“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

ITT - Once a criminal, always a criminal

Any reader of the classic nineteenth century novels has just gotta be interested in corporate crime. LI is. But man, we are behind the ball on this one – we just discovered Footnoted org, your one stop shop for reading disclosure statements from our friendly corporate giants. It is full of the letter that killeth – in this case, the explanations of expenditures, profits, strategies hidden in quarterly reports that gives the knowing reader an x ray vision - or perhaps I should say Piranesian vision - of various fouls, small illegalities, and the legalized fraud that goes into making our economy tick like a clock.

In corpo world, nothing is as good as dropping straight into the bowels of the state and operating like a big old tape worm, sucking up tax money. For, while nobody wants to pay for the State, everybody wants the State to pay them – this, by the way, is called conservative economics.

Anyway, race on over there and read the tres funny post about ITT, a merchant of death that at one time got all kind of publicity when it coordinated with the Nixon gang to take down this podunk country – Chile – which had got this wild idea in its head that it was sovereign. Fuck that! as we cheerfully say in Gringo city. Anyway, since those wild and woolly days, ITT has calmed down. Nowadays, it only quietly violates U.S. law when it feels like it, and is punished by being awarded more tax money, since you just can't get made at their loveable pranks. As I said, this is Gringo City, where we practice a special brand of Christianity in which the sins of the rich are pre-forgiven. Hey, its been checked out by the theologians of the Southern Baptist church themselves!

“ITT, a major defense contractor, pled guilty back in March to violating U.S. arms trafficking regulations. On “numerous occasions” dating back to the 1980s, it was said to have sent data, services and equipment related to “classified military night vision systems” to parties in foreign countries (including China), and lied to the State Department about it. The firm paid some fines and agreed to an additional $50M penalty which, under this agreement, it can work off by putting the money into new night vision technology for the Army over the next 5 years. (Kind of like some deadbeats allowed to pay their restaurant check by washing dishes, except for the national security part.)

Meanwhile, in September the firm got a new $37M contract to supply night vision equipment to the Navy and Coast Guard and another big order from the Army. No senior heads at the company have rolled. Indeed, it’s been busy acquiring another defense technology firm, and the stock has been pretty much chugging along.
Ironically, on Friday the Justice Department announced an initiative “to combat the growing national security threat posed by illegal exports of restricted U.S. military and dual-use technology.”


northanger said...

The business of America is business, didn't anybody tell you? —p106. The Sigma Protocol, Robert Ludlum

roger said...

North, my saying of the day is from Swift, in the Drapier's letters. Swift was confronted, in Ireland, with a situation like ours today: a spiritless mass of people watching like wooden dolls as their future is pissed away and their liberties are trampled on, and taking the escapist route of thinking that they could solve their problems by closing their eyes. Of course, Americans are far more disgusting in their apathy, impudence and ignorance, as they have more opportunity and tools to overthrow the creatures that are overthrowing them. But who gives a fuck as long as tv is on? Anyway, this was what Swift said:

"It is no loss of honour to submit
to the lion, but who, with the figure of a man, can think with patience of being devoured alive by a rat."

Of course, that is happening every minute of the day in this country. I can feel the little rat teeth, all the innumerable Bushie vermin. , chewing away.

northanger said...

actually, Swift is a damn good intro for my "Wycliffite Heresy" post. found this googling your saying of the day , Acts of Implication: Suggestion and Covert Meaning in the Works of Dryden, Swift, Pope, and Austen by Irvin Ehrenpreis. who quotes:

The Examiner #34 :: The doctrine of passive obedience is to believe that a king, even in a limited monarchy, holding his power only from God, is only answerable to Him. That such a king is above all law, that the cruellest tyrant must be submitted to in all things; and if his commands be ever so unlawful, you must neither fly nor resist, nor use any other weapons than prayers and tears. Though he should force your wife or daughter, murder your children before your face, or cut off five hundred heads in a morning for his diversion, you are still to wish him a long prosperous reign, and to be patient under all his cruelties, with the same resignation as under a plague or a famine; because to resist him would be to resist God in the person of His vicegerent.

#34 (the whole thing) seems to describe things today precisely. i can take each paragraph & give you a recently published booklist. so what's new? the mistake about "American apathy", imho, is lumping everyone in the same pot. not all of us in this country are on the same defcon rat biting level.

northanger said...

Ehrenpreis is surveying "Augustan literature":

Slavery and Augustan Literature: Swift, Pope, Gay, John A. Richardson :: "Slavery and Augustan Literature" investigates slavery in the work of Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope and John Gay. These three writers were connected with a Tory ministry, which attempted to increase substantially the English share of the international slave trade. They all wrote in support of the treaty that was meant to effect that increase. The book begins with contemporary ideas about slavery, with the Tory ministry years and with texts written during those years. These texts tend to obscure the importance of the slave trade to Tory planning. In its second half, the book analyses the attitudes towards slavery in Pope's Horatian poems, "An Essay on Man," "Polly," "A Modest Proposal" and "Gulliver's Travels." John Richardson shows how, despite differences, Swift, Pope and Gay adopt a mixed position of admiration for freedom alongside implicit support for slavery.

northanger said...


roger said...

North, you got some fascinating links going on there.

I'd always believed the opposite about Swift - that he took the Tory stand in favor of the landed party, and was opposed to the merchant party - the Whigs - and by extension the slave traders. That's the interpretation you get in "God, Gulliver, and Genocide: Barbarism and the European Imagination, 1492-1945" by Claude Rawson.

On the other hand, both interpretations could be right. One of the great denouncers of the English policy in Ireland during the Great Famine in 1848, John Mitchel, escaped from an English penal colony, went to the U.S., and became, absurdly enough, an ardent racist and propagandist for the Confederacy.

But Swift is the most mercurial of English writers: you can never penetrate one irony without coming upon another. I think that, finally, he did see that the reduction of the Irish and the reduction of the Africans came from the same complex of motives, and had to be resisted. At the end of Gulliver's Travels there's this great passage, one of those passages in which Swift, in the end, yanks the reader back to the writer - for after all, this is Gulliver speaking, and we know by now that he is not merely a puppet for the author's own views. Instead, he is visited occasionally with glimpses of those views, as common sense sometimes staggers itself with prophetic moments:

"To say the truth, I
had conceived a few scruples with relation to the distributive
justice of princes upon those occasions. For instance, a crew of
pirates are driven by a storm they know not whither; at length a
boy discovers land from the topmast; they go on shore to rob and
plunder, they see a harmless people, are entertained with
kindness; they give the country a new name; they take formal
possession of it for their king; they set up a rotten plank, or a
stone, for a memorial; they murder two or three dozen of the
natives, bring away a couple more, by force, for a sample; return
home, and get their pardon. Here commences a new dominion
acquired with a title by divine right. Ships are sent with the
first opportunity; the natives driven out or destroyed; their
princes tortured to discover their gold; a free license given to
all acts of inhumanity and lust, the earth reeking with the blood
of its inhabitants: and this execrable crew of butchers,
employed in so pious an expedition, is a modern colony, sent to
convert and civilize an idolatrous and barbarous people!

But this description, I confess, does by no means affect the
British nation, who may be an example to the whole world for
their wisdom, care, and justice in planting colonies; their
liberal endowments for the advancement of religion and learning;
their choice of devout and able pastors to propagate
Christianity; their caution in stocking their provinces with
people of sober lives and conversations from this the mother
kingdom; their strict regard to the distribution of justice, in
supplying the civil administration through all their colonies
with officers of the greatest abilities, utter strangers to
corruption; and, to crown all, by sending the most vigilant and
virtuous governors, who have no other views than the happiness of
the people over whom they preside, and the honour of the king
their master.

But as those countries which I have described do not appear to
have any desire of being conquered and enslaved, murdered or
driven out by colonies, nor abound either in gold, silver, sugar,
or tobacco, I did humbly conceive, they were by no means proper
objects of our zeal, our valour, or our interest. However, if
those whom it more concerns think fit to be of another opinion, I
am ready to depose, when I shall be lawfully called, that no
European did ever visit those countries before me."

northanger said...

as a white guy reminded me several years ago when i was younger, we're a majority you're not & we can do whatever we want with you. citizenship of the majority is different from citizenship of the minority. the majority has defined itself monarchy vs. independence, slave vs free, democratic vs republican, red vs blue. that continental divide is the division of a white majority—in business, government, law, academia, the sciences, foreign policy, the media, the blogosphere &c. the secondary (& less important) divide is between this majority & the minority.

northanger said...

US Demographics
(i think Christians are over 70%)
White 74.67%
Hispanic or Latino (of any race) 14.50%
African American 12.12%
Asian 4.32%
Native American and Alaskan Native 0.82%
Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander 0.14%
Other/multiracial 7.92%

roger said...

North, interesting numbers. Yet still, the white male vote - the real piles of agony at the end of the digestive tract of the body politic - has been stagnant and equals the african american vote. Myself, I think the era of white dominance, the rodent era, is coming to a crisis. Or maybe this is just my unrealistic hope.

But the overwhelming dominance of of white males throughout the higher echelon in certain industries - the petrochemical industry, the car industry, the war industries - has produced a solid constraint on rationality in the U.S. The Dems are just as dominated as the Republicans, and as much on the dole. It is easy to find the Bush rats - just look on the Fortune 500 richest people list - and their power easily overwhelms dissent, or common sense, or justice, or reversing course on the disaster that America seems to be happily approaching at warp speed.

Which is why American politics is so damn frustrating. The audience that is played to is invariably white, Fox fed males, they are often the most egregious parasites on the public dollar, working on absolutely useless projects for the Pentagon, and, after growing fat on tax dollars, burping their scorn for spending their tax money on, say, child health care. Historically, this class has always milled around the imperial center. At a certain point, the imperial eunuchs take over the reigns of the court - or the praetorian guard, or the Janissaries. The blackwaters, the dittoheads, the rage filled zombies, the rats.

northanger said...

(stone-cold solid/an elusive and fugitive subject) + mission accomplished = perfect sweet confection³

P.M.Lawrence said...

Roger appears to be conflating English and British, as so many Americans do and which is so irritating to those British like myself descended from the original inhabitants of the British Isles. He writes "...in 1848, John Mitchel, escaped from an English penal colony...", when the only specifically English penal colony had been Barbados in the 17th century (well, maybe at a pinch Jamaica later in that century), and he calls Swift English immediately before quoting a passage in which Swift by implication self-identifies as British.

This is really where I'm coming from in arguing about words. Words are tools and should no more be used in a make it up as you go along way than you should rest a carpenter's plane upright rather than on its side; the edge dulls, the tool fails. (Plus, that particular solecism is gratuitously offensive to someone of my Scottish and Irish ancestry.)

northanger said...

the nasty English habit