Saturday, October 30, 2010
Friday, October 29, 2010
We have come a long way from the days when kings ruled by divine right, and the church supported the king and the king supported the church. Now, those of us living in the United States, live in a democracy and while we don't have kings ruling by divine right, we nevertheless are being ruled. In a democracy there are many labels, but there is still the struggle between those that rule and those that vote. It is my opinion that both major political parties use people, but I find the way the Republican Party uses people to be on the level of genius. How the Republicans can get so many poor and middle class people to support policies that will help the very rich become richer, and at the same time destroy the middle class, to me is genius. As the party of business, as they are known, they demonstrate adroit skill in manipulating the many unsuspecting fools that give them their vote. Packaging over substance will win almost every time. When things get bad again, the Democrats will come back. Unfortunately for the Democrats, the American people expect solutions to all problems, regardless of how big or how long in the making, in 60 minutes. TV solves everything in 60 minutes every week, so why can't life in America be fixed in 60 minutes too.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
I have finally found something I can do without other people telling me they can do it better - cleaning my house. My daughter and grandson are coming to Cincinnati for a visit and I have been cleaning. When you live with a dog and a cat, and there is no one else, I have a tendency to let things like cleaning go. But, when you have guests visit, you know you got to clean up a bit. I am sure glad I haven't forgotten how to clean a house. With all the great products out there to help you do the job, cleaning house, not surprisingly, is still a pain in the ass.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Whether the truth about the mortgage-backed bonds, the investment bankers that underwrote them, the credit rating agencies that rated them, the banks and mortgage brokers that made the liar loans, and the cover up by the Federal Government, the Federal Reserve Bank and the press, will ever come out at this point is doubtful.
There are a few people on TV and a few people writing books and magazine articles that have attempted to bring the frauds that were committed in the creation of the housing bubble to light, but this has been an uphill struggle.
Whether anyone will be charged with any of the many frauds that were committed and brought to trial is also doubtful.
Certainly, given the above statements, it is understandable that a good many people feel that the system has let them down. The rule of law is to keep the little guys in line, but the big corporations have nothing to fear as their influence buys them the protection they need to carry on.
Eventually, unless everyone that knows the truth about the housing bubble fraud is silenced, the truth will come out some day.
Money talks and bullshit walks, but in the long run, the truth will be known!
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Today I am going to go back to a trip to California in September 2009 for a few photos that I think could inspire and be the subject of a few paintings. I will repeat, I am not a photographer, I point and click. But what I see as I walk around a city, is also my art.
Enjoy and have a nice weekend.
Friday, October 22, 2010
Last night when I came downstairs to make myself something to eat, I saw my dog Bud and my cat Chubs laying on the rug at the bottom of the steps looking at each other. As I walked by, they looked up at me as I walked into the kitchen. I know they were discussing something important because they only get together that close when they want to talk. So, when I was in the kitchen, I listened to hear what they were talking about. Bud seemed to be concerned that the Democrats were being labeled the party of welfare. Both of my room mates, Bud and Chubs, sleep in the same room with me at times. Chubs will even let me share my bed with her. But, now they seemed concerned that not having jobs, other than being pets, that things may change for them in light of this idea that people that are Democrats our all about welfare. My room mates know that I have never been on welfare and I have been a Democrat all my life. Now that I am retired, I guess one could say I am on welfare in that I receive money from the government. I saw no reason to bring up this point with them as I thought the best thing I could do is to keep giving them the same good care I give them every day. As for the welfare nonsense, I figured they will get over it. I don't think about it much, so perhaps they will forget about it too.
Saturday, October 16, 2010
Here are a few paintings with fish. The 3 gold fish I painted a few years ago for a friend's bathroom. I made a few sketches and then transferred the drawings to gallery wrap canvas. They are done in acrylic, and I used metallic gold and silver paint so they would be iridescent in low light. I don't think there is anything wrong with doing art for the bathroom, as having my work hanging somewhere is the idea. My sunflower prints seem to make there way onto a few walls too. The last piece with the 3 koi is another level playing field piece, and was painted in oil. (I don't paint in oils anymore because acrylics clean up so easily.) The last piece is titled Level Playing Pond and is on canvas. Anyone interested in this piece of political satire should see me.
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Thursday, October 14, 2010
Today I am painting walls. Nothing strikes me that I feel like writing about. Perhaps after I am finished painting walls, I might have something to say. I am however still trying to sell my t-shirt designs and ideas to businesses in the area. I am not very much of a salesman. I like to create, and take my ideas from the idea stage to the finished item, but I don't care much for sales. Unfortunately, sales is where it is, the money that is. Ideas are nice, but sales puts money in the bank. Now back to my painting of walls Dover White.
Saturday, October 9, 2010
Yesterday I received my November issue of VANITY FAIR magazine with a photograph of Marilyn Monroe on the cover. I flipped through the magazine as I usually do checking out what articles I may want to go back and read like the one about Merrill Lynch. While flipping through this scented magazine, I could do without all the perfume ads with foldouts of the many fragrances they are selling, I came across a two page Estee Lauder ad with one whole page devoted to the Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign. On this page was a woman's hand pushing against her right breast to cover her nipple with the words CONNECT COMMUNICATE CONQUER printed over her spread out hand. This photograph caught my attention. But, why do we almost always cover the woman's nipple? Where is the advocacy for showing the full breast with the nipple? Now, some people will think I am a little crazy to suggest that there should be nipples showing in the case of women's breasts, but men's nipples are always shown and those nipples are dysfunctional. Dysfunctional nipples are acceptable, but women's nipples that really have a purpose are covered up. I would like to see the whole breast with the nipple. Can you imagine if Modigliani painted all those beautiful nudes and covered up the nipple on every breast? What would that have looked like? I think you get my point, I am for nipples too.
The pencil drawing was done over 15 years ago when I was a regular at the CAC's Thursday night sketch group.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
The Nuremburg Laws of 1935 that Hitler signed and that took away citizenship rights of Jews in Germany are now on public display at the National Archives in Washington, D.C for the first time.
I find it interesting that Germany felt that they had to make it into law to remove a whole group of peoples' civil rights. Hitler made exceptions as he personally signed papers permitting Jewish soldiers to remain in the German military during the 1930s. See the book titled Hitler's Jewish Soldiers for the full story. The author of this book estimated that there were 150,000 of these men, that by the German legal definition of a Jew, were in the German army, navy and air force after Hitler came to power.
Almost 30 years later, the United States passed legislation known as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that gave civil rights to African Americans and women. It took many years and several suits by civil rights organizations to make the law passed in 1964 a reality. These same African Americans and women that had served their country in the military during WWII, now had to wait almost another 20 years from the war's end to obtain their civil rights.
Countries can move forward or backward when it comes to preserving the civil rights of its people, and a country can change the laws and make a whole group of people "outside" the protection of the law. Holding on to a higher form of human behavior is not guaranteed by any society. Each day good people must rededicate themselves to the proposition that all humans are created equal.
I am sure I could have written much more on this subject, but I think you all get the idea.
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Yesterday I heard from a friend on the west coast that I went to high school and college. He could not make it in for our 50th high school reunion, but called to say he enjoyed the pictures I posted on Facebook. I told him some of the guys that were there that we were at UC with in the early 1960s.
Then we talked about the economy. He has his own software company that writes financial software for many of the largest Wall Street firms. He is somewhat retired and working with a foundation to bring meds to people that have little or no money. We have talked about the role of the credit rating agencies in conversations before, but this time I mentioned PREDATOR'S BALL by Connie Bruck. He had read it 20 years ago he said, about the same time I read the book.
This book is about the junk bond era and the insider trading that went on in the 1980s. How does this relate to the credit rating agencies? Well, back then everyone was looking for an edge as they are today, and insider information was that edge. When the Feds came down on insider trading, those on Wall Street moved on to another "edge" if they could find one. In the 1990s, the growth of mortgage-backed bonds became the big game on Wall Street. Knowing that not every bundle of mortgages was worth a triple-A rating, the investment bankers shopped the rating with the major credit rating agencies. These so called agencies are nothing more than for profit corporations with shareholders and CEOs that answer to a board of directors.
We both agreed that until the conflict the bankers have with the credit rating agencies disappears the economy is going to continue to falter. Then he said perhaps the Federal Government should take a hand in deciding what is triple-A. I told him I had suggested that because the Fed requires banks to hold so much triple-A paper that they should pass on both triple-A and double -A bonds to make sure the ratings are not bogus. Wall Street would rather that our domestic economy suffer than let the government do the right thing to fix the conflict of interest, and the politicians go right along with it.
There is plenty of cash sitting on the sidelines waiting to be invested. If mortgage-backed bond investors could trust the ratings, the housing industry could possibly get back up on its feet. But, it is not just mortgaged-backed bonds that would benefit from an honest credit rating system. There would be buyers for several types of securitized debt issues too.
The politicians take their orders from Wall Street and Wall Street doesn't want to give up its edge to making money.
Monday, October 4, 2010
Not much is going to change as a result of the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation that passed Congress and was signed into law by President Obama. But, the tearing up of the level playing field started a long time ago. President Clinton signed legislation that brought an end to Glass-Stegall and before that the SEC, and the Fed, under President Reagan, went from protecting all members of our monetary system and our financial markets to not looking out for the interests of the "little guys". This tilting of the level playing field has been going on for quite some time. The financial meltdown of the bond market and the economic recession did not just come about from the 8 years of President George W. Bush's administration, though his administration got the privilege of structuring the bailout.
Dylan Ratigan of THE DYLAN RATIGAN SHOW on MSNBC at 4 pm Monday through Friday has said everything I have written about the financial markets, the Fed, the credit rating agencies and so much more, and yet with the bright lights of cable TV, the shit doesn't stop! And, I ask myself, "what chance does a blog like MONEYTHOUGHTS have if a TV show with the viewership of Dylan Ratigan's Show can't make a dent?"
The Congress goes about fixing many things that need fixing for our financial markets to operate and hopefully operate well with reduced chances of needing more bailouts and giving our large financial institutions the mantel of TOO BIG TO FAIL. Those things that really need to be fixed were not, and so, it is just a matter of time before the next financial disaster strikes. The conflict of interest that exists between the credit rating agencies and the investment bankers that underwrite the new issues of debt offerings has not changed. Congress would not touch this hot issue and because they would not touch it, the potential for another meltdown of the bond market is in place.
The reluctance of Congress to tackle this conflict of interest in the way the credit rating agencies do business is also a reason that the economy is not making a speedy recovery. The movement of debt from borrower to investor is essential in our domestic economy and even with interest rate at the bottom of the range for over 40 years, the economy is not responding. Why?
Congress needs to fix that which is broken. Take the distributor cap off the distributor and the car will not start and if the car will not start the car will not run. But, Wall Street knows this, and yet they would rather fight to maintain the conflict of interest they have with the credit rating agencies than see our domestic economy grow. And, no one in President Obama's administration will point this out to him?
Well, my little blog isn't going to light a fire that is for sure.
Saturday, October 2, 2010
Here are 2 old paintings done in oil. The top painting and frame were completed in 1992. The second painting was donated for a fund raiser for the Clifton Senior Center in 1995.
I attended my 50th high school reunion last night at the Savannah Center in West Chester. The facility was very nice. The Woodward Class of 1960 reunion committee did a great job of planning this affair. I saw some classmates that I haven't seen since high school and a few since we graduated from UC in 1964. I think there will be many more coming to the dinner tonight. Now if my voice will hold together for one more evening, I should be OK.