Thursday, January 13, 2005

As The Daily Show pointed out, when CBS aired a report based upon false information from a suspicious source, they performed a fast, thorough investigation and demoted or fired those responsible. CBS then publically apologised for the error

However, when the Bush Administration invaded Iraq based on false information from a suspicious source, Mr. Bush handed out medals to those most responsible. (And fired a few underlings so more compliant political pals could take over.)

Yes, those traditional CEO values of denying ever making a mistake, holding others responsible for one's own bad judgement, and firing underlings for their boss's failures are alive and well in the Bush Administration.

It's all about values, isn't it?

For a nice chart, see The Poor Man's analysis

Wednesday, January 12, 2005


Brief Survey:

I'm Charles the Mad. Sclooop.
Which Historical Lunatic Are You?
From the fecund loins of Rum and Monkey.


Hey, It Works in Ohio...

Iraq's Prime Minister Iyad Allawi announced today that certain areas of Iraq won't be able to vote in the scheduled January 30th election. Terrorist activity centered on enforcing a boycott of the election effectively denies voting rights in many Sunni areas. Although the government plans to open a few heavily-guarded voting stations in Sunni-controlled areas, the interim Iraqi government acknowledges there won't be enough voting stations to adequately serve the Sunni areas. Prime Minister Allawi insists the elections can proceed despite this.

Well, if Ohio's elections can be held with an inadequate number of voting stations in areas controlled by their political opponents, I suppose Iraq's can be, too.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005


Where Bush Wants Your Retirement Funds

Do you really want your retirement funds invested in "safe" investments with guys like these?
Painting a picture of a desperate conspiracy to prop up a failing Internet company, a federal grand jury yesterday indicted four former top executives of, a defunct dot-com, and two former midlevel executives of America Online.

The indictment states that AOL and PurchasePro worked out a complex deal that was meant to inflate the revenues of both companies before PurchasePro began to collapse in 2001 amid recriminations.

Paul J. McNulty, the United States attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, brought charges of conspiracy, securities fraud, wire fraud and obstruction of justice against Charles Johnson, the former chief executive of PurchasePro, a business software company that was based in Las Vegas. If found guilty, Mr. Johnson faces jail time and a potential fine of $2.25 million.
Source: New York Times.


I Must Be Going to the Wrong Sports Events

The defense lawyer for ex-Abu Ghraib guard Specialist Charles Graner "compared pictures of naked Iraqi prisoners in a human pyramid to cheerleaders at US sports events, who form pyramids "all over America". (Source: BBC)

Wow, there are piles of naked cheerleaders at sporting events all over America? No wonder football tickets are so expensive now!

Of course, this raises an interesting question: If US sporting events are littered with piles of naked cheerleaders in semi-sexual poses - why was Janet Jackson's infamous "wardrobe malfunction" so shocking? Was she punished not because part of her body was uncovered but rather because the rest remained covered? Or was it the lack of sufficient numbers of naked cheerleaders in the picture?

Monday, January 10, 2005


Bush Getting Ready to Declare Victory and Run

In keeping with Mr. Bush's demand for more "good news" from Iraq, I imagine Mr. Bush's most recent briefing on Iraq went something like this:

President Bush: "So, what's the good news from Iraq today?"

Nervous Aide: "Well, the vast majority of the Iraqi police force was NOT assassinated yesterday."

President Bush: "Excellent! Get Baghdad's Deputy Chief of Police on the phone. I want to congratulate him."

Nervous Aide: "Unfortunately, sir, the BBC reports that he isn't in the majority..."

Baghdad's deputy police chief has been killed outside his home in the south of the Iraqi capital.

Brigadier Amer Ali Nayef was shot dead along with his son, Khalid Amer - also a policeman - as they left the family home for work in the south of the city.

Violence has been escalating in Iraq ahead of elections due on 30 January.

This is the second killing of a senior official in less than a week. Last Tuesday, Baghdad governor Ali al-Haidri was shot dead in a roadside ambush.

As for the upcoming "corner-turning" elections, the New York Times' Bob Herbert notes:

The unthinkable is getting a tentative purchase in the minds of the staunchest supporters of the war: that under the current circumstances, and given existing troop strengths, the U.S. and its Iraqi allies may not be able to prevail. Military officials are routinely talking about a major U.S. presence in Iraq that will last, at a minimum, into the next decade. That is not what most Americans believed when the Bush crowd so enthusiastically sold this war as a noble adventure that would be short and sweet, and would end with Iraqis tossing garlands of flowers at American troops.

It appears that Iranian-style theocracy, not democracy, will sweep the Middle East due to Mr. Bush's ill-fated adventurism. I wonder how far one hundred billion dollars (and counting) would have gone to save Social Security? I expect we'd have had enough change left over to rebuild Afganistan properly and pay down some of the deficit.

Sunday, January 09, 2005


Pension Plans: Ours Versus Their's

While Mr. Bush proceeds with plans to destroy Social Security through "management fees" to the financial industry, the New York Times reveals how financial industry CEOs plan for their own retirements:

But Mr. Sosa's prospective ($8,000,000 severance package) seems meager when compared with the retirement piƱata that the Bank of America plans to bestow on Charles K. Gifford when he steps aside as its chairman at the end of this month. An amiable, dedicated manager with a decidedly mixed track record as chief executive, Mr. Gifford, 62, has managed to survive strategic misfires, one bungled merger and another merger that kept him in the top ranks of the bank but no longer in control.

For his ministrations, Mr. Gifford is promised a $16.36 million cash payment, up to an additional $8.67 million in "incentive payments" for work done over the last 13 months and $3.1 million a year for life. If he dies before his wife, she will receive $2.3 million a year, also for life.

That's not all. The bank guarantees him $50,000 a year in consulting fees, 120 hours of free flight time a year on the company's jet, and an office and a secretary, according to federal securities filings. All of this is on top of $38.4 million in company stock that he has accrued over his 38-year career.

Wait. There is more: Mr. Gifford, a Bostonian, has also been offered the right to buy 60 Red Sox tickets from the bank annually for the rest of his life. Now exhale.

Source: New York Times

Of course, Bank of America's employees have a somewhat less remunerative pension plan:

Nov. 11, 2004 (Associated Press) The Internal Revenue Service is auditing the 1998 and 1999 tax returns of Bank of America Corp.'s pension and 401(k) plans, which have been the subject of a class-action employee lawsuit...

This summer, some employees sued the bank over its cash-balance pension plan, which they say the company used as part of an "arbitrage scheme" to enrich itself at the expense of participants.

According to the complaint, Bank of America encouraged employees to transfer more than $2.7 billion of 401(k) assets into the bank's pension plan in 1998 and 2000.

The lawsuit, filed June 30 in federal court in Illinois, alleges that those transfers allowed Bank of America to invest the money for higher returns than what the bank would dole out to employees.
Source: SmartPros


Guilty Until Proven Innocent

Kidnapping people and torturing them until a confession is obtained? The CIA calls this practice "rendition" and claims it is legal under US law. Is this what El Busho's Attorney General candidate means by the Rule of Law?

When the bus reached the Serbia-Macedonia border, Mr. Masri said, he was asked the usual questions: Where are you going? How long will you be staying? Mr. Masri, a German citizen, did not think much of it, until he realized that the border guards had confiscated his passport.

The bus moved on, but an increasingly panicked (Khaled el-Masri) was ordered to stay behind. A few hours later, Mr. Masri, a 41-year-old unemployed car salesman, said he was taken to a small, windowless room and was accused of being a terrorist by three men who were dressed in civilian clothes but carrying pistols...

It was the first day of what Mr. Masri said would become five months in captivity. In an interview, he said that after being kidnapped by the Macedonian authorities at the border, he was turned over to officials he believed were from the United States. He said they flew him to a prison in Afghanistan, where he said he was shackled, beaten repeatedly, photographed nude, injected with drugs and questioned by interrogators about what they insisted were his ties to Al Qaeda.

...His lawyer, Mr. Gnjidic, said he thought that (Khaled el-Masri) had been confused with the Sept. 11 suspect Khalid al-Masri...
Source: New York Times
In addition to the immorality and gross human rights violations, these actions have other unfortunate side affects:
"I'm sure (the other prisoners) will take revenge, after what was done to them," Mr. Masri said. "Some said to me - we hope to get out of here and then have the power to make something happen against the Americans."

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