Guest Commentary (4712)
STEPHEN PIZZO FOR BUZZFLASH
High-functioning sociopaths were my journalistic bread and butter. I guess you could say, white collar crooks have been good to me -- sort of like how garbage is good for trash collectors or cancer is good for doctors. I spent almost three decades following these financial termites around and writing about their twisted exploits. And, in all that time, not one of these guys, not Charlie Keating to Michael Milken to Ivan Boesky, thought they’d done a thing wrong. Not one of the hundreds of crooks who, back in the 1980s, looted around a thousand S&L into insolvency, saw themselves as anything than a victim themselves.
To a person, they’d stand there amidst the still smoking wreckage of a -- by then "former thrift” - and tell me with a straight face and genuine passion -- that the reason -- the ONLY reason -- things went so badly was because federal regulators had stopped them before their phony-baloney deals could fully mature:
“If they’d just let the (deal/project/loan/bond sales/refi/ loan adjustments -- fill in the blank,) go forward, everyone, including the S&L, would have made a bundle.”
It was, in the sociopath’s view -- the losses were caused by regulators and their intrusiveness that caused their worthy plans to go off track.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH
If you thought that the wildly popular Left Behind series of apocalyptic novels told the entire End Times/Rapture story, think again. Welcome to LaHaye’s ‘Edge of Apocalypse,’ the first novel of his new and improved, and even more apocalyptic, series of books.
Given the Tax Day Tea Parties, the 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, and the 40th anniversary of the burning of the student union building on the campus of the University of Kansas, the National Football League’s draft, and news about the Hutaree Christian militia, you may have missed one of the major literary events of the week; the return of Tim LaHaye with a new series of apocalyptic novels.
Yes, to paraphrase the great Lou Christy, for the Detroit, Michigan born Tim LaHaye who will turn 84 on April 27, the Apocalypse is striking again and again and again and again.
And, cash register drawers at bookshops all across the country are once again ringing – perhaps not as loudly as they did for his Left Behind series – the mega-bestseller sold more than 65 million copies and was translated into 30 languages -- but they’re ringing nevertheless.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER FOR BUZZFLASH
Too much awareness is a tough burden to carry. I got an email the other day from a reader who opened up the deep, confusing paradox of being a citizen of the American empire.
“I read that 51 percent of our Federal taxes go to feed the war machine. The fear of the IRS overwhelms the shame I feel, for paying those dollars that go to kill people. Mixing all of the emotions: hypocrisy, shame, guilt, fear, anger, all together equal for me a sense of futility and hopelessness.
“I cannot even point the finger at the biggest killers, when I know that I am part of the problem and am too scared to do anything about it. How can I judge them, when I have blood on my hands also?”
MARTHA ROSENBERG FOR BUZZFLASH
Once again, the But-There's-Money-In-It apparatus has sprung to life to resuscitate hormone therapy (HT) in an article called "The Estrogen Dilemma" in this week's New York Times Magazine.
For reporters and scientists aware of the cascade of hormone therapy (HT) cancer and morbidity studies, seeing its Big Pharma-invented "benefits" disinterred for another lap around the track is like seeing an article suggesting cigarettes may be good for you after all.
Since the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) findings in 2002 -- which author Cynthia Gorney, parroting the Pharma line, says overlooked younger women and cardio benefits -- HT has been linked to asthma, lupus, scleroderma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, urinary incontinence, hearing loss, cataracts, malignant melanoma, lung cancer, gout, joint degeneration, dementia, loss of mental acuity, a shrinking brain, (pant, pant), diabetes complications and colon, ovarian, gall bladder and endometrial cancer.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH
Early next month, Virginia “Ginni” Thomas will officially launch Liberty Central, a non-profit tax-exempt 501(c)(4) organization that will be “activating informed American patriots who are seeking knowledge of the core founding principles and passionate about preserving freedom and liberty.” Liberty Central plans to issue score cards for Congress members and to be involved in the November election.
Although most people are unfamiliar with her, Ginni Thomas is a seasoned conservative activist who is being called “a rising star among conservatives,” and a “high-minded soul [who] loves her country and wishes it good.” She is being praised for having “the unusual combination of focus, direction and the passion for accomplishment,” and for bring[ing] “energy and enthusiasm … to the cause of freedom and individual rights.”
And, by the way, Virginia “Ginni” Thomas is married to United States Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
HUGH CONRAD FOR BUZZFLASH
Lesson One: Today's Words Are "Republican Recession"
The passage of the healthcare reform package became reality for a plethora of reasons, but one was essential: Barack Obama went back to his base and argued his case in a fiery and a passionate way. For the Democrats to prevent the opposition from taking over either body of Congress in November, they have to be as vocal and as passionate as Obama was down the stretch.
The Democrats must do this with issues that the Republicans have destroyed: National Security, corruption, Republican ties to Wall Street, eviscerating the Constitution under Bush, along with the major issue, the Economy.
RICHARD A. STITT FOR BUZZFLASH
"The mind is the only weapon that doesn't need a holster."
-From the movie, Paul Blart: Mall Cop
From Harvey Pitt to Christopher Cox, both Bush-appointed SEC chairmen, we can now see more clearly the chronology of the most criminal administration in the history of our country. From Enron to AIG to WorldCom to Lehman Brothers to Bear Stearns to Goldman Sachs, it was all a titanic Ponzi scheme from the get-go.
Yet, what better way to detract from this well-planned and well-backed rip-off of both American and foreign investors than a good old-fashioned war -- even if the reasons for it, WMD, had to be fabricated to keep the unsuspecting lambs who were investing in a burgeoning and bloated corrosive Wall Street from finding out they were being led to slaughter.
WILL DURST FOR BUZZFLASH
President Obama turned from the domestic third-rail issue of healthcare to the international radioactive subject of dirty-bomb terrorism by hosting a nuclear summit in DC, convincing the leaders of 47 countries to attend -- presidents and prime ministers and kings and queens and a couple of expendable pawns. No bishops, they have their own problems these days. Pretty much all the cogs in the atomic machine showed up except North Korea and Iran, which admittedly is like holding a steroids conference without Barry Bonds or Mark McGwire, but hey, it’s a START.
The focus was on security, an encouraging sign, since the global stockpile of bomb-making materials is now large enough for 120,000 suitcase nukes. Which most experts agree is about 120,000 too many. It wasn’t a total Potemkin summit. Everyone agreed that terrorism is bad and nuclear terrorism is real bad, and working with one another is good and they should all meet again in South Korea in 2012 if the Mayans aren’t right.
Took 60 years to assemble this pile of mutually assured destruction. Going to take at least a couple of meetings to get rid of it. Only 9 members in the nuclear club right now. But a lot of wannabees. And since you can’t tell your nuclear players without a Nuclear Players Scorecard, here they are, with official Threat Level grading.
DANNY SCHECHTER FOR BUZZFLASH
Fox Business News was engrossed in interviewing a blonder-than-thou reality TV bimbo when the news that the Securities And Exchange Commission was filing fraud charges against Goldman Sachs broke on Friday afternoon.
The breaking-news bulletins were already flying through cyberspace before the Fox Means Business network got around to moving from a snickering interview with a starlet confessing to commodifying and monetizing her appeal to the biggest story in months on the Street beat. Corporate fraud allegations seem to make free-market boosters nervous.
At last, the mightiest of investment banks, described as a "giant squid on the face of humanity" by Matt Taibbi in a much-read diatribe, appeared to be in deep trouble. Taibbi himself was not convinced that the Government has the goods on Goldman.
HARVEY WASSERMAN FOR BUZZFLASH
The Climate Bill is due on Earth Day.
By all accounts it will be a nuclear bomb.
It will be the ultimate challenge of the global grassroots green movement to transform it into something that can actually save the planet.
For the atomic power industry, the bill will cap a decade-long $640-million-plus virtual cleansing of its radioactive image.
It will have the Obama Administration and Senators John Kerry (D-MA), Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Lindsay Graham (R-SC) embracing very substantial taxpayer subsidies for building new nuclear plants.
Ditto new offshore drilling and “clean coal.” The markers have been laid for a greenwashed business-as-usual approach toward pretending to deal with global climate change and the life-threatening pollution in which our corporate power structure is drowning us. All without actually threatening certain corporate profits.
STEPHEN PIZZO FOR BUZZFLASH
This weeks whooper award goes to Mitch McConnell for his mind-bending interpretation of the administration’s proposed financial services reform legislation:
“We cannot allow endless taxpayer-funded bailouts, That’s why we must not pass the financial reform bill that’s about to hit the floor. The fact is, this bill wouldn’t solve the problems that led to the financial crisis. It would make them worse. It will, in fact, lead to endless bank bailouts...”
This little gem rolled off McConnell’s lips just days after he met in New York with well-heeled financial service executives at a fundraiser-- during which McConnell assured them the GOP would kill any new legislation that burdened Wall Street firms with new regulation or enhanced government oversight.
The truth, of course, is exactly the opposite of what McConnell claimed. The proposed legislation requires those who want to play in financial services honey-pot to form and fund their own crisis fund, much like the fund that has served banks and thrifts since the Great Depression, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp (FDIC).
BILL MOYERS AND MICHAEL WINSHIP FOR BUZZFLASH
With all due respect, we can only wish those Tea Party activists who gathered in Washington and other cities this week weren’t so single-minded about just who’s responsible for all their troubles, real and imagined. They’re up in arms, so to speak, against Big Government, especially the Obama administration.
If they thought this through, they’d be joining forces with other grassroots Americans who in the coming weeks will be demonstrating in Washington and other cities against High Finance, taking on Wall Street and the country’s biggest banks.
The original Tea Party, remember, wasn’t directed just against the British redcoats. Colonial patriots also took aim at the East India Company. That was the joint-stock enterprise originally chartered by the first Queen Elizabeth. Over the years, the government granted them special rights and privileges, which the owners turned into a monopoly over trade, including tea.
MARC PERKEL FOR BUZZFLASH
The first post Health Care Reform election was held but you won't see any news about it on the cable news networks because a Democrat won. On April 13th, Democrat Ted Deutch won 62% to 35% over Republican Ed Lynch in a special election for Congress held in Florida that was billed as a referendum on health care, the Obama administration, and the direction that America is heading.
If a Republican had won the news coverage would be covered continuously and would be hailed as the end of the Democratic Party. But when Democrats win elections off-year, the Republican owned media doesn't say a word about it. I don't know why the media is on a mission to elect Republicans this year, but we took back America in 2008 and we aren't going to give it up in 2010 in spite of media bias.
MARC PERKEL FOR BUZZFLASH
MARTHA ROSENBERG FOR BUZZFLASH
Patients, on the other hand, are neither puzzled nor do they believe the fractures are rare.
"I broke the left femur (shattered it 2 times in 2006 and 2007)," while on Fosamax, writes a 72-year-old patient this week on AskaPatient.com. "I now walk with a walker and the Dr. says it can never be repaired."
"I twisted my left leg while shopping & broke left femur in two places, requiring surgery, pins and a rod," wrote a 61-year-old patient on the site after taking Fosamax for 13 years. "Then in 2/08 I jarred same side foot coming off a step & developed a stress fracture that won't heal. I now have a stress fracture on the right side femur after walking on the beach."