a certain weight, they started charging by package dimension, regardless of weight. Customer complaints concerning shipping charges soon started rolling in, and in order to satisfy prima donna customers, ground rates were billed for air shipments, which obliged the company to eat the remaining cost—since it didn’t ship enough product to make it profitable for UPS or FedEx to offer a substantial cut-rate charge. More and more product had to be sold at or below wholesale just to keep sales going; “fire sales” became more and more common. Paranoia and fear took hold every time a meeting was called, “only” to be told hours were going to be cut, as well as cuts in benefits with greater out-of-pocket expenses. The company was still “healthy,” we were told. But inevitably employees were let-go, mainly the people who occupied the “downstairs.” I feel fortunate now that I was one of them.
The point of this story, I think, is that this occurred well before the “official” recession began. During the Bush years, we were told that the “fundamentals” of the economy was “strong”; yet here on the ground, it seemed like the economy was clearly weak. The rising stock markets suggested that all was well, yet from what I could tell, it was always a “recession.”
The last 2 paragraphs of your blog today, "Time to Restore Accountability", are PERFECT!
PLEASE send them to the White House, get them in the face of people in this administration and let's see if we can't resolve these issues, break from our past, and start to be the AMERICA our founders dreamed of once again.
What color is the sky on YOUR world, man?
It must be nice to live in a place where absolutely EVERYTHING is either a deep, dark black, or a pure-as-fresh-snowfall white. That kind of thinking certainly simplifies things - everyone either agrees with you 100%, or is wrong, and should be eliminated. Although your initial opinions differ greatly, I personally have trouble differentiating such a world view like yours from the one held by, say, Dick Cheney.
Unfortuneately (or perhaps NOT!) for me, my world includes, at the very least, 256 shades of gray.
Sen. John Cornyn has just said that the Supremem Court has overstepped its bounds by deciding the rules of golf in PGA Tour, Inc. v. Martin. According to Wikipedia, the holding in that case was "The PGA Tour is required to adhere to the Americans with Disabilities Act." Wow, what was the SC thinking, making someone obey the law, huh?
Sen. Cornyn is also apparently ignorant of the 9th Amendment, since he keeps saying that the Supreme Court has created rights that aren't written down anywhere.
Yes, this DID happen before the official recession began. It started with Reagan and went on steroids with the greed and crimes in the last Bush administrations.
It looks as though Paul Krugman could almost have written his column with some of your comments in mind:
Boiling the Frog
Is America on its way to becoming a boiled frog?
I’m referring, of course, to the proverbial frog that, placed in a pot of cold water that is gradually heated, never realizes the danger it’s in and is boiled alive. Real frogs will, in fact, jump out of the pot — but never mind. The hypothetical boiled frog is a useful metaphor for a very real problem: the difficulty of responding to disasters that creep up on you a bit at a time.
And creeping disasters are what we mostly face these days.
I started thinking about boiled frogs recently as I watched the depressing state of debate over both economic and environmental policy. These are both areas in which there is a substantial lag before policy actions have their full effect — a year or more in the case of the economy, decades in the case of the planet — yet in which it’s very hard to get people to do what it takes to head off a catastrophe foretold.
And right now, both the economic and the environmental frogs are sitting still while the water gets hotter.
Start with economics: last winter the economy was in acute crisis, with a replay of the Great Depression seeming all too possible. And there was a fairly strong policy response in the form of the Obama stimulus plan, even if that plan wasn’t as strong as some of us thought it should have been.
At this point, however, the acute crisis has given way to a much more insidious threat. Most economic forecasters now expect gross domestic product to start growing soon, if it hasn’t already. But all the signs point to a “jobless recovery”: on average, forecasters surveyed by The Wall Street Journal believe that the unemployment rate will keep rising into next year, and that it will be as high at the end of 2010 as it is now.
Now, it’s bad enough to be jobless for a few weeks; it’s much worse being unemployed for months or years. Yet that’s exactly what will happen to millions of Americans if the average forecast is right — which means that many of the unemployed will lose their savings, their homes and more.
To head off this outcome — and remember, this isn’t what economic Cassandras are saying; it’s the forecasting consensus — we’d need to get another round of fiscal stimulus under way very soon. But neither Congress nor, alas, the Obama administration is showing any inclination to act. Now that the free fall is over, all sense of urgency seems to have vanished.
This will probably change once the reality of the jobless recovery becomes all too apparent. But by then it will be too late to avoid a slow-motion human and social disaster.
Still, the boiled-frog problem on the economy is nothing compared with the problem of getting action on climate change.
Put it this way: if the consensus of the economic experts is grim, the consensus of the climate experts is utterly terrifying. At this point, the central forecast of leading climate models — not the worst-case scenario but the most likely outcome — is utter catastrophe, a rise in temperatures that will totally disrupt life as we know it, if we continue along our present path. How to head off that catastrophe should be the dominant policy issue of our time.
But it isn’t, because climate change is a creeping threat rather than an attention-grabbing crisis. The full dimensions of the catastrophe won’t be apparent for decades, perhaps generations. In fact, it will probably be many years before the upward trend in temperatures is so obvious to casual observers that it silences the skeptics. Unfortunately, if we wait to act until the climate crisis is that obvious, catastrophe will already have become inevitable.
And while a major environmental bill has passed the House, which was an amazing and inspiring political achievement, the bill fell well short of what the planet really needs — and despite this faces steep odds in the Senate.
What makes the apparent paralysis of policy especially alarming is that so little is happening when the political situation seems, on the surface, to be so favorable to action.
After all, supply-siders and climate-change-deniers no longer control the White House and key Congressional committees. Democrats have a popular president to lead them, a large majority in the House of Representatives and 60 votes in the Senate. And this isn’t the old Democratic majority, which was an awkward coalition between Northern liberals and Southern conservatives; this is, by historical standards, a relatively solid progressive bloc.
And let’s be clear: both the president and the party’s Congressional leadership understand the economic and environmental issues perfectly well. So if we can’t get action to head off disaster now, what would it take?
I don’t know the answer. And that’s why I keep thinking about boiling frogs.
How is it that Keller gets tax free status when he makes blatantly political statements on his website?
Here's a screen capture of the liveprayer homepage with a couple of items highlighted: http://tinypic.com/r/jq5lid/3
It seems to me that most of us, the lowly taxpayers, are really on the same "side" but don't seem to know it. We are ALL angry about what is happening to US and OUR COUNTRY. It's too bad we can't realize that we are fighting the same "enemy." That occurred to me when I was reading Frank Rich's op-ed piece in yesterday's NYTimes. Here's the excerpt that jumped out at me:
She Broke the G.O.P. and Now She Owns It
"It’s more likely that she (Sarah Palin) will never get anywhere near the White House, and not just because of her own limitations. The Palinist “real America” is demographically doomed to keep shrinking. But the emotion it represents is disproportionately powerful for its numbers. It’s an anger that Palin enjoyed stoking during her “palling around with terrorists” crusade against Obama on the campaign trail. It’s an anger that’s curdled into self-martyrdom since Inauguration Day.
Its voice can be found in the postings at a Web site maintained by the fans of Mark Levin, the Obama hater who is, at this writing, the No.2 best-selling hardcover nonfiction writer in America. (Glenn Beck is No.1 in paperback nonfiction.) Politico surveyed them last week. “Bottomline, do you know of any way we can remove these idiots before this country goes down the crapper?” wrote one Levin fan. “I WILL HELP!!! Should I buy a gun?” Another called for a new American revolution, promising “there will be blood.”
These are the cries of a constituency that feels disenfranchised — by the powerful and the well-educated who gamed the housing bubble, by a news media it keeps being told is hateful, by the immigrants who have taken some of their jobs, by the African-American who has ended a white monopoly on the White House. Palin is their born avatar. She puts a happy, sexy face on ugly emotions, and she can solidify her followers’ hold on a G.O.P. that has no leaders with the guts or alternative vision to stand up to them or to her.
For a week now, critics in both parties have had a blast railing at Palin. It’s good sport. But just as the media muttering about those unseemly “controversies” rallied the fans of the King of Pop, so are Palin’s political obituaries likely to jump-start her lucrative afterlife."
'Loved you comment:
"Unfortunately (or perhaps NOT!) for me, my world includes, at the very least, 256 shades of gray."
I live there, too.
As Mr. Hartmann stated last week, the arc of SCOTUS Chief Justice Roberts’ career has been about providing full personhood without limit on corporate entities. President Obama has nominated an arguably pro-corporatist to the bench. Our good recessivist friends in the Senate are vilifying this Nominee for not being a white, Anglo-Saxon male.
INQUIRY: Is it right for me to rally behind overt racism in the hope of America avoiding dissolution of human rights for flesh and blood humans?
SIDE NOTE INQUIRY: If corporations are persons, is dissolving a corporation murder/suicide?
INQUIRY: Am I being obtuse?
Quark - Thanx ... I kinda think that's where most of us (the folks that Thom calls "the smartest listeners in America") live.
Richard Adlof - (1) Even given Ms. Sotomayor's apparently "pro-corporate" past, I sincerely doubt that she's another Roberts or Scalia - they are pure ideologues, and I believe that Ms. Sotomayor does indeed have a thoughtful side. (2) Maybe - but this also begs the question of whether corporate acquisitions (the buying and selling of their own kind) amount to legalized slavery. (3) Obviously, you are - intentionally, I tend to think. ;)
I thought Slumdog Millionaire was brilliant because the story line ironically interested our capitalist society and brought millions and millions of viewers to witness and empathize with the victims of sex trade.Slumdog Millionaire created more coverage of the chilhood sex trade and sex trade in general in countries around the world.
The very sad exploitation of the young actors occurred when the surreal world of Hollywood money and the movie-making process intersected with the economic conditions of the homeless actors. There should have been much more support for the actors and their families, who were basically used and then tossed aside after the movie was made. The paycheck was simply not enough support.
Artists often objectify the object of their art. Once they are done with them, all loyalties seem to disappear as well. There is something not quite right about that, especially when the finished piece of art takes on a huge life of its own and has so much power. That's another downside of capitalism, where profit and fame outweigh common-sense ethics.
Re: Bruno -
Sascha Baron Cohen developed a total of 3 characters for the series that HBO gave him a few years back - Ali G., Borat, and Bruno. Borat was ALWAYS the strongest of them. The Ali G. movie, his first film, tanked so badly that few even remember that it was made. The success of the Borat film probably has as much to do with the timing of it's release as anything else - we were kinda ready at that point to laugh at an "Archie Bunker" from another country. It made a TON of $$$ though, which pretty much gauranteed that this film, based on the weakest character from the series, would be made.
Mr. Cohen must now either (1) fade into the obscurity of "where are they now" (Now appearing at the Yakov Smirnov Theater in beautiful Branson, MO ...), or (2) Come up with something NEW!
I agree with Boris31, the pretzel logic makes my head hurt too. It's unbelievable!
Martin Luther King Jr said, "It is always the right time to do the right thing."
What precedent do we set if we allow our Presidents to perform coup de tat on our highest office.
I tend to agree about Judge Sotomayor being a thoughtful individual who makes decisions about the law within the law AND my issue with the make up of SCOTUS is the appalling lack of a Liberal Lion on the Court. At present, SCOTUS is made-up of four recessivists, one right leaner and three middle centrists. President Obama is tossing in another centrist, a very able centrist to be sure, BUT still a centrist who displays a well-defined centrist nature.
My inner Edmund Burke is shouting at itself.
Have you ever had (economic?) "forecaster Dr. William Halal" on your show? I would love to know what you think about his recent conversation with Lionel. He's predicting an economic boom by 2015:
Have you ever had (economic?) forecaster Dr. William Halal on your show? In a recent discussion with Lionel, he predicted an economic boom by 2015. I would love to know what you think about that:
Obama listed 'fair trade' as one of his foundational principles when running.
"Fair trade" and "free trade" are to divergent concepts.
The IDEAL Supreme Court, of course, Richard, would consist of NINE thoughtful centrists - and while appointing a "Liberal Lion" would move this court in the direction of a greater balance, it does not move us any closer to that ideal.
Yes, I do realize that this leaves me open to the arguement of the perfect becoming the enemy of the good. That's the unfortunate aspect of living in a world where gray exists.
Since the US is so close to becoming a fully fascist state it is time to start rethinking our allegiances. I suggest we start with the Pledge of Allegiance:
I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Corporations for which it stands, one Nation under paid, divisible, with intolerance and injustice for some.
I would be interested to know what concrete consequences Mr. Hartmann thinks there would be if there is no accountability, for any Bush era illegal actions, both short term and long term. Ive listened but i havent heard him elaborate on this issue.
I understand your "IDEAL Supreme Court" on an intellectual level. However, I still think there is something to be said for having "Supremes" who represent multiple political aspects of our population (maybe in proportion to the percentage in society.) That is, since we don't have a population comprised soley of centrists, maybe the Supreme Court shouldn't be, either.
What do you think?
Carrying god’s name before you into vain pursuits is a sin. Claiming that you are speaking in God’s behave in any earthly pursuit is a sin.
Politicians are masters of the earthly . . . and the pretense on anything else is ungodly.
Yes, I know fair trade and free trade are two divergent concepts. Those of us who worked on the campaign know that Obama prefers fair trade. so this is why I think he is being over powered by the blue dogs and still the republicans. I imagine Obama is stirring up quite a pot, but he is wanting to present a unified front, you know, to make it look like he has it all under control while at the same time, saying to us, his HELP!!!!!
In short, I imagine President Obama listening to Thom and thinking 'right on brother! "keep 'making me do my job" - keep helping me sell my ideas to these craggy old cobby webby washington behind the belters!
The ideal court would contain nine folk committed to justice and the Constitution; no matter what their personal ideology leads them to in their personal lives. There is little historical evidence that any individual that holds at their core a recessivist mindset can adequately perform the grave duty of interpreting the vibrant revolutionary document, our Constitution.
I who prefer that the Court be made up of nine distinctly motivated, even divergent, mindsets with a love of freedom.
President Obama has never pretended to be anything other than a just-right-of-the-middle-of-the-road centrist. It is our fault, if we depend on our personal projections of a progressive nature embodied by President Obama. If President Obama is ever to be progressive, We, the People, will have to drag his arse kicking and screaming there.
This a.m., Pres. Obama announced his nominee for surgeon general: LA doctor Regina Benjamin. She sounds like a compassionate healer who has put her own economic safety aside to help poor people in her community and who really cares about helping people. Obama also said that we shouldn't give up on real healthcare reform:
I think if we realized that Obama was getting so much campaign money from Goldman Sachs, we might have seen him in a clearer light. However, I would say we were deceived.
If anyone gets time, can you read Ron Wyden's response and my response to his response and let me know if I'm on the right track, here. The healthcare reform debate is very complicated and I'm feeling very confused.
Here's his response to my first letter:
Dear Ms. Long:
Thank you for contacting me regarding the issue of including a public option in health reform. I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue.
I have clearly stated, and want you to know, that I am very open to a national public option if accompanied by real, comprehensive health reform, and if the underlying legislation is responsibly and sustainably financed.
You may also be interested to know that my bill, the Healthy Americans Act, S.391, not only allows a public option in states that want one, but also requires a public option if a state doesn't have at least two health plans offering everyone benefits just like members of Congress have today. This will ensure that all Americans have high quality and affordable coverage.
In addition, the Healthy Americans Act provides universal, affordable, guaranteed coverage that can never be taken away. Individuals would get a choice of health plans with benefits just like Members of Congress have now. Insurance companies would be prohibited from charging you more if you are sick or older, nor could they refuse to provide you health coverage if you have a pre-existing condition. Health insurance would no longer need to be tied to where you work. Individuals can keep the coverage they have or can purchase coverage through statewide or regional agencies called Health Help Agencies. Individuals and families who aren’t able to pay the full cost of health insurance would be subsidized on a sliding scale to help assure that their health care coverage will be affordable and every bit the equal of those more financially-fortunate. If you would like more information about my bill, it is available on my website at http://wyden.senate.gov.
Again, thank you for keeping me apprised of issues that are important to you. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I may be of assistance in the future.
United States Senator
Here's my response to his response.
Am I being too rude, and am I on track?
Dear Senator Wyden,
I very much appreciate your response to my letter. I am very concerned with your approach to health care reform because it does not seem realistic to me. The insurance industry has systematically, over the last decade, developed a business model where executives and employees are rewarded for NOT providing the care they promised to provide. You would have to basically turn robber barons into compassionate, ethical human beings overnight to make your plan work and I do not think this is possible.
In Germany, where private insurance companies provide coverage with" sickness plans", those insurance companies are NON-PROFIT insurance companies. The behavior of our US insurance industry leaders would have landed them in jail in most civilized countries. Your plan continues to put the fox in charge of the chicken coop and I cannot support such a plan.
This is a simplistic analogy, but one that fits. When you are doing the dishes and have a pan full of dirty dishwater, if you only pour out 1/2 of the dirty dish water and pour clean water on top of the dirty dish water, would you still wash your dishes in that water? No. It would be extremely unhealthy.
The only solution for health care reform is not-for-profit health care rather than a model based on capitalistic values. If we are mailing our letters or picking up our dry-cleaning, we need efficient, fast service. If we are discussing our health, we need doctors and caregivers with the ethics of healers whose compassionate, spiritual ethics are nurtured by those who pay them. The ethics of capitalism and profit-mongering obviously do not work when it comes to health care. Our vulnerable hard-working citizens and our economy has witnessed just how destructive a for-profit health care model can be.
You are leading us in the wrong direction with your health care plan and because you are backed by insurance money, I question your inner guidance on the plan you have designed. Please meditate on exactly what it means to have a health care system focused on healing rather than capitalistic values and incorporate the answers you receive from your meditation into your plan. We will stand up for you, if you do the right thing. You do not need the money from the insurance companies because you have us, your constituents, who very badly need you to make the right decision in this incredibly important time in history.
I have a somewhat sad health care story:. I have received exploitative, unconscionable care over the years. Having to cobble together my own coverage without consistent care has created many many avoidable sadnesses in my life.
Thank you for your time,
Loretta M Long
My Norwegian grandmother would often tell me that she thought the people in the United States didn't feel a connection to their towns/homes/communities - that in Norway people knew that their ancestors had lived there for centuries /that their children would live there for centuries and each generation goverened the land, the community with the past and the future in mind.
You have to hand it to Thom, he is not afraid of pitting his views against the wackiest righ-wing bughouse loons in the country. Case in point, of course, is Bill Keller, whose most recent pronouncements from his personal insane asylum he calls a religious ministry included labeling Oprah as the most dangerous woman in the world (she isn't THAT dangerous), and that Michael Jackson, if one believes in a hell, is centainly on his way their this very moment. Although he was critical of the Yankee Mitt Romney, most of his ire is directed at non-whites. The fact is, if you have race on the brain, and you as a white person have this incomprehensible idea that you (or those who represent your majority power position) don't control all the levers of society (whites gave affirmative action, and whites took it away, just as an example), then maybe you really are just a little racist.
How about that --- the DLC started by "The Family." I want to know more about THAT!
I'd be reading my morning paper on the beach if I were "Jake from Maui." LOL
Has anyone noticed that Dick Cheney has shut up?
To Loretta Long -
GREAT reply! If you are looking for suggested changes, I have two, both in the next-to-the-last paragraph -
1) ... because you are backed by insurance COMPANY money ...
2) substitute PROFIT for capitalistic values, i. e., ... healing rather than profit ...
I find nothing at all rude in what you've written, and I feel you are right on track!
It appears to me that the personal experiences and prejudices (YES! - he used that word ... or at least he said she did!) of Senator Jeff Sessions will lead him to vote against Judge Sotomayor's appointment to the bench - but THAT's OK ... right??!!
Pretzel logic indeed! :)
Thank you very much. I will make those changes!
Just to let you know that your comments aren't falling on deaf ears. You've been encouraging your listeners for years to get involved in their local Democratic parties and I have done just that. I've gotten involved with the Democratic Party at the county level and was recently named Communication Director of the Marshall County Democrats. I'll be volunteering at the Democrats' booth at the Marshall County 4H fair again tonight where we pass out free popcorn and a newsletter I put together.
I haven't turned them all into Bernie Sanders yet, but I'm working on it.
This is for a show from a while back. There are no stars on the moon because of the reflection of the sun. (you were right)
Why is Thom talking to a bible thumping psychopath about hate crime laws? How is that jackass any kind of authority on the subject? Guess Thom is looking for an easy win.