An Illustrated Guide to Mendacity and Folly in the Imperium Americanum

Ken Lay Memorial Edition


(Reuters) Convictions of dead Enron chief Ken Lay thrown out

(Houston Chronicle)Government sues Ken Lay’s estate

(AP) Judge vacates conviction of Ken Lay

(AP) Skilling sentenced to 24 years in prison

(USAToday) By claiming he’s guiltless, Skilling proves he’s clueless

Back in the old days, a financier convicted of mismanaging funds to his advantage would’ve been told to do the right thing and been handed a pistol with a single bullet. Why was this the right thing? It harkened back to Roman law that if you were convicted but had not been executed, the state could not take over your estate. In other words, by committing suicide, you provided for your family by not leaving them destitute. It was part of the presumption of innocence. Technically, you were still “innocent” until sentence was carried out. In modern times, we have a waiting period between conviction and sentencing, and if you were to die in that period, the conviction would be nullified for the same reason. Moreover, if the sentencing were to include a fine, that could not be taken from your estate either because that would be visiting your punishment on your innocent family.

These day we ALSO have drugs that can mimic heart failure. In fact, when Ken Lay was convicted, I had several conversations about the possibility that he’d conveniently pass away before sentencing. I can’t say this is the case, but he had powerful enough friends to carry it out had he wanted to. Saves the family from losing the estate (the estate can still be subject to civil suit, but without the living miscreant, the chances of substantial recovery is teensy), he goes into hiding in the tropics with the Swiss bank account money. Can YOU see a downside?

I also wish to mention my condolences to our friend, S.J. Smith, on the death of his wife. Teri was my wife’s writing and business partner and best friend. She was a great soul with an expansive personality and incredible good humor in the face of adversity. She was only 51 and passed because her physical heart was not as strong as her spiritual one. She will be missed.

UPDATE: I will be taking Friday off this week because of these sad and unforeseen circumstances. Thanks.

And The Conspiracy Theorists Come Out In Droves!


…And well they should. By dying prior to sentencing, Ken Lay has made it impossible for a judgement to be rendered against him…in other words, no sentence can be carried out. Back in the frontier days, this would have been called cheating the hangman. Reporters were not allowed into the funeral–not even the gala Texas one with 1500 of Ken’s closest friends, relatives and business associates–including former President, George Bush the First (so much for Georgie Porgie’s insistence that he barely knew the man–cock-a-doodledoo). And Ken was hastily cremated…OR WAS HE? With the money floating around even the bankrupt Enron gang, a substitute who looked enough like Lay could be easily found in the month after the trial. A quick shot of something that mimics a heart attack and quick substitution of the stiff for the convicted Lay, and zip, we’re off to the Cayman Islands for the rest of his life. Or perhaps Lay was going to make a deal to reduce sentence? The “powers that be” would have then wanted his mouth shut permanently. We’ll never know because of the cremation–and I’ll bet they made sure every fragment was turned into a cinder on this one.

For some baroque spectacle, we had the collapse of ex-Houston mayor, Lay friend Bob Lanier, from the vapours and an ordained minister comparing Kennyboy to Jesus Christ himself (along with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Jack Kennedy for good measure). I don’t think the irony even dented the stupidity of Bill Lawson. Certainly, tho’, unless Paris Hilton or Britney Spears come up with a grand concept sometime soon, the Lay funeral will go down as THE tasteless moment of 2006.

(AP Wash Post) Friends remember Lay at memorial service

(AP WashPost) Internet floats Lay conspiracy theories

(AP WashPost) Ex-Houston Mayor collapses at Lay memorial service



(WashPost) Enron Leaders Found Guilty: Massive Fraud Pinned to Lay, Skilling

(WashPost) Defendants Sunk by Their Testimony

(WashPost) From the Ex-Employees: Revenge, Shock, Sadness

(Greg Palast) LAY CONVICTED, BUSH WALKS (AND AHNOLD GETS LAY’D) Special for TruthOut.Org

It’s about time corporate America learned that if you screw around, you get screwed back. Executives are more than willing to accept obscene salaries when taking credit for a company’s good performance, but become ostriches when they are presented with malfeasance–oh gee, I didn’t know THAT was going on. That doesn’t wash anymore. This was as much a robbery as a holdup man sticking up a bank teller, only the take was in billions instead of a few paltry dollars.