Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Senator Bernie Sanders Blocking Key Obama Nomination

Good for Bernie. He is Gary Gensler, the former Goldman Sachs employee and derivatives cheerleader who President Obama nominated to head the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). Gensler’s nomination sailed through the Senate Agricultural Committee but Senator Bernie Sanders has placed a hold on the nomination (as has a second senator who is as yet unnamed). Someone has to stand up for us. A statement from Sanders’s office said:

"While Mr. Gensler is clearly an intelligent and knowledgeable person, I cannot support his nomination. Mr. Gensler worked with Sen. Phil Gramm and Alan Greenspan to exempt credit default swaps from regulation, which led to the collapse of A.I.G. and has resulted in the largest taxpayer bailout in U.S. history. He supported Gramm-Leach-Bliley, which allowed banks like Citigroup to become “too big to fail.” He worked to deregulate electronic energy trading, which led to the downfall of Enron and the spike in energy prices. At this moment in our history, we need an independent leader who will help create a new culture in the financial marketplace and move us away from the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior which has caused so much harm to our economy."

Thursday, March 19, 2009

AIG Bonuses Highlight Divide

The mere fact that these AIG bonuses were allowed to go through highlights the divide between those that are entitled and those of us who feel we need to work for a living while nothing is guaranteed. But, AIG who received over 170 billion dollars in bailout money thought it was fine (or maybe more likely didn't care what we thought) to give out millions in bonuses, though they screwed the American people. And politicians ok'd this. They had the chance to stop the bonuses with provisions in TARP money or the stimulus package and they chose not to do so. Maybe they thought it was unnecessary, but I doubt it.

While at the same time bailout money for the auto makers required these companies to shut down plants, lay-off workers and re-negotiate contracts with the auto workers who god forbid were not living in poverty. This highlights just how far the American worker has fallen and how far we have gone to allow financiers to control, leverage and destroy our economy while we sit with a cup in our hands for unemployment, foodstamps, increases in TANF assistance, student loan bailouts, etc. Even the Obama administration (who I like) have tried to shift this argument, maybe to push for true regulation (a good thing) or to relieve themselves of their own responsibility in this fiasco.

Today in France, in solidarity for one another a nation wide strike is occurring (can you imagine). Unions are opposing President Sarkozy's economic policies. 2 million are unemployed (we have over 5.5 million at least) and more lay-offs are expected. Schools are closed and public transport is being disrupted, with demonstrations organized in about 200 towns.

From the Guardian: Union members marched towards Nation in Paris behind a banner that read: "United against the crisis, defend employment, spending power and public services."
Police said there were about 85,000 people at the rally, according to the AFP news agency.
"They have a profound sense of social injustice, and that, I think, is something that neither the government nor the employers have understood," said Jean-Claude Mailly, head of the large Force Ouvriere union.
Recent polls show over 75% of the French support the strikers. Now, let me tell you I was there during a strike in France and it ain't easy. But, what is heartening, truly heartening is the unions, workers and regular people have a seat at the table of negotiations. We have none. That has to change. Here is pushing for EFCA fast. Of course, we have to beg for a vote on it and now Obama is chickening out. When will things change? When we get off our asses and demand it.

Happy Anniversary Violence

Six years ago today, this moron declared war on a sovereign nation so he could steal their oil. Thank God he is gone.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

the fiddle ninjas of alaska

check out the fiddle feel good music of the fiddle ninjas, courtesy of our friend kim!

"After a long career on the road as the fiddle ninja oldtime string band, (i.e., three gigs and hosting a weekly local jam), the ninjas turned down an offer to play the Grand Ole Opry and instead, stay in Alaska, each for their own reasons, and compositely, as a band:

Ryan McGinis, unwilling to leave his wife and child for a life on the road;
Jay Marvin, also devoted to his family and five banjos in Anchorage;
George Schleicter and Danny Consenstein, adamant to remain unemployed and live off of public benefits;
Conor McManamin, band playboy unable to say no to any band;
and Kim Vu-Dinh, who put her fiddlin' career on hold to become a trainer of pit bulls.

The Ninjas are only at rest, my friends, until the fall season, when they hit anchorage as a fiddle force to be reckoned with, at a time and location currently unknown, even to their closest advisers.

Until then, enjoy their oldtime performance art in cyberspace, as depicted by the cinematic genius David Fedorsky."

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Big Pharma Funding Harvard Education

A Harvard medical student had a hunch something was wrong when the Professor continuously highlighted the benefits of certain cholesterol drugs even belittling a student when he asked about its side effects. The Student, Mathew Zerden went on-line and quickly found the Professor was not only a full-time professor at Harvard, but a consultant to ten drug companies, including five makers of cholesterol treatment. Surprise surprise.

Zerden felt violated that the independence of Harvard was not as pure as it should be. This is another story in the growing corporatization of every industry. We need to question everything emanating from these institutions including studies that are so-called "independent." It is disheartening to say the least that our greatest medical institution is bought and sold just like our politicians. "First Do No Harm" may no longer be the motto to be replaced with: "First, look out for yourself and make profit before you do no harm."

The students formed a group of more than 200 Harvard medical students and professors concerned with the influence of drug companies on the classroom, laboratories and teaching hospitals. The group says Harvard should be embarrassed by the recent F grade it received from the American Medical Student Association, a national group that rates how well medical schools monitor and control drug industry money. Yale received a C, Columbia and Stanford a B and UPenn received an A.
Drug companies, held responsible for destroying health care 15 years ago will go on the attack soon. Most likely, they have begun the attack, but what are we to do? If we allow this influence into our classrooms and into teaching hospitals at our most prestigious universities and for the care of patients what is to stop them for their undue influence in Washington? This a huge problem. I do not believe capitalism goes hand and hand with public health, not without some regulations, it is that simple. But, of course when we continue to seek to describe capitalism as synonymous with democracy that is our first mistake. Shame on Harvard.

Read the rest of the article here.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

david byrne & brian eno

free music! david byrne! lovely.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Daily Show Blasts CNBC

Take note reporters this is actual journalism with a comedy twist. What our "free press" should be reporting on...the other night we had Letterman calling Limbaugh a bozo, etc., while Katie Couric hid in the corner and complained about losing her interview - tonight we have John Stewart handing it to the "experts."

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Politics and Baseball Converge: What the Owners Won't Tell You