Aug 28: Pakistan flooding – is the world coming to the US? again?
Aug 27th, 2010 by Sam


The floods have been described as epic – more vast than Haiti, Katrina, and the tsunami…

Mercy Corps is an international aid organization based in Portland, Oregon and is right in the thick of things.

Joy Portella is director of communications and leads a team of professionals dedicated to documenting and reporting Mercy Corps’ work in 40 countries.  She has traveled to global hotspots including North Korea, the Gaza Strip and Haiti.

She joins us to talk about it all:

  • Describe the flood in US terms – if it happened here, what would it look like?
  • What are aid agencies doing – how does it work?
  • We hear conservatives complaining that everyone comes to the US for everything…What have other governments committed?  Are there aid agencies from other countries that are as involved as American agencies?
  • What is it like working with Pakistan?  Given the political tensions that exist right now, does that affect your work?
  • Is there ‘donor fatigue’ for this crisis, given how many other things are in the news – the Gulf of Mexico, etc.?
Jul 31: Libs and Cons; Immigration and Morality
Jul 31st, 2010 by Sam


Newsflash!!! Libs and cons view immigration differently!!! We libs are certain that for us, it is a moral issue. Not only is it immoral to let people die of thirst in the desert, it is immoral to not provide healthcare, separate families, withhold a better living standard to people who just out of bad luck were born into a poorer country.

But, is it POSSIBLE that conservatives have their own moral view? That it isn’t just naked self-interest?

We’re going to look at some cutting edge research on the science of morality; studies that have been done globally on the moral intuitions of people and how that effects their stances on immigration and a whole lot of other things.

These guys got together to talk all about it…

Jonathan Haidt has a theory, the Moral Foundations Theory, where he proposes that liberals and conservatives view the world differently:

Moral Foundations Theory was created to understand why morality varies so much across cultures yet still shows so many similarities and recurrent themes. In brief, the theory proposes that five innate and universally available psychological systems are the foundations of “intuitive ethics.” Each culture then constructs virtues, narratives, and institutions on top of these foundations, thereby creating the unique moralities we see around the world, and conflicting within nations too. The foundations are:

1) Harm/care, related to our long evolution as mammals with attachment systems and an ability to feel (and dislike) the pain of others. This foundation underlies virtues of kindness, gentleness, and nurturance.
2) Fairness/reciprocity, related to the evolutionary process of reciprocal altruism. This foundation generates ideas of justice, rights, and autonomy. [Note: In our original conception, Fairness included concerns about equality, which are more strongly endorsed by political liberals. However, as we reformulate the theory in 2010 based on new data, we are likely to include several forms of fairness, and to emphasize proportionality, which is more strongly endorsed by conservatives]
3) Ingroup/loyalty, related to our long history as tribal creatures able to form shifting coalitions. This foundation underlies virtues of patriotism and self-sacrifice for the group. It is active anytime people feel that it’s “one for all, and all for one.”
4) Authority/respect, shaped by our long primate history of hierarchical social interactions. This foundation underlies virtues of leadership and followership, including deference to legitimate authority and respect for traditions.
5) Purity/sanctity, shaped by the psychology of disgust and contamination. This foundation underlies religious notions of striving to live in an elevated, less carnal, more noble way. It underlies the widespread idea that the body is a temple which can be desecrated by immoral activities and contaminants (an idea not unique to religious traditions)

Take the morality quiz to see where you fall…

Jul 10: Turning up the Heat: the climate, AZ & the feds, BP sends a bill
Jul 9th, 2010 by Sam

  • Hot enough for you? Changing your mind about climate change? If you believe that climate change is happening and we’re destroying the planet, is it immoral to run your air conditioner?
  • Arizona, immigration, the feds – Let’s be real – Arizonans are bearing the brunt of the lack of economic opportunity in Mexico. What are we willing to do to help them cope with immigration?
  • BP sends Anadarko a bill…
Apr 24: Goldman, corruption, and why they won’t respect us in the morning
Apr 24th, 2010 by Sam

Goldman, corruption, and why they won’t respect us in the morning

Guest: Stephan G Richter, publisher and editor-in-chief of The Globalist, the daily online magazine on the global economy, politics and culture, which he founded and launched in January 2000. In addition, he provides editorial direction for The Globalist’s innovative content services on global issues, which are licensed to newspapers, corporations, institutions, universities and high schools around the world.

  • Goldman Sachs and America’s Regulation/Supervision Paradox
    • the vilification of government and civil servants in America (in some quarters) and the impact this had had on our ability to protect ourselves from the financial crisis;
    • the status America’s civil servants have vs those other countries;
    • the importance of a vibrant private sector to assure that elected leaders actually leave their offices (and not change their constitutions to remain in power)
  • The West as a Role Model
    • How the financial crisis has affected America’s standing in the world and what impact it has had on “American” companies doing business elsewhere, i.e. successful countries/economies have certain characteristics in common, but the ‘rule of law’ seems to be an important, if not the important, one;
    • if the reputation of US companies is that they are corrupt, does this make it more difficult for US companies to make and enforce contracts in other countries, refuse to pay/accept bribes, etc
Michael Smerconish: For Me, the Party Is Over
Mar 2nd, 2010 by Sam

Michael Smerconish: For Me, the Party Is Over.

I think President Obama is earnest, smart, and much more centrist than his tea party caricature suggests. He has never been given a fair chance to succeed by those who openly crow about their desire to see him fail (while somehow congratulating one another on their relative patriotism). I know he was born in America, isn’t a socialist, and doesn’t worship in a mosque. I get that he inherited a minefield. Still, the level of federal spending concerns me. And he never closed the deal with me that health insurance is a right, not a privilege. But I’m not folding the tent on him. Not now. Not with the nation fighting two wars while its economy still teeters on the brink of collapse.

Coakley answers Samantha’s question
Dec 3rd, 2009 by Sam

Bill Densmore, is a career journalist, publisher, entrepreneur and director of the the Media Giraffe Project, New England News Forum, and a collaborator on Journalism That Matters.   He collected 18 questions from MA citizens which were hand-delivered to Coakley’s political director and press spokesperson at a North Adams rally on Nov. 23 at the Cup & Saucer cafe.

The questions and her answers can be found here

Below is Samantha’s question and Coakley’s response:

14. WORLD COMPETITION — What does America need to do to ready ourselves for increasing economic competition from China, India and Brazil; what, specifically, is the responsibility of the senator from Massachusetts, and what, specifically is beyond the scope of those senatorial responsibilities. Give examples of each.


As we enter the 21st century, it is essential that we both build on our existing strengths and adapt our economy to the many challenges and opportunities that lie ahead, such as the emerging green economy. As Senator, my primary responsibility will be to ensure that Massachusetts can fully capitalize on these opportunities, notably by securing the Commonwealth federal funding that fosters green technologies, life sciences research and advanced technology manufacturing centers. I will also work with other Senators, Congressmen and the White House to develop national solutions that reduce our trade imbalance, provide incentives to business to pursue new energy technologies and provide affordable health coverage that will keep our workforce healthy and our industries globally competitive.

Jul 11: 20th Anniversary of fall of communism
Jul 11th, 2009 by Sam

  • Hungarian-British novelist Tibor Fischer on the 20th anniversary on events in Hungary leading to fall of  Communism

About his novel:

Shortlisted for the Booker Prize, Under the Frog follows the adventures of two young Hungarian basketball players through the turbulent years between the end of World War II and the anti-Soviet uprising of 1956. In this spirited indictment of totalitarianism, the two improbable heroes, Pataki and Gyuri, travel the length and breadth of Hungary in an epic quest for food, lodging, and female companionship.


“Ferociously funny, bitterly sad, and perfectly paced.” —A.S. Byatt

“A delicate, seriocomic treasure.”—Salman Rushdie

“An audacious act of creativity….Of all the young novelists working today, Tibor Fischer may be the most adept at taking chances in his work.” —The Nation


  • Sam on global business
Jun 13: Iran elections
Jun 13th, 2009 by Sam

Sam on the Iranian elections…

  • people in the streets
  • is this a poll or a revolution?

The Samantha Clemens Show: Iranian elections

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