About Me

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Did Socrates say "Know Thyself", or was he misunderstood, as all are. Show Thyself is all we can do. The knowing is unknowable.  

I am filled with joy.  It can't be helped.  

Became a Farmer, Builder, Musician, Tank Commander, Librarian, Lawyer and Minister. I have failed at many things. And now retired.  Filled, just filled, with Joy. 

Friday, October 27, 2006

Former NYSE Chairman Richard Grasso, and Greed

The LA Times reported a pleasant congruence of newsworthy events, in its 10/20/2006 Business Section: The Dow Jones closing above 12,000 for the first time, and the release of State Supreme Court Justice Charles Ramos' ruling that the former New York Stock Exchange Chairman, Richard Grasso, might be forced to return $100 million to the Exchange.
Justice Ramos made a point of basing the restitution order on the fact that Grasso was serving as Chairman, an office with "fiduciary" standards owed to the organization he purported to serve while milking it with a stratospheric "compensation package" in excess of $187.5 million per annum. The Court rejected Grasso's argument that the NYSE board made up of top Wall Street executives was "informed" and approved his pay. Interestingly, Grasso contended that he himself did not know how much he was making, a fact that Justice Ramos labelled shocking: "That a fiduciary of any institution, profit or not-for-profit, could honestly admit that he was unaware of a liability ofo over $100 million...is a clear violation [of fiduciary duties]."
In the May 2004 law suit brought by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, Grasso was proved to have stocked the Board with cronies and then misled them about the magnitude of his ballooning pay, including more than $100 million in retirement benefits quietly accrued in his last few years on the "job".
Greed is not necessarily good or bad, and it is not a quality which is going to disappear, not matter how much it is condemned. However, where it is compounded with fraud -- concealments, misdirection, misrepresentation, and violation of fiduciary duties -- the act of benefitting oneself at the expense of others who are in no position to object or even realize what is happening, is simply a form of theft. It is a crime, a wrong, a violation of laws, and a distortion of the "free" market. For a "business" person to indulge in thievery, instead of exchange, is to destroy the market. His act is tantamount to market murder, in that it puts fear into the marketplace, and obstructs the transactions that otherwise would occur, killing them.
Equally shocking, however, is how LITTLE the "sanction" really is, relative to the scale of the offense. As sharply critical as Justice Ramos is of Grasso's testimony, he is still limiting the sanction to restitution. His ruling seems limited to a species of disgorgement. In other words, Grasso (and future Grasso's hiding in other grass) had NO RISK: Either he gets away with stealing, or he is caught and has to give up what he stole. Mere disgorgement is not a disincentive.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Tempting Faith - believers are being USED by religious hypocrites; corroboration.

LAT 10132006 A19, Wallsten. "President Bush's top political advisors [Rowe] privately ridiculed evangelical supporters as 'nuts' and 'goofy' while embracing them in public and using their votes to help win elections."
The reviewer, Wallsten, interviewed Paul M. Weyrich, a Bush-conservative, about Kuo's book. The Bush administration denies Kuo's account of the "faith-based" program. Speech-writer Michael Gerson claims it is "laughable", and Jim Towey, another former director of the faith-based program, claims Kuo's description is unrecognizable. However, neither critic denied that politics factored predominantly into the program which has significantly failed to supplant community needs although it hosted numerous "conferences" appealing to pastors prior to elections.
Kuo is a second insider to document the political use of religious conviction by people who are themselves not righteous ones. Kuo's observations now corroborate those of John J. DiIulio Jr, the first director of the "Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives", a uniquely Rowe-based bureaucracy formed when Bush first took office. DiIulio was the first official to resign 7 months after his appointment in the Bush-Rowe-Cheney administration, stating that the White House was run by "Mayberry Machiavellians" who put political ends over everything else.
With this published corroboration by Kuo, who made the same accusation when he resigned from the same program in 2003, it appears that the leadership of our country has been "hijacked" (to use Kuo's term) by a cabal of religious hypocrites. The Christians are being fed to the lions, at their own expense inside the arena, while the lions outside the arena are gathering with impunity. In making this analogy, no disrespect to lions is intended.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The President Impeaches Himself

Columnist Al Martinez, LATimes 9/28/2006, referring to a story by Paul Richter concerning the growing alliances of people who now hate Americans:
"Richter's piece was the first time I had seen a story that laid out so clearly the predicament our cowboy leader has gotten us into. We can demand impeachment for a president's embarassing sexual dalliances but not for a president who has dragged a once respected nation into the slime. No one died when Bill Clinton reached out for Monica Lewinsky. Many have since George W. Bush reached out for Iraq."

PRJ: Insitutionalized Fraud

Washington-based SoundExchange released a list of 9000 recording artists which it claimed it was unable to locate in order to distribute $500,000 worth of "royalties". SoundExchange was creating by the recording industry to collect and distribute royalties. They could not find Rapper Mos Def, producer T-Bone Burnett, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
The artists forfeit the money to SoundExchange if not claimed.

Filmed! "King Leopold's Ghost", based on the Adam Hochschild book.

In less than 10 years since 1998, an estimated 3.9 million Congolese have died in armed conflicts. This is but the latest link in the bloody chain going back to Belgium and that peculiar "king" so carefuly described by Adam Hochschild.

Leopold killed an estimated 10 million. In the 150 years since, has anyone been able to recover? Viciousness creates such a closed circle.

Congo is now gearing up for a final round of elections -- the first in 40 years. Will the people flourish? In one of the most beautiful and naturally endowed regions of our planet?

Moazzam Begg, a prisoner in Guantanamo Bay

The LATimes 9/29/2006 printed an article by MB who was apparently taken prisoner in January 2002 by abduction from his home in Islamabad, Pakistan. He had fled Kabul, Afghanistan where he had "helped" establish a girl's school and dig water wells. Held captive for 3 years.
The use of "Guantanamo" by this Administration to avoid the Constitution fools no one. And what is the point? How can we claim to be fighting FOR the Constitution when in fact we are ignoring it?

Stateswoman Ayaan Hirsi Ali

My hat, all my hair, everything...is off to people who speak truth to fanaticism. Anybody can bad-mouth the President. But to take on the Mafioso, or the Pharisees, or to speak out against the subjugation of women, the cruelty of religious "law", and the intolerant "religions", takes even more courage, of a purer form.
The nomination of Ayaan Ali by Victor Davis Hanson for a Nobel Peace Prize is not only appropriate, but it elevates Hanson as well. He is a senior fellow and professor of military history, at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.

Asbestos, the "miracle mineral"

Silvery malleable but crisp, incredibly "useful". You could add it to almost any other material to make them stronger and more heat resistant. Long term exposure to asbestos is known to cause some terrible diseases, even in extremely small amounts. But not until the 1970's did we stop adding it to everything we could, even clothing, utensils, bedding. The last US asbestos mine closed (pause) in 2002.