What Goes Down, Must Come Up, Which Will Probably Go Down (Again)

It’s a good thing I don’t have a heart condition, because I probably would have been dead a long time ago, and/or died several deaths yesterday.  I would have been a pretty unlucky guy too, because my 401K (if I still had one) would have come back a bit today to the delight of my beneficiaries.  Yes, the Market came roaring back again today, tune the tune of roughly +500 points.  24 hours earlier we were falling into the abyss without a parachute, only to realize the we really did have one on our backs after all.  Well, I need to lapse into a cartoon analogy again, because I fear this is a bit like Wyle E Coyote going over the cliff with his trusty Acme Super Parachute, pulling the ripcord only to realize that it was a backpack he was wearing as sleeping bags and mess kits come flying out behind him, as he hits the same canyon floor.

Poof!

Right before the bottom came out of the Market in 1929, there were a series of up and down days on Wall Street, with huge swings in both volume and in positive and negative gains in each session.  Just cause we had some relief today, doesn’t mean we’re in for a great day again tomorrow or the next day.  Keep in mind, the good folks on Capitol Hill will be back tomorrow, flapping their traps in the breeze with the world hanging on every word.  And with every unkind word, you will watch the Market dive as with every positive word, the Market will rise.  With every press conference detailing gridlock will come a crash, and with every press conference announcing hope will come a stratospheric high on Wall Street.  People need to be VERY careful what they say tomorrow and in the coming days, most especially what they say publicly.

Let us not forget, these are politicians…they MUST keep talking, after all that is their job.  They need the press coverage for their own re-election bids…and it’s free too!  Lest we also forget, we have our heroic Presidential Candidates out on the trail as well.  While I’m not so concerned as to Senator Obama’s going off on a rant, I am just waiting for the latest edition of the McCain Follies des Republiques.  I mean, what else CAN this guy say and do that he hasn’t done already?  Just when we think he tops himself, he goes out and does just that…in a way that came from so far out of right field, it’s across the street from the ballpark.  He’s already blamed everything he could on Obama, except for the Crimean War (something McCain’s old enough to have fought in)…and I wouldn’t doubt that would be forthcoming either.

What absolutely KILLS me are the McCain surrogates, who are the most clueless lackeys I have ever seen grace an American political campaign.  Between the blissful ignorance of Tucker Knowsnobounds and clueless hubris of Nancy Pfflyers, I am staggered by the sheer lies and idiocy they spew from their robotic mouths.  McCain doesn’t have to worry about his health getting him, these kind folks will do it WAY before that ever happens.  Didn’t these guys graduate from the Carl Rove School of Government, or were they sent to the Richard Nixon Center For The Politically Challenged by mistake?  Of course we have Steve Mister Clean, the Master of the Maladroit…the guy who went on Meet The Press on Sunday and all but proclaimed that McCain wrote the legislation by hand with that old pen of his that he keeps in his shirt or coat or whatever.  (I hope he removes that thing when he sends out the dry cleaning).  Come to think of it, I’m starting to believe there’s a little guy in there handing him the pen, or perhaps it’s the rabbit he keeps hoping to pull out of a hat.

No matter…just as quickly as the Market came back today, it can all come crashing down tomorrow, based on a single word from someone.  The situation is that sensitive.  Moreover, progress must be seen on a deal for the bail out, which is now officially being termed a “Rescue Plan” as opposed to last week’s trial balloon.  It’s much more palatable than “Bail out” to the American public, you know…hey, they probably spent a few million on focus groups in the past week on this subject.  Let’s just hope that everyone gets together and uses their time wisely to put together something that will really help the Markets and most especially the American Taxpayer.

If they don’t, we may find ourselves like Wyle E. Coyote at the bottom of that canyon, with that familliar cartoon rock headed for us to add insult to injury after we hit bottom.

“No problem can be solved until it is reduced to some simple form. The changing of a vague difficulty into a specific, concrete form is a very essential element in thinking.” – J.P. Morgan

Where Are We, And What Are We Doing In This Hand Basket?

BOOM, CRASH, THUD!  That was the sound of the NY Stock Exchange and any of your investments in the Market made today as Congress failed to pass the $700 BILLION Bail Out Bill and the Market tanked 778 points.  Want to retire early?  Sorry, take that second job and practice saying the words, “Would you like fries with that?”.  Want those home improvements?  Sorry, continue bailing out the water from your basement and set the buckets up under the leaks in the roof.  (Yes, I know the metaphor was a little thick there, but purely unintentional).  How about that new TV for the World Series?  Unless you already have credit, you’ll have to watch it on your aging 12 inch Sony Trinitron from 1986 or go to the local pub.  Oh, and don’t be so secure thinking that just because you have a credit line today that it will be available for you tomorrow.  Make room in that mattress, because you might just be getting some extra padding.

Yes, it is that bad.

What the so-called patriots, who have the honor and distinction of serving in the United States House of Representatives, have done today is put this nation on a Financial equivalent of DefCon 2.  By failing to pass that Bill, as flawed and unfair as it was, they have entered the launch codes into the computer and have basically aimed those missiles at the rest of the world’s Financial Markets, because all hell is coming tomorrow.  While it may be the Jewish New Year (Happy 5768, by the way) tomorrow and Congress will not be in session, the Markets are still open.  Life continues to go on.  We have one of the worst possible situations looming now, as there is no political action that is being taken as the rest of the world waits for something to be done and trading continues.  If you thought your 401K was toast today, it will be cinders tomorrow.  (I am laying on the metaphors WAY too think, aren’t I?).

Who was at fault?  Certainly The Bush Administration was for 8 surreal years of incompetence and self-destruction that featured financial deregulation as the second centerpiece after the War on Terror.  Certainly that Champion of Main Street (OOPS!  Wrong Street…make that Wall Street), John McCain who spearheaded drive toward deregulation.  Most incredibly, I save my most extreme displeasure toward Speaker Pelosi for not only ensuring that she had the votes to pass the Bill BEFORE putting it to a vote on the House Floor, but for making a partisan and incendiary speech before the vote that cost her (and US) the necessary votes needed to get this thing passed.  While I agree with the content of her speech (squarely laying blame at the Bush Administration), IT WAS THE WRONG TIME to make it.  You make those sorts of comments AFTER the Bill is passed and sent to the Senate.  Quite honestly, I think I’d be pretty pissed off if I was a Republican who was about to eat a little crow and vote for the thing; I didn’t need a bunch of feathers shoved down my throat too.  And yes, they should have sucked it up and dis the right thing and voted for America, and lambasted the Speaker afterward.

John McCain has more to do with this fiasco than he should have allowed himself to be, unless he was going to be helpful.  He accused Barack Obama of “phoning it in” today at an Ohio rally as Obama’s participation in the process; something Johnny Boy was doing himself over the weekend from his Campaign HQ in Virginia.  Instead of joining the Congressional Leadership for pizza out of cardboard boxes huddled over desks trying to work out an acceptable deal, he was having dinner with Cindy, and JUDAS…er… Joe Lieberman and his wife at a posh Washington eatery on Saturday.  A deal was all done, right Johnny Boy?  We had our nice little photo op on Friday; the Bill was going to pass today.  Hell, Johnny Boy…you were so confident, you even had your surrogates claim you all but wrote the damned thing on every Sunday news program and railed against Obama’s failed leadership.  Even after McCain knew of the Bill’s failure, he outlined “his” principles that were a part of the Bill and continued to press on Senator Obama.  Unlike the calm reassuring tones Senator Obama took and stated to an audience in Colorado today, your continued erratic behavior is starting to call your very sanity from even those on your side of the aisle.

What you don’t SEEM to UNDERSTAND Johnny Boy, is that finger pointing may look great when you’re on stage at a political rally smiling like you know the guy, but it doesn’t do anyone any good when the lives of millions of Americans are at risk.  When people might be laid off as a result of this, or the small businesses you champion cannot make their payrolls because they have no credit.  When people stop buying things, and even more mortgages go into default.  When the economy begins to spiral so out of control in a tailspin so that even an old Naval Aviator like yourself can’t even save that plane from crashing.  You have experience with that, don’t you Johnny Boy?  After all, you lost 5 planes in your Naval Career and pulled the eject ring every time.  Nice to see that you made it safely, but those machines were costly.  And so is this economy, and these are Americans who don’t have the luxury of an ejection seat to move them safely away from the crash.

There’s plenty of blame to go around today, but I know one thing for certain Johnny Boy:  You should have had the pizza on Saturday Night.

“In my many years, I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a Congress.” – John Adams

The Day After: Obama 1, McCain 0

That’s what the polls and the pundits are all saying; hey, I’m just the messenger (and before you shoot, I have a wife and two kids, OK?).  Last night after the debate, my initial reaction was a draw with an edge to Obama because of McCain’s open condescension and dismissive attitude.  That was also the initial reaction of a lot of the pundits as well, but the more they seemed to talk about it (and the more I thought about it through today), it seemed as if any gains that McCain might have made were COMPLETELY negated by his attrocious attitude.  Looking like a time bomb is one thing; looking like a time bomb with a superiority complex scares the shit out of me.

Apparently, the Independents are VERY concerned about this as well.  Many polls have shown that they broke very clearly for Obama, with the main reasons cited being Obama’s Presidential Demeanor, and Chris Matthews’ brilliant description of McCain acting and looking like a troll, describing McCain’s behavior perfectly.  Obama devotees were even more solidified in their unity as were McCain’s.  In addition, many Undecided Voters also viewed Obama through a new prism; one that allowed his policies to be put forth in a new light and actually reach them in a pure fashion as opposed to the media and campaign directed spin.  Women broke even more heavily for Obama (53% in one poll), although it will be interesting to see what that audience thinks after the VP Debate this coming Thursday.  What astounded me was the clear separation between Obama and McCain in terms of a victory: the MSNBC Poll has Obama 53%, McCain 34%, Tie at 6%, Not Sure 7% for OVER 863,000!  That’s just stunning!  (You were only allowed one vote too, btw; unless you were willing to sit there and clear out the cookie cache every time).

Some more of my thoughts:

  • If every time you added the word, “Boy” after McCain said, “What you don’t seem to understand (Boy)…” or “What (the Boy) Senator Obama doesn’t seem to understand…” you would have a very interesting picture.
  • McCain’s superiority complex was on full display here, and I just wanted to punch his lights out…especially if he pulled that on me.
  • McCain’s answers were all from his stock speeches, over and over and over again.  Obama had those moments too (not nearly as many), and his responses were generally more free flowing and thoughtful.
  • While Obama may be criticized by many today for his “I agree with John…” statements, he also took no shit from McCain either.  The exchange between them on what was a tactic or a strategy pissed Obama off, and I think that came through in an effective manner without being off-putting.  Classy retort by Obama.
  • McCain was clearly trying to win Florida when the question of Iraq came up; if he pandered any more, I would have probably lost my cookies.  Obama pandered to NO ONE, and appealed to all of America.

Note: The McCain campaign released a statement today stating the reason that McCain didn’t have to  look at Senator Obama was because “he could see right through him”.  The hubris that everyone in this campaign is catching from the standard-bearer is disgusting.

It should be interesting on Thursday Night for the VP Debate.  Biden on the “post game” has already said that Palin is an equal and will be treated as such, and if that means going after her record and policies in a decisive manner, so be it.

As long as Biden isn’t seen to be sexist and shoots off his occasionally loose cannon mouth, he will stuff and hang Palin on the wall in his trophy room, right next to the moose head.

“A coward is much more exposed to quarrels than a man of spirit.”– Thomas Jefferson

Debate 1 Quick Analysis

Domestic Issues: McCain did better than I expected, but Obama could have taken out more weapons from the arsenal (and God only knows, there’s no shortage of them)

International Affairs: Obama did MUCH better than I could have imagined, while I think McCain did as well as I thought he would do.  Obama more clearly is the thinker, McCain the gut punching schoolyard brawler.

Demeanor: McCain did not look at Obama ONCE during the debate.  He was condescending and lived up to his nickname of McNasty.  This is where I think he will be hurt with viewers.  He was clearly belligerant while Obama was the gentlemen and the statesman (although too much at times).

WINNER: Slight edge to Obama, because he came off as cool and collected.  McCain came across like the schoolyard bully.  Personally, I want a calm guy in the Oval Office with a set of brains; not a hothead who is intimidating and insular.

LATER ON TODAY OR TOMORROW: A more detailed analysis.

Pre-Game Countdown

Just watching “Countdown With Keith Olbermann” before tonight’s first Presidential Debate.  I’m wearing my lucky NY Giants hat (the one I was wearing when they won the Super Bowl last year), and I’m psyched.

I’ll have thoughts about the event later on today.  Have a great debate everyone!

An Injection Of Hubris And Folly Into The Maelstrom

A few weeks ago, John McCain’s campaign stated that this Presidential Election would not be about issues.  It would not be about the largest Savings & Loan Failure in American History that happened a few hours ago when Washington Mutual went under, and had its assets bought by JPMorgan Chase.  It would not be about the incredible failure of a disastrous decision to invade Iraq in 2003, starting a war where 4,000 American soldiers and possibly hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians were killed and/or injured.  It would not be about the questionable decisions that John McCain has made lately, including his choice of a Vice Presidential candidate who is just slightly to the right of The John Birch Society and who is a complete religious fanatic who believes we are doing God’s work in Iraq.  It would not be about her Church which sanctioned a blessing by an African minister upon her (and in her presence) that involved protecting her from witches; nor would it be about her complete lack of availability to the American Press save for a few short (and in at least two disastrous) interviews.  It would not be about the outright lies that the McCain campaign is propagating about Barack Obama’s positions.  It would not be about the rapidly falling economy, where America (and potentially the rest of civilization) is teetering on the brink of total collapse due to 8 years of deregulation that he helped to push through the Congress.  It would not be about his lack of support to Veterans through his voting record on Bills that would have improved the quality of their benefits  voting against them them 85 % of the time in the past 26 years.  It would not be about his absolutely insane decision two days ago to supposedly “suspend” his campaign so he could go to Washington on his white horse to save the day so he could win the White House.  It would not be about his surrogates still actively campaigning on his behalf, nor his television ads that were still running  in Battleground States, nor the fact that his campaign is still collecting cash.  It was clear, however that this entire campaign is not about “Country First”.

It was all about John McCain.  The so-called “Maverick” who professes to love his country so much that he went to Washington to try and take credit for a deal that was being hammered out by Republicans and Democrats and was succeeding before his wife’s plane touched down at Dulles Airport.  The so-called man who “reaches across the aisle”  to the Democrats only came into town and only wound up dividing his own Party even more so that any hope of a deal could not be completed tonight (or this morning), perhaps in the hope of avoiding a debate with Obama scheduled today.  Yes, this was vintage McCain in all his glory, continuing to display his reckless behavior of the past two weeks and inject himself into a political argument that would have been best served without his “white knight” presence.  This was vintage McCain, because it was all about John McCain, the hell with the Polls, the Party, the Debate, and the best interests of the American People.

This is the man who would be President; the man who would be making erratic decisions that would affect the entire planet.  This man is (literally) a gambler, who has shown throughout his career that he is more than willing to gamble American lives and well being.  This is a man who this evening, sits contentedly in a plush Washington hotel room while the worlds falls all around him in the chaos that he had a hand in creating.  It’s all about John McCain…and it’s all about his fitness to be President.

The man is insane, and his running mate even more so.  The Neocons are crazy as well, because their belief is that if America is not in charge of the rest of the world…then they would rather “poison the well”; a tactic the Romans used against their enemies successfully.  If the Romans couldn’t conquer an enemy, they would literally poison the wells and the land so that no one else could have it if they couldn’t.  Just ask any Carthaginian.  John McCain is currently poisoning Washington DC’s well, and that only bodes certain doom for this Nation.  He will continue to poison the well for at least four years if he is elected, and if you think it’s bad now…you haven’t seen a damned thing.

Then again, you might just be blinded by the light before the mushroom cloud sweeps over you so you can’t see anything.

“Remember the words of Chairman Mao: ‘It’s always darkest before it’s totally black.’ ” – John McCain

TOMORROW: Who the hell knows?  Could you plan a piece the way this Presidential Election is going?  Work with me here…I’m just as flabbergasted as you are.

Quick Site Update for 9/25

My usual nightly post will be delayed by a few hours this evening, due to family commitments.  I have the delight to participate in that annual event known as a Parent/Teacher Conference, where I will also meet the new Principal and have to put up with the horrific Parent Teacher Organization’s self-centered and rather annoying leaders.  You know, the future Vice Presidents of the United States.

Readers may expect a new post between 11 PM-12 AM EST (-5GMT) later on today.  See you then.

Johnny On The Spot

“America First”,  Johnny Boy?  It sure as hell doesn’t look that way, at least to this humble writer.

Just in case anyone’s trying to play catch up: At 8:30 am, Obama personally called Senator McCain to propose that since they appear to agree on the same stipulations for passage of the Bail Out (now being called a “Rescue Package” by our brave Politicians), they issue a joint statement.  Johnny Boy was probably still sleeping, because his campaign took the message and told Senator Obama that Johnny Boy himself would return the phone call.  So at 2:30 pm, Johnny Boy spoke to Senator Obama and agreed in principle to a joint statement.  Oh, and by the way, in the spirit of focusing everyone of the “Rescue Package”, he’d like to postpone Friday’s debate on International policy (which will eventually lead to the Economy anyway).  Obama said they should issue the joint statement first and then move forward from there.

At 3:00pm, Johnny Boy goes on the news, dons his Supersenator costume, and says he’s flying back to DC and plans on suspending his campaign ads and also asks that the debate be postponed.  No questions guys, thanks for showing up for yet another one of my horribly written and delivered statements.  Now, you have to think that behind the scenes, the normally unflappable Senator Obama was ballistic; I can’t say I wouldn’t have been because I have a nasty temper…but for Obama to get stabbed in the back like this (or anyone), you have to think it took him the two hours needed to cool down and craft a statement.  Not only that, deliver it to perfection and get every single point of your campaign out at the same time.

The Senator from Illinois basically sated what happened.  He didn’t come right out and say he got back-stabbed, but he craftily implied as much.  He also stated that a President needed to multi-task, and that he had been in constant contact with Secretary Paulson and Congressional leaders and that he would do anything asked of him…oh, and he would go to the debates.  The Commission running the debates apparently agrees, because they plan on holding them anyway.  Not only that Congressman Barney Frank already said he’s optimistic about this getting done is a few days; that most of the major concessions needed for passage have been made by the Treasury Department; and McCain is flying back to DC for what is essentially a done deal just so he can take credit for it.

Looks as if Johnny Boy will be racking up his frequent flyer miles for nothing….wait a minute!  He uses his wife’s plane…the one that SHE owns.  As Senator Obama pointed out, if he’s needed he’ll gladly go to DC and he and Johnny Boy have nice planes with their names written on the sides to fly them to Ole Miss quickly for a debate.  Obviously, they’ll both be at the Senate to vote on the “Rescue Package”.  Johnny Boy dropped back to pass and throw a Hail Mary.  The question is will he need to pray one (and the rest of the Rosary for that matter…hell, why not throw in a Novena while we’re at it)?

UPDATE TO FOLLOW AFTER THE PRESIDENT’S SPEECH- More news later…there are just WAY too many developments to even comment on right now.  This is the most incredible political bullshit I have ever seen played on the American People and The World.  My Country is going to hell…I’m just speechless…

UPDATE as of 10 PM EST (-5GMT):

Now I’ve seen everything…I think.  Just when you got the whole mess figured out, it gets messier.  I can’t even be funny, sarcastic, funny, glib, or deadly serious right now,  Hell, I couldn’t combine them all if I tried.  I’ll need some time to digest all this (like a good nightmare’s sleep) and try and sort it out in the morning.

I am just flabbergasted by the hubris, political posturing, and blatant attempts by the McCain campaign to delay a debate that the American people need to see.  I cannot believe that the President also injected himself into this mess by convening (very conveniently) the leaders of Congress at the White House tomorrow afternoon; a meeting that Senator Obama will attend.  I have come to the inescapable conclusion that John McCain does not possess the judgment nor the temperament to be President Of The United States.  He clearly no longer has the mental capability to make decisions of an important nature (as does his running mate) in addition to his disastrous policy proposals.  He is unstable.  He is trying to stonewall the American People by not holding Press Conferences (any longer than 5 minutes, that is), and not allowing the Press to question or make available Sarah Palin.  This is the sign of a man desperate for power at any cost, by shutting out the media in an attempt to ensure the neither he nor his running mate effectively put their case before the American Citizens.   He is hoping that the American People will only believe sound bites and dirty ads to get elected.  It is now clear to me that there is one inescapable conclusion based on today’s events:

John McCain is a COWARD.

“You cannot be disciplined in great things and indisciplined in small things. Brave undisciplined men have no chance against the discipline and valor of other men. Have you ever seen a few policemen handle a crowd?”
-General George S. Patton

An Anvil and Piano Day On Capitol Hill

Remember the cartoons where a character would have a piano fall on them while walking by a building?  The character would usually survive, but with animated stars and birds swirling around their head…and just when they thought they might be over it, along comes an anvil from above and completely obliterates them.  Well, it was pretty much an Anvil and Piano Day today for lawmakers, as the (and we) are just fining out how bad this economic situation REALLY is.

Our wonderful Fed Chairman had this to say during his remarks (from MSNBC): “Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke bluntly warned reluctant lawmakers Tuesday they risk a recession with higher unemployment and increased home foreclosures unless they act on the Bush administration’s $700 billion plan to bail out the financial industry.”

RISK a recession?  I hate to break it to ya Benjie baby, but there IS a fucking RECESSION going on right now, or have you and the rest of you Wall Street boys had your eyes on your personal financials more than the country’s to give a shit?  A $700 BILLION DOLLAR BAIL OUT PLAN WAS CONTAINED ON TWO PIECES OF PAPER. Yes, that’s right, TWO PAGES; and part of those two pages were the (now) infamous 30 dirty words you never say on Capitol Hill: “Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.” Yes, from the folks that brought you the PATRIOT Act, comes this lovely bail-out plan that needs to be signed off on by the end of the week…and don’t bother reading it, you can always revisit it.

In other words, let’s finalize all transfer of power to the Executive Branch of government by allowing complete and total control of monetary policy with no questions asked.  Sounds awfully like Fascism and/or Communism to me!  This is the part of the plan that TOTALLY galls Republicans the most.  Not taking care of the US Taxpayer and “Main Street” is the point of the plan that galls Democrats.  Thank God for sensible Senators like Hagel, Schumer, and Dodd.  (As of this post, Dodd said the current proposal is “unacceptable” and told Benjie Boy and Paulson to pull an all nighter and come up with another one).  Schumer made an excellent point of asking why $700 Billion now; why not $150 Billion and see if the plan is working before they give more money.  Paulson said the Market wouldn’t react positively to that.  Schumer turned the tables back on him and told him that the Market would react properly to $150 Billion if the plan was working or not working.  (Oh, I see…Christmas Bonus time is coming, and we just might need a few billion more for buyouts and bonuses).

One Senator pointedly asked the Financial Geniuses why they weren’t warned about this sooner?  Why wait until now when it obviously would cost more money?  No response worth printing here, my friend.  I will tell you why though: they were hoping that all the shit would hit the fan AFTER Election Day, when their precious Candidate might have a better shot at winning if the Financial Disaster was not looming in the distance.  They hoped to push all of this off…and now it’s worse than ever.  Remember the Administration once claimed to want to act against Iraq while it was still a smoking gun rather than a mushroom cloud?  Well, where were these guys now…because Ladies and Gentlemen, we have one hell of a mushroom cloud hanging over out heads to the tune of $700 Billion.

I don’t know about you, but I’m heading for the nearest Fallout Shelter.

“As a rule, men worry more about what they can’t see than about what they can.” – Julius Caesar

The People’s Republic Of Wall Street

Greetings, Comrades!  I bring you GREAT news!  Today, our Fearless Leaders have decided to help end the struggle of the working class Mortgage Lenders and Investment Bankers!  For too long, they have been oppressed by needless bureaucratic intervention; but they were freed not too long ago by our Fearless Leaders in an attempt to bring greatness back to the People!  They fought valiantly in their struggle, and it appeared all was lost.  Then, once again…our Fearless Leaders came forth and offered a new, guaranteed way of ensuring the Greatness of The Peoples’ Republic Of Wall Street!

We, the People shall now share the burden of their struggle for solvency by lending our vast resources to them once again, so that we may show the World the vast power and strength of our Financial Markets!  We shall all have to work harder and contribute more of our income…but think of the glory and potential profits, Comrades!  Think of it!  We shall finally make our Institutions of Finance greater than they ever have been before; and if we cannot achieve that in in this generation, then surely your children and your grandchildren will pick up our vast Legacy!

Our struggle may not be over yet, Comrades!  Do not let a false sense of security lull you into letting down your guard for the greater good!  Our Fearless Leaders may ask more of us in the future; we may have to give up our food and health care benefits or possibly send our Sons and Daughters off to fight a war in order to maintain our Greatness!  Fear not!  We shall prevail as we always have Comrades, and our Corporate Institutions will be stronger than ever, and though we may give up much, we shall all be better and stronger for it.  Be brave!  Stand united, Comrades!

For as it always has been, that which does not kill you makes you stronger!

“Recession is when a neighbor loses his job. Depression is when you lose yours.” – Ronald Reagan

For Absent Friends, In Memories Burning Brightly

In a few hours, the lights will be turned out and the last of the throng will have left.  The clean-up crews will still be there of course, and so will more than a few who managed to stay behind to get a few souvenirs from the old place.  The smell of the grass will still be hanging in the cool air of the last summer eve, and the rumble of the subway will be heard occasionally as it climbs up the El from the tunnel.  Part of me will forever haunt this place; my spirit dwelling in an old wooden seat next to a metal pole that held up the deck above.  I’d be straining my young neck around that girder to see if the ball was fair or foul.  Part of me will be sitting in the upper deck where I took my wife on our second date, and I got sunburn on my knees; a sunburn so bad we went to a local bar to kill the pain with more than a few beers and cold bottles of Miller straight out of the ice directly placed on them.  My teenage spirit will be dwelling in the mezzanine at a few World Series or Championship Series games.  My heart, my soul, the core of my being will forever inhabit this place called Yankee Stadium.

My first visit was when I was 5 years old in 1966.  My Dad had scored some excellent seats on the third base side of the field, and we went with my friend and his Dad.  These were not the Glory Years of the Yankees, in fact they were anything but.  Mickey Mantle was only two years away from his retirement, and arguably the best player on the team was a pitcher named Mel Stottlemeyer.  These were a team of bumblers who couldn’t hit a fly with a swatter let alone a baseball.  Our opponent on that late April day were the California Angels (who had just changed their name from the Los Angeles Angels.  Now they are known as the Los Angeles Angels Of Anaheim California United States Planet Earth or something like that).  The Stadium was (and is) in the middle of a very poor neighborhood in the Bronx, and outside the immediate two blocks surrounding the Stadium was a War Zone.  That is why when you first enter the place, and get your first look at the playing field, it is something to behold.

Billy Crystal (the GOOD guy, not the Neocon) described his first time there perfectly in the movie “When Harry Met Sally”.  It’s amazing: you come down from the El (that’s the elevated Subway); and you are totally surrounded by vendors selling everything imaginable.  Hot Pretzels, Game Programs, Yearbooks, people looking to sell or buy tickets…it’s complete and utter hustle and bustle; the smell of the hot dogs wafting in the air.  The entire block right next to the Stadium is owned by a guy named Stan: Stan’s Bar, Stan’s Souvenirs, Stan’s Bordello…you get the picture.  You get up to the gate, the guy takes your ticket and points you in the right direction.  There were no escalators in the Stadium back then, just ramps.  You go up a few ramps, and then get to the portal that opens out into the Field…and suddenly the world changes.

There is no hustle and bustle; there are no vendors…there is just the pristine green field amidst the chaos of the South Bronx that seems to go on forever.  It’s before the game and somewhat subdued, and it’s almost like being in Church.  (No wonder it’s often called “Baseball’s Cathedral”).  An Usher would check your ticket, and walk you to your seats.  He’d have this big mitt to wipe off your seats (and make sure there were no splinters in them as well).  If your Dad was smart, he’d give the guy a good tip because if there were empty seats later on in the game and he took a shine to you, he’d move you up and closer to the field.

I have a lot of memories of that day, but my favorite player Mickey Mantle (who else?) managed to hit a home run that day.  Even though he was literally on his last legs, the ball went off that bat in a way I have never seen to this day.  It was powerful and graceful simultaneously, and as the ball landed in the right field stands, Mick was already making the slow trot around the bases; not because he wanted to show up the pitcher, but because his aging body wouldn’t allow him to move any faster.  My Dad was teaching me how to keep score that day as well, and I got a big thrill out of drawing a diamond next to old Number 7.  To this day, I still keep score the way they used to when I first learned how to do it properly. (I don’t enter a “W” for walk like you can today, I enter “BB” for Base on Balls”).  The Yanks lost that day (the first of many I would endure for the next decade or so until the resurgence of my beloved Pinstripers in the 70’s) but Mick hit a Homer and so began my love affair with a team and a place I have to this day.

I would make many more pilgrimages there as the years went on.  There were summer days where my Dad would decide at the last minute we should go to the game and get a General Admission or Obstructed View seat.  We’d take the long trip by train, ferry, and subway from Staten Island and gladly watch a game up close in person, in that place…that most special of all places in Professional Sports.  The smell of stale beer and cigar smoke combined with the hot dogs and hot peanuts was pure heaven…and it was even better when the Yanks won.

Yankee Stadium was also home to the NY Football Giants, and I went to at least two games there.  The way the gridiron ran on the field was totally wacky, and it felt amazingly strange to be in Yankee Stadium in the dead of winter on a clear December day.  If you think Alaska is cold, try Yankee Stadium in December with the wind whipping off both the Harlem and Hudson Rivers.  Today, I will say it was they were coldest Giants games I ever attended (OK…there was a NFC Playoff game against the Bears in ’91…that was pure hell…).  Even in the dead of winter though, Yankee Stadium still had a special magic to it.  It was the home of my very much loved NY Giants as well as the Yanks…and it just felt right.  The booming voice of Bob Sheppard who was the Stadium announcer for both the Yanks and Giants saying in those classic sonorous tones, “Ladies and Gen-tle-men…Wel-come to Yan-kee Stadium” soaring through the sunlit Bronx sky.

The last game of the old Stadium took place in September of 1973.  The place was badly in need of repairs and a face-lift.  Gone would be the poles that held up the decks of the Stadium in favor of a completely unobstructed view of the game.  The old wooden seats would be replaced with new plastic ones, the scoreboard would now have a replay screen, and a good deal of the Bleachers would be removed.  Most astonishingly, the classic facade that ran around the top of the Stadium would be removed in favor of more seats.  The Yankees would play the next two years at that hell-hole called Shea Stadium, and the House That Ruth Built would be rebuilt.

My Dad and I went to the last game at the place.  He scored two tickets from a business client and we sat in the Press Box; which at that time literally was an extension of the mezzanine and hung over the lower section.  We sat in very comfortable seats and pretty much had all our food and drink delivered to us.  I sat next to a sportswriter furiously taking notes on a yellow pad and then typing away on an old Underwood upright.  When the game was over, everyone was allowed to walk on the field for one last time.  So while others were stealing seats (which go for amazing amounts of money these days), my Dad and I were taking a long walk on the field that I had come to love for so much of my youth.  We began the slow walk from home plate to left field, his arm around my shoulder.  I will never forget that walk, especially because in coming years, my relationship with him would change dramatically.  I would begin my rebellious teenage years and twenties soon, but for that moment…I truly believe in my heart that that was probably the last moment I felt like a son to him, and perhaps he felt the same way.

I went to the very first game in the new Stadium in April of 1976.  The place had obviously changed, and some of it was for the better, but there was the charm of the old place that was missing.  I didn’t mind the seats though; because the splinters in your butt in the old place were killer!  I’ve been to World Series games, horrible losses where the Yanks were blown out by the 4th inning and I would still (drunkenly, of course) be futilely rallying the crowd to cheer our Bronx Bombers on.  There was the aforementioned sunburn incident that my wife and I still laugh about to this day.  My kneecaps were so red, people in the subway noticed.  (Never sit with your feet on the back of an empty seat in front of you on a clear May Day in the upper deck of a Stadium leaving your knees ripe for roasting.)  Unfortunately, I never got a chance to take my daughters to a game there.  The ticket prices (and good luck getting a ticket), the cost of snacks and souvenirs, and the amount of time it would take us to get there (by car or train) wouldn’t be worth it.  It’s a shame really, because just once I wanted them to have that experience of the old (but rebuilt) Stadium.

The new Yankee Stadium is supposed to reproduce the original (including the facade) in many ways.  It’s almost complete, and they put the last of the letters up on the top of the building this past week.  The new place will be right next door, and eventually the old Stadium will come down.  Tonight is the last game in The House That Ruth Built, but it will remain forever in my heart and soul; in my memories and in my spirit.  They can tear down the building, but the one thing they cannot take away are the spirits of those of us who passed through the front gate and saw that incredible place for the first time.  We will always be there.

And I will always be there…as that 12 year old boy, walking across that field with his Dad.

“I believe when we leave a place, part of it goes with us and part of us remains. Go anywhere in the station, when it is quiet, and just listen. After a while, you will hear the echoes of all our conversations, every thoughts and words we’ve exchanged. Long after we have gone our voices will linger in these walls, for as long as this place remains. But I will admit that the part of me that is going, very much will miss the part of you that is staying” – Citizen G’Kar (Babylon 5/jms)

Family Matters

Three years ago, my father had a series of two bad strokes that left him paralyzed and a shell of the man he used to be, physically and mentally.  One night during this time I was talking to my mother on the phone, and somehow we got on my Dad’s experiences during the Korean War.  He was 19 when that war broke out, and like everyone, his age he was drafted.  A few things about my father: he was an incredible runner, and got a track scholarship to Bishop Laughlin High School in Brooklyn (for various reasons we won’t go into here, he dropped out after a few years).  He was extremely bright and had a photographic memory; as did I (before 9/11 and copious amounts of drugs and alcohol ), my brother, and my two girls.  He was also one of the few Human Beings, less than one percent of the entire planet, who is immune to smallpox.

Immune, as in the guy could walk into a totally infected village in the deep jungle in Bolivia infested with smallpox, and walk out with absolutely not a care in the world.  They found this out when the standard smallpox shot that they gave all new inductees didn’t take…three times.  So what does all of this have to do with that conversation with my mother?  She sprang something on me that knocked me senseless: my father wasn’t really stationed in a motor pool in Fort Bliss, Texas (a place my father lovingly referred to as, “The worst Theater in the entire Korean War”).  Well, he was there sometimes…when he wasn’t busy traveling all over the world, in some pretty dangerous parts I might add…as a Courier for The Company.  Dad used to joke about how he could kill someone with just two fingers if he wanted to, and that one day he wanted to go back to Japan…then he’d quickly correct himself and say “go to Japan”.  The first airplane flight he was supposedly on (with the family on a trip to Disney World), he was absolutely terrified.  The guy was keeping that Flight Attendant busy bringing him Johnny Red all flight.  (He gave up drinking a number of years before and only had the occasional tipple now and then).  Now it all began to make sense to me.

You got a kid with a photographic memory, who can run like lightning, and is immune to smallpox.  Take him, and then train him to protect who he is with, and what he is carrying.  Get the hell in and then get the hell out.  His behavior on the plane was something I know only too well: he was having a flashback from something he’d rather not talk about.  The next time I visited with him in the hospital and there was no one in the room but me he and I, I asked him some questions and told him to say anything and only nod his head “Yes” or “No” as answers.  I’m not going into the details (for obvious reasons), except that it was true.  I asked him why he agreed to go along with their proposal.

“It was a choice…Courier or Korea.” he whispered in my ear.

On September 11th, I had no choice in the matter, nor did I have a choice in how my mind and body would react to that day.  Thankfully, I had the chance to get help for the PTSD; and the choice to sober up.  By taking those steps, I began to understand what happened to me and why.  I have a choice now in writing this Blog and speaking out against an Administration that has trashed the Constitution Of The United States as “just a piece of paper”.  I have a choice in getting the message out that we need to come together as not only Americans, but as Citizens of the World and as Human Beings.  I can pretty much wake up every morning and look myself in the mirror and have absolutely no qualms about what I’ve done the day before.  I can live with myself; there are those who probably cannot.

One of my relatives was also there on 9/11, in fact he actually worked for the Mayor; knew him intimately, and was in a position on that day and in the coming days to be privy to a plethora of information.  He saw three people die in front of him on the way to 7 WTC where they had the NYC Disaster Recovery Center…three .  I saw only bodies throwing themselves from the North Tower and it affected me; he actually saw three human beings have their lives end no more than 15-20 yards in front of him.  He has absolutely no problems with PTSD, nor has he sought any psychiatric help (to the best of my knowledge) in the past 7 years.  He exhibits absolutely none of the signs of the onset of PTSD, and to the best of my knowledge isn’t a raging drunk or uses any illegal drugs…then again, no one would have thought the same of me.  (He is on my Dad’s side of the family, and that’s where that gene resides.  Out of 10 cousins, 4 of us are alcoholics; 3 in recovery including myself).  I have absolutely no idea how he handles this every day; I have a hard time on my own.

Then it dawned on me why: because he knows the truth about what happened on that day.  He knows all the details of the attacks, the response and probably why the North and South Towers actually collapsed and why for no good reason 7 WTC after having no great damage suddenly collapsed.  In short, he holds the answers to every set of questions that I and millions of others want to know…and he’s not saying a damned thing…not even to me.  The only hint I ever got was “It’s better you don’t know; and what you DO know just  barely scratches the surface.”  He is no longer working for NYC, by the way and is in business on his own.  In fact, he was actually going in that day to hand in his resignation letter and he wound up being asked to delay that for a few months, which he did.

My relative is also involved with the community where he lives; he has political aspirations (Republican, of course).  I wouldn’t put it past him to have evidence stored somewhere that could further his political career if he needed to use it.  We recently had a very nasty exchange of e-mails lately where he accused me of “…giving up on life after 9/11”.  Well forgive me…I might have had a different view if I knew what the hell was really going on instead of being kept in the dark.  Some of us are more fragile than others; and according to my Psychiatrist, PTSD will occur sometimes years after an event; all it needs is the right trigger.  So he shouldn’t think he’s immune from this happening, and I sure as hell would never wish it on he or his family.

I haven’t given up on life; in fact, I’m just starting to really appreciate it and embrace it for the first time in 47 years.  I have a cause to which I am dedicated (writing my memoir and this blog; campaigning for justice; and to try and help to raise our Consciousness on the Net on other blogs similar to my own) and believe in.  What my relative knows could be best served by saying to hell with any oaths he took; just get the truth out there and be a real Patriot.  Stop this Country from being hijacked by Patriots in Wolves clothing; stop the course that this Nation (and the world) is on while there is still time.  But he won’t do that; he is too ambitious.  He is much more concerned about his own career, and is probably waiting right now just to see what faction will eventually win out in the GOP and throw his lot in with them.  He has taken the opportunity that was given to him to change the world and use it for self-gain; just like most politicians.  His soul has officially been sold, at a cost to valuable to even calculate.

While some of my family may be immune to virus and disease and have their own secrets, others have their secrets as well as immunity from something else:

A conscience.

“You shout in your sleep.
Perhaps the price is just too steep.
Is your conscience at rest
If once put to the test?
You awake with a start
To just the beating of your heart.
Just one man beneath the sky,
Just two ears, just two eyes.

You set sail across the sea
Of long past thoughts and memories.
Childhood’s end, your fantasies
Merge with harsh realities.
And then as the sail is hoist,
You find your eyes are growing moist.
All the fears never voiced
Say you have to make your final choice.

Who are you and who am I
To say we know the reason why?
Some are born; some men die
Beneath one infinite sky.
There’ll be war, there’ll be peace.
But everything one day will cease.
All the iron turned to rust;
All the proud men turned to dust.
And so all things, time will mend.
So this song will end.”

-Childhood’s End, music/lyrics by David Gilmour performed by Pink Floyd

In Memory Most Bright:  Rick Wright- 1943-2008  Shine on…

Some Site Info

I mention in my brief biography to the right that I’m a freelance writer (FREE being the operative word).  Well, I owe my friend some music reviews I promised for his website, so I’m going to spend today stepping away from politics, and diving headfirst into the world of Progressive Rock & Progressive Metal.  I think I need a break too; my kids are starting to think this guy hunched over the Mac is some stranger.  I’m hoping to get a new post up after 8pm Eastern tomorrow, Saturday September 20.

Which brings me to my next point: I’m kind of new to this blogging thing, and I just figured out that WordPress operates on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), so a new day for a blog begins somewhere around 8pm Eastern Standard Time (GMT-4 due to Eastern Daylight Savings Time) in the USA (which is where I’m located).  In order to keep my site statistics in line with that, just so I can get an accurate picture of traffic without any overlap between days, all new posts (unless noted) will appear after 8 PM EST, as close to that time as possible.  So please be on the look-out for new posts (the ones that I have planned by featuring their title the day before) at that time.

You may have noticed I’ve been commenting as we roll along, and that’s just what I’ll continue to do.  Longer and more thoughtful replies I’ll kind of put in a “mailbag” post every two weeks or so (And yes, I plan on calling it “Fan Mail From Some Flounder”, LOL).  If you want to comment by e-mail (without having to be in print), the e-mail is ark3blog@me.com.

Regarding comments: I don’t care how many you make…make a ton of them.  Just please keep them on topic and please, no outlandish conspiracy theories from the tin foil hat club.  While I can believe just about anything these days, there are some things that are just too WAY out there for me.  I’ve been looking at over some blogs (just to get some ideas on maybe how to run things) and moderation in the comments might not be a bad idea as it keeps things on topic.  We’ll see.  Right now, things will remain unmoderated until the tin-foil hat local chapter shows up.

Once we get this blog “re-set” together and I finish those music reviews, things will be back to normal…well, abnormal.

NEXT POST WILL BE ON SATURDAY 9/20/08 AFTER 8PM EASTERN DAYLIGHT STANDARD TIME.  THIS MEANS IT WILL SHOW UP AS POSTED ON SUNDAY, 9/21/08.

Thanks for your patience.

Peace,

Ark

A Not So Angry Interlude And Fan Mail From Some Flounder

First out of the gate: I’m delaying those last two “Republic” pieces a few days because I need more time to dot the “i”‘s and cross the “t”‘s.  It’s the only responsible thing to do; I would expect the same if someone were doing a piece on my vast and varied background, factual or commentary.  It’s the most honorable thing I can do for what has become a dishonorable campaign led by a dishonorable man.  I will definitely have other daily entries while I’m finishing off those last two pieces of the series…trust me.

Time to reply to the mailbag:

@Cartoon Pig Dog: Yeah, good point!  The race already is in the toilet.  I was just being optimistic!   @Fiona: Corporate Canada is just the same as Corporate America, make no doubt about that…just colder (pun intended).  @daMama: Thank you for the compliment on my writing.  It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to put pen to paper (in this case fingers to keyboard) and just let it all flow.  This election has given me purpose, no doubt spurred on by the dangerous selection of Sarah Palin as VP choice.  I have to say something, or I could never forgive myself.  @KSinMA: It’s just not me being a messenger after surviving 9/11.  There are others, they just don’t realize it yet.  Rest assured, they will when the time is right.  @Barbara: The greatest crime we can commit as Human beings is silence in the face of inhumanity; that will damn us as surely as if we committed the act ourselves.  @Swineprincess (a/k/a/ my most active commenter): I think you say everything best yourself, how much more can I possibly add except to say thanks for continuing the conversation.

To All Of You Who Offered Support And Inquired How I’m Doing Now: Thank You.  Those comments meant a lot to me and helped me get through was it always a very difficult day.  A most special thanks to a few fellow Survivors who wrote me and shared their stories.  We each have our own tale of that day and we were there for a reason.  I think I have found mine; I hope you have found yours and if not, I hope your journey will take you there.

As for those asking how am I doing now, I do the best I can on a day to day basis; and I’m kept busy by playing Daddy to two wonderful girls.  I watch lots of old TV programs with them from my youth (“Lost In Space” went over like gangbusters with my youngest) and more recent shows (“Babylon 5” with my oldest.  I have a great story or two about this experience for another post down the line).  NY Giants football is always THE event on Sunday in the house.  All calendars are adjusted well in advance to reflect the time of the games and what we can do and where we should be going on whatever day they are playing on.  On one hand I have what can best be termed a normal life; but in another way I am in a constant struggle with myself.

After the attacks, I was diagnosed with Acute PTSD and several years after that Bi-Polar Disorder.  Right around the same time, I admitted I was an alcoholic and gave up the booze that had essentially become my refuge, my lover, and my spiritual well.  I do not travel long distances, because I have a certain comfort zone I like to stay within close to my home.  I do not like big crowds and have not set foot in (what used to be my beloved) NYC since Februrry 2005.  Often I will go food shopping at crazy hours to avoid the crowds.  I have mood swings that rival those of John McCain…and that’s primarily why I feel he should not be elected.  I fight the urge to have a drink on some days, and on others I will be very happy with my Coca Cola, thank you.  I sometimes get lost in a conversation and will completely “drop out” in mid sentence or completely forget what I was just talking about.  (This coming from a man who used to have a photographic memory).  I have peaceful nights and I have horrible nights sleeping.  I’ve now developed two bulging and degenerative discs in my back…and the list goes on.  At least I still look damned good for a 47 year old guy, huh?

Through all of this my only refuge and my only way my brain is able to function and concentrate is through writing and playing music.  Music, because it’s instinctual and has no language; it’s emotional and can bring things out of me that I cannot express verbally or on a page.  Writing is important to me because instead of dropping out of a conversation, I can stop and look back at what I wrote and pick up a thought.  I remain focused when I write.  I’m quite articulate at small social gatherings (just make sure you buy enough soda or Perrier), but after a while I will get very tired and become very non-conversive.

My daughters think I’m nuts writing like this all of the time now.  My youngest asked me yesterday, “Daddy, why do you write so much?”

“I’m saving the world, darlin’…saving the world”.  If she only knew.

NOTES TO MY FELLOW BLOGGERS: I’ll be updating (and re-organizing) my links section shortly, and I will most assuredly link back to you who have done so for me and/or requested that I do for you.  We are all either crazy or the only sane ones on the planet…but my, what a diverse bunch we are!  AKM: Keep fighting the good fight, and stay safe.

ONE FINAL, CRAZY NOTE: Some of you might remember part of the title of this post from a segment of “Rocky & Bullwinkle”.  I’ve made a few passing references to the program here and on other blogs…how can you not?  When I was looking for a title for the post and fan mail…well, once again R&B prove immortal!

TOMORROW: Never Knows

“If I take a lamp and shine it toward the wall, a bright spot will appear on the wall. The lamp is our search for truth… for understanding. Too often, we assume that the light on the wall is God, but the light is not the goal of the search, it is the result of the search. The more intense the search, the brighter the light on the wall. The brighter the light on the wall, the greater the sense of revelation upon seeing it. Similarly, someone who does not search – who does not bring a lantern – sees nothing. What we perceive as God is the by-product of our search for God. It may simply be an appreciation of the light… pure and unblemished… not understanding that it comes from us. Sometimes we stand in front of the light and assume that we are the center of the universe – God looks astonishingly like we do – or we turn to look at our shadow and assume that all is darkness. If we allow ourselves to get in the way, we defeat the purpose, which is to use the light of our search to illuminate the wall in all its beauty and in all its flaws; and in so doing, better understand the world around us.” -Citizen G’Kar (Babylon 5/jms)