Follow LSS by E-mail.

10/23/2008

I feel the need to take some time here and pat myself on the back for holding my tongue since the end of August on the Republican Candidate’s running mate. While the rest of America has been voicing their formulated opinions, justified or nonsensical, I’ve been sitting from afar (for once) to take it all in and really get a firm grasp on this so-called “Alaskan Hockey Mom.”

Now I’ve long-cemented my opinion on the woman. And I’ve still held my tongue, because my thoughts seem to be mirroring those of the pundits far and wide. So why comment if I can’t even host an original thought that hasn’t been projected in the media?

And yeah, the media blows most things outta proportion, but at the same time when you watch the footage of this AHMILF (Alaskan Hockey Mom I’d Like to… y’know) in action, it’s hard to at least not get a whiff of Kool-Aid in the air. Because she’s not only mixing it, she’s practically serving it up at the same time.

Like my thoughts on Governor Palin, I’ve had my mind made up for quite some time on my pick for the next President. Since the primaries, as a matter of fact. That said, I have nothing but the utmost respect for John McCain and his tenure as a U.S. Senator. He clearly has devoted himself to his party and his country, and that’s outside of his service to our nation during a most tumultuous war. But I cannot fathom for the life of me what he and his associates were thinking when they picked Governor Palin for his running mate.

There’s a multitude of bullets that just don’t add up. The immense lack of experience, the reliance on warm, fuzzy phrases and winks to entrap the soft-brained, the proficiency to dodge key questions with dainty-yet-vacuous responses, I could go on and on.

But in looking at the cold hard facts, any way you cut it, Senator McCain’s running mate is a walking, talking marketing decision. An attempt to lure in disenfranchised female voters who were internally crying the blues over Hillary Clinton’s loss in the Democratic primaries. A means to connect with Middle America vis-à-vis Governor Palin’s folksy tone and colloquialisms, bundled up in a voice that lies somewhere between Marge Gunderson in Fargo and the mother in Bobby’s World.

But this is not North Dakota, nor is it a cartoon. It’s one of the most critical eras in the 232-year-old history of this country, and certainly the direst period of the 21st century thus far. This is an important election for U.S. citizens. There’s a war overseas in a country where we have no right to be, and an even more vicious bloodbath on the financial battleground; one that could best be described as a “war of attrition.” This is not the time for marketing decisions.

Especially not marketing decisions gone wrong. Sarah Palin, originally viewed by pundits and commentators (and I can only venture to guess the inner circle as well) as the buoyant life jacket for John McCain’s hopeful presidential venture is now dragging down his campaign as though her offerings of “you betcha” and “don’tcha know” were loaded with concrete. To paraphrase her SNL doppelganger Tina Fey, this material writes itself.

But the humor only lasts so long. Much like the antics of the cast members of Jackass, it initially evokes peels of hard laughter only to soften as time marches on with the realization that something about this scenario is disturbingly sad. In the case of Governor Palin, the realization is that she has no business being in a post this prestigious, a mere rung away from the title of most powerful person in the free world. She can distance herself from the so-called “inner circle” and offer up cutesy zingers like “Say it ain’t so Joe” until the king crab fishermen come home, but it’s not going to up her stock any higher in a race this pivotal.

I’ve long felt the notion of electing candidates who are “just like” the public is a poorly-conceived concept. In electing a President, I yearn to see an individual who is above the general public. That is not to say a wealthy elitist, the sort of disconnected Jay Gatsby that John McCain has attempted to frame Barack Obama as being. But rather an individual of dignity, composure and savvy. Someone who can guide this country through difficult times while legitimately serving as a sound representative for our collective voice. This comes in stark contrast to the admitted firebrand that is Senator McCain and his bespectacled punchline of a running mate.

Given my uncharacteristic silence up to this point, with a mere twelve days away from the election, I’m sure one might wonder what brought on this outburst. Like a tick, this debacle has gotten under my skin and proceeded to burrow deep until the end result is a fire in the brain. Adding fuel to the blaze is the barage of shocking news stories over the last several days, resulting in a grand slam of shame that cannot bode well for the GOP candidate as November 4th draws closer.

First, the appearance on SNL in hopes to embrace the parodies that have propelled her very name into the buzzword of the year. One cannot blame her or the McCain camp for trying to capitalize on such rampant popularity. However, the end result comes off as the would-be Vice President embracing the caricature perfected by Tina Fey, and only reinforcing the comedic image rather than attracting swing voters.

Second, the answer to a third grader’s question regarding the VP’s job, claiming that the Vice President is more than just the Commander-in-Chief’s understudy, but that the role also includes running the Senate. Perhaps in some crazed Alaskan Bizarroworld this is the case, but not in the real, my friends. I prefer my candidates to understand the job description, not invent it.

Third, flipping the bill to the state she governs and adores so glowingly for her children’s transportation. Being a parent is a wonderful thing, but it is predicated on the ability to love and provide for your children along with your husband/wife and close relatives. Taxpayers and the general public do not fit into the equation, and this should be heavily weighed before decrying Senator Obama as a leftwing “elitist.”

Finally, and most damning in my opinion, the $150K receipt for Governor Palin’s wardrobe, including stops at Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus. It’s great the Republican Party can spend $18K a week on fine attire while the rest of the nation is clipping coupons to shop for groceries. Perhaps this is why the McCain campaign is running in the red financially. It’s also further evidence that the ideological quagmire between the McCain-Palin ticket and the general public is greater than the distance between Anchorage and the White House.

In the tavern of the absurd and ludicrous, Sarah Palin’s cup runneth over, and the contents only threaten to drown any hopes Senator McCain has of becoming President. Indeed, one can only assume he is beginning to regret his choice more than Harry Frazee after selling Babe Ruth to the Yankees in 1919; an event that supposedly spawned a curse only slightly older than John McCain himself. At that age, you’d think he’d know better.

I guess you can’t blame him for trying to bolster his standing a bit. It’s only natural to work the public and try to connect with them. However, the plug was kicked out of the socket some time ago, and it will take a Herculean effort to reach the cord at this point.

Y’know, I actually feel sorry for Palin. Truth be told, I think she is on a plane different than the “Washington Insiders” she so frequently demonizes. It could be why she responds like a smiling deer caught in the headlights. She really has no idea what she’s stepped into, and hey, we’ve all been there. But about 99.9 percent of us haven’t experienced such pressure at the executive level. I wish her well, because in the event McCain does rebound, she’ll need all the luck in the world not to become the female answer to Dan Quayle.

Appearances only go so far, don’t they? It seems perfectly suitable that the decline in McCain’s numbers is now being attributed to Governor Palin… because if his decision-making process as President were to mirror the one he employed in selecting a running mate… well, I’m not sure I feel comfortable voting for that.

And given the projected record turnout for voters (that is to say, "highest possible visibility"), you can bet I'm not the only carbon-based lifeform drawing that conclusion.

10/21/2008

Reading this piece, it's very hard for me to feel sorry for anyone on Wall Street who is suffering from the current economic crunch.

Now I'll be the first to admit, I know very little about finance. My brain is not structured that way, it never has been. However, I'm intuitive enough to recognize true crime when I see it.

The level of dishonesty, gluttony and monetary bloodlust has only escalated over these last few years in Corporate America. The Enrons and Wal-Marts of the world have proven this on countless occasions.

One of the biggest reasons I struggle with working in the corporate world is because I have these weird things called "ethics." Thankfully, I rarely encounter questionable practices in my line of work, but I'm sure dirty deals have gone down around me in my "past life" for sure. I'm so damned close to New York City, I know how the Big Apple's "business mentality" runs northward into Fairfield County, Connecticut. I'm not gonna be a Pollyanna about that.

I also know how art imitates life. So when I see Gordon Gecko in Wall Street, I know he's not a pure fabrication; a fictitious medium spurned from Oliver Stone's imagination. He's based on someone real, or a composite of true life individuals. So in perusing the headlines and seeing these would-be Boiler Room desk jockey's getting their asses handed to them, it's hard to have pity.

Many of them have admitted to criminal activity. Just because the collar is white doesn't mean it should be treated any differently than if the crime were committed in a blue shirt. If nothing else, I think it should be punished more severely. Maybe it'll serve as a nice wake-up call.

Want an idea of how far displaced these cash crocks have positioned themselves from reality? Visit www.bankergonebroke.com and view an entry dated 9/29/08 on cooking in your apartment. This lowly scab has to actually detail how to cook for oneself... not by giving a recipe, mind you, but by listing the standard issue household amenities one needs to actually prepare a meal.

How sad is it when you have to tell one of your own ilk they need to keep Saran wrap and tin foil around the house? Remind me not to cry when Nobu rejects your MasterCard.

Folks, whoever coined the phrase "money is the root of all evil" may have been far wiser a sage than Confucius himself. The amounts of cold hard cash these characters tend to have locked up may be enough to feed some needy families, cure a disease here or there, maybe even fund the war.

Yet they choose to squander it on whatever goods will tout their status the most. It makes you wonder what else Ellis got right when he wrote American Psycho.

Now I know these things are cyclical. I'm not obtuse naive enough to think all these clowns will be forever bankrupt (though it sure is nice to dream). Even so, I certainly hope their shortcomings and faults in this life serve as lessons learned to the next generation.

And if you believe that, I've got a bridge to sell you. Given real estate prices right now, I don't even think you could afford it.