Goldman & Citi have Swine Flu vaccine, do you?

In the event of revolution I have some thoughts about who to put up against a wall.

Some of New York’s biggest companies, including Wall Street giants Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, received doses of swine flu vaccine for at-risk employees, drawing criticism that the hard-to-find vaccine is going first to the privileged. [emphasis added]

That’s not criticism, that’s a statement of fact.

New York city defended its actions by saying that distributing large doses of the vaccine to such businesses is "a great avenue for vaccinating people at risk." ASTERISK/FOOTNOTE: And by people at risk we mean those who are rich and have health insurance. I’m not sure what the risk is here, but I’d like to have some.

This event has revealed a previously unsuspected gift for irony at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC responded to this by saying any decisions that appear to send vaccine beyond high-priority groups "have the potential to undermine the credibility of the program." You think?

Goldman, Citi, et al, got the vaccine because they have their own doctors. Before getting the vaccine, doctors at these companies had to agree to only vaccinate high-risk employees. (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) And I am sure they are doing just that and ignoring any VIPs who ask for it and could have them fired.

It is nice to know that at least one of the firms who have received billions in tax dollars has spent some of that on competent PR people. While Goldman Sachs kept its 200 doses and Citigroup kept its 1,200, Morgan Stanley turned over its 1,000 doses to local hospitals after finding out they had not yet received any vaccine.

I realize our government is a corporate whorehouse, but would it mind at least pulling the shades down over the windows?

Related story:

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) – Senior health officials in the Canadian province of Alberta said on Wednesday they had fired an unidentified worker for giving National Hockey League players preferential access to the H1N1 flu vaccine. The controversy boiled over this week when it was revealed that players for the NHL’s Calgary Flames and their families received shots on an exclusive basis one day before the province closed public flu clinics due to a shortage of the vaccine.

Remember: Before getting the vaccine, doctors at these companies had to agree to only vaccinate high-risk employees. (wink, wink, nudge, nudge)

A word of thanks to President Bush

ulysses-grantI would like to take a moment to thank President Bush for the great service he has rendered me personally. I have been a fan of Ulysses S. Grant for much of my life. I have always admired Grant for his perseverence during devestating personal set backs as well as his sense of personal honor — honor in the sense of needing to uphold his good name through good acts. Sadly this sense of honor lead to his greatest downfall. He believed that others were as straighforward and honorable as he was. As a result he presided over one of the most corrupt administrations in US history. It is well-documented that he himself was not corrupt and was one of the few in his administration who didn’t personally profit. As a result his administration was long considered one of, if not the worst in US history.

The debate is now over! Mr. Bush has set a — hopefully — all-time record for incompetence and idiocy by a US president. If the soon-to-be ex-president has not redeemed Gen. Grant, he has certainly given historians a better sense of perspective on what being a bad president truly involves.

BTW, while it IS true that President Bush spent his final few hours in office calling other world leaders, I do not believe the rumor that they all said, “Lose my number.”

Ill gov. arrested for trying to blackmail a newspaper

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (pronounced: U-r-kid-ing-me) and his chief of staff have been arrested  for trying to shake down various people and institutions. While the lead in the news is how it is related to naming a successor to our president-elect, what really got me is this:

According to a federal criminal complaint, Blagojevich also was charged with illegally threatening to withhold state assistance to Tribune Co., the owner of the Chicago Tribune, in the sale of Wrigley Field. In return for state assistance, Blagojevich allegedly wanted members of the paper’s editorial board who had been critical of him fired.

OK, so the risk for an elected official doing this sort of thing is what will happen if the press finds out about it. Don’t really have to worry about that “if” in this case, do you Rod?

As someone who grew up in Chicago and then Rhode Island (Motto: We’re not as corrupt as Louisiana but we’re trying), I am curious to know if there is a corruption index for government in the US?

UPDATE: The interwebs is democratizing satire: For bid on eBay: 1 Ill. Senate seat, slightly worn

ANOTHER UPDATE: TOTALLY BIASED LIST OF MOST CORRUPT STATES: Louisiana is the most corrupt state in the nation. That’s according to an analysis of government data released today by Corporate Crime Reporter. Louisiana (1), Mississippi (2), Kentucky (3), Alabama (4) and Ohio (5) are the top five most corrupt states in the country, according to the analysis. Rounding out the top ten are Illinois (6), Pennsylvania (7), Florida (8), New Jersey (9), and New York (10). Corporate Crime Reporter looked at the 35 most populous states in the nation. (The fifteen states with population of under two million were not included in the analysis.)

No list that doesn’t have Rhode Island in the top 5 is worth its palm grease.


Some people are paid to be journalists and some people just are journalists

My old bowling buddy Karen Gadbois is featured in a glowing article in the NYT today. Amid Ruined New Orleans Neighborhoods, a Gadfly Buzzes. (Don’t be put off by the uber scary picture of her. If you know her you know that she’s about to start grinning like a fool.)

Karen lives in New Orleans and writes the truly excellent blog Squandered Heritage. What she does is listen to words of various pols and bureaucrats about what they say is being done to repair New Orleans and then goes to look and see if it is actually being done. Then she writes up any differences between promise and reality.

It has set off a bomb that has exploded in slow motion here in the past three weeks, largely thanks to Ms. Gadbois: the federally financed program to gut and repair the storm-damaged homes of the poor and elderly, on which the city spent $1.8 million, has been exposed as — at least partly — a sham.

That’s journalism. It reminds me of the great I.F. Stone who covered Congress by staying away from Washington as much as possible. He read transcripts of committee meetings and the fine print of legislation and budgets and found the facts there.

Back in the age of mastodons, Karen and I worked together at a bar called Leo’s. She was a waitress and I was an incredibly surly bartender. She was and is an artist and I was about to re-enter journalism after taking a year off to write a widely unpublished novel. Since then I’ve spent a couple of decades getting paid to be a journalist. I do not knock my own accomplishments when I say I wish I had accomplished half of what she has accomplished with her blog.

YAY!!!