Quick hits….

To all you denizens of Gotham for the third or fourth time(who’s counting) you have a Weiner to roast. This is bordering on the absurd. They said today he has fallen to fourth in the polls. Why is this pervert even in the polls? And all you New Yorkers thought rational thought stopped at the Hudson River. You are right it does but it is west of it. As Frank said “If you can fake it there, you can fake it anywhere.” Didn’t he?

I am really starting to like Pope Frank. Getting off the plane he had a carryon. As he said, it didn’t contain the nuclear codes but a razor and a prayer book. He got stuck in traffic when his driver took a wrong turn and they were beseiged by the masses. But wait…he was riding in a FIAT! He made do by laughing and kissing babies. Then he told the hierarchy of the church to come down off their high horses and get out among the people. He went on to say they should not consider themselves something special but just like the rest of us. Then he held an impromptu 90 minute press conference on the plane returning to Rome. He answered each and every question with candor and no teleprompter. We gotta hire this guy as a consultant to every mucky muck in the US whether elected or not.

Palestine and Israel are talking in DC or at least they were at press time. If Kerry pulls this off I may have to reconsider my considerable dislike of him. Israel has released some prisoners to be named later. Sounds like the big leagues. Palestine isn’t sure who represents who? I am sure at the end of this little soiree we will have a new policy. Don’t Budge. Don’t Tell.

News Flash: A Rod has been using HGH (Human Growth Hormone). You think so? Can’t be true because well, he denied it. Just like Braun and Armstrong. I was actually hoping Harry Reid, Boehner and the gang would all use performance enhancing drugs and I don’t mean Viagra. Maybe Obamacare would cover it.

I was making homemade ice cream yesterday and today with my granddaughters who are in residence while their parents are working hard on Nantucket. First I had to search everywhere in the store for heavy cream. Then my total at the checkout was $27.83 for various ingredients. Hey, I got three quarts out of it. We made one batch of mint cookies and crème and the second was cinnamon with a variety of things that were hanging around the cupboard.

I can’t make this stuff up. As a postscript to last week UBS agreed this week to pay $885 million for misleading clients on mortgage backed securities. A friend pointed out if they made billions then it was a small price to pay on the plus side of the ledger. I said sooner or later we have got to be talking about some real money. A billion here. A billion there.

Looking out for your fellow man or woman. Last Friday I was walking into the Cherry Creek Athletic Club as an ambulance was arriving. I feared for several of my old fart friends but unfortunately they were all accounted for. It seems a Zumba teacher was getting a little too carried away and passed out. As the gurney with her on it was going out the door I heard a woman at the front desk demanding to know if there would still be a class on Monday? Another asked since the free class was cut short was the club going to give out free guest passes? What a country!

Two takes on a touchy subject. I watched Obama’s off the cuff news conference on the Travon Martin case. I will give my take at a later date but this was really quite a talk. He did not use a teleprompter and I believe he really spoke form the heart. At the same time I watched Bill O’Reilly’s “Talking Points” on the same topic. I am not a fan of either but I think O’Reilly’s passion and hard hits made me sit up and take notice. I heard the pans from all sides for both of them but I encourage all of you to Google both talks. Leave your biases at the door, Look, this race thing is there and we all know it. By being politically correct we dance around issues that need a full venting. At the same time I watched “42” this weekend which was indicative of the hate and venom of the time. It wasn’t just in the south but everywhere. We have made great steps but we really do have a long way to go. Hang in there everyone.

Last night a husband awoke to find his 45 year old wife and mother of three teenaged children had died in her sleep of natural causes. A two year child was run over and killed in a mall parking lot. A young man and white collar father of two is going to jail for five years on a first time drug possession and trafficking charge. A beautiful young woman is having radical surgery for breast cancer. Think you are having a bad day? Think again.

As always
Ted The Great

Coca cola would be green if food coloring was not added.

Bat those baby blues…women blink twice as much as men.

You heart beats over 100,000 times a day. More if you are in love. Your heart also creates enough pressure to squirt blood thirty feet.

Try, try again…. 35% of people using personal ads for dating are married.

Hold the QTips. A giraffe can clean its ears with its 21 inch long tongue.

People are more allergic to cow’s milk than any other food.

Fingernails grow four times faster than toenails


Everything Is Just Fine…..

Walgreens fined $80 million by the DEA for letting millions of controlled substances like oxycontin find their way into the black market for drugs in Florida.

Walmart fined $111 million for improperly handling hazardous waste and dumping of pesticides.

Johnson and Johnson fined $2 billion for illegally marketing a drug Risperdal

Abbott Labs fined $1.5 billion for illegally marketing Depakote

Merck fined $950 million for Vioxx

Glaxo Smith Kline $3 billion in criminal charges around the antidepressants Paxil and Welbutrin.

McKesson fined $190 million for inflating drug prices to Medicare.

Barclays Bank fined $453 million for fixing the Libor rate.

JP Morgan, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citigroup fined $740 million for collusion and bid rigging to set rates paid to municipalities which were below market.

JP Morgan, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Citigroup agreed to pay $25 BILLION to states for shoddy and illegal practices in handling foreclosures. That’s not a typo it is the same cast of characters.

JP Morgan Chase fined $1 billion in rigging electrical contracts in California. They will probably negotiate down to $500 million.

HSBC fined $1.9 billion for money laundering drug money in the United States and Mexico. They said they had no idea but a used car salesman deposited $25 million in sequential travelers checks at an out of the way branch in Mexico City.

Bank of Tokyo fined $250 million for 28,000 illegal payments totaling $100 billion to Iran and other members of the Axis of Evil.

Goldman Sachs fined $22 million for “huddling.” This refers to analysts, traders and salesmen talking about the analyst reports amongst themselves prior to release. Strictly verboten.

Rajat Gupta, a member of the board of directors of Goldman Sachs fined $13.9 million after being found guilty of passing confidential information to a hedge fund.

US banks topped $10 billion in fines in 2012.

Met Life fined $400 million for failing to pay death benefits to people who were deceased.

Prudential $138 million for the same practice.

I won’t keep going but you get the idea. We scream and yell about regulations and we want to get the government out of our business. I could not agree more. Everyone says let us regulate ourselves. Really?

Sure the banks are bad. Oh I am sorry they just paid all that money without admitting any wrongdoing. What was I thinking? But these aren’t the only culprits. Everyone tries to game the system or so it would seem. Push the edge further and further until you get caught.

I am not a boy scout but this sucks in my book. I love it on CNBC when after earnings Dimon or Blankfein or some CEO of a drug company expounds on the world and their place in it. With all of this going on on their watch. Please don’t snicker and tell me how many minutes it will take Goldman to pay off their latest slap on the wrists. Sorry kids. Someone should be going to jail and it should start at the top.

Many years ago my brother Kevin said you should make every CEO responsible for the outcomes of pollution. Bottom line you wouldn’t have a problem for long if at all. Ditto Drugs, Banks, Wall Street and insurance. Good thinking.

We came out with 3000 new regulations in the US last year. They covered everything from banking to chicken farms. Everyone says they should just enforce the existing laws and maybe they are right. But then we cut funds for enforcement and investigation.

I was in Italy last summer and it just so happened the Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services was on the trip. Poor man. I jumped on him like a cheap suit. This guy was responsible for investigating fraud in Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, the Veterans Administration et alia. No wonder he did not have any hair!

I asked simply why there were not more investigators? “Great point TTG”, he replied. He said they could prove that the money spent on enforcement was returned 10-12 fold per annum. But the Congress didn’t want to authorize new hires because it would look like they were trying to increase government. Aaargh!

He did make an interesting observation. He felt that the civilization as we know it faced one catastrophe it might not recover from. Corruption. He said in business and in government it was so rampant and insidious that he wasn’t sure we could make great strides toward rooting it out.

It is not just us but throughout the world. Afghanistan, China, Europe, Russia, Africa and South America. Bribery, fraud, theft, bid rigging are just a few that are not only illegal but unfair.

The end game is it really hits us all. If these guys screw municipalities in bid rigging we have to pay higher taxes. The thefts and payoffs add to the price we pay for everything. Corporate welfare by paid off Congresspeople not only tax us more and add to our deficits but are next to impossible to get rid of.

Yet we look the other way. Let’s just make sure our share prices go up. It’s the earnings stupid! Not just the banks but IBM, GE, airplane manufacturers, defense contractors, doctorshealthcare providers, major contractors, all have their place at the trough.

The good part is that not everyone does. There are decent people in all these organizations. And let’s just hope some of them are stand up. I am not trying to be anybody’s moral compass but my own and my family’s. I just would like others finally get off their asses and say ENOUGH! if they share the same distaste for the sleazy dealings of corporate America. If everything is just fine for you so be it. It’s not for me.

As always
Ted The Great

Factoids: None. I bored you with too many already. Pax

Ground Control to Major Ted…..

I am sitting here in Command Central. They are fun digs with a simple desk and my big old leather chair. One is for reading and writing. The other for sleeping. In this module they are mutually interchangeable. Big windows give me a bird’s eye view of the corner at 7th and Williams.

There are several shelves with plenty of books I have never read. There are stacks of papers begging to be put away. I have a large stack of hymns that have to be cataloged for my new choir career. And of course there is nautical and golf memorabilia strewn every which way. Don‘t you know these are all characteristics of a creative mind? Okay maybe of a severely dysfunctional personality. Hey, it’s too late to change.

Then there are boxes of toys. The grandkids hang out here to get away from their parents. There are dolls, LEGOS, water guns and boxes of craft stuff which inevitably get disbursed in equal mayhem all over the room. They tell me I am nuts and I tell them they are creepy kids. We all get along fine. They like my rules. There are none except when it comes to bodily harm. Pain is okay but when it becomes near death it has to stop.

My buddy Yeoman tells me I look at the world from 30,000 feet.
Actually I vary my altitude depending whether or not I contemplate landing. I circle several times but inevitably choose to stay airborne. Actually I should have been on the stick of that Asiana flight at SFO. I would never land at anything other than full speed.

Maybe I should buy a drone. I could equip it with sanity bullets. As my unmanned aircraft prowls the skies I could control it right from here. I would have to be careful with my target coordinates. There is a very good chance I would mistake the floor of Tahrir Square for the floors of our legislatures. Sunnis. Shiites. Muslim Brotherhood. Democrats. Republicans. All the same crackpots except for their garb.

I would opt for Preparation H suppositories rather than heat seeking missiles. I would take care of every pain in the ass in the universe. In Viet Nam we used to carry 81mm rounds with little darts in payload. I would probably try to find some old ones and use them as ego deflators. Target wall Street and DC. On second thought maybe not. I would have to expend a lot of ammo in this man’s world.

Up here in the stratosphere you see a lot of crazy things. Over the Capitol rotunda last week I watched a magic show called the Farm Bill. Now the boys and girls took out direct payments that we make to farmers every year whether they plant crops or not. That’s right we just sent it to them monthly like Social Security. That came to $17.5 billion. But the vast majority of recipients are large corporate farmers. Our brazen and bold pols stood up for us and took out this waste. An illusion befitting David Copperfield. Sort of.

Instead we have now put in price supports that kick in when wheat, corn etc go down a certain amount. Very cool except for the fact we are pegging the base point at near record prices today. So if they approach anywhere near normal they get propped up. Oh yes you should also know that the US government also pays 62% of the premium for crop insurance that farmers have to pay. The insurance companies are also guaranteed a 14% return. This all is predicated on failure of these green pastures but last year only ½ of 1% of the number of farms failed. Is it me or do you smell manure even in my aerie?

At the same time I am watching everyone bitching that SNAP (new name for food stamps) should be cut by $10 billion. Now, now, I hear the restless natives down below. Understand these programs take care of 50 million of our fellow Americans. These people live on less than $18,000 for a family of three and amount to about $3 per day. I can blow that with a VENTI Starbucks.

I know some buy booze and cigarettes but the cheat rate is actually very low. Now I know you all pay all your taxes. No one accepts cash for payment. Docs don’t pad Medicare. Rigging LIBOR? Really? You know that casting the first stone jazz. Now this is dysfunctional. But I digress.

Up here you get the big picture. It’s not your street but a city, a state and a country. You realize the diversity and sheer expanse of this place we call home. Up here people look very foolish. Their hamster pedaling and frenetic life style belie the real meaning of life.

This world is nuts and none of us have a monopoly on the insanity. The past few weeks I could probably use one of those PITA(Pain in the Ass) shots. I have been a grouch of sorts. I am also gloating because my handicap dropped two points so here come the darts.
But I also hope I have some manner of civility and compromise.

No, I don’t like your left or your right wings. You are crazy if you think it’s your way or the highway. Too bad, with your intransigence you have really forgotten how to fly. Being grounded isn’t as smart as you think it is. You don’t know what you are missing.

Major Ted over and out.

As always
Ted The Great

Ted The Great started many years ago. I had a friend who was the head of world wide operations for a major financial institution. I knew him in his other life so when I called his office with the requisite irreverence his executive assistant asked in a rather haughty voice who was on the line? I said, “Ted”. Indignantly she asked, “Ted who?” To which my only reply could be, “TED THE GREAT”. And now you know the rest of the story.

July 14 was Bastille Day but some Francophile has been walking by my window whistling the French National Anthem since Saturday. Vive La France!

To make $18,000 a year you have to make just under $9 per hour for a forty hour week. Approximately one in four work at that wage or below. That is the poverty threshold for a family of three and what it takes to get food stamps. Bon Apetit.

Let’s Be Frank….

Well you would think Ted’s Head got a rest last week but not really. I have been working as a very junior editor on a new book about Swift Boats. I also had a chance to catch up on a variety of Charlie Rose, Bill Moyers and Nature shows. More interesting and exciting than they sound.

The most scintillating part of my mental gyrations was watching a series of interviews by Charlie with David McCullough, historian and story teller extraordinaire. He honed in on the Fourth of July without the beer and brats. We can all imagine the scene in beautiful downtown Philadelphia as august members of the aristocracy planned out their their future. Kind of like a Union League smoking room. Au contraire mes amis.

Most were in their 30’s and 40’s with Ben Franklin as the only senior citizen of sorts.They were firebrands and statesmen alike. They had to keep the windows closed so subversives would not overhear their conversations. A little seedy in July. They literally risked being hanged as traitors and the populace was not exactly 100% behind them. But they had a vision and nothing was going to dissuade them .

As war came to be, our wild colonial boys were outnumbered and in many cases outflanked. These were farm hands who came with no shoes, which was not unusual and the shirts on their backs. Ill equipped but they had a fire in their belly that provided an extra lift when the insurmountable hit. And they had a secret weapon in the person of George Washington.

They were a motley group and had to pick up tactics and leadership on the run. They probably had formal education of about 5 or 6 years of grammar school. GW shepherded and all the while stumbled making some serious mistakes along the way. Yet he was there to the end when most of us would have crumbled.

Incredible luck prevailed. Retreating from the Battle of Brooklyn there was an eerie fog that blanketed some 7,000 men who crossed the East River only to find the shores of Manhattan Island clear as a bell. The Brits could have wiped them out and wanted to do so but an ill wind on that same East River prevented a naval attack…and the rest as they say is history. Imagine if that fog and wind had not miraculously appeared? What would our world look like now?

Point being is that we always look back at our early days and see liberty wrapped up in a tidy package. Eat drink and be merry. The hell with the king. Let’s shoot off some fireworks. It was anything but. Eight long years bore on. How many of us would have walked barefoot in the dead of winter at Morristown or Trenton? Hungry, freezing, suffering from dissentary. We speak of our love of country and the Bill of Rights. Are you really ready to die for assault weapons and same sex marriage?

Washington was phenomenal. He didn’t want the job of General but he took it. He didn’t want to be President but he assumed the mantel. The original members of Congress did not want to hang around Washington. K Street and PACS hadn’t been invented yet. You paid for own food and transport. The gym and Capitol barbershop weren’t even on the drawing boards. These gents served out of a sense of duty and not self promotion.

There was a simplicity and yet subtleness to our constitution that worked. There was a collegiality that said we are all in this together. Let’s not step on each other’s toes but be able to do our own thing. Sequestration, lavish expenses, junkets, lobbyists, assault weapons, immigration stagnation, humongous staffs. Is this how it was supposed to be?

Pan over to a place called Rome. The Vatican to be exact. I think about the Catholic Church. It started off with a guy named Jesus who had a very simple concept. Forget about doctrine and religiosity for a minute. He wanted people to be free and care for one another. His disciples didn’t have expense accounts but travelled on their own nickel. Peter wanted to hang around Rome. Paul wanted to go far and wide. Somehow there was room for both.

A lot of water has gone over the dam. We started building huge edifices and the papacy took on a life of its own. Pomp and circumstance and basilicas overtook common sense and purpose of mission. We called them princes instead of disciples and boy did they act like royalty. You can kiss my ring and kiss my…, well you know what I mean. Any similarities to the US of A?

Then this guy who would come to be known as Francis shows up. He didn’t want the job of Pope. It wasn’t in his genes. He was a Jesuit. When elected he didn’t bolt for the limo but took the bus back to his hotel. He is not served in residence but hangs out with everybody else for dinner. He drives security crazy by reaching out to people of all sorts after saying mass in a local church.

He is shaking things up. Like his namesake he wants to place more emphasis on the poor and forgotten. At Easter he washed the feet of criminals instead of the Curia. Actually there may be a message there. He is throwing the bums out. But he is also going to make two former popes saints. One liberal. One conservative. A compromise. Imagine that. A smart man. Very smart.

Some people call him a radical. I think he is just going back to basics. Back to where there was a purity of purpose. Not a gazillion interpretations by the cognoscenti or Machiavellian intrigue at every stage of governance. He likes fellow Christians, Muslims, Jews and even Atheists. I don’t know about you but I think we could use a guy like this on our side of the pond. Let’s be Frank. I think we could do worse.

As Always

Ted The Great

Historians have estimated that approximately 40 to 45 percent of the colonists supported the rebellion, while 15 to 20 percent remained loyal to the Crown.

The Treaty of Paris was signed in 1783, and Great Britain acknowledged America’s independence. The treaty established a northern boundary with Canada and set the Mississippi River as the western boundary.

Pope Francis shunned the red Gucci slippers in favor of the black Brogans he had brought from home. When he addresses the throngs he speaks to his “brothers” not my “children”. At least he is halfway there. Not a factoid but I think he looks like a cross between Yogi Berra and Rudy Guilliani.

An estimated 25,000 American Revolutionaries died during active military service. About 8,000 of these deaths were in battle; the other 17,000 deaths were from disease, including about 8,000 – 12,000 who died while prisoners of war, most in rotting prison ships in New York

Although as many as 250,000 men may have served as regulars or as militiamen for the Revolutionary cause in the eight years of the war, there were never more than 90,000 total men under arms for the Americans in any given year.