Saturday, October 31, 2009

Being First Families IV

"President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama on Saturday doled out presidential M&Ms and dried fruit mixes to more than 2,000 trick-or-treaters, marking their Halloween at a White House event partly aimed at honoring military families," reports the AP.

It's great to have kids in the White House again. What fun!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Being a Pundit, Newscaster and Analyst X

It seems that Lou Dobbs of CNN has been lying, or at the very least stretching the truth. The Huffington Post reports that on his radio show he said that "'They've threatened my wife, they've now fired a shot at my house while my wife was standing next to the car.' Concluding with a call for 'truth, justice and the American way,' Dobbs cautioned 'if anybody thinks that we're not engaged in the battle for the soul of this country right now, you're sorely mistaken. And during an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Thursday, Dobbs spoke again about the gunfire incident, linking it to 'threatening phone calls tied to the positions I've taken on illegal immigration.'"

The problem with Dobbs' statements is that the New Jersey police differs in their assessment of what happened. "In a phone interview conducted yesterday, Sgt. Stephen Jones, a NJ State Police spokesperson, chuckled out loud after he heard about Dobbs' account of the gunfire incident. Jones commented that he 'wouldn't classify it [the gunfire incident] as very unusual." He also confirmed that there are hunters in the area, and stated that, "at this time of year hunter [shooting] complaints go up.' Another policeman

"Another New Jersey State Police spokesperson, Sgt. Julian Castellanos, noted that 'it's a wide open area and there are hunters in the area.' Castellanos explained that the bullet had hit the house in vicinity of the attic; it 'hit the vinyl siding and fell to the ground' without penetrating the vinyl, he said. While Lou Dobbs' wife, Debi Lee Segura, was standing outside the house at the time of the gunfire, the bullet did not come close to her; it 'struck at the apex of the house, near the roof,' and thus considerably higher than a standing person, Jones observed."

It's shameful what newscasters will do for attention. CNN is looking pretty bad, right about now, especially after their intense following the balloon box hoax. Whatever happened to the dignity of the likes of Walter Cronkite? Dobbs' story seems to have all to do with ratings. I guess he's trying to compete with the Glen Becks and Rush Limbaughs of the world. Does CNN think that we want this kind of news?

Why else would Lou Dobbs think that he can titillate us with such deception? I skimmed passed a Dillon Ratigan article on the Huffington Post today. He was dressed as Thomas Jefferson and I just didn't even feel like reading it. A few weeks ago Ratigan was dressed as Dracula during one portion of his show. I stayed tuned anyway and I was happy to have done so. Some excellent points were made. However, this time I just wasn't up for it. I did not read the article. I wonder how others feel about the decline in ethics and news.

Being a Thinker

"As a man thinks in his heart, so is he."

--Proverbs 23:7

I love science and have often said that man is discovering what is already known. This point was made clear while watching an excellent discussion among eminent brain researchers on the Charlie Rose Show yesterday evening.

Among the scientists were Eric Kandel of Columbia University and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Cornelia Bargmann of Rockerfeller University, Tony Movshon of New York University, John Searle of the University of California Berkeley, and Gerald Fischback of the Simmons Foundation. It was an enlightening session and I listened to it on TV once and then online again. You can listen to it here. It is an hour long, but well worth the listen.

All of the scientists had wonderful discoveries to share. But Cornelia Bargmann was outstanding in the delivery of her brilliant research. She studies worms in order to understand the functioning of the human brain. There are many similarities of wiring and function. Dr. Bargmann said many things of interest, but one thing struck me profoundly: "A thought that you have is turned into a biological physical reality by your brain."

You are what you think.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Being Terrorist Nations

Ninety one people were killed in a blast in Peshawar, Pakistan today during Secretary Clinton's visit. Really, what are we doing in that part of the world, whether in Pakistan or Afghanistan, where such ruthlessness and destruction are perpetrated constantly against its own people and when billions of dollars don't make a difference? The 6.6 billion dollars that was meant to fight the war on terror in Afghanistan was instead siphoned-off. It is believed that Pervez Musharraf's dual role as the chief of staff and president enabled him to act dishonorably with the billions that was meant for the military. It never reached the armed forces.

"We don't have a mechanism for tracking the money after we have given it to them," Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Mark Wright said. So, not only are we are assured that our presence in this part of the world will curb the violence, we cannot even be assured that the billions of dollars given to fight terrorism will be used for such. This is the problem with trying to govern people in terrorist nations or anywhere whatever the rationale. It seems an impossibility.

What are we doing in these nations where the terrorists can perpetrate such an open attack, what do we really hope to accomplished by our support, and what is the real possibility of accomplishing anything that will better secure the US? I don't see troops or aide assisting in curbing these attacks in Pakistan, nor do I see victory on any level in Afghanistan, including our counter-insurgency plans in that region. If the terrorists wanted to make a point to America with this bombing killing mainly women and children in an open market, I'd say point well taken. Let them fight their own battles and we will best secure our borders from the inside. What are your thoughts?

Being Self-Righteous

Christ was never angry at those who missed the mark. That was reserved exclusively for those who thought they never did.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Being a Victor

Embarking on a new exciting venture my brother Reuben, who I have written of here, texted me today to encourage me. His timing is always perfect.

"Judith, you are a real blessing. Keep doing what comes so natural. Love you much."

"Reuben, thank you so much for that. I know that I'm rather brave but sometimes I'm not. Sometimes the things that I take on even scare me. Pray for me. I love you."

"Yeah, I'm certain you will be the victor. Always praying for you. Love..."

That last line gave me just the boost needed. It read so assuredly that I wanted to say that you too "will be the victor." Keep the faith!

Being Conscious II

"May you live your life as if the maxim of your actions were to become universal law."

--Immanuel Kant

As the earth orbits the sun, our everyday actions become habitual. This is the basis of universal law.

Let's be more conscious of our daily actions.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Being Inspired by Others

"I have departed from this planet and I have left behind my poor earthly ones with their occupations which are as many as they are useless; at last I am living in the scintillating splendor of the stars, each of which used to seem to me as large as millions of suns."

--Jules Massenet

Can we not live amid the "scintillating splendor of the stars" now in our current occupations on earth? Let's magnify the beauty of our existence on earth through our present work. The wonder of the distant sparkling stars, our desires and dreams, gives endless light right where we are. Let's let our desires and dreams be our guide, find a way to make them happen and live in that splendor. There are countless points of light, many rising suns, new beginnings indeed.

It's a virtual heaven on earth where people meet purpose.

Being a Gift II

George Soros, billionaire investor, agrees that the American taxpayers should be furious with Wall Street. Soros said in an interview with the Financial Times that the bonuses were "gifts" from the government:

"Those earnings are not the achievement of risk-takers. These are gifts, hidden gifts, from the government, so I don't think that those monies should be used to pay bonuses," the paper quoted him as saying in its Saturday edition. "There's a resentment which I think is justified."

Soros acknowledged what many have known for some time: The government should not be insuring the likes of Goldman Sachs which is essentially a hedge fund and should not be guaranteed by the government, i.e., taxpayers. "Talented" bankers who took such risks would be on their own as they should be:

"That would push the risk-takers who are good at taking risks out of Goldman Sachs into hedge funds, where they actually belong, because hedge funds take risks with their own capital, not with deposits and not with government guarantees."

Thank you, Mr. Soros!

Being George Will V

This week former V.P. Cheney accussed President Obama of "dithering" on policy in Afghanistan, while forgetting that the administration that he was a part of dithered for eight years. But George Will, conservative news columinist which I have written of more than a few times here, said it best today on ABC's "This Week."

"A bit of dithering might have been in order before we went into Iraq in pursuit of non-existent weapons of mass destruction. For a representative of the Bush administration to accuse someone of taking too much time is missing the point. We have much more to fear in this town from hasty than from slow government action."

Friday, October 23, 2009

Being Encouraged

My friend, David Porter, who I respect and admire, wrote an excellent post on being encouraged. Do pop over to his blog, David Porter Leadership, to read the expansion of his thoughts. I have outlined the points below. Pop on over; you'll be encouraged.

1. Change your physiology.
2. Change your focus.
3. Change your words.
4. Don't watch television news for one week.
5. Take 15 minutes a day to meditate or visualize how you want your life to be.

David's posts often include beautiful photos taken by his daughter, Chesapeake. She's a beautiful thoughtful talented young lady. While you're over at David's blog, do check out hers too. Father and daughter are both special indeed.

Public Option VIII

Sam Stein of the Huffington Post explains the scene today as...

Republican pollster Bill McInturff was the keynote speaker on the final day of the America's Health Insurance Plans's state issues conference on Friday morning.

But his speech on how the health care reform debate was playing among the public was interrupted before it even began. A group of protesters began aggressively cheering McInturff for the work he has done for AHIP (he's a hired pollster for the private insurance lobby and, most infamously, was the force behind the 'Harry and Louise' ads in 1994)

McInturff, initially thinking that the cheering was legitimate, thanked the "AHIP officials" in the back of the room for giving him mental encouragement for his speech. He was not being paid for his appearance, he noted.

And then, the protesters -- dressed in business attire to fit into the crowd -- began singing. A relatively lengthy and harmonious rendition of "Tomorrow" from the musical Annie ensued, only with the chorus focused on government-run insurance. "The option, the option, we must have, the option... " went the rendition, in reference to the public plan.
The opposing response to those in attendance is completely unexpected and in perfect pitch. Watch this:

Being a Believer in Prayer

Initially this is a harrowing story about a robber and clerk. But it ends beautifully. May God bless this clerk, Angela Montez, immensely for her incredibly brave beautiful forgiving spirit and may God bless the robbber too.

I believe in the transformative power of prayer.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Being Goldman Sachs VI

Yesterday Brian Griffths, Goldman Sachs International Adviser, perverted Scripture by making an excuse for the outrageous multiple billion dollar compensation of Goldman Sachs executives in a conference on "morality and markets" in London by saying:

"I'm not a person of despair but I'm a person of hope and I think that we have to tolerate the inequality as a way to achieving greater prosperity and opportunity for all."

Let's get this right:

Taxpayers who bailed out Goldman Sachs with $70 billion dollars are not equal to Goldman Sachs but through their executives' charitable efforts this will lead to "greater prosperity and opportunity for all. After all, said Mr. Griffiths...

"To whom much is given much is required."

This passage of Scripture came to mind today:

Luke 12:16-21

The Parable of the Rich Fool

16 Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: "The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. 17 And he thought within himself, saying, 'What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?' 18 So he said, 'I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods.
19 And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.'" 20 But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ 21 "So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Being Free

How it Feels to be Free

I wish I knew how
It would feel to be free
I wish I could break
All the chains holding me
I wish I could say
All the things that I should say
Say 'em loud say 'em clear
For the whole wide world to hear
I wish I could share
All the love that's in my heart
Remove all the bars
That keep us apart
I wish you could know
What it means to be me
Then you'd see and agree
That every man should be free

I wish I could give
All I'm longin' to give
I wish I could live
Like I'm longin' to live
I wish I could do
All the things that I can do
And though I'm’m way over due
I'd’d be starting a new

Well I wish I could be
Like a bird in the sky
How sweet it would be
If I found I could fly
Oh I'd soar to the sun
And look down at the sea
Than I'd sing cos I know - yeah
Then I'd sing cos I know - yeah
Then I'd sing cos I know
I'd’d know how it feels
Oh I’d know how it feels to be free
Yeah Yeah! Oh, I’d know how it feels
Yes I’d know
Oh, I’d know
How it feels
How it feels
To be free

Being Goldman Sachs V

Brian Griffths, Goldman Sachs International Adviser, explains the outrageous multiple billion dollar compensation of Goldman Sachs in a conference on "morality and markets" in London:

"I'm not a person of despair but I'm a person of hope and I think that we have to tolerate the inequality as a way to achieving greater prosperity and opportunity for all."

What is this guy smoking? He even quoted the Bible to justify Goldman Sachs' record bonuses:

"To whom much is given much is required."

Mr. Griffiths needs a good whipping with a wet noodle repeatedly for perverting this scripture. He seems deeply warped, far removed from reality. Isn't it something that Goldman Sachs used our money to make these billion dollar bonuses and then talk about us as if we are the charity cases? Sick! Maybe a few lashes will wake Mr. Griffiths up. The disgusting thing is that Goldman Sachs thinks that we are fools! But I'll settle for the lashes in the form of what Dylan Ratigan suggests:

1. Take your money out of big banks and move it to small banks and credit unions
2. Use cash and not credit cards
3. Call and email your Congress person and demand a hearing. (Why was our money used with no strings attached?)

Plus, I'd add:

4. Demand clawbacks. (This is the giving that I'm expecting! This should be the requirement!)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Being Unethical

While I appreciate much of what Suzie Orman advocates, her style for my taste in finacial matters is not altogether pleasing. Not that those in this profession have to boring, it's just that I'm not really into high drama-over-the-top-financial advisers whose business is show business, even if they're making solid points. Jim Cramer is definitely not among my favorites, not only for his style but for his lack of substance.

Orman makes a great point here about ethical Americans, taxpayers who bailed out banks--by the way, who have paid their credit cards on time and still banks have increased their interest rate to 30%, revoked their credit cards, reduced their credit limit, and increased their minimum monthly payments from 2% to 5%. This seems highly unethical when ethical people are responding ethically to the uphold their end of the deal. They stick it to the banks by themselves becoming unethical in refusing to pay their credit card bills.

Orman is tacitly advocating a "debotors' revolt," a refusal by policy credit card holders to pay their credit card. But does unethical behavior still breed unethical behavior? When people respond unethically to an unethical problem does the situation get worse or better? After all, these people are under contract and the banks are not breaking the law. But what is a person suppose to do?

It appears that some people are having some immediate success in revolting against the banks. Their terms are being re-negotiated. But what does that say about our society? Does it say that we can only fight bad ethics by being unethical ourselves? What are we really advocating here? Is there a better way?

Being Conscious

Our outer reactions are a direct reflection of our inner thoughts.

What are we thinking?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Being Grateful

Sometimes we have more than what we think we have.

Let's think about what we have; that will get us more readily to what we want to have. What do you have to work with?

Isn't Nina Simone awesome? And what about that hair and those earrings?!!

Being in the Present

"Yesterday's history. Tomorrow's a mystery. But today is a gift and that is why it is called the present"

--Master Oogway, Kung Fu Panda

The present is now. It is the gift of today. Make it a great day!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Being Inspired by Others

"To feel much for others and little for ourselves; to restrain our selfishness and exercise our benevolent affections, constitute the perfection of human nature."

-–Adam Smith, (June 16, 1723 – July 17, 1790) Scottish philosopher, author and economist, known as the "father of capitalism." (left)

Capitalism is not without ethics and morality--humanity too.

"Where ambition can cover its enterprises, even to the person himself, under the appearance of principle, it is the most incurable and inflexible of passions."

--David Hume, (May 7, 1711 – August 25, 1776) Scottish philosopher, economist, historian and author whose writings often reflect anti-religious thought. (right)

Ambition must not go unchecked. Be supple, easily entreated.

(So, what about those Scots? Enlightened fellows, eh?)

Being Unemployed and Unduly Stressed

It is highly unusual that marathon runners die in a marathon. In fact, the Detroit Free Press reports that "deaths at marathons are relatively rare, occurring in about 1 in roughly 67,000 participants or 1 in 100,000 participants, according to various studies. About half of all deaths happen in the last mile." But today at the 32nd annual Detroit marathon three men died. "Two of the men...collapsed at the finish line. One man collapsed around the 12 mile mark at a fluid station."

The names and cities of the deceased have not as of yet been released. But I could not help but to wonder if stress was a major factor. Detroit has an unemployment rate of 25% and the State of Michigan's unemployment's rate is 15%. Detroiters and Michiganders are hurting badly and I really feel for them. This is the city and state that largely built the middle class; now our technologies and jobs have been shipped abroad building the middle class of other countries. Leadership (nationally and locally, executives and unions) is to blame. Globalization gauges. Greed governs.

Being in the Old Guard VI

No disregard generally, but when are these men going to retire?

Term limits now!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Being Arianna Huffington XI

Here is a great conversation on women, work and life with Arianna Huffington, political commentator, nationally-syndicated columnist, activist and co-founder of the Huffington Post, and Cathie Black, president of Hearst Magazines, a division of the Hearst Corporation and one of the world's largest publishers of monthly magazines. Black manages the development of some of America's leading publications, including Cosmopolitan, Town & Country, The Oprah Magazine, Esquire, and Good Housekeeping. Be sure to watch the "full program."

Both Huffington and Black have written great books. Huffington has written more than a few, all of which I have read. In this discussion On Becoming Love, Work and Life, is brought up. It's a great read for women. Black's, Basic Black: The Essential Guide for at Work (and in life) , is also a fine book for women. Huffington and Black both tell wonderful personal stories of their rise to the top of their fields and the many storms they weathered on the road, personally and professionally. Do purchase the books. You will enjoy them and they will inspire you immensely.

Being Goldman Sachs IV

Having written repeatedly about Goldman Sachs as being a moral hazard in the clinical business sense, I was heartened to see more scrutiny of this mammoth bailout bank where the once former CEO, Henry Paulson, became the Treasury Secretary and allowed its competitors Bears Stearns and Lehman Brothers to fail and allowed AIG with its connection to billions as a counter party be bailed out. Goldman Sachs got a total of $70 billion dollars from taxpayers.

Dylan Ratigan of Morning Meeting explains how Goldman Sachs made 3.4 billion dollars in 3 months. But the interesting thing is that Wall Street banks are still not lending to Americans, including small businesses, refuse to renegotiate the loans before homes are foreclosed upon, and continue to raise credit card interest rates. Goldman Sachs is getting rich on on the dime of the American taxpayers without reinvesting in America. They are creating no real value, only profit for themselves. But without us they would have gone bankrupt. Goldman Sachs would not exist.

As a taxpayer, how does this make you feel? Goldman Sachs has all the money, profit and power. The taxpayer has not benefited. What should be done? Nassim Nicholas Taleb has long advocated clawbacks. Americans need to demand clawbacks from Goldman Sachs and all of the other Wall Street Banks.

Let's demand that our government work for our best interest. We must demand clawbacks. Henry Paulson gave the banks a blank check without the interest of the American people and Timothy Geithner seems to be continuing the plan. Let's demand clawbacks now! Join Nassim Nicholas Taleb's Facebook Group, Make Banks Accountable, and let's figure out how to do this thing! Can you think of what billions could do? It could help pay for health care reform while not increasing the deficit.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Being Parents

The "balloon boy" might have exposed the family's hoax. When asked by his father why he didn't come out when he heard his name being called on live TV he did what kids do, they tell the truth when asked by he dad why he didn't come out of hiding when he heard his name being called: "You guys said we did this for a show." There has been much speculation that the parents planned this scheme which included local and federal agencies. The parents seem to appreciate science and expose their children to the wonders of it. This is good. More parents I think should do this. But something else seems amiss here. While watching the clip of the interview on CNN yesterday, I was not paying much attention to what the parents were saying; I was looking at the reaction on the kids' faces. The older boys' faces seems to tell the story. They look quite scared of the family secret being revealed as they look up at their parents. What kind of parents would expose their children to such a hoax?

Being Funny XII

Jon Stewart breaks down the truth again. It's biting humor, to say the very least.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorRon Paul Interview

Being a Child

"Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God."

--Jesus Christ

This child's question and response to President Obama is the reason, if none other, that we should be more restrained in our rhetoric. Children are listening.

He asks: "Why do people hate you?"

He then adds: "They're supposed to love you."

Watch CBS News Videos Online

When adults behave badly we snuff out the goodness and innocence of children. Children are sponges. We really must be more careful; children are watching and listening.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Being for New Media

Yesterday, I was thoroughly amused that right in the middle of a conversation on Afghanistan, Wolf Blitzer broke away for "breaking news." Do you know what the news was? Well, Rush Limbaugh had been denied the opportunity to own an NFL team after he had long berated NFL players. There were two issues that sprung up immediately. First, how is this that a respectable newscast like CNN could view this as "breaking news?" Second, how is it that the people who watch Limbaugh, who are probably working class folk, allow such a one to benefit by viewing his show? I turned off CNN posthaste!

Now, today I'm watching CNN and they have wall-to-wall coverage of the kid who it was believed had gotten into a balloon and was flying hundreds of feet off the ground in an invention that his dad had created. For two hours, CNN followed the silver balloon in the air and called on experts who spoke on the possibility of the direction of the balloon and where the kid might have been hiding. It was high drama. CNN created all kinds of scenarios. Finally, the balloon landed and there was no child. Oh, my! Now, this bit of drama added more speculation and scenarios, calling on many experts who talked about heat technology to identify the boy. It was getting dark. Where was the basket? Where had it dropped? Thank God for Google Earth! What other kind of technology will be needed to locate the boy?

I was getting very annoyed at the coverage. Yes, I had hoped that if the boy had climbed aboard that he would be found safely. I even said a prayer. But how did we know that the kid had indeed climbed aboard? Where were his parents? Who allowed it to take off with the possibility of the kid climbing aboard? Either his parents should be investigated by protective services or CNN is running with this story because it's a slow news day? Is health care reform, increasing foreclosures, joblessness, banking reform, Afghanistan, and Iraq not fast enough, not meaningful enough? I got the feeling that CNN was loving a story that could indeed have had a tragic ending for ratings. I cut if off. I had heard enough of this sensationalism. I switched to see what Ed on MSBNC was covering.

Just as I flicked on The Ed Show, Ed was holding an interview with the psychic mother of Wife Swap who had lived in the kid's home for two weeks for this ABC show. But soon Arianna would be on. Oh, good, I thought. They're probably going to be talking about her latest post, "Why Joe Biden Should Resign." But to my utter annoyance Ed began with the story on the balloon boy. I assume he forget who he was dealing with because Arianna shot back with something like "Okay, I understand why the story was covered initially, but why are we still talking about it. The boy is safe -- now on with it. (By the way, he was hiding out in the garage attic at home.) Why are you still covering it?" I must admit to ROFL! The sensational Ed was caught in his own sensationalism. I must also say that his holding the government's feet to the fire with regards to health care reform and joblessness has been noteworthy.

But Arianna's question was perfect for network news en masse. It was one that I was dying to ask. Ed became a little testy and tried to offer a lame excuse. How could he excuse having the psychic Wife Swap mother live on his show talking about extraterrestrial beings? I couldn't believe my eyes or ears. Ed let this psychic go on and on, even apologizing for interrupting her while Arianna was cut short a few times. Amazing! At the top of the 7:00 news hour Hardball lead with "a story that transfixed a nation." The balloon boy had been found. Oh, Keith, it's 7:59. Please don't lead with this story. Does anybody really wonder why old media is becoming more irrelevant while new media continues to pave a new path? Go Arianna and Huffington Post!

Being Barack Obama XVII

President Obama spoke in Louisiana today and acknowledged Governor Jinal (R) who was in the audience. When the crowd erupted in loud boos President Obama, being the leader that he is, responded appropriately. The beauty here is the audience's immediate turnaround.

Where was this kind of leadership over the summer?

Bravo Governor Jindal for as President Obama said, "working hard for your state."

Being Words II

"In the beginning was the Word..."

Words matter. They have creative power.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Being a Teabagger III

Some may think that Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) got a bit of karma when teabaggers and the blospshere unleased a wave of hateful comments after his decision to work with Senator John Kerry (D-MA) on climate control. Graham was labelled a "traitor," of "going to bed with John Kerry," and making a "pact with the devil."

Brad Johnson over at the Wonk Room wrote of the backlash by the conservative blogosphere:

"This unhinged response is reflected in the conservative blogosphere, where Graham has been called a 'fake Republican,' 'RINO' (Republican in name only), a 'traitor,' 'disgrace,' 'asshat,' 'democrat in drag,' and a 'wussypants, girly-man, half-a-sissy.'"

Johnson then gave us a list of the hateful comments:

Liberty Journal: Vote out the traitors who seek control of you with the use of your money paid in the form of taxes.

Mike Proto: Quite honestly, it is growing tiresome having to report on another fake Republican who is selling us out. In this case, it is the RINO senior senator from South Carolina, Lindsey Graham. . . . Now, the faux Republican is teaming up with none other than John ‘F’n’ Kerry on C(r)ap & Trade.

Michelle Malkin: God save us from bipartisanship.

Gateway Pundit: Senator Graham is a disgrace.

Ross Kaminsky: Lindsey Graham is little more than Barack Obama’s useful idiot, a man who clearly has no interest in the scientific data and who is so desirous of “doing something” that he barely cares what it is he gets done.

Dan Riehl: Why does SC continue to re-elect this doofus with a bad haircut?

Bruce Tyson: The RINO traitor to all that is right, just, and good, South Carolina’s own Lindesey Graham [sic] has done it again: this time siding with John Kerry on climate change fraud.

Pamela Gellar: Any Republican who signs off on the bankrupting of America vis a vis junk science climate change legislation is a traitor. Lindsey Graham is an asshat.

Founding Bloggers: They are selling us out to cover up for the fact that depression era entitlement programs, combined with greed and corruption, are wiping us out.

Angry White Dude: Graham is, in a word, a douchebag being used for his vote. . . . Just like his daddy Supreme Rat McCain, Graham is a Democrat. South Carolinians, you’re better than that…those of you who aren’t liberals. Do something about it the next that wussypants, girly-man, half-a-sissy comes asking for your vote! He is no friend of America!

Mark Harvey: Just like McCain, Lindsey Graham is actually a DIG, a democrat in drag.

Even if Senator Graham is reaping what he has sown by not toning down the rhetoric over the summer, these comments are simply despicable and disgraceful and does nothing to advance their cause. Most Americans are pretty middle of the road, thoughtful and fair-minded people. Otherwise, President Obama would not be our current president. These attacks on Senator Graham, whose rhetoric I have not always appreciated, are uncalled for and does little of importance to forward their national agenda.

Being Passionate

Having 7 brothers, it is not unusual that I would be a big sports fan and quite athletic too. My brother, Ellington, used to say that I would have been a great basketball player or triathlon if I had not been so passionate about music so early on. He taught me how to play basketball and gives me pointers on golf.

A friend sent me this video yesterday because he knows that I'm a huge fan of Michigan football. It made my day! While I was not yet at the University of Michigan when this play was done, when I heard the excitement in this sportscaster's voice it reminded me of the joy and importance of being passionate. Do listen to the end.

Is there any doubt that Bob Ufer, the voice of Michigan football for 50 years, is passionate about winning? (It's good to see Bo, another passionate winner, in the clip too. RIP!) Be passionate about whatever you do!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Being a Moral Hazard

"Moral hazard is the fact that a party insulated from risk may behave differently from the way it would behave if it would be fully exposed to the risk. In insurance, moral hazard that occurs without conscious or malicious action is called morale hazard...Moral hazard arises because an individual or institution does not take the full consequences and responsibilities of its doings, and therefore has a tendency to act less carefully than it alternately would, leaving another party to hold some responsibility for the consequences of those actions. " (Wikipedia)

Wall Street banks and insurance companies (think Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, City Bank, and AIG) have become moral hazards. The question is what are we going to do about it?

Being Goldman Sachs III

My disgust with Goldman Sachs is not new. I have written about it more than once. It continues as I read a New York Times article today which analysts estimate that their bonuses will "swell to $23 BILLION dollars." Yes, Goldman Sachs repaid the taxpayers for the $10 BILLION bailout given, creating beforehand a nice spread with the same faulty derivatives and practices that brought us to near financial collapse only a year ago and doing nothing at a low interest government rate that enable such bonuses.

Honestly, tell me please. How can it even be estimated that in this economy that bonuses of $23 BILLION dollars will be given if it were not for the same disgusting practices that nearly brought the global economy to a screeching halt? The CEO of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein, agrees that "compensation continues to generate controversy and anger. And, in many respects, much of it is understandable and appropriate."

Yet, Goldman Sachs continues with the same practices that will undoubtedly bring us right back to the crisis where we found ourselves only one year ago, near global financial collapse. Astonishing, eh? Wall Street banks benefited on the front-end and back-end, while retirees and non-profits lost big as they were paid 100 percent on the dollar for toxic assets while homeowners continue to lose their homes and credit card interest rates are jacked up.

What does President Obama and Congress need before demanding banking regulation and reform of Wall Street banks--an outright taxpayer revolt? What means are left to the taxpayer, if those who we have elected will not act on our behalf? First of all, taxpayers need to demand answers from the government, like right now! Flood your senators and congresspersons' mailboxes (remember those?) and include your return address so they know where you're writing from their districts. While you're at it, send another letter to the White House.

Without a demand there will simply be no change and this word "change" will simply be a hollow jingle played again and again and what is heralded as democracy will essentially be a lie, for we will have allowed the democratic process to be hijacked by lobbyists paid by Goldman Sachs and the rest to win at our expenses, yet again. The $23 BILLION dollars in bonuses for Goldman Sachs employees is an outrage!

Being Crazy

Go after your most outlandish dream, the dream that seems most impossible. Will others think you're crazy? "Probably!" Do it anyway!

"Crazy" Gnarls Barkley

I remember when, I remember, I remember when I lost my mind
There was something so pleasant about that place.
Even your emotions had an echo
In so much space

And when you're out there
Without care,
Yeah, I was out of touch
But it wasn't because I didn't know enough
I just knew too much

Does that make me crazy?
Does that make me crazy?
Does that make me crazy?

And I hope that you are having the time of your life
But think twice, that's my only advice

Come on now, who do you, who do you, who do you, who do you think you are,
Ha ha ha bless your soul
You really think you're in control

Well, I think you're crazy
I think you're crazy
I think you're crazy
Just like me

My heroes had the heart to lose their lives out on a limb
And all I remember is thinking, I want to be like them
Ever since I was little, ever since I was little it looked like fun
And it's no coincidence I've come
And I can die when I'm done

Maybe I'm crazy
Maybe you're crazy
Maybe we're crazy

Being Gay in the Military

Why don't men and women bunk and shower together in the military?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Being Persistent IV

"And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not."

--Galatians 6:9

I remember thinking after receiving so many rejection letters from agents and publishing houses that I would never be a published author. I had written a 500-page-novel and a collection of short stories. Yet, even after these rejections I began writing again.

Several months back I was introduced to one of the most respected literary agents in New York City and began writing a novel loosely based on my family. The process is proving to be a wonderful one and the experiences learned from my first failures are paying off big.

"Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never... never give in."

--Winston Churchill

Being Words

Words are images first. Imagine!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Being Inspired by Others

"No temple made with hands can compare with Yosemite. Every rock in its walls seems to glow with life. Some lean back in majestic repose; others, absolutely sheer or nearly so for thousands of feet, advance beyond their companions in thoughtful attitudes, giving welcome to storms and calms alike, seemingly conscious, yet heedless of everything going on about them. Awful in stern, immovable majesty, how softly these mountain rocks are adorned and how fine and reassuring the company they keep....If for a moment you are inclined to regard these taluses as mere draggled, chaotic dumps, climb to the top of one of them, and run down without any haggling, puttering hesitation, boldly jumping from bolder to boulder with even speed. You will then find your feet playing a tune, and quickly discover the music and poetry of these magnificent rock piles-a fine lesson; and all Nature's wildness tells the same story..."

--John Muir

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Being a Shining Star

So very smooth, steps and sounds, eh?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Being an Aunt IV

As I am the youngest of 12, I have many nieces and nephews, 26 to be exact. Earlier today I got a call from Sheldon. He is the 3rd oldest. (Sheldon's on the right, his older brother Ricardo is on the left and Amber, the youngest, is in the middle.)

I am particularly proud of Sheldon. He has two jobs, is in college, and has a beautiful little girl. He called me this morning, but as I was right in the middle of work I couldn't talk. I answered but told him that I would call him later. We spoke earlier this evening.

We talked for a good 15 minutes and then I asked, "Is there anything I can do?" He said, "No, Auntie Judith, I just missed you at church lately." I haven't been to service in more than a few Sundays and I have to admit to laughing so hard.

I used to call him and his brother rather infrequently and say, "Hey, I missed you today." Now, he's calling me and doing the same. I assured him that I would make it this Sunday. I later texted him to say "I love you, thank you, it was good to be missed, and I'm so proud of you." He texted me the most beautiful message back:

"thank u. i know u have been proud of me and my bro since birth. u are my one and only auntie judith and i love you unconditionally. u are beautiful and brilliant."

This text made my evening, as it reminded me of the wonderful job his parents have done. It's true too. I have encouraged them their entire lives and here he is encouraging me, responding like the wonderful adult that he is. Sheldon is a great young man and I am happy to be his aunt. He makes me proud.

Being Symbols of Democracy

"In other parts of the world there are certain areas that are persevered because some rich nobleman out of the goodness of his heart decided to decry it. But in the United States you don’t have to be depended on some rich guy to be generous to you. To me that’s what the national parks means. It’s a symbol of democracy, democracy when it works well--at its best."

--Juanita Greene, Journalist

This is an extraordinary extended preview of Ken Burn’s documentary, "The National Parks." I’ve seen the documentary and it’s simply breathtaking. The words of so many diverse people--rich, poor, native Americans, black, white, immigrants--are also so incredibly beautiful.

If you will, please find time to watch this preview, it will be well worth it.

"This land is your land. This land is my land."

The national parks are symbols of democracy.

Being Barack Obama XVI

Congratulations Mr. President on the Nobel Peace Prize!

We are counting on you with our help to bring world peace.

Being Republican Leaders

Why do Republican leaders hate America? They cheered when America did not get the Olympics and now they are denigrating President Obama because he has received the Nobel Peace Prize.

Here is the statement issued by the Republican National Party:

"The real question Americans are asking is, What has President Obama actually accomplished? It is unfortunate that the president's star power has outshined tireless advocates who have made real achievements working towards peace and human rights."

Can anybody please explain why the Party that tauted "Country First" is now on the side with the Taliban that criticized President Obama's receiving the Nobel Peace Prize?

Being for the Public Option VII

David Brooks, conservative columnist for the New York Times, is one who I have followed for many years. While I do not always agree with Brooks, he is typically thoughtful and fair. Here is the opening of his very thoughtful Op-Ed piece today.

The longer the health care debate goes on, the more I become convinced that the American system needs fundamental reform. We need to transition away from a fee-for-service system to one that directs incentives toward better care, not more procedures. We need to move away from the employer-based system, which is eroding year by year. We need to move toward a more transparent system, in which people see the consequences of their choices.

I’ve also become convinced that the approach championed by Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, is the best vehicle for this sort of change. The Wyden approach —first introduced in a bill with Robert F. Bennett, Republican of Utah, and now pared down to an amendment to the current bills—would combine choice with universal coverage.

People with insurance could stay with their existing health plans. But if they didn’t like the plans their employer offered, they could take the money their employer spends, add whatever they wanted to throw in, and shop for a better option on a regulated exchange. People without insurance would get subsidies to shop at the exchanges.

Americans would have real choices. The vigorous exchanges would reward providers and insurers that are efficient, creative and innovative.

For those who espouse freedom, why not this choice?

Being Powerful

"The tiny, spontaneous, human act has enormous power."

--Tom Peters

Act! Just do it now!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Being an Aunt III

Many of you know that my mom raised 12 fiercely independent and successful children alone. We are all in ministry first as licensed pastors, missionaries, chaplains and evangelists and have served nationally and internationally. We are professionals and entrepreneurs second. Early on it was the strength of my Aunt Dorothy, my mom's oldest sister, that meant everything to her. My maternal grandmother died at my mom's birth and it was Aunt Dorothy who was like a mother to her and a second mother to us.

Besides my mom, never have I known a more intelligent, thoughtful, talented (she was a composer, writer and painter) deeply spiritual and compassionate woman. I remember her counseling many mothers Sunday after Sunday and throughout the week. She never married and had no children of her own. But she was over the children at my uncle's church of 10, 000 members, 4,000 of whom were her children. My great-grandfather was the founder.

Aunt Dorothy composed the songs, wrote the Sunday school lessons, painted the paintings, drew the sketches, and designed the series of children's literature that our church produced and sent to the thousands of other churches in our organization around the country and overseas. We had our own separate service in our own mini cathedral off of the main sanctuary. These were grand times that I will never ever forget. We got to participate in our own service: singing, doing drama skits, writing and composing.

This aunt was very dear to me. Early on she must have known that I needed particular guidance. So, every Sunday morning before service she would invite me over for tea and biscuits--just she and I. It started when I was four. She seemed to understand that I came here with eyes to see and sought gently, but firmly to guide me.

Her apartment, spacious and beautifully and tastefully decorated, was on the grounds of our church. There were three very large apartment building complexes on the grounds which before my grandfather bought it in the late 50's was a Jewish synagogue. It was cavernous, rich in color and deeply reverential. But believe me when I say we found ways of cutting through all of that as young people. We had fun and hide away from our parents in all of the many empty hallow crevices.

During tea on Sunday Aunt Dorothy would set the table in the finest setting of silver and we would just talk and talk. She was always so patient and didn't seem to be concerned in the very least that I had so many questions that demanded answers. She allowed me to express exactly what was on my mind. Now, there was plenty of teaching going on too, but it was done in a way that I never felt inhibited. I listened and learned so very much. Many of the lessons learned then I tried to instill in young people when I worked as a substitute teacher for years while in graduate school and when I meet them just about anywhere today.

Aunt Dorothy died when I was seven and my mother wrote this poem in remembrance:

Dorothy I thought that you'd like to hear
The thoughts I have of one so dear
My heart is bowed so low in grief
But there is one thought of blessed relief
Of one who truly loved the Lord
And served him in a sincere way
Who bore your trials in the heat of day
You sat like Mary at Jesus' feet
Deeming his precious words so sweet
You cared not much for earthly gain
And felt that deep within you heart
Yours was to choose the better part
To labor in the vineyard of this dear friend
Encouraging others to work for Him
You loved to work with little children
While their minds were young and bright
You gave your strength to this endeavor
Putting up a vigorous fight
I can't just once recall the time
You didn't have the Lord in mind
You always felt what could be done
Before the setting of the sun
You often spoke of the beautiful city
And how to miss it you would dread
You also spoke of God's requirements
How to His spirit you must be led
You were a mother one who cared
My grief to bear my joy to share
My heart is so overwhelmed in me
To think that this no more will be
I truly say of you Dorothy
I'm so glad God gave you to me

Aunt Dorothy gave me the gift of love and patience when I was very young and I seek to forever whenever possible give a bit of what she has given me to others. These many years later I still miss her, even though sometimes I think I can still hear her voice. She is forever with me.

Being in Afghanistan II

It is an increasing dilemma with our presence in Afghanistan. But I still don't see a justifiable reason for staying. It looks like we are being seen as occupiers as the government in Afghanistan is corrupt and we have alloted some $189 billion according to the Congressional Research Service.

General McChrystal seems to want to ratchet up the war with more troops. But he is not the president of the United States. Even though he is the general on the ground, he needs to get in line. I don't think it was by accident that his report requesting for more troops was leaked.

In an earlier post, Being in Afghanistan, I asked some question to which I still have not received answers. So, I will ask them again:

Can someone please tell me why we are in Afghanistan? If the answer is essentially the former president's response of taking a "just" war to them so they won't bring their "holy" war to us, can someone please tell me like I'm a two-year old what is the plan and exit strategy? Doesn't war just seem unjust and unholy?
Charlie Wilson, the congressman that launched his own private war in essence by supporting the Afghans militarily after the Soviets occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s. Mr. Wilson spoke of Afghanistan in a recent interview:

"It's probably best to make a calculated withdrawal," he said. "If I were the president, I'm not sure what I'd do. I'd probably shut it down, rather than lose a lot of soldiers and treasure."

Being for the Public Option VI

It looks like the Senate is considering a compromise that would allow for a public option which would allow states to opt out if desired. This may be good. But I do wonder who will decide whether a state takes the option or not. Does this mean that lobbyists will now target states instead of the federal government? Will this get the people in every state to start demanding more of their government? Does this compromise seem strong enough to allow 47 millions Americans to be covered and for the necessary competition which will allow others to keep their medical insurance amid increasingly high premiums?

Being "The Little Engine that Could"

You can do it!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Being Timothy Geithner III

William Black, a former federal banking regulator who was active during the Saving and Loans crisis of the 1990's, have scathing words about the current Secretary of Treasury, Timothy Geithner, and the administration's effort or lack thereof to reform banks.

In a recent Newsweek interview Black says,

The administration's officials have all been failures as regulators. [Chairman of the Securities Exchange Commission] Mary Shapiro's big thing was self-regulation. That worked real well: the self-regulation of the investment banks. Ben Bernanke [Chairman of the Federal Reserve] I'm also very critical of, but I do give him credit for being willing to drop a lot of his anti-regulatory ideology in the face of the crisis. He literally wrote the book on the Great Depression, but he was not going to go down in history as the person who caused the second Great Depression. Some of the things Bernanke did were very bad, but he is in sharp contrast to Geithner who has been wrong about everything in his career. When Geithner was once answering a question in response to Ron Paul, he said, 'I've never been a regulator.' He was then the President of the New York Federal Reserve, and he purports that he was never a regulator? That is a demonstration of what is wrong with the Federal Reserve banks if the head of the unit doesn't think he's a regulator. He's a disaster.
Mr. Black points out that during the S&L scandal that there were convictions. During the banking scandal there have been none:

During the Saving & Loans crisis, we had over 1,000 convictions that involved insiders and gigantic borrowers. Now we have zero. The FBI did not even begin to investigate the large subprime lenders until March 2007. People would be upset if they had the facts, or if you asked them how many criminal referrals there were for mortgage fraud. (There were 65,000 last year.) Meanwhile, the administration is saying there is no problem and that the financial crisis is over. That's the exact opposite of what you want to say and do if you want dramatic resources to change things.
There has obviously been and apparently continues to be misconduct on Wall Street. Nassim Nicholas Taleb has been shouting this for some time now. So, why haven't there been any convictions and why do we expect that the same people who got us in the mess will now get us out?

Being Funny XI

If you read my profile, you will see that among my favorite movies are The Godfather series and Goodfellas. I am always interested in dichotomies. These movies represent the best in love and loyalty to family members, immediate and extended, and the worst in acceptable violence and destruction among these same members. So, it would not be a surpise that among my favorite comedies is Analze This with Robert De Niro and Billy Crystal. When I first saw the movie in 1999, I could hardly breathe throughout the entire movie. I was laughing so hard.

Here are the bloopers/takeouts of Analyze This that got me laughing all over again.

It is this kind of rationalization and moralizing that I find interesting. Here is an exchange between Dr. Ben Sobel, the psychiatrist, played by Billy Crystal and mafia boss, Paul Vitti, played by Robert De Niro. De Niro, by the way, is one of my favorite actors.
Dr. Ben Sobel: What happened with your wife last night?
Boss Paul Vitti: I wasn't with my wife, I was with my girlfriend.
Dr. Ben Sobel: Are you having marriage problems?
Boss Paul Vitti: No.
Dr. Ben Sobel: Then why do you have a girlfriend?
Boss Paul Vitti: What, are you gonna start moralizing on me?
Dr. Ben Sobel: No, I'm not, I'm just trying to understand, why do you have a girlfriend?
Boss Paul Vitti: I do things with her I can't do with my wife.
Dr. Ben Sobel: Why can't you do them with your wife?
Boss Paul Vitti: Hey, that's the mouth she kisses my kids goodnight with! What are you, crazy?
Go figure! He doesn't consider his own actions. I suppose he doesn't kiss his kids goodnight.

In this scene Dr. Sobel is encouraging Paul Vitti to change his ways and find "closure" with the other mafia boss, Primo, as it is the stress of getting whacked that's got Vitti all stressed out. He had narrowly escaped a hit. Vitti calls Primo, the mafia boss suspected of calling the hit, with Dr. Sobel nearby encouraging him.
Boss Paul Vitti: Whoever did that thing to you-know-who, that good friend of mine, well they're trying to do that to me now. And I'm having a lot of feelings about that. And I'm trying to get some closure on that.
Primo: What kind of feelings?
Boss Paul Vitti: I'm very angry. I'm feeling very angry about that. I'm enraged. I'm feeling very, very mad about that.
Primo: So why are you telling me?
Boss Paul Vitti: Why am i telling you? Like you don't know nothing about it? You don't know nothing? What?
Primo: I don't know what your talking about.
Boss Paul Vitti: I'm just trying to, tell you about my feelings and that I'm angry, and that anger is a blocked wish. And I'm looking forward to seeing you next week at that thing. Then i can unblock that angered wish and then hopefully, hopefully you make one more move on me you motherfucker ill fucking cut your fucking balls off ill shove them up your fucking ass, ill fucking bury you, ill put ice picks in your eyes, ill chop your fucking eyeballs, ill send them to your fucking family so they can eat them for dessert. You understand me?
Primo: Hey Paul
Boss Paul Vitti: What?
Primo: Fuck you
Boss Paul Vitti: You Motherfucker!
Primo: [to Moony] You get a dictionary and find out what this "closure" is. If that's what hes going to hit us with, i want to know what it is
Boss Paul Vitti: [to Dr. Sobel] How was that?
Dr. Ben Sobel: It was going great until the, cutting off of the balls and shoving it up his, ass. You know what i do when I'm mad? I hit a pillow. Just hit the pillow. See how you feel
Boss Paul Vitti: [pulls out a gun and starts shooting the pillow] There's you fucking pillow.
Dr. Ben Sobel: Feel better?
Boss Paul Vitti: Yeah, I do
Dr. Ben Sobel: Good
I guess even mafia bosses try to reform their ways. I assume as Paul Vitti many are unsuccessful. This mafia boss, though, is likeable. After all, he's trying to change his ways. He obvious doesn't have the heart or stomach for the family business. He cries at the drop of a hat and is often mushy. It's a really good movie. If you haven't seen it, it's really funny. Some may have to get beyond the language. I see it as a reality that some live and love Analyze This!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Being a Failure

"If you've never failed, you've never lived." Go for it! Live!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Being Inspired by Others

President Obama and First Lady Michelle celebrated their 17th wedding anniversary Saturday night at The Blue Duck Tavern near Georgetown. They were married October 3, 1992.

Evening Song

Full moon rising on the waters of my heart,
Lakes and moon and fires,
Cloine tires,
Holding her lips apart.

Promises of slumber leaving shore to charm the moon,
Miracle made vesper-keeps,
Cloine sleeps,
And I'll be sleeping soon.

Cloine, curled like the sleepy waters where the moonwaves start,
Radiant, resplendently she gleams,
Cloine dreams,
Lips pressed against my heart.

--Jean Toomer

Happy 17th anniversary Mr. President and First Lady Michelle! They're an inspiration for what seems to be true love and mutual respect. How wonderful it seems.

Being a Pedophile II

Last week I wrote of the Polanski story, Being a Pedophile. On ABC's "This Week" with George Stephanopoulos Cokie Roberts said, "He raped and drugged and raped and sodomized a child. And then was a fugitive from justice. As far as I'm concerned, just take him out and shoot him."

I have been incensed with the Hollywood directors, Woody Allen, David Lynch and Martin Scorsese, who added their names to a petition which calls for the immediate release of Polanski. Which name is not surprising? Whoopi Goldberg jumped into the fray with this ridiculous statement that Polanski wasn't guilty of "rape rape." Well, what was it, Whoopi?

Being Barack Obama XV

Frank Rich wrote an excellent article,"The Rabbit Ragu Democrats", in the New York Times today where he compares President Obama's campaign reform rhetoric with his present action in the health care debate. As he chronicles a list of inconsistencies with his rhetoric, the actions of other Democrats in Congress and the power of lobbyist to influence reform he writes:

The public is not wrong. The administration’s legislative deals with the pharmaceutical companies were made in back rooms. Business Week reported in early August that the UnitedHealth Group and its fellow insurance giants had already quietly rounded up moderate Democrats in the House to block any public health care option that would compete with them for business. UnitedHealth’s hired Beltway gunslingers include both Elmendorf Strategies and Daschle, a public supporter of the public option who nonetheless does some of his “wink, wink” counseling for UnitedHealth. The company’s in-house lobbyist is a former chief of staff to Steny Hoyer, the House majority leader. Gephardt consults there too.
But the Republicans do not get away with anything either:

But it’s not as if the Republicans now have the public’s back. DeLay may be reduced these days to violating public taste rather than the public trust on “Dancing With the Stars,” but back on Capitol Hill, his successors keep the K Street faith. In their campaign to kill the public option, G.O.P. leaders often cite data from the Lewin Group, a research company, which has projected that 88 million Americans might quit their private insurance plans if given a government alternative. (The Congressional Budget Office puts the figure at the far less earthshaking 10 to 11 million.) Lewin, which repeatedly insists it’s still a nonpartisan outfit, was actually bought by a subsidiary of UnitedHealth in 2007. The Huffington Post reported in August that John Boehner and Eric Cantor — who use Lewin’s findings to scare voters about a “government takeover” of health care — are big recipients of UnitedHealth campaign cash.
Rich ends with this:

This is history that the president still has the power to write. It will be written in the bills he will or won’t sign into law. We can only hope that he learned an important lesson from his stunning failure to secure Olympic gold for his political home of Chicago last week. If the Olympic committee has the audacity to stand up to a lobbyist as powerful as the president of the United States, then surely the president of the United States can stand up to the powerful interests angling to defeat his promise of reform.
President Obama you still have the power to write history. Will you do so, Mr. President?

Being David Brooks V

"Private debt got us in this spending not federal debt."

David Brooks made this point on "Meet the Press." Generally, he made some really good points. I just wonder if he failed to realize that the two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are totaling some $915.1 billion dollars for what some believe are not wars of necessity. The point, however, is well taken when considering the some $815 billion dollars that largely went to Wall Street banks and AIG.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Being of Substance or Style

Style or substance that screams for self-satisfaction sucks. Both have to reach beyond itself to others to have significant import.

Being in Love with Words and Music

Words and music have been two of my lifelong passions. When I was around three I would listen to the older women at church in animated conversations speak in their big Sunday-go-to-meeting-hats with inflections that rose and fell in sonorous rich tones punctuated with both laughter and consternation and wished to express myself too. Many times I did and they listened.

Music has always been very important. My father was an excellent pianist, my mother was a composer (and poet), my grandfather's songs can be found in many hymnals and I began singing very early. When I was ten a renowned impresario's wife heard me sing and an operatic role was written for me. She was a respected musician in her own right and composed an operetta for my school.

When I came across these words of William Faulkner, who's among my top ten favorite novelists, I had to really ponder them.

I would say that music is the easiest means in which to express, but since words are my talent, I must try to express clumsily in words what the pure music would have done better.
What are your thoughts?

Being Jules Massenet

When I heard this song for the first time I was in middle school. I didn't know why but when the cello began playing I began to cry. As I got older I learned the French text. But even without an understanding of the words the melody was haunting but beautiful.

Here is Rosa Ponselle (1897-1981), one of my favorite singers of all time, singing "Elegy" by Jules Massenet. The text is by Louis Gallet


O sweet springtimes of old verdant seasons
You have fled forever
I no longer see the blue sky
I no longer hear the bird's joyful singing
And, taking my happiness with you
You have gone on your way my love!
In vain Spring returns
Yes, never to return
The bright sun has gone with you
The days of happiness have fled
How gloomy and cold is my heart
All is withered

Being CNN Heros

I love that CNN features everyday heroes who make a huge difference in the lives of people in the United States and all over the world. Do take out time and go to the CNN website above and vote. It's a tough choice among these ten great heroes. But how wonderful a situation to be in. The short videos are inspiring indeed.

Here is one of the heroes, Doc Hendley:

Pop on over and vote! It will be worth it.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Being for the Public Option V

Even though the Senate Finance Committee bill does not include a public option, I am still holding out hope that the voice of 65% of Americans will be heard in spite of the $380 million dollars that the insurance and pharmaceutical industries have spent lobbying against interests and the will of the American people. Is this democracy?

Being Senator Jay Rockefeller

Listening to Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) vie for the public option with all of his heart, I was reminded that he is probably the only senator who could comfortably pay for his own campaign financing. I admire the passion with which Senator Rockefeller fought for "the least of these" during the Senate Finance Committee debate on health care reform. May God bless him and his abundantly.

Being the United States of America

First, let me say that it is a great disappointment that Chicago will not host the 2016 Olympics. But listening to these arrogant ignorant newscasters and pundits speak about the loss of the Olympics in Chicago to Rio de Janeiro, as if America deserves every prize it goes after no matter if the president and a superstar bid for it, is perhaps one of the reasons we are in the mess that we're in nationally and internationally. (I won't even mention the remarks of the Black Face "leader" of the Republican Party.)

The last administration seemed to largely want to be the cowboys and the bullies of the world, invading sovereign nations and disregarding international institutions like the United Nations. The current administration seeks to be a part of the world community, dealing directly with Iran. Where does it say anywhere that America has to win everything? We don't and won't no matter who we go up against.

America needs to wake-up and realize that she is a member of a nation of states whose people share a common planet among other states. Wake-up people and realize that if we continue to vaunt our arrogance and ignorance and continue not to look at others, whether they are across the street or across the globe, we will honestly be the real losers in the long run.

We need to concentrate on issues such as education, innovation and being a part of the global community of nation states in words and deeds. Again, let me sincerely say that that it is completely understandable for Americans, especially Chicagoans, to be disappointed. But let's really embrace the spirit of the Olympics and console ourselves with this and being better Americans. America is great not only for the battles she won but for the goodwill she spreads.

May God bless America and may God bless the 2016 American Olympians. Bring home the Gold!

Being Rio de Janeiro

Congratulations to Rio de Janeiro, the host of the 2016 Olympics!
It's a beautiful city with beautiful people. Hats off!

Being a Rose

"Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose."

--Gertrude Stein

The very essence is its core.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Being Lit Red and Seeing Red

Americans are seeing red with the lighting of the iconic Empire State Building red and yellow in commemoration of communist China. The AP reported that the building changed colors at dusk on Wednesday and will remain so through Thursday. Anger has been voiced:

Lhadon Tethong, executive director of Students for a Free Tibet, called the lighting "outright, blatant approval for a communist totalitarian system."

Journalist and blogger Marc Masferrer, told the AP that he didn't "think one of our great landmarks should be turned into a platform to honor a regime and a system responsible for as much tragedy and all the other things that come with a repressive system.

Rep. Anthony Weiner (NY-D) said "the lights should not be used to pay tribute to what he called 'an oppressive regime' with a 'shameful history on human rights' and

Rep. Peter King (NY-R) said it was "a sad day for New York. I am strongly opposed to it or any commemoration of the Communist Chinese revolution. It's one thing to acknowledge the government; it's totally immoral to honor it."
When I read about the lights my first question was "who owns the building?" After all, many of our historical buildings in New York are foreign owned. My second question was "if we can accept billions of dollars from China through treasury bonds and have trade agreements with them, why not legitimize their government?"

What are your thoughts?

Being a Super Majority

Unless you're the Republican Party with steamrollers like Dick Cheney and Karl Rove, in fact--they didn't even need a super majority to get legislation passed, the concept of super majority--being filibuster proof--itself means nothing. What is political capital if not used to pass legislation that the people voted you in for? The public option has 65% of support in the country and 70% among doctors. One cannot help but to wonder how lame and self-centered are leaders in the Democratic Party--really? Jon Stewart breaks it down for us.

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Being David Brooks IV

In a recent comment here John O'Leary pointed me to an excellent article written by conservative columnist, David Brooks. Brooks is often very thoughtful and I have written more than a few posts on him. Many times I am in agreement with him and other times I am not. This is a time that I am in complete agreement. The article concludes with this spot on statement:

If there is to be a movement to restore economic values, it will have to cut across the current taxonomies. Its goal will be to make the U.S. again a producer economy, not a consumer economy. It will champion a return to financial self-restraint, large and small.

It will have to take on what you might call the lobbyist ethos — the righteous conviction held by everybody from AARP to the agribusinesses that their groups are entitled to every possible appropriation, regardless of the larger public cost. It will have to take on the self-indulgent popular demand for low taxes and high spending.

A crusade for economic self-restraint would have to rearrange the current alliances and embrace policies like energy taxes and spending cuts that are now deemed politically impossible. But this sort of moral revival is what the country actually needs.
The beauty for me here is the personal accountability and responsibility for each and every one of us. The article requires us of us to each look at ourselves and made hard decisions, real ones. Turnarounds are not easy but turnaround we must on various levels and in various places. We each must begin to hold each other accountable right where we are in our homes, places of worship, neighborhoods, schools, universities, and work environments. This is the cultural change that is needed. Change is never easy, but many times it is most important. This is such a time.

What are your thoughts?

Being in Black Face IX

Michael Steele is one of the most embarrassing politicians ever and as a "leader" he could be potentially dangerous. His actions or lack thereof to condemn and curb the growing potential for violence against President Obama is disconcerting.

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman recently wrote an article warning Americans about the increasing violent rhetoric and liking it to that of the "right-wing settlers" in Israel during his interview with Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Rabin was assassinated thereafter by a right-wing Jewish fanatic who probably thought he was defending the law of God as some here might think they were defending The Constitution.

When addressing Friedman, Steele said:

"Where do these nut jobs come from? Come on, stop this...To make those equations, examples and put that out there that way, to me is just crazy and yeah, I'm sorry, but if you're going to approach this discussion, approach it from a rational position," Steele continued. "[They're] saying, because you disagree with the president on policy, that all of the sudden we're going to make this leap into, you know, assassinations and all this other stuff. I mean, at the height of all this stuff on Bush and people complaining and protesting, and jumping up and down, you didn't have this kind of conversation."
This has nothing to do with agreement or disagreement with President Obama on policy. It has more to do with irrational people who think that fear and intimidation are appropriate means for an honest debate on policy. Guns are needed to make a point. When you have polls online asking "Should Obama should be killed?" with four choices, "Yes. Maybe. If he cuts my health care. And no" there is something terribly amiss in the culture en masse. There were over 700 responders before the FBI had the survey removed. An investigation has been launched.

While they're at it somebody needs to tell the Black Face Michelle Bachmann "you de man" figure head steppin' fetchin' leader of the Republican Party that President Obama receives more hate mail, death threats, and his security has been beefed up more than any president in our history. We are not merely talking here about a difference in policy, we are talking about the likes of the wingnut John L. Perry of

Perry advocated the "gaining" possibility that the military will stage a "bloodless coup" to "resolve the 'Obama problem.'" Be real! Are coups generally bloodless, not to mention unconstitutional? Newsmax is a support organization of the Republican Party "headed" by Michael Steele. With Steele's denial of the basic premise of Friedman's argument for a need to curtail the rhetoric at the very least, Steel's Black Facery has reached a dangerous new level.