Monday, October 10, 2011



In a groundbreaking report issued yesterday, the Federal Trade Commission conclusively revealed the reasons behind America's persistent economic woes.

"Basically, sellers are not hawking, peddling, pushing, scalping and mongering enough," explained Commissioner Jon Leibowitz.

"But sellers aren't the only ones to blame," he continued. "Buyers, too, have critically failed to haggle, bargain, dicker and lay out cash. Combined, these selling and buying behaviors led to today's catastrophic economic climate."

Economic experts expressed shock over the report. "For several years now, we thought that the Great Recession resulted from risky loans, rising debt levels and an imploding housing market. Now, however, we see the real reasons for our hard times: A colossal failure to hawk, hock and dicker," wrote eminent economist Paul Krugman. "This is really mind-blowing news."

Commissioner Leibowitz pointed out that economic recovery will not happen until people understand why the economy failed in the first place.

"People need to see that we face a multifaceted problem. We are not just talking about mongering and haggling. True, we need car salesmen to monger more and first-time homebuyers to dicker more. But just a little mongering won't cut it. We need full-scale mongering and hawking, as well as nonstop dickering to get moving in the right direction. Americans need to start driving bargains again; and that means that sellers need to start stepping up their hawking game, too."

President Obama praised the Commissioner's report. "I'm glad we have a sense about where we need to go with our economy," he said. "For all this time, we've been quarreling about stimulus, job creation and spending limits. But now we see that what we really need to do is get people dickering again. I'm confident that Americans will be able to put country before party and really start mongering, pushing, scalping and laying out cash. This is America. We have a long history of haggling, bargaining, hawking and peddling. We have been doing these things since our earliest colonial history. We know how to hawk and haggle. We even know how to hock and pawn. This is the greatest country in the world because we have the greatest peddlers and dickerers. It's time to find our stride again."

According to the Commissioner's report, economic progress depends on more than increased mongering, haggling, bargaining and hawking. Instead, other factors will play a role, namely, behaviors within the financial services industry.

In analyzing the Recession's causes, the report also noted that reduced mongering, haggling, bargaining, hawking, pushing and scalping were matched by rampantly negative bank practices, including chicanery, hoodwinking, bamboozling, hornswoggling, rooking and wheedling. The report also observed that banks repeatedly pulled contractual wool over customers' eyes between 2004 and the market collapse in 2008.

"Put simply, our financial crisis involved unprecedented hornswoggling," Mr. Leibowitz explained. "While our free market economy has always provided ample room for hoodwinking and bamboozling, banking practices between 2004 and 2008 saw a meteoric increase in hornswoggling and wheedling. Combined with lower levels of consumer dickering, haggling and mongering, this created a perfect economic storm. We just couldn't handle it."

Despite the gloomy analysis, Mr. Leibowitz expressed hope for the future. "Understanding a crisis is necessary to solving it. Since 2009, the Federal Government has taken steps to eradicate rooking in the financial industry, and data show that wheedling has fallen dramatically. The Commission has also set up a special department to decisively root out hornswoggling. Once we eliminate that, we are confident that consumers will return to robust dickering and mongering levels."

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner concurred with the Commission's findings on the financial industry. "As a former Wall Street banker, I know that hornswoggling was the straw the broke the camel's back in 2008. When we eliminate it, I am certain that the banking industry will return to customary--and acceptable--hoodwinking and bamboozling practices."

Republicans disagreed with the Commission's analysis, claiming that hornswoggling is absolutely vital to job creation.

"I come from a background in business, and I can tell you that uninhibited hornswoggling is what made us strong," said Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. "You can't run a business or make money if you tie a manager's hands behind his back. In business, you need the freedom to hoodwink, rook, bamboozle, and most of all hornswoggle in order to deliver the highest quality goods and services. And if a business doesn’t make money, it can't create jobs."

Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann objected to the report on liberty grounds. "We're a nation of liberty and laws, and you can't take away liberty from people," she explained. "People in business need more liberty than most, because they're job creators. And to be a job creator, you need all the liberty you can get. That includes the liberty to hornswoggle, hoodwink, rook and bamboozle. When government starts taking away those liberties, it's trampling our free enterprise spirit. The bottom line is that hornswoggling creates jobs and pays a lot of salaries. And it's flat-out tyranny when the Federal government says it's going to take it away."

Texas Governor Rick Perry disagreed with the Commission's findings in less abstract terms. "Look, I don't believe a word that comes from any Federal agency, least of all a Federal agency controlled by President Obama. It was President Obama who made the economy bad, and it's President Obama who has to pay for it. Simple as that."

Overall, markets responded well to the Commission's report. The DOW rose 1.9% on data indicating a modest rise in dickering, a strong rise in haggling, an encouraging rise in hawking and a remarkable rise in bamboozling.

For their part, consumers expressed hope for the future. "If all it takes for me to me to help the economy is to haggle and dicker a little more, I'm willing to do my part," said freelance handyman Willie Williams of Ozone Park, New York.

Thursday, September 15, 2011




By : David Petraeus, Director, Central Intelligence Agency

Last week, our Nation marked a significant milestone with the 10th Anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. We can be grateful that we escaped the event without incident. Thanks to the tireless efforts of State and Federal law enforcement, America foiled any attempt to mar the memorial ceremony with violence.

As a Nation, we have come closer this year to defeating terror than at any time since 9/11. We have killed Osama bin Laden. We have al-Qaeda on the run. And we have created a culture of security that keeps Americans safe from terror.

Despite these encouraging developments, we cannot let our guard down. While the Central Intelligence Agency understands that Americans simply want to live without fear, we cannot yet afford to quell the alarm.

In fact, we regret to inform the public that al-Qaeda has unleashed a frightening new weapon: Ghosts.

Generally, we here at the Central Intelligence Agency do not speak directly to the American people. Circumstances, however, mandate that we reveal critical new information that impacts all Americans. Public safety is acutely in danger, and we must advise appropriate measures to cope with the risk.

Today's threat is elusive. It does not involve bombs, guns or gas. It does not involve suicide attackers. It does not even involve living human beings. No, it involves something much more frightening: The vengeful spirits of slain al-Qaeda leaders returned from the grave.

This is not a hoax. Our agents have credible, reliable and confirmed reports that al-Qaeda intends to make supernatural war against New York City, especially the Ground Zero site. According to top agents, it appears that the angry ghosts of al-Qaeda leaders are currently on their way from the spirit world to wreak havoc on Lower Manhattan. Agents also inform us that these spirits have recruited ghouls, goblins, wraiths, specters, poltergeists and even zombies to spread fear in New York.

Understandably, we are taking these threats extremely seriously. Supernatural warfare cannot be taken lightly. We have already received initial reports that al-Qaeda ghosts are both extremely scary and difficult to pinpoint. And most disturbingly, intelligence indicates that conventional weaponry is useless against ghosts. Bullets, bombs and airstrikes simply cannot harm these terrifying spirits. After all, ghosts are already dead: Killing them again is no easy matter.

It is not entirely clear how al-Qaeda ghosts will operate. Some experts believe that terror ghosts can manipulate electronics. This poses a devastating threat to the national economy. Ghosts could ostensibly haunt iPads, iPhones, NASDAQ and the internet. Communication and commerce would break down, imperiling a fragile economic recovery.

Just imagine what would happen if an angry al-Qaeda spirit corrupted the Nation's computers? Web browsing, timekeeping, online bill paying, social networking and E-Harmony would collapse. Chaos would follow. It is a horrifying thought.

Worse, intelligence also indicates that ghosts can change cable channels without warning, take over flight controls, scare away workers and terrify small children. Finally, ghosts represent a very real danger to seniors and persons with cardiac difficulty: Seeing a ghost can easily cause heart failure.

In short, we face a serious crisis.

But it is essential to maintain calm. While we acknowledge that al-Qaeda ghosts are certainly scary, we are already taking action against them. In our battles with al-Qaeda, we have learned how to cope with terror. We know how to foil attacks, and supernatural attacks are no different. Put simply, we can defeat anything al-Qaeda throws at us, including ghosts.

Together with military and law enforcement authorities, the CIA is hard at work securing Lower Manhattan against the expected spectral onslaught. Thanks to improved interrogation methods, we have confirmed that the ghosts of Osama bin Laden, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and Mustafa al-Yazid intend to float into the area around Ground Zero within the next 48 hours. We will be ready for them.

Authorities will lock down Lower Manhattan to quarantine the ghosts as soon as they land. Regrettably, these measures will entail some inconvenience for New Yorkers. All citizens will be subject to search and detainment to verify that they have not been haunted by al-Qaeda. And all citizens may be required to surrender their personal property--including their clothing and underwear--for inspection to determine whether a spirit has not hidden within it. After all, we are talking about ghosts. They can easily hide in backpacks, socks, panties, boxer shorts, water bottles and even cell phones.

While we appreciate citizens' concerns for their liberty, dignity and privacy in these matters, we reiterate that security against terrorist ghosts requires strong action. Comprehensive security is the only way to successfully defeat ghosts.

We recognize that New Yorkers simply want to get back to normal after 10 years of terror. But we cannot afford to give up now. We face perhaps the most frightening battle we have yet faced in the War on Terror. We are all afraid of ghosts; but al-Qaeda ghosts are especially bad. Worse, this is no ghost story. This is a specific, credible and confirmed threat.

Still, Americans do not back down. We can defeat terrorist ghosts just as well as living terrorists. We all must refuse to give in to fear. Go to work. Go on vacation. Go to a movie. Go buy a car. Go buy a home. Go about your business as you would any other day. If a ghoul accosts you, tell him you're an American and you are not afraid. Sure, he might haunt you or even steal your handbag, but that is no reason to bend to terror.

We here at the CIA will do our part to keep the public informed as we obtain new reports. Until that time, we advise full cooperation with law enforcement. If you are detained, remember that your sacrifice is absolutely necessary to prevent al-Qaeda from haunting America. You will be released as soon as competent authorities determine that an al-Qaeda ghost has not hidden somewhere in your clothing or on your body.

In this age of heightened security concerns, we all must be prepared to make the occasional sacrifice. If we do not, the ghosts win.

Thursday, September 8, 2011



Exasperated following months of fruitless partisan gridlock in Washington, President Barack Obama has officially requested foreign aid to reverse America's economic downturn.

"Please bomb us," the President begged world leaders during a live television broadcast.

Noting that a foreign attack or invasion is the only way to divert public attention from a stagnant economy and despicable political infighting in Washington, President Obama took his case to the world stage.

"We cannot create jobs or spur domestic development unless we get the American people to rally against a devious foreign enemy," the President remarked. "I've tried my ass off to make economic changes peacefully, but I've broken my head against the wall one too many times. We need someone to bomb us ASAP."

President Obama observed that Americans need to hate someone other than him in order to balance the budget, reduce unemployment, overhaul health care and curtail spending.

"I've tried to solve our problems by letting the American people hate me," the President explained. "But the simple fact is that the American people need to hate a foreigner in order to really get the economy rolling again. The bottom line, my friends, is that we're never going to get below 9.2% unemployment unless one of you motherfuckers steps up to the plate and bombs our ass. Please, if you care about America, attack one of our naval bases without delay. We've got tons of them all over the world. Take your pick. It's on us."

President Obama appeared confident that his plan would work. He cited historical precedent to support his position.

"Look, FDR did all he could to reduce unemployment in the 1930s with domestic spending. But he didn't really beat the Great Depression until Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and people started really hating the Japs. And George W. Bush wasn't going anywhere until Osama bin Laden bombed the World Trade Center and people started really hating Muslims. Once that happened, Bush got to do whatever the hell he wanted. I am confident that if you would be so generous as to launch missiles against a military installation of your choosing, America could easily solve its economic woes."

President Obama insisted that his plan was not just another greedy American power grab. "I understand that many of you may suspect a selfish motive in my request for an attack on us. I assure you, however, that if you bomb us, you, too, will benefit. After all, by bombing us and saving our economy, global markets will strengthen. When the US economy thrives, so does the world economy. Thus, if you bomb us, your economy, too, will improve. And everyone loves good economic times."

"True, we might flatten a couple of your cities or overthrow your government. But all benefits have their price," the President concluded.

President Obama also pointed out that favoritism played no role in his decisionmaking. "America does not discriminate," he said. "While some of you might think that we only go to war with Muslims, brown people or communists, the time for stereotypes is over. We are perfectly willing to allow Caucasians to bomb us, too. We just need somebody to help us out."

Speaking directly to Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, the President pleaded: "Come on, Angie, blow up one of our air force bases. They're right on your territory. You have no idea how much that would help. Please, I'm begging you."

Despite the President's confidence in his plan, Republican leaders remained unconvinced.

"It wouldn't work," responded Tea Party candidate Michelle Bachmann. "We won't rescue our economy without completely eliminating all government spending and abolishing taxation once and for all. If an enemy attacks us, we'll have to spend money and raise taxes, so I can't support the President's plan."

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney agreed. "No way. If the President drags us into another war, that just means more job-killing regulations. It doesn't matter if we're the ones who get attacked. War means regulations, and regulations kill jobs."

Sarah Palin was more specific in her response to the President's plan. "Nope, wouldn't help," she said. "To fight a war, you need government. And we're not going to solve our problems until we get rid of all government for good."

For their part, world leaders were split on Obama's request. Fidel Castro said he would love to attack the United States, but that he wasn't willing to expose his people to retaliation that would devastate his country.

Vladimir Putin praised the President for his wisdom, but refused to commit Russia to an invasion because he knew war with a foreign enemy would strengthen America, just as Obama predicted.

"Their own economy will kill them. There's no need to hasten that by risking Russian troops," Putin concluded.

Chinese Premier Hu Jintao summarily rejected the President's request. "Absolutely not. If we attack you, we'd never collect all the money you owe us."

As of press time, President Obama still held out hope that other powers--such as Turkey, Uzbekistan or Somalia--might decide to attack the United States.

Monday, June 7, 2010


As I'm sure everyone has noticed, I have not posted anything in several weeks. This is partially by design and partially by necessity.

In recent weeks, my impulse to write has ebbed. I am not ashamed to say it. To the contrary, I think it is only natural for me to take a long break after writing almost 3000 pages over the past 20 months. Spring and summer traditionally tend to weaken my urge to write. They always have. I've also been coping with crippling migraine headaches lately. But my reasons for curtailing my output now are more substantial than that.

About two months ago, I literally ran out of money. So for the last two months, I have scrambled to find ways to stave off my inexorable creditors. That cut into my writing routine. It also sapped my energy, since commercial venturing took my best time from me. In the past, I had all the time I needed to write. Now, I spend my freshest hours pursuing economic stability. That denies me my most creative time.

I do not regret this in the least. I have doggedly attended this blog since before Obama became President. I think I have largely addressed my life philosophy. I have done what I set out to do. This blog encapsulates my views on so many subjects. It is a living testament. I am proud of it.

On the other hand, I am not exactly the same person I was when I began writing this blog. In some ways, I feel like I am no different than I was on September 11, 2008. But so much has changed in my life since that day. While my core thoughts on many subjects have remained consistent throughout that time, my circumstances and life expectations have changed dramatically. I see no need to continue addressing issues that I have largely addressed in the past. I don't like repeating myself.

Yet my blog will never die. I will return to it from time to time in order to mark evolutions in my thinking. I do not want to obsess about it as I once did. Rather, I want to use my blog to annotate my life when I must. I want to control my blog, not the other way around.

I say that to clear the way for a larger endeavor. If my blogging experience instilled anything in me, it was writing discipline. When I get an idea, I follow through with it. I commit it to paper. And then I've captured it for all time. Applying that discipline, I assembled a formidable array of familiar themes that will guide me in future projects. I plan on writing three large pieces in the coming few years. In large part, they will draw from thematic material I have already explored in this blog. In that sense, I have already written the large pieces: You have already seen their roots right here in this blog. I just need to fill in the blanks now.

I have no intention to ever stop writing for good. I can't. I must do it. Convention appalls me too much to merely go through life in silence. No matter the literary medium I choose, I promise to continue critiquing, observing, satirizing, reminiscing, lamenting, analyzing and philosophizing.

I apologize to all those who have grown accustomed to daily posts. I have simply reached a new phase in my life and it is time for me to modify my writing accordingly. From today on, I plan to post on recent news when I can. I also plan on jotting down the occasional satire when something really tickles me. But I will conserve my main efforts for my larger works. Even then, I will give myself a very long break to reflect on what I plan to do before I sit down to write again.

I am grateful to everyone who has taken the time to read my posts. You have gained an insight into how I think and how I perceive the world. And when my larger works appear, you will feel yourself in familiar territory. It all stems from this source. This is my testament. Thank you for sharing it with me.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010



By : Mr. Ronald F. Daggett, Assistant Deputy Vice President for Human Resources, The Cockland Group LLC, an Investment House specializing in service to the mortgage industry.

Cockland Group LLC is growing at a rapid pace. Since our founding in 2003, we have secured firm accounts with the Nation's largest mortgage sellers, including HSBC, Citigroup and Coldwell Banker. Our commitment to Absolute Client Satisfaction (ACS)™ is unparalleled. Our earnings have steadily risen in every consecutive quarter since our founding, even during some of the most challenging economic times in our Nation's history. We are proud of our accomplishments and we remain focused on our overriding goal: To deliver timely, effective, reasonable mortgage reinvestment services across the entire financial industry.

We could not have achieved these results without you, our employees. Here at Cockland management, we salute your dedication, hard work and passion for mortgage reinvestment services. At Cockland, it is not just about mortgages. It is about people™. Our people are the best. We know you know that, too. And we are thankful that you share our zeal for boundless client satisfaction. Because when great people serve great clients, everyone wins™.

We owe our success to our unique corporate culture. Cockland drives hard and plays hard. When we enter a market, we aim to penetrate and win. But when we relax, we relax with the same fervor we display when servicing an account. Cockland employees know how to please clients. And that is why clients keep coming back for more. Cockland delivers solid performance: Any time, anywhere--and for the best price™.

Nonetheless, not everyone can be a Cockland employee. We expect the best and we demand a lot. Sometimes it is difficult to overcome stiff competition in the mortgage client service market. We do not tolerate droopers or flaccid account service. Only the firmest survive at Cockland. Our employees don't back down. They stay on top of accounts until they are closed. Cockland employees are not timid. When we service accounts, we never pull out. We do not stop until our clients are completely satisfied™.

We also demand complete devotion to The Cockland Mission (TCM)™ (see employee manual, Chapter 2 for details). Being part of a winning team means the ability to play your position and to cheerfully receive instructions. Knowing your job is only half the battle; the other half is knowing how you fit on the ball club.

Attire is an important part of Cockland's success. Since our founding, we have insisted that every team member in the Cockland family wear either a white or blue button-down shirt at work. Button-down shirts show good taste and respect for client expectations. Clients in the mortgage industry wear button-down shirts. Typically, those shirts are white or blue. It only makes sense that we--as dedicated client service professionals--mirror their expectations. That is why we have always required our employees to wear white or blue button-down shirts. Sometimes conventions are essential. And this is one such instance.

Button-down shirts are vital to Cockland's special place in the mortgage service market. Yet the company has never endorsed an official policy expressing unconditional support for button-down shirts. We believe we have a duty as a company to reverse that trend. It is time for Cockland to recognize button-down shirts. And it is time for Cockland to make button-down shirts mandatory for all employees at the company. It is time to formalize.

From this day forward, every Cockland employee will be required to wear only blue or white button-down shirts while on company business. We refuse to acknowledge any exceptions to this policy. Every Cockland employee must certify that he or she will comply with this policy. He or she must further certify that failure to comply will result in immediate disciplinary action, up to and including docked pay and termination. Cockland must preserve its team spirit. And it must also maintain its winning attire-related traditions. That is why we hereby officially make blue and white button-down shirts a core element of Cockland culture. If Cockland employees cannot accept this, they can find employment elsewhere.

But this does not end Cockland's determination to inculcate attire discipline. In addition to requiring all Cockland employees to wear white or blue button-down shirts, all employees must also appropriately tuck their shirts into their pants.

Without appropriate tucking, blue and white button-down shirts mean nothing. Only a tucked-in button-down shirt can accomplish the goals Cockland expects. A tucked-in button-down shirt is absolutely vital to continued employment at Cockland. Inappropriately tucked and untucked button-down shirts reveal an inattention to personal excellence that is fundamentally inconsistent with Cockland's overriding commitment to unparalleled mortgage service. Our clients tuck in their shirts. All people worth anything in the world tuck in their shirts, too.

It would contravene our most basic company values to tolerate anything less than fully tucked-in shirts among our employees. For that reason, Cockland hereby requires all employees to certify not only that they will wear a blue or white button-down shirt every day at work, but that they will also appropriately tuck in their shirts. Failure to tuck in a shirt will result in immediate disciplinary action, up to and including docked pay and termination. Additionally, inappropriately tucked-in shirts will lead to the same consequences. Cockland simply cannot risk disappointing its clients by allowing employees to appear without immaculately tucked-in blue or white button-down shirts.

We recognize that these policy changes may appear harsh. We also recognize that employees may be confused about what it means to "tuck in" a button-down shirt or to "appropriately" tuck in a button-down shirt. In fairness to our employees, we wish to clarify these matters.

First, a "tucked-in button down shirt" means any button-down shirt the shirttails of which rest against the upper thighs, yet which are concealed and circumscribed at the top by a belt and trousers. As such, if a shirttail at any time appears outside the pants, the shirt is considered "not tucked-in" and will accordingly subject the offending employee to discipline.

Second, an "inappropriately tucked-in button down shirt" means a tucked-in button down shirt the tucking of which is not appropriate. "Appropriate tucking," in turn, means a tuck that does not result in ruffles, creases or otherwise slovenly shirt characteristics above the beltline. A tuck is only appropriate when the shirttails remain at all times below the beltline without bulging out, creasing or otherwise creating an unsavory appearance. The mere fact that an employee experiences "inappropriate tucking" because he or she sat down at a desk for too long does not cure the offense. An inappropriate tuck is an inappropriate tuck. Our clients expect the best from Cockland; and they do not forgive inappropriate tucking.

Neither do we. Inappropriately tucked-in button-down shirts will immediately subject the offending employee to discipline, up to an including docked pay and termination. We realize that compliance with appropriate tucking requirements may at times prove difficult. For that reason, management has decided to allow employees to cure inappropriate tucking by expeditiously removing all inappropriateness from their tucking within 30 seconds after discovering that their button-down shirts are inappropriately tucked. We believe that this rule both fairly allows for conscientious compliance at the same time it justly punishes flagrantly inappropriate tucking.

Cockland management is determined to realize excellence in all employee endeavors. That is why it has decided to implement these new rules concerning mandatory button-down shirt wearing and appropriate tucking effective immediately. Details may be found in the employee manual, Chapter 45, subsection 7(b).

Anyone who is anyone wears a blue or white button-down shirt every day. And anyone who is anyone appropriately tucks that shirt in; or at least corrects inappropriate tucking the moment it appears. At Cockland, we are committed to bringing maximal satisfaction to everyone who is anyone. That is why we must lead by example. That is why we must tuck in our shirts--appropriately.

If you don't like the rule, you shouldn't be on this team. So tuck in your shirt and start penetrating those accounts like a real Cocklander.