Thursday, April 30, 2009

Level 5

I am an alarmist by nature. I can lose sleep over a hangnail. I sat out a full soccer season because of the fear of spreading a skin rash. You can imagine how I am faring with the issue of the swine flu (or whatever R2D2 designation the government has decided to give it to somehow pacify our concerns).

As such, I was not at all pleased to hear Vice President Biden's off the cuff response to a question posed on the Today show about the hypothetical of travel by his family by commercial plane to Mexico. He said the issue was not Mexico, but rather getting in confined spaces like airplanes or subways. Lock the doors and shut the windows.

I have already had the Tamiflu discussion with my wife (sanity unfortunately prevailed).If my lunacy were permitted to run unchecked, I would probably stockpile facemasks. I have the Swine flu hotline on my speed dial.

Pandemic is not a type of comfort food. It is a problem of global proportion. The rational part of my brain tells me that this appears to be a mild strain that has infiltrated our country. But the irrational part controls and it recoils at every sneeze or cough that emanates within earshot. I want to conquer the beast within, but that is an old unsuccessful refrain. I am a prisoner of my own head.

As with the threat of terrorist attacks, we now live in a world defined by levels of imminent concern. When they tell me 5 out of 6 is the present status, they are in reality discussing the level of my anxiety. You can feel safe to call me when we are down to level 3. Until then, beware.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Eavesdropping on a conversation on a train

"Move over. Make room for my old friend. Come on over here Arlen. Sit right next to me. Can I buy you a beer?"

"How long have we been taking this trip together? Times have certainly changed, haven't they? We used to sit as far away from one another as possible. Now look at us."

"You know what we have been talking about these past few weeks? You see the truth staring at you in the face, plain as day. You have been marginalized by your own. You are no longer one of them. They are getting ready to put you out to pasture. I don't think it's time for you to go. You have too much left to offer. You don't want to be a voice for them any longer. They don't want you and you don't want them. They are not fighting your battles any more. Don't go on fighting theirs."

"Could we have some service over here. Would you like another beer and a sandwich?"

"It is time to rise up from the ashes of what was once something and is now nothing. You want to be part of the movers and shakers, not just the voice of opposition for its own sake. You want to stay in power. You want to be one of us. You know it and I know it."

"You say seniority has to be preserved. No problem. You want some powerful posts on various committees. Just name them. You want the backing of the party and the President next year. He will be at your side. You want money for your campaign. You ask and you shall receive."

"Can I get you another beer?"

"You will be remembered for your bravery. You will make a difference in this country, now and for many years to come. Once we get Minnesota straightened out, just watch us take off. You want to be part of this journey."

"Another beer for my friend please".

"I know this is torture for you. I don't use that word lightly these days. But you aren't getting any younger and there is no time to waste. No time for you, and no time for us. Once you make that break, you will feel like a new man. All the filth will be washed away. No more will you have to align yourself with the party you don't even recognize any more."

"Just one more beer over here."

"You are a man of courage and integrity. Great things will be written about your decision. You just wait and see."

" I guess this is your stop. Don't let this be the end of the trip, but the beginning. When I sit next to you tomorrow, let it be not in a train car, but on our side of the aisle. God bless you Arlen, and God bless America."

"Olympia, is that you? Come over here and sit next to me. Can I buy you a beer?"

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Off course

Haven't they ever heard of Photoshop? I am computer illiterate but I know you can create fake reality without being Houdini. I also have watched the movies where Godzilla and dinosaurs arm wrestle or where kids are shrunk to the size of blades of grass. Did we really have no other option but to shake, rattle and roll our fragile psyches in search of the perfect picture?

What moron felt it necessary to virtually reenact the single worst moment on US soil in our lifetime? Did he not anticipate that the sight of the plane used by our commander in chief, shadowed by 2 fighter jets, flying almost on top of office buildings so near where our lives were forever changed, might be misinterpreted by the general public?

The reports are that the President was furious with this blunder. He should be. His campaign, and now his administration, have been so careful not to commit these kinds of errors. We have been made to feel that they are aware of virtually every decision that impacts our lives. This is one that got away from them.

Next time they want to take a photo op, just have them call Hollywood. Maybe we can view President Obama walking hand in hand with the Statue of Liberty through the streets of New York. This would clearly be more catchy and less frightening then real life.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Robber Barons

Let me get this right. We give you billions and billions of dollars to save you from standing on the breadlines. You admit that through your incompetency, lack of due diligence, or outright wrongdoing, you have mismanaged yourself, and taken us to the brink. You are as toxic today as you were yesterday. And yet you now report that compensation levels appear headed back to the glory days of not so yesteryear. What am I missing?

One of you provides figures indicating that the average pay for every man, woman and plant in your employ may be in excess of $500,000 in 2009. You have done pretty well, you suggest. You have righted your ship and those responsible must be paid accordingly. They have to be kept happy or they will flee to the mythical land of wherever else this fraud can be committed on the unsuspecting. Can somebody please look up the definition of chutzpah.

How is this scenario even possible? How can we be holding our collective breath, hoping that the next wave of economic disasters does not drown us, while you sit on the beach with your pina colada?

When did you become smarter than the rest of us? Are you deserving of this largesse because of your IQ or because we have just failed to come up with the formula to shut you down? You cannot hold a fiduciary responsibility for our well being and so cavalierly disregard us. Don't take our money and then walk away from us. You seem more and more like Madoff every day. We want you to stop living in your alternate universe and join us on the planet that is in peril. These are not the glory days. You are our AIG and we require that you show some humility and some restraint. Enough.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Reverse Discrimination

I am prepared to file an emergent application on behalf of my clients. It is the most blatant of wrongs that I have witnessed in many years. As I look down, from my perch high above, on the sea of empty seats that go begging for occupants, the facts are self-evident. The NY Yankees are discriminating against the uber rich.

For years they luxuriated behind the dugout, trying to catch the eye of Jeter in the on deck circle. They attempted to break the fall of our beloved shortstop as he dove headfirst into their arms while making that immortal catch of the ball along the third base line. They basked in the sunshine and the glory. Now there are only a few scattered about. Jeter might well be headed for the disabled list if he took that flying leap today.

These people will not go quietly to the nose bleeds where I have resided for many years. They are the corporate giants of yesteryear or the bankers who now have little to bank on. In their hour of need the Yankees have turned their backs on the ‘big’ people.

How dare they charge up to $2,625 for the premium seats to comfortably rest one’s derriere. When the uber rich find the costs obscene and unattainable the most uber rich of them all, the Yankees, must be held accountable. We in this country have witnessed the reality that all men are created equal, that all of us deserve the same chances and opportunities. It is not only the upper middle class that must be given the right to sit in the seats they can afford and desire. Someone has to stand up for the uber rich and protect them from the tyranny of the ruler. These oppressed people need their voice to be heard. I am willing to be their savior. All I require is a retainer from each of them equal to 1/3 of the yearly price of the piece of history they wish to put their seat in.

Yankees, I will see you in court.

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Losing Battle

The numbers are alarming. The decline precipitous. The message self-evident. I am losing my readership.

My week begins Monday mornings with a review of the self congratulatory site to which I subscribe called Statcounter.com. If you thought the stock market was suffering a slump, think again. Not too long ago my daily readership peaked at close to 100 per day. This week, the average was 12. Even my son is getting bored with my writings and apologizes for being days behind in entering my blogosphere.

I have thought of going to different computers throughout the day, logging into my website and thus bolstering my sagging numbers. I long for recognition of my genius. However, even in my despair, I found a fleeting glimmer of hope.

I know it is not the NY Times, or Time Magazine, or even Chicken Soup for the Soul (I need to remind you constantly of my recent series of wild successes). Yet, when the editor of the newsletter for our apartment building called and asked my permission to reprint 2 of my pieces in next month's edition, I enthusiastically consented.

I conduct an internal calculation. There are 238 apartments. If there is an average of 2 persons in each apartment, there are 476 potential members into my personal hall of fame. If I discount my family, and the two other families in the building that I know subscribe to my site, if I discount the 30% or so that are in Florida for 6 months and never get the newsletter, if I subtract the 30% that throw the newsletter out as soon as it is placed under their doors, if the 10 or so who are too elderly to be able to read regular size print are removed from consideration, if I understand that of the remaining few there are some that will never bother to read my pieces while others may read them and find they are less than amusing, then I come to see the hoped for upswing in my personal Dow is not likely to transpire.

The realization of the limits of my notoriety, even within my building, quickly become evident. The editor says that he wanted to interview me, to present a little bio to go side by side with my pieces. However, he apologizes and states that the newsletter already contains interviews on 2 employees of the month and there is no room left for me. Maybe, he indicated, they could try to squeeze me in next month. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


Waterboarding- a palate cleanser
Wall Standing- an unconventional, but effective way to improve one's flexibility
Water dousing- a refreshing dip
Stress positions- it only hurts when you breathe
Cramped confinement- reminds me of my first apartment
Confinement - also reminds me of my first apartment
Walling- an unconventional but effective way of performing chiropractic treatment

Kiefer Sutherland and Jack Nicholson could have used Jay Bybee, John Yoo and Steven Bradbury as scriptwriters

When one speaks of torturing the English language, this is not what was contemplated. Our government has always stood for something greater than this.The country, under the Bush reign of terror, lost its bearing. The evidence of the moral bankruptcy permeated the financial sector and has left us near ruin. It has also reared its ugly head in the manner in which it treated those who would not bend to our will.The lack of ethical concerns or dictates took away our money and our standing with the rest of the world. The moral high ground became foreign soil, during these 8 lost years.We have been laid low as a result.

Should these atrocities now be exposed? The brightest light should be shined on these darkest times. Let them be examined and rejected and let us begin to regenerate by separating from the worst of ourselves. Let us demonstrate that we are deserving of consideration as the finest example of what a government can be. We should not ignore our faults. While we may consider it torture to have to be scrutinized and criticized, that is not the definition of this word. There is clearly much worse that one could be forced to endure.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Life and Death

The much anticipated birth took place yesterday. Thousands were there to see the new creation. With much regret, I was not among those in attendance. However, I can certainly imagine what transpired.

We had all known about this virtually from the moment of conception.We had watched it grow from nothing to what it now was, a brand spanking newborn.

Not that we hadn't debated the merits of whether this day should ever have come. I was one of the voices wailing against it . Kicking and screaming, I had said there was no need for this to occur. But, my voice mattered not, and in the final analysis, life consists not only of the past and present but also the future.

Off to the side of the gathered throng, silent and proud, the grandmother stood. She was admired and appreciated throughout the world. Now 85 years old, but seeming to be as tall and erect as ever, she bore a remarkable resemblance to the infant. Those gathered could not have helped but notice. While there were differences for sure, the lineage was clear.

We knew that this elderly lady, though appearing to be in perfect health, would be no more very soon. Thus, while the collective gaze and conversation surely centered around the object of most of the attention, there was undoubtedly some sadness in many hearts. Soon, memories of the grand old dame would be all that we would have.

What the future brings for the infant is unclear. It's father, George, is in ill health and in decline. Worries about how the struggling economy would effect it in the coming years was certainly a topic of conversation. But, at least for today, it was all about a world of endless possibilities.

A ballgame took place yesterday. The Yankees lost. It was not what had been hoped for, but the result mattered little in the long run. The NEW Yankee Stadium was here.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

On Bended Knee

I find myself, with increasing regularity in the past several days, staring at my computer while on my knees. I am not a religious person and my being in a position of supplication has nothing to do with prayers to a higher being. I have been reduced to this state by an old enemy who has reared its ugly head. My back is out of whack.

I have now taken to carrying my version of a whoopee cushion with me whereever I travel. It has a nice little hole in the rear which, if one didn't know better, might be conceived as having a function other than its intended use, which is to relieve pressure on the lower back.

My day now starts by waking up and trying to undo the damage done by a bad night's sleep. This morning I was showered by 5AM and with an ice pack on my back by 5:30. I am a little bit like a walking image of the evolution of man, as I go from hunched to straighter to as straight as I can get in a series of progressive movements. Sitting is uncomfortable. Lying down is uncomfortable. Thinking about it is uncomfortable.

The chiropractor and I are on speed dial. Morning and evening I was being manipulated and adjusted yesterday. Today, I am trying to make do with one push and pull. I am waiting for that satisfying crack when the offending part of my body is pulled away from its partner in crime. So far, they are stuck together with superglue.

We often talk of someone being a pain in the ass. You don't know the half of what that means until your sciatic nerve decides to introduce itself to you. A car ride from the Berkshires to New Jersey gives new definition to the word 'long'. Bumps in the road become disciples of the devil.

I have to end this piece now to give my end some peace. I am off to my new best friend as he and I once more begin our intimate conversation. He is a pain in my ass waiting to happen.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Good Deeds

It falls in the 'no good deed goes punished' category. In "$80,000 for Year Off From Law? She'll Take It" (New York Times, April 13, 2009) take the money and run meets real life. Well, not exactly real life but the version of it in which associates in many of the high priced law firms live. In this world, most of the firms mandate that for your money you must do good. Skadden, Arps, the focus of this piece only says you can do good. I am uncomfortable with this whole charade.

I remember when my children were applying to college. There was a mad rush, among many of the parents, to blanket their child's resume with random acts of kindness. It made for good press, but struck me as so insincere and inappropriate.

I have a suggestion. Why don't the top law firms all agree that when conditions get better in the marketplace, that the firms reduce salaries across the board and give a % of every dollar to charity. Let them also match charitable donations of each lawyer from their firm up to 5 % of each salary. Let them put their money where there mouth is in times of plenty.

Don't create this pretty picture of good works only when your excess staff is unneeded and on paid vacation. Demonstrate that this is not a PR stunt but a statement that the top law firms believe it is their ongoing duty and responsibility to give back to those less fortunate. Let them contribute on a substantial and ongoing basis to better mankind. Then, and only then, will I be truly impressed.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Word Games Part II

With another column from Mr. Schott, adding more new words and phrases to the vocabulary of our universe, I now respond to the challenge of making my own creations. Here they are:

Krug(man)errand - a positive report from a Nobel Prize winner in economics on the administration's strategy of attacking the financial calamity. This would be worth its weight in gold.

No CC's - the number of strikeouts the new Yankee ace recorded in his first start

O G Whiz - the personal charisma of the President at the Summit- However, the results of this conference are far from clear.

The moment of Beckoning - When one suffers a breakdown in front of a national audience.

Indige$tion - An inability to take in, process or absorb all the crap that is flowing through our $ystem

Vacat(e)ion- A forced move from one location to another based on financial woes

The $urge - a 20% rise in the Dow Jones that is regarded with skepticism as to whether it signals a lasting reduction in the violence in the stockmarketplace

P(irate) - The anger felt when your military armada is in a standoff with 4 lunatics in a lifeboat.

In full Bloom(berg) - the ability to circumvent the stated will of the people in an effort to marshall continued power unto yourself

(Fore)closure - the dwindling number of members at private golf clubs due to the economic downturn

Dowism - A religion in which one prays only Monday to Friday, and the resurrection refers merely to one's 401K account.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Cold Truth

I just finished a one day diet. I didn't lose any weight but who cares.

Forget the exercise routine. Stop counting calories. Order that second piece of cake. Just step outside with me.

Strip down. Prolonged exposure may cause frostbite but it is worth the sacrifice. In the warm months, I was thinking of heading into the freezer at Fairway, dressed only in shorts and a tee shirt. The Ice Palace hotel will be booked year round.

The NY Times today reports that Brown fat cells, long thought to exist only in children, are now evident in adults. These cells apparently respond to the cold by producing heat and burning calories. Eureka!

You know those that get fat on our fat won't take this news lightly. It is reported that US health club revenues were $19.1 billion for 2008 (Club Industry's Fitness Business Pro, April 1 ,2009). The diet and weight loss industries have even more to lose. Revenues for the supplement industry exceeded $20 billion last year. While we stuffed our mouths, the diet and weight loss business was generating over $40 billion to stuff into their pockets in 2008.(Pyc-Fitness). With a historical success rate of sustained loss at 5%, 50 million Americans a year made fat cats out of many in their attempts to get skinny.

But if this latest report is accurate, someday we may all line up at the doctor's office for our prescription of Brown fat. We will take our pill or our injection, go do our 'ice'ometrics, and come out looking like clones of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

Life just got a lot sweeter.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Andy Rooney

I want his job. I know he must be brilliant, and witty, insightful and incisive, but I don't get it. Whenever I watch a closing segment of 60 Minutes and listen to Mr. Rooney's meanderings, I am mystified.

It is as if he walks into the room and begins a stream of consciousness discussion on whatever has just caught his attention. "Pencils. You know pencils were once an important part of our lives. Yet today, the pencil is an endangered species. I don't know much about computers. What I do understand is that they hurt the sale of pencils. I think the art of penmanship is going the way of the dinosaur. I will have to put my quill pen back in my drawer and only bring it out on national holidays."

While the above is a purely fictitious rendition of a Rooney sermon, could this have been a preview of next Sunday's masterpiece? My son and I often watch and just glance over at one another as we stare dazed and confused as Rooneyisms cover the screen. I love the guy, but this must be some inside joke at CBS to which I am not privy.

"Books. They sure have lots of words in them. Sometimes there are too many. Do you know how many are in War and Peace? Neither do I. Most people get scared off if there are too many pages. While they can't tell a book by its cover, they can tell a book by its pages. Too many and it's sorry, not interested. That makes me sad."

Mr. Rooney is an icon. I am an idiot. Yet sometimes, the distinction between icon and idiot is what side of the tv screen one is on. Just look at the Fox News Channel if you don't believe what I am saying.

I will, when next I turn to 60 Minutes, wait for Mr. Rooney's segment, and watch it until it is done. It does entertain, if nothing else. I guess, in the final analysis, that is all that really matters.

The Rules of War

It is fitting a square peg into a round hole. The discussion of nuance between what is permitted and what is prohibited makes us seem like it is some sort of game, much like baseball or soccer, just played in a different arena. It is not. It is ugly, brutal and beyond comprehension that we sit and discuss who we are permitted to kill and who we are not. It is not the atrocities of war that should merit our concern. It is the atrocity of war.

Rules of convention. What is conventional about taking a life? Has every life we have taken in Israel, in Gaza, in Iraq, in Afghanistan and anywhere else in the world only been wrong if it fell outside the rules? Is it like a hockey game where we sit out 2 minutes for an infraction and then enter the fray once more? What value do we place on human existence?

The discussion in the oped section about innocents being killed in the midst of the battle presupposes that we have all come out into the middle of the ring and had the referee give us the instructions, like no biting or hitting below the belt. He has told us that we are to shake hands and have a good clean fight. War is anything but good and clean. One side is out to annihilate the other. The whole concept is barbaric. To put some kind of limits on the extent of the wrong we can commit, what kind of weapons it is ok to use, is to give legitimacy to the idea of killing. Further, to expect one committed to ending your concept on the rules of life, to respect some artificial rules of killing, is absurd.

Don't tell me about collateral consequences, human shields, or any other made up logic for killing innocents. Don't talk about rules of convention for killing. There are no rules when one is dead. You are just dead. This is not a game.

Friday, April 3, 2009

In the Woods

What brand of golf ball are you playing? As I readied to tee off on the 16th hole, my dad repeated the question. Titleist, I replied. Titleist 2 to be exact. This conversation took place, with minute variations, at least 50 times over the course of a decade. Same place, same inquiry. More than 30 years have passed since that question was last posed. My dad died in 1979. However, it is possibly my favorite recurring memory of my golfing youth, and it has nothing to do with how well or badly I played.

The 16th hole at Montammy Country Club is a short dog-leg right. From a highly elevated tee box, one could hit a shot straight out about 180 yards, and then have a short pitch into the green. The more adventurous player could attempt to cut the dog-leg by hitting a high fading shot, which would navigate woods and a stream on the right hand side and land in a small opening near the green. Most of those who were foolhardy, or less talented, found themselves combing the woods or the stream in search of an errant drive.

My father loved this hole. I don't know if he found anything particularly memorable about it's shape or difficulty, but he relished the opportunity to be a ball gatherer. No sooner would the tee shots be hit on the 16th then my dad would disappear. Not only were the woods and stream a treasure trove of shots gone awry, but blackberries and blueberries were in plentiful supply.

As I wandered down the fairway, contemplating whether I should hit this club or that for my second shot, my dad's thoughts were on vastly more critical issues. He was, I am certain, looking into every nook and cranny, searching for the ball of choice. He would find a Pinnacle, or a McGregor, a Top Flite or some other 'incorrect' ball that would then be stuffed into a pocket for safekeeping. Eventually, these would find their way into his golf bag, which was always overflowing with the spoils of his hunt. Munching on blackberries or blueberries, he would spend every possible second he could in search of the ultimate prize.

Inevitably, when he emerged, his hands would be filled. He would walk over to me, with a wide grin and a look of immense satisfaction. Slowly, he would deposit a duplicate original (or multiple duplicate originals) of the brand and number of the ball I was that day playing with. As we strode towards the green, I would always thank him for his efforts and think how lucky I was, not as the possessor of a handful of new golf balls, but for the privilege of being in the company of the smiling man who walked beside me.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Publication Update

I am now officially a published author. As I arrived home from work yesterday, Joanne and Richie rushed to hand me a copy of "Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Golf Book, 101 Great Stories from the Course and Clubhouse". There, on page 212, is a story entitled "Coming to Grips" by Robert Scott Nussbaum. Among my fellow authors in this book are Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Kenny G, Dave Anderson (a well known sportswriter) and a slew of other people who earn their keep by writing. My standing in this pantheon is self evident.

I turned my attention to my piece first (of course) and was critical of how it read. I looked back on what I had originally written and realized that there had been some significant edits of my submission. I had never received a copy of this revised version of me. Some of what I had considered to be the best parts of my story were left on the cutting room floor.

I have now moved away from my two page, fifteen minutes to the other 348 pages of essays. So far, with each well written tale, my work diminishes a little more. If the rest of the writing measures up to the first 35 pages, I think I will be happy if they just cut out page 212 and 213 in the second printing of this book. Like my friend said to me last night on reading my essay, "don't give up your day job just yet". I won't.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Photo Dump

Three photos of the Hudson on a frigid winter morning this January, trapped in my camera since then. (Yes, I see the moon, but my camera swears it was 8AM.)


April Fools

"It's Going, Going... Did You See Where It Went?" (New York Times, April 1, 2009) is one of the best examples of an April Fool's joke I have seen in a very long time. I love the trick photography that makes it appear that some seats in the new Yankee Stadium give one a perfectly clear view of about HALF of the field. The picture, and the underlying quotes, almost had me fooled into thinking that there were idiots masquerading as architects in the design of this 21st century state of the art, mecca of the sporting world, home of our beloved Bombers.

The City approved $129 million in borrowing from the taxpayers in 2006, representing the cost to replace the 22 acres of parkland the city gave the Yankees and to build the sewers and roads to support the Stadium. By early 2009, that cost was estimated to be $325 million ('Yankee Stadium's a money pit', Daily News , January 14, 2009 and "A New Yankee Stadium, the Same Old Politics", New York Times, January 13, 2009). We knew that we would have to bear much collateral expense in regard to this project in addition to providing about a billion dollars of tax exempt financing to the Yankees to have the field of our dreams. Yet no money was too much for our vision to become reality before our eyes.

If I were a cynic, I would think that today's article was not a joke, and was rather a shocking slap in the face. However, while we live in cynical times, I choose not to go down that path. I thank the newspaper for brightening up my day with one of the most innovative gags in journalistic history. You almost got me.Thank you for the laugh.

Too big to fail

We have seen this scenario played out on our stage with regularity over the past months. Heads of the Big 3 were called in and called out for their transgressions. Mr. Libby, as the leader of the Titanic we refer to as AIG, was chastised and cautioned. Those who were seemingly 'fail-proof' had failed us and we were in ill health. Mr. Wagoner was unceremoniously dumped at GM. Is it now President Obama's turn to be chastised? Is the world now about to debate whether the US is too big to fail?

Some foreign leaders have questioned the wisdom of continuing to follow the lead of our country. China, in what would seem would lead to self destruction, has spoken of the possibility of refusing to invest good after bad in pouring any further monies into our system. France and Germany have been openly critical of our suggestion that the world spend its way out of our collective distress. A road to hell, is not a ringing endorsement for the economic philosophy we support.

I have an image of Uncle Sam, now huddled in a corner, small and defensive as the attack dogs are unleashed. I know that President Obama will talk the talk and try to convince us, and the world at the G-20 conference, that we still the center of the universe.

Unlike days of past, what is good for GM is no longer good for the country. When the question of GM's continued existence is before us, our universe is in flux. The world will now be debating if what is good for the US is good for them. In some ways this will be a discussion on whether the US is just one massive GM or AIG. President Obama is not selling a car or an insurance policy but a belief in the continued viability of our country and our standing. For that, he has to be the best salesman of all.