Professor Smartass

Monday, February 23, 2009

Frost/Nixon vs. Bush/Cheney

Nixon was hounded out of office for offenses that pale in comparison to the record of Bush & Cheney. They committed his sins and more, and publicly confessed to a couple like violating the Geneva Convention standards on torture and wiretapping Americans without warrants (which Bush admitted after lying about it until it was documented). And for good measure, they covered up the crime of outing Valerie Plame, which is possibly the closest parallel to Watergate.

More disturbing than their actions though is that the Washington political and press establishment lined up and saluted while Bush & Cheney were doing those things and even now treat prosecuting them the same way they did the grassroots effort to impeach them: as a fringe idea not worthy of even refuting.

Looking at the difference between that time and now, it seems like one or two things happened:

I suppose those aren't mutually exclusive, but separately or together, it's sad how far we as a country have fallen in respect for our democratic process, or at least how far our elected leaders have fallen.


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Saturday, February 21, 2009

War Profiteers angry over Wall Street Bailout

No bid contract recipients, mercenaries, and those who profited from the Bush/Cheney War on Terror and invasion of Iraq were silent last fall when the Wall Street bailout of hundreds of billions of dollars was rushed through Congress, but now they are speaking out.

"We didn't want to say anything before the election when there was still a chance that McCain might win, or before the inauguration when there was still a chance a 'national emergency' might prevent the inauguration of this new president," said Griffin Thorpe, spokesman for the Defense & Rebuilding Industries lobby, "but now we simply cannot hide the sense of betrayal we felt and continue to feel."

Thorpe said his various member corporations appreciated the no-bid contracts, lack of oversight, and various cost-inflation tricks allowed in "cost-plus" contracts like setting trucks on fire that got flat tires so they could call the whole truck a loss. But he says the money they got actually required some token amount of work unlike the Wall Street bailout.

"Arms manufacturers may overcharge for their products, but they do work hard to make depleted uranium shells that melt tank armor like butter, white phosphorus shells that burn people from the inside out and outside in at the same time, and cluster bombs that keep on working for years after they are dropped, as kids mistake unexploded submunitions for toys," said Thorpe.

One rebuilding contractor sent Thorpe a tearful letter saying that if he knew Washington was going to give Wall Street money for absolutely nothing, he would have done an even shoddier job of building a hospital in Iraq, so he could have kept more of the money for himself. His letter said, "Sure, the floor of our operating room was cracked so ants could get in, and when the toilets flushed, sewage rained down on the maternity ward, but we could have made so much more money if we just put in a dirt floor and no plumbing at all."

Thorpe arranged for me to meet some of his clients at L'Auberge Provencale outside of Washington.

A burly mercenary contractor CEO's eyes welled up with tears as he stared at his sauteed escargot. "Bush & Cheney made me rich, but it cost me something. Sometimes the mothers of one of our dead mercs will show up at our office or some damn reporter will catch me at the mall and ask why my guys throw grenades in every daycare center they see. You can't imagine the torment I feel until one of my guys cuts their brake lines or smothers them with their own pillow in their sleep. It puts me and my company at a legal risk that we never have to face overseas."

The mercenary executive said he is having his men trade in their body armor and AK-47s for Armani suits and briefcases, and converting his company to a hedge fund.

"I didn't get this rich to put up with actually working when I don't have to," he said.

Most upset was an unexpected guest: an oil company executive. He said Cheney made his industry go through elaborate secret meetings to plan the invasion of Iraq and install a puppet government that would in turn give American companies most of the tens of trillions of dollars in profits from pumping their oil. "All that work has pretty much fallen apart and we're not going to end up with a much better deal than we would have with Saddam. Sure WE didn't pay for the war, but we had to wait and wait for the Iraqis to pass the oil law that would show us the money, and now they probably never will. "

Even without the deals on their terms, oil companies are still reaping the greatest profits of any corporations in history, but the executive was despondent nonetheless.

"To think of all those years looking for oil in the burning sand, bribing dictators, snuffing democratically elected leaders, dealing with the goddamn environmentalists, and telling the Congress which tax breaks and subsidies to give us," he said. "We could have made more if we just opened an investment bank on Wall Street, fucked up everything we touched, then asked Washington for a handout."


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:: posted by Professor Smartass, 10:00 AM | link | (0) comments |

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Our Afghan War for Pipeline & Poppy Fields

"There is only one thing in this world, and that is to keep acquiring money and more money, power and more power. All the rest is meaningless."

Napoleon Bonaparte
Former Senator Fritz Hollings wrote a piece for the Huffington Post asking why we are still in Afghanistan since our wars are producing more terrorists than they kill. He started off well, but sidestepped the geopolitic grown up talk that America never had about why we killed a million Iraqis and why we are still in Afghanistan.

It certainly has nothing to do with threats to our security. If that was the case, we would have invaded North Korea after they fired missiles over Japan.

And it has nothing to do with 9/11 since al Qaeda was financed and given logistical support by Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, the latter going as far as evacuating top al Qaeda leaders from Tora Bora when we had them cornered there.

If we didn't go after those two nations, it's hard to believe that having our troops in Afghanistan has anything to do with 9/11.

Instead, it is more likely we are in Afghanistan because someone thinks they can make a lot of money there, from the Trans Afghanistan Pipeline and so Wall Street can continue to collect the income from the Heroin poppies, just as the British did when they tried to force Afghan opium on the Chinese way back in the Opium War, and just as Bush was trying to force oil laws favorable to oil companies on Iraq, so they could collect up to 88% of the income from Iraq's tens of trillion of dollars worth of oil.

Energy companies courted the Taliban for a pipeline from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan and Pakistan to take natural gas to India but gave up in frustration shortly before 9/11. In 2006, India was concerned about continuing the project until America gave assurances that we would protect the pipeline.

UPDATE: Those assurances were repeated in 2008.
(Thanks to
chill_wind at DU, who provided another good background link on pipeline)

The drug story is even less well-known, though the New York Times did cover the story of the Afghan president's brother being one of the largest drug smugglers in the country.

When Britain controlled Afghanistan, they owned the poppy trade. When the French owned Indochina, they owned the poppy trade there. Once we allied with the fundamentalists in Afghanistan in the 80's, drugs started flowing out of there, through Pakistan, and to the US. Do you suppose our leaders and business people are so pure they aren't getting a cut of that?

Wall Street has a bad habit of covering up their incompetence as businessmen with drug money.
The BCCI money laundering scandal involved some of the wealthiest and most powerful people in the country, profiting from drug trafficking and handling money for terrorists. The New York Times and even PBS has even covered this drug money laundering business, and if you googled the name of your favorite big bank, you would more likely than not find they have been involved.

UPDATE: UN says drug money keeping banks afloat in financial crisis.
(Thanks to RubyGal at DailyKos for link)

John Kerry has documented CIA drug dealing, confirming the work of San Jose Mercury News Reporter, Gary Webb's uncovering of the Contras selling cocaine that flooded America's inner cities. The CIA itself has an odd history of picking a fair number of directors who came not from the intelligence community but from Wall Street or corporations. Like corporate lawyer John Foster Dulles or oil man George HW Bush. So it would make sense that the agency is looking after business more than our security.

It is about money. I appreciate Hollings asking the question, but he should have provided part of the real answer too.

And I guess it would be too much to ask that our new president set aside the propaganda bullshit about our various military operations, tell us who profits from them, and what if anything the average American gets out of them, so we could make an informed decision about whether to support killing people in dirt huts with our troops and our tax dollars, and nineteen and twenty year old American kids coming home in aluminum coffins.

UPDATES:

confirmation in Toronto Star

Iran out-manuevers US on pipeline through Pakistan

November 2009 updates:

Recently, Ron Reagan had a former CIA agent on his show who said the CIA controls 90% of the heroin trade.

A couple of respectable investigative reporters have followed up on this, Chris Hedges and David Lindorff.


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:: posted by Professor Smartass, 8:39 AM | link | (12) comments |

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Bush was a lot like Wall Street

When George W. Bush first became president, I thought it was the financial elite saying "fuck you" to the rest of us by humiliating us by appointing the dregs of their gene pool as the public leader of America.

After seeing the Wall Street collapse and demand for bail outs, I now realize that Bush is probably not the dregs but a representative specimen with perhaps bad manners and a grammar impairment.

Like Wall Street, he created nothing, only scammed, destroyed, shuffled money to his friends and gave working people the check for repairs in the form of more debt.

We would probably be better off if both were neutered.

More deep thoughts on Wall Street


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:: posted by Professor Smartass, 8:52 AM | link | (0) comments |

VIDEO: stick figure explain why banks screw you & credit unions don't

Click pic to see flick


The best way to get even with banks is to stop doing business with them. This is explains why credit unions are a better alternative in under two minutes.

Bankerspank.com has some good links on this including how to find a credit union:

creditunion.coop (look for LOCATE A CREDIT UNION in the left sidebar)

international woccu.org

We could probably eliminate a lot of our problems with corporate crime if we fed this model and starved the corporate one.

Previous post on credit unions.


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:: posted by Professor Smartass, 7:55 AM | link | (0) comments |

Monday, February 16, 2009

Screw bankers BACK: switch to a credit union

Banks are owned by stockholders like any corporation, so if it can make money by screwing its customers, it will--and DOES with ridiculous overdraft charges, late fees, scam mortgages, and reduced in-person service.

Credit unions are owned by their member-customers and employees, so taking care of customers is taking care of owners.

We can't seem to stop the government from writing blank check after blank check to the banks that immediately squirrel them away in the Caymen Islands, but we can get even with banks by taking our money OUT of them and switching to a credit union.

Frankly, if we were serious about saving American jobs at the car companies (or any other industry decimated by outsourcing and executive self-dealing), we would switch them to the credit union business model instead of the dictatorship of incompetent, spoiled trust fund babies of the corporate model.

If you already think that's a good idea, bankerspank.com put together some funny video parodies of the Mac vs. Pc commercials on banks vs. credit unions you can send to your friends to convince them:

You could help them out by searching for their videos on youtube with ''bank vs credit union'' and viewing and voting for them there too.

Then spread it around.

All videos at their website:



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:: posted by Professor Smartass, 10:53 AM | link | (3) comments |

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Wall St. execs & bankers feed those they made homeless

Wall Street executives and bankers are now feeding the very same people whose houses they foreclosed, pensions they stole, and jobs they shipped overseas.

Homeless shelters and food banks have suffered severe shortages due to the breadth and depth of the damage the financial sector has caused, but now they are part of the solution.

It began innocently enough when a former autoworker went outside the homeless shelter near Battery Park for a smoke. A Lincoln Town Car stopped at the curb, the rear window rolled down, and the man inside, mistaking him for a drug dealer, asked him for cocaine.

The autoworker immediately recognized him as the president of the bank that foreclosed his home. He pulled him out the window of his Town Car, and beat him to death with a nearby newsrack.

The other residents heard the scuffle, came out, and before the driver or the autoworker could explain who he was, carried the bank president's body to the kitchen and placed him on a food preparation table to render aid, not knowing that he was already dead.

The driver of the car asked if he could retrieve back pay he was owed from the deceased's wallet. While he was retrieving it, the driver remarked about what a cheap asshole the bank president had been, and once the autoworker told them who the dead man was, they attacked the body and tore it to shreds.

They then use a recently donated meat grinder to make hamburger out of the bank president and fed him to the shelter residents.

The driver stayed for lunch and made a generous donation to the shelter. Some worried residents asked if anyone would miss the exec or probe too deeply into his death. The driver laughed and said his trophy wife wouldn't ask too many questions while she was shtupping cabana boys with the money she'd inherit. He said he doubted anyone would shed too many tears over any other Wall Street parasite for that matter.

This gave one of the residents an idea: he worked as a bike messenger on Wall Street, so he knew many of executives and bankers by sight and name, and could point them out on the street.

Several of the residents followed him in the shelter's van, and when the messenger pointed out a hedge fund manager standing on the street, talking into his blue tooth headset, they jumped out, tackled him to the ground, and tried to drag the struggling exec back to the van. Passers by asked what was going on, and when the shelter residents told them, they attacked the exec too, leaving the shelter residents with nothing to show for their efforts but an ear, nose, blue tooth headset, and sphincter.

They knew that they would have to collect their food in more private settings to avoid setting off another gleeful melee, so they began to pose as prostitute, drug addicts, housekeepers and the like.

Some thought it would be better to bring the execs back to the shelter alive, and slaughter them there as needed, but mothers quickly vetoed the idea. "We have impressionable children here, I don't want them exposed to those kind of people."

As news of the project quietly spread, they didn't even have to go out to collect anymore. Neglected trophy wives, mistresses, and even the children of the execs would drop off their carcasses, and usually apologize that they didn't have more to give.

When the head of the shelter was asked if the police were aware of what they were doing, she said, "Oh, yes, and they have been ever so helpful. They'll pull them over on some pretense like a burned out taillight, taser them to death, then throw them in the trunk. When the trunk gets full, they drop them off."

The shelter's thrift shop has also done a brisk business selling their suits, attaches, laptops, and cell phones. Ironically enough, word of the barely used high quality goods attracts some execs to the thrift store, where they are quickly dispatched to the kitchen.

Some at the shelter have expressed concern about eating the meat and serving it to their children. "A lot of these guys do drugs and have male prostitutes re-enact Deliverance with them," one mother said. "How do I know they won't give my kid some disease?"

Others are concerned that the brain tumors and cancer caused by heavy cell phone use may have infected the rest of the meat. "We cracked open one guy's head, and it looked like a tar bucket in there. We were so disgusted, we only ate his feet."

The executives hands have proven to be a popular delicacy since they are so tender from never being used for manual labor.

Surprisingly, the shelter's managers isn't concerned about depleting the population of financiers and scammers feeding her clients.

"I just read about them doing this during the financial crisis in Korea and the more bankers, brokers, and hedge fund managers they ate, the more the economy seemed to correct itself, and they had fewer impoverished clients at shelters to feed."

None of those involved in acquiring the self-described "masters of the universe" for the special of the day, expressed any moral qualms about what they were doing. "This guy we're eating here," one said, waving a bun full of sloppy joes, "He figured out a way that health insurance companies could claim a kid with cancer had a pre-existing genetic condition and cancel the whole family's policy. He got an $80 million bonus for that. My only regret is that we have to eat these guys instead of take them down and leave them to rot to the moral filth they really are."

"Hey, it could be worse," another resident shouted, "We could be eating the politicians that let them do all that shit."

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:: posted by Professor Smartass, 10:56 AM | link | (1) comments |

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Einstein was smart enough to join a UNION

Some Republican congressman posted a video reinforcing the stereotype that all union members are foul-mouthed, ignorant, blue collar goons.

I wonder if that's what he thinks actors like Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger, his neighborhood cop, firemen, and elementary school teachers are like.

Even Albert Einstein was smart enough to join a union and advocate that others do the same.

click to see full-sized





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public relations , , , , , public relations, , , , , , , , public relations, , , CA governor Arnold Schwarzenegger