Monthly Archives: July 2010

Keep your friends close & family closer

Defriend on FacebookI defriended my cousin on Facebook. My father’s mother’s brother’s son. I feel bad about it, but he had stepped over the virtual line we had drawn by posting another pseudo-political diatribe/comment on my wall.

My cousin’s belief system has little room for fact and he has found that Facebook is the perfect pulpit for his sputem-stained dogma. Please don’t misunderstand, I have tremendous respect and admiration for people of faith – especially, religious faith, faith in aliens, faith in spouses, children, the dollar – that sort of thing. I really don’t think it is any of my business what someone believes that makes them happy or provides them the peace or comfort we all need to get through this life. Shoot, at appropriate times, I even think it might be wonderful when they share their life’s experience in the context of faith. I actually believe a couple things, too.

However, I do have a problem with people who pick fights on my Facebook wall, in front of my virtual friends and family, and lie, misrepresent, subvert and attempt to recruit others into drinking the cult tea of faith-cloaked narcissistic xenophobic ignorance, hatred and racism. It’s perfectly ok to be stupid, but keep it to yourself or share it quietly with people of a similar dementia. And for goodness sakes, don’t publicly embarrass the whole family after we have all spent a lifetime trying to hide our variations of bat shit crazy.

My cousin’s mom and dad were two of the kindest and enlightened people I have known. They were conservative when that label had nothing to do with politics – they were humble, loving and devoted. My cousin’s dad spent his working life as a government social worker – giving up better pay for the service of people. At least on Facebook, my cousin is an arrogant self-righteous sociopath.

I used to meet my cousin’s dad for coffee at Carpenter Brothers’ drug store where we’d talk and laugh about the news and politics. My cousin listens to talk radio, parrots it on Facebook and has no visible sense of humor.

For years, I tried to pretend his rants were a sophisticated, but twisted form of satire. That I could learn about this strange side of America who believes our President is not a citizen; a practicing Muslim, as if that mattered; both a socialist and a fascist; has a goal to bankrupt the country to achieve some unknown goal somehow related to illegal immigration; unregulated greed is better than equal protection; that democracy has been subverted when their candidate loses; that there can be simplistic solutions to solve complicated problems; and success is an indication of your favor with god while kindness, respect and understanding are abominations.

I had turned down his volume as low as Facebook allows, what was I to do, poke him?

Another long weekend

Your Sunday Dews on SaturdayAlert Dewsletter readers may have noticed their “Sunday Dews” arriving Saturday. Oops, my bad. Our automated email system failed overnight and a manual replacement version had to be created. As I hit the send button, I yelled out to my sleeping wife, “Your Sunday Dewsletter was just sent.” With her eyes still closed, she yelled back, “it’s Saturday.”

We have a bug in our email system that has caused subscribers to receive multiple Dewsletters the last two weekends. We thought we had it fixed. We’ll work it on it some more. No telling what’s going to happen on the real Sunday. Please bear with us.

Earning Impunity

Goldman Sachs had revenues of $13.4 billion last year not including the $10 billion in bailout money. Without admitting wrong doing for helping former Treasury Secretary now hedge-fund billionaire Hank Paulson bilk investors by packaging and selling toxic mortgages designed to fail, Goldman has agreed to settle civil fraud charges for an amount equal to about two week’s revenue, $550 million, plus $1.3 million for lobbying and politicians. Were Goldman Sachs the first and last name of a person, they would be in jail and pennyless. As a corporation, their stock went up over $3 billion after the announcement.

BP takes in $240 billion a year. It might spend a month’s revenue to hire Ogilvy PR, cap, clean up, and pay lawyers to settle the lawsuits related to 11 wrongful deaths, hundreds of thousands of toxic exposures, destroyed business and ruined lives. BP will get most of their fix, clean up and settlement money back in US tax breaks and subsidies – payback for spending $3.5 million lobbying and bribing US politicians. Were BP a person instead of a corporation, the business would be shuttered and they would be in jail on an oil and water diet awaiting trial.

GlaxoSmithKline’s Avandia drug makes them a lot of money – $3 billion in 2006, but down to just $1.6 billion since everyone learned what GSK always knew, but wouldn’t say – that Avandia treats diabetes by causing heart attacks and killing people. Of course, Avandia is just a drop in the $100 billion GSK annual revenue bucket. Potential total liability for payouts to those GSK killed or maimed: $1.1 billion. Annual bribes to politicians to keep being able to sell this deadly crap: $7 million. Were GSK a person instead of a corporation they would be awaiting death by lethal injection of one of their products.

Toyota makes automobiles which work so well, some just wouldn’t stop. The company knew it, didn’t fix it, resulting in the death of at least 37 people. Toyota, which has annual revenues of over $200 billion, finally got caught. It will cost Toyota shareholders a few billion for the recalls and to settle the lawsuits. Annual lobby and political bribe budget: about $5 million. Were he not hidden behind corporate immunity, Mr. Toyota would have fallen on his sword. Instead, sales went up 48%.

Bayer has revenues of over $49 billion and makes a heart surgery drug called Trasylol. Trasylol has caused the kidney failure and agonizing death of an estimated 22,000 people since 2007. So far, Bayer has spent about $97 million to settle, plus $1.4 million purchasing political protection from our elected leaders. Corporate or not, Bayer’s history of human experiments dating back to those it conducted at Auschwitz, suggests it will not be held accountable.

Massey Energy mines and sells coal for $2.2 billion a year. Since 2005, they have been cited for safety violations over 1,300 times, culminating in April with the death of 29 miners in West Virginia. The law suits are expected to cost them almost half their income, plus less than $20,000 to make sure they don’t have to actually operate safe mines or pay fines. Were Massey owned by Don Blankenship rather than run by him, he’d be buried in coal by now.

Whether your company is making pesticides in Bhopal, an insurance company denying claims, an airline wishing to cut maintenance costs, bilking the Pentagon out of billions during wartime, or just the world’s largest bank wishing to screw us all, you are special. Just buy a politician and say, “jobs.”

It is legal in our society for a corporation to kill thousands of people. If a country did it, the leader would be called before the Hague. If a person did it, they’d be called a terrorist and killed by a drone. It is better to be a CEO.

Is it just me, or do we sell our politicians too cheaply? Of course, keeping the price of our politicians down is good for corporations. Just not people.

To see who is buying whom, at what price, go to OpenSecrets.org

A Declaration of Dependence

A recently discovered, candid, but politically incorrect draft with last minute changes.

Draft of the Declaration of IndependenceIN CONGRESS, JULY 2^4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for rich^one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and more than equal station to which the Laws of Capitalism^Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these beliefs^truths to be self-evident, that all men are not created equal, that they are endowed by their Wealth, Possessions, Status, and skin Color with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Money^Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among People^Men, deriving their just powers from the fear^consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the Powerful^People to alter, subvert or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to protect their Wealth and effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of unfair tax policy, abuses, and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Equality,^Tyranny, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Business ventures.^Security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Regulation^Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Loopholes^Laws requested by our lobbyists, the most wholesome and necessary for our^the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance to our special interest, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of small^large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of over Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved our campaign financed, bought and paid for Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of our^the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be selected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to Us for^the people at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion and competition from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of low paid migrant workers of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing our influence on Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone – not ours, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers, Tax Collectors and Regulators to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of our industries and superior to our^civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops and auditors among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our monopolies and Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent or manipulation:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury with our army of lawyers, parsing of facts or gag orders:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for real or pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters which was bad for business, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection from investigations or waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people instead of letting us do it.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation – we reserve that exclusive right.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us harming our land prices, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose lands we want for ourselves and whose known rule of warfare, like ours, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms we can pretend: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free or greatly discounted people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of who we are and the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Customersl^Friends.

We, therefore, the self-appointed Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good and landed pink skinned People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free of Regulation and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power for free markets, to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right or power do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of claiming Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, some of our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

Massachusetts:
John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Connecticut:
Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Pennsylvania:
Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Delaware:
Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Maryland:
Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia:
George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Georgia:
Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton