The Wall Street Journal
From Rolling Stone Magazine and Matt Taibbi where/whom the photo and excerpt below were taken and The Wall Street Journal, here's a prime example of the rotted stench that is our government and the people we employ at the top.
The photo below is that of Walter Lukken, who having done such a masterful job regulating the commodities futures trading industry as acting Chairman of the CFTC (The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commision) has been made head of the Futures Trading Association, that industry's government Lobby.
Click the gears above for the two stories.
As you would expect, being a magazine piece, Taibbi's is the better read as it offers more background including the now legendary Billy Tauzin example of this practice, although one need always be mindful of Rolling Stones Magazine's propensity for confusing reporting with editorializing.
Revolving Door: From Top Futures Regulator to Top Futures Lobbyist
While America focused on New Hampshire, a classic example of revolving-door politics took place in Washington, going almost completely unnoticed.
In this case, the hire involves Walter Lukken, who toward the end of the Bush years was the acting head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. As the chief regulator of the commodities markets, it was Lukken’s job to spot and combat speculative abuses and manipulations that might have led to artificial price hikes and other disruptions.
In 2008, the last full year of his tenure, Lukken presided over some of the worst chaos in the commodities markets in recent history, with major disruptions in the markets for food products like wheat, cotton, soybeans, and rice, and energy commodities like oil.
The best line in The Wall Street Journal piece reads as follows.
When Mr. Lukken headed the CFTC, he backed a more flexible, "principles-based" approach to regulation, different from what was seen as the prescriptive and "rule-based" methods employed by the Securities and Exchange Commission, which polices stock markets.
There aren't so many nice stories around lately, so I grabbed more of this one than I would have otherwise, just in case you can't get behind The Wall Street Journal's paywall with the provided links which as usual is accessed by clicking the photo and/or clicking on Mr. Moffets name below.
Maybe Graciela Sees It From Heaven, This Huge Guitar Made of Trees
It's Mr. Ureta's Tribute to a Late Wife; His Girlfriend, Ms. Ponzi, Is OK With It, Too
by MATT MOFFETT
GENERAL LEVALLE, Argentina—Pilots often stare in disbelief when they make their first flight over this hamlet on the verdant pampa. There, on the monotonous plain below, is a giant guitar landscaped out of cypress and eucalyptus trees. It is more than two-thirds of a mile long.
Behind the great guitar of the pampa, and its 7,000-odd trees, is a love story that took a tragic turn.
The green guitar is the handiwork of a farmer named Pedro Martin Ureta, who is now 70. He embedded the design into his farm many years ago, and maintains it to this day, as a tribute to his late wife, Graciela Yraizoz, who died in 1977 at the age of 25.
"It's incredible to see a design that was so carefully planned, so far below," says Gabriel Pindek, a commercial pilot for Argentina's Austral Lineas Aereas. "There's nothing else like it."
Born to a ranching family with deep roots here, Mr. Ureta was something of a bohemian as a young man. He traveled to Europe and hobnobbed with artists and revolutionaries. After coming home in the late 1960s, the then-28-year old became captivated by Ms. Yraizoz, who was just 17 and dazzlingly pretty.
But Ms. Yraizoz didn't have much time to wait. One day in 1977, she collapsed. She had suffered a ruptured cerebral aneurysm, a weakening in the wall of a blood vessel that eventually burst. She died shortly thereafter, carrying what would have been the couple's fifth child.
Today, Mr. Ureta says his wife's passing turned his life in a more philosophical direction. ¨I stepped back for a time,¨ he says. He read about Buddhism. Mr. Ureta says a line by an Argentine folk guitarist and writer, Héctor Roberto Chavero Aramburo, stuck in his head: "I galloped a lot, but I arrived late all the same."
Says Soledad: "He used to talk about regrets, and it was clear he regretted not having listened to my mother about the guitar."
This one was sitting right at the top of my newsreader this morning.
I heaved a sigh of relief as I have been really, really worried about these guys.
Click anywhere below to link to the story.
The median value of salaries, bonuses and long-term incentive awards for CEOs of 350 major companies surged 11% to $9.3 million, according to a study of proxy statements conducted for The Wall Street Journal by management consultancy Hay Group.
All morning long, I kept getting the same email, with the same link, over and over again.
Nearly every one of the minions who take The Wall Street Journal online, knowing that I enjoy James Taranto's ongoing taunt of the New York Times and their star columnist Paul Krugman, felt compelled to give me a heads up on this morning's Best of the Web column at WSJ.com.
As though I hadn't already been up and skulking my favorite sites for hours.
I suppose it would be ungracious (ingracious?) one of those for sure ... maybe both, not to thank each and every one of you for thinking about our site.
And because it seems very important to you that we spread the word on this issue, and more importantly, because I was going to do it anyway, here we go.
Great Moments in Socialized Medicine
First the bad news. "The National Health Service is today condemned over its inhumane treatment of elderly patients in an official report that finds hospitals are failing to meet 'even the most basic standards of care' for the over-65s," ...
Now the good news: "In Britain, the government itself runs the hospitals and employs the doctors. We've all heard scare stories about how that works in practice; these stories are false," according to Paul Krugman, star columnist at the New York Times.
Oops, but there's more bad news: The New York Times has been known to publish out-and-out falsehoods on its opinion pages, including under Krugman's byline.
Good news: This could be one of those instances in which he's telling the truth. Bad news: We wouldn't bet on it.
Now the full story.
As always, the photo links to the entire peice.
NHS shamed over callous treatment of elderly
The National Health Service is today condemned over its inhumane treatment of elderly patients in an official report that finds hospitals are failing to meet “even the most basic standards of care” for the over-65s.
By Martin Beckford, Health Correspondent
A study of pensioners who suffered appalling treatment at the hands of doctors and nurses say that half were not given enough to eat or drink. One family member said the maltreatment amounted to "euthanasia".
Some were left unwashed or in soiled clothes, while others were forgotten after being sent home or given the wrong medication.
In several cases considered by the Health Service Ombudsman, patients died without loved ones by their sides because of the “casual indifference” of staff and their “bewildering disregard” for people’s needs.
The damning report warns that extra money will not help the NHS meet required standards of care and that more problems are likely as the population ages.
Ann Abraham, who as health ombudsman carries out independent investigation of complaints against the health service, said: “The findings of my investigations reveal an attitude – both personal and institutional – which fails to recognise the humanity and individuality of the people concerned and to respond to them with sensitivity, compassion and professionalism.
But no death panels.
"The documents appear to have been acquired illegally and contain all manner of private information and statements that were never intended for the public eye, so they won't be posted here."—New York Times, on the Climategate emails, Nov. 20, 2009.
On Wikileaks latest revelations.
"The articles published today and in coming days are based on thousands of United States embassy cables, the daily reports from the field intended for the eyes of senior policy makers in Washington. . . . The Times believes that the documents serve an important public interest, illuminating the goals, successes, compromises and frustrations of American diplomacy in a way that other accounts cannot match."—New York Times, on the WikiLeaks documents, Nov. 29, 2010.
Politics? ................... Maybe?
Nahhhhh, not The Old Grey Lady.
I think I've already disclosed that the first thing I do nearly every morning of my life is go to The Wall Street Journal Online looking for the Best of the Web Today column from James Taranto and his minions.
Here's a good example of their fine work.
Terrible News: Crime Is Down
"Incarceration in America is a failure by almost any measure," according to the first sentence of the blurb for a new Graeme Wood article in The Atlantic. We're locking criminals up, and crime keeps rising anyway! Oh, wait, no, that's not true. From the article:
Even as crime has fallen, the sentences served by criminals have grown, thanks in large part to mandatory minimums and draconian three-strikes rules--politically popular measures that have shown little deterrent effect but have left the prison system overflowing with inmates.
Having read this paragraph, we decided not to bother with the rest of the piece. We'll take Wood's word for it that incarceration is a failure by almost any measure. But it's hard to imagine what measure is more important than the one by which it is a success: preventing crime!