Archive for October, 2009

The Declaration Of Independence, According To Marty Schotzman
October 21, 2009

Back in the day not everybody agreed with the substance of the American Declaration of Independence.

A recently discovered document, from an attic in an ancient New Hampshire home, provided another view, a dissident view, if you will, demonstrating once again that all politics are not only local, but somewhat strange.

The document is a diary written by a dairy farmer named Martin Schotzman. He signed himself ‘Marty’, and apparently did some lawyering on the side and was well respected in his tiny community.

His commentary on the Declaration follows. He notes that he sent his comments to Thomas Jefferson and his revolting friends in hope of mediating what looked to be a harbinger of hard times and revolution.

The ‘He’ refers to the King of Great Britain at the time, a fellow named George III (no last name apparently) who was often nonplussed at the behavior of his countrymen overseas in the Colonies.

Without further ado, Marty’s comments on passages from the DOI:

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

Now isn’t that a bit whiny, Tom? George is a busy guy. He’s running an empire, remember. Sometimes things just fall through the cracks of the empireocracy.

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

Surely you can’t mean that last fool who tried to make dancing illegal? We’ve been ignoring Governors for years and doing what we want. Why make a messy issue of it now?

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

You keep calling George a tyrant. Believe me, I’ve met the man and he’s just not smart enough to be a tyrant. You’re only going to annoy him. And you know the Legislature is a circus. Those guys can be bought by any trade guild with a few pieces of silver. Not much of an inestimable right, if you ask me.

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.

Like they didn’t enjoy that trip to the Bahamas. Do you know what happened to the native pregnancy rate last time those guys met there?

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

Manly firmness, Tom? Please! They were just pissed because George didn’t give them a raise. And look what happened in the Bahamas when they raised their manly firmness. Hardly cause for revolution.

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

What invasions, Tom? Sure, we had that little problem with the Indians last May, but a few turkeys and beads, a couple of kegs of ale, hey, we settled that without any help from the lawyers, thanks for nothing. The Chief got a little drunk, but that hardly counts as a convulsion.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population 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.

Now, Tom, George is just looking out for us. Look what happened in Canada. They let in the French and pretty soon the Frenchies wanted their own country. Start letting foreigners in and pretty soon we’ll look like the Balkans. A bunch of different states bickering at each other. Give the King a little credit, Tom.

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

Is this about Ben being pissed off because George wouldn’t put his friend on the Bench?

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

Yes, and Will has done a fine job. Someone has to tend to these details.

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

Swarms, Tom? Swarms? We got a new dog officer, and he eats over at Widow Barnes’ house. He’s a good carpenter too. Seems like a good match, and hardly anything to get upset over. 

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

Would you rather have a Sitting Army, or a Laying Down Army? They’re not bad guys. They built us a much needed road last year, they fixed up the schoolhouse. They even grow some of their own food. And you just know the politicians want a handout, that’s why they mumble and groan about this issue.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

The Civil Power, Tommy? Those guys couldn’t find their butt with both hands. Why do you think they’re in office? They’re too dumb to survive in the real world. And the soldier boys aren’t all that bright either.

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 among us:

Okay, so maybe nickeling and diming them would be better.

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

Maybe he does, but those mock Trials don’t do these guys much good when they head into town for a few drinks. There’s Justice and there’s Justice, Tom.

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

You mean for keeping that cheap Chinese crap away from our children?

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

Somebody’s got to pay for the roads and the courts and the schools and suchlike. Do you really think the people will have any say if our own pols tax us? Come on, Tom, you know how it works. It’s all ‘Read My Lips’ until they get elected, and then they tax everything in sight.

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

You really want to be tried by the dumb masses?

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

That would be an extraordinary rendition, and okay, I’ll agree with you on that one. If you steal in Boston, you shouldn’t be tried in Philly.

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

Just because the neighbor jumps off a cliff doesn’t mean you’re going to jump too. Those guys were wimps anyway. But they got a nice trade deal out of it.

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

Change is the only certainty, Tom. Why fight it? Go with the flow. Work from the inside.

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

Again, we sent the dumbest of the dumb to the Legislature. They should have been suspended. You won’t believe what they caught our Legislator doing in the back of the church with the Magistrate’s wife. Then he claimed he was just out for a hike when he just had to help the poor woman because her skirt got caught on a nail.

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

Which is it, Tom? You’ve accused George of messing in Government here too much and now you’re accusing him of abdicating Government. He’s probably confused.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

Actually, Tom, officially, we’re still his people. We are British, you know. Just because some of the soldiers got out of hand now and again, you can’t throw the baby out with the bathwater the way Mrs. Dunwood did last Thanksgiving.

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.

Oh, did you miss out on the whole Inquisition thing, Tom? And the history bits about the Greeks and the Persians, and the Romans and the Carthaginians? And that Clovis fellow? The Viking invasions? You’re a bit over the top here, Tommy.

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.

Some of those guys were just glad to have a job and see the world. And some were just bad apples. We were all pretty glad to see Timmothy Turner end up in an overseas berth. He was nothing but trouble around here.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

Oh, like we treated the ‘Savages’ with all kinds of love and respect when we took their land and gave them the Smallpox. They were pissed at us anyway, Tom, and don’t pretend you didn’t know.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: 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 people.

Sure, we’d rather elect our own Tyrants. Tom, this is not going to lead to a good end. It always happens. You start out building a country with the best of intentions by overthrowing some lousy King or Governor, and the next thing you know you’re the one doing the killing and stealing and pillaging and raping to some other country. You guys are angry because you’re not the King. What makes you think you’ll be any better? You’re being pushed into this by a bunch of business guys who are looking to make a bigger buck, who are frankly too big for their britches. If you don’t watch out they’ll be running the country pretty quick and that’s just not a good idea.

Anyway, just be careful. Let me at least suggest that if you guys don’t hang together on this, if you’re really going to push it, you’ll hang separately.

Yr dr frnd,

Marty Schotzman


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The Wall Street Bookies Sucking Up The Old Vig
October 20, 2009

The more The Lion looks at Wall Street, at the big financial firms, the more he has to wonder if the old Mafia hasn’t made a comeback.

After all, what do these giants of speculation and deceit actually do? They don’t manufacture anything. They don’t make anything. They don’t build anything.

They shuffle money and paper around and they skim a percentage. They get the vig. No matter what happens, they collect. And they collect big. Billions in vigorish. Into their pockets.

They’re bookies, plain and simple.

The people in power in Washington ought to start treating them like bookies. You know, like criminals. Of course that would mean the end of the stream of dollars pouring into the politicians’ pockets.

Who’s more corrupt, the bookies on Wall Street or the politicians who take their money and look the other way, who pretend that nobody’s getting hurt, that it’s not personal, it’s just business?

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How Greedy, Murderous, Vicious, And Cold Are Health Insurance Companies?
October 15, 2009

From the Washington Times:

In an e-mail, one Guardian Life Insurance Co. executive called high-cost patients such as Mr. [Ian]Pearl "dogs" that the company could "get rid of."

Mr. Pearl is 37. He suffers from spinal muscular dystrophy. His parents pay $3700 a month for health insurance from Guardian. Pearl will die without the care he now receives.

Rather than continue to pay for his care, Guardian cancelled certain lines of coverage in entire states. The Federal courts allowed them to do that.

It must be nice to be in Guardian’s position. If they don’t like a contract they agreed to they can just bow out. And if somebody dies, oh well, that’s the cost of doing business. Right?

If you get sick, your insurance company calls you a dog. You know what happens to sick dogs, don’t you? Does the phrase ‘treated like a dog’ resonate with you? Welcome to the land of greed and the home of the craven.

That’s health insurance in America.

Maybe someday we can get health care in America, you know, like the rest of the civilized world.

The ‘Oh Shit!’ Moment Of Global Warming
October 14, 2009

Good piece at Common Dreams on the latest German report on what we need to do and how soon we need to do it to save our sorry asses. Given the fools in charge of governments around the world, and the greed of the corporations that rule them, it would be optimistic to say ‘It’s too damned late!’

Here’s the link for the English translation of the original report. Kind of dry and wordy, but basically it translates to ‘Oh shit, are we ever screwed!’

Insurance Whistleblowers? Nope. It’s Just A Job.
October 13, 2009

In all the angst and sturm und drang of the health insurance reform storm, only one man, to The Lion’s knowledge, has come forward, publicly, and pointed an accusing finger at his former industry.

Wendell Potter, formerly an executive at Cigna, has testified in Congress against the industry and regularly appears on pundit shows to speak against his former employers.

Where are the others?

And where are the rank and file players?

All the anger and fury and coddling has been directed at the insurance executives who make the policy, who set the terms, who walk off with tens of millions individually and billions in the aggregate. They make their money by denying claims on morally and ethically outrageous grounds. In Colorado a perfectly healthy two-month-old baby was denied coverage because he was too big. Not sick. Not fat. Just big. The insurance company relented when the father, who worked for a local television station, made the story public.

The list of such decisions could, can, and has gone on and on. The underlying truth, the underlying value of the companies, is that they get rich from the misery, suffering, and deaths of policyholders. The executives plan it that way. They are, in no uncertain terms, the scum of civilization. It’s no wonder they won’t come forward.

But they could not do their work, could not make their blood-drenched millions, without the help of the camp guards, the people in the cubicles who hunt down reasons to deny coverage, who fight sick people, driving them deeper into malaise.

These office workers enable the executives, facilitate the process of driving people into bankruptcy, of driving people from their homes, of killing people.

Without the office peons, without the camp guards, the evil wouldn’t flourish. These people, your friends and neighbors, prosper by covering their ears, closing their eyes, and hardening their hearts. They ignore the voice of conscience in order to keep their jobs.

And they keep their jobs by creating suffering, misery, and death, by continuing to work in an industry of death and pain.

And they keep silent.

They know what goes on. They commit the crimes every day. Those are their orders. They do what they are told. They follow the commands of their leaders.

And they keep silent.

They know they have blood on their hands. They know they bring misery and death to their neighbors. It’s their job. They do what they are told. They go to work, and at night they go home and smile at their children.

They are kin to the camp guards at Auschwitz. They are kin to the prison guards of Abu Ghraib. They are kin to the torturers of the CIA.

Their actions have deadly consequences.

They do what they’re told.

It’s just a job.

Don’t talk about it. You might lose your health insurance.


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Republicans Cry Out “Look Mom, I’m A Man!”
October 8, 2009

Republicans and Conservatives seem to be stuck in a time warp, one that whirls around and around their twelfth or thirteenth birthday.

It’s all the more evident now with the discussions being held at the White House about what to do in Afghanistan. The Republicans consider it a victory that the idea of getting American troops out of that misbegotten hellhole of medievalism, superstition, and corruption is completely off the table.

That’s to be expected, since they were the ones who pushed the country into invading that country and Iraq. The latter had absolutely nothing to do with the precipitating incident, the attacks of September 11. Afghanistan, as a nation, had nothing to do with those attacks either. That al-Qaeda, which financed the attacks and supported the nineteen hijackers and their network, operated in Afghanistan was little more than a formality. They could have operated anywhere. Islamabad. Mumbai. Indonesia. California. Toronto. Argentina. Yemen.

But the Republicans, led by their star team of Bushian sociopaths operating in key positions in government, used September 11 as an excuse to puff up their testicles and stick out their penises, waving the latter around and calling out to the world, “Look, Mom, I’m a man. I voted for funds to invade countries and kill hundreds of thousands of people. I’m a man, Mom, I’m a man, I finally made it.” The Democrats enabled this penis-waving, but didn’t engage in it.

So here we are now, eight years and hundreds of thousands of corpses and effectively a couple of trillion dollars later, and we have nothing to show for it. Al Qaeda is still at large, and in some form or other will be around for a long time. Two countries are destroyed, and neither is better off. The United States is to all intents and purposes bankrupt, so deep in debt, so close to the brink of economic devastation that ‘morning in America’ promises to be one of cold gruel and ersatz coffee, and yes, we can thank Ronald Reagan and his stupid, ill-informed economic policies for bringing us to this point.

And still the Republicans walk around waving their penises, shouting “More troops to Afghanistan. Look, Mom, I’m still a man.” They even apply the same ploy to desperately needed health care reform and financial reform. “A million families going bankrupt over medical bills is better than a government health care program. And those people on Wall Street are our friends. See, Mom, I’m a tough man.”

Of course it would never occur to those people, those so-called Republicans, that had we considered September 11 a criminal act and treated it accordingly, with appropriate police action, international cooperation, and the occasional small military special op, we might have finished the problem long ago.

Nor would it occur to the penis wavers so desperate to prove their manhood in the only way they know how, by destroying and killing, that had the United States used the hundreds of billions of war-spent dollars on a Manhattan Project to create the resources for non-carbon energy and the infrastructure to support it, we would be by this time independent of foreign fossil fuel. And as well we would have done a good bit of what’s needed to save civilization from the oncoming climate catastrophe that the Republicans are waving their penises at as they deny the facts and the evidence. One might wish them a severe case of sunburn.

But they’ve done their bit for Republicanism, and can go proudly home to Mom, wave their little penises, and say “Look, Mom, I’m a man.”

To which Mom, if she had any sense at all, would say, “Put that stupid thing away, you little idiot, and get your ass back to Washington and fix the god-awful damage you’ve done.”


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Americans Dying For Voter Fraud In Afghanistan; Pakistan Rips Off Billions Of American Taxpayer Dollars; Iran Ain’t So Stupid As The Wingnut Warriors Want To Believe
October 6, 2009

Some links to interesting things:

Voter fraud from Afghanistan, described by Peter W. Galbraith, fired by the United Nations because he dealt in reality, while the U.N. and the U.S. find it more convenient to promulgate the lie that Hamid Karzai and the Afghan government are legitimate. This is what American and Canadian and British soldiers are dying for, a fraudulent view, sponsored and encouraged by their governments, of a medieval warlord government corrupt right down to its underwear. It’s like the good old days of the Cold War: “We gave them money so they must be good and democratic, right? Right!” That’s the policy that kept dozens of brutal dictators in power, and millions of people living in fear of their United States-supported governments. Nothing learned, nothing gained, people again dying for idiots running the Western governments in London, Washington, Bonn, Ottawa, you name it.

Pakistan rips off billions of American taxpayer dollars to sustain and increase Pakistani corruption. Military aid is routinely sidetracked to private pockets and ego projects, and the United States has no way, or simply refuses, to track where the money goes. It’s just more self-delusion from Washington, pretending that the Pakistani government is legitimate rather than just another collection of corrupt frauds.

A realistic view of Iran’s nuclear policy and potential, contrary to what the neocons and their acolytes in the Obama administration would have us believe about raging maniacs. The writer doesn’t pretty them up, but he casts a rational eye on them.


Why The United States Is Going Down The Economy Tubes
October 5, 2009

Simmons Bedding Company, the place that built Simmons mattresses for 133 years, will file for bankruptcy, according to a New York Times story in today’s Globe.

The company was raped for twenty years by financial sociopaths.

Here’s the guts of the story:

Simmons says it will soon file for bankruptcy protection, as part of an agreement by its current owners to sell the company – the seventh time it has been sold in a little more than two decades – all after being owned for short periods by a parade of private equity firms, which try to buy undervalued companies, mostly with borrowed money.

For many of the company’s investors, the sale will be a disaster. Bbondholders [sic] stand to lose more than $575 million. The company’s downfall has also devastated employees like Noble Rogers, who worked for 22 years at Simmons. He is one of 1,000 employees – more than one-quarter of the workforce – laid off last year.

But Thomas H. Lee Partners, of Boston, has escaped unscathed. The investment firm, which bought Simmons in 2003, has pocketed around $77 million in profit, even as the company’s fortunes have declined. THL collected hundreds of millions of dollars from the company in the form of special dividends. It also paid itself millions more in fees, first for buying the company, then for helping to run it. Last year, the firm even gave itself a small raise.

Wall Street investment banks also cashed in. They collected millions for helping to arrange the takeovers and for selling the bonds that made those deals possible. All told, the various private equity owners have made around $750 million in profits from Simmons over the years.

How so many people could make so much money on a company that has been driven into bankruptcy is a tale of these financial times. Every step along the way, the buyers put Simmons deeper into debt. The financiers borrowed more and more money to pay ever higher prices for the company, enabling each previous owner to cash out profitably.

But the load weighed down an otherwise healthy company. Today, Simmons owes $1.3 billion, compared with just $164 million in 1991, when it began to become a Wall Street version of “Flip This House.’’

The people who did this are people who build nothing, who create nothing, who do nothing for the people of the country, who do nothing for civilization, who’s sole moral rule is ‘More for me!’

They’re the new Mafia. Buy a business, strip it of cash, bury it in debt, and sell it to the next Mafioso who can con a greedy banker into investing. When the thugs got caught skimming the casinos in Vegas, they got arrested and jailed. These guys destroying companies get praised and get rich.

They do it with no qualms, no concerns for anyone or anything but filling their own bank accounts.

Executives at THL counter that Simmons was the victim of hard economic times, not mismanagement or too much debt. They point to Simmons’ 40 percent growth in sales and 26 percent climb in operating income from 2003 through 2007, as well as 13 consecutive quarters of market share gains against competitors through March 2009.

Simmons’ woes, said Scott A. Schoen, a co-president of the firm who sat on Simmons board, are entirely caused by the “unprecedented and unforeseeable’’ downturn that has shaken the entire bedding industry.

None of these people would admit that burying a company under so much debt that it could not withstand even a minor tic in the economy, much less a major downturn, none of them would ever admit that their actions had anything to do with the collapse of the company, would they?

These people are the scum of the earth, to borrow a phrase. A rational society would put them behind bars instead of making their actions legal. But in America they are touted as financial geniuses.

Let’s call them what they are. Parasites. Thieves. Amoral beings that suck the life out of an economy, destroying companies, jobs, productivity, lives, the fabric of society itself, and in return produce nothing, give nothing, build nothing.

They should be scorned and shamed and hounded into the streets and gutters of the cities and the civilization they are destroying.


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Terrorist Interview…
October 5, 2009

Read an interview with a real live terrorist figment of The Squirrel’s imagination at Grumpy Squirrel.

Snacks will be served. Today’s special snack – Raspberry Jello Bombs in Heavy Cream with Chocolate Chips.


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What If Polanski Were An Abusive Priest?
October 4, 2009

In today’s Globe and in an associated religious blog there’s a piece asking how society would treat Roman Polanski, convicted of statutory rape some thirty years ago, if he were a priest instead of an esteemed film director.

Polanski fled the United States following his conviction and has been a fugitive from justice, living in Europe. The Swiss recently arrested him on a United States warrant and he is fighting extradition.

The tenor of comments on the blog hold that Polanski would be treated poorly in public opinion if he were a priest, and that his status as a film director of high repute appears to entitle him to better treatment, including possibly having the entire affair excised from the justice system.

The problem with the argument is that Polanski is not now and has never been a priest. Or minister. Or rabbi. Or imam. He was and is a film director. He took no oath to protect the members of a parish. He was under no obligation from his vocation, from his religion, from any so-called sacred book, to protect children from sexual activity. He held no position of trust in that regard.

And let’s face it – anyone who would trust their minor child to the care and good graces of a Hollywood film director, or a corporate CEO, or a Republican Congressman, needs to have his head examined.

Priests have a special place in society. Rightly or wrongly they are trusted beyond normal people. Wrongly, as it turns out, given the number of them found to have been poking their penises into children. When a priest, or his Protestant or Jewish or Islamic counterpart, commits a crime against a child, he should rightly be treated with scorn and contempt. When a hedonistic film director commits a similar crime, he should suffer the penalty of law just like everybody else. Scorning is optional.

But it should be remembered that a pedophile priest not only committed a crime considered vile, but also engaged in a vast hypocrisy that extends from his local parish right up into the chambers of the Pope. The priest and his church committed an extraordinary betrayal of trust. The law should treat equal crimes equally, but society should dish an extra heaping of scorn on the priest.

Comparing Polanski’s situation to that of a pedophile priest is like comparing a bruised apple to a pile of rotting oranges.

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