Tuesday October 27th 2009

casper imagesHour One: "Wall Street's Naked Swindle" Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi talks to Thom about what really happened inside Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers www.rollingstone.com

Plus...."Everything You Know is Wrong...about ghosts?" Thom talks with supernatural investigator/author Jeff Belanger www.ghostvillage.com

Hour Two: Will human ingenuity save us? Stewart Brand, author, Whole Earth Discipline web.me.com/stewardbrand

Hour Three: "Has capitalism lost its soul?" Thom confronts Alex Epstein of the Ayn Rand Institute www.aynrand.org

Plus...The Mondragon Cooperatives? with Professor Fred Freundlich, www.mondragon.edu


EDWARD CAPO BEACH (not verified) 13 years 22 weeks ago

Ralph Nader

I just received a letter from President Obama. Right there on the outside envelope are the words "I need you." After not answering several letters which I have mailed and faxed to him, I was, for the briefest of moments, curious about this personal plea for help. Then, of course, I realized that it was a form letter from Mr. Obama via the auspices of the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

I started reading the two page, single-spaced missive. His words prompt responses.

He opens with undeniable declarations, to wit: "There are times in the life of our nation when America's course can only be set by the concerted effort of citizens determined to pull our country through.

This is one of those times-and your personal involvement in moving America forward is absolutely essential."

Just what this "personal involvement" is all about is unclear, other than to make a "contribution of $25, $35 or even $50 to the Democratic National Committee" which is somehow supposed to make sure that "America's families are actively engaged in the critical decisions that lie ahead."

This money will fund something called "Organizing for America" under the DNC which will unleash "volunteers and activists" to "carry our message.all across this great country of ours."

The "message" includes "reforms that will bring down the cost of health insurance for families." But Mr. Obama has taken the one reform-single payer, which he used to support-off the table and replaced it with a bill over a 1000 pages that will do just the opposite-to the delight of the drug and health insurance industries (see singlepayeraction.org).

Continuing into the letter, Mr. Obama emphasizes that "in communities all across America, people are worried about whether they're going to have a job and paycheck to count on."

But he has done nothing to support the card check reform to facilitate workers forming unions-an objective he supported during his presidential campaign. Still no push on Congress, no ringing statement of support, as he has uttered numerous times in promoting his various bailouts of Big Business.

One way to help low income workers to pay their bills is to elevate the federal minimum wage to $10 an hour which is what the minimum wage was in 1968, adjusted for inflation. The federal minimum wage is now $7.25. Adding $2.75 per hour would increase consumer demand in our faltering real economy.

The Democrats and Republicans, who gave bailouts in the trillions of dollars for the paper economy of the mismanaged, speculating, reckless big banks, big investment firms and insurance giants like AIG, should provide some economic assistance to workers on Main Street and not just Wall Street.

Mr. Obama writes: "Let's put America's future in the hands of people who are willing to work hard, willing to take their responsibilities seriously.." Perhaps Mr. Obama should read the short book by one of his Harvard Law School professors, Richard Parker, titled Here the People Rule. Professor Parker makes a strong case that the government has a constitutional duty to facilitate the political and civic energies of the people.

An important pathway toward this objective is to provide facilities whereby the people can easily band together in their nonprofit civic advocacy associations which they would fund themselves. Mr. Obama can start this process now by supporting a provision to establish a financial consumer association (FCA) with the pending legislation to start a consumer financial regulatory agency.

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) supported a Financial Consumer Association in 1985 when he was in the House of Representatives. Remember the savings and loan bailouts?

A similar provision can be included in the pending health insurance legislation. These facilities help to redress the present severe imbalance of power between the unorganized people and the corporate power machines which are often taxpayer subsidized and able to deduct lobbying expenses.

These consumer facilities have some precedents. In Obama's home state of Illinois thousands of consumers of electric, telephone and gas companies voluntarily pay their membership dues to their private advocacy group: Illinois CUB (see http://www.citizensutilityboard.org).

He asks for our "personal participation." Well why doesn't he meet with the leaders of consumer, worker and poverty groups in the White House with the frequency with which he meets with the CEOs of giant corporations in the banking, insurance (Aetna), oil, gas, coal, auto and other commercial interests?

Instead he has turned his back on the very constituencies which gave him most of his votes. These are the people who remember Mr. Obama's campaign promises and all his intonations of "hope and change," including moving to reform the privileged tax laws for the rich and corporations and revising the notorious trade agreements.

Since Mr. Obama wants "personal participation," how about moving for D.C. statehood or at least his expressed desire for voting rights and Congressional representation for the residents of the nation's capital? As the months drag on with a Democratic Congress and a Democratic White House, people are losing hope for any change in their present state of political servitude.

Mark (not verified) 13 years 22 weeks ago

Larry Whitten has a problem that many people seem to share. This “hotelier” from Virginia, who took over a hotel in Taos, New Mexico—a small community of mostly Latinos and the white unconventionals and eccentrics—apparently was unaware of its long history as a haven for Spanish culture (kind of like northern Wisconsin being a hide-out for Scandinavian culture). It seems that he has a difficult time adjusting to the fact that the long-time Latino residents may not like being treated like trained dogs or monkeys, and are incapable of grasping concepts like self- respect, self-knowledge, and the capacity to think. Whitten claims to believe that it is too tough for white people to pronounce Spanish names like “Marcos,” so he had the Latino employees Anglicize their names. Frankly, Spanish names are much easier to pronounce than some of these Russian names I encounter at the airport, so it is more likely that Whitten was simply putting his Southern prejudices to work. He also ordered his Latino employees to refrain from speaking Spanish in his presence. Why? Because this paranoid bigot thinks they might be saying bad things about him (and probably are); funny how nobody is worried about what speakers of various Asian and European tongues are saying about bigots and racists—or people they feel “superior” to.

Second-generation Latinos who are born in this country are no different than any other—they will likely have “Anglicized” first names, and English will be their “native” language. Interestingly, a snap poll indicated that 43 percent of respondents think that Latinos should be forced to change their names if an employer demands it. “This is America,” said one respondent. Some have claimed that “customer service” reps in places like India have to change their names too, but it isn’t the guys who answer the phone when I call about a late-posted credit card payment. With all these made-up names adults give their kids these days (DeLisha?), it comes down yet again to the habit of targeting Latinos for popular punishment.

As an aside, I watched for the first time CNN’s “Latinos in America” last Thursday evening. This episode concerned racial or ethnic identification. Apparently this show favors the Latina point of view over the Latino male. I could tell, but not because the news segments focused on women. During the discussion, there was a cut to a Spanish-language video featuring Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez; the camera then cut to Soledad O’Brien reaction—one of undisguised hostility. While a California congressman (off-camera because all the Latinas had to have their faces on screen), there was a cut to O’Brien’s scowling mug, and after he was done she jumped in out-of-turn to make an annoying buffoon out of herself trying to prove how much more superior her opinion was.

After a racist e-mail from a viewer suggested that Latinos referred to themselves as such because they’re embarrassed to be called “Mexican” or “Cuban” or whatever (again, here is Latinos being held to a different standard than white or blacks), actor John Leguizamo did a Chicano activist impression, which solicited another cut to an O’Brien stare of hostility, followed by her huffy married-to-a-white-man defense of herself. Daisy Fuentes also was apparently uncomfortable with Leguizamo’s unfriendly attitude toward bigots—not surprising, since the toughest thing she has had to do to fit into the Anglo-Nordic world is her skin-tight clothes. Given societal prejudices and favoritisms , it should come as no surprise that that Latino males do have a more unfavorable view of bigotry and bigots than do Latinas.

DDay (not verified) 13 years 22 weeks ago

Both the first and third hour topics on today's show are related. Hour one, "Wall Street's Naked Swindle" and hour three's "Has capitalism lost its Soul" are subjects on the minds of many Americans from all political stripes. Hour two will offer a chance to rake leaves or tackle some other neglected chore. The recent steady barrage of outrageous affronts to public decency by the commercial interests running rough shod over our lives has sparked a growing potential revolution throughout society. It is not often that the fringe right and the fringe left share anger over the same issue. Instinct tells me that this rare convergence offers an equally rare opportunity for reform. Whether or not this will be a watershed event depends on many variables. The only players who have shown their cards are the bad guys. They are obviously unafraid and undeterred in their plans to consolidate wealth and power into their hands. Neither the people or their government, nor their conscience has served to modify their behavior in even the most modest ways.

We all know their identities and their transgressions. Wall Street, Investment Banks, Credit Companies, Oil, Coal, Natural Gas, and other Energy concerns, The Chamber of Commerce, Health Insurance, Drug Companies, etc. the list is impressive in it's length and breadth. It would be easier and shorter to list those few commercial concerns who still strive to remain responsible and respectful corporate "citizens". Reckless and irresponsible business practices, running our economy into the ditch, exorbitant salaries and benefits for executives, shady manipulation of markets and prices, red-lining, churning, patient dumping and fraud are just a few of the corporate crimes we all have come to know. The press prefers to use the less onerous label of : "mis-conduct" for corporate crimes.

All of this is already known by anyone with a pulse and a conscience. The only questions are will we allow these S.O.B's get away with it or not. What we don't know is if the people will finally say ENOUGH! and will they have a leader with the fire and fortitude to harness and wield their sword of liberty and justice? I suspect that our well meaning President is no Jackson, T.R. or FDR. I don't think he, (Obama), is as secure as those great leaders who took on the powerful and malevolent forces, (banks and trusts) of their times. I think President Obama will need a pretty big shove from the people before he acts forcefully.

B Roll (not verified) 13 years 22 weeks ago

Judy the caller got it wrong when she said that what the Obama won the Democratic nomination because big money wanted a man.

The simple fact is that Hillary Clinton lost the nomination by running a terrible campaign. She let Obama get the lead and momentum in the early primaries and caucuses and her campaign assumed she was going to wrap up the nomination with a big win on Super Tuesday. Super Tuesday ended up pretty much a draw and the Clinton campaign apparently had no plans for carrying the campaign past early February 2008. That allowed Obama to put together a string of 11 or more victories in a row. Clinton also found her campaign in financial trouble while Obama's campaign was soaring. When she got her campaign back on it's feet she was closing the gap beating Obama in primary after primary. She just ran out of time and primaries; Obama's lead was just too big.

Obama got the most money from Wall Street because all the indicators pointed to a Democratic win. It was a good bet to support whoever the Democratic candidate was going to be.

Then McCain ran a terrible campaign and although he got a bump when he selected Sarah Palin, but that fizzled once they let her be interviewed.

Obama won because he ran a disciplined campaign, energized voters (especially young people and African-Americans) and his competitors ran terrible campaigns.

No conspiracy required.

B Roll (not verified) 13 years 22 weeks ago

Democracy Now did a brief headline story on Matthew Hoh's resignation from this morning. The link and complete text are below.


US Official Resigns over War in Afghanistan

The former top American civilian working in the Zabul province of Afghanistan has resigned from the Foreign Service to protest the Afghan war. Matthew Hoh said he quit because he had come to believe the war was simply fueling the insurgency and that the United States is asking its troops to die for what is essentially a far-off civil war. In his resignation letter, Hoh wrote, “I have doubts and reservations about our current strategy and planned future strategy, but my resignation is based not upon how we are pursuing this war, but why and to what end.” Hoh is a thirty-six-year-old former Marine who fought in the Iraq war. He is the first US official known to resign in protest over the Afghan war.

Quark (not verified) 13 years 22 weeks ago

Nader and Frank Trade Punches

I came across a fascinating segment on The Ed Show yesterday. Ralph Nader and Barney Frank aired their differences on financial regulation coming out of Frank's committee:


DDay (not verified) 13 years 22 weeks ago

Has Capitalism lost its soul?

This rhetorical question presupposes that it ever had a soul in the first place. The obvious answer is no. Capitalism is a human construct similar in ways to a machine. Like a machine it has the power to do great good or great harm depending on the care with which it is operated. To raise it to the level of a religion to be worshiped or a being with a soul is how men are lulled into allowing it to run wild and amok. When properly calibrated, adjusted, and run it has the remarkable ability to serve human need in at least two ways. First it provides a system to aid commerce between people. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, it provides a method to harness and control for good, a universal, ancient, and powerful force in our world: GREED. An analogy might be that Capitalism is a nuclear reactor and greed is the radioactive fuel. We have for some time now been withdrawing all the carbon control rods and the fissionable material is beginning to go critical. The laissez-fare capitalists, objectiveists and corporate criminals have managed to take over the controls from the rationalists and instead of running the machine responsibly for the betterment of all, they instead worship it and remove the mechanisms of regulation.

Idea for Thom: Ask your objectiveist friend from the Ayn Rand Institute what he thinks about affording corporations "personhood"? Then ask him what he feels about capital punishment? Finally, ask him what he feels about capital punishment for corporations? Lifting these stones SLOWLY might expose some interesting critters. Just a thought.

DRichards (not verified) 13 years 22 weeks ago

Arianna Huffington: When it comes to dealing with Wall Street, President Obama seems to have traded in his position as our economy's commander-in-chief for a different role: pundit-in-chief. He and his top advisors are suddenly very big on urging, advocating, and cajoling. During his weekly radio address, which focused on the need to get America's banks lending to small businesses, the president laid out his plan of action: "We're going to take every appropriate step to encourage them to meet those responsibilities." Encourage them? How about make them? Columnists and bloggers encourage. Presidents execute. It's in the job description. Hence: the executive branch. And the executive branch has plenty of weapons at its disposal to force banks still dependent on billions of dollars in taxpayer funds and guarantees to change behavior

DDay (not verified) 13 years 22 weeks ago


Thank you for sharing this! Amen Arianna! I have been trying to say this for some time. You two did.

Richard L. Adlof (not verified) 13 years 22 weeks ago

Ayn Rand folk are much more the:


Richard L. Adlof (not verified) 13 years 22 weeks ago

NO! Society is NOT a collection of individuals. A “collection of individuals” is black widow spiders in a box being shaken. There is no animus except to eat one another. HUMANS aren’t spliced together that way.
Society is an entity to itself. Without society is there is no interaction. There is no language. The very horseshit concept he is spewing all over us can not exist in a farging “collection of individuals”.
I hate the Ayn Rand pukes with a passion hotter than a gazillion white hot stars.

DDay (not verified) 13 years 22 weeks ago


Pseudo intellectuals like Alex, (Ayn Rand), want to simplify everything down because that is what their little brains feel comfortable with. They are the Chauncy Gardiners and Forrest Gumps of the political world.

Richard L. Adlof (not verified) 13 years 22 weeks ago


When will Unequal Protection go back into print?

Catsrule (not verified) 13 years 22 weeks ago

We need an enlightenment, a new society based on the search for knowledge in nature and the sciences, and helping each other and celebrating life, instead of the all-consuming pursuit of wealth! Take money out of the equation!

DDay (not verified) 13 years 22 weeks ago


I share your vision. The problem is that the last period of enlightenment came on the heels of the Dark Ages and the plague. I fear it will take that kind of extreme shock and resulting "thinning of the herd" before a new rationalism will gain currency and spread. I suspect greed and individuality will always pose a challenge to Utopian dreams.

Quark (not verified) 13 years 22 weeks ago


The germ of that idea is already in our society, if you look. All the followers of the "Star Trek" franchise know and cherish such ideals. The question is, how can that world view be expanded and enacted?

(Sci fi has frequently led advances in society, technically and intellectually.)

Mark (not verified) 13 years 22 weeks ago

Since Thom is venturing into “Coast-to-Coast” territory, NASA, according to one guest on that show, is alleged to be preparing to make a Really Big Announcement, which some believe is the revelation of evidence of a past civilization on the Moon, which is supposed to be where humans originated before departing for Earth. But even this apparent feat of technological know-how doesn’t satisfy some who believe that human advancement had extraterrestrial origins; another guest on the show believes that ETs made occasional visits to Earth to observe and provide assistance in advancing human progress, giving “gifts” such as fire, the wheel and agriculture. Because they abide by a “non-interference” code, they have not shown themselves; but because humans have made such a mess of things with these gifts, they may soon be forced to intervene in human affairs in order to avert global catastrophe. Spiritualists may interpret this as the “second coming.”

George Noory never questions the theories of his guests, no matter how whacky they are, but Art Bell was made of sterner stuff. During a show featuring one of those moon walk debunkers, he probed the guest’s theories with questions that any head-scratcher would ask, and when it was apparent that the “evidence” of a hoax amounted to nothing more than photographic “anomalies,” Bell intoned that it in his opinion, he still believed that man traveled to the moon and back, which left the hapless guest to scramble and tell listeners to buy his book and make their own judgments. When Art Bell tells you your theory is BS on the air, then it is best to find another occupation.

The problem with these moon walk hoax theorists is not unlike that of your average paranormal "specialist"—they talk a good game, but when they are confronted with science, they run for the nearest hill. On the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, Ron Reagan had on a guest who made the moon walk hoax claim. Then Ron sprung a surprise on him; his next guest was a real scientist who would debunk the hoax theories, and Ron invited the hoax claimer to stay on to debate the issue. His guest immediately took on the aspect of jelly, claiming he wasn’t “prepared” and declined to take up the challenge. Frankly what I would like to see for amusement is one or more of the dozen or so astronauts who actually walked on the moon to "debate" the issue with one of these debunkers.

Quark (not verified) 13 years 22 weeks ago


True Story (and similar to other events in my life):

A number of years ago, I was in my car, driving home. I didn't have my radio on and was "alone with my thoughts." A question came into my mind, for no apparent reason, "What if Gene Roddenberry wasn't around anymore?" The answer came, "He has already told us everything he has to share."

I got home and heard on the news that night that Roddenberry had died --- just about the time I had those thoughts!

I don't try to explain such occurrences. I just think about them...

Quark (not verified) 13 years 22 weeks ago

They're Baaaaack!

Ex-A.I.G. Chief Is Back, Luring Talent From Rescued Firm


Quark (not verified) 13 years 22 weeks ago

I just heard a news report that said that Sen. Joe Lieberman would not be the 60th Dem. vote to prevent Republicans from filibustering the health care reform bill.

Nathan F (not verified) 13 years 22 weeks ago

Free markets are kind of like a lane closure on the highway. Everyone knows what they should do to get through it, there is no 'law' to prevent people from flying by and cutting in to take advantage of everyone waiting their turn. In a nut shell a few people don't break the law, but screw everyone. That semi blocking the lane is like the regulation, it forces everyone to play by the rules.

Gerald Socha (not verified) 13 years 22 weeks ago

I have often thought that the key for a better world is for women to be in more power positions in government and the world.

Personally, Obama is a failed president. Thom wants to give him time but he has already showed where he stands on many positions. I am eager to see and read that Brooksley Born will run for president in 2012.

Here are some words from from a woman and it solidifies my belief that women are the key for a better world. This woman fought human rights.

Beginning of the Declaration of Sentiments:
"When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one portion of the family of man to assume among the people of the earth a position different from that which they have hitherto occupied, but one to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes that impel them to such a course.
We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights governments are instituted, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of those who suffer from it to refuse allegiance to it, and to insist upon the institution of a new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness." - Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Gerald Socha (not verified) 13 years 22 weeks ago
Gerald Socha (not verified) 13 years 22 weeks ago
Gerald Socha (not verified) 13 years 22 weeks ago

Here is another reason why Obama and the Democratic Congress have failed America.


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