Thursday, December 31, 2009

Being in a New Year

Another fresh new year is here . . .
Another year to live!
To banish worry, doubt, and fear,
To love and laugh and give!

This bright new year is given me
To live each day with zest . . .
To daily grow and try to be
My highest and my best!

I have the opportunity
Once more to right some wrongs,
To pray for peace, to plant a tree,
And sing more joyful songs!

--William Arthur Ward

Happy New Year from me to you!

Being Excellent

O Lord, our Lord,
How excellent is Your name in all the earth,
Who have set Your glory above the heavens!

Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants
You have ordained strength,
Because of Your enemies,
That You may silence the enemy and the avenger.

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
What is man that You are mindful of him,
And the son of man that You visit him?
For You have made him a little lower than the angels,
And You have crowned him with glory and honor.

You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands;
You have put all things under his feet,
All sheep and oxen—
Even the beasts of the field,
The birds of the air,
And the fish of the sea
That pass through the paths of the seas.

O Lord, our Lord,
How excellent is Your name in all the earth!

--Psalm 8

(This recording is of Walt Whitman and the Soul Children of Chicago, a performance-oriented organization globally recognized that focuses on developing young people to pursue excellence. Its objective is "to educate the minds, elevate the spirits, and illuminate the souls of our youth." How excellent!)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Being Earth

This incredible image is earth as seen from space. Looking at it I immediately thought of Van Gogh's "Starry Night." It appears that Van Gogh's dreams were close to reality. He seemed to not only have an upward vision, but an outside one as well.

"For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream."

-- Vincent van Gogh

Being Goldman Sachs XIV

Witnessing what is reported here up close in a very successful real estate broker friend's office ten years ago, I have long said that if the government wouldn't have backed home ownership through "no doc" loans through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and if banks and mortgage companies would not have given such loans, the American public would not have been able to receive these mortgages turned bundled derivatives by the like of Goldman Sachs, where it hedged on its investment, gaining on the front end in fees and the back end in bailout billions, the financial crisis would not have occurred.

While Goldman Sachs may not have been obligated to "disclose its secret bets to its investors," the American people should not have been obligated to secure these bets to the tune of billions. Here we have an investment bank turned commercial bank hedging as the former and receiving FDIC protection without the deposits of the American people. The FDIC is supposed to secure deposits not risky investments. To think that the Financial Times bestowed Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein with the "Person of the Year" is shameful.

May the new year bring real banking reform.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Being on the Move


Being Michigan

Pure Michigan...

Memories and realities indeed...

Being Winter

Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind

Blow, blow, thou winter wind.
Thou art not so unkind
As man’s ingratitude;
Thy tooth is not so keen,
Because thou art not seen,
Although thy breath be rude.
Heigh-ho! sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly:
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly:
Then, heigh-ho, the holly!
This life is most jolly.
Freeze, freeze, thou bitter sky,
That dost not bite so nigh
As benefits forgot:
Though thou the waters warp,
Thy sting is not so sharp
As friend remember'd not.
Heigh-ho! sing, &c.

-- William Shakespeare, As You Like It, 1600

Being Goldman Sachs XIII

Goldman Sachs is "doing God's work."

--Lloyd Blankfein, CEO Goldman Sachs

Monday, December 28, 2009

Being Unemployed and Underemployed

Being a Detroiter where the unemployment rate is 50% and where 700,000 people cannot feed themselves, I am utterly annoyed at both liberal and conservative economists telling us that Americans do not want to pack meat or clean buildings. Recently, when there was a job fair at Cobo Hall here there were so many people in attendance that it was a mob scene. I found these statistics on the website of the Center for Immigration Studies:

Number unemployed or underemployed: As of the third quarter of 2009, there are 12.5 million unemployed native-born Americans, but the broader U-6 measure shows 21 million natives unemployed or underemployed.

There are 6.1 million natives with a high school education or less who are unemployed. Using the U-6 measure, it is 10.4 million.

In addition to those less-educated natives covered by U-6, there are another 18.7 million natives with a high school education or less not in the labor force, which means they are not looking for work.

The total number of less-educated (high school education or less) natives who are unemployed, underemployed, or not in the labor force is 29.1 million.

There also are 6.6 million native-born teenagers (16 and 17) not working.

To place these numbers in perspective, there are an estimated seven to eight million illegal immigrants holding jobs.

Unemployment rates for less-educated and younger workers:

As of the third quarter of 2009, the overall unemployment rate for native-born Americans is 9.5 percent; the U-6 measure shows it as 15.9 percent.

The unemployment rate for natives with a high school degree or less is 13.1 percent. Their U-6 measure is 21.9 percent.

The unemployment rate for natives with less than a high school education is 20.5 percent. Their U-6 measure is 32.4 percent.

The unemployment rate for young native-born Americans (18-29) who have only a high school education is 19 percent. Their U-6 measure is 31.2 percent.

The unemployment rate for native-born blacks with less than a high school education is 28.8 percent. Their U-6 measure is 42.2 percent.

The unemployment rate for young native-born blacks (18-29) with only a high school education is 27.1 percent. Their U-6 measure is 39.8 percent.

The unemployment rate for native-born Hispanics with less than a high school education is 23.2 percent. Their U-6 measure is 35.6 percent.

The unemployment rate for young native-born Hispanics (18-29) with only a high school degree is 20.9 percent. Their U-6 measure is 33.9 percent.

The overall unemployment rate for immigrants (legal and illegal) is 9.9 percent. Their U-6 measure is 19.6 percent, which is significantly higher than the rate for natives.

The unemployment rate for immigrants with less than a high school education is 12.3 percent. Their U-6 measure is 27.4 percent. The unemployment rate for young immigrants (18-29) with only a high school education is 12.2 percent. Their U-6 measure is 25.2 percent.
I find it completely ridiculous, even criminal, that our immigration and globalization policies, or the lack thereof, have not been the focus of our conversation and not this utterly facetious comment that Americans do not want to work at meat packing plants or clean buildings. Americans want to feed their families.

(For sake of clarity, I don't know much about the website that I have cited here, even though I am more likely to believe the stats above. What I am not particularly fond of is the terminology i.e., "native Americans." Not only does this term typically refer to the indigenous people of the Americas, but it could be seen as used divisely here and in various articles on the site. I, nonetheless, agree with and appreciate a few of the articles that I have read.)

Being Barack Obama XVIII

Barack Obama promised to bring change to Washington. What is for certain is that his leadership style is unlike any that we have seen in recent years. When people from all sides pulled at him about the health care debate he lead but insisted that the legislators, according to the Constitution legislate and he as the executor will lead. He did this by simply stating what he desired to see but leaving it up to the people and legislators to decide. Of course, there appears to have been a certain amount of push back and pushing of the administration behind the scenes.

With the recent terror threat in Detroit, President Obama's critics and others are asking why he Obama hasn't come out and given the people confidence. They are comparing him to the former president who readily spoke about terrorists, probably embolden them and giving them a continuous platform while indicting the whole of the Muslim world. The former president and his administration spoke of axes of evil and often maligned those in the East. It sometimes appeared hard to distinguish between the terrorist and Muslims as a whole.

President Obama has not publicly made a statement. He appears to trust those leaders who are in position throughout various agencies and also appears not desire to put the whole world on edge or in further enmity against each other. While President Obama is undoubtedly getting briefs on his vacation in Hawaii, I appreciate his rather deliberate leadership style. Even I have desired at various times that he speak out more or that he lead differently. But I am really beginning to appreciate his style. He leads judiciously. We can be assured that even though President Obama has not publicly spoken about the event, he is well informed and will do so in time. It is this deliberate judicious leadership style that is appreciated.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Being Inspired by Others


"Let me stress most emphatically that we who were rescuing children are not some kind of heroes. Indeed, that term irritates me greatly. The opposite is true. I continue to have pangs of conscience that I did so little."

--Irena Sendler

Being Michael Bloomberg II

On Meet the Press this morning Mayor Bloomberg questioned the health care bill by saying "you have to question what kind of government we have." This was precisely my question when he successfully lobbied the courts in NYC to enable him to run a third four-year term. In spite of term limits, the assumption was that he alone could guide NYC through this rough economic crisis. I sincerely doubted this. Mayor Bloomberg won the election by a narrow 5 percent margin, spending over $100 million of his own money. When I read this I also asked "what kind of government we have." I would like for Mayor Bloomberg to answer his own question when it appears that being a billionare can thwart policy and buy elections.

Being Penguins

If you have not seen the National Geographic film, March of the Penguins, it's a must see. Although it came out in 2006, I just saw it over the weekend. It's a beautiful story of family, love, loss, persistence, and survival. You've gotta see it if you haven't already. It's awe-inspiring.

Being the Senate

Ezra Klein writes in the Washington Post of the need for Senate reform. I agree. We can start with term limits and reforming campaign finance. But I have been wondering lately after the incredible acrimonious health care debate and dubious horse-trading that seemed to do more for particular states of various senators as opposed to the country as a whole, if the Senate itself is even needed. We have a legislative body, the House. Why even have the Senate? Maybe this is radical change we can believe in.

Being Percy Sutton

Percy Sutton (24 November 1920 – 26 December 2009) was a civil rights activist, lawyer and entrepreneur.

Percy Sutton was a San Antonio, Texas native. Percy Sutton was the last of fifteen children. His parents Samuel and Lillian were both educators with his father being one of the first blacks in Bexar County. His father also served as principal of three high schools. All of his siblings graduated from college. His brothers included G J Sutton (the first black elected official in San Antonio, Texas) and Oliver Sutton (judge on the New York Supreme Court). Sutton attained the rank of Eagle Scout in 1936 and was recognized with the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award from the Boy Scouts of America as an adult. Sutton states that Scouting was a key factor in shaping his life.

Sutton attended and graduated from Prairie View A&M University, Tuskegee Institute and Hampton Institute. He went on to attend Brooklyn Law School. During World War II, he served with the Tuskegee Airmen as an intelligence officer.

He was married to Leatrice Sutton since 1943 up until his death in 2009.


(Photo: Percy Sutton to the left and Malcolm X in Harlem, 1963)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Being Goldman Sachs XII

The Financial Times, has named Goldman Sachs' CEO, Lloyd Blankfein, "Person of the Year." Here is noted bank analyst Christopher Whalen's response in a letter to the paper upon canceling his subscription:

Mr. Blankfein and his colleagues at Goldman Sachs, in my view, have done more to damage the reputations of global financial professionals than any other organization in 2009, yet you applaud them. Not only is your suggestion ridiculous and repugnant, but it illustrates to me the fact that the FT is part of the problem in global finance, not as one would hope and expect, part of the solution.
I could not agree more. It is indeed "ridiculous and repugnant." I shall discontinue my subscription also in complete agreement that the Financial Times "is a part of the problem in global finance, not as one would hope and expect, part of the solution." Goldman Sachs is currently being investigated by the federal government for dubious trading practices.

This choice says a lot about the malaise in global finance. It also seems to say a lot about the "collusion" of media and big business and their desire to pull the wool over the eyes of sane people everywhere--sort of like Blankfein's words that this investment bank is "doing God's work."

The Financial Times writes that Goldman Sachs -- though recently becoming a "commerical" bank as if there are deposits in order to be federally protected by the FDIC with billions in backing -- "not only navigated the 2008 global financial crisis better than others on Wall Street but is set to make record profits, and pay up to $23BN in bonuses to its 31,700 staff."

With this kind of choice and assessment, the Financial Times could not go out of business fast enough and the results of the investment practices of Goldman Sachs could not come sooner. Let's insist that Congress do an investigation worthy of itself.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Being Christmas

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

May God bless us all. May there be peace on earth.

Being for Health Care Reform

While the bill that passed in the Senate this morning is not perfect, what is appreciated about this landmark legislation is what President Obama outlined below. I also appreciated the fact that President Obama was in Washington to give support. (He is the executor and the Senate the legislators.) Vice-President Biden presiding over the Senate today was also appreciated.

President Obama said this in part after the vote:

The reform bill that passed the Senate this morning, like the House bill, includes the toughest measures ever taken to hold the insurance industry accountable. Insurance companies will no longer be able to deny you coverage on the basis of a preexisting condition. They will no longer be able to drop your coverage when you get sick. No longer will you have to pay unlimited amounts out of your own pocket for the treatments you need. And you'll be able to appeal unfair decisions by insurance companies to an independent party.

If this legislation becomes law, workers won't have to worry about losing coverage if they lose or change jobs. Families will save on their premiums. Businesses that would see their costs rise if we do not act will save money now, and they will save money in the future. This bill will strengthen Medicare, and extend the life of the program. It will make coverage affordable for over 30 million Americans who do not have it -- 30 million Americans. And because it is paid for and curbs the waste and inefficiency in our health care system, this bill will help reduce our deficit by as much as $1.3 trillion in the coming decades, making it the largest deficit reduction plan in over a decade
May we now press forward still in bettering our health care system and the way business is done in Washington. What preceded this landmark legislation was ugly. All such things in our history tend to be. But must the debate always be so mean-spirited and ugly?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Being Bo Obama

During Oprah's Christmas at the White House special she is greeted by Bo who gives her a "high five." This is so cute!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Being Inspired by Others

Nonbelievers, please leave Christmas alone

by Garrison Keillor

I've just come from Cambridge, that beehive of brilliance, where nerds don't feel self-conscious: There's always someone nerdier nearby. If you are the World's Leading Authority on the mating habits of the jabberwock beetle of the Lesser Jujube Archipelago, you can take comfort in knowing that the pinch-faced drone next to you at Starbucks may be the W.L.A. on 17th-century Huguenot hymnody or a niche of quantum physics that is understood by nobody but himself.

People in Cambridge learn to be wary of brilliance, having seen geniuses in the throes of deep thought step into potholes and disappear. Such as the brilliant economist Lawrence Summers, whose presidency brought Harvard to the verge of disaster. He, against the advice of his lessers, invested Harvard's operating funds in the stock market and lost the bet. In the cold light of day, this was dumber than dirt, like putting the kids' lunch money on Valiant's Fancy to win in the 5th. And now the genius is in the White House, two short flights of stairs above the Oval Office. This does not make Cantabrigians feel better about our nation's economic future.

You can blame Ralph Waldo Emerson for the brazen foolishness of the elite. He preached here at the First Church of Cambridge, a Unitarian outfit (where I discovered that "Silent Night" has been cleverly rewritten to make it more about silence and night and not so much about God), and Emerson tossed off little bon mots that have been leading people astray ever since. "To be great is to be misunderstood," for example. This tiny gem of self-pity has given license to a million arrogant and unlovable people to imagine that their unpopularity somehow was proof of their greatness.

And all his hoo-ha about listening to the voice within and don't follow the path, make your own path and leave a trail and so forth, encouraged people who might've been excellent janitors to become bold and innovative economists who run a wealthy university into the ditch.

Unitarians listen to the Inner Voice and so they have no creed that they all stand up and recite in unison, and that's their perfect right, but it is wrong, wrong, wrong to rewrite "Silent Night." If you don't believe Jesus was God, OK, go write your own damn "Silent Night" and leave ours alone. This is spiritual piracy and cultural elitism, and we Christians have stood for it long enough. And all those lousy holiday songs by Jewish guys that trash up the malls every year, Rudolph and the chestnuts and the rest of that dreck. Did one of our guys write "Grab your loafers, come along if you wanna, and we'll blow that shofar for Rosh Hashanah"? No, we didn't.

Christmas is a Christian holiday - if you're not in the club, then buzz off. Celebrate Yule instead or dance around in druid robes for the solstice. Go light a big log, go wassailing and falalaing until you fall down, eat figgy pudding until you puke, but don't mess with the Messiah.

Christmas does not need any improvements. It is a common, ordinary experience that resists brilliant innovation. Just make some gingerbread persons and light three candles and sing softly in dim light about the poor man gathering winter fu-u-el and the radiant beams and the holly and the ivy, and you've got it. Too many people work too hard to make Christmas perfect, find the perfect gifts, get a turkey that reaches 100 percent of potential. Perfection is a goal of brilliant people, and it is unnecessary where Christmas is concerned.

The most wonderful Christmas of my life was 1997, a quiet day with no gifts and no tree, waiting in a New York apartment for my daughter to be born. And the second most wonderful was one in the Norwegian Arctic, where it rained every day and the sun came up around 11 and set around 1, not that you ever actually saw the sun, and the food was abominable, boiled cod and watery potatoes, and the people were cold and resentful, and there was no brilliance whatsoever. And I had the flu. Why was I there? Good question. But every year it gladdens my heart to know that I will not be going to Norway for Christmas. A terrific investment. Mr. Summers should be so smart. For one week of misery, I get an annual joyfulness dividend of at least 25 percent. Merry Christmas, my dears.

Being Hypocritcal V

For the past eight years I have heard and received emails from others from pastors and preachers passionately advising the hearer and reader to pray for those in authority for tranquility and peace according to 1 Timothy 2: 1-3. Over the past year there have been prayers alright but they are largely in opposition to the current president and administration.

Having spoken with friends who are well-affiliated with various well-known churches and televangelists, they have most certainly changed their tune and tone. I find it hypocritical indeed that prayers are not publicly going up on behalf of our current president and his administration. Has this scripture lost its efficacy?

First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior.
Many pastors and preachers are praying alright, but their prayers are against the current president and his administration. There are no prayers for tranquility and quietness. Their prayers are full of "prophetic" and apocalyptic rage in a presumed effort to steer policy, including health care reform and to weaken the president. Many pastors and preachers ought to be "ashamed" for not "rightly dividing the word of truth." (2 Timothy 2:15) Many are hypocrites. They are not "good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior."

Friday, December 18, 2009

Being a Pundit, Newscaster and Analyst XI

In my effort to always give credit where credit is due, I recently included a great quote by Dylan Ratigan about children. I have to admit that I had to really think twice before including him in a quote. While I appreciate many of his words, his style often overwhelms the substance and this can be a major turn off. Here is a great example:

I have written here often about the behavior of newcasters, pundits and analysts. Ratigan did not disappoint in his outright disrespect of congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. His behavior was descipicable. Many times it seems like these guys, liberals and conservatives, are trying to catch Limbaugh in ratings. Ratigan behaved like a bully towards a respectable member of congress, not to mention that she was a guest on his show. How rude!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Being Caring

"Do we care about children we don't know?"

--Dylan Ratigan

Being Crosby, Stills, Nash (and Young)

Teach Your Children

You, who are on the road
Must have a code
That you can live by.
And so, become yourself
Because the past
Is just a goodbye.

Teach, your children well
Their father's hell
Did slowly go by
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picks
The one you'll know by.
Don't you ever ask them why
If they told you, you would cry
So just look at them and sigh
And know they love you.

And you (Can you hear and)
Of tender years (Do you care and)
Can't know the fears (Can you see we)
That your elders grew by (Must be free to)
And so please help (Teach your children)
Them with your youth (You believe and)
They seek the truth (Make a world that)
Before they can die (We can live in)

Teach your parents well
Their children's hell
Will slowly go by
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picks
The one you’ll know by.

Don’t you ever ask them why
If they told you, you would cry
So just look at them and sigh
And know they love you.

--Graham Nash

(Crosby, Stills, Nash (and Young) inspired me early this morning as I listened to the 25th Anniversary Rock and Roll Anniversary Concert on HBO for the third time. Once again, I was completely blown away by their performances. What extraordinary talent they have! Great music and lyrics. Excellence doesn't diminish. Bonnie Rait's performance of "Love has no Pride" with Crosby, Stills, Nash (and Young) was also extraordinary. Music makes alive.)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Being for the Public Option XI

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Being Unemployed

According to the Detroit News, unemployment is near 50% in Detroit. Ugh! I shall now roll up into a fetal position for the night. Perhaps I will be good to go again tomorrow.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Being Inspired by Others

"In Memory of Our Cat, Ralph"

When we got home, it was almost dark.
Our neighbor waited on the walk.
"I'm sorry, I have bad news," he said.
"Your cat, the gray-black one, is dead.
I found him by the garage an hour ago."
"Thank you," I said, "for letting us know."
We dug a hole in the flower bed
With lilac bushes overhead,
Where this cat loved to lie in spring
And roll in dirt and eat the green
Delicious first spring bud,
And laid him down and covered him up,
Wrapped in a piece of tablecloth,
Our good old cat laid in the earth.
We quickly turned and went inside
The empty house and sat and cried
Softly in the dark some tears
For that familiar voice, that fur,
That soft weight missing from our laps,
That we had loved too well perhaps
And mourned from weakness of the heart.
A childish weakness, to regard
An animal whose life is brief
With such affection and such grief.
If such is weakness, so it be.
This modest elegy
Is only meant to note the death
Of one cat so we won't forget
His face, his name, his gift
Of cat affection while he lived,
The sweet shy nature
Of this graceful creature,
The simple pleasure of himself,
The memory of our cat, Ralph.

--Garrison Keillor

Being the Cutest Kid Ever

Here's the cutest kid ever rocking John Mayer's "I'm Yours" on the ukulele and sorta singing it too. Isn't he the cutest ever? He's also quite talented too.

I must also say that every kid is the cutest kid ever, until the next cutest kid, of course. They never cease to amaze. Kids are wonderful the world over!

Being Wall Street

Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone contributing editor, said that Wall Street "is one Ponzi scheme after another." A good friend who is an investment banker made this exact same point to me last week. He said the only difference in what Madoff did and what investment bankers do everyday is that Madoff was not a licensed investment banker.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Matt Taibbi
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorU.S. Speedskating

Taibbi talks about the change in Wall Street from investing, which built businesses, to gambling occurring over the last 20 years. Nicholas Darvis , Hungarian world-renowned dancer, self-taught investor and respected author, wrote How I won 2,000,000 on Wall Street (1960) and Wall Street: The Other Las Vegas (1964) thought differently.

I read How I won 2,000,000 on Wall Street and Wall Street: The Other Las Vegas years ago and it was very difficult to refute the arguments therein. The former dealt with avoiding tips by brokers and the latter with how to game a gaming system. I've gotta pick them up again.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Being an Aunt VI

Luckily for me when my nephew Sheldon called to see if I could watch his daughter so he could take a two-hour exam, I had run four miles earlier. I had spent many hours with him and my other older nieces and nephews as kids. We still meet for lunch and shopping sprees. Most are in college, high school, and middle school. I haven't spent one on one time with the really younger ones. My youngest niece, my sister's daughter, is two years old, the same age as Destinee. But they live four hours away so babysitting duty has been pretty much not necessary; plus, they have a nanny. There are eight kids. My sister says that she's finished. This time I think she's serious. We thought that she was trying to catch up to our mom.

When Destinee arrived, I had to first calm her down after screaming for her dad for about 15 minutes straight. I offered her all kinds of treats, including a treasured windup music box which only caught her attention intermittently. I had to keep saying "Shhh, can you hear the music?" She would stop crying enough to help me wind the music box up again, but start wailing again. I jumped around, sang nursery rhymes, and got on my hand and knees playing "peek a boo." She was fascinated by my actions but was still bent on going with her dad. I thought she would never stop screaming. But she did calm down eventually and we had a snack and headed to Borders.

As with most of the Ellis clan, she is as independent as any. She just walked through the children's section of Borders like she was home and had so much to say about each and every book, stuffed animal and rattling trinket. I guess they put things in little bins so kids can reach them easily. But, boy, did I have to walk through with arms loaded with things, asking her to put toys back in bins when she was finished with them. I had to tell her each time that she could only get one of each instead of three of the same with slight variations. She never actually chose two of the exact same toys. I thought this was very perceptive of her. She was very discerning. (Did you notice her facial expression in the photo?) She just wanted so many things.

"Which do you want?" I asked, putting the load of things that I had in my hand on the floor to hold each up. "This one or that one?" "That one." "Okay, good." But it wasn't for me as I could barely hold one more thing and follow her too. Do they have baskets at Borders? A few times I wanted to go and look but I could not take her away from the toys and books long enough to find one and I was already a bit nervous about keeping an eye on her every single second in such a busy store. She was walking around like she knew the store well and she knows no strangers.

After about an hour, I was exhausted. I had run four miles earlier, but it was like I hadn't. I think the stress of running behind her with arms packed so high and dropping things occasionally (Why didn't I just stack them up somewhere until we were ready to go?), seeking to teach her lessons as we walked about from bin to bin and book to book, and keeping an eye on her every single second was a bit taxing to say the least. "Come, Destinee, let's read a book." I was happy she thought this was a good idea because I needed a break. Other kids thought it was too because they gathered around as if it was story hour. I learned how to tell stories from my Aunt Dorothy who often took me with her shopping and to her house for tea and biscuits. There were mini stories always, lessons in behavior that were quite fun.

Watching Destinee I also remembered just what an amazing mother we had. She raised 12 children alone without losing her mind. She was always calm, fun, and steady, even when inside she must have wanted to loose it. She never did. We left Borders with a big bag of goodies. On the ride home she went to sleep. I guess she was exhausted too. On the way to Borders we sang songs the entire way, many of which I made up. I got that from my mom. For all of my older nieces and nephews she composed a special song for each at their births. They still sing them today. One that I particularly love is "Grandma's baby 'leepy." Roberto used to say, "Grandma, I'm 'leepy." He was the only niece or nephew who would actually ask to take a nap. Most were super rambunctious and would run until they dropped.

The kids used to keep me hopping. But they also knew quite well that there were certain boundaries that could not be crossed and that they had responsibilities, as I insisted upon for Destinee, even at her young age, like putting toys back in the bins when she finished playing with them. I was not opposed to tapping their little hands too. They loved me, but I insisted on discipline. When Sheldon left he said, "I know she'll be okay. You were so good with us. Thank you so much, Auntie Judith." "It's going to be fun, Sheldon." Yep, it was really fun, but when he arrived I was happy to see him. But there will be a next time and I will be happy to see her again.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Being a Genius III

"Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go to the making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius."

--Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Love is the soul of genius. The soul of genius is divine.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Being a Racist

What's wrong with this video and why is it that conservative groups, with statistics by Rasmussen, the hired consultant for the former administration, put such ads together? This kind of ad is nothing new for conservatives. Think of George H. Bush's Willie Horton ad or Bob Corker's "call me" ad against Harold Ford, Jr.

Not that progressives are perfect by any means, but overall I don't think that they use race so divisively in political ads as conservatives. (If there are such ads by progessives, please let me know.) I had not even heard that Americans were attacking President Obama's stance for health care reform in racist terms, except for the teabaggers with their overtly racist signs.

If Rasmussen is to be believed, perhaps that 12% was taken at "tea party" events, where such sentiments are likely. (However, there is probably a case to be made for the underclass, usually minorities to a large degree, that is disproportionately without health care insurance.) President Jimmy Carter is unjustly maligned in this video. I think he was responding to the blatant racism on display at these "tea party" events from rallies to town halls.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Being Given Much

"To whom much is given much is required."

--Luke 12:48

We often think of this scripture relevant to abundant wealth. But I saw it differently when I read it recently after having committed it to memory since my youth: Since much is a relative term, we are all required to give. Give something.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Being Inspired by Others

My friend, Dave Wheeler, posted this video on his blog last week and it touched me profoundly. It's truly inspirational.

Everybody can be great....because anybody
can serve. You don’t have to have a college
degree to serve. You don’t have to have to
make your subject and your verb agree to
serve. You only need a heart full of grace.
A soul generated by love.

--Martin Luther King, Jr.

(Thanks, Dave!)

Being Built on Debt

Andrew Ross Sorkin wrote a great piece in the New York Times, "A Financial Mirage in the Desert", where he writes that "for the last couple of years, the running joke on Wall Street was 'Dubai, Mumbai, Shanghai or goodbye.' If you were the C.E.O. of a troubled investment bank desperately looking for cash, you made a pilgrimage to one of those three cities with hat in hand. They were the places most likely to write a quick billion-dollar check; their eagerness should have also been a tip-off. Now you have to wonder about Mumbai and Shanghai, too. Are they next in line to take a fall?"

I'm wondering if debt and the service economy go hand in hand and if our new economy is all a big mirage, for where there is decreasing production what is the basis for service? What's there to service? The mirage seems not only relevant to Dubai, but to our own economy if we are not careful. It seems to me that businesses, small and large, have to largely build and people need to work in order for there to be stability in the economy. This is how our middle class was built. How these Wall Street banks are currently investing can't be the bedrock of the economy if we are going to be viable, not to mention that they will undoubtedly need a hundred billion dollar bailout out again, perhaps this time over multiple trillions.

Citigroup lent Dubai $8 billion on December 14, 2008 after being bailed out by taxpayers for $25 billion and then another infusion of $20 billion the month before. Do you think they'll need another bailout? It seems that Citgroup hasn’t learned its lesson on structuring risky derivatives even though the government (you and I) has a large stake in this bank. While Dubai is building, largely on the backs of slave labor, it seems like a capitalist city built on debt that has gone amuck. David Rubenstein, the co-founder of the private equity giant Carlyle Group pointed out in the article, "You know, they don't have any oil."

Is our economy being built on debt which is in this case a risky derivative? Investments banks hold 6 trillion in financial assets while commercial banks hold 4 trillion. (The distinction is actually murky as Wall St. banks are acting as commercial banks with backing by the FDIC although they hold no deposits.) Is an economy built largely on service a "mirage?" Is service based on debt where there is decreasing production, in essence, a risky derivative?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Being Ellington Ellis II

"What do you have that you have not received?"

--Ellington Ellis

My brother spoke these words to me this evening in an extended conversation that got me thinking. Innovation, ideas, creativity, wisdom and knowledge are not formed in a vacuum.

Being Zbigniew Brzezinski III

Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security adviser for Jimmy Carter, is one of the most eminent foreign policy experts. There is a reason that I have written of him more than once here. I admire him greatly. He is a model for what we need today. He is a voice of reason, he is brilliant, he is well-informed, he is wise, and he is fair.

Dr. Brzezinski appeared on Morning Joe after President Obama gave his speech on Afghanistan. He agrees with President Obama and clearly outlines the assumed "ambiguities" in Afghanistan that wasn't addressed in the speech, partially because of the nature of the conflict and our position. As always, his appearance was brilliant. When asked by Arianna Huffington of the legitimization of the Karzai government as defined by many experts he responded that America should not throw stones:

Who are we to seriously be preaching [such] a crusade? We have a financial sector that is voraciously greedy and exploitative, to put it mildly. We have a Congress which is not immune to special interests. And we have an electoral system that is based largely on private donations which precipitate expectations of rewards. The notion of us going to the Afghans and preaching purity is comical... I think we should just quit that stuff.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Perhaps Dr. Brzezinski should be directly advising President Obama, if he isn't already. I would also hope that politicians in and around Washington, both old and young, sit down and take notice of this national treasure. In fact, we all have a lot to learn from him.

Being Obese

Some of us might be surprised about the US Department of Health's obesity standard. We may indeed be walking around obese. In case you want to know, you can calculate your BMI here. I have been working out with a trainer three days a week and working out a total of six days a week in order to get back to my optimum weight.

When I looked at this photo taken of an obese man by a flight attendant on an American Airline flight, my first thought wasn't about obesity, but about safety. It went something like, "this man is a safety hazard to everyone on that plane in case of an emergency." On the lighter side, I don't know how the flight attendants got the cart up and down the aisle.

What do you think? Should such obese people be required to buy two seats for the safety of the flight?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Being a White House Correspondent

We have been talking here on this blog about the lack of professionalism in the media. April Ryan of American Urban Radio did not disappoint. I was appalled at her questions and the way in which she asked them. She asked tabloid-like questions about the "party crashers" and did not allow Gibbs to answer without rudely jumping in with responses like, "answer the question." Who does she think she's talking to and where does she think she is?

After being tested repeatedly White House Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs, shot back with a clip of his own, instructing Ryan to "calm down" and "take a deep breath," adding "I do this with my son and that's what happens." The other news correspondents audibly respond. Gibbs is well known for his quick terse responses. I have written of him here.

Ryan became more petulant. "Don't play with me." Or else? I wonder if she forgot where she was. She was in the briefing room at the White House questioning whether the Social Secretary, Desiree Rogers, came to the state dinner to be the "belle of the ball" thereby "overshadowing the first lady." I have never seen such ignorance and disrespect of the Office of the President. There are serious issues to address in this country and April Ryan has fallen way short. American Urban Radio should reassign her.

The funny thing is that I used to watch Ryan during the last administration and I never saw such disrespect or familiarity at the White House then. Her questions during this recent briefing were inappropriate, not to mention her tone and neck bending sista from the hood responses. It's like Shaniqua was in the House. The only problem is that this was not Ryan's house. In fact, if I was at home my mother would have set me straight immediately as Gibbs did. Well, I guess Gibbs is not her parent. Oh, well. I thought he was more than patient.

Don't take my word for it. Watch this exchange in the White House briefing room:

What do you think? Should Ryan continue in her position? Was Gibbs' response appropriate?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Being for the Public Option X

According to a recent poll Reuters reports that "most Americans would like to see a public option in health insurance reform but doubt anything Congress does will lower costs or improve care in the short term, according to a poll released on Thursday."
The survey of 2,999 households by Thomson Reuters Corp shows a public skeptical about the cost, quality and accessibility of medical care.

Just under 60 percent of those surveyed said they would like a public option as part of any final healthcare reform legislation, which Republicans and a few Democrats oppose.

Here are some of the results of the telephone survey of 2,999 households called from November 9-17 as part of the Thomson Reuters PULSE Healthcare Survey:

* Believe in public option: 59.9 percent yes, 40.1 percent no.

* 86 percent of Democrats support the public option versus 57 percent of Independents and 33 percent of Republicans.

The nationally representative survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.8 percent.
Are Congress members elected to Washington at the behest of the people?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Being Voyeuristic

Who's business is it what goes on between Tiger Woods and his wife? I have been absolutely disgusted that the media will not leave this couple alone. Something has to be done about the intrusion into the personal lives of others. We have to change this voyeuristic culture. Why should Woods have to come out and admit to anything publicly? While he spoke of "transgressions," he should not have to have said one word. What kind of power do we give the media when we feel forced to respond publicly to a private matter? An admission of guilt won't end the speculation in his life or others.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Being in Afghanistan IV

May God bless America and Afghanistan. May God bless President Obama and President Karzai. May God bless the people of America and Afghanistan.

President Obama delivered a great speech tonight. While I am against war, I am not naive enough to think that there will never be another war.

May God bless us, one and all.

Being Deficit Neutral

Arianna Huffington asked Ben Stein a very good question on Larry King last night to which he had no reasonable answer. It went something like this: Why is it that we require health care reform to be deficit neutral and not require the same of war? The response to the question was that we always did it that way. China is literally banking on our continued conflicts and rising debt. It seems that we will not disappoint.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Being for Main Street

Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor, made three excellent suggestions on what to do for Main Street. He contends that Wall Street has no shame. While the people bailed them out to the sum of over $700 billion, they refuse to assist Americans who are underwater on their mortgages and lend to small businesses, instead setting aside multiple billions for executives and traders. Goldman Sachs set aside $17 billion and JP Morgan Chase around $5 billion.

To assist Main Street, Reich proposes the following:

Congress and the Obama administration should give homeowners the right to go to a bankruptcy judge and have their mortgages modified.

And while they're at it, resurrect the Glass-Steagall Act that used to separate investment from commercial banking, so Wall Street can't continue to use other people's money to gamble.

Finally, before Goldman hands out $17 billion in bonuses, claw back the $13 billion Goldman took from AIG and the rest of us and add it to the pool of money going for mortgage relief.
I would also like to see a real program that targets lending for small businesses during this crisis. Goldman has set "up a crudely conceived $500 million PR program to help Main Street." But a "PR program" is hardly one that will be most beneficial to small businesses, although I'm sure likely recipients would not turn it down. Small businesses are really hurting.

Might Reich's proposal work better in relief for Main Street?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Being Inspired by Others

I was born with music inside me. Music was one of my parts. Like my ribs, my kidneys, my liver, my heart. Like my blood. It was a force already within me when I arrived on the scene. It was a necessity for me-like food or water.

--Ray Charles

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Being Homeless Children

During this financial crisis let's not forget the children. On CNN this morning I saw a segment where 75% of kids in a school in Nevada are homeless and came to school hungry until the principal, Sherrie Gahn, changed things. She turned things around through private and public partnerships where the children not only get meals but clothes, shoes and haircuts. There is even a birthday party once a month for all of the children who have birthdays where there is pizza, presents, and loads of fun. The parents participate by volunteering for various progams. During this incredible difficult time for many families, let's not forget these in and around our communities. We can make a difference. Let's do whatever we can.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Being a Princess

Disney has finally after 71 years made a movie where the princess is an African American. In its history there has been an Asian, Arabian, American Indian and now an African American. As I watched parents talk about their insecurity of not knowing whether they were good enough to be the princess as kids, I had to think about that. While I understand the importance of image and appreciate the necessity of diversity, my mom raised us in such a way that the body was important and we were taught to honor it, but we were never made to feel as if skin, outside of its awesome protection function, was most important, even when others sought to make us feel as if ours was particularly unbecoming.

We were very much raised with black consciousness. We had books by black authors from the poems of Langston Hughes to the novels of Zora Neale Hurston to the magnum opus that is The Souls of Black Folks by W.E.B. Dubois and had examples of evey ilk nearby. But we were extended beyond the largest organ of mankind to a deep seated fundamental bedrock of belonging to the human race by the sheer power and skill of our familial examples and the works of the above writers. I wonder if we needed the public television images as some others, both black and white. We were black and proud. I remember one brother in particular repeating the sixties anthem, "Say it loud. I'm black and I'm proud."

Yes, there were difficulties in middle school and at camp where I had to explain my hair and why my palms and feet were lighter than the skin on other parts of my body. I would let the kids touch my hair and answer questions about skin in general as if I was a dermatologist, even at the age of twelve. Parents would ask me far out questions. I was often less patient with them. But because our mother wisely balanced self-pride with a global consciousness (we had subscriptions to the National Geographic and had editions of encyclopedias every ten years or so) we were made to feel proud of our heritage and fully appreciated the beauty of others.

In thinking about this upcoming movie, I also remembered how I felt seeing the Cosby Show for the first time. It was great to see this family as a representation of my heritage. But for me it had more to do with balancing a public image to the likes of Good Times, What's Happening and the Jeffersons, all of which I really liked, with those that I knew. While we liked these shows, we had to sneak and watch these shows as they were not allowed. Another show that we liked was All in the Family . This too was unknown to our mom. We had one hour of television a day and it included shows like The Waltons, The Electric Company, Fat Albert, and Little House on the Prairie.

Mom was a stickler about television viewing. Besides the acceptable shows above, we watched The Today Show and the CBS Nightly News with Walter Cronkite and were expected to say something intelligent about what we were viewing. We discussed national and international politics as we sat for breakfast before school and after dinner. We talked about culture, presently and historically. The conversation was never focused on being an African American. It was about the beauty of who we were rooted in an intimate knowledge of our historical strength and the beauty of our struggle in a global context. While images mattered, we were first thoroughly human. Would a black Disney princess have mattered? I'm not sure.

Being a Reality Show Contestant III

Reality show contestants or contestant wannabes will do just about anything for their five minutes of fame, even if it means possibly harming their children as with "Balloon Boy" who vomited repeatedly trying to sustain a lie on national TV while his older siblings looked in horror, caught in the middle between care of their sibling and maintaining the family secret, or appearing at a state dinner uninvited where the situation could have been dangerous for President Obama, First Lady Michelle, and Vice President Biden. We could have had a national crisis in a matter of moments. I have absolutely no respect for the likes of these and think that they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

In cases such as the "Balloon Boy" it might be more difficult to prosecute both parents because that could possibly leave the children without a parent for a time. But the question has to be asked what kind of parents would even ask their children to lie in order to be considered for a reality show. The crashers of the state dinner were also being considered for the upcoming spin-off reality show in Washington, "The Real Housewives of DC." These people should be prosecuted for lying to federal officers which is a crime and made an example of. The Secret Service is also at fault here and somebody should be held responsible for this egregious lapse.

Reality show contestants or contestant wannabes that do such things should, as a part of any plea deal, be forbidden to benefit from their unlawful irresponsible actions. Any thoughts?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Being Thanksgiving Day

One Day is there of the Series

One Day is there of the Series
Termed Thanksgiving Day.
Celebrated part at Table
Part in Memory.

Neither Patriarch nor Pussy
I dissect the Play
Seems it to my Hooded thinking
Reflex Holiday.

Had there been no sharp Subtraction
From the early Sum--
Not an Acre or a Caption
Where was once a Room--

Not a Mention, whose small Pebble
Wrinkled any Sea,
Unto Such, were such Assembly
'Twere Thanksgiving Day.

--Emily Dickinson

Happy Thanksgiving! This day I am thankful for you.

Being Thankful

In a state that has been among the hardest hit with an unemployment rate of 14.3% and a city with an unemployment rate of 25%, Michiganders and Detroiters turned out by the thousands for the annual Thanksgiving Day parade. As I looked at photo from the parade, I wondered how many children will go hungry tonight. I wondered how many parents will feel insignificant as they are unable provide for their families.

On this day and every day thereafter let's show our gratitude for our blessings by blessing others. Today many showed up and participated in this Detroit tradition to perhaps chase the specters away. May God bless families all over America this Thanksgiving Day and may we continue to be a blessing to each other.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Being Led Zeppelin

My friend sent me this classic Led Zeppelin song this evening.

Love the song! Give all of your love now.

Being an American

At a book signing in Ohio Sarah Palin supporters struggle to define why they would vote for her. One supporter says emphatically that Palin "is what America is." If this is so, the country is in real trouble. The video is alarming, completely astonishing from beginning to end. It makes me very sad.

I repeat, if this is a good representation of Americans, we are in real trouble. We can forget about competing globally. The ignorance is extraordinary. Using an example one supporter said, "suppose that we do drill, not just for oil but for gas." I don't think she was talking about natural gas. She continued, "We need to get the polar bears off the endangered list so we can drill."

Are these folks a good representation of Americans?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Being Goldman Sachs XI

Astute readers of this blog and another whose focus is business have commented that we should move on instead of continually writing about Goldman Sachs. We should not dwell on this crisis they have insisted. They believe that the country doesn't benefit from evoking the past and that anger doesn't have a place in this crisis. We need to simply get on with the business of fixing the problem. The problem, however, includes the past and without it a viable present is not possible. Goldman Sachs should not only be held accountable for their role in the crisis but they need to do something about it. They have benefited at the front end in fees and the back end in bailouts.

Last week, the Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd C. Blankfein, gave a half-ass apology for Goldman's significant role in the crisis by engaging in collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) and securing these bogus derivatives with AIG. The government bailed AIG out for $90 billion of which Goldman Sachs got $12.9 billion on top of the $10 billion received by the government. Blankfein said that his company "participated in things that were clearly wrong," but did not say what it did nor offer an acceptable solution to repair the damage. Americans are suffering.

Goldman Sachs seems blinded by greed and engulfed in a particular elitism that enabled it to not as Blankfein said to do "God's work" but to be the beneficiary of an unjust god who rewards executive failure with billions and makes the people bear it. Goldman Sachs recently announced a $500 million token to small business. (It set aside $16.7 billion this year for bonuses to those who brought on the crisis.) "The money will be welcomed by recipients, but if Goldman wants to make a meaningful contribution, it would have to be in the billions and aimed more directly at taxpayers," said the New York Times.

This unjust God allows Brian Griffiths, a Goldman Sachs international adviser, to make statements to excuse billions in bonuses by saying "We have to tolerate the inequality as a way to achieving greater prosperity and opportunity for all...'To whom much is given much is required,'"as if the aggregate of the people did not bailout Goldman Sachs for billions while they suffered. Without the billions in bailout, Goldman Sachs would be sacked.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Being Inspired by Others

There is nothing more inspiring than love. I dedicate this beautiful song to the man of my inspiration. You feel like home to me.

Lose yourself in love. Rekindle it, if need be. Love inspires!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Being a True Leader

In a wonderful post, "Not Fitting In", David Porter wrote on leadership. He posits that true leaders "don't fit." Yes, true leaders often don't fit, but wise ones understand their surroundings and lead in a way that will both challenge others and bring them along.

True leaders by their very nature are out front, ahead of others. This can be difficult for the leader and follower. It takes understanding on all sides. True leaders lead with wisdom that enable mutual understanding, being by their very nature visionaries.

True leaders provide the best environment of understanding which challenges and fosters others in various degrees. The onus is on them; the outcome is on all.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Being Skinny II

After the recent comment by Kate Moss that "nothing taste as good as skinny feels," W magazine has taken heat for a photo of the 47 year old Demi Moore who looks as if she's missing a chunk of her hip. I think the photo is nice, but I do wonder how her young adult and teenage daughters feel about how "hot" their mom looks. I wonder if there is ever any competition.

I wonder if women will ever feel as if they can age gracefully without been pulled and pumped. Moore appears to be much thinner here than she was when she was actually much younger in Ghost, for example. She has never looked so angular. Moore says that the image has not been photoshopped. That might be hard to sell.

Being Goldman Sachs X

In response to Lloyd C. Blankfein, Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs, that he was doing "God's work," Andy Stern says two words, "get real." Mr. Stern breaks it down very simply in a post on the Huffington Post:

The reality is, Goldman Sachs continues to profit off the home foreclosure of families who are struggling to make ends meet.

The reality is, Lloyd Blankfein and his fellow executives continue rewarding themselves for their bad behavior - paying out $16.7 billion in compensation and bonuses in the first nine months of 2009 alone.

The reality is, Wall Street firms like Goldman Sachs continue to engage in the same risky behaviors the drove us to financial collapse.

So, when Lloyd Blankfein issues his press release saying Goldman Sachs has suddenly seen the light - they're suddenly making a commitment to small businesses with a $500 million donation over the next five years - my response is simple: get real.
Do read the entire article. It's worth it. The question remains what are we going to do about it? I am a big proponent of clawbacks.

Being an Aunt V

I love being an aunt! I have 26 nephews and nieces and it's amazing how fast they grow. One even has a child of his own.

Hey, I'm getting old, for real!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Being in a Battle

Whatever you're going through, be encouraged.

The battle is the Lord's!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Being Delores Lee Ellis IV

My mother passed four years ago, but there isn't a day that goes by that I am not reminded of her words of wisdom. For her, living was showing love and looking at ourselves and making the needed change. I was reminded of this today when I came across a poem she wrote. Honesty in living was paramount for her.

"If Jesus Came to Your House"

If Jesus came to your house to spend a day or two,
If He came unexpectedly, I wonder what you'd do.
Oh, I know you'd give your nicest room to such an honored Guest,
And all the food you'd serve Him would be the very best.
And you would keep assuring Him you're glad to have Him there,
That serving Him in your home is joy beyond compare.
But when you saw Him coming would you meet Him at the door
With arms outstretched in welcome to your Heavenly Visitor?
Or would you have to change your clothes before you let Him in.
Or hide some magazines and put the Bible where they'd been?
Would you turn off the radio and hope he hadn't heard,
And wish you hadn't uttered that last, loud, nasty word?
Would you hide your popular music and put some hymn book out?
Could you let Jesus walk right in or would you rush about?
And I wonder if the Savior spent a day or two with you
Would you keep right on doing the things you always do?
Would you keep right on saying the things you always say?
Would life for you continue as it does from day to day?
Would your family conversation keep up its usual pace?
And would you find it hard each meal to say a table grace?
Would you sing the songs you sing and read the books you read.
And let Him know the things on which your mind and soul feed?
Would you take Jesus with you everywhere you'd planned to go?
Or would you maybe change your plans for just a day or so?
Would you be glad to have Him stay forever on and on?
Or would you sigh with great relief when He at last was gone?
It might be interesting to know what you would do,
If Jesus came in person to spend some time with you.

My mother quoted this poem to us occasionally and I remember thinking, I am sooo not there. Although I had shortcomings, it had just the desired effect. It left me thinking about my actions and words and how I could be better. I am still thoughtful of these words today even though I miss the mark.

I miss my mom, dearly. She remains very near.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Being a Liar

By all accounts and her own contradictory words, Sarah Palin is a liar.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Being a Joke IV

On ABC's This Week, conservative New York Times columnist, David Brooks, said this of Sarah Palin: "She's a joke. I can't take her seriously. The idea that this potential talk show host is considered seriously for the Republican nomination, believe me, it will never happen. Republican primary voters are not going to elect a talk show host." The fact that most of Americans know that she is a joke is not news. This has been borne out repeatedly. I have long written elsewhere and on this blog that she is a joke.

To think that Sarah Palin could have been a heartbeat away from the presidency is very shameful of the Republican party. When she was chosen as the Republican VP candidate I was incensed. Yet, "Country First" was the slogan plastered in the hall of the Republican convention last year where she splashed on the national scene, winking her Wasila eyes and waving her evangelical Christian right flag. This was not love of country; it was a purely political gamble to gain the White House by an aging war hero who in my eyes disgraced himself with this selection.

Sarah Palin will soon appear on the cover of Newsweek in short shorts. She is precisely where she should be, away from policy and in photos with pom-poms. How fantastical! All that's needed now is the Live Nude Girls movie crew. Look out Kim Cattrall! Is this what Palin was going after all along with all the winking and batting of eyes during the campaign? To those who like this kind of thing, eat your hearts out! Just keep her away from policy. She's an aging sex kitten wannabe. But I'm cool with that. I'm also cool with her making loot. Just keep her away from policy. "She's a joke."

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Being Inspired by Others

"I am convinced that there are universal currents of Divine Thought vibrating the ether everywhere and that any who can feel these vibrations is inspired."

--Richard Wagner

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Being Skinny

"Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels," Kate Moss told WWD. She then added "It sounds really corny, but I think that if you're beautiful inside, it shows on the outside for sure."

If "nothing tastes as good as skinny feels," what do you think young women and girls, even older ones, will strive for? What is the real message here? The article in WWD is entitled, "Kate Moss: The Waif that Roared."

Being Goldman Sachs IX

"A blue ribbon commission with subpoena powers should be established."

Hank Greenberg, the former chairman and CEO of AIG, made this comment in a panel discussion on C-Span, "Government Aid to Private Industry." The eye-opener was that AIG had worked out a discount of 40% with its counterparties before the bailout. As a private company, AIG was doing exactly what it needed to do to stay viable, to stay in business. Otherwise, it would have had to file for bankruptcy. Some were allowed to fail others weren't. I wonder why?

When the bailout occurred AIG's counterparties received 100 percent. I do not think that it was an accident that Henry Paulson, the former chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs was the Treasury Secretary when the bailout occurred. Goldman Sachs received not only $10 billion dollars from the government but an additional $12.9 billion, but not before eliminating its competition, Bear Stearns and Lehmann Brothers. Under Paulson, these two investments banks were allowed to fail.

I agree with Hank Greenberg completely that a commission with subpoena powers should be established" and that if it is determined that there is wrongdoing that these should be help responsible for their actions. Below are a list of AIG counterparties that received 100 percent instead of the 40 percent discount that AIG had negotiated. The New York Times listed the banks that received bailout fund via AIG. $38.8 billion went to US banks, $50.2 billion went to foreign banks, $12.0 billion went to municipal bonds and $84.0 billion is still unaccounted for.

Here is the list of banks that received TARP funds via AIG:

$12.9B Goldman Sachs
$12.0B Bank of America/Merrill Lynch
$5.2B Bank of America
$6.8B Merrill Lynch
$11.9B Societe Generale
$11.8B Deutsche Bank
$8.5B Barclays
$5.0B UBS
$4.9B BNP Paribas
$3.5B HSBC Bank
$3.3B Calyon
$2.3B Citigroup
$2.2B Dresdner Kleinwort
$1.6B JPMorgan/Morgman Stanley
$0.4B JPMorgan
$1.2B Morgan Stanley
$1.5B Wachovia
$1.5B ING
$1.1B Bank of Montreal
$1.0B Deutsche Zentral-Genossenschaftsbank
$0.8B Rabobank
$0.7B Royal Bank of Scotland
$0.7B DZ Bank
$0.5B KFW
$0.3B Banco Santander
$0.4B Dresdner Bank AG
$0.4B Credit Suisse
$0.2B Citidel

The "blue-ribbon commission" Henry Greenberg suggests will hopefully get to the bottom of this. Although I must admit to wondering about the impact of work currently being done by the Congressional Oversight Panel charged with figuring out exactly what happened to the TARP funds. I have yet to hear what happened to the $84 billion still unaccounted for.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Being Non-News

President Obama was absolutely right about Fox News. Check this out. The deception here by Fox and Rep. Michelle Bachmann is alarming.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Sean Hannity Uses Glenn Beck's Protest Footage
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

Thank you, Jon Stewart!

Being Productive

In an interview with the Financial Times, Lloyd C. Blankfein, the CEO and Chairman of Goldman Sachs in an effort to explain their multiple billion dollar bonuses said:

I often hear references to higher compensation at Goldman. What people fail to mention is that net income generated per head is a multiple of our peer average. The people of Goldman Sachs are among the most productive in the world.
How is this so when Goldman Sachs had to be bailed out to the tune of mulitple billions and hedged through AIG for additional billions, not to mention that Goldman Sachs doesn't produce anything?

As an investment bank Goldman Sachs employees are largely paper shufflers, essentially debt traders. Debt is about all it produces and that not very well since it need billions in bailout.

By the way, the point above about the "peer average" makes it right, eh? It's not that the industry itself needs reform or that the average is out of wack as Goldman Sachs has far fewer employees as pointed out in the Financial Times article.

Wall Street banks executives are so far removed from reality.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Being a Veteran II

On this Veterans Day may God bless all the veterans and their families. Last week I wrote a piece, Being a Veteran, which spoke of my dad's service in the Army and how this must have affected his life and decisions thereafter. Sunday, I saw Bill Moyer's documentary, "The Good Soldier," which chronicles the lives of four soldiers upon their return. Here is a preview:

Watching this documentary, I could not help but to think of the long-lasting affect that war has soldiers and the lost of life of soliders and innocent civilians. Everything is not fair in love and war. We bear the responsibility of our actions. As the WW II veteran said, "War is about killing" no matter the mission. May God bless us all.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Being in a Wonderful World

Louis Armstrong recorded this rendition of "What a Wonderful World" towards the end of life. He was, in fact, ill at the time of this recording. We often see this great artist smiling with the brightest eyes. You can see that light here but the pain of life is also heard in his voice and tempo. I always heard this pathos even in his most upbeat songs and saw it in his wide toothy grin.

Armstrong was more than an entertainer. He was a dispenser of hope. In spite of his immense popularity, he endured tremendous hardship in the segregated south and as he travelled. Yet, he endured. Even though he headlined major clubs, he could not stay in certain hotels in the south and north. But the beauty here is that he still saw the world as wonderful. Our perspective matters.

It's a wonderful world! Make it so for yourself by how you see it.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Being Goldman Sachs IX

Goldman Sachs executives are sounding more and more like televangelists who say things like "We are doing the work of the ministry. 'Give and it shall be given unto you.' By giving to this telecast you will receive a blessing in due season."

Isn't it funny that giving to televangelists is immediate while receiving for givers is delayed? Often times those who receive rarely give to the givers. Televangelists have done well in this regard, investing in their personal wealth. Many churches have become businesses and use Wall Street as a model. Wall Street executives are now taking their lead from televangelists.

A few weeks ago Brian Griffiths, a Goldman Sachs international adviser, said "We have to tolerate the inequality as a way to achieving greater prosperity and opportunity for all...'To whom much is given much is required.'" Now, Times Online reports that Goldman Sachs' Chairman and CEO, Lloyd C. Blankfein, said that he was doing "God's work." Oh, really? Methinks they're all prosyletizing Pharisees.

Here are the words of Jesus Christ:

"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are."

--Matthew 23:15

Many televangelists proselytize all over the world converting people to Christianity but have made them by far worse then they were. (When people convert they are usually looking for a better way of existing.) The new converts follow the bad pracitices of ministers under the guise of Christianity, perverting the message of Jesus.

Goldman Sachs invests all over the world using the beauty of a free market democratic system. But the market needs ethics. Through their practices they have indebted the world, perhaps making some by far worse than they were in the long run. The same kind of practices are then perpetuated by the debtors under the guise of a free market system, even if democracy isn't embraced. Inextricably bound to the highest form of democracy are justice and fairness.

All progression is not necessarily progress and all deliverance is not necessarily salvation.

(By the way, the Times Online article above is a must read. It looks at all sides fairly and is very enlightening.)