May 31, 2010

GDAE Podcast - Episode 31

Second in a series.... (See link to abridged Part I below)

Common Interests on the Left & Right - Part II

  • Left & Right Populists Working Together: to fix our flawed democracy

  • What is a "principled" conservative: Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone magazine has some thoughts

  • Audit the Fed: Bernie Sanders leads the Left & Right to push for Senate Unanimous vote on Amendment to "audit the Fed."

  • Bush war-crimes-Prosecution: Law Professor Francis Boyle describes the complaint he filed in January 2010 with the International Criminal Court

  • MUSIC: Yankee Network, out of Baltimore, "6 at 65".

Play Episode 31 from this page:

Click to Download Episode 31.

Listen to Part I in the series, Episode 30, (20-minute abridged version):

Previous Episodes & 60-Sec Promo:

GDAE Podcast 60-Second Promo

GDAE Podcast Episode 30 April 30, 2010 - Common Interests on the Right & Left
GDAE Podcast Episode 29 March 31, 2010 - Right Left Populist Unity?
GDAE Podcast Episode 28 March 7, 2010
GDAE Podcast Episode 27 February 21, 2010
GDAE Podcast Episode 26 February 7, 2010
GDAE Podcast Episode 25 January 19, 2010
GDAE Podcast Episode 24 December 31, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 23 November 29, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 22 November 11, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 21 October 18, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 20 October 9, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 19 September 27, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 18 September 16, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 17 August 31, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 16 July 30, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 15 June 17, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 14 June 10, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 13 May 22, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 12May 5, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 11 April 24, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 10 April 9, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 9March 28, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 8 March 15, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 7 March 1, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 6 February 17, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 5 February 6, 2009
GDAE Podcast Episode 4 January 24, 2009


GDAE Podcast:


May 24, 2010

Wikipedia and the Unprincipled Rigth

We all know some people on the "right" who we might call "principled." They hold to a value and apply it consistently, regardless of party politics pressure. Maybe it's you, or a relative, a friend, co-workers or even someone in the corporate media. Ron Paul, a US Congressman is a classic, if not extreme, example... and there are other less notable examples.

There is Walter B. Jones, a US congress member made famous for coining the phrase "freedom fries" as an insult to the French for not getting on board quickly with the Iraq war. He now regrets saying that. Jones represents an area of North Carolina that has a sizable military population. His about-face reflects an undercurrent of honest feelings in the military communities. Walter Jones admits he was previously uninformed. But when he became informed, he stuck to his conservative principles and is now a vocal critic of the Iraq war.

The other conservative faction is the "unprincipled" right wingers... they represent a different color in the "conservative" spectrum. We know them too: The Republican water-carriers and self-promoters like Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Bill Kristol, Anne Coulter and Rush Limbaugh, who admits he carries water for the Republicans:

On the November 8 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Rush Limbaugh claimed to "feel liberated" by Democratic victories in the House and Senate on November 7 because he is "no longer going to have to carry the water for people who I don't think deserve having their water carried."

But this is all a long-winded way of being able to say that the vocal unprincipled right is misdirecting the conservative base when they tell the base not to use Wikipedia. We all know it can have significant flaws on a particular subject, but the majority of the time, it answers your question or directs you to the answer. Adding "wiki" to your search can be a powerful information tool that gives you an information-access advantage. Conservatives who dismiss Wikipedia might just be giving themselves a handicap.

Oxford Dictionary editors


May 23, 2010

Finacial Reform Goes to Conference

It's a bit wonkish to talk about Washington legislative procedure, as in the House/Senate conference committee coming up to reconcile the differences in their separate bills pass on financial reform. But, a lot can happen behind the closed doors in conference committees, bad or good, so we need to keep the pressure on. Let them know we common people are paying attention.

The details of last week's Senate process found the newly elected Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown feeling the pressure. Some of that pressure is said to have come from Obama's grassroots arm, Organizing for America... and both sides are counting on grassroots pressure to play a role in House/Senate conference committee to craft the final bill.

Some Republicans are calling for the conference committee to be televised. House Financial Services Committee Chair Barney Frank has picked up on this desire for transparency saying

"We will have a conference, I think, that will work well. It will be conducted, the formal parts, in public" ... "That means that no agreements reached, no compromises, which obviously are being discussed, will be made part of anything without being publicly presented and voted on and discussed."

Regardless of whether the conference committee on financial reform is televised, our voices need to be heard.

For Your Convenience:Sources:

Chris Good, The Atlantic Magazine blog, Financial Reform Gets Closer ... Much Closer, Thanks to Scott Brown, May 20, 2010.


May 22, 2010

Compounding Unfair Advantages for Bad Banks

Today we read...

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Treasury Department indicated Friday it expects taxpayers will lose billions less from the financial bailouts than earlier estimated. The problem is, its revised forecast assumes Treasury's shares of bailed-out companies are gaining value despite this week's plunge in stock prices.

Below the surface of this story is another. It's a story of conflicts of interest that could lead to further unfair preferential treatment of bad-actor banks at the cost of banks that played by the rules.

The US Treasury Department has a clear interest in promoting the stock price of the banks it bailed out. This creates pressures for Treasury to set policies and make decisions for the benefit of these bad-actor banks, improving their balance sheets, regardless of merit. A bank could be a crappy business, and Treasury would still want it's stock price to increase.

Given that these bad-actor banks compete in some ways with other banks that didn't have to be bailed out, being propped up in this way by Treasury has the effect of creating an unfair advantage. This unfair advantage merely adds to the more blatant unfair advantage of the original bailout; huge banks that could have been allowed to fail and naturally break up were, instead, propped up or forced into being bought by other banks resulting in fewer, larger banks.

This situation cries out for anti-trust action by the Government; these huge banks need to be broken up. This is justified for technical reasons of avoiding avoiding too-big-to-fail crises in the future and creating a more fair competitive market for good banks. It's also justified on basic principles of fairness.


Associated Press, Lower bailout estimate assumes higher stock prices, May 22, 2010.


May 17, 2010

The Accused

It is old news, but law professor Francis A. Boyle's complaint against Bush administration officials "the Accused*" for crimes associated with “extraordinary rendition” is noteworthy. That's because Boyle's complaint is being brought under the International Criminal Court (ICC), of which the U.S.A. is not a signatory. The ICC is sometimes referred to as the Rome Statue after the treaty signed in Rome in 1998.

* Accused: U.S. citizens George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, George Tenet, Condoleezza Rice , and Alberto Gonzales.

One might think, if the U.S.A is not a signatory to the Rome Statue, there is no case. However, Boyle has pierced the shield of impunity on the following legal grounds, as conveyed in the transmittal letter of his complaint:

The United States is not a contracting party to the Rome Statute. Nevertheless, the Accused ordered and were responsible for the commission of these I.C.C. statutory crimes on, in, and over the respective territories of several I.C.C. member states, including many located in Europe. Therefore, the I.C.C. has jurisdiction over the Accused for their I.C.C. statutory crimes in accordance with Rome Statute article 12(2)(a)

We need to hold Bush administration officials accountable for their crimes, otherwise we risk setting precedent of allowing impunity.


May 14, 2010

Showdown in America

Pushing for action, "Showdown in America" says it succinctly:

The big banks destroyed our economy and have hijacked our democracy. Corporate lobbyists representing the big banks paved the way to deregulate Wall Street and are now standing in the way of reforms that would protect people and strengthen our economy.

Their next Action targets the lobbyist version of marketing's Madison Avenue: K Street in Washington, DC.

On May 17, everyday people from across the country will descend on K Street in Washington, DC. K Street is ground-zero for the corporate lobbyists that are driving gridlock in Washington. Our plan is to draw a direct line between Wall Street CEOS, their hired guns on K Street, and the elected officials who have become addicted to Big Bank campaign contributions.


Showdown in America


May 13, 2010

Americans for Finacial Reform

Rolling Stones writer, turned financial system truth-sayer, Matt Taibbi put it this way [1]:

There are about 1800 financial lobbyists wandering DC these days — I was physically bumping into these guys in DC this week in the halls of Hart and Dirksen — while the leading reform groups (like Americans for Financial Reform) have few if any. (AFR, as far as I understand, has no paid lobbyists and just a few dozen volunteers).

With the "Audit the Fed" legislation going to conference committee, where a one-time audit could be converted into a more routine process, now is a good time to support Americans for Financial Reform.


1. Matt Taibbi blog post, "Balance in the Washington Post," May 8, 2010.


May 10, 2010

Greece Spending Beyond it's Means

Lots of people on this side of the Atlantic are pointing at Greece and making statements about it spending beyond it's means. They are referring to government spending. Of course, the US has spent beyond it's means too, most seriously by Reagan and the Bushs.

Then, there are insightful people who see get to the kernel of the issue, like the following commenters on a post by Paul Krugman:

Ben W
Boston, MA

Paul said: "And it’s true, we did something like that too. [deficit spending] But guess who was in power then? Funny about that."

It's called "Starve The Beast."

Khal Spencer
Los Alamos, NM

I thought that running deficits even in good times was part of the "starve the beast" policy under Reagan and Bush I and II. Of course, it wasn't supposed to be a "kill the beast" policy, was it?


May 6, 2010

Challenge Corporate Charters

The BP Oil spill and Massey Energy mine explosion have a number of things in common, whic lead to the same conclusion; it's time to challenge their corporate charters.

Aside from the obvious, that both are fossil fuel extraction corporations, they both have bad records for worker safety and environmental protection. They also demonstrate a patter of flaunting laws by paying fines as a cost of doing business.

These two corporations exist as a privilege not a right. Their corporate charters, bestowed by "the people" through their governments, bestows many benefits, such as limited liability for the humans that act within the corporate construct.

It is nigh time that we challenge the privilege of corporate charters held by corporations that are persistent bad actors.

For Your Convenience:Sources:gdaeman_scroll_small