Daily Topics - February 17th 2010

rail imagesQuote: "The power of the Executive to cast a man into prison without formulating any charge known to the law, and particularly to deny him the judgment of his peers, is in the highest degree odious and is the foundation of all totalitarian government." -- Winston Churchill

Thom is in Washington DC - he has a meeting at the White House today

Welcome to our newest station MAIN FM in Asheville, NC

Hour One - Dan Gainor www.businessandmedia.org Is rapid rail the future of America's environment, jobs, economy...or is it just "political pork?"

Hour Two - Harvey Silverglate www.cato.org  "Have our laws made society as "unlivable as if it were lawless?"

Hour Three  - Thom Hartmann Recycled - great debate on capitalism with uber capitalist Steve Forbes!!

Upcoming Events with Thom Hartmann:

Friday, March 5th - 6 to 8pm, Denver, CO - AM 760 presents Thom and David Sirota taking opposite sides "Is it Time to Abandon the Democratic Party?"  Event is  sold out but you can still enter to win tickets!!  Visit AM760.net for details.


Mark K (not verified) 10 years 31 weeks ago

Yesterday, Thom and a caller were discussing the issue of debt forgiveness on a world-wide scale, which I suppose on a certain level has a kind of Disney Land appeal. What if the U.S. decided to unilaterally cancel its own debt? It would likely send seismic shockwaves into the living rooms of individuals whose pensions and savings are tied-up in government bonds or notes, all the way to foreign governments retaliating by seizing U.S. assets within their borders. If no one trusted the worth of U.S. bonds and notes, it would be impossible to raise money to pay for government programs save from taxes; you can’t just print money willy-nilly without converting them to bonds that are then purchased, because that money would quickly become worthless.

Now, we may conjecture that individual debt works via a different dynamic if that debt is forgiven. Subsequently freed-up funds would be re-invested into the economy as people become consumers again, that is if they learn their lesson and refrain from using overusing their credit cards. But what of the banks that “loaned” them the money that they now don’t have to pay back? That money belonged to depositors. How will they get their money back if the banks go broke? Won’t this set off another cycle of bailouts? I’ve heard at least one radio host suggest that if credit card companies keep piling on the high finance charges, over-limit fees and late charges that make it impossible to pay-off the balance, that hey, just show them credit card companies that you won’t take it anymore and don’t make any more payments. Sounds good to me, except that even if after six months the creditor writes off the debt, they will simply “sell” the debt to a collection agency, and you better have a good story before a judge (like being homeless) or face wage garnishments.

There are a lot of debt settlement companies popping out of the woodwork with alternate plans to ward-off private debt, but they are largely unregulated and rarely have your best interest in mind. When they give you a fixed settlement amount, that usually only includes the balance, not the subsequently accrued finance charges or the taxes you have to pay on the “forgiven” debt (which counts as “income”); and unlike debt consolidation programs, a much larger chunk of the monthly payment goes to various service fees. Although the monthly payment might be smaller, it may take longer to pay-off the debt in the long run, and you may end-up saving very little.

It is interesting to note that the problem of private debt and the way it handicaps an economy has been around for a long time. Back in the days of Ancient Rome, Julius Caesar “solved” the private debt problem by promulgating a law that allowed a determination of the amount of interest a debtor had paid, and subtracting that amount from the total of the original debt; if the debtor had paid more in interest than the original debt, that he was no longer liable for further payments on the debt. In this way, the debtor was relieved of excessive and unfair financial burdens, while the creditor, if he didn’t make a profit, at least recovered the entire amount of the original debt. Given the fact that the bank and corporate conspiracy to keep wages low and keep the economy artificially inflated with credit is largely responsible for the current credit crisis, resurrecting this idea seems fairly reasonable.

Bob (not verified) 10 years 31 weeks ago

Honestly, I can't think of anything more awesome than flying into LAX from the East Coast, getting a couple of cocktails with my buddies and then catching the high speed train into Vegas for a long weekend. Or maybe there is a bar car on the high speed train! Sign me up!

DRichards (not verified) 10 years 31 weeks ago

From Va Congressman Forbes
Friend –

Did you know that Moody’s has warned that the United States could stand to lose its gold-standard Triple-A debt rating if government debt continues to rise? And despite this reality, the House of Representatives voted this month – without my support – to increase the U.S. debt limit for the third time in the past year, adding $6,000 per citizen to the $40,000 in national debt Washington has spent for every single American.

Clearly, there is a disconnect between decision makers in Washington and those living in the real world. This type of debt increase cycle also begs the question of whether the “debt ceiling” really is a ceiling at all if it is so easy to raise.

That's why I recently cosponsored the CAP the DEBT Act (H.R. 4262), which would mandate a 2/3 roll call vote in both the House and Senate chambers in order to raise the debt ceiling. It would repeal the current Gephardt Rule that allows a debt ceiling increase to be included in budget resolutions without facing a direct vote.

The CAP the DEBT Act will make passage of debt increases far more difficult. Most importantly, though, it will bring more transparency to the process so Members of Congress are held accountable for their votes to raise the debt limit.

I invite you to email me with your thoughts on this issue and to forward this information to anyone you know that may also be concerned about our nation’s fiscal future.

- Randy

My reply to Mr. Forbes
I agree, Cap the debt; No more war funding!
(What do you want to bet military spending is excluded from his debt cap)?

Charles in OH (not verified) 10 years 31 weeks ago

Many of the laws that Silverglate speaks have been written by capitalist on behalf of the prison/industrial complex

Bryan in Paddock Lake (not verified) 10 years 31 weeks ago

Found Thom's Two Santa Clauses on common dreams (Excellent read!):

@Charles in OH: How do you keep prisons full, and thus the private companies that run them profitable? By convincing municipalities to pass restrictive laws that target the innocent and discourage rehabilitation .. precisely why we have DUI repeat offenders and lock people up for decades for smoking pot. Getting money out of politics is the answer ... wow, seems like it all keeps coming back to the simple solution of publicly financed elections (local to state to federal)!

Drew Reed (not verified) 10 years 31 weeks ago

I have a few corrections to make for the Republican guests and callers speaking out against High Speed Rail and urban trains:

Dan Gaynor claims that trains in Europe are sparsely used and require large taxpayer subsidies. Neither is true; trains are heavily used and trains make back most of their operating costs in fares. He also claims that new rail lines would rip up houses. In fact, most of the proposed High Speed Rail network is improvements to existing train track, or new track in rural areas. Many more houses and buildings had to be destroyed to build the interstate highway system.

Thom had a caller on from Long Beach, where I live as well. The caller was completely off base, train travel has its place even in places which people consider to be "car-centric". The train from LA to San Diego is Amtrak's busiest route outside the northeast, and we're building a regional train network within LA as well, I ride the train from Long Beach to Downtown LA all the time and it works out quite nicely.

Hopefully, we can have a high speed train up and running across the country, it would be great for the environment and an attractive transportation choice.

harry ashburn (not verified) 10 years 31 weeks ago

re: Confessions: Bush also confessed on-air, 1 week after his '05 State-of-the-Union speech. He bragged about having "gone-around" the FISA law over 30 times. (I don't remember the exact phrasing; it might have been "gone above" the FISA law, a la Fawn Hall.)

"Include me out." - yogi berra

Paul Wilden (not verified) 10 years 31 weeks ago

In Thom's discussion with Harvey Silverglate he expresses some surprise that they are in virtual agreement but it's really not surprising at all. While Thom likes to joke about Libertarians being just Republicans that want to smoke pot and have sex, the fact is that intellectually honest Libertarians are almost always in agreement with Liberals over civil liberties. Where Liberals and Libertarians diverge is in the Libertarian's devotion to free market economics in the false assumption that free markets gaurantee liberty when the reality that free markets actually destroy liberty.

harry ashburn (not verified) 10 years 31 weeks ago
Charles in OH (not verified) 10 years 31 weeks ago

AP, 2/17/2010

The insurer Humana said Wednesday it will cut about 2,500 positions as it adjusts to a smaller enrollment.

Its Medicare enrollment slid 24 percent last year to 3.4 million people, while its commercial enrollment fell 6 percent to roughly the same amount.

The Louisville company, however, said it will add 1,100 positions in growth areas like medical-cost containment and pharmacy management.


harry ashburn (not verified) 10 years 31 weeks ago

@Paul Wilden: When i talk with conservatives or libertarians, I try to explain that they blame the government; we progressives blame the corporations, who, 'cause of our electoral system of legalized bribery, own the government; (or at least rent-to-own.)

"Basically my wife was immature. I'd be at home in the bath and she'd come in and sink my boats." -woody allen

Charles in OH (not verified) 10 years 31 weeks ago

Correction: For-Profit Death Panels.

KMH (not verified) 10 years 31 weeks ago

Say..good morning. There is a thread on the Whitehouse Facebook page about nuclear. Some Swedish guy keeps making pro nuclear posts. I could use some help if any of you have the time.

Here is the link. Then work down to find the actual thread. THX!


harry ashburn (not verified) 10 years 31 weeks ago

I can't believe this bozo is spouting the same drivel you hear on Faux news.

"If you tell the truth you don't have to remember anything." - mark twain

Charles in OH (not verified) 10 years 31 weeks ago

Is Steve Forbes a one-trick-pony? He has used his Pennsylvania insurance story the last two times.

Hey Steve, incorporate in PA and buy some insurance. Coverage goes across state lines.

Charles in OH (not verified) 10 years 31 weeks ago

Is this a best of Thom?

KMH (not verified) 10 years 31 weeks ago

Free trade will save Steve Forbes and Steve Forbes only.

harry ashburn (not verified) 10 years 31 weeks ago

@Charles: not yet.

"If Stupidity got us into this mess, then why can't it get us out?" - mark twain

KMH (not verified) 10 years 31 weeks ago

@Charles Thom is live today from Washington, DC. He is meeting with WH officials today. He ought to go in there like Jesus in the Temple.

KMH (not verified) 10 years 31 weeks ago

Competition...when they own the politicians and create the rules that benefit those fat pigs.

Charles in OH (not verified) 10 years 31 weeks ago

Yesterday he mentioned the third hour might be a rerun. This sounds familiar.

KMH (not verified) 10 years 31 weeks ago

Ah, my buddy Dr Luntz. I never was able to find any you tube on that special appearance in Sacramento....unusual? Too many cus words? Too much disclosure of him as the little college Brat?

Charles in OH (not verified) 10 years 31 weeks ago

@KMH - I have a sinking feeling that Thoms meeting is less about policy, but more about rallying the voices around a common message.

Kevin from MI (not verified) 10 years 31 weeks ago

Thom commented about the great memorials in the DC area, and how under Reagan our imagination and ingenuity stopped us from building such structures. Then I hear people say "no, we can't build high speed rail". I'm so tired of the Republicans saying "no we can't" to everything. Anything new is shot down. I can say this; those same people would say YES to a Reagan Memorial in DC..... God help us if that came to be.... I'm sure there would be special access to those making over a million dollars.

JohnnyO (not verified) 10 years 31 weeks ago

Thom, if the Senate will not use reconciliation, then they should bring each bill up individually and make the Repuke's use the real filibuster. Make the Repuke's talk until their lips bleed. This would them expose the Repuke's as the obstructionists they are.

mathboy (not verified) 10 years 31 weeks ago

Do you think the Supreme Court would have made the decision they did in CU v. FEC if Obama hadn't shown that a politician can run his campaign primarily on individual contributions? What I mean is that, if Obama hadn't done that, the cons on the SC might not have been so afraid of human-funded campaigns as to vote the way they did.

KMH (not verified) 10 years 31 weeks ago

Thom, advertize your podcasts a bit more. Caller says whenever he gets a day off he can listen to you. He should be a podcast subscriber!

KMH (not verified) 10 years 31 weeks ago

@mathboy- good point. For all my criticisms of the President, as Mike Malloy put it, there must be some reason why he was such a threat to those running the system.

Charles in OH (not verified) 10 years 31 weeks ago

@KMH - the threat wasn't Obama since he has proven to not be the progressive some imagined him to be. The reality is he demonstrated that a charismatic person can sway enough of the population to diminish the inflence of corporate dollars. The threat would be if a charismatic person with conviction were to run in the future.

Charles in OH (not verified) 10 years 31 weeks ago

Do you think there are people from the early primaries regretting not giving Kucinich a second look?

Tom in Peoria (not verified) 10 years 31 weeks ago


Last Thursday you had a caller who asked if you were aware of commercial that referred to the upcoming $4 TRILLION bailout of Wall Street, I have seen the commercial and it is a sign of what is to come.

The commercial looks just like the ones described in Cracking the Code. Dark background, white text, flashing screens and ominous music. (the learning trance) The commercial is sponsored by the Committee for Truth in Politics. It goes on to tell the viewer to call their Illinois Senator’s and speak out against H.R. 4173 bailout bill.

Truth in Politics my ass! This is the House bill to regulate Wall Street and banks! Is it any wonder that this commercial started to air in Illinois within days of the Supreme Court decision on Citizens United?

Trump's Latest Failure Could Kill 6 million Americans

Thom plus logo Although they haven't yet publicly acknowledged it in such stark terms, it's clear now that the Trump administration has decided pursue a herd immunity strategy to deal with the coronavirus.

Trump's new White House advisor on coronavirus, Scott Atlas, has said it on numerous occasions in multiple venues, and now our Attorney General, Bill Barr, is trying to argue that lockdowns to prevent the spread of the virus are as bad as slavery. Trying to achieve herd immunity in the United States against the coronavirus, assuming it's even possible, would involve between two and 6 million Americans dying.
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:
"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:
"Once again, Thom Hartmann hits the bull’s eye with a much needed exposé of the so-called ‘free market.’ Anyone concerned about the future of our nation needs to read Screwed now."
Michael Toms, Founding President, New Dimensions World Broadcasting Network and author of A Time For Choices: Deep Dialogues for Deep Democracy