Monday, October 11, 2010

TELL ME AGAIN WHY I VOTED FOR THIS GUY?

Plenty of voters with buyer's remorse have been asking themselves that question lately. Every once in awhile, the American populace loses its collective mind and elects a President with decidedly liberal--excuse me "progressive"--leanings. It happened in the 30's, the 60's and late 70's, and most recently, 2008. FDR, Jimmy Carter, Barak Obama (the black Jimmy Carter), got elected not because they overwhelmingly swayed the electorate with the liberal doctrine of big centralized government engorging on a endless feast of tax revenue, but because their Republican predecessors fucked things up and basically through default gifted the presidency to the Demos. Herbert Hoover, Nixon/Ford, W. Bush, all failed to govern according to conservative fiscal precepts; and in that regard, all of the above could be accused of blatantly false advertising. Notwithstanding the commonplace public perception, Hoover was a Big Spender, Big Government disciple; FDR in many ways extended what Hoover had already initiated, programs which failed to end the Great Depression. Nixon, with his price controls and trashing of Bretton Woods, was economically the most liberal president since FDR. W. Bush brought us the biggest new entitlement, namely the Medicare prescription drug program, since Johnson's Great Society, and oversaw a huge increase in spending during his eight years.

And so despite an electorate that, save for a few years in the 30's and 60's, has been moderately conservative since the end of the Civil War, a guy like FDR got elected because Hoover royally botched things; Jimmy Carter got elected because Nixon was a nut and Ford a dummy; and Obama got elected thanks to Iraq and a financial meltdown whose roots went back to the 90's. Barak Obama most assuredly did not get elected because he loudly proclaimed a liberal agenda; in fact, he did everything he could to disguise his true political weltanshaunng.

Barak reminds me of that character who made the headlines back in the 80's by falsely claiming to be Sidney Portier's son. He charmed his way into the homes of New York's hoity-toity set, who are always happy to bend over backwards to schmooze a bright, articulate, attractive young black man. The story ends with the charmer scamming several of his Upper East-Side admirers. (Will Smith starred in a movie Six Degrees of Separation based on this fraud.) Like those victims, many who voted for Obama are scratching their heads and asking themselves how the hell they fell for this guy.

The bright, articulate, attractive black guy who promised a world fresh and new turns out to be just another dyed-in-the-wool, ole time liberal who would have made William Jennings Bryan proud. Just think about what he did as soon as he got into office: rather than focus like a laser beam on the collapsing economy, he spent the first year and half trying to ram Obamacare through, the first step towards reaching the liberal holy grail of a nationalized health system. And what are the main benefits to the average person that justify the certain run-up in premiums and the diminished personal options that Obamacare will cause: we can keep our slacker 20-somethings on our family plans and get preventative check-ups for free. This is all we got for all those months of discord. Gee, thanks.

His only real sally at the Great Recession jammed through a so-called stimulus bill that mostly rewarded his base of public union supporters. His ideology is so rigid that he's crusading to raise taxes while the economy is mired in something that doesn't deserve to be called a recovery just so he can beat on the wealthy, the ranks of which include a lot of business people whose confidence he desperately needs to stoke in order to bring the unemployment rate down. But hey, why put the economy before an congenital lust for class warfare politics. He has no clue as to why the private sector is not hiring, despite sitting on mountains of cash, because he has no clue what the private sector is. Every week, one his henchmen announces a new panoply of regulations to sock businesses with. He loves employment but hates employers.

I wish I could draw because I thought of a great cartoon: Obama is speaking, rather lecturing, to a group of citizens. He is looking at an easel holding up a large poster listing in bold letters OBAMACARE, STIMULUS PLAN, FISCAL REFORM with a check mark next to each. He smiles proudly as he he raises his pointer at the poster, not noticing the looks of terror on the faces of his audience. His audience is terrified because rising behind and above the proud President is a huge tsunami with the words NATIONAL DEBT written across it. The giant wave threatens to crash down on the oblivious President, his little easel and his audience as well, wiping away his oh-so-cool smile.

His nonchalant attitude toward the trillion plus federal deficits as far as the eye can see explains why so much of his terrified audience will be fleeing his party come the first week of November. His attitude versus the attitude of most Americans toward the stupendous increase in government spending that is projected to occur on his watch explains why he's about to get his ass kicked. It's more than the money, more than about the debt that will be foisted onto future generations. It's more than the dereliction of fiscal responsibility. The Tea-baggers are right in focusing on this issue because it crystallizes to many the nightmare of a metastasing power in Washington, DC. What it's about is the destruction of the American individualism, entrepreneurship, innovation and ingenuity as the bureaucrats and politicos in DC assume more and more control. In other words, it's about the destruction of the American spirit.

But what do you expect from a guy who believes the greatness of this country was founded on "community organizers," environmental activists, "courageous" trial lawyers, labor unions.

I'm afraid I'll be pulling the lever so hard in the voting booth come November that I might break it off the machine.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

SEX AND TENNIS

Watching the US OPEN tennis tournament the past week, I had a sudden revelation: women are not faking it when they make all those noises during sex. Before you scratch your head and think I'm some weird pervert who's turned on by those oh-so-short tennis skirts and the beads of sweat dangling on the downy hairs of some twenty-two year old's bronzed and shapely arms (which, of course, I am) let me explain.

Surely you've noticed that generally most women make a lot of sounds during sex, while men are usually grimly focused upon the task at hand, silent save for a gratuitous primal grunt or a little low moan at the moment of climax. I know you all watch porn, and have you ever heard the dude screaming his lungs out with carnal ecstasy? I think most of us would be embarrassed for such a dude. But the ladies? Scream away, girls; your high-pitched staccato shrieking, orgasmic caterwauling, violent panting, breathless exhortations to go faster, harder, deeper, well, that enhances the ambiance and really gets guys' blood racing.

To be honest, I sometimes wondered if a lot this lascivious noise-making was a bit of acting. Ever since that scene in When Harry Met Sally when Meg Ryan demonstrated to Billy Crystal how women fake orgasms, us guys have had our moments of doubt as to the sincerity of our female partner's audio expressions of enthusiasm. Being the better half of the species and certainly less selfish than men, women are willing to do what it takes to make their partner happy, even if that means ridiculously dramatic siren calls of delight, which sometimes are so loud and horrific that neighbors feel the need to call the cops because they think someone is being murdered in the next apartment over.

Okay, so what does this have to do with tennis? The other day, I was watching Sharapova at the OPEN. You can't just watch her (and she is easy on the eyes), you also have to listen to her as her sound effects are the best (or the worse, depending upon your perspective) in the game. I actually don't find hers and other lady tennis players' yelps and keening to be all that attractive; in fact it's downright annoying. I believe Monica Seles was the first to start vocalizing her exertions, and some of her opponents early on complained that her screechings distracted them greatly. (Who knows, but maybe her noises sufficiently agitated that guy who stabbed her in the back during a match in Germany years ago.) But now, it seems like most women tennis players have their respective "stylings" when it comes to emanations on the court; whereas men players are more focused on the task at hand, silent save for a gratuitous primal grunt and a little low moan at the moment of climax. Hey, haven't I said that already?

So we've come full circle back to sex. It dawned on me while watching Sharapova that women must have a natural inclination to express themselves vocally while involved in an intense physical activity, whether it's tennis or sex. And so guys, more than likely the sex noises that turn us on so much are not fake! I bet you all now feel really relieved.

And so kick back and watch some tennis. Turn the volume down if you want to. And watch those little beads of sweat roll down those lovely tanned arms....

Saturday, August 28, 2010

INDIANS, THE NEW COOL FOLKS

Have you noticed lately that Indians are suddenly cool? I'm not talking about Native American people who we once called Indians in those pre-p.c days of gauche; those "Indians" have been cool since the 60's. I'm talking about people with ancestry from India. Suddenly, Indians are popping up on television and in movies. The movie, Slumdog Millionaire, was a huge hit, and the West finally recognized Bollywood as a legitimate source of fine movies. One of the big networks this fall is running a show about a group of Indians at an outsourcing company. And there's that chap who sells fiber bars in the TV commercial. He sort of epitomizes the common view of Indians as smart, modest, psychologically balanced. They seem to have their shit together, evincing a kind of Zen savoir faire.

Sometimes, though, the portrayal of Indians borders on comic caricature. Have you seen the two geeks on that Internet commercial? I wonder what Indians think when they see that commercial as well as other media depictions of them as nerds. I think most of them probably laugh along with the joke, as they seem to be an ethnic group with a high degree of self-confidence. After all, immigrant Indians have to a significant degree fostered US's technological dominance, so they have a lot to be proud of. (All the more reason to be furious at the dimwits in Congress who won't increase the visa quota for foreign workers, which has been stuck at 65,000 for ten years, thanks mostly to union goon opposition.)

The media can get away with caricaturing Indians because they are not placed under the unofficial classification of "protected group," as are, for example, blacks and gays. What do you think the reaction would be if Nike, say, ran a TV spot depicting blacks as dumb jocks, which stereotype has as much of a kernel of truth as the depiction of Indians as super-smart geeks. Can you imagine the uproar such an ad would cause? But, thankfully, we have not heard a peep from any Indian "advocacy groups," if any actually exist, or some Indian version of Al Sharpton.

But this discussion about Indians in America betrays a subliminal presupposition and prejudice, raising the question as to why we assume that all these characters are Indian. Why could they not be Pakistani, a group that once was part of India, that for the most part looks and speaks English like Indians? The main difference between Indians and Pakistanis is that Indians are mostly Hindu and Pakistanis are mostly Muslim. Our media never portrays Muslims in a positive or light-hearted way. Not only have we not placed Muslims in the "protected group" bracket, we've pretty much declared open season on them.

Take, the "Ground Zero Mosque" controversy for example. First of all, this development is not a mosque but more like a YMCA with a prayer room. Anyway, no one would have problem if a church or synagogue were built there; so the problem is not that a religious facility is being built on what most Americans regard as hallowed ground. The problem is that Muslims sponsor this project, and Muslims are a group that many feel it's ok to discriminate against, despite our Constitution and the tenet of religious freedom, which our nation holds as sacred.

Whenever someone mentions that not all Muslims are terrorists, the retort is typically that all terrorists are Muslims. Assuming that statement is true, which it's not, what is the logic there? It's a non-sequitur. The fact is that probably 99% plus of Muslims are not terrorists and do not support terrorism. More Muslims have been killed by Islamic terrorists the past few years than by "infidels." Consequently, I don't think terrorists' popularity rating in the Muslim world is very high. As far as Muslims in America go, the percentage supporting terrorism and violence against other religions is probably infinitesimally small. So why are we condemning a whole religion for the actions of a few? Did the fact the Christian Serbs massacred tens of thousand of Muslim Bosnians mean that all Christians are mass murderers?

The few times that I have seen the developers of this project speak, they seem to be moderate Muslims who have engaged both Christians and Jews in their community and disavow any ties to Iran, Al Queda, Hamas. I blame them for not being Muslim but for being politically tone deaf and PR klutzes. They should have positioned this project as effort to reach out to non-Muslims and show the world that American Muslims stand in solidarity with those who lost love ones on 9/11 (which number included many Muslims). From what I can tell, I believe that was the primary motivating force behind this development, but the developers have done a terrible job conveying that.

All the while that this brouhaha has been percolating, the message to the world of Islam is that the US is inherently hostile to the religion, despite the fact that 6 million or so Muslims live here and are in many cases thriving. This whole contretemps has been a PR disaster not only for the project developers but also for the USA's image to the 1.5 billion Muslims across the globe.

So we love Indians and hate Muslims. Both sentiments are based on stereotypes and reflect America's sometimes schizoid relationship with its immigrant population.

Let them build the damn community center, mosque, whatever it is and let's move on to something more important, like Barak being a closet Muslim.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

THE BIG UNEASY

The Great Recession has been followed by the Great Unease...or better yet, let's call it the Big Uneasy. Never in my lifetime have I witnessed an era when so many people are so uncertain and nervous about the future. Sure, I remember getting under my desk in 1st grade when we practised civil defense against a Soviet nuclear attack. We all may have been nervous, but nonetheless we were confident that ultimately we would prevail against the Evil Empire. And the Sixties scared the living shit out of me, with the assassinations, riots, war, and psychos. Don't talk to me about what a groovy time the Sixties were. As a pre-teen, I thought our country was caught in some vortex spinning down the drain. But we all still believed that maybe something good would emerge from this chaos, like the Civil Rights Movement.

But today, we don't seem so confident that we will prevail or that something good will emerge from our mass financial trauma. The American Spirit seems to be succumbing to a profound pessimism, the depths of which it has not experienced since the 1930's. Despite the monster rally in the financial markets since March 2009, no one has any real conviction that national economic health is just around the corner. Even more disturbing, a recent poll showed that for the first time ever, most Americans doubt that their children will attain a better standard of living than they presently have.

The general mood is that a bad moon is on the rise. Nasty events are going to overwhelm us, like a terrorist event that will make 9/11 look like a warm up act. Yet my sense is the the Big Uneasy is less a fear of some historic catastrophe and more a fear of a gradual winding down, coming apart, dissolution of the bonds that bind us, dissipation, devolution. Deep down we suspect that America is in a permanent cultural, economic, political, social decline. That decline will result in social unrest as the Have-nots finally rise up against the Have's and our enemies around the world, particularly would be Islamic mass murderers, will slowly encircle us.

Suddenly, I'm hearing of "escape plans." For example, I was at at cocktail party recently when a guy was telling me that he was thinking of buying a farm in Ireland that he could flee to when the "the shit finally hits the fan" in the US. People standing around downed their drinks and nodded their heads as if accepting the premise of such drastic action. And then I read an interview in the WSJ with John Malone, the media mogul who controls the conglomerate, Liberty Media. Asked about the biggest risks to Liberty, Malone said that his greatest concern was the country's survival. "We have a retreat that's right on the Quebec border. We own 18 miles on the border, so we can cross. Anytime we want to, we can get away." This, from the 400th richest man in the world according to Forbes. In the Sixties, the rich built bomb shelters; today they buy ranches in Canada or some place like Costa Rica.

These intimations of Armageddon are not limited to the US. I recently read that the fad among the newly mega-wealthy in China is to buy property they can flee to when the proletarian masses finally remember that they are communists.

One might wish that we had a leader who could inspire and make us feel that truly all we have to fear is fear itself. A long time ago, one might have harbored such expectations for Barak Obama, with his charismatic if nebulous message of hope and positive change. But he has turned out to be nothing more that a classic ole time liberal who kowtows to the unions and left-winger superannuated ancient mariners in Congress. Why else, for example, would he have spent the first year and half of his administration focused almost totally on passing the old liberal chestnut, national healthcare? What did that monstrosity of a bill do to heal us economically and rejuvenate our nation's natural optimism?

God can best bless American by sending us Ronald Reagan reincarnated.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Al Gore, Sex Machine

Speaking of sanctimonious pricks, how about Al Gore? The National Enquirer reported last week that Gore jumped the bones of a 54 year old masseuse in Portland, Oregon. She's claiming sexual assault, albeit a few years after the alleged incident. Now this is just too rich. Remember how Gore distanced himself from Clinton during his 2000 presidential campaign because he didn't want to get soiled by the latter's philandering slime? (What a great way to show gratitude to the guy who had brung him to the dance.) The details of the incident provide one of the funniest reads that I've had in a long time. Gore comes across as just what exactly he is, a real doofus. I think the Yiddish equivalent is schlemiel.

The masseuse, who refers to herself as "Grandma," describes how she got a call for a late-night appointment at the fancy hotel where Gore was staying. Gore, a beer in one hand, met her at the door with a big welcoming hug. Grandma thought that Gore, whom she describes as "rotund," held the hug just a little too long. She noted, "I try to keep an open, professional mind and a sense of the 'benefit of the doubt...' I assumed he must be engaging in something like 'the new ages politician casual mode'...a kind of beneficent patriarch thing going on it seemed." Grandma masseuse might not be too articulate, but already she's evincing real comic understatement.

Grandma perfectly describes the essence of Gore: "He had a dramatic display of violent temper as well as extremely dictatorial commanding attitude besides his Mr. Smiley Global Warming concern persona." How perfect. No only is this guy an asshole, he's a phony to boot.

Grandma continues, "While he was face down, he suddenly asked me, 'What has become clear to you lately?'...I asked him what he had become clear lately about himself and he said, 'Letting go of results.'" What the hell was he talking about? Could he still be crying over the 2000 election? What has become clear to you lately...that has to rank up there with other enigmatic queries such as when that guy beat up Dan Rather on the streets of New York and kept saying, "What's the frequency, Kenneth?"

Gore evidently at this point felt that he had established enough of an emotional connection with Grandma that he could command her to massage down from the "safe, non-sexual area of the abdomen" to where his manhood dangled.

Grandma figured that this would be a good time to mention Tipper to him as a way to tamp down his rising prurience. Then, "I started backpeddling with something well, about well, everybody's relationship or marriage is a private affair. No one really knows with absolute certainty what is the true arrangement that was private with Bill and Hillary for example...I really stepped in it because talk about Bill and Hillary is like a real sore point with this guy. And I didn't know so he's just like roar..." Gore, lying on a massage table, roaring over Billary. Heheheh...

What followed after the "roar" was one of the most mangled seduction attempts of all times. Gore lured Grandma into the bedroom to listen to a "song about the current president that would shock me. The song was 'Dear Mr. President' by Pink...As soon as he had it playing, he turned to me and immediately flipped me flat on my back and threw his whole body face down over atop me, pinning me down and outweighing me by quite a bit. Get off me, you big lummox! I loudly yelled protested to him...We lay on our sides a couple of feet apart, looking at each other as he played the song, him singing along with it as if he were revealing deep feeling like some bizarre karaoke and me stuck there. He prevailed upon me to listen to just this one other song about women's feeling and their inner self and trust that he said his wife introduced him to, which is about a woman choosing to let a man into her deeper self or some such thing."

Wow! If Grandma is making this stuff up, then it would be a downright tragedy if she didn't put such a fertile imagination to good use as a novelist or sit-com writer. Grandam does say that since the encounter with her pal Al, she has had trouble sleeping and has been terrified to make any more out-calls. Furthermore, the big lummox managed to unsettle the core of her political beliefs: "That is what's been really hard with this. Um, because I, I, you know, live in the 'Birkenstock Tribe,' and it's like being the ultimate traitor. And, by the by, there are people, um...one who was basically just asking me to suck it up, otherwise the world's going to be destroyed by global warming."

Grandma, in her own inimitably inarticulate, stammering way concludes, "The mind trip with this thing is it's just like instead of swallowing a pill, it's like trying to swallow one the size of a globe. And having to carry a mantle for if the world falls apart, according to people's belief system, it's all on me. And I'm, like, that's so crazy-making."

So what's up with Al? Is he going through a mid-life crisis of some sort, although at the age of 60-something one would think that he's a bit old for that. Is he having some slow-mo nervous breakdown? Nah, I just think the guy has been reading his own press and thinks that his own shit doesn't stink anymore since he got his Academy Award and Nobel Prize. Like Grandma, I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and grant that he probably has been mostly faithful to Tipper, notwithstanding that DC is a hedonist swamp and there seems to be no dearth of wannabes and climbers who are willing to give a geezer congressman a blow job if it means getting that coveted slot as an aide on the House Ways and Means Committee. Now that he's the Cock of the Walk in Hollywood and various other bastions of brainless liberalism, he thinks he's invincible, too cool to care...just like Slick Willie, Tiger Woods and a host of other Viagra-fueled, celebrity middle-aged juveniles. Sycophants and hanger-ons have told these guys that they are "rock stars" and they finally come to believe it.

But Clinton, Gore's erstwhile mentor and nemesis, at least had some suaveness to his debauchery. Like What's-her-name, bimbo eruption five, said the guy was really good at munching her rug. That won points with a Southern buddy of mine who said, "Hey, how can you not like a guy who likes eating greasy fried chicken and pussy." Okay, I might be able to buy into that. But Gore can't even manage to swing it with a 54 year old massage hag. And can you imagine any of Slick Willie's "paramours" describing him a "crazed sex poodle" as Grandma with such devastation described Gore? Clinton would have had the panties off Grandma in no time.

This episode only confirms what I've always thought about Al, namely that he's a bit nutso, missing a few bars in his cellphone, so to speak. For example, his trouble with the truth, like his claim to have invented the internet, may be more than a moral deficiency but something more pathological. And when three completely different Al Gores showed up in the debates with W., the "Twilight Zone" theme music sounded across the nation. The fact that a verbally challenged, half-wit like W. could best Gore in all three debates totally negated any talk about how "brilliant" Al is. By the way, why does the media always characterise Republican candidates as dumb and all Democratic candidates as "brilliant"? The only Republican in modern history that the media and academia didn't declare stupid was Richard Nixon; of course, he was smart like Satan is smart in their book, assuming the liberal media believe in Satan.

Anyway, all I can say is Thank the Lord that jackass didn't become president. Say what you will about W., he isn't a big fat doofus.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

JOE BIDEN'S HOOF-IN-MOUTH DISEASE STRIKES AGAIN

Joe Biden is the gift that keeps on giving. He's such an amusing fellow, especially when he's not trying to be. Vanity is the root of his comedy. I mean, just look at him. He was one of the trailblazers who got hair plugs back in the early 80's. And his face has that smiling pig look from too much cosmetic surgery around the eyes (see Greta Van Sustern). His capped teeth throw off such an obnoxious glare that one has to avert one's eyes from his smarmy smile. Such vanity engenders his self-delusion that he is smarter than everyone else when obviously he's not. The only thing worse than being dumb is being dumb and loud. The guy's a classic blowhard. That he's become a national joke for statements that are inappropriate, inaccurate, idiotic doesn't deter him from blowing hard on his little kuzu.

Joe was at it again this weekend while campaigning in Wisconsin for Russ Feingold. (I guess only sure-thing candidates like Feingold are willing to take the risk of Joe stumping for them.) While on the trail, Joe and Russ with entourage strolled into Kopp's Frozen Custard Shop. That the place serves only frozen custard didn't stop Joe from ordering an ice cream. Anyway, after getting a cone, Joe asked the manager what he owed him. You know Joe, being a notorious cheapskate, fully expected the cones for him and his convoy would be freebies. The store manager said that the cones were gratis but with a proviso that Biden lower taxes. This, as the pedantic Obama likes to say, turned out to be a "teachable moment."

The scowl that Joe gave at such an insolent suggestion was priceless. You could see him thinking, What nerve this plebe has to ask that his taxes be lowered. Later on Joe said to the guy, "Hey, can't you say something nice instead of being a smart ass all the time?" There you have it, folks, the attitude that people like Obama and Joe have towards "the little guys" who might want to have some tax relief: "What, you got to be kidding me! What are you, some kind of smart ass?" Thank God for the Internet so that we can see these unscripted, spontaneous moments when politicians for once speak the truth, albeit accidentally. Just like Obama's "we wanna spread it around" comment to Joe the Plumber, Biden's comment at Kopp's Custard Shop reveals much more than any hour long speech delivered by teleprompter ever will.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

CHINA, A PAPER TIGER?

I've heard people compare the 1980's to this past decade. Ok, maybe Lady Gaga is a techno-pop version of Madonna circa 1988 when she pranced around wearing those cone tits. And true, conspicuous consumption became the reigning zeitgeist just as it had when the sitcoms, excuse me, TV dramas like Dallas and Dynasty were cultural epitomes. Up until recently, everybody was making a lot of money, and greed was cool again. Instead of corporate raiders like Gordon Gecko, we've witnessed the rise of the Hedge Fund Man, whose basic value system isn't that much different from Gecko's.

Both decades did begin and end with recessions. Both the end recessions had as their root causes a real estate bust that lead to a banking crisis (remember the Savings and Loans?). Although the late 80's/early 90's downturn was not nearly as severe as the 2008 Great Recession, both economic lapses caused Americans to feel much less secure about the standing and role of the US in the world. A sort of fin de siecle gloom descended over the end of the 80's as well as the end of the 00's. Both the late 80's and 2010 were filled with much talk that hailed or mourned the decline of the US, with left wingers doing the hailing and conservatives the mourning.

Of course one nation's descent presupposes another nation's ascent. Back in the 80's the nation on the ascent was Japan. The sun certainly seemed to be rising over Japan back then. People like Lester Thurow and Paul Kennedy declared that the Japanese would be the world's greatest economic power by 2010, supplanting the US; and the only way the US could even stay in the race would be to put the economy in the capable hands of Washington politicians/bureaucrats and smart people like Lester Thurow and Paul Kennedy. Japan did indeed seem formidable at the time, with a booming economy driven by exports, a genius for manufacturing and the best educated and motivated work force in the world. America's insecurity vis-a-vis Japan was aggravated by the insatiable appetite Japanese seemed to have for American trophy properties. They were buying up Rockefeller Center and Pebble Beach and just about anything worth buying in between. Goofy numbers were bandied about, like how the square mile around the Japanese Royal Palace was worth more than all the real estate in LA. The Japanese were on their way to taking over the world not with ships, planes and tanks as during WWII, but with economic superiority. The Nikkei moved above 36,000. Hirohito was having his revenge.

But suddenly all that changed, reversed. Japan fell into a slump in the late 80's that persists in some respects even today. Japan's economic decline has sowed a deflation that won't reflate away despite massive government deficit spending which has take public debt to 200% of GDP. Notwithstanding two or three recessions, including the Mother of All Recessions, over the past two decades the US is still the great economic power, without a close second. We managed to get through a couple of busts and still initiate the age of the Internet. We have the most productive work force in the world. We continue to dominate in Nobel Prize winners. Manufacturing has taken a hit over the past 20 years, but US manufacturing is still 67% higher than it was in 1967, inflation adjusted. Be prepared to be shocked, but the US is still number one in terms of manufacturing output.

Why were people like Thurow and Kennedy so wrong? Americans are acutely conscious of the US's place in the world and therefore insecure about any challenges to its top ranking in terms of the economy, military, global leadership. We're always looking over our shoulder to see who's gaining. Consequently, we emphasize a potential rival's strengths without taking due consideration of its weaknesses. With hindsight, we now see that Japan had glaring weaknesses that would hinder it's move to the top, i.e. a dysfunctional political system; incestuous "horizontal" relationships between industrial companies and banks; a deep and culturally ingrained inability to recognize problems, like bad loans, leaving "zombie" banks to haunt the economic landscape; flatline growth in population due to an innate zenophobia; a housing market so unsophisticated financially that the average Japanese has to save a lifetime in order to buy a home, which leads to high savings and low consumption. The sun rises, but it also sets, even over the exporting juggernaut, Japan.

One could take all the headlines from the late 80's trumpeting the triumph of Japan and insert China for Japan and get similar headlines today touting the rise of China as the successor to the US as the world's great power. Just like Japan, China is a manufacturing, exporting dynamo. Thanks to its ability to harness its teeming, billion plus population to the yoke of low wage manufacturing, China has become the place to make things. And with a currency, the yuan, artificially cheapened through government actions and relatively open trade borders in the US and Europe, China has managed to create enormous reserves of dollars and euros. China is more than happy to lend some of those reserves back to the USA, the country from whence most of those reserves were generated.

With a 1.2 billion population and over $2 trillion in reserves, China certainly seems destined to be a great power, maybe even the greatest power two or three decades down the road. And with the US being the largest debtor nation in the world and owing so much money to China, some would say that we are already second rate. Isn't every lender in a superior position to its borrowers?

But are we once again overlooking weaknesses that a potential rival, in ths case China, must overcome to ever reach the level of dominance that the US currently has? People forget that over half China's population live in the countryside as barely subsistence farmers, peasants really. China must maintain a GDP growth rate of at least 8% to take care of the millions yearly moving from the farms to the cities. The possibility of social upheaval if such jobs aren't provided certainly must motivate China's leaders to keep the foot on the pedal and do whatever it takes to keep growing. Given the doomsday possibility of social revolution, manipulating the currency is a venial matter in the eyes of China's leaders.

Moreover, this peasant population provides very little in the way of domestic demand for goods relative to the export market. Like Japan, China's power comes from exports. Ironically, like Japan, that strength is also its weakness. China is so levered to demand abroad that a global slowdown could result in a wave of factory closing and massive job losses. China has been fortunate that most of Asia kept growing while the US and Europe were in the throes of recession. But even though the US is slowly crawling back, much of the world seems to be slipping back into a synchronized slowing. Maybe a serious slump causes unemployment in China to rise only few percentage points, but when you are talking about over a billion people, that's a huge number. Japan has been able to muddle through its deflation, but China can't afford to, given the less developed state of its economy and its gargantuan size. Japan also has a social safety net, while China, with all its wealth, doesn't.

Which raises a question: What is China doing with its 2 plus trillion in reserves? Why isn't it using that to develop local demand? Instead, some of those reserves are being used to purchase resources like oil, iron ore, cooper all across the globe, and some to buy dollars to keep the yuan cheap.

Besides the basic structural problems with China's economy, the same type of problems that kept Japan down, there is a even more fundamental reason why I think China will never be the great power that the US is. To attain the level of the US, China will have to become a technological innovator, be an incubator for companies like Intel, Microsoft, Apple. American technology is what propelled the US from being the last man standing after WWII to still the dominant global power 50 years later. Maybe centuries ago the Chinese were creative, innovative, technologically superior, but the only technology that the Chinese have today is what they stole or copied from the West, particularly the US.

But with such huge population producing waves of engineers and scientists and with such a hoard of funds, why can't China become a technological powerhouse?
The answer to that can be found in photo I saw on the front page of the Wall Street Journal showing the ten dudes who run the country. I forgot what they called themselves but they all looked almost like carbon copies of each other, with the glasses, blue suits, red ties. No matter how much economic freedom has been loosened in China the past twenty-five years, its is still politically and culturally repressed. It may not be Communist any longer, but it's still a totalitarian state. Tiannem Square massacre occurred only twenty years ago and guys of the same ilk are still running the show.

The recent spat about Google not willing to censor certain websites in China illustrates the point. How can a nation that is hellbent on controlling everything from the media to education, in short, the thoughts and expressions of its people, produce a Steve Jobs or a Bill Gates. Such a stifling, repressive milieu is not conducive to ingenuity and creativity, outside-the-box thinking. Mavericks don't make it in China; conformists do.

And so I don't buy the possibility that China one day will rule the world, at least China as it presently is, a mercantilist, totalitarian state. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if China sometime over the next five years takes a serious fall, whether it's from some economic disaster, like an implosion of the bubble real estate market there (we've heard that one before), an out-of-control inflation that forces the monetary authorities to induce the Chinese version of the Great Recession. More likely is some eruption of the social distress that seems to be always burbling just beneath the surface there. Maybe the masses there who want the middle class standard of living that they see in Taiwan and South Korea (despite the past best efforts of the government to keep them from seeing), will finally lose patience and revolt. I've read reports that the wealthy in China are looking for other countries to move to in the case of such an event. Such class resentment is not surprising in a nation that for most of its modern history has been communist.

I am less confident that I used to be about the future of the US, given that we are currently speeding down the wrong track. It's amazing how forgetful we are, about the things that pulled us out of the last truly nasty recession, that of 1982. Lower taxes, less regulation, strong dollar, tight monetary policy; in other words, the exact opposite of all the things Obama is doing.

Notwithstanding my uncertainty regarding the future of the US, I am confident that we are not at the dawning of the Sino Century.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

GOLDEN GEESE

America has been blessed with a gaggle of geese that lay golden eggs. But we seem intent on wringing the neck of these geese one by one.

Take natural resources. No place on earth has more natural resources than the United States of America. For example, we have billions of barrels of oil and trillions of cubic feet of natural gas off our coastlines. Unfortunately, this huge oil spill in the deepwater Gulf will nip in the bud the growing recognition among even erstwhile environmental whole earth, holy do-gooders like Obama that we urgently need to tap that energy. What terrible timing. Even though this spill is the first significant one since the one off Santa Barbara over 40 years ago, our national energy policy will likely remain strait-jacketed so that we can not touch one drop of that oil or one cubic foot of that gas. We would rather sends tens of billions of dollars every year to people like Putin, Chavez and Islamic fundamentalists who hate our guts. Meanwhile, Brazil recently discovered a huge oil find in the Gulf adjacent to US territory. Only God knows how much energy resources lie within our grasp. What do you think China, Japan or the EU would give to have what we have and do not use? Lunacy!!!

Another goose laying golden eggs is the US drug industry. The US is basically the pharmacy to the rest of the world. No better example exists of American know-how and ingenuity than our pharmaceutical and biotech companies. We have produced one miracle drug after another over the past hundred years. The rest of the world owes us a great debt of gratitude. Yet listening to the healthcare debate over the past year, one would think that our drug industry is some vast criminal enterprise. These dumb as dirt congresspeople seem to have no clue what the risks and costs are every time a drug or biotech company launches an effort to develop a new drug. The companies ask for and deserve a high reward for this risk and huge capital investment. But Obamacare may strangle these companies to such an extent that the risks are no longer worth taking.

Another golden goose whose neck we have recently wrapped our hands around is the capital markets. Our capital markets have been the envy of the world. Over the past twenty-five years, the US Capital Markets have been able to perform the magic trick of financing a nation of spendthrifts so that it can have the highest standard of living in the world, bar none. We have a major funding gap between what we produce and earn and what we spend and consume. Despite this, our efficient and sophisticated money raising machine has managed to keep the US Dollar as the reserve currency of the world even though our fearless leaders have created one huge fiscal fuck up. I'm not out to defend Goldman Sucks or deny the need to reform, but just like energy and drug companies, financial firms are being vilified and caricatured to such a degree that one has to wonder why anyone would want to work for those firms. People forget that capital is fungible, mobile; it can go anywhere. One reason that investors overseas are willing to put their money here, money that we need to support our enormous "funding gap," is that our capital markets have been the most efficient anywhere. If this financial "reform" ends up damaging our markets to the extent that they no longer have the elasticity and efficiency as before, then capital will go elsewhere.

China, Europe and other places like Singapore are rubbing their hands in glee as we seem intent on trashing our markets. They appreciate that a country can't be a great power unless it can easily raise the funds it takes to support a great power military and the capital investment necessary for a great power economy.

Imagine twenty years from now sitting in some dingy rental house that you can't afford to buy because that great mortgage machine of the 90's and 2000's was basically shut down in 2010. The house is dark and dank because the energy that was supposed to be supplied by all those wind farms somehow didn't turn out to be as great as promised; besides, the cost of wind energy turns out to be way beyond the means of the average person to pay for it without government subsidies, which ended in 2015 when the US credit rating got downgraded to junk. Meantime the price of natural gas and heating fuel has gone up ten times. And oh yeah, you're probably dead anyway by then since the drug companies quit producing all those "miracle drugs" that extended everyone's lifespans because laws and regulations essentially killed any return on the huge investment necessary to create such drugs. But hey, you never have to worry about a once-every-fifty years oil spill ruining the beaches, where you can sit and gaze at all those giant wind turbines as they daily massacre thousands of ocean birds. And since Wall Street got shut down and moved to Shanghai, you won't have those greedy bankers thinking of new ways to fund a lifestyle beyond your means. And those rapacious drug companies?...Who needs them since you get all the generic drugs you need from India anyway. And if closing down the drug companies means you don't live as long, who cares if this is what living in 2030 comes down to...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

NEW STUDY BLAMES HUMANS FOR INCREASE IN EARTHQUAKES

(AP) APRIL 15. The renowned Center for Human Cupablility (CHC)today released a study that implicates human activity as a primary cause for the recent spate of earthquakes. Derek Hoaks, professor of Gaia Studies at East Anglia University and current president of CHC, held a conference in Geneva today at which he presented what some called stark evidence in support of CHC's claim. More specifically, the CHC attributes the growing frequency and strength of earthquakes to the unchecked growth of urban areas across the globe and the concomitant increase in buildings and infrasturture.

"Trillions of tons of concrete and steel have been pressed down upon the earth's mantle over the past hundred years," Professor Hoaks pointed out. "The increase in pressure on the unprotected earth would be the equivalent of 450 pounds of bricks placed on the average person's head. Who in their right mind would think that the earth would not respond in a negative way to this burden?"

The CHC's presentation included a slide which showed a dramatic increase in earthquake intensity over the past two hundred years. The next slide that Prof. Hoaks presented charted over that same period an equally dramatic tonnage increase in human building activity. Many at the press conference literally gasped at the obvious overlap. Some in the media dubbed the correlation as "eerie" and "alarming." Gerhard Sturmdrang with The Union of Concerned Scientists called attention to the 45 degree up slope of both graphs at the beginning of the 20th century. "A hockey stick if I've seen one!" he exclaimed. Gabriele Sandlewood, a reporter with the Guardian, wiped tears from her eyes as she declared, "How many more earthqukes will it take to wake people up?"

One or two reporters did express some skepticism that the striking correlation proved that human activity causes earthquakes. One reporter, planted at the conference by The Wall Street Journal, caused a slight disruption when he raised the possibility that the increase in earthquakes perhaps reflects our greater ability to monitor them. Prof. Hoaks sublimely answered, "And so I guess that means that if a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it, then the tree didn't really fall? Tell that to the squirrel that the tree fell on." When the reporter noisily protested that the Professor had not answered his question, he was quickly ushered out of the press room.

The CHC proposed an "Immediate Action Agenda," which called for local governments everywhere to enact moratoriums on new construction until a specially designated UN commission had time to develop a more comprehensive global program to mitigate the pressure that humans are imposing on the earth's surface. Such a comprehensive program, Prof. Hoaks said, must at the very least require that any new building or construction must be offset with an equal amount of tonnage destruction so that the net amount of additional "mantle pressure" stays the same. The CHC believes that the ultimate solution to this worldwide problem will mean that humans must drastically downsize the amount of living and working space that they require. "Why does anyone need more than 200 square feet of space to sleep and eat in?" Prof. Hoaks rhetorically asked. The CHC also advocates the use of material other than "carbon derivatives" such as steel be used in building construction. He cites Japanese "paper houses" as a model to be followed. Prof. Hoaks ended by asserting, "The age of the skyscrapper--that phallic symbol of the industrial age-- is most certainly over."

Calls to action immediately followed the press conference. Greepeace proposed that a mulitnational conference be convened to address the issue of human responsibilty for the rise in earthquakes. Susan Sarandon, who attended the press conference, afterwards held her own press conference at which she announced that she would be producing a documentary entitled, "The Heavy Human Load."

As people exited the room, bets were already being wagered as to how soon Prof. Hoaks would get his Nobel Peace Prize.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

MASS AMNESIA

The market has a mind. It is, after all, a collection of minds. Like any mind, the market mind is capable of losing itself. It becomes deranged by pathologies, such as manias, depressions, irrational exuberances. Three years ago, the securities markets, whether the global stock markets, the high yield bond market, the emerging markets, the derivatives markets, were as cocksure and bloated with a megalomaniac sense of invincibility as Tiger Woods was before he ran his Esplanade into that fire hydrant. We had it all figured out. We had achieved The Great Moderation, a new age of low inflation, low interest rates, steady growth. The globe was deluged by a tsunami of Greenspan liquidity, and we were all getting drunk on it. Banks and bond investors were tripping out, tripping all over themselves to shovel money at borrowers, whether the borrower be some LBO fund or an aspiring homeowner. Forget about a chicken in every pot or a new car in every garage; how about a brand new house with no money down and three percent interest rate. And we didn't even have to prove that we really made $200,000 a year as a dog walker or house painter. All the possible bad events had been hedged away. Dow 36,000! Eureka! Euphoria!

But then reality hit us right between the eyes like a two-by-four lifted from that abandoned, half finished condominium project down the street. (Allow me to pat myself on the back and say that I called for market upheaval on my Jan 16, 2006 post entitled "Post Holiday Hangover.") The Great Recession was upon us. Dow down 5oo points one day, then 600 points, then 700 points...and that was a typical week. The market mind lost all its marbles. We had to acknowledge that inescapable truth that always seems to escape us: prosperity fueled by easy credit is the economic equivalent of the hyperactive buzz fueled by crystal meth. Any meth head can clean his trailer five times over in one night, but before long the twenty pound weight loss and facial lesions set in.

Over the past two years, we have been collectively working our way through the five stages of grief. First denial: Oh, this is just a few hedge funds who got too deep into subprime paper blowing up. Then anger: Hang those Goldman Sach bastards! Then the third stage, bargaining: Look, what if you give me a two year grace period on making my mortgage payments, and then I pay you half of my normal payments for the next ten years? Next, depression: The government is now allowing Prozac to be purchased with food stamps. But before we reached the final stage of grief, which is acceptance, something weird happened. We all went under the spell of mass amnesia.

I should clarify what I mean by "we"; I'm mainly speaking of the denizens of what is called Wall Street, that tribe of investment bankers, traders and salespeople who inhabit the priciest zip codes of the the New York City and LA metropolitan areas. The first tell-tale sign of memory loss was the 70% or greater rally in the domestic stock markets over the past year. Granted there were certainly some fundamentals backing up that big move, but the giddiness that accompanied it certainly reminded me of pre-Armageddon times. Party like it's 2006!

The high yield bond market is what first really got me spooked. In case you didn't know, the high yield bond market was up something like 60% in 2009. Before long, high yield investors were returning to their old bad habits. By the end of 09, deals were getting done that allowed the issuer to put off paying interest in cash and allowed him to pay instead a PIK, i.e, payment-in-kind, which simply added the interest onto the principal amount (albeit at a higher rate than a cash interest payment). The insanity got zanier with the issuance of "dividend"bonds. Dividend bonds allow the owner of the issuer, typically an LBO or private equity firm, to use the bond proceeds to pay itself a nice big fat dividend. One would think that after the hell high yield bond investors went through in 07 and 08, PIK's and dividend bonds would be anathema. But so much money had flowed into the high yield markets that money managers felt a lot of heat from all that money burning holes in their pockets. And besides, it's so easy to slip under the spell of amnesia...forget, relax, forget, all that bad stuff never really happened.

The most blatant, grossest symptom of this mass amnesia is what Wall Street decided to pay itself this year. My alter ego, Nick Goreman, with his usual effrontery gave his thoughts on this two posts previous to this one. But who can blame people for getting pissed when they read that 09 will be a record year for bonuses paid by high finance banks and investment banks. Goldman's bonus pool amounts to something like $365,000 per employee! And Goldman's CEO, Mr. Lloyd Blankfien, has the nerve to publicly state that his firm never really needed government help, our help. And this after Goldman skinned taxpayer owned AIG more ways than a cat. Goldman and the other banks want us to believe that they made all this dough because they are so brilliant and not because they have been able to borrow at close to zero thanks to the Fed's programs along with an assortment basket of other goodies that amount to billions and billions in support. But how brilliant can you be when you evince such tone deafness as to pay yourself that kind of mula less than a year after the citizens bail your ass out, citizens who now suffering through record unemployment. I'm a Reagan Republican but after this display of greed and arrogance, I'm thinking maybe the proposed special tax on big bank/investment bank profits would fix these assholes' wagon just fine. The proceeds from this tax should be set aside in a rainy day fund to protect us from the next category 5 global disaster these geniuses get us into.

Maybe I'm being too harsh in attributing these actions to greed and arrogance; maybe, as I said at the beginning, this is all just a case of collective amnesia. And maybe mass amnesia also explains why our Great Leaders in DC still haven't come up with any reforms of our financial system to prevent this economic hurricane from ever happening again. Even a regulation as sensible and simple as preventing federally-insured bank deposits from being used for speculative investments--the so called "Volker" rule--can't get traction. A lot of this inaction results from a weakling in the White House. But again, maybe it's just the side effect of a lovely, peaceful amnesia.

Forget, relax, forget that it all ever really happened....

Monday, January 18, 2010

BLINDSIDED BY THE TRUTH

I saw the movie "Blindside" last week. A pretty good movie, although sometimes corny and borderline didactic. Aside from its artistic merits, I found it interesting, even bold in the way it unabashedly bashes certain Hollywood cliches and nostrums. First of all, the movie takes a positive stance towards fundamentalist Christians. How often do you see that in movies or on television? Usually these people are portrayed as backward, close-minded, hate-filled lunatic yahoos who are bent on turning this country into a Christian theocracy. So called journalists on the mainstream networks like CNN don't think twice about comparing evangelical Christians to the Taliban, notwithstanding that the incidents of Christians strapping a bomb belts on and pushing the ignition button in a crowded restaurant numbers zero. You have to wonder if these people have ever met a fundamentalist Christian. There is no more sheltered, parochial group than New York/LA based journalists.

I grew up a Southern Baptist and know these people first hand. The portrayal in the movie is accurate. These people say grace at meals and have strict moral standards even when it comes to "cussing." A basic tenet of their faith is the requirement to help those in need. As extraordinary as it was that a white family in Memphis would take a black guy off the street and into their home, such an act is certainly not unbelievable if you understand how fundamental "outreach" is to fundamentalist Christians.

Leigh Anne Touhy, the Sandra Bullock character, is out of the Sarah Palin mold. She informs a thug lording over the project where Michael Oher lives that she is a proud member of the NRA and packs heat in her purse. The scene is far-fetched in more ways than one, but that has to be the first time ever a female character in a major motion picture proudly declared her membership in the NRA.

It's amazing that a movie like this ever got produced, given its political/religious undertones. Thank Phil Anshutz for that. A billionaire listed as number 6 on the Forbes 400, he also happens to be an arch conservative who has backed similar, culturally conservative movies such as "The Narnia Chronicles."

The move has also garnered a bit of controversy by the way it depicts race relations. Although the movie has been a huge box office success and has as its main character an African-American football star, word is that many blacks have shunned the movie. I can understand how they might find the movie patronizing in the way it shows a wealthy white family turning around the life of a hapless negro. I'm sure some blacks are turned off by the way the movie unstintingly depicts the chaotic, crime-ridden, mostly black inner city. The movie rises almost to preachiness in contrasting the stable family of the Tuohy's versus the fatherless, disintegrated families that inhabit the project where Michael Oher lives. The implicit message of the movie and the shining example of the Tuohy's is that the problems that Michael Oher and other children of the inner city face can not be laid at the feet of whites. There are plenty of blacks who would like to think that all whites are fundamentally racist and that a story like the one portrayed in "Blindside" is just a White American fantasy. There's only one problem with this attitude: "Blindside" is a true story.

"Blindside" is a unique movie in that it offers two things that usually don't go together: big box office numbers and a willingness to speak truths that a lot of people don't wish to hear.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

FAT CATS

Hi, this is Tricky Nicky Goreman wishing you all a Happy New Year. And what a freakin year 2009 was! Looking back over the year, I don’t know whether to cry or laugh. I was certainly crying the first half of the year and laughing the second half. This friggin stock market has been more schizophrenic than my cousin Lester, who lost his marbles at the age of 18 from doing too much acid and is now wandering the Upper West Side in enough used clothes to fill a yard sale. I bump into the slobbering idiot every once in awhile on the streets. I think he knows who I am. I always slip him some coinage and urge him to buy some deodorant.

Anyway, the year has ended well except for one discordant note: Some envious, righteously indignant pricks are making a big brouhaha over the fact that Wall Street bonuses hit a record this year. I mean shit, isn’t that something that we should all be celebrating? After all, the past couple of years have been kinda tough on ole Nick and those of his ilk. Check my March 08 2009 post if you need to refresh your memory about my travails. And wouldn’t you know it but right after I write that post, I landed a much coveted seat at Morgan Stanley’s Global High Net Worth Client Group, otherwise known as the Lollipop Guild since so many of those customers are true suckers. The timing was perfect because the stock market had just bottomed out. (Can you believe that the S&P bottomed at 666, Satan’s sign! So there must be a God…and a devil too). My career shot up with the market, like one huge ejaculation after a couple of blue ball years. I had the best year I’ve ever had and now some old ninny wants to raise hell because he thinks I'm overpaid.

Such spoil sports assert that if Morgan Stanley hadn't gotten taxpayer money, then it would have gone out of business and I wouldn't have a job. If not for the beneficence of the federal government, all of Wall Street would have been boarded up, or so these scolds like to claim. Even our prissy President got in the act, saying on Sixty Minutes that he didn't get elected President just so he could bail out a bunch of "Fat Cats."

Okay, Barry Obama, what do you think we should do with this big pile of loot? Give it to you and other greasy-hand politicians out of the goodness of our hearts? Gee, you've done such a great job blowing the trillions that you've already been handed. The last time I checked, all your sundry tax increases, when combined with New York City and State taxes, mean that chumps like me who are still dumb enough to live in this "liberal utopia" pay around 60% of our paychecks in taxes. The well is dry, Barry. There are only so many ways that you can fleece a cat, even a fat one.

Are we supposed to give this extra mula to Morgan Stanley shareholders in the form of a big dividend increase? I'm sure that would please you, Barry, since you are about to jack up the tax rate on dividends. But have you ever seen the typical Morgan Stanley shareholder? You won't find them among the downtrodden that you are always blubbering about.

Let me keep it, Barry. I earned it, I deserve it, and by God, I'll spend it! Don't you see, Mr. Pres, what a boost to the economy my conspicuous consumption gives? After the year that I've had, I'm ready to move up from leasing that Beamer M3 convertible to owning a Lamborghini. Okay, maybe that wasn't such a good example; let's say I'm in the market for a GM Volt instead. And believe me, there aren't many in the Walmart crowd who will be able to afford these overpriced "green machines" that you are forcing, I mean encouraging GM (Government Made) to produce. And who is going to keep Napa Valley going if not for wine snobs like me? Furthermore, I'll promise to cut off that overseas source who sends me boxes of Cuban cigars every Christmas and instead buy good ole American stogies from...well, I guess we don't make cigars here anymore. Who knows, maybe I'll switch to cigarettes and sacrifice my lungs for the good of the country.

Just think of all the "little people" my leveraged lifestyle takes care of: the maitre 'd's, the tailor at Paul Stuart, the high priced hookers. One day I might even do something really stupid like get married and have kids, and boy, will my spending really skyrocket! For sure I'll have to make the move to the 'burbs after that and will be in a position to keep an army of illegal gardeners and nannies around long enough for that day when you most certainly will give them amnesty and a road to citizenship. A brand new voting block for the Democratic Party!

So are we on the same page, singing the same song, Soul Man El Presidente? Help me help you. You scratch Wall Street's back and we'll scratch yours even harder. Don't forget that we gave a lot more campaign money to you than we did that cranky senior citizen and his MILF in the sleasy stewardess outfits. Just keep your hands off my fuckin dough. It's all I live for. Capice?