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Updated: 12/18/02

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Wednesday, 18 December, 2002

We had our office Holiday Party last night. We went to the Museum of Natural History Dinosaur Hall again and had a great time.

We resurrected our totally non-PC "New Guy" Hazing Ritual as well. Several years ago at our Christmas Party [yes, it actually was called that once], three of our "New Guys" were invited by our then boss to . . . I'm not kidding . . . light their chest hair on fire. Even the one that complained that he only HAD three, got to ignite his. It was all quite festive.

Two years later, our two newest brokers were the unfortunate participants in a karaoke rendition of "I Got You, Babe." Actually, I think the unfortunate ones were those of us who had to listen.

Well this year we had five new Risk Analysts that had not yet been tortured. The "Flaming Chest Hair" trio and the "Babe" duet team got together and plotted their sadistic trial. In front of about a hundred people, our poor fivesome performed The Hokey Pokey. Not well, mind you, but performed.

[I don't think that this is in keeping with what we've learned in our "Respect in the Workplace" classes though.]

I just LOVED reading the latest in the "Baghdad Sean" saga. He's been over in Iraq finding "facts" for three days and making loud statements about how horrible the United States is. Well, apparently he's finding out the hard way that Saddam Hussein's government LIES:

Sean Penn, just back from his three-day "fact finding" trip to Iraq, turned on his new pals in Saddam Hussein's government - claiming they've transformed him into a weapon of mass propaganda.

Penn and various Iraqi bigwigs seemed to be fast friends on Sunday when the star issued a statement saying, "If there is a war or continued sanctions against Iraq, the blood of Americans and Iraqis alike will be on our hands."

But then Baghdad's online news service came up with a considerably more juicy story about the Hollywood actor.

"The American movie star Sean Penn has condemned the U.S.-British threats to wage war against Iraq," it said.

Not only that, but "he [Penn] confirmed that Iraq is completely clear of weapons of mass destruction and the United Nations must adopt a positive stance towards Iraq."

The story also said that Penn "condemned the U.S.'s misleading claims, arguing that it is the U.S., not Iraq, who is practicing such illegal behavior."

Penn's flack howled in protest, claiming her boss was the victim of terrorist misquotes.

"Oh, please! I don't know where those statements are being fabricated from," said spokeswoman Mara Buxbaum. "This is specifically propaganda. It's a twisted interpretation of what he said. They are twisting his words."

[I'm sure it was a vast right-wing conspiracy.]

Heather MacDonald [Via Frontpage Magazine] has an article about the latest in the slavery reparations battle. Currently in New York, any business that provides the city with a significant quantity of goods or services must disclose its recent financial history and any crimes its officers may have committed previously. There is a move afoot now to amend the city’s contracting law to require any company doing business with the city to document, as part of its showing of “business integrity,” whether it had any engagement with or ever profited from slavery.

[No] one in business today has any possible responsibility for business decisions made at least 150 years ago, including any that directly or indirectly presupposed the existence of slavery. No one in business today ever had the opportunity to stop commerce with slaveholders, because—City Council members please take note!—slavery no longer exists (except in places like the Sudan, but New York reparations racketeers don’t care about Sudanese contractors). Even if a business’s corporate ancestors built the ships that carried slaves, none of its present leaders could have demonstrated “business integrity” by protesting that then-legal practice, because they wouldn’t have been born.

These are obvious truths, but the obvious has totally disappeared for the reparations racketeers. How should the city’s contracting office use the information about a firm’s ancient slavery profits or “engagement” with slavery? The council isn’t saying. The slavery bill’s sponsors generously concede that “past links to slavery” should not in themselves “serve as a litmus test to determine [business] responsibility.” But, they add coyly, such information should be “considered in the context of a company’s full record when making that determination.” The racketeers are too pusillanimous to state the absurd implication of their bill: that a company’s lawful engagement with slavery over 200 years ago shows bad business integrity of the owners today.

Here’s what the bill really is—a Christmas present to Johnnie Cochran, Harvard Law School professor Charles Ogletree, and the billionaire tort lawyers who are now playing the reparations racket for all it is worth. Cochran, Ogletree, and Holocaust reparations lawyer Michael Hausfeld plan to file billions of dollars worth of lawsuits against corporations and governments for their alleged involvement in slavery. The City Council, in an effusion of holiday spirit, wants to make businesses provide Cochran and Ogletree with the historical research that the lawyers will then use to sue them. An ingenious structure, and quite a timely one. Last March, tort lawyers filed a reparations suit in Brooklyn against FleetBoston, Aetna, and CSX, aimed at what the attorneys claim is $1.4 trillion in present profits from slave labor. The suit also named 100 “corporate (John) Does”—actual businesses to be filled in at a later date. And who might those corporations be? The disclosure provision in the City Council’s reparations bill will smoke them out. At the time the Brooklyn suit was filed, Councilman Charles Barron, one of the bill’s 13 co-sponsors, warned: “Somebody has to pay.” Barron and his colleagues are now trying to make good on that threat.

[Wait, I'm starting to feel the symptoms of RWD again.]

~ ~ ~

Quote du jour:

"The search for someone to blame is always successful."

-- Robert Half
US personnel-agency executive

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