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What's in YOUR wallet?
Dennis Koslowski's Tyco Haul

$1,000,000 - Wife's 40th birthday party on Sardinia; Jimmy Buffett entertains.

$7,000,000 - Park Avenue apartment for his ex wife in divorce settlement.

$5,000,000 - Estate in Nantucket

$1,000,000 - Gift to Nantucket Conservation Commission to purchase land adjacent to his in order to bar development on it.

$3,900,000 - Renoir painting.

$15,000 - The poodle umbrella stand.

$6,000 - Shower curtain.

$5,900 - Sheets (hey, he bought two sets!).

$2,900 - Wood coat hangers (that's just for his NYC aparment closets).

$455 - Antique pincushion.

RMcG: At least he didn't waste any money on an X-Box. (Source: AP)

Feeling Trickled Down Upon?

(Washington Post) - The number of Americans who lack health insurance climbed by 5.7 percent in 2002, to 43.6 million, the largest single increase in a decade, according to figures to be released today by the Census Bureau. Overall, 15.2 percent of Americans were uninsured last year, up from 14.6 percent in 2001. The largest jump came among people who had received health benefits through their jobs, as some firms laid off workers and others reduced coverage. Young adults and Latinos once again were the least likely to have medical coverage.

RMcG: Any fool knows that if you want good health care in this country, you need to move to Iraq. Or get elected to Congress.

*Source: Washington Post

Does that sushi smell okay? ...and other leading economic indicators
The New York Post reported in August that some corporate meeting planners in New York and Los Angeles are scheduling upscale gourmet buffets in which the food (sushi is the favorite) is served on the body of a young nude or semi-nude woman who lies on the buffet table for up to three hours. Raw Catering (New York) and Global Cuisine (both cities) charge up to $700 per guest. [New York Post, 8-20-03]

An August New York Daily News report on Manhattan's housing scarcity revealed these recent offerings: a 250-square-foot condo near Gramercy Park, $167,500; a 240-square-foot walkup on West 10th Street, $179,500; and a 160-square-foot co-op in the West Village for $135,000 (quickly taken). Said one agent, "It's owning a piece of Manhattan." [Providence Sunday Journal-New York Daily News, 8-17-03]

In July, retired developer Bill Martin, 65, announced that he has agreed to buy a dilapidated park near Hudson, Fla., and convert it from its former use as a racially segregated nudist camp into a nonsegregated, Christian-themed nudist resort. Said Martin, "Body shame is an indicator of our alienation from God, self and others. It is a bondage from hell and, according to the Bible, a direct result of Satan's deception." [St. Petersburg Times, 8-1-03]

RMcG: I never found God there. In fact, I still haven't found my pants, either. But the sushi buffet was awesome.

*Source: News of the Weird

Bush single minded in quest to root out left-over Clinton era corporate malfeance

September 30, 2003

Ari "Scott" McClellan (Ari): Please take your seats so we can begin today's briefing. Uh...Helen...that seat is reserved for the journalism intern from Pleasant Valley Community College. You'll have to take that last seat there in the back row...no, no, not that one...there, behind the column. Thank you. We can begin now...

As you know, SEC Chairman William Donaldson is moving forward with his vigorous investigation of NYSE Chariman Richard Grasso's pay package snafu.

President Bush has expressed his confidence that the issue will be as fully investigated as time allows, and today he has announced a special fund set up to finance the investigation.

Candy Crowley, CNN (CC): How much money? Will this further add to the deficit?

Ari: The deficit does not concern the president. President Bush feels that another tax cut should generate sufficient revenue to fund as complete and thorough an investigation as he deems necessary.

CC: Huh? That sounds as if he's not going to do anything at all! Is that what you are saying?

Ari: That would be consistent with the President's views on matters of that he finds boring, yes. Next question to Dan Rather...Dan...

Dan Rather (DR): Ari, as you know, the Democrats are as angry as a sidewinder in a fire ant mound about the alleged leaks exposing CIA operative Valerie Plame, last known address, 164 Trinity Lane, Alexandria, Virginia, telephone number 555-2357. What does the president intend to do wrangle this doggie back into its pen and hog tie the varmits repsonsible for hangin' her knickers on the fence for all to see?

Ari: Dan, you're really a tool. I've wanted to say that for years, you know. You really are. Does anyone have any questions relating to the SEC investigation of Richard Grasso? Uh...you, in the back...

Helen Thomas: Ari, can you please explain...

Ari: Oh, Helen. I'm sorry, I wasn't calling on you. I thought you were the hostess...could you be a dear and bring me a fresh pitcher of water? Okay, next...John Stossel...

John Stossel (JS): What?

Ari: Did you have a question?

JS: Greed is bad, right? Yet we like the scientist who's greedy for new knowledge, or the artist who's greedy to start something new.

Ari: Did you have a question, John?

JS: Uh...does the president think addiction is a disease, or do people have a choice?

Ari: Give me a break...

HT (barely audible): What about the LEAK?

Ari: Thank you, Helen. I could use a quick bathroom break myself. We'll all meet back here in five, 'kay?




An educated electorate is the right-wing's worst nightmare! Learn their tricks and tactics in this enlightening slide presentation...

This is NOT a paid advertisement --
just an important 1st Amendment link.
Because Clear Channel sucks.

Volume 2, Number 4

"Even when we accuse banks or governments of greed, the word never loses its grip on our guts. What greed does is remind us that bad behavior is always about real eating, shitting, mortals." -A.F. Robertson

Newest Cartoon - Posted: 9-30-03
Click here for Cartoon and Rant archives

Keeping up with the Joneses and running them into the ditch.

Original rant for NBY by Ashley Holt

Considering the amount of editorializing over the issue, I'd dare suggest that it's become passe these days to badmouth the owners of SUVs. These people have been the victims of verbal harassment, media campaigns and someone locally has even been keying the paint jobs on SUVs in the Wal Mart parking lot (who could do something so cruel?). SUV owners only want to ride in style, they say, to reward themselves for all their hard work with a little luxury. Besides, they insist, spending this money is good for the economy! Isn't it time we let up on these poor souls?

American consumers have answered that question with another popular luxury item, the Humvee. That's right, Americans didn't feel "rewarded" enough with a vehicle the size of a school bus. They wanted to rule the road with an actual military war machine. The hard work of the average American deserves more than pampering, it seems, it deserves the power to intimidate and destroy other drivers. What sort of mentality is at work here? How many blows to the head does one have to receive to get this blind and insecure?

"Maybe we've become so detached from the concept of spending real dollars, based on a tangible gold standard, that the value of high-priced products is somehow lost. The problem, then, isn't a surplus of typically extravagant rich folk, but an overpopulation of people pretending to be rich."

It may be easy for SUV and Hummer owners to ignore many of the arguments against the proliferation of such vehicles, particularly with the roar of that incredible interior sound system blasting away while they drive. After all, who wants to hear about the struggle to preserve natural resources when modern, space-age design can make a car this comfortable? The ad campaigns certainly won't mention the problem of our dependence on overseas oil during those exciting shots of the Hummer climbing the mountain terrain. Maybe the guy at the dealership mentioned something about the US being the only industrialized country that isn't promoting public transportation and other energy preservation initiatives and how America now officially has more vehicles than registered drivers, all steadily destroying air quality and contributing to global warming, but most Americans were probably too mesmerized by the number of cup holders in that roomy interior to listen.

But let's suppose these people really are completely ignorant of the environmental damage their grotesque behemoths are causing. Let's suppose they never heard of the Kyoto treaty and have no idea that a war over oil is currently being waged in Iraq. Let's assume they've never heard of the ozone layer or vehicle emissions testing or SUV rollover statistics. Even in this intellectual vacuum, how do they justify purchasing a vehicle that is twice as expensive as the average car, has gargantuan interior space they will never use, will be more difficult to park and maneuver in traffic and will be twice or even three times as expensive to fuel?! Spending money on an extravagance is one thing, wasting money is yet another. Do these people also buy the most expensive wine in the largest, most cumbersome bottle available, only to pour it down the toilet?

Perhaps this wasteful attitude is the natural evolution of an economy based on credit. The saddest irony is that these middle class road hogs, rewarding their hard labor with Hummers, can't actually afford them. The beautiful convenience of the American dream is that we can enjoy luxurious lifestyles by spending imaginary money from the future, so the power and luxury of our large, plastic homes and numerous cars is only on loan. Maybe we've become so detached from the concept of spending real dollars, based on a tangible gold standard, that the value of high-priced products is somehow lost. The problem, then, isn't a surplus of typically extravagant rich folk, but an overpopulation of people pretending to be rich.

But what really motivates these poor souls to spend what they can't afford is fear. The lure of that vacuum-sealed, climate-controlled driving experience is the same of expensive homes in gated communities: we are further away from "them."  When we drive SUVs we tower high above the commoners, secure in our oversized splendor that under-privileged people do not exist or simply do not matter. The most important thing, as always, is maintaining our status as successful people, as winners in the Great American Dream sweepstakes. We will plunge ourselves deeply into debt in an effort to avoid any association with, or knowledge of the inevitable result of wasteful spending, a nation with millions who are homeless, hungry and need of medical care. 

Now, if it sounds as if I've taken a sharp turn into Socialist rationale, let's remember that we're not talking about the responsibility of the rich to feed the poor, we're talking about middle income consumers being actively encouraged by their own government (in wartime, no less) to spend money they do not have on products they do not need. And this plea is no hard sell to a public already apathetic, ignorant and well accustomed to instant gratification for their gluttony. Maybe it's a bit too dramatically fatalistic to make this sort of analogy, but I can easily imagine SUVs and Humvees, along with widescreen tvs, cell phones and supersize fries, being very popular in the waning days of ancient Rome. These are not just symbols of an over-privileged populous, but strong indicators of the average American's indifference to the economic imbalance that continues to taint our democratic experiment. If we have money to burn, it's easier to pretend that everything is just fine.

In short, what SUV owners are suffering from is a complete lack of embarrassment. They've been encouraged to feel that they deserve to waste gasoline and raise global temperatures. This is why I wholeheartedly support the campaign to actively humiliate them however possible. Shame is a powerful weapon. At least it can be, assuming these people are making bad choices based on ignorance and feeling of inadequacy and aren't simply stupid and evil. Tell your SUV-driving friends just how pompous and arrogant they appear in these horrendous monsters. Tell them how stupid they are for filling up a gas tank every sixteen miles. Give 'em wedgies. Just don't resort to digging into the paint jobs of these vehicles with your car keys like the local vandal has been doing, that's just wrong.

Even though it feels really great.

Ashley Holt is a political cartoonist, artist and musician and damned liberal. Please visit his very cool web site!

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Tips for playing first string on God's Dream Team

Dr. Mike Murdoch's Wisdom Keys
Reprinted from The Door Magazine

• With Greed, you can succeed!
In our culture, greed has been given a bad name. Let us reconsider, my friend. A simple definition of greed is “Wanting all that one can get.” In other words, greed is simply desiring to get the most out of life. What can be wrong with reaching for the best? To reach for less than what is available to you is to live a wasted life. Greed is motivational power to reach your full potential in life. Remember, greed is the secret ingredient for success. Add it to everything you do!

• Money is your friend.
Money is also one of the most misunderstood concepts of our time. People think money will buy them happiness. Money will never buy you happiness, but it will buy you the things that make you happy. What people fail to understand is the relational aspect of money. Jesus told his disciples to make friends of unrighteous mammon. Herein lies a deep spiritual insight: Money wants to be your friend. All it wants is to be loved, which is the fundamental need that we all share. You must cherish money. Spend time with it. Treat it with honor. Fantasize about it! Listen to what your money is saying to you. Soon you will discover an intimate relationship with money that will far exceed what you had thought possible!

• Excess is the key to success.
Misguided Christians, and the ungodly secular press have criticized the lavish lifestyles of television evangelists. They point to the large mansions and expensive cars as if there is something wrong with a man of God living well. Because their eyes are blinded to the truth, they fail to grasp that the key to living well is to live beyond one’s means. It is only by gorging on the richness of worldly pleasures that we can learn to be content with the ordinary things. Many times, while flying in my personal Learjet, I have been moved to pray for those who are forced to travel in cramped coach seating on Delta Airlines. I could never have received this insight without experiencing the good life. Through excess, I can find personal success, and inspire others to reach higher!

• You must believe that you can deceive.
If you desire to be a leader, then you must master deception. You must be able to inspire your followers to such implicit trust, that they will believe any ridiculous crap that you tell them. Faith, or trust, is the heart of deception. You cannot deceive anyone if they do not trust you. You must be trustworthy even when you are lying to your followers or ripping them off. This does not mean you must actually behave in an ethical or trustworthy manner. It simply means that your followers must feel that they can trust you. This is all that really matters. You must have confidence in your own ability to appear trustworthy. If you don’t believe in yourself, than no one else will. Why not go to a mirror right now, and take some time to practice looking trustworthy?

• Dress to impress.
Your appearance will determine your experience. I like to put it even more simply: Big hair = big dreams. Let the world dress in a tired, timid manner. Not so with God’s dream team! Bold colors for bold hearts. Expensive watches for leaders who are “redeeming the time…”. Power suits for power ministry. Wear your faith on your sleeve by dressing like a Holy Ghost explosion!

• You must confuse those whom you desire to use.
I’ve found that the best way to prepare people to be used is to lead them into a state of total confusion. Never speak plainly when you can muddy the waters. Hints, implications, and insinuations are your best tools. Keep them guessing to receive the blessing. Only when their minds are totally freed from clear-cut ideas, which they can reason through for themselves, can they be ready to do what you desire. Never linger too long on any one thought, lest you destroy the pliability that you have sought to achieve. Contradiction and circular reasoning will be your greatest allies. Remember: Mushy minds are the best kind!

• Keep It Shallow.
Many televangelists find it necessary, or even helpful to use Scripture in their presentations. In my experience, it is best to keep Bible use to a bare minimum. Even then, be careful to always quote out of context, and to ignore the plain meaning of the text, in favor of whatever particular meaning you wish to assign to it. Ask yourself “How can I make this text say what I want it to say?” Whenever possible, blur the line between Scripture and your own words, so that your audience thinks that virtually everything you say is divinely inspired. Be sure to appeal to core motivations such as greed, envy and selfishness. These themes will resonate with your listeners, and make a personal connection. I like to put it this way: “Why dive in the deep end when you can splash in the shallows?”

This article presents only seven of Dr. Murdock’s 101 Wisdom Keys. For additional information, please contact Mike Murdock Ministries, or stop by our website: www.throwmethemoney.org.

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Let's be fair...Bush is not actually handing all the Iraq rebuilding projects to Halliburton. He has other friends to take of, too!

WASHINGTON - A company that was created to help clients take advantage of business opportunities in Iraq is made up of businessmen associated to President Bush , his family and his administration.

New Bridge Strategies, on its Web site, says it will "seek to expedite the creation of free and fair markets and new economic growth in Iraq, consistent with the policies of the Bush administration."

The firm is headed by Joe Allbaugh, Bush's campaign manager in 2000 and director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency until March. Other directors include Edward Rogers Jr., vice chairman, and Lanny Griffith. Both were assistants to the first President Bush and now are closely linked to the White House.

New Bridge President John Howland said in a story on The New York Times' Web site that the company did not intend to seek any U.S. government contracts itself, but might be a middleman to advise other companies that seek taxpayer-financed business. The main focus would be to advise companies that seek opportunities in the private sector in Iraq, including licenses to market products there.

The company's existence was first reported in The Hill, a newspaper that covers Congress.

Howland said the company was not trying to promote its political connections. He said that although Allbaugh, for example, had spent most of his career "in the political arena, there's a lot of cross-pollination between that world and the one that exists in Iraq today."

Bush is seeking congressional approval for $20.3 billion to rebuild Iraq, part of an $87 billion package for military and other needs in Iraq and Afghanistan.

As part of the administration's postwar work in Iraq, the government has awarded hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts to American businesses.

Administration officials have said all future contracts will be issued only as a result of competitive bidding.

New Bridge Strategies was created in May and recently began full-fledged operations, including opening an office in Iraq, the Times said. SOURCE.


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RMcG; "So what's with all this greed talk? Chimpy is outing CIA ops, and you're rambling on about greed?" asked an entirely fictional acquaintence I made up for the purposes of this intro. But think about it for a moment...what is this whole mess actually about? I mean, the ENTIRE mess...it is ultimately about the entirely un-Christian behavior of a man who invokes the name of God more often than a cheap porn star in the throws of psuedo ecstacy. It's about greed, and revenge. The age-old fantasy of world domination run headlong into the realities of a new world of instant communications and unparalleled cynicism.

Bush and the republicans cried that Bill Clinton's sexual largesse created an atmosphere of immorality in America, and that they would change all that. They had a point...oral sex is practically considered petting these days. Of course, the point could also easily be made that the threat of HIV-AIDS was a far greater influence on this behavior than Clinton's shot heard 'round the world. But then you'd be deviating from the Wal Mart Nation version of the script.

Consider Bush's own behavior in corporate America, his shady Harken stock dealings, his family ties with Halliburtion, The Carlyle Group, even the Saudis...if you buy into the way the republicans make their case about Clinton's influence on our behavior, then certainly the atmosphere of rampant corporate corruption and looting of company coffers can be attributed to the tone set by the Bush White House.

Or maybe its just the same ol' same ol'. My favorite ex-patriot and historian wrote the following piece. It's an interesting read, and you'll have plenty of time to read it while you await the indictment of Ken Lay.

Corruption is in fashion these days. From Italy to the depths of the Third World, baksheesh makes the world go 'round.

By "Iconoclast55"

If you want to make a quick buck in the real estate market in Spain, buy some land classified as non-urban (not usable for building), pay off a couple of city councilmen, and voila! Your land is suddenly prime urban land, ripe for tract housing.

Want to import your products into Nigeria, but the quota is already full? Scratch the local inspector’s back and your crates of wingnuts will suddenly be considered cashews.

Here’s the OCDE’s statistics, from what is PERCEIVED to be the level of corruption, from least to most: 1, Finland; 2, Denmark; 3, New Zealand; 4, Iceland; 5, Sweden; 6, Canada; 7, Netherlands; 8, Luxembourg; 9, Norway; 10, Australia; 11, Switzerland; 12, United Kingdom; 13, Austria; 14, United States; 15, Ireland; 16, Germany; 17, Japan; 18, Spain; 19, France; 20, Belgium; 21, Portugal; 22, Italy; 23, Hungary; 24, Greece; 24, South Korea (tie); 26, Poland; 27, Czech Republic; 28, Mexico; 28, Slovakia (tie); 30, Turkey.

"In the end, be it wining and dining, a trip to observe the Thai cotton industry or a macadamia nut plantation near Hilo, the objective is to make a politician do what you want, for a price."

The United States, at number 14, is secure in the middle of the table, despite Enron, despite Tyco, etc. For the most industrialized country, the top economy based on an almost absolute laissez faire, this is a most remarkably positive piece of news…

… until one scratches the surface.

US COMPANIES are, by and large, much less corrupt than their counterparts abroad. Anyone who has worked for a US firm doing business abroad has doubtlessly been warned not to delve into the local sport of palm-greasing, or be subject to dismissal and possible criminal charged. For the most part, this works – even though companies tend to use the loophole of reaching a representation agreement with a local firm that has no qualms about paying off whoever is necessary to get the job done. After all, when in Rome…

The REAL corruption, however, is so close to home that we don’t usually see the forest for the trees. I’m talking about the INSTITUTIONAL corruption that has arisen from the entrance of business into government.

From any perspective, paying a politician to do something for you has a name – bribery. In the US, however, if you’re a company, you can pay a politician for favors and its called a campaign contribution.

What favors can be had? The sky’s the limit, especially if you add another type of bribery, the lobby. These firms are useful go-betweens, somewhat masking who is doing the bribing. But in the end, be it wining and dining, a trip to observe the Thai cotton industry or a macadamia nut plantation near Hilo, the objective is to make a politician do what you want, for a price.

If campaign contributions and lobbies aren’t enough, jobs are another nice way to grease palms. The airforce general prefers the better and cheaper model fighter? Make sure that he knows that he can get a consulting job when he retires, or even a board position.

But why deal with middlemen when you can put your own man in a position of power? Bribe the right amount, in the right way, and you can have a cabinet member from your own company pushing the "proper" policies. Here’s an example: www.OpenSecrets.org

But wait a minute. This can’t happen here – there MUST be some way to rationalize institutionalized corruption. Ah, here it is, from literature, no less:

Milo Minderbinder of M & M has gotten himself into a mess by buying too much Egyptian cotton. If he can’t sell it, his business is LOST!

" 'But the business of government is business." [Milo] remembered alertly, and continued with elation....'And the government does have the responsibility of buying all the Egyptian cotton I've got that no one else wants so that I can make a profit, doesn't it?...But how will I get the government to do it?'

'Bribe it,' Yossarian said.

'Bribery is against the law and you know it. But it's not against the law to make a profit, is it? So it can't be against the law for me to bribe someone in order to make a profit, can it? No, of course not!'

From "Catch 22" by Joseph Heller.

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