Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Phil Gramm's UBS Dirty Laundry Machine: Servicing China's OffShore Corruption

Deutsche-Welles, a German news outlet available over PBS
was highly illuminating tonight. Apparently many top toffs in
China have acquired offshore Caribbean numbered accounts
as tax shelters. I chuckled, thinking, "Never let it be said that
bad habits can't be copied".  But I stopped smiling when the
next sentence revealed that these bad actors' actions are being
directly mediated by American-influenced UBS and
another  bank or two.

Once again Phil Gramm demonstrates there isn't a pot of
slime he's unwilling to lick from. He has enjoyed a high position
with UBS since about 2002, after spending several terms in
the U.S. Senate; in ~1999 he convinced others and another
Southerner, President Clinton, to eviscerate the Glass-Steagall
Banking Act(s), passed in 1933 and 1934 . These acts kept the
banks from irresponsible expropriating and speculating with 
depositors' funds; recessions in the intervening 60+ years were
as nothing to now.

It took less than ten years for this deregulation to create cretin-
inspired exotic financial instruments, CDOs, unregulated hedge
funds, et al., to play a major role in bringing down the world's
economy, aka the Great Recession, 2007. Despite Pollyanna
forecasting and hopeful chirps from feel-good economists, the
bald numbers don't lie: until we get to a sustained unemployment
level of between  five and 6% in the U.S., the "recovery" has only
been in the New York financial district and related exchanges
across the country...oh, and in their wealthy clients' portfolios,
the top five percent or so.

Back to that wily Texian, "filthy" Phil Gramm: It is no
coincidence, but rather, cause and effect, which has UBS
functioning as China's dirty laundry machine--here they are,
the Chinese, the U.S.'s frenemies at present, aping our
scurrilous, secret tax evasion practices.

Say, Phil, can we get you to wash your hands now,
free yourself from the world-wide pollution you've
helped to generate?  If you HAD a conscience we
might be able to persuade you....

Thursday, January 16, 2014

This Week's Chicago Political Pats and Pans 01/16/'14

Chicago Alderwoman Leslie Hairston has vaulted
into the ranks of David vs. Goliath audacity, even
beating President Obama, methinks. Sneed's
Chicago Sun-Times column (01/15/'14) profiles
Ms. Hairston's well-reasoned attempt to rein
in the USA's most infamous, yet prestigious
bank, J P Morgan Chase--when it comes to
Chicago's taxpayers' monies. I'm impressed
to the extent I'm even entertaining fantasies
about her running against Rahm next time
around, should the rest of her record shine
as brightly upon examination.

The Alderwoman's points seem flawless: 
Why not require a huge business concern
to comply with  Chicago's City Code when
it is routinely applied against small companies
and contractors? She introduced an ordinance
today to remove Chase as a municipal depository
for the city; some $350 million dollars in
municipal funds (taxpayer monies) reside

J P Morgan Chase has been the subject
of no less than two major banking scandals,
one of which contributed heavily to the
Great Recession of 2007 (and still counting,
in my book).  The other crime admitted by
Jamie Dimon's bank allowed Madoff to
continue his merry little Ponzi scheme while
Chase practiced denial, not contacting regulators
--of course, Jamie Dimon is STILL a member of the
NY Fed, so why would they? (Why is THAT legal,

Ms. Hairston explains that the city code states
any person or business entity admitting to
dishonesty/deceit or failing to report suspicions of
fraud is not compliant with the code, therefore
ineligible to do business with the City of  Chicago.

Huzzahs, Hairston! Keep up the fine work. We'll
keep watching. You get Chicago's "pats" for the

Whereas the aldermen complaining that regular
rock salt is too expensive and ineffective to easily
deploy get the "pans". At least two of the city
fathers suggested Chicago residents merely lower
their expectations regarding snow removal. Look
out, aldermen, elections aren't that far off.

Has the city looked into calcium chloride? IT
DOES work when temps dive near and below
freezing. Yes, it is more expensive, and I'm not     
sure how available it might be in the requisitely
large amounts. I'd like to hear the city on calcium
chloride. It sure seems that  the way  trucks and
salt are now applied flies in the face of logic. The
media  will faithfully state that ~250 trucks are out
plowing, etc., in what looks like TV file footage and
sounds like Streets and San PR.The trucks should
continue to come out at intervals WHILE the snow is
falling, and apply the calcium chloride just BEFORE
temps dive down near zero. Up to that point
regular rock salt works well.

Thus this week's "political pats and pans".
What will we see next week?

Sunday, January 12, 2014

George Washington's Good Name Defamed on a New Jersey Bridge

I've been watching the wags and the wonks this week hold
forth on the Chris Christie "political vendetta" which has now
(predictably) been dubbed "bridgegate". Many questions,
law suits and righteous outrages will continue, but who's
thinking about our first president?  Few live up to his
Enlightenment values of  monitoring/controlling character
qualities from within, and yet many rush to name buildings,
schools, airports AND BRIDGES after him...nevermind
what actually occurs on those sites once constructed.

Governor Christie (R-NJ) may/may not have had a  ham-
fisted hand in this dangerously presumptous chicanery,
but that it could happen at all is beyond all reason and

(1)  Did criminally clueless Ms. Kelly think she'd make
points with the gov her boss  by staging this dirty
trick?  She overestimated her cleverness AND
underestimated his intelligence/instincts for survival.

(2)  How could anyone actually demand support from
an official (the democratic mayor of Fort Lee) from the
other side of the aisle?  Subtlety, objectivity and
cooperation win bipartisanship more often than
primitively dangerous retribution on any day, anyway.

(3)  What sort of civil servant or elected official could
wage political vendettas on the backs of innocent
citizens, endangering emergency vehicle occupants,
delaying doctors on the way in to offices and hospitals,

(4) Kelly and the Toll authority honcho stalled
traffic over the George Washington Bridge in the
guise of a traffic study (never necessary to stop
vehicles for such, when TV stations' helicopters happen
to hover over expressways and streets monitoring
traffic flow EVERY DAY).

(5) And by no means lastly: they thought they
could get away with this? The scandal erupted
in September 2013, but it has long legs and will
dog Christie for foreseeable future months/years.
Surely such willful stupidity demands jail time for
Kelly and her partner in crime at the minimum.

I can blame the gov for two things he IS responsible
for:  (a) not insisting, firmly, the day after he assembled
his inner circle, that there would be stiff penalities for
anything not aboveboard; (b) not vetting very minutely
persons of importance coming into his administration.
For golly sakes, public health and safety are at stake.

I hear a faint voice calling out in protest, "Not in my name,
not in my name!" Is that you, President Washington?

Please don't roll over in your grave  again.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Lowering Illinois' Minimum Wage: Bruce Rauner Has Just Lost the General Election

01/08/2014: Bruce Rauner proposes lowering Illinois' minimum
wage by a dollar an hour.  Wow, what an absolutely cloistered
environment Mr. Rauner, the conservative Republican candidate
for Illinois governor, must have had-- he apparently has scant
appreciation for Illinois' current and past political OR
demographic reality.

Just the facts, as "Officer Joe Friday" would have them:

(1) Most of Illinois is made up of the middle class and the
(2) Which not coincidentally explains why, statewide, most
of the votes go to DEMOCRATS. The Illinois State Senate
and Illinois House of  Representatives are run by democrats;
oh, our governor is also a democrat. Such long-standing facts
creating political behavior and philosophy should be
obvious even to Rauner. (Our republican governors have
been more moderate than right-ruling, this now-failed
candidate should recall.)

Hey Bruce, businesses are all fleeing the state--NOT.
Our Illinois income tax, even though it's increased in recent
years, is still smaller than some of the other, larger, more
important states. (If, for example,  Arkansas or Nebraska
feels slighted here, I can't care--Illinois has major universities,
businesses and cultural institutions which are only equaled or
excelled by New York, California and Massachusetts 
--other states are excellent, but not in the same way, sorry.)

Here's the way to get rid of you, all by perfectly
legal due process. We can:

Take a Republican Primary Ballot in March. Vote for
either of the other two repubs on the ballot. Then vote
as we please, November 2014, in the general election.

"Generally" speaking, this rich reality-challenged guy
will be a loser!

Monday, January 6, 2014

O Canada! But Here's Where I Stop Singing

Wasting entirely too much time fantasizing about "escapes"
(moving to "better" places), I've often thought of relocating
to Toronto. Many have praised it for its cosmopolitan,
cultural aspects,  attractive architecture, and, while a
bustling metropolis, it's  not overly populated by homo

Until the inevitable recurring reality (people are much the
same everywhere) hit home: how great a city can Toronto
be, if it elected that huge, incompetent embarrassment also
known as Rob Ford as its mayor? The average Torontan
(-?) therefore is seemingly not blessed by overaverage
political acumen/analytical skill sets.
Mr. Ford's ego and psychosocial deficits are far larger than
his waistline. Consider: He has been stripped of most of his
power by his town council; he knocked a woman down in the
council chamber while rushing  to administer "altercation aid"
to his brother; he has admitted to substance abuse; he claims
to be "the best mayor Toronto has ever had". There are more
troubling actions by Mayor Ford, too many; these will suffice.

--But wait-- He is ACTUALLY RUNNING for
reelection! --Whoa. Toronto, just say no!

I still love what I know about Canada, the vast miles
of unspoiled natural beauty, a much smaller population
than ours, seemingly fewer major scandals.

Regarding Mayor Rob Ford, however:
O Canada! Here's where I stop singing.

Friday, January 3, 2014

"Amazone" Drone Deliveries? Chicken Little Was Right

Like many, I enjoy looking up at the sky often,
indoors through my huge windows as well as when
I'm out. This Amazon new delivery "plan", though,
will certainly increase my neck kinks, as I'm looking
out for drones gone wrong-which WILL
HAPPEN.  Every man-made device ever invented
has had its defects (a "lemon" is the term for an auto
like this); nuclear weapon/power plants, phones,
guns, clothes, ad infinitum--even sewing thread!

So let's give fictional Chicken Little some credit--
the SKY may not be falling, but soon, in a
neighborhood near you (and me), tiny defective
drones may well fall out of it.

Keep looking up.