Thursday, October 13, 2011

Pandit Says He’d Be Happy to Talk With Wall Street Protesters - Businessweek

Pandit, Dimon, Paulson, etc. are obviously in self-denial, or choosing some bizarre form of willful ignorance.

Pandit Says He’d Be Happy to Talk With Wall Street Protesters - Businessweek:

They, and the #TeaParty, #GOP, corporate media, etc. can't conceive of an organizational structure other than one that is top-down, hierarchical, and paternal. It's no surprise that their money - #Koch and other corporate supplied, which is a tax on all of us as we pay for it in our goods and services - pays for a message, which is spiced with enough religion to keep their dominionist minority alert, disseminated through their propaganda arms of #FOX, #CNN, #WSJ, and used to elect a herd of incompetent #GOP legislators to either pass law (written by the K-Street lobbyists) or block any legislation actually beneficial to most of us. And of course they have marching orders to block any legislation that might actually make us more prosperous, free, or secure, because that would serve to re-elect Barack Obama.

Their unwarranted and illogical hatred for our current President gets expressed as nonsensical non-fact, but the dog whistles come across clear: there is a black man in the white house. Obama, of course, operates in the White House as a pragmatic centrist, wanting compromise, understanding legislative and constitutional issues deeply, but gets portrayed as "other," socialist, un-American, etc. This constant portrayal, in nearly all media and through direct means with email, blogs, social networks, etc., serves to swell the minority that is always pulsating on the underside to numbers that can sway elections (and to discourage the real majority in the center not to vote, for a variety of reasons).

Obama, like all other politicians, must serve Wall Street. They produce no product, employ few, and redistribute wealth from the poor and middle class to the already wealthy few, but they fund elections. The fact that Wall Street money pays for Federal,
State, and Local elections should be screaming at us to remove money from elections, but we are either deaf to that, thinking that we, too, someday, will be one of those Masters of the Universe, or cowed by the fact that we have chosen this situation, to the point where a bought and paid for Supreme Court is allowed to operate as a Board of Directors for a few billionaires, instead of an august body of American Justice.

But, as Wall Street money buys elections, legislators, Governors, writes law, and proselytizes the will of the Billionaires to the rest of us, we suffer from economic Stockholm Syndrome, held hostage by people, like Pandit, who just don't get it. What's the Matter With Kansas, indeed, but What's the Matter with America?

The Occupy movement has a message that is clear as a (Liberty) bell. It rings to alert us to the few people in the world who control the fate of the many.

The frustration of the Occupy movement is from the same storm as the original tea partiers, but from the start they of the tea bags were incited by a broadcaster and Wall Street trader exhorting against a suggested bailout of actual people, which he implied should be met with opposition by...these same people...and substituted with a bailout of a few Billionaire Bankers. The same amount of Federal dollars spent to bailout homeowners, who largely were in trouble through forces beyond their immediate control, instead of a few banksters, could have stabilized the global economic system just as well as the subsequent bank bailout and actually saved a few jobs, families, and lives. If the tea partiers could free themselves from the yoke of #Koch funds and false #FOX news, they might see that their interests are served better by the Occupy movement.
If Pandit or any of these clueless oligarchs would listen to the voice of the Occupy movement, they would be confused and disoriented. The Billionaires wouldn't see the money in the movement. They couldn't see the true profit to be obtained by restoring some fairness to our economic system. They couldn't see that the message of the Occupy movement is the true Voice of America.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Lacey Act Myths & Gibson Guitar

Lacey Act Myths:

Trees, like other plants, and animals, can be endangered species.

Guitar makers did not use so much of these precious resources that these trees are now scarce and under threat of extinction, but other forces have. Furniture makers and the construction industry, along with an ever-expanding human population, have cut down trees at an alarming rate. Many of these trees have been cut simply for charcoal, or for more room for global agri-business billionaires to extract what profit they can from a dying land.

Yet here we are, with Gibson Guitar being raided twice for not complying with this century-old law. Competing manufacturers Martin, Fender, and Taylor have had no trouble with the federal government. Their owners say that while the paperwork is tedious, it is not incredibly expensive, and it's certainly not impossible, as Gibson seems to think.

Gibson, the ultra right wing Murdoch mouthpiece Wall Street Journal and FOX News, etc. have all pointed a finger and a toe toward Obama, the great and powerful offender against freedom who puts trees before jobs. Gibson is hosting a rally for support, in their right-to-work state of Tennessee, sponsored by, among others, the Tea Party Express which is wholly funded by Koch Industries as part of their attempt to stage a corporate coup d'├ętat of the United States of America.

Writer Zach Plillips- "...musicians transporting said instruments across state lines will be arrested and hauled off to prison in droves; that retailers will be responsible for documenting the genus and species of wood for every guitar they stock. Folks, this just ain't gonna happen."

Yes, this just ain't gonna happen, yet willfully ignorant thousands of people have adopted this as part of their quest to make Barack Obama a one term President.

I'm not saying we should stand against Gibson - I own and love a few of their great instruments. But we have to wonder how far a once-great company has fallen that they fail to comply with paperwork vital to their organization and use this to misdirect people to new heights of division and rancor.

Monday, October 10, 2011

A California tuneup -

A California tuneup -

First, remove money from our election, initiative, and legislative process: no corporate campaign contributions or sponsorship of initiatives, private contributions limited to an amount that would let any Californian participate and influence, and a very high bar set for Constitutional amendment by initiative.

Second, before any intiative becomes law, it must pass a stringent Constitutional review. Most initiatives, including the ones I have supported, have been fatally flawed from partisan origins and corporate sponsorship.

Mercury Insurance has twice tried to supercede our government through the initiative process, and I finally had enough. I took my business elsewhere, sending the definition of Fascism to Mercury CEO George Joseph along with my cancellation after decades of coverage.

You might still be laboring under the delusion that Proposition 13 was a grassroots, populist, anti-tax, save-Grandma movement, but it was nothing more than a corporate grab for Sacramento power along with a welfare program for commercial real estate titans. P13 and the shadow organization HJTA was funded by commercial property owners, not bad people in themselves but certainly not representing a majority of homeowners. P13 destabilized local tax collection, robbed local governments of power to run their cities and gave it to Sacramento, helped destroy manufacturing in California in favor of Big Box retailers (so some of the state tax revenue could be sent back to locals, while capping property taxes on the established manufacturers), and set the stage for our current un-equitable real estate market. All because of a corrupt initiative process, misleading the public.

Third - many of us remember when California tried to be great. When we tried to educate each of our children, when a decent home in a safe neighborhood was affordable to anyone who worked, when we had a secure future. Instead, we have an economic landscape corrupted by the ever increasing demand to rob from the middle class to stuff the pockets of the wealthy, who turn around and pay people to lie to us in grocery store parking lots in order to gather signatures for initiatives benefiting only the top 1%. We can aspire to greatness again, but our current initiative process only throws us a shovel when we are down in a hole.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Rally to Support Gibson

Rally to Support Gibson:

Looking at the sponsors, I think I'll opt out.

#Koch Brothers Astroturf TeaParty Express?

In fact, this is nearly enough to make me sell my Gibson Guitars. I have a great ES-340 TDN. It is a natural-finish semi-hollow electric guitar from about '71 that I bought second-hand, in new condition in '75. I had been playing my '65 Gibson Melody Maker or my Ovation acoustic with a Barcus Berry pickup in ensembles and lessons at Berklee College of Music, and neither of these were cutting it. This was when Berklee was expanding from being a strictly jazz school to a music school for all (pretty much all who had some skill and a means to pay), but most guitarists had full hollow body guitars like Gibson L-5s and ES-175s.

I went home for some kind of a break, and my parents were willing to buy me a more appropriate guitar (thanks, Mom and Dad!). The shop had this ES-340 on the wall, and I asked if I could play it. They warned me that the customer had returned it because it was wired funny, and it had hung on that wall for a few times. I played it, through a Leslie rotating speaker amp (think George Harrison Here Comes the Sun) and I was hooked. We worked out a deal - very reasonable - and I now had an appropriate guitar. It turns out that this model had deliberately different wiring from most, and I've grown to love this aspect. It has a master volume instead of a volume knob for each pickup, and a blend control to continuously vary from one pickup to the other with the middle position being both. The pickup switch was off (very useful)/pickups in-phase/pickups out-of-phase. I found many uses for the out of phase sound, and this is the first Gibson that I knew of with this factory feature (Fender Stratocaster players could put their pickup switch carefully between positions to get out-of-phase sounds, and Fender recognized this and later included 5-position switches to make this an official feature).

Five years or-so earlier, I wanted my first electric guitar, and I bought that Gibson Melody Maker along with a Vox Berkeley Super Twin Reverb (rare tube model) which served me through my awful high school bands.

I still have both instruments.

Henry Juskiewicz has been a controversial leader of Gibson. Buying companies for their technology and then burying it. Announcing advanced tech that never comes to market, or finally arrives a day late and a dollar short. Failing to design modern innovative instruments that don't rely on last century's style and substance. Manufacturing products that are either too expensive for most, or not a good value considering their price premium over other US and imported brands. Just a CEO kind of guy, not apparently a Guitar kind of guy.

And now, for the second time, they have been raided for using endangered species of wood. People are crawling out of the wood-work to defend Gibson, saying this is politically motivated, it's just a bunch of trees, it's just a paperwork error, etc. But in reality, Gibson's competitors have done just fine adhering to the century-plus-old Lacy act. Martin, Taylor, Fender, etc., use the woods we guitarists value for sound, feel, and aesthetic qualities, yet they have yet to be raided.

Gibson plans this rally to engender support, and look who supports them. The billionaire-brothers paying to destroy our democracy, for one, in the form of the Koch-sponsored TeaParty Express. Ted Nugent, an off-his-rocker long-time Gibson player and musical has-been, Newt Gingrich (I didn't know Tiffany sold guitars).

One of the most important things in this country is to vote. One of the best ways to vote is with your dollars. I recommend that no one buys a Gibson, Epiphone, Maestro, or other Gibson product, until they can prove to be good members of the community.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

The Associated Press: Jobs said little about pancreatic cancer struggle

The Associated Press: Jobs said little about pancreatic cancer struggle:

One quarter to one half of us in the U. S. would have been dead for seven years.

We have the best medical care in the world. We have enough medical care to treat every one of us. We have the means to give each of us the same chance as Steve Jobs to beat even a disease like pancreatic cancer, or at least survive for seven years as he did.

Yet, the for-profit, corporate, employer-based health care system we have in the United States denies this to many of us.

Efforts for over a century to right this wrong have failed because powerful and wealthy interests own politicians, buy elections, write legislation, and redistribute the wealth of the nation, that of the middle class, to a rich and powerful few at the top. When a health care system ceases to be run simply for the health of its customers and is gamed to provide funds to be invested in global markets to enrich the C-Level executives, board members, and institutional investors, such a system is broken. Fixes aren't easy, but concepts for fixes are simple.

Single payer, not-for-profit systems work well in the rest of the civilized world. For every complaint you hear in the UK, for example, about waiting months for a hip replacement, you can hear a million stories of immediate and effective treatment being given for diseases such as pancreatic cancer. Systems such as this pay caregivers well, generally provide fast, effective treatment, and cost far less than our current broken U. S. system.

Sure, we wish that each of us, down to the poorest, made enough money that we could pay retail rates for any medical care necessary, but employers are not willing to forgo the small portion of their profit necessary for this. Sure, we wish that medical insurance was affordable to each, but insurance companies insist on using consumers as an endless supply of funds to invest in global markets, with the proceeds going to the wealthy few at the top and certainly not back down to compensate their lowest-paid worker or improve service.

The free market is not free. It has failed millions of us, and only serves to keep the Steve Jobs' of the world confident that they can live each day as if it were their last. Jobs was an intelligent and driven guy who thought up great things, envisioned neat devices, and started companies that employed many. We need to un-game the market, so the best medical care is truly available to all of us, and opportunity is available to the next Steve Jobs.