Monday, July 29, 2002

It's not exactly a violation of the Geneva Convention, but a Colorado warden's decision to feed inmates beef that had been recalled for possible contamination with E. coli bacteria seems a bit ill-advised.

Now, granted, if you're otherwise healthy and not very old or very young, E. coli probably won't kill you. But it probably will make you wish you were dead. I got it from some bad hamburger a few years back and reached that point when I started shitting blood all over my bathroom floor because my stomach cramps were too strong and painful for me to get my feet under me long enough to sit on the toilet.

Prison is dangerous enough without adding this bit of charm to the mix. Unless, of course, we're talking about Club Fed, in which case E. coli ought to be mandatory.
You know, it was bad enough when Congress spent $40 million of my tax money to impeach Bill Clinton on charges of lying about a blow job. But because it did, I now could be out several million dollars more to repay Bill and Hillary for some of their legal expenses. I guess it would be asking too much for the Republicans who led us on this wild goose chase to pay us back, huh?

Yeah, I thought so.

Thursday, July 25, 2002

Wednesday, July 24, 2002

OK, now some people aren't just mocking President Bush's handling of the economy. They're flat calling him a criminal, and in a mainstream publication, yet.

Ever seen a shrub sweat?
Ah. Finally, someone's taking me seriously on corporate scandals. Yea, verily, this is more like it.

Apparently the markets think so, too.

Thursday, July 18, 2002

Ahem.

Apparently I didn't make myself clear.

Would James Traficant shut the hell up and take his lame, born-in-a-barn, in-denial-residing, racketeering, bribe-taking, tax-evading, bloviating, fool-for-a-client-having, foolish-threat-making, no-sense-having, taste-in-clothing-lacking, brain-missing, bad-hair-having ass out of Congress (where, to be fair, he doesn't especially stand out from the crowd) and off to prison, which should be the last expense or trouble he ever inflicts on taxpayers?

Just asking.

Thank you. Please return to what you were doing.

Tuesday, July 16, 2002

Would James Traficant just shut the hell up and go to prison already???

Monday, July 15, 2002

OK, so Bush lays out a "plan" last Tuesday for dealing with corporate malfeasance and the Dow and Nasdaq drop 5 percent. He blames the markets' recent losses on a "hangover" from the 1990s, warns corporate executives to "shape up" again, and then the Dow drops another 300 points.

I think I speak for everyone who hopes to be able to retire before the age of 109 when I say, "Mr. President, shut the hell up already!!!"

Friday, July 12, 2002

If you're a Republican president trying to get people to think that where corporate malfeasance is concerned you're part of the solution and not part of the problem, you know you're getting nowhere when even financial journalists are openly mocking you.

Hell, bad enough that the Dow and Nasdaq reacted to Bush's piffle of an anti-malfeasance campaign by dropping 5.1% of their value in just three days. (God, the way the markets -- and, by extension, my 401K -- are going, if he gets re-elected, I'll probably never be able to afford to retire even if I live forever.) Bad enought that even leading financial analysts are saying, in effect, "Less talk, more long prison sentences." Now even TheStreet.com is treating the world's most powerful man as an object of contempt and derision.

Which speaks, I think, for itself.

Tuesday, July 09, 2002

Apparently there's at least one Baptist minister abroad in the land who doesn't recall what Jesus said about those who would harm children: "Better for them that they had never been born."

This guy and his brother are accused of beating an 11-year-old boy for 90 minutes because they thought he wasn't studying his Bible lessons hard enough. As a reasonably religious person, ol' Ralph can muster just two words in response: The hell???

Fortunately, this happened in Texas, where even the minimum-security prisons are hellholes. And since this guy could be headed there for whatever might remain of his natural life, I think it's safe to say that the biblical injunction will be borne out.

Can I get an "amen"?
Enron. Tyco. Xerox. ImClone. WorldCom. Merck. The list of giant corporations crumbling in the wake of revelations of shoddy accounting and outright fraud continues to grow. WorldCom alone laid off about 17,000 people the Friday after its problems became public, and the financial losses suffered by investors, including many vulnerable retirees, might run into the hundreds of billions.


And worse still, along with the staggering individual and institutional financial losses, has been the damage done to the public's confidence in the stock market, the very heart of our capitalist system.


Now, let's think about this for a second.


Osama bin Laden claimed he sent those doomed jets into the World Trade Center towers because he wanted to strike at the heart of the capitalist system. Six days later, the stock markets were back in action.


If bin Laden had directly caused, through criminal action, the layoffs of 17,000 people, let alone the total number being harmed by this string of outrages, and if he'd done the damage to public/investor confidence that this string of theft, fraud and funny accounting has caused, we'd be calling it "economic terrorism," and if we didn't declare war, at the very least we'd be trying to put him in -- no, make that under -- the jail.


But what fate is likely to befall the cheats and swindlers who have so damaged our economy? Sure, the feds are still giving five years in prison and a fine to anyone who commits fraud, and sure, the president has proposed doubling that term to 10 years. But the fact is that prosecutors can juggle that number any way they like by stacking additional charges into an indictment, or not, as they see fit.


Besides, even if one of these highly-paid executives, with their highly-paid lawyers, is unlucky enough to be convicted of fraud, he'll do his time in a medium- or minimum-security prison, not the hellholes reserved for those who do their stealing with a gun or knife rather than a pen.


So what's a country of poor but honest investors to do?


First, call it what it is: not just fraud, not just theft, not just violation of securities laws, but economic terrorism.


Second, forget the corporations. A corporation is an artificial person created by law. It can't really be punished, in the sense that it cannot be made to feel guilt, regret, repentance.


Perhaps most importantly, it cannot be made to feel pain.


No, go after any and every individual executive who had any kind of hand in deceptive accounting, audit manipulation, overstating revenues or profits, artificially inflating stock prices and plundering retirement plans. Bust him, right in his plush office. Drag him out into the sunshine in handcuffs. And then charge him not just with fraud, but terrorism as well. Give him the maximum sentence: death, or life without parole. Fine him three times whatever money he realized from his endeavors, just to make sure his family doesn't profit from his malfeasance, either. (What? The family will be left penniless? Awwwww. Too damn bad. Let's worry about the real victims here.) And then throw him away -- not in Club Fed, but in some unventilated cinder-block hellhole, a 6- by 8-foot cell with no windows, a stainless-steel toilet and a 6-foot-6, 400-pound roommate who calls him "bitch."


Extreme? Perhaps, but I'm in good company on this. Columbia law professor John Coffee, who specializes in securities law and white-collar crime, was asked to respond Tuesday to an assertion by President Bush in his speech to Wall Street that Congress needed to quit dithering and fill three vacancies on the Securities and Exchange Commission. (And we'll leave aside for a moment the ludicrous notion of Bush, who violated insider-trading rules in 1990, lecturing Wall Street on morals and ethics.)


Not exactly, Coffee said: "As between having five SEC governors in office and five
chief executive officers in prison, the latter would do more for investor confidence."


Coffee wasn't alone. Jack Francis, managing director and head of Nasdaq trading at UBS Warburg, dismissed Bush's speech as meaningless. ``I think actions speak louder than words,'' he said. "If somebody goes to jail, maybe people will take corporate America a little more seriously."


Here's hoping we can soon take corporate America a lot more seriously, if you know what I mean and I think you do.

Friday, July 05, 2002

So I see that Julia Roberts has gotten married again, this time to her cameraman boyfriend, Daniel Moder.


Now, I don't want to imply that the woman who dumped Kiefer Sutherland on the eve of their wedding, who dumped Lyle Lovett after 21 months of marriage (thereby bursting the balloons of all the homely guys who thought it might really be possible to marry a beautiful movie star and live happily ever after), and who couldn't seem to stay with any of a long string of eligible men including, but not limited to, Benjamin Bratt, Jason Patric, Dylan McDermott, Matthew Perry and LIam Neeson, might have trouble committing or anything.


And I'm sure Julia Roberts is a nice person. Really.


But, Dan, dude, tell me you didn't sign a pre-nup, OK?