Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Being among the 45,000

In a recent study Dr. Steffie Woolhandler reports that "45,000 Americans are dying annually due to lack of health insurance."

Is this acceptable?

Being in the Secret Place

Psalm 27

1 The LORD is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the strength of my life;
Of whom shall I be afraid?
2 When the wicked came against me
To eat up my flesh,
My enemies and foes,
They stumbled and fell.
3 Though an army may encamp against me,
My heart shall not fear;
Though war may rise against me,
In this I will be confident.

4 One thing I have desired of the LORD,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the LORD
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the LORD,
And to inquire in His temple.
5 For in the time of trouble
He shall hide me in His pavilion;
In the secret place of His tabernacle
He shall hide me;
He shall set me high upon a rock.

6 And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me;
Therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle;
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the LORD.

7 Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice!
Have mercy also upon me, and answer me.
8 When You said, “Seek My face,”
My heart said to You, “Your face, LORD, I will seek.”
9 Do not hide Your face from me;
Do not turn Your servant away in anger;
You have been my help;
Do not leave me nor forsake me,
O God of my salvation.
10 When my father and my mother forsake me,
Then the LORD will take care of me.

11 Teach me Your way, O LORD,
And lead me in a smooth path, because of my enemies.
12 Do not deliver me to the will of my adversaries;
For false witnesses have risen against me,
And such as breathe out violence.
13 I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the LORD
In the land of the living.

14 Wait on the LORD;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the LORD!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Being Hypocritical III

Now, I don't know much about ACORN except that it registers millions of people, mostly minority, to vote and there was a scandal recently with some workers and prostitution. Of course, during the election there was speculation of voter fraud with various workers being paid for filling in names like Mickey Mouse who could never conceivably appear on election day with a valid photo ID. By the way, ACORN itself reported the fraud that was going on with the temporary employees who are paid more when more people are registered. But like I said these people could not report to vote anyway as a valid ID would be required.

The interesting thing here as government agencies withdraw support from Acorn and Democrats align behind Republicans, is the mere pennies that ACORN received in comparison to what Halliburton received from the government. Halliburton received billions of dollars before and after it was proven that this company that Dick Cheney once ran defrauded the government. Now, all sincere concern of wrongdoing should be investigated. But the degree of hypocrisy and greater harm to the American people here with one group as opposed to another is alarming.

In this clip Dylan Ratigan and Arianna Huffington make it plain:

Something stinks. This seems like another "birther"-like effort to de-legitimize President Obama. The spokesperson from is revealed to be a political partisan and this seems like his motivation. His conspiracy theory is hell-bent on linking ACORN with the White House by any means necessary. I would that some organization like would be so tenacious in going after Halliburton and Blackwater who received exceptionally large contracts and have been proven to defraud the American taxpayer and accused of even murder in the case of Blackwater. This ACORN witch hunt seems incredibly hypocritical in this light.

Being a Pedophile

Michael Jackson was called a pedophile although vehemently denying it and having never been found guilty of such. Roman Polanski admitted to a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old girl when he was 46 years old and I have yet to hear someone call him a pedophile. Is there a double standard here?

Being Moammar Gadhafi

This SNL re-enactment of the Libyan leader is hysterical. I saw the real speech, all one hour and a half of it live. It was supposed to last for 15 minutes.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Being Haywood Ellis

Today for no particular reason I am especially grateful for my big brother Haywood who helped our mother raise 12 children alone, being the third oldest. There are two sisters older than him. Haywood was the big brother who introduced us to new things constantly, exotic fruits and vegetables, even chocolate-covered ants and cockroaches wrapped in sparkly clear tinted plastic silver and blue. They were good for protein. I looked endlessly. I even touched but never partook. He was the big brother who let me tag along with him to the track when he was a free agent trying out for professional football teams and track meets.

Haywood was the big brother who was meticulous about what we ate and how much we ate. He was always so disciplined and fit. He was the brother who drove a convertible Mustang when we were growing up and took us places when needed or just for a ride. He became the brother who insisted that above all else that we do what was moral and ethical. Sometimes his reasoning seemed a bit much, but he was right.

Haywood is the big brother who to this day calls and loves on me just about every day of the week. We laugh continuously. Most times when he calls the conversation is prefaced with something funny, even if it ends with how we are going to solve the world's problems. We Ellises think big. I love him dearly even when, especially when, he challenges me to be better still.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Being Inspired by Others

My favorite breakfast nook, minutes from my house, is in a rather posh area and the cars that fill the parking lot are usually top of the line: Ferrari's, G-wagons, Corvettes, Mercedes 550's and BMW 760's aplenty. As it is a crisp fall morning here in Michigan, there were no usual convertibles in the lot. But the cars still shined. My Ford doesn't fit in with the bunch. But I don't care.

As I sat there reading and taking notes on my writing the day before, I spilled a bit of water on the table and needed more napkins. I rushed to remove my notebook and BlackBerry. I looked for my waitress but did not readily see her. As a busboy passed, I nabbed him.

"Excuse me, can you please get me some extra napkins?"
"Absolutely, it will be my pleasure."

Wow! This kid's response took me aback. He was intelligent, gentlemanly, and beautiful. This kind of response in the manner in which it was rendered is typically given at fine dining restaurants and sometimes not even there. I smiled as he hurriedly walked off returning in second with the napkins.

"Here you are, ma'am"
"Thank you."
"Pleasure. Have a nice day."
"Same to you."

As he walked away I could not help but love this kid. He was not my server but he had such a spirit of service and performed this task with such elegance and grace. Normally, I have cash on me for such occasions, but today I hadn't even a penny. When I got to the cashier I complimented the busboy and asked if he was new. I had not seen him before. He wasn't new. He just worked the later shift. I go first thing most mornings to avoid the long line.

I asked if I could leave a tip for him in my bill. But I knew I couldn't, as I had tried to do this before with a particularly cheerful greeter. I thanked the cashier and left. As I got in my car, I had this nagging feeling. I forsook it and preceded home. But the nagging wouldn't subside. I turned around, heading for my bank which isn't that far from the restaurant. When I got to the ATM I wondered how much to withdraw for the busboy. I wanted it to be enough to encourage him and not too much to over indulge him. I decided on a figure rather on the hefty side. I was at peace with this amount.

Re-entering the restaurant I asked if I might speak to the busboy if he wasn't too busy. I was told that he was clearing a table at the moment but would be finished soon. I could see him. As he finished I asked if I could just pop over and speak to him. It wouldn't take long. If I have a nagging feeling it's usually because I need to do or say something or both. This time I felt I needed to do both. I walked up to the well-spoken young man.

"I just want to thank you for your excellent service today."
"You're welcome, ma'am."
"What school do you attend," I asked thinking that he was going to say one of the schools nearby?
"I went to Kettering."
I couldn't believe it. This kid's school is in one of the very worst neighborhoods in Detroit.
I smiled.
"Great. When did you graduate?"
"I just graduated and I go to Wayne County Community College. I wanted to go to Eastern, but I didn't have the money."
"I used to teach at Oakland County Community College."
"You did," he said with excitement!
"Yes. Keep at it. A good friend of mine, Dr. June Ridley, taught psychology at WCCC's main campus for years and is still very active in student development. She was also an original member of BAM at the University of Michigan where she got her PhD in the early 70's."
I always try to give young people a bit of history.
"I see you're wearing your Michigan cap and jersey. Did you to Michigan?"
"Yes," I said but continued with my purpose. "Another good friend, Judith Doss, was an owner of the Motor City Casino. She now runs a foundation that assists young people with college scholarships in Detroit."
"What's your name," he asked?
"Another Judith?"
"It's a good name," I said smiling. There was a saddness in his eyes. "I'll be in touch."
"It will be good to see you again."
"You will. Let's see how we can get you in Eastern next year."
"I'm working two jobs so I can afford it."
"I'm going to see what we can do too. You are a wonderful young man."
I pressed the money into his hand.
"Oh, thank you so very much ma'am."
"You're welcome. And you can call me Judith."
"You're a wonderful lady, Judith."
"It's my pleasure and I'll be in touch. What's your name?"

As I left Damon I could not help but to think of the words of Jesus, "I am among you as one who serves." If he had not been a servant this morning, I might not have recognized him.

Being a Fugitive, Sort Of

The great film director, Roman Polanski, was arrested in Switzerland after fleeing from the United States to France in 1978 after pleading guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl. He was 46.

There have been sympathies expressed toward Polanski. He escaped the Jewish ghetto at Krakow. He lost his wife Sharon Tate in to a gruesome murder involving Manson. Even the rape victim has said that it should be dismissed. She, by the way, got a undisclosed settlement. These things are horrible and they evoke sympathy for sure.

The French Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand said that he was "dumbfounded" by Polanski's arrest and that he "strongly regrets that a new ordeal is being inflicted on someone who has already experienced so many of them." Mitterand also spoke of the "beauty" that acclaimed director has given in films. This would include "Chinatown" and "Rosemary's Baby." I agree that these are great films.

But in cases like this I always wonder what the law would do if it was an unknown male friend of mine who had endured tremendous hardship in his life and committed such a crime. I am sympathetic to Polanski's hardships. I really am. But by his own admission he had a sexual relationship with 13-year-old and this should not simply be dismissed, even if the victim now desires this. We are a nation of laws for a reason and everyone one who breaks the law should have his day in court, even if the law pardons. How would you feel if that was your 13-year-old daughter?

Polanski should be extradited to have his day in court. I wonder what took the process so long--his celebrity? He seemed not to have been in hiding in the country of one of our strongest allies, France.

Being a "Conservative" Columinist

In an article critical of President Obama and his administration, the sullen bitter conservative Washington Post columnist, David S. Broder, in essence called the President an uppity negro, "a highly intelligent product of elite universities."

If you think the above description is a compliment Broder goes on to disdain intelligence and rationality throughout the entire article. He even says that "his (Obama's) determination to rely on rational analysis, rather than narrow decisions" is the problem. Now, can anybody please tell me how this makes any sense at all? Who wants an irrational narrow leader in an increasing complicated expansive world?

In an effort to criticize President Obama and his administration, Broder unwittingly defines the problem with the current Republican Party. Narrow focus and the lack of inclusion are precisely why the Republican Party is in such decline. David S. Broder's article does not improve the situation for his Party in the very least.

Being Frances Perkins

Frances Perkins (April 10, 1880 – May 14, 1965) was the first female and longest serving Secretary of Labor in our history. In 1933 she was appointed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and was the writer of New Deal legislation, including minimum wage.

In 1934 FDR appointed Perkins as chairwoman of his Committee on Economic Security. In this capacity the Social Security Act of 1935 was passed which included unemployment insurance. In considering our current situation in relation to where we were then there are more safety nets in place during an economic downturn because of her work.

Frances Perkins is inspiring and her accomplishments are many. Affordable health care was something she fought for valiantly for many years. She said that because "the experts couldn't get through with health insurance in time to make a report on it," legislation couldn't be passed. Well, we need to stop staling on this important issue. It's pass time.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Being an "Ask" Kicker

Yeah, I know this may not be funny to some. But I must admit to laughing my "ask" off!

I love the teachable moment at the end too. "Oooo"

Being Man

"Man is the only animal that blushes. Or needs to."

--Mark Twain.

What does this mean?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Being Just a Man

She extends her hand. He opens his arms.

"So, what you looking at my woman like that for?"

I suppose it didn't help any that the Prime Minister of Italy, Silvio Berlusconi, was at the G-20 alone, having been recently dumped by his wife after being linked to a string of sexual improprieties with what newspapers called "scarlets and showgirls."

He's out of his league here.

Being a Woman in Leadership Positions

The insensitivity and ignorance of Senator Kyl (R-AZ) regarding insurance for maternity care and his disregard for women in his constituency clearly show the importance and necessity of women in leadership positions in government and business. His words are astonishing.

It took Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) to get Senator Kyl straight with a simple reality. He still seemed to be in a fog, even though he made a halfhearted quip. If I was in Senator Kyl's state, he would probably not get my vote as he clearly appears not to care about me.

Being Mahmoud Ahmadinejad IV

President Obama, along with President Nicholas Sarkozy of France and Prime Minister Gordon Brown of England, announced today that Iran has a secret nuclear facility in Qom, that "happens" to be near a historic holy site by the way, and has been secretly developing nuclear capacities, perhaps for destruction and not energy, nor for medicinal purposes. In a recent Newsweek article President Ahmadinejad said that he wanted to buy enriched uranium for "humanitarian" reasons from the United States.

"We simply don't have the capacity to enrich at 20 percent for medicinal purposes, of the sort that we have in mind, at this stage," Ahmadinejad said. "It's only at 3.5 percent." Hmm? I don't think he knew that the United States have known for many years about its secret facility. But, hey, what nation would give such a secret away? After all, it's a secret. Yes, I know and agree that every nation has to abide by international law, although we thumbed our noses in the face of the United Nations for the past eight years with John Bolton, the Ambassador to the UN, making harrowing disrespectful comments about the community of nations with noble ambitions that's on the soil of the United States.

Chancellor Merkel of Germany was not present during the announcement this morning but sent a word of affirmation with the other leaders. It is also believed that President Medvedev of Russia is in agreement with these world leaders. The challenge now seems to get China aboard for UN sanctions. Such sanctions have worked for North Korea, although, of course, it continues with its nuclear development. But we wink and nod when necessary. America does so with civil rights issues with China in exchange for our debt society. England does so with its relationship with Libya as 400% of its oil deriving from that country. (Yeah, we know that the release of the Lockerbie bomber had nothing to do with oil, right?) Germany with its large trade agreements with Iran. Each country does things that benefits its own interest.

There seems to be broad support from our allies and others as well, including Russia and possibly China. It is believed that if Russia agrees China will follow suit. But as I listened to President Obama, President Sarkozy and Prime Minister Brown give their statements, I could not help but to wonder have they also insisted that other countries such as Israel not enriched uranium for destruction. Has Israel bought enriched uranium from us? Maybe this is simply what President Ahmadinejad wants. Silly man! I could not help but to wonder if such a stance has been taken with Israel and such scrutiny of facilities its facility investigated. Perhaps its President's Ahmadinejad's rhetoric or "serial deception" as Prime Minister Brown puts it that gets in the way.

It has been long believed that Israel has nuclear capacities for destruction. There are many justifiable reasons for this its allies might contend being in an area surrounded by enemies. But is this a secrecy not allowed by the community of nations? Is it the protection of America that allows a lesser stance and scrutiny? If so, how is this viewed in the world at large? The take of the west on this matter may be one thing, but the outlook on the world at large wholly another. Iran has a long rich proud history, which unfortunately includes the United States' invasion and installation of a leader, and it does not wish to be dictated to when it comes to their safety, especially if there is not a level playing field and one of the most powerful military nations is aligned with its enemy, real or assumed.

Does any of this make sense or am I just terribly naive on such matters?

Being for the Public Option IV

Call Washington today at 202.224.3121 and tell them we need a public option. I've put in more than a few calls.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Being a Mother

Eight of my twenty six nieces and nephews belong to this beautiful mother, my sister, Bernadette. Here she is standing with her oldest daughter, Delores, who's named after our beautiful mother. (Delores stands 6 feet tall. Isn't she beautiful?) I am not a mother, but mothering can't be easy. Our mother had twelve children, all by "the one man she loved next to God," and raised us alone with such grace and beauty. Even though she must have been fearful and unsure at times, we never knew it. She was so incredibly graceful in form and action.

Mothers generally have both strengths and weaknesses; mine did. But the most beautiful strengths of mothers are love, honesty and humility. Sometimes mothers act out of insecurity which isn't often love. Sometimes mothers withhold things which isn't always honest. Sometimes mothers refuse to admit they are wrong which isn't always humble. Mothers miss the mark sometimes, but the beauty is that most mothers are doing their very best. Let's support them.

Thank you mothers, everywhere. We don't need a holiday to celebrate you.

Being for the Public Option III

Here is Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-KS) telling his constituents an outright lie about the current bill being considered in Congress. The beauty here is that the lie was so outlandish that the good people of Kansas responded spontaneously.

The lie is obvious and the response classic, no screaming or yelling here. Rep. Tiahrt will do good to listen to the advice of one of his constituents: "Use common sense."

Did you notice that Rep. Tiahrt didn't even have the decency to make it right?

Being Autumn II

The great German composer Richard Strauss wrote "The Four Last Songs" a year before his death at 84 in the month of September. This song cycle, with the text of "September" written by Hermann Hesse, is among the greatest symphonic poems ever written.

Going to Sleep

Here is one of my favorite classical singers the American dramatic soprano, Jessye Norman, performing "September." Strauss reportedly wrote "The Four Last Songs" for the great dramatic Nordic soprano Kirsten Flagstad. But the lushness and largess of Norman's voice and the mastery of interpretation do not disappoint. She requires the listener to be patient as summer ends.

"September" is a masterpiece in composition and this performance is for the ages.

The garden is in mourning.
Cool rain seeps into the flowers.
Summertime shudders,
quietly awaiting his end.

Golden leaf after leaf falls
from the tall acacia tree.
Summer smiles, astonished and feeble,
at his dying dream of a garden.

For just a while he tarries
beside the roses, yearning for repose.
Slowly he closes
his weary eyes.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Being an Ex-Convict II

"I want to get the IRS and kick them in the crotch real good" said the colorful convicted felon and former U.S. Congressman Jim Traficant (D-OH) on "HardBall with Chris Matthews." Traficant was recently released from prison after being convicted in federal court on 10 charges including bribery, racketeering and fraud. He is proclaiming his innocence and is currently on the Tea Party Express.

Being Un-American

During a speech in Hong Kong to Asian investors Sarah Palin criticized America. Isn't it a joke that this woman is even in Hong Kong addressing investors having quit being mayor, quit being governor and she would have probably quit being the vice president if elected? This woman has run nothing successfully not even a government, let alone a business.

According to the Washington Post, this is what Sarah Palin said:

1. "We got into this mess because of government interference in the first place. We're not interested in government fixes, we're interested in freedom."

2. "Liberalism holds that there is no human problem that government can't fix if only the right people are put in charge."

3. Concerning health care she repeated her "death panels" lie and said "it's just common sense that government attempts to solve problems like health care problem will just create new problems."

4. Without calling President Obama by name she spoke was obvious speaking of hime when referring to "nebulous, utopian sounding...Now 10 months later, though, a lot of Americans are asking: more government? Is that the change we want?"

I thought the Japanese preferred blondes? I guess not. Why else would they choose such a woman to speak to them? As I have said here before, Sarah Palin is a joke. If you don't take my word for it, take the conservative columinist Liz Trotta's words:

This woman is inarticulate, undereducated...A lot of this criticism is well-deserved...This is a woman who has used her good looks and gender to really get ahead in the political world.
Yes, Palin continues to increase her bank account and draw attention to herself, but more importantly she continues to disgrace women everywhere by her sheer stupidity and ignorance. How embarrassing she is.

While Palin didn't call President Obama by name, it is obvious that she criticized the president abroad in a socialist country, nonetheless, when she critized government intervention. How incredibly ironic and utterly foolish. Palin did not talk about the lack of regulation and the greed of Wall Street. The American government she spouted is the problem.

The Dixie Chicks were vehemently criticized as being "un-American" by conservatives and the religious right for opposing the 2003 Iraq war for saying, "We don't want this war, this violence, and we're ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas," their home state. They were eviscerated.

Now, let's see what kind of repercussions Sarah Palin will receive from her statements abroad by those same voices. Do you think conservatives and the religious right will call her un-American? After all, which would have a greater impact on geo-politics, the girl band or the once vice-presidential candidate?

Well, that's a tough one, eh? But I gonna go with the former.

Being Reminded

Lest we forget...

"Did you get that?"

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Being Shameless

Disgraced former Republican Majority Leader, Tom Delay, appeared on "Dancing with the Stars" last night.

It's obvious Delay has no shame on the floor of Congress or the dance floor.

Click here for Delay's numerous campaign finance indictments. Delay is free on bail and has yet to go to trial.

Being for the Public Option II

Here is a very simple solution for moving the public option forward. Why don't we take away health care insurance for members of Congress while keeping their salaries exactly the same or maybe even decreasing them? They don't seem to get it. Not only are there some 47 million Americans without health care insurance, there will be increasingly more who will be without insurance as premiums rise exponentially and large corporations and mid-size businesses will be unable to provide insurance for their employees.

CNN Money

Despite a drop in inflation, the annual cost of employer-sponsored family health insurance coverage has risen 5% this year to $13,375, according to a new survey released Tuesday. Employers picked up the lion's share of that tab. Companies paid an average of $9,860, while their workers picked up the other $3,515, according to the 2009 survey of employers from the Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research & Educational Trust. Kaiser is a nonprofit, nonpartisan health policy research foundation.
Many small businesses and entrepreneurs are already unable to pay for health care insurance for themselves and their families. Many have long not been able to offer health care insurance to their employees. In Michigan the unemployment rate is the highest in the country at 15.6% and salaries have decreased 6.6% from 2008. Maybe we should both take away health care benefit from Congress members and decrease their salaries.

America's broke, right? For all of those men and women in Congress who want to run government as a business, they themselves have not taken a necessary pay cut or a reduction in benefits. Yet, many in Congress insist that Americans find a means to pay exorbitant premiums for health care insurance with increased unemployment rates and salary reductions.

We should sincerely take health care benefits away from Congress members immediately, and perhaps even decrease their salary. They will then soon see the necessity for a public option that will make rates affordable for them. This way they will see the necessity of a public option for us. Many seem so aloof and self-absorbed that this seems like the best option, pun intended.

Here is the question: How can we implement this?

Being a Gift

"This is our opportunity to make history," said Senator Baucus (D-MT) after announcing that the was adding $50 billion to the draft legislation to help those who would be required to purchase insurance.

Does this seem like a gift to the insurance industry? Let's require everyone to purchase insurance and increase the budget by $50 billion so that the insurance industry can benefit. Why?

Wouldn't the public option help those who can't pay for private insurance and allow those who want to stay with their insurance to keep it instead of being priced out of it?

Is this increase a gift or what? It's certainly not capitalism. In an effort to appease the Republicans, Senator Baucus proposes something that he hopes will get bi-partisan support. The Republicans seem more amenable to this than a public option. But does this gift not look like socialism for corporations?

Being Autumn

Happy Autumn!

Autumn Leaves

The falling leaves drift by the window
The autumn leaves of red and gold
I see your lips, the summer kisses
The sun-burned hands I used to hold

Since you went away the days grow long
And soon Ill hear old winters song
But I miss you most of all my darling
When autumn leaves start to fall

Monday, September 21, 2009

Being a South Carolina Government Official

Can someone please tell me what's going on down there in South Carolina? Here are some recent comments by state government officials. They are self-serving, hypocritical, untruthful and uncivil.

1. Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC)

On health care reform:

"If we're able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo. It will break him."

2. Governor Mark Sanford (R-SC)

On President Bill Clinton's affair:

"The issue of lying is probably the biggest harm, if you will, to the system of Democratic government, representatives government, because it undermines trust. And if you undermine trust in our system, you undermine everything."

On his own affair after lying to his staff:

"I've let down a lot of people. That's the bottom line. I've been unfaithful to my wife."

3. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

On President Obama's speech to the joint session of Congress:

""I found his tone to be overly combative and believe he behaved in a manner beneath the dignity of the office."

4. Congressman Joe Wilson (R-SC)

On President Obama's speech to the joint session of Congress:

"You lie!"

All are opposed to health care reform in a state that has among the highest number of uninsured residents in the Union at 20.4%. So, what's in the water down there in South Carolina?

Being Unshakeable

"I do not mean to be sentimental about suffering--enough is certainly as good as a feast--but people who cannot suffer can never grow up, can never discover who they are. That man who is forced each day to snatch his manhood, his identity, out of the fire of human cruelty that rages to destroy it knows, if he survives his effort, and even if he does not survive it, something about himself and human life that no school on earth--and, indeed, no church--can teach. He achieves his own authority, and that is unshakeable."

--James Baldwin

Being Boorish

Peggy Noonan, former speechwriter for President Reagan, columnist with the Wall Street Journal and political pundit on various media outlets, called President Obama "boorish" for appearing often on television to push health care reform.

Merriam-Webster OnLine

Main Entry: boor•ish
Pronunciation: \ˈbu̇r-ish\
Function: adjective
Date: 1562

resembling or befitting a boor (as in crude insensitivity)
— boor•ish•ly adverb
— boor•ish•ness noun

Synonyms: BOORISH, CHURLISH, LOUTISH, CLOWNISH mean an uncouth in manners or appearance. Boorish implies rudeness of manner due to insensitiveness to others' feelings and unwillingness to be agreeable (a drunk's boorish behavior). CHURLISH suggests surliness, unresponsiveness, and ungraciousness (churlish remakrs). LOUTISH implies bodily awkwardness together with stupidity (a loutish oaf). CLOWNISH suggests ill-bred awkwardness, ignorance or stupidity, ungainliness, and often a propensity for absurd antics (an adolescent's clownish conduct).Now, without having seen President Obama on any of the Sunday shows, as I didn't even turn on my television yesterday, listening to Peggy Noonan here she sounds pretty boorish to me.

The problem with many political pundits is that their exalted self-importance often comes crashing down on their own heads. Noonan falls into this category regularly with her forever feigned lilted pseduo-intellectual effacement which is so unattractive.

Listen to her tone and word choices; she always comes across to me as slightly bitchy, a bit snooty, and often subtly demeaning. Her seeemingly male counterparts, let's say a George Will or William F. Buckley, are rarely--if ever--amiss on meaning.

It is clear that Ms. Noonan, the great former speech writer, doesn't know the meaning of boorish. Surely, it couldn't possibly apply to the rather serious very thoughtful current president no matter how you feel about his policies.

Methinks Peggy Noonan is boorish.

Being a Hard Working Mother

This is for all the working mothers out there providing for their families and doing the awesome work of mothering which is itself a full-time job.

I hope you're being treated right. Kudos over here.

(Doesn't Donna Summers rock? Gotta love the disco vintage video!)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Being Inspired by Others

Being a True Leader

"You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them and there great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you, but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many."

--Jesus Christ

Friday, September 18, 2009

Being Funny X

Here is SNL's take on the recent outburst in Congress. It's pretty funny! There is also a great impression of James Carville here too--spot on.

Being a Dick or Prick? III

Having written here on Dick Armey before, Being a Dick or a Prick?, and just viewing a video clip of the "Bill Moyers Journal" this director of FreedomWorks, whose organization has been funding disruptive town halls and Tea Party marches all around the country including the 9/12 march in Washington last week, Dick is sounding more and more like a prick.

Below is an exerpt of what Bill Moyers says of Armey after showing a video clip of protesters at the 9/12 march in Washington who say that they are more afraid of President Obama than Osama and afraid that President Obama would do what Hitler was not able to do, destroy America. Although I have included an except below, the video is a must see. You can watch Moyers expose Dick Armey's hypocritical history in the House of Representative and his deceptive leadership of Tea Party protesters here.

Here's the catch. Something these marchers who came to Washington at Armey's urging could hardly be expected to know. For most of his adult life, their leader has benefited from just the kind of government tax-supported health care he's fighting to keep them from having too.

It's a fascinating run down of Armey's adult life working in universities and for the government, made comfortable and secure by state-funded health care -- "the Cadillac of coverage."

Dick Armey is the epitome of those people with power and privilege who are insured against the vicissitudes of life and want no government assistance for any suffering except their own."
Uh, pretty pricky, eh?

Being Behatted and Beautiful

Here is my cousin, Sybil, who has spent most of her years after graduation all over the world teaching. She is currently in Ghana.

I think this photo is beautiful of a young lady who inspires me and whose zest for life and desire to give and share are incomparable.

Blessings dear "little" cousin, beautiful you...

Being for the Public Option

The public option, or something very similar to it--I don't care what it's called only what it does-- is necessary as a means for small businesses, the working class, and the poor to purchase health care insurance. It is also necessary as a means for private cost control for those already with insurance that will increasingly be unable to pay due to expediential increases in premimum rates. To my surprise Bill O'Reilly of Fox News is also for a public option.

An exceptionally staunch conservative wealthy friend and I were at dinner last night. He's an American was born in Canada but has spent most of his life in the US. He's in his late 40's. Three years ago his mother, who had moved back to Canada much later in life, got pancreatic cancer. Because he was more comfortable with the care here he insisted that she come back for treatment. She did and is in good health. Thank God.

I had heard the story before but last night at dinner as we debated health care, he retold the story in great detail, reliving the horror he and his siblings faced. He is incredibly proud to be an American and is eternally grateful for the care his mother received. Being such a staunch conservative and so concerned about the deficit, perhaps one would perhaps have thought that he would have paid for her health care bills. A suggestion was made during one of the town halls by a conservataive representative that neighbors, let alone family members, should care for one another. The embodies the notion of being our brother keeper he said to a woman in wheelchair. This was incredibly altruistic.

The wheel-chaired bound woman spoke of the increasingly difficult time she was having paying for her meds, while the representative spoke of being our brother’s keeper as if a block club bake sale or yard sale or maybe even a lemonade stand, could pay for the likes of three major surgeries when a very wealthy son depended on the government to care for his beloved mother. My friend’s mother is on Medicare and a Medicare supplement that saved her life. She's 78 and beautiful.

As he spoke in tears of his mother's care, he derided government ran healthcare. I stopped him in his tracks and asked one question: "Who paid for the cancer surgeries and care for your mother?" His tears dried up and there was a seriousness on his face that was unexplainable. It was like he had not even thought of that. Are many of us simply deluded in some areas? The federal government paid for his mother's treatment. Medicare and its supplements are government ran programs. What part of this does my very good astute wealthy friend not understand? What part of this do the many raging over 65-plus crowds at town hall meetings and rallies railing about the lack of government intervention in health care not understand?

Why not offer a program for others that allows them to buy health care at an affordable rate, obviously private insurance will not allow this, and subsidize those who can't afford health care insurance? For me, this is a national security issue, as in the security of our people to live healthy productive lives and the health of our nation to move forward.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Being a Child III

"Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it."

--Jesus Christ

Being President Barack Obama XIV

Being a bit leery and weary about the possibility of their not being health care reform that for me needs a public option to keep insurance companies honest and enable small businesses, working people and the poor to purchase insurance, I was beginning to have my doubts. If another option will provide for lower insurance premiums, I'd be happy to embrace it. But no option, not even a cooperative, which Blue Cross Blue Shield began as, seems able to do the necessary things above. Some 70% of Americans, including doctors, and nurses, are for a public option.

Listening to President Obama's speech at the University of Maryland today and his relatively silence on Bacus plan, I became even more leery, quite uncomfortable with my beloved president's style. Where is the leadership I wondered? Then something struck me like a ton of bricks: The president is leading as any great leader does. He knows the law. We have three branches of government: the legislative, judicial and executive. He is not a legislator. But what he signs his name to will be something he "owns."

As with any good CEO, President Obama listens, leads, and governs. But he knows his role and did not seek to create legislation as did the executive branch during the Clinton administration. As a leader he speaks clearly about what he wants to see in the health care reform bill: a public option and no deficit increase. He will not sign a bill that increases the deficit but he will consider another option that will make insurance affordable for small businesses, working people and the poor.

During the month of August President Obama took a hit in the polls. There seemed to have been uncertainty of message among the administration and the downright raucous town halls spread unease and hateful messages and lies that exasperated the process. Where is the President Obama I wondered? Does he not have much fight? But as I listened to him owning his plan I wondered what exactly is your plan?

Well, his plan will ultimately be the plan that passes Congress that includes what the vast majority of the people want, which is a public option or something like it and no increase in the deficit. If a bill does not pass after his bending backwards, listening and leading, it will be the failure of elected leaders in the Congress. But the President's health care reform should pass because it is what the people want: affordable health care insurance and no increase in the deficit.

What seems to be occurring now is that Washington and the American people are accustomed to the old way of doing things, where the president usurps his executive position and legislate a bill as the Clinton administration. With this kind of leadership the role of the people becomes paramount; it is, in fact, a representative democracy.

All of the polls that I have seen indicate that the American people want a public option or something that will force honest competition and not apparent price setting where the cost of living has increased and wages have decreased. Some 15 million Americans are out of work and many fear that they too will lose their jobs. If we do not pass health care insurance reform with a necessary option for entrepreneurs, the working class and the poor, we are looking at many more millions of desperate Americans who will rely on emergency rooms for health care which increases taxes and doesn't concentrate on wellness.

President Obama should be wished much success. His leadership style brings change. Let's each do our part and demand that our leaders in Congress vote for what we want. They are the legislators. We are the people. Call and write your legislators today. What is for certain is that if the President and Congress do not listen to the people and vote accordingly they can pretty much forget about being re-elected. It seems that this is the objective of some,, to merely make this President Obama's "waterloo" as Senator DeMint (R-SC) said. His decision to block health care as well as those of others and not based on the needs of the people.

President Obama we're counting on you to bring change to Washington and in the lives of Americans. We are also well aware, at least I hope we are, that without our participation you cannot effecitively lead in this our representative democracy.

Being for Campaign Reform II

Recently I wrote a post, Being for Campaign Reform, which addressed the Supreme Court's hearing of the possible expansion of the role of corporations in our election process. But Steve Colbert does a much better job than I. Check him out. It's funny and, oooh, so very relevant. "Let Freedom Ka-Ching."

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word - Let Freedom Ka-Ching
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorHealth Care Protests

It's amazing that the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land, would even hear such a case. Last week the Court heard Attorney Theodore Olsen argue that "corporations are persons entitled to protection under the first amendment." Now, do we need to be a Supreme Court justice to see the ridiculousness of hearing this case? Corporations must not be allowed to donate to campaigns without restrictions. Period.

Being Eliot Spitzer IV

In a recent article, "Better Regulate Than Never," for The New Republic Eliot Spitzer makes more than a few profound points about what we should do in moving forward in the economic crisis. Instead of employing bailouts and the like we should require shareholders to do their jobs, essentially in being regulators.

As we emerge from the crisis, there will be a temptation to over-learn lessons. The old system socialized risk and privatized gain. In our rush to reverse the damages wrought by this imbalance, there are many proposals (some of them already implemented) that bureaucratize decision-making and sharply limit private gain. There's the application of Sarbanes-Oxley to venture-capital firms, which has been neither effective nor useful, and has perhaps inhibited capital flows. And we have already added a federal "pay czar" to determine compensation for bailed-out bankers.

But, once again, we’re missing the opportunity. Instead of adding bureaucracy, we should be using the government to help invigorate shareholders to police companies. They should be empowered to control executive compensation, eliminating all the conflicts that now encumber those decisions.

Shareholders, like all stakeholders, will make a better determination about the use of their capital than bureaucrats who don’t ever suffer the downside of a bad investment. We need to facilitate opportunities for shareholders to actually participate in key decisions, and to deny those whose interests are not aligned from hijacking them. Strangely, we’ve heard a lot about executives and bureaucrats in this moment of reform. But shareholders, a force integral to the integrity and vitality of markets, have largely been left out of the discussion. We need them now more than ever.
I strongly agree with the points above. I also wonder what the role of the boards of directors will now play? Should they begin to do their jobs as regulators now? Had they done their job we could have averted a major financial crisis. Instead, they seemed to have sat back and collected fat fees and expected taxpayers to bail their companies when they should have been regulating and acting as a governing body.

What's really sad is that many board of directors of bailout banks and auto companies themselves have run major corporations and should have discerned certain pitfalls. Isn't this the reason that they sit on their asses for nearly the whole year and go to meetings once or twice a year, collecting fat fees for their "knowledge?"

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Being Sexy

This is sexy right? These young women are dressed for exposure at the VMA. I'm just wondering when we're gonna see men similarly dressed--well, not dressed like this. But you get the picture. How about it ladies? Can a muscular straight man pull off showing a little nipple every now and then at a VMA? Probably not. I'm having images of Fabio who never excited me. Being sexy has acceptable gender and cultural bounds, eh?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Being Rational Reformers

Here are two rational economic voices, Arianna Huffington and Congressman Ron Paul, on reform. Arianna speaks of the necessity of cleaning up bad assets (foreclosed properties) still on bank books along with banks that have grown are now even more "too big to fail." She addresses the $1 million homeless children whose parents did not take out bad loans but lost their jobs. Both the banks and state of homeless children have the potential of great economic calamity now and in the future.

Ron Paul is someone I have always respected, even when I thought his ideas were perhaps too far on the edge. But I've been listening to him more lately with a different set of ears. Paul's comments here about President Obama's label of socialism is worth considering: "Some conservatives accuse Obama of socialized medicine," he said. "I don't think so. I think he wants to perpetuate corporatism. Whether in financial markets (think Geithner, Summers, and Bernanke), medical care (think insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies) or whatever." This is the exact opposite of irrational voices screaming socialism. Hmm?

Being a Tea Party Leader

For all of my friends and foes out there who believe that the essence of Tea Parties is legitimate please take a listen to this hypocritical leader, Mark Williams, who tried to mask his racist ideology by saying that the Tea Parties are all about Americans standing up for their rights after being "attacked" by their own government. (Pay particular attention to his incendiary word choices and tone when describing President Obama and the administration. By the way, where was he 8 years ago?) His appearance on "Anderson Cooper 360" was quite revealing

Mark Williams likened the Washington Tea Party to a "picnic" celebrating America where parents and kids gathered. (Wasn't it odd that there were no Native American, African American, or Hispanic American families in attendance?) The picnic line was reminiscent of some other picnics where charred bodies hung from trees amid joviality and revelry with parents and kids in attendance eating bar-b-que.

Mark Williams tried to say that the Washington Tea Party was about the honesty of Americans who want to take back their government from big corporations who gave them the money to hire buses and print despicable signs such as "Bury Obamacare with Kennedy." There will always be nutcases as was during the "so-called peace demonstrations" he explained. In attendance were simply fringe elements that did not represent the whole. He painted the Washington Tea Party with big bold red, white and blue strips that a non-white racist like, Maureen Dowd, could deride. The large majority of those in attendance were rational Americans who love their country and despise interference with the government but were all for such interference in cases like the Terry Shiavo case where they injected themselves and the government in between a husband and wife.

This was all sounding pretty good and could have deceived many listeners until Anderson Cooper called Williams out on his hypocrisy: "What you're saying makes sense to me here when I'm hearing what you say but then I read on your blog, you say, you call the President 'an Indonesian Muslim turned welfare thug and a racist in chief.'"

Mark Williams did not back down from this statement. This is who President Obama is he insisted. Now, how can such a movement led by the like of Williams be legitimate? It cannot be said that everybody in attendance in Washington over the weekend were racists. It cannot perhaps be said that everybody at picnics where black bodies burned were racists also; they simply went along. What is most certainly known for sure is that the majority of people have never changed policy for good or ill. History proves this repeatedly, again and again throughout the centuries, in country after country. So, will history repeat itself yet again for ill?

Being Taylor Swift

Congratulations to the young budding country music artist, Taylor Swift, for her deserving VMA for best female video. I was thoroughly disgusted with Kanye West's behavior as Taylor stood their defeated and in disbelief after she just won an award. Was he even nominated for anything?

This is a great wholesome video for young ladies and girls that tells a beautiful non-overtly sexual story of belonging. I love the video and Kanye West can disappear as far as I'm concerned. And no, Kanye, you don't need hoochie mammas in short tight skirts mouthing bleeping words to win a VMA!

Congratulations again to Taylor Swift not only for the great song and video but for its important message to teenagers and young girls everywhere: you don't have to be a sex goddess to belong.

Disappear Kanye--like now!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Being Jesus Peddlers

"Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God."

--St. Paul

There are "so many" such people still present today: preaching peddlers profiting hand over fist using the name of Christ. Should some churches identified by not only membership but profit be taxed? Maybe this can help pay for health care. Ministers are often by far more profitable than entreprenuers. Guess who pays taxes?

Being a Goalkeeper

Reading how Jupiter is a "goalkeeper" from preventing asteroids and comets from crashing into earth, as many believed happen 65 million years ago and caused the extinction of the dinosaurs, I could not help but to marvel yet again at the complex solar system that suspends and protects everything in space and our duty not to implode earth from the inside out. Jupiter is the goalkeeper from without and we are the goalkeepers from within.

Isn't Jupiter beautiful? I love science!

Being Elizabeth Bishop

One Art

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

--Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.
The art of losing seems akin to embracing our fears.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Being Inspired by Others

The Pearl Fischers' Duet
Music by George Bizet
Libretto by Michel Carré and Eugène Cormon

It was in the evening!
In the air cooled by a breeze,
The brahmanes with faces flooded with light,
Slowly called the crowd to prayer!

At the back of the holy temple,
decorated with flowers and gold,
A woman appears!

A woman appears!

I can still see her!

I can still see her!

The prostrate crowd
looks at her amazed
and murmurs under its breath:
look, this is the goddess
looming up in the shadow
and holding out her arms to us.

Her veil parts slightly.
What a vision! What a dream!
The crowd is kneeling.

Yes, it is she!
It is the goddess,
more charming and more beautiful.
Yes, it is she!
It is the goddess
who has come down among us.
Her veil has parted and the crowd is kneeling.

But through the crowd
she makes her way.

Already her long veil
hides her face from us.

My eyes, alas!
Seek her in vain!

She flees!

She flees!
But what is this strange flame
which is suddenly kindled in my soul!

What unknown fire is destroying me?

Your hand pushes mine away!

Your hand pushes mine away!

Love takes our hearts by storm
and turns us into enemies!

No, let nothing part us!

No, nothing!

Let nothing part us!

No, nothing!

Let us swear to remain friends!

Let us swear to remain friends!

Let us swear to remain friends!

Oh yes, let us swear to remain friends!
Yes, it is her, the goddess,
who comes to unite us this day.
And, faithful to my promise,
I wish to cherish you like a brother!
It is her, the goddess,
who comes to unite us this day!
Yes, let us share the same fate,
let us be united until death!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Being Civil and Decent

Do these people have children? Hopefully, they're sterile. If not, I pity their children.

Being the Oldest Person in the World

"For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to you."

--Proverbs 3:2

Gertude Baines, the world's oldest person who was born in 1894, died yesterday. She was 115 years old and lived by herself up until a decade ago and went to church regularly until more recently when she became bed-ridden.

What a dignified woman, eh? And, what about that skin? Mrs. Baines had lived long enough to vote for President Obama and kept a signed photograph of the president on her wall. She died peacefully in her sleep during the breaking of dawn.

Being Undermined by National News II

When I saw the perfect image of Congressman Joe Wilson perfectly centered flanked by three congressmen in suits and ties on the top, one on each side, and three on the bottom in full-bodied seated positions, with his hand accusatorily pointed and mouth perfectly formed not on the phonetic (i) of "lied" but seconds sooner on the (u) of "you" I said aloud, "you gotta be kidding me!" (I looked for this particular image but The Washington Post has not made it available online to my knowledge.) I know about these things as a trained opera singer since my youth who has studied more than a few languages.

But not being a professional photographer, I called a long-time friend who has been in the business for many years. He is also a owner of an advertising agency and the publisher of two successful magazines. He assured me that it is nearly impossible and more likely that the event was staged. This would not have been difficult as President Obama's speech was made available beforehand. Why would a camera even be on this unknown congressman among so many others? There were no hometown photographers present in the chamber.

Now, before you label me a conspiracy theorist, let me remind you of a post I wrote here a few months back, Being Undermined by National News, where the the CEO and publisher of The Washington Post, Katharine Weymouth, sought to lure lobbyists to her home at a cost of $250,000 dollars a head to ensure that they would be heard as such a setting guarantees it.

"Underwrite and participate in this intimate and exclusive Washington Post Salon, an off-the-record dinner and discussion at the home of CEO and publisher Katharine Weymouth. ... Bring your organization's's CEO or executive director literally to the table. Interact with key Obama administration and Congressional leaders."

"Spirited? Yes. Confrontational? No," the flier states. "The relaxed setting in the home of Katharine Weymouth assures it."
If you think such a photo of the unknown Congressman Joe Wilson yelling "you lied" during President Obama's joint address to the Congress at just the right time on perfect queue with the camera's click could not have been planned by the same "credible" national newspaper, The Washington Post, whose very own CEO and publisher produced the above, think again. After all, the issue is the same: health care. These are desperate times and lobbyists are employed to undermine health care with the help of The Washington Post.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Being Conservative

Nassim Nicholas Taleb espouses in a discussion with conservative British MP, David Cameron, the conservation of natural complex systems which would be ecological and what he describes as Brooklyn derivative trading as opposed to a MIT-based one. In this vein, I am very much a conservative.

Taleb is against debt and for robust systems. Politically speaking, we have not had such conservatism in a very long time in politics. What we have had for many years is a masquerade, a hypocritical scheme. The iconoclastic Republican president, Ronald Reagan, increased the deficit more than any other president besides our last president, George W. Bush. Both were conservatives.

President Obama and his financial team seem to be following in the same vein. Taleb sees this as a faulty system of forecasting that the president's financial team engages in. President Obama says that health care reform will not add one penny to the deficit. We are waiting to see how this will be achieved. It would seem that Geithner, Summers, and Bernanke were all a part of the problem. I wonder if they can also be a part of the solution. Taleb makes a great analogy:

"The patient has cancer. OK. They're giving him painkillers. If you're giving the cancer patient painkillers, what's going to happen to him? Physically, the cancer is going to get worse but he's going to not feel it. So, the problem we have in America is that nobody has addressed the fundamental error, the over reliance on forecasts. Larry Summers blew up Harvard's endowment forecasting what's going to happen with its endowment. They're going to do the same with the US administration and build the government deficit based on that. What should we do? Transform debt into equity."

By the way, a year ago my partner and I went to our state senator and proposed a great plan that would "transform debt into equity" with regards to the abundant of foreclosure in Michigan. The senator's chief of staff with whom we met thought it was a great idea. We were given platitudes and nothing happened. I sent various emails and made several calls.

My partner in a real estate venture is a senior executive at a Fortune 100. He didn't appreciate the meeting at all. I noticed this immediately. I could tell by the corners of his mouth and the dart in his eyes, though they seemed to escape the chief of staff. But since I had been a consultant with governments large and small, I thought I recognized the hoops necessary. But he was right. The senator's office was not really interested in solutions, but in seemingly maintaining the status quo. They did not seem interested in making the Michigan economy robust.

Our plan remains the better one than any others that we have heard coming out of the past or current administrations. It doesn't rely on debt and increases a robust economy. In creating such solutions, I am very much a conservative.

Being Timothy Geithner II

Before the Congressional Oversight Panel, Secretary of Treasury, Timothy Geithner, assured the panel that the financial system is being restored because counterparites, foreign and domestic, are gaining confidence in our system again. Even though jobs are important, it's a lagging indicator, so what is most important now is confidence.

As I listened to Secretary Geithner I couldn't help but to wonder, as I have written here before, why is this so? If you were a counterparty wouldn't you invest in an economy where it is known and proven that taxpayers will bailout failed banks and insurance companies like AIG who paid $105 BILLION to its counterparties at 100% on the dollar when the auto industry was required to take a haircut?

Confidence? The confidence of counterparties do not lie in our economy proper, our industries, products, sales, etc. Their confidence lies in our government through the taxpayers to be bailed out. They have confidence that the Treasury Department and The Fed will bolster their investments in spite of the competancy of AIG and Wall Street banks. But from where does this confidence spring?

The current system seems like a house of indebted cards based on a system that seems to have just as much confidence as casinos. (I would highly recommend Nicholas Darvas' book, Wall Street: The Other Las Vegas.) If we didn't bailout AIG and these big Wall Street banks, would these counterparties, foreign and domestic, who seem to have gammed the American financial system on the backs of the American taxpayer, be so inclined to invest?

Through AIG, Goldman Sachs received $12.9 BILLION on top of its $10 BILLION received from TARP directly, Societe Generale Corporate & Investment Banking, one of Europe's main financial services companies received $11.9 BILLION and Barclays of Britian recieved $7.9 BILLION. Two-thirds of AIG's funds flowed to European banks. So, with these facts is Secretary Geithner correct when he points to other investing in our system again as a sign of recovery?

Okay, even if the confidence of counterparties is a sign of recovery in that the reason for investing is to insure some sort of security and others fell secure again, what is the taxpayers' insurance based on--more debt, hiked interest rates and fees? These counterparties can count on the American taxpayer. They can repay loans not through legitimate products but through the spread created by low interest government loans via programs like TARP and hiking the interest rates on taxpayers' credit cards and collecting late fee charges on those who bailed them out.

Wall Street Banks such as Goldman Sachs seems to have done nothing really that would enable it to raise the $10 million dollars given through TARP with minimum interest thanks to the government besides benefiting from the means above. Yet, these guys are complaining of losing talent if million dollar bonuses aren't paid. But I'm less concerned about the bonuses and more about the system itself. But it's doesn't seem to be about losing talent. It seems more about gaming the system. He who does this best on Wall Street seems to win. Doesn't Timothy Geithner know this?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Being a Reality Show Talent Contestant II

Many people are fans of American Idol, but I have never been one of these. Not only do the judges seem wholly incapable of judging talent, they seem to comment in ways that merely influences the bottom line of the show and not that of the contestants. This is okay so as long as those competing understand this. Unfortunately, many contestants seem totally oblivious that there is really not much in it for them. I touch on this in an article written a few months back. It can be read here.

There is no real talent search here and very few contestants make it big, not to mention many like Susan Boyle, of the other Simon Cowell show, Britain's Got Talent, were means to an end. The end was never them. Imagine how much is being netted by Cowell's shows off of the desire of many young struggling artists and not so young hoping to be heard and make it big time. How much does it cost to rent a hall for auditions and the show? How much does it cost for guest artists? But the contestants themselves are not paid.

Yesterday it was announced that Ellen DeGeneres will be a judge on American Idol. Can anybody please tell me how this comedienne is qualified to judge singing contestants? Of course, this goes to my point. The show is not about talent or the contestants. I wonder if at its core these shows are more about the business of dreams deferred and profit, more than entertainment. To a certain extent there is nothing wrong with these entertainment shows. Millions of people watch them. But I'm not big on them because they muddy the waters between entertainment and exploitation, not to mention that the very best Amercian singers we will never hear of.

Being a Congressperson, Corporate Executive and Constituent

Representative Eric Cantor, Minority Whip (R) VA, sat through President Obama's joint address to Congress on his BlackBerry. Congressman Cantor is a leader in the Republican Party who routinely supports big business at the expense of the people and small business. Some have even questioned whether his support of bailout banks was due to his wife's Diana position as the executive who runs the Virginia branch of a bank Emigrant Bank's wealth-management division, Virginia Private Bank & Trust.

I have a question for Representative Cantor, Dana Cantor, the people of Virgina, business persons everywhere, and constituents throughout the country: If Congressman Cantor was a SVP of a Fortune 100 company and the CEO was delivering an important speech about the viability of the company, would this be acceptable behavior and cause for firing? If so, why would Congressman's Cantor disrespect for the CEO of the United States and his constituents be any different?

Being Owed an Apology

In response to Joe Wilson's outburst last night during President Obama's joint address to Congress and the nation, yelling to the president "you lie" and he himself continuing a lie that illegal immigrants are covered in the current health care bill, Rochelle Riley. Detroit Free Press columnist, writes a thoughtful article. She writes:
It is not enough to say that free speech excuses idiots.

It is not enough that his Republican colleagues denounced him.

Because here's the thing: Not once in the six years that he oversaw lying and misleading and misrepresenting, all in the name of a fake war on terror that pushed billions of tax dollars into the pockets of defense contractors, did President George W. Bush stand before Congress and be called a liar.

Joe Wilson, the South Carolina representative who wrecked his career by calling President Barack Obama a lie during his speech before Congress and America last night, intimated that Obama's health plan offered insurance to undocumented residents.

He was wrong. But he knew it. Still, he thought he'd get away with insulting the president. Until his colleagues turned their backs on him.

So he apologized...

Joe Wilson didn’t insult the president. He insulted America. And every one of us deserves an apology, too.
So, does Congressman Wilson owe Americans an apology?

Being Concerned about "the Least of These"

I wept out of sympathy and anger reading Arianna Huffington’s post, The Story that Made Me Tear Up My Prepared Speech at a Big Education Conference. The new speech dealt with homeless children while Wall Street banks that are "too big to fail" got trillions and do nothing to avert an increasing catastrophe. I know the problem of homeless children intimately, having been faced with the problem almost weekly over the last two years. I have met countless solid middle class parents who have lost their homes and their children fear being homeless. Many would be homeless if we didn’t reduce the rent or do away with late fees. Can you imagine Wall Street banks that have a gazillion times more than us and were able to survive because of the trillions collectively given by average taxpayers without which they would have failed, doing the same?

Wall Street banks, instead, actually fought not to contribute to the health and wealth of children as Arianna noted by employing lobbyists to defeat legislation that would keep hardworking homeowners in their homes. I cannot tell you how many situations I have seen where solid middle class parents have lost their jobs and are in situation that they would have never imagined. One college-educated mother with two young boys owes me thousands of dollars. She pays what she can every other week. I always talk to the kids and see how I can help with school supplies, shoes or whatever. It's heartbreaking. Others were kind to my mother who raised twelve kids alone. We have all made it through valiantly, thank God, having graduate degrees and serving as executives in Fortune 100 companies, missionaries in developing countries, serial entrepreneurs and pastors.

When I meet these parents and children for the first time who have been foreclosed on, it is the look in the kids' eyes that tell the story of hardship. I always, after dealing with the parents, talk to the kids directly, looking into their eyes and affirming their value. This makes a difference; it eases their concern. I do the exact same thing repeatedly, seeking to give stability in an unstable emotional and physical environment. Initially, the kids often think that I am the wicked witch of the east or the bogey man; they have seen much too much for their young age and these are the kids of solid middle class Americans who once held industrial and white-collar jobs.

Arianna's points are so true: "It's important to remember that many of the people losing their homes now are not people with crazy sub-prime mortgages or who took out massive loans they couldn't afford. They are hard working, middle class Americans who have lost their jobs and are struggling to make ends meet." Here in Michigan I see these people often. Her second point is just as important and true: "It's equally important to remember that these are the same banks that used bailout money -- our money -- to hire lobbyists to kill legislation in the Senate this spring that would have saved over a million-and-a-half people from losing their homes." As a culture of character how can we allow this to happen?

One mother that we rent to has ten kids living in the house, her four and her brothers six, totaling eleven people in a three bedroom house. She struggles to pay the rent and the increasing utility costs. The lease allows for five, the mother and her four kids. When I go over I do not even acknowledge the agreement, speaking to all of the children just the same. They range from two to fourteen. The oldest always look like, "are you going to put us out?" I wear the gentlest smile I can and am careful of my words and tone. They are so sensitive to these things.

Thank you Arianna for the post and speech on behalf of homeless children and thanks to all of those, including corporations, who consider "the least of these." (A special thanks to the Gates Foundation and Viacom for their present effort on behalf of children.) On "that day" many will ask the Lord when did we see you in desperate situations? He will say, "for I was hungry and you gave me no food; I was thirsty and you gave me no drink; I was a stranger and you took me not in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you visited Me not. They will answer him Lord when did we see you, hungry, or thirsty, or naked, or in prison and did not minister to you? Inasmuch a you did not do it the least of these. You did not do it to Me"

Let's all, individuals and corporations alike, do our part in this difficult season to help others. We should be helpers one to another.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Being President Barack Obama XII

Bravo, Mr. President! Thank you for your moral voice. Thank you for the truth and civil tone. Thank you for your leadership. Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you.

Being Empathetic II

Watching Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, during the President's address tonight, I was reminded of the importance of women in leadership positions. Her empathy was clearly felt. A bit of motherly instinct was shown as well when Congressman Joe Wilson (R) of South Carolina disrespected the Office of the Presidency with the outburst, "you lie!" Speaker Pelosi glared in his direction. I've seen that look in the eyes of my mother, sisters, aunts, teachers, and friends. Is such an instinct valuable? It's saved my hide a few times.

Being Lobbyists

CNN reports that there are 6 to 1 lobbyists in Washington compared to our representatives with nearly $280 million spent on the health care debate. These numbers are the highest in the history of our country. Do you think our voices are being heard amid such special interests? Our reprensentative democracy seems in peril.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Being Beautiful

This song is simply beautiful.


heard there was a secret chord
that david played and it pleased the lord
but you don't really care for music, do you
well it goes like this the fourth, the fifth
the minor fall and the major lift
the baffled king composing hallelujah


well your faith was strong but you needed proof
you saw her bathing on the roof
her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you
she tied you to her kitchen chair
she broke your throne and she cut your hair
and from your lips she drew the hallelujah


baby i've been here before
i've seen this room and i've walked this floor
i used to live alone before i knew you
i've seen your flag on the marble arch
but love is not a victory march
it's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah


well there was a time when you let me know
what's really going on below
but now you never show that to me do you
but remember when i moved in you
and the holy dove was moving too
and every breath we drew was hallelujah

well, maybe there's a god above
but all i've ever learned from love
was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you
it's not a cry that you hear at night
it's not somebody who's seen the light
it's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah