Friday, December 12, 2008

On Bailout Failure...How Ideology is killing America

If anything, the failure of the auto bailout compromise in the Senate yesterday is emblematic of what have brought America to the point of handing over cash to private enterprise in a last gasp attempt to save capitalism: ideology trumping common sense. Of course, while I sympathize with the AP view that an absence of leadership in Washington due to a very unpopular outgoing president, that view while sympathetic to the White House, masks another fact: the White House created this monster- the ideologues and their web of followings that control congressional republicans and who will sacrifice everything for their disruptive ideology except power. Get thus -- more than the a third of the votes against (14 out of 35) came from Democrats and Republicans hailing from southern states (Bunning, Burr, Chambliss, Cochran, Corker, DeMint, Hutchinson, Isakson, Lincoln, McConnell, Sessions, Shelby, Vitter, Wicker). Much of this southern opposition can be explained by labor politics. The South is mostly anti-union, and southern GOPers last night blamed the United Auto Workers for the collapse. Also, don’t forget that foreign automakers have plants in the South: BMW is in South Carolina; Mercedes is in Alabama; and Toyota, among other places, is in Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Texas.

Of course, note this: if this bail out like the financial bail had come before the presidential election many of the republican ideologues now pontificating will for power and political convenience vote for it in order to avoid voters reprimand and loss of power from states say like Ohio and Missouri which were must win then. Of course, curious observers one to know why the ideological purists that caved in to Paulson demands for $700bn in October are suddenly reinvigorated when it comes to mere $14bn (less than 2%) for auto makers that directly saves jobs of the midst of the worst economic crisis we have seen in decades. When it comes to saving their buddies and contributors on Wall Street of course these Southern Senatorial wingnuts have no problems with that, but bailing out the companies that employ "evil union workers" that only demand a fair shake from the pie where the execs that milk the economy eat from is a taboo for these bunkums.

But this is a two-far: for one it is a great way for the newly thinned down GOP caucus to bare its fangs and deliver its revenge to those bold voters of Ohio and their union machine...and of course, a pay for their corporate dreams of union busting. The compromise on the table, gave everyone an headcut (in the words of Speaker Pelosi) except the ideological right which were unwilling to compromise at all. The democrats caved in to the White House to the consternation of the left to allow the money to come from the clean energy fund already appropriated, while the language that was used to appease the left to compel the companies to meet California's higher fuel standards (itself a compromise over withdrawing a suit against the state by GM and Chrysler) was even deleted in the Senate Version.

Still not satisfied, the GOP ideologues pushed the Corker plan (big ups to him- at least he tried and was truthful on Bloomberg on the role of politics) which in my opinion makes perfect sense except for one (the one which eventually became a sticking point). The plan called for:

    • It would have required the two firms closest to bankruptcy, General Motors and Chrysler, to reduce their debt by two-thirds. Bondholders would have “plenty of incentive to make sure that the debt is reduced by two-thirds” or risk losing even more if the firms go into Chapter 11, where their bonds might be further discounted, Corker said. “We’re going to force them into bankruptcy if they don’t do this,” he said bluntly.

    • He also would have required that the Voluntary Employee Benefit Association, the entity created by the car firms and the UAW to handle retiree health care benefits, accept stock in lieu of half the cash payments due. The carmakers had agreed to fund VEBA but can no longer afford to do so. “If a company goes bankrupt, these future payments are never going to happen anyway,” he said.

    • Finally, Corker’s bill would have forced the UAW to lower its members’ wages to the level of employees at Honda and the other foreign-owned car manufacturers operating in the United States

It makes no sense to pay someone in the boondocks of Tennessee as someone in the big city of Detroit the same thing and even Corker recognized that fact when asked on Bloomberg this morning. For one the union already conceded to eliminate the job bank and receive partial stock payments in their pension and trust funds, which in itself is a huge win for the companies...but the ideologues persisted on their union busting move until the plan failed. Curiously, these same Senators were not pushing for auto czar or that Detroit executives themselves take a cut and eliminate unprofitable dealers- details by itself that are more likely to cut costs for Detroit than wage cuts which is a mere 10% of costs for these companies. Why even keep the current Detroit executive? Well, no leadership from the bunkums on that one! You bet.

For all said and done, it appears George Bush is the one that is most pissed off now, that his own Senators humiliated him, as he appears to be on the precipice of making an even bigger error by giving these monies without the minimum compromises discussed above: especially the hair cut for bond holders that will ensure the long term viability of these firms. While they are at it- EU is giving billions to its auto firms, American southern states are bailing out VW, BMW and Honda with $3bn, and Japan is considering some money for her auto makers. "Good lucky!". Of course, largely missing from these bail out talks is how Detroit will actually get into the business of making reliable, well designed and fuel efficient vehicles of the future. That I guess is beyond the congress' pay grade!
As commentator Zakaria said, this bail out makes sense when viewed against potential job losses. In his words: "The best argument for the bailout is that it is the most cost-effective jobs program that the government can run in the short term. Spending on infrastructure to create jobs will take months, maybe years. However, keeping the Big Three afloat will keep hundreds of thousands of jobs in place quickly and easily. It's true the companies will eventually go bankrupt but by then hopefully the economy can withstand it. "

The failure of the bail out legislation is emblematic of the poison and toxicity of unbriddled partisanship of the past decades, that reached new heights under George Bush. Gone are the years when a Democratic Speaker can reach some form of compromise on taxes with President Reagan, or Bill Clinton could work republicans to pass welfare reform. What we have now is a legislature intensely crippled by ideology from acting on big issues and solving big problems. Shame!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Technology on the cheap…Critiquing GM's Restructuring Plan

So GM wants to cut Saab, Pontiac and Saturn lose? If you ask me, just another bone headed decision by Detroit. It is also reported that Hummer is going- well, what took so long? In any case, it is beyond me why GM wants to cut lose the 3 of its most reliable and upcoming labels. Saab is based off in Sweden and is the only GM label known for its high performance, green reputation. Pontiac has a storied past- but an ignominous immediate past- it is not past salvaging. Saturn is getting better, as is evident in the new cars they have on the line. Definitely with superior exterior design and bold looks that should form the template for the renewed GM. Well, why them then?

Just another proof that Detroit is out of touch. Instead of cutting labels like Opel, Buick, Cadillac, GMC, Chevrolet and those dinosaurs perenially sold to populations that have known better times and is fast dying: GM is hanging on to these labels hoping to be revived on the back of their loyal customers (again, who are ageing and are less likely to drive). The truth is - as opposed to what DC and the MSM will want you to believe: GM problems did not start in the 90s when it pointedly refused to make fuel efficient cars; GM problems began in the 70s when it could not compete on quality and reliability with the Japanese auto makers. The irony is that European and South Korean car companies had the same hole- but they all nearly fixed it. VW and BMW once had a reputation for making over engineered and hardly reliable, and expensive to maintain vehicles- but that has changed. European automakers that could not change their ways- sold to China, and yes, India. South Korean companies like Hyundai have caught up with Detroit and left them in the sand when it comes to making Autos that last. Indeed, the net effect was that the brand quality of American cars was rubbished- which put them at competetive loss. Hence a decision on which brands to keep should not be based off what sells best now - at least not only. It also must be based on the brands whose reputation will be easier to build and enhance. The reputation of mainstream GM labels like Buick, Chevrolet, GMC and Cadillac is simply not pretty , and that is a reality; it will take more than making fuel efficient cars to enhance those labels overtime. In fact, it will take decades of making good cars - a time luxury GM simply do no have or cannot afford. GM will do a aweful lot better by keeping those labels that are not more closely aligned with the bad cars of the past- something like starting fresh. In doing so, GM can keep one or two of these dinosaurs- Chevrolet makes sense given its volume.

However, one man's loss is another man's gain. Countries waiting to take the technological/industrial leap into the auto making class can benefit from GM impending firesale. Mexico, Brazil, Dubai (UAE), South Africa, China and India - perhaps Russia will be great buyers for these three labels, and can most leverage on the advantages I have summarized above-especially abroad. Not only do the companies in these countries have the cash on hand (C'mon Sheikh Carlos Slim), they also play host to some of GM's more efficient auto assembly(without the legacy costs) that can come with the sale. If the companies in these countries buy the three labels for sale, one can see a scenario where the three labels can form a strong Auto company with Saturn catering to the entry level, Saab to the mid/family level as well as off roading capabilities (sucking in Hummer under its name) and perhaps some snow mobile, industrial/defense vehicle capability to deleverage it from the cyclical consumer auto business, while Pontiac can cater to the high end becoming somewhat the Lexus of the acquirer.

For Saturn a smart acquirer can scrap that Ion- an Altima wannabe that wanna make me puke, and instead make slim, small autos in the light of the Toyota Fit: small, stylish and efficient designed for students, women and the city dwellers. The newly designed Saturn Vue should adequately cater to those in need of more room and bold style…along with a hybrid/flex fuel model should deliver the Green required. Saturn should also include in its plan to launch a truly four car family size sedan that go head to head with the Accord and Camry- especially in Africa, S. America and Asia. Only price and reliability leverage coupled with design and fuel efficiency can deliver on that promise however. The Saturn Sky should be moved to the Saab Stable as the flagship sports car performance vehicle for that label. For Saab, the target buyer is the young, suave and saavy male- in need of performance and style. Hence, going head to head with BMW and VW is the goal. Saab has a lot going for it naturally, it just happens to be owned by the wrong guys. Smaller autos for the European market to ape the new saturn small car with the Saab label should also be a commercial success. Making Saab Trucks & SUVs for the North American markets, along with a dint of Hummer from Mexico should also help enhance the margin and reputation of the label as the muscle label of the brands. The new Pontiac should concentrate on making luxury cross overs, sport cars and perhaps a limousine. Of all the labels, this will be the mos difficult turn around to execute given the gradual but deep depreciation in the Pontiac brand undertaken by GM in the last 40 years- similar to what Ford did to Jaguar. But it can be done, provided it is kept small and focused. Consumers are fickle and have short memories.

Key Points for a would be acquirer: 1. Create Brand distinction for the various labels: Saturn (Entry Level- Stylish & Efficient); Saab (Mid-Level/Off Road - High Performance); Pontiac (High End - Luxury & Green). Keep the brands narrow, make no more than 3 vehicles per label and avoid cross-competetion amongst them. 2. Build plants in low wage, low regulation markets (stay off North America); utilize latest technologies to the hilt 3. Leverage Swedish national pride in Saab to get and use free R & D Dollars from their semi-socialist government; 70% of R & D for the firm can be done in that European country for free. 4. Concentrate on building a flat supplier and dealer base and 5. Quality is a must and by utilizing the least number of differing parts i.e. share parts you can enhance quality and cost. 6. Exploit the virgin markets of Africa, Asia and S. America for not just suppliers, but also assembly lines and final end user market. 7. Marketing Innovation: Instead of building inventories with the hope consumer with buy, a new marketing model that allows consumer to factory order after in city test dirving can be a win-win and introduce some suave to an industry that is getting stale.


Saturn: New Fit/Small Car, Saturn Vue, Saturn Sedan

Saab: Saab Mid-Size, Saab Convertible/Sports Car (old Saturn Sky), Hummer (include trucks, SUV & off road cars)

Pontiac: Mid size Luxury, Limousine, Luxury SUV

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Cash for Thrash...Part II

I came out of the gate swinging at September ending that the "cash for thrash plan" by Paulson was doomed to fail; guess what, it is an utter failure! After tweaking the plan i.e. putting a lipstick on a pig, and then changing course to ape Britain's own more successful nationalization program, without going as for as Britain for obvious ideological reasons- Paulson finally had to show his hands and bail out Citigroup even after that "too big to fail bank" got its share of the kitty theh first time go around. This bail out fiasco is even getting ridiculous, with the Feds having spent 250 billion on banks, with no recovery in site, and with some even stil paying dividends, and lining up bonus for the same CEOs that damaged them e.g. Wachovia! Of course, even by Paulson's own admission yesterday, credit dried up in October and the 250 billion is not even making them lend. The bail outs to AIG and hand outs to the merger deals JPM and WAMU, or JPM and Bear Stearns is beginning to make this look like a bottomless pit. At Bloomberg's last count this bail out might cost tax payers $7.4 trillion! 

Of course instead of fezing up and outrightly nationalizing these banks, the Federal reserve is doing just that by nationalizing their assets through the back door by buying $500bn directly, or socializing their risk by guaranteeing trillions more. We now even know that Citigroup has 1.2 trillion dollars off book assets that it might be on the hook for, and that are mostly bad debts which is of course an unknown in all these equations. Add these to the credit default swaps - the hidden WMD- which were supposed to be mortage insurance contract that speculators bought against these bad debts for a penny and hope to reap billions in rewards as they go under: of course who will pay is a whole other story as no one expects these dead banks to step up to take care of those obligations. 

Of course, not to mention an auto industry that is going under, and the magnitude of the mess these disastrous eight years of republican misrule begins to get dominated by ideological conveniences instead of pragmatism...the same ideology that made them let Lehman go under but reversed course as soon as the dire consequences became clear. The same ideology that is not making them outright nationalize the big banks for which $125 billion have been used to buy equities the market is valuing at less than $40bn today. Makes no sense...

What makes sense is:

1. A mechanism to immediately invalidate credit default swap (CDS) contracts- see below: (I didn't originate the idea), effectively recognizing that these were speculative instruments that were traded in  unregulated markets at buyer's risk. The loss of capital by these buyers estimated at mere millions is more tolerable than the billion dollar havoc their WMDs is wrecking on the market. 

2. An immediate requirement that banks transfer off book assets - known as SIVs - not currently acounted for on balance sheets into a specially created government entity. This transfer should have net zero balance sheet impact, but force the banks to forego the future profits from such assets when they recover. 

3. An immediate requirement that banks that drew government funds in the current TARP fund offer some form of mortgage modification program as supervised by FDIC to ALL homeowners that request for one. The homeowners are the taxpayers and they deserve a break too if they are bearing the risks of all these banks - bad decisions. Until the homeowners, who also double as the tax payer, are helped- then the assets now owned by the government on behalf of the tax payers will not recover. Hence, it is in everybody's interest that the homeowners are helped, and that the ridiculous return projections on these securities are moderated with the reality of slowing income, and tighter purses going forward.

4. A moratorium on dividend payments by all financial insitutions that have gotten any form of government assistance in the past two years- and for the next three years forward.

5. Immediate legislation to fix the remuneration of all CEOs in the financial and auto industries as a multiple of the lowest paid staff on the payroll...contract or direct hire. The lowest paid staff should effectively be somewhat paid close to the minimum wage- but this is an indirect correlation that should help lift the tide of the poorest class in the future. 

6. Investigation of all past decision makers for fraud and greed...and a moral pressure on CEOs and executives to return obsene remuneration earned in the past 8 years,..a name and shame campaign spearheaded by law makers and the media will help.

7. And last but not the least- in fact the most important- an immediate application of the trust busting laws of Teddy Roosevelt to break up any institution that was helped because they were deemed too big to fail. First on my list will be Citigroup and AIG.

Another big idea is to resolve the CDS issue. Credit default swaps total trillions in value, and in many cases the contracts were purchased not as genuine insurance (by the holder of a bond) but as a speculative investment that will pay off if the bond defaults.

Whalen calls for a mandatory unwinding of these contracts, in which purchasers who were genuinely hedging a risk would be covered, while speculators would lose much of their potential gains from the investment.

Without some action along that line, CDS obligations could become a black hole for the banking system, he and others warn.

"These things are like land mines," says Michael Greenberger, a former regulator of derivative contracts at theCommodity Futures Trading Commission. "Every indication is that they are at the heart of the financial crisis."

He says a first step is to take an inventory of CDS contracts, since poor regulation makes this market opaque.

He also says it may be necessary to push speculators to take a hit on the value of their contracts. This might be in their interest, he says, since the companies offering the contracts might not survive if they must pay the full amount


Saturday, November 15, 2008

The President-Elect's Agenda???

After the lights are out, the cofetti has fallen and the last shouts of the campaign trail has been drown out- the new President - will be left with a nation in dire need of leadership. Barack will have to lead in a time of national distress: both a recipe for success/opportunity (check FDR, JFK, LBJ and to a lesser extent Clinton) and for disaster (Check Hoover, Carter, Bush post-911).

Why not a fuller extent Clinton? Well, Clinton started awefully disastrously, adjusted quite well at the middle and ended omniously in a plateful of scandal. The difference usually is in the beginning and how much effective planning goes into one's presidency. Any attempt to try to do everything can become a disaster. Lack of priorities and an assumption that the political sphere can absorb an infinite amount of change can spell stalemate as the Clinton health plan revealed.

While Barack is going in with a lot of ideas on how to improve or change how business is done in DC he is best advised to check his ideology at the door and get realistic. Oftentimes his own party can be his greatest albatross: and the democratic is one heck of an indisciplined fold. first, none of his program is more important than tackling the global financial crisis and restoring confidence in the financial markets while ensuring a somewhat healthy stock market. This task is more important than health care this, energy plan etc. that he might have. The genius of his presidency will be how he systematically links all these plans with curing the short term ills confronting the market:

For example, how he can use the leverage of trying to strenghten the dollar to force congress to dump earmarks and draw down faster on troops in Iraq which reduces deficit spending. Or how he leverages his clean energy plan into jobs, IPOs and bonanze and new economy for wall street as well as main street. Or how his healthcare plan can be clad a tax reduction on business that makes doing business more competetive in the US and creates and preserve jobs at home. To do these, he will have to distinguish between a plan (achievable by legislative action or executive fiat: eg. stopping the Iraq war, stimulus spendings,regulatory reforms) versus initiatives (largely the healthcare and education promises) which are multiyear and multi-cycles.

In summary a grouping similar to below may be aquick sheet and insight into how an Obama presidency might and should look:

1. Stopping the Global Economic Crisis:
* Coordinated Regulatory Reforms across the world with other governments to modernize financial system
* Targetted spending designed to spur short term growth: infrastructure, middle class tax cuts & relief for small business
* Bankruptcy and Home ownership relief reforms: holiday on foreclosures for invested banks, reserve $100bn for refinancing option @ market value, allow keeping first home in case of bankruptcy and modifying mortgage thru government program
2. Creating Jobs & New Economy through Energy
* Begin massive alternative energy initiative (using windfall profit tax); emphasize new energy and job creation with eye at equity market lead
* Revise CAFÉ standards in exchange for loan guarantees for Detroit
3. Initiate steps to halt the fall of dollar by decreasing deficit spending
* Wind down on Iraq war rapidly
* Close corporate tax loopholes (alongside middle class tax cut)
* Cut spending (e.g. medicare payments) with eyes on saving $50bn yearly

4. Health Program Initiative (To Span all 4 years)
* Health care reforms starting with industry deliberation to cut cost, and steps to go electronic
* Open drugs importation window to force down prices
* Open cheaper government plan
* Extend CHIP for children and begin immediate mandates
5. Education Initiative (to Span 4 years)
* Create a coalition led by private charity- Buffet and Gates- to tackle inner city education;
* Target building 1000 charter schools solely privately funded by private donors to provide alternatives, competetion and reduce pressure in the inner cities with the worst schools
* Replace No Child Left Behind with open curriculum standards and funding for increased pay for (performance) teachers

Thursday, November 06, 2008

President Barack Hussein Obama

"Power, Joy, Grief And Fatigue, All In One Whole Person"
When Obama took the stage, we saw a man embodying a complex array of feeling. This is a key to his personality -- it takes enormous strength to let your vulnerabilities be so readily seen.

Friday, October 31, 2008

My FINAL Prediction (I promise...)

Presidency (See Map Above):

EV: Obama: 338 McCain: 200 (Margin of Error: +/- 27 Electoral Votes)

PV: Obama: 52% McCain: 48% (MOE: +/- 1.5%)


Dems: 58 GOP: 40 Independents: 2 (MOE: +/- 2 Seats)

Democrats takes Alaska, Virginia, Colorado, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, New Hampshire and may be Minnesota from GOP columns (loses no current sits)


Dems: 29 GOP: 21 (MOE: +/- 1 )

Democrats keeps close contest sits in Washington and North Carolina safe.

House of Rep:

Dems: 257 GOP: 178 (MOE: +/- 5)

Pelosi becomes Queen Nancy

General Comments:This Map- plus or minus 27/26 electoral votes. Plus 26 for Obama if he wins Missouri and North Carolina (they correlate) and minus 27 for him if he loses Florida. Worst case scenario he ends up with 311 electoral can't sneeze at that.

Update- 11/03 @ 8pm- And it looks like both Karl Rove and RCP have been spying my map; they both have exact clones on what you have been served for three days. God speed Obama.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

How McCain is Losing It...Obama is inside his head

Today, I took my always accurate one week pre-polling on my way home. This polling has proven right on point for popular vote prediction in local or national races. It involves driving and counting the bumer stickers for one party versus another. Well, 4 years ago Houston Texas where I lived was awash with W - logo for Bushie..this time, McCain stickers are hard to find. I know, he is not from Texas- but we are also a dark , very dark red state. Well, the margin of the count is usually a good redictor in percentage of vote margin...I came up with 3 point advantage for Barack. I think this is a 52-49-1 election.I had posted these thoughts on how this election is shaping up...

The problem with the McCain camp is that right from day one they have allowed their own sense of inferiority complex drive their tactic, thereby making them lose sight of the larger strategy for winning. It has made their message erratic, their goal at best mendacious and their campaign seriously smacking of amateurish. Here are few examples of this complex manifesting;

1. the inferiority complex of McCain campaign-Pushed McCain to try at the first night Obama won the nomination to give an Obama like speech in front of a green ugly banner...let us just say it flopped.

2. Pushed McCain to taunt Obama on foreign trips, which Obama made and of course was such an outstanding success it gave Obama the summer stay in polls he needed.

3.Pushed McCain camp to adopt Obama's change stance instead of going with something that is authentically McCain; of course, from "leader we can trust", to "change you deserve", to "country first" - one has lost track of McCain's slogan for his campaign....trying so hard to be Obama. -

4.Made McCain taunt Obama as a celebrity while at the same time pushing his own narcissistic "country first" theme and yes, Pushed McCain to try to upstage this celebrity he first loathed, but is of course really envious of by choosing a celebrity of his own as Veep-Palin immediately after Obama's speech just to rain on my man's parade. That strategic blunder is now hurting him with the middle

5. .Pushed McCain to taunt Obama on debates and town halls just to highlight his own limted strenght only to flop when the debate held...utter disaster on expectation setting-

6. Pushed McCain camp to make an horrible strategic error of building an entire convention on biography at a time of dire economic trouble just to match Obama's larger than life story. I submit that if McCain had spent half of the convention disassociating himself from Bush- he would have been in a much better place today

7..Pushed McCain to seek to dislodge Obama from the daily news cycle by creating news with his erratic moves- concentrating on winning daily news cycle instead of getting a coherent message out; well, bad news is not good news.
A friend also had this running commentary on NVS...similar and a follow up to my thesis; it is a beautiful submission and I enjoyed it..

McCain on the other hand is instinctively dependent on tactics, perhaps because of his military background. He conceived of certain set-piece situations and fashioned reactions and talking points to meet them. The main disadvantage of such an approach is that if you underrate your opponent or assume he’s going to do certain things, if any of these does not happen, you end up leaving your opponent with the initiative and the golden chance of framing the campaign. Obama saw that weakness early and made McCain to be reactive, constantly harrying him away from initiating controllable actions of his own. And when McCain reacts to drag Obama into being defensive, the latter simply ignores him or leaves him and his team to be devoured by the press, with the latter already angered by the unprovoked belligerence of McCain and his posse in their failed attempt at intimidation. One strategic plank of Obama’s campaign has been to continue to lure McCain into meaningless bouts of almighty whining. That is why all the major mistakes McCain had been forced to make, including those Busanga listed have been Obama-induced.
To add to that list, McCain’s Palin’s choice was a mistake induced by Obama’s well-calculated avoidance of the pressure of choosing Hillary as running-mate. McCain left his comfort zone to take the bait of a mythical Hillary 18 million voters and landed an albatross known as Sarah Palin, who today is actually a bigger problem for his campaign than Obama! Another forced mistake was to lure McCain into saying he was going to talk about Ayers to his face at the last Presidential debate. McCain shouldn’t have taken the bait. Once he began to speak about that at the debate, people began to see him as really having nothing else to offer in terms of the real issues facing the nation as per the bad economic situation developing. More importantly, the Ayers angle could not sell because it is linked to the very divisive Vietnam issue. For McCain, because of his personal history with Vietnam, such an angle diminishes him in pursuit of a presidency that is meant to heal those wounds as it places him at the heart of the culture war. The fact that Mr Ayers is an American citizen today contributing positive ideas to the intellectual and social well-being of society does not help McCain.Another thing was the way Obama forced him to make the mistake of ‘suspending’ his campaign. Obama proposed a joint statement on the economic situation then, calculating that McCain would want to undermine the Democratic majority in Congress by doing one-upmanship in an attempt to seize leadership over the issue. McCain fell for it. Joe Klein of Time magazine has recounted how Obama was under pressure to follow suit and suspend his campaign as well. We all know his decision and how that has been the singular most important factor in winning over swing voters who began to see the McCain campaign as more gimmicky than substantive.
In contrast, Obama’s quiet but commanding leadership of the Democratic Congress throughout the episode began to undermine the claim of inexperience. His calmness began to be interpreted as what is needed at a time McCain was seen as disruptive. Once the administration began to listen to his proposals and negotiate on them, people began to feel he possesses the leadership qualities to see America through the tough times. He’s also used real guile to blunt the race issue on his own side while making it an albatross for McCain. Of course, he was aware early that despite McCain’s supposed high idealism at the beginning of the campaign, the old man was going to ultimately succumb to the culture warriors within the GOP. Obama simply left him to the natural adversaries of all culture warriors – the big-city ‘elitist’ press around the coasts. He stoked that fire expertly with well aimed comments as when he talked about not being like any of past leaders whose faces are on the dollar or when he keeps emphasizing the erratic nature of McCain’s campaign or talking about pig and lipstick without mentioning Palin, all of which had the Republicans in all sorts of contortions.
Underlining all this is Obama’s strategy of linking McCain with Bush and the economic and political failures of the past eight years. His much more people-friendly tax and health policies made anything McCain was going to throw at him immaterial. The discipline of his campaign, the solidity of his organization and the way he exploits technology positively contrasts his campaign with McCain. And, of course, his message appeals to the young who wants change and the old who craves a return to economic and social stability.

Republican Corruption...and Ill Excuse

Senator Ted Stevens
Just read this editorial from Wall Street Journal today, bunch of clowns. See the tactical they are mourning the GOP loss, and when did they become a party machine? Why this sudden preoccupation of the GOP and their media babbles to preserve the filibuster- were they not the one toying with the idea of the nuclear alternative in 2004 when they controlled all arms of government? Apparently, they are scheming for some politics of railroading and blockage next year but I am predicting they are in for a surprise- a President Obama will wield unprecedented power through the machine of faithfuls he has built in the grassroots. And yes, the media is attacking Palin cos they hate her going after Stevens…lol. Idiots. And finally the big deal- Stevens have been a republican since the great society program started by LBJ a democrat, hence democrats are responsible for Stevens corruption. Clowns!

Sic Transit Ted
Of bribes and hubris

Senator Ted Stevens, a legislative architect of the Bridge to Nowhere, was found guilty yesterday by a District of Columbia jury of taking illegal cash and gifts from an Alaskan oil executive. One would be hard put to identify anyone other than the senior Senator from Alaska -- perhaps Tom DeLay -- who did more to drive the Republican Party into the political wilderness waiting for it at the far end of that nowhere bridge.

One of the Senate's most ardent and unapologetic spenders and earmarkers, Mr. Stevens helped cost the GOP control of Congress in 2006 after public exposure of Congress's increasingly absurdist pork-barrel projects. An irony of this conviction is that the media types who will be dumping shame on Senator Stevens's ethics are the same ones mocking Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, who has done as much or more than any official to fight the Stevens culture of public-sector fat cats. Perhaps that is her real offense.

Facing Alaska's voters only days after this conviction, Senator Stevens almost surely will now cost his party a Senate seat in a year when it desperately needs it to preserve the power to filibuster next year. Especially at age 84, he could have resigned his seat on indictment and let another Republican win it, but his politics has always been essentially about himself. He could mitigate this legacy by resigning now and letting Alaska's GOP Lieutenant Governor Sean Parnell run as a write-in next Tuesday against the Democratic candidate, Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich.

Senator Stevens has served in Washington for seven terms. That means his tenure extends back to the building of the Great Society political edifice of the 1960s. His career rose alongside a Washington that grew from a relatively modest capital city on the Potomac into what it has become -- a Beltway colossus of overlords and rent-seekers. Members of Congress, charged with dispensing the federal budget, sit at its apex. Senator Stevens is but the latest to have mistaken himself for one of the marble statues in the Capitol dome.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Cash for thrash...

"I must tell you, there are those in the public debate who have said that we must act now. The last time I heard that, I was on a used-car lot," "The truth is, every time somebody tells you that you've got to do the deal right now, it usually means they're going to get the better part of the deal."
Rep. Mike Pence, R-Indiana.

The thrash for cash plan is rubbish- and I don't just mean figuratively, I mean literarily. It is Paulson trying to save his buddies. Makes no sense to me why he had Section 8 to deny oversight and even contained clauses for golden parachute! Mouthing stuff like free market when the plan is exactly a short circuit of free market is just trying to eat your cake and have it Paulson. The absence of the man on top- Bush that is- is even more befuddling. If it comes to thrashing political opponents and cowboy talk- one can count on Bush and Dick Cheney. But alas they are missing in action as Rome burnt. How can Paulson propose a plan that helps wall street, reward their bad behavior with no single clause on how to protect homeowners on main street who invariably are the ones paying for this package? Makes no sense to me unless you figure that this White House is one that is for the wealthy, powerful and well connected- they don't give a damn about main street. Never did; but somehow they sold main street a lie: "we are the guys you can drink beer with"!
But maybe times are changing. Once upon a time, Republicans mocked regulation and government spending--and the voters laughed along. But who's chuckling now? The collapse of investment banks, like the collapse in the mortgage securities market, was a by-product of insufficient regulation. Meanwhile, it's "old-fashioned" Democratic ideas like Social Security--a program Republicans have campaigned to privatize--that insulate senior citizens from drastic declines in the market. And government spending doesn't sound so awful if it means universal health insurance, which can reduce the threat of financial calamity for working families. Democrats have tried to shift the tax burden upward, so that the wealthy pay more of their growing largesse. After eight years of Bush tax cuts reversing that progress--and middle-class incomes stagnating--the case for making the tax code more progressive again is ironclad. I have never seen anytime in politics where the left and right seem to agree so much on regulating private business- it appears that after Enron (result of energy deregulation) and Lehman/AIG et al (result of financial deregulation)- regulation is no longer a swear word.
Again, it appears cash is forever king. The market intervention by the Feds via their cash for thrash plan is another reason for you to stay out of the market.You should not put your money in a market that is more closely correlated to unpredictable temperature in Washington DC and not the free wily nilly of demand and supply. The essence of free market is that you can make sense of the rules- which by the way suddenly became Paulson- the El Dorado of wallstreet bad behavior turn treasury secretary. Talk about the fox guarding the sheep pen
Speaking of cash on hand, it is not a coincidence that Japanese companies and Warren Buffet are the ones coming to the rescue of Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs well as other wall street thrash collectors. It makes sense that the thrifty, disciplined and saving conscious Japanese economy and the oracle of Omaha are the saving grace of the flamboyant, living on credit wall street boys. Personal Lesson: Save, Save, Borrow less. The trade, credit and personal savings deficit of the US is a bigger threat than terrorism to the demise of this super power.
My Own Anti-Paulson Proposal - simple and straightforward:
- Banks literarily modify mortgages for first and second home owners at zero cost to homeowners ; removing balloon rates and correctly pricing payments to fit real income and actual housing value depreciation. Judicial oversight on bank and customer dealings should be provided by county/city/municipal courts.

- Real estate speculators are forced to declare bankruptcy i.e. those flippers or execute a short sale at bank own convenience. No oversight for this deal- so the bank is free to screw the speculators.

-Banks write down their losses due to modifications which affect the bundled CDOs that support such mortgages.

- Banks seek the Fed loan to cover these losses in return for tax payer equity in these entities in return for interest instead of capital. Equity balloons (just like the damn ARM they were peddling) into larger equity by the Fed if loan is not repaid within a set period. The upside for the banks here is that they are free to keep paying their ridiculous golden parachute-- it is just a loan anyway and the faster they can't pay , the more likelihood they going to loose their shirt to the Feds.

Me thinks my plan is fair, and helps main street, punishes bad behavior (of Wall street and speculators), allows the economy escape a credit crunch by allowing the bad boys to remain liquid while creating a floor beneath the housing market and avoiding a situation where foreclosures & bankruptcies drive down the values of even the sane borrowers in the larger economy. My plan tackles the source of the problem- exotic loans to people who can otherwise afford conventional ones. It is high time the rich also contribute to the large welfare that they have absconded for too long under George Bush a la tax cuts and bail outs.

Here is a very interesting proposition on how an auction of distressed asset should work..from slate.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Fast Forward...If you Care to

I have an interesting prediction...

In November, Obama will lose NH of the states Kerry won , win IA, NM, and CO and still hold 269, a tie.


Check out it plays out...

The regular North eastern bastion of liberlism are quickly called between 7.00 to 8.00 ET for Barack. New Hampshire is the sole hold out- too close to call; with Barack leading with mere 500 votes and countless rural counties (well known bastion of independent thinkers and feminazes) uncounted. As the result of the Midwest and South trickles in by 7.30 to 8.30 PM big surprises. Iowa, Michigan, Penn, Minn. declared in quick sucession for Barack; Missouri, Indiana, Florida called for John Sidney McCain. Virginia and Ohio however remains too close to call; looks like mid-term 2006 all over again except without Missouri.

By 9.00 the south is Peach red...couple of Senate/Congressional seats Harvests in North Carolina, Texas and Florida cheers up the now gloomy democratic watchers. Barack requests for a quick cup of Koolaid- he is a brotha today. Screw the lemonade. He ponders whether he should backslide and go a quick drag- Michelle gives him a quick stern look..."fool don't play with me" she snarls.

Alright, back on TV Y'ALL is about to wee. The Western results start dripping in by 9.00 PM ET. New Mexico was a surprise quick call for Barack. Nevada, Arizona and Utah fell in quick sucession to the republicans. The key surprises? The Dakotas, Nebraska and Montana are too close to call. Fox News go blank. Cali, Washington, Oregon and Hawaii are called for Democrats..and then the bad news, Ohio for McSame. Your republican friends are blasting your are sick to your stomach
By 11.00 PM ET Montana, Nebraska and the Dakotas all get called for McCain. Virginia and Colarodo are the final hold outs and Obama is 10 electoral votes from victory. At 12.00 PM ET the Colorado Secretary of State declares all the state's 9 electoral vote for Barack. He is at 269. Virginia like 2006 asks us to wait till the next morning.

Well...Barack is at 269...the worst outcome is a draw. He chants. He mounts the stage and he declares victory. Since the House is in favor of the Democrats, he would effectively win the White House. The next morning, VA goes for McSame. It is 269-269. The House chooses the winner in case of a draw. It was a congressional landslide for the democrats with victories beyond wild dreams in even red state congressional districts.

And people say mid-term elections aren't important?Your supreme court, my congress...payback is a ,,

My Electoral College Scenario

Sunday, September 07, 2008

The Real Capitalists Across the Atlantic

I am just getting into the 8/5/10 mode after my trip to naija; it appeared I narrowly missed malaria. It took me a little longer than 2006 to get into the daily mode back again...but am good now. My people, naija dun..simply translated- naija sweet. Things are happening..very fast too. Progress, capitalism and entrepreneurship is oozing everywhere one goes.

College students and young grads are leading this charge; there is innovation in virtually every industry. It is not particularly unusual to speak with an average twenty something and find out he or she is into two to three enterprises: I mean legit ones too. Technology, Financial Services and Entertainment appears to be the booming industry. It is interesting that Agric and Petroleum which are by far more consequential to Nigeria's GDP are not the headliner industries.

Take for example the entertainment industry; there is all these 60 in 1, even 80 in 1 disc that is in vogue now; everything from European league matches, to compilations of popular Nollywood, Hollywood and Bollywood studios and to hit Nigerian music videos (and there are bunch of those...shot in other West African countries, South Africa and the West) - one will find on wares across major cities. XXX rated movies are already being compiled too for those who care to know. Aight, its all entertainment get with the program. The soccer crazy Nigerian fans are also making brisk business from soccer especially the national team and European club related merchandise especially the Jerseys. Thankfully Arsenal Jerseys are by far the most popular along with Chelsea, Man U and Liverpool. I got a Gunner shirt, Liverpool as well as Super Eagles Jersey (home and away) at very attractive prices too. Hey, they might not be the original but I bet you cannot tell if you see em. As a testimony to the widening market for Nigerian movies, nearly of them are now subtitled in French to cater to the wider African francophone countries who cannot get enough of Nollywood productions.

As usual, the state governments except for that of Oyo (which is so inept) are by far outperforming the federal government in terms of performance. Mr. Fashola of Lagos deserves special mention as an action governor. The BRT lanes/mass transit and the boardwalk projects are among a few transformational projects that Lagos state govt. is putting in place to deal with an already horrible infrastructural situation.

As per I was in naija for my sis wedding, it all went well. Added couple of pics here & there for those who care. Naija dun o jare.

P.S: Congrats to the Dream Team IV for a sterling performance at the Olympics. Go Eagles

Monday, July 14, 2008

Privatizing Profit, Socializing Risk

There is something fundamentally flawed about the conservative economic ideology as first propounded by Reagan and then implemented by George Bush that is fundamentally flawed. And if any time, the current banking-mortgage crisis is providing the first real world test of the ideology of ownership which Bush proudly flaunted (but which actually mean owning on bad debt while Dubya's friend get to charge fees, get big profits and government guarantees for bad behavior) as ownership society during his 2000 run and 2004 rerun. This bogus ideology of ownership and privatizing (including social security) everything is indeed a bad idea, and am surprised that even with being offered the best opportunity to attack- democrats are not offering the biggest broadsides on the idea.While it sounds good on paper, privatizing social security, increasing home ownerships for every Tom, Dick and Harry with bogus debts, and fighting wars on credit are terrible economic ideas. Today, how many seniors due for retirement in 5 years or even younger workers whose 401-k are so decimated will wish to have turned over their social security funds to Wall Street?

Truth is, social security as it is - is an insurance against the exact spectacle we are witnessing on Wall street today with banks failing right and center due to the lax regulation of the current administration (because of its closeness and buddy buddy relationship with the business community). Indeed, there is nothing more reassuring to a would be entrepreneur than a reliable insurance against loss. Any American take business risk today mindful of the fact that social security will be available at retirement not thrown as craps on the crap table in Las Vegas, Wall Street. Thus, progressives and liberals should be mindful and boastful of the positive role this social insurance scheme plays in aiding entrepreneurship: as it is actually a pro-small business program contrary to what big business republicans will want us to believe. Fact is, few people understand the market- and even pros lose money year over year (only 20% of mutual funds beat the market). It is insane that McCain can get away with calling social security a disgrace while he is busy cashing his social security check!

It is so ridiculous that even after tax payers are made to bail out Bear Stearns, and were promised that was it, we now learn we need to pick up the tab for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac too. But wait a minute..what happened to free market? What happened to that age long republican principle of no handouts? Oh I get it, it is only okay to bail out rich wall street folks and not ordinary people. If you have the right contacts and lobbyists, you will be able to convince a congressman that your company is big enough(courtesy of shady deals, accounting and false statements) that it must not fail. Pray tell, if Bear Stearns is crucial to the economy- I bet 80% of the big boys are. Tax payers picking the tab of course got no dividend check, golden parachute nor are the bosses that ruined these institutions losing sleep that their fraud will land them in the big house. That is the stuff of George Bush led business friendly, people hating administration. But where are the Dems? Have they lost their nerve and backbone to stand up and be counted? This is ridiculous! And by the way, the federal regulator hitting Senator Schumer for stating the obvious is as dumb as George Bush. It is like blaming the person who called 911 for causing the home to burn. This administration is really on rocks!

Today, Pat Buchanan has the nerve to state that GM is losing jobs to overseas market but the fact that the ideology this moron have supported since the days of Nixon is lost on him. When Japanese, European and Chinese manufacturers don't need to deal with rising health care cost, how do you expect their debt bogged down American cousins to fare? Oh well, so much for hating socialized medicine when your citizens need to go to Mexico and India to get treated, and to socialized medicine Canada to buy drugs. These folks should be called out for whom they are: hypocrites! Pat's party killed healthcare for all in the 90s that would have made the auto companies more prosperous and are here trying to blame others for shipping jobs to where visionaries had taken the step to remove the burden of medical cost from corporations. Dumb.

The even more ridiculous fact is that this country today manufactures nothing but debt. My business partners and I had to endure a meeting over the weekend with this guy making a proposal we invest in debt for residential homes. God forbid! You can be sure we turned it down. Today, the country is fighting 2 WARS with borrowed money. Common! That is like borrowing money from your enemy i.e. banks,China and Middle East, and then literally blowing it up. Get this, you are not even using the money on licentious living- you are crapping it. That is what happens to bullets and bombs- idiots. And yet, McCain have the guts to say we are whining? The only 2 industries that are net beneficiaries of this administration is the Defense and Energy industries- go figure! You don't need to trace the previous connections of the big boys in the administration to figure out why that is. You better to move to Texas! Or better still, get ready to ship to Canada. This Titanic is just about going under.

There is something fundamentally wrong with an economic ideology that asks the public to pick up private risks, while ensuring the rich folks keep their money when the going was good. It is a flawed economic theory that the democrats must challenge.

This is a nice read on Bush's busted ownership society...well, before its time.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

You Will Be Missed

Any lover of good journalism, great politics and more so a deep admirer of the essence of fatherhood will...Adieu. Let it not be asked how he lived...He was a jolly good fellow. He lived a good life.

Monday, May 26, 2008

“I live his life and memories... in reverse?”

It is not many a time that you read a book and have a narrative. I am just entering Denver from Seattle, on a fly by night vacation through the memorial day holiday weekend and true to the timeline coincidences I am just finishing off the last chapter of the first book of the presumptive democratic nominee: Dreams of My Father, by Barack Obama. Not many books I had read have been so marked with the bends, surprises- the emotions and the dips of a life so vast, so rich yet so complicated. Indeed, not so many authors could better describe and could better have lived it than the man that did.

Speaking of timelines and experiences, I had bought the book after being thoroughly impressed by the now much acclaimed speech by Barack at the 2004 convention. His rising profile at the Senate as a shining star in the spring of 2005 spurred me on to make that purchase. The book lay fallow in my bulging library shelves much until later in the fall of 2006 when I was to make my first trip back home after I had left. There of course was also a personal story: one not verily as complicated as Barack’s, but in itself as personal and perhaps as memorable. Much of this personal story I will speak properly of in subsequent paragraphs. On my flight between Houston and I could only consume the first part of the book that dealt with his life in Hawaii and growing up pains of a young man lost between two worlds of racial struggle and a society unready for his like. This was before the agitation, hope and excitement of going home after six years seized me on my flight back between Amsterdam and Lagos. I abandoned the book hoping to pick it off soon after I got home to Lagos, Warri, Ibadan or Ikole-Ekiti. But that was not going to be. Like hands full my family members are, the joys of those moments captured and the bonding that took place in the little time I spent with them snatched away those precious moments I could have used in thumbing through this piece of discovery. Not like I was complaining, my elder sister Dolapo whose wedding ceremony will take me back home this summer was readily available to scrounge the book away from me and squeeze the living daylight out of its pages in her familiar book wormy manner.

During this same period, Barack himself was ensconced somewhere in Hawaii contemplating a presidential run after the load of positive press the second book after the first, Audacity of Hope, had gotten. In my mind, I knew Barack was made for greater things but I was not too sure if his decision to get into the race that January was not one that came a little too early. But I was not someone to declare, hence I assumed the role of observer of the nomination as my blog roll from Spring 2007 to Fall reveals. In this same period, I fell in and out of the book. Reading his organizing years, inspired by his permutations on race and race relations but albeit hardly off the fence on his new found ambition. But sometime in November 2007, I became a convert. Something lighted up. In the eyes of the portraits of Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela that hung on the wall that led to my room, I could read the clear unmistakable message: Hope, dream and do not fear. In the next months, I along with other Barackites will make millions of calls, I volunteered, organized and cheered our way to a Texas narrow primary loss, but a caucus triumph by such a large margins he got the highest number of delegates out of Texas and the biuggest margin in the county where I was precinct captain. In this period I had not been able to pick up the book to finish off the intriguing story of his years organizing on the South side of Chicago.

It was from the point I picked up the book as I departed for Seattle on the pacific North west for a memorial day vacation (post coming shortly) and it is even more befitting that I read the last lines of the book as we stopped over on our way back from Seattle to Houston at Denver. Yes, Denver the same place where history will be made in August at the democratic convention. Everything about Barack and his book oozes fate and destiny. He is a man made for great things. The chapter I most thoroughly enjoyed was the Part 3 on his return to Kenya. In it we find a man whose colliding universe is realigned, one in which the magnanimity of his character and maturing of his mind bore out to his readers. In his entire writing his brilliance, introspection and thoughtfulness is shown in more ways than one. His forgiving, near heroic equanimity is also worthy of mention. Indeed that core abilities of leaders to be firm, yet being able to change their minds in the light of new evidence came out as the book went from that of struggle, loss, reinvention and finally discovery. The discovery of himself, his roots and his people. In all, he more than made up for it at the end.

As a personal story, I couldn’t have finished reading the book in a better time. Now that I once again go back to a country I left as a child, the book showed in our dual lives -what we left behind and the internal struggle we all live. One man, his family and his community. It is the heritage of journeymen that the father of BO lived; one with twist and turns that confounds the minds of those of his generation like my father who lived through it. Who like the senior Barack had a near melodramatic situation righted much earlier when my half brother came home in 2000 to discover a family, father and country he always heard but never saw. The difference being of course that the nearly perpetual story of distance to their children that marked the Obamas was a diametric opposite of my family where men showed their strength by bonding with their children. With their wives, now that is a whole different matter. I owe dad the book, so also my brother –Olu, whom I will see the second time this July as we give Dolapo away in marriage. Now I feel his pain, now I feel some sense of duty to show him everything he needs to see. The one I know and the ones I don’t: from Ibadan to Odo-Oro Ekiti. The book in itself have now spurred a determination to now record my own family history- a video project I hope to accomplish in my three weeks at home in August. With Dad retiring, and everyone around it couldn’t be a better fitting time to get the roots to come all round. I hope you are all ready for the hard questions. Maybe I will share, maybe. In all, we all in some way lived the life of our fathers; perhaps in reverse. In as much as we share those genes, we carry with us the burdens of history, of heritage and the blessings (and perhaps curses) that comes with it. So long.

P.S: Happy Retirement Dad. You sure deserve it. You are retired but definitely not tired. Am loving Asa..enjoy!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

What's Cooking..What 're we Watching & ..?

There is a bunch of lame shows on TV and there has always been. As someone who hardly grew around TVs (my parents were ardent advocates of the no TV upbringing and am grateful), I appreciate the level of trashiness contemporary TV offers. Thanks to the Internet, viewers are having more choices and choice is steadily creeping its way into TV. One of such concept TV is Current TV owned by Al Gore, former VP and Nobel laureate- the TV is unique in the sense that viewers send in the programming; clips, educative documentaries and even news-pods dominate their schedule. It has since retained a regular feature on my favorite dial since I discovered it much to the chagrin of CNN; my once favorite channel now dumped (while trying so much to Fox, sorry Fix News (Noose rather).

Speaking of programming, I have been following two shows that I'd recommend lately. i guess the downtime the summer offers allow more time to catch up on such leisures and am making the most of it. Run's House on MTV and The Office have prime place on my record to watch later menu. After a good bowl of fufu and efo, I settle down on the weekend evenings to enjoy my menu of 4-5hrs recording..I can't be asked. After 2-3 hrs, give and take for skipping Ads I'd be through. Run's house is a terrific show in my opinion. Rev Run got a good thing going on, and his family reminds me the effervescently sumptuous laughter, joy and presence of mine. The Office is one hell of a funny show, that I got introduced to by a Business professor I took last fall. The raw comedy and shades of character make up for a good relaxing evening for me and some friends who drop by. Don't be buzzing my phone on weekend evenings bozo. lol

Speaking of my fufu (or what goes for it in Yankee), I have devised a novel and simpler method to get my beef stew done. I have been able to cut the work down from my traditional 2 hrs to something close to 30 mins..I am pleased. Cooking for me however has always been somewhat cathartic i.e. when am lethargic (my sis says allergic) to every thing else; it is what I'd imagine to be an equivalent of going to the gym for an exercise aficionados. The soothing aroma of a meal cooking...the fresh taste of a home cooked meal? hmm..unbeatable. Stop day dreaming my friend

I will hit the road this memorial day to Seattle and possibly Vancouver, Canada beginning my round of summer travels that will take me from Seattle to San Antonio, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Atlanta , Nigeria (Ibadan, Lagos, Ekiti, Warri, Abuja) and Denver...yeah I gotta be at the acceptance speech by my main man- Barack Obama. Saw the way he smacked McSame and McBush around? LOL...that was funny. I realize the GOP machine is running out of option, but they'd better be prepared for the oncoming onslaught cos its gonna be warfare. And you think you've seen it all, the fervent yearnings of the 75 000 that came out to see him on Oregon is just the beginning..see picture is breathtaking

For the summer am settling on the following for my reading list: The History of the Yorubas by Samuel Johnson the rare book that documents the early history of the Yoruba people of Western Nigeria that I have longed to read, the Art of War by Sun Tzu a classic on military thoughts and strategy suggested for would be leaders, Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi D. suggested by DQ- thanks chica, Half of a Yellow Sun by the bright star of African literature C. Adichie, and Cronies a book on Texas, Oil, Bushes and Republican hypocrisy written by Robert Bryce. Last of the Pirates a book on the most dangerous mercenary of African Bush wars and a thumb thru of Barack's Audacity of Hope (hopefully b4 Denver) should keep me company on my numerous dash across the continent and the world this summer. The Mrs Club - Ekene Onu is only looking good. I have been lazying about with Bill Cosby's Come on People, and Freakonomics...those should come first. Can't wait. See ya on the flip side.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Spring Optimism and Getting Some Life

Am just back home after a long day- but trust me am not complaining. I had the equivalent of what you can call a full, well spent day - than you very much. Am here seated in my garage tapping away at the keyboard, fettering away the empty threats of baby Texas mosquitoes. Not complaining either. Am soaking in the spring- well lost to its optimism. Left work at 5.30 to play soccer. Am part of a new soccer team at work playing in this sports monkey intra-professional league in Houston. Yeah, professional as in Oprah professional not Beckham professional fool. LOL.

Oh well, can't be asked. I had fun. It was well worth skipping the gym at school which had been my solace in those nippy cold winter nights. It was cool, and soggy out today. I scored one goal..and my team won: yes even it was by one. Spring has something about it. The weather is just about right. We plan for the summer, make great plans for the year (we got three months left right?) and set those BBQ plans that is all commonly Texan by now. I got my cool paddy sister from London visiting now..Annette that is. Hope she is reading. Ol girl, na drink Houston dis Thursday make we go boogie am.

What plans have you got for summer? I plan to do my share of travel. Just came back from New Orleans. It was helluva a fun. Was there for St. Patricks day weekend with my buddies- Tee and Sly and Bourbon street did not disappoint. Do they ever sleep in that city? And well, i broke my glasses. Not in the big easy, in some downtown hangout spot here in H-Town. Dropped it and came back for it. It was useable for a month and then it went belly up. Well, I had to get a new one, hopefully I can get a new frame to put the scratched up pair as spare.

As for the rest of the summer- Dallas, Seattle, Vancouver CA, Philadelphia, Denver and oh yes, Nigeria will come down in a roll. It will be a junketting summer for me. Alaja travel. Sorry London folks, I don't think I will be coming around till year ending. That is if you will pick up my ticket tab. Stingy folks. LOL. Well, other summer plans include catching up on some reading. I have set an ambitious target of ten books. I added about twenty titles this winter and I should able to wittle that list down for your viewing pleasure when I post next.

Talking about books, I just finished reading that confessions of video vixen book by Karen "Superhead"and yes I have gotten over my initial guilt of reading soft porn autobiography. Hers was a story well worth the reading. It is a recommended reading for young girls losing their ways- Brittany Spears that is. Why is it so hard to get ones hands on Wole Soyinka's the man died and G.O.'s the history of the Yorubas. Well the later is so prohibitively expensive I had to set up a trust fund to buy it on Amazon where it is going for $55. Well thank God for good mercies, a gift certificate I got from work should pay $45 and I will kick in the rest. I am yet to get the certificate so don't even mail me to ask for a transfer. Awoof dey run belle.

And yes Facebook...geez creeps, stop tracking me on there and calling your friends to exchange snippets of information you glean from that page. Get a life this summer out of facebook. If you are male take up gardening like my friend Terell. Metrosexuals that is. I lie- well, I have been doing some yard work lately and will share pictures and my progress with you later (if y'all promise to stop being nosey). I plan a few weeks of touch ups especially to the flower bed upfront; I have been particularly lazy in the past year. Last weekend I installed my own innovative sprinkler system for the front yard (why do you think I went to engineering school?) and outsourced my mowing (heck, am too old for that now). Well, I did some weeding too- thanks goofers , am cheap that didn't come with the mowing- and added fertilizer and mulch to the trees. I also got a new tall palm plant for a new look and it is doing just fine as I speak. The background noise of the sprinkler from where I sit here, makes a perfect pitch of natural solemnity - the best you can expect in the urban jungle.

Congrats to Terell Dawg. The Statesman moved to his new crib this past weekend. A we o. Emi a se opo re o. Abi omo, a fe aya o. Amin Olodumare. And all you my female friends who quit calling cos y'all don land fine bobo for summer gyrations- well done o. Queen and Dessie, report here. Well, I think I have ranted too much already, and shared enough of my non-Obamanized life. Get a life pees! Am out!

P.S: Can't get enough of the Uganda video I posted above. Those girls are cute (una see as one of them dey shake dat thang- omo buruku gbo gbo), and the song just strikes a chord with my new season of optimism. Acuna matata. It is well. Can't enough of the Office shows on NBC too and the new DVR-W is doing such a fine job. Now I can get rid of that whiny Wolf Blitzer on my screen. Yes, that is a new one Mike. Me not Michael on office. Again, get a life!

Saturday, April 05, 2008

What we ask of Barack...

He first won in Iowa...they said it was not enough. They said it was not representative of US population. Too white they say and he is not Black enough. He went to New Hampshire, equally shared the delegate and they said he lost the primary hence was a one trick caucus pony. On he went to Nevada, winning the caucus- they said the Unions could not make him win and his caucus halo will soon be his albatross. Off we went to South Carolina- here Barack was damn too black. Too many black people voting for him and even this primary (not a caucus) this time should not count. On Super Tuesday it was an harvest of mixed primary wins in states as far flung as Connecticut and Alabama, and caucuses in dissimilar states like Idaho and Alaska. To Obama it was a moment of brief triumph.

No sooner did the pundits start counting out the big states that followed. Saying they simply had too many latte sipping, weed smoking college educated liberals, young people and blacks to count. In quick succession, Barack won democrats abroad (from Indonesia to Great Britain) and rammed it in 11 other states. From Maine to the sprawling urban DC area. He won big (when did Virginia and Maryland not count as big states?) and won small (oh, that Virgin Islands 89% whooping). Yet the bar was even raised higher. He had to prove himself in Texas and Ohio they said. Well, we won Texas. Well, that doesn't count too because the Texas system did not allow insiders to control our minds, nor allowed Rush Limbaugh republicans who could vote in the primary but lacked the enthusiasm to show up for the late night caucus control the process. That night, WE the people won. We won the biggest of them all- the great state of Texas. In the aftermath, the talk of course was working class Americans not being Barackified. Well said and done, two contests in Mississippi and Wyoming (states who in their opinions don't count) rammed a rod into that lie. But well, here we are again..what do we ask of Barack?

Well this is my point. Of Barack we ask that he be perfect. Not just perfect in policy or politics, but perfect in temperament, in association, in genetics, in projection. Perfect, that is what we ask of him. In Barack we ask of him what we can't in ourselves achieve. We ask that he vouch and vet the statements of everyone he had ever known. We ask like Rush and Bill O'riely that he not be hateful even though we (Rush and Bill that is) are a walking case of racial hatred and animosity...wait a minute- Revd. Wright not Barack said anything close to hateful right? Well, it doesn't matter.

In Barack we ask that he rise above the pettiness of Hillary Clinton, and arrogance of her husband- Slick Willy. The insight that come with the ossification of McCain but the vitality that Johnny boy lacks. In Obama, we ask he not be dodged with the moral ineptitude of JFK, yet be blessed with the rectitude of RFK & the vision of his brother. In him we ask of the oratory of MLK, but not the activism of Malcolm X that jolts us from our moral opportunism. In Barack we ask that he imbibe the best of George Bush courage and conviction, yet demonstrate the wisdom of GW's father, and reject the rashness and irrational stubbornness of Dubya. In him we ask for the forgiving attributes of Abraham Lincoln, but the fighting nerves of FDR; the soaring rhetoric of JFK and Theodore Roosevelt but the roundedness of Harry Truman. The demure of George Washington and the humor of Ronald Reagan all rolled in one without the aloofness from policy that they were both famous for. Of course we demand the foresight and vision of Thomas Jefferson and the political sagacity of John Adams impressed in statement, thought and actions. The question is- do we not ask for too much? Never been one day behind on delegate count in this race, yet questions are being asked about his electability. Of all persons by the laggard! Let the man be!

Dang. Am addicted to my new DVR. This box is wonderful! Now I can record hardball and that son of gun called Keith on MSNBC and yet be able to skip those doomsday commentator that have next to nothing of great insight to offer but their bubble heads and cheap analysis. For all I care, it is worth the extra two dollars cos now I spend 20 minutes of my day on TV instead of the 22 minutes I used to before. Well, just before I canceled my subscription for paid TV. Have a great day!

Monday, March 31, 2008

Sealed, Signed...and Delivered

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. Barack Obama has won the overall delegate race in Texas thanks to a strong showing in Democratic county conventions this past weekend.

Obama picked up seven of nine outstanding delegates, giving him a total of 99 Texas delegates to the party's national convention this summer. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton won the other two, giving her a total of 94 Texas delegates, according to an analysis of returns by The Associated Press.

Texas Democrats held both a presidential primary and caucus. Clinton narrowly won the popular vote in the state's primary March 4, earning her 65 national convention delegates to Obama's 61.

Precinct caucuses began immediately after polls closed primary night and quickly devolved into chaos in many parts of the state because of an unprecedented turnout of more than 1 million Democrats. The state party was never able to provide complete results from the caucuses, which is why the AP withheld nine delegates.

The precinct caucuses elected delegates to about 280 county and state senate district conventions on Saturday. The AP awarded the remaining delegates based on results from Saturday's conventions, showing Obama with about 58 percent of vote, compared to 42 percent for Clinton.

Obama won 38 delegates through the caucus and convention system, and Clinton won 29

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Examining Obama's Strategy Going Into November

I definitely think the Obama camp is making a strategic and perhaps tactical error in engaging McCain on the issue of Iraq. For this however I blame HRC. This shows the reason why she needs to throw in the towel now. His focus on the war is fighting on McCain's turf and can never be good for him. Moreover, he cannot use the same tactic he uses on HRC in the primaries to defeat McCain in the fall. The democratic base strong opposition to the war worked in his favor, but the general population is less inclined to look at the past than focus on what will be done going forward (check John Kerry's loss in 2004 to an unpopular president). It is obvious the McCain/Republican strategy going forward is to:

A. Define Obama and drive up his negativity by framing him as unpatriotic and weak on defense. For the unpatriotic charge it appears McCain is currently reticent but I expect him to seize on it as soon as he is 10 points down in the poll like HRC is seizing on the Islamic stereotype now.

B. Frame the war in terms of national security and pride while pretending the economy don't exist. This is a strategy that relies on McCain's strength/

To win, Obama must however do the following to counter (I suspect the smart people around him already know some of these points, but a need for consistency of message is making them fight off HRC and McCain for now with same judgment vs. experience tactic that have been very successful in the primary but whose efficacy I doubt in the General Elections)

1. The war is the Economy Stupid! : Obama should inevitably tie the war to the economy. He should remind people the inevitable connection between a war bleeding $12b a month and their mortgage, rising gas cost etc. He should even claim the price of oil will come down dramatically if the crisis in the middle east is not encouraged by US involvement in the war. He should ask McCain for his plan to fix the mortgage crisis, cut energy costs, fix healthcare etc. He should use McCain's word that he knows nothing about the economy against him, and tell America we need a domestic president that knows and understands America needs. We need a man who can be president of the USA first before being the president of the world…read, National Pride.

2. Define McCain as a Liberal, Wasteful Spender on War: There is no better place to get a bad McCain definition than from the right. The right already labeled McCain a liberal, and Obama should seize on it. He should label McCain a tax, war and spend liberal. He should define him as a deficit spending, fiscal undisciplined liberal. A simple question will do: " how does McCain intend to finance his 100 years war?" McCain will stumble on this point. Then Obama people should answer it for him: borrow from China, and Saudi Arabia one of the world's biggest sponsor of Islamist groups. This will alienate McCain from his base that cannot stand him already and the center that is looking for an alternative

3. Corruption and Ethics: McCain thinks this is his strong suit, but I think not. Remind America of the Keating Five affair; remind America of his close associations with lobbyists running his campaign; pin point the corporate jets and even show his hypocritical stance on campaign finance reform. Frame him as old corrupt Washingtonian versus good young guy from the Midwest. McCain will bristle and will lose his cool: That is where you want him.

4. Inconsistency: McCain camp calls him a maverick. Part of the downside of this label, is its remarkable lack of consistency and contradictions. The Obama camp must exploit this. Call him irresolute on the issues. Tag him flip-flopper. Question his conviction and character. Use the issues of tax cut he first opposed and supported (just to win the primary), the gay marriage he first supported and then opposed (to win over the right). McCain will again bristle at this point because he doesn't take kindly to being called out for whom he is truly is- But that is where you want him.

For it to work, these four labels have to be used consistently across board: Ignorant of the economy, tax and war liberal, corrupt old guard and inconsistent flip-flopper


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