Archive for December, 2008


December 17, 2008

There isn’t much to do for entertainment or diversion when you’re taking a shower, at least not since my wife installed the surveillance camera, and so I was (1) listening to a local radio station that plays Christmas-themed music this time of year, and who says radio has no new ideas?, and (2) for some reason actually listened to the lyrics of “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” a song which, to those of us of a certain age, evokes images not of Santa Claus or Jesus but of Mitch Miller.  And based on those lyrics, new take occurred to me, as follows:

“On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love having sent me:  7 swans a swimming, 12 geese a laying, 16 calling birds, 15 French hens, a dozen turtle doves and 7 partidges (with pear tree perches), I was diagnosed with terminal bird flu and placed in intensive care.  Oobop shebam.”



December 16, 2008

It’s 9 p.m. where I am right now (at home, Bay Area), and I’m just noodling the possibilities for the various late night monologues re the shoe-flinging episode at w’s (lower case very intentional) Iraq press conference / desperation spin-a-thon.  Already I’ve seen the word “shoeter” on several Net reports of the occurrence.  Beyond that, comical takes that come to mind (because my mind can no longer go to them):

1)  Even worse, in just five weeks, he gets the boot.

2)  Did you see how quickly he ducked an object thrown at his head?  This guy has had some practice.  Evidently, when Laura gets pissed at you, she gets PISSED.

3)  I understand that Thom McCann is now on the no-fly list.  Right next to Manola Blahnik.  And some guy named Ked.  Meanwhile, Payless is under constant surveillance.

4)  The whole assault was just such bad theater; it’s like the antithesis to Tom Jones onstage and women throwing panties.

5)  And where was the Secret Service?  I know it happened too quickly to block the shoes, but shouldn’t somebody have at least thrown themselves on the guy’s loafer or Topsider or whatever?  Come to think of it, aren’t these Arabian guys all supposed to wear sandals?

6)  Is it just me, or is this the first event in his entire presidency that W has handled with poise, aplomb, and intelligence?

7)  On the plus side, I have a hunch that America has just discovered a great new arcade and/or video game theme.


December 10, 2008

I read something interesting online the other day from the WSJournal or NYTimes or some fairly authoritative and reliable source, and the gist was that there were a lot of millionaires on the rocks as a result of the Great Economy Downdraft.  

Not the MILLionaires, mind you; not the CEOs that knocked down more than 50 mil per annum not counting bonuses and other sleight-of-accounting accruals.  Rather, guys/gals grossing, say, $2M a year plus considerably more in stock options–which proved to be a poisonous asset.  

They got huge bonuses the last few years, but mostly in said options and the like, paper assets based on the value of Mother Company, and they found themselves worth $30M of that paper, which enabled them to borrow $5M in cash actual, which they far too often ran through like a junkie through the grocery money, and then woke up one day to discover that all the paper worth had turned to pillow ticking, and there was a guy from the Chemical Bank at the door asking for the five large, and ooops.

And I’m glad. Not in any retributive way; these poor schmucks weren’t the devil, they got hosed on the same bad way we all did, or rather almost all of us did.  The devil is the handful of assholes in the offices on the penthouse floor, who walked away with what Albania would be delighted to call its gross national product.  

And the only way to get to these assholes, hunkered down in their exclusive gated-community estates–is with punitive legislation that so violates the spirit of untrammeled and unrestricted bare knuckle free market capitalism–we’re talking salary/compensation caps, “exorbitance” surtaxes, maybe even, with luck, being set upon by dogs if your wardrobe is appraised at more than 100 grand–that public opinion would be outraged.  

Ah, but that was back in the Good Old Days, when public opinion coalesced around two fundamental assumptions: (1) Things will always get better, and (2) I will always get my fair share of the betterness.  We no longer are persuaded of this.  It is getting late, and I have neither the inclination or need to support that point by argument or example.  Just look out the fucking window.

But the VERY rich have always been insulated from what they (and frankly, I also, but more enthusiastically) like to call “confiscatory taxation,” protected by the hope/belief/presumption/pipe dream embraced by all the masses of the striving, would-be wealthy that, “I could be rich someday,” and the unwillingness of an ambitious and optimistic electorate to undermine its own possible future wealth by taxing it in the present.   

Now, however, the truth has settled upon the land like the clammy hand of death, or of your accountant.  The game is rigged, and always has been.  It may not truly be a zero-sum game, but in the long run, the outcome is the same as if it were.  Financial gravity takes over when wealth becomes too concentrated, somewhat the way galaxies are formed, but with less grace.  More and more money is sucked into the Black Hole of the Super Rich.  

The ultimate result is too much in the hands of too few.  A numerical minority controls so many resources that its members are unable to spend the amount needed to keep the grand charade of free market youknowwhat going.  Even those we thought of as merely, but certifiably, rich rich were taken down.  The tent collapsed.   Only the RICH rich got out unbruised. 

So…as I was saying, the controls needed to re-route the vast resources of the enormously wealthy back into the economy would be politically impossible given the traditional hope of everyone to be rich themselves someday.  

But the current financial fiasco, and the glaring conspicuousness of those who continue to grow rich despite it, has so shattered the Legislative Shield protecting the mega-rich, that almost nobody still harbors such fantasies, and almost everybody wants the super-rich to contribute to the national weal a far greater proportion of their net worth than they have been willing to do in the past, or if not, to be thrown out of high windows for awhile until they become more reasonable.

At least, that’s what I’M asking Santa for.