Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Omaha Takes Two High and Tight

Captious (n): "tending to find and call attention to faults; "a captious pedant"; "an excessively demanding and faultfinding tutor."

Yep, captious, that's me. I doubt the anonymous commenter a few years back meant it as a compliment, but it's my cross to bear and I've been called worse. Now on to the current crisis...

This hasn't been a good week for opinions from Omaha.

First, "Omaha Tommy" Ricketts, scion of Omaha's TD Ameritrade clan and a year into his tenure as owner of the Chicago Cubs, announced plans to renovate Wrigley Field using $300 million of state financing. Trouble is he forgot to give heads-up to, oh, the Governor, the Mayor, the editorial boards of the Tribune and Sun-Times, anybody important, really. At last count, polls showed sentiment running 9-1 AGAINST his proposal.

When asked yesterday, Speaker Madigan said "Oh, that plan? I thought it was withdrawn!" Oops. And taxpayers are wondering why Wrigley's decrepit state wasn't factored into Tommy's acquisition cost. It's a perceptive question, perhaps a tipping point in the beleaguered masses' willingness to bend over and, well, 'accept' The Next Big Deal.

Omaha's politics resemble elections in the local chapter of Future Farmers of America. Everyone postures for a bit and then the combatants head out for drinks at M's Pub. In contrast, Chicago's politics are blood sport. Posturing stops and drinking commences only when someone's severed head is available for use as a drinking trophy.

And has anybody told Tommy about the curse, that in buying the "lovable losers" he risks becoming one himself? Not even the narrative about meeting his future wife in Wrigley's bleachers confers protection.

Secondarily, Warren Buffett took to to the NY Times op-ed pages to thank the Feds for their bailout billions. Job well done!, says the Oracle

He's wrong, of course. He's entitled to thank the Feds for bailing out HIS company. What he's NOT entitled to do is spew fiction and call it fact. Bail out financial services and avert economic meltdown, or so goes his theory. But if financial services and the economy at-large are so inextricably linked, why, despite the bailout, is the economy still so wretched? So much for linkage.

Oh, but absent the bailout, conditions would have been SO MUCH WORSE, says Buffett, thus ignoring the salutary effects of seeing thousands of Wall Street 'titans' living in cardboard boxes under some expressway.

So, Tommy, call me if you need PR expertise. I can help. Really. For you I'd even put aside most hints of captiousness...though I won't convert from White Sox to Cub fandom. That's just TOO large a sacrifice.

And Warren, stop peeing on my leg and trying to convince me it's center-pivot irrigation.

Captious, that's me.

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