A few years ago a sugar refinery owned by Imperial Sugar of Savannah, Georgia, exploded. Fifteen people were killed and dozens were injured, some severely. The explosion was the direct result of a corporate refusal to obey safety rules designed to avoid just this kind of event. OSHA, over a single 2-year period, hit Imperial Sugar with over 200 Notices of Violation. Corporate management ignored them. After all, we all know OSHA is just a busybody nitpicker that gives corporations a hard time for no reason. They know what they’re doing. They don’t have to listen to some liberal government pinhead whine about how they should have done this irrelevant action instead of that one.
That’s how – and why – 15 people died.
There have been a raft of “investigations”, including one by the district USA Edward Tarver into potential criminal charges. Given the abundant evidence of malfeasance on the part of corporate executives, this should have been a slam dunk. It turned out, though, that corporations can get away with anything in 21st century America, including murder.
The company was the target of investigations by a trio of federal agencies — the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, OSHA and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms — that resulted in findings of dozens of “willful” safety violations and a $6 million fine in 2010 that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration said was the largest ever levied to that point.
Only one potential government sanction remained and that was removed Tuesday when U.S. Attorney Edward J. Tarver announced his office would not seek criminal charges against the company or its executives for the carnage that ensued that night.
“There was insufficient evidence of intentional disregard or plain indifference to the requirements of OSHA’s general housekeeping standards to charge Imperial Sugar with a criminal violation,” Tarver said in a release.
How he reached that conclusion despite the acres of evidence and a whistleblower to the contrary may be explained in the usual way – protection of a local corporate power (and donor?) – but Tarver offers what sounds like a potentially honest alternative reason: the weakness of Congressionally devised labor laws.
Tarver also said the decision not to pursue a prosecution of Imperial or any of its executives was based in the lack of federal criminal laws “specifically addressed to the safety of workers within the sugar industry at the time of the Imperial Sugar explosion.”
It’s an interesting argument though it smacks immediately of buck-passing. It could be true given what conservative governments – Pubs and Dems both – have happily done to de-ball labor laws for the last 40 years. Anybody know?
True or not, the one thing that stands out is that, just like with the bankers who deliberately destroyed our economy to fill their own pockets and did so by breaking so many laws it would take an abacus to count them, after all Imperial’s illegal activities and the 15 people who died as a direct result of their disinterest in keeping them alive, nobody is going to go to jail behind this.
People aren’t used to thinking of the Papacy as political but like most things people aren’t used to thinking this is truer than whatever they do think. The Papacy has been political practically since its inception, and this is one of the most political pontiffs we’ve had in recent generations, which is why the total lack of speculation about the real reason for his “retirement” is just one more sign that even our “best” journalists have become incurious and thus singularly inept. Their acceptance of an excuse so weak they’d see through it in a school board election without the consideration of a single subtler possible agenda.
OK, so you probably think that at least if you’re a dedicated cheerleader they won’t throw you under the bus even if you’re not their first priority. But you’re being naive.
Regardless of who wins the presidential election in November or what compromises Congress strikes in the lame-duck session to keep the economy from automatic tax increases and spending cuts, 160 million American wage earners will probably see their tax bills jump after Jan. 1.
That is when the temporary payroll tax holiday ends. Its expiration means less income in families’ pocketbooks — the tax increase would be about $95 billion in 2013 alone — at a time when the economy is little better than it was when the White House reached a deal on the tax break last year.
You don’t matter. The “deficit” they created matters. It’s your job to pay it off. This was never a priority, it was just a temporary gimme for show.
Independent analysts say that the expiration of the tax cut could shave as much as a percentage point off economic output in 2013, and cost the economy as many as one million jobs. That is because the typical American family had $1,000 in additional income from the lower tax.
But there is still little desire to make an extension part of the negotiations that are under way to avert the huge tax increases and across-the-board spending cuts, known as the fiscal cliff, that will start in January without a deal.
Nope. Nobody on either side gives a shit.
Many Republicans vehemently opposed its passage last year, as it would divert money from the Social Security program. Many Democrats fervently supported it last year but show no such enthusiasm now. Nancy Pelosi of California, the top House Democrat, has told reporters she thinks it should expire.
So don’t ever get your hopes up. No matter what happens, you’re never gonna be on anybody’s gift list.
If you are a normal human with normal instincts and a reasonably normal sense of humor, the kinds of things conservatives laugh at are liable to stump you at best, appall you at worst.
Video emerged on Tuesday showing supporters of Senator Scott P. Brown making tomahawk gestures with their arms and yelling Indian war whoops at supporters of Elizabeth Warren, his Democratic challenger, outside a pub on Saturday. The gestures were meant to mock Ms. Warren’s assertions, for which she has offered no documentation, that she has Native American ancestry.
Conservatives think making fun of one’s heritage is funny – as long as it isn’t their heritage. Also, fat people are funny, and invading countries because they’re supposed to have weapons they don’t actually have, that’s funny, stuff like that. Read the rest of this entry »
One of the easiest adjustments to make as we re-work our psyches to fit the pre- and misconceptions of the New American Oligarchy is the one where we have to re-write history. This has become such a common tactic of the corporate media that it almost goes without saying but it can still come as a surprise when you’re not expecting it.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his party maintain that Washington policy plays a limited role in entrepreneurial success, and is often more of a hindrance than a help.
In pushing that theme this week, though, some of the speakers have left out part of the story.
In a convention floor speech Tuesday night, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin boasted that people rushed into her state in the Great Land Run of 1889 with only their own grit to thank, and no help from the federal government.
“And in 1897, eight years after the land run, a handful of adventurous pioneers risked their own money – not the federal government’s money – to drill Oklahoma’s first oil well, the Nellie Johnstone,” she told conventioneers.
However, Fallin’s characterization omitted major chunks of federal government involvement, including the Dawes Act of 1887 and other measures that forced Indian tribes onto reservations, freeing “open” surplus lands for white settlers. Oil later was found on some of that land. The Homestead Act of 1862 provided the method by which the land was distributed to settlers.
This is known as “history by omission”: not actually a lie, all you need do is leave out the part of the truth you’d rather people didn’t know. Read the rest of this entry »
One of the most challenging aspects of adjusting to the NAO’s is the fact that so many of them are, well, stupid. Todd Akin’s absurd belief that women have some sort of magical control over their bodies if only they’d decide to use it is just the tip of a very large, annoying, and dangerous iceberg. The Times’ Timothy Egan gives a chapter and verse or two that barely scratch the surface but make the point quite clearly: many of the most powerful people in the country, all of them major puppets of the oligarchs, have demonstrated again and again that they have great faith but zero actual knowledge. Read the rest of this entry »
Two hundred-plus years of dangerously liberal thinking have created a good deal of confusion in some weak minds. One of the most damaging of these confusions, one that you may still be harboring without realizing its deep and divisive nature, is the idea that there are such things as “public” facilities. Or, indeed, a “public good”. In fact, the very word “public” arises from a severe misunderstanding of what forms a “society”. Read the rest of this entry »
Of course survival isn’t the only goal, just the first one, and I guess we ought from time to time to be more positive and look at ways of making the New American Oligarchy work for you. It’s not impossible. In fact it’s relatively easy once you can wrap your head around what the New Rules mean. That meaning can be put very simply:
Money is all that matters.
All the great philosophers and theologians since the time of the [early] Greeks have lauded the sacrifice of one’s self and one’s possessions for the sake of the greater good of others as the most honorable action a man can take. Therefore, the great thinkers of the modern rich right wing have implemented a society which makes it not only a privilege for you to sacrifice for the greater oligarchic good but a necessity, thus insuring your entrance into, if not saintliness then at least acceptability within the servant class.
The recent Supreme Court decision allowing the Constitutionality of Obama’s health care bill can be seen as a case in point. With no effort on your part and despite whatever qualms you may have about the way the bill tends to subvert, deny or delay actual treatment, you will be required to pay health insurance corpo’s a sizable chunk of your income for advising you that your illness isn’t covered. (That’s apparently in the Constitution somewhere.)
In this way you will be allowed to sacrifice not just your income but your health for the good of insurance corpo’s whose profits are not yet obscene enough to cause riots. Which seems to be their goal.
Don’t let yourselves be taken in by the appearance of unrestricted greed. Remember, they’re doing it for you, not to you.
One thing is certain, that the well-developed, well-integrated personality is the highest product of evolution, the fullest realization we know of in the universe. ~ Julian Huxley, “Transhumanism”
After six thousand years of Western civilization we are finally living in the time when that childish belief can be put to rest once and for all. For we, the humans – especially the American humans – of the 21st century have proved beyond all doubt that the highest product of human evolution – in fact the only product worth cultivation – is a well-developed, well-integrated sense of greed. We now understand that our highest evolutionary function, indeed our only important function as a species, is the making of money. Read the rest of this entry »
From Digby, who really ought to know better by now.
And once we cut the deficit by doing nothing and everyone has pulled themselves together after this collective panic attack, we can all sit down and have a rational discussion about long term health care costs and fixing that little shortfall in Social Security.
Isn’t that cute? She thinks we can still have one of those. She thinks there’s enough left of our brains after 20 years of Fox that we still remember what rational discussion is.
Of course, it’s possible she’s being sarcastic. I hadn’t thought of that.
A hundred years ago – OK, 89, I rounded it off, so sue me – Sinclair Lewis wrote a novel called Babbitt, the first ever about what our wanna-be-aristocrat upper middle class was really like. It was a hugely successful book, not least because it skewered a smug, self-satisfied, arrogant section of our society that even in 1922 was hated and feared by normal folk for its corruption and thievery. And rightfully so, since these bozos were mainly the ones who created the financial mess that would eventually melt down and give us the Great Depression. Read the rest of this entry »
1) Did you know that Newtie would never have committed adultery if he wasn’t such a damned passionate patriot?
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who is in the early stages of a presidential campaign, spoke in an interview with David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network about his history of adultery and divorces. And as Gingrich told it, he sought God’s forgiveness – and as for the events themselves, they were driven by how hard he was working and his great passion for America.
“There’s no question at times of my life, partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country, that I worked far too hard and things happened in my life that were not appropriate,” said Gingrich.
2) Did you know that an NPR exec was just fired for calling racist Tea Partiers racist?
So James O’Keefe has another scalp.
Apparently, Glenn Beck can call the president of the United States a racist on national television and keep his job, but if you’re an NPR executive who says the same thing privately about a bunch of nameless Teabaggers — you’ve gotta go.
And the real kicker is, what Ron Schiller said is 100% true.
Such is the state of our “news media”. Beck can get away with calling Obama a racist precisely because it isn’t true. Schiller had to be fired precisely because his accusations were accurate – the Tea Party is indeed racist and has proved it on a number of occasions.
Is there any room left in New Zealand?
3) Did you know that even Glenn Beck’s audience is tired of him?
Since last August, when he summoned more than 100,000 followers to the Washington mall for the “Restoring Honor” rally, Mr. Beck has lost over a third of his audience on Fox — a greater percentage drop than other hosts at Fox. True, he fell from the great heights of the health care debate in January 2010, but there has been worrisome erosion — more than one million viewers — especially in the younger demographic.
Hate and paranoia sell, I guess, but only temporarily. Car wrecks are fascinating, too, but eventually one moves on. You know?
When people who have no respect for law are teaching law, you know you’re fucked.
And yes, he’s stupid, too.
After extensively quoting from a ProPublica report exactly how often the Obama admin rejected the opportunity to add help for homeowners caught in the mortgage/foreclosure trap (otherwise known as cramdown), Atrios winds up by with the usual lib claptrap conclusion: “They fucked up.” No, Duncan, they didn’t. It wasn’t a bug, it was a feature.