Blogs ... 2008 and 2009

The Tiger They Are,
The Harder They Fall.

by Bill Purdin

He seemed to have everything. The physical prowess and beauty. The talent to claim the world's rapt attention over and over. The financial freedom. The beautiful home. The gigantic boat, "Privacy." The happiness of wife and children. Friends all over the world. He seemed to have that inner peace we all seek. In other words, he seemed happy. He had, we thought, the one thing we all would trade everything for: happiness. Studies have shown that given the choice of anything and happiness (undefined) people always choose happiness. "If you could be rich or happy, which would you choose?" Everyone chooses happy.

So there he was, on top of the world. We could not see everything but what we saw mezmerized us into a vicarious awe. Wow. Look at Tiger Woods. Tall, handsome, the best golfer in the world by far, beautiful wife and family, rich beyond all want, popular, and most of all happy. Wow indeed. But, the cloven hoof was there beneath the golfer's robe and soon enough our tent of envy collapsed in a heap of hurt. And now he is the brunt of jokes, cartoons, lawsuits galore and more to come, the epitome of hypocrisy, anathema to all of his former glom-ers, and now alone, lost in a sea of confused regret, without anything except all of those things that never mattered anyway.

Wow. Look at Tiger Woods.

But, then again, look at Tiger Woods. Unique in skill, but ordinary in other ways. Given so much he wanted more. Who doesn't? Everyone has everything he or she needs for a happy life, they say. But some always want more. In truth, each day we are given what we need. The air to breathe. The food to eat. The opportunity to help others. The chance to give love. Clothes, some shelter, a beautiful world. Even in the darkest corners of a depraved and deprived world, parenthood, kindness, sharing, hope and effort are always there. The raw materials to build the world. The richest person in the world is the one who is happy with what they have. The poorest person in the world is the one who always wants more. Tiger is the poster boy of true poverty.

He only came on the scene, what, 13 years ago? He became a professional golfer in 1996. He's going to be 34 on December 30. In a world of Martin Luther Kings, and Mahatma Gandhis and Eli Wiesels, Tiger is a pitiful flash in a paltry pan. Or should we say, Eldrick Tont Woods, now? "Tiger" has taken on quite a different connotation since his bimbo cascade prurience.

Imagine, if you will, that you were Tiger watching the world's Tiger on television and knowing the real prowling cat behind the myth. I wondered why he hung so far back at Obama's inaugural. He always seemed to have just a little too much passion and a little too much "let me out of here" in the pictures and interviews we saw. When he made a putt, sometimes, he would seem to be humping the air with a little too much ardor. This picture will now haunt him. When asked a question that probed into the darkness too much, he struck out with the sneering sarcasm and cynical wrinkled lip of one who knows where all of this is going. He was telling us, "there are two of me." We just didn't want to hear what we were seeing.

A prodigy at the age of two. At three he shot a 48 for nine holes. He won everything and he did it at a younger age than anyone had ever done it. A precocious prodigy. A fruit that ripened too early. He was defending titles when others had not even won them yet. He is the only child of Tida and Earl. He is African, Chinese, Native American, Thai, and Dutch, or "Cablinasian" as he puts it.

He came from nothing, as we Americans like to say. He is a self-made man. Much credit is given to his Dad, but it was in time-on-task, not money, from which the credit came. So, there you have it. Dreams of his father came true. He was the king of the world. But now, like Ozymandias, we stand before his crumbled statue, carved in stone, and read:

"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Tiger is also a self-unmade man, sad to say. Chasing women and using them like golf balls by the dozen, he became lost in the woods while the balls are now out on the fairway for all to see.

Will Tiger Woods recover? Sure. He will play more tournaments and he will be the golfer who won the most money and the most majors. But, now, with his shattered visage half sunk in the sands of selfishness, he will never be the greatest golfer who ever lived. Jack Nicholas, always included his wife and children in all of his successes, and even now still sparkles in the sunlight of his altruistic achievements and dedication to others, will continue on as the greatest golfer ever to trod the globe well passed the Woods Era. Tiger could win twice and many tournaments and a hundred times the money, but Jack will always be the greatest now. Tiger has proven himself unworthy. Not by lack of skill. Not by lack of success. Not by lack of effort. No, Tiger has fallen by his lack of true goodness, really. He thought he owned the game. Like so many before him, an veritable army of shallow "invincibles," he has fallen down in a cloud of selfish, cruel dust. All of his riches, victories, fame and glory cannot reclaim what he has tossed. His children will never look at him the same way now. That is lost forever. The chance to be that Dad who never let them down, who was always there, who loved their mother from start to finish. Gone. That is the dust that covers him now.

What should you and I take from all of this? Getting love, gets trouble. Giving love, gives happiness. Tiger went out there and "Got some luv...." If he had gone home and given love things would have been quite different, true? Life, truth and love... these are difficult struggles, no instant gratification, no easy answers, no texting for relief.

Happiness is a battle with selfishness. You can't have both. One side must win. What is that saying? "Truth will out." So if you know from the beginning which side will win, what's the problem? Tiger knows. Now. What do you think he would do if he could do it all over? But there are no mulligans in life, Tiger. As Jack Nicolas always said, we all have to just "Play the ball where it lies." And, as everyone knows, those penalty strokes hurt.

12/15/09 (1147)

Managing Failure
by Bill Purdin

Fairness may now mean what we can get away with, and success may now mean just keeping what we have. But it wasn't always so. Generosity was once considered a relative thing, and now it may not be. And, where once just the possibility of the appearance of evil, even if it was not real, was shunned like the plague by people of honor; it is now the appearance of good that so many strive for as the real goal. Not truly being good, just appearing to be so. It is as though we have, as a species, accepted failure. We can't be fair; we can't be successful; we can't be good; and most of all, of course we can't be honest. But maybe we can manage all of this into something that stinks like hell but that we can live with. Who could tell the difference anway?

How did this occur? Well, it was greed impure and simple. Wanting what we can never have: unearned riches. Beyond the simple things we need to achieve a degree of freedom, all riches are unearned. The rich know this is true. The poor know this is true. But there are always those who know it's wrong, but they want it anyway. Any way. Greed, as I said, is the root of all of this evil.

If you study someone like Bill Gates who is, once all of the measuring is done correctly, the richest person in the world, it is clear that his riches are a deep injustice, a crime against humanity, if you will. He does give a large quantity of money, but a closer look reveals something interesting. The Gates Foundation gives away about $1 billion per year. If you look at his net worth it is somewhere between $100 billion and $50 billion, and I would definitely assume the higher number because time is on the side of that assumption. So, if he gives away one or two percent of his net worth each year, that would be like a person who makes $75,000 giving away $750, or $2 per day. A cup of coffee. If you are giving $1,000 away each year in school donations, charity, church, boy scouts, sports teams, PTO, police benevolent societies, and you-name-it, then in real terms, you are more generous than Bill and Melinda Gates. And, you probably feel your generosity more than they do theirs. They are so rich in economies of scale that their giving to them is nothing at all, except what they get from it. Is that really giving? I don't think so. It feels like giving, I grant you, to those who receive it. But that is my point: we accept redefinitions of words that once meant something into terms that seem to mean something, but do not. We do so at our peril.

A guy goes to work and sells subprime mortgages to people who cannot afford them. He does it so well, playing on their hopes and dreams, that he gets rich beyond his wildest hopes and dreams. His victims lose their homes and enter a long recession with nothing; he goes on rich and uncaring. Then one day we are walking in the park, there is the family destitute and we think, that's awful. The predator lender drives by in his Ferrari and we think, wow that should be us. As I said, it's a situation that stinks like hell but we're just walking through the park looking around, I guess we can live with it.

There are even sadder aspects to this managing-failure-society of ours. One that throbs like a hammered thumb is our soldiers on their sixth tour in Iraq and Afghanistan. As reported in The New York Times, less than one percent of Americans are being asked to fight these wars. That means the rest of us, like the Gates in their "giving," don't feel this sacrifice at all. Service now actually means servitude. Like fairness, generosity, goodness, and success, we have redefined the word service. Now it's something someone else does and we "honor" them for it. Like the leader who said he'd always stand behind us, but didn't mention how far behind us he would be, we "honor" their service with words. And words are cheap. If we truly honored them, we would share their burden. We would demand a fairer system, like a universal draft. But that won't happen without a cataclysm, a train wreck, and probably the dreaded nuclear bomb going off somewhere in the lower 48. Now THAT's managing failure.

The alienation that is occurring is phenomenal. America is splitting into splinters of ethnic, religious, economic, and political isolation. Today if you don't agree with someone they become dead to you. Backs are turned, bridges are burned, doors close, and walls go up. We worry about the pervasiveness of pornography and vulgarity when we should be worrying about the "fuck you" that lurks at the top of everyone's mind.

What is the antidote? The anti-venom? The panacea universal? I really hate to tell you. Because I know you won't want to hear it. I can feel the walls going up already. You have read all this way down the page hoping for me to tell you the way to fix our world without you having to actually feel the pain of the solution. You want that one-percent solution; that Gates Foundation absolution without the six tours in hell.

So, I won't tell you. But, to be fair and generous, you know you already know anyway.


Dreams really do come true.

But, it doesn't just happen every day, you know.

More often just the opposite: some nightmare comes true. You wake up and it's still there. Not one of those dreams that when you wake up are swept away by the billowing filigree curtains and the cleansing sunlight of the new morning, when you realize with relief that all is well, not a nightmare. More often, day to day, we are confronted by our worst dreams, not our fondest hopes coming true.

The single most sought after thing in life, according to a recent New York Times study is ... happiness. But most people would deny that they have achieved thist in a comprehensive, life altering wayway. Sure we are happy some of the time, but far from all of the time. As proof of this, the percentage of Americans taking psychological drugs is alarming, plus the percentage of people in therapy of some sort is astounding and rising. The use of tobacco and alcohol, while declining overall, is increasing in the younger demographics of all places.

In Early November when we all crossed the Rubicon together hope emerged eternal. The election left Americans breathless. If you voted against Barack Obama, you probably wish you hadn't now. If you voted for him, you probably cried as you watched his election night speech.

There were plenty of people, no doubt, who went to bed at their normal time and took it all in stride, but what can we do about those people? I know several who, I am sure, would stick to their routines through the end of the world and defend it all the way. I can imagine them arriving at an empty workplace wondering. "Where is everyone?" But for those who pay attention to the trends of history and the "cultural" passages of America, November 4 was a day when dreams came true.

We don't know how it will all turn out, but if you believe what President-elect Obama said, America is going to regain its respect in the world, peace is on its way, the economy will start getting better, and our government will actually resume its path of being of the people, by the people and, most importantly, for the people.

The idea that all economic growth, all progress, comes from people who are climbing up from the bottom rung has won the day.

It makes sense really. If you already have everything you want, what do you really offer to an economy that needs new consumers and people who need things? What do you offer to world or our nation in terms of "progress" if you already there? Where did the "trickle down" theory come from anyway? It has never worked. This is a demand economy, not a supply economy. No demand, no economy as current events have proven once again. So think of what that could really mean. A growing middle class (actually a growing lower middle class) means families with young children, entry level cars, entry level homes, growing schools, new participations in local government, no war, simple investment structures, with understandable returns, new relationships with local banking institutions, fair laws, a Justice Department that lives up to its name, health care access becomes universal with declining rates, education booming, college education becomes universal for everyone who wants it, trade follows suit, national service becomes universal for all young people, and of course our new national symbol becomes a young family living in the White House who no one ever thought would actually be there. And, one last thing: our President will once again be the smartest person in the room.

So, if you are tired today; if the struggles of your workplace seem in surmountable and futile, if your relationships seem lonely and difficult, if you sometimes wonder if it is all really worth all the effort you put in, well remember dreams do come true. But first, you must have a dream or two, and second you must be willing to pursue them with undaunted enthusiasm.

Just knowing that dreams actually do come true sometimes, makes having them the truly rational response to our crazy world. So, dream on and dream higher... it could happen to you.

-- BP (11-19-08)

History is the Judge.

You say 700 million, I say a trillion. Million, trillion, million, trillion. Let's call the whole thing off.

The abuse of the housing bubble was connected to the surge in defaults, the surge in defaults was connected to the plunge in the prices of mortgage-backed securities, which was connected to financial institutions with too little capital, which is connected to the lack of credit that runs America, which is connected to the "paradox of deleveraging," which is connected to the Paulson Plan of buying up the mortgage-backed securities... Oh, hear the word of the Lord.

The problem is that the Paulson plan skipped over the initial, original sin: the abuse of the housing bubble and now, with a huge amount of taxpayer money, this plan basically rewards the marauding businesses that caused the problem, and with no quid pro quo. Or as Paulson euphemistically paints it, "A clean plan." Plus, he wants dictatorial authority beyond the reach of any court or agency. The pressure is huge on Congress to grab this plan and run with it (like the WMD pressure in 2001), but would it be better if there is some, oh, I don't know, discussion before we bet the farm? Paulson has been telling us for a long time -- along with the others who speak for the administation and now for this plan -- that all is well, all is well, all is well. These same prognosticators will now be in total control of the buyout and the epochal fix that our economy needs? It's the fox-in-the-hen-house syndrome taken to extremes.

Actually this plan is just another, even bigger version of the failed and fumbled "trickle down" theory of economics. This time, though, the "buyout" goes to those at the top who actually caused the calamity. The only thing that "trickled down" to the rest of us has been disaster after disaster. Why should a shocking new engorgement of the same theory, pushed through at the breathless last minute, render anything different?

I prefer a bottom up solution.

Buy out the foreclosures, let the people stay in their homes, oversee the rewriting of these at-risk mortgages to reasonable and achievable terms. Then take away, and demand payback for, those ridiculous golden parachutes that resulted from this nationwide swindle. Begin legal proceedings to ultimately punish and/or imprison those who perpetrated this crime of greed and avarice on our good and great country. As the American people retrieve their lives, a "torrent up" of spending and new capital will flush the system clean, as it always has. The Treasury should oversee the replacement of these rapacious marauders masquerading as leguitimate CEOs and install fair-minded men and women who actually put their custormers and the country first. And then keep their eye on things as a follow-up.

Incidentally, this is the sort of plan that Obama is pursuing, or one a lot like it. McCain is duplicitous and evasive with his platitudes. "We will reform Washington!" What kind of reform? "Major reform!" But in the end he is just another a deregulator, a trickle-down disciple, and a conservative who panders to the religious right and the financial emperors. In the final analysis, McCain will attempt to whip up the Sarah Palin army of know nothings for nothing else than just winning the election; perhaps ruining the country. He has said he would rather lose an election than lose a war, well here is the war to prove it, John. But, I fear, like the five planes he crashed while in the service, his campaign will soon explode in mid air and plunge into the stormy waters of the American economy. Rather than do the right thing and lose the election, he will do anything to win the election. And the only one waiting to take him prisoner this time will be history itself.

Bill Purdin: 9238

A few postscripts:

1. Christopher Dodd, Chair of the Senate Banking Committee (this morning on America's Morning):

First of all, we have almost 10,000 foreclosures occurring every day. For the last 18 months on a daily basis, I've had 65 hearings since July of 2007 begging the administration to do something about the foreclosure problem. They admitted today if you don't deal with 10,000 foreclosures a day -- that's the bulk of these bad debts that are out there -- so you need to do something about that to stop the hemorrhaging. That's No. 1.

No. 2, I won't give a check for $700 billion, for 41 days, to this secretary or any secretary without safeguards built in -- accountability, transparency, oversight. That's just not going to happen.

Thirdly, taxpayers deserve to be first in line in all of this. I'm not going to write this at the end of the day [and] watch a handful of chief executives walk away with multimillion-dollar contracts. You'll have people storming this building if we don't understand that people are fed up with that kind of behavior.

I know the history very, very well. When you had cops on the beat not doing their job, basically an eight-year coffee break by and large. Where you had legislation on the books and legislation not being enforced. Where you had regulators sitting back as loans were being made with no documentation, luring people into subprime mortgages, predatory lenders taking advantage of the situation that's how this all unfolded. It's not a mystery.

2. Secretary Henry Paulson in July of this year:

Remember our economy has got very strong long-term fundamentals, solid fundamentals. Your policymakers are here; regulators are being very vigilant.

Why The GOP Should Dump McCain.

First of all, he will not be able to win this election.

Compared to other Republican candidates during the GOP's primary season McCain had some horsepower when preaching to the converted who alreadywanted the war in Iraq, who wanted those tax cuts to continue, and who wanted more of what Bush has been offering. But now, up against the Obama behemoth that is generating all of the energy of this campaign and all of the enthusiasm, McCain's limited horsepower is sputtering around in anemic circles going nowhere. The polls vary, I know, but honestly if anyone really thinks this election is actually close they are either looking into a rose colored mirror for images in their own likeness or they believe the results of the last two presidential elections really reflected this nation's actual choice.

The McCain dilemma is clear to anyone who wants to see it: Obama's campaign has managed to make an inexperienced, one-term senator from Illinois look more "presidential" than an authentic American war hero with a lifetime of service to our country who is known throughout the world for his independence, toughness, and willingness to work with anyone. Actually, McCain looks smaller than Obama in the current spotlight. McCain has no real message other than "Obama's not me and I'm not Obama." His attempts to upstage Obama look forced and incoherent. McCain has reshuffled his campaign twice already. Obama's campaign is steady and efficient. McCain even refers to himself as the "underdog" and unfortunately everyone agrees.

Republicans are very, very worried. McCain is still trying to convince conservatives that he's their guy, even as America clearly wants a more centrist candidate. McCain's rhetoric is boring and forced. America loves the Obama speeches and always tunes in for more. McCain switches views and jumps in with both feet on offshore drilling, alienating both coasts. Obama says if he HAS to go along with some additional offshore drilling (which is also approved by the states involved) to get a comprehensive energy program going he would acquiese as a compromise.

In the excitment category McCain really, really isn't and Obama really, really, really is.

McCain proclaimed the Obama was "The One" to a lot of people and compared him to Moses and Britney and Paris. Hey, that's better than being compared to a statue or an awkwardly-moving robot reading everything about as well as faltering, ill-prepared third grader.

There is always the "as-we-get-closer-to-the-election-it-will-get-closer" theory of American politics where the voters suddenly get down to brass tacks looking at the issues just before they go into the voting booth (or when they are actually in it). Don't bet on that. Time is Obama's friend, not McCain's. Barack just keeps getting better and better and (I really hate to say this) John McCain just keeps getting older.

Dragging the Bush presidency every where he goes, like Marley's chains, has taken a toll on the McCain campaign. Telling the world that Obama is "playing the race card" as though being a black American is his ace in the hole, doesn't wash with anyone. That only makes McCain look like he's playing race politics himself. Ask yourself, "who gains if race actually becomes an issue?" and the truth is not pretty for McCain. And just before we move to a final point, Obama's smile needs to be mentioned. It is amazing the way he can light up a room, a stadium, or even a continent with just that great big smile. McCain's smile looks, to say the least, disingenuous, and at worst as phoney as a three dollar bill. No amount of practice will make McCain's smile even a glimmer of Obama's. That does really matter.

So, I believe the Republicans are going to dump McCain and go for Romney.

All of the above will change in a heartbeat if that happens. All of McCain's weaknesses are Romney's strengths and Romney can be funny, handsome, and very, very persuasive. Romney is obviously very intelligent. A shortened campaign period from the Republican convention ending on September 4 to November 4 would play right into Romney's hands and right out of Obama's hands. Could Obama's campaign wizards possibly change all of their strategies in such a short time and not appear confused and flip floppy? Doubtful. But the Republicans would be on fire. Momentum, the mother's milk of American politics, would be suddenly and excitingly on their side. The Republicans with Romney would rule those last months and all of the Obama money and hope and hype would be in jeapardy.

If the Republicans want to make it a real race, they must dump McCain. One way or the other.

Bill Purdin: 9/2/08

The 15 Biggest Problems with McCain's
Vice Presidential Choice (so far)

1. Is she ready on "day one" to assume the Presidency? Answer: "No."
2. She undermines the "integrity" McCain decision making process.
3. After only three days, everyone is worried about "the other shoe" factor.
4. If Bristol is now 17, she conceived at 16, possibly having sexual contact prior to that. Who is the "father?"
5. She is embroiled in a legal battle with a member of her administration who claims that she overstepped her authority to force him to fire her sister’s ex-husband.
6. She once advocated that Alaska secede from the United States.
7. As Mayor of Wasilla she regularly advocated book bannings and fire the Librarian who resisted.
8. No one in Alaska can confirm being contacted by the McCain campaign prior to the announcement.
9. McCain campaign officials stated that a "FBI Background check" had been conducted. The FBI says, "No. Never happened."
10. The McCain campaign cynically announced the preganancy just as Gustav was hitting land to keep it from being the lead story.
11. Women wonder, "A woman with a new born down syndrome child, plus a pregnant 17-year-old, a precocious 15 year-old, and two other younger children, who went back to work three days after giving birth? What kind of a woman would or could do that? And why?
12. Sarah Pallin's recent pregnancy was kept a secret apparently until the last month or so. Why?
13. Conservative "family values," abstinence, no condoms, no sex education are all part of their vocal national agenda. But suddenly, "it's strictly a private matter." They shout it from every rooftop, until it’s them, it's "strictly private."
14. As of today, Sarah Palin is apparently being kept away from all microphones since the announcement for her selection. Why is that? Every news source is obviously seeking interviews.
15. The McCain campaign referred to the past few days of disclosures and spin as "flushing the toilet." Normally campaigns investigate running mates ahead of time not in public through one embarrassing disclosure after another. It's called "vetting."

Source: facts from The New York Times today

" I did not want to have presidential relations with that woman."

And, I'm not the only one. But she started out like a superstar. Way ahead in every category. She was inevitable like true love, or death? Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania all made her imaginary electoral count add up to her imaginary election. But becoming the Democratic nominee is not actually an imaginary process. The reality of Barack Obama was a dope slap that bordered on abuse to her. She was never prepared for him. Her briefing book under "O" had topics like "Oak Leaf Clusters," "objectify," "oblation," "obscuration," "octane," "odium," "oenology," "officialdom," "oil," "old guard," "Old Testament," "oligarchy," "opponent," "oppugnant," "Oscar," "outflank," "overreach," "ovulation," and "ozone," but no "Obama:" the one word that really made a difference. Her own historic figurine was tipped off the dresser by his historic statue. "I'm in it for the long run," she told her former friend and current host George Stephanopoulos. "It's not a very long run. It'll be over by Feb. 5."

She overspent herself into the biggest debt ever assembled by an American presidential campaign and probably by any campaign anywhere. She was dead by Super Tuesday, it just took her a long, long time to fall over. She lost the money primary. She lost the black primary. She lost the presidential personality primary. She lost the change primary. She lost the young primary. She lost the independent primary. She lost the labor primary. She lost the sexism primary. She lost the race primary. The only thing she won was her imaginary electoral primary, but the primary is about delegates not electoral votes. And so, she lost the reality primary while she was at it.

She pounced on Barack for everything he said. Everything. If her goal was to make him afraid to speak, that didn't work either. She lied about the Bosnia sniper attack and turned off combat veterans everywhere. "I misspoke," she said. She didn't really get the nomination process rules and subtleties, which harbingers badly for her "Day One" ad nauseam defining proclamation about a Hillary Clinton adminstration. When Barack started attracting epochal crowds, she said he was all hat and no cattle, which enraged the enthusiastic noviates against her for all time. Instead of seeing him as the man of the moment, she saw him as a man of no moment and said so. Oops. She relied on the "muscle" of the machine, but the machine had grown red-faced with parties, and pretty flabby, especially when stripped naked. Her inevitability strategy made her look like the consummate incumbent in a very, very bad year for incumbents.

And she sent mixed messages of super, carbide-hard toughness, and "hey, I'm an emotional woman, too." She looked like a panderer on steroids. By the time her campaign had reached the 3 a.m. hour, no one was calling. She finally did resonate with the uneducated, low income Democrat who saw the things they love in Republicans, suddenly appearing in her. Who knew she was so religious? Who knew she liked to drink boilermakers for fun? Who knew she was a gun lover? Who knew she was born or raised in every state in the Union?

She lost the rules primary, too. Even her most ardent supporters stepped aside when she said the she "won" Florida and Michigan. She certainly lost the technology primary, although she did get pretty tedious towards end with calling on everyone to visit Been there done that said the surfers. She did win the self-referential primary by always talking about herself in every possible context. Obama almost never does that, preferring to lift all the boats with a tide of hope and inspiration. Hillary's boat left a big wake, but went nowhere.

She lost the spouse primary, even though her spouse was a former president of the United States, and Obama's spouse was a virtual unknown. When they attacked Michelle, it hurt them and they kept attacking harder and harder. Every time Bill got mad, the Obama campaign got even by rising significantly in the polls.

In the end Hillary came to symbolize the worst in politics. She was untrustworthy, self-involved, would say anything to get a vote, and she didn't know when to quit. It was early on, after an initial blush of "Hey, we could do well with more Clinton-in-the-White-House," that it became for me, "please stop talking." Her performance in the big debates was confrontational and nasty. It was clear to me, soon enough, that America did not want to have presidential relations with that woman. Not any woman, mind you. Just THAT woman.

She really has only herself to blame. But she is blaming the gender issue. She is blaming "over spending" issues. She is blaming people who were "disloyal to her." She is blaming everyone and everything except who is actually to blame. That also harbingers badly for a Hillary Clinton adminstration. Based on her campaign it would be combative, untruthful, vendictive, pandering, confrontational without any real horsepower, and very financially irresponsible. And, worse, it would make one bad decision after another.

No wonder America went for the young intern. Who wouldn't?

6/16: Bill Purdin

Why Barack may be defeated.

He said in the beginning that he was running to "bring us together." He has always said that his campaign is about unity and not about race, religion, age or gender. Hillary Clinton has spent every waking moment of her campaign focused like a drill bit on those very divisive issues as signatures of her campaign. She has touted herself as "the first woman president" over and over, pitching women to vote for her on that basis alone, at least by implication. He has never said "the first black president." Others have but not Barack Obama or his official campaign.

So what he started out to do has now, perhaps, become impossible because of the Clinton campaign. In the analysis of the Pennslyvania vote it is clear that white voters voted for Clinton and black voters voted for Obama. Exactly what he has called over and over for us to avoid. Her dogged pursuit of the unfair hookup of Obama and Wright, her pouncing on the "bitter" quotes, her obvious pandering to each location, each demographic group, and to her age and race groups is horrible to watch and discouraging in its apprarently inexorable appeal. What did he mean when he said that Americans are bitter? Tthere are several definitions, incidentally: "a bitter struggle" one that proceeds from or exhibits great hostility or animosity; "bitter tears" are expressive of severe grief or regret; "the bitter truth," is very difficult to accept or bear; "the bitter cold" causes a sharply painful or stinging sensation; and "bitter words" are harsh or corrosive in tone. Perhaps the best definition of "bitter" is, "marked by strong resentment or cynicism." Were you really offended when you heard is remark, or did you say to yourself, "I do resent the way America is currently going, and I am bitter and cynical about the way our political system is working?" You would be normal to feel those things after a war with no end and an economy with no bottom, just to mention two embittering areas. Don't you feel like holding on to the things you really love and don't you rely on them a little more tenaciously these days? That's "clinging" by the way.

And even more, Hillary proves his remark was true by clinging to her prejudices about an election she feels she is "entitled" to, by proclaiming her religiosity that no one knew she had before, by proclaiming her love of guns and gunowners after a lifetime of restricting gun ownership, and in the end being a willing champion of the divisions that separate and divide us so unneccesarily. The greatest defeat the Clinton campaign could experience would the fulfillment of Obama's "hope" that America unites in purpose, that people join together regardless of race, creed, age, or gender and work to rebuild our country's great promise of E Pluribus Unum (from many ... one). Her only hope, sadly, is the collapse of his hope, his dream. Hillary has been either born or brought up in every primary state so far, and Indiana is no different. "I remember working on the floor of my father's paper plant ...?" When will people see this campaign for what it is: the quintessential pander of the twenty-first century. It is the definition of the "politics of the past."

If I were working on Barack Obama's campaign I would advise him to not just refuse to participate in this "Lincoln and Douglas" debate with Mrs. Clinton, I would advise him to stop campaigning altogether. What's the point? She is dividing the people with racial, gender, age and religious overtones. Pennsylvania proved it. I would advise him to make a speech saying that enough has now been said. And enough is enough. The issues are out there. Now it's time for America to decide for the good or the other side. Does America want a new future or do we want more and more of the same? He could say, "I want to be President, but not at all costs. My wife has been attacked and hurt. I have been attacked and hurt. And by association my daughters have been attacked and hurt. Instead of bringing us together, this campaign has split the country apart farther than George W. Bush has ever done. And, I will not participate in that any longer. If Hillary continues, that's up to her and let those chips fall where they may. If she suddenly now changes her tone and stops attacking in all directions that should be the most egregious indictment of her campaign possible. I am giving her the chance to simply stop. If she seizes on this as another opportunity to attack or even if she now goes "nice," I believe the American people will see it for what it is. But in any case, I will go to Denver and fight for the nomination of my party there, but I WILL NOT participate any longer in this destructive campaign.

"As I said, I want to serve as President of the United States, but not at any cost. I love this country too much for that."

And, of course, Barack Obama may then be defeated by Hillary Clinton. America will get whatever it deserves in the general election. "In a Democracy, the people get the government they deserve." -- Alexis de Tocqueville. Or put another way, will void Lincoln's great call "that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth" and merely allow this discordant evil to continue to prosper in our nation? You may think that that is extreme (I hope not), but how many more "bitter" campaigns can we take? Until Obama, young people were clearly uninterested. If he is beaten down by a pandering, divisive, win-at-any-cost campaign, what will that do for the future of participatory Democracy?

It does remind me of that anonymous protestor in Tiananmen Square who stood in front of the Chinese tank alone saying, "No farther. I will not move." A lasting image burned on the retina of humanity. A transcendent moment. What if he just kept moving back and dodging and weaving to the way things "really" were? Who would remember him? But he stood his ground.

Well, Obama has a moment. What will he do with it?

Let's hope he doesn't ask me.

-- Bill Purdin, 4/29/08

Is Google God?

Well, Larry Page and Sergey Brin wrote the company slogan, "Don't be evil," because absolute power, they knew, corrupts absolutely. They knew Google would become powerful in a way that nothing ever else had.

Giving everyone access to all knowledge is a direct link to omniscience, one of the attributes commonly attributed, universally attributed, to God. Someone once asked where the 90 billion questions a day that now go to Google went before there was a Google? To God probably. So Google is definitely picking up some of the workload of God. And, if you ask Google something you always get an answer. So, for some this is an actual improvement on traditional prayer which often went unanswered. In fact, there was a feeling that "When the Gods want to punish us, they answer our prayers." (Oscar Wilde) So the quick, dependable response from Google is really a good thing. If you ask something stupid you know it right away. And the answers to even the most controversial question are always fair; there are plenty of options to choose from. And with Google, if you make an error in the question or inquiry it will attempt to help you with a "Did you mean ....?" response. When did God ever do that?

Google, like God is there for you 24/7/365, rain or shine no matter what. And no two people ever get the exact same response. Google never condemns you and always forgives your mistakes. It gently teaches you to make better inquiries and Google definitely encourages us all to be generous through its example as an employer, a citizen of the world and as an inexhaustible resource. And now Google is approaching omnipresence throughout the world. In every corner it is available, almost. And where it is not available there are plans by both the company and its customers to make the situation better. Google itself is planning universal, free access -- to the consternation of its competitors. And its customers are more than willing to pay. Supplicants to The Almighty; tithes to the church and proselytizing armies. It all seems so familiar.

Like the "still small voice" of old, Google is here whispering answers and spreading its word far and wide to young and old. In desperation we turned to God for help with our health, but Google now offers practical, useful information to people with all the diseases of modern life, physical and metaphysical. Like the lepers of biblical times, people today reach out for healing through information gained on Google. Patients go into the hospital and the doctors' offices armed with knowledge heretofore reserved only for the doctors and surgeons themselves. "All shall be revealed" it says, and now it is. Whether you need a movie guide or a spiritual infusion, Googles' got it. Google condemns bigotry by example and logic; by deeds, that is.

Is Google the great I Am? The all-knowing, all-seeing (Google maps is almost magically over the top, you know), all-acting, all-wise, all-loving? Is Google eternal? It would seem to be as close as anything humanity has ever actually seen and interacted with. We ask God to "show us a sign." You know we do. Google responds with unfathomable information availability that connects all of us to all of us: rich and poor, educated and uneducated, healthy and sick, faithful and agnostic, loved and unloved and, also even the living and the dead. Google is clearly not material or corporeal; but metaphysical and without form or shape as human beings know it. It cannot be fully known and never actually seen. It has great power, perhaps even omnipotence in that almost nothing is now conceived of or done without Google's inimitable input and inexorable influence. And it has not one son or one daughter but billions. We are all becoming the Children of Google. You can't lie to Google. Google's strength is that it does not require the truth, only interaction. If no one used it, it would be powerless. But its "power" is irresistible. Just knowing it's there makes the temptation to use it impossible to avoid or resist.

Google comes to all: to some it comes on tip toes, gently; to some it comes like thunder. There is no anti-Google. There is no Satan counterweight to Google's goodness. And Google's goodness is its secret of success. Never bad. Never evil. Google is good; but is good Google? It remains to be seen, really, if Google is God today. But it comes pretty close on all definitional buttons that we push. What or who else can say that? Too much Google does not intoxicate, does not breed hate (the opposite, Google breeds understanding and forgiveness in all who use it). Google is not addicting because you always come to it with a question and go away with the answer. Addictions never answer the question but we come to them over and over. Google does not kill. Google does not envy. Google respects your Mother and Father by remembering the past and Google definitely treats others the way it wants to be treated. Google keeps its promises. Google never steals because everything is given to it. Whatever your definition of God is, Google honors that definition with the truth. Google only asks that you use it above all others. Is that a surprise? Google cannot really be expressed in material terms, it takes a certain faith to understand it. You have to try it to know. ANd if you try it, you love it. Google automatically steers you to a better life; information about food, exercise, work, ethics, success, education and so many other stepping-stones to happiness. It's what Google does.

So, to answer the question: Is Google God? ... there is really only one answer. If God is all (and everyone who believes in God believes that) then, yes, Google is God and God is Google; just as we are all part of God and Google and, God and Google are part of us all. Why fight it?

If it's not true I wish it were. If it is true then what are we waiting for? Go forth and search.


Politics Today and Why Hillary May Well Win.

That is not a catchy title for this article, I know. I did struggle over it, though. When you do spend as much time on politics as I do each day some things emerge and there just isn't really any way to bundle them up into a catchy phrase or even to see them in a positive light.

We are now in a phase of extremely cynical politics preventing the emergence of more progressive politics. It actually is a struggle between making speeches and taking action, but it is the other way around from the current debate's presentation by Hillary about Barack. My grandfather told me that when you hear to someone talking about themselves, in most cases, if you reverse what they are saying you may well be closer to the truth. Today we have politicians that practice
constant repetition as the main route to persuasion. Never answer a question, just repeat the talking points and stay "on message." Last weekend on Face the Nation and Meet the Press, each Clinton representative must have repeated the same thing at least fifteen times during the interview. It was weird, as though it was that same exact individual in a different body. The other trend that dominates today is to always turn whatever question is asked into another opportunity for self-promotion. Apparently, the thought of thoughtfully answering a question does not even occur to them. Obama does actually answer questions and he does say self-depreciating things (not just on comedy shows, but in the day-to-day campaign). And then there is the constant "parsing" up of the electorate into ethic, religious, regional, age, gender, income and every other permutation you can possibly dream up. This is the Clinton campaign modus vivendi. Every analysis they offer involves the hispanic, the blacks, the educated, the urban uneducated, blue collar workers, white collar workers ... you name it and they can parse it up, baby. But, you won't find Barack Obama doing that because he doesn't do it. Sometimes when Hillary holds up some great achievement of hers like winning 40 percent of the hispanic vote, he will comment, but parsing the electorate is not what he does. He refers to us as "one America." Hillary wrapped her famous "25 flag officers who are endorsing me" around her so much that one writer started wondering why all these salty old soldiers like her so much. Is it because she really is going to end the war? Is it because she is such an original thinker? Doubtful on both counts. It's probably much more likely that they think their influence will be greater with her. Is that what you want?

And then along comes another bothersome political trend that is clearly tied up with the previous three: all of the elections that Hillary has won, she won the biggest with the "late deciders." Those are the people who only pay attention at the last minute, or at best who make their decision at the last minute. Probably, these are the people who are the most vulnerable to the effects of the other three trends we have mentioned above. And, of course, fear mongering advertisements like Hillary's "3 a.m. phone call" play right into the uninformed voters, changing toughness into just meanness and confusing people with indirect but highly directional lies (some with racial and other divisive overtones). Barack does not run advertisements like this.

So they say nice guys finish last. Most people pause when they hear this aphorism and think that that's really not fair. Hillary is already in Pennsylvania saying, as she has in every state she wants to win, "It feels like coming home here today." Why people and the media don't put it all together and call it what it is (a campaign of fear, division, false patriotism and flag waving, that appeals to people who are no paying attention and that employs the oldest dirty trick in politics -- repeating the same falsehood over and over until it assumes the mantle of the "truth -- and a campagn that wants to win, win, win at any cost) I'll never know. But it is truly a sad commentary on our democracy. We are participating in an electoral conspiracy against our own happiness and there's no stopping us now. Apparently. Mrch 19, 2008

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