Tag Archives: corruption

Book: “Detroit: An American Autopsy” by Charlie LeDuff

detroitburn In “Detroit: An American Autopsy”(Penguin Press, 2013), Charlie LeDuff tells us that over the entrance to the Detroit News building is inscribed:

Troubler of the Public Conscience

After reading this book, one feels that journalist LeDuff was about the last “troubler” left in that city. A Detroiter from childhood, LeDuff had been an award-winning reporter for the New York Times when he decided to return to his humble (to put it mildly) neighborhood on Joy Road in Detroit. The book is a conglomeration of past history and present despair of the Motor City. In the book, LeDuff tells of his investigative reporting of the corruption, incompetence, decay and crime, including the devastation of his own family and friends. He befriends witnesses, firemen, victims and families, to get his stories, embarrass public officials, and obtain some measure of justice (or at least closure). LeDuff often uses decaying landmarks as jumping off points to recount important episodes in the history of the city, many of which involve race relations and/or his own family. This is a gritty book, shocking initially, numbing. Daily murders, continual fires, arson as cheap entertainment, abandoned homes, failure of public services, politicians plundering revenues and serving up the last assets of the city to their jackals…there is little hope in this portrayal, other than the gradual return to nature of abandoned parts of the city. Whose fault was it? LeDuff doesn’t concern himself with that question, to any great degree; he seems to divide the blame between the automobile manufacturers and the unions.  OTL,S! can assure the reader that this is true. Both parties negotiated outlandish contracts under siege conditions, and both were parties to the production of terribly designed and badly assembled automobiles.  The factories were virtual war zones, populated by angry and sometimes intoxicated workers under awful working conditions, and managers who had no investment in quality. General Motors made it easy for buyers to go into debt by inventing the installment plan. Even in the 50’s, reasonable people knew it couldn’t last forever. Even before gasoline prices spiked, the handwriting was on the wall, and it was in Japanese.

LeDuff’s career has been somewhat checkered, but bravo to him for his courage; his book is a must-read for anyone who has been touched by the city, the state, the industry or the culture of the automobile, which is just about all of us.
Update 6/24/2013: OTL,S! notes a piece in Rolling Stone regarding the financial mess in Detroit and other Michigan cities. It seems that the predatory lending extended to the public sector as well as to homeowners. Several municipalities (mostly African American majority) are hard hit, with no solution in sight.

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Bill Moyers addresses the paralysis of regulation of Wall Street.

Wall Street greed nearly wrecked our entire future, and still nothing much has been done about it, basically due to corruption of the electoral system. The two main guests of the program are former Senator Byron Dorgan, and former Citigroup Chairman John Reed. They don’t mince words. The fact that naked credit default swaps are still legal, that the too-big-to-fail banks are even bigger than before, and that one of our two political parties is about to nominate a vulture capitalist who argues that the regulations on Wall Street are too strict, is a sign of just how deeply rotten to the core the political system in this country has become.

But instead of this issue, we spend our time debating whether global warming is actually real, how much Social Security should be cut to please Standard and Poors, and how much birth control women should allowed to take.

Completely, totally dysfunctional.

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Clarence Thomas for president!!

The Man with the Can

Adam Winkler is perhaps the first person to come up with this solution to the dismal field of GOP candidates for the presidential nomination. For the life of me, I don’t see why this was so long in coming. In contradistinction to his days as a sexual harasser, Thomas is famous for never saying anything while on the Supreme Court, so he can’t be accused of flipflopping on every single issue, like Mitt Romney. And, unlike Rick Santorum, his name is not synonymous with a gross concoction of bodily fluids (although, of course, he will always be associated with the image of the Coke can with pubic hair). Plus, being African American, he would undoubtedly appeal to the liberal section of the pubic, oops I mean public.

Importantly, Thomas seems willing. According to Winkler,

The idea of Thomas running for president was floated two years ago by two legal bloggers, David Lat and Kashmir Hill. They noted that when Thomas was first nominated to the bench, he expressed hesitation about the solitary, sedate environment that comes with the black robe. “I can’t see myself spending the rest of my life as a judge,” Thomas said.

I think a lot of Americans would agree with that sentiment.

Most importantly, Thomas comes cheap:

ThinkProgress uncovered three briefs that AEI filed in Thomas’ Court after Thomas received their $15,000 gift. Thomas recused from none of these three cases, and he either voted in favor of the result AEI favored or took a stance that was even further to the right in each case:

Riley v. Kennedy: AEI filed a brief asking the Supreme Court to reverse a lower court decision preventing a change in Alabama’s voting law from going into effect. Justice Thomas did not recuse, and he joined the Supreme Court’s decision reversing the lower court.

Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1: AEI filed a brief asking the Supreme Court to reverse a lower court decision upholding a local school district’s desegregation plan. Thomas joined the majority opinion reversing the lower court’s decision, and he filed a lengthy concurrence defending that result.

Whitman v. American Trucking Association: AEI joined a brief asking the Supreme Court to allow the EPA to consider the costs of implementing new air quality standards before it issued them. Thomas’ concurring opinion went much further than AEI asked him to go, suggesting that the law authorizing EPA to issue these standards is unconstitutional.

Turns out that was the tip of the cashberg:

Thomas appears to have “knowingly and willfully” filed falsified Financial Disclosure Forms which withheld disclosure of nearly $700,000 his wife received from the rightwing Heritage Foundation for the better part of the last 20 years. Only once it was pointed out publicly this year did Thomas bother to file “self-initiated amendments” to the forms he had signed just above the legal warning in bold and all caps which reads: “NOTE: ANY INDIVIDUAL WHO KNOWINGLY AND WILLFULLY FALSIFIES OR FAILS TO FILE THIS REPORT MAY BE SUBJECT TO CIVIL AND CRIMINAL SANCTIONS (5 U.S.C. app. § 104)”

In short, Clarence Thomas is the perfect GOP candidate for President of the United States.

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FBI plots another fake terrorist attack, arrests some incompetent fool

without FBI entrapment: retarded man arrested for dumping manure

 

Here’s the best description yet of the FBI obsession with creating and then imprisoning looney people who would never had the slightest chance of bombing anything without the FBI.

I guess being the FBI means you never have to say you’re sorry for entrapment.

It’s good that they do this because the private prison industry is getting tired of paying legislators bribes to pass more laws to put more people in prison for victimless crimes. Meanwhile, ignoring all so called white collar crime, which only steals billions from citizens every year. Thank you, again, the fake Justice Department created by President George W. Bush.

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