12.01.16

Steven Mnuchin, recently of Satan’s Bank …

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Decline and Fall, Predator State, Satan's Bank at 1:15 pm by George Smith

Steven Mnuchin, set to be Donald Trump’s Secretary of the Treasury, is the perfect choice for the root hog or die economy in the culture of lickspittle. Mnuchin is someone who took a pie of excrement, IndyMac bank, and turned it into an even bigger pie of ill will and poison as OneWest.

And that’s essentially what Elizabeth Warren said about him yesterday:

“Steve Mnuchin is the Forrest Gump of the financial crisis — he managed to participate in all the worst practices on Wall Street. He spent two decades at Goldman Sachs helping the bank peddle the same kind of mortgage products that blew up the economy and sucked down billions in taxpayer bailout money before he moved on to run a bank that was infamous for aggressively foreclosing on families.”

The image of a mildly retarded man, excellent at ping pong, stumbling through life as a Wall Street financier, managing to accumulate billions in riches just because of the way the system works while uttering the occasional word candies like “Life is a box of chocolates …” should make you laugh, if nothing else.

I would eagerly await Warren going off on him for five or ten minutes when he arrives before the Senate. The lady has an inspirational talent for the putdown.

Coincidentally, Mnuchin made a great deal of money as the CEO of OneWest in Pasadena, which was IndyMac until forclosed on by the US government at the beginning of the financial crisis.

The blog briefly covered it as Satan’s Bank and rather than work up everything from scratch I’m just going to go to the archives.


02/8/10

[OneWest] is involved in a similar case in California, where it’s trying to foreclose on an 89-year-old woman, despite two court orders telling it to stop.

Stung by the whip of bad reviews, OneWest announced it was turning to charitable giving at the beginning of the new year.

“With a seed of $10 million, OneWest Bank announced this week that it has created a nonprofit foundation to help develop the communities it serves,” reported Monterey County Herald on January 2.

“The Pasadena-based bank, which took over failed IndyMac in March, established the foundation ‘to actively invest’ in priorities such as affordable housing, health care, education, financial literacy and rehabilitating underserved communities, foundation bank officials said.

” ‘We are very committed to supporting the community in meaningful ways through our charitable efforts, including significant contributions from our employees in community service activities,’ ” foundation Chairman Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.”

Community service. Affordable housing. Fine words.

“The bank has 72 retail branches in Southern California and total assets of $24 billion,” one news story on OneWest informs.

Let’s see.

10 million / 24 billion = 0.000416666667

In other words, another ‘achievement in giving’ worth the stink eye. The amount is OneWest/Satan’s Bank equivalent of pocket lint. Maybe less.


02/02/10

IndyMac did the things all the banksters are now accused of in the US. It specialized in really risky subprime lending and then went tits after the people at the top made a killing on the Ponzi scheme. Prior to the death of Lehman Brothers and the big bailout, the FDIC stepped in and saved it.

In the reorganization, some superwealthy guys took over and renamed it OneWest.

OneWest’s business model, as told in news stories on it, is to continue the certified nasty practices of the Wall Street financial giants.

That is, it profits off distressed holdings by using the taxpayer-funded government guarantees for detoxifying its subprime lending. OneWest is not small or community-oriented, unless you consider forclosing on people’s homes nationwide using taxpayer money as guarantee profit margin against what would be certain losses to be goodness for communities.

One fellow on the web explains it this way:

Several times per week, I get phone calls from attorneys. These calls all start out the same. “I am unable to get loan modifications done through a lender. What can I do?” The first question I ask is if the lender is Indymac/One West. Invariably, it is.

When OneWest took over Indymac, the FDIC and OneWest executed a “Shared-Loss Agreement” covering the sale. This Agreement covered the terms of what the FDIC would reimburse OneWest for any losses from foreclosure on a property. It is at this point that the details get very confusing, so I shall try to simplify the terms.

Some of the major details are:

OneWest would purchase all first mortgages at 70% of the current balance

OneWest would purchase Line of Equity Loans at 58% of the current balance.

In the event of foreclosure, the FDIC would cover from 80%-95% of losses, using the original loan amount, and not the current balance.


07/19/12

The site I’m about to direct you to is Bankster Law! It deals with my corporate neighbor, OneWest in Pasadena. The author relates his grinding battle with IndyMac and OneWest in Pasadena over a home construction loan. Yes, they are as bad as you think.

The trouble begins when IndyMac begins to fail — it’s money is all gone — and it starts misleading customers while short-changing them. The author finds IndyMac has reneged on the construction loan, declaring it complete with the house still unfinished.

From the introduction:

Want to learn something of the system? Read Bleak House by Charles Dickens. You can download or read it on Gutenberg. Do you want to have your soul (and money) drained by Mr. Vholes? Do you want your mind stolen like poor Flite? Do you want your home to go to rack and ruin like Bleak House?

An excerpt, on “Bankster Psychology:

Deadbeat peasants won’t pay their bills! Let us pretend that the economy has nothing to do with people’s ability to pay. And let us also pretend that the bankster stealing doesn’t have anything to do with the economy! And let’s ignore the deadbeat bankster bailout, that has NOTHING to do with anything!

———-

The peasantry is being programmed by the banker run media to be selfish and jealous of others. So that when one is ripped off, others do not care. Why should you have a free house, they are trained to ask. As if your paying will make their paying more bearable. Wouldn’t it be wiser to ask why the bankers should be able to print free money at everyone’s expense.

And on OneWest:

My trouble with Pasadena began when I was given a loan from the original IndyMac Bank, FSB. Honestly, I liked most of the people I talked to from that bank. Those were the good old days when bankers did not hide their last names. When if you had a problem, a Vice President would give you his cell phone number and tell you to call him at home if necessary. This is when many of the California bankers had sunny Cali-style personalities and were not just churlish brutes. I only remember one lady that sounded like a goon, and I’ll bet you she is still working there at OneWest Bank …

[Later] OneWest Bank takes over. A filthier set of churlish thugs you cannot imagine. It seemed that they liked to call people even before payments were overdue in order to demand money …


06/23/10
Desperation hit a new high in Pasadena today.

At lunch time, on the corner of Lake and Walnut — directly in front of Satan’s Bank of Pasadena, aka OneWest — there was a thirtysomething man in a suit with a signboard. The signboard pleaded: “Hire Me!”

It said he had a B.A. and “experience.” “Help me win for my family,” it added.

Right beside him, a man who looked like Santa Claus, except in a hardware store man’s clothes. He has been begging for the last two weeks. And directly across the superhighway, two people have been regularly camped out for it seems like … at least a year or two.

If you’ve never been to Pasadena, the corner of Lake and Walnut is the place to be if you’d like to be seen with your alms cup. It’s high vehicular traffic for most of the day. And there’s are always a good number of pedestrians, particularly at lunch time, when many come boiling out of Satan’s Bank and head across the street to Ralphs or north thirty yards to Teri & Yaki.

Holding up a sign of desperation on this corner is a good tactical move. If you want someone from the local newspaper, the Pasadena Star-News to notice and get interested in your story, it’s high visibility and impact.

After all, no one ever checks out the guy living out of his van on El Molino. Or the half a dozen or so who regularly scrounge through my apartment building’s dumpster.


03/12/10
The Wall Street Journal: Many borrowers complain they get the runaround when they call their lenders for help, receive contradictory information from different employees and are required to repeatedly fax the same documents.

At the same time, suicide threats from distressed borrowers are so common that one lender, OneWest Bank Group in Pasadena, Calif., had to establish procedures for alerting the police. Lenders’ call-center employees are under heavy pressure. “These people make $14 or $15 an hour, and we ask them to move mountains,” said a OneWest executive at an industry conference last month.


02/08/10

“During a recent protest outside his Walnut Street bank headquarters, OneWest CEO Terry Laughlin came down with the bank’s head of mortgage services for a little face time with borrowers,” reported the Pasadena Star-News recently.

“The idea was to ‘reach out’ Laughlin said, and see what he could do or say to help them with their home loans – which they angrily – and frequently – complain have yet to be modified.”


“Steven Mnuchin’s OneWest filed to take a 90-year-old woman’s house after a 27-cent payment error,” reads Politico.

And, yes, yes, there was a song …

Go, that was 2010 – 2012 and nothing ever changes. It’s worth saying again and again, part of the Obama administration’s failure was doing nothing about this when everyone was begging for bankster heads.

07.03.16

A marching song for with your hot dogs and brew!

Posted in Bombing Paupers, Culture of Lickspittle, Predator State, Rock 'n' Roll at 10:07 am by George Smith

You knew this was coming.

Follow it most excellently with “Red Zone Barbecue.” “Everysing’s all right!”

09.30.15

A Personal Case for Single Payer

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Predator State, Psychopath & Sociopath at 3:10 pm by George Smith

At the end of summer, my friend in the Dick Destiny Band was in Connecticut for a week, getting back together with his old buddies in a high school covers band so they could entertain at a small gathering that would be his class’ 45th reunion. The next to last day he was there an old classmate had him lifting furniture and while doing it some kind of mishap occurred and he suffered a detached retina.

A detached retina that is worsening by the hour is a serious health crisis. Any time part of the field of vision in one eye suddenly goes away is cause for an immediate trip to a doctor. In a country with a functioning health care system that cares for everybody, more or less equally, immediacy wouldn’t be a problem unless one was caught out in the wild.

That’s not the United States. It’s people aren’t up to it. Not even close. Even with the practice of Obamacare, it’s clear a significant portion of the populace has no belief in medicine for all being universally available, and quickly, as part of a civilized society.

My friend grew up in one of the wealthiest counties of Connecticut, attending a ritzy high school for the upper and upper middle classes in a genteel coastal community.

However, when a condition requiring immediate medical attention arose, no one could find it in themselves to do the right thing and get him immediately to a physician. Why? The insurance industry, essentially, and money. No one wanted to be left holding the bag if the local medical facilities weren’t interested in his kind of medical benefits. (Veterans coverage, essentially.)

So they put him on a plane home the next day, when he was scheduled to leave anyway. And in the intervening period, as well as on the trip across country, the torn retina became, as one might expect, worse. It was shameful behavior. The people involved, old classmates, lacked even the ability to feel concern over it.

When my friend arrived back in Pasadena he immediately consulted his eye doctor. This man, along with his colleagues, where exposed as what one might dub rich mens’ medical providers. There was this saintly worry that vet benefits might not cover care in sufficient amount or get going/pay with sufficient alacrity.

And what was recognized was that it was time to stop arguing, checking and diddling around because the good people, the right people, the chosen fortunate, the upper crust, their grand American health network, wasn’t for my friend, not even in an emergency.

Still, serious medical crisis — potential for permanent blindness in one eye. This meant getting dumped on USC/LA County hospital, aka “county,” where those (and you’ll like this description) in the population that are underserved by US healthcare go. That means the lower and lower middle class, you know — the poor, the not-white.

At USC/County my friend finally got what he needed. His retina was stabilized by cryogenic procedure and successive laser surgeries reattached it. However, weeks later, the degree of success or what subsequent treatment will be required still cannot be determined. He got the treatment he needed, late, when the problem was demonstrably worse than it was across the country when the incident that led to it occurred.

And the experience at USC/County shows the disparity in apportionment of resources that still exists in the US health system.

USC/County gets a huge number of people to treat, many, many with some form of insurance, working people, all who arrive with appointments. And when you arrive, once you have been stabilized, a triage that cannot be avoided occurs and every visit takes five to six hours out of your day as you wait for the heavily burdened system to get to you.

The middle class, those that still have corporate or good government health care plans, and their owners in the plutocracy, they don’t have to put up with it. Despite Obamacare, or perhaps because American business, the predatory health insurance industry and equally predatory doctors were allowed to write it, medical resources are applied in a staggeringly unequal way in America.

America does not do medicine. It does health care, even in a crisis, as a posh commodity, something for the good people first. Everyone else, later. Or root, hog or die.

You’d better believe there’s no quality of mercy, and certainly nothing good, in a national health system which sees nothing particularly atrocious in shipping someone across the country to dump at emergency services in LA because the patient’s benefits aren’t cadillac.

09.22.15

Peanut butter poisoner/businessman gets life

Posted in Bioterrorism, Predator State, The Corporate Bund at 2:51 pm by George Smith

Stewart Parnell, CEO of Peanut Corporation of America, was effectively sent to prison for life for a salmonella epidemic caused by his company’s shipping of contaminated peanut butter in 2008. He was given 28 years in prison. The outbreak sickened over 700 and killed nine people outright.

Parnell’s brother, also in the business, was given 20 years, a lower-level flunky, five.

The sentences are, by far, the toughest ever handed down to food company executives.

At the time, DD blog wrote about Parnell more than once.

Some excerpts:

Stewart Parnell, Peanut Corp., before Congress. Where is his turban and beard? Where’s his video found on the
Internets by our government, like all the rest of those frightening guys from other countries shaking their fingers and ranting in Arabic at the netcam? Where are the experts from CSIS or Brookings saying what a dangerous fellow he is? Where are our tough lawmakers squeezing the truth from him? Talk, you! His hometown newspaper said he was a good football player in high school, though. Oh, where did it all go so wrong?


In the predator state, the bad company led by bad men will literally poison the public. And they won’t stop until people are killed. In the predator state system, still that’s not even enough to get them dragged from the street.

A year ago Baxter International and another US company it did business with killed people by selling tainted heparin. Heparin is a necessary drug in US medicine and it used to be made here. But in the rush for profits, like many other US businesses, both companies subcontracted their formerly in-house work to China, where there were people willing and malicious enough to deliver a cheaper counterfeit substance, a derivative of chondroitin sulfate, used to mimic heparin. The counterfeit material sickened hundreds and killed a number of people outright. There were news stories and vows of reform. And then nothing happened; it was back to business as usual in the predator state. It was no time to get in the way of commerce!

Today readers have the spectacle of the house hearings in which Peanut Corporation of America’s CEO, Stewart Parnell, is seen as willfully urging his employees to get his salmonella-laced peanuts out the door.

“[Parnell] gave instructions to nonetheless ‘turn them loose’ … ” reports the Atlanta Journal & Constitution. At the time, Parnell was engaged in finding a laboratory that wouldn’t return a positive salmonella test, kind of like fishing through a high school bundle of failed exams, looking for the lone good one, the coincidental exception…


The wheels of justice grind slowly.

The Bush administration spent a great deal of time in office building up homeland security defenses against mostly-imagined threats in biological and chemical terrorism.

On the domestic side it did all it could to destroy food safety by getting rid of regulators.

The years of the Bush presidency could be characterized in many ways, all bad, one being the recurring feature of a surprising number off mass illnesses caused by contamination in food products.

For example, the killing of a large number of beloved pets by mass distribution of melamine as an adulterant in their food.

In this climate, the Peanut Corporation of American, run by Stewart Parnell, caused one of the biggest outbreaks of salmonellosis in the country’s history. The outbreak killed nine people and sickened hundreds.

By contrast, anthrax bioterrorist Bruce Ivins killed five and made 17 others very ill.

It wasn’t until 2013, five years after the outbreak, that a grand jury indicted Parnell and his associates. Family members of those killed in it remarked that they thought the sentence was appropriate but that it had come way too late.

Parnell’s defense protested the severity, commenting that Austin “Jack” Decoster, a CEO who had caused the biggest egg recall in American history for another recent disease outbreak, received only a couple months in prison. Parnell’s defense has a point.

On the other hand, the salmonella epidemic caused by Decoster’s Quality Egg/Wright County Egg did not kill anyone straight-off, although it sickened more — estimates range from 1,600 — 56,000. Decoster, it’s clear, was just lucky.

Decoster, like Stewart Parnell, is a truly Dickensian character and the blog covered the news in a series of posts entitled Eat Shit Farms.

As the story unfolded, an unsurprising picture emerged, that of an American businessman who had used lawyers and evasions to fight off food regulations on egg production for years. Because it could get away with no regulation, Decoster’s Quality Egg became a dominant national business with which could undersell competing egg farmers in other states where local oversight was stronger.

California, it turned out was an example. Egg farmers had to immunize their herds against salmonella, which added a couple pennies to the price of eggs. DeCoster’s egg farming operation avoided this.

Subsequent photography of Quality Egg showed other major health problems, the build-up of chicken excrement until the sides of the building bulged out from the pile being an unforgettable example.

From news article on Jack Decoster’s sentence in April of this year for the disease outbreak in 2010:

SIOUX CITY, Iowa – Two former egg industry executives were sentenced to three months in jail Monday for their roles in a major 2010 salmonella outbreak that sickened thousands.

Austin “Jack” DeCoster and his son, Peter DeCoster, faced up to a year in jail on charges of shipping adulterated food. They will remain free while appealing their three-month sentence.

Prosecutors said the sentence sends a strong message about the importance of following food safety rules…

“There’s a litany of shameful conduct, in my view, that happened under their watch,” Bennett said.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention linked 1,939 illnesses to the outbreak, but officials estimate that up to 56,000 people may have been sickened.

12.27.13

Saint Ayn and cutting down the moochers

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Predator State, Rock 'n' Roll at 8:54 am by George Smith

Fiore.

‘Twas the day after Xmas through the Senate and House
Salvation was coming for every jobless louse…

See the poor have too much, the jobless are lazy
If we give them much less, they’ll get hired like crazy

But why stop with food stamps and checks, unemployment?
We’ll cut down the moochers for our own enjoyment…

And this is still the electric folk song of the year, from the heart of the great American mean, more on point every damn day.

Just not enough social love on Facebook, Reddit, Twitter and et cetera, alas…

I was readin’ Atlas Shrugged
How the rich all get mugged
Blessed are the job creators
They can always hire way more waiters

02.27.13

WTF is wrong with these people?

Posted in Bioterrorism, Crazy Weapons, Culture of Lickspittle, Cyberterrorism, Made in China, Predator State at 5:00 pm by George Smith

When I put that question in striking bold yesterday I got to thinking about what has happened in the last fifteen to twenty years. The time period encompasses my writing and work on various matters having to do with security ranging from the old origins of malware to chemical and biological weapons.

That started, depending on where I choose to pick an event, either in the administration of the first Bush, or a little later, with the presidency of Bill Clinton. Long enough to have something to say in terms of perspective, I think.

A number of things are very clear and profoundly disappointing.

The US has always been burdened by an excessively large analytic structure in national security, one in which the primary function is very much not analytic. It’s purpose is to arrive at justification for whatever leadership wishes to do.

That in itself is a major problem and it is at the very roots of the phenomenon that I call shoeshine.

Shoeshine is the work of a managerial and interpretive class of American labor, generally upper middle class, one that is employed to come up with stuff, rationalizations, justifications, all for the convenience to those at the very top in American national and business leadership. Shoeshine has virtually no social value except as employment. It keeps people in work and they can, of course, buy stuff in the economy.

But, fundamentally, shoeshine is a government in collaboration with the private sector employment jobs program that produces nothing of any material value for the vast majority of Americans.

For example, assertions that China is spying away American wealth in cyberspace are signally not important for any Americans except those generating them and the people paying for it to be disseminated. They have no meaning. There are no statistics, except the numbers of news stories and memorandums produced. But there is a big structure that has been employed to embed this information in American culture.

And it has not just been with China.

It goes on to encompass the bogus rhetoric that constantly speaks of the American financial system being threatened by devastating cyberattack, of the electricity being turned off nationwide, of calamities brought on by alleged digital assaults that require one to believe they can rival the destructive power of natural disasters.

Add to it the now impossible to reverse received wisdom that people in the sandy wastes of some poor country you barely know can easily make weapons of mass destruction. Or whatever reasons are given this week for piling up more dead with drone strikes. There really is no end to it.

And there is immorality to this because, at its heart, it’s the human machinery of rationalizing destruction.

However, when I started this there was a class of middle and upper middle class managerial and interpretive workers, smaller, which pushed back.

It was a class that inhabited philanthropic non-profit agencies devoted to such things as the furtherance of public understanding on national security issues, interpretation of treaties and global compliance and arms control.

With eight years of the Bush administration and another four with Barack Obama in charge, that’s all virtually swept away. Agencies I used to call when I was a newspaper reporter for independent from the national line information either became stunted versions of their former selves are ceased operations altogether.

Readers will have also noticed that, in the last decade, the United States isn’t even remotely interested in arms control, unless for the convenience of beating up on Iran and North Korea, and launching a clandestine war against the former.

Arms control was actually perverted into an excuse for invading Iraq.
The US is for arms proliferation big time, the best, as long as we’re doing the selling.

The world wide web, blogs, Wikileaks, whatever you want to name, didn’t fill the vacuum. Almost everyone just quit. They had to. All the money, what small amounts there were, went away. The only money spent for analysis of national security issues now is all on the other side. And its function is simply to pay people to come up with enemies lists and memos to be publicized on who is attacking us and who we are to be frightened of.

Over this period I had acquaintances who also did the progressive critical side of the coin. They wrote blogs or ran websites, worked for little agencies trying to do their part.

As the national security megaplex ballooned they either faded away or went to work for it. If they went to work for it, they went silent, never to speak again. Worried about careers, some even pulled down their old works.

And I was not being at all facetious when I mentioned earlier in the week that the state of rational discussion on cyberwar had been so degraded by this long process of attrition that it is mostly reduced to 140-character Twitter tweets.

The best people can come up with is a short (not too long so as to bore the audience) indignant squawk on social media.

So

WTF is wrong with these people?

Recently, authors Barbara and John Ehrenreich wrote something for Alternet called The Real Story Behind the Crash and Burn of America’s Managerial Class.

Wrote the Ehrenreichs:

It was the occupational role of managers and engineers (the professional managerial class), along with many other professionals, to manage, regulate, and control the life of the working class. They designed the division of labor and the machines that controlled workers’ minute-by-minute existence on the factory floor, manipulated their desire for commodities and their opinions, socialized their children, and even mediated their relationship with their own bodies.

At the same time though, the role of the PMC as “rationalizers” of society often placed them in direct conflict with the capitalist class. Like the workers, the PMC were themselves employees and subordinate to the owners, but since what was truly “rational” in the productive process was not always identical to what was most immediately profitable, the PMC often sought autonomy and freedom from their own bosses.

This class grew rapidly from the 1930s to about the mid-Seventies when the “capitalist class” reasserted control and began to cut it back with waves of layoffs tied to de-industrialization.

Technological advances and, most recently, the Internet, have continued to hack at it.

What’s left is now also employed, keeping jobs as long as possible, in cannibalization, boiling down other sections of the economy, finding ways other people can be cast off.

“Then, in just the last dozen years, the PMC began to suffer the fate of the industrial class in the 1980s: replacement by cheap foreign labor,” they continue.

That part of the managerial interpretive class that cannot yet be replaced is in American financial services and the national security megaplex. For the defense infrastructure, it’s been a relatively safe harbor of jobs for those whose work is to furnish information conveniences and processes for the very top of the pyramid.

It is not a mystery why their work has not even the slightest connection to the lives of great numbers of other Americans.

WTF is wrong with these people is that counter-reality and satisfying the political needs of their uppers is what they must do to earn a good living in view of the increasingly throttled prospects offered by this country.

And so they have been transformed into the bleak concrete of a predatory process and structure. In this structure it is imperative they not understand anything which conflicts with the purpose of the job and that they not give a shit about that. Or, if they do, to at least stuff it.

People who work at the Pasadena office of the California Department of Motor Vehicles provide more value daily than the shoeshine workers in national security. Whether you like standing in line waiting your turn or not, the public sector employees get things done that are necessary so that you can drive a car in California. And that’s important to everyday people.

One of the easiest ways to evaluate how this structure’s frankly idiotic, paranoid and self-serving fantasies have broken off with reality is also their presence in (or contamination of) entertainment.

You can compare their weird and estranged myths to the parallel proliferation of zombie and vampire movies, tv shows, books and comics.

Cyberwar is as present during the week in scripts for television and movies, maybe more so if not as successfully, as zombies. So is apocalyptic chemical and biological warfare. Add electromagnetic pulse armageddon.

All of these, propagandized into American culture by the managerial corps of national security shoeshiners to such an extent they’ve become silly popular primetime diversions, crap that has virtually nothing to do with day-to-day life over the last two decades.


Occasionally, some break with the pack.

Why You Shouldn’t Believe Cyber-war Hype, published at CIO magazine, a couple days ago.


Why your host knows what he’s talking about. Read the ‘about’ page.

Two decades is a long time. I think I’ve earned my stars.

02.21.13

Rotten peanuts

Posted in Bioterrorism, Predator State at 10:03 am by George Smith

The wheels of justice grind slowly.

The Bush administration spent a great deal of time in office building up homeland security defenses against mostly-imagined threats in biological and chemical terrorism.

On the domestic side it did all it could to destroy food safety by getting rid of regulators.

The years of the Bush presidency could be characterized in many ways, all bad, one being the recurring feature of a surprising number off mass illnesses caused by contamination in food products.

For example, the killing of a large number of beloved pets by mass distribution of melamine as an adulterant in their food.

In this climate, the Peanut Corporation of American, run by Stewart Parnell, caused one of the biggest outbreaks of salmonellosis in the country’s history. The outbreak killed nine people and sickened hundreds.

By contrast, anthrax bioterrorist Bruce Ivins killed five and made 17 others very ill.

From AP today:

A federal grand jury indicted four former employees of a peanut company linked to a 2009 salmonella outbreak that killed nine people and sickened hundreds, leading to one of the largest recalls in history.

The 76-count indictment was unsealed Wednesday in federal court in Georgia. It charged the former employees of Virginia-based Peanut Corp. of America with conspiracy, wire fraud, obstruction of justice and others offenses related to contaminated or misbranded food.

Named in the indictment were company owner Stewart Parnell, his brother and company vice president Michael Parnell, Georgia plant manager Samuel Lightsey and Georgia plant quality assurance manager Mary Wilkerson.

FDA inspectors found remarkably bad conditions inside Parnell’s processing plant in Blakely, Ga., including mold and roaches, and the company went bankrupt after the recall …

Stewart Parnell, who invoked the Fifth Amendment to avoid testifying before Congress in February 2009, once directed employees to “turn them loose” after samples of peanuts had tested positive for salmonella and then were cleared in a second test, according to e-mail uncovered at the time by congressional investigators.

The indictment cited emails sent between defendants talking about contamination in the product.


Stewart Parnell was subsequently eclipsed by Austin ‘Jack’ Decoster, an Iowa egg farmer with a history of violations who caused the biggest recall of eggs in US history when his products delivered Salmonella enteriditis in 2010.

Decoster’s egg farms were directly responsible for sickening 1,500 — 2,000, or more, and the recall of almost 400 million eggs.

DD blog covered some it in the series puckishly entitled Eat Shit Farms, here.

Decoster was subsequently dragged in front of Congress by the pathetic ex-Democratic Party Congressman, Bart Stupak, for a grilling when the latter was chairman of the House Energy & Commerce Committee.

Good times, good times. Beware bioterrorism!


Trivia note: Bart Stupak became momentarily famous for trying to attach an anti-abortion amendment to the Affordable Care Act. He subsequently declined to run again, apparently frazzled by the enmity directed at him from women’s reproductive rights organizations. Stupak is now a lobbyist.


Stewart Parnell and Peanut Corp. — from the archives.

02.11.13

The ‘Get Lost’ Economy

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Predator State at 8:47 am by George Smith

Corporate America hates you. Once you’ve fallen out of favor or no longer fulfill a singular purpose, get lost.

Even for one of the soldiers who scragged Osama bin Laden:

The U.S. Navy SEAL who shot and killed Osama bin Laden is speaking out for the first time since the May 1, 2011, raid on the al-Qaida leader’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

In an interview with Esquire, the former SEAL—identified as “The Shooter” due to what the magazine described as “safety” reasons—said he’s been largely abandoned by the U.S. government since leaving the military last fall.

He told Esquire he decided to speak out to both correct the record of the bin Laden mission and to put a spotlight on how some of the U.S. military’s highly trained and accomplished soldiers are treated by the government once they return to civilian life.

Despite killing the world’s most-wanted terrorist, he said, he was not given a pension, health care or protection for himself or his family.

“[SEAL command] told me they could get me a job driving a beer truck in Milwaukee,” he told Esquire.

Plus, he said, “my health care for me and my family stopped. I asked if there was some transition from my Tricare to Blue Cross Blue Shield. They said no. You’re out of the service, your coverage is over. Thanks for your 16 years. Go f— yourself.”

Not even good for driving a beer truck, which would seem recession proof.

Unfortunately, there are millions more already in line.

The good news: The Esquire notice will get him a book deal and some offers. If he can’t write, a ghost will be furnished. Hardly anyone else gets that opportunity.

Funny how the Ted Nugents of the country never want for work.

01.29.13

Corporate America Hates You: It’s who you know

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Predator State at 10:35 am by George Smith

Not much of a surprise from the New York Times, a quick piece on corporate hiring in the economy that produces little. Corporate America is now hiring primarily through connections, which leaves anyone out of work for a long time discarded. America has always hated the unemployed.

It also points out that resumes sites like Monster and Careerbuilder are largely a waste of time.

From a month ago here:

One of the questions, or rather assertions from the crowd:

Online job search is a waste of time. Once you have given up as I have, how is one expected to go out and try to put on a positive face when all one faces is no positive direction? Everything in the United States is a scam.

For many, it’s a very accurate observation. Much of daily life is filled with scams from corporate America and to survive everyone must go about the task of trying to always avoid the tricks and traps. And the past four years have made it abundantly clear that no will exists anywhere in the country — except maybe in the writings of Paul Krugman — to lessen unemployment, decrease inequality, and raise the pay and declining living standards of average Americans. In fact, these are things that are vigorously opposed in the current system.

Of course, the headhunter couldn’t admit this was so. But he couldn’t actually lie in front of everyone, either, so he had to talk in a circle:

No, everything is not a scam. There are a lot of companies that are hiring, but there are more that are nervous about investing in more personnel in a volatile economy. It’s understandable: So much is in flux today that companies hesitate to spend money, and they over-compensate by insisting on “perfect hires” …

First, we already know that applying for jobs online is largely a waste of time …

The “hiring expert” who insisted not everything was a scam emphasized the importance of knowing someone on the inside, of having a network. Then he conceded most people didn’t have the luck or resources to cultivate such relationships. And not tackled was the hard fact that once you’ve been unemployed nobody wants to know you — which is the same as having no “network.”

From the New York Times:

Economists and other experts say the recession has severed networks for many workers, especially the long-term unemployed, whose ranks have remained high even as the economy recovers.

“You’re submitting your résumé to a black hole,” it reads at one point.

Although the phenomenon has intensified it’s not unique. When I was being trained in chemistry, none of the undergraduates (the bachelors and masters candidates) I worked with got first positions by sending out resumes in response to ads in the trade journals like Science and C&E News. It just didn’t happen. They could all use their rejection notices as wallpaper.

When they got hired it was always through leveraging someone they already knew at a company, or pleading with a relative who worked at a firm to get them an in.

Human resource departments were simply barriers.

The New York Times piece spends a lot of time discussing hiring at Deloitte & Touche, one of the big parasite consulting and accounting firms of the country, a business that encompasses everything but which contributes very little observable to the social good.

Another firm mentioned hiring more and more by acquaintance is a national rent-a-car company.

If a rent-a-car company is run by people so venal and stupid that it thinks that the only good employees for standing behind a counter and working a scheduling and tracking program on a computer network, moving cars around a parking lot and handing out keys can be obtained only by digging through the friends of current workers, it speaks volumes about their regard for people, including their own.

11.26.12

CAHY: American manufacturing

Posted in Bombing Paupers, Culture of Lickspittle, Decline and Fall, Predator State at 9:17 am by George Smith

From the wires:

Raytheon, one of the world’s largest military contractors, opened the doors today to its newest missile factory, a state-of-the-art facility that will produce weapons for the United States and its [toadies].

According to Raytheon, the Huntsville, Ala. plant, located at the U.S. Army’s Redstone Arsenal, will produce Standard Missile-3 and Standard Missile-6 interceptors. The first SM-6s should be delivered in early 2013, while the SM-3s should be ready a quarter later.

The facility is said to be among the most advanced missile production plants in the world, utilizing laser-guided transport vehicles for moving missile components around.

“At new Raytheon plant, America’s missiles come to life,” reads the Raytheon advertisement attached to the piece.

How many Standard missiles were fired at the enemy in anger in the last decade?

Zero.

Because al Qaeda and the Taliban have no air force or navy.


Here is a piece at the New York Times, published last week, in which the reporter investigates domestic non-military manufacturing, where one reads about lousy American workers not fit for the jobs because of “skills mismatches”:

The secret behind this skills gap is that it’s not a skills gap at all. I spoke to several other factory managers who also confessed that they had a hard time recruiting in-demand workers for $10-an-hour jobs. “It’s hard not to break out laughing,” says Mark Price, a labor economist at the Keystone Research Center, referring to manufacturers complaining about the shortage of skilled workers. “If there’s a skill shortage, there has to be rises in wages,” he says. “It’s basic economics.” After all, according to supply and demand, a shortage of workers with valuable skills should push wages up. Yet according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of skilled jobs has fallen and so have their wages.

In a recent study, the Boston Consulting Group noted that, outside a few small cities that rely on the oil industry, there weren’t many places where manufacturing wages were going up and employers still couldn’t find enough workers. “Trying to hire high-skilled workers at rock-bottom rates,” the Boston Group study asserted, “is not a skills gap.” The study’s conclusion, however, was scarier. Many skilled workers have simply chosen to apply their skills elsewhere rather than work for less, and few young people choose to invest in training for jobs that pay fast-food wages. As a result, the United States may soon have a hard time competing in the global economy …

Paul Krugman, in pointing it out, was more supercilious:

Whenever you see some business person quoted complaining about how he or she can’t find workers with the necessary skills, ask what wage they’re offering. Almost always, it turns out that what said business person really wants is highly (and expensively) educated workers at a manual-labor wage … So what you really want to ask is why American businesses don’t feel that it’s worth their while to pay enough to attract the workers they say they need.

In reading James K. Galbraith’s The Predator State, one would call this the dominance of American manufacturing by corporate reactionary predators.

This has installed a race to the bottom in labor in a country where unions have been destroyed in the private sector and no standards for fair compensation are allowed to exist.

Noticeably, one could see it during the summer when new and tough anti-illegal immigration enforcement in red states resulted in immigrant workers leaving US southern agriculture, where profitability and cheap prices have been maintained by making wages rock bottom.

Inevitably, farmers lined up to complain to the mainstream media that American workers would not take these jobs. At one point, you could find pieces in which criminals on parole or probation were offered as a potential workforce. Even they would not work in the fields.

From September:

Ralph and Cheryl Broetje rely on roughly 1,000 seasonal workers every year to grow and pack over 6 million boxes of apples on their farm along the Snake River in eastern Washington. It’s a custom they’ve maintained for over two decades. Recently, though, their efforts to recruit skilled labor, mostly undocumented immigrants, have come woefully short, despite intensive recruitment efforts in an area with high rates of unemployment.

The Broetjes, and an increasing number of farmers across the country, say that a complex web of local and state anti-immigration laws account for acute labor shortages …

“The United States farmer is still the most efficient in the world, and if we want to be in charge of our food security and our economy and add favorably to our balance of payments, we need to support a [slave] labor force for agriculture,” said some douchebag to Time magazine.

Back in 2007, Galbraith explained it as predatory business practice in which agriculture, having no need to respond to standards in labor, pressed wages to the bottom. No one, except the desperate from Mexico, regularly wishes to work stoop labor in fields, being sprayed by pesiticides, for much less than a living wage.

“Imposing standard and enforcing them, is thus the general response to the Predator State,” which is just a collision of reactionary forces within business who seek to maintain competitiveness and profitability without technological improvement, without environmental control, without attending to product or workplace safety,” writes Galbraith.

“They are the forces behind deregulation, behind tort reform, and behind the assault on unions… ”

Galbraith asks, rhetorically, “Are their example?” Yes, the countries of northern Europe which have established wage protections and more successful economies despite regulation. Germany, for example, has more generous labor and wage agreements in automobile manufacturing, standards which are enforced. However, news stories in the US media indicate that when German automotive giants set up shop in the United States, they revert to predatory US business practice and rely on plants in anti-labor “right-to-work” southern states.

Arms manufacturing in the US is a different matter. It is protected and paid for by the US taxpayer.

“In short, the populist directive is to raise American wages, create American jobs and increase the fairness and security of our economic system, especially for citizens and legal residents, but also for all who seek work within our borders,” writes Galbraith near the end of The Predator State.

“You want higher wages? Raise them. You want more and better jobs? Create them.”

Raytheon missile manufacturing, of very little intrinsic social value other than decent jobs with pay, is an example.

Corporate America relies primarily on the equation in which compensation is always compressed and subtracted. My grandfather, who raised his family in a row home in the Frankford area of Philadelphia was a machinist who worked in manufacturing. Unlike the manufacturing workers being sought in the New York Times piece, he was able to earn a decent pay.

When I saw him, that was in the Sixties and Seventies.

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