Daily Topics Blog - Monday December 14th 2009

credit card imagesHour One - Does Joe Lieberman control the fate healthcare reform now? And what grade would you give Obama? He gave himself a B+ and it will upgrade it to an A- once healthcare reform goes through...

Hour Two: Credit Card Fee Caps...are they a good thing or could they actually hurt consumers? Thom mixes it up with John Berlau of the Competitive Enterprise Institute www.cei.org

Hour Three: Is it possible to achieve peace through education? Thom speaks with acclaimed author/activist Greg Mortenson about his new book "Stones into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books, Not Bombs, in Afghanistan and Pakistan" www.gregmortenson.com


Gene Silvers (not verified) 12 years 28 weeks ago

"Obama Far Outdoes Bush in Escalating War -- The Numbers Will Surprise You"


The highest number of troops the Bush administration ever had in Iraq and Afghanistan at the same time.....186,000.
The number of troops the Obama administration now plans to have in Iraq and Afghanistan at the same time.....222,000.

Gene Silvers (not verified) 12 years 28 weeks ago

campaign spending limits = better politicians

DRichards (not verified) 12 years 28 weeks ago


Last week I directed folks to an excellent -- and highly controversial -- piece about the Obama administration kowtowing to Wall Street, by the great rabble-rouser Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone. Now Taibbi's back with a blog post on the some of the reaction, and I think he hits the nail on the head here:

I supported Barack Obama. I still do. If I had to vote tomorrow between Obama and Tim Pawlenty, or Sarah Palin, it wouldn’t be a choice that required a whole lot of thought. He’s done some good things. He’s restored some confidence in the United States among foreign leaders. We had something of a revolutionary regime for eight years under George Bush, and Obama has put the United States back into the club of rule-abiding nations, at least to some degree.

But I’m a little mystified by the letters I’m getting from people who suggest that being a supporter of a politician means that you should “give him a break” on this or that shortcoming, and behave more like a fan than a citizen.

I think part of the problem -- and we've seen this from liberals and conservatives -- is that both sides feel their opposite number will destroy the country if it wins the next election (ignoring the remarkable similarity between the two parties on some issues, like dealing with powerful corporations...or Afghanistan). So for the Americans who get most worked up about politics these days, their interest isn't so much in debating right and wrong but in "winning," which now isn't everything, but the only thing.

For example, from the mindset of many liberals, criticizing Obama from the left -- when added on top of the unrelenting and unmitigated criticism that he gets from the right -- will weaken the president and his allies in the mind of that tiny sliver of actual undecided voters, which means Democrats losing Congress and the White House over the next four years, which means going back to a Bush-inspired nightmare of endless tax cuts for the rich and bomb, bomb, bombing Iran; you can say the same for the conservative mindset but just substitute "socialism" and "gun confiscation."

On a certain level, it's an understandable impulse. Back in the day, the Democrats in particular had this crazy notion that you could go to a political convention and say whatever was on your mind; in 1972 they argued a lot and nominated wacky choices for vice president and looked terrible on television and pushed back nominee George McGovern's speech until the middle of the night. Over time, both parties decided that avoiding defeat meant avoiding that kind of disunity, which meant avoiding dissent -- and so what if that's undemocratic.

The problem is that "winning," which is supposed to be the only thing, is pretty much an empty thing if you don't keep pushing the "winners" to do the difficult tasks you elected them to do. If Obama isn't nagged by voters to close Gitmo or fight for the public option that a majority of Americans support, then he's not really that different from George W. Bush, and then what was the whole point? I think it makes sense to criticize when criticism is warranted, and let the chips fall where they may. America's a big country. We can handle it.

Lew Bishop (not verified) 12 years 28 weeks ago

I hope Thom gets a chance to bring up the new study by The New Economics Foundation showing banksters destroy $11 for every $1.50 they earn. On the other hand, hospital cleaning staff create more than $16 for every $1.50 they earn.

From the BBC world service:

More evidence that banks are a huge drain on the economy and their practices, including credit card abuses, are a form of state sponsored extortion.

Richard F (not verified) 12 years 28 weeks ago

The fix is in on everything

Why are we letting the Democrats off the hook? Lieberman is not the government neither is Ben Nelson,Landrieu, Blanche Lincoln etc.. Yet we continue to allow Reid and the Democrats to use these few Senators as cover for not fighting. They pay lip service, spout some indignation and then take millions of dollars from corporate interests who are doing their best to undermine the progressive agenda. It’s time to admit that these moderates provide cover for a big chunk of our “representatives” and that is why they are never punished. When I see no consequences for derailing the agenda I know the fix is in and its not just the “moderates” who are playing the game.

Richard L. Adlof (not verified) 12 years 28 weeks ago

Seeing as it seems that I will not be getting through on the phone . . .

Richard Adlof, North Hollywood, CA

I'd give Obama a low "Q" or a high "R" on a standard ABCDF scale.

Thomas Jode (not verified) 12 years 28 weeks ago

I give him a C- for the change not yet given to the American people.

Richard L. Adlof (not verified) 12 years 28 weeks ago



Poll: Democrats' Favorite Recent President Is Bill Clinton -- Not Obama

DDay (not verified) 12 years 28 weeks ago

DDay, Anoka MN.

I'll give Obama a D for damn it! (I'm an easy grader)

Richard L. Adlof (not verified) 12 years 28 weeks ago

On the other hand:


Poll: Vast Majority Say Anti-Public Option DEMs Should Face Primaries

margaret m walsh (not verified) 12 years 28 weeks ago

good morning from camp lluna linda --

Barack Obama easily earns A+ and HONORS at any school he chooses.
His higher teachers will meet him at COP15.

Teachers finding students doesn't happen overnight, sometimes it takes it takes lifetimes.

thank-you for your consideration --
with so many options --

Richard L. Adlof (not verified) 12 years 28 weeks ago

Lieberman and Wife:


If Lieberman Doesn't Back Off His Threat, Democrats Face Unappealing Options


Hadassah Freilich Tucker: Since March 2005, Hadassah Lieberman has worked for Hill & Knowlton, a lobbying firm based in New York City, as a senior counselor in its health and pharmaceuticals practice. She has held senior positions at the Hospital of Saint Raphael in New Haven, the American Committee for Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International (APCO), Pfizer, National Research Council, Hoffmann-La Roche, and Lehman Brothers.

Richard L. Adlof (not verified) 12 years 28 weeks ago

Hour Three: Is it possible to achieve peace through education?

Only lasting peace . . . Nothing we will ever see in our lifetimes . . .

Thomas Jode (not verified) 12 years 28 weeks ago

But we need that peace NOW as well as making it lasting!!!

Jenny (not verified) 12 years 28 weeks ago

Truth be told, most of these guys, Lieberman being at the top of the list, should be in jail. If this ship is ever righted, that (among other things) will be imperative.

Jenny (not verified) 12 years 28 weeks ago

Could it be that President Obama's staff has been successfully infiltrated by the Goldman Sachs crowd, or is he a willing participant? Get rid of Rahm, and the others will fall?

Jenny (not verified) 12 years 28 weeks ago

Peace through education. Yes.

Richard L. Adlof (not verified) 12 years 28 weeks ago

@Ms Walsh:

President Obama did not choose this ‘school’. We chose him and A+ is not his present grade. He might pull his performance outta the toilet but there is no actual evidence that he will even consider attempting to do what is needed.

Janette Brown (not verified) 12 years 28 weeks ago

I couldn't get in by phone, either. I'd give Obama a C grade, assuming he's bright enough to have something up his sleeve. I hope so.

The 2 Democratic Presidential choices in '08 were both insiders. I want to see campaign spending limits.

Richard L. Adlof (not verified) 12 years 28 weeks ago


The Rahm Emanuel is just another symptom of problem. President Obama’ Administration has systemic corruption by HIS choice.

Richard L. Adlof (not verified) 12 years 28 weeks ago


The contractor problem dwarves the armed forces issue.

Mark (not verified) 12 years 28 weeks ago

Since Thom hasn’t made the next day’s live blog available to posting in the evening of late (it’s a “live blog”), my only other opportunity to post is via the airport’s so-called free wi-fi during a rare one-minute break—that is, it’s “free” when it’s actually working—which it wasn’t last Friday morning. Thus I want to take this belated opportunity to express my appreciation for Loretta’s kind words, positive reinforcement, and helpful information. I’m sure everyone is well aware of her generosity of spirit, even if some of us are not particularly worthy (such as myself).

In regard to Thom’s discussion with that Ayn Rand fellow last week, it seems abundantly clear that conservatives tend to put political philosophy before the public interest, let alone safety. One wonders just how “bad” bad has to get for them. Even when the right talks about fiscal “responsibility,” it’s always in the service of haves against the have-nots. I think it is also useful to point out that government only operates in the public interest if the administration or party in power is committed to the public interest. For example, I doubt that when they were administering Reagan’s EPA, Rita Lavelle and Anne Gorsuch (and their train-wreck of a boss James Watt) had the “public interest” or safety in mind—particularly when both were indicted and forced to resign for taking kick-backs and bribes for doing the bidding of business interests.

Meanwhile, much has been made of the University of East Anglia trying to cook the books on global warming, discovered through hacked e-mails. Some of the “suppressed” data suggests that global warming is not occurring, and some suggests that it is happening, but much of it can be explained by urban environmental effects (street lamps, I suppose, but still “man-made”), or by sunspots. Frankly, we could have used some “global warming” to combat the unusually cold weather we’ve been experiencing in these parts, but the snow that was predicted never materialized; one wonders if weatherpersons employ Alchemy rather than Meteorology as their methodology.

But the question remains: is global warming happening or not? If it is, then does it matter how much of it is man-made or not? Even if global warming isn’t man-made, we still have to do something to counteract its effect on humans, unless, of course, we are outrageously rich and can “buy” our way out with the latest in bubble-boy biosphere voodoo, or try, like Prince Prospero, to escape behind a walled fortress far away from the suffering caused our misdeeds. But like the prince, the production of our misdeeds will come calling on us in its own good time, and it won’t come to ask if we are ready for it. And every fool ought to see that man-made pollution—including greenhouse gasses—have effects on the environment and human health that takes a great deal of effort and know-how to counterbalance, given the lack of will to eliminate them even partially.

Yet doing nothing is the “option” proposed by a very small minority of scientists, right-wing dullards and Cato Institute-types. At best, the right insists that technology will solve everything; the problem is prodding industry to get around to developing that technology. As has been suggested by others, we don’t need those hand-wringers and thumb-twiddlers in Congress to move on global warming—all we need is the EPA to do its job. It already has all the power it needs at its disposal. The problem there, of course, is that the EPA only does what it is told—or not told—to do by the administration in power.

Food Fascist (not verified) 12 years 28 weeks ago

Fire Dog Lake is calling on the Susan G. Komen for the Cure and its celebrity endorsers to remove Hadassah Lieberman as a compensated "Global Ambassador."

Hadassah Lieberman's relationship with Susan G. Komen for the Cure is unethical and misleading. Important and often very personal donations made to Susan G. Komen for the Cure to benefit the sick and dying are essentially undermining their intended use.

Hadassah Lieberman has worked for the insurance-pharmaceutical-lobbying complex, making her role with with Susan G. Komen for the Cure already questionable. And as Hadassah travels the globe under the banner of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, decrying the inadequecies of our health care system and the need to reform it, her husband is at home to kill the reform efforts we so desperately need.

People who are racing for the cure wouldn't be racing to pay Hadassah Lieberman money, especially if they knew her ties to the same corporations that are blocking women's health reforms currently being debated in Congress.


Richard L. Adlof (not verified) 12 years 28 weeks ago

By definition “Free Market” MEANS that given when customer (demand source) has the utter freedom to choose amongst commodities (undifferentiated goods or services), customer is free to choose purely on their whim or solely for the reason of price.

Sane economists, including Adam Smith, ALWAYS warn about applying this concept to ANYTHING that is not a commodity.

Jenny (not verified) 12 years 28 weeks ago

To Richard L: You are probably right, sad as it is to acknowledge. Plan B: Emigrate to the Lakotah Nation.

Richard L. Adlof (not verified) 12 years 28 weeks ago

If Obama were a fellow Hebrew he would know the meaning of the word transliterated as SHANDA.

Richard L. Adlof (not verified) 12 years 28 weeks ago

Golly, I read like an angry, knee-jerk contrarian, today.

Richard L. Adlof (not verified) 12 years 28 weeks ago

Obama has a great backstory . . . AND see what that has gotten us . . .

Richard L. Adlof (not verified) 12 years 28 weeks ago

It is not about screwing renters . . . It is about stealing real property from small land holders for the price of moneys lent.

Chris (not verified) 12 years 28 weeks ago

Again, I see crying and complaining with no solutions that will be implemented. Left boycotts the right, because they are different. Right boycotts the left, because they are different. The position is more important than the topic. It will be ugly, but the goodfaithclause.com will be released this Friday. Forget if any of their proposed programs will make sense (I thought the preview looked workable, but who am I?). Basically, without getting back to one standard of right and wrong as a foundation, we are screwed. Continue arguing way high above, but if you are not building the foundation back to where it needs to be we are a nation that had everything and gave it all away starting about 50 years ago. Yes, (gasp) even long before Reagan. Next week is when (if it is actually released on the new schedule), can we start talking about foundation and not just painting a house that is slipping down a hill? Less cool and fun, but anyone want to argue it isn't needed? Of course, you all will just make it about politics and screw us over in the name of doing the right thing. Wow, we are screwed. (one tin soldiers plays in the background)

Richard L. Adlof (not verified) 12 years 28 weeks ago

“Hadassah Lieberman is no friend to your cause and has historically worked to dismantled basic healthcare including cancer treatments. This has never been more evident than now when we consider her effect on Senator Joseph Lieberman's present actions.”

GOTO http://action.firedoglake.com/page/s/hadassah?source=email&subsource=121409 and ask Susan G. Komen of Race for the Cure to ask Hadassah Lieberman to step down as a compensated "Global Ambassador" for the organization in light of the inherent conflict of interest her continued presence brings.

Thomas Jode (not verified) 12 years 28 weeks ago

"Skim" may be too weak a word. More like "shovel", "rake", "bulldoze."

Chris (not verified) 12 years 28 weeks ago

Without names or politics, are you saying that Lieberman has violated the good faith clause? Would everyone else agree? What of the two alternatives would he be? Which of the P's or both? Why make it more difficult or at least show how easy any of this should be.

We tried the whole 'enlightened' approach (usually on the left), which lead us most often to ruin since we promised much and delivered little when it came down to it (even see health care reform). Those outside of the 'me clever' group just laughted, embraced the breakdown, and did what they wanted. As you talked a better future, they acted. Let me spell it out, again. F O U N D A T I O N. Too bad thoughts of a next book will have any of this falling on deaf ears.

Jenny (not verified) 12 years 28 weeks ago

Chris: I'm with you. People have to start doing things. I have noticed that various forms of social media are making slow but signficant social movements, away from conservatism. Using twitter at Geneva successfully for example. I think the money behind what is left of the TV and print news need to continue to become less and less viable as sources of real news, and a strong new movement can then take place. Good news is they are becoming less important (Repub media) but they still have tons and tons of money. Gotta make their money worthless. Oh, that's already happening in the oil business. Thom Hartman is on fire today and nailing it ........ Lieberman is a sociopath for sure, and probably a psychopath, given his loyalty to the corporate God, money. I am not even sure that blood runs through his veins, he is so pale and rubbery plastic looking - like a kid's toy superhero, but a anti hero. He has no soul, no guts. I am going to VooDoo donuts and ask them to create a Lieberman donut, with extra pretzel sticks.

Chris (not verified) 12 years 28 weeks ago

Voodoo Donuts? Yummmmm. Been there and liked the blue ones.

since I see others have placed links, thought I would add the one previously mentioned. A job creator, a strengthening agent for American business, a fair politics binder, and an education model. How can you not like it, regardless of your political party? Again, the caveat is if they make their Friday deadline and release what some of us have seen. http://goodfaithclause.com/default.aspx

Jenny, it is also from one of your neighbors up near Portland. It's at least a start. We'll see. Damn, now I want a donut and only Voodoo will do.

Richard L. Adlof (not verified) 12 years 28 weeks ago

@Chris: Senator Lieberman (I-CT) is literally sleeping with enemy and there are serious ethical/conflict on interest issues with him not removing himself from the discussion of Healthcare reform.

The precisely exact same thing can be said of Representative John “The Boner” A. Boehner (R - OH).

Lawrence Johnson (not verified) 12 years 28 weeks ago

I give Barack Obama a big red F! Why has he allowed Olympia Snowe, Mary Landrieu and now, Joe Lieberman, to interfere with this vitally important healthcare legislation? Why hasn't he loudly and forcefully dictated EXACTLY the public option that he will accept for signature? Who is in charge here? Obama looks to be either a pitifully weak leader or else a centrist corporate tool, intent on betraying the hopes of the progressive base that got him elected.

margaret m walsh (not verified) 12 years 28 weeks ago

Barack Obama will earn an A plus Honors --
at any school he chooses --
from any teachers he chooses to report to --

his HIGHER TEACHERS are waiting from him at COP15!

Scott (not verified) 12 years 28 weeks ago

Some more information backing my claim that the Tea Party folks will not find common ground with any on the left about economic issues. See excerpt below and their take on Unions and who they are targeting in upcoming elections. This is from the SF Chronicle.

"Organizers of the conservative Tea Party movement are forging plans to translate the anger that fueled nationwide anti-tax rallies and town hall protests into an electoral force that can boot incumbents in next year's midterm elections.

Their targets range from big names like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., to county assessors.

The East Bay Freedom Fighters, a Tea Party group based in the Pleasanton area, is already vetting 43 Bay Area candidates, many of them first time office-seekers. Other branches in California are gathering signatures for a ballot initiative that would restrict the political clout of unions.

Those sympathetic to the Tea Party and the 912 Project - nine principles and 12 values including God, marriage, freedom, honesty and thrift - trumpeted by Fox News commentator Glenn Beck are forming political action committees and rallying around screenings of the newly released "Tea Party: The Documentary Film."


Professor Smartass (not verified) 12 years 28 weeks ago

I would give Obama a B+ if he had accomplished as much as he had with with a slim Democratic majority--but we gave him the supermajority in the Senate the Democrats said they needed to get anything of substance done and instead of acting like they have a progressive mandate, they threw us a bone and before we even got a chance to gnaw on it, they threw us to the corporate wolves.

At least the GOP makes no pretense of NOT being corporate whores.

Thom's Blog Is On the Move

Hello All

Today, we are closing Thom's blog in this space and moving to a new home.

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

From The Thom Hartmann Reader:
"Thom is a national treasure. Read him, embrace him, learn from him, and follow him as we all work for social change."
Robert Greenwald, political activist and founder and president of Brave New Films
From Unequal Protection, 2nd Edition:
"If you wonder why and when giant corporations got the power to reign supreme over us, here’s the story."
Jim Hightower, national radio commentator and author of Swim Against the Current
From The Thom Hartmann Reader:
"Never one to shy away from the truth, Thom Hartmann’s collected works are inspiring, wise, and compelling. His work lights the way to a better America."
Van Jones, cofounder of RebuildTheDream.com and author of The Green Collar Economy