Saturday, November 8, 2008

Candidates The American People Deserve

So the euphoria didn't last long at all. The ultra-libs and their flock of lobotomized sheep got what they think they wanted but apparently are suffering some sort of post-election buyer's remorse. Maybe it's just the habit of being on the attack for so long. They're in disbelief and thus still being ratcheted up, they are in need of a new target for annihilation. But wait, who's left to vilify? They have the White House, Congress and many federal judgeships will be falling right in line with new appointees as well. So who's left?
When at a loss for someone new all are led by the media back to yesterday's news; they just go back to beat some more on the same punching bags.

And of course the media can only stop talking about how Sarah Palin lost the election for John McCain long enough to speculate momentarily about the pedigree and breed of the White House mutt.

I said all the way at the bottom of this blog and long before then during the Primaries that J. McC was not my man. He's a career politician fraught with non-conservative views and a history of making compromises. As such he appeared to be a middle-of-the-road Republican and BOsama was allowed by the media to spin and co-opt his way to that same piece of idealogical real estate thus enabling the shinier and more turgid product to captivate the casual voters' attention. A transcript of the 2nd debate with the names of the respondents blacked out would leave many of us challenged to connect the right candidate to their statements. Only one may have been telling the truth but both sounded the same and again, the casual voter more interested in the duplicity and power politics of Wisteria Lane wouldn't bother ferreting out the truth from the spin before election day.

J McC had all but lost in the Republican Primaries, running on fumes. Somehow though he was left as the last GOP man standing -- perhaps only to be the fall guy for his party.
By the time the general election campaign was in full swing he was already fading fast, failing to catch a page 2 headline while the media was feeling tingly sensations, lining up early for "concert tickets" and allowing their girlish infatuations to overpower their reason and responsibility. (Did you say "Fairness Doctrine?!?"- Apparently there's a 90/10 clause in there somewhere.)

John was not doing a lot of simple little things to even tread water, let alone keeping the enemies of Democracy from treading on him. He would have had to have dropped out of the race as the Republican nominee before October if it hadn't been for Sarah Palin. Speculate as you will about the appropriateness of the individual but the point was made, the Republican's campaign was in dire need of a sincere conservative. And you can't argue with the data. The money and polls shot up considerably in the ensuing days of the VP announcement because conservatives like me had reasons to believe and to fight. There was finally a name on the ticket that represented conservative values.

But there are other names. I want those names made public; the names of the handlers and spin doctors who were sabotaging Sarah before the campaign was even over - purportedly out of self-preservation for their own insignificant quasi-political careers but then possibly and equally as likely in conspiracy against Sarah Palin. To start with, if Nicole Wallace (no, not the serial killer character on L&O: Criminal Intent but how ironic for possessing a similar lack of morality) gets a job on one of the network TV panels of bobble head pundits she needs to be branded and barred from working on the campaign of any true conservative for the rest of her insignificant life. In the fading days of an election year the pundits themselves are often short lived because the media eats their own dead and the public's appetite for political discussion in this country is all too evidently anorexic. So her new chosen career is justice in itself. I accuse Nicole Wallace with a degree of certainty because many believe she was the anonymous source or at least one of them and her post-election comments appear as sincere as the victor's promise of bi-partisanship with his selection of Rahmbo as his Chief of Staff.

In this way I want conservatives to hold all of these spin doctors accountable. Like Senators talking about deadlines for wars to end and timetables for troop withdrawals, these campaign professionals have given aide and comfort to the enemy.

J McC lost the presidential election before the primaries even ended. He would have no chance against Hillary. When the game changed to B.O. there were some clear opportunities (Pt. III, page 209) but he failed to capitalize on any of them. Apparently winning the election wasn't important enough for him to put everything on the line.

Sarah Palin didn't damage McCain's career - a retired Senator-on-active-duty writing a final chapter or perhaps an epilogue to his own story. My concern is conversely that McCain's campaign weasels, in launching Palin's national career have subsequently taken steps to damage her future prospects.

Ann Coulter writes, "Like Sarah Connor in The Terminator, Sarah Palin is destined to give birth to a new movement. That's why the Democrats are trying to kill her" many of us hope that like in the movie she outlasts the machine. I am at least pleased to see her firing back and staying in the mix - Palin Denounces Anonymous critics as 'cowardly'

I have to believe that there are enough of them out there who hear the call to public service and answer it like she has. The challenge is greater than ever. She's a text book example of what our national candidates have to endure just to be on the ballot. And hers was only a two month campaign.
True Americans need to be more respectful of this challenge because other than megalomaniacs with Daddy and abandonment issues, questionable citizenship and even more questionable campaign contributions, who in their right mind but the most courageous and patriotic will stand in the line of white-hot media fire while so-called compatriots crouch in the shadows of stage left holding daggers to their backs? Et tu, Wallace?

. . . I must go now to get ready for church. After all, in times of distress we simple minded conservatives tend to cling to our Bibles and our guns. From my observation in times of rare victory it appears that the Libs cling to their characteristic personal attacks and their traditional criticism of modern Democracy. In this case the CHANGE is just more of the same.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

An A-boma-Nation

I think it will only be a matter of months in to the year 2009 before all those visible, ardent and avid supporters start their denials. The voters that carried him into office will become the phantom electorate. Cars will bear the tell-tale signs for the vigilante -- adhesive still stuck to the bumpers where a campaign sticker once was. Nary a person will admit voting for him.

That's because I believe there will be a crisis that will get mishandled and people will lose freedom, financial independence or even life and limb and this A-boma-nation will be evident and easy to blame.

I believe the Founders are turning in their graves this morning.
Americans have given up their faith in Democracy if they entered into this covenant knowingly.
And if not then it means our education system has failed us by failing to make the voting public into a better informed and efficacious society.
As has the fourth estate. Or worse perhaps in the case of how the news media may have let us down. In their case perhaps their leftist leanings have amounted to a conspiracy against us. They cheered thinking they were on the sidelines, but they too are on the pitched field.

On November 4th 2008 free men knowingly or unwittingly and in either case naively volunteered with their votes to give up their freedoms and diminished the stature of their homeland, a democratic ideal that has been a beacon to the world past and present.

I hope I am wrong but I don't believe it will be that long before my theory is tested.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Bad Reasons to Vote

We are surrounded by so much mythology and because it's so pervasive it tends to act on all of us somewhere between our conscious thoughts and an almost subconscious or Id-like emotional level. For instance, so many of us believe the myth about Washington the young boy chopping down a Cherry Tree and being confronted by his father about it. Many of us know this to be a myth created to generate a belief that George Washington was then and always would be an honest man of character. I'm not saying that he wasn't. I would guess that he was such a man. His war time heroism, his patriotism and his leadership are all well documented. These traits are not really in question. My point is we all are willing to accept the assertion of his honesty based on a false or at least an unverifiable story and the deeper meaning behind that story. The meaning behind that story is embedded in that thin layer between thought and belief.

So like an after-school special about the kid who's victimized by the bully to then later learn what makes this person into a bully (abusive parent, a bigger bully in his neighborhood) and by getting to know him on this personal and meaningful level he stops being bullied. So the Frankenstein monster just requires a little compassionate understanding of his plight and this is enough to make the bully stop his attacks. I've never seen this work quite that way in real life though. The bullies I knew are still bullies to this day.

Or there's this myth that if we don't have friends of different ethnicity or perhaps give a job to or vote for someone who is a minority that we are somehow a racist. First, everyone is racist on some level - accept that and move on. Deep down it's probably coded into our DNA.
Second and more importantly, the assertion is an assumption about our reasoning and thoughts for making certain decisions which can't possibly be known by those making the assertion and is therefore absurd. By that logic then 800 years ago all Tahitians must have been such extreme racists because they only hung with their own kind. They just must have been, otherwise why didn't the paddle they shorter distance to South America instead of taking the long haul to Hawaii? Point is the myth is embedded in people's thoughts without basis.

We get hard wired in these many ways to think, no, not think but believe this is the way the world works. Then we become confronted with a reality that's quite different than these mythological constructs and are left reconciling one with the other in confusion.

Here's one that we're all brought up to believe as young American's from the first time we participate in a mock election in grade school: VOTING IS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS WE CAN DO AS AN AMERICAN, therefore we are preserving our democratic freedom by voting. Conversely, IF YOU DON'T VOTE IT'S SOMEHOW A BAD THING. This is far more false than true if you are accepting it prima facie and without the basis behind the truth. Our founding fathers believed that individual voting rights were important but these needed to be coupled with an educated understanding of how their government works and with a fundamental set of personal beliefs and self-interests that were somehow related to the government's agenda.

For instance, a person without enough of an education to read the ballot should not vote because they may end up putting their mark next to the wrong candidate. (We didn't have picture ballots this year but I suppose in our polyglot society that will be coming soon too.) And a person who lives in Kentucky should not be voting for the politicians representing Floridians in the U.S. Senate and Congress (however I hear this happens anyway.) Well, at least Hawaiians are not voting for Boca Raton's dog catcher. The simple point is that an uneducated and purposeless vote should not even be cast.

JUST LIKE SOME PEOPLE SHOULD NOT DRIVE, SOME PEOPLE SHOULD NOT VOTE. Where one is a privilege, the other is a right but both are a RESPONSIBILITY.

And so here are some of the WORST reasons I've heard on TV and radio, read in news articles and even heard with my own ears of why people are voting in this year's presidential election:

1. "I've voted Republican my whole life. I run a flooring business and have built it up to 3-5 installs a day. Now I'm lucky if I do 2 or 3 a week. Something needs to change so I'm going to give this guy, Obama a try." -- So to be clear, the Office of the U.S. President doesn't have a probationary period like your Drivers License did when you were 15; it's not a "Test Drive" by the American people to see if it handles well. This is four full years. The only way you can call this a trial period is by comparing it to a Time Share Contract or a Gym Membership you can't get out of after you stop going.

2. "Sarah Palin is inexperienced and John McCain is old. I don't think he's going to last that long." Interesting juxtaposition to voter #1 in that now the other guy is only going to last about as long as a Test Drive and the Veep is going to have to take over in the Oval Office RIGHT AWAY. So the same battery of Secret Serviceman, Doctors, Chefs and various other Personal Assistants that have somehow kept all the other guys alive even after one was shot and another tried Spurlocking himself into liver failure by eating too many Big Macs, this same cadre of specialists are now going to fall down on the job.
I'm guessing a guy that (yes, younger and healthier at the time but still) a guy that survived five and a half years in the Hanoi Hilton POW camp can survive four years in the relative comfort of what amounts to an actual four star hotel, oh and another four star hotel with jet engines and wings. And even if he doesn't last the full term your argument is that B.O. with ZERO Executive experience is somehow better suited for the job. Oh, and let's not forget that FDR managed to last three terms and was reelected to his fourth, the whole time with POLIO.

3. "McCain's too much like Bush." Hmmmm. So I realize this one almost requires a minor degree in U.S. history but does that mean when Bush got the party nomination in 2000 and it was commonly discussed that McCain, who had just dropped out of the Republican primary race was a shoe in for VP on the Bush ticket, that they shared so much in common they just couldn't work together? I seem to recall McCain referring to a potential Bush administration in a Star Wars motif as the evil Empire. So yeah, those guys are practically identical twins. If Republican's wanted a third Bush term they'd all just write-in Dick Cheney on their ballots.

4. "Sarah Palin didn't go to Harvard or Yale or one of those Ivy League schools" (and this from a guy making six figures but only went to a state college) - Bush went to Yale and is considered one of the dumbest guys to ever run this country (and I am not necessarily arguing with that opinion). But there are a lot of U.S. Presidents who didn't go to an Ivy League school (and before you argue that point -- yes, Harvard was around before the United States was even a country and had its first President -- 140 years to be exact). Woodrow Wilson is the only President with a Ph.D. and allowed us to get sucked into a European war and gave us the (where is it now?) League of Nations. Ronald Reagan only had a Bachelors Degree from Eureka College, was a two term president that ended economic malaise and the Cold War. The issue of a President's educational pedigree is kind of a PUSH.

5. "Sarah Palin is an idiot" see #4. Also refer to #3 about who you are voting for as President and then check yourself at the door if your statement is based on a) A Saturday Night Live skit, b) an interview edited by a biased and liberal media source or c) something you heard someone else say - and if that's the case then let them vote for you too. And by the way, you CAN actually do that just by handing them your voter registration card and teaching them to forge your signature. No photo ID is required in most states.
Finally, if your decision about which Presidential candidate for whom you should vote is based on the intelligence of his "relief pitcher" then read this article about Joe "the historically inaccurate Senator" Biden. In which case -- case closed. Oh, and if it's really just that Alaskan accent that's off-putting then you can kiss my cold, pale Wisconsin butt you provincial idiot.

6. "Maybe it's a good thing if we all pool our resources." (Don't even get me started on how successful this individual was the last time he decided to "pool his resources" with just one other person or that he got this idea from an actual communist.) This is not a matter of everyone putting your cash on the dash as you're about to pull in to the Taco Bell drive-thru at 2:00 a.m.!!! You are stating that you are willing to vote AGAINST one of the pillars of American society -- CAPITALISM. Save time on Tuesday and instead of standing in line to vote, go get your Passport so you can start your migration to China. Or perhaps the newly revitalized Russian brand of tyranny is your cup of potato vodka. Enjoy the bread lines. Just don't get nostalgic about voting in elections. That's only for Party Members with a larger pool of the resources than what you will ever have, comrade.

7. "I just don't like that guy." Reason you don't like that guy? None given, so I have to assume that there is no reason. If this is actually your rationale then this would be a clear case Not to Vote. It's not like you will be working alongside the President on your factory assembly line every day. This is not an election to determine Miss Congeniality. You don't have to like them to agree with their platform. Conversely this voter has made no real examination of the other candidate. If this person picked ponies at the races with the same alacrity they'd be broke quicker than Fannie Mae. Fortunately they are only gambling with their vote, something that didn't cost them anything, it only cost many American's their lives over the past 232 years.

8. "My taxes won't go up. I don't make that much money." So you pay taxes. You don't make a lot of money (in your own opinion) and you are going to trust a guy saying he's going to raise taxes when the guy who said "No new taxes," even had to raise taxes on the vast majority of wage earners. So if the guy who promised "no taxes" raised them what do you think will happen with the guy who's promising to raise them? Honestly, if you are that gullible then I have a petition you need to sign right away or McDonalds won't bring back the McRib.

9. "He's going negative in his campaign" - This one even being stated by the candidate himself; the same candidate whose own campaign has been propagating most of the above rhetoric. The statement itself is hypocritical by pointing it out.
But if you are really bothered by a little mudslinging in a National Election then move to Canada where it never gets so ugly because frankly, there's never really anything at stake in their elections except maybe who gets to throw out the first puck on the NHL's opening day.
Seriously, if you are bothered by the candidates making negative statements about each other then you should turn the sound off any time you are watching the news too (and cover up the screen scroll on the bottom and the right) because all "news" media and the ensuing commentary by the pundits is more negative than anything the candidates themselves are saying.
And by the way, this nonsense about "negative" campaigning is another myth created by the politically correct set to muzzle people making comments that challenge their assertions. And finally, if a little negative verbiage hurts your feelings this much then let me hazard a quick reminder that we are in a global war against Islamic Extremists. We have nut-jobs hurling things much more hurtful than words at us. Maybe we need a leader who can get down in the dirt and throw a few punches.

And FINALLY - #10. When the question was asked, "who are you voting for?" then "why?" there was honestly no tangible reason. This voter needs to be thankful her safety net was there with her because when quickly educated on how different the two candidates are on their abortion stance, an issue that is very important to this voter, in a light-bulb moment she cast her vote the other way.

In the case that you have already voted I would expect that you have some sort of conviction in your beliefs that prompted you to get out early so this probably doesn't apply to you. If not, please stop and think about WHY you are voting BEFORE you vote. If it really doesn't matter to you who's in the White House for the next four years (that's right, Carpet Installer Guy, it's a full four year term) then don't bother going and potentially canceling out someone's vote who has bothered to educate themselves on the issues and has at least enough of a belief that they are voting for the candidate that aligns with their own personal agenda.
Don't play Russian Roulette with your ballot just so you can get an "I Voted Today" sticker and feel good about yourself. The vote you fire off in your own blind ignorance could end up killing someone else's.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Election Day Flash Cards

Be Prepared When You Go To The Polls







Saturday, October 25, 2008

Nearly Four Score Years Ago

If we forget our history or fail to even learn it in the first place; if we fail to learn the lessons of our history we are all too likely to repeat it.

In 1929 the Stock Market crashed. Arguably, one catalyst for this series of events was wild speculation by many including the general public. Many were allowed to trade on margin. This meant they didn't have the money necessary to pay for their losses when the stock values declined necessitating a margin call. Hmmm, a little like Mark to Market? A little like uncollateralized loans?

So a sitting president, a Republican who believed too much government intervention was not a good thing because it would make people dependent on the federal government, was reluctant to use legislative relief, was therefore inaccurately blamed for doing nothing during the crisis and thus became very unpopular by the end of his term, thus ushering in a 4 term dynasty of a Democrat and a Democratic controlled legislative body who expanded the government through social welfare programs as a means of moving the country out of The Depression. Sound familiar?

Perhaps not entirely. The Republican was still in office, raising taxes on the wealthiest and on businesses and approving public works projects. The public spending projects he started were expanded considerably by his Democratic rival though. Labor Unions grew in strength and number under this new president. Oddly the Socialist Party suffered. Perhaps it was the direct competition they were getting from the Democrats at the time. Social Security was also proposed and signed into law by this new president. Why wouldn't all the people love him? They were now all dependents of his sweeping, broad beneficence. Social Security was modeled after and designed to take the place of private company pension plans because after all unemployment had hit 25%. That 25% had no pensions to speak of at the time. Hey, I just had a thought. You know what else a lot of companies tend to provide their employees? Health insurance. Estimates put us at only 16% of the current population (not quite 25%) without health insurance, but hey, if the Federal government is going to provide everyone a pension plan (even though the plan is running out of money) why not provide health insurance now too? Now if I could just get my 'ole Uncle Sammy to take on the burden of my mortgage and pay for my kids to go to college I could stop relying on my employer all together. But I digress.

UCLA economists Harold L. Cole and Lee E. Ohanian argue that the "New Deal labor and industrial policies did not lift the economy out of the Depression as President Roosevelt and his economic planners had hoped," but that the "New Deal policies are an important contributing factor to the persistence of the Great Depression." They claim that the New Deal "cartelization policies are a key factor behind the weak recovery." They say that the "abandonment of these policies coincided with the strong economic recovery of the 1940s."[from Wikipedia] Cole and Ohanian claimed that FDR's policies prolonged the Depression by 7 years.

Even more poignant is this quote from the same 2004 article. "Why the Great Depression lasted so long has always been a great mystery, and because we never really knew the reason, we have always worried whether we would have another 10- to 15-year economic slump," said Ohanian, vice chair of UCLA's Department of Economics. "We found that a relapse isn't likely unless lawmakers gum up a recovery with ill-conceived stimulus policies."

But we all know that the Great Depression ended as stated above (with the possible exception of the "Man on the Street" interviewees of Jay Leno fame). So if it wasn't FDR's policies then what did bring an end to this long dark era in the American and World economies? World War perhaps?

The country had been reeling from the human sacrifices of a complex, confusing and for the U.S. citizenry, a largely unpopular war in Europe before that aforementioned Republican president even took office. Like the not so Great Depression, the moniker of this war was also "The Great" War.
Regardless of who was to blame, American's felt they had sacrificed too much by way of blood and money. So America became quite isolationist. Easier still to go the way of isolationism when you are focused internally/nationally on your own economic recovery. It would be a little like, I don't know, feeling that spending billions of dollars in a region of the world so culturally and geographically removed from your own little cul-de-sac was almost the cause of not having the largess to pull yourself out of a completely separate economic crisis even though the weight and source of that dollar figure on the one end of that lever halfway around the globe would hardly budge the other side of the stick an inch.

So three score and a decade ago a psycho with peculiar facial hair and a little-man complex as well as a passionate but misplaced hatred of Jews rose to power, built a stockpile of weapons while his impoverished people suffered and then started a massive assault on his own little region of the world. Many other nations tried to negotiate an end to the unprovoked and unchecked aggression. The U.S. sat idly by on the sidelines. Eventually there was a World War, a holocaust and millions of people including a large number of innocent civilians died.
Wow, that's a mouthful! Let me clear my throat a second: Ahmened-e-gonna-get-a-nuke-and-blow-up-Isreal-jihad!! Meanwhile Russia and China would race to the region to secure much of the world's oil reserves for their own growing industrialization; to a region with a power vacuum now that America's new president has stayed true to his original word and withdrawn all U.S. troops from Iraq only months after taking office. Cough, cough. Achoo! Bless me. Bless us all.

Some see signs of a Biblical Apocalypse in the chain of events we have lining up before us. Some may be praying for that teleological end rather than bear witness to it all.


Friday, September 19, 2008

Clinton, The Dot Com Boom and the Banking Meltdown

Some say blame the candidate for President who is not even elected yet. Some say blame Barney Frank. Some say blame the greedy execs working on Wall Street. I say add one more to the list: Bill Clinton. I'm convinced he shares the blame. His legacy after eight years of short sighted, liberal-agenda-driven, self-serving policy has not only cast a shadow over the world's security but also the world's economy. Then we can blame the others, his cronies and his wife. (Whitewater, Whitewater)

First of all - hegemony is not a bad word. It carries a bad connotation because those who know what it means and use it regularly are pseudo-intellectuals spouting their liberal, one-world agenda in the lecture halls of modern academia and poisoned press of a free marketed free-speech nation. Hegemony is what the U.S.A. had as Ronald Reagan exited office and we still had in decent proportions through George Bush's (41) term. We were an economic and military Super Power. We were feared and respected as a member of the U.S. Military in those years I am glad we were. The U.S.S.R. was shattered into pieces and running a fire sale on their entire infrastructure just to have something to burn through the winter of 1990 and China was still isolated and dormant.

And then came the Clintons, the Gores and their agendas; hegemony felt itchy against their one-world culturally relativistic skin, they couldn't shed hegemony fast enough.
So Bill began gutting the U.S. military while selling short the U.S. economy as well. Flying like a kite on the updrafts of his popularity in the polls it is said that even he knew then of the potential crisis in the credit market. Instead of demonstrating moral courage and leadership he laid down at the behest of his party and let the country continue on a path of prosperity built on many false pretenses.

The dot com era began just before the end of his first term and he had the perfect elixir to the economy. He could deliver on the Carville bumper slogan of "It's the economy, stupid" and turn it into "It's the stupid economy" or perhaps "It's the economy and you're all stupid." The better the index reports the better his approval rating. Money was getting cheaper by the day with consecutive drops in the Prime Rate. No sense slowing this freight train because as long as the rails ran on for another eight years who cared if the break in the track over the canyon wall was only another year or two past that time. Bill and Hillary would have already climbed off at the last station.

So now here I am in the mid-90's, watching it up close, daily, in the cubical trenches and eventually from glass towers above Wall Street.
I remember having my first light bulb moment when I was six months into my post-graduate career of selling computers and saying, this can't last. At the time we were touching thousands of new customers every day. People who had never owned anything more technical than a toaster oven were now shelling out $3000-$4000 for a PC or a MAC. Microsoft had done some of their better work and really liberated computing from the arcane workshops in basements, empty garages and university electronics labs and turned it into something mildly useful and entertaining. My reaction was a mixed emotion. I was riding the high of selling these pricey and financially rewarding gizmos but one of the few stepping back long enough from the frenzy to realize it just wasn't sustainable (my wife would say it was my negativity, my friends would identify it as a pessimistic trait. Call it what you will but I said it then).
I would say to people, colleagues and outsiders, "This must be a little bit what it was like working at Ford Motor Co. back when Henry rolled the Model A into production." No one in this country had one. Everyone felt they needed one or at least convinced themselves that wanting one was the right thing. So Detroit cranked them out until everyone did have one. Almost a century later this economic phenomenon appeared to be repeating itself and the focus was now on Houston, Redmond, Austin and Armonk.
I am sure you've heard the joke about how you could get a Model A in any color you wanted as long as that color was black. So after a meteoric rise the market hit a plateau. Much like computers, the original automobiles were built to last. Also, people took better care of their major investments and it was right-minded to continue repairing and maintaining something rather than replace it. I believe this is why all sorts of subtle variations in options, body styles and even colors were introduced. People needed to feel their old car was somehow inadequate and replace a perfectly functional machine with a newer one.
"Look ma, now we can order our computers with different colors."
"Does that make them work better?"
"Umm, no. But it's cool. I need a new one in pink."

So anyway that's kind of how I viewed the computer industry and continue to view it to this day. We were at the dawn of a whole new economic era and no one quite knew how to quantify it.
The first time I stood up and looked around I was seeing 20-30 new people starting on the phones each week. That's not an exaggeration, rather an understatement. My company easily hired more than 1500 new people that year just into the sales divisions. And my company had already gone public. And the stock was going up faster than the employee count . . . and splitting . . . and then going right back to its pre-split price inside of nine months. And that wasn't really uncommon. Almost any public technology company was watching their stock value climb at a weekly rate that was turning people into overnight millionaires. Some of these people were colleagues that had started 2-3 years before me. They truly got in at the ground level, receiving pre-IPO shares and having the savvy to hold them. The guy who didn't is still asking people if they want to sit on his $35,000 couch.

Someone at my alma mater and NOT Al Gore invented a means for computers to talk to each other over telephone lines hundreds of miles apart. Initially this had military applications (as so many inventions do) and was a means of academics sharing libraries of knowledge. Thanks to U.S. ingenuity coupled with a free market system, someone else figured out a way to turn this into commerce.

So another year gone, almost every middle class family in America owned a computer and could "log-on" via AOL and that's when the Internet became the hot market-space, perhaps the last true Killer-Application of the Millennium. It was virgin territory, so for sharp entrepreneurs it was the WWW -- not world wide web -- the Wild Wild West. This is also when non Internet companies figured they could bolt the Internet on to the side of their brick and mortar and give it some new investment-worthy excitement. This was also the time that a company in Houston started building a crooked monument unto itself. It wasn't enough to turn a tidy profit while growing your business anymore, now you needed for every employee to become a millionaire from your stock gains and every executive was using a Billion Dollar Yard stick to measure their success against their peers. AND THIS IS THE LEGACY WE ALL INHERITED AND PAY FOR TODAY. Wealth building on an unreal, unrivaled, unprecedented scale.

So I was making the transition from the phones to the field at this time. I had a front row center seat to watch the effects of cheap money. I remember fighting with my own upper management about discounting. They wondered why we didn't. There was no need. Dot coms flush with venture capital had more millions in the bank then employees in their company. They had no idea what things would ultimately cost when (IF) they ever became operational. Asking for discounts wasn't really necessary.

Then I was meeting with them face-to-face. I was traveling to major metros mostly. Because again, running the shop in bargain mode just wasn't the highest priority. I overlooked the skylines of New York, Chicago, Boston, and San Francisco from big empty leased spaces on floors in the 20's to 30's above street level and costing Tens of Thousands in the monthlies. It was clear from the dust and grime that some of these offices hadn't been inhabited in months or even years. Now, past the lobbies, or in some rare cases the formal reception areas, there were wall-less spaces with (and I would do a quick tabulation with my tongue tucked behind my teeth) $20,000 of furniture and a another $10 - $20k in conference capable phone systems and then with increasing familiarity, the video conferencing setups. Typically there were no less than a dozen Aeron chairs and a single solid piece of highly polished dark wood on a pedestal with ample space to seat every employee of the company and 5-6 visitors at once (mind you that's still only seating for 12). I would hear endless pitches of business plans even though I was the one doing the selling. These guys were in a perpetual pitch for money mode. I was there on-site somewhere past Angel funding because these guys had to have bought at least a little something to warrant my presence. They were now working on there next rounds, still not producing anything, no closer to fleshing out the ranks of the executive team but just knowing from the other guys across the street that this is how it was done. And the plans ranged from semi-ingenious to what I called "Dirty Socks Dot Com". Which is to say that any idea, even ones that wouldn't work on main street were still given credence in the virtual space of the web. I dubbed it Dirty Socks Dot Com as a bit of redactio ad absurdum. You wouldn't go to a strip mall to buy someone else's dirty socks but now because you could theoretically be doing it from home in your slippers, over the web, with moderate shipping fees and no sales tax the idea was somehow suddenly cool and viable.

And there I am one day after one of these meetings and an hour before another one, somewhere in midtown Manhattan at a coffee shop watching Bloomberg or some other 24-7 financial news network. Bill Clinton is following on the heals of another rate cut by Alan Greenspan with some congratulatory language about how far sighted it was. How such rampant economic growth could stall amidst resulting inflation. By all means, keep the bonfire burning; let's throw some kerosene on the blaze.

I distinctly remember visiting a company in D.C. who was webinizing a way to package and sell the mortgage paper from bank to bank. They needed an increase in their credit line and they warranted it because they would not be allowed to fail by the five major banks who were their investors, their customers and chief benefactors. I won't even touch on the apparent conflict of interest here. Suffice it to say that I was there witnessing the creation of a key component of our current dilemma -- fast, automated transfer of credit risks -- the complete commoditization of the mortgage market.

I know you are probably thinking what reason did I have to complain? Well, I didn't. I wasn't. I also wasn't living so far beyond my means that a slowing of that progress or even a sudden downturn would send me into debtor’s prison like it did some of the Silicon Valley programmers who took pre-IPO options in place of real salary and then couldn't pay the taxes when it all went sideways.

Because it did. It started going sideways even before it stopped. I spoke with companies over the phone that were shipping back last months purchases because their own private bubble popped. Either they ran out of venture capital before ever hitting critical mass or someone bought them for their intellectual property rights then flushed everything else, including all the employees who were needlessly creating unnecessary payroll at that point. Initially this was all just part of the game. The founders and their employees would move on to the next start-up and the cycle would continue.

Occasionally, rarely, there were legitimate players with innovative offerings but that's where the problem really took root. They would make it to their own not-so-private day of reckoning. The day of their IPO. And because they were quite rare amidst the vast field of pretenders they all had record setting IPOs. Brokerage firms had to make rules about buying IPO shares on margin much like casinos had to make rules about splitting tens. Any fool could do it. Everyone was making money at this point and they were doing it with borrowed capital.

But the same people who figured out how to get you to buy dog food and prescription drugs online also figured out how to track it all very granularly and that started to put a cap on advertising revenues. Plus, like any industry before it, internet commerce went through all the stages, except in this case almost literally at the speed of fiber optic light. So it had matured in many cases before it had truly finished growing. So the buyouts, the mergers and the need for no more than three internet booksellers (mirroring the three brick and mortar booksellers) put an end to it all. No amount of cheap money could save the virtual from the reality of the markets. My visits to start-ups declined. I was seeing more and more companies in traditional industries and the dot coms were nichier and more boutique or more robust, gobbling up their competition with voracity. I was even visiting some of them in out of the way little burgs where they realized T-1's were no more expensive but office space and all other costs of doing business were bargain priced.

The market started to cascade downward almost as quickly as it had climbed to the peaks of its own glorious ski slopes. My own company's stock stopped moving up. It had been a full year since there was a split. Almost everyone I knew had options that were under water. Some were ducking margin calls. We were all selling our own company's shares to avoid the bigger loss.

I saw it happening and made another well timed career move. I left selling to the dot com world in my rear view mirror before it could leave me standing by the roadside. Occasionally I would glance back. And one day when one of my reps received a call from a refurb computer reseller who had run through all the cheap computers he bought at Dot Com fire sales, calling the manufacturer directly now that he was out of stock and expecting the same pennies on the dollar prices, I knew it was truly over.

And later that year not just Enron but MCI/Worldcom, Tyco and Global Crossing to name a few, all got cranked through their own machinery of crooked accounting in the name of fast and as it turned out, unrealistic profits. Some had been calling for a market correction. That would appear to be a very kind euphemism in these cases though. No one bailed out the stockholders of those companies. I never got a sorry-fella welfare check for my scant few Worldcom shares. Not that I am complaining. Others who had worked for these companies lost their entire pensions and 401(k)'s. No bailout in these cases unless you call Social Security and Medicare a bailout.

So we enter the new Millennium, not with a bang in the year 2000 (which technically, we are told, is not the new Millennium) but instead nine months into the year 2001, the true millennial New Year. A symbol of financial strength, the World Trade Center's twin towers collapse into a massive pile of debris. The markets would never be the same. And although the damage had already been done a year or more earlier this was the watershed in world history that some would say marked the end of the Street's love affair with the internet.

It did not, however end their love affair with profit mongering in the extreme. Like junkies with one bad fix it was time to move to a new dealer or perhaps a different drug.

Enter the psychotic looking dancing banner ad clown. Did the Fed increase rates? I didn't notice. Neither did the car dealers who weren't moving inventory after 9/11. Zero percent, pre-approved everything must go infected the credit industry.

Mortgages apparently became the next virtual big-money reality. People who should never be able to afford houses, yes, I said "NEVER", are getting approved for $200 - $400k loans. And because they don't have an income or assets to support that lifestyle they are taking out home equity loans to buy the accessories for that mode of living like: a second car, recreational water and land vehicles, furniture for a house too big for their means or needs, etc., etc. There was exploitation and bad decision making on both sides of the table and at all levels of the market place. I blame the institutional investors with an almost day traders avarice, the home builders selling "custom homes" like new cars with menus of overpriced, luxury upsell options, buyers who knew full well they wouldn't be able to pay the real loan that came due when the ARM rates adjusted (pleading ignorance is not a defense - ask Thomas Jefferson - you signed the contract and no one held a gun to your head when you signed it) and then the banks for selling the paper before it would come back to haunt them all.

Mort Zuckerman's analysis in his September 29th U.S. News & World Report editorial is much more succinct and eloquent on the key economic levers involved in this epidemic of easy money in a mark to market world. Suffice it to say that there was action by some, inaction by others and plenty of warning signs and indicators of how this all might play out. We've watched a collapse of a very large and elaborate house of cards. Let's not pretend that no one at all was responsible for building it.

The only righteous thing that can occur at this point is investigations that lead to indictments and that everyone, including politicians, past and present are called to account for their actions or inaction as the case may be.

Lee Iacocca took only loan guarantees amidst far more controversy to rescue Chrysler. He made his case to Congress and they agreed but he was proven correct.

This bailout should only be offered in the similar vein and the American people should benefit from total transparency to the loans as part of the Freedom of Information Act. Then, if we see financial institutions that took big loan guarantees and continued going on junkets or others not paying back their loans, we'll know with whom we should bank and who we should avoid. That would correct the market on many levels.

Like many, I am torn. I don't want to see the massive market correction that would occur without some moves made by all the governments of the free world. We all lose and then we truly are victimized by these greedy charlatans who deserve jail time or at least prohibition on the privilege to sit on boards and hold executive posts. And life sentence on those restrictions are justified because if Kevin Mitnick is banned from touching a computer keyboard then their punishments would appear to fit the crime in similar fashion. Conversely, with the bailout as proposed there doesn't appear to be any real accountability, less so if the government merely seizes some measure of control and subjects us all to their characteristic inefficiencies and mismanagement.

On the flip side of the coin that reads "Freedom" is the word "Responsibility".
As good parents we teach our children this lesson from pre-adolescence on. Let government behave like a good parent. Who will be responsible for their bad decisions?

There is no guarantee of outcomes and there is very rarely a safety net big and deep enough for those who want to fly so high. If someone always catches us when we fall we will never feel the pain of the precipitating action. We will not have an aversion to that action when faced with that decision the next time. We will certainly fall again . . . and how far will we all fall next time?

Friday, September 5, 2008

Oprah Exposed

Oprah Winfrey is a racist, anti-feminist, hypocrite.
Another liberal celebrity with a political agenda.
I am saying it because I can.
Isn't the 1st Amendment a grand thing.

She'll have Black Obama on her show but won't interview Pale Palin.
And sure it's her show and she has a right to a political opinion . . . just like I can have an opinion about her and her circus side show.
But let's take it a step further, has she had Hillary Clinton on her show? That's not rhetorical. I really don't know. I don't watch her ridiculous circus with it's couch jumping sideshow Scientologists.
If not then it's not a matter of liberal or conservative politics. It's smacks of a racial preference. I guess Doctor King's work is not quite finished.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Stuck the Landing

Wow. She nailed it. And the one thing never mentioned by all the pundits was that she followed two tough acts this Wednesday night. The always engaging Huckabee and the acerbic wit of Giuliani . . . Biden's probably thankful he isn't Obama who must look like a big-eared piece of swiss cheese right now as many times as he got knifed tonight. I didn't think there was any place to stick another blade but she found a few more places to sink the dagger. The media's analysis was a little like Monday mornings back in grade school. We'd all stand around mimicking our favorite lines from an Eddie Murphy Saturday Night Live skit in much the same way a typically cynical and overwrought media was giddily comparing notes on their favorite Palin barbs about Obama.

Overheard halfway through Palin's speech"If even half that's true about the taxes why would anyone in this country vote for Obama?"
"I'm voting for McCain because she's hot."
Blogged this evening from the far left side of the internet, "it's time to get an Obama sign for the yard."

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Tickets

I am reading the blogs about the Biden announcement. I am listening to the media's reaction to the Obama convention speech. It's clear to me now that the liberals' excitement for displacing Republicans from national office has clouded any degree of reason or rational thought. The exuberance over the past two weeks is unbridled and more importantly, unsubstantiated. I hear a lot of hyperbole. I keep looking past all the adjectives and see very few action verbs or even specific nouns here. I do see a lot of dollar $ign$ though.
Why is everyone so excited? What are these guys planning on doing besides proclaiming their personal Hope for Change and the need to Change our Hope?
I see now that the Democratic Party could run a turgid dog's penis and a pine cone encrusted in used cat litter as the presidential ticket and the response would be roughly the same -- blind enthusiasm with lips puckered.

That being said, I haven't been thrilled about John McCain either. He misses the mark on some of the key planks in a Conservative's platform. The boards sound creaky at any rate. So even traditionally conservative sources have been skeptical about the support he will receive. One article even outlined how government was bound to get bigger and more unwieldly regardless of which party won the White House.
But even though I've heard the name mentioned before, I hear it first in detail on the Laura Ingraham Show (who is as flawed as any talk show host but really hitting her stride in the past month and a half). I hear things about this prospective V.P. that I really like because they connect with my personal concerns, my own conservative agenda, and most of all, they seem genuine. She seems genuine. And I am sure the liberal slander machine of the DNC is swinging in to gear as I type this. They'll be desperate to paint a different picture and they'll find something that resonates with self-loathing liberals but you can't argue with the data. Her actions and words before this moment are what they are. I am, at this moment, feeling sincere and all new excitement about Sarah Palin being the V.P. on the ticket. And she's far easier on the eyes than the other three fleshy headed, unripe and over-ripened, supermarket political products we'll be staring at for the next three months.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Madonna, All Of Your Relevance Called and It Wants to Move Back to the 80's

So it's that time again. When Hollywood stops making poorly crafted, preachy movies with heavy handed political propaganda and summers with the quasi-celebs in the national political circles. They are all hanging out at the Convention Party and unavoidably the sophomore geeks of the national media are trying to stand close enough to the cool older kids in hopes that nobody notices they are socially inept.
And so then the microphones start flying in front of the faces of all the wrong people like the business end of a Chippendale dancer dangling in front of your mom at your fiancée's bachelorrete party.
In essence this leads to people who's lyrics are written for them, who's lines are scripted for them and further more their performance directed and redirected, now they have to shake something loose from their otherwise vacant heads. What they say is a) something that makes rational people scratch their heads and wonder why they enjoyed performances by such an addle-brained idiot, b) because it doesn't take into account that most of us don't lunch at The Ivy or Koi and write it off as a business expense before having it out with our pool boy, illegal-alien maid, __(insert other household staff of wealthy glitterati here)__, and that's because c) our lives are so utterly and completely different that I'd be better off asking the Russian military to be my ambassador and spokesperson to my U.S. Government Representatives.
Is that stretching it a bit?
Not as much as Madonna labeling John McCain the worst Nazi in world history.
WTF?!? Madonna, why don't you get your sagging ass back in the studio to record another crappy album, or try and fail to shock us by kissing skanky, trailer trash pop stars at music awards or adopt a kid from Darfur or something that you think you still do well while I am sitting here wondering how I am going to pay the bill on my gas card?
Speaking to America about what we should think about the candidates is not that thing that made you famous. It's not something you do well. Stop doing it.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Gold Medals Made My Heart Swell

Every time we won a gold medal at the Olympics these last two weeks my heart would swell with pride because I knew they would play one of the most enduring national anthems ever written.

So I am checking out the stories on the internet and I happen to read this editorial on how the Chinese are up in the Gold Medal count at the Summer Olympics and because they don't count Silver and Bronze they feel they can declare themselves a super power, dominating these Olympics against the American team that has been 10-18 total medals ahead of them all week. I am reading this in some Yahoo (Reuters dominated, read: Liberal Media Agenda) Sports page. So I am doing an analysis and it would appear that the vast majority of gold medals occur for the Chinese in events with subjective scoring, like diving and gymnastics, in non-team events and events with no real popularity, even in the Olympics (i.e. BADMINTON and TABLE TENNIS).
Ummmm, yeah. I'm thinking Misty May-Trainer and Kerry Walsh could very well bench press the Chinese mens athletes competing in these sports.
Consequently I come to find out there will be no softballs floating above the pitch in four years but the shuttle cock and the tiny white plastic ball will probably remain. Nothing says athletic dominance like "sports" I played and subsequently gave up playing before I was ten.
So now they are over. The U.S. didn't embarrass itself. We didn't blood dope. We stumbled occasionally or perhaps dropped the baton in a relay but we recovered quickly, winning more medals in the next event. Most importantly we didn't compete with under-aged athletes, subject an audience to a lip-synched performance at the opening ceremony or ridicule for wearing masks and not sucking up the smog and we took the high road when scores equaled Gold and only resulted in Silver.
The team was victorious in all the events we were supposed to dominate. We capped off our victories with a Basketball Gold Medal win for the "Redeem Team" - Good showing guys!
And for those of you who don't see the political implications of the Olympics, well you probably never will. The IOC is a little like the NCAA for the United Nations. That is to say that the IOC would appear to embody some of the same anti-American bent that is all too evident in the UN. When the U.S. won medals there was no question, many times setting records in purely objective contests of speed, strength, poise and endurance.
I detected a nationalistic pride in our athletes that others may not have witnessed. You may feel I am projecting my sentiment. I think you are wrong if you do because these are the same others who won't acknowledge the militaristic basis for the games in ancient Greece and are even more unlikely to admit we are at war with better than half the world right now for our very survival as a nation and as a beacon of the Democratic ideals we've established with our nation 232 years ago. Announcers skirted a direct analogy for the past two weeks but any reference to Mark Spitz in the '72 Olympics is going to conjure images of the Middle-Eastern terrorists and there was a reference to Jesse Owens amidst all the Michael Phelps accolades, again, an Olympics known better for the place: Berlin and the time in history: a world looming on the brink of war.

Shine on US Gold. Fly high Stars and Stripes. Stand tall US Olympic Team.