Archive for the ‘Contributors’ Category

The Man Who Made His Accountant Cry

Saturday, March 29th, 2008

Larry Ellison Loves Himself

What has 23 acres, an 8000 sq. ft. house with two wings, a guest home, three cottages, a gym, a 5-acre lake, two waterfalls, two bridges, and hundreds of mature cherry and maple trees planted among 1000 redwoods pines and oaks?

The $200 million estate of Larry Ellison, the $25 billion, 12th-ranking member on the Fortune 500 list of world’s richest asswipes. The one that had his aptly-named Octopus Holding company buy it from him in 1995 for a deflated $12 million. The one that just “earned” him a $3 million property tax cut based on a professed 60% decline in the home’s value vs. the 6.3% for an average home. An average home - the ones not being foreclosed on anyway - that is being over-assessed because the neighbors can’t pay their mortgages down at Loan Shark Larry’s Savings and Loan.

And the rationale for the cut? It’s even richer than Larry (and apparently God) himself.

According to his tax appeal, the behemoth bungalow in his private redwood grove suffers from “significant functional obsolescence” because there apparently isn’t much of a market for $200 million pimp cribs. He also says the 16th century Japanese architecture, “over improvements”, and “excessive landscaping” are too costly for mere millionaire to maintains, so gee he’d appreciate it if just give him a break willya?

The Woodside White Elephant
In other words, Larry builds a Japanese-bred white elephant that no one can afford to buy, maintain, or want to live in so the taxpayers now owe him $3 million for his foresight in building such an opulent slum. Or as a consumer watchdog group puts into perspective, “Three million dollars to Larry Ellison is the equivalent of $300 to the average home owner.” Oh, and just so you know we aren’t picking on poor beleaguered Larry, Bill Gates did the same thing several years ago with his Redmond, WA-based monument to ostentation, avarice, and greed.

It makes you really admire modest billionaires like Warren Buffett, who actually pay taxes.

But Woodside, CA town manager Susan George says the deal is on the up and up. “It shouldn’t make any difference how much money he has if the process is fair. We’ll miss the money. We always have good things to do with it.”

True enough, but that’s relatively easy for George to say. Cash-flush Woodside is usually the top or near-top median income ZIP code in the country. The rest of relatively affluent - but still within human understandingly affluent - San Mateo County isn’t so lucky. They have people who can’t afford to claim their E. Palo Alto, cockroach-infested apartment is worthless because it’s “significantly functionally obsolete” with a leaking roof and broken plumbing. BTW, East Palo Alto is the other Palo Alto, the one that’s not home to multiple multi-millionaires and Stanford University. The folks in E. Palo Alto suffer from a crippling crime rate and crumbling housing over there on the wrong side of the freeway - the side that isn’t protected by sound fencing like the gracious folks across the road.

Rich Shouldn’t Matter
In principle I agree with the town manager. It shouldn’t matter how much money you have. So I suppose Larry wouldn’t mind if his revaluation was the going 6.3% - just to be fair and all. I’m sure he won’t mind, because he could just recoup the money by delaying the painting of his yacht, the world’s largest. Or perhaps he could stop routinely violating nighttime noise restrictions at San Jose International for landing after hours in his private Gulfstream jet. He was exempted from the noise restrictions too.

Larry is well-known as the infant-terrible of Silicon Valley. He runs his company Oracle based on the principles of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War.

He regularly buys out any competitors, frequently in hostile takeovers - and grinds their successful products under his heel in order to buy new sails for his America’s Cup yacht or gas for his aerobatic team. At each hostile takeover, employees lose jobs to feed Larry’s Giant Maw of GreedTM. And it’s a hungry maw indeed. So hungry, that Larry’s accountants warned him several years ago to cut his fantastic spending lest he bankrupt himself.

It’s Tough Out There for a Billionaire Pimp
I guess $12 billion doesn’t go as far as it used to.

I’m a firm believer in capitalism, although I recognize its limitations if left totally unrestricted. I have nothing against people earning money. In fact, I don’t care if a person makes billions - more power to them. But if you make billions you also inherit some responsibilities.

One of those responsibilities is paying your taxes like any other good citizen of modest means without a buttload of full-time shysters to find boondoggle tax breaks. It also comes with a moral responsibility to not deprive others to feed your own hubris and greed. Don’t take money away from schools and hospitals simply because you can. It’s not a frickin’ game to see who dies with the most toys. Don’t lay off employees to get that quarterly bonus that’s just about equal to the money you “saved” by laying them off. I don’t require you to find the light and abandon your Marley-like stinginess like Bill Gates turned away from his once well-known anti-philanthropic ways. Hell, you can even illegally fly your jet late at night provided you pay buy soundproofing for the more modest home owners who will go to work exhausted tomorrow from a lost night of sleep courtesy of your (literally) money-burning flying hard on. In short, all I ask you to do is act like a normal human being instead of a shit stain in the crotch of humanity’s Jockey shorts.

In short Larry, stop being such an asshole.

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

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God Loves Guns

Saturday, March 22nd, 2008

Based on the President’s Easter benediction, you would think God loves guns. Certainly, it’s plain: God loves strong military might.

On Easter, we hold in our hearts those who will be spending this holiday far from home — our troops on the front lines. I deeply appreciate the sacrifices that they and their families are making. America is blessed with the world’s greatest military, made up of men and women who fulfill their responsibilities with dignity, humility, and honor. Their dedication is an inspiration to our country and a cause for gratitude this Easter season.

God Bless America, may she always be right!

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…..psst…what are you doing looking down here….yes, May God Bless America and may she always be right….That’s what I typed….

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psstt….why do you continue to scroll down…what? We weren’t right about WMD in Iraq? My goodness, do you think we are on shaky ground here?

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Psst…why do you keep scrolling down….God does live the Military, particularly ours. God thus, must love guns, no? Am I wrong?

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Allah Akbar!

The Big Dick Flips Off America

Friday, March 21st, 2008

Cheney Flipping Off the American PeopleThere’s no doubt the Bush administration has an awfully high opinion of itself. The president once famously said that he couldn’t think of a mistake he’d made in office. But The Big DickTM? He has mondo-hubris.

Listen to this exchange:

Reporter: “Two-thirds of Americans say it’s not worth fighting (the War of Error), and they’re looking at the value gain versus the cost in American lives, certainly, and Iraqi lives.”

Cheney: “So?”

Reporter: “So - you don’t care what the American people think?”

Cheney: “No, I think you cannot be blown off course by the fluctuations in the public opinion polls. Think about what would have happened if Abraham Lincoln had paid attention to polls, if they had had polls during the Civil War. He never would have succeeded if he hadn’t had a clear objective, a vision for where he wanted to go, and he was willing to withstand the slings and arrows of the political wars in order to get there.”

Um, Dick? I’ve studied Abraham Lincoln and let me tell you, you’re no Abraham Lincoln. I’m suspicious that you’re not even human.

Using your logic, as long as a person “has a clear objective, a vision for where he wants to go” he can do as he damn well pleases. He can ignore advice. He can show contempt for his nation and the laws that govern it. He can play the iceberg to the Titanic. Heck, he can even just toddle off on his buddy’s boat for a day of fishing as people die in the place he just left behind.

Dick, the model for that sort of behavior isn’t Lincoln, it’s Saddam Hussein. You know, that guy you went over to kick out? The one who was a baaad, baaad man who needed to be dealt with? The one who so threatened you? Surely you remember him. He was the one with the WMD that only appears after you sprinkle lemon juice on them.

Dick, I’m going to engage in some of your logic. Here’s my “clear objective and vision”: you are a dangerously megalomaniacal imbecile. You are also a man who deserves to be tossed into the trash bin of loony politicians who became so full of themselves they forgot to adhere to the “polls” that really count - the elections - the elections that put their cholesterol filled, arrogance-fattened asses in office.

I’m sad to say that I respect Saddam Hussein more than you and your idiot savant friend, George DicklessTM. At least Saddam never pretended to be anything other than what he was - a bragging despotic tyrant.

More’s the pity I can’t say the same thing for you.

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

The Madness of King George

Thursday, March 20th, 2008

Our F*ck Up-in-Chief likes to portray himself as a bold leader who keeps his head while all around him lose theirs. That’s true enough as far as it goes. He’s certainly bold - although brazen might be a better word - and he does steadfastly keep his head. The only problem is that it’s empty.

More than once, people have wondered about the cranial pea he keeps rolling around. First he was criticized for living in a bubble and then conservative pundits like Joe Scarborough began to wonder aloud if he was stupid. Even Nelson Mandella posited that he “couldn’t think correctly” and several foreign ministers have remarked on their low esteem for the boob.

I’m currently reading Bush on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President, by psychologist Justin Frank. In the book, Frank does a little forensic psychology to see if he can determine just why the president seems so bat-shit crazy. Frank definitely has an anti-Bush point of view so I take what he says with a grain of salt. However, many of the things he discusses in the book match up well with known events and continue to surface four years after Frank wrote the book.

The Psychotic Break Begins
Now five years along in Iraq, I used to think his reassurances that Iraq was going swimmingly were just the rants of a craven politician angling for better poll numbers. Now I wonder if those weren’t the first clear signs that he wasn’t just disingenuous, he was literally in the throes of a psychotic break.

(more…)

No Basis For Comparison

Monday, March 17th, 2008

Found out this about Barack Obama’s mother:

Kansas was merely a way station in her childhood, wheeling westward in the slipstream of her furniture-salesman father. In Hawaii, she married an African student at age 18. Then she married an Indonesian, moved to Jakarta, became an anthropologist, wrote an 800-page dissertation on peasant blacksmithing in Java, worked for the Ford Foundation, championed women’s work and helped bring microcredit to the world’s poor.

Makes me wonder what George W. Bush’s mother has done to advance the world. I’m sure there’s no basis for comparison, but it looks to me that Barak Obama is coming from a solid rather the entirely privileged lineage like some Presidents we know.

George Bush (Brillant Master Of The Obvious) Says, “In The Long Run, Our Economy Is Going To Be Fine”

Monday, March 17th, 2008

No one ever claimed that George Bush has a powerful intellect. Certainly, you can’t expect more from the man who claimed a while back that we should “not misunderestimate” him. I cannot help but hearken back to that wonderful scene in the classic movie Animal House - where with the hoards roaring at him, the ROTC cadet yelling “all is well, remain calm” while getting flattened by the onrushing mob.

George Bush is so insignificant to the economy except for the inexcusable abuse of his administrations authority to get our country into this situation. His recent one minute speechifying is proof that he is irrelevant at this point in time:

9:40 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Secretary, thank you very much for coming by today to talk about the economic situation — we’ll be meeting later on this afternoon with the President’s Task Force on Financial Markets.

First of all, the Secretary has given me an update. One thing is for certain — we’re in challenging times. But another thing is for certain — that we’ve taken strong and decisive action. The Federal Reserve has moved quickly to bring order to the financial markets. Secretary Paulson has been — is supportive of that action, as am I. And I want to thank you, Mr. Secretary, for working over the weekend. You’ve shown the country and the world that the United States is on top of the situation.

Secondly, you’ve reaffirmed the fact that our financial institutions are strong and that our capital markets are functioning efficiently and effectively. We obviously will continue to monitor the situation and when need be, will act decisively, in a way that continues to bring order to the financial markets.

In the long run, our economy is going to be fine. Right now we’re dealing with a difficult situation and, Mr. Secretary, I want to thank you very much for your steady and strong and consistent leadership.

Thank you very much.

END 9:41 A.M. EDT

So, in the one minute it took George Bush to deliver his comments, has he been able to restore your faith in his leadership to deliver us from the mess he helped cultivate? Right, of course our economy will be fine in the long run. We recovered from the Depression right? It’s what’s happening right now that hurts.

Pretty soon, they are going to foreclose on the undelivered FEMA trailers and then what? Too bad George can’t think past saving his pals in big business. If he was so keen to screw the little guy by routing the Chapter 11 laws, why wouldn’t they have let Bear Sterns sink in it’s own sauce?

When it gets right down to it, we see the President and his staff doing the time honored W, Rove and Co thing, saving their friends asses, screwing the little guy, and then blaming some one else for the economy they delivered.

Q For people who are losing their homes, or losing their jobs, and then they see the government helping engineer this $30 billion line of credit for Bear Stearns, and help for other financial investment firms on Wall Street, how do you reconcile the two?

MS. PERINO: Well, the way I would answer that question is in two parts. One, this isn’t about bailing anyone out. These actions are intended, as I said earlier today, to minimize financial market disruptions. And investors in Bear Stearns are taking large and significant losses in this transaction. And that’s not what happens in a bail-out. They bought into a company, they took a financial risk — and it had paid off quite well for them a while ago, but today they’re looking at a stock that’s only worth $2. And the Fed, what they did last night, is try to provide liquidity to the markets so it would stabilize, and we could have orderliness in the system.

But I would also say that a major market disruption would have very damaging consequences and be very painful for everybody, from the small business owner to the homeowner, for everybody all the way up and down the economic food chain. And the goal here is to prevent a major disruption in financial markets. And the Fed is taking decisive action when necessary, and that is what they saw last night.

In addition to that, homeowners and small business owners and everyone across America needs to know that we’ve acted on multiple fronts, starting back in August — that was when the President recognized that we might be heading into some headwinds in the economy, with several different aspects of it. And if you look back consistently over those past several months, he has said that we needed to take some action. And over time, we proposed legislation, dealing with the housing market. We also worked with the private sector to help homeowners, through HOPE NOW, and then Project Lifeline. We supported legislation that would not penalize people for writing down mortgage debt when they did a refinancing. And that finally became law.

We haven’t had Congress act on one of the most important things they could do, which is Federal Housing Administration — changes in reforms that we’ve asked for. It’s been about seven months since the President first announced that, and Congress is now and again on a two-week recess, and nothing is going to happen.

But at the same time, back in January, the President said, when we worked on the stimulus package, that the reason that we’re doing that is because we could see in the future there could be a potential downturn in the economy. And so if things were to get worse, we would have a stimulus package in effect. We called that, remember, an insurance policy, a booster shot, that we said would take effect and have impact later in the summer. And the President and Congress were right to work together on that bipartisan package, because those tax rebates will be going out to people all across the country, including the homeowners that you talk about.

Q But, Dana, how does this square with sort of traditional conservative economic principles of limited government involvement in terms of, sort of, maybe culling the herd a little bit, letting the firms that are going to fail, fail, and thus more can sort of live on the back end?

MS. PERINO: Well, I would point out again that, remember, investors — Bear Stearns basically went from a company that was doing quite well to failure, and at $2 a share, I should think that those investors are seeing — feeling today the consequences of that risk in a marketplace. But I would remind you that what’s right for the markets and stability for the financial system had to be taken into consideration. And that’s what the Fed decided to do, is to act quickly, to act decisively, to make sure that we could provide what’s needed right now, which is stability and liquidity and orderliness.

And the Treasury Department is able to answer lots more of detailed questions, and the Fed certainly on historical questions in this matter.

Q But people who are facing, say, foreclosure, the individuals, the little guys who are facing a foreclosure are looking at the big guys getting government, if not brokered, certainly they’re overseeing deals that are engineered to sort of keep the big picture financial community afloat, and they’re saying, well, where’s my boost of liquidity?

MS. PERINO: They’re going to get that boost of liquidity in the form of a stimulus package and a tax rebate that’s coming to them the second week of May.

Q But that’s not going to save their houses.

MS. PERINO: The other way to help work on the housing issues is to take advantage of some of the programs that we have in place, to talk with HOPE NOW or Project Lifeline, for those who are in more serious dire straits, and also to work — for us to continue from the administration to call on Congress to finally take action on Federal Housing Administration reforms, which we think are necessary to help homeowners across-the-board.

But I would remind you, and remind consumers all across America, that the decisive action taken by the Fed yesterday was precisely to prevent long-term economic harm to everybody in the United States, including, as you said, the little guy.

Right, so they are suggesting the 300 or 800 so dollars you and I get are the equivalent of the multi-billion dollar bail out of the investment industry? Right. When was the last time Reagan applied strategy of “trickle down economics” actually worked to help leverage the little guy up out of an economic hole she or he didn’t create?

Uh Oh!

Saturday, March 15th, 2008

Sure fire way to get the market to tank even further? Add President Bush’s sharp intellect to solving the fiscal woes of our country:

President George W. Bush plans to meet on Monday with top U.S. financial policymakers, the White House said, at a time of increased strains in credit markets and fears of a recession.

What’s that sucking sound? That’s the market drowning in corporate bail outs (read: corporate welfare) for the already rich (Bear Sterns ring a bell any one). Any one taking bets on if Bush will be able to fix this situation like he’s fixed Iraq?

Dear President Bush, Thanks For The STD!

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008

One of George Bush’s educational mainstays beyond the nutty notion that bringing mediocrity to our schools via No Child Left Behind is good was “abstinence only” education. Of course, what does that get you? Apparently, uneducated kids with large amounts of STDs.

The first national study of four common sexually transmitted diseases among girls and young women has found that one in four are infected with at least one of the diseases, federal health officials reported Tuesday.

How much did it cost us to learn that abstinence education really is a flop (not unlike energy deregulation)?

“The national policy of promoting abstinence-only programs is a $1.5 billion failure,” Ms. Richards said, “and teenage girls are paying the real price.”

I suggest all teens with STDs who were forced into abstinence only courses send a nice post card to the Whitehouse and to George Bush saying “Thanks for the STD, Mr. Bush.”

Working The Economic Voodoo: Bush’s Magic “Shot In The Arm”

Friday, March 7th, 2008

If you listen to W, today, you would think we are all but one shopping spree away from fixing what ails our economy.

Secondly, the growth package will provide tax rebates to more than 130 million American households. These rebates will begin reaching American families in May. And when the money reaches the American people, we expect they will use it to boost consumer spending, and that will spur job creation, as well.

Well, we all wish that were true. Unfortunately, it’s our reckless spending on wars and mortgages we can not afford that his killed George Bush’s economic plan.

When a person suggest that all we need do is go out and spend our way out of recession, she or he misses the whole point. It’s not spending that we have trouble with; it’s spending without the means to cover the costs. All Bush is doing is feeding our habitual spending beyond our means by encouraging “retail therapy.” That’s like giving crack free to the local crack head. Before you know it the blow is gone and you are back to the debt ridden operation you had before the check arrived. Sounds like more of that twisted brand of GOP fiscal conservatism that put us where we are now; in a very large hole with no ladder big enough to reach the rim out.

Well, shoot, if I get one extra Starbucks Latte out of my rebate check I’ll be happy, but I doubt it will create a new job. In fact, if I were responsible, I will simply have to sign over the rebate check back to the government to pay my tax bill in April.

Just out of curiosity, what do you plan to do with your check to accomplish the President’s aims?

Some Fun Quotes for Thursday

Thursday, March 6th, 2008

A friend sent along the following quotes to consider given the geopolitical sour climate the W, Rove and Co has fostered in their democracy spreading experiments about the globe, and in particular the rather bad situation we caused in Iraq:

Sieg Heil

The size of the lie is a definite factor in causing it to be believed, for the vast masses of the nation are in the depths of their hearts more easily deceived than they are consciously and intentionally bad. The primitive simplicity of their minds renders them a more easy prey to a big lie than a small one, for they themselves often tell little lies but would be ashamed to tell a big one.
- Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf

Our government has kept us in a perpetual state of fear - kept us in a continuous stampede of patriotic fervor - with the cry of grave national emergency. Always there has been some terrible evil at home or some monstrous foreign power that was going to gobble us up if we did not blindly rally behind it …
- Douglas MacArthur, 1957

I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its stupidity. War settles nothing.
- Dwight D. Eisenhower, speech: Ottawa, Canada, January 10, 1946

If all that Americans want is security, they can go to prison. They’ll have enough to eat, a bed and a roof over their heads. But if an American wants to preserve his dignity and his equality as a human being, he must not bow his neck to any dictatorial government.
- Dwight D. Eisenhower, president of Columbia University, speech to luncheon clubs, Galveston, Texas, December 8, 1949

When people speak to you about a preventive war, you tell them to go and fight it. After my experience, I have come to hate war.
- Dwight D. Eisenhower, press conference, 1953

Here in America we are descended in blood and in spirit from revolutionists and rebels - men and women who dare to dissent from accepted doctrine. As their heirs, may we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion.
- Dwight D. Eisenhower, speech: New York City, May 31, 1954.

You don’t need a totalitarian dictatorship like Hitler’s to get by with murder … you can do it in a democracy as long as the Congress and the people Congress is supposed to represent don’t give a damn?
- William Shirer, 1973

This [the U.S. Constitution] is likely to be administered for a course of years and then end in despotism… when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic government, being incapable of any other.
- Benjamin Franklin


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