Monday - July 20th 2009

moon-imagesHour One:  "Can Doing What Seems to Be the Right Thing Turn Out to Be the Wrong Thing?" Thom debates protectionism with journalist Danny Schechter

Hour Two: "The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan" Thom talks with award winning independent journalist Dahr Jamail

Hour Three: "The Dark Side of the Department of Justice" Harper's Contributing Editor/Attorney Scott Harper guests with Thom

Guest: Fox News military analyst, Lt. Col. Ralph Peters is here and he refuses to apologize for asking the Taliban to execute the 23 year old GI they are holding prisoner


Quark (not verified) 13 years 45 weeks ago

B Roll,

RE: Your comment:

"I’m not sure that humanity has what it takes to solve the deepening problems that face us. I don’t know if we can identify the time at which we passed the tipping point, but I have a feeling that if it wasn’t earlier regarding climate change, it may very well have been on December 12, 2000, when the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of George W. Bush in Bush v Gore. The policies of the Bush Administration may have changed the course of human history forever."

I came across the following video clip on "The Loss of Wisdom." I thought Barry Schwartz made some provocative points:

Mark (not verified) 13 years 45 weeks ago

The continuing, seemingly insoluble Israeli-Palestinian problem clearly is in need of more “radical” thinking. From the left, you have commentators who bemoan the fate of the people of Gaza, who, in reality, must be held accountable for allowing Hamas—whose stated purpose is the destruction of Israel—to control that fate. On the other side, I’ve heard commentators say that Israel must not abandon the West Bank or allow a separate Palestinian state, because Fatah is essentially no different from Hamas, and if the Palestinians are allowed to form an independent state, the radicals who allegedly hold de facto power will turn it into another Gaza—and a perpetual threat to the security of Israel. There is also the little matter of the Anti-Christ, but I won’t go there, for the present.

One idea that hasn’t been bandied about much, but might ultimately be the only way out short of complete annihilation of one party or the other, is a single state solution that is neither wholly Israeli or wholly Palestinian in character, but more like the former Czechoslovakia. Israel would not have to give-up its West Bank settlements, and it would remove the principle selling point of Hamas. The issue of Jerusalem would become moot. Of course there would be the anti-Israeli Palestinian die-hards (and vice-versa), but as part of a true democracy, they would be increasingly isolated. It would also force the Saudi royal family to find a new target to draw the attention of their imams away from them—like the United States, without Bin Laden as their middle man. The principle concern would be the economic integration of the West Bank and Gaza, but this was the issue that faced West Germany with the integration of the East.

B Roll (not verified) 13 years 45 weeks ago


You're tireless or there are more than one Quark. i always thought you were the Quark called Charm, but now it seems you might be all six flavors: up, down, charm, strange, top and bottom. I think you'd even amaze Murray Gell-Mann.

I look into the clip. Thanks

Mark (not verified) 13 years 45 weeks ago

On the health care reform front, is it not amazing how Republicans have this uncanny knack of correctly identifying the problem, except that they seem to get their countries mixed-up. One congressman, Louie Gohmert of Texas, bewailed the “fact” in nations with “socialized” medicine, one-in-five residents “die.” Well, frankly, I’d take those odds, because five-in-five people in this country end up dying. Assuming, however, that what he meant was that this is how many die of substandard health care, he forgets that almost one-in-five people in this country have no health insurance, and probably an equal amount have substandard health insurance; it seems reasonable to assume that lack of access to care in this country—especially primary and preventative—generally leads to early death conditions. But then again, Republicans do generally seem to be unaware of the existence—let alone the problems—of people who don’t attend their multi-million dollar fund-raising parties.

B Roll (not verified) 13 years 45 weeks ago

Last week, Thom repeated a claim he made fairly frequently, but that I think is demonstrably wrong. He said that the Israeli kibbutz is a socialist organization that works because it is limited to 150 people or less.

Thom believes and has said that socialism can’t work in groups larger than 150 people and he sees the Israeli kibbutz as a socialist organization. I have to believe that Thom has never looked to see if the Israeli kibbutzim (that’s the plural in Hebrew) are limited to 150 people or less. I did look into it and I find that the hypothetical limit doesn’t hold.

The following facts come from which is part of a website of an Israeli organization dedicated to spreading the word about communal living.

“The smallest kibbutz has only 25 members and candidates, plus 9 children. The largest kibbutz, Maagan Michael, has a permanent population of 1200 souls.”

Farther down the page are a number of statistics in chart form which I’m not sure would keep their format, so I’ll summarize them.

Under the heading of “A Few Statistics” is a graphic that shows that in 1910 in Israel there was 1 kibbutz with a population of 10 people. By 1920 there were 12 kibbutzim with a total population of 805 and by 1940 there were 82 kibbutzim with a total population of 26,554. So by 1940, the average population of kibbutzim in Israel was 324 people. At the bottom of the chart, the numbers for 2005 showed around 269 kibbutzim with a total population of 120,667 for an average of just under 450 people.

A little farther down the page is a chart under the heading “Breakdown of the Population of a Kibbutz* - April, 2003”. It shows 723 permanent residents, 95 temporary residents, 364 members and 15 candidates. It even shows 186 children, which is more than Thom’s 150 person limit. This kibbutz is named Tzora and was founded in 1948.

This site listed a kibbutz named Maagan Michael. Here’s some information from the website of Maagan Michael at

“When we began to settle the present site of the kibbutz on August 25, 1949 we numbered 154 members and 44 children. The original site was a windswept treeless sandstone hill located on the coastal plain.

We have since grown and prospered into the largest kibbutz in Israel with a current population of 1,412 consisting of 791 members and candidates for membership, 383 children, and there are also non-member residents, soldiers, and ulpanists.”

Note by B Roll: An ulpan is an institute for the intensive study of Hebrew. Ulpanist refers to people who study at the ulpan.

And also

“The Kibbutz was founded in 1949 and over 1500 people reside in the community today. The founding members of the Kibbutz were part of the Israel scout movement and through the years, the Kibbutz has grown substantially with new members joining our community from around the world. Kibbutz Ma'agan Michael's success has been attributed to continuous commercial development and having a high percentage of our children, that have decided to remain and become members of the Kibbutz.”

I think it’s pretty clear that Thom is mistaken when he says that the reason kibbutzim work in Israel is because they limit their size to 150 people.

Quark (not verified) 13 years 45 weeks ago

B Roll,

What a lovely thing to say --- thanks so much! You seem to be a fierce advocate with the heart of a poet. Beautiful combination...

The truth is, I am always looking for answers and it's so wonderful to have you (and our other friends on the blog) with which to share them.

I am giving some thought as to how I can make some kind of contribution to our healthcare solutions in this country. I belong to different healthcare advocacy groups in MN and nationally. I'm starting to think that I should closely follow Dennis Kucinich's recent amendment allowing individual states to institute the single-payer option. If it goes through, I may call the most active single-payer state legislators and volunteer time to help them with this issue. Maybe working on the "inside" will add a little more leverage to the issue. Still thinking about it, tho...

Quark (not verified) 13 years 45 weeks ago


Yes, it is amazing how "unaware" these right wing Republicans seem to be in general. They seem to legislate by the "gut" and the wallet.

DRichards (not verified) 13 years 45 weeks ago

American Embassies Urged to Stockpile Local Currencies

A top investment advisor, Harry Schultz - who was MarketWatch's Peter Brimelow pick for financial newsletter of the Year in 2008 - is now claiming:

Some U.S. embassies worldwide are being advised to purchase massive amounts of local currencies; enough to last them a year. Some embassies are being sent enormous amounts of U.S. cash to purchase currencies from those governments, quietly. But not pound sterling. Inside the State Dept., there is a sense of sadness and foreboding that 'something' is about to happen ... within 180 days, but could be 120-150 days.

Investment advisor and former Army Counterintelligence officer Bob Chapman is saying the same thing, reporting on the possibility of a so-called “bank holiday” planned for late August or early September. According to Chapman’s sources, U.S. embassies around the world are selling dollars and stockpiling money from respective countries where they operate.

Leading trend forecaster Gerald Calente has also repeatedly predicted a "bank holiday".

But the rumors of embassies being advised to stockpile local currency is stunning and - if true - point to a possible huge devaluation in the dollar.

Loretta (not verified) 13 years 45 weeks ago

They are voting on single-payer today in the House.

This is from Healthcare NOW:

"Healthcare-NOW! has received confirmation that, in a display of Congressional leadership, Congressman Anthony Weiner [NY 14], will introduce a single-payer amendment similar to HR 676 to the House Energy and Commerce Committee's portion of the tri-committee healthcare legislation TODAY.

We need your help in telling members of the Energy and Commerce Committee that the people want single-payer now. It's crucial for them to hear from you on this historic vote. Please call today.

First, see if your Rep. is in the Energy and Commerce Committee here. (If not, call Chairman Henry Waxman at 202-225-3976).

Then, call the Congressional Switchboard at 800-473-6711 and ask to be connected to your Rep. Then ask to speak with the health legislative assistant. Say:

"Hello, My name is __________, and as your constituent, I urge the Representative to vote YES on Representative Anthony Weiner's single-payer, HR 676 amendment to the Energy and Commerce Committee's healthcare bill."

Loretta (not verified) 13 years 45 weeks ago

Here's the link to see if your congressman is on the Energy and Commerce Committee:

Quark (not verified) 13 years 45 weeks ago

Thanks, Loretta!

woody guthrie's ghost (not verified) 13 years 45 weeks ago

it's more than health care or any one issue....this quote sums it up for me perfectly:

“If I can choose between adding to the level of mercy in the world or adding to the level of misery in the world -every single time I want to choose mercy - “If I can choose between adding to the level of compassion in the world or adding to the level of cruelty in the world- every single time I want to choose compassion” bruce freidrich

L Grace (not verified) 13 years 45 weeks ago

Anyone else worry that "government option" is just a way for insurance companies to give sick people the boot?

So, the insurance companies keep all the cheap healthy people and the government gets all the old, sick ones.

For government insurance to work, you need both cheap and expensive people on the rolls.

DRichards (not verified) 13 years 45 weeks ago

Are the retail prices of Chinese goods really cheaper? It seems to me the merchant charges pretty much the same price as when the goods were produced in the United States. (It's just that the profit margins are much, much greater)

Quark (not verified) 13 years 45 weeks ago

L Grace,

"The devil, " as they say...

B Roll (not verified) 13 years 45 weeks ago

California wines beat the French -- again
Even after 30 years of aging, state's Cabernets still tops

Linda Murphy, Chronicle Wine Editor

Thursday, May 25, 2006

“Yet Gaul is biting its tongue today after California smoked France Wednesday in a cross-continental tasting of wines that have matured in cellars for three decades. The California Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines placed first through fifth, followed by four wines from France's hallowed Bordeaux region and then another California Cab.”

“The occasion marked the 30th anniversary of "The Judgment of Paris," a tasting by French and British judges that pitted California against Bordeaux Cabernet Sauvignons on May 24, 1976.

In that slosh heard round the world, the 1973 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars S.L.V. Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon scored higher than its French counterparts. At the same time, a taste-off of California Chardonnays and Chardonnay-based white Burgundies from France resulted in another stunner when the 1973 Chateau Montelena Napa Valley Chardonnay won.”

$o it $eem$ that Thom need$ to find another rationale for promoting wine imported from France. If he wants to take a taste of California wines and doesn’t have the time to drive through California’s wine country, he probably can pick some up at Wal-Mart.

DRichards (not verified) 13 years 45 weeks ago

It sure sounded like Thom's guest was simply parroting what corporate America had been telling the consumers; you can't afford products made in the United States (even if it cost you your job).

Quark (not verified) 13 years 45 weeks ago

B Roll,

Got any suggestions of California wine producers that would advertise on Thom's show? 'Seems that might be a good way to get them more notice.

(I have some great California zin. in the 'fridge and lots of fresh fruit, havarti and pita chips. It's WAY too early in the day... LOL)

L Grace (not verified) 13 years 45 weeks ago


It just occurs to me that "government option" may could be another give-away to the insurance industry.

At the very least, they will exploit it.

"Government option" allow insurance companies cherry-pick the profitable people and the government pays for the expensive ones.

This is a guaranteed loser for the American taxpayer.

L Grace (not verified) 13 years 45 weeks ago

I lived overseas for a decade and American retail products ALWAYS were taxed higher than foreign products in the US.

It was totally unfair.

Quark (not verified) 13 years 45 weeks ago

L Grace,

Yes, but it could also turn out to be a better "Medicare" for all. It's in the details.

L Grace (not verified) 13 years 45 weeks ago


Medicare has everyone in it and it's not revenue neutral.

The "government option" that is being talked will have a higher-risk pool or participants and Obama demands that it pay for itself.

I don't see how this works.

The Food Fascist (not verified) 13 years 45 weeks ago

erghh..I missed the outcome on that pigeon story- what did it have to do with any health care vote and was the pigeon then portrayed as a force of the light or evil.

Quark (not verified) 13 years 45 weeks ago

The story I heard was that the captive soldier in Afganistan got drunk and wandered off. Who knows what THAT was about --- could be anything.

L Grace (not verified) 13 years 45 weeks ago

>> Quark July 20th, 2009, 9:11 am
>> The story I heard was that the captive soldier in Afganistan got drunk and wandered off.

That seems pretty unlikely to me.

Jared Allaway (not verified) 13 years 45 weeks ago

I was arguing with my uncle recently. He sent me an email that was trying to suggest that there are only so many congressman making decisions that affect millions of Americans and its not fair because we have so many taxes like the estate tax and stuff. I replied "we don't have high taxes in America, taxes have been dropping since 1981. Poor people pay a higher percentage of their annual income toward taxes especially in states that have sales tax. I am in agreement with our founding fathers when I say I oppose the unlimited accumulation of inherited wealth and support the estate tax"

He was saying we are lucky to live in America because it is such a good country. I said "I don't think America is a good country because of the way poor people are treated here". He said "I've been to other countries and poor people there don't have welfare and stuff". I thought "We don't want welfare, we want corporations to stop sending our jobs to foreign countries."

Richard Adlof (not verified) 13 years 45 weeks ago

@ L Grace,

I ran a business for two decades. My wife and her parents ran a durable medical equipment business for close to a quarter century. My wife and I were insured under the group policy underwritten to her business. Several years ago, her family’s business failed. My FAMILY was forced to incorporate just to get insurance written to cover us at close to two and a half the premium of our old policy. I was forced to close a business of twenty years and seek employment with insurance. I am compensated well. My business degree is from Pepperdine and I have game. My child, wife and I are healthy and . . . If a public option becomes available, we are there quicker than a heartbeat.

You premise is flawed in so many ways.

B Roll (not verified) 13 years 45 weeks ago


I rarely drink wine or any other alcoholic beverage. The same goes for soft drinks and coffee. I'm basically a water and green tea drinker. So I don't have any winery suggestions. Sorry.

I did accidentally imbibe in alcohol last week. My neighbor called me up and asked me to come over for some food. She had hosted Pokeno night for a group of friends and had left over food. When I went over she also offered me a choice of soft drinks or Mike's Hard Lemonade. Since I rarely drink soda, I took the Hard Lemonade. When I got home and looked at the label I realized it was a kind of beer. I wasn't bad on a hot day.

For the record, I don't use drugs (anymore). I get my buzz from being goofy (and holding my breath).

B Roll (not verified) 13 years 45 weeks ago


You may have noticed that although Thom and Danny Schechter, Thom had lots of praise for Schechter.

Before you just dismiss him as parrot for corporate America, you might want to find out about him. You can Google him for info. Here are a couple links to start you off.


By the way, Schechter has a Masters degree from the London School of Economics.

Quark (not verified) 13 years 45 weeks ago

As long as Thom is celebrating U.S. astronauts on the moon decades ago, I should maybe mention one of the (many) influential parts my very activist Republican mother played in people's lives. She intervened on behalf of a classmate of mine who wanted to get into the Air Force Academy so he could be an astronaut. My mother contacted a U.S. Congressman she knew well and doors opened. That classmate, Mark Lee, got into the academy, then went on to NASA to become an astronaut. He later flew a mission and conducted an EVA to repair Hubble:

Quark (not verified) 13 years 45 weeks ago

B Roll,

RE: "For the record, I don’t use drugs (anymore). I get my buzz from being goofy (and holding my breath)."

I never used drugs since I, too, couldn't "inhale." I swear! LOL

I think we all get a buzz from your being goofy (just don't hold your breath too long!)

Richard Adlof (not verified) 13 years 45 weeks ago

@ L Grace,

Medicare consistently has close to the highest contented client quotients every time folk are queried. Medicare caps administration overhead costs at 4.5%. Even though Medicare covers the aged and the infirmed . . . It has better outcomes than alotta private insurers.

Even before executive compensation and profit, the seven largest health insurers run costs of 10 to 18% in admin overhead to squelch paying claims . . . Toss on top paying executive compensation greater than about 30% worldwide GNPs . . . AND consistently paying dividends in a downturn economy . . .

I say to our government, repeal the Medicare D bullsh** and excise the words “under sixty-five” from Medicare law. You can pop the FICA cap and pay for Medicare for all and Social Security and run a surplus . . . PLUS you’d get the healthy pool you were belly aching about above.

OMG! Win, win, win, win situation.

Quark (not verified) 13 years 45 weeks ago

Yeah Richard Adlof!!!

B Roll (not verified) 13 years 45 weeks ago


Don't worry. I wear a helmet 24/7 and all my clothes are made out of bubble wrap. (Well, not my underwear.) I don't get hurt badly when I pass out.

Quark (not verified) 13 years 45 weeks ago
Quark (not verified) 13 years 45 weeks ago

B Roll,

'Not me in that cat video. It's just that I keep trying to find ways to "laugh with you!"

L Grace (not verified) 13 years 45 weeks ago


Don't get me wrong -- I consider Medicare a success. My mother is on Medicare and she has MUCH better care than I do with Kaiser.

However, "government option" is not Medicare.

Single payer is more like Medicare.

That's the point I'm trying to make. I'm for single-payer -- I'm afraid "government option" will end up being a give-away to private insurance.

Quark (not verified) 13 years 45 weeks ago

'See ya later! (I'll read the blog later.) I have to go see about rescuing some orphan kittens at a local vet.

L Grace (not verified) 13 years 45 weeks ago

As for Rick in Orlando,

Joe the Plumber spread a big lie about Obama. Nothing more.

L Grace (not verified) 13 years 45 weeks ago

Obama is "Your boy" !

Racist alert.

B Roll (not verified) 13 years 45 weeks ago

Imagine what Joe the Plumber could have uncovered if he was a licensed plumber... other than his butt crack.

L Grace (not verified) 13 years 45 weeks ago

The "liberal media" didn't attack Joe the Plumber -- they just checked out if he really was who he claimed to be.

He was a stupid bull*hitter.

To his own demise, McCain chose to elevate him as spokesperson for his campaign. McCain-Palin had to be one of the worst run campaigns I can remember.

Richard Adlof (not verified) 13 years 45 weeks ago

President Obama is NOT a Socialist. President Obama is a crappy, mediocre, just-right-of-the-center-of-the-road, corporatist hack.

I hate when the recessivists attempt to malign Socialists . . . Especially, when they invoke President Obama in their attempts.

brian a. hayes (not verified) 13 years 45 weeks ago

the racist caller calling president Obama Thom's boy is an idiot . he will follow the right even when the right can care less for the middle class and poor he is blinded by his racism the folly people show in their lives. wake up white racist America,you are working against yourselves because of your hatred

L Grace (not verified) 13 years 45 weeks ago

I just read the link Thomm gave to torture at Harpers mag.

It raises an issue that has vexed me for years: why do professional groups remain silent when members of their profession are evil? Not just evil -- but use the profession for evil.

Any psychologist who uses his training for more effective torture needs to be denounced and stripped of his/her license.

Richard Adlof (not verified) 13 years 45 weeks ago

The American government was specifically designed to provide a framework for and regulate business. Alexander Hamilton designed our nation’s manufacturing policy in 1791 and Congress adopted it the very next year. The program was designed to adequately fund America’s operations and almost immediately certain groups began working to disassemble it. In the last third of the 1800s and over the last thirty years, it was been completely disassembled largely through actions traceable to one political party and moneyed corporate interests. The process involved creating an economic system that finances government almost wholly upon labor rather than upon finance as the system was originally designed to be funded.

Additionally, the American government was specifically designed to provide a framework to allow folk, through collective action, to protect their rights and provide for their protection and welfare. As it was with the framers, my fundamental belief that life is a right retained to the owners of our government and it is solely the providence of those who own the right. As there is no life without health and health sources life, I include health and the care of health, individually and collectively, as a duty of the government. As I am responsible for my health, I will do as I see fit to protect it. The government, also, owes all of us a duty to mitigate harm to this most fundamental right ESPECIALLY harms due to its specific action or inaction.

Abraham Lincoln was absolutely correct in his First Annual Message to Congress (December 3, 1861) that: “Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if Labor had not first existed. Labor is superior to capital, and deserves much the higher consideration." It is, also, important to note that labor flows directly from the life and health of the laborer. Every human desires the opportunity to work and succeed at work and reap the rewards of their labor. You deserve to work. This is not charity. There is more than enough work to fully employ you at a wage sufficient to your needs. Unfortunately the very same governmental action that destroyed our nation’s economic condition, damaged our healthcare system and limits your personal opportunity to contribute to your families support and our nation’s economy.

Finally and frankly, my god is a transcendent god and leaves the world of humans to the humans. It is our job, duty and obligation to manage our world to the best of our ability. Failure to do so is our personal failure in our responsibility to ourselves and our fellow humans. The single most effective and efficient thing we can do is control our government and direct it to our will.

B Roll (not verified) 13 years 45 weeks ago

L. Grace

you wrote:

Obama is “Your boy” !

Racist alert.

I'd say don't over react. "Your boy" is a common phrase used by all kinds of people all the time about all kinds of people. The fact that it is sometimes used in a demeaning manner about African-American men doesn't mean that it's being used racially every time it's used in reference to a black man.

The caller may or may not be racist, but making that accusation on the basis of one short comment isn't enough proof for me.

I took the same position last week about Tom Coburn's "You got lots of 'splainin' to do" quip. A lot of people jumped up and shouted "racism". My position is that "You got some 'You got some 'splainin' to do" has become a part of the American sense of humor over the 5 decades plus since it was said by Desi Arnaz playing the roll of Ricky Ricardo on the "I Love Lucy" show.

The only reason some people think it was racist is because it was Coburn said it while questioning Sonia Sotomayor. But I've heard people on many ethnicities use that line.

And remember when it was used. Sotomayor was using a hypothetical situation in which she felt threatened by Coburn during the hearing. In her hypothetical, she would go home, get a gun, go back to the hearing room and shoot Coburn.

I'm sure people would be shouting racist if Coburn had spun a hypothetical in which Sotomayor, a Puerto Rican, had shot the senator. But you don't hear that charge against Sotomayor.

By the way, African-Americans use the phrase "your boy" and "your girl".... "holla at your girl."

L Grace (not verified) 13 years 45 weeks ago


Well, I have to credit you for being kind to that caller. Magnanimity is a virtue and I hope you are right about him. But I doubt it.

But we all know that calling African American men "boys" is a long standing racist put down.

L Grace (not verified) 13 years 45 weeks ago

I'm always struck how some people selectively support the troops.

L Grace (not verified) 13 years 45 weeks ago

I hate it when callers say, "Have you spent any time with soldiers? Then you should have no opinion" (or its variant, "Where you in the military?")

I know several Iraq vets and they are ALL against the war. But you don't need to be in the military to spot a bogus war.

BTW, this guy is very rude.

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