Monday, November 30, 2009

Being for Main Street

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

To assist Main Street, Reich proposes the following:

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Being Inspired by Others

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

--Ray Charles

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Being Homeless Children

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

Friday, November 27, 2009

Being a Princess

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

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

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

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

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

Being a Reality Show Contestant III

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

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

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

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Being Thanksgiving Day

One Day is there of the Series

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

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

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

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

--Emily Dickinson

Happy Thanksgiving! This day I am thankful for you.

Being Thankful

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

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

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Being Led Zeppelin

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

Love the song! Give all of your love now.

Being an American

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

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

Are these folks a good representation of Americans?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Being Goldman Sachs XI

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Being Inspired by Others

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

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

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Being a True Leader

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

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

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

Friday, November 20, 2009

Being Skinny II

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

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

Being Goldman Sachs X

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

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

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

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

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

Being an Aunt V

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

Hey, I'm getting old, for real!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Being in a Battle

Whatever you're going through, be encouraged.

The battle is the Lord's!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Being Delores Lee Ellis IV

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

"If Jesus Came to Your House"

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Being a Liar

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

Monday, November 16, 2009

Being a Joke IV

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

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

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

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Being Inspired by Others

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

--Richard Wagner

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Being Skinny

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

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

Being Goldman Sachs IX

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Being Non-News

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

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Sean Hannity Uses Glenn Beck's Protest Footage
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Thank you, Jon Stewart!

Being Productive

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

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

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

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

Wall Street banks executives are so far removed from reality.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Being a Veteran II

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

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

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Being in a Wonderful World

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

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

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

Monday, November 9, 2009

Being Goldman Sachs IX

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

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

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

Here are the words of Jesus Christ:

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

--Matthew 23:15

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

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

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

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

Being Unrecognizable

Slugger Sammy Sosa's on the left, but who's on the right?

The photo on the right was taken of Sosa on November 4. Hmm?

Being Goldman Sachs VIII

Goldman Sachs got the same amount of doses of the Swine Flu vaccine that Lenox Hill Hospital got while pregnant mothers and school children went without. Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler "really" tell it like it is during their segment "Really?!?" on SNL. It's right on and very funny!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Being Inspired by Others

"They tried to paint the picture that I was this downtrodden ugly girl who was unpopular in school and life and then I got this role and now I’m awesome. But the truth is that I’ve been awesome then I got this role."

-- Gabourey Sidibe

This quote is by the budding new actress of the movie, "Precious." This young actress exudes confidence which I'm sure was not always easy for her. It was undoubtedly difficult being an obese teen. In another quote Gabourey gives additional words or wisdom.

"[W]hen I was 14 or 15, I saw myself in a different way. Back then, I envied a life that I’d made up in my mind. I broke free of that unhappiness and I decided to change—I was going to be happy with myself. No matter what I look like, no matter what people think."

Watching the conversation below with this young actress, I was moved by the movie's storyline which speaks of hope in extremely difficult situations and was inspired by this young lady's apparent acting ability and confidence. I think you might be inspired too.

The movie is based on the novel, Push by Sapphire. It's about "an obese and illiterate teen who is pregnant for a second time by her own father. Set in Harlem in 1987, the story follows Precious as she struggles with her insecurities and disastrous home life while using what resources she has to improve her life."

Precious "won three awards at the Sundance Film Festival, including the coveted Grand Jury Prize in the U.S. Dramatic Competition, and received a standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year." I happened upon it online and I will go and see it.

Here is the trailer:

What do you think of her? I think she's "Precious."

Being Sapphire

Enjoy this wonderful interview with novelist, Sapphire.

Watch CBS News Videos Online

Being Objectionable

Here is Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) attempting to forbid the Democratic Women's Caucus from making their case about the benefits of the health bill for women by screaming, "I object" over them. Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA) could only say "Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent to--," when Price shouted "I object."

The presiding chair, Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), tried to gain control of the disruptions, declaring to Price that "the request is not yet before the House" and that he was "out of order," to little avail. Price continued shouting, "I object! I object! I object!"

The same objectionable tactics were used on Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy (D-OH), who asked the perfect question, "Do I not have the right to be able to continue my sentence without objections that are trying to censor my remarks here on the floor that I have a right to make as a member of this House?"

Of course, Kilroy's question went unanswered. If this wasn't so sad and serious, it would be childish and funny.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Being Non-News

Even what Fox News says is news isn't. Jon Stewart breaks it down. This is funny but right on. Stewart also lets an Obama administration official have it too and rightfully so.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Being Hypocritical IV

Here is the worst kind of hypocrisy being exposed. An actual veteran, Marko Moulitsas, calls out a proud anti-government non-veteran former congressman, Tom Tancredo, when he tries to speak negatively of the Veterans' Adminstration, essentially proclaiming that "government is the problem." He's against the public option.

When Tancredo is called out about his own deferment, his lack of service during Vietnam, he storms off the set right in the middle of a live broadcast but not before demanding an apology. An apology, for the truth? Tancredo sounds a lot like Dick Cheney. These types can dish it but can't take it.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Being Protestors

Today Michelle Bachmann held a rally on Capital Hill with quite a few Republican leaders, among these was the minority leader, John Boehner, who addressed the raucous crowd. Now, I am a believer in non-violent protest. But here was Bachmann calling for a "revolution," essentially an overthrow of the government. Here are some of the despicable signs held at the rally made by those whom Bachmann is urging to revolt:

Watching the video footage and signs of the protesters, I am also compelled to ask: Where are the black, brown and Asian people?

Being Goldman Sachs VII

The Huffington Post reports that Goldman Sachs is back to doing the exact same thing that nearly brought the global economy to a stretching halt and required the American taxpayers to be on the hook of over $700 billion of TARP which was originally suppose to rescue the tumbling housing market and get banks to begin lending again, none of which has happened. But Goldman Sachs is back to business as usual:

On three out of every five days this year, Wall Street's leading firm has made at least $100 million trading stocks and bonds, and creating and entering into derivatives contracts.

Out of 194 trading days through the end of September, Goldman Sachs earned at least $100 million from its trading division on 116 of them. The firm lost money from its trading activities on just one day during the three-month period ending in September, federal regulatory filings show. It made at least $50 million on four out of every five trading days.

The documents show just how much of a trading firm Goldman Sachs has become since the financial crisis mushroomed in September 2008. The firm generated about $4.5 billion in pre-tax earnings off trading and investments during the third quarter, compared to a $761 million loss in the same period last year.
So, do you think there will be another near collapse and Americans will lose their retirements and be asked to bailout these Wall Street banks again to the tune of multiple trillions this time? They are now bigger than before and are much too big too fail, so says the wisdom of Wall Street and Congress. Yeah, I once believed what I was being told too.

Goldman Sachs and the other top Wall Street banks just gobbled up smaller banks and resumed their same risky derivative practices. What are we going to do? Goldman Sachs has not repaid all of the money owed to us, not to mention that Congress and the Fed did not invest wisely on our behalf like any astute investor would. We got virtually nothing for our investment while Goldman Sachs and the rest rack in billions for themselves.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Being Michael Bloomberg

New York City has mayoral term limits. Mayor Bloomberg (I-NYC) served his two four-year terms. (He had been a Republican, but it is believed that he could not have won the first term in this overwhelming Democratic city.) Being a powerful billionaire, he orchestrated a change to city law that enabled him to run a third four-year term. After all, he alone could guide NYC through this rough economic crisis. The court agreed. Mayor Bloomberg spent over $100 million of his own money against his Democratic challenger, William Thompson Jr., winning the race by a narrow margin of only 5 percentage points.

Of course, Mayor Bloomberg probably doesn't care about the percentage points; he seems to care more about power. A win is a win is a win. But is it not arrogant of him to think that New York City needs him more than any other, especially when the geniuses of Wall Street nearly brought the country and indeed the world to the brink of financial collapse? Grant it, I don't know of the job Mayor Bloomberg is doing in NYC. I am not among his constituients. But I would have probably not voted for him strictly on principle. I'm utterly turned off by anyone who uses their money and influence to change laws for their personal benefit.

With over $100 million spent on a campaign, not by the donations of the people that exercise their choice, but by a supposed politician's will to power, is this the best form of democracy?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Being Stupid or Responsible?

Okay, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs isn't funny. We can all agree on that. But I dare you not to at least smile watching this video. Are these criminals stupid or responsible? Both?

Being Warren Buffett III

The AP reports that Warren Buffett's Berkshire today "agreed to buy Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp., making a $34 billion bet on the future of the U.S. economy." This made me feel really good in that there is investment in America again that is other than what is occurring in Silicon Valley. Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, MySpace et al will not be enough to sustain a diverse economy and we need to begin again to invest in our infratstructure and make America great industrial nation again. I suspect that Buffett is not only thinking of moving products built here but those built abroad as well. But my desire is that we will again become an industrial nation. We are too big to be a technology and service company alone. The economy needs diversity and robustness, not to mention companies that employ people. I have been critical of Buffett's investment in bogus derivitates that eventually cost the company its triple-A credit score rating. You can read these posts here. But with this investment I praise him. I feels like an investment in America. Let's hope others will follow suit and put Americans back to work.

Being a Veteran

Having just watched the documentary, Alive Day Memories: From Iraq, as I work on my novel which is loosely based on my family, I am overwhelmed at the sacrifice of soldiers. It is really extraordinary what these patriots have endured and just how brave and beautiful they are. My handsome compassionate 6' 3" dad came back from the Korean War with no physical scars and if you spoke with him on any given day you would never know that he had any. He was impressive: intelligent, creative and striking. (No one could play the piano better; his touch was extraordinary.) People were drawn to him because he loved them.

Dad visited the sick and infirm often and taught us the importance of giving to others. Yet, one day he left my mom alone with twelve children. Although he returned regularly, it was amazing how he was able to divorce himself from our sometimes difficult reality and yet love so many others so selflessly. He even took us along with him to nursing homes where friends of his parents were as we listened to him patiently attend to their concern. He was otherwise very loyal. Dad routinely talked to derelicts, giving them money and food, but did not see to it that we ate daily. Our wealthy relatives would take care of us. Sigh! My brothers are wonderful fathers for the great lessons and failures of our dad. One still struggles that dad left and we are supportive of him. He emulated dad the most as a teen.

When Dad died in the Bay Area when I was a first year graduate student, people were amazed that he had twelve children. He had never spoken of us, yet he told us of them. When he passed and my brothers went to California for his belongings, perfect strangers readily identified my brothers as his sons and spoke of our dad to them. It was amazing. But this was dad. He cared deeply for others and people were drawn to this tall dark handsome man with gentle eyes and physique of an athlete. He was a gentle giant. I can only imagine now how the war must have affected him. He never spoke of it. He was such a young man when he enlisted.

My mother never ever spoke ill of dad and we were taught to love and respect him. She never demanded anything of him which was always a bit strange to me. He would visit and there would be absolutely no tension, except for what I was creating. She also never pinned openly about what he wasn't giving her as a spouse. Mom loved dad dearly and was a fierce advocate for our well-being and his. Where did this leave her? As the youngest of my family, there were things I didn't quite understand. Dad had left for good just when I was born. Although we became close throughout the years, I was not raised in the same house as were my siblings. But my mom's compassion and forgiveness taught me to be compassionate and forgiving. Actually, both my mom and dad taught me these invaluable lessons by both their words and actions.

I was a first year graduate student when dad passed unexpectedly; it was a major blow. I wept silently for quite some time and thought that I would never get over this loss. For someone who never supported me as he should have, although he came to most of my performances since middle school and would talk to me about anything when he visited, the pain was intense, even though he was a bit of an enigma. I miss dad dearly to this very day and honor the gentle solider who must of had many inner scars. May God bless the veterans of war and may we weigh the consequences fully before sending young men and women to war.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Being for the Public Option IX

Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN) hedged earlier in the week about whether he was going to align with a GOP filibuster to stop even a vote in Congress on health care reform if the public option isn't removed. His state Indianapolis is for a public option. Sixty two percent of Americans are too. It has since come out that Senator Bayh's wife, Susan, sits on four private health care boards, including WellPoint. All are vehemently opposed to health care reform, spending a record amount of $380 million in lobbying against the people's interest. Senator Bayh's household received $2.1 million from 2005-2008. The Indianapolis Star reports:

When he was governor, Bayh's wife, Susan, was a lawyer for Lilly. After it became clear he was going to be a senator, she started stacking up memberships on the boards of health-care corporations.

Susan Bayh got paid a little over $2 million for her service between 2006 and 2008. Her husband had a good 2008 also, collecting more than $500,000 in campaign donations from the health-care industry.

There are scores of relatives of well-placed national lawmakers who are well-placed in enterprises seeking favors. To a man and woman, they would scoff at the notion of being influenced by anything but the burning desire to serve the commonwealh. Let's go on.

Susan Bayh’s largest reward for her impartial board deliberations came from WellPoint, another Indianapolis-based company that happens to be the nation’s largest for profit insurance company.
Senator Bayh praised his wife's professionalism and intelligence and declared that her job has nothing to do with his. I mean, really. Who believes? The Bayh household is $2.1 million dollar richer. Do you believe that Senator Bayh's threat to derail health care, not allowing even a vote by siding with the Republicans to filibuster, has anything to do with his wife's job and his household's financial increase? Is this clearly a an ethics violation. After all, she did not gain access to this board until her husband got elected to the Senate. If so, how do we address this. Susan Bayh does not have a vote in the Senate. Any suggestions?

Being Gnarls Barkley

I love the group Gnarls Barkley. The eclectic style is awesome and lyrics are thought-provoking. Cee-lo Green's voice is smooth, rhythmic, distinct, and rich with a wide-range. He's an awesome artist and the group is fantastic!

Be "prepared to go it alone." It's amazing what striking out does!

I’ve seen it with my own eyes
How we’re gettin’ otherwise
Without the luxury of leavin’
The touch and feeling of free is
Untangible technically
Something you’ve got to believe in
Connect the cause and effect
One foot in front of the next
This is the start of a journey.
And my mind is already gone
And though there are other unknowns
Somehow this doesn’t concern me.

And you can stand right there if you want
But I’m going on
And I’m prepared to go it alone
I’m going on
To a place in the sun that’s nice and warm
I’m going on

And I’m sure they’ll have a place for you too oohoohoo

Anyone that needs what they want, and doesn’t want what they need
I want nothing to do with
And to do what I want
And to do what I please
Is first of my to-do list
But every once in a while I think about her smile
One of the few things I do miss
But baby I‘ve to go
Baby I’ve got to know
Baby I’ve got to prove it

And I’ll see you when you get there
But I’m going on
And I’m prepared to go it alone
I’m going on
May my love lift you up to the place you belong
I’m going on
And I promise I’ll be waiting for you oohoohoo

Being CIT

CIT, the 101 year-old company which lends largely to small businesses, filed for bankruptcy today. In spite of the bailout of $2.3 billion from the federal government, CIT became insolvent. It looks like our billions would have been better spent in small banks and credit unions. Perhaps this would have better jumpstart and sustain the economy. I wonder with this bankruptcy how much of the billions went toward bonuses and what will happen to the infusion of government capital. Did the government secure our $2.3 billion investment?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Being Inspired by Others

"Then let us all do what is right, strive with all our might toward the unattainable, develop as fully as we can the gifts God has given us, and never stop learning."

--Ludwig van Beethoven