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Where’s the Outrage? 11/4/06 Podcast

Wow, I have gotten behind in posting my radio show again. Here’s the podcast. (I thought that I would re-publish this since MSNBC has put out a documentary titled Hubris.)

Why aren’t elections held on Saturdays when most people are off?  If you want folks to vote, then why would you hold elections on Tuesdays?

John Kerry’s gaffe.  In the video, Kerry clearly loses his place.  The Republicans go crazy over his gaffe.  His reaction to the Republicans finger pointing was worse than the stumble in the first place.

How do you decide who to vote for?  No, seriously.  How do you know whom to trust?  The newspapers?  TV?  The web?  My answer is that you have to go to the web and read a ton.  Start with the candidate’s web site, understanding that of course it will be biased.  Then go to a site like that of the League of Women Voters.  Trying to really find out information is an active process.

My guests are David Corn, former Washington Editor of The Nation, now with Mother Jones.  We will continue our discussion of the new book he wrote with Michael Isikoff (writer for Time Magazine), Hubris, the Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War.  I also have an excellent interview with Geoffery Nunberg, author of Talking Right.

There’s more fun and information.  Sit back and enjoy.

Remember I’m on iTunes.

By |2013-02-20T21:25:24-04:00February 19th, 2013|Podcasts|Comments Off on Where’s the Outrage? 11/4/06 Podcast

What to do with WaMu?

The Senate opens hearings today into the failure of Washington Mutual. Washington Mutual was among a group of banks that jumped into the subprime mortgage sector headfirst. Jumping into anything headfirst is not usually a good idea until you know how deep the pool truly is. It is estimated that over $700 billion of these subprime mortgages were handed out between 2004 and 2007. These were those famous adjustable-rate mortgages. Washington Mutual handed out over $133 billion in these adjustable mortgages. The former CEO Kerry Killinger stated that WaMu wasn’t being treated fairly by the government. He whined that WaMu “should have been given a chance to work its way through the crisis.” What I want to know is whether anyone in that hearing run over to Mr. Killinger and cry tears of sadness for this millionaire.

When people are given the wrong incentives, we shouldn’t be surprised when they do the wrong thing. Specifically, loan originating officers were given incentives to generate loans. It really didn’t matter what kind of loan. It didn’t matter whether the loan was fraudulent or legitimate. During Washington Mutual’s own internal investigation back in 2005, they found the two offices in California where over 50% of their loans were fraudulent. (At one location was over 80%.) Yet, the practice continued. Why? The money was too good. (Oh, I forgot to mention that their own risk officers were excluded from important meetings. This means that either these risk guys are lying to protect their butts or WaMu knew what they were doing was fraudulent and they didn’t want to rish telling them.)

In Michael Lewis’s book, The Big Short, he describes an incident where a immigrant farm worker who made no more than $14,000 a year was given a loan for $750,000.

Lower middle class and upper lower class Americans were hit the hardest by these fraudulent practices. They were specifically sought out by these banks. These are Americans that are holding down one or two jobs. Both parents are working. They’re working extremely hard and they are very close to being able to afford a nice house, in a nice neighborhood with good schools. Something always gets in the way of their dream house. These are everyday expenses that they simply cannot afford — car breaks down, they need a new refrigerator, Johnny was hit in the head with a baseball and needs stitches. So Washington Mutual, IndyMac, Wachovia and others preyed on these Americans.

Here’s my whole problem with these shysters. They made tons of money off of unsuspecting Americans, off of Americans who wanted to believe in the American dream. When the banks collapsed, the Americans were kicked out on the street. Banks who were deemed too big to fail were rewarded for their size and they were allowed to buy the smaller failing banks at fire sale prices. Bankers who lost their jobs were given a little pot of gold on their way out the door. Bankers who kept their jobs were given big fat pay raises for acquiring new assets. Real, honest-to-goodness, hardworking Americans who believed that they would never be given a mortgage they didn’t qualify for were asked to bend over (and kicked in the seat-of-the-pants repeatedly).

So, I hope that something meaningful will come out of these Senate hearings. I hope this is not just a dog and pony show.

By |2010-04-13T22:58:14-04:00April 13th, 2010|Corporate Wrongs, Economy, Senate|Comments Off on What to do with WaMu?

Franken reminds panel that there are zero medical bankruptcies under universal healthcare

Here is yet another reason for universal healthcare.

From TP: Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing titled “Medical Debt: Can Bankruptcy Reform Facilitate a Fresh Start.” The hearing examined medical bankruptcies in America, and witnesses included CAP fellow Elizabeth Edwards and Kerry Burns, a Rhode Island mother who was forced into “financial ruin” by her late son’s medical bills.

One of the highlights of the hearing was when Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) questioned Hudson Institute Senior Fellow Diana Furchtgott-Roth about medical bankruptcies. Franken asked Furchtgott-Roth — who claimed that moving towards a European-style system of universal health care would increase bankruptcies — about how many medical bankruptcies there were in countries that have universal health care, like Switzerland and France. Furchtgott-Rott repeatedly told Franken that she didn’t “have that number,” and Franken informed her that the number was actually zero:

FRANKEN: I think we disagree on whether health care reform, the health care reform that we’re talking about in Congress now should pass. You should that the way we’re going will increase bankruptcies. I want to ask you, how many medical bankruptcies because of medical crises were there last year in Switzerland?

FURCHTGOTT-ROTT: I don’t have that number in front of me, but I can find out and get back to you.

FRANKEN: I can tell you how many it was. It’s zero. Do you know how many medical bankruptcies there were last year in France?

FURCHTGOTT-ROTT: I don’t have that number, but I can get back to you if I like.

FRANKEN: Yeah, the number is zero. Do you know how many were in Germany?

FURCHTGOTT-ROTT: From the trend of your questions, I’m assuming the number is zero. But I don’t know the precise number and would have to get back to you.

FRANKEN: Well, you’re very good. Very fast. The point is, I think we need to go in that direction, not the opposite direction. Thank you.

I think what everyone forgets is that Al Franken graduated from Harvard. He didn’t get there because his parents had money. He didn’t get in to Harvard because he was some sort of legacy appointment. He got into Harvard because he was smart enough to get into Harvard. Yes, he did comedy for most of his life but if you take the time to read through his books and listen to his radio show, you’ll find a keen intellect. The Senate isn’t gonna be the same with Al Franken there. Thank goodness for that.

By |2009-10-21T12:12:31-04:00October 21st, 2009|Healthcare|Comments Off on Franken reminds panel that there are zero medical bankruptcies under universal healthcare
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