Saturday, February 28, 2009

Being Beautiful

"How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the
gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!"

Apostle Paul, Romans 10:15

Let's be active in actually bringing good things to others.

These are the feet of the beautiful.

Being Poetry

Today in my inbox I received a most beautiful gift, the likes that I have never received before. Cynthia of Epiphany:Rebirth wrote the most beautiful poem for me. I would like to share it with you.

"On Seeing Judith"

Her eyes are stars which fell to a velvet lake
submersed and returned with spiritual wisdom.
There is a rare quality to her beauty, one that
transcends time filled with enlightment and Love.
She is twilight in a purple gown, scented with
enlightment and heavenly jasmine.
Each superior word is defined and elegant,
her Queenly heritage most evident.
Dearest Cynthia, thank you so very much for this most beautiful gift. You so know how your words move me. To think that you would write such about me is overwhelming indeed.

Ah, thank you, beautiful poet. I shall cherish this poem always.

We are all poetry.

Being Words

Words are what we do with them.

Being Imaginative II

The imagination has always captured me. It has caused me to stay up many nights in a state of blissful wonderment and creativity. I have written of its beauty to create here before.

When I came across a quote this morning by Napoleon Bonaparte on Peanut Butter Bound, I was again reminded of its import in government, business, music, art, dance, etc. Create! Innovate!

"Imagination," Napoleon wrote, "governs the world."


Being Tommie Smith

The Good Man

The good man.
He is still enhancer, renouncer.
In the time of detachment,
in the time of the vivid heather and affectionate evil,
in the time of oral
grave grave legalities of hate - all real
walks our prime registered reproach and seal.
Our successful moral.
The good man.

Watches our bogus roses, our rank wreath, our
love's unreliable cement, the gray
jubilees of our demondom.
Counsel! Good man.
Require of us our terribly excluded blue.
Constrain, repair a ripped, revolted land.
Put hand in hand land over.
the abler droughts and manias of the day
and a felicity entreat.
your pledges, reinforce your aides, renew
stance, testament.

-- Gwendolyn Brooks

Thank you Mr. Tommie Smith for your love and testament. You make us proud.

Being John Carlos

A Certain Man

A certain man wishes to be a prince
Of this earth; he also wants to be
A saint and master of the being-world.
Conscience cannot exist in the first:
The second cannot exist without conscience.
Therefore he, who has enough conscience
To be disturbed but not enough to be
Compelled, can neither reject the one
Nor follow the other...

-- Jean Toomer

Thank you Mr. John Carlos for your conscience and courage. You are our prince.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Being a Blogger

After reading the words of an administrator yesterday on a blog that I frequent and comment often, I searched for the words to define the direct open reprimand given, while perhaps understanding the need for regulation.

I needed not search very long. Today, the brilliant Italian physicist, photographer, and poet of The Dusty Lens my friend, Andrea Chincarini, said it best in a comment on his blog:

"To each its own and a blog is for bloggers."

(Amico caro, AC. Grazie tante. Le vostre parole parlano sempre tale verità e le vostre fotografie visualizzano la bellezza ed il mistero di vita. Le vostre foto parlano e le vostre parole immaginano.)

Dear Bloggers, friends and foes: This blog is for you. Welcome!

Being Disruptive II

John O'Leary wrote an excellent post recently on "creative disruption" where he uses The Beatles as an example. I have written here on being disruptive a few times. As brilliant as they are, disrupters are often marginalized and isolated.

While often being maligned, disrupters, in fact, are those who make the difference in business, painting, music, science, education, medicine, poetry, fashion, communities, novels, religion, community philosophy, etc.

Who are these disrupters?

Jesus Christ
Martin Luther
Joan of Arc
Toni Morrison
Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Jean Paul Gautier
Emily Dickinson
Friedrich Nietzsche
Chuck Berry
Tom Peters
Oscar Wilde
Leonardo Da Vinci
Gianni Versace
Muhammad Yunnus
Bela Bartok
Henry Miller
Malcolm X
Jean Paul Sartre
Marie Currier
Anita Roddick
Georgia O'Keefe
Nelson Mandela
Virgina Woolf
Igor Stravinsky
Vincent Van Gogh
Anais Nin
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Nat Turner

History is replete which such ones, yet we seek to allow disruption to be. Perhaps without the struggle it would not find a place or consistency. Perhaps resistance is at the heart of disruption a necessity.

Being in Black Face VII

Hurry! Michael Steele needs an intervention. Quick! Speaking to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Michael Steele, the new RNC "Black Face" Chairman, said according to CNN:

"Tonight, we tell America that Republican values, conservative values, are right for America, he said, admitting that the party has made some mistakes. "Tonight, we tell America: we know the past, we know we did wrong. MY BAD. But we go forward in appreciation of the values that brought us to this point."
To his response, CNN reports, the moderator, Minnesota Representative Michelle Bachman, responded, "MICHAEL STEELE! YOU BE DA MAN! YOU BE DA MAN."

If this wasn't so sad, it would be down right funny! But wait...I must admit to laughing hysterically. These people are completely off their rockers! They are completely tone deaf! Do they not get the pulse of where we are collectively? Why do they think we are stupid? Why have they completely misread where we are as a nation?

With the disaterous performance of Governor Jindhal, the ongoing embarassassing and Steppin' Fetchin' comments by RNC Chairman Steel, and the ill-suited words of Representative Bachman, no wonder the Republican Party is in desperate need of new leadership. By the way, "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher, a rising star and leader of the Republican Party, participated in a discussion at CPAC. As you might have already guessed, he was dressed as a plumber.

Hurry! The Republican leadership needs an intervention. Quick!

Being Destroyed by Debt

Bob Foster brought this documentary, "I.O.U.S.A," to my attention. It will probably be the most sobering clip that you will ever see about the state of the United States economy. I was aghast at the findings. I think it should run three times a week on all TV outlets for a solid month during Prime Time. I just wished that I had watched it a bit earlier. It's nearly 1:40 AM and I'm afraid I will get no sleep tonight.

A few of the most awakening facts are even if we ended the war in Iraq, rolled back the Bush tax cuts, and eliminated earmarks and pork barrel spending, our problems will not be solved. Another very very sobering fact is the trade deficit. This is simply outrageous! We have become dead last among the nations of the world that are buying more than their selling. Not to mention what we are receiving are cheap goods. With a country as big and rich in intellect and resources, it is shameful that we have become indebted to paper shufflers and not innovated by product producers.

It is incredibly hypocritical that those who are screaming about the current deficit spending and continued tax cuts have presided over the largest deficit spending in our Country's history. Both the Reagan and Bush W administrations were the worst. Yet, we still hear the Republican leaders in Congress today railing for more of the same. This is insane. The deficit increased tremendously throughout the Reagan administration and we were not even in a war and I guess those tax cuts did not work as planned either.

There are so many outrageous things in this video that its simply mind boggling that we could have allowed ourselves to get here. Who could have ever thought that we could have two wars, tax cuts, and personal debt spending, and there not be a perfect storm? It was no secret why Secretary of State Clinton tread softly in China on human rights issues. China currently holds the largest denomination of our Treasury Securities.

We most certainly have had a leadership problem. To think that Paul O'Neill, the former Treasury Secretary, was asked to lie about his release because he told the Bush administration in 2002 the truth about our dire situation is a stunning omission, though perhaps for many not surprising in the least. President Bush and Vice-President Cheney be ashamed of their actions. Maybe that Truth and Reconciliation Commission is indeed necessary. I wonder who else was told to lie in many matters. Mr. O'Neill appeared too honorable for the former administration. I guess Secretary Paulson was more to their liking for whatever reason.

At the end of the documentary my question was not when we were going to get out of this crisis, but how. It is going to require the effort of everyone to emerge from this very serious deficit crisis. As friend of mine often says, "debt is like cancer; it kills." But we really must know how bad it really is. I knew we were in a major crisis, but not to this extent. This is apparently what the President was aware of and chided for. Others thought that his Inaugural Address and tone thereafter were too somber. Because President Obama is so hopeful, many could not help but to think that he was bracing us for something huge.


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Being Leontyne Price

When I was at the University of Michigan studying music, I met this amazing opera singer, hearld as one of the greats of all time, backstage at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. She looked at me and with the warmest Mississippi southern accent said:

"You must be a singer"
"Yes, ma'am."
"Well, jump on in. The water's fine."

Leontyne Price sings this aria rather effortlessly, but it quite the difficult piece. Here is the passionate translation.

"Chi il bel sogno di Doretta"

Doretta's beautiful dream
Who could guess the beautiful dream Doretta had?
Why her mystery came to an end

One day a student kissed her on the mouth
And that kiss was the revelation:
It was the passion!
Mad love!
Mad happiness!
Who will ever be able again
To describe the light caress
Of a kiss so burning?

Oh! My dream!

Oh! My life!

Being Angela Davis

"What this country needs is more unemployed politicians."


Being Amid Bones

The streets are lined with big beautiful oak trees with massive limbs, many branches. "The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord." Many of the trunks have now shed; they stand like massive tall white bones one after another. Wind. Moving. "And sat me down in the midst of the valley." Bones with veins. I touch them. Smooth. "And it was full of bones." They are alive, but dead; I breathe. "Shall these bones live again?" I bend my head back, looking as far as I can upwards. Awestruck. Walking. Dead. "Speak to these bones." Live!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Being Bobby Jindal II

Here is conservative New York Times columinist, David Brooks, calling Jindal's response "nihislisim," "insane," "stale," "a disaster," and "unfortunate."

Could anyone have summed up this response more accurate?

Being George Will III

In response to President Obama and Republican Senator Coburn's hug, George Will made this comment: "I don't know when men started to hug each other, but hug they do, and look at that." That's great!

I didn't see this particular hug, but I did notice another one. At the end of speech President Obama embraced Jessie Jackson, Jr. and mouthed "I love you" to which the latter kissed him on the cheek and said, "I love you too." There could not be a more beautiful sign of support.

I'm assuming this would have sent Mr. Will right over the cliff. But I thought it was the most beautiful thing. I have 7 brothers, 5 remaining, and each time they end a phone conversation one will say to the other "I love you" to which the other will respond "I love you too."

Whenever we are together, whenever we see each other, which is at least once a week for those in the area typically on Sunday, we always hug each other -- men and men, women and women, kids and kids, and say "I love you." In fact, the men that I know, personally and professionally, often hug each other and express words of love, even a kiss.

Is this a generational thing?

Being President Barack Obama IV

There is no doubt why Americans and the people of the world are enthralled with President Barack Obama. He gives us hope. Here are some of the President's inspiring words in an address delivered to both houses of Congress.

The weight of this crisis will not determine the destiny of this nation. The answers to our problems don't lie beyond our reach. They exist in our laboratories and universities; in our fields and our factories; in the imaginations of our entrepreneurs and the pride of the hardest-working people on Earth. Those qualities that have made America the greatest force of progress and prosperity in human history we still possess in ample measure. What is required now is for this country to pull together, confront boldly the challenges we face, and take responsibility for our future once more.
The entire text can be read here.

Being Bobby Jindal

Who would ever vote for Bobby Jingle as president? His tone hits a sour note. What a hokey nerdy fellow who has not found his own voice. How can he lead nationally? As Michael Steele, he's just another non-substantive Black Face. What a response to President Obama's awesome speech already being heraled by presidential historians as one for the annals.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Being a Grumpy Old Man III

In the historic Fiscal Responsibility Summit, hosted by President Obama and designed for bipartisan input, the President singles out Senator McCain, setting him up honorably. The President spoke of the sincerity of Senator McCain. But instead of actually being sincere and asking a substantive question regarding pressing issues, Senator McCain seemed to want to shame the President, asking him about the proposed presidential helicopter. This was a mistake on many fronts, namely because the President turned what seemed intended as a moment of shame to one of honor and delight.

You gotta love this President! Just maybe he will indeed change the tone in Washington. We hope so.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Being Peggy Noonan V

An article by Peggy Noonan addresses our current financial crisis with aplomb and direction. It's incredibly relevant, wonderfully written, and hopeful. The article ends with this:

I end with a hunch that is not an unhappy one. Dynamism has been leached from our system for now, but not from the human brain or heart. Just as our political regeneration will happen locally, in counties and states that learn how to control themselves and demonstrate how to govern effectively in a time of limits, so will our economic regeneration. That will begin in someone's garage, somebody's kitchen, as it did in the case of Messrs. Jobs and Wozniak. The comeback will be from the ground up and will start with innovation. No one trusts big anymore. In the future everything will be local. That's where the magic will be. And no amount of pessimism will stop it once it starts.
This morning I was just thinking along these same lines. Tom Peters' post this afternoon affirmed what's needed in moving forward. Innovation begins with us at the local level, as does a host of other things including love, responsibility, accountability and trust.

Being a "Slumdog" Kid

CNN reports that the young stars of "Slumdog Millionaire" will soon return to the slums of India. I am utterly annoyed that these incredibly talented and beautiful kids will return to such abject poverty. Did they not have agents? What kind of contracts were signed? Were they completely taken advantage of?

Why weren't these beautiful talented kids payed well enough to elevate themselves and their immediate families after portraying such fantastic roles in this mega hit? Why dress these kids up in Hollywood's finest to walk on the Red Carpet only to return to such degradation? Yes, such experiences will be memorable. But a life elevated above such abject poverty is far better.

While I loved "Slumddog Millionaire," my love will soon turn to palpable hate if these kids were taken advantage of. I'm more than annoyed. I'm utterly outraged at the thought!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Being Georgia O'Keeffe II

"I know now that most people are so closely concerned with themselves that they are not aware of their own individuality. I can see myself, and it has helped me to say what I want to say ... in paint."

"I feel there is something unexplored about woman that only a woman can explore."

"I have things in my head that are not like what anyone has taught me ... shapes and ideas so near to me ... so natural to my way of being and thinking that it hasn't occurred to me to put them down."

Being Inspired by Others

Intermezzo from the opera, Cavalleria Rusticana, by Pietro Mascagni
Conducted by the great Riccardo Muti

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Being Worse than the Great Depression

Two renowned financial experts Paul Volker and George Soros said that they see this global financial crisis as worse than the Great Depression. I wonder if globalization has anything to do with this. Both speak about world markets and the rapid bottomless decline.

Is there a way of returning to the simplicity of community banking? Should we return to the Gold Standard as opposed to a standard of debt? God forbid we lose our Triple-A credit rating. Who then would buy our treasury bills and hold us hostage to certain policies?

We have become a complex global community of debt.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Being Earth, Wind and Fire

President Obama will be hosting Earth, Wind and Fire at the White House over the weekend. I so remember my older brothers, Haywood and Peter, when I was a kid with big 'fros, bell-bottoms, and platforms jammin' to Earth, Wind and Fire.

Gotta love it!

Being a Prick II

Here is White House press secretary Robert Gibbs' brilliant response to Rick Santelli's comments. Initially, I thought that Santelli was a trader; he is, in fact, a right wingnut prick of a reporter. I have already asked you for forgiveness in the first post. Did I not?

Being the Federal Reserve

According to Wikipedia, the Federal Reserve has the responsibility of "ensuring the the stability of the financial system." Its current responsibilities include:

To address the problem of banking panics
To serve as the central bank for the United States
To strike a balance between private interests of banks and the centralized responsibility of government
To supervise and regulate banking institutions
To protect the credit rights of consumers
To manage the nation's money supply through monetary policy to achieve the sometimes conflicting goals of maximum employment stable prices, including prevention of either inflation or deflation moderate long-term interest rates
To maintain the stability of the financial system and contain systemic risk in financial markets
To provide financial services to depository institutions, the U.S. government, and foreign official institutions, including playing a major role in operating the nation’s payments system
To facilitate the exchange of payments among regions
To respond to local liquidity needs
To strengthen U.S. standing in the world economy
Considering that we have had major financial crises, including the Saving and Loans Crises of the 1980s and 1990s with the then revered Alan Greenspan as the chairman for nearly 30 years from 1987 to 2006 under 4 presidents, can the Federal Reserve accomplish these goals?

Should the Federal Reserve be disbanded? If so, for what if anything?

Being a Poem

When asked about the meaning of "Poemflesh," the heading of each of her poems just above the title, a most beautiful poet, Cynthia, responded:

My flesh is comprised mainly of
poems, and the undying desire
for more poems, mine own as well
as the poetry of others.
The embodiment of poems are us. The being of the poem.

We are poems.

Being a Prick

Rick Santelli is a prick! You will excuse me, please. But I am incensed. Here is a guy ranting on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange of all places about the stimulus package not "rewarding people who can carry the water instead of drinking it" and the very place where he stood and incited others to slam the stimulus package is alive largely because of the HUNDREDS of BILLIONS of DOLLARS given by taxpayers to support the financial industry.

As someone in real estate investments who talks to the middle class and working poor often, whose homes are being foreclosed upon largely due to Wall Street predatory lending and job losses, my anger with Santelli's words is palpable. Many of these people work every day and they are not looking for a handout. They need a hand up. We are either going to help them stay in their homes and maintain their dignity or house and feed them through social programs.

Does this Santelli not sound like a prick?

According to Merriam-Webster, prick is defined as:

4 usually vulgar: penis
5 usually vulgar: a spiteful or contemptible man often having some authority

You decide which is more applicable here. This guy's words are without doubt vulgar. His opportunistic hypocritical rant is despicable. I saw him on several shows yesterday and this morning full of himself about his infamous words, smiling from ear to ear, as if on a TV reality show. This is not a joke, prick!

People are losing their jobs and homes and are unable to house and feed their children. Shelter enrollment and food stamps have increased over these months. Those who once paid taxes are unable to do so today. Should we now forsake these and disregard their pain largely due to Wall Street greed? Plus, my home value decreases if other homes in the neighborhood are foreclosed upon.

His rant sounds like the pricks who speak lies about the working poor not paying taxes, while they send their earnings by the HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS to tax shelters in Switzerland. SANTELLI wouldn't be reporting on the floor of the Chicago Mecantile Floor and the IDIOTIC LYNCH MOB behind him may be OUT OF WORK if the TAX PAYERS had not supported the financial industry through bailing out WALL STREET banks to the tune of HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS!

Where was Rick Santelli and those traders' outrage concerning George Washington and the Constitution, which has no relevance here, by the way, when WE, the taxpayers, BAILED OUT WALL STREET? This prick and the idiotic lynch mob behind him seem to be drinking the water instead of carrying it!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Being in Black Face VI

Michael Steele, the new colored GOP chairman, gave an interview to the Washington Times where he made these comments:

"We need messengers (This sounds holy.) to really capture that region - young, Hispanic, black, (designees of that "region") a cross section ... We want to convey that the modern-day GOP looks like (looks like?) the conservative party that stands on principles. But we want to apply them to urban-suburban hip-hop settings. (How are you gonna do this?) We need to uptick (uptick?) our image with everyone, including one-armed midgets. (Yeah, this really outta do it. By the way, who are these?)"

Has this guy ever spoken in this way? Like I've written here, I didn't know Mr. Steele before he became the chairman of the GOP. If he wasn't out there before, he most certainly is now. What is he talking about? What about policy? Perhaps it was the image of looking like ones with principles as opposed to being those with such has been the problem with GOP leadership.

Being "Essentially a Nation of Cowards"

Some are bashing Attorney General Holder for his words that when it came to "thing racial" that America is "essentially a nation of cowards."

Attorney General Holder:

"Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and I believe continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards."

After the speech the Attorney General told reporters:

"If we're going to ever make progress, we're going to have to have the guts, we have to have the determination, to be honest with each other. It also means we have to be able to accept criticism where that is justified."

I understand the provocative nature of some of these words. They were obviously meant to be. But what about them really? How comfortable are we in talking about issues of race? Even though my personal pool of friends since childhood included both black and white and we discussed everything--including race, I understand Attorney General Holder's words. If we are honest with ourselves, I wonder if there can be greater understanding.

The church that I grew up in that my uncle pastored had 10,000+ congregants of whom a few were white. There was not a lot of communication with others there. My great grandfather had a church in the early 19th century of 1,500 people of whom half were white. Surprisingly, his congregants were incredibly open with each other. It became less so some years later.

My great grandfather also formed a religious organization worldwide with thousands in attendance half were white until it became too uncomfortable to meet and discuss pertinent issues of race. In some respects writings reached where his image could not. (But I must also say that he did a great many things that included people of all races and was accepted by many.)

Yes, we work with each other. But do we eat with each other? Do we worship with each other? Do we have intimate conversations with each other? Do we love each other equally? Are we members of the same country clubs? Do we join each others sororities and fraternities?

Let's be real. We have indeed come a long way on many fronts, but in considering the things above, are we "essentially a nation of cowards?" Progress requires intimacy and honesty. Are you willing? I am.

Being Booted

A bust of Sir Winston Churchill was removed from the White House and some Brits are insulted and offended. But why? It was given to President Bush after 911 and was to return to Britian upon the end of his presidency. President Abraham Lincoln now graces the White House. But Sir Winston Churchill has not gone back to Britian; he rests just down the road.

Being President Barack Obama III

President Obama, the youthful energetic thoughtful leader of the United States, made his first foreign trip across the border to Canada. As I watched the arrival of the President and the press conference with Prime Minister Harper, he never ceased to amaze me. His confidence is striking.

This relatively young man was born to be the President of the United States. The pride and beauty of such a thing is that one need not have come from this or that environment to hold such an office; one need only be diligent, thoughtful, persistent, and aware. President Obama gives many young people around the world hope.

Being Skin

We are skin.

Open and many

Participles and pride

Breathing and receiving

Secreting and cooling

Protecting, yet releasing

Bruised and healing

Dead and alive

Shedding and re-creating

Beautiful skin.

Being a Baby Brand

I found this being brand most adorable.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Being Without High Speed Rail

Detroit has a population of 987,956 residents. (This is dismal considering the greatness of the City's past glory and the nearly one million more that once populated it.) Many residents are a part of the working poor or near or below the poverty level. Although General Motors, Chrysler, and Ford are located in Detroit or its suburbs are without cars. (Maybe its the nearly 4,467,592 residents who are a part of the Metro Detroit area that they seek to constrict. Hmmm? I hadn't thought about these when I saw the map initially.) If Detroiters alone were expected to save the Big Three, they would have done so by now. From the map below it is clear that a high speed rail, built with the funds of the stimulus package, will not run through Detroit.

Although many mothers and fathers rely on public transportation to get to work within the City and outside of it, a high speed rail has been strictly forbidden in Detroit. This is ridiculous. Detroiters alone, even suburban residents, cannot be expected to secure the viability of the Big Three. And what ever happened to choice? As you can see by the map above, Detroit is not one of the likely cities to get a high speed rail.

Perhaps letters should be sent to Governor Granholm requiring her lift the ban that Henry Ford Senior was said to impose over a century ago. There is always talk about a rail, but it never seems to happen. The People Mover which circles 2.9 was suppose to be the start of a high speed rail. It was completed in 1987 and it only circles downtown like the trolley on Mr. Rodgers neighborhood.

Being One or the Other

Power focuses and narrows.

Diversity creates and multiplies.

Which is more advantageous for leadership?

Being a Cartoonist

The New York Post printed this cartoon today by Sean Delonas.

What does it mean?

Being Alan Greenspan

While watching Alan Greenspan speak before the Economic Club of New York yesterday, I must admit to being a little more than miffed as he spoke about the financial crisis. I wondered if he should be in Florida relaxing and not speaking as he was the Fed chairman for nearly 30 years from 1987 to 2006.

As I listened to Mr. Greenspan explain away the crisis as something that happens once in "99 years," I was extremely annoyed. Is this a way to excuse his apparent incompetence and that of other economists? As he spoke I could not help but say aloud, "words words words."

Last week President Obama joked in a press conference that "we are all economists now." As I write these words, I am fully aware that I am not an economist. But that does not mean that I lack common sense, neither does it stop me from being livid at those trained experts that are now addressing the crisis.

During the New York conference I heard the term "financially literate" to refer to economists. Can we really refer to those who brought us to this moment of international financial collapse as "financially literate?"

In an article, "Greenspan the Worst Fed Chief Ever," Bill Flickenstein has doubts about the ability and honesty of some economists. He says of Mr. Greenspan:

Even if any of his protestations were true (which I don't believe) and the Fed was afraid of damaging the economy, it has been granted specific tools to deal with periods of speculation. Among them: Regulation T, whereby margin requirements can be raised to reduce risk and change market psychology. (While raising margin requirements to even 100% may or may not have been sufficient to break the stock bubble, the Fed could have at least tried. If that failed, the Fed could then have tightened.) However, for Greenspan to pretend that all he could have done was to raise rates shows that either he doesn't know what the Fed's tools are (i.e., he's clueless) -- or he's not being truthful...

The Fed could also ask Congress to resuscitate the old Regulation X. Part of the Defense Production Act of 1950, this regulation let the Fed set minimum downpayments and maximum mortgage-repayment periods for residential properties. The Fed gave up the authority a few years later.

Of course, when Greenspan wails about not wanting to hurt the economy with rate hikes, none of his lapdogs in the press ever seem to question why the Fed hasn't used the tools at its disposal.

In any case, part of my reason for re-titling Greenspan's speech is due to the following comment: "After the bursting of the stock market bubble in 2000, unlike previous periods following large financial shocks, no major financial institution defaulted, and the economy held up far better than many had anticipated." And we all lived happily ever after.

What I'd like to know is: If this was all so benign, why did he and helicopter copilot Ben Bernanke panic -- to the tune of 13 rate cuts, all the way down to 1% -- about the possibility of deflation in 2001 as the stock bubble unwound? Were it not for the even bigger, more dangerous housing bubble that Greenspan has in turn precipitated, which has only postponed the inevitable, the fallout would have been commensurate with the size of the boom...
Now, do you see why I, an avowed non-economist, would say "words words words?"

Being Giorgio Armani

When Giorgio Armani is mentioned we think
haute fashion.

We think cool slighty edgy design.

Today when I think Armani I see this:

Yesterday Armani donated $1 million dollars
for the arts in New York Public Schools.

Bravissimo Signore Armani!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Being Super Rich

Sunday evening I had dinner with a very astute friend that I have known and loved for some years. Over dinner he said something that has been nagging at me for a few days now. " America is in an unstoppable death spiral," he said. My heart stopped for a second. My head became cloudy. What did he say? I couldn't believe it. I'm no Pollyanna by any means, but "unstoppable death spiral?"

His words were almost as if to say that he would not sacrifice or risk his wealth to save this country or its people. (He's a tax cut king!) But these are the words of a man who has cleaned up in the stock market over many years and has gained whether in a bull or bear market. This country has done very well by him. I asked him, "So, where will you and your multiple many millions upon millions go?" He chuckled, "Switzerland."

Do the Wall Street bankers, traders, and super rich not love this country?

Being GM IV

When my mother was very sick, my friend Linda, a red-haired fiery middle-aged woman, picked my mother up in her Viper and took her for a ride. My mother loved convertibles. As kids, she would tell us stories of the mystery people who visited her family during the holidays and over the summers in the 40's driving convertibles and wearing fine apparel. They were elegant and refine. But who were these people?

These men and women were, in fact, her aunts and uncles; they were also the relatives of Richard Pryor. He was my mom's cousin. If you ever heard his stories over the years you can imagine what colorful people they were. But her father had little contact with them, as her mother died at her birth and her father was too "righteous" to assoicate with them, although his thriving construction business was largely due to his mother-in-law's untoward businesses during a time during The Great Depression where most had very little.

To this day I can see my mom in her white linen jacket with her hair wrapped in a silk scarf getting into that Viper. Vrooom! I can also see her triumphant return with joy in her eyes as she climbed out, her hand in mine.

General Motors has to come up with a plan for its longevity which will include cost cuts and the selling off of some brands. While the Viper is a luxury car, I still hope that General Motors plans will not include selling off this brand that once gave a beloved dying dignified single-mother of 12 rapture and joy, an escape from the pain and mundane, if only for a few miles.

Being for Documenatry Films

Having long been a fan of documentary films, I watched two last night as I worked or exercised. (I seem never quite able to solely do one thing, unless of course, it is a documentary with subtitles and often times I can follow without reading them too.) One film was by Alexandra Pelosi's, "Right America: Feeling Wronged -- Some Voices From the Campaign Trail" and the other was "The Lobotomist," on the neurologist and psychiatrist, Walter Freeman and the controversial procedure of lobotomy made popular in the late 30's and 40's by Dr. Freeman. This procedure drilled holes in the skull to reach the frontal lobes, believed to be crucial in mental disabilities.

Later the process of lobotomy included an icepick and hammer. Dr. Freeman would lift the eyelid of the patient and actually pick and hammer to reach the frontal lobes. The procedure was supposed to relieve the mentally disabled which thousands of human beings in asylums became the "guinea pigs" of surgeons and psychiatrists. The film showed an incredible inhumanity that was astonishing, revealing the extraordinary drive and desire for recognition and distinction by Dr. Freeman and his partner, the neurologist, Dr. James Watts, at a high human cost. (My brother had a group home for the mentally disabled when I was in college and I worked at there during the summers. I cannot imagine allowing such procedures on these precious dear ones.) This film was a brutal and fascinating documentary of man's ambition and inhumanity in search of a cure.

Earlier in the evening I watched the Pelosi filmed and I must say that I was rather unmoved by it. (I did so doing calisthenics.) There are many wing nuts on the Right and Left. And??? The film did not go beyond the hysteria. There was one moment that particularly struck me. This was when the Mississippi African American made the relevant point that Pelosi had come all the way to the South to tell them that we in the North did not use the word nigger or coon and that we were so much better. Right?! I thought about the belief that there were no slaves in the North. But there were. I also thought about overt racism as opposed to invert segregation.

Would you rather know what's happening or guess about it? I would much rather know than guess; this way I can manage better and I know what I'm dealing with. The Mississippi man interviewed was quite articulate indeed. Pelosi left this piece in the film, but made no comment. I wondered why. There were many such times of no depth in the film. Over all, I thought the film was rather weak. It was less a documentary and more a litany of affects and no reasons that would point to why such is so. Determining the why is essential to this genre of film. Watching the documentary, I could also not help from thinking that the film's timing was way off. Americans do not need divisive films right now. It is most certainly not the time to rehash election fever when the country has so much to confront. Let's move on, please. Working together is paramount. There is more that binds than divides.

Being Stylish

Hot or Not?

For me, definitely hot!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Being Lindsey Graham

Is Lindsey Graham (R-SC) a socialist? On "ABC This Week" he said:

"This idea of nationalizing banks is not comfortable, but I think we've got so many toxic assets spread throughout the banking and financial community, throughout the world, that we're going to have to do something that no one ever envisioned a year ago, no one likes. To me, banking and housing are the root cause of this problem. I'm very much afraid any program to salvage the banks is going to require the government... I would not take off the idea of nationalizing the banks."

I would never ask such a question, save it has been said repeatedly that President Obama is a socialist for suggesting temporary like-measures, including nationalizing some banks temporarily. His Keynesian approach has been denigrated. I wonder if Senator Graham considers himself a socialist. Being such is not inherently bad, but it's just that many leaders of the Republican Party have made it a dirty word through their words.

Being Shown the Face of God

The face of God is shown in each of us.

Joan Osbourne, "One of Us"

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Being a Grumpy Old Man II

In a post back in October I wrote of John McCain Being a Grumpy Old Man. It looks like the good Sentor may be even becoming grumpier. In an interview on Friday Bob Shrum said of McCain, "He is bitter and really angry. He is angry at the press, which he thinks is unfair. He is angry at Obama and angry at the voters. He has gone from being an angry old candidate to being an angry old defeated candidate."

I wonder when President Obama appears in his state of Arizona this week to talk about his plan for the nation's foreclosures, which are higher than most in Arizona, what his reaction will be. I wonder about this as Senator McCain had no plan to rectify the foreclosure situation in his state; instead, he bad mouthed the stimulus package which seeks to help homeowners facing such a crisis. From what I gather, Senator McCain will be in Arizona when the President is there this week but will not, as Republican Governor Crist of Florida, be with him onstage.

Being too Big to Fail

In a discussion regarding bailing out banks Senator Bernie Sanders (I) said:

"I think if it's too big to fail, it probably is too big to exist."

Should the bailout of banks include breaking them up?

If not, the world may be on the brink of financial collapse again.

Being Inspired by Others


To those fixed on white,
White is white,
To those fixed on black,
It is the same,
And red is red,
Yellow, yellow-

Surely there are such sights
In the many colored world,
Or in the mind.
The strange thing is that
These people never see themselves
Or you, or me.

Are they not in their minds?
Are we not in the world?
This is a curious blindness
For those that are color blind.

What queer beliefs
That men who believe in sights
Disbelieve in seers.

O people, if you but used
Your other eyes
You would see beings.

--Jean Toomer (1894-1967)

Being Bill Kristol

In reference to Bill Kristol's assessment of President Obama's presidency (what ever happen to the first 100 days?) and the passing of the stimulus package in the Weekly Standard, I cannot even begin to dissect his irrational op-ed rationally considering that the President has only been in office for merely three weeks without first agreeing with Matt Damon that he "is an idiot."

It is a good thing that Mr. Kristol's piece is a mere opinion. Kristol suggests things throughout and outrightly speaks for others even when others have spoken otherwise. He smears the line of turf wars at the State Department with those in the White House to the past administration without giving facts; this is pure gossip. He blames Rahm Emmanuel for Gregg's withdrawal on the basis of the Census when Gregg said publically in his press conference that the Census was not the reason for his withrdrawal. Who's lying here, the good right pundit or politician?

Kristol writes:

What accounts for this debacle? You could start with a lack of presidential leadership. Who would have thought the missing player in the first month of the administration would be Barack Obama? He let his signature economic legislation, the stimulus, be shaped by congressional Democrats. He let internal disputes over the difficult question of how to save the banking system result in a disastrous non-announcement of a non-plan by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner last week....He allowed Rahm Emanuel to politicize the Census Bureau, losing as a result his commerce secretary-designee, Judd Gregg, an ornament of his professed hope for bipartisanship...

In foreign policy, Obama has exerted no more control. He allowed both Super-Special Pooh-bah Richard Holbrooke and National Security Adviser Jim Jones to give interviews to the New York Times and the Washington Post, respectively, touting their own importance and presenting the president as a distant player in the formulation of foreign policy. Meanwhile, turf wars in the State Department and the National Security Council are even more bitterly fought than usual. The tale of Holbrooke shouting at Undersecretary of State Bill Burns that he'll keep Burns waiting as long as he wants, since he (allegedly) outranks Burns, makes the Rumsfeld-Powell drama look tame...

Obama allowed the GOP to dodge that bullet and begin the term with a reinvigorating series of intellectually successful assaults on the stimulus bill. A strong message on Afghanistan from the administration would have won the support of Republican hawks--and might have caused other Republicans foolishly to move in a semi-isolationist direction, provoking another internal GOP dispute. Withdrawing Geithner's nomination would have elevated the new president above the last eight years of Republican-dominated Washington business as usual.

So Republicans have some reason to cheer. But not much. The country needs a president capable of exercising leadership at home and abroad. Barack Obama has had a charmed career. He's been the magnetic-levitation train of recent American politics, skimming over the surface at great speed without having to slog through the mud that slows down and climb over the boulders that trip up normal politicians. But now he's president. The charm is wearing off. It's time for him to stoop to govern.
Does anyone rationally expect that after three weeks of being in the most partisan organization on the planet that we would see major change? But on second thought, what American president has ever passed such a bill in record time? Does the fact that President Obama even tried for bipartisanship mean anything?

Does anyone really think that the market sell-off was really due to Geithner's speech instead of a gain of short sales and market gimmicks by traders to control the markets? Does anyone actually believe that the efforts of Republican pundits and politicians are not a part of a play to assume power as opposed to an effort to turn the economy around?

Shame on all of you who are participating in this game. Bring varied ideas, not more of the same.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Being Responsible for Others

There has long been historical belief that the ancestral wicked deeds of others are on the hands of their offspring.

In biblical times this was most certainly believed to be true.

The Old Testament is replete with stories of the offspring bearing the responsibility of their parents and parents' parents.

In the New Testament in Matthew 27:24-5 it is written:

When Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all, but rather that a tumult was rising, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, "I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it." And all the people answered and said, 'His blood be on us and on our children.'
When I read moments ago that a British veteran, William Foxton, had committed suicide after losing his retirement of $1.45 million in the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme, I was reminded of the scripture above.

The Daily Telegraph quotes his son, Willard Foxton, as saying,

I want Madoff and others involved to know that they have my father's blood on their hands.
Is there any truth to the transgressions of others being upon another? Even if we are not directly involved, are we unwilling participants through association? Is guilt the modus operandi here?

Madoff's wife and children may not have been participants in the scheme, but they most surely have directly benefited. Although, it is hard to believe that in a family business in which the sons worked that they did not know of the scheme. I fully believe they knew.

What should be done in such cases? Are the actions of familial retributions unjust? After all, the notorious undoubtedly certifiably insane, Charles Manson, remains in jail after his "family members" murdered Sharon Tate and others. Others committed the crimes that Manson was charged with having master minded.

These are just random thoughts after reading the above article that saddened and angered me. As always, I'm open to comments, correction, and criticism.

Being Crystal Waters

Give "100 Percent Pure Love."

Happy Valentine's Day! Spread love! Spread joy!

(This is still the jam! Did you not move hip or hand?)

Being Sorry

Our current culture of regret is becoming overwhelming.
Everyone's sorry.

Yes, many men are sorry, but few are expected to pay consequences for their actions and rectify what they have done. There is no personal responsibility. (Some have greater or lesser consequences on the public and perhaps should be so judged.)

These include:

US Bankers on Capitol Hill
British Bankers at the G7
US Automotive Executives on Capitol Hill
John Thain
Tom Daschle
Tim Geithner
Ted Haggard
Michael Phelps

"We hear words, words, words," said Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-N.Y. to banking executives on Capitol hill.

What are words without demonstrated actions?

Yes, we will accept apologies, but in most cases simply saying sorry is just not good enough.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Being John Conyers

When I was a senior in high school I got a letter from Congressman Conyers addressed to me and signed in his own hand. I was incredibly pleased. He congratulated me on my acceptance to the University of Michgian and told me how proud he was of me. Now, Congressman Conyers did not know me personally, nor did I live in his district. But the letter was sent, nonetheless, and it made a huge difference.

I have since met the Congressman several times and even had lunch with him once. Currently, he is pressing matters that include charging the Bush administration with war crimes. I'm not sure if I'm in support of this, but I am most certainly in support of Congressman Conyers. He has been in Congress for many years, but has remained an advocate for the people and for justice. This is admirable.

(Above is John Conyers back in the day with the brilliant and formidable Shirley Chisholm, the first woman and the first African-American to seek the nomination of the Democratic Party for the presidency in 1972.)

Being in the Old Guard IV

"This bill is a honeypot," said Senator Pat Roberts on the Senate floor today. I must admit to laughing out loud when I heard this. "Honeypot?" Now, I must admit that I might be missing some historical context here, but it sounded like a breakfast cereal or some illicit name of street drug to me. Hmmm? Maybe the latter is the desired affect.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Being Bipartisan II

Senator Judd Gregg withdrew his name from nomination as Commerce Secretary today. I do not buy his reasons for withdrawing for one second. It appears that he has succumbed to Republican pressure in a revolt against the White House and the Democratic Congress.

It's a divide and conquer strategy, a concerted effort to isolate President Obama from the Congress, which has a lower approval rating, and derail his agenda which will lessen his approval rating. Make no mistake about it, this is a fierce fight for 2010 and 2012.

In this regard, where is the love of country in this incredibly difficult times for many Americans? There is surely no love of country and the people of America. Senator Gregg's withdrawal is shameful; it goes beyond embarassment.

Being a Lobbyist

Last week President Obama announced a measure to cap CEO compensation for financial institutions on the dole. Today in the
Washington Post it looks like similiar measures will not pass in the House and Senate:

Congressional efforts to impose stringent restrictions on executive compensation appeared to be evaporating yesterday as House and Senate negotiators worked to fine-tune the compromise stimulus bill.

Provisions to impose a penalty on banks that paid hefty bonuses and to cap pay at $400,000 for all employees at firms applying for additional government funds did not survive the compromise, sources said.

The situation was in flux last night, but provisions in the Senate bill that called for a ban on bonuses for all companies receiving government funds also appeared to be headed to the chopping block, congressional sources said.

Lobbyists rule! Long live lobbyists! Right?!

Being Left Invaluables

"I leave you love. I leave you hope. I leave you the challenge of developing confidence in one another. I leave you respect for the use of power. I leave you faith. I leave you racial dignity."

--Mary McLeod Bethune

In times of loss or departure to leave these, what invaluables that would be.

Being Abraham Lincoln

On this 12th day of February, the day of Abraham Lincoln's birth, I'd like to talk about a simple subject with great benefit or negative consequence. This is humility. How often do we admit to being wrong?

In a letter to General Ulysses S. Grant, President Lincoln admits being wrong on a strategic military route during the Civil War to capture Vicksburg, Mississippi. This was an important victory. President Lincoln wrote, "I now wish to make the personal acknowledgment that you were right, and I was wrong."

President Obama did the same recently when asked about the Tom Daschle selection. He said, "I'm here on television saying I screwed up, and that's part of the era of responsibility. It's not never making mistakes; it's owning up to them and trying to make sure you never repeat them and that's what we intend to do." This was refreshing indeed coming from the President.

There are a great many things that President Lincoln deserves praise for, but on this special day, I would like to acknowledge his sense of humility, an attribute much needed in our society.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Being Artistic II

The arts bridge gaps, shape public opinion, and breaks down communication barriers.

Here is historic footage of the young Van Cliburn returning from Moscow after winning the first International Tchaikovsky Competition in April 1958.

The words of this young artist speaks volumes about our similarities, more than our differences, even considering the time.

Perhaps there should be some kind of artistic exchange with Iran.

Being First Lady Michelle Obama II

The First Lady visited a social services center in Washington D.C. yesterday, sitting on the floor with a group of kids reading, "Brown Bear, Brown Bear." You can tell by the photos below that she felt the love and so did the kids. I don't ever remember a First Lady that has been so down to earth, yet proud, elegant, statuesque, and intelligent. We're really blessed.

How beautiful are these photos?

Being John Bogle VI

Among the top stories for today on is an interview with the legendary founder of The Vanguard Mutual Fund Group, John Bogle. He answers questions regarding the Obama Administration and Tresaury Secretary Geithner's much undeserved "maligned" speech yesterday, exposing the game aspect of the market. Mr. Bogle brings much needed clarity to the financial crisis. His years of living have indeed taught him great wisdom. His is the voice we need to hear more of in this crisis.

Being for Insane Ideas

Recently, Tom Peters wrote regarding the financial crisis, "I, for one, cannot conjure up any 'sane' fixes to deal with this insane situation." Perhaps a very good "insane" solution may be not to buy these bad assets on bank books that CEOs created and boards sanctioned in order to collect fat fees for shuffling Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDOs) that had no value. Bond insurers also got in on the deal, writing policies against these bogus instruments, collecting fat fees too for creating value that did not exist.

If banks want to clean their balance sheets, why not do the insane thing and adjust mortgage rates without fees to allow homeowners to stay in homes? Would this not decrease homes that will go into foreclosure over the next few years, creating more bad assets for banks? Why not also do the insane thing and sell off these bad assets at the current market value or below and start again? Maybe banks should take a loss this time. After all, how much did they gain in the scheme?

My partner and I have created value by going directly to the banks, buying these assets with cash, and putting people back into home. (Some banks are opposed to directly buying from them, perhaps because they don't know the value of the assests and don't want to lose, although they're losing big already. Middlemen also want to continue collecting fees.) On a relatively small level it has worked wonderfully and we have created jobs and rescued neighborhoods from potential blight. (Our homes are mostly in middleclass suburban neighborhoods. We know others doing the same in other communities with success too.) If banks do not want to clean their balance sheets through creative means that actually create real value in the US economy, maybe we should let them fail.

The value that banks created has been for themselves to the detriment of others. Do not think for one second that these guys did not know what they were doing. They most certainly did. They now seem to be waiting for the government to step in and buy these bad assets that they themselves created.

It used to be so that banks did not like such assets and they were not in the housing business. I guess greed placed them squarely in the housing market. Now, they appear to be sitting on these homes in hopes of a return on an incredibly bad investment. The value of homes can then take on the present market value, returning to more of what the homes are actually worth. The investment vehicles created by banks and sanctioned by credit agencies have no real value anyway. Maybe we have to rebuild value.

Banks created the perfect storm through engaging the credit agencies and bond insurers, who were all too happy to collect fat fees also; gullible homeowners got into bad mortgages even when credit worthy and greedy ones used their homes as bank machines to take trips here and there and buy boats and other toys. (Some also sent their kids to college or built up their businesses.) This way there was plenty blame to go around.

Maybe we should ask where the problem began. It seems like the problem began with these large investment banks in cahoots with credit agencies and bond insurers. Perhaps we should let these banks fail that produced no real value in comparison to the disaster created and allow the market to re-create value for these homes. Perhaps a great many people who created these bogus investment instruments and CEOs and board members who went along with them should be prosecuted and sent to jail.

Warning: This post is written by a non-economist, non-banker, two-bit entrepreneur. But perhaps this insane idea, may, in fact, be sane. What do you think?

Being Salt and Light

Your are the salt of the earth; but if the salt looses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.

You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand and it gives light to all who are in the house.

Matthew 5:13-15

Admist financial crisis and war, let's be salt and light, each one.

The "city that is set on the hill" is us.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Being Henrietta Hughes

President Obama's response to Henrietta Hughes is wonderful as well as the woman who was so moved to speak words, "I love you, Barack." (I noticed her mouthing the words live.) But what really moved me was that this homeless woman, living in a small car with her family using public restrooms, began the conversation, not about her dire situation, but about the President. She began with thanksgiving and prayer for him.

May God abundantly bless the Hughes family.

Being in Black Face V

Who will be the brave soul to tell Michael Steele that he is increasingly becoming an embarrassment? OK. I will. "Mr. Steele, you are increasingly becoming an embarrassment." He seems to be taking stepping and fetching to a new level in politics. It's rather painful to watch. I wonder if he indeed has a voice. When I have heard him before there was not this sense of pandering.

Mr. Steele recently said that GOP would "knock out" the Democrats in 2012, going into every neighborhood reclaiming those who voted for Barack Obama and gaining new voters. Is this the public conversation that the GOP should be engaged in right? With 600,000 plus jobs lost over the last two months a fight over voters in 2012 seems so distant, at least to hurting folks.

Americans all across our nation are in dire straights right now.

Being a Fence

My mother used to sing "Jesus be a Fence" often. As I watched President Barack land in Florida and greet those well-wishers waiting for him at the airport, this song dropped in my heart. She had a beautiful pure soprano timbre unlike the passion represented in some of the music she loved represented here--well, to an extent; she did not like too much "carrying on."

As the President deplaned he waved to the crowd, heading toward his car that was parked at the stairs of the plane. He looked as if he would get in. But instead of doing so he seemed to think and then head towards the pleased crowd. As he shook their hands, this song dropped in my heart.

I pray that Jesus will be a fence all around our President every day.

Here is a modern version of the same song sung by a very good childhood family friend and multiple Grammy award winner, Fred Hammond. My mother, however, would have much preferred the earlier version, though she loved Fred.

For me, both versions are great!

Being Colorful

Color makes the difference.
Color makes things come alive.
Color creates opportunity.

How colorful are you?

Being a Governing Body

What is the similarity between government and corporation? They are both governing corporate bodies. One looks after the welfare of its people through legislation; the other does the same for shareholders through by-laws. We elect government officials to govern, as board members are elected to do the same. We are all a part of a governing corporate body. The people and shareholders must hold government officials and board members responsible.

Being a Genuis?

Here is the author of Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert at TED on having a genuis vs. being a genuis. Which do you think is most important and why? The 19 minutes is worth it. Do come back to it, if not now; it addresses the process of creativity in various professions.

Being a Championship Chess Player

In an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times Bob Herbert likens President Obama to a "championship chess player." Beginning by his emegence stronger after a week of seemingly defeats and apologetic mishaps. I was particularly struck by these passages:

"He has certainly handled himself much better than some of the clowns carrying leadership banners for the G.O.P. Michael Steele, the new Republican Party chairman, could barely contain his glee over the fact that no Republicans voted for the stimulus package in the House. 'The goose egg that you laid on the president’s desk was just beautiful,' he said."

(I have written of Mr. Steele "Being Black Face" more than a few times here.)

"Mr. Obama is like a championship chess player, always several moves ahead of friend and foe alike. He's smart, deft, elegant and subtle. While Lindsey Graham was behaving like a 6-year-old on the Senate floor and Pete Sessions was studying passages in his Taliban handbook, Mr. Obama and his aides were assessing what’s achievable in terms of stimulus legislation and how best to get there."

President Obama seems to be dealing with men of lesser talent. We need now to surround him with men and women of the same calibre in order to move the country forward. Mr. Steele, Graham, and Sessions are obviously in the wrong "game." Checkmate.

Being Mahmoud Ahmadinejad III

President Obama was asked in his press conference last night about engaging Iran and I thought his answer was very thoughtful and respectful:

President Obama:

"I said during the campaign that Iran is a country that has extraordinary people, extraordinary history and traditions, but that its actions over many years now have been unhelpful when it comes to promoting peace and prosperity both in the region and around the world...My expectation is, in the coming months, we will be looking for openings that can be created where we can start sitting across the table face-to-face with diplomatic overtures that will allow us to move our policy in the new direction...So there are going to be a set of objectives that we have in these conversations, but I think that there's the possibility at least of a relationship of mutual respect and progress."

Speaking to a rally in Freedom square today, the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad seems to welcome engagement with the U.S.

President Ahamdinejad:

"The Iranian nation is ready for talks (with the U.S.) but in a fair atmosphere with mutual respect...The new U.S. government has announced that it wants to bring changes and follow the path of dialogue. It is very clear that changes have to be fundamental and not tactical. It is clear that the Iranian nation welcomes true changes."

This a good start towards normalized relations based on mutual respect.

Words matter.

Being Ideological

In times of crisis, I don't care about ideology, often the stuff of myth. I only care about what works. How about you?

Being Mozart

Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Being Sound

Distraction is the enemy of soundness.

Being Arianna Huffington III

In a post today, Arianna Huffington wrote that President Obama has to chose between "bipartisanship fetishism vs. what's best for America." I could not agree more. I have written a lot here about the necessity of bipartisanship; but after last week I began to wonder if the effort itself was being turned into a political platform to negate the President's plan and to jockey already for 2012.

After adapting a Washington bipartisanship style of "going to the other party, splitting any differences you have, patting each other on the back about how nice and civil you are being, and moving on," it's now time to get down to business. President Obama must lead with the support of the people who have resoundingly voted for change in all branches of the federal government.

Watching the partisanship practiced in Washington last week, I began to feel sickened by the lack of respect for this particular time and the real difficulty that so many Americans now face. It seemed like the hooks were in and a wave was building that had little to do with the matter at hand and more to do with regaining power at the expense of President Obama's desire for bipartisanship. The President wised up quickly. I believe that he will chose what's best for America.

Being Called by God to Serve

Norman Coleman (R) is still in a fierce battle with Al Franken (D) for the U.S. Senate seat in Minnesota after losing the recount. He is now challenging the recount in court.

Last Friday
Mr. Coleman said, "God wants me to serve." Is that news to Mr. Coleman? Having come to this realization, will someone please direct him to the nearest homeless shelter?

Being in Black Face IV

After President Obama's appearance in Indiana today to speak on the stimulus package, Michael Steele, the new RNC chairman, told Politio that the president champions the stimulus package to get some "bling bling."

There are millions of Americans without jobs who have no "bling bling." And what about that term? What a correlation with the President of the United States. What's up with that? Mr. Steele seems to be stepping and fetching to the strings of the Republican hierarchy and his language has become that of the rapper Lil Wayne. Have you seen the "bling bling" video? Here it is.

Mr. Steele crassly continues saying that President Obama's tour through states with double digit unemployment was "very, very interesting. It looks like he's trying to very hard to shore up support from Democrats" because "he's upside-down' in the polls."

Did Americans not lose 1 million jobs over the past two months? Is this not reason enough to go out and speak to the American people? And President Obama is not upside down in the polls. He currently has a 76% approval rating from Republicans and Democrats alike. 67% of Americans support President Obama's effort with regards to the stimulus package.

What would crystallize the black face image? A big pair of red lips?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Being Kid Rock


Being Inspired by Others

Ian Sanders sent me a great video this morning of his interview with Kevin Roberts, CEO of Saatchi and Saatchi. It's really good!

Mr. Roberts words are inspirational indeed. But something did stick out as a gender distinction when he spoke. At one he speaks about work life balance; he does so rather gallantly about not needing work life balance but work life integration. True. But usually women have to be able to balance children and career. Balance is important, and the necessity of others to realize this is crucial.

This may point to a very real difference between men and women mindsets. Men can say such sweeping inspirational statements as often times they are not required to balance; women seem by nature or nurture to be integrators, but they have to forever balance career and children. This, for many, is a beautiful challenge; for others it is harrowing.

There needs to be real consideration of the necessity of balance.

Having said that, please enjoy the video; it's inspirational and well-done!

Thank you Mr. Roberts! And Bravo Ian!

Being Real with Seth

Here is a clip from Saturday Night Live regarding the Michael Phelps controversy after he was dropped by Kellogg's. There are some laughs here and some things that make you think or wonder, "really!?!"

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Being Artistic

Art does more than reflect what we see; it creates how things could be. Whatever your profession, whatever you do, be artistic. Create!

Being on Fire

"Fires can't be made with dead embers, nor can enthusiasm be stirred by spiritless men. Enthusiasm in our daily work lightens effort and turns even labor into pleasant tasks."

--James Baldwin

Being Constructed

Identities are social contructs. Who are you? Is there a separation between the two--that, whatever it is, and you?

Being Alvin Ailey II

President Obama and First Lady Michelle had a "date night" last night at the Kennedy Center where they saw the great Alvin Ailey Dance Theater. "Fix Me" is a universal cry. Enjoy!

Being for Pork II

There has been a lot of talk lately about pork. I wonder how many senators on both sides sought to find out about the money given to the likes of Halliburton and its subsidiaries that have been fattened to healthy sizes ready for slaughter. Do you smell sizzling bacon?

Being John McCain II

I must admit to laughing the entire time the honorable Senator McCain spoke on the Senate floor regarding his rejection of the stimulus package. Just remembering his antics during the campaign, especially voting for the TARP and suspending his campaign to return to Washington to fix the housing crisis, was very much on display here. I laughed. It seemed as if he was having flash backs. He rambled a bit and appeared somewhat unfocused. The list of "pork barrel" spending seemed to excite him as the billion dollar numbers eluded him. There was some confusion there. I have written here of his awesome comedic ability and I must say that I was reminded of it today.

Being Olympia Snowe

When women are in the Senate, I usually listen very carefully. While not always being impressed by them, Republicans and Democrats, I have always appreciated Senator Snowe. On this blog I have even asked why she was not the Republican VP choice. She is smart, sharp, bipartisan, and focused.

These are the kind of words and actions that have been impressive. Regarding being in support of the stimulus package, she writes:

"The catalogue of arguments in the Senate have spanned the gamut – from those who believed this bill initially was about the right size and the right balance to those who thought it was far too expensive, providing too little bang for the proverbial buck," Senator Snowe said. "However, through true consensus building, the Senate has rightly been engaged in a vigorous and healthy debate to arrive at this monumental compromise."

She adds:

"Throughout our deliberations this week in the Senate, I have consistently advocated for a package that will truly stimulate this economy, not an omnibus bill bloated with frivolous spending" Senator Snowe continued. "We must be vigilant to ensure this is the right package that will address the urgency of our economic crisis and achieve credibility with the American people."

Being Disruptive

Being disruptive is important and bipartisanship is a great thing. I am for both. But it is also quite clear who the Americans now trust to bring change to Washington via their vote in both the Executive and Legislative branches. It is also quite clear who the American trust to be disruptive to bring this change. Personally, I am less concerned about how many votes are received from either side and more concerned about the policies themselves. The built in partisanship in the various branches has been reduced to mere grandstanding and gaming as opposed to real disruption and change.

It matters less to me what you call yourself; I care more about both how you vote and how you frame your argument. Both are important moving forward. I am also equally aware that Washington is a political place and games will be undoubtedly played. One administration or a few will not change this. BUT one administration, along with the consistent voice of the people, can be disruptive in a system that can begin the change in how we do things. Movement always starts with one step and is followed through by many.

I have noticed President Obama doing small things like trying to humanize the guards who stand as he boards a plane. They always look utterly surprised when he actually speaks to them. Sometimes he has had to prod them into responding. They are so accustomed to standing there and trained to be non-reactionary in the presence of the President; they are trained to be good soldiers in the line of particular duty. I suspect if they were on the battlefield that their reactions would be quite different indeed. I honor them wherever they stand.

We all have a serious disruptive task to bring change to all branches of our government, both locally and nationally. We can do it!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Being Fearful or Full of Life

Fear vs. Life

how much hurt
will your fears force you to endure
before your soul opens its window
and allows this whispering loneliness
to vanish into the whistling wind?

These are the words of a most wonderful
poet, Cynthia. If you love poetry, bare
passionate bountiful essence on white,
I would recommend you stop by here.

Being at Davos vs. TED

In a recent article Arianna Huffington made an excellent distinction between the attendees at the Davos conference and those at the Technological Entertainment and Design (TED) conference. The distinction here is no small observance, as it is innovation that will get us out of this slump and not old failed ideas.

She writes:

"I've been struck by how different the mood is here than it was last week in Davos. Much more upbeat. Maybe it's because TED is brimming with innovators, people less interested in figuring out how to prop up the collapsed economy of the last century than in creating an economy for the 21st century."

Innovation matters. Period.

Being for Pork

Pork for some is bacon for others.
Send some of these senators to
the slaughter.

Being for the Stimulus Package III

Some who are against the stimulus package are so because of an ill-conceived ideology that the poor will be living large on their hard earned dollar. There are a few business blogs that I follow and contribute to; Tom Peters' blog is on of these. Recently there in a discussion regarding President Obama's support of the $500,000 cap on CEOs whose companies receive a bailout, I told a commentator that the joke was on him for not supporting this initiative. He responded, "Judith you are correct to say that the joke's on me. Taking my money, at the point of a gun, and then turning around and handing it to people that haven't earned it is sad. Oh wait, they call that welfare and we have been that for a very long time. So instead of sending a millions dollars to 10,000 lazy people, we send it to one."

The commentator appears to be one of those dittoheads living in a fantasy land of the far Right who is tettering on a kind of poor folks and racist ideology that blankets welfare recipients as lazy when, in fact, many who receive some form of welfare are the working poor who pay taxes; the biggest flaw in your argument is your blinders which produce a kind of insipid ideology which does nothing to correct the problem but inflame it indeed. His comment is lame for its one-sidedness and handicap for its inability to embrace the whole. It's a shameful stupid comment.

Although living in England, he seems to have been listening to Limbaugh and other extreme right comedic pseudo politicians who inflame instead of inviting, who blame instead of understanding, who are full of themselves who actually berate average guys, doping them into believing that he is speaking for them as they find relief in fantasy while being barely able to pay their gas bills. As they struggle to pay their bills, Limbaugh laughs all the way to the bank. (It's sort of like the new leader of the Republican Party, Joe the Plumber, speaking out against policies that he himself would benefit from. But in his mind he and Limbaugh are on the same level. Right! He too is a joke.) We do not need more of that inane ideology.

This is, in part, the fantasy about which I speak. Yes, we can spend billions upon billions on Wall Street banks and no money for the little guy, even that ideological one who is just at the poverty line, listening and laughing to the likes of Limbaugh. Well, I guess, at least, they can laugh. But many of them need to be crying. Escapism is a serious drug. Yes, we should strip away wasteful spending but tax cuts alone have not helped the working poor and neither have the trickled down laissez-faire economics without corporate responsibility.

These are extremely difficult times. I hope that he will not find himself on the dole after a while. During the Depression a great many very wealthy prosperous people found themselves without and needing the support of the government. (Nassim Nicholas Taleb says that the very wealthy have been hurt the most by this crisis.) Many stood in soup lines; many jumped out of buildings to their deaths. One bad investment could ruin a great many people in these difficult times. It is no time for stupid insipid ideological comments. This stuff is for real. Yes, we need to get things right, but let's not overlook the real problem that America and the whole world faces right now. Let's focus long-term and short-term stimuli, such as infrastructure, green technologies, education, and welfare reform. But we need a shot of some form of stimulus right now.

By the way, the commentator has done right to call what we are doing welfare; I have written of this repeatedly on this blog and on the Huffington Post. It is not called welfare when big corporations are in need of assistance. But when the single mother needs assistance to care for her children, even when she is working, it is despairingly labeled as welfare. No amount of welfare already received by the thousand and thousands of mothers across this great country will add up to the many billions that we have already spent on bailouts for private industries. I'm not complaining. But tax cuts alone will not do it. We've been there and done that. Look at where we now are after 25 years.

If he said anything of value it is his proper labeling of what we are actually doing here. These companies are receiving welfare. I know that some might say that the difference is that we will be paid back with interest. This is our hope. We also hope that the single mother would be able to make things right and be able to one day pay taxes. We also hope that her children will also rise up and call her blessed and seek ways out of the hills of Tennessee or the ghetto of urban America and be contributing citizens to this great country that we all love. Now, if someone can only open his head and pour therein a touch of sensitivity and reality that would be good. Good luck to the one who seeks to do this.

As Warren Buffett, Donald Trump, Paul Krugman and many other economists on the Right and Left, I am in support of the stimulus package.