Greenspan Didn’t See the Trainwreck Coming?

Well here we are a couple weeks out from the election and the examination of the fiscal crisis is in full swing.  Greenspan is before the Congress as the high and mighty want to know what wrecked the train.  What caused it to derail, who was driving, who was the conductor, who, who, who!!??

Well, all the stupid jerks ought to look in the mirror.  They couldn’t see this train wreck coming?  They couldn’t see that the stupid people buying houses they obviously couldn’t afford were going to go belly up?  They couldn’t see that there were millions of people going into hideous levels of credit card debt?  They couldn’t see all this?

What are they stupid?  Are they blind?  Are they ignorant?  What is it that they want to know that they couldn’t see before the wreck happened?  There were a bunch of people riding in first class on the train who financed their ticket to ride.  Get a freakin’ clue Congress!

Looks like it’s going to be President Obama and not President McCain.  I think that in the big picture it’s probably a good thing.  We are going to need a good talker, a good motivator over the next four years.  We are going to need someone who can give us good speeches sort of like good old Mom who took care of us when we had the flu.  Someone who can coo and put cold compresses on our heads and give us baby aspirin we don’t want to take.

Obama is going to be better at all of that than McCain.  McCain likes to hang out with other crusty old farts like Phil Graham who thought we all had a mental disorder in thinking we were in a recession.  I am still wondering where this genius of fiscal foresight is today.  I hope he moved to Bangladesh to give them advice because they sure need him.  McCain and his grumpy old men need to retire and leave the country to people who aren’t too cynical yet.

Gas is dropping like a rock.  So nice.  Yet, I wonder since the gas in California was around 5 a gallon a few months ago and that resulted from a price per barrel that is double what it is now, why isn’t my gasoline costing me 2.50 per gallon?  Why is it still over 3 dollars?  CROOOKS!!!!!!!  Dirty rotten CROOOKSS!!!!!

I want a horse for Christmas, and a coral and a barn full of hay.  Then I will sell my Honda and ride to work.  Me and my pony, and that’s not a lot of horseshit either.

What else in the world is happening?  I don’t know because I live in the US where we don’t seem to believe that there is a world beyond our borders a lot of the time.  Fortunately I get BBC on satellite radio so once in a while I tune in to see if England is still floating out there across the pond.

Greenspan says that nobody was smart enough to see what was going to happen.  Man, I thought he was a smart guy.  All he had to do was ask me, I could have told him.  The train was wobbling, the train was losing wheels, the train was full of freeloaders, the train was nearly to the end broken end of the tracks hanging off a cliff.  Alan really, you have to be kidding me, you saw it, you’re lying if you say you didn’t.  I saw it, my friends saw it, we all talked about it Alan!  You should have some to my BBQ’s Alan.

John McCain is No King Arthur


John McCain made a speech on Monday September 22, 2008 anticipating the passage of the bailout bill in the House.  He was claiming King Arthur status.  In McCain’s mind, he had ridden in on his white stallion to craft a bailout bill which now would be his personal Excalibur to save the nation.  To hear John McCain talk only he could pull the sword from the stone of capitol Hill and he had done it.  McCain was a proud monarch – well, he said he did it, and he said it to the crowd with a royal flourish, but wait a minute there sire. 

McCain encountered a little problem on his way to Camelot, the bill didn’t pass.  McCain’s Excalibur turned out to be a Chinese toy, a lead-coated plastic Star Wars light saber with bad batteries.  McCain’s speech slammed Obama for not rushing in on his horse and for staying on the “sidelines”, for “monitoring the situation”.  Well not only did McCain’s Excalibur fail to bring in the Republican vote, it failed to bring even a single vote from his fellow politicians from Arizona, all of them voted NO. 

Now the bill passed and it is well-fattened with pork that John McCain says he is so opposed to.  McCain voted for the pork!  Sou EEEE!!!!  

Now McCain is blaming the delayed passage of the bill on Obama.  He is saying that Obama didn’t ride in to pull the sword and so it’s his fault that the stock market is plummeting (big red raspberry delivered with this message). 

McCain is trying his best to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.  His cancelled campaign and his purported leadership among the House Republicans just plain fell flat on its face.  It looked grandstand-ish and arrogant.  I didn’t buy his delayed campaign to lead the Congress and apparently, neither did anyone in Congress.  McCain’s Republicans had committed to get 50% of their members to vote for the bill and only got 40% while the Democrats got 60% of their commitment for 50%.  Yet McCain in his wild campaign euphoria thinks he got the job done.  He thinks that voting in favor of the earmarks attached to the bailout bill is OK, that it’s justified because the “alternative” was going to be draconian.

Problem is, the way the stock market has reacted to the bailout, I’m not sure how much worse the alternative could have been.  I just don’t think McCain made any difference at all.  What this mess displayed better than anything is the total impotence of the President to make changes alone.  John McCain proclaims himself to be the independent Maverick, hated by Republican right, detested by the Democratic left, in the crisis he couldn’t bring together a coalition under his Excalibur sword.  Nobody cares for John, they respect his military service and dislike his political service.  The latter counts now, the former is history book material.

Perhaps with John McCain’s leadership skills it would be wise to ask him to stay home at the castle.  McCain’s little Excalibur fantasy backfired miserably and it highlights the pitfalls of saying one can weild it before the stone yields it.

Positive and Negative Mental Marinades

We had rain in Sacramento last night, the first measureable rain since May.  It smelled beautiful and damp out on my bike ride this afternoon.  Living in Midtown is probably one of the coolest places on the planet to live.  I can be anywhere in Midtown in 15 minutes or less by bike.  I can take an electric train three blocks from my apartment that can connect me to trains that can take me virtually anywhere in the country.

The leaves are beginning to fall.  It is amazing how the trees are attuned to the weather.  No sooner had the forecasters begun to call for rain than the trees began to shed leaves.  All of a sudden the sidewalks are covered with gold and my bike tires make satisfying crunches along the way.

My recent political writing and the cold reality of its growing callousness made me think about what I know about healthy living.  It made me think about what I was doing in order to get my mind into a place that enabled me to write posts about Sara Palin – who I still think is unqualified, don’t get me wrong – and John McCain.

I have a sort of Martha Stewart way of thinking about my state of mind and about what I need to do in order to keep it positive and healthy.  My theory is about marinating.  If I marinate in negative thoughts and if I actively seek periodicals that add spices to my marinade, then my mind will be saturated with what it’s sitting in.

I spent hours reading the net and newspapers and watching TV about the elections and about politics and about the economy.  I marinated my mind in the heat of the debate and the partisanship of the country.  I spooned big ladles of marinade over my brain about the economy and Wall Street and the FDIC.  My brain was ready for the grill of anger and politics.

I noticed lately and didn’t make a connection until yesterday that I was always happiest after I left worship on Sunday.  It took my sort of accidental reading of my own writing last night – reinforced by a concerned friend who wrote to me about the level of anger in my posts – to shake me out of my marinade-induced angry euphoria.  I had slipped beneath the juice of my marinade.  I had succumbed to it.

“The Wisdom of Tenderness” by Brannan Manning also presented itself to me over the past few days and I don’t even know where I found it in my apartment; I just know that suddenly I was carrying it around to review my underlines the other day.  So as I was riding my bike this afternoon on the way to the Gifted Gardener for a birthday present, I suddenly had clarity on my poisonous marinade recipe.

I made a commitment to myself that I needed to remember to marinade in positive worship and writing and video and thoughts.  I may still comment on politics but I will strive to describe it much more positive and considerate point of view that will provide perspective and joy to the reader.

Connecting to The Matrix via Cell Phones

So I’m walking around Target yesterday stocking up on the basics, soap, Kleenex, things like that.  As I wander around with my list of items and discipline myself to buying only what I need and not the tortilla chips and salsa that cry out to me from the chips aisle, I pass several people who appear to be talking to themselves.  I approach these people warily because this Target is located on the edge of a slightly dodgy area where sad people sometimes stand on the street corner in their rags and shout at the cars going by.

The third person I see doing this open air monologue is a large, well-dressed African American lady built like Queen Latifah.  She has long straight black hair that hangs in an oval around her face.  She is delightedly carrying on a conversation and it suddenly occurs to me that I can’t see her ears and that in all likelihood she has a Bluetooth device and a cell phone in her purse.

Mystery solved but I start to think to myself about the implications of this cell phone revolution we have experienced.  It started in the US in 1983 with large clunky phones.  It has evolved to smaller, lighter, more powerful phones that talk to cars, computers and wireless ear pieces.  These days it isn’t so obvious when someone is on a cell phone call because they don’t need one arm cocked to their ear any longer.  They can walk and shop and drive with hands free and mind engaged.

Nobody has to be where they are any more.  They can be with their friends, their boss, their clients, whomever they want to with the push of a button and by speaking the name of the person in their auto dialer.  It’s a bizarre evolutionary change in our social behavior.

The cell phone has connected us and isolated us all at the same time.  The argument for connecting us is easy to make because when one has a cell phone these days there are few spots where a call can’t be made or received.  Unless the phone is turned off or silenced, the person with a cell phone can be connected to almost anyone from anywhere in the world. 

Back in about 1994 I took a trip to Toronto with my Dad and we were driving out to Lake Simpco and we were in the country outside of Toronto.  I had my bulky Motorola bag phone in the car and it began to ring.  It was my secretary at work in California.  That was my first realization that my ability to be independent, out of touch, a disconnected soul wandering the world, was compromised by this electronic wonder.  I marveled at the fact that some network could place my call to my phone from over 3,000 miles away.

I’d argue that cell phones also disconnect us from each other.  So many people are shackled to their cell phones.  The cell phone often takes precedence in their minute-to-minute functioning.  People talk on their cell phones in the checkout line while the poor cashier is trying to deliver good customer service and a make a brief but personal connection that will encourage the customer to return.  People talk on their phones in restaurants, at concerts, in the park.  The old axiom “Wherever you go, there you are” just isn’t true any longer.  It’s more accurate to say that wherever your mind goes, there you are.

Making people drive without holding a cell phone is a good thing because people should drive with both hands on the wheel, or at least have both available to grab it if needed.  But the cell phone takes one’s mind out of the car and into the virtual word of a conversation with someone completely removed from the present driving situation.  I’ve used the phone extensively in business when driving and there have been times when I cover half the distance home during a conversation and can’t recall the landmarks.  I have marveled at the ability of the mind to focus away from the present to the virtual.

The cell phone often acts to isolate us as we interact with the world around us.  It acts as a buffer between us and other people in the world as we text, take calls and carry on remote conversations.  It is interesting that many people seem to even use the cell phone to insulate themselves from other people they are personally with.  It is possible that it’s a social status builder to talk to other people while with people, to take “important” calls from work when in social situations, to promote self esteem in that other people have a need for one’s virtual presence.

Cell phones are changing our social interactions and isolating us from the real world while connecting us to a virtual world.  It’s not so far from the physically connected people in the movie “The Matrix”.  I would not be surprised to learn that the cell phone companies have physically integrated designs on the board for permanently connecting individuals to the Net; it’s probably just that they haven’t figured out how to market the surgery yet.