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72 posts from May 2008

May 30, 2008

Gawker editor Richard Blakely jokes about date rape

Today, Attackerman calls out a particularly blatant bit of misogyny in the ironosphere.

Ackerman caught Gawker's video editor, Richard Blakely, soliciting suggestions for an upcoming Boinkology post on "where to take a girl for a first date...rape."

Blakely makes former Gawker editor Emily Gould seem downright classy by comparison.

May 29, 2008

John McCain and "Foreclosure Phil" Gramm

David Corn has more on John McCain's "economic brain," the lobbyist and deregulation crusader Sen. Phil Gramm.

As a senator, Gramm reshaped finance law at the behest of Enron:

It didn't quite work out that way. For starters, the legislation contained a provision—lobbied for by Enron, a generous contributor to Gramm—that exempted energy trading from regulatory oversight, allowing Enron to run rampant, wreck the California electricity market, and cost consumers billions before it collapsed. (For Gramm, Enron was a family affair. Eight years earlier, his wife, Wendy Gramm, as cftc chairwoman, had pushed through a rule excluding Enron's energy futures contracts from government oversight. Wendy later joined the Houston-based company's board, and in the following years her Enron salary and stock income brought between $915,000 and $1.8 million into the Gramm household.) [MotherJones]

Gramm also rewrote the law to allow the big banks to conduct trillions upon trillions of dollars worth of credit default swaps without federal oversight:

But the Enron loophole was small potatoes compared to the devastation that unregulated swaps would unleash. Credit default swaps are essentially insurance policies covering the losses on securities in the event of a default. Financial institutions buy them to protect themselves if an investment they hold goes south. It's like bookies trading bets, with banks and hedge funds gambling on whether an investment (say, a pile of subprime mortgages bundled into a security) will succeed or fail. Because of the swap-related provisions of Gramm's bill—which were supported by Fed chairman Alan Greenspan and Treasury secretary Larry Summers—a $62 trillion market (nearly four times the size of the entire US stock market) remained utterly unregulated, meaning no one made sure the banks and hedge funds had the assets to cover the losses they guaranteed. [MotherJones]

The ensuing speculative free-for-all ushered in the subprime mortgage crisis.

Gramm is one of John McCain's closest advisers. Until April 18, Gramm was a registered lobbyist for the Swiss bank UBS--one of the major players in the subprime fiasco.

Corn notes that UBS recently wrote down $37 billion in debts because of the mortgage crisis.

There's speculation that Gramm's shortlisted to be Secretary of the Treasury if McCain becomes president. What a maverick!   

May 28, 2008


Grapes, originally uploaded by Lindsay Beyerstein.

McCain's top economic advisor was lobbying for UBS

McCain's economic brain turns out to have been dividing its attention between UBS and McCain 2008.

MSNBC reports that McCain's economic guru, Phil Gramm, advised the campaign while he was a paid lobbyist for the Swiss bank UBS.

In other words, Gramm was advising McCain on what to do about the mortgage crisis while he getting paid push the legislative agenda of one of the major architects of the mortgage crisis.

As chair of the Senate Banking Committee, Graham helped usher in the deregulation policies that brought the crisis about in the first place.

"Phil Gramm's career was as the most aggressive advocate of every predatory and rapacious element that the financial sector has," Galbraith said. "He's a sorcerer's apprentice of instability and disaster in the financial system," said John Galbraith.


Press releases could become "controlled unclassified information"

Embargoed press releases could become "controlled unclassified information" under new White House security guidelines.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY)

Manhattan, NY.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) at the Drum Major Institute's Marketplace of Ideas discussing paid sick leave.

May 27, 2008

RIP: Utah Phillips

Beloved musician, activist and folk historian Utah Phillips died of congestive heart failure at his home in Nevada  City, California on Friday at the age of 73.

I've been a Utah Phillips fan since as long as I've been listening to music. I was deeply saddened to learn of his passing. We have lost a truly great American.

Amy Goodman pays tribute to Utah Phillips at DemocracyNow. Labor Beat released this video tribute to Phillips.

Event photographer for DNC in Denver: Book today

Starting today, I'm taking event photo bookings for the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado, August 25-28th.

As regular readers know, I'm an event photographer specializing in political and public interest functions. I shoot everything from black tie parties and press conferences to rallies and sit-ins.

My rates are reasonable and my turnaround times are fast. Special rates are available for grassroots organizations.

My photojournalism has appeared in TIME, Salon, Shock, the Austin American Statesman, and other publications. Here are some of the well-known figures I've photographed over the last couple of years: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Angelina Jolie, Tim Kaine, Mark Warner, Clifford Brown, George Allen, Ed Gillespie, Ned Lamont, Joe Lieberman, Roger Toussaint, TWU Local 101. View my portfolio here.

May 26, 2008

Got quinoa? FBI infiltrating vegan potlucks ahead of GOP convention

Candid Camera, originally uploaded by Lindsay Beyerstein.


Matt Snyders has a good article on the FBI's attempts to recruit moles in the Twin Cities to infiltrate vegan potlucks ahead of the GOP convention.

Photo: From a demonstration I covered earlier this month in New York City. The guy training the video camera on me is Officer Capoziello from the NYPD's Technical Assistance Response Unit (TARU). TARU are the audiovisual monitors of the NYPD, the cops that videotape protesters.

[HT: Michael Froomkin]

UN carbon offset program wastes billions

Think Oil for Food was bad? Try Money for Nothing.

Energy companies are scamming the United Nations' carbon offset program out of billions of dollars, the Guardian reports.