I Smell a Rat, No, Three Rats


Now Playing: Dixie Chicken, by Little Feat. “We made all the hot spots – my money flowed like wine, And then that lowdown southern whiskey began to fog my mind, And I don’t remember church bells or the money I put down, On the white picket fence and boardwalk of the house at the edge of town …”

Rat No. 1. Got a curious comment Sunday on my Rants ‘n Raves post, How Many Moral Oil Companies Will Fit On the Head of a Pin? OK, just getting a comment is kinda weird. But this one was from the UK. From a gent (and I’m being nice here) named Peter Reynolds. Who describes himself on his blog as a former hippy musician turned ad exec working for such companies as GSK, H-P and IBM. Fine.

Got no problem with being criticized. Well, OK, I usually do have a problem with it. But the criticism from PR – and isn’t it funny that his initials form that acronym – was a bit baffling. He said he disagreed with me completely and that BP CEO Tony Hayward is/was doing a fine job dealing with the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

I’m not so sure about that. What I am sure about is that I never said he wasn’t. My point then, as now, is that boycotting BP seems pretty futile given the environmental and other crimes committed by the other oil companies. A second curious thing was that he found my blog at all. A third was the link to PR’s blog defending Hayward, whom I’ve got to admit cuts a pretty sincere television commercial. I saw it last night for the first time. As George Burns said, “Sincerity. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.”

Interlude: Champagne Jam, by Atlanta Rhythm Section. “Break out the guitars and let’s play some blues, Don’t want no whiskey, gimme some high-class booze. Some cham-champagne, thank you ma’am.”

Rat No. 2. A federal judge and prosecutor cut a deal with Charlotte car dealer Louis F. Harrelson, sparing the 80-year-old prison time for his fraud conviction. It involved phony applications for car loans. Harrelson had to pay a $1 million in restitution and fines, so he didn’t exactly get off scott-free. But it’s hard to escape the notion that he bought his way out of this one. Even the prosecutor and judge in the case warned the next defendant that he or she won’t get off so easy. Guess in that one, they’ll have to go with the “I’ve contracted a fatal disease that won’t get cured until I get a presidential pardon” defense. Nah, that could never work. Just sayin’.

Rat No. 3. Brace for it, the biggest Rat of them all. Yes, I’m talking about Ratface, Duke (and I’m spelling it right as a tribute to my favorite Duke fan, whose birthday is today – OK, she’s just about the only Duke fan I can stand) basketball coach – oops, make that leader who happens to coach – Mike Krfoufadpsfhg (sorry Barbara, can’t spell Krlsdhfdfki right even for you). Didja see what he made for coaching, er, leading, Duke the year before last. I’ll tell you what he made – nearly $4.2 million. Gee, I wonder if he’ll get a bonus for last year, when the team actually was successful (and if you think I’m going to say more than “successful,” you don’t know me very well, do you?).

Actually, I’m of two minds about this. My one mind, the semi-rational one, says anyone is entitled to all they can get. Even if his employer – in this case, American Tobacco Co. University, the one where Richard Nixon got his law degree – is trying to cut $100 million in expenses by 2012. And by expenses, of course, we mean salaries. Of leaders who don’t coach basketball. The other mind, the one deep down in places I don’t talk about at parties, says this: I despise Ratface. And his minions. And I hope Roy has something for them next year. And the next. And the next.

“The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat.” _ Lily Tomlin

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