Wednesday - September 23, 2009

clunkers imagesHour One: "Will Democracy die without Obama's newspaper bailout?" Thom spars with Dan Gainor of the Business and Media Institute

Hour Two: Could this happen? Only the Super Rich Can Save us. Ralph Nader

Hour Three: Could it be that "Everything You Know is Wrong...about the business of prostate cancer" Dr. Anthony Horan joins Thom


B Roll (not verified) 13 years 36 weeks ago

"The ends justify the meanness."

The basic operation principle of the right wing.

DRichards (not verified) 13 years 36 weeks ago

Obama set to extend the Patriot Act

Quark (not verified) 13 years 36 weeks ago


Re: "The Public Option" on Rachel Maddow last night:

Quark (not verified) 13 years 36 weeks ago


From today's NYTimes:

"Emphasis on Growth Is Called Misguided"

Published: September 22, 2009

Among the possible casualties of the Great Recession are the gauges that economists have traditionally relied upon to assess societal well-being. So many jobs have disappeared so quickly and so much life savings has been surrendered that some argue the economic indicators themselves have been exposed as inadequate.

In a provocative new study, a pair of Nobel prize-winning economists, Joseph E. Stiglitz and Amartya Sen, urge the adoption of new assessment tools that incorporate a broader concern for human welfare than just economic growth. By their reckoning, much of the contemporary economic disaster owes to the misbegotten assumption that policy makers simply had to focus on nurturing growth, trusting that this would maximize prosperity for all.

“What you measure affects what you do,” Mr. Stiglitz said Tuesday as he discussed the study before a gathering of journalists in New York. “If you don’t measure the right thing, you don’t do the right thing.”

According to the report, much of the world has long been ruled by an unhealthy fixation on swelling the gross domestic product, or the quantity of goods and services the economy produces. With a singular obsession on making G.D.P. bigger, many societies — not least, the United States — failed to factor in the social costs of joblessness and the public health impacts of environmental degradation. They allowed banks to borrow and bet unfathomable amounts of money, juicing the present by mortgaging the future, thus laying the ground for the worst financial crisis since the 1930s.

The report is more critique than prescription. It elucidates in general terms why leaning exclusively on growth as an economic philosophy may yield unhappiness, and it suggests that the incomes of typical people should be weighed more heavily than the gross production of whole societies. But it sidesteps the thorny details of slapping a cost on a ton of pollution or a waylaid career, leaving a great mass of policy choices for others to resolve.

Some Americans may reflexively reject the report and its recommendations, given its provenance: it was ordered up last year by President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, whose dissatisfaction with the available tools of economic assessment prompted him to create the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress. Tuesday’s briefing was held in an ornate room at the French consulate. The official French statistics agency is already working to adopt the report’s recommendations. Mr. Sarkozy plans to bring it with him to the G-20 summit meeting in Pittsburgh this week, where the leaders of major countries will discuss a range of policy issues.

But whatever one’s views on the merits of European economy policy, and wherever one sits on the ideological spectrum, these appear fitting days to re-examine how economists measure vital signs — particularly in the United States.

By most assessments, the American economy is now growing again, perhaps even vigorously. Many experts expect a 3 percent annualized rate of expansion from July through September. As a technical matter, the recession appears to be over. Yet the unemployment rate sits at 9.7 percent and will probably climb higher and remain elevated for many months. In millions of households still grappling with joblessness and the tyranny of bills, signs of health served up by the traditional economic indicators seem disconnected from daily life.

This was precisely the sort of contradiction Mr. Sarkozy sought to unravel when he created the commission, tasking it with pursuing alternate ways of measuring economic health.

To head the panel, he picked Mr. Stiglitz, a former World Bank chief economist whose best-selling books amount to an indictment of the Washington-led model of global economic integration. Mr. Sarkozy also selected Mr. Sen, a Harvard economist and an authority on poverty.

The resulting report amounts to a treatise on the inadequacy of G.D.P. growth as an indication of overall economic health. It cites the example of increased driving, which weighs in as a positive within the framework of economic growth, as it requires greater production of gasoline and cars, yet fails to account for the hours of leisure and work time squandered in traffic jams, and the environmental costs of pollutants unleashed on the atmosphere.

During the real estate bubble that preceded the financial crisis, the focus on economic growth helped encourage overbuilding and investment in real estate. Mr. Stiglitz argues that the single-minded focus on growth gave American policy makers a false sense of assurance that their policies were virtuous, as they allowed financial institutions to direct virtually unlimited sums of money into real estate and as consumer debt levels built with unrestrained momentum.

Credit enabled spending, and spending translated into faster growth — an outcome that was intrinsically good, and never mind how long it might last or the convulsions that would accompany the end of easy money.

A growth-oriented policy encouraged homeowners to borrow as if money need never be repaid, and industry to produce products as if the real cost of pollution were zero, Mr. Stiglitz added.

“We looked to G.D.P. as a measure of how well we were doing, and that doesn’t tell us whether it’s sustainable,” he said at the briefing. “Your measure of output is grossly distorted by the failure of our accounting system. What began as a measure of market performance has increasingly become a measure of social performance, and that’s wrong.”

Instead of centering assessments on the goods and services an economy produces, policy makers would do better to focus on the material well-being of typical people by measuring income and consumption, along with the availability of health care and education, the report concludes.

Many of these prescriptions will no doubt resonate with policy makers and ordinary people.

Indeed, the difficulty comes in turning these general principles into new means of measurement. The report notes that its authors concur on the big picture, but diverge on the methodologies to be employed when it comes to factoring in the value of a better education and cleaner skies.

The old mode of measurement has taken a beating, and yet the new one, it seems, is still a work in progress.

DDay (not verified) 13 years 36 weeks ago

In the morning's newspaper I noticed an interesting article which identified where all the trillions of dollars of stimulus came from and where they went. 91% of the money went to Wall St. 9% went to the people. Cash for Clunkers was a tiny part of that 9%. Much of that tiny part was to the benefit of corporations, (Car Companies & Dealers). All in all it was a win/win/win/win for people/the automobile industry/ for the environment/ and the economy. None the less, it was table scraps. Right-wingers would begrudge us even table scraps.

DDay (not verified) 13 years 36 weeks ago

Another thing that happened under Reagan at the same time was it was made legal for the buyer of a company to appropriate pension funds of the workers and use that money to bolster their position. Criminal

Quark (not verified) 13 years 36 weeks ago

Re: Dan Gainor

Don't ever question the "cult of the free market", Dan. It might cause you to THINK!

libgalohio (not verified) 13 years 36 weeks ago

Reagan, only elected because of the nefarious"'October Surprise", was a complete disaster for main street. as Thom has pointed out we were doing fine with the top tax rate at 70% or more, the B actor slashed that all the way down to 28%. Of course he also went nuts deregulating things.

Fewer and fewer companies control way too much, and it has strangled local and regional businesses. There were two enormous local/regional institutions in central Ohio, where I live, that had seemingly been there forever and we assumed that wouldn't change, gone since Reagan.

But the huge cuts in tax rates combined with insane wars that are enormously profitable to the Halliburtons of the world but an albatross around our necks, have made life tough for the rest of us and things are likely to get far worse before they get better.

B Roll (not verified) 13 years 36 weeks ago

Gee Thom,

I hope your dinner with Dan was tastier than today's "discussion". What did you have for an appetizer, a little Roger Hedgecock? Thanks of another serving of Dan Gainor. Wish I could have enjoyed him more but I still had the taste of Alex Epstein in my mouth from yesterday.

Oh waiter, waiter! I'm ready to order. I'm on the Hartmann Diet, so I'll have a double order of half-baked right wingers. Extra napkins, please. Oh.. and waiter, easy on the liberals, their a little tough for my taste.

Dennis (not verified) 13 years 36 weeks ago

Thom I like that fact that you often quote the Financial Times and I wanted to remind you and your readers that if you have not done so yet - I highly recommend Eliot Spitzer's article in the latest New Republic in my opinion, it is exactly what ails our financial system Dennis

DDay (not verified) 13 years 36 weeks ago

Ralph is never tongue in cheek. I admire the guy,but, he is the most humorless fellow you ever find. Initial reviews of his book are bleak.

mstaggerlee (not verified) 13 years 36 weeks ago

@B Roll -

Do you REALLY want Thom's show to be the Anti-FOX?

Like Bob's Country Bunker in the Blues Brothers flick (which presented both kinds of music ... Country AND Western) ,FOX snooze, as we all know, presents both sides of every arguement - the right and the ultra-right. Do you want Thom to present only the left and the ultra-left? Has the progressive movement moved into the to the same kind of bunkers that the neocons have been living in since the Reagan-Gingrich days, where the only points of view that they even want to hear about are those to which they already subscribe? Where the phrase "Fair and Balanced" is understood to be nothing but lip service - and is greatly appreciated as such?

I don't THINK that I live there yet ... and I hope I never do. Thom brings people with whom he disagrees onto his show, and they debate the issues. In doing so, he demonstrates for us strategies we can use in discussing those same issues with people who don't agree with us (e. g., my in-laws). I think the show would be boring if Thom's only guests were lefties like us.

That said, I don't think we need to hear from Dan Gainor and Carrie Lukas EVERY week, either. :)

mathboy (not verified) 13 years 36 weeks ago

"Attainder" has no relation to "taint".

"Attainder" is related to "attain" from Latin "tangere" (= "to touch").
"Taint" is related to "tincture" and "tinge", from Latin "tingere" (= "to dye").

Vincent Daniels (not verified) 13 years 36 weeks ago

For all my fellow gamers out there, can you imagine a video game under the "free market", no rules principle? You go to a store and pay whatever the store feels like charging you. After all, we can't have regulation specifying how much you can charge on a product. You get the game home, pop it in your Nintendo, and you get a blank blue screen. Because program code is merely a set of rules, regulations and parameters determining how the software is to function. I.e. when pixel (A) is in situation (B) and player (P) pushes the C button, (X) happens. And if done successfully, P is awarded (Y) points. But as the free market teaches, rules are bad. So in order to make a good and "realistic" game, the software development corporation decided "to heck with rules".

The moral: Regulations are a REQUIREMENT if you expect ANYTHING to function with the slightest modicum of order. From the regulations of business to the very rules of language (subject/ verb agreement, verb conjugation, etc.) that allow businessmen to communicate their hate of rules.

minny (not verified) 13 years 36 weeks ago

There was a very long discussion of ammendments to the Senate's proposed Healthcare Bill this morning. Senator Hatch's proposed ammendment (maintining the subsidy to Medicare Advantage) had an hour of discussion and then will continue after the lunch break (2:30 PM Eastern time). Hatch continually says that President Obama's pledge to let everyone who likes their coverage will get to keep that coverage will be broken if the Federal subsidy to Medicare Advantage is not continued. Of course they are labeling this as a Medicare coverage cut. Senator Conrad tried to say that Medicare Advantage is composed of Private insurance companies. The Republicans are firmly sticking to their Frank Luntz talking points, designed to frighten the Senior population.

What I can't understand is why no Democratic Senators are standing up for Obama's pledge by noting that Medicare Advantage is a SUPPLEMENTARY insurance provided by Private insurance companies and the pledge was (likely) referring to BASIC insurance, not supplementary.

mstaggerlee (not verified) 13 years 36 weeks ago

@minny -

Somewhat too fine a point for the FOX snooze crowd, don't'cha think?

Brenhin (not verified) 13 years 36 weeks ago

Vincent Daniels - Well said.
Truly the core of the argument against deregulation (as if the Global Collapse wasn't enough).
Certainly we knew this better when we made the Constitution, or Bill of Rights.!

Hell, the Magna Carta was 1215 !!!


Quark (not verified) 13 years 36 weeks ago


Re: Ralph is never tongue in cheek. I admire the guy,but, he is the most humorless fellow you ever find. Initial reviews of his book are bleak.

My hypothesis is that Ralph was a big Ernie Kovaks fan (who wasn't?) When Kovacs died in an accident in his Corvair, I think that motivated Nader to do some investigation and write his milestone book, Unsafe At Any Speed (about the lack of safety regarding Corvairs.) That led to his life of activism.

But that's just my theory... and may be why he rarely seems to laugh (anymore?) LOL!

DDay (not verified) 13 years 36 weeks ago


I worked for Iowa Student Public Research Group, I.S.P.R.G. , a Nader's Raiders offshoot in the 70's. I was aware of the whole Corvair deal. I was not aware that Ernie Kovaks died in one. Your theory while elegant seems to violate the principals of Occam's Razor. The simplest explanation is the most likely. I therefore hypothesize that either Ralph suffers from chronic dyspepsia, rhoids, or was weaned from a sour teat. Your theory is less scatological though. Ralph needs to puff a doobie. LOL!

brian a. hayes (not verified) 13 years 36 weeks ago

thom just want to share this with you, my mentor is Dr. daisaku ikeda there is a daisaku ikeda website think you might find it interesting

Quark (not verified) 13 years 36 weeks ago


You sound alot like my German relatives (also from Iowa), with your love of the scatological...LOL

Hey, I thought my theory WAS the simplest...

B Roll (not verified) 13 years 36 weeks ago


Your first three paragraphs argued against things I never said, but there’s a history that my comment didn’t go into.

If you look at the guest list going back over almost any time period you choose, you’ll see that it’s overwhelmingly weighted toward conservative guests. Some listeners have called and/or posted comments asking for 1) far fewer right wing guests or 2) more liberal and progressive guests. But the mix remains unchanged.

Tell me where I'm wrong, if you like.

My argument is against having conservative guests on the show; it’s against having some many right wingers at the near exclusion of progressive voices. I remember a caller several months ago who asked Thom to have fewer right wing guests and more progressive guests. Thom dumped the call and said that he (Thom) thought that he represented the progressive side very well. (I guess in his humble opinion.)

There is a wide range of views, ideologies and approaches on the left, and for the most part, they aren’t being heard on Thom’s show. I’ve raised this issue several times on this blog.

I’ve also pointed out that if you look at the list of guest for the show so far this year; it’s quite likely that guests like Dan Gainor or Carrie Lukas each have been on the show more than all the African-American and Latino guests combined. Latinos are almost totally absent. I can only think of one this year; a man from Honduras who had less than ideal facility with English who spoke about the coup there. Black guests are a little more common (being that Latinos are essentially at zero), but with their numbers so small, it’s a shame that several have been right wingers like Lurita Doan on Monday.

I find this problematic in a country where African-Americans and Hispanics make up around 30% of the population and with blacks being the most solid Democratic voting block in the country. Members of the Congressional Black Caucus make up a huge percentage of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Why don’t we hear those voices on this show? Cutting back on the constant flow of right wingers would make room for minority voices. I’ve raised this issue in this blog several times. Nothing has changed.

I understand what Thom is doing by modeling how to debate against the conservative and right wing arguments. There’s value in that. But I think there’s also value (that we’re not getting on this show) in hearing a broader spectrum of liberal, progressive and maybe even radical left views. Thom doesn’t speak for all of the left. In fact, today he revived on oh his old slogans when he referred to himself the “radical middle”.

DDay (not verified) 13 years 36 weeks ago


Re: You sound a lot like my German relatives, also from Iowa

I resemble that! I married a Kraut but I'm almost pure Welsh. Also, I was born in Illinois and only "did time' in Iowa! However, to be fair...even my father loved to have me pull his finger..if you know what I mean. The joys of being crude cross all heritages and boundaries it seems. I checked my old physics texts and have no evidence that Quarks can even fart. How sad. tee hee

Quark (not verified) 13 years 36 weeks ago

B Roll,

I have been thinking along the lines of your last post more and more frequently lately. I guess that's why I like to listen to Rachel Maddow and other more consistently progressive shows (with civil dialogue, that is.) I get SO tired of all this "modelling." Sometimes a jerk is just a jerk and NO amount of dialogue shows that he or she is even LISTENING to anyone but the voices in his/her head. (No one is so blind as he who WILL NOT see!)

Often I think progressives need more positive messages from fellow progressives (along with a little "water-cooler" talk from time to time.) But maybe Thom feels more comfortable with his format. And maybe he feels that, if he can get a "righty' to agree with him in some small way, he could count that as an agreeable conversation he could have had with his father. (Maybe that is the key. God knows, I tried to have similar conversations with my right-wing mother, to no avail. But I'm not as keen on reliving them.) Anyway, forgive me, Thom, for trying to "crawl inside your head."

Quark (not verified) 13 years 36 weeks ago


Well, it also tells me alot about what occupies many guys' minds (which never occur to girls until AFTER they get married and exposed to this stuff! LOL!)

Quark (not verified) 13 years 36 weeks ago


"Snips and snails and puppy-dog tails." Very endearing and loveable.

DDay (not verified) 13 years 36 weeks ago

Leave it to me to bring down the level of conversation to it's most base form. Sometimes it seems like everyones underwear is on a little too tight. So very serious! I guess I miss the day we discussed the Royal Order of the Blue Flame, and the Thousand Points of Light. Those were the good ol' days.

Quark (not verified) 13 years 36 weeks ago


Say, that reminds me of a wonderful PBS program I watched about Norwegian arctic explorer Fridtjof Nansen (1861-1930). He had been lost in the arctic wilderness for about 3 years in perilous conditions. He celebrated the last Christmas there by turning his underwear inside out. Talk about small comforts...

Quark (not verified) 13 years 36 weeks ago


We seem to be missing Loretta and Food Fascist for some of our more hilarious exchanges. I hope they are alright (and come back.)

mstaggerlee (not verified) 13 years 36 weeks ago

@B Roll -

I cannot show you where you are wrong about Thom's guest list - you're not. Doubtless, Thom knows Carrie Lukas and Dan Gainor personally, and thus has them both on too often for my tastes. Essentially, both of them, or someone from the organizations they represent, are on the show once a week.

However - this is THOM'S show - it's not my show, and neither is it yours. He puts in the time, and sweat equity, and that earns the bully pulpit for WHOEVER he chooses to present.

A daily segment with Ellen Ratner or someone else from Talk Radio news, an hour a week with Senator Sanders, another weekly visit with Melanie Sloan or somebody from CREW, and more-or-less quarterly chats with Ravi Batra hardly seems to me a "near-exclusion of progressive voices".

Should he have more guests of color? Perhaps so. Personally, I don't see that as a major problem, but that's just one man's opinion. I don't recall the caller you make specific reference to, but Thom often dumps calls that criticize a guest who is no longer present to defend his/her position, and almost ALWAYS dumps callers who delve into the realm of personal attacks.

You, of course, get the ultimate decision regarding what you choose to listen to. If Thom's conservative guests tick you off, slap in a CD for 10 minutes and listen to some music. The voice that you don't wanna hear will be gone by then.

At least, the one on the radio will ... the ones in our heads are considerably harder to deal with. :D

Quark (not verified) 13 years 36 weeks ago

Maybe the key is "love the man, deplore the action" or however that saying goes. Thom is obviously more spiritually enlightened than I often am.

Gerald Socha (not verified) 13 years 36 weeks ago

And we call ourselves a Christian nation!

Gerald Socha (not verified) 13 years 36 weeks ago

As Cyrano said, "One doesn't fight in the hope of winning" (Mais on ne se bat pas dans l'espoir du succès).

I believe that Cyrano is speaking for me. I am 70 years old and in poor health. The people who are important to me will never have the clout or money to defeat the American fascist-Nazi powerbrokers. I carry on because I cannot and I will not remain silent or become complicit in the killing of God's children on either side of the pond. When I meet my creator in judgment, I hope that I can say, "I TRIED TO MAKE OUR WORLD A BETTER PLACE."

James N (not verified) 13 years 36 weeks ago

interesting development in the ACORN story

apparently, one of the folks that was caught up in the "expose" contacted the authorities to seek advice

odd that this has not made it very far yet?

Gerald Socha (not verified) 13 years 36 weeks ago

Where Are They?

I believe that health care is a moral issue. Yet, we are silent on the morality of health care. The reason for our silence centers on the fact that we are an immoral nation.

As far as the pro-life groups they are only money-grabbing hypocrites. Where are they on health care for mother and child; where are they on increasing day care centers for mothers who choose to keep their baby; where are they on improved adoption services for mothers who let their baby come to full term; and where are they on better social services for mother and child? These pro-life groups are hypocrites, money-grabbing hypocrites.

Thom's Blog Is On the Move

Hello All

Thom's blog in this space and moving to a new home.

Please follow us across to - this will be the only place going forward to read Thom's blog posts and articles.

From Unequal Protection, 2nd Edition:
"Beneath the success and rise of American enterprise is an untold history that is antithetical to every value Americans hold dear. This is a seminal work, a godsend really, a clear message to every citizen about the need to reform our country, laws, and companies."
Paul Hawken, coauthor of Natural Capitalism and author of The Ecology of Commerce
From The Thom Hartmann Reader:
"Thom Hartmann seeks out interesting subjects from such disparate outposts of curiosity that you have to wonder whether or not he uncovered them or they selected him."
Leonardo DiCaprio, actor, producer, and environmental activist
From Screwed:
"I think many of us recognize that for all but the wealthiest, life in America is getting increasingly hard. Screwed explores why, showing how this is no accidental process, but rather the product of conscious political choices, choices we can change with enough courage and commitment. Like all of Thom’s great work, it helps show us the way forward."
Paul Loeb, author of Soul of a Citizen and The Impossible Will Take a Little While