Monday, January 26, 2009

Taking the Bull By the Horns

As the world forlornly entered the "Year of the Bull", the United States inaugurated a new Bull-Ox President in The Big BOPR (see definition below), and it seems the masses have conceded a new plan for steering the old ox cart is destined to enter in with it.

The global balance sheets of today are diametrically opposed to those of the inflated bully days. Devastation abounds and few escaped. Even the big Bull that’d been driving Merrill Lynch got yoked before it finally got lynched.

To look in the rear view mirror is to see how Wall Street eminence and psychopathology are surprisingly interrelated. Any stellar personality profile for the successful Wall Street tycoon apparently must include core character traits consistent with those of a true psychopath - unbridled narcissism, strong sense of entitlement, firm sense of impunity, and lack of remorse, to name a few.

When comparing some commonly observed character traits of Wall Street’s two most recent celebrity headliners, I-ROB and Bernie (see definitions below), we noticed some interesting parallels:

Personality: Cold, icy, emotionally detached, lacking in people skills, some level of charisma

Office Décor: Warm and cozy. Paid $1.22 million to make his office feel more like home.

Personality: Affable, congenial, charismatic, some level of aloofness

Office Décor: Cold, icy, stark, color schemes limited to black, white, and shades of gray. This theme was prevalent throughout his offices in NYC, London and even his private jet.

True to psychopathic form, both of these big boys have systematically implemented comprehensive impression management regimens resulting in carefully cultivated public personas, yet at the same time they're unable to control their varying levels of OCD and control freak attributes.

Our unofficial clinical assessment has classified them overall as a hybrid fusion of LAB-Rat and Moldy Old White Bread (see definitions below).

We got word that X-P “W” didn’t hesitate to forward his moving van up to I-ROB once he was settled back on the ranch. If they could get him out of the White House in 5 hours flat, they could certainly get I-ROB out of his newly renovated, homey little office posthaste. It sure felt good to give back to one of his loyal supporters. Unfortunately a Special Air Mission 28000 free helicopter ride was off limits and not offered with the get-out-of-town-fast benefits package.

The autopsy of 2008 will likely be under way for many decades to come, and undoubtedly traditional business standards and mores will be deeply probed and questioned under the coming post-mortem examination.

As for I-ROB, we won’t hold our breath waiting for his 'mea culpa'. As for his comfy $1.22 million office, it looks like he learned the hard way that you never, ever have an office better than your boss. But what we really want to know is who gets his $1,405 waste basket?

For more about showing the Old Guard the back door, see our ‘In The Rear View Mirror’ November 7, 2008 posting "White House Tenant Served 60-Day Notice to Vacate".

Monday, January 19, 2009

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Good Night

With our own sound of music, we finally sing our ‘adieu grande’ to the old regime. Along with its passing - and we’re even a little sad to say this - goes our “W” Headliner Series in which every story headline ceremoniously began in the letter “W”.

So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, good night.....

Goodbye, Goodbye, Goodbye!

For exit, stage right “W”-style, see our ‘Dream Sequence’ January 6, 2009 posting "What Happened To My Other Half?"

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

What Comes In 3's?

We’ve plunged head first into a new year, and along with its fresh beginning, comes the need for a new car. The damage our jalopy sustained in the crash of 2008 was beyond repair, and we’re forced to leave the junk yard masterpiece behind the bush as we seek out a suitable replacement.

They say things always come in threes. Big 3 Automakers, Big 3 Banks, Big 3 Credit Bureaus. One could even argue “3” to be the anti-trust magic number. And now we find ourselves having to deal with all three of the Big 3s in our hot pursuit of new wheels.

As any typical car shopping American consumer knows, obtaining bank financing at preferred interest rates would be an essential first step; and being typical American consumers, we followed the necessary protocol and applied for our big purchase financing with a Big 3 Bank. What we weren’t prepared for was the rejection that promptly followed.

It didn’t take long to discover our credit denial was based upon an unpaid collection account erroneously listed on our Big 3 credit report. Further research indicated the collection account allegedly belonged to car fanatic Jay Leno and even he swore it wasn’t his.

We knew writing letters to the Big 3 Credit Bureaus wouldn't resolve our dilemma of becoming mobile any time soon, urgency aside. Before we could even consider our next step, the phone began to ring incessantly with calls from high risk finance companies eager to provide us the loan we needed at usurious interest rates. If being debilitated with an unjust credit denial wasn’t enough, the Big 3 Credit Bureaus didn’t hesitate to add insult to our injury by selling our personal and confidential information to the highest bidders in the form of trigger leads.

Most of the world understands that businesses are in business to make money and the Big 3 Credit Bureaus never pretended to be non-profits; however, they are the nation’s repositories of private, personal and highly confidential information and with this comes an assumed moral and fiduciary obligation to the vulnerable public whose information they routinely collect and maintain on file like the CIA. Yet their regulated governance is dubious at best, and like the deregulated and now collapsed financial systems that chose greed over self-regulation or even (>gasp<) the greater good, they appear to have no intention of reigning themselves in.

They’ve caught the virus that hospitalized Wall Street.

It’s easy to win the game when you make all the rules, and to hold undisputed power over the general public’s financial future one person at a time can be extremely intoxicating. When the rules conveniently change like shifting sand, the public is deliberately kept intimidated by the system’s illusionary complexities. Just as health insurance companies notoriously and oftentimes determine whether an individual lives or dies, the Big 3 Credit Bureaus hold the power to determine whether one financially thrives or financially dies in our credit-based economy.

A look in the rear view mirror swept us back to when the philosophy "Cash is King” was the rule of thumb embraced throughout nearly three-quarters of the 20th century. Three decades of Big 3 social reconditioning has made this old world practice of little benefit in today’s credit driven world and basically a foreign language to Gens Y and Z.

The Madams of the Big 3 Credit Brothels appear to have amazingly formed a red-light Credit Cartel, and like all good bordellos, top priority is naturally given to the biggest paying regular customers. We’re certain that isn’t us and can only surmise who’s paying the most for the biggest tricks. As bottom line proliferation continues to supersede fiduciary accountability, how concerned should we be over the dissemination of our confidential information for a fee?

For more ways to follow the money, see our ‘In The Rear View Mirror’ December 28, 2008 posting "Why Bernie Made Off With 2008".

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

What Happened To My Other Half? (DS)

We had a dream……and in that dream we encountered quantum physics at its purest when the hidden veil separating our dimension from all others dropped and granted us entry in to some parallel universe where anything can happen.

It wasn’t initially clear why our trans-dimensional journey began at the George Town Hospital on Grand Cayman Island until we came to the maternity ward and beheld Barbara Bush breathing like a metronome in true Lamaze fashion as she suffered through heavy contractions. In the bed next to her was an Iranian woman named Sayeed laboring toward a similar delivery of her own.

Under the night’s luminous full moon, both women were wheeled side-by-side into the delivery room where they concurrently gave birth to sons. Barbara had twin boys of the fraternal variety and Sayeed delivered a son who sadly didn’t survive beyond his third tiny gasp. The overall chaotic frenzy of the maternity ward that night, combined with the fact that both women had lost consciousness during childbirth due to gas mask sedation, paved the way for a baby mix-up having unforeseen consequences.

Barbara was disoriented upon waking and kept insisting she was in Georgetown, Massachusetts. She had absolutely no memory of giving birth to very dissimilar looking twins – one light skinned of average size and one dark skinned imp. And when Sayeed awoke in a comparable mind fog, the nurse quickly pushed Barbara’s dark skinned twin into her arms. Sayeed left the hospital for return to Iran with her new baby Mahmoud at the same time Barbara departed for the States with her fair baby George.

As our dream continued its weave through the growth and developmental dynamics of these twins separated at birth, it was obvious that the scientific limits of nature vs. nurture would be fully tested. Observations noted were:

Both boys encountered a lifetime of maternal negligent. Barbara never fully bonded with George because she always felt something was missing, and Sayeed never bonded with Mahmoud because he just didn’t look right.

George was raised with a silver spoon in his mouth. He was insulated, sheltered and rarely had to work hard for anything. He attended all of the right schools yet had a proclivity for partying and schmoozing, nor did he care if his performance was marginal as long as everyone was happy.

Mahmoud, on the other hand, was raised as a poor peasant and was lucky to have a spoon at all. He was focused, driven and intelligent; an engineer and self-made man who worked hard to achieve greatness.

Revolution catapulted Mahmoud into power, while power for George was purchased.

Recessive genes and junk DNA sequences played themselves out all over this passion play. When the fertilized egg split, it was unquestionable that Mahmoud got the bigger brain genes and George got the leftovers. Conversely it was George who got the bigger physique genes and Mahmoud got the leftovers.

Physical discrepancies aside, the twins were remarkably similar and they reflected mirror images in behavior, perceptions, limitations, and charisma.

George and Mahmoud both possessed bi-polar personalities - an inferiority complex one day and “it’s my way or the highway” the next. Driven by a need to rule, both identically demonstrated their power with bull-headed stubbornness and a refusal to see any unacceptable reality because everything was going to be fine.

Religious piety was a mutual priority as well. They each believed their chosen theological road to salvation was the only road resulting in a divisive intolerance for the differing belief systems of others. These personal theological preferences typically took precedence over logic or the collective greater good.

The ultimate irony though was their shared and acute loathing for each other. It was as if they unconsciously recognized the common DNA strands that bound them together, and resented the fact that while apart, they were individually only one half of the whole.

And then we woke up with an overwelming sense of déjà vu’ and wondered if the outcome might’ve been significantly altered had those twin boys been switched in the reverse at birth. Is it possible the state of the world would look different today had Mahmoud Ahmadinejad been President of the United States and George W. Bush the President of Iran?

For more “W” Dimensions, see our ‘Dream Sequence’ December 21, 2008 posting "Was That Wingtip a Size 10?"