Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A Saint He Ain't -- NYT editorialist Maureen Dowd

If there is a better writer than the brilliant NYT editorialist Maureen Dowd I have yet to find him/her. She is on target every time and best of all she writes, if may quote the great Muhammad Ali, like a butterfly and stings like a bee!

here or http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/23/opinion/dowd-a-saint-he-aint.html?hp&rref=opinion&_r=0

Monday, April 21, 2014

How Fitting!!!:)

Meb Keflezighi stuns to win Boston Marathon

Apr 21, 2014, 12:12 PM EDT
Meb KeflezighiAP
BOSTON – Meb Keflezighi became the first U.S. man to win the Boston Marathon since 1983 in a shocking upset victory Monday, one year after twin bombings rocked the world’s oldest annual marathon.
Keflezighi, 38, moved his sunglasses to the top of his head and raised his arms as he crossed the finish line to win by 11 seconds over Kenyan Wilson Chebet. He cried and was draped in an American flag on Boylston Street afterward.
It was around that same area last year where two bombs killed three and injured more than 260 two hours after the elite runners finished.
Keflezighi won in 2:08:37, a personal record. Greg Meyer was the last American man to win in 1983.
Keflezighi, who was born in Eritrea and came to the U.S. as a refugee in 1987, won the 2004 Olympic marathon silver medal and the 2009 New York City Marathon, but he fell to 23rd at last year’s New York City Marathon and was the oldest elite runner in Monday’s field by three years.

Jeb Bush’s Rush to Make Money May Be Hurdle--NYT M. Barbaro

Jeb Bush in Las Vegas last month. CreditJeff Scheid/Las Vegas Review-Journal, via Associated Press
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As it sought to recruit well-heeled investors, an untested and unprofitable Miami company named InnoVida brought aboard a trusted Florida figure in 2007: Jeb Bush, the former governor and the brother of a sitting president.
For potential stockholders, the imprimatur of Mr. Bush, who joined InnoVida as a paid consultant and a member of the board of directors, conferred credibility on the young start-up.
That credibility did not last long. It turned out that the leaders of InnoVida, a manufacturer of inexpensive building materials, had faked documents, lied about the health of the business and misappropriated $40 million in company funds, records show. The company went bankrupt in 2011, its founder eventually went to jail and investors lost nearly all of their money.
Mr. Bush left public office seven years ago with a net worth of $1.3 million and an unapologetic determination to expand his wealth, telling friends that his finances had suffered during his time in government.
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But his efforts to capitalize on his résumé and reputation have thrust him into situations that may prove challenging to explain should he mount a Republican campaign for the White House. Records and interviews show, for example, that Mr. Bush participated in the fevered, last-ditch efforts to prop up Lehman Brothers, a Wall Street bank weighed down by toxic mortgage-backed securities. As a paid adviser to the company in the summer of 2008, he met with Carlos Slim Helú, a Mexican billionaire, as Lehman sought to persuade Mr. Slim to make a sizable investment in the firm, emails show.
Mr. Bush sat on the board of Swisher Hygiene, a soap maker, at a time when, its executives acknowledged, their financial statements were unreliable and their accounting practices inadequate. That admission contributed to a plunge in stock price that has wiped out more than three-quarters of Swisher’s value and touched off a wave of shareholder lawsuits. Several have named Mr. Bush as a defendant, accusing him and fellow board members of insufficient oversight.
And in a stint that could complicate his appeal to conservatives, Mr. Bush serves as a paid director to Tenet Health Care, the giant hospital owner, which supported President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, aggressively encouraged Americans to sign up for insurance under the program and trumpeted the legislation as a boon to the company’s finances.
The path from public service to private riches is well trodden by politicians of both parties. But, even by that measure, Mr. Bush took an aggressive and expansive approach to making money.
Since 2007, he has left few corners of the economy untouched, working on Wall Street, starting a consulting firm, investing in real estate, advising an emergency preparedness company, sitting on the board of a hospital linens provider, and giving speeches to grocery industry groups, local chambers of commerce and health care conferences.
He has been well paid for his time, earning at least $3.2 million in board fees and stock grants from publicly traded companies alone, records show. His corporate speechmaking appears to have generated millions more: He commands about $50,000 for his speeches, delivering more than 100 since 2007, though some are unpaid. And he has earned millions from his work as an adviser to Lehman Brothers and Barclays, the company that took much of the bank over, according to executives familiar with his arrangements. Today, his pay from Barclays exceeds $1 million a year, these people said.
Mr. Bush declined to be interviewed. His spokeswoman, Kristy Campbell, provided a statement: “Jeb Bush had a successful career in commercial real estate and business before serving as Florida’s governor. After eight rewarding years in public service leading the state, he is enjoying running his own business again.”
His business endeavors are a largely overlooked chapter in a postgovernment biography built around his reputation as a policy maven, nonprofit leader and moderate voice in Republican debates on immigration and education. But as he explores a White House bid, friends said, Mr. Bush’s lucrative career is an unspoken but potent factor in his decision making. Entering the 2016 Republican field would inevitably require dismantling the business empire that he has assembled — an empire that now employs his son Jeb Bush Jr.
“Although he’s been at this for seven years, it’s the last few years that he’s begun to flourish as an investor and build a commendable nest egg,” said Al Cardenas, a longtime Bush friend and adviser. “Leaving all of that behind, all he’s built, is a challenge and a sacrifice for him.”
His overlapping commitments risk spreading him thin. At one point, Mr. Bush sat on the boards of six companies, twice as many as leading corporate governance experts recommend given the time and fiduciary responsibilities of such a position.
Fellow corporate board members are quick to praise Mr. Bush. At Tenet, they said, he has pushed for tougher hospital safety standards; at Rayonier, a major owner of forestland, he has advised them on navigating regulations.
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Eye-popping wealth long eluded Mr. Bush. His older brother, George W. Bush, reaped about $14 million profit from an investment in the Texas Rangers baseball team. But Jeb Bush’s career as a real estate entrepreneur in Florida brought him comparatively modest success: He entered the governor’s office in 1999 with a net worth of about $2 million, according to his financial disclosure forms, a figure that fell throughout his two terms.
“People thought of him as wealthy,” said Lance deHaven Smith, a professor of public policy at Florida State University who has studied Mr. Bush’s career. He recalled that when Mr. Bush was governor, his opponents took to calling him a “spoiled little rich kid” to protest his budget cuts.
“It was a misperception,” Mr. deHaven Smith said. “He grew up in a wealthy family, but he took a path that was quite different.”
He seemed eager to change that by 2007, expressing frustration to business and political associates that he had missed out on a boom in the real estate industry during his time as governor; he also turned down a public pension when he left office.
Within a year of departing the Statehouse, he had signed on as consultant to Lehman Brothers, where he was eventually enlisted to reach out to Mr. Slim in a plan code-named Project Verde. Mr. Slim, however, was not interested in making a major investment in Lehman Brothers or striking up a joint venture with it. “Project Verde was unsuccessful,” Mr. Bush wrote to a Lehman colleague in early July 2008.
Lehman executives talked openly about the value of Mr. Bush’s family connections in the midst of the crisis. Lehman’s chief executive, Richard S. Fuld Jr., discussed the possibility of having Mr. Bush ask his brother President Bush to persuade the British prime minister to allow Lehman’s emergency merger with a British bank, according to testimony from the company’s bankruptcy case. Mr. Fuld never followed through, and Mr. Bush did not call the president, a spokeswoman for him said.
Friends and colleagues said Mr. Bush carefully evaluates businesses before working with them. In the case of InnoVida, an aide said, he ran a background check on the founder, a flashy, Maserati-driving businessman named Claudio Osorio. It turned up the bankruptcy of a previous company, the aide said, but nothing to suggest wrongdoing. So Mr. Bush agreed to help market his technology, a construction system that required no cement, steel or wood.
There is no evidence that board members were aware of Mr. Osorio’s fraud. But Christopher Korge, an investor in the company and board member, said he recalled talking to Mr. Bush about their shared frustration with the company’s delays in distributing financial information and reluctance to hold regular board meetings.
In separate interviews, a lawyer for Mr. Osorio, who pleaded guilty, and a lawyer for a group of investors argued that members of the board had exercised little meaningful oversight of the company.
“It was done lackadaisically," said David A. Nuñez, the lawyer whose clients lost millions when InnoVida collapsed. If board members “did their due diligence, really did it, they would have been able to determine this company was not financially solvent and that it was a fraud,” he said.
Mr. Korge, a major Democratic Party fund-raiser who lost millions on his investment in InnoVida, said that once he alerted Mr. Bush to major problems inside the company, the former governor acted swiftly and forcefully to investigate them. “Jeb did everything that he should have done to protect the shareholder,” he said.
Most of Mr. Bush’s career in business has steered clear of politics, allowing him to carefully hone a potential campaign message by delivering speeches, granting television interviews and writing a book. But not all of his corporate work is in sync with his public brand.
Mr. Bush opposed the Affordable Care Act and has called it “flawed to its core,” like many of his potential rivals in the 2016 campaign. But unlike them, he has earned more than $2 million for sitting on the board a company, Tenet Health Care, that has loudly endorsed the legislation.
Tenet’s chief executive, Trevor Fetter, said Mr. Bush had made no secret of his objections to the health care overhaul at company meetings. But he suggested that Mr. Bush understood the difference between “personal views and what is best for the company.” Mr. Fetter predicts that in 2014, the Affordable Care Act will deliver up to $100 million in new earnings for Tenet.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

A Brighter Day

The headline: "Republicans Aren't Moving On From Obamacare." The link:  here or http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/18/republicans-obamacare_n_5174935.html

I love the ad nauseum no issue issues Republicons keep trying to pedal such as the evils of Obamacare after trying to unsuccessfully repeal it 50 times.  They simply do not want people who need it to have affordable health care. Republicons would rather see people die because of maladies from which they should not die and Republicons have said so.

Republicons bring up their recycled "issues" ad nauseum (a good phrase) until one, indeed, wants to throw up from their never-ending whining and fake complaints. Republicons have nothing, zero, nada, zilch on which to run. They chew up, chew up, and chew up some more masticating their fake issues until there is nothing left to eat.

Obamacare is now a success beyond anyone's wildest dreams and it will be more so as time goes on.  What's a Party to do when it has nothing on which to run?  It loses and loses big. Hopefully, it, instead of the electorate, dies.

They have nothing because they are the party of obstruction-of-anything-Obama even if the president's policy is good because the failure of the Obama presidency has been, since 2008 the Republicons' only goal.  They lost in 2008, in 2012 and WILL, hopefully, lose in 2014 and beyond significantly so.

The country by November will have moved on and be cured of the fatal disease of Obamacare Derangement Syndrome because the president's signature health care policy is working and it will improve over time.

Absolutely no issue -- not Benghazi, not the IRS, not the authenticity of the president's birth certificate and certainly not the fake evils of Obamacare -- is going to work for Republicons.  The future sees a fractured Republicon Party serving cooked goose.  They are crossing their finish line dead last as the country eschews obstructionism, racism, and nativitist right wing violent anti-government sentiment that have, even by the assessment of many of their "intellectual" advocates failed.

Democrats and Progressives, DEFEND our good policy loud -- VERY loud -- and clear then make sure the Democratic Party and Progressives EVERYWHERE get out to vote in 2014 no matter how much Republicons try to suppress it.  We must get these Republicon albatrosses, finally, off our necks so the country can move on to a brighter day!

Democrats and Progressives get out TO vote and get out THE vote. Take back the House, keep the Senate and vie to win state legislatures and governor's offices across the nation. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

"Senate clears path for corporate tax giveaways"

Why electing PROGRESSIVE Democrats is the only way.

Here's the link or below to the headline above:  

This is where the SCREAMING MUST take place.  The bottom up must make and FORCE the change in the other direction.
Occupy Wall Street get yourselves in gear and make some eardrum piercing noise.  This is exactly why this "recovery" seems like the recession still but it does not to the billionaires.  I wonder why.  It does to those of us in the 98%. So many are smart, have experience andeven have extended degrees but are still laid off and STILL looking for work after YEARS of being without it.  
Sure give the unconscionable 1% the tax breaks they ship overseas or to hidden offshore accounts while people of worth and even youth end up living off savings, living out of a car or a cheap motel room because the 1% ran off with the bucks that trickled down to no one but themselves.
GROW a HEART, America, before it is too late!  Close the loopholes for mammoth gouging corporate interests, pass unemploymentminimum wage and while you are at it enact another stimulus to create jobs.  
Our infrastructure is crumbling and our oil producing filth is killing the planet.  Not enough to do?  I suspect there is TOO much to do!  So DO IT.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

An Answer for Carla

Yesterday, I attended a Passover sedar as is Jewish custom at this time of year. The sedar meal retells the Biblical story of the Exodus—the freedom of the Jewish people from the grips of centuries of slavery.  Passover has had meaning, too, for many who are not necessarily Jewish but who still globally struggle with bondage and oppression.  The holiday has served for centuries to offer hope to the hopeless and to convey the idea of freedom to those who are not yet free.

It is a commemorative dinner filled with good food, close family and friends and it is also a meal of symbolic ritual as evidenced by various symbolic foods on a sedar plate.  The ritual, as delineated in a Passover book, the Haggadah, and as part of the commencement of the ceremony begins with the retelling of the Exodus as the youngest child asks the central question “Why is this night different from all other nights?"  Amid the retelling of the Exodus story there is a portion entitled “The Four Sons” – the one who is wise, one who is wicked, one who is simple, and one who does not know to ask about the Passover story.

The wise son wants to inclusively know.  Since Passover is heavy with symbolism I submit we compare it to circumstances we face in modern times.  I thought the most prescient question and the one with the most gravitas for our time was one that was asked of me by Carla, the lovely young daughter of equally lovely friends.

Our discussion centered in general around the violence of the day and more specifically the killing of three innocent people at the Jewish Community Center and assisted living facility in Kansas.  Carla asked me why people have to do that to one another.  I starred at her blankly at first as I contemplated the answer to this existentially profound question.  My inadequate response to her at first was “I do not know why man’s inhumanity to his fellow man is so prevalent but it is and it is unbelievable.”

On the ride home I thought about her profound Passover question, wondered why I could not have given her a better response and, more importantly, why I did not offer at least some solution to the sad reality of our violent time. 

Part of the answer is, I think, that man has been doing evil to his fellow man since the beginning of man’s time on earth.  It is, it seems, in the nature of the human beast or at least in the nature of the beast’s brain stem.  The other part of the answer should have been the solution to this seemingly eternal existential conundrum.  While violence may be endemic to our species non-violence and peace can begin with us too if we let it.  Many men and women have shown us the path to non-violence but it is, in the final analysis, we who are responsible for our own destiny, the masters of our fate and it is we who must oppose violence and war in our own time for all time.  It is at once as simple and as complex as that.

Carla asked the right question for the right time.  It saddened me that I could not provide a better answer to her so I am writing this as the 1,729 post in my nine year old blog to attempt to generally do so.  I thank my friends’ very sweet and humane daughter for spurring me to think about the most important question of our time—the violence of man.  What better time than Passover to contemplate its answer.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Longest Hatred--A Better Day and Peace

In the 1990's I bought a tape entitled "The Longest Hatred."  It was a documentary chronicling 2000 years of hatred and its child of violence that has been the story of the Jewish people for centuries.  We mourn our dead yet again and go on living.

The killing of three human beings, two at the Jewish Community Center in Kansas City and one woman at an assisted living center close by is but the latest in killings that have become so common place in this nation that so many here barely give it a second glance.

I give it a second glance, a third and ask the eternal question why.  I mourn those killed on the eve of Passover as I would mourn them at any time of the year.  In fact, I mourn all those innocents cut down by senseless hatred that runs so keep into the sinew of the bones of man.

I am a secular Jew but I will say, at the sedar table tonight, a special Kaddish prayer for the dead (and the living) not only for those who died in Kansas but for all those irrespective of race, religion or creed who are the victims of man's inhumanity toward his fellow man and, indeed, I will pray for a better day and peace!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Government Listens To Lobbyists And The Wealthy, Not You And Me

If we do not take our democracy back there will be no democracy to take back. The world's last best hope for democracy is dying.

 Here or below is the article entitled above. It is a view worth reading and why getting our voice and vote out is our only hope.

http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2014/04/12/3426152/wealthy-lobbyists-policy/  By Bryce Covert