Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Wiping the Slate Clean

Happy International BK Day!
We wish you a prosperous and debt free 2009.

For more on BK8, see our ‘Dream Sequence’ November 30, 2008 posting "World Forwards Final Bill to 'W' in Crawford, TX".

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Why Bernie Made Off With 2008

There are few words to accurately describe the vibrant hum of Manhattan during the holiday season and this year was no exception, global economic collapse and all.

Standing on the corner of 53rd at 3rd in front of the Lipstick Building in Midtown, we caught sight of an announcement posted on the large lobby doors that read “Bernie Made Off like a Pirate. Premium Office Space For Plunder“. As the 17th floor sadly sat in darkness, we realized that there wasn’t enough in Bernie’s bank account to even pay the electric bill.

We stood there as it snowed and pondered the riches to rags story Bernie (see definition) had been weaving over the last several decades. Known as a man of international distinction with direct access to the highest of affluent societies, Bernie managed to build a no-questions-asked house of cards out of the world’s Kings and Queens of Diamonds.

The crème de la crème must find it incomprehensible that this old man of solid reputation – and one of their own - could simultaneously outwit all regulating authorities for more years than anyone can count, and single-handedly shatter their illusion of being insulated and protected from society’s fiscal underbelly with the prospect of imminent financial collapse and having to do without.

It’s hard not to admire how Bernie cleverly cultivated an illusion of elitism by straining any prospective investor through a narrow and somewhat arbitrary snob filter. Naturally he made it a point to reject a few every now and then. Aristocracy, nobility, gentry, bourgeoisie, nouveau riche – it really didn’t matter. They all wanted in, and big bucks from a cherry-picked elite was just as good as big bucks from his own family. In spite of the occasional investor rejects, however, he was pretty much an equal opportunity shyster.

A glance in the rear view mirror gave us a panoramic view of the Berlin Wall as it was being dismantled in 1989; when what had once been divided and segregated, subsequently became transparent and integrated. Bernie comparably dissembled the Madoff Wall upon making confession, and the Madoff Wall had long served to separate the money secrets of the upper class from everyone else. The irony in forbidding ordinary folk membership in his private investment club was that he'd inadvertently done them a favor.

While Bernie may claim to never have heard the idiom “Robbing Peter to pay Paul”, we’re certain he knows what it feels like to be caught with his hand in Peter’s now empty piggy bank. Suffice it to say, he robbed some of the old Robber Barons as well.

Now that the house of cards has been blown away in a Category 5 hurricane named Bernie, no one can be sure if any grand plan or exit strategy ever truly existed. Self preservation might’ve been a marginably understandable motivation for his actions, a personal quest to save face (his own of course), until the worldwide financial realm imploded that is. Ultimately though what Bernie did was simply travel down Bill Clinton’s highway – he did it because he could.

The rich trails of Bernie’s purloined funds go far and run deep. He’s unquestionably left a smoldering trail of scorched earth across the world’s affluent upper crust. As the charred remains of the 17th floor are sifted through, will we ever really know who Bernie burned?

For more on Buccaneer Capitalism, see our ‘Dream Sequence’ December 7, 2008 posting "Who’s Talking Like a Pirate Now?"

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Was That Wingtip a Size 10? (DS)

We had a dream……and in that dream we saw a pensive George W. Bush receiving his final invite from French Prezy Nicolas Sarkozy for an Adieu Party at the exquisite Chateau de Versailles on January 21, 2009 - the anniversary of French King Louis XVI’s beheading.

Our dream made it obvious that “W’s” guest list just wasn’t as world-class as it used to be which seemed to take the pressure off. There were few to impress at this party so he could comfortably let it all hang out and be detente-free. Opened Budweiser can in hand, he took leave of the merrymakers in favor of a solitary stroll through the Chateau.

It wasn’t long before X-P “W” (see definition) found himself standing smack dab in the middle of Versailles’ Hall of Mirrors. The last 8 years had been somewhat stressful, and while he stared upon his full reflection in one of the 17 large mirrors lining the Hall, he couldn’t help but admire how well he’d aged like a fine wine through it all.

Before he could even stumble on to his next thought, George’s eyes glazed over like he’d been hypnotized and what came next can only be likened to an Alice-in-the-looking-glass adventure, except that he’d been sucked into a time warp that plopped him down into the sunset of the French Revolution 216 years earlier, on January 21, 1793. Inconceivably, George recognized himself in a previous reincarnation as King Louis XVI of France at the time of his execution.

George watched himself in the body of Louis resolutely mount the guillotine scaffold with as much dignity as he could muster and attempt to make a small speech reasserting his innocence. His speech was rudely interrupted by a shout exploding from deep within the witnessing crowd of the revolutionary cry “Liberte’, egalite’, fraternite’!!”. And then a large shoe came flying through the air toward his head. George as Louis was agile enough even then to dodge that first fast moving trajectory, but not agile enough to parry the countless other shoes and boots that quickly followed.

Those speedy projectiles almost saved the executioner from doing his job, but not really. George subsequently saw his Louis-head roll into the dirt after the guillotine’s blade swiftly fell, and watched as the mob dipped their stockings in his blood as it dripped to the ground.

Snapping out of it, George suddenly had a headache and wanted to leave his own party. As he approached the waiting stretch limo, the Adieu Party guests rallied around the courtyard to see him off. No sooner had his limo begun its forward roll, when the shoes of every guest present went flying high into the air, followed by raucous whoops and cheers in celebration. C’est la vie!

And then we woke up and could see why Louis XVI’s miserable failure as Monarch of France ultimately resulted in his assignation with the guillotine on the heels of the French Revolution. Yet somehow King Louis had managed to inadvertently make a profound contribution to the victory of America’s War of Independence from King George of England and all of his madness. We wondered if “W” consciously intended to destroy today as President what he’d helped build centuries earlier as King.

It seems very few of us get a do-over of this magnitude. Is it possible “W” will get a third time in the Rulership ring, say around 2200?

For more on “W’s” Gift to Rule, see our ‘Dream Sequence’ October 16, 2008 posting "Who’s Burning Bush?"

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Who Will Drive the Wild Car in Washington?

Much to the chagrin of the Big Three Auto-Titans, the music still hasn’t stopped and their bronze medal dancing has tangoed on for weeks around very wobbly court chairs. What had started out as a respectable pleading, now had them retching humble pie on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.

And what had started out as $25 billion, had now been whittled down for the umteenth time to around $14 billion. It was an eye-opening sight to behold the new King’s court making its decisive motion to silence the music. Yet just as the new King's court moved in to halt the Auto-Titans' dance long enough for a sit-down, the old King’s court hotfooted in posthaste and ripped the chairs right out from under everyone just because they could.

We could see in our rear view mirror that the ancient rituals of old court vs. new court would certainly not be changing this time around. Out of all this posturing, however, did emerge what appeared to be an unusually constructive solution to the Big Three’s serious financial dilemma.

The Big Three Automakers would never see a dime … from TARP that is. Instead, Congress surprisingly agreed to take the Blago (see definition below) approach and simply sell the job posting of “Car Czar” to the highest bidder. The duties of the new Car Czar would not only be the review and approval of all Big Three workout plans, the Car Czar would be the one to lend them the money as well - on favorable terms and with a little governmental guarantee no doubt.

Rahmbo (see definition below) had already leaked the list of acceptable Car Czar candidates for Congressional interviewing and interrogation. The problem was that every prominent and potential auto industry savior on the list had placed its financial future in the hands of Bernie (see definition below) and it looked like Bernie was going to jail.

But all was not lost.

Racing straight from the Indy500 to D.C., came the shocking Car Czar wild card winner, Danica Patrick. Her well-oiled team swooped in like a pit crew wearing lip stick. She was a young, marketing machine who knew what made cars go. The time she spent under the sponsorship of subprime giant Argent/Ameriquest taught her a thing or two about loans, and her current GoDaddy sponsorship could equitably fund a portion of the Big Three bailout bridge loan in question. It was also believed that GoDaddy would give her the worldwide internet exposure she needed to raise plenty of additional capital in record time.

We overheard someone say that the new Car Czar tends to invest in what she loves, and we wondered if that, combined with a progressive, open-minded approach to doing 21st century business, would be enough to turn the Auto-Titanic around. But the real question is, who’s spinning the discs in the Court of Congress now?

For more Carmakers-The Musical, see our ‘In The Rear View Mirror’ November 22, 2008 posting "Will They Get Dubai a Stairway to Heaven?"

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Who’s Talking Like a Pirate Now? (DS)

We had a dream……and in that dream we heard the Pirates of Somalia crooning the Robber Baron song of old about how exploitation was justified under the guise of bringing order to the industrial chaos of the day.

It’s one thing to throw caution to the wind while plundering the Indian Ocean for ransom money when there’s nothing to lose and everything to gain. But 2008 had been an extremely profitable year. Undeniably it was time to legitimize their booty, and foster a long term economic enrichment plan which included putting solid growth strategies in to place. And like the historic Robber Barons of a century ago, this practical approach would ultimately obscure the source of their loot and afford them the opportunity to later gloss it over in some high profile form of philanthropy.

In our dream we watched the Somalian Pirates implement the first stage of their plan to go legit by orchestrating a sit down with Erik Prince of Blackwater Worldwide on friendly ground in Dubai - the Pirates planned to incorporate and take legal ownership of a sanctioned international port of their own. Everyone knew that Blackwater’s mercenaries were quickly running out of good paying work and Somalia’s Pirates desperately needed Blackwater’s help in navigating these new directional waters. It was clearly a win-win all the way around, and magic happened that day in Dubai.

Nothing can grease the wheels of speed like loads of cash. The Horn of Africa had its terrain forever altered when Blackwater rapidly established a new state-of-the-art training facility in Somalia’s lawless Puntland region, now re-named BLACKHORN. Blackhorn was located just east of the former pirate hideaway Port of Eyl, which had now been sanctioned as their internationally recognized shipping port officially re-named Port of Black Eye. No mercenary adventure of this magnitude could ever be complete without the perfect mission statement and Blackhorn’s call was now “Robbin’ the Hood”.

Our dream then turned toward the plan’s second stage: to form a pirate bank of their own. If the Red Shield could finance the exploitive goals of Carnegie and Rockefeller over a century ago, then the newly chartered SIMOLEON BANK could legitimately finance their enterprise and launder the shillings as well. After opening its flagship bank in Port of Black Eye, long term business plan projections provided for additional Simoleon Bank branch openings in strategic locations to include Mogadishu, Dubai, Liberia, and of course Tehran.

What we found ironic in all of this was that in their attempts to protect their own interests by going legit, the Pirates of Somalia unwittingly invigorated their country’s economy and created a stability in government, albeit Blackhorn militia, the likes of which had never been experienced by a majority of Somalia’s current population.

And then we woke up, and could see how the world yields a certain commiserative tolerance for those who act with moral compromise while on the quest for great wealth. Is it possible to walk the path of great riches and have room for genuine altruism to walk concurrently beside it, or must one path be pursued solely to the exclusion of the other?

For more Pirate gibber-jabber, see our ‘In The Rear View Mirror’ October 8, 2008 posting “Will the Real Pirates Please Stand Up?”