Wednesday, August 29, 2012

August 29, 1967 - Draft Card, Warren Gorman, The Fugitive

Forty-five years ago today, on August 29, 1967, I registered for the draft within the specified 10 days from my eighteenth birthday.

Later that day, after returning home my Hawthorne High School girlfriend, Angela McKay, called to inform me that my friend since 6th grade and her cousin, Warren Gorman, had committed suicide earlier that day, at her brothers rented beach house in Hermosa Beach.

Picking up my friend, Ed Lutz, we went to the house of our lead guitar player, Steve Rush to share the news with him. To our surprise, Gary Gorman, Warrens younger brother was there visiting his girlfriend, Pam Rush, Steve's younger sister. In private I told Steve and Pam's father about my phone call from Angela, and they called inside Gary and told him his parents called and that he should go home. I recall thinking, as he walked away, how his world was about to change.

That night I stopped by my flight instructor, Ralph Rina's apartment that he shared with Judy Tully on West 131St  just East of Inglewood Ave. in Hawthorne. That night, the television series, 'The Fugitive', after several years, was going to conclude, with Dr. Kimbal finding the one armed man. This was a favorite program of Warren's.

In the day's to come, I half expected to get a letter in the mail, with some sort of explanation. It never came. His father, Herbert, blamed it drugs, and was interviewed by local newscaster George Putnan on his local news show. A month later my leg was ran over by a semi truck and trailer while working for Atlas Fabricator's in Paramount California. After a short hospital stay I recovered at home.

The Record: Politics and storms

For reasons no one can even try to explain, there has been an odd connection of late between hurricanes and politics.
Think back to 2005, when President George W. Bush was criticized for how his administration responded to Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.
Just around a year ago, Hurricane Irene caused $19 billion in damages and widespread flooding in New Jersey. That storm also prompted Governor Christie to utter one of his more memorable lines: "Get the hell off the beach."
And this week, another hurricane, Isaac, is hitting New Orleans, but only after it prompted Republicansto delay their convention in Tampa by one day. How the administration of President Obama responds to this latest storm certainly will be discussed and may very well affect his reelection campaign. Hurricanes, after all, are bipartisan affairs. And that is how they should be dealt with.
For the first 150 years or so of our nation's life, the federal government's response to public disasters was largely piecemeal. Legislation was specifically passed and money granted to combat a natural emergency whenever one occurred. That began to change in the 1920s when Herbert Hoover, who was then U.S. commerce secretary, was charged with organizing relief efforts in response to the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927. Hoover set up health units to combat malaria and other diseases and gained widespread publicity for his humanitarian work. Assuming the presidency in 1929, Hoover eventually created the Reconstruction Finance Corp. to dispense federal dollars in the wake of disasters.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency came about in 1978 with the express mission of responding to national disasters. The agency's proposed budget for the 2013 fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 is an estimated $13 billion. In the fiscal year that ended last September, FEMA responded to 98 national disasters, including Hurricane Irene. It provided $5.6 billion in grants nationwide, primarily for emergency housing, unemployment assistance, debris cleaning and the rebuilding of schools, roads and other public projects.
As is always the case, how money is spent is a concern. The FBI investigated multiple scams connected to the Katrina relief effort, and we saw recently how some full-time officials in Paterson, including the mayor, improperly collected overtime pay for helping the city cope with Hurricane Irene. But those problems, as serious as they are, should not detract from the overall work FEMA does.
When it comes to government spending and the federal bureaucracy, the political lines are pretty starkly drawn. Republicans want to reduce both the size and cost of government, thinking that many of its social endeavors can be better handled privately. Democrats, who convene next week in North Carolina, see government as a way to fix many social ills and consider the GOP's view insensitive.
There is little room for compromise here, especially in today's climate of super partisanship.
That's understood. However, let's also understand that one small concession to sensibility would be agreement between Democrats and Republicans that responding quickly and effectively to national disasters is a proper function of the federal government. That is what the public expects, especially the family whose home was just destroyed by a hurricane or completely flooded by a raging river.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hurricane Isaac 8-28-2012

Watching and waiting to see what happens with hurricane Isaac, as it stews in the Gulf of Mexico.

The last time I worked for PaRR was after hurricanes Gustav and Hannah in late August of 2008. Prior to that was hurricane Wilma and Katrina in 2005. In the summer of 2005, I was working for Hilton Reservations in Hemet when Katrina and Rita hit the gulf coast.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

On the Beach

I'm watching one of the best films made by Stanley Kramer.  It's on 'this' TV  Channel 5.3 here in Los Angeles.

Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Fred Astaire, Anthony Perkins, all in glorious black and white.

This film is timeless, and shows the folly of a concluded arms race.

Next, is how each of the individuals deals with his or her own mortality. And how love can germinate even in such circumstances.

A classic film that gets better each time I watch it. Definitely in my top ten of of favorites.

 I invite you to watch it

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Retirement Notes

Fifty years ago, experimental psychologists  at Harvard came to some startling conclusions about human
development and behavior and the role of consciousness in the human being.
Discovering new world’s of perception, they advanced the idea that our ‘normal’ consciousness was a set
of conditioned responses, and reliance on a 35,000 word vocabulary of symbols to represent thought.

Experiments in the Harvard area at the Marsh Chapel, and Concord prison, revealed that psilocybin and LSD could be used to provide behavior change, and  life changing spiritual experiences.

The idea that these Harvard professors presented was that our 'ego' or the personality we have come to know ourselves by was a regiment of parental support, education, career, but from a broader perspective, we were the best answer for survival here at this time, on this planet. Political and religious systems, which separated the various human tribes from around the globe and differentiated how humans governed themselves, but in fact we are all very much the same; the carrier of this wire coil of life, that can be traced to the beginning of life on this planet.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Howard Stern on 'The View' - 8-15-2012

Howard Stern, the King of all Media, declared today on his first ever appearance on 'The View' that all consensual, loving relationships should enjoy the same rights as married couples.

As usual Howard spoke in unabashed truth that personify s his career, as he enjoyed toying  with Elizabeth, an the the other members of this ferocious female panel.

Of course he brought attention to 'Americas got Talent' but his overall message was that rights and responsibilities should be granted to any physical union of two willing souls.

Go Howie.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Media is the message

Last week, the individual generally credited with getting rid of the Glass-Steagall Act, of 1932 which forbade bankers, in the traditional sense, from investment banking, which at its core is a sort of lawful casino that allows its players to play games of chance.

Sandy Weill came right out and said it. If a bank is so large that if it fails it takes down the whole economy. That is, if a bank is too big to fail, it is too big He also said that investment banking should be separate from traditional banking, as it was under the 1932 Glass-Steagall Act.

He should know, he has had quite a career.  

An excerpt from Wikipedia

Weill, shortly after graduating from Cornell University, got his first job on Wall Street in 1955 – as a runner for Bear Stearns. In 1956, Weill became a licensed broker at Bear Stearns. Rather than making phone calls or personal visits to solicit clients, Weill found he was far more comfortable sitting at his desk, poring through companies' financial statements and disclosures made to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. For weeks his only client was his mother, Etta, until Joan persuaded an ex-boyfriend to open a brokerage account.

[edit]Building Shearson (1960-1981)

While working at Bear Stearns, Weill was a neighbor of Arthur L. Carter who was working at Lehman Brothers. Together with Roger Berlind and Peter Potoma they would form Carter, Berlind, Potoma & Weill in May 1960. In 1962 the firm became Carter, Berlind & Weill after the New York Stock Exchange brought disciplinary proceedings against Potoma.
In 1968, with the departure of Arthur Carter, the firm was renamed Cogan, Berlind, Weill & Levitt (Marshall CoganArthur Levitt), or CBWL jokingly referred to on Wall Street as "Corned Beef With Lettuce". Weill served as the firm's Chairman from 1965 to 1984, a period in which it completed over 15 acquisitions to become the country’s second largest securities brokerage firm. The company became CBWL-Hayden, Stone, Inc. in 1970; Hayden Stone, Inc. in 1972; Shearson Hayden Stone in 1974, when it merged withShearson Hammill & Co.; and Shearson Loeb Rhoades in 1979, when it merged with Loeb, Rhoades, Hornblower & Co.
With capital totaling $250 million, Shearson Loeb Rhoades trailed only Merrill Lynch as the securities brokerage industry's largest firm.

[edit]American Express (1981-1985)

In 1981, Weill sold Shearson Loeb Rhoades to American Express for about $930 million in stock. (Sources differ on the precise figure.) In 1982, he founded the National Academy Foundation with the Academy of Finance to educate students that would graduate from High School. Weill began serving as president of American Express Co. in 1983 and as chairman and CEO of American Express's insurance subsidiary, Fireman's Fund Insurance Company, in 1984. Weill was succeeded by his protégé, Peter A. Cohen, who became the youngest head of a Wall Street firm.[2] While at American Express, Weill began grooming his newest protégé, Jamie Dimon, the future CEO of JPMorgan Chase.

[edit]Before Citigroup (1986-1998)

Increasing tensions between Weill and the chairman of American Express, James D. Robinson III, led Weill to resign in August 1985 at age 52.
After a failed attempt to become the CEO of BankAmerica Corp. (and "take over" Merrill Lynch, according to a Jamie Dimon interview in 2002), he set his sights a little lower and persuaded Minneapolis-based Control Data Corporation to spin off a troubled subsidiary,Commercial Credit, a consumer finance company. In 1986, with $7 million of his own money invested in the company, Weill took over as CEO of Commercial Credit. After a round of deep layoffs and reorganization, the company completed a successful IPO.
In 1987 he acquired Gulf Insurance. The next year, he paid $1.5 billion for Primerica, the parent company of Smith Barney and the A. L. Williams insurance company. In 1989 he acquired Drexel Burnham Lambert's retail brokerage outlets. In 1992, he paid $722 million to buy a 27 percent share of Travelers Insurance, which had gotten into trouble because of bad real estate investments.
Weill in New York City, 2007
In 1993 he reacquired his old Shearson brokerage (now Shearson Lehman) from American Express for $1.2 billion. By the end of the year, he had completely taken over Travelers Corp in a $4 billion stock deal and officially began calling his corporation Travelers GroupInc. In 1996 he added to his holdings, at a cost of $4 billion, the property and casualtyoperations of Aetna Life & Casualty. In September 1997 Weill acquired Salomon Inc., the parent company of Salomon Brothers Inc. for over $9 billion in stock.
In April 1998, Travelers Group announced an agreement to undertake the $76 billion merger between Travelers and Citicorp, and the merger was completed on October 8, 1998. The possibility remained that the merger would run into problems connected with federal law. Ever since the Glass–Steagall Actbanking and insurance businesses had been kept separate. Weill and John S. Reed bet that Congress would soon pass legislationoverturning those regulations, which Weill, Reed and a number of businesspeople considered not in their interest.
To speed up the process, they recruited ex-President Gerald Ford (Republican) to the Board of Directors and Robert Rubin (Secretary of Treasury during Democratic Clinton Administration) whom Weill was close to. With both Democrats and Republican on their side, the law was taken down in less than 2 years. Many European countries, for instance, had already torn down the firewall between banking and insurance.[citation needed] During a two-to-five-year grace period allowed by law, Citigroup could conduct business in its merged form; should that period have elapsed without a change in the law, Citigroup would have had to spin off its insurance businesses. Weill's office holds a wood etching of him engraved with the words "The Shatterer of Glass–Steagall". Weill denies that the repeal of Glass–Steagall played a role in the recent financial crisis.[3]
In 2001, Weill became a Class A director of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Class A directors are those elected by Federal Reserve member banks.


In 2002 the company was hit by the wave of Wall Street managerial restructuring that followed the stock market downturn of 2002.Charles Prince replaced Weill as the CEO of Citigroup on October 1, 2003.
In 2003 Citigroup repurchased $300 million worth of shares from Weill. It was reported among the $1.967 billion of "treasury stock acquired" in the Citigroup consolidated statement of changes in stockholders' equity. The average price Weill received for his shares was $47.14.[4]

[edit]Advocate for bank break-up

On July 25, 2012 Weill apparently reversed course on the financial supermarket and stated “What we should probably do is go and split up investment banking from banking, have banks be deposit takers, have banks make commercial loans and real estate loans, have banks do something that’s not going to risk the taxpayer dollars, that’s not too big to fail,” Weill said on CNBC. “If they want to hedge what they’re doing with their investments, let them do it in a way that’s going to be mark-to-market so they’re never going to be hit.” [5][6][7]

To me, this should be big news. The guy who got rid of Glass-Steagall now thinks we need it. Its been a week and this story has gotten very little press.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Neils Bertelsen

August 1, 2012

My lifelong friend, Hans Bertelsen called me this morning to inform me that his father, and my former Scoutmaster, was close to the edge of eternity. He thought I might like to know.

He was right. When I graduated from Cub Scouts into Boy Scouts, Mr. Bertelsen was the no nonsense Scoutmaster with a short clipped crew cut haircut.

It was only years later that I realized the true lessons taught by this WW2 vet, were concepts, of integrity, honesty, and doing things simply because it was the ‘right’ thing to do.

Aug 2, 2012

Hans called with news that his Dad had passed peacefully in Arizona yesterday.

Neils Bertelsen was my scoutmaster. The leader of Troop 237, he ran a taunt ship. I had moved from the Cub Scouts into the Boy Scouts when I turned 11 years old. From Pack 237, I became a Boy Scout in 1960, the year that Kennedy ran against Nixon.

He was a no nonsense taskmaster, as the Scoutmaster and ingrained values such as honesty, integrity, reputation, and cooperation into his troop of pre-pubesent men. This was a marvelous indoctrination into the values of the 'greatest generation'. Mr. B was the general of the troop, even over the other adult leaders. Everyone, knew who the top brass was. Once when another scout was treating me unfairly in a required skill of tracking, with the backing of his dad, who was also an adult volenteer,Mr B, as supreme court, ruled in my favor in the dispute, and allowed me to advance to the next level of accomplishment within the scouts, second class, I believe.

The Bertelsen's were also members of the First Lutheran Church in Inglewood, at the corner of Queen and Oak, as was my grandmother, Esther, and my cousins; the Gieszl's.

Beach Camp, Snow Camp, Desert Camp, Mountain were the backgrounds for these lessons in discipline, team work, competition, survival, first aid, and resourcefulness.

My last contact with this great American was in a letter I sent him in December 2008.

Godspeed, my Scoutmaster