Category Archives: Blog

Halloween Ghouls, Goblins and Goofs

Sage advice to help you decide who or what you want to be this Halloween.

It is “Trick or Treat” time again. And for all of us who are not members of Congress, where every day seems like trick or treat, we have to decide what we are going to wear as a costume for our Halloween night out.

IMG950118Of course, if you were in Key West with me, your decision would be easy. During the Halloween “Fantasy Fest” (think of Mardi Gras gone bad) happening now in Key West, the most popular dress-up-and-go-out Halloween outfit is your birthday suit. The problem is that for many, their birthday suit sags in all the wrong places. Of course, that makes it even scarier when you see it. You almost don’t dare look.

If you are not into the costume thing but still want to have some ghoulish fun you could go to a Halloween party and about half-way through, start greeting and hugging everyone but admit you’re not feeling too well and describe Ebola-like symptoms.

If you are still undecided about your Halloween attire, take into account that popular regalia for adults (and we’re all adults here, aren’t we?) is to dress up like their favorite celebrity or political leader, so here are some suggestions that might help you out.

Barack Obama – Be the “ghost of leadership lost.” You could run around making aggressive and threatening noises. Then when people snicker and ignore you, you could just go on to the next house.

Joe Biden – Go out as an organ grinder’s monkey. You would have this cute little jacket (but no pants). You could jump up and down at the end of your leash, chattering away, but in a way that no one can understand what you’re saying.

Ray Rice – Simple but effective costume – just wear a wife-beater shirt.

Chris Christie – A no-brainer here: Dress as the “Stay-Puff Marshmallow Man” from Ghostbusters. Just make sure you don’t have to go through a tunnel on the way to the party.michele-bachmann-corndog

Michele Bachmann – Go to the party and offer an alternative to those who think Sarah Palin is too cerebral and rational. To complete the look, walk around nibbling on a foot-long corn dog on a stick.

Mitt Romney – Just dress up as a plastic mannequin with painted black hair (just like that Ronco infomercial). You can enhance the effect by spouting off-hand comments that make you appear to be a non-caring, out-of-touch elitist rich guy.

Adrian Peterson — Just wander around the party with a tree-switch threatening to discipline revelers (preferably those under age 8) who make too much noise.

Hillary Clinton – There are sooooo many options here: You could go as the erstwhile stalking girlfriend who just won’t go away, despite the fact you have moved on. Another option might be to dress as a scratched record (for my younger readers that would be like a damaged CD) that keeps playing the same song over and over and over again (“Why don’t you do right? … like some other men do.”) Do you think going as the “Wicked Witch of DC” would be too obvious?

Sarah Palin – Dress up as a carved-out empty pumpkin-head with a dim candle lighting up your face. By the way did you see Sarah’s Tweet letting us know that she was “praying for the people of Ebola”?

Ted Cruz (senator from Texas)Go out and present yourself as a cross-dressing male Sarah Palin.

rick-perry-gun-photoRick Perry – There are three costumes you could wear: A dumb cowboy who carries a gun and wears horned-rimmed glasses. A guy who is opposed to same sex marriage because he says that gets boring. And … Oh, I forget the third one.

Fox News and MSNBC – Go up to anyone at the party and as you talk distort, mislead and twist everything you see and hear.

CNN – Spend the entire night at the party running around yelling at the top of your voice BREAKING NEWS! BREAKING NEWS! BREAKING NEWS!

Mike Huckabee – Dress up as a fat, guitar-playing Jesus and claim that you are the second coming.

Now, I know there are a lot of other costumes you could wear for your Halloween party, but these are just a few suggestions to get you thinking. I would love to hear some of your thoughts and ideas.

Have a scary and fun time. I know we will in Key West!

Holiday Greetings to Family, Friends and Followers

Mac’s much-anticipated recap of the year to be had that he had.

Wow! What an eventful and exciting year it has been for me and I know you want to hear all about it; but I hardly know where to start.

First of all, this letter is a bit early this year, but since I have been following the Mayan calendar, I figure it just might be my last one, so I wanted to get it to you by December 21. Just in case you are worried about what might happen at 11:11 AM on December 21, there is a way to get advance notice. Since Australia is a day ahead of us, you can get an early heads-up warning by going to a special web site www.stillthereaustralia.god/apocalypse on December 20. If you click on it and all that comes up is a bright light and somber church music, grab your ass and cell phone, go to the basement and dial 1-900-PRAY-4-ME. (There is a $2 per minute charge, but by the time you get the bill, you can literally “stiff” the company) For me, I have made arrangements to be at the International Date Line, so I will have the maximum amount of warning to get ready. Good luck!

Hey, isn’t this new technology thing wonderful?

Remember when we used to have to actually sit down and write out Christmas cards and greetings? That was so old school and time-consuming; it meant actually spending precious minutes on each person. Fortunately, technology has changed all that, because now all I have to do is pull up my contact list and just send off these digital greeting cards; no muss, no fuss, no time and no postage. Also I was able to download to my iPhone (iPhone 5 of course; waiting in line for 18 hours really paid off) a cool app (only $47) that had been developed for the Romney campaign. This app allows me to send automated robo-calls offering (seemingly personal) Christmas and New Year greetings to my entire contact list. The app is so sophisticated it calls in the middle of the night or when people are least likely to answer the phone and leaves the message, just as if I had actually taken the time to call.

Now Where Was I?

I guess the best place to start is really at the end of the year. The last few weeks have been frenetic because I was asked by the independent citizen-action group SAVE (Serious Attempt to Void Expenditures) to mediate between the Republicans and Democrats in an effort to help the country from hurtling off the Fiscal Cliff of economic damnation. I don’t want to take sides, but it has been frustrating dealing with Speaker Boehner and a group of hard-core Republicans who are convinced that the Mayan calendar is really a message from God and they don’t see any reason to get serious about the Fiscal Cliff until they know if we are going off the Mayan Cliff to oblivion.

In any event, since the Republicans want to make significant cuts in government programs – something the Democrats resist – and the Democrats want to significantly increase taxes – something the Republicans oppose, my solution is to give the Republicans the power to cut as much in government expenditures (except for defense, of course) as they desire and to give the Democrats the power to raise taxes (except on the bottom 47 percent of the population) as high as they desire. The result of these unfettered spending cuts and increased tax revenue, should easily eliminate the deficit, balance the budget and begin paying down the national debt. It is just so simple.

Trump this if you can

Of course, with 2012 being an election year, much of my time and effort was devoted to the presidential campaign. By coincidence and fortuitous happenstance, I ended up throwing my lot to Mitt Romney. This was really a difficult decision for me because after Sarah Palin punctured my balloon by deciding not to run, I was really leaning toward either Michele Bachmann or Tim Pawlenty, because they were the closest to my heart and, like me, they are from Minnesota. However, by chance, Donald Trump and I have the same hair stylist (Raffaello at The Mane Attraction) and color coordinator. Early in the year we happened to be in the salon at the same time and he told me (on a completely confidential basis) that he had absolutely incontrovertible proof that Obama was admitted to Harvard as “a foreign exchange student.” Trump told me he was going to demand the release of Obama’s admission application and transcripts, and that this information would “blow the lid of the campaign.” Even more, Trump felt this revelation could actually lead to Obama being declared an illegal alien and deported to Kenya. (Maybe that explains why more than 75 percent of the illegal immigrants in America voted for Obama.)

Recognizing that Trump should really know what’s happening, I got the confidential dope straight from the Donald and, of course, I saw no choice but to jump in with Romney. Besides, with Obama promising all these different “gifts” to those in the lower class of America, rich people needed someone to protect them and look out for their interests too.

Probably the most interesting time for me during the Romney campaign was when he visited me at my Sunset Key home in Key West in May. He invited me to accompany him on a number of fund raising events in Florida. The most fascinating of which was a $50,000 a person event in Palm Beach. I have to admit I was a bit perplexed to hear Mitt tell the group that he really needed their help because he had no chance of getting the votes of 47 percent of Americans, who he considered basically “freeloaders.” Afterwards, in the car, I asked him if he was at all concerned about making statements like that. He said, “Hey Mac, don’t worry about that. I was just talking to that group and that is what they wanted to hear. Besides, it was a private meeting and no one will ever hear about it.”

One exciting event for me this year was starting a new business. I got Bain Capital to partner with me to start a new dating service aimed specifically for men. We have a larger market for customers than most dating services, because we don’t care if the men are married or single. The name of the service is “Binders Full of Women.” You may recall that Romney gave our dating service a nice plug during the second debate. (I think he’s getting a piece of the action through Bain.) The business model for “Binders Full of Women,” is that the men contact us, tell us exactly what they want in and from a woman and pay their fee. We then send them a binder full of women (married or single) who meet their specs. While “Binders Full of Women” is off to a great start, we can’t claim any marriages yet; but we do know it has sparked a good number of affairs and divorces. (For privacy reasons, I can’t name him, but one very prominent former General in the Army was an early client.) I can report that Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain were also early customers and the feedback has been great.

What I Did in London

Probably the best time I had all year was when Romney invited me to travel in his group to the London Olympics. I know he got a lot of flak for standing in front of 10 Downing Street on his first day in London and telling the voracious English press that the British preparation for the Olympic Games seemed a bit befuddled and muddled. But Mitt later explained to me that there were no votes to be had in London and his comments were a calculated strategy to reinforce his support among the Mormons in Utah who had worked on the Winter Olympics and to appeal to the Northern Irish living in America.

The most memorable time in London was attending what for me has always been the most anticipated and exciting event – the equestrian dressage. This year it was even more exciting because Ann Romney’s horse Rafalca was participating. It was thrilling to see Rafalca in the event, but unfortunately she did not do too well. During the competition Rafalca would first veer to the right and then she would veer back to the left. Toward the end of the event the meandering maverick tried to get back to the center of the ring, but by then, of course, it was too late and failed to get a medal.

It was not a happy time, because I was concerned about the outcome, but I felt obligated to spend election evening with Mitt and the family. It was disappointing to see Romney lose, because he would have made an excellent president and it would have been great to hear the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing at the inauguration and to see that big gold angel blowing the bugle put on top of the Capitol dome. Romney was depressed because he had to come to the same conclusion I had to face a few years ago, and that was that he will not be President of the United States of America. It was good for me to be there, because I had personally experienced the depression he was feeling and I could cheer him up by letting him know that even though he would never be president, he does have a chance to have a reasonably productive life. I am sure that made him feel a lot better.

There is so much more I want to tell you about, but just don’t have space here. (If we survive December 21, I might do another letter.) I want to tell you about the Republican Convention; which was such a hoot. Like when I was sitting back stage and Clint Eastwood came up and asked if he could borrow my chair. But all of that is for a later time, if there is one.

And the Moral of the Story …

Here is a sincere hope that you and your family have had as interesting and eventful year as I and my family; and that next year (if there is one) will be even better for all.

Since I will be heading to the International Date Line to be there by December 20, this will be my final offering to you until what is hoped will be a new year. In any event: Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and (hopefully) Happy New Year.

Guilefulness in Government is Directly Proportional to the Gullibility of the Governed

We all know the familiar refrains: “If it seems too good to be true … it probably is.” Or this one:  “You can’t get something for nothing.” Even though we know these statements are true, it is amazing how often people will disregard the warnings. And, when they do, what do they find? Of course, that they should have known all along and heeded the warnings. But they did not.

Apparently there’s something that is buried deep in the genes of humanity that causes us to interpret these warnings with our hearts, rather than our brains. This allows us to believe that – contrary to reality – some things can be better than logic portends. It lures us to believe, in our hearts, that it is actually possible to get something for nothing. And because there’s a sucker born every minute who ignores reality, there has never been a shortage of scamsters ready to prey on their weak-mindedness.

The Scam Artists are Everywhere

What could be a more classic example of this wishful thinking than the ubiquitous “Ponzi” scheme? Were it not for our willingness to suspend our belief that we can actually get something for nothing, we would likely think “Ponzi” was some type of pizza.

It is quite impossible to list all the examples of financial chicanery that have succeeded due to those willing to believe the unbelievable. But take a closer at the marks in these schemes.  When we read about Madoff and others of his ilk, we might like to think that the folks who fall prey to these financial frauds are the uneducated, unsophisticated and aged, yet the opposite is true. Madoff preyed on the educated, the sophisticated and the most successful among us, to the tune of $50 billion. People who should have known – maybe even did know – that what Madoff offered was too good to be true, fell the hardest. Sure, some used their brains to avoid or whistleblow Madoff and his scheme, but these were voices in the wildernesss and universally ignored. Why? Because the victims wanted to believe – with all their hearts – that this time, they would get something for nothing. When the truth was exposed, the victims bemoaned their losses and Madoff was sent off to jail for 13,000 years, but the reality is that most of the victims should blame themselves just as much, perhaps even more so, than Madoff.

Madoff Victims Aren’t Alone: You are at times Victim of this Shallow Thinking, Too

Advertisers have long predicated their campaigns on our willingness to suspend our belief in reality. Drink the right beer and capture the prettiest girls. Brush on wrinkle remover and you get the hottest guys. Wear push-up bras and guys will follow you like bees to honey. (Well, that might be true.) Take a pill made up of ground-up cactus pulp and protect against colon cancer. (You have never seen a cactus with colon cancer, have you?) You get the point. Advertising would not be nearly as successful without our willingness to believe what we want to believe – no matter how ludicrous the claim.

As egregious as the actions of the Madoffs and advertisers may be, the pièce dé resistance for taking advantage of our willingness to suspend belief in reality clearly goes to politicians. They are schooled in how to effectively make promises that are too good to be true and suggesting these promises can be had for nothing – but our vote. And, we believe them! Not only do we believe them, but we want them to feed us such blather. Is it any wonder that the shelf life of a politician who is candid, seeks to explain the reality of what is possible and transparent about the costs and benefits of government actions is about as short as a dish of ice cream in a microwave.

George H. W. Bush (the father) was elected (as were many others) on a bushelful of promises as to what government would do for people. This was coupled with the famous quote, “Read my lips. No new taxes” and you all know what what happened (Mondale had acknowledged that in order to give the people what they were asking for, then taxes would have to be raised.) Obama promised, “Change you can believe in!” He did not explain that change would mean more government and that we would have to pay for change. (Of course, McCain did not explain anything and wanted to put Sarah Palin a heart-beat away from the Presidency.) When Obama offered change he basically appealed to our desire to get something for nothing.

Now, it’s the Tea Party-supported candidates who are making promises too good to be true – and at no apparent cost – and many are buying into their pitch. Their words are a raw appeal to our frustrated emotions caused by the very guileful politicians we elected, based on their promises of something too good to be true and then raising our ire by not delivering.

The approach of the Tea Party candidates is even more dishonest than the promises made by traditional politicians. They want us to believe that if we simply eliminate Social Security, Medicare, Health Care, Federal funding for education, government regulation of business and combine two or three of the Cabinet level agencies into one, then virtually all taxes can be eliminated, we can once again be totally responsible for our lives and all will be wonderful. Even Bernie Madoff – as good as he was – would never have considered making such outlandish claims.

This reminds me of the politics in Key West. Frustrated by the intrusions, frustrations and challenges of an economy based on transient tourism, many of the “locals” respond to the politicians who promise to eradicate tourism. These politicos promise to return Key West to the romanticized “way it was.” It is a promise too good to be true and would come with great cost. What they don’t mention is that the Key West of the past was an economically depressed backwater of mosquito-infested mangroves; with no jobs (except for a thriving pirate industry) and no future. And yet, despite the reality that what they promise is neither possible nor desired, those politicians making such promises of “no growth” invariably win.

On the national stage, there is no doubt that Tea Party followers are passionate, sincere and committed to what the politicians promise to deliver. However, if forced to think about these promises logically, it would be obvious to all that the pledge to eviscerate key government services will allow for the elimination of taxes and make all things better, is a promise that is too good to be true and in the long run will cost more for all of us. Yet, in their heart, voters want to believe that the promises are not too good to believe, and it is to the heart, not the mind that Tea Party politicians and others appeal.

There is no doubt that many of the Tea Party supported politicians will be elected. Then, when the idealism and cost for what they propose is exposed to the reality of practicality and cost, the voters will be only further deceived and frustrated. They might have been better off believing the promises of Madoff.

And the Moral of the Story …

So long as we remain willing to suspend our belief in reality, continue to be susceptible to promises that are too good to be true and believe that we can actually get something for nothing, we will be easy prey for financial scammers, advertising hacks and – worst of all – politicians who know the way to winning elections is through our hearts, not our minds

And, as frustrating as that may be, we will have no one to blame but ourselves. Albert Einstein, when he wasn’t developing his theory of relativity, got it right when he said “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Now, go to the polls and vote with your head—not your heart.