Category Archives: corporations

Someone ALWAYS Pays, Governor!

Gov. Haslam, still hot for privatization, might want to check out what’s happening in our privatized prison industrial complex, which has apparently found a wonderful new revenue source:

A private probation company in Tennessee is violating racketeering laws by jailing impoverished people who fail to pay court fines for traffic violations and misdemeanor offenses, and by refusing to waive fees for the indigent, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday.

In the lawsuit, seven probationers, many of them sick or disabled and living on as little as $129 a month in food stamps, say they lost housing, jobs and cars, sold their blood plasma and went without food after repeated threats by the company that they would be jailed if they could not pay.

The lawsuit, filed in Federal District Court in Nashville, alleges that the county and the company, Providence Community Corrections in Rutherford County, southeast of Nashville, are violating racketeering laws by extorting money through “the wrongful use of fear.”

Ah, terrific! Literally profiting off the plasma of the poorest of the poor. You know, I didn’t think it was possible to get blood from a stone but Tennessee Republicans have certainly managed to find some. I guess I didn’t think about the selling plasma part.

This is how privatization works, Gov. Haslam! I mean, when your only concern is whether a private company can do something cheaper, privatization looks pretty awesome, right? But the savings have to come from somewhere, right? This is how capitalism works, right?! Someone, somewhere along the line, pays. So let’s unpack this story and see who that person is:

The lawsuit in Tennessee, filed by Equal Justice Under Law, a civil rights group, and the pro bono arm of the law firm Baker Donelson, describes a financial arrangement between the county and Providence Community Corrections that is typical in many respects: The county pays nothing to the company, which earns money instead by charging monthly fees to probationers as well as surcharges for drug tests, warrants and other services.

Oh, that’s nice. So the county pays nothing, and the company charges the indigent. Somehow the good Christian people of Rutherford County thought this dirty piece of business was gonna end up being clean? Seriously? You thought you could get something for nothing? Are you people idiots?

And let’s look at these surcharges for drug tests. Were they, maybe, performed by Aegis Sciences, the drug testing company owned by the husband of prominent Tennessee Republican Rep. Diane Black? Maybe! Love how the Republican Welfare Gravy Train works, don’t you?

But wait, there’s more:

The company even refused to let destitute probationers complete their required community service hours without first paying a community service fee, the plaintiffs say.

The arrangement gives the company a direct financial interest in the length of probationary periods. It also gives it broad powers to set the conditions of probation, including such requirements as forbidding alcohol consumption regardless of the nature of the offense, and to “revoke” probation and have the offender jailed, according to the suit.

The plaintiffs say that once they were sent to county jail, they were manhandled or ridiculed by jail officials. Paula Pullum, a 48-year-old plaintiff with severe medical problems — including a heart ailment — claims that when she submitted a letter detailing her health issues and required medications, a jailer tore it up.

Plaintiffs say that even when the company was aware of their indigence, they were not told they could apply to have their court costs waived. When they asked for a waiver, they said, they were denied or told they would first have to make payments for several months, pay for the form, pass a $20 drug test and pay a $25 fee to get a court hearing.

Yes, someone always pays! And when it’s the poor — or the poorest of the poor — who cares, amiright? That’s what they get for being poor. Stupid poors! Why can’t you be rich like the rest of us! Meanwhile, let’s continue to tell ourselves that the poor are lazy, that the playing field is even, that everyone has the same opportunities as everyone else, etc. Then we can grandstand about tight budgets and small government and the super awesome private sector and the need to privatize because cheaper, better, shinier, sparklier, etc. etc. etc. It’s super awesome, you guys — as long as you don’t look to closely.

And by the way, the lawsuit has been filed by the D.C.-based civil rights non-profit Equal Justice Under The Law. This is the kind of stuff ACORN used to do. I expect this group to be targeted by some James O’Keefe acolyte in 5 … 4… 3….


Filed under corporations, Tennessee

It’s A Wonderful Miserable Life

There’s been a lot of discussion about the New York Times’s expose on the miserable work life at’s corporate HQ. We’ve long known that working at one of Amazon’s warehouses sucks, but it appears their white collar workers are also overworked, driven to exhaustion, and subjected to sadistic “Hunger Games”-style culling exercises, all of which makes working for Amazon HQ a dehumanizing, demeaning experience:

At Amazon, workers are encouraged to tear apart one another’s ideas in meetings, toil long and late (emails arrive past midnight, followed by text messages asking why they were not answered), and held to standards that the company boasts are “unreasonably high.” The internal phone directory instructs colleagues on how to send secret feedback to one another’s bosses. Employees say it is frequently used to sabotage others. (The tool offers sample texts, including this: “I felt concerned about his inflexibility and openly complaining about minor tasks.”)


Even many Amazonians who have worked on Wall Street and at start-ups say the workloads at the new South Lake Union campus can be extreme: marathon conference calls on Easter Sunday and Thanksgiving, criticism from bosses for spotty Internet access on vacation, and hours spent working at home most nights or weekends.

This is the kind of stuff that gives Libertarian types such massive hard-ons. It fulfills all of their narcissistic fantasies about success being the undeniable product of hard work and rugged individualism, that everyone gets where they are by these virtues, no one gets a handout from anyone, certainly not the government, yada yada. Except, of course, that this impossible standard a) isn’t true and b) makes for a miserable life.

“One time I didn’t sleep for four days straight,” said Dina Vaccari, who joined in 2008 to sell Amazon gift cards to other companies and once used her own money, without asking for approval, to pay a freelancer in India to enter data so she could get more done. “These businesses were my babies, and I did whatever I could to make them successful.”

Umm, no, honey. These businesses weren’t your babies. They were Jeff Bezos’ babies, you fool. They were Amazon shareholders’ babies. If they were your babies you’d reap 100% of the reward for all of this effort. Instead you spent your personal money to hire someone in India, fer crissakes, to “get more done.” You, my friend, are a class A sucker.

There are numerous horror stories: an employee with thyroid cancer who got a low performance rating after returning from treatment because,

[…] her manager explained that while she was out, her peers were accomplishing a great deal. Another employee who miscarried twins left for a business trip the day after she had surgery. “I’m sorry, the work is still going to need to get done,” she said her boss told her. “From where you are in life, trying to start a family, I don’t know if this is the right place for you.”

A woman who had breast cancer was told that she was put on a “performance improvement plan” — Amazon code for “you’re in danger of being fired” — because “difficulties” in her “personal life” had interfered with fulfilling her work goals. Their accounts echoed others from workers who had suffered health crises and felt they had also been judged harshly instead of being given time to recover.

Even worse is the modern-day “company store”-coercion Amazon has created to keep what employees do stay on:

Amazon retains new workers in part by requiring them to repay a part of their signing bonus if they leave within a year, and a portion of their hefty relocation fees if they leave within two years. Several fathers said they left or were considering quitting because of pressure from bosses or peers to spend less time with their families. (Many tech companies are racing to top one another’s family leave policies — Netflix just began offering up to a year of paid parental leave. Amazon, though, offers no paid paternity leave.)

This is not an attractive work environment for anyone who is not a masochist, and a stupid masochist, at that. Because while we Americans pride ourselves on our hard work, it’s hard to imagine anyone subjecting themselves to this kind of abuse for someone else’s company. And let’s be clear: nobody is curing cancer here. Or as the Times brutally noted,

For all of the employees who are edged out, many others flee, exhausted or unwilling to further endure the hardships for the cause of delivering swim goggles and rolls of Scotch tape to customers just a little quicker.


I like to compare this with the Danish work culture’s arbejdsglaede (literally, “happiness at work”), as detailed in Helen Russell’s fascinating book, The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country. British journalist Russell relocated to rural Denmark when her husband got a job at toymaker Lego, based in Jutland. In Chapter 2, she tells of her surprise when her husband came home from work at 3:30 pm — and earlier on Fridays:

‘Most people with kids had cleared their desks to go and pick them up from school or daycare by 3pm.’
‘Everyone just leaves work really early? No one competes to be the last one at their desk? Or gets takeout to pull an all-nighter?’
He shrugs: ‘Not that I’ve seen.’

In fact, showy displays of an aggressive work ethic are actually frowned upon. Too many late-night or weekend emails and your boss might worry that things aren’t okay at home. Or you’ll be reprimanded for fostering an uncooperative work environment, focusing too much on your own ego and not thinking about the needs of the group. It’s a complete reverse of Amazon’s corporate culture, even if some of the outer trappings look the same (sustainable buildings, healthy cafeteria menu offerings, stand-up desks, etc.) But Danes are a family-oriented people: time spent with children and family is as valued in the Danish culture as time spent at work.

And there it is. The difference is in what you value. If your culture only values material things like profits and high salaries, then Amazon will seem like a great place to emulate. If your culture values things like time spent with family and balancing work with personal life, then Lego is a work culture worth copying.

I used to work in a high-stress corporate job. It wasn’t as cut-throat as Amazon but it was almost as bad. Vacations were seen as a personal weakness. Weekends were for wusses. I remember my boss yelling at me because I couldn’t make it to Clarksville during the February 1994 ice storm because I-24 was closed. I left that job a few months later.

As one gets older they realize that life’s too short for sadistic workplace bullshit. The hypercompetitive self-flagellation places like Amazon demand of their employees might be fine for a recent college grad, but anyone over a certain age has to wonder what’s the point of all these long hours and lack of a personal life. In the service of what — Jeff Bezos’ dream of getting the latest Elsa doll somewhere in 20 minutes? There’s definitely more to life than that.


Filed under corporations


They don’t have to win the argument, they just have to “foster doubt”:

Historians and sociologists of science say that since the tobacco wars of the 1960s, corporations trying to block legislation that hurts their interests have employed a strategy of creating the appearance of scientific doubt, usually with the help of ostensibly independent researchers who accept industry funding.

Fossil-fuel interests have followed this approach for years, but the mechanics of their activities remained largely hidden.

“The whole doubt-mongering strategy relies on creating the impression of scientific debate,” said Naomi Oreskes, a historian of science at Harvard University and the co-author of “Merchants of Doubt,” a book about such campaigns. “Willie Soon is playing a role in a certain kind of political theater.”

Environmentalists have long questioned Dr. Soon’s work, and his acceptance of funding from the fossil-fuel industry was previously known. But the full extent of the links was not; the documents show that corporate contributions were tied to specific papers and were not disclosed, as required by modern standards of publishing.

Dr. Soon is yet another of those “ostensibly independent researchers who accept industry funding.” He’s actually an engineer, not a climate scientist, and real climate scientists say his research is “pointless” to their work. But he’s got the veneer of authority, because he is associated with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. And corporate shills in Washington (*cough*cough*Sen. James Inhofe*cough*cough*) who think we should be impressed by this pedigree trot him out to promote their “the jury is still out because of this guy here” parlor tricks.

So okay, buh-bye Dr. Soon. You violate scientific ethics, you lose your gig. Soon’s research was funded by the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation and the Southern Company (a utility holding company). And then there’s this:

However, other companies and industry groups that once supported Dr. Soon, including Exxon Mobil and the American Petroleum Institute, appear to have eliminated their grants to him in recent years.

As the oil-industry contributions fell, Dr. Soon started receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars through DonorsTrust, an organization based in Alexandria, Va., that accepts money from donors who wish to remain anonymous, then funnels it to various conservative causes.

Um, yeah. So a change in the funnel through which the cash flows. But the source remains the same. This is dirty pool. And I can’t imagine, with the bazillions of dollars spent on these propaganda campaigns and astroturfing and buying of elections, that this all makes financial sense for a corporation in the end. Wouldn’t it just be easier and cheaper to do the right thing from the get-go?

I guess not.

This meme from last year has always cracked me up:


Last I checked, it’s not 97% — it’s 99%. And for every Dr. Soon exposed as a fraud that percentage grows. But remember, it’s not about “disproving” climate science. It’s about spreading doubt. It’s about perpetuating the false belief that “the jury is still out,” and “the science isn’t decided.”

Clever, but facts will out. This shit never works. Because what you say doesn’t change what is really happening. Sea levels are rising. Droughts are happening. Islands are disappearing. What some wingnut in Oklahoma thinks isn’t going to change that. And pretty soon these chickens will come home to roost on your street. Indeed, they already have.


Filed under climate change, corporate overlords, corporations

Today In Corporate Personhood

What’s that line from the last presidential election? I’ll believe corporations are people when Texas executes one? Yeah, that:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – The truck-stop company owned by Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam may have put the worst behind it after federal attorneys agreed not to prosecute Pilot Flying J for cheating customers.

In an agreement with prosecutors, the nation’s largest diesel retailer acknowledges that employees cheated trucking companies out of promised fuel rebates and discounts. Prosecutors said Monday that Pilot has agreed to pay a $92 million penalty, which is within the range of what the company would pay if convicted at trial.

Corporations have Constitutional rights like freedom of speech and freedom of religion but they have no responsibilities. Ain’t that just peachy.


Filed under Bill Haslam, corporations, Tennessee

Religion Is Dead

That will be the upshot of today’s completely outrageous Hobby Lobby ruling. The U.S. Supreme Court has effectively killed religion.

I know, it looks the opposite, but what have I said here a gazillion, bajillion times, folks? When religion gets forced on people by government or corporations, religion always dies. People don’t want this shit foisted on them. As I’ve said a thousand times before, the surest way to kill off religious belief is to declare a “state religion.” The bigger religion’s role in the secular aspects of life, the more people run away from it.

And in this ruling SCOTUS said some corporations can impose the beliefs of some religions on some employees, effectively legalizing discrimination against women and certain religions. If you’re a company owned by Jehova’s Witnesses, sorry, you have to pay for blood transfusions. No out for Scientologists who object to psychiatry and psychiatric drugs. Christian Scientists who don’t believe in most healthcare at all still have to pony up. But if you’re a Christian fundiegelical who believes completely erroneously and incorrectly that IUDs cause abortions — even though they don’t! — you can refuse to offer a healthcare plan covering that form of birth control to your female employees. That’s what SCOTUS just ruled.

The debate wasn’t even really about the Hobby Lobby peoples’ religious beliefs, it was about their completely erroneous, counter-factual scientific beliefs cloaked in religion:

Hobby Lobby already covered 16 of the 20 methods of contraception mandated under the Affordable Care Act, but it didn’t cover Plan B One-Step, ella (another brand of emergency contraception) and two forms of intrauterine devices because of aforementioned ideologically driven and not medically based ideas about abortion.

“These medications are there to prevent or delay ovulation,” Dr. Petra Casey, an obstetrician-gynecologist at the Mayo Clinic, told the New York Times in a piece on the science behind emergency contraception. “They don’t act after fertilization.” As the Times noted, emergency contraception like Plan B, ella and the hormonal IUD do not work by preventing fertilized eggs from implanting in the womb. Instead, these methods of birth control delay ovulation 0r thicken cervical mucus to prevent sperm from reaching the egg, meaning that fertilization never even occurs. That said, when used as a form of emergency contraception, the copper IUD can interrupt implantation, but this still does not mean a pregnancy has occurred.

This ruling was stunningly ham-fisted on so many levels. In a nutshell, in “going narrow” SCOTUS picked a religion — the fundiegelical Christian kind — over the rights of female employees who may not be of that religion, and also over the rights of every other religion out there. This is going to have repercussions, people — and not good ones for the religious folks. It’s gonna get messy, and I think it’s gonna smack religious people on the ass so hard they won’t sit for a month. Stories like this one are going to ripple across the workplace in every state. It’s a ruling that basically legalized gender discrimination and religious discrimination. When it all shakes down it’s not going to be pretty for the people currently doing a happy dance.

In the meantime, folks calling for a Constitutional Convention to repeal corporate personhood just got a little more ammo.

[UPDATE]: ThinkProgress agrees with me.

[UPDATE] 2: Charlie Pierce at Esquire also agrees with me. SCOTUS just perpetrated an act of religious discrimination while professing to do the opposite. WTF is up with that, people?


Filed under birth control, corporations, healthcare, religious fundamentalism, religious right, Supreme Court, women's rights

Money Is The Root Of All Evil & The Rich Are Not Our Betters

Dark money trying to sway our elections, what could possibly go wrong:

WASHINGTON — Well-known corporate chiefs funded illegal “dark money” contributions to groups in the Koch brothers’ political network that were involved in Thursday’s record campaign finance settlement in California, according to settlement documents.

Members of the Fisher family, founders of the Gap clothing chain, plowed more than $8 million into a dark money campaign in California’s 2012 elections, partially redacted documents show. The money went toward defeating Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax increase, Proposition 30, and supporting the anti-union Proposition 32, according to the documents, which list donors to Americans for Job Security, a group that handled contributions in the campaign.

Those documents also show that Charles Schwab, founder of Charles Schwab Corp., donated $6.4 million through Americans for Job Security. Philanthropist Eli Broad, who publicly backed Brown’s tax increase proposition, made a $500,000 contribution, according to the documents. Las Vegas Sands Corp. CEO Sheldon Adelson and his wife gave a combined $500,000. Crossroads GPS, the dark money nonprofit founded by Karl Rove, chipped in $2 million.

Gosh I’m so old, I remember when The Gap was born out of the counterculture movement.

You need to read the whole piece because it’s just one fucking jaw-dropping revelation after another.

Here’s the thing: Prop 30, a ballot measure to increase taxes to fund education, passed. Prop 32, an anti-union measure which would have drastically affected how donations to unions are made, was defeated. All of those millions of dollars spent to defeat or pass ballot measures, wasted. Not to mention all of the millions and millions spent to defeat President Obama and various Congressional races.

If these bazillionaires are supposedly our betters, if their vast wealth supposedly proves how smart they are, and if we’re supposed to just roll over for them, why do they keep wasting millions and millions of dollars on lost causes? Doesn’t the fact that they keep wasting their money on campaigns that are so clearly what the people don’t want evidence of how out of touch they are from the American people?

Be not surprised that notorious California conservative operative/ratfucker Tony Russo is behind this craptacular waste of money:

The contributions were orchestrated by California political consultant Tony Russo to help big donors hide their identities when supporting his campaign against Proposition 30 and for Proposition 32. Those who wanted their contributions to be disclosed could give to the Small Business Action Committee, the group directly running the campaigns for the ballot initiatives. Those who did not want publicity were directed to give to Americans for Job Security, which planned an advertising campaign on the two ballot initiatives.

(Why do donors need to hide their identities? If you aren’t doing anything wrong ….!)

The Republican Party is basically one giant grift machine. Millions and millions of dollars thrown down the toilet. But you know Russo Marsh & Rogers got their fees. Oh, yeah. This system ain’t broken, not for the people who profit off of it.

Kinda makes you wonder what Eli Broad, the Fisher family, and especially notorious lost-cause financier Sheldon Adelson are thinking. Adelson is the idiot who sent $5 million to Newt Gingrich’s obviously sinking campaign. If you guys don’t show better judgement than this, why the hell should we listen to you about anything?

Eagerly await the day when these idiots all go bankrupt.


Filed under campaign finance, corporations

American Morans: Corporate Edition

‘shopped or not? You decide:


Apparently this was seen on a New York City bus sometime this week (hence, “Big Apple meet …”) Doesn’t look ‘shopped to me, and nothing came up on Snopes. I’ve heard of truth in advertising but this hits new levels for honesty in marketing.

Oh, the irony.

(Original American Moran here, other Morans here.)


Filed under American Morans, corporations

Why I Quit Googling

In case you missed it, a couple weeks ago Google held a fundraiser for notorious climate denier/oil company shill/all around nutbar Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe.

Considering the great lengths Google has gone to present itself as a “green” company, more than a few people consider this a gross display of hypocrisy. You simply can’t claim to have any sort of green ethos while raising money for the Senate’s most vocal and active climate denier.

And no, saying you have a data center in Oklahoma is not sufficient explanation. You don’t get off with that trite “we don’t agree with all of their policies” bullshit. This isn’t just any policy. This is a major policy on which you’ve hinged a whole boatload of your feel-good PR, and Inhofe is probably this country’s most powerful activist working to obstruct any policy action related to climate change.

You do not get a pass on this. This is not, we have a minor disagreement on this one trivial thing but can find common ground elsewhere. This is, we are galaxies apart on a major fundamental issue of cataclysmic proportions. So, fuck you, Google. We’re not that stupid.

There’s simply no excuse for this. I mean, I guess they’re bowing and scraping for some kind of favorable tax treatment or whatever? To which I again say: fuck you. How many bazillions in profits do you people need, anyway? I just don’t get Corporate America, I really don’t. You’re all, oooh we want Americans to love us and feel good about us! but you act like such dicks all the time, spending bazillions of dollars on lobbying and PACs and greenwashing and PR campaigns and fundraising for asshole Republicans and groups like ALEC which support legislation that oppress your customers. Why not just spend all that money on doing the right thing in the first place? Instead of spending money on being assholes and then spending more money on a PR/marketing campaign trying to convince us you’re not assholes?

Wouldn’t that just be easier?

Anyway, comedian Andy Cobb put together a hilarious video clip mocking Google for its hypocrisy. Give it a look-see:

But I have to tell you guys, this isn’t the reason I stopped Googling. I stopped Googling a while ago and here’s why: they started sucking. It’s true!

I use search engines when looking up stories for my weekly gun report, and about six weeks ago I noticed that suddenly a news search for something like, “gun accident, Memphis” would yield a whole string of Daily Caller stories having nothing to do with guns, accidents or even Memphis. Don’t believe me? Look, this is Bing’s search:


And this is Google’s:


If you click on the picture you’ll see that other than CNN’s top story, the rest is some Daily Caller BS that has nothing to do with what I’m searching for. (Daily Caller is that far-right rag Tucker Carlson started which peddles wingnut crack. Notorious for firing and missing, repeatedly, we’ve nicknamed them the “Daily Failure.”)

Anyway, I’m not tech-savvy and I can’t pretend to understand all of the algorithms and other crap which goes into making a search engine do its job. I’ve heard of Google Bombing and all that, so I’m gonna guess the people at Tucker’s Daily Failure embedded some SEO terms in their codes or whatever it is they do to make sure anyone searching for “guns,” “Tennessee” and maybe some other redneck-y sounding terms will land on Tucker’s Little Shoppe Of Internet Rumours.

Anyway, that ain’t working for me so I switched to Bing. So far, no problems.

You know, I’m not naive. Despite Corporate America’s Herculean efforts to put forth a huggsy-wuggsy image and to make sure its Twitter feed is full of Nice Time, I know they’re all evil to some extent, the difference is just in degrees. And I can handle some evil, it’s part of life in America today. But when you become both evil and you stop working? You’re dead to me.


Filed under climate change, corporations, Media

Tenthers When They Wanna Be

I guess this is pick on Texas week at Southern Beale’s place.

Texas, you annoy me to no end. Sorry, but you do. Get your shit together, please. First we’ve got ignorant legislators mistaking “rape kits” for abortions, now we have major outrage that FEMA is only covering 75% part of the cost associated with the West, Texas fertilizer plant explosion (sorry that was 75% of the state’s costs associated with debris removal and emergency response, not total costs):

Federal officials have so far paid or agreed to pay an estimated $25 million to the state and to affected families after the explosion — about $17 million for emergency work and nearly $8 million in grants and low-interest disaster loans for individuals. But the Federal Emergency Management Agency determined that under the federal disaster law, called the Stafford Act, the $17 million in uninsured public infrastructure damages were within the capabilities of the state and local governments. The state’s request to the president was denied because Texas failed to provide evidence that it “lacked the fiscal resources to address the remaining $17 million,” a FEMA spokesman said.

Mr. Perry has called the state’s strong economy “the envy of the nation.” Texas leads the country in job creation, and the two-year, $197 billion budget recently passed by state lawmakers provided Texans with more than $1 billion in tax relief. The state’s Rainy Day Fund, generated largely by oil and gas production taxes, has about $8 billion. The Legislature approved $2 million for West relief.

If you’re going to pass $1 billion in “tax relief” and deregulate your industries, then I’d say it takes a shit-ton of hubris to then demand the Feds bail you out when your chickens come home to roost.

Let me add, as was reported back in May, the fertilizer plant carried only $1 million in liability insurance, and Texas state law didn’t require any more.

Here’s how it looks from where I sit: Texas has lax laws governing hazardous industrial operations and even worse oversight. The Feds are chronically underfunded because the Tea Party Congress believes in small government, and is therefore ill equipped to do the kind of oversight needed in places like Texas, which are constantly touting their small-government Freedom-n-Founding-Fathers-States-Rights “business friendly” environment. Texas Governor Rick Perry has been going around the country touting that “business friendly” low-regulation, low-tax environment and how wonderful it is.

But when that “business friendly,” “low tax,” “low regulation” environment results in the predictable disaster as we saw in West, Texas? They still want the Feds to bail them out. And by “Feds” let me borrow a page from the Tea Party playbook: that’s you and me, bub. Mah Tax Dollahs.

I don’t think so. This is textbook “privatize the gains, socialize the losses” policy. And this shows just what big whiny babies the Tenthers really are. I seem to recall Rick Perry campaigning for president as a “state’s rights” Tenth Amendment guy, screeching about the Tenth Amendment when it’s something he doesn’t want to do (like Medicare, clean air standards, and education funds) — but when it’s something he wants (like disaster aid) he’s got his hand out like all the rest of them.

I’m just not feeling very sorry for Texas these days. Sorry your town exploded but maybe y’all should have shown some personal responsibility and actually regulated your hazardous industries and maybe even funded some inspectors. Or how about telling the idiots you guys send to Washington, D.C. that maybe funding agencies like OSHA and FEMA and the EPA is a good thing because you may need those folks some day? Instead of all your bluster and swagger about being rugged individualists who don’t need nobody fer nuttin’ and we’re better than y’all and churches can pay for it etc. etc. etc.

You know, that personal responsibility stuff you guys are always talking about? It’s not just for brown people and slutty ladies.

Adding ….

From the story:

Presidents have been generous to Texas when it comes to disaster declarations, despite the anti-Washington sentiments of the state’s political leadership. From 1953 to 2011, Texas received 86 major-disaster declarations, the most of any state in the country, according to a 2012 report by the Congressional Research Service. California received 78, and New York 65.

That’s fine, I don’t have a problem with giving aid where it’s needed. But don’t be flapping your jaws about how evil Washington is and the oppressive hand of the gummint and all that. The Mayor of West, Texas says:

“We don’t ask for a lot of handouts here in West,” he said. “But at the same time, if West is to survive, the support and the aid needs to be available.”

Yes. That’s right, your town may not have asked for a lot of “handouts,” but others in Texas have. And trust me, I have nooo problem with that, none, zip, we all come together to help out when help is needed. But you guys need to stop whining about the requests for aid that come in when natural disasters not the result of corporate negligence and lax oversight are needed — the kinds that come in from some other town in some other place, a liberal place perhaps (*cough*cough*New Orleans*cough*cough*Hurricane Sandy*cough*cough*California wildifres*cough*cough).

And also? If you’re going to refer to FEMA aid as a “handout”? Really I have no time for you. You need a big attitude adjustment.

Texas, get a reality check.


Filed under corporations, Texas

Just Try Stuffing That Genie Back In The Bottle, Folks


It’s The Corporations, Stupid: Juan Cole on why the Second Amendment is interpreted strictly, literally, fundamentally, but the Fourth Amendment is not. Good read.


Last night I was watching “All In With Chris Hayes,” a rare oasis of intelligent, in-depth conversation on the day’s news. The segment on Edward Snowden, which you can see here (WordPress won’t let me embed the video) covered a lot of the main issues. The thing that got me out of my chair was this bit from Karen Finney; I have no idea who Karen Finney is — I gather she worked in the Clinton White House and she’s got a show coming to MSNBC — but she hit every point I’ve been thinking and saying about this story, and I want to say thank you because there are a couple of larger issues here that really need to be addressed.

She said:

[…] I remember very clearly when I was at the DNC, when we were fighting the Bush Administration on the warrantless wiretapping. I mean, many Democrats, Howard Dean among them, you know, the argument we made was, follow the law. We can do, you know, let’s follow the law and we can keep America safe, we said we wanted a process. We now have a process. I think the argument needs to be, if this process isn’t right, then let’s have that conversation. But the other problem, just quickly, Chris, that really bothers me about this is, you know, somebody could track my location just based on my cell phone. Somebody not the government and so, like, we’re already — it’s a farce if we think that we’ve got a level of privacy that we used to. I mean the amount of information that is out there and available about us that we are willingly giving away all the time, if we’re going to be this concerned about it, then let’s really have that conversation because I don’t want private companies having access to that information either, by the way.

Marc Ambinder then jumped in with his notion that there’s a big difference between corporations and the government having this information, the worst a corporation can do is send you coupons in the mail, but the government can actually put you in jail. That’s an extraordinarily dumb argument, and Ambinder should know better. First of all, being deluged with advertising messaging is incredibly invasive (I wrote about it here). But also, we live in an era when corporations are polluting our elections with dark money and trying to hide their true agenda behind shadowy groups like Americans For Prosperity and FreedomWorks. So to say the worst thing a corporation can do is send you some unwanted ads is extraordinarily obtuse. They’re trying to undermine our entire democratic process, Ambinder. They’re unraveling the very fabric of our democracy. You goddamn fool.

I’m not happy about any of this, but I’m slightly less concerned about the government’s activities than I am the private sector’s. We have control over the government. We have elections, and a certain amount of transparency built into that system. Private corporations? Not so much. Money corrupts, doesn’t it? So let’s not bring the profit motive into any situation that we don’t want money to corrupt. Like, you know, national security.

Let’s take this scenario to its logical end, when we’re all slaves to the board of directors of RJ Exxon Coca-Koch Bros. Industries, and quaint things like clean air, clean water, worker’s rights and a fucking Saturday off are a thing of the past. Yes I’m exaggerating but if you think things like income inequality are bad now, wait until we turn more of our institutions over to private, for-profit corporations. It’s called “corporate capture” and it’s the real problem, the one no one wants to talk about because it’s already too late.

If I seem a little “emo” on this issue it’s because the whole surveillance issue is something I’ve devoted a lot of time to in my life. Heck, I spent 10 years on a novel I never finished (I know, such a cliche, right?) whose title was “Panopticon,” okay? So I get it. The thing is, as Finney points out, this isn’t just big, bad gummint doing this. This is a private security contractor! A private corporation! The collusion between government and the private sector is extremely disturbing. And I guess we won’t ever address that issue until some Tea Party Republicans decide they don’t like it (which will be never) because apparently our corporate media doesn’t think any issue is worth discussing unless Republicans are upset about it.

So wake the hell up.


Filed under civil liberties, corporations, FISA, FISA. telecom immunity, national security, NSA, warrantless surveillance