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You're scrolling aren't you? Not even going to try- Oh. Hey. Good morning! Day 7 of my Avoiding Reality Tour. Watched HBO polygamy satire last night, had to chew on it for a while before I decided that the whole point of the show isn't to normalize polygamy, or garner sympathy for plygs, but to make the Bill Paxton family seem normal, and just as soon as you get caught up in the soap opera element, BAM. Little visit down to Colorado City/Hilldale. Oh, excuse me. "Juniper Creek." (link to last week's discussion about this topic, and where I stand.)

Harry Dean Stanton is playing a caricature of Warren Jeffs' father, Rulon Jeffs. Don't know who he is? He's the guy running the show. Oh, and his son Warren (who is now in charge as Rulon is dead) is on the FBI's most wanted list and currently hiding out in Eldorado, TX with about 50 wives, their kids, and guys with guns. They can't be touched yet because they are just "practicing their religion." That, by the way, is how these people have gotten away with marrying their preteen and 13 year old daughters to old men for property gain, "spiritual gain," etc for over a century. Religion. By the way, Jeffs has his own wikipedia page. (*cough* if you read that link, did you catch how the women are "invited" into heaven by their righteous husbands?)

I was glad to hear Paxton (who I can just NOT get behind seeing naked all the time. Argh! It's Bill "game over, man!" Paxton!) tell his dad he hated him for running him off at 14. Yep. All boys - with the exception of possibly the Prophet's boys - are run out of town. Don't need the competition. Or they're killed if they get too vocal about things. There's a quiet little problem in Utah with gay male prostitution. Guess where these boys come from? And the sad thing is, so many of them have been so deeply indoctrinated in all the religious hullabaloo, they'd go back in a heartbeat.

Another little detail that was meaningless to most people, I suspect, but was my first clue as to what the writers were REALLY going for, was the "prophet's" son doing the books. The header? United Eternal Brotherhood - UEB, a bastardization of UEP, which is the financial system for the plygs. And which owns EVERYTHING. Every house, every business, every blade of grass that any polygamist member lives on. And if you don't tow the line? Meaning, question how things are done, fight an arrangement be it marriage or business, well, the bank just revokes your "ownership." And you are out. As in, step over the town line and it'll be the last thing you do. They are violent people, and I was glad to see them hint at this on the show.

In other words, I'm still watching. Still trying to make sure they aren't glamorizing or normalizing this lifestyle, because it is NOT the same thing as a group of adults living in California or Canada or New York who are going to make group living a go. This is a Higher Calling from God, and even Bill Paxton's character on the show is In Charge. Anyone else noticing that? Okay.



Watched a FANTASTIC documentary on the Enron scandal - calling that a scandal is like calling Katrina "some pretty bad wind." ENRON: The Smartest Guys In The Room was the film, and should be required viewing for the bare minimum of every citizen of Texas and California. Oh holy hell I want to throttle these guys. Have you been avoiding learning about this because of the crazy numbers and finance is boring? THAT IS WHY THEY GOT AWAY WITH SO MUCH.

I'll sum it up like this: Ken Lay, who incidentally is a Close Personal Friend of the Bushes - documented, started up an energy company in the 80s. In Houston. Oil brokerage. So, they own the pipelines, the barrels, and they sell it, right? Right. Ken Lay, with the help of his close political buddies, gets deregulation on energy snowballing. In a nutshell, the government isn't watching prices any more.

How this affects YOU. Remember the crazy gas spikes after Katrina? How about after Sept. 11? If gas was regulated, the prices per barrel would have been frozen. Gas would have been the same price. Can anyone tell me what business (albeit an unsuccessful businessman) George W was in prior to robbing the presidency? Yeah. OIL. So Ken Lay has a real taste for money and prestige. Enron is a mover and a shaker on Wall Street. He hires a guy named Jeff Skilling who is going to bring a new type of accounting to Enron. AHEM. Oh, holy shit I hate this man. Skilling brings to the company something called Mark to Market. Lemme 'splain in simple terms.

I have a diamond in my hand. I bought it for 1000 dollars. Now, I know that Jimmy and his diamond are stuck in traffic. And Peter and his diamond are stranded without a running car. But Mary is here and desperate, so she'll by my diamond for TWO thousand. Now, we haven't made the deal yet, I just know this. I also know that I sabotaged Peter's car, and gave Jimmy bad directions to strand him, but WHATEVER, PEOPLE. This is CAPITALISM. So. I know Mary is going to buy for 2000. What I really want, is for my dad the banker to give me 30,000. But I need 2000 in collateral to get it. So I call him and say I will have 2000 in the future, go ahead and give me the 30,000. And he does. And all of his banker friends do, as well.

So Enron claimed to have sold all of these diamonds, you see. But were just getting checks hand over fist from banks. And some of the executives were funneling that money into... gambling. And trips. And homes. And who knows what else. So Skilling and Fatow (the CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER, for god's sake) made up all of these bogus companies and bogus business deals to make it look to the world like Enron is kicking ass! Look at all of these business deals coming down the pike! We, as in Citibank and Deutsche Bank and Merril Lynch - who have people on the indictment, I thank you - should give HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS to them to keep making MORE money! And they did. And Enron execs used THAT money to patch up the holes in their books and faked numbers and shuffled debt around.

So, while it looked like Enron was a 90 BILLION dollar company, they were 30 BILLION dollars IN DEBT. Read that again. And the thing is? Those bankers KNEW this. They KNEW. Which is why a few of them are going to jail. And Arthur Anderson? One of the most respected American businesses for accounting? Gone in a month. Because a few of its execs were in cahoots. All of THOSE people without jobs.

Which leads us to California. And why every citizen of that state should want to punch Ken Lay and co. in the balls. ENRON is why you had rolling blackouts, as I'm sure you all know. They had better lawyers than you. They had guys that did nothing but pour over your lousy deregulation laws (guess who helped push those through? Yep - Dubya.) and find loopholes so they could buy up your energy plants. And here's the thing: California produces enough electricity to power itself and two other states, besides. There was NO REASON for Cal. to be without power. Except that when the energy traders (the deregulation of electricity meant that killowatts - what powers your lightbulb, or the unit of measure for your lightbulb) could be bought and sold like pork bellies. Like orange juice. But it SHOULDN'T and I tell you why: peoples lives do not depend on orange juice. But someone on a respirator damn sure depends on energy. Thanks, Reagan and Bushes!

So the energy traders would see that prices were normalizing (this is all a part of day trading, a part of my former career I am GLAD to see gone - holy fucking STRESS) and would call the energy plants and tell them to SHUT DOWN. Now, the price of a killowatt goes from 15 dollars to ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS. Because people need their damn fridges to work, obviously. Their computers. Their MEDICAL EQUIPMENT. And the best thing is, all of these traders phone conversations were recorded. Laughing about Grandma Millie having to use candles. Praising the grass fires engulfing land and forcing people to need their A/Cs. Mother fuckers. Unconscionable mother fuckers.

And who is the brain child in all of this? Lay. Fastow. Skilling. The CEOs. The CFOs. The COOs. The Vice-Presidents making their balance sheets. The executives who quietly cashed HUNDREDS of MILLIONS of dollars in stock and "retired" like Lou Pei, now the largest landowner in Colorado. And while they are cashing their stock in, because they KNOW they have a house of cards and the table is riddled with holes, they are placating the poor admins, the day to day workers who just have a job, and telling them to keep buying stock. Keep investing - put in the MAX! - in your 401K. We are Strong. We are Mighty.

And it all collapsed. And folks who had busted their asses at a thankless desk job, shit, even the goddamned JANITORS, thinking they were going to have a great retirement because they were lucky to scrub the toilet of Kenneth Lay! They got nothing. They got a check for 4500 dollars and a police escort. Don't come back. You have thirty minutes to grab your stuff. Pensions that should have been worth $250,000 were only 12 dollars. 12 dollars.

And why? How is that possible? Can't they sue Lay and Skilling and Barker - oh, whoops! He committed suicide. Blew his brains out in his Mercedes. No, that doesn't stink of duplicity or involvement. These guys - most likely popping antacids every five minutes - believed their OWN shit. Believed they had 90 BILLION dollars. The Feds froze their assets, and that money is being used to give those 4500 checks to the employees. Because THAT IS ALL THAT IS LEFT. They blew it. They didn't have much to begin with and what they had, they blew it on material goods. Expensive trips. Cars. Dinners. A billion dollars sunk into India for a power plant when the Indians couldn't afford to BUY the power, so... It was built and abandoned. Same thing in South America. And a lot was all tied up in stock with the execs, and what they couldn't cash out, is worthless. $115 at its height, pennies at its fall.

Andy Fastow, the CFO, has already been convicted and will serve 10 years in a Fed. Prison for testifying against the others. The whistle blower? A mid-level VP (those of you in big companies know there's such a thing) WOMAN who came across some numbers that didn't add up. Good for her. Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling are on trial right now in the good state of Texas. They made the mistake of shitting where they eat, and we won't let them forget it. EVERYONE here has either a relative, friend or worked themselves for Enron at some point. The company was ginormous. Huge campuses in Houston, with satellite offices all over the state. Texans don't truck with getting fucked over. Even the Neo-Cons here are out for blood, (cough - except DeLay because he's an idiot-cough) because to stand against the tidal wave of rage is suicide.

My only hope is that the Bush family is implicated further in this scandal. They profited so much from the early oil days and shady dealings of Enron. Still do! And W REFUSED to get involved in California's rolling blackouts and raping of their energy (Bush is president at this time, in case you don't remember) because "it's not a government issue." Beg to differ, asshole, but the DEREGULATION was done BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.

Can only stress again: either read the book (written by a female reporter from one of the business magazines that started to question Skilling's business practices and got blackballed as a result), or watch the doc. It's Farenheit 9/11 level informative. Absolutely fascinating. Don't let the number terminology scare you off. That's why people like these jackasses are able to get away with it: middle America doesn't take the time to figure out what's going on. We've become lazy and complacent and they'll do it again. The crazy thing is, the numbers-issues AREN'T complicated, which is why it's astounding to me that they got away with it for so long.

How long would YOUR bank or landlord let you get away without paying the bills?

But seriously, I'm not angry today, so don't reply with "breathe" or anything like that. I will look at you askance. Heh. Now I wait for the fog to lift so I can go exercise...

[ETA]: Oooh! poshcat sent me an ecard that made me laugh! YES! I WILL HAVE A HAPPY SUNNY DAY. (I seriously love the animation, Posh. Keeeyoot.)


( 88 comments — Leave a comment )
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Mar. 20th, 2006 06:55 am (UTC)
When the hell will it all come out? I mean, c'mon, we've known about the Bushies for years. WHEN THE HELL WILL IT HIT MAINSTREAM MEDIA!

And no, don't breathe. Stop breathing...oh wait, that came out wrong :)
Mar. 20th, 2006 07:06 am (UTC)
Dude - I stand by my theory that middle America is filled with lazy brains who think Math Is Hard, OMG, and they can't understand what's going on, and they're too busy planning their kids' soccer tournies, and tonight's casserole, and think Our Government Is There For Us And Our Best Interest.

Yes, Utah, I'm looking at you. Kansas? Nebraska? South Carolina? Y'all, too.

*holds breath* heh. See how I did that there? :D
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Mar. 20th, 2006 07:05 am (UTC)
I wish that this was different. I wish that people would understand how bad this is and change it -- but our culture is too entrenched and fragmented and it pisses me off.

For both things -- one, that religion that enforces slavery to minors is a bad religion and should not be endorsed, and two, that basically people like Lay have fucked up our economic country beyond repair and I just ... *seethes*
Mar. 20th, 2006 07:09 am (UTC)
RIGHT. So.. I'm beginning to see that the HBO show is NOT trying to glamorize or normalize that lifestyle. I was waiting for the satire to kick in, my only hope is that it's not too sophisticated to Average Joe Viewer to see that it's a satire. That sounds snotty, doesn't it?

I'm interested to hear from other Californians on my flist about this whole thing. How much media attention is it getting? Because this used the be the land of "We Love Bush!" because Texans love adopting people, but as more and more people are screwed by that family and their cronies, his approval rating has PLUMMETED here, and we are more than willing to ship him back to Connecticut where he came from. Laura's the only native, and that's WEST Texas. She ain't even in football or cattle. :)
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Mar. 20th, 2006 07:09 am (UTC)
I saw SMartest Guys in the Room last May, and it's excellent.
Mar. 20th, 2006 07:11 am (UTC)
Dude, so good. I know most of what's going on - shit, I remember getting yelled at on the phone by the energy traders when the system would hiccup and YOUARECOSTINGMYKIDSTHEIRCOLLEGEEDUCATION, GETTHATFUCKINGTHINGBACKONLINE!, but the early accounting set up by Lay and Skilling and Fastow was what I wanted more info on.

And it helps that Mr. S is a financial analyst, so he could fill in any holes I may have found in the doc.
Mar. 20th, 2006 07:20 am (UTC)
Well, it's good that the show is turning out to be somewhat complex. I'll be interested to hear your take on it as it continues.

Exercise, yay! I go later this afternoon for the first time in two weeks! CRAZY!
Mar. 20th, 2006 07:22 am (UTC)
YAY for moving bodies! Feels SOOOO good to have that natural endorphin release. GLAD YOU ARE HOME, JESS!! *squish*
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awwwwwwwWWWWWW SPAM! - stoney321 - Mar. 20th, 2006 07:47 am (UTC) - Expand
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Mar. 20th, 2006 07:56 am (UTC)
::does not scroll OMG::

Your posts are always so freaking interesting! And your righteous anger is always lots of fun, too. I think YOU should rule the world, myself. Bet you'd change how a couple of things are done, huh?
Mar. 20th, 2006 08:02 am (UTC)
HELLO POSH! I am Samuel L. Jackson with my fuuuuuuurious anger, and I will smite thee with great vengeance. Except I have no Jerhi-curl.

And I would change many things, starting with taking money out of this STOOPID war and funding fat-loss programs for cheesecake implementation. Or... something.

(thanks for my card!!)
Mar. 20th, 2006 07:57 am (UTC)
Stoney! Your post about Big Love reminded me that you recommended a book about a year ago and I can not remember what it was and now that I have a library card I might actually be able to find and read it. Can you remember what it was?

Mar. 20th, 2006 08:00 am (UTC)
HELLO!! *finds you better coffee before reccing because I have my priorities straight!*

Oh, it had to have been Jon Krakauer's book, "Under The Banner of Heaven." FABULOUS. So informative, but he has such a fantastic narrative style that you don't realize just how detailed it is, you know? (Any book by him is a sure-fire hit, IMO.)

Oh, I cannot WAIT to talk to you about it, once you've read. See how confident I am?
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Mar. 20th, 2006 08:22 am (UTC)
I know, right?? And Bush wonders why other countries hate us? Or... is he smart enough to wonder? The good thing is his approval rating is plummeting. My hope is enough folks see him for the charlatan is has been all along and vote smarter next time.

But! Something to take out of all of this: THEY WERE CAUGHT. The lying, cheating, fraudulent businessmen. So there's that small justice, at least, right? Hi, Mari! *hugs*
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Mar. 20th, 2006 08:15 am (UTC)
Just in case people think Enron and energy price manipulation are once again in the past let me point out that there is an item in this budget which will put the Bonneville Power Administration on a "current market price" basis. The same BPA which was built during the depression as a way of encouraging development on the left coast, and which has produced an obviously unstable agricultural and manufacturing economy based on cheap (ie production cost, not actual long term cost nor market price) hydroelectric power. Reagan and Bush 1 tried to sell it to private energy companies; Bush 2 wants to turn it into a cash cow that can be milked for guns and tax cuts. And the fact that it's create an immediate bulge in the price of electricity in ten states would go a long way to make some otherwise borderline natural gas and coal fired generators pay off can't be ignored.

Also? The picture of Jeffs and his two wives? There are woman who wear their hair like that and shop in big groups in the Fred Meyer in Tumwater.

Julia, what evil conspiracy leads teenagers to refuse to get out of bed?
Mar. 20th, 2006 08:26 am (UTC)
Oh, LORD yes on the BPA. Watching "Meet The Press" Sunday showed me THREE pro-coal commercials, too. COAL? You fucking kidding me?? People need to PAY ATTENTION. That's the number one problem in America, IMO. Too many folks asleep at the wheel.

(Oh, there's a small enclave in northwestern Oregon for plygs. You can always tell the women by their Angel-Bang. They can't cut their hair, so they pin a fringe over their foreheads. That and the complete covering of everything but hands and face for modesty's sake. Now... imagine sewing cotton in Southern Utah in August dressed like that. Not to mention the garments underneath - basically, long johns.)

(lack of cold water poured over their faces?)
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Mar. 20th, 2006 08:46 am (UTC)
No, it's NOT a stupid question, and this goes into the deep-seated mindset in America (which, IMO is the antithesis of what this country was founded on - separation of Church and State).

Because they are practicing religious ideals, and the property is private (which, keep in mind the UEP that owns all property in Canada, Utah, Arizona, Texas, etc. is "religious propert" and therefore not taxable), they cannot go on the property without a warrant. They cannot obtain a warrant without PROOF he's there. And he moves in and out like a demon, so they can't pin him down.

And Texas is TERRIFIED of another Waco. We know that there are women and children there. There are surveillance photos of it. So... Hang on, and I'll find the link to the town's newspaper, which has a daily watch for Jeffs. The town is LIVID with this whole scenario.
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Mar. 20th, 2006 08:45 am (UTC)
i haven't seen the most recent ep of big love (still waiting on the dl) but i watched last week's ep and it didn't strike me as particularly glorifying.

i mean it certainly wasn't glorifying the life on the compound what with the creepy ass brainwashed young girl married off and the lack of doctors and the prophet dude threatening bill paxton.

and it didn't seem to be glorifying the polyg. setup what with the tension between the wives and the general misery. plus the opening with the ice skating and the ice cracking.

anywho. i love hearing your thoughts about all this. i'll be interested to see how the series plays out and what you think of it.
Mar. 20th, 2006 08:58 am (UTC)
Yeah, I was GLAD to see the compound stuff, because BEFORE that, it was all very wink, wink, nudge, nudge all the Sex! This is great! Which is the public's perception of what polygamous life must be like.

So juxtaposing that with the harsh realities of the compund life (which is what is accurate, let me be clear) is what I hope sets this show apart as something that exposes the seedy underbelly. It IS NOT like the Bill Paxton family. That is not normal. That is not FLDS polygamy.

Basically, I'm just forming a one-woman watchdog group to make sure they DON'T try and make it cutesy/fun/omg we are being OPPRESSED!
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Mar. 20th, 2006 09:37 am (UTC)

OH MY GOD. I was watching the news and was SO glad we moved. Although, our old house was on the high side of the street. And what the hell? Saw that someone DIED on Turtle Creek? And the idiots on Harry Hines trying to cut through the flooding. DUDE. Some people r knot smrt.

OKAY. I am running out tha do for a bit, will be back around lunch time. FEEL FREE TO CALL. Have had a headache and teeth grinding every night. WAITING. (holds fist up in solidarity, mah sistah)
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Mar. 20th, 2006 09:47 am (UTC)
Don't even get me started on the energy "crisis" in CA. What's so funny is that here, it was the Democrats playing it fast and loose, or they didn't know what they were doing. I'm going with both. That's why we now have a different governor. Gray Davis was an idiot. He wouldn't play hardball with these idiots and they got away with it. (probably gonna get slammed by someone for this) So Arnie comes in with guns ablazing. Have we had any rolling blackouts now? Noooo. Not that Arnie is anything and all that, but hey, you don't mess with the Terminator. (hehehe) My electric bill is now double what it was a couple of years ago. Arnie wants to build more power plants so we don't have to go on that stupid grid and buy electricity. Well, we'll see if that happens. NIMBY is always around. Is that enough babble for you? Or maybe I'm missing the point as I make out my bill for the electric company.

All this stuff with these religious nuts is just scary. I just don't get it.

Keep educating us, Stoney.
Mar. 20th, 2006 12:13 pm (UTC)
Idon't know much about California politics, except that Gray Davies had his sights on the White House and all of a sudden, there was an energy crisis and now y'all have a Republican in the office. o_0.

And... you guys have ENOUGH power plants. More plants aren't the issue, getting the energy brokers' hands out of the pie is the issue. There's enough power in CA to power your state and two besides every single day.

It's crazy.
Mar. 20th, 2006 09:59 am (UTC)

I'm just sayin'.
Mar. 20th, 2006 12:14 pm (UTC)
I HEART YOU TOO, UNDERLINE and am so glad to hear you have a day off and I want to sit on a patio with you and a margarita and SNARK.

The sun is shining now and it's GORGEOUS. *hugs you to bits*
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Mar. 20th, 2006 12:08 pm (UTC)
Keep looking in the drawers of bedside tables at motels in sight of the nearest Mormon temple (f'rinstance, the Residence Inn in Tigard, OR).

Julia, there's where I've found them
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Mar. 20th, 2006 11:00 am (UTC)
hey hey stoney! Miss you!
*drive by squishes*
Mar. 20th, 2006 12:18 pm (UTC)
HELLO!!! Oh, how are you, tootsie pop? Glad to see your name on a drive by!

*grabs your collar and hugs you properly*
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Are You Actually

Reading this? I'm just curious. Because that's really detail-oriented of you. Feel free to stop reading. But you can see that there's more here, so are you going to keep reading? Really? That's pretty dedicated. I'm impressed. No, really. I'm not being sarcastic, why do you get like that? See, this is the problem I have with your mother - yes. YES. I'm going there. It's time we put all of our cards on the table.

I love you, why are you doing this? After all we've been through? You don't have to be like this. You know, still reading. You could be baking a pie. And then sharing it with me.

Time Wot It Is

April 2017
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