Friday October 2nd 2009
Hour One: "Brunch With Bernie" Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) spends the hour with Thom discussing the issues and answering listener questions www.sanders.senate.gov
It’s odd (or not) that even when Barack Obama talks tough—such as in regard to Iran’s secret mountain retreat for its nuclear shenanigans—right-wing talk seems congenitally incapable of giving him the slightest credit. Obama, it seems, didn’t talk as tough as the leaders of Britain and France; according to the right, this is a sign of “weakness.” That may be the cynical Iranian impression of Obama’s initial offer of unconditional talks, which Iran has made little effort to reciprocate. But the Wall Street Journal is wrong in its contention that Obama undercut the Bush/European “strategy” of threatening sanctions against Iran; sanctions have produced zero results, demonstrated by the fact that Iran metaphorically thumbed its nose at the world by constructing the Qom site—which was in fact known to exist by the Bush administration. On the other hand, Obama’s decision to scrap the unproven Bush/Cheney land-based missile defense “shield” in Poland, whose only purpose seems to be to reassure NATO’s eastern European partners fearful of Russia, should have the effect of removing a needless point of contention with Russia. But whether this will persuade the Russians to reciprocate by hardening its line toward Iran is still an open question. Such is the mess that Bush/Cheney left Obama to fix.
Iran wants to be the Muslim world’s superpower, which makes it a threat to Israel and the West’s access to oil-producing countries. Russia, which must be held responsible for supplying the Iranians with nuclear technology knowing the nature of the regime, has yet to deal with the fact that Iran’s quixotic pretensions threaten its own power in the region; perhaps it believes that permitting Iran to be a thorn in the side of the U.S. is in its interest for now—forgetting that a rogue Iran isn’t in the Western Hemisphere. China, on the other hand, would rather stand on the sidelines (perhaps for the same reason), while it merely backs watered-down sanctions against North Korea and its attempt to acquire nuclear weapons. China is partial to the fact that North Korea is its most dependent trading partner, and prefers to maintain Kim Jong-Il in power because it doesn’t want to see the country (such as it is) collapsing in chaos and upsetting the political and military status quo on the peninsula. The problem for China, of course, is that Kim plays by his own rules and can't be controlled; the fact that a powerful China is his patron and protector suggests that his nuclear bomb ambitions (while his people starve) does rather have a mental imbalance angle.
Meanwhile, why are we still in Afghanistan? This country already had an opportunity to enter the modern world after its defacto independence from Britain in 1919; its king, Amanullah Khan, was (like Turkey’s post-Ottoman ruler Kemal Ataturk) was impressed by western advances and used his initial popularity to attempt to force modernization on the country (to include compulsory public education for girls as well as boys). But his efforts proved to be unpopular, and shortly after the country was devastated by an anti-modernization rebellion, Amanullah was forced to abdicate in 1929. Little has changed since then. Democratizing Afghanistan is a shibboleth, so what are we doing there? It doesn’t have oil, or any other resources we want. I heard a right-wing radio talker claim that we could wipe out the Taliban tomorrow if we wanted to, but the jelly-like liberals want to get out now. Funny how it isn’t explained how wiping out the Taliban would be done, since Bush and Cheney couldn’t figure it out. Also seldom mentioned is that the Taliban isn’t the only militant Afghan entity we have to fight; even our “friends” amount to little more than deals with the Devil. Given the corruption of the current Kabul “administration,” why doesn’t the U.S. just make a deal with the Taliban: give-up Osama Bin Laden (if he’s still alive), start negotiations that offers to allow them to participate as a sanctioned political party, and then get the hell out. The only other reason for the U.S. to remain is to have forces on the ground as a “deterrent” to Iran’s ambitions, but is that worth the lives of U.S. forces?
That has occurred to me, too. However, you COULD argue that, in their world, the right-wing crazies don't want the government to pay for ANYONE's healthcare. So, I say, the government shouldn't pay for THEIRS, whether it is their employer or not. In their way of thinking, if they don't like it, they can look for another job. (The argument would be more logical, and at least as compassionate as THEY.)
MADDOW ON PAWLENTY
Rachel has uncovered disgraced Republican operatives and former Bush officials in Pawlenty's "dream team" run for the White House. I hope she does more stories on Pawlenty. There's a lot of THERE there (video):
IN THE "JUST WHAT WE NEED" DEPARTMENT ---
"Comcast in talks with GE to form cable group using NBC's assets"
"Comcast is in talks with General Electric to create a new venture that would combine NBC Universal and the content assets of the top US cable operator, people familiar with the negotiations said."
Remember when Comcast was taking MSNBC off the basic cable line-ups in selected markets over the past few years? All of a sudden, people couldn't watch Countdown or Rachel Maddow unless they paid more.
I think nothing good can come of this, though I hope I'm wrong.
HOW CAN WE HAVE A RAINBOW IF IT WON'T STOP RAINING?
"Jobless Report Is Worse Than Expected; Rate Rises to 9.8%"
The American economy lost 263,000 jobs in September — far more than expected — and the unemployment rate rose to 9.8 percent, the government reported on Friday, dimming prospects of any meaningful job growth by the end of the year.
HOW CAN WE HAVE A RAINBOW IF IT WON’T STOP RAINING?
"Mission Not Accomplished"
Published: October 2, 2009
Stocks are up. Ben Bernanke says that the recession is over. And I sense a growing willingness among movers and shakers to declare “Mission Accomplished” when it comes to fighting the slump. It’s time, I keep hearing, to shift our focus from economic stimulus to the budget deficit.
No, it isn’t. And the complacency now setting in over the state of the economy is both foolish and dangerous.
Yes, the Federal Reserve and the Obama administration have pulled us “back from the brink” — the title of a new paper by Christina Romer, who leads the Council of Economic Advisers. She argues convincingly that expansionary policy saved us from a possible replay of the Great Depression.
But while not having another depression is a good thing, all indications are that unless the government does much more than is currently planned to help the economy recover, the job market — a market in which there are currently six times as many people seeking work as there are jobs on offer — will remain terrible for years to come.
Indeed, the administration’s own economic projection — a projection that takes into account the extra jobs the administration says its policies will create — is that the unemployment rate, which was below 5 percent just two years ago, will average 9.8 percent in 2010, 8.6 percent in 2011, and 7.7 percent in 2012.
This should not be considered an acceptable outlook. For one thing, it implies an enormous amount of suffering over the next few years. Moreover, unemployment that remains that high, that long, will cast long shadows over America’s future.
Anyone who thinks that we’re doing enough to create jobs should read a new report from John Irons of the Economic Policy Institute, which describes the “scarring” that’s likely to result from sustained high unemployment. Among other things, Mr. Irons points out that sustained unemployment on the scale now being predicted would lead to a huge rise in child poverty — and that there’s overwhelming evidence that children who grow up in poverty are alarmingly likely to lead blighted lives.
These human costs should be our main concern, but the dollars and cents implications are also dire. Projections by the Congressional Budget Office, for example, imply that over the period from 2010 to 2013 — that is, not counting the losses we’ve already suffered — the “output gap,” the difference between the amount the economy could have produced and the amount it actually produces, will be more than $2 trillion. That’s trillions of dollars of productive potential going to waste.
Wait. It gets worse. A new report from the International Monetary Fund shows that the kind of recession we’ve had, a recession caused by a financial crisis, often leads to long-term damage to a country’s growth prospects. “The path of output tends to be depressed substantially and persistently following banking crises.”
The same report, however, suggests that this isn’t inevitable: “We find that a stronger short-term fiscal policy response” — by which they mean a temporary increase in government spending — “is significantly associated with smaller medium-term output losses.”
So we should be doing much more than we are to promote economic recovery, not just because it would reduce our current pain, but also because it would improve our long-run prospects.
But can we afford to do more — to provide more aid to beleaguered state governments and the unemployed, to spend more on infrastructure, to provide tax credits to employers who create jobs? Yes, we can.
The conventional wisdom is that trying to help the economy now produces short-term gain at the expense of long-term pain. But as I’ve just pointed out, from the point of view of the nation as a whole that’s not at all how it works. The slump is doing long-term damage to our economy and society, and mitigating that slump will lead to a better future.
What is true is that spending more on recovery and reconstruction would worsen the government’s own fiscal position. But even there, conventional wisdom greatly overstates the case. The true fiscal costs of supporting the economy are surprisingly small.
You see, spending money now means a stronger economy, both in the short run and in the long run. And a stronger economy means more revenues, which offset a large fraction of the upfront cost. Back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest that the offset falls short of 100 percent, so that fiscal stimulus isn’t a complete free lunch. But it costs far less than you’d think from listening to what passes for informed discussion.
Look, I know more stimulus is a hard sell politically. But it’s urgently needed. The question shouldn’t be whether we can afford to do more to promote recovery. It should be whether we can afford not to. And the answer is no.
OK, OK. How about:
HOW CAN WE HAVE A RAINBOW IF THE SUN WON'T COME OUT?
JUST GREAT (NOT):
"G.E. Expects India to Help U.S. Cut Health Care Costs"
Memo to Tom Friedmann, and the rest of the Flat-Worlders -
One of the primary assumptions of the Flat-World theory is that it no longer matters where goods are produced. I never accepted that assumption, and the current projections regarding the US job market (see the Krugman article posted above by Quark) for the next several years seem to bear my scepticism out.
Even if Friedmann what meant is that it doesn't matter to the companies producing the goods where the actual work is done, even this view no longer seems to hold water. That idea worked, as long as Governments were able to maintain a healthy consumer class by manipulating credit markets (first by making credit/debit cards and other deferred payment methods ubiquitous and easy to obtain, then by turning the houses into ATMs). Now that the ranks of jobless Americans MUST think twice before going into deeper debt, I think we can see what happens to the GLOBAL economy when AMERICAN jobs move overseas.
We MUST get AMERICANS back to work!! Damn the defecit - full speed ahead on stimulus!
The Marsh Problem
The caller named Marsha wants Thom and Bernie to come out in strong opposition to the Jewish/Communist meme and anti-Jewish propaganda.
I'll bet you Thom's houseboat that Marsha is Jewish. Has she called in (or written) when she heard racist callers blame blacks or Latinos? Did she object when when anti-gay callers made outrageous comments?
Aren't we all Marshas? Don't we all tend to be motivated most by issues we have a personal interest in and less motivated, if motivated at all, by the concerns of others.
Obviously no person can respond to all of our social, economic and political problems, but I find it disappointing how narrowly focused and insular so many of us on the left tend to be.
Aren't we all Marshas?
You are Marsh! You are Marsha! You are Marsha! Everybody is Marsha!
I resemble that!
Wow.. u came out like a bottle of beer that someone shook and opened.
As for your take on my comment about my point that people who work for the government aren't getting "socialize health care" they're getting employer provided health insurance, I can't agree with your idea that we should go along with the "right wing" crazies as you call them. I don't look to them for political leadership.
I, as I'm sure you do, want everyone in the world to get health coverage. And don't you want Bernie Sanders, Dennis Kucinich Barbara Lee, Russ Feingold and others to get quality health care?
But my point wasn't that they should or shouldn't get health their health insurance paid for by the government. My point was that the obvious answer to the charge that politicians that oppose so called "socialized health care" for others don't mind getting it themselves is that the their health insurance is provided by their employer. That's a fact and it just happens to be that their employer is the government.
There could be an argument made that they shouldn't provide health care for themselves if they don't make sure we all have it, but my point wasn't about that. I was pointing out that there is a reasonable counter to the point that Thom and some others on the "left" make.
I am NOT Marsha!
If I was female, however, I MIGHT be Marcia. :)
Question re: the Olympics, to the smartest radio listeners in the world (cuz I'm too busy/lazy to look it up for myself) -
Has ANY city that has hosted the Olympic games over the last 30 years or so made a nickel on their investments? I kinda doubt it.
The games may be neat from a prestige point of view, but financially, I'm fairly sure it's a losing proposition. Can Chicago, or the USA, afford that now?
mstaggerlee, I believe that the 1984 summer games in LA made a profit. But that was the beginning of the "Official ________ of the yyyy Summer/Winter Olympics" pre-selling of the event. And this began my official boycott of the Olympic games.
@Marty - Ah, yes ... I do recall that. Los Angeles used EXCLUSIVELY existing infrastructure, if I recall correctly. I don't think they had to build ANYTHING specifically for the games. Also, the USSR skipped those games in protest, thus rendering them somewhat less significant.
Here's the link to "the missing link" story:
"Fossil Skeleton From Africa Predates Lucy"
@mstaggerlee: Being as lazy as the next...I'll answer you without researching the facts. I'm betting some reports and studies would bolster your suspicions while other studies say the opposite. I'm not sure you asking the right question, however. By this measure we would never build a library. While the measurable financial returns are certainly an important consideration, it would be only one component in determining if the profits from any endeavor are worth the efforts. Agreeing with Paul Krugman's latest editorial (offered above generously by Quark),will answer your last query from my viewpoint. I heard today that 315,000 jobs would have been generated for Chicago by hosting the 2016 Summer Olympics. Many of these jobs would have begun right away and many were well paying. Creating jobs and stimulus for the working class and improving infrastructure are sorely needed for our economy to stabilize. I'm glad for Rio's good fortune and welcome an Olympics on the South American continent, but wish Chicago had won for our sake. Rio's economy is doing better than ours right now.
No, no, no, no, no. ' Sorry --- that's not what I meant. I meant that the Repugs' arguments should apply to THEM. Maybe then they would see how ridiculous they are (however, I don't believe they should apply to ANYBODY.)
I sent Rep. Grayson a small donation and positive comments:
Joe McCarthy was from WISCONSIN!
Giggle...."a bottle of beer that someone shook and opened." ?
Thanks! Yes, it's true --- sometimes I just can't contain myself!
BTW, I went back and read the Tues./Wed. posts (I was away those 2 days.) I was so touched by what you (and DDay) wrote. What you wrote about your mom and your present relationship were very meaningful to me. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
Re; Olympics Trivia
Does anyone remember the Olympics that fell into financial difficulties prior to it's opening and who took over it's management? Hint: W
Note: Chicago's plan included very little new infrastructure. A temporary stadium was planned.
Life imitates art -
Does anyone remember a Woody Allen flick named "Take the Money and Run?"
Woody attempted to rob a bank and was foiled when the teller couldn't read his note -
"What's this say? I have a gub? What's a gub?"
I hope you watched the "Chanda Mama" music video on YouTube. I know you love music.
re: your musings about… whatever it was you were musing about!!!
The study you mentioned in which children showed different reactions to a jack-in-the –box is interesting. Let me summarize that study for those who didn’t read your post.
Some decades ago, some infants were individually put in a space with a closed jack-in-the-box toy. After the children got use to the environment, the toy was triggered and the jack popped up. There were three different responses displayed by the children. Some reacted with curiosity, some were indifferent and some were fearful. A follow-up study was done when the children in the study were adults and it was found that the children who had reacted to the jack-in-the-box with fear are now more likely to describe themselves as conservatives/Republicans.
That coincides with a more recent study I heard about (this or last year) in which conservative adults showed a greater fear reaction when shown a picture of a spider. I assume they were shown a series of photos that included one or more pictures of spiders, while their physical reaction was being monitored.
Another study I heard about indicated that conservatives tend to keep their homes very neat and formally orderly while the homes of liberals tend to be a less formally arranged. I believe that there’s been research indicating that liberals are more open to new kinds of experiences and interacting with people who are different from themselves.
It’s easy to accept results of this kind of research when they support what we want to believe and interpret the results to bolster our beliefs. Sometimes we’re right and sometimes we’re wrong. I tend to think that our perceptions and our ability to retain information are heavily influenced by what we already believe to be true.
Quark and I discussed this several months ago and I gave an example of a study I read about many years ago. A group of college students were given material to read. The subject of the reading material was the existence of UFOs. Half the material confirmed their existence and the other half disconfirmed their existence. Half the students expressed a belief in the existence of UFOs before reading the materials and half didn’t. The interesting result was a follow-up test given after some time (probably measured in weeks) had passed. While the UFO doubters remembered the pro and con information the believers had forgotten most of the disconfirming information. In other words, their minds had filtered out the information that didn’t support their beliefs.
The question is why the believers forgot the information that didn’t support their view while the skeptics remembered both sides of the argument. My feeling is that it’s much more important to believers that their view be true than it is to skeptics. So their brains filter out the disconfirming information.
Drew Weston of Emory University has talked about research with fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) that shows that when we’re exposed to positive information about our political candidate the thinking parts of our brains light up but when we’re exposed to negative information about our candidate, the emotional (fight or flight) areas light up.
But getting back to your original “musing”, there does seem to be basic psychological differences between liberals and conservatives. The question is how much is inborn and how much is cultural in each person and in groups.
Here’s one last interesting point. Religious conservatives tend to favor strict upbringing of children, including corporal punishment. I heard a long interview with Max Blumenthal the other day about his book “Republican Gomorrah”. He said that there is a recent study that showed that children who are regularly spanked when they’re young grow up to score 5 points lower on IQ tests.
Re: "the 'Chanda Mama' music video on YouTube"
Thanks. I love it. Somehow, I really feel like I'm "home" with pieces like that.
Just for fun:
Eric Serra brings international themes and instruments into many of his compositions.
Re: Musings about differences in cognition etc. between cons & libs
Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I very much enjoyed the Salon article you linked. As an active campaign strategist, I did find some of the information depressing. i.e Most all of us are boneheads and there is little hope of correction or stupidity is jealously guarded from enlightenment. Influencing people to make rational choices seems to be an exercise in futility. Maybe the Republicans have known this for some time and that is why they rely on fear to elicit the emotional reaction which is more effective in achieving a desired outcome.
The circumstances of living has made me re-access and change positions I've previously held, on more than one occasion. I had no choice...I was demonstrably wrong. What is the old saying? "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, politicians, clerics, and divines."
I agree B Roll, that we tend to better hear and remember those things which bolster our own beliefs...But...some of us have learned to be skeptical and employ the scientific methods when ever we can. Keeping an open mind is essential and growth and learning are never finished. My best friend who also has one of the best minds I've encountered says that curiosity is one of the best indicators of raw intelligence. I agree. It seems to me that rigidity is mostly incompatible with curiosity. The vast majority of conservatives are boneheads in my estimation. The few sharp minds in their camp are even more tragic because their deficit is usually one of compassion or generosity. I could be wrong, however. I'm open to new evidence.
Greetings and please forgive me for not having the exact time&date reference however in one of your shows last week you quoted from an alleged "scientific" study of people who saw conspiracies all over the place because they felt that they where not in control.... OOPS!
CONSPIRACIES .... lets get real here, izat an attempt to marginalize the people who realize that what happened on 9/11/2001 was just one big UN-NATURAL act? ... or what?
really now 3 steel framed buildings "collapse" into dust, the worlds greatest military power FAILS to defend even its own HQ and what ?
the people who refuse to stand around and praise an non-existent tailor are to be marginalized .... WHY?... .A! bust the emperor for INDECENT EXPOSURE!
You and some others have been making the claim that our elected representatives who oppose "socialize medicine" enjoy the benefits of receiving their "socialized medicine". I'm surprised that it has occurred to you that what they actually get is "employer based insurance". It just so happens that their employer is the government.