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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Is it me. . .

. . . or did EVERYBODY think that since insider trading is ILLEGAL, that members of Congress were NOT supposed to participate and should be, been and always be under particular scrutiny to guard against such a thing happening?????

VOTE THEM ALL OUT!!!!    WHO NEEDS THEM?????!!!!!

I CERTAINLY DON'T!!!!!




(from http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/01/30/10273245-ban-on-congressional-insider-trading-clears-key-senate-hurdle)

A ban on insider trading by members of Congress cleared a key procedural hurdle Monday in the Senate, moving toward final passage and a House vote on similar legislation later next month. A bipartisan group of senators voted 93 to 2 in favor of ending debate on the STOCK Act, a piece of legislation meant to prohibit members of Congress, their families and staff from using any information gleaned while working on the Hill to execute stock transactions. The legislation 60 votes to attain "cloture," or limit debate and move toward final passage. The bill will be debated and amendments will be attached over the next week. It's unclear when the final vote will occur.

The House version will expand certain restrictions on insider trading to White House staff and is also expected to create clear restrictions on members of Congress making land deals using insider information. The House is looking to move on that legislation within a month. "Leader Cantor plans to move an expanded version of the STOCK Act through the House in February to make it clear that those in Congress are subject to the same laws as everyone else," Laena Fallon, a spokeswoman for Cantor's office told NBC. Fervor over insider trading on Capitol Hill reached a peak last fall following the airing of a "60 Minutes" segment questioning whether lawmakers including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) made investments based on their knowledge of legislative activity to which they would be privy.



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Brilliant . . .

. . . versus creative . . .


 Listening to the World Cafe radio program on NPR of pre-recorded interviews with George Martin, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr and playing Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

People frequently refer to artists, musical and otherwise as 'brilliant' or by some other such superlative;  and that's fine, except that they and their listeners must remember that the 'brilliance' to which they refer is merely subjective.

George Martin, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr (also the late John Lennon and George Harrison) may be referred to by some as brilliant, and that's fine, but it is a superlative and it is subjective.

All these people are extremely gifted, talented and creative individuals who happened to exist at a specific period in time during which there existed one particular and specific music industry complete with technological and structural elements that were unique to that time and which all working together and interacting as a business and cultural influence produced and distributed the product that resulted from the interaction of all the aforementioned factors in one particular time and space.

It cannot be duplicated or replicated ever again.

It was indeed CREATIVE.  But was it brilliant?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  But it happened.  And we have a record of the fruits of the labors of these unique creative individuals for our personal and professional gratification.

Do we still have brilliance, creativity, gifts, talents and creativity?  Will we continue to recognize, appreciate and reward it?   I can only hope so. 



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Monday, January 30, 2012

Just watched . . .

. . . THE HELP . . . and thought about a lot of things. . . including
MINGUS!!!

(from http://www.jazzwax.com/2009/05/charles-mingus-fables-of-faubus.html)
Up until May 1959, no jazz composition recorded by Charles Mingus had Friedlandermingus been as controversial or as politically charged as Fables of Faubus. The song, first recorded 50 years ago this month on Mingus Ah Um, was meant to be a condemnation of Arkansas governor Orval Faubus. In 1957 Faubus had ordered the state's National Guard to prevent the integration of Little Rock Central High School by nine African-American teenagers. With the reissue of MingusAhum Mingus Ah Um by Sony Legacy yesterday (along with Mingus Dynasty), I am struck yet again by the boldness of Fables of Faubus' breathy, lumbering indignation. [Photo of Charles Mingus in 1959 by Lee Friedlander]
Along with Sonny Rollins' Freedom Suite in 1958, Mingus' composition courageously raised the ante among jazz artists, insisting they become creative agitators for change rather than just concerned bystanders. Interestingly, Louis Armstrong played a role. I spoke to Nat Hentoff and Sue Mingus yesterday about the significance of Fables of Faubus and the Civil Rights Movement. More from them in a moment.
Contrary to most fans' impressions, Mingus wasn't a political protester, per se. He was first and foremost a composer who was vocal from the bandstand about all things unfair and unjust—from noisy ice in glasses to Jim Crow. As Mingus told Brian Priestley in Mingus: A Critical Biography:
"I just write tunes and put political titles on them. Fables of Faubus was different, though—I wrote that because I wanted to."
More than a year after Mingus Ah Um, Mingus recorded the Original Fables of Faubus onMingusmingus Charles Mingus Presents Charles Mingus (Candid Records), this time with a brazen set of lyrics. The words were talk-sung by Mingus and shouted by drummer Dannie Richmond and other band members, who function as a Greek chorus ferociously condemning racism and racists.
Why the song's lyrics weren't recorded the first time around on Mingus Ah Um isn't clear. Most likely the omission came at the behest of Columbia executives, who at the time didn't want to overly inflame the label's Southern markets. Writes Gene Santoro in Myself When I Am Real: The Life and Music of Charles Mingus:
"[The group recorded] Fables of Faubus, but Columbia, Mingus said, wouldn't let them record the lyrics."
When Mingus wrote the song in late 1957, the Little Rock standoff had been the most shocking and dramatic episode to take Littlerock place in the Civil Rights Movement. The event marked the first time that Southern racism was exposed on network television, and the news story unfolded slowly in September 1957. The sight of armed National Guard soldiers preventing nine students from attending a public school and the federal government's slow reaction was harrowing. The month-long televised drama deeply affected jazz musicians and people throughout the country who had heard about unjust conditions in the South but had never seen them in action.
Ultimately, the Justice Department sought and was granted an injunction against Faubus' order, and the governor had to Littlerock-1 withdraw National Guard troops. But the move offered little protection for the students or assurance that the community wouldn't riot or bar them from the school. So on September 24th—20 days after the incident's start—President Eisenhower finally federalized the Arkansas National Guard and sent the army's 101st Airborne Division to Little Rock enforce integration and safeguard the African-American students.
To gain insight into Mingus' strident recording of Original Fables of Faubus in 1960, I spoke briefly yesterday with Nat Hentoff, who produced the Candid session:
"The Little Rock standoff in 1957 had been extraordinary. The Nat-704783 Supreme Court's decision three years earlier [Brown v. Board of Education] had made integration possible. The decision was unanimous and had been signed individually by each justice. Never before had that happened. Little Rock was an attempt to put the decision to test.
"During the Little Rock standoff, President Eisenhower dragged his feet, which angered Louis Armstrong. Louis made uncharacteristically heated comments about Eisenhower during a newspaper interview that belied his cheery disposition. I'm sure his unrestrained public statement partly motivated Mingus to write Fables of Faubus. Louis simply said what many in the jazz community were thinking and feeling at the time.
"I remember the recording session. I think I sent out for sandwiches and that's about it [laughs]. You didn't have to manage a Mingus session. The lyrics? They didn't seem controversial to me. They were as natural as sunlight. 

"The one thing about [Candid owner] Archie Bleyer is I never knew what he thought about any of the recordings we made. He never interfered and he stood by his word. I had total freedom, and I approached the Mingus date with that frame of mind.". . . .



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Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Sunday . . .

 . . . kind of thought. . .



(from John Shelby Spong.com)
"We reference Jesus because he is the life in which this God experience has come to us.  It is only institutional religion that interprets this experience as a solitary one.  Jesus is the way to God for me, but I will never say that he is the only way to God.  That would be to claim more than I am competent to claim.  I cannot force the Holy God to live within the boundaries of my limited understanding of the holy.  That would be to claim that I can embrace all that is God inside the finite limits of my human(ity).


A great debate has gone on in Christian history for centuries as to whether Jesus is different from you or me in substance or in degree.  The majority opinion in “orthodox” Christian circles maintains that he is different in substance and creeds and doctrinal statements make that assumption.  There has, however, always been a minority opinion, an undercurrent flowing in Christian history that asserts that this difference is only in degree.  I can locate that in the 14th century writing of Meister Eckhart, who succeeded Thomas Aquinas in his theological chair.  I find it present in my great mentor, John A. T. Robinson, particularly in his book, The Human Face of God. I find that position persuasive for if God is one, and if God is real, then the God experienced in Jesus has to be the same as the God experienced in everyone else, and if the humanity of Jesus is real, then it has to be the same humanity that you and I possess.  Jesus becomes, thus, the defining life, that is, Jesus is the life through which God has been met and engaged in a full and special way. That is a difference in degree not in kind.

I do meet God in the lives of those you mention and in many others, but I recognize that God because that is the same God I believe I meet in Jesus of Nazareth."





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Friday, January 27, 2012

Perfection? . . .

. . . NAH!!!   But pretty damned good!



Have you seen the sunrise
Over the ocean
Out of the sea
Marvel at the notion
How can it be

Many are your bad times
That's what you tell me
That's how you feel
Seems they might as well be
But tell me
How do you know they're real

It's not a perfect world
This one that we're all living in
There's so much pain
And so much suffering here for you
It's not a perfect world
This one that we're all living in
That's just your pessimistic
Point of view

Can you feel the power
Of trees in the forest
Birds on the wing
Moving hour by hour
Mysterious thing
Gaze upon the mountains
Rising above us
Touching the sky
Can this power love us
You have your doubts
But you don't know why

It's not a perfect world
This one that we're all living in
There's so much pain
And so much suffering here for you
It's not a perfect world
This one that we're all living in
That's just your pessimistic
Point of view

How did you ever become so jaded
Now you can only see what you created
You're so blind
The more that you look the less that you find
It's your mind
You refuse to put faith into something sublime
On your time
Your convenience means everything

See this thing is bigger
It's bigger than we are
You have to admit
Think you've got it figured
You know where it fits
It's not scientific
You can't replicate it
It just can't be done
No one's ever faked it
Just have some hope
You're not the only one

It's not a perfect world
This one that we're all living in
There's so much pain
And so much suffering here for you
It's not a perfect world
This one that we're all living in
That's just your pessimistic
Point of view


PERFECT WORLD © 1997 Raymond M. Jozwiak




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Removal . . .



 A cleansing of sorts is in order . . .



Somebody's recent survey of voters concluded that 56% are ready to vote every member of Congress out if there were a place on the ballot to do so.  And each political spectrum surveyed agrees with liberals at 55%, moderates 55% and conservatives 58%.  Furthermore, the freshmen Republicans who took control of the House of Representatives in January on the premise of bringing CHANGE have even disappointed their supporters.






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Thursday, January 26, 2012

If a regular guy. . .

 . . . like Mitt Romney, whose family fortune is valued at about $250 million, pays only a 15% effective income tax, surely we whose families have nowhere near that amount of money, and who work hard every day for 30, 35 or 40 years to make but a mere fraction of $22 million annually have absolutely no right to complain about paying over 35% in taxes. Everyone plays on a level field in Mitt's free market and what's stopping you and me from making a $250 million fortune?  Laziness, of course.

RIGHT???



Of course if you lean right, you have the "Other" top choice of Gingrich, who paid about 31% and whose proposed changes to the tax code would allow someone in a position comparable to Romney to pay $0 income taxes.

Tough Choice.  Mmmmmmm!!

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney owns investments worth between $7 million and $32 million in offshore-based holdings. These accounts enable wealthy investors to defer paying U.S. taxes on some assets, according to tax experts. Romney is purported to have at least six funds set up in the Cayman Islands but he has not identified all or the size of his accounts there. There is no indication Romney uses the accounts to dodge any U.S. tax obligations.  Although the Caymans have often been associated with individuals and corporations seeking to avoid paying U.S. taxes, there is no evidence that Romney holds such accounts for this purpose.  It is legal for U.S. residents to own investment accounts that are set up there — if they file the proper forms with the Internal Revenue Service and pay the appropriate taxes.

Legal?  Yes.   Ethical?
What do YOU think?



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