Archive for the ‘corruption’ Category

“Let the Buyer Beware”

Thursday, March 6th, 2008

Predatory lenders have caused a record number of home mortgage foreclosures. Credit card firms are extorting millions of dollars in “penalties” from customers who have never made a late payment or gone over their credit limit. Insurance companies are weaseling out of billions of dollars’ worth of claims, using the zaniest excuses imaginable. And you’re paying hidden fees and surcharges every time you rent a car, stay in a hotel, go to the bank, sign up for a new phone service (or cable TV or Internet service), deposit money in your retirement account…

And yet Libertarians and rightwing Republicans keep insisting that there’s no problem here. This is capitalism, Buddy; the free market. Caveat Emptor. That stupid mouthbreathing retard should’ve read the fine print.

Riiight.

What the fuck are we devolving into? A company can hide a booby trap on page 37 of a contract — written in legalese in a size .01 font — and it’s up to the customer to spend several hours poring over the contract with a magnifying glass.

How far does this “logic” go? Is it legal to sell fake Rolexes on the street for $200 apiece? After all, if some dumbfuck is gullible enough to buy one — cool!

Auto repair shops should be allowed to use the cheapest shoddiest parts they can find and then tell you they used the highest quality components money can buy (and charge you accordingly). Hell, why even make them work on your car at all? They can just tell you they did it and then charge you $1,200 for the work they didn’t do. Hey, if you’re suspicious, just look under the hood and check it out for yourself. What, you want some big fluffy drooling Nanny State hovering over you??

And why is it against the law to assault or mug someone? When you’re walking down the street, it’s up to you to be aware of your surroundings and be ready and able to fend off any would-be attacker. If a person is oblivious or preoccupied, and/or too feeble to defend him/herself — hey, easy pickings!

People get thrown in jail when they try anything mentioned in the previous three paragraphs. And when slippery businesspeople mug their customers with deceptive practices and fine print, they belong in jail too. And throw the key away.

We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Audits!

Thursday, March 6th, 2008

ruler.jpgHoly moly. Talk about eating your own young. Apparently, there are sticky fingers in the National Republican Campaign Committee. Not just a light pilfering either, but what is taking shape as a deliberate, well planned and ongoing scam to lift cash out of the NRCC.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars are missing and presumed stolen from the chief fund-raising arm of House Republicans, according to party officials who described the findings of emergency internal audits.
The financial records of the group, the National Republican Congressional Committee, may also have been falsified for several years, Republican officials said. — NYT

Chief Sticky Fingers, or Christopher J. Ward as he is known to his friends and cellmates political bedfellows, has left the building. He is the focus of the FBI’s investigation. My money ( and probably the NRCC’s) is on sunny, no extradition treaty Belize.

According to The New York Times this morning, it all began to unravel when Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX), a CPA, asked to meet with the audit firm that was supposedly checking the NRCC’s books, an idea that apparently no one had had for several years. Christopher Ward, then the NRCC’s treasurer, finally relented, but then chickened out 30 minutes before and fessed up that there actually hadn’t been any audits. — TPM Muckraker

Also noteworthy is the fact that “the financial irregularities might extend beyond the national committee to the campaign funds of individual Republican lawmakers who also worked with Mr. Ward, a longtime party operative.”

I guess that’s what tickle down is really about.

I know lots of Republicans personally. They’re nice people. I don’t think they’d tolerate this kind of behavior from their friends, co-workers or children. Yet, they defend this crap vociferously in the name of their party. That’s a disconnect I just don’t get.

Attending a Wingtard Convention: Inside the Belly of the Beast

Monday, March 3rd, 2008

You’ve gotta check out this article. It’s long, but it’s an excellent read: appalling, hilarious, infuriating, absurd…

The author, Leonard Pierce, infiltrated the annual meeting of the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC). He got in by posing as a lobbyist for the American Milk Solids Council. We know that two percent of America has gotten rich beyond belief in the past 7 years, and that 19% still think George W. Bush is doing a heckuva job.

Knowing those statistics is one thing, but just imagine being surrounded by thousands of these people. As Pierce describes it, “Here’s a description of Hell: a huge room full of all the people you hate most, and they’re all having a wonderful time.”

There’s a speech by Dick Cheney (of course). During his speech, the crowd starts cheering and yelling “Four More Years!” Cheney gives the usual soundbites about 9/11, telecom immunity and the wonders of torture. But the most telling thing about Cheney’s speech was the observation that: “His defense of torture gets a standing ovation, but his praising of our fighting men in uniform does not. It takes a man to fight, but it takes a train to waterboard.”

Next comes Mitt Romney’s famous speech where he says he entered the race because he loves his country and now he’s leaving (the race, not the country) for the same reason.

And there has to be a speech by Dumbya. Before Boozo the Clown even begins his speech, the crowd starts chanting “Four More Years!”

Bush’s speech itself had the predictable Bushisms: “Dick Cheney is the greatest vice president in the history of the United States.” The Bush Administration “didn’t seek the approval of editorialists…and we darned sure didn’t seek permission from groups like Code Pink and MoveOn before taking action.”

But check out Pierce’s description of Bush:

“In person, he looks a little haggard and tired: no legacy to speak of, no friends overseas (whither Pooty-Poot? a nation turns its starving eyes to you), and another boatload of corpses to go and frown at later today. He won’t last as long as his old man once he’s out of office: With no one to stand in the way of, with no one to infuriate, with no press hanging over his shoulder for him to mutter ‘fuck off’ at, he’ll wither away and disappear, just another burnout boomer with prostate cancer and no hobbies.”

The Biggest Fascist Paramilitary You Never Heard Of

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

Ever heard of Infragard? Well, I hadn’t, until I opened the March 2008 issue of The Progressive. We should have, though, should have heard a lot about it.

Infragard consists of 23,000 private industry officials, organized into 86 chapters overseen by the FBI, who act as intelligence sources for the Bureau and the Homeland Security Department, in exchange for getting “near-daily updates” on terrorist threats before the rest of us and, as The Progressive learned, sometimes before elected officials. According to its website, www.infragard.net, “350 of our nation’s Fortune 500 have a representative in Infragard,” and an Infragard executive reports that “Infragard members have contributed to about 100 FBI cases.”

Here’s what may be the best part: according to Matthew Rothschild, author of the Progressive article, “One executive, who showed me his Infragard card, told me they have permission to ‘shoot to kill’ in the event of martial law.”

The second-best part: because these people are in the private sector rather than government, the administration uses the trade secret exemption to bar the release of information about the Infragard program under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

Now, there’s nothing wrong, and a lot that’s right, with either individual citizens or businesses giving information on crimes and terrorism to the police and other elements of the government. But that process should be transparent (allowing, of course, for anonymity for witness protection).

But this is different. With Infragard we have big corporations deputized as something like an old west posse, but those corporations have access to lots of information about the rest of us ordinary schmoes that is not supposed to be in the public domain. There’s a good chance that includes the people who hold our mortgage, car, and credit card loans if we have them, manage our health insurance, and sell us books, videos, plane tickets, recreational activities, and just about everything else.

And the sheriff has a recent history of going on illegal fishing expeditions through the private affairs of regular citizens not because they’re suspected of anything in particular, but just because you never know what us untrustworthy citizens might be up to – especially if we belong to groups that express disagreement with BushCo’s behavior, like the Quakers, or the ACLU, or a lot of the writers at this and other progressive blogs.

Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.” That quote is usually attributed to Benito Mussolini; he never really said that, but it does seem to sum up the essence of fascism as practiced in a number of countries, and it seems to be a pretty close description of Infragard.

And don’t think we’ll automatically be able to breathe a big sigh of relief if a Democratic administration takes office 327 days from now – the executive branch, and its functionaries, seem to like to accrue power and hate to give it up, regardless of party. After all, they know that they can trust themselves to use it only for reasons that meet with their own approval. This administration has indeed been cruder and more aggressive about it than most, but both parties have overseen way too many witch hunts. It’s the corruption of power, not of any particular party or left-wing or right-wing orientation. In fact, Infragard was started under the Clinton administration, although it has expanded quite a bit under Bush.

So next time there’s a big terrorist attack in the U.S., or another major natural disaster like Katrina, don’t be too surprised if you see Wal-Mart and Bank of America managers, along with Blackwater’s boys, rolling down your street packing iron. After all, if that’s what it takes to keep Osama from taking away our civil liberties…

Ripped-Off Customers: Light at the End of the Tunnel?

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

According to this Business Week article, 2007 might be remembered as the year angry customers started fighting back. We all heard about the 76-year-old woman who came storming into her local ComCast office with a hammer and started swinging. After damaging a keyboard and a phone, she yelled out “have I got your attention now?”

And last Spring a pissed-off Apple customer made a YouTube video of himself smashing his Macbook with a sledgehammer after Apple refused to honor a service warranty. So far over 340,000 people have seen the video. (And Apple has agreed to replace his defective computer.)

The author, Jena McGregor, says: “Consumers already pushed to the brink by evaporating home equity, job insecurity, and rising prices are more apt to snap when hit with long hold times and impenetrable phone trees.”

She uses the term Consumer Vigilante. Even if you don’t settle your grudge with a sledgehammer, more and more people are discovering that there are other options besides sitting there waiting on hold all afternoon because both operators are busy.

The e-mail carpet bomb is becoming more popular.

Last October a National Public Radio host created a website called ComCastMustDie.com. The article has a few other examples of pissed off customers who settled things their own way.

And occasionally the courts come through. A few days ago, one of those slippery HMOs got hit with a crushing left hook to the bank account. In 2004, Health Net canceled a woman’s medical insurance while she was undergoing treatment for breast cancer. She was left with $129,000 in unpaid medical bills. A judge has ordered Health Net to repay the $129,000 plus $750,000 for emotional distress and $8.4 million in punitive damages.

As conservatives are always saying, severe punishments are the only way to deter criminals.

Health Net is also being sued by the City of Los Angeles for illegally canceling the health insurance policies of 1,600 other patients. The company had an incentive program: administrators had to meet a certain cancellation quota, and if they exceeded their quota they’d get a bonus. (See, this isn’t just something Michael Moore dreamed up.)

Maybe these are just isolated incidents, or maybe there’s a positive trend. No matter who or what gets elected next November, maybe this 21st Century Gilded Age is starting to wane.

Another One Bites the Dust

Friday, February 22nd, 2008

Courtesy of your party of morals. Again. Jeez, people. This ain’t monopoly. Pssst! That whole get out of jail free card thing — it’s not real.jail.jpg

When Sleazy Companies Shortchange Their Workers, It Can Get Expen$ive

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

Three cheers for the IRS! As hated as they are, sometimes they end up doing the jobs of our government “regulators,” using the term loosely.

The IRS has ruled that FedEx is no longer entitled to receive hundreds of millions of dollars worth of welfare payments. These handouts were being given by FedEx workers to their bosses.

Here’s how the scam worked: 13,000 FedEx employees were reclassified as “independent contractors.” The IRS ruled that this classification was incorrect, and that FedEx illegally “saved” $319 million in taxes in 2002. The IRS is still auditing FedEx for 2004 through 2006.

The Teamsters Union — who’s been pushing this case — thinks FedEx could ultimately owe the IRS a billion dollars.

Companies save a fortune when they redefine their employees as “independent contractors.” A company doesn’t have to pay workers’ compensation, unemployment or disability taxes, Social Security or Medicare taxes to an independent contractor. Independent contractors also aren’t subject to minimum wage laws and they have no government guarantee of a safe work environment.

It must have seemed like the best of both worlds for FedEx bosses: they could keep their workers straitjacketed with a million company regulations, and then wiggle out of paying their fair share of taxes by calling them “independent contractors.” Fun’s over, Assholes.

If you want to decide whether these FedEx workers are employees or independent contractors, take the “DUUHH” test: they use FedEx equipment, they wear FedEx uniforms and they work under strict FedEx rules. Independent contractors???

Miers and Bolten Going Down For Contempt

Thursday, February 14th, 2008


One of the nice things about Valentines Day is that you really get to show the love. Congress today showed President Bush exactly how much they love his tossing executive privilege around and at the Congress. President Bush has his executive privilege piled up so high around the nations capitol that it’s like a knick knack junk attack that people cherish and place up on the mantle, on top of the fridge, over the television, the back of the toilet, over the medicine cabinet, in the medicine cabinet, on top of the stereo, on the back of the headboard, all over the bedroom bureaus and on every flat surface in their home.

One of President Bush’s favorite EP’s is that not one soul past or present in service to the executive branch can be subpoenaed by the Congress no matter what laws were broken. Just for back up he made sure his Justice Department pick backed him up. Contempt of Congress only works if the Justice Department backs up the Congress, Bush pulled that chip off the poker table and put it firmly in his pocket. Snickered and winked at his opponents as he held a solid pair of deuces.

Today, Congress grabbed a trash bag to get rid of some of his knick knack EP’s and the first to go was Harriet Miers and Joshua Bolton for contempt of Congress. Over at the Washington Post they have more on it but read on afterward…

House Approves Contempt Citations Against Bolten, Miers

By Paul Kane
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 14, 2008; 4:57 PM

The House today approved contempt of Congress citations against White House Chief of Staff Joshua A. Bolten and former White House counsel Harriet E. Miers for their refusal to cooperate with an investigation into the mass firings of U.S. attorneys and allegations that administration officials sought to politicize the Justice Department.

The House voted 223-32 in favor of the citations, the first against the executive branch since the Reagan administration. The vote came after a morning of tense partisan fights over procedural motions and bickering over parliamentary rules, capped by most House Republicans walking off the floor and refusing to vote. Republicans said the chamber should instead be approving a surveillance law passed by the Senate and supported by President Bush.

But Democrats said they were left with no choice but to engage in a constitutional showdown with Bush because he has refused for nearly a year to allow any current or former West Wing staff members to testify in the congressional inquiry. Citing executive privilege, the president has offered their testimony only if it is taken without transcripts and not under oath.

Snippet and here is the power punch!!!

Testifying at his confirmation hearings last October, Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey said that current and former White House officials who refused to testify in a congressional inquiry likely did so based on the Justice Department’s ruling that Bush’s assertion of executive privilege was proper. That meant the Justice Department could not now criminally charge someone for defying Congress based on its own prior legal advice, he said.

The resolutions approved by the House contain a second mechanism that, if Mukasey and Taylor refuse to impanel a grand jury, would allow the House general counsel to file a civil lawsuit in federal courts seeking a declaratory judgment against Bolten and Miers that would compel their congressional testimony. - Washington Post

Talk about a power punch! For the record this power punch was brought to you and the American people by one man that was fed up with all the corruption and cover up politics of Bush and Company.

Congressman Robert Wexler of Florida has been ticked off and leading this fight not just behind the scenes but right up front. This from the Super Congressman in my email box today…

Today, thanks in great part to your advocacy and persistence, the House of Representatives took a major, tangible step towards holding the Bush Administration accountable.

In a vote on the House floor, we acted to enforce the law and our Constitution, and hold former White House Counsel Harriet Miers and White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten in Contempt of Congress. (Please click here to watch my speech on the House Floor calling for contempt.)

Bolten and Miers have ignored congressional subpoenas for nine months and thumbed their noses at Congress and the American people.

Executive privilege has never permitted officials to avoid appearing altogether when subpoenaed. This behavior is unprecedented and outrageous.

Now, these two renegade officials must face up to their blatant disregard of the law and constitution.

Our message of accountability for Bush/Cheney is finally resonating on Capitol Hill.
Judiciary Chairman John Conyers fought hard to bring this to a vote, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi herself took the floor to support contempt. - Congressman Robert Wexler Email to Papamoka

This is what justice is all about. Not raising a vigilante group of thugs but taking the steps necessary and legally to take on Bush and his King like political tactics. Time for the scales of justice to tilt a little back to the center. Thank you Congressman Wexler!

Papamoka

Originally posted at Papamoka Straight Talk

Feel free to link to or borrow this post…

Corruption at the NRCC? You don’t say..

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

Sweet Jebus in a thong..this crap should not surprise a friggin person living in these United States..afterall..what party is the king of corruption?

That was a rhetorical question.

I do love how idiotic their attempt at subjugating the audit process was..what morons! From the Politico writeup:

Finally, at a recent meeting, the now former NRCC treasurer, Christopher J. Ward, relented, giving Conaway what was supposed to be an official internal audit from 2006. That document was a fake, the GOP members said. Even the letterhead on which it was sent was a forgery.

Revelations about the falsified document touched off an unfolding scandal that has rocked the NRCC and spurred a criminal investigation by the FBI into the committee’s accounting procedures.

Fearing the fallout from the discovery, the NRCC informed its principal lender, Wachovia, of potential accounting problems. Wachovia, which declined comment Thursday, had lent the committee $9 million in 2006, according to Federal Election Commission records.

Knowing the bank was required by law to notify federal investigators of any “suspicious activity,” the NRCC also alerted the FBI, Republican insiders confirmed.

At the same time, NRCC officials notified the FEC that the committee may have filed inaccurate disclosure statements.

Excuse me whilst I laugh my tired ol ass off..may have filed inaccurate disclosure statements? WTF? its not may..it is what it is you nimrods..a bad attempt that reeks of a high school attempt to break into the school database and change your report card.

These guys are fucking retarded..seriously folks. That a certain section of the voters keeps these idiots in office year after year just defies imagination. We are a nation of fuckwits..plain and simple.

Tags: NRCC


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