Tag: Cenk Uygur

Mar 04

Cenk Uygur: MSNBC Not Left Wing. Never Was

Recently MSNBC announced that it was making major programming changes to counter its ratings slide. It cancelled two afternoon programs, “The Reid Report” and “The Ronan Farrow Daily” which were replaced by two hours of news programming hosted by Thomas Roberts. A source at MSNBC said that the goal was to “move away from left wing TV.” If anyone ever thought that MSNBC was “left wing TV” than they were paying attention. Three hours of disgraced Republican has-been Joe Scarborough and the other programming throughout the day and into prime time that spouted DNC talking points is not left wing. Never was. And that is why MSNBC is falling in its ratings, as the left wing host of Young Turks, Cenk Uygur, points out he has two million viewers every day.

Maybe, MSNBC should hire Cenk and get Keith Olbermann back and fire Joe Scarborough who is more suited for Fox News.

Nov 05

Does Democracy Still Work in America?

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Democracy is when the indigent, and not the men of property, are the rulers.

Aristotle

‘Oligarchic tendencies’: Study finds only the wealthy get represented in the Senate

Members of the U.S. Senate do not respond equally to the views of all their constituents, according to research to be published in Political Research Quarterly next month. Senators overall represent their wealthiest constituents, while those on bottom of the economic rung are neglected. [..]

The study used data from the 2004 National Annenberg Election Survey to compare constituents’ political opinion to the voting behavior of their Senators in the 107th through 111th Congresses. With more than 90,000 respondents, the NAES is the largest public opinion survey conducted during presidential elections.

In all of the five Congresses examined, the voting records of Senators were consistently aligned with the opinions of their wealthiest constituents. The opinions of lower-class constituents, however, never appeared to influence the Senators’ voting behavior.

The neglect of lower income groups was a bipartisan affair. Democrats were not any more responsive to the poor than Republicans. [..]

Contrary to popular opinion, it was Democrats – not Republicans – who were more responsive to upper-class opinion in the 111th Congress.

Does Democracy Still Work in America?

My question would be: does Democracy still exist in America?

Nov 16

West and Smiley: Obama is Not a Progressive

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Tavis Smiley, Cornel West on the 2012 Election & Why Calling Obama “Progressive” Ignores His Record

As the most expensive presidential election in U.S. history comes to an end, broadcaster Tavis Smiley and professor, activist Dr. Cornel West join us to discuss President Obama’s re-election and their hopes for a national political agenda in and outside of the White House during Obama’s second term. At a time when one in six Americans is poor, the price tag for combined spending by federal candidates – along with their parties and outside groups like super PACs – totaled more than $6 billion. Together, West and Smiley have written the new book, “The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto.” Both Tavis and Smiley single out prominent progressives whom they accuse of overlooking Obama’s actual record. “We believe that if [Obama] is not pushed, he’s going to be a transactional president and not a transformational president,” Smiley says. “And we believe that the time is now for action and no longer accommodation. … To me, the most progressive means that you’re taking some serious risk. And I just don’t see the example of that.” West says that some prominent supporters of Obama “want to turn their back to poor and working people. And it’s a sad thing to see them as apologists for the Obama administration in that way.”

Transcript can be read here

Obama is a ‘Republican in Blackface’

“In a recent interview on Democracy Now!, ex-Princeton professor and frequent Obama critic Dr. Cornel West lashed out against the president as well as pundits Michael Eric Dyson, Melissa Harris-Perry and Rev. Al Sharpton.

West called Obama a “Rockefeller Republican in blackface” and said Dyson, Harris-Perry and Sharpton were all “for sale.”

West, along with TV personality Tavis Smiley, has been one of President Barack Obama’s loudest and harshest African-American critics. Although West endorsed and campaigned for Obama during the 2008 campaign, he has since complained that the first black president turned his back on impoverished Americans.”

Cenk Uygur and Jayar Jackson discuss West’s comments and racial attitudes toward Obama in general. Is there a way he should act as both the president and a leader for the black community? How would he manage that?

Aug 10

Fines Not Commensurate with the Crime

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

The fines that are being levied against banks and companies for investment fraud, fraudulent advertising, money laundering and the like are large but come nowhere near the cost to tax payers and investors. Since these fines are but a fraction of the profits that these criminals reap, the fines won’t deter them from repeating the offense. Nor does it help that as part of the settlement the company and its employees are let off the hook for criminal wrongdoing.

Glaxo Agrees to Pay $3 Billion in Fraud Settlement

In the largest settlement involving a pharmaceutical company, the British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges and pay $3 billion in fines for promoting its best-selling antidepressants for unapproved uses and failing to report safety data about a top diabetes drug, federal prosecutors announced Monday. The agreement also includes civil penalties for improper marketing of a half-dozen other drugs. [..]

Part of the civil settlement also includes claims that the company overcharged the government for drugs. Glaxo did not admit any wrongdoing in the civil settlement.

Despite the large amount, $3 billion represents only a portion of what Glaxo made on the drugs. Avandia, for example, racked up $10.4 billion in sales, Paxil brought in $11.6 billion, and Wellbutrin sales were $5.9 billion during the years covered by the settlement, according to IMS Health, a data group that consults for drugmakers.

In the New York Times article, Patrick Burns, spokesman for the whistle-blower advocacy group Taxpayers Against Fraud, stated, “So a $3 billion settlement for half a dozen drugs over 10 years can be rationalized as the cost of doing business.” Also, Eliot Spitzer, former New York State Attorney General who sued GlaxoSmithKline in 2004 over allegations about the drug Paxil, was quoted as saying that “What we’re learning is that money doesn’t deter corporate malfeasance, The only thing that will work in my view is C.E.O.’s and officials being forced to resign and individual culpability being enforced.”

In another case, Morgan Stanley, an international investment firm, has agreed to pay a fine of $4.8 million with no admission of wrongdoing for electricity price-fixing said to cost consumers $300 million. Justice department officials said that it sends a message to the banking industry. What message would that be?

The government said the arrangement allowed KeySpan to withhold substantial electricity generating capacity from the market, driving prices higher for consumers, and generated $21.6 million of net revenue for Morgan Stanley.

U.S. District Judge William Pauley in Manhattan said he shared the concerns of state officials and the AARP, a nonprofit serving people 50 and older, that any settlement should have reflected the harm to consumers and forced Morgan Stanley to give up the $21.6 million.

“Given the government’s stark allegations of manipulative conduct against Morgan Stanley, disgorgement of $4.8 million is a relatively mild sanction,” Pauley wrote. “There is a risk that a large financial services firm like Morgan Stanley could view such a modest penalty as merely a cost of doing business.

“But despite this court’s misgivings, the government’s decision to settle for less than full damages is entitled to judicial deference, particularly in view of the novelty of the government’s theory.”

The judge also rejected the AARP argument that the $4.8 million be returned to consumers, in part because sending it instead to the U.S. Treasury served the public interest.

So the consumers are left holding the bag, particularly the financially stressed elderly and poor, while the Morgan Stanley and Keyspan continue business as usual concocting new ways to break the law.

If whistleblowers can reveal it, why can’t the government prosecute it? The claim by the Obama administration that it’s too hard to find the evidence to pin on an individual just rings too hollow. It may be hard but it is possible with subpoenas and little more effort. It is well past time we held the criminals responsible for breaking the laws and stop prosecuting those who expose it.

Jan 04

Bank Robbery

Cross posted fromThe Stars Hollow Gazette

Obama administration’s fear of fraud prosecutions

Cenk talks with “Rolling Stone” contributing editor Matt Taibbi about his new piece on the Obama administration’s lack of prosecutions for white collar crime. “If they pushed all these prosecutions, investors worldwide would see how epidemic corruption is on Wall Street,” Taibbi says. “They’re afraid of what the international reaction would be.” Cenk says while he doesn’t think President Obama is personally corrupt, “It’s the system that corrupts all these politicians.”

Obama and Geithner: Government, Enron-Style

by Matt Taibbi

Strongly recommend this piece at the Huffington Post by Jeff Connaughton, a former aide to Senator Ted Kaufman. Jeff is one of the smartest guys on the Hill and is particularly strong on issues surrounding Wall Street and the regulatory system. In this piece, he takes apart the oft-stated mantra that what Wall Street firms did during and after the crisis was maybe unethical, but not illegal.

He takes particular aim at Barack Obama, who recently tossed that line out on 60 Minutes in what I thought was one of the real low moments of his presidency. Here’s Jeff’s take:

   Speaking in Kansas on December 6, (Obama) said, “Too often, we’ve seen Wall Street firms violating major anti-fraud laws because the penalties are too weak and there’s no price for being a repeat offender.” Just five days later on 60 Minutes, he said, “Some of the least ethical behavior on Wall Street wasn’t illegal.” Which is it? Have there been no prosecutions because Wall Street acted legally (albeit unethically)? Or did Wall Street repeatedly violate major anti-fraud laws (and should thus find itself in the dock)?

   The President is confusing “legal” with “difficult to prosecute successfully.”

The notion that what Wall Street firms did was merely unethical and not illegal is not just mistaken but preposterous: most everyone who works in the financial services industry understands that fraud right now is not just pervasive but epidemic, with many of the biggest banks committing entire departments to the routine commission of fraud and perjury – every single one of the major banks, for instance, devotes significant manpower to robosigning affidavits for foreclosures and credit card judgments, acts which are openly and inarguably criminal.

How Banks Cheat Taxpayers

by Matt Taibbi

A good friend of mine sent me a link to a small story last week, something that deserves a little attention, post-factum.

The Bloomberg piece is about J.P. Morgan Chase winning a bid to be the lead underwriter on a $400 million bond issue by the state of Massachusetts. Chase was up against Merrill for the bid and won the race with an offer of a 2.57% interest rate, beating Merrill’s bid of 2.79. The difference in the bid saved the state of Massachusetts $880,000. [..]

Except in four out of five cases, it still doesn’t happen that way. From the same piece [emphasis mine]:

   Nationwide, about 20 percent of debt issued by states and local governments is sold through competitive bids. Issuers post public notices asking banks to make proposals and award the debt to the bidder offering the lowest interest cost. The other 80 percent are done through negotiated underwriting, where municipalities select a bank to price and sell the bonds.

By “negotiated underwriting,” what Bloomberg means is, “local governments just hand the bid over to the bank that tosses enough combined hard and soft money at the right politicians.” [..]

There is absolutely no good reason why all debt issues are not put up to competitive bids. [..]

[T]his is a bond issue, not rocket science. In most cases, all the top investment banks will offer virtually the same service, with only the price varying. Towns and cities and states lose billions of dollars every year allowing financial services companies to overcharge them for underwriting.

Oct 05

Occupy Wall Street 10.05.11

Oct 02

Occupy Wall Street 10.01.11

Jun 04

Raising the Roof: The Debt Ceiling

Cross postedfrom The Stars Hollow Gazette

Since 1962 the debt ceiling has been raised 74 times. Under George W. Bush, it was raised ten times without amendment. The current fiscal problems were caused by the Bush tax cuts, the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars and the economic downturn that both Republicans and Democrats refuse to realistically address by investing in this country, raising revenue, yes taxes, and closing the tax loop holes for corporations. The deficit will not be reduced by ending Medicare and decimating Medicaid and forcing seniors to pay 68% of the costs. That Medicare is even on the table without the tax increases for the top 1% should be a non-starter for negotiations on limiting the debt or raising the debt ceiling. The only reason that I can see this is even a discussion is that the President and the Democrats are beholding to the health care industry and pharmaceutical companies that would benefit in the trillions of dollars if Medicare and Medicaid are ended.

Every Democrat in the House who voted “nay” on the clean bill to raise the debt ceiling should be primaried with a real Democrat who will vote for the best interests of the middle class and the poor and not negotiate away their safety nets to make the rich wealthier.

Jun 02

The Patriot Act Renewed Without Change

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

The (un)Patriot Act was passed, unamended, without debate, and signed by President Obama, who was still in Europe, with a robotic pen before it could expire. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), who along with several other liberal senators, had proposed an amendment that put an end to the government secret interpretation of the law, cut a deal with Senate Majority Leader Harry Read (?-NV) and Sen. Diane Feinstein (?-CA) to withdraw the amendment. Reid promised to hold hearings on secret law, and, if his concerns were not met, propose his amendment at a later date.

I long ago gave up any hope of change from the current regime. It’s obvious that they have shed their skins and revealed themselves to be no better than the Bush/Cheny criminal regime that they are covering.

George Washington University law professor, Jeffrey Rosen, joins Cenk Uygur to discuss the (un)Patriot Act, its unconstitutionality, the duplicity of Harry Reid and how American’s really do not understand what is in this bill.

Say good-by to the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendment, as well as, Article III courts.

May 05

Can the US Return to the Pre-9/11 Rule of Law?

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Dahlia Lithwick, a lawyer and senior editor at Slate, spoke with Cenk Uygur about returning the rule of law to thus country now that Osama bin Laden is dead. She calls for President Obama to fulfill his campaign promises to close Guantanamo, end military tribunal in lieu of Article III trials. In her article at Slate she discusses “Closing Pandora’s Box” ending the euphemistic “was on terror”:


The killing of Osama bin Laden has, for a brief instant, united an America that seemed permanently torn in two over birth certificates, the deficit, and the Donald. We can debate whether there should have been a trial, whether Americans ought to be dancing in the streets, whether it was legal to kill him, or even whether it matters whether it was legal to kill him. But we all appear to basically agree that the world is a far better place because the man responsible for one of the most vicious attacks in U.S. history is no longer in it.

So now what? Legally speaking, there are two broad lessons to derive from the Obama administration’s latest salvo in the war on terror. One is that it shows the need to continue operating outside legal norms indefinitely. The other is that it allows us to declare a symbolic victory over terrorism and return once more to the pre-9/11 regime in which the rule of law is inviolate.

snip

About all we can say with certainty is this: We tortured. We live in a world in which we must contend with information obtained by torture. We now need to decide whether we want to continue to live that way. Writers from ideological backgrounds as diverse as Matt Yglesias and Ross Douthat argue that it is time to return to the paradigm abandoned after 9/11. Let’s put the 9/11 attacks and the existential threat it created behind us. With Bin Laden’s death, let’s simply agree that the objectives of the Bush administration’s massive anti-terror campaign have finally been achieved, and that the time for extra-legal, extra-judicial government programs-from torture, to illegal surveillance, to indefinite detention, to secret trials, to nontrials, to the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay-has now passed. There will be no better marker for the end of this era. There will be no better time to inform the world that our flirtation with a system of shadow-laws was merely situational and that the situation now is over.

Although, I agree with Ms. Lithwick that President Obama has a grand opportunity to fulfill some of his campaign promises ending many of the extra-legal abuses of the Bush administration and his own, I disagree on others. Without prosecuting US war criminals — Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, all the lawyers and military commanders — the United States will never regain the stature it once had in the world in Human Rights. Pretending it never happened not going to make all the violations of International and US law go away. It is unrealistic to think it will.

Apr 13

“Pretty Please, Can We Regulate You”

Cenk Uygur and Dylan Ratigan discuss what it is to regulate banks

“Pretty please, can we regulate you with someone you like?”

The fight for Elizabeth Warren to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a “fight worth waging”. Jennifer Granholm, former governor of Michigan

Feb 27

Exposing the Dirty Tricks

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

“Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practice to deceive” Sir Walter Scott

The plot to undermine the Wikileaks attack on banks is certainly one of those tangled webs. The recent revelations the not only were Bank of America  and the Chamber of Commerce involved but the United States Air Force. They all had either hired or consulted a little known cyber-security firm HBgary to learn about and discredit their detractors. The plot was exposed by one of their targets, Anonymous, who hacked not just HBgary’s computers but hacked the private e-mail from its CEO,s i-phone and his Twitter account.

Another of HBgary’s targets, Salon‘s Glenn Greenwald, has been making rounds talking about the plans to discredit journalists. He has made appearances on Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report and Democracy Now! discussing the implications of this plot. Mr. Greenwald also talked with Cenk Uygur specifically about this plan, the latest revelations of the use of psy-ops against American citizens, specifically, US Congress members to get them to support the Afghan war and the Obama administration’s vigorous crack down on whistle blowers.

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