Monthly Archives: January 2009

The Tattlesnake After Blago the Deluge? Edition

“How many legs does a dog have, if you call the tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.”
— Abraham Lincoln

Last Thursday, Illinois Speaker of the House and state Democratic Party Chair Mike Madigan finally managed, with the help of Patrick “Spotless Mind” Fitzgerald, the bankrupt Chicago Tribune editorial board, and their cohort in the national Big Media, to get rid of Gov. Rod Blagojevich on 14 articles of impeachment that are quaint and laughable compared to the blatant offenses of Bush and Cheney. Among the horrible crimes Blago committed were abusing his power by making it easier for senior citizens to get their drugs at cheap Canadian prices; bringing health care to uninsured kids, and helping poor women get regular mammograms and cancer treatment. Seriously. Since Blago bypassed, apparently legally, the corrupt lead-asses in the state General Assembly, they called this an abuse of power. Of course the main charge that he tried to sell the US Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama was based entirely on Fitzgerald’s lip-licking public readings of excerpts of wiretapped tapes the actual full tapes have yet to be released — and remain unproven in a court of law. Here are a few things the BM, in its haste to bury Blago under ridicule, have missed:

— I live in Illinois and have known for years that Blago was not popular with the state Power Elite comprised of corporations, wealthy country-clubbers of both parties, the mortgage-lending industry, the bankers, the conservative Chicago Tribune, and the for-profit health insurance creeps. In fact, these various groups, through their mouthpieces at the Trib editorial board and elsewhere, have been trying to impeach ‘The Rod’ for years, but they needed the supposedly bias-free imprimatur of Fitzgerald’s bizarre press conference on December 9, 2008, following Blago’s arrest he had yet to indict Blago, and hasn’t to this day — to bring it to a head.

— I also know a trustworthy woman who has worked for various organizations for more than two decades to bring health care to uninsured Illinoisans. She claims Blagojevich was the first Illinois governor to listen and take action, action that would have resulted, eventually, in universal health care for every Illinois resident. This alone, she says, made him a pariah among most IL politicians who rake in campaign contributions from the for-profit health care industry and he had that industry shaking in its boots universal health care in a state the size of Illinois? It would be the beginning of the end of for-profit insurers across the land. This had to be nipped in the bud before it got out of hand.

Speaker Madigan is an Old-School Chicago machine politician who has amassed immense power in Springfield and committed every public vice he’s imputed to Blago. (If you think Blago has a foul mouth on him, spend a few minutes off camera with Mike or any of Daley’s Army this is the way pols talk in Chicago.) He also wants his daughter Lisa, currently the Illinois Attorney General, to be governor and Blago stood in the way. Make no mistake, Pat Quinn may have been sworn in as governor on January 29, but the real power is Madigan who controls the purse strings, both in state government appropriations and Dem party politics. That’s how he got many of these State House toads to go along he no doubt threatened he would throw official Dem party support to another candidate in the next primary, thereby guaranteeing they would lose their cushy seats in the legislature. (Some of these slack-jawed monkeys aren’t fit for much else; a good portion of them might drown in a rainstorm if they looked up.) Of course, he didn’t have to convince the Republicans they all needed drool cups at the prospect of impeaching Blago.

— You’ve heard the old line that a Grand Jury will indict a ham sandwich. Illinois’ rules of impeachment are so lax you can be removed from office for just talking about that ham sandwich on the phone.

— Just in case, as is likely, Fitzgerald isn’t able to prove his corruption charges in a court of law (he may even quietly drop the charges now that the mission has been accomplished), Illinois lawmakers added an extra fillip to the impeachment indictment Blagojevich is now barred from holding elective office in the state for life, so he won’t be in the hair of the health care apparatus and Corprocracy ever again, even if he’s cleared of corruption charges in court. They thought of everything.

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The Tattlesnake It’s Worse Than You Think Edition

MSNBC reported this morning that the Peanut Corporation of America yes, someone actually named a company that knowingly shipped out products contaminated by salmonella. (So much for the market policing itself.) The FDA alerted the PCA of the contamination last year. Did some exec at PCA decide, ala the Ford Pinto, that it would be cheaper to handle food poisoning lawsuits than recall its products? Stay tuned. (They’re just lucky that the salmonella wasn’t one of the new drug-resistant strains.)

BTW, we’ve been losing approximately 500,000 jobs a month, or 6 million annually, for some several years now. That means that the Bush Labor Department’s employment figures were skewed and actual unemployment is much higher than the government has been reporting. (But you knew that.)

Quick — try to think of the difference between the way Stalin ran the USSR and the way the average American CEO runs a multi-national mega-corporation. Those at the very top prosper, everyone else suffers, and the system is completely corrupt and immoral. (And don’t fool yourself that the stockholders are any more effective at controlling Comrade Chairman than were the Politburo; as in the old Soviet Union, the deck is stacked against the ‘little guy’ investor.)

On the other hand, Corporate America, and the world economy, are collapsing of its own weight. Read The Financial Times — the vipers in finance and investment no longer trust each other — no honor among these thieves — and the current corporate structure can’t make money for the stockholders nor even themselves anymore. Like any large beast doomed to extinction, they have greedily gorged themselves to the point where there are no more suckers left to fleece and they can’t fleece each other since they all play the same tricks. The bailout is their last desperate gasp before the final curtain. The diversified multi-national mega-corporation of today is finished, although its slow-motion fall will take a few years and there will be some further suffering on our part. The practitioners of Disaster Capitalism have finally seen the catastrophe dumped on their own heads and they don’t have a clue as to how to dig themselves out, since most of their inbred management, buzzing with the erroneous free market lingo of the transient MBA, are only slightly smarter and more adept than Bush the Younger. When your heroes are utter monsters like Al ‘Chainsaw’ Dunlap, or sleazy film characters like Gordon Gecko, your demise is predictable and well deserved. Fortunately for us, it seems President Obama is smarter than to go down with this sinking ship.

‘Zell’ — It Rhymes with ‘Stink’: “[T]he Tribune Company. This media conglomerate, which owns some of America’s top newspapers and television stations, was bought a year ago by a Chicago real estate baron named Sam Zell.
“This fellow didn’t have anywhere near enough money to pay the $8.2 billion purchase price, but, hey, that’s no problem for a striver. Zell simply got the company’s CEO to let him use the employees pension fund as collateral for bank loans to buy the Tribune. Even though their money was put at risk, the employees had no say in the deal, nor in how the company was run. It was run badly. Less than a year after Zell’s takeover, the Tribune has had to declare bankruptcy, and employees are likely to lose jobs, severance payments and pensions.”

— Jim Hightower, “Pirate Ethics,” Dec. 18, 2008.

“Sam Zell never really had much skin in the game. Last year, when he purchased the Tribune Company… he put up $315 million of his own money and paid the balance of the purchase price, $8.2 billion, with the employee stock ownership plan — a move in which Tribune employees had no say whatever. But that actually overstates the amount of Zell’s investment. Of the $315 million he sunk into the company, it turns out that $225 million was simply a promissory note. Due to the vagaries of bankruptcy law, writes business analyst Mark Lacter on LAobserved.com, that means that Zell has better protection for his stake than all his employees.”
— Harold Meyerson, “The Worst CEO,” Washington Post, Dec. 8, 2008.

The Zell-owned Chicago Tribune has been at the forefront of the relentless media attacks on Gov. Rod Blagojevich for corruption and demanded his impeachment even before Fitzgerald arrested Blago. Now, that’s entertainment.

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Inspection- Why Does God Blame Me?

I’ll bet almost everyone has experienced the family where one child is blamed for everything, or winds up being punished for what isn’t his fault. Maybe even a relative, like in my family… a cousin… he has an older brother who was treated as if he “can do no wrong.” Usually the older brother winds up a nit who does a lot of bad things and borders on evil in a very sadistic way. The younger brother winds up a mirror reflection of his older brother, though underneath it all; somewhere, exists the little kid who only wanted to do what was right, be loved and be treated fairly.

Maybe the parents are having problems and they take it out on the child, or there are outside influences that destroy the couple… sometimes, but not always, “influences” within the family. There’s quite a bit of truth to the son or daughter who goes out and has a wildly successful life but when they come home: nothing they can do is right. The old, sick, demented family dynamics reassert themselves. That’s often why it’s best for some people to move away so they can have a bloody life instead of always being the “failed son,” “wayward daughter, “the one not worth listening to,” the _______. (Fill in the blank with whatever asinine, convenient accusations, or conveniently misapplied label, you wish.)

That’s why, if the person sticks around, and sometimes even if they leave, they eventually become the very person they never had to be. That’s why moving away as soon as possible… sometimes; not always, is the best solution.

But we can’t move away from God.

I believe this is one of the reasons a few atheists become as strident and as obnoxious as their overly dogmatic theist counterparts. Even if you’re an atheist you can’t move away because you will always be viewed with disdain: as the wayward daughter; the failed son, when living in an overwhelmingly theistic society.

So, since I am a rather odd mix of theist with agnostic tendencies, that makes me a good candidate to offer a few standard Christian concepts of the more fundamental type; and ask a few questions like…

A. Why should I be punished for what some super-great mom and Dad; “Adam and Eve,” supposedly did eons ago?

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Can We Start With KBR?

As much as many would like to see what happened to the conspirators in Lincoln’s assassination be the end result of the Bush/Cheney regime, we all know “ain’t gonna happen.” I have come to a conclusion that if anything is going to happen: Truth and Reconciliation. Unlikely, but about as far as weak kneed Dem leaders will ever go.

Can we start with KBR?

These “accidents” happened in facilities used as base camps for U.S. units, camps that were to have been completely refurbished – including the wiring – under terms of a $30 billion no-bid contract awarded to the one-time Halliburton subsidiary KBR (formerly Kellogg-Brown-Root).

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The Tattlesnake Random Notes on Bush’s Exit, Obama’s Entrance, and the Dying of the Right Edition

Part the One

— Wow. Obama’s been president for three days and already he’s signed Executive Orders closing Gitmo; banning torture; suspending those odious ‘military tribunal’ trials; ending revolving-door lobbying; preventing lobbyists from occupying senior positions in agencies they once lobbied; requiring ethics courses for all of his staff (and he took the course himself); limiting the use of secrecy classification, even imposing Justice Department oversight on his ability to classify documents secret; and expanded government transparency, directing his administration to err on the side of Freedom of Information Act requests rather than the other way around. He also froze the pay of senior White House staff and informed them that as long as he’s president, none of them will quit and then turn around and lobby their friends still in his government, reversing years of Bush/Cheney corruption, sleaze, secrecy and illegality.

What’s more, he did all of this while acting like a grown-up, speaking in full, clear, grammatical sentences, and taking his job seriously. It will be difficult, but pleasant, to adjust to a president who doesn’t have a smirk perpetually playing about his mouth, doesn’t need someone else to run his brain, and can think on his feet. We’ve gone from Barney Fife to Denzel Washington, and the change is striking. I’ll be criticizing Obama in the future I’m sure, but for now all I can say is: Wow. I think he’s one of those rare politicians who really meant what he said when he was campaigning.

— The Dying of the Right 1: While the vast majority of America is celebrating our new competent president, the peevish drones over at Fox News, led by Chris “My Dad’s the Journalist!” Wallace, have been foaming at the mouth over whether Obama’s really president, since Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts bumbled the reading of the oath on January 20th and Obama followed him. This is the largest load of unprocessed fertilizer since the questioning of Obama’s birth certificate. (Hint to all the ‘reporters’ at Fox: As well as the certificate itself, long available online and sanctioned as genuine by fact-checking organizations, there was also a birth announcement in the Honolulu Advertiser newspaper welcoming Barack H. Obama Jr. into the world in 1961.) In fact, the law says that, as the victor in the last election, Obama was officially president at Noon last Tuesday, whether he was sworn in or not, and documents were signed after the inaugural ceremony signifying that official transfer of power. Just to head off frivolous lawsuits from tinfoil-hat pinheads, Obama had Roberts drop by the White House the next day and redo the swearing in. Incredibly, some of the bloviating scoundrels claimed this was a oooohhhh — ‘secret ceremony’! Horse pucky. The press was invited in, still photos were taken and an audio track was recorded it was as secret as an American Idol audition. Only the TV cameras weren’t involved, and that was likely because Obama wanted this formality completed quickly and didn’t want to get bogged down with silly questions from the Usual Media Meatheads like Fox News. (“Mr. President, will you now come clean about your place of birth? Weren’t you really born in Kenya or Cuba or Mexico? Isn’t it true that Patrice Lumumba is your real father and Squeaky Fromme is your real mother?” )

— The Dying of the Right 2: Rush “Rhymes with Limbo” Limbaugh, who once went apoplectic criticizing liberals as ‘unpatriotic America-haters’ because he had convinced himself they wanted the Little King to fail in Iraq, has now joined the ranks of unpatriotic America-haters, according to his lights. On his radio show the other day, he confessed openly, “I hope Obama fails.” Aside from the fact that about 83 percent of the public doesn’t agree with him, even some the brain-dead rubes who still give any credence to the great blubbery gasbag, suffering under the GOP economy and dying in the senseless Republican wars Rushbo helped peddle, had to be appalled by this statement. He wants the country to go down the drain to what make the era of conservative Republicans look good? That’s some patriot; George Washington would be proud. Prediction: This is the sort of nasty, psychotic hypocrisy that is losing ratings for the neocon hustlers of the broadcast media and it’s going to result in Limbo being dropped from the airwaves across the country. In eight years, Rush will have lost his syndication deal and will end his miserable existence shouting through a tin can at a little 1000-watt daytimer in North Peckerwood, Alabama. (“Hey, Limbaugh, y’all forgot to take out the trash from the studio last night!” “I’ll get it, boss, I’ll get it!” “Yeah, and don’t forget to mop them washrooms extra good while you’re at it.” )

— Laugh-A-Bullroar: If you were watching the inaugural ceremonies on CNN or MSNBC, did you notice they cut the mics picking up the crowd sounds when Bush, Cheney and the Republicans were introduced? And the band was cranked up extra loud to try and drown out the tidal wave of booing. Earlier in the day, even addle-pated ‘Morning’ Joe Scarborough remarked on the two to three million Obama fans flooding into Washington that the GOP had better pay attention to this political shift or risk being the minority party far into the future. Forget Dimmy and Dick, they’re gone, but I wonder if those Congressional Republicans got the point? (Some of them nearly lost their safe seats last election.)

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