Recent comments

  • May 27th Wednesday   10 years 20 weeks ago

    What exactly is the best prediction concerning global warming? Are we facing an ice age, because of the loss of the gulf stream warm water converyor belt in the Atlantic ocean?

    Or severe drought brought on by higher temperatures?

    Thank you
    Michele

  • May 27th Wednesday   10 years 20 weeks ago

    Regarding Carol's comments earlier, I understand what she is saying about giving Obama a chance. Believe or not, I think this appropriate regarding holding the Bush administration accountable and health care. Do not despair regarding accountability. Holder is doing his job and letting the health care issue run its course through the end of the summer. But I just have a strong feeling that the main stream press is totally misreading Obama on this.

    As health care, I'm less certain. I'm starting to feel that we are about to be sole down the road on this. The only thing that keeps me hope is that Obama knows that it is the paramount issue on which his presidency will be eventually judge. He can't afford to blow it.

    However, I couldn't disagree more with Carol as to Obama's intent regarding the financial industry. He did not hire Sumners and Geitner only to fire them later. That's absurd. He does not know the industry well enough to totally dismantle it. He will heed his advisors' advice in this area. Moreover, he does not believe he has the power to fix it. You may have heard that the banks own capital hill now. Also, Obama fears what major changes or a hostile financial industry could do to his presidency and this country. He should. This selfish group of people could destroy him and us . . . and themselves. As the Haitian elite have proven, I think they would be okay living behind walled off compounds that they can't leave without risking their lives.

    Obama will tweak around the edges of the financial industry. Then, leave the problem for his successor to tackle, Bush like, during the next financial crisis in about 5 - 7 years (unless a sooner collapse forces his hand). If he's lucky, it won't occur until a year or two after he leaves office. Maybe that will be the only major thing on that President's plate.

  • May 27th Wednesday   10 years 20 weeks ago

    Mark,

    That's why it's said that economics is as much an "art" as a "science." Like predicting the weather, only more mysterious. LOL

    BTW, I just sent the following email to Obama (www.whitehouse.gov/contact):

    Dear President Obama,

    Let me preface my question by saying that I am a life-long Democratic activist and delegate. I WANT you and your administration to succeed.

    WHY won't you listen to progressive economists like Ravi Batra (www.RaviBatra.com), Paul Krugman, Rbt. Reich or others? These people WILL PROVE TO BE RIGHT and your Wall Street/financial market advisors WILL BE PROVEN WRONG.

    Ravi Batra is, this very minute, saying that the U.S. economy is currently in a "holding pattern." By about July, 2009, it will take a nose-dive, worse than what we have seen so far. This is because:

    1) Oil speculation will absorb most of the emergency funding the gov't. has put the the hands of consumers.

    2) Propping up banks and the financial markets will only reinflate the credit bubble. This will fail because citizens are "tapped out." They have nothing left on which to borrow. The real problem here is that INCOMES HAVE NOT KEPT UP WITH PRODUCTIVITY FOR THE LAST 30 YEARS.

    Americans have lost income, assets and savings, along with jobs. As long as the government caters more to corporations and the wealthy, this country WILL FAIL.

    This is very discouraging.

    Watch and see. This is what we can expect. Why don't you change your direction NOW? Are you REALLY willing to listen to other points of view? I don't think so...At least, I don't see it happening.

  • May 27th Wednesday   10 years 20 weeks ago

    I invite Thom to discuss the possibility that antitrust laws could prohibit a national health care program that is not controlled by insurance and drug companies, as suggested in the NY Times article below

    New York Times
    May 27, 2009
    Antitrust Laws a Hurdle to Health Care Overhaul

    By ROBERT PEAR
    WASHINGTON — President Obama’s campaign to cut health costs by $2 trillion over the next decade, announced with fanfare two weeks ago, may have hit another snag: the nation’s antitrust laws.

    Antitrust lawyers say doctors, hospitals, insurance companies and drug makers will be running huge legal risks if they get together and agree on a strategy to hold down prices and reduce the growth of health spending.

    Robert F. Leibenluft, a former official at the Federal Trade Commission, said, “Any agreement among competitors with regard to prices or price increases — even if they set a maximum — would raise legal concerns.”

    Already, some leaders of the health care industry who appeared at the White House on May 11 say the president may have overstated their cost-control commitment. Three days after the gathering, hospital executives said that they had agreed to help save $2 trillion by gradually slowing the growth of health spending, but that they did not commit to cutting the growth rate by 1.5 percentage points each year for 10 years.

    White House officials say even the more limited commitment is significant. Under current law, federal officials predict that health spending will grow an average of 6.2 percent a year, to $4.4 trillion in 2018.

    Mr. Obama is asking the industry for detailed proposals to control costs. But so far the administration has not offered the industry any relief from antitrust laws and has, in fact, vowed to step up enforcement.

    As a presidential candidate, Mr. Obama said consumers had suffered because of “lax enforcement” of antitrust laws in many health insurance markets.

    In 1993, when President Bill Clinton made the last major effort to overhaul the health care system, the lobby for the drug industry, then known as the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association, devised a voluntary cost-control plan. Under it, each drug company offered to limit the annual increase in the average price of its prescription drug products to the increase in the Consumer Price Index.

    The Justice Department rejected the proposal, saying it would violate antitrust laws. In blocking the proposal, the department said the Supreme Court had made clear that agreements setting maximum prices were just as illegal as agreements that set minimum ones.

    “Such maximum price-fixing agreements create the risk that the maximum prices will become minimum or uniform prices,” the department said in a business review letter signed Oct. 1, 1993, by Anne K. Bingaman, then the assistant attorney general in charge of the antitrust division.

    In 1978, hospitals also asked the Justice Department for an assurance they would not be charged with antitrust violations when they undertook a “voluntary effort” to curb costs as an alternative to legislation proposed by President Jimmy Carter. The department would not provide such an assurance.

    Many savings now envisioned by the health care industry would require much closer cooperation by independent doctors and hospitals, taking them into a gray area of the law where federal agencies have not provided clear guidance.

    In a recent letter to the Senate Finance Committee, the American Hospital Association said uncertainty about enforcement of the antitrust laws “makes it difficult for a hospital and doctors to collaborate to improve care” and lower costs.

    Doctors often want to collaborate and share information about prices without sharing financial risk or fully merging their office practices. The American Medical Association has asked Congress to revise antitrust laws so doctors can collectively negotiate with insurers over fees and other issues.

    The Federal Trade Commission has repeatedly challenged such collective action as illegal price-fixing, even though doctors say they are at a severe disadvantage in trying to negotiate with giant insurance companies.

    A new study by an economist at Northwestern University, Leemore S. Dafny, finds that a growing number of geographic markets are dominated by a handful of insurance companies, and that the decline in competition may contribute to higher prices.

    Among the groups that say they have joined together to rein in health costs, besides the hospital and medical associations, are America’s Health Insurance Plans and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.

    Jamie Court, the president of Consumer Watchdog, an advocacy group, said he was wary of such joint efforts.

    “When companies that control the health care system get together to change it, there is a serious risk that they are doing it to stifle competition at the expense of consumers,” Mr. Court said.

    The Federal Trade Commission says that while cooperation among health care providers can benefit consumers, it can also increase the bargaining power of hospitals and doctors, making it easier for them to set prices and eliminate competition.

    Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company Privacy Policy Search Corrections RSS First Look Help Contact Us Work for Us Site Map

  • May 27th Wednesday   10 years 20 weeks ago

    Economists with their various and conflicting computer models, politicians doing what is politically expediate for themselves, corporations headed by management that only looks to see how much money they can make personally before they get out, most of the public having no real idea of what is going on beyond their own circumstances, and talking heads speaking out of their fundaments--anyone who claims to know the perfect solution to this perfect economic storm should be in an insane asylum. Economic policy has never been anything more than hit or miss.

  • May 27th Wednesday   10 years 20 weeks ago

    NEWS FLASH: Hyper-inflation held in check by corporate salary supression . . .

  • May 27th Wednesday   10 years 20 weeks ago

    Hi Kim-

    Are you receiving emails from OFA to host events? I do and do set up events. I am frank and kind with those who show up. I also remind everyone that JFK was shot only 1000 days into his presidency. So- it could be that the President is mindful of this and frightened. He most likely feels he is doing the best he can do while keeping himself alive and we need to be out there doing exactly what Thom says- we need to take over the Democratic Party and this might also mean joining the Green Party. But my experience is no matter how blatant I am to the Obama Camp, they do still allow me in their quarters and reminded of my views by my blogs and fairness of assessment of the issues at hand. My secret feeling is truly that Obama is Sheriff of Rockinghman in Blazing Saddles. Go host an event!

  • May 27th Wednesday   10 years 20 weeks ago

    Thom,
    I think you misunderstand Pres. Obama. Look (again) at *Team of Rivals*. Goodwin claims that Lincoln had a masterful sense of where the public was. He waited with emancipation until he sensed that it would get the support it needed. He ignored attacks from both right and left so he could stay his course. I suspect Obama is more progressive than he is showing us, but that he's a Lincolnesque politician.

    For example, I expect (hope for) progress on gay rights when and as the majority of the country come around to that point of view. That will happen, if only by the death of older, more conservative citizens. When it does, Obama will move.

    What *we* have to do is move the public to the left. You contribute mightily to that cause. Keep up the good work.

  • May 27th Wednesday   10 years 20 weeks ago

    so, we need to put more progressive pressure on Obama the centrist. How? Tell me what to do. I don't have any money to do anything with because of the state of the economy. I sign petitions, and send emails. What else can I do?
    I am thinking that we need to infiltrate the local Democratic party. What else?

  • May 27th Wednesday   10 years 20 weeks ago

    Here is what made me angry about the latest Obama email into my account. His organization Organizing for America set up a vigil to support those who lost the Prop 8 ruling yesterday. I shot the email back:

    I know that President Obama came out against Proposition 8, but the fact of the matter is he did say during a debate that both he and his Vice President were against gay marriage. We cannot have it both ways. If he feels differently now, he should make a statement. He helped this measure pass.

    Below, see how Miss California used the President's statements to reinforce her outright desire to take away the rights of gay people. I am not gay, but I see today's decision an assault on all of us since we are now vulnerable to a vote as to whether or not we will have a right to be ourselves at the scrutiny of someone else's church.
    ________________________________________________

    Miss California's actual statements includes confirmation from the President.
    .
    I will not back down for my right to take away freedoms from gay people.

    I was punished on that stage. It was my assault on my freedoms and constitutional rights Which should not happen in America – unless you are gay. In which case you should quietly understand that God does not agree with you.

    To hear the remark about the President, play this clip

    Watch this! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XwNHE3QXVc4

  • May 27th Wednesday   10 years 20 weeks ago

    Clarence Thomas was the "First" Black justice on the Supreme Court?!? What was Thurgood Marshall? An ET? Not that I would want to see Thurgood Marshall brought down by a comparison to the current president. But, Thom - you were a bit too reactionary there.

  • May 27th Wednesday   10 years 20 weeks ago

    Progressives NEED to haunt the President until he becomes just.

    Progressives NEED to raze the DINO's from the House and the Senate.

  • May 27th Wednesday   10 years 20 weeks ago

    There are NO, NADA, NONE, ZERO, ZIP liberals on SCOTUS.

    There a moderates with consciences and recessivists with fascist plutocratic tendencies.

  • May 27th Wednesday   10 years 20 weeks ago

    Once Again, Obama disappoints real Progressives! We have another Clintonian democrat. Ugh!!!
    Thom you hit the nail on the head yesterday when you pointed out that back in 1998 Trent Lot said they were 'grooming her for the Supreme Court'. This obviously comes out of the backroom deals with Hillary Clinton as part of her concession for the Democratic nomination.
    Worth Pointing out is that she is CATHOLIC. How representative of the US population is it to have 6 of 9 Supreme Court Judges being Catholic?

  • May 27th Wednesday   10 years 20 weeks ago

    "Oh look, the mediocre, just right of middle of the road, President nominatated a Centrist Judge as his first pick . . ."

  • May 27th Wednesday   10 years 20 weeks ago

    Richard Adolf,

    'Sounds like Elmer Gantry redux.

  • May 27th Wednesday   10 years 20 weeks ago

    I have developed a real dislike of the oppressive things that rapturian recessivists inflict on good and godly people.

  • May 26th - Tuesday   10 years 20 weeks ago

    B Roll and Mark,

    Thank you for your comments and clarifications. I really appreciate the insights you offer; maybe they will make me a better, fairer human being. (I hope I can reflect that in my daily interactions and thinking.)

    I know I have been fortunate in many ways. However, I have also experienced a number of horrific situations that cut to the center of my very being (no, that is NOT hyperbole) in my life because of my gender. Those I wouldn't wish on anyone, either.

    I would guess that most sentient, caring beings have their own "hells" on which to reflect. Thank you for sharing a little of yours.

  • May 27th Wednesday   10 years 20 weeks ago

    Hey Thom,
    or anyone, does anyone know where I could find the percentages of Conservative justices following the Constitution comapred to the "Liberal" judges? I know Thom had said yesterday the Conservatives were typically more to adlibbing than liberals (50%+, compared to 40% or less) I'd just like a link, or know where to find this info to help strenthen my argument!
    Thanks all.

  • May 26th - Tuesday   10 years 20 weeks ago

    Sometime last week someone came up with a great analogy regarding water in a tree, I think that you could take that analogy even further. Below is my explanation.

    Take a look at a balanced system in our ecosystem, water. If the water system was not balanced, life could not survive. As in wealth, water accumulates in areas and is scarce in other areas. Deserts have the least and oceans have the most. Most of the water in our ecosystem ends up in an ocean at some time. The question is what keeps the balance? The answer is evaporation and rain. Evaporation prevent too much water from accumulating in the oceans and redistributes it in the form of rain in other areas. This keeps the cycle going. If the evaporation and rain would stop, all water would end up being accumulated in the oceans and the rest of the world would be without water.

    If we compare this to an economy, naturally money will flow to the people that have money as they usually have the means to satisfy some need in society. Big business is very efficient at delivering goods in order to take our money from us. This is the nature of a free market. However, like the system of water in our ecosystem, there needs to be an equalizer that redistributes the money when companies and individuals accumulate too much of it. That system is known as taxes and government programs. Taxes act like evaporation. Money is skimmed off the top. The more money you have the more money will be skimmed. This is true of the water systems too. Government programs act like the rain. They distribute money in areas that need it. Sure, there is no perfect system. This is also true of the water system as deserts do exist. The wealth is not distributed evenly, as it shouldn't. But, the system does help keep everything moving, which will benefit everyone.

  • May 26th - Tuesday   10 years 20 weeks ago

    For those who complain that ethnic or gender "diversity" should not be a consideration when chosing a Supreme Court nomination, this fact should be remembered: back in the early days of our nation, going back to President Washington, when only white males were deemed qualified to serve in politics and the judiciary, Supreme Court seats were distributed by geography. When one justice resigned from a particular region of the nation, that spot was filled by another justice from that same region. This was done so that all parts of the country were represented equally on the court.

    If the Founders deemed it worthy to consider geography an important qualification for particular seats on the Supreme Court, then how is this so different from the idea that we should have X-number of women, blacks, hispanics, etc on the court today?

  • May 26th - Tuesday   10 years 20 weeks ago

    In response to Quark, I agree that there is great importance in what are considered dirty jobs. There would be more people willing to do these jobs, but the pay is too low relative to easy office jobs.

    In spite of seeming like drudgery at times, office jobs do have many benefits compared to other jobs. People who do them get to sit at a desk all day instead of standing up and doing often dirty physical labor and they usually get to work regular hours. They also get the benefit of the prestige that goes along with having an office job. It’s much more impressive say to someone of the opposite sex that you have an office job than it is to tell them that you are a mechanic which people still think of as “grease monkeys”.

    Many office jobs, especially those at lower and mid levels have far more applicants than there are open positions. In contrast, I recently read about a job handling crabs in the hot sun in Maryland had no applicants even though it paid $14.00 per hour which is comparable to some lower level office jobs.

    Rather than being a law written in stone that college graduates will always earn more than those who do what are considered menial jobs, the current situation is caused by an imbalance in the labor market. As manufacturing jobs were outsourced before office jobs, the pay gap was increased as manufacturing wages fell. Now there is much downward pressure on white collar wages, but wages are what economists call “sticky” in that they don’t adjust downward as easily as they adjust upward. Even without union contracts, stickiness can be caused when office workers are offered a certain wage for a year during their annual review. If new workers were hired at lower wages, the benefit of this would be offset by discontent within the office. When employees have their next annual review, those who had their wages lowered first would be discontented. White collar wages tend to remain stable while more jobs are outsourced and there are plenty of workers in Asia who are capable of writing software code who are currently standing in the hot sun behind a plow or working in dirty factories who would be willing to work for much less than the pay in the US for the same job. Part of the reason why current employees are being overworked is a result of the extent to which employers are not able to reduce wages.

    What will eventually reduce the imbalance is inflation which eliminates the problem of stickiness of wages. If office wages are not raised in an inflationary environment, a company that had 50 applicants for one job might have only forty, but would still be able to find someone very well qualified for the job.

    Because of the cultural attitude that those who do white collar jobs need to be paid more, many employers probably don't realize that they could pay less and still get esentially equally qualified employees. However, they will find this out when there is inflation but they still have a pool from which they can find a qualified applicant. They will then see that they have no reason to raise wages in an environment of narrow profit margins. Although there is an increasing use of technology, technology actually makes jobs easier as often as it makes them more complicated, so no shortage of technologically skilled workers is created.

    I’ve heard it said that when there are more applicants for one job, employers just become more selective and continue to pay the same wages. However, these comments often come from those who still have jobs these comments are likely a result of wishful thinking that their pay won’t be lowered. This thinking also boosts the egos of those who still have jobs by letting them think that they still have jobs because they are the most qualified even when it is actually a result of such factors as increasing age discrimination. With profit margins squeezed, many companies are quicker to lay off older workers with higher health insurance costs.

    When inflation occurs, unlike in the past it will not be accompanied by increasing demand and the need to hire more workers. Instead, it will be caused by a collapse of the dollar and a shrinking economy and a squeeze on profit margins. Instead of increasing white collar wages in an inflationary environment in proportion to the rate of inflation, real wages will be allowed to be inflated away. If a company that used to have fifty applicants for one position only has forty applicants after allowing wages to be inflated away, he would still likely be able to fill the position with a qualified applicant. If inflation was fifteen percent and if an employer could find an employee who was 1% more productive from the pre inflation pool of 50 applicants, he would at most pay about 1% more rather than 15% more to completely adjust the wage for inflation.

    As real white collar wages fall in an inflationary environment, employers such as the one who has no applicants for a job handling crabs in the hot sun will be under even more pressure to raise the wage offered for that job. As a result, as the economic pie shrinks, at least those who do the dirty jobs will get a larger share.

  • May 26th - Tuesday   10 years 20 weeks ago

    I would like Quark to know that as someone regarded as a "Mexican" by most people I encounter, I've experienced far more dehumanizing and ignorant behavior than she will ever know. I work at an airport, and I've filed three complaints so far against the port police for harassment, and have frequently been the subject of "special attention" from HS and customs and immigration people. And their attitudes are merely reflective of the country as a whole. I'm not blind; if white men are 1a in this country, she is 1b. The rest of us rank somewhere further down the social and economic ladder.

  • May 26th - Tuesday   10 years 20 weeks ago

    Thom,

    To the caller who asked why Sotameyor's gender or ethnicity matters:

    Please remind these people that A CASE DOES NOT REACH THE SUPREME COURT UNLESS THE CONSTITUTIONALITY OF THE LAW ITSELF IS IN QUESTION.

    Republicans arguing that SC judges should apply "strict adherence to the law" apparently don't understand the role of the SC. When the SC hears a case, they apply their own experiences and interpretations to decide whether or not is violating a plaintiff's rights. Arguing "rule of law" here only shows how poorly these people even understand the issue.

  • May 26th - Tuesday   10 years 20 weeks ago

    You're wrong again Thom.

    Anything that comes from Graham Hancock is as nutty as it sounds and your belief in the ideas of Hancock and his ilk makes you seem as nutty as you sound. Hancock only has credibility among the uninformed and believers in pseudo-scientific nonsense.

    I remember a few years ago when you had David Hatcher Childress on as a guest and you described him as "The real Indiana Jones", although the fictional Indiana Jones was a university professor and Childress is a college dropout who sells books about time machines and anit-gravity machines, not to mention that he has written that dinosaurs lived in Mexico as recently as 5000 - 6000 years ago and that aircraft occasionally go down in Alaska because of mid-air collisions with flying dinosaurs.

    Oh and lets not forget that you said that Richard Greene is your favorite Air America host. On that show, Greene mentioned David Hawkins who he said (as Hawkins claims) that he can measure the spiritual development of a person or thing through the use of "muscle testing" (i.e., having a person hold their arm parallel to their body and pushing it down) . Hawkins claims to be so good at this that he can make those measurements on a scale of zero to one thousand.

    Thom, you can believe whatever you want to believe, but with so few "progressive" talkers on the air, I hate to see you damage your credibility like this. But I guess there's no stopping you.

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