The Art (not the Book) of Lamentations

A friend of mine sent me an email inquiring what I thought of the eloquent and moving eulogy President Obama gave in Charleston this past week. I replied that I hadn’t watched it, or cared to read it, since I try and avoid the President’s public addresses whenever possible. My friend responded that I had “lost him” on the fact that I “cannot seem to give the President credit when he does something right.”

LamentationsI guess doing something right is a matter of perspective.

My perspective is that, had I watched, I would have been unmoved by a speech deliberately drafted to be moving that was given by a President who refuses to take personal responsibility for failing to quell the escalating division and hatred that have been brewing in this country ever since his election.

Talk is cheap.

Whether the 2009 arrest of Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates involving the Boston police, the shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman in Florida, the Ferguson riots, the Baltimore riots, the Detroit black on black murder rate or the Chicago black on black murder rate, President Obama has chosen to either 1) inflame situations by his rush to judgment; 2) use divisive rhetoric that acts to further distance black and white communities; or 3) abstain from any comment at all where thoughtful leadership would have gone a long way towards mitigating violent reaction.

Further, President Obama chose Al Sharpton as his White House Adviser on Race Relations. Al Sharpton is a crook, a liar and a race-baiter. “There’s a trust factor with The Rev from the Oval Office on down,” a White House aide told Politico. “He gets it, and he’s got credibility in the community that nobody else has got. There’s really no one else out there who does what he does.”

I agree. There is no one else out there in the Black community who can be so corrupt, inflammatory and media hungry as “The Rev” and yet gain unfettered access to the President of the United States.

So, when my friend opined that I can’t give the President credit for a moving speech, he is absolutely correct.

Where our first Black President has been nothing short of inept at improving race relations and, at times, been downright contributory in inflaming them, I could care less about his artful delivery in seizing the public moment (as he is wont to do a la bin Laden’s death by Seal Team 6) and giving lip service to his and the nation’s genuine grief over the deaths of innocent church members.

Talk is cheap.

I would rather the President had taken every preceding opportunity he was given over the last six years to unite the county. I would love to have been able to give him credit for that instead.

Sadly, wishing does not make it so.

Carole

Land of The Free

Are we really the land of the free?

Land of the FreeI love it when political commentators lecture us about the many freedoms we enjoy in our country as compared to other nations. Having lived and traveled abroad, I can tell you with 100% certainty that this once free country exists no more.

Here is my small list of how we have become less free –if you want me to add more to this post please email me at sleeclark@gmail.com

  • Seat Belt Law- Prior to 1980 seat belts were not required to drive. In addition, prior to the law’s enactment seat belts in cars were the same as the ones in planes; they buckled over your lap. Once the law was passed the cars were modified so that the seat belt crossed over your shoulder. Was this done to protect us or to give the cops better viewing to enforce the laws and collect their fees?
  • Lemonade Stands– A right of passage for many kids as they learned their first business lessons. Today the police now close lemonade stands because they don’t have a permit. (Think about this: We actually think it is OK for the police to protect us from children selling lemon juice?)
  • Cigarette Laws– For years tobacco companies posted massive warning labels on their packages and told their users how dangerous the content was. This did not stop the government from shaking down an entire industry for billions of dollars and then massively taxing them to death. If you think this is a good thing, don’t complain when the government lands on your door step one day to shake you down for all of your money.
  • Lawn Care– In the Northeast, it was common for homeowners to burn their leaves in the Fall. Then the government required a permit and today, in most places, it is completely banned.
  • NYC Condo Laws– I lived in a condo for years with no rugs on my floors. Then the condo unit required homeowners to have rugs covering the majority of their living space. I received a complaint one day because my walking was too loud. The “condo police” actually sent someone to measure my carpets and my floor space to make sure I was in compliance.(Does this sound like freedom?)
  • Bike Laws – I grew up riding a bike without a helmet; today that will get me a ticket. In addition, in NYC, if you don’t stay in the designated bike lane that too will get you a ticket. (check this hysterical video that illustrates the  absurdity of this law.)
  • Disciplining your child– Most of my peers were raised with a heavy hand. If you do that today, child services will show up at your door and you will lose your kids. However, if your part of the government gestapo and do that to a child there are no consequences. Don’t believe me? Look at this video where a cop tasers a child on concrete, leaves her brain dead and  still has his job. If a citizen did this, they would be in jail.
  • Permits and more Permits- Want to build a house? Enlarge your house? Alter your apartment? Expand your business? Build a swimming pool? We now need the approval of our local government employee to grant us this privilege. Need more proof? Many parts of the New Jersey shore still have not been rebuilt from Hurricanes Sandy in 2012, because they are waiting on permits and government approval! Try being homeless for 3 years.
  • Bird Feeder– In Erie County, NY a couple was fined for having an illegal bird feeder. When did bird feeders become illegal? In Mississippi they have the same law.
  • Dog Registration– In NYC, it is common practice that you are required to register your dog, so the Board can know who the pet owners are. In one building they now limit the type of dog you can own.
  • Flower Laws– Certain gardens, parks and building complexes have laws against picking flowers and I get it. But human nature being what is, there are always going to be people who will pick a flower. So should we criminalize such activity?  I once went to visit my mother in a building complex and my 4-year-old daughter picked a flower from one of the gardens. An enormous  elderly man chased my daughter down and began to yell at her for her “crime.” Really? We now live in a society where this type of behavior passes off as normal. There is something about human nature that compels certain people to force everybody to comply that drives me totally crazy! I have such anger and contempt for this behavior because this is what causes an otherwise normal, human being to yell at a 4-year-old child. Clearly my daughter was wrong to pick a flower from a garden, but sadly his overreaction is typical of many citizens today.

I can go on and on. But the fact is that everywhere you turn we have an ever-encroaching State that tells us what we can and cannot do. This constant policing by bureaucrats, municipal workers, policeman and  busybodies, I believe, can drive someone off the deep end.

Man yearns and desires to be free, and I believe the increase in drug use is attributable to this constant barrage to conform and comply with all of these nonsensical laws. The problem is that the government has become SO BIG imposing so many restrictive rules, regulations and laws, I would wager it’s almost impossible for anyone to go through a day without breaking one or more on a daily basis and, thereby, becoming a criminal.

Steve

P.S. Since I also write to this site I don’t have to email Steve. My parents lived in a Homeowner’s Association complex in Florida. When a hurricane damaged the flowers that adorned their walkway, my father spared no personal expense in having a professional landscaper replace it all. Shortly thereafter, my parents were forced to not only tear out all the new landscaping but also pay a fine. It seemed the new flowers were the wrong color and did not match the other foliage on either said of their home. Yes, Steve…it can drive a person over the edge.

 

Who and What To Keep Close By

I was raised to believe that you are known by the company you keep. Who we choose to figuratively (and literally) “hold close” in our lives, in no uncertain terms, defines us. This makes President Obama’s choice of seatmates this week so disturbing.

truthAt a White House dinner on Tuesday night, the President chose to seat at the prized “President’s Table” two radical anti-Israel activists, Riham Osman and Batoul Abuharb, both of whom deem Israel to be a nation that sponsors terrorism. Osman is the communications director of a group founded by the Muslim Brotherhood (itself a recognized terrorist group) and is well known for vitriolic speech about Israel and its leaders. During Operation Protective Edge in 2014, Osman claimed Israel “murdered 1000 innocent citizens” and if “the devil was in human form” it would “look, speak, and act like [Prime Minister] Netanyahu.

As troubling as this Administration’s choices have been in relation to our ally Israel, equally disturbing was the recent Supreme Court ruling that Jerusalem is not located in Israel and, therefore, cannot be its capital. This despite the fact that Jerusalem is where the seat of Israeli government resides, where the parliament meets and legislates, and where the President, Prime Minister and Cabinet have their offices.

It boggles the mind that while Israel, a democracy, stands awash in the midst of a sea of ancient hatreds and the specter of an encroaching radical Islam onslaught, this Administration, and for that matter this Supreme Court, repeatedly choose to undermine the only country and culture in that region which mirrors the longstanding American values of freedom of speech and religion.

While Iran chants “Death to America and Israel” and ISIL throws homosexuals off rooftops, cages innocents to drown them by submersion, uses women and children as sex slaves, and dons captives with explosive “necklaces” to literally blow their heads off, we act as if the preeminent issues of our time are free birth control, remnants of racism, the confederate flag and climate change.

Eric Metaxas, author of “Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy” recently said that we are reliving all the events and denial that preceded Hitler’s rise to power in Nazi Germany. Metaxas should know. He is the expert on Bonhoeffer’s life and his efforts to awaken Germans to the evil of Hitler and his plans.

Cozying up to and negotiating a nuclear deal with Iran, refusing to call the Muslim Brotherhood a terror organization, refusing to say the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has anything to do with Islam, honoring avowed anti-Semites at the White house, refusing to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel are each examples of a conscious denial of reality.

Denial does not negate consequences. It merely prolongs and intensifies them.

In a letter from Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, Jefferson wrote, “I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.”

Under the unprecedented failures of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the government in our time, we must take up the banner of rebellion Jefferson foresaw but we must do so wisely.

Where “storms in the physical” are sometimes necessary, so too are battles of the heart and mind. Each of us must summon the courage, certainty and calm that comes from knowing there is evil in the world and the sword that slays it is Truth.

When we stop playing politics, busying ourselves with worthless divisions along party, economic, gender and racial lines to join together as one voice raised on behalf of freedom, there is no force anywhere on earth which will prevail upon us.

The hour is late. The clock ticks on. There are but three questions left to us that matter.

“Where do we stand?”

“What are we willing to do for that in which we believe?”

“Who do we choose to hold close?”

Carole

America’s Soul Meets Stalin’s Vision

It was an interesting week for me in experiencing the current state of our Nation’s soul which causes me to have concern for its well-being.

LifesupportFirst, I posted a comment on Breitbart online under an article on Donald Trump’s announcement to run for the Presidency. I merely suggested that while he may be a financial whiz, let’s not mistake charisma and the ability to make money with our need for Presidential leadership. What followed was a seemingly endless series of replies that excoriated me for not seeing that The Donald “talks straight, has his own money, and knows how to cut a deal.” As if those were the qualities one looks for in leader of (what’s left of) the Free World

Secondly, a friend of mine who knows I don’t have cable because I don’t watch TV sent me a gift this past week. Knowing my interest in media and politics she surprise ordered me Season One of Aaron Sorkin’s HBO series “Newsroom.” I watched the first three episodes on disc one and was mildly interested. Then I inserted disc two and was riveted. I was riveted by the deceit, mis-characterization and obvious hatred Sorkin has for the Conservative Right.

Finally, in another comment I posted on Facebook which addressed the failings of the Obama Administration, I received numerous responses that felt certain that my findings were based on nothing other than my “racism.” In other words, if I conclude that his policies have failed… I must hate black people.

Joseph Stalin, former dictator of the Soviet Union and mass murderer said:

“America is like a healthy body and its resistance is threefold: its patriotism, its morality and its spiritual life. If we can undermine these three areas, America will collapse from within.” (emphasis added).

To continue with Stalin’s analogy, I would add that the body of America is currently in the equivalent of the Intensive Care Unit as it relates to all three.

Our patriotism has turned itself upside down. We abandon our Veterans, call anyone who stands for country a “bible, gun toting redneck,” and seem to focus only upon what our country does wrong without giving thought or voice to all that we do right. Our morality, in the best case, has descended to a new low in modern times…that is if we have any concept of what “moral” looks like remaining at all. Our spiritual life has been systematically bred out of most of us under the guise of “political correctness” and taken the reactionary form of fundamentalism in those who’ve managed to hold on to any concept of God whatsoever.

Alice von Hildebrand, theologian, former professor and wife of German Catholic theologian Dietrich von Hildebrand who opposed Nazism, said recently that “Hitler lost the physical war but won the war of ideas”…for the evil, hatred and division he aspired to spread lives on.

Tragically, Stalin seems to also live on.

America is collapsing from within because her body is sick and her resistance mechanisms, patriotism, morality and spirituality have been compromised. Without some serious treatment to reverse the deteriorating condition of our National soul we will, I suspect, shortly find ourselves on life support.

Should that occur, Russia, China and Iran are readying themselves to “pull the plug.”

Carole

 

The Devil Is in the Details

“We need to pass the bill to see what’s in the bill.” Nancy Pelosi lobbying members of Congress why we needed to pass ObamaCare.

“You can read the Obama Trade bill after we pass it.” Paul Ryan commenting to the press on why they have not seen the details of the bill.

imagesCA27GPLZWe are all stressed. We all have too much to do. Life is so complicated that we don’t even have time to do the basics of our jobs….like Congressional Representatives actually reading the bills they plan to pass.

I get it. I used to sell new issues to my clients without reading the prospectus. (a prospectus is the document that governs the new issue).  In reality, nobody reads them and anybody who works on Wall Street will tell you that nobody reads them. I used to be  a salesperson at a bank and relied on the capital markets team to make sure that our governmental compliance was correct and accurate.

However, just as there is reason for Congress to read bills before they make them law, there is reason for traders and investors to read a prospectus before issuing or investing: there is money to be made by reading a prospectus.

Whenever a company issues a stock or a bond, a “prospectus” is attached that explains everything about the issue. These documents are thick with tiny print, boring, dull and obtuse. No one bothers to pore over the detail in them.  That is, until a deal goes bad. Then the prospectus become required reading for the professional speculator. When I worked on a trading desk, I would often have to price three deals per week. Doing a new deal is time consuming and entails the following actions:

  • Going on road shows;
  • Doing conference calls;
  • Talking to the different analysts;
  • Talking to portfolio managers;
  • Calling clients;
  • Looking at the financials;
  • Coordinating with the syndicate desk;
  • Pricing and trading the deal.

Its a lot of work and the whole structure of the deal is encapsulated in the prospectus.

The capital markets team, which brought the deals together, would be responsible for negotiating the terms and getting the legal documents together to build the prospectus. Given that the capital markets team was also overworked and pitching tons of deals, they would often use standard documentation forms from prior transactions to get the prospectus done. Think of a high-end “cut and paste” job.

If the deals were from the U.S that approach might present less of a problem. However, I worked in emerging markets where bonds were issued by different countries, in different languages, with different governing laws and an assortment of legal jurisdictions that governed the deal.

As long as the company paid its interest and principal no one would read the prospectus. But if the company fell in arrears, the first call we would get would be from the owners of the bonds requesting a copy of the prospectus. Suddenly, the fund managers, lawyers and traders found time to look at the intricate details of the issue they owned. They did so as a matter of protection.

Once a company was behind in its payments, vulture funds would circle around to see how they could pick at the carcass. Vulture funds were always looking at ways to buy assets on the cheap. For example, a typical prospectus might contain a clause stating that all the assets had to be sold to pay off all their bondholders. If the bonds were trading at 20 cents on the dollar, and the company could be liquidated for 30 cents on the dollar, a vulture fund might buy as many bonds as they could to make a quick profit.

To give you an idea as to what type of person and mindset you need to read prospectuses, take a look at a great book by Michael Lewis called “The Big Short.Lewis goes into great detail about how Michael Burry, an ex-neurologist with Aspergers Syndrome, would pour over the prospectus of arcane real estate structures. He locked himself in a room for hours on end for six months to understand what these issues were about. Only by doing so was he able to fully understand how these deals worked.

After reading the prospectus, he formed a fund and sold short many of the real estate instruments that were being issued by Wall Street banks. Many of his colleagues, peers and the bank themselves, thought he was crazy. The irony was that he had read the prospectus in its totality and knew more about the instruments than the banks that were issuing them!  The end result? Burry made millions of dollars.

He knew that the business of the banks is more transactional in nature and more orientated towards generating commissions. The salespeople were overwhelmed by the amount of deals they were doing and did not have the time to look at the minutia of the deals. Part of the reason that many salespeople did not understand the products is because the financial instruments were never fully explained to the professionals who sold them.

How does this happen?

Money is made in the financial markets by possessing knowledge that others don’t have. Even employees at the same firms will withhold information from each other. To the extent one trader can make more money than another trader, he will do so knowing that his take home pay will be greater. Because of this, employees at the same firm are not keen to share their trade secrets with their co-workers.

I have been in meetings where a firm would try to sell massive issues yet only give the barest minimum of information. Never were any of the intricacies of the deal  offered up. The presentation would be filled with acronyms and code language that made it virtually impossible for anyone to decipher.  If anyone asked a question, often times that person would be ridiculed for being stupid and not understanding what had just been explained and “clearly” understood by everybody else in the room.

Maybe that is why, in the end, all of the banks went under. They had no idea what they were selling. If the banks knew what they were selling, people like Michael Burry could not have made his millions.

Which gets me back to the quotes from Nancy Pelosi and Paul Ryan. Congress passes bills into law without even reading them. This is no different than what happened, and still happens, on Wall Street. It was only through one thoughtful man taking the time to actually do the research that was there for all to see that caused change to come to Wall Street.

If we don’t start taking the time to read the bills we’re passing, it won’t be a bank that goes under. It will be the whole country.

Rachel Doezal’s Biggest Mistake

Rachel Doezal, who quit as head of the Spokane NAACP after her parents publicly revealed that she was lying about her race, was interviewed on the Today show this morning and said something incredibly shallow and self-serving. When asked at what point she fully identified herself as being black, even though she is white, she replied, “When the adoption of my son was finalized. He is black and he said “’You’re my natural Mom’. So that was when I did it because otherwise it would have been a physical impossibility.”

ConfusionIt happens that I am the white mother of an adopted Asian daughter. My ex-husband and I adopted her when she was two years old. From the moment I first saw her, and every moment since, she is in every way my daughter. Had she developed in my womb and descended from my uterus she could not be any more my child. Nor, for that matter, could I be any more her mother.  We did not have to be of one color to be naturally of one heart.

As our daughter was growing up, upon her inquiry and in age-appropriate language, I reinforced the truth that she had a “mother for birth” and a “mother for life.” We each had a role to play. We each loved her with every ounce of our being. She was, quite simply, doubly blessed.

I don’t believe that you can teach the importance of truth without living it. Further, I don’t think you can model healthy self-esteem and confidence by denying who you are. This is what Rachel Doezal did with her son. She taught him that who you are may not be enough and, therefore, it is perfectly acceptable to fake your identity in order to accommodate someone else’s needs. This is a recipe for disaster.

Faking her identity repeatedly throughout her life has now exposed this deeply disturbed woman to be a perpetual liar. She did her son no favor by her rationalization. What she has, in fact, taught her son and modeled for him is that principles and values are disposable when they do not advance your agenda and fail to enrich your ego and your purse.

There are a great many people who, in their quest to be open and non-judgmental, think Rachel Doezal is black, even though she is white, because she identifies with being black. To humor or encourage such delusion and deceit isn’t spiritual, kind, or politically correct.

It’s sick.

Best Medical Care In The World

One of things I frequently hear from the Conservative movement is that Obamacare will destroy “the best medical care system in the world.” However, medical care superior to that which exists in the U.S can be found in many other parts of the world. Which begs the question: “Has anyone making these claims ever been treated for a medical condition outside of the U.S?” I have.  I’ve been treated quite a few times outside of the U.S and I was impressed with the care I have received.

Medical CareWhenever I travel to Ecuador (my wife’s native country) I send all my kids to the dentist As I can do it for a fraction of the cost here in the U.S. Seventy percent less to be exact! The dentists have all attended quality dental schools, are certified, and very knowledgeable about the profession.

The commentators make it seem like the rest of the world still uses witchdoctors while the pundits drone on that we have the best medical system in the world. Really? At what price?

In 2013, I paid over $25,000 pout-of-pocket in premiums for health insurance for a family of eight. When the company called me to renew my policy, I asked them to give me the reason why I should continue. Silenced echoed through the phone. In the end, they agreed that there was no reason for me to continue to stay with them as the price was too exorbitant.

For my insurance policy to kick in, I first had to spend $25,000 before I would see any benefits. So I declined future coverage and decided to pay for everything out-of-pocket: medical, dental…everything. In the years for which I did just that, I averaged approximately $3,000 in medical expenses. This included getting braces for one of my daughters and even then I did it “on the cheap” by getting the work done by graduate students at the local university.

I have come to look at health insurance the same way I do car insurance. With my car, I don’t expect anybody to pick up my tires, oil changes or tune-ups however, if  I get into a major accident, I have the coverage to replace my car.

But with health insurance you can’t do the same. People have become accustomed to seeing the doctor for the smallest of inconveniences. Here in Texas, there are tons of medical clinics where you can get all of the basics done like injections, exams and x-rays. For the most part, if your healthy, it works really well. So it made no sense for me to pay $25,000 dollars worth of medical care when I only needed about $3,000.

However, the risk that I ran was that if I had gotten into a serious accident, gotten cancer or anything life threatening condition, I would have been in trouble. I would have been willing to pay for catastrophic insurance to insure my family but those polices don’t exist.

Car insurance is cheap compared to the value of the car because the insurance companies know that the likelihood of people getting into an accident is low. If insurance companies could price up catastrophic insurance the same way car companies do, I believe most of the health insurance problems in the U.S would disappear.

In the medical care clinics here in Texas all of the prices are printed and listed. There are no hidden expenses and the care is excellent. When I paid the doctor directly, I always knew what the bill would be. But through insurance, the prices of everything get distorted. Currently , I have insurance through my company and I have no idea what the cost will be when my wife goes to see the doctor. I pay the co-payment, but things like tests, medicine etc. all get billed from the doctor to the insurance company. Three months later I usually get a residual bill for some miscellaneous item that my insurance didn’t cover…huh??

The public, the media and the government have come up with the notion that health care is a right and should be available to all.  What they don’t want you to know, or tell you that in the end, is that you are the only person responsible for your heath. You cannot outsource health!  This means eating right, exercising regularly, sleeping well and generally taking care of your body. I know if I do these basic things I will live a much happier and healthier life with a lowered chance of needing to see a doctor.  Sleep and relaxation are phenomenal remedies for most common ailments.

Which gets back to the problem of health issuance the way its set up through Obamacare. Obamacare forces everyone to pay for insurance equally. Young people receive a bad deal given what they use versus what they pay. To the contrary, the elderly pay less as a a percentage of use because they use more services than young people. Obamacare architects, realizing this potential of over-use of healthcare by the elderly, created health boards that will determine who gets healthcare and who doesn’t.

For example, a 70-year-old person with cancer has a less likely chance to be treated for that illness as compared to a 16-year-old with cancer precisely because that the younger person has a longer projected lifespan.  Why give a 70-year-old with a life expectancy of only a few years access to medical care when it will blow out the costs?

Most voters have no ideas what is coming their way since Obamacare implementation has been delayed so many times. Its been delayed because the truth of its full implementation will destroy the Democrat base. For those who don’t remember, Obamacare passed as a bill without one single Republican voting for it, and the bill was never reconciled between the House and the Senate (by the way this is  illegal). The belief is that once voters really understand the extent of the lie of Obamacare, they will revolt.

So when people say “we have the best healthcare in the world and it will only get much better with Obamacare” realize that in many countries, there exist better doctors, offering services at lower prices, willing to do the work for a fraction of the cost.

Once upon a time the U.S might have had the best medical care in the world. That truth died many years ago. The Obamacare architects want you to believe that given the new changes we will have even better care while covering more people. As Ayn Rand famously said “You can avoid reality, but you can’t avoid the consequences of avoiding reality.” The day is coming when Americans will come face-to-face with the reality that we live in a country with average health care… selectively provided… at exorbitant prices.

Such is the truth. Obamacare was the lie.

PC, Cisgender and The Tower of Babel

Every so often humankind is confronted with history that only the blind fail to see. We are living in such a time. We have become so intoxicated with our ability to manipulate reality that we have trampled what remaining common sense still existed. Why and how this has happened is not nearly as important to understand as is where it is leading.

BabelEnter cisgender.

This recently (very recently) created term is intended to “equal” the playing field with the term transgender. After all, without equality the world will fall apart…or so the Progressives would have us believe. All cisgender really means is that if you are born a female or a male and grow up to live and think as if you are that…well, you’re cisgendered. Huh? Isn’t that what “normal” meant until about two weeks ago?

If you doubt the effect of manipulating reality through language and propaganda, then check out a study previewed in The Atlantic where a 2013 study showed that most Americans think the percentage of gays in the population is 25%…when , in fact, its 2-3%. This gross misperception comes from an excess of political correctness and the media’s obsession with it.

We have reached the point where our language and our definitions are so malleable, on a moment’s notice, that we hardly know how to speak to one another or what anything means anymore.

Enter the Book of Genesis and The Tower of Babel.

As the story goes, it was a time when humankind’s ego, and its sense of indestructibility, caused it to believe it could build a tower to the heavens and rule as Gods. The heavens, looking down upon this arrogance observed and concluded the following:

4 And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”

5 But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built.

6 And the Lord said, “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them.

7 Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.”

8 So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city.

9 Therefore its name is called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.

—Genesis 11:4–9

I think it time we paid attention to the history that is staring us in the face. We, in our present-day arrogance, have lost sight of our place in the cosmos and the responsibility we have to maintain a balanced approach to life. We have worshipped technology at the expense of humility. We have relinquished morality at the expense of sanity. We have shunned God in favor of temporary gain.

And so, once again, the heavens look upon us and conclude the necessity of confounding our speech yet again in order to stop the madness.

Enter cisgender.

 Carole

Where Is My Check?

A few weeks ago the federal government fined five banks more than 5 billion dollars related to currency manipulation and rigging.

Where is my check?The traders and sales people involved in the manipulation called themselves The Cartel” which turned out to be an appropriate name. Prosecutors said that traders and sales agents used electronic chat rooms to conspire to manipulate prices in the foreign currency markets. They secretly marked up transaction costs telling customers they hadn’t.

To get an edge, traders at the five banks colluded to pad their returns.  In order to carry out the the plan, one trader would typically build a huge position in a currency then unload it, hoping to move prices. Traders at the other banks would play along, coordinating their actions in online chat rooms. What is more worrisome is that in this process, the traders were sharing what trades their customers were making, completely violating their privacy.

The charges laid forth were that the banks colluded when quoting their customers so that they could exact as much profit as possible on the transactions. So, as a result of this theft, the banks will now pay the government $5Billion for market rigging. However,  the clients most harmed by this transaction will never see a penny in restitution.The banks will pay the government for wrong doing… and life will go on.Shamefully, the U.S  government will continue to transact with these same banks next week for their borrowing needs, issuance of new debt, debt repurchases, and repurchase agreements.

Th end result is that these banks will make back from the government that charged them with fraud, the fees they paid to the government for ripping off their customers in the first place!

This is the mad world we in which we are living. Yet, a closer look reveals that nothing has changed.

In 2008, the U.S government bailed out most of the major banks in the U.S, along with a lot of other companies related to the real estate sector, as experts sounded the alarm that the U.S economy would collapse without a bailout. Because the banks made a series of bad investments in the real estate sector (with the aid of the government), the U.S treasury gave cash, loan facilities and 0% interest rate loans to the banks to shore up their losses. In the end, it worked. The banks did not go bust, confidence was restored, and the market plowed higher.

But what about the homeowners?

Why weren’t they paid for the losses they suffered? Think about it. Both parties made a bet. The home buyer made a bet that he could purchase a home that would go increase in value and later sell it for a profit. The bank made a bet that the home buyer would be able to meet the loan (mortgage) obligation and the bank would make profit by way of interest fees on the loan. Both parties lost on their “bet.” But in that case, only the banks were made whole for their losses while the homeowner, in most cases, lost his property

Bailing out companies for making bad bets started a long time ago.

The Chrysler bailout in the 1970’s became a proxy for future bailouts where companies, mostly in the financial sector, started making bigger and bigger bets knowing the government would be there to bail them out. (For a great history of bailouts, take a look at Bailout Nation).

Imagine I’m inviting you to bet on the flip of a coin whereby “heads I win and tails you lose.” I am guaranteed a win! This is the bet structure that exists in the United States, with the government and financial sectors on one side and the consumer on the other. Its socialized losses and privatized gains.

In the real estate crisis of 2008, the bank employees still got paid their bonuses via taxpayer money. The rationale for this farce was that “the employees would have quit en mass had they not received their bonuses.” Better to have let them quit, Perhaps people who really wanted to put in an honest days work for a fair wage in return would have taken their place.

In both the currency fine and 2008 bailout, the government became the judge, jury and deliverer of justice and in both instances only the public took the hit.

Steve

 

 

Takeaways and Priorities on D-DAY

Today is the commemoration of D-Day, the landing of U.S. troops on the beaches of Normandy, France in 1944 with the sole and express purpose of destroying Nazi Germany. It seems a very good day to remember a noble fight and an equally good day to assess current circumstances in relation to any individual or group’s intention to enslave and rule the world.

CLOCKIn 1939, it was the emerging Third Reich. In 2015 it is the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, commonly known as ISIL.

The Second World War lasted 6 years. It began with Hitler’s attack on Poland in 1939 and ended with the Nazi’s surrender in May 1945. The United States was first drawn into the war in 1941 with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

The war in which the world is currently involved began in 1998 when the terrorist group al-Qaeda bombed two U.S. embassies in East Africa killing hundreds of people. In 1999, another terror group formed calling itself Jama’at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad and pledged its allegiance to Al-Qaeda. That group later changed its name to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant or ISIL. In 2013, a merger was announced between Al-Qaeda and ISIL but it was short lived. In 2014, ISIL split and went on the rampage now occurring throughout the Middle East, slaughtering innocent Muslims, Christians, and anyone else obstructing its stated goal of world domination and creation of a global Islamic Caliphate governing the world under Sharia Law. The United States was drawn into this was in 2001, when al-Qaeda attacked the World Trade Center in New York City killing 2753 people.

We have yet to awaken to the modern day need for the commitment we made on June 6, 1944. And, in a way, our refusal to face this life threatening reality is consistent with how we delayed facing it prior to 1944. I guess it is human nature to first hope the threat will somehow pass us by. Even the Jews of Germany, in the midst of Hitler’s crackdown, seemed unable to face the horror they were confronted with at the time.

But denial works for only so long and inevitably leads to unintended, and at times, disastrous consequences. The Clinton’s criminal behavior, the stock market, Bruce Jenner, the Duggans, the Triple Crown, Obamatrade…these are all frivolous and minuscule distractions that keep us from focusing on the magnitude of what awaits us.

Whether you start counting from the attack on U.S. Embassies in 1998 (17 years), ISIL’s pledge to al-Qaeda in 1999 (16 years), the attack on the World Trade Center in 2001 (14 years), ISIL’s 2013 merger with al-Qaeda (2 years) or its split from al-Qaeda in 2014 and murderous march ever since (1 year)…we had better wake up and realize that the clock is ticking on the inevitable need to come face to face with evil in our time, named ISIL, and defeat it.

Denial will not eliminate the task that confronts us; it will merely delay it. Far from saving lives, the delay will wind up costing many more lives in terms of innocents along the way and the soldiers it will take to defeat an enemy given more time to constitute and fortify itself. D-Day is the painful reminder of the price of denial and delay. It’s now time to open our eyes and ears.

The clock is ticking.

Carole