Friday, August 28, 2015


So far there have been six bank failures in the USA this year.  That's well below 2008-11 levels, but still above average. 

We now have a lot fewer local banks, a lot fewer banks that will respond to specific community needs, issues.  The "too big to fail" banks have even more power than before.

It is NOT a good thing.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Stevie Ray Vaughan

Twenty-five years ago today, one of the greatest guitar players who ever lived was tragically killed in a helicopter crash  --  Stevie Ray Vaughan.  I had met him, and knew him slightly during his journey to sobriety.

That's not important.  What is important is how genuine he was, how humble, and yet aware of his ability.

His music still lives, is marveled over, still fresh, still exceptional.

What follows is just a sample  --  go listen to more, get a feel for this exceptional musician 

Stevie Ray Vaughan Couldn't Stand The Weather Live From Austin Texas

Stevie Ray Vaughan Texas Flood Live In Montreux 1080P

Stevie Ray Vaughan - Pride and Joy (Studio version)

Stevie Ray Vaughan - Crossfire & Tightrope 06/03/1989


Stevie Ray Vaughan -- Superstition

The Reactionary Soul

This from Dr. Krugman's blog:

 Frank Bruni marvels at polls indicating that Donald Trump, with his multiple marriages and casinos, is the preferred candidate among Republican evangelicals. Others are shocked to see a crude mercantilist make so much headway in the alleged party of free markets. What happened to conservative principles?

Actually, nothing — because those alleged principles were never real. Conservative religiosity, conservative faith in markets, were never about living a godly life or letting the invisible hand promote entrepreneurship. Instead, it was all as Corey Robin describes it: Conservatism is

a reactionary movement, a defense of power and privilege against democratic challenges from below, particularly in the private spheres of the family and the workplace.
It’s really about who’s boss, and making sure that the man in charge stays boss. Trump is admired for putting women and workers in their place, and it doesn’t matter if he covets his neighbor’s wife or demands trade wars.
The point is that Trump isn’t a diversion, he’s a revelation, bringing the real motivations of the movement out into the open

Thursday, August 20, 2015

"War is a racket"

Here's a repost from some time ago.  Saw it and decided it's time we understood this   ----   again.

War is a racket. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.

I spent thirty-three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country's most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General.

The trouble with America is that when the dollar only earns 6 percent over here, then it gets restless and goes overseas to get 100 percent. Then the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag.

I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. 

I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents. 

There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights.

Major General Smedley Butler, USMC


The latest from Robert Reich --  please follow link to original

Corporate welfare is often camouflaged in taxes that seem neutral on their face but give windfalls to big entrenched corporations at the expense of average people and small businesses.
Take a look at commercial property taxes in California, for example.
In 1978 California voters passed Proposition 13 – which began to assess property for tax purposes at its price when it was bought, rather than its current market price.
This has protected homeowners and renters. But it’s also given a quiet windfall to entrenched corporate owners of commercial property. 
Corporations don’t need this protection. They’re in the real economy. They’re supposed to compete on a level playing field with new companies whose property taxes are based on current market prices.
This corporate windfall has caused three big problems.
First, it’s shifted more of the property tax on to California homeowners.
Back in 1978, corporations paid 44 percent of all property taxes and homeowners paid 56 percent. Now, after exploiting this loophole for years, corporations pay only 28 percent of property taxes, while homeowners pick up 72 percent of the tab.
Second, it’s robbed California of billions of dollars to support schools and local services. If all corporations were paying the property taxes they should be paying, schools and local services would have $9 billion dollars more in revenues this year.
Third, it penalizes new and expanding businesses that don’t get this windfall because their commercial property is assessed at the current market price – but they compete for customers with companies whose property is assessed at the price they purchased it years ago.
That’s unfair and it’s bad for the economy because California needs new and expanding businesses.
Today, almost half of all commercial properties in California pay their fair share of property taxes, but they’re hobbled by those that don’t.
This loophole must be closed. All corporations should be paying commercial property taxes based on current market prices. 
The giant corporations that are currently exploiting the loophole for their own profits obviously don’t want it closed, so they’re trying to scare people by saying closing it will cause businesses to leave California.
That’s baloney. Leveling the playing field for all businesses will make the California economy more efficient, and help new and expanding businesses.
Besides, California’s property taxes are already much lower than the national average. So even if corporations pay their full share, they’re still getting a great deal.
Right now, a grassroots movement is growing of Californians determined to reform this broken commercial property tax system, and who know California needs more stable funding for its schools, libraries, roads, and communities.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Lionel Hampton - Stardust

Lionel Hampton - Vibraphone
Charlie Shavers - Trumpet
Willie Smith - Alto Sax
Corky Corcoran - Tenor Sax
Barney Kessel - Guitar
Tommy Todd - Piano
Slam Stewart - Bass & Hum
Lee Young - Drums

Monday, August 10, 2015

Red Rodney - Charlie Parker Quintet Live 1949 ~ Ornithology

Charlie Parker - Alto Sax
Red Rodney - Trumpet
Al Haig - Piano
Tommy Potter - Bass
Roy Haynes - Drums

Red Rodney Quintet 1957 ~ Stella By Starlight

Red Rodney - Trumpet
Ira Sullivan - Tenor Sax
Tommy Flanagan - Piano
Oscar Pettiford - Bass
Philly Joe Jones - Drums

Red Rodney Quintet - You Better Go Now

Personnel: Red Rodney (trumpet), Ira Sullivan (tenor sax), Tommy Flanagan (piano), Oscar Pettiford (bass), Philly Joe Jones (drums)

Friday, August 7, 2015

Wardell Gray Quintet - It's the Talk of the Town - 1949 - The Dawn Sessions

Personnel: Wardell Gray (tenor sax), Al Haig (piano), Jimmy Raney (guitar), Tommy Potter (bass), Charlie Perry (drums)

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival 2004

for your listening pleasure  --  great guitar players.  Stick with it as long as you can.  Enjoy! 9By the way, I was there for two of the three days  ---  it was AMAZING

Monday, August 3, 2015

The Revolt Against the Ruling Class

The latest from Robert Reich.  Read, then follow link to original

“He can’t possibly win the nomination,” is the phrase heard most often when Washington insiders mention either Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders.  
Yet as enthusiasm for the bombastic billionaire and the socialist senior continues to build within each party, the political establishment is mystified.
Political insiders don’t see that the biggest political phenomenon in America today is a revolt against the “ruling class” of insiders that have dominated Washington for more than three decades.
In two very different ways, Trump and Sanders are agents of this revolt. I’ll explain the two ways in a moment.  
Don’t confuse this for the public’s typical attraction to candidates posing as political outsiders who’ll clean up the mess, even when they’re really insiders who contributed to the mess.
What’s new is the degree of anger now focused on those who have had power over our economic and political system since the start of the 1980s.
Included are presidents and congressional leaders from both parties, along with their retinues of policy advisors, political strategists, and spin-doctors.
Most have remained in Washington even when not in power, as lobbyists, campaign consultants, go-to lawyers, financial bundlers, and power brokers.
The other half of the ruling class comprises the corporate executives, Wall Street chiefs, and multi-millionaires who have assisted and enabled these political leaders – and for whom the politicians have provided political favors in return.
America has long had a ruling class but the public was willing to tolerate it during the three decades after World War II, when prosperity was widely shared and when the Soviet Union posed a palpable threat. Then, the ruling class seemed benevolent and wise.  
Yet in the last three decades – when almost all the nation’s economic gains have gone to the top while the wages of most people have gone nowhere – the ruling class has seemed to pad its own pockets at the expense of the rest of America.
We’ve witnessed self-dealing on a monumental scale – starting with the junk-bond takeovers of the 1980s, followed by the Savings and Loan crisis, the corporate scandals of the early 2000s (Enron, Adelphia, Global Crossing, Tyco, Worldcom), and culminating in the near meltdown of Wall Street in 2008 and the taxpayer-financed bailout. 
Along the way, millions of Americans lost their jobs their savings, and their homes.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has opened the floodgates to big money in politics wider than ever.  Taxes have been cut on top incomes, tax loopholes widened, government debt has grown, public services have been cut. And not a single Wall Street executive has gone to jail.
The game seems rigged – riddled with abuses of power, crony capitalism, and corporate welfare. 
In 1964, Americans agreed by 64% to 29% that government was run for the benefit of all the people. By 2012, the response had reversed, with voters saying by 79% to 19% that government was “run by a few big interests looking after themselves.”
Which has made it harder for ordinary people to get ahead. In 2001 a Gallup poll found 77 percent of Americans satisfied with opportunities to get ahead by working hard and 22 percent dissatisfied. By 2014, only 54 percent were satisfied and 45 percent dissatisfied.
The resulting fury at ruling class has taken two quite different forms.
On the right are the wreckers. The Tea Party, which emerged soon after the Wall Street bailout, has been intent on stopping government in its tracks and overthrowing a ruling class it sees as rotten to the core.
Its Republican protégés in Congress and state legislatures have attacked the Republican establishment. And they’ve wielded the wrecking balls of government shutdowns, threats to default on public debt, gerrymandering, voter suppression through strict ID laws, and outright appeals to racism.
Donald Trump is their human wrecking ball. The more outrageous his rants and putdowns of other politicians, the more popular he becomes among this segment of the public that’s thrilled by a bombastic, racist, billionaire who sticks it to the ruling class.
On the left are the rebuilders. The Occupy movement, which also emerged from the Wall Street bailout, was intent on displacing the ruling class and rebuilding our political-economic system from the ground up.
Occupy didn’t last but it put inequality on map. And the sentiments that fueled Occupy are still boiling.  
Bernie Sanders personifies them. The more he advocates a fundamental retooling of our economy and democracy in favor of average working people, the more popular he becomes among those who no longer trust the ruling class to bring about necessary change.  
Yet despite the growing revolt against the ruling class, it seems likely that the nominees in 2016 will be Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton. After all, the ruling class still controls America.
But the revolt against the ruling class won’t end with the 2016 election, regardless. 
Which means the ruling class will have to change the way it rules America. Or it won’t rule too much longer.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Ray Brown Trio - HoneySuckle Rose (4/6)

Ray Brown (bass)
Gene Harris (piano)
Jeff Hamilton (drums)
James Morrison (trumpet,trombone,euphonium)

Nina Simone - Love Me or Leave Me

Monday, July 27, 2015

Zombies Against Medicare

the latest column from Dr. Krugman - please follow link to original.

Medicare turns 50 this week, and it has been a very good half-century. Before the program went into effect, Ronald Reagan warned that it would destroy American freedom; it didn’t, as far as anyone can tell. What it did do was provide a huge improvement in financial security for seniors and their families, and in many cases it has literally been a lifesaver as well.
But the right has never abandoned its dream of killing the program. So it’s really no surprise that Jeb Bush recently declared that while he wants to let those already on Medicare keep their benefits, “We need to figure out a way to phase out this program for others.”

What is somewhat surprising, however, is the argument he chose to use, which might have sounded plausible five years ago, but now looks completely out of touch. In this, as in other spheres, Mr. Bush often seems like a Rip Van Winkle who slept through everything that has happened since he left the governor’s office — after all, he’s still boasting about Florida’s housing-bubble boom.
Actually, before I get to Mr. Bush’s argument, I guess I need to acknowledge that a Bush spokesman claims that the candidate wasn’t actually calling for an end to Medicare, he was just talking about things like raising the age of eligibility. There are two things to say about this claim. First, it’s clearly false: in context, Mr. Bush was obviously talking about converting Medicare into a voucher system, along the lines proposed by Paul Ryan.
And second, while raising the Medicare age has long been a favorite idea of Washington’s Very Serious People, a couple of years ago the Congressional Budget Office did a careful study and discovered that it would hardly save any money. That is, at this point raising the Medicare age is a zombie idea, which should have been killed by analysis and evidence, but is still out there eating some people’s brains.
But then, Mr. Bush’s real argument, as opposed to his campaign’s lame attempt at a rewrite, is just a bigger zombie.
The real reason conservatives want to do away with Medicare has always been political: It’s the very idea of the government providing a universal safety net that they hate, and they hate it even more when such programs are successful. But when they make their case to the public they usually shy away from making their real case, and have even, incredibly, sometimes posed as the program’s defenders against liberals and their death panels.
What Medicare’s would-be killers usually argue, instead, is that the program as we know it is unaffordable — that we must destroy the system in order to save it, that, as Mr. Bush put it, we must “move to a new system that allows [seniors] to have something — because they’re not going to have anything.” And the new system they usually advocate is, as I said, vouchers that can be applied to the purchase of private insurance.
The underlying premise here is that Medicare as we know it is incapable of controlling costs, that only the only way to keep health care affordable going forward is to rely on the magic of privatization.

Now, this was always a dubious claim. It’s true that for most of Medicare’s history its spending has grown faster than the economy as a whole — but this is true of health spending in general. In fact, Medicare costs per beneficiary have consistently grown more slowly than private insurance premiums, suggesting that Medicare is, if anything, better than private insurers at cost control. Furthermore, other wealthy countries with government-provided health insurance spend much less than we do, again suggesting that Medicare-type programs can indeed control costs.
Still, conservatives scoffed at the cost-control measures included in the Affordable Care Act, insisting that nothing short of privatization would work.
And then a funny thing happened: the act’s passage was immediately followed by an unprecedented pause in Medicare cost growth. Indeed, Medicare spending keeps coming in ever further below expectations, to an extent that has revolutionized our views about the sustainability of the program and of government spending as a whole.
Right now is, in other words, a very odd time to be going on about the impossibility of preserving Medicare, a program whose finances will be strained by an aging population but no longer look disastrous. One can only guess that Mr. Bush is unaware of all this, that he’s living inside the conservative information bubble, whose impervious shield blocks all positive news about health reform.
Meanwhile, what the rest of us need to know is that Medicare at 50 still looks very good. It needs to keep working on costs, it will need some additional resources, but it looks eminently sustainable. The only real threat it faces is that of attack by right-wing zombies.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Jeb Bush suggests phasing out Medicare

From "America Blog" - follow link to original

Jeb “Apple Watch” Bush told a gathering of conservatives at an Americans for Prosperity event last night that he thinks the country should phase out Medicare, ending the program for those who aren’t already receiving benefits.
I think a lot of people recognize that we need to make sure we fulfill the commitment to people that have already received the benefits, that are receiving the benefits. But that we need to figure out a way to phase out this program for others and move to a new system that allows them to have something — because they’re not going to have anything.
This puts the supposedly “moderate” Bush to the right of Republicans’ most rabid budget hawks when it comes to the social safety net. When Rep. Paul Ryan proposed a budget that privatized much of the program, Democratic claims that Republicans wanted to “end Medicare” were dubbed the “Lie of the Year” by PolitFact; they weren’t ending the program, they were just radically changing it.
Well, now we know. Republicans want to end Medicare. Not just “as we know it,” but completely.
Bush justified his claim by arguing, as is always argued when Republicans attack Medicare, that the program is on its way to insolvency. That would be true if Bush got his way and we replaced Obamacare with Apple Watches, but as Kevin Drum at Mother Jones pointed out, current projections show Medicare spending reaching about half the proportion of GDP that it was projected to in 2005, falling from 13 percent to 6 percent.
There are a lot of caveats in the numbers. As Drum noted, projecting Medicare costs is a bit more difficult than projecting Social Security costs because there are more variables:
Social Security is basically just arithmetic. We know how many people are going to retire, we know how long they’re going to live, and we know how much we’re going to pay them. Do the math and you know how much the program will cost us. It can change a bit over time, as projections of things like GDP growth or immigration rates change, but that happens at the speed of molasses. There are very few surprises with Social Security.
Medicare has all that, but it also has one more thing: the actual cost of medical care. And that’s little more than an educated guess when you start projecting more than a decade ahead. Will costs skyrocket as expensive new therapies multiply? Or will costs plummet after someone invents self-sustaining nanobots that get injected at birth and keep us healthy forever at virtually no cost? I don’t know. No one knows.
In any case, given the best information we have available, Medicare looks to be in much better shape now than it did ten years ago.
A lot of that has to do with the Affordable Care Act. The law cut Medicare Advantage, the part of Medicare that had been privatized under George Bush and was (unsurprisingly) costing the government more per-plan than the public version of the program. Remember back in 2010 when Republicans were attacking President Obama for cutting Medicare? That was what they meant. And, of course, the Ryan budget being drafted and circulated around that time included bigger cuts to more crucial parts of the program.
Congress also recently repealed the “doc fix,” which will produce additional savings in the program by restructuring its payment mechanism to doctors.
At the end of the day, as MSNBC’s Steve Benen put it, “Before ‘Obamacare’ was passed, Medicare was projected to face a serious fiscal shortfall in 2017. As of yesterday, Medicare trustees now believe the system is fiscally secure through 2030.”
So sure, if Jeb Bush has his way and returns us to the health insurance regime in place while his brother was president, Medicare would all of a sudden look much less viable. But to claim that the program is on the verge of bankruptcy today, warranting its elimination, is simply not true.
What’s more, Bush claims that “people understand” the need to eliminate Medicare. This, too, is false. No matter how many times Republicans say that the public’s on their side, the polling data simply doesn’t support them; roughly eighty percent of seniors say that the program is working well. In that same poll, 76 percent of Republicans agreed that the deficit can be cut to appropriate levels without touching Medicare.
So chalk this up to the latest installment of Jeb Bush couching extreme — even by Republican standards — policies in a soft tone and calling it moderation. He’s planted a flag way out in right field on an issue where there is a clear national consensus against him, and planted it on dubious empirical grounds.
As Benen wrote, “It says something important about Republican politics in 2015 when the most mainstream candidate is also the candidate who wants to scrap Medicare altogether.”

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Dodo Marmarosa Trio - Bopmatism

 Dodo Marmarosa (piano), Harry Babasin (bass), Jackie Mills (drums)

Dodo's Blues - Dodo Marmarosa Trio