My good friend Spencer Burke has launched theooze.tv today. Here’s the first ten-minute interview:
Have you ever had a premonition? Or what you believed to be a message to yourself or others about the future? Did you act on it? Did you deliver the message?
It’s hard to know the difference between being truly prophetic and merely being a prognosticator. There are so many people prediciting what is going to happen to the economy, our national security, and all other and sundry types of information, it creates a miasma of information that is difficult to sort out.
An additional problem is the proclivity of public relations practitioners to advise their clients to predict how bad or good things are going to be in order to spin public perception toward them in a favorable way. We have seen a round of this last weekend as numerous politicians took to the air waves to tell us that the economy is going to get worse before it gets better. When things do get worse, these same politicians can avoid responsibility for their share in the problem. When they get better, they can take credit for things getting better.
One of the chief practitioners of this art is the Bloviator in Chief, Joe Biden. This morning a well-circulated report has him predicting that casualties in Afghanistan are going to rise. That’s because they inherited a “real mess.” Up until this point I suppose that Afghanistan has been a faux mess. Clearly it is all President Bush’s fault. Of course, the fact that it is difficult to tell the difference between a terrorist and a civilian is seldom mentioned. What I can’t figure out is, how can Biden get away with this?
My opinion, in the long run he can’t. I am already tired of these predictions. I am also sick and tired of hearing that we are in the “Greatest Economic Crisis Since the Great Depression.” I mean, what is this, a new mini-series? Quit talking about it and do something!
Why not just skip the invocation? That’s my question. There was no way that President-elect Obama could not have known that picking Rick Warren would highly irritate (that’s putting it mildly) a number of his supporters. You see, Rev. Warren has opinions. That’s right, the safe choice would have been someone with no clearly stated opinions.
There are a few highly divisive issues in our national dialogue: Abortion and Same Sex Marriage are right at the top of the list. Of course, being an evangelical Christian is not a very good idea, either. You see, abortion is a on-off switch kind of issue. You are either Pro-Choice or you are not. This is a situation where you can’t be a “little bit pregnant.” And if you are not Pro-Choice, and you express your opinion, vocal holders of the Pro-Choice opinion think you shouldn’t offer the invocation at the inaugural.
And for God’s sake, if you supported Proposition 8, you are clearly a hateful bigot. Especially if you let your opinion be known. This is another of those issues. You can’t be “kind of” in favor of marriage between a man and woman only. So, the LA Times is not going to want you to pray at the inaugural.
It is amazing that the proponents of tolerance are not very tolerant of opinions other than their own. Wouldn’t it be more respectful to agree to disagree? What is the President-elect trying to say with his choice of Rick Warren to pray at the inaugural? Maybe he is trying to say, I am going to be the president of all the people, even if I disagree with them on some issues. That would be refreshing, if true.
Last January I made three political predictions:
1. I predict that Barack Obama will not be the next president of the United States.
2. I predict that the next president of the United States will not be a Republican.
3. I predict that the Republican nominee will not be a Mormon.
Well, okay, I didn’t miss the boat completely, I was 2/3 right! Of course, I was wrong about the election of Barack Obama to the presidency. At the time I felt that it was more likely that we would have a woman president than the first black president. I believed that the cultural barriers faced by Mr. Obama were too great to overcome.
I am so glad that I was wrong. However, if one can trust exit polling, white Americans voted for John McCain. It was a multi-racial coalition that gave President-elect Obama his victory.
Another point I made in January. John McCain’s loss makes it unlikely that any person born in the 1930s will be elected President of the United States. I wonder if it has something to do with that generational cohort being born and raised in the aftermath of the great depression? Likewise, we have yet to elect a president from the 1950s. There is still a chance that might happen. In 2012, someone born in 1950 will be 62, a reasonable presidental age.
For those of us that believe that prayer makes a difference, it is time to pray for the president-elect and for our country. With so much turmoil it would be well if providence intervened.
Author and pundit Thomas Friedman is surely capable of running Hewlett Packard and for that matter, probably has enough foreign policy experience to be vice president, certainly as much as Dan Quayle or Barack Obama. His solution to our latest financial crisis, a new Resolution Trust Corporation.
For those of you too young to remember in the mid to late 80s we had another financial crisis that wiped out an industry, the savings and loan crisis. Apparently without sufficient regulation and oversight, financial institutions made risky loans that began going bad, toppling the S&Ls and requiring a government bailout.
I remember this time period clearly because I was working with a developer at that time who had utilized a significant number of S&L loans to build real estate projects. All of our projects did well, so there was no downside to the S&L crisis for our business except that we could no longer get financing for our projects.
However, my client became aware of many properties for sale in Texas for less than it cost to build them. He made bids and began his journey toward multiplying his wealth.
Why did the latest crisis occur? Who is to blame? Republicans or Democrats? Congress or the White House? Greedy Wall Street Bankers? Exuberant real estate investors or homeowners? The Federal Reserve? My answer, probably, yes, all of them. It’s been about twenty years since the formation of the RTC in 1989. Wikipedia informs me that the RTC closed or "resolved" 747 thrifts with assets of nearly 400 billion dollars.
The difference between now and 1989 is that the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department have been very proactive in attempting to avoid a complete collapse of the financial system. You may recall that in 1987 there was a severe drop in the stock market as a result of "program" trading. These severe drops are to be avoided at all costs along with something called a bubble.
In any case, what does all of this mean for average folks like you and me? If we are not attempting to finance a mortgage or a business, it doesn’t mean very much. If we are, we may experience some financial stress. It will probably mean that the real estate equity "ATM" will be closed down for a while, or maybe forever.
Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett Packard who was fired in 2006 because her employers were convinced that the Compaq-HP merger was a bust, has contributed to the political campaign by indicating that none of the candidates are capable of running HP. Maureen Dowd snarkily said that Fiorina should know since she wasn’t able to run HP either. Of course, Ms. Dowd failed to notice that HP is now the number one computer maker in the US, a position they did not hold pre-merger.
Here is the sad news for all of us who prefer the illusion of control: Neither the President, nor the Congress, nor the Federal Reserve Board control the economy of the United States. They effect it, but they don’t control it. Keep this in mind as blame is assessed in the coming weeks and months. The actual cause of all of this turmoil is a butterfly who passed gas in the Amazon forest in the fall of 2006!
Clearly every media pundit is highly qualified to serve as vice president or president, just ask them and they will tell you. A recent op-ed piece I read pointed out that the Bush presidency has been anti-establishment and that those anti-establishment folks don’t know how to govern.
Apparently, because of the Iraq war, our collective memory has forgotten that the terrorist attacks on September 11 ever occurred. We also seem to have missed that there has not been another terrorist attack on the homeland in seven years. It is clear that the media observers and for that matter, most politicians, don’t know what they don’t know. I believe that the President and the government are constantly dealing with terrorist threats that never make the evening news.
You might wonder, why doesn’t President Bush make these potential calamities public and justify his actions. I think the answer to that question is simple. If we knew the things that threaten us, the US economy and our way of life would grind to a halt.
If you had told me last week as I was planning to take a Metrolink train to LA the following information: 1) A Metrolink accident will claim 25 lives this week; 2) Engineers on Metrolink trains engage in cell phone calls and text messaging while they are driving trains; and 3) the accident could happen anywhere on the system, I guarantee you I would have passed on taking the train.
I remember griping about the fact that I couldn’t take my shaving cream in my carry-on bag for a plane flight last year. You don’t suppose that the government passed those rules about the amount of liquid carry-ons just because they want to torture air travelers?
John McCain made a statement yesterday that was quite presidential, Bush made a similar statement. The essense of their words, "the fundamentals of our economy are strong." While Mr. Obama’s campaign was labeling this current financial crisis as the most serious since the Great Depression, McCain was lending his support to stabilizing the system. You see, the Federal Reserve, an agency not controlled by the executive branch has played a significant role in our latest roller coaster. (see this Washington Post article from 2005) While Bernake asserted prior to his nomination that there was no real estate "bubble." Fed actions since his appointment as Fed chief have had a significant impact on real estate prices.
Here is the dirty little secret, there is not much room for error with the economy and most of what is going to happen is completely out of the control of the federal government, or for that matter the Federal Reserve. If the stock market loses 2000 more points in the Dow Jones Industrial average, then the fireworks we are experiencing now will seem like a 4th of July sparkler. This is what Treasury secretary Poulsen and Fed chief Bernake are trying to prevent. You may notice that all of these folks are saying that the "fundamentals are strong." What else can they say, the "bottom is going to fall out?"
It is a good thing that we don’t know what we don’t know and that we continue our daily lives with this lack of information. Otherwise, things would be getting a whole lot worse a whole lot faster.
There are a lot of accusations flying in the presidential campaign. Obama sponsors sex education for kindergarteners. McCain doesn’t know how to use a computer. Palin is a liar. Biden is a bloviator. Have we really degenerated to the "Liar, liar, pants on fire" brand of politics. Do we really need to say, "Sticks and stones may break their bones, but words will never hurt them?"
Palin is full of hubris. I mean, how could she possible be ready to be vice-president, or the most terrifying thought, when McCain dies in office, the president? I mean she wants to ban books and fire her ex-brother-in-law as a state trooper. And you know, you know, you know, she wasn’t really against the "bridge to nowhere." There were really two "bridges to nowhere" and she is in favor of one of them, yeah, take that. And doesn’t she have kids? And Tina Fey can really make her look stupid on Saturday Night Live! Matt Damon is terrified and Sean Combs is astounded that someone from Alaska could be chosen, they don’t even have black people there do they?
Biden never met a twenty-minute answer he didn’t like. Yeah, he dropped out over a plagiarism charge in 1988, but so what? His plan for Iraq, carve it up into three parts, good idea or bad idea? He certainly will be ready on day one. Of course, we don’t have to worry that he might actually end up President, Obama is young and vigorous. If he ever runs he won’t possible succeed, so we won’t ever have to suffer through a Biden inaugural speech.
McCain can’t use a computer, and he doesn’t understand the economy. Does it matter that he doesn’t use a computer because his POW injuries prevent him from operating a keyboard? Isn’t it okay that he has aides who printout and send his emails for him? Does the vision of Barack Obama surfing the web at 2 a.m. make you feel more comfortable with him as President? Maybe he is going to handle all of his presidential emails himself?
Maybe we would be better off with the inventor of the internet as president, Oscar winner Al Gore? Oh, yeah, he already ran and the Supreme Court stole the election from him. Just think, we could have had the highly qualified John Edwards as vice president for the last four years. He was clearly ready.
McCain just doesn’t get it, whatever it is. Obama is a big celebrity, he can’t be president.
This is the state of our political discourse, I think I’ll go take a shower!
Well, it’s been decided. That last thing that Americans want is a candidate in their 40s who lacks a long history of foreign policy experience and legislative accomplishments. We can’t tolerate a candidate who answers the questions of journalists with a plethora of words.
Now, depending on your political leanings, you probably think I am describing either: Barack Obama or Sarah Palin.
On the other hand, we don’t want a candidate who has been in Washington for decades. Who has been touched by scandal, and who doesn’t take the time to send and answer his own emails. Once again, depending on your political leanings, you probably think I am describing either: John McCain or Joe Biden.
Of course, this is the problem that faces denominations and all sorts of hierarchal religious organizations. It’s very difficult to give the next generation a chance at leadership. In addition, it is also very difficult to adapt the technologies and conditions of a changing culture.
This political season is dominated by tabloid journalism and distorted advertising claims. Why is that? It’s simple, objective reporting doesn’t sell newspapers or magazines, and thirty-second advertising by its very nature calls for distortions in order to make a point in such a short period of time.
The best opportunity to hear the candidates out was the Saddleback Forum, but how many Americans tuned in to two hours of that?
In any case, maybe there will be a huge turnout in this election. That would be over 65% of those eligible to vote exercising their right. Maybe the voting will elect a president who has the majority of the electoral college and a majority of the popular vote. It’s been a long time since a first term president had that kind of mandate.
Look, here’s the deal, sometimes I have a hard time sleeping. I think it’s a condition mostly related to gastro-intestinal problems from being overweight, but that’s neither here nor there. Anyway, occasionally I find myself watching the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.
Ferguson is a recently naturalized citizen of the United States. He has made a reputation for his opening monologues, which are not only funny but confessional. Tonight he talked about voting. Boy, everything he said was great common sense. He talked about the duty of American citizens to vote, and the fact that less than 2/3 of registered voters exercise their right. And that’s 2/3 of the registered voters. The demographic group that votes the least is young adults 18-24, figures, huh, those slackers?
He said something like, "This is an important election, we are at war, young men and women are dying. People are losing their homes. Gasoline prices are high. Vote." It was an impressive explanation, funny and clearly sincere. Frankly, I think political discussions are divisive. So are discussions about theology and religion. I don’t want to argue politics or Calvinism v. Arminianism. I don’t really feel the need to convince you of how you should vote the way I will. I like the privacy of voting and Ferguson made the point, "you don’t have to tell anyone how you vote."
If you aren’t familiar with Ferguson here is the video of his monologue.
It’s become clear that running for public office is the most intrusive, privacy-robbing process in public life today. It’s worse than being the star of a hit situation comedy. It’s worse than being picked to be a contestant on Big Brother. At least on Big Brother it is your choice about whether or not you reveal every public and private sin of you and your family from birth to the present.
In today’s age of "gotcha" political reporting, you had better make your confessions early and often. Apparently John McCain was required to mention the following "terrible" aspects of Sarah Palin’s life when he introduced her on Friday: "And now before I bring my new running mate out I have to mention the following important things about her life, her husband was arrested for drunk driving at age 22, she was once cited for fishing without a license, her teenage daughter is pregnant, no, she didn’t fake her last pregnancy in order to cover up a previous pregnancy of her teenage daughter, and even though she is being investigated for an ethics violation by the State Legislature, there was no wrongdoing on her part."
Of course, on the flip side, Sen. Obama should have recapped Joe Biden’s embarrassing withdrawal from the 1988 presidential race for plagiarism and mentioned that he had given Joe a lesson on how to credit his sources whether they be John Kennedy or Martin Luther King, Jr.
Eventually the only people who can run for public office will be celebrities who have been subjected to tabloid speculation and inquiry their entire public life. We don’t need the national media, we need the National Enquirer to vet our political candidates. All I can say is, I like Sarah Palin a lot more today than I did on Friday. She chose to step up and run for office knowing that all of this baloney was coming, along with the accusations that she is incompetent and stupid. She seems like a real person who is living a real life. What better kind of person could we have in higher office?