A 9-Year Era Comes To An End-Elena Moves Out Of Her San Francisco Office

Yesterday was Elena’s last day at Kaiser San Francisco.We had lunch at our favorite hangout near the office, Food ,Inc. I met all of her staff members and also said goodbye to them. We packed all of her office things in the SUV and drove from San Francisco to Daly City where we put them in her new office. We arrived right before five and got her stuff in her new office.We both worked up a sweat. We went to El Torito Mexican restaurant near SFO later to celebrate.

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I Predicted That Chief Justice Roberts Would Vote To Affirm Health Care Reform!

I love it when a good prediction of mine comes true. I placed all of my faith in Chief Justice Roberts and he “came through.” When he was being confirmed, Senator Diane Feinstein questioned him for two hours. She was very polite and professional. She did not badger or intimidate him. At the end of the process she did something amazing. She more or less said to him: “You’re a very nice man and I’m going to vote for you.” Under all of his conservative mantle, Roberts is a nice man. When he wrote his opinion he thought about all of those thousands of people who would die if Obamacare was struck down. This is a wonderful day for our country!

Our Broken Clothes Dryer-An Unpleasant Surprise

Yesterday a great tech named Matt from Gourmet Appliance in Half Moon Bay came over. He took apart our broken dryer. Sure enough the belt that drives it broke and a fuse went out. He has to get the parts and come back. We are looking at a $470.00 repair bill! All of the remodel work left the machine to be banged around a lot. This is after the machine went tout of warranty. Cada dia una pruea diferente

Monday Morning Is Off To A Good Start

I just got back from a great 1.5 hour swim at the pool. It was not crowded and there were a rgeat bunch of people there. I even met a Frenchman who likes living here in Pacifica. I got home and let Cassi out before she went to the bathroom in the house. I was “on pins and needles” about the Obamacare ruling. It won’t come down today. I believe Nancy Pelosi’s prediction of 6-3 in favor of Obama care. But I need the confirmation.

How The Supreme Court Will Rule On Obama Care

Everyone is tensely awaiting the Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare. I think that it will,more or less, survive. One of the few good appointment Bush II made was Chief Justice Roberts. His ideology is conservative. When he puts on his judicial robes and goes into court he is fair and impartial. I would love to be in his court anytime. If Obamacare is struck down many sick people will die. This part is frightening. The big winners will be HMO’s like Kaiser that will get $36 billion in Medicare cuts restored.

Survival Investing Investing-A Must Read Book

Crisis Investing is a brilliant book that explains in simple language what is going on now and what we need to do to survive in this dangerous environment.

John Talbott is the new Howard Ruff. he takes difficult concepts and explains them in easy and understandable terms that we all can understand.

To make a long story short Ben Bernanke, Timothy Geithner, and President Obama new that they were confronting Great Depression II. They decided to print between $2 trillion and $3 trillion dollars and to put this money in the world economy. Without this massive printing of money, we would have had deflation perhaps like Japan in the “lost decade” or the even worse deflation that my grand parents experienced during the great depression of the 1930’s.

The very low inflation rate we have now is merely the result of all the new money stopping deflation.

John Talbott draws upon an Abraham Lincoln saying as follows: “You can fool some of the people some of the time but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.”

One day in the near future all of this extra money will “kick off” a round of high inflation.

His suggestion is to get out of stocks and bonds. He recommends that you buy gold. For all of you fighting with “underwater houses, take heart. Mr. Talbott says that your house will become your best investment! It will turn around. He advises that you buy other properties.

Please read this book. It will change your life!

Helping Someone Who Is “Down On His Luck”

Bill has been a friend of mine since 1965. We were in high school together. Bill was blessed with a loving family that wanted to see their only child cared for in life. they left him a nice 4-bedroom house free and clear. It’s located in a decent neighborhood in Houston, Texas. They sent Bill to the exclusive Rice University in Houston. They launched Bill as a writer.

 

Things looked good for Bill early in life. The film maker Robert Altman took a liking to him. He got a major part in the film Brewster McCloud in 1970. He was the man who gave the actress Shelly Duvall her first on-screen kiss. It looked like Bill was headed for a great Hollywood carer and a wonderful life. Bill also wrote a short book called Suede Holloway. It became a cult classic and he got inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

 

Sadly things did not workout so well for Bill. His movie and writing career never took off. He never found a wonderful partner in life. He got embroiled in civil disputes and never had a meaningful career. He got a mortgage on his house to continue with the lifestyle of a wealthy man entertaining his friends.

 

One day the bill came due and Bill could not pay it, He fell behind on his mortgage. The lender moved to foreclose his house. In Texas it normally takes 20-45 days to sell a house in a trustee’s sale. Bill filed a lawsuit and convinced a judge to stop the foreclosure. What happened next was a 4-year legal battle that is unusual for Texas. It looked like Bill might prevail and save his house.

 

I devoted literally hundreds of hours to helping Bill. I gave him legal advice. I gave him information on foreclosure fraud. I wrote letters to the judge. I also warned Bill of what I have learned in some 40 years of dealing with courts. If a lawyer on the other side cannot beat you fairly in court, they will always resort to trickery to win. The favorite trick is to “ambush you” with a surprise move. Judges see these things and know that they are wrong and unfair. But if you do not object, you are generally “out of luck.” I told Bill to go to the Harris County Court House two times a week and check for any activity on his case. I warned him that he had to be meticulous and watch for every detail.

 

Bill did not listen to me. He became complacent and over confident. In March of 2012 the lawyers for the mortgage company sneaked through an improper “sell order” on his property. Bill did not detect this until a month later when the Harris County Sheriff’s Office put a notice of sale on his door. We looked at appealing but it was too late unless a fortune was spent for an appelate lawyer.

 

I explained to Bill that the only way to save his house was the filing of a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy petition in US Bankruptcy Court in Houston. I did a lot of research and found Bill an excellent attorney who used to clerk for a US Supreme Court justice. Bill talked to this lawyer. He felt that she wanted too much money. He hired and other lawyer and got the petition filed.

 

I spent hours walking Bill through the bankruptcy process. I told him that he had to pay the trustee each month or the bankruptcy would be dismissed and they would come and take his house. I told them that Elena and I both felt that he should rent the two extra bedrooms in his house. I estimated that each room would fetch $350.00 per month in rental income. This would give him $700 per month to pay the lender. He could then earn some part time income to keep him going.

 

I felt confident that we were on our way to a solution. I got a call from Bill yesterday begging for one or two hundred dollars. Nothing had been done to rent the rooms. His payment to the trustee was set at $1,200 per month. He had only made $200 of the payment. If he does not make some radical changes he will find his bankruptcy petition dismissed. The house will be sold and he will be evicted.

 

Bill has no savings. He has no family to help him. He did not even pay enough into his Social Security account to have a retirement. If he is kicked out he will not even have enough money to store the goods that he accumulated over a lifetime. He will have to start sleeping in his 1987 Ford Crown Victoria. In Texas he might get a little over $100 in food stamps. Welfare would be paltry and hard to get if he is not a single mother.

 

We are all supposed ot have compassion and help those less fortunate than we are. I was lucky enough to contribute enough to my Social Security account to have an income of $1,254 per month. My wife is from Argentina. Women there have “zero tolerance” for men who do not produce income. My check goes to pay all of the insurance and my food and gasoline. I have nothing left to begin sending money to Bill. My wife earns a good income but feels that Bill is not a blood relative and she does not know him. She cannot think of anyone who ever gave her money. She declines to help him.

 

Please contrast this situation with my dear sister. She has only a high school education. My mother and father were never rich enough to leave her a free and clear house in a nice neighborhood. Last year her house in Bastrop, Texas burned to the ground. She had a huge battle with Balboa Insurance to get paid for her claim. She also lost her place of business and business income when the house burned down. To make matters worse she was separated from her husband and getting little income from him.

 

In these awful times for my sister she never asked me for one penny of money. She never felt sorry for herself. She waged a hard battle and finally got the insurance company to pay off. She is rebuilding her house and her life. She inherited my mother’s very strong character.

 

I feel sad for Bill. I wish that I was making $200,000 per year and was a big success so I could help him.

 

Chris Kilowan And The Bribery Allegations Against MTN In Iran

 

I just spent quite a bit of time dissecting the Reuters report on the deposition given by former MTN executive Chris Kelowan.

He has made a good case that MTN and even the South African government conspired to defeat sanctions to help Iran. As a matter of interest boh General Electric and Halliburton were caught a couple of years ago by US authorities having ongoing offices and substantial investments and sales in Iran. How did the US authorities react?

1) Nobody was arrested for any violation of criminal laws.

2) No company or individual was cited for a civil fine or a penalty.

3) No US government contracts were taken rom these major US corporations.

4) All that happened was that the US Justice Department ordered the two big US companies to as follows; “To wind up their operations in Iran within 5 years.”

Some 20 years ago I was active in the international trade sector in South Africa. I am pleased to report that when a South African company is working on a deal in another country, the South African government “rolls up its sleeves” and works like hell to get the company the deal it is seeking. This is one of the few areas of government where the taxpayer “truly gets his/her money’s worth!” I never saw a case where bribery or corruption to obtain a deal was used or even considered. I suspect that the situation is the same today.

There was no real substantial evidence of MTN actually paying bribes to Iranian officials. Perhaps some of the Iranian companies did pay these bribes. That is an internal matter for the Iranian authorities. I suspect that the penalty for bribing public officials in Iran is hanging. By the way, hangings in Iran are carried out in a most barbaric manner. The condemned person has a metal rope put around their neck. A crane then lifts the metal rope. As a further matter of interest Iran is the number one country in the world in per capital executions per 100,000 population. So the Iranians use the death penalty quite often.

One has to ask how much money Turkcell has paid and promised to Mr. Kilowan.

The bottomline is this case is not good. If I had some extra cash right now I’d be buying MTN shares.

 

 

A Dream With Rio de Janeiro

Last night I had a long and interesting dream about Rio de Janeiro. I was at San Francisco International Airport in a long line trying to board a plane to Rio de Janeiro. I had decided to go and live there for the rest of my life. I was sad that Elena would not come along. Then for some reason I was “teleported” away from the airport to a vacant field nearby and all of my carry on luggage was missing. I was struggling to get back to the airport, find my carry on luggage and make the flight. Then I awakened and it was time to get up.
I spent some of the happiest years of my life in Rio de Janeiro despite the fact that it was during Brasil’s military government. I remember approaching Rio for the first time in a plane. The worst shock was all of the slums I saw from the air. When I landed a customs officers stole things from my suitcase and a cab driver cheated me out of $50.00. I went to Copacabana and checked into the Acapulco Hotel that was to be my home for a long time. Despite the jet lag I walked around for a long time. I fell in love with Rio instantly. It’s a love that continues to this day.
Rio is glamorous. Rio has incredible people who are always happy and optimistic despite a life that is really very hard for most. Rio has great food and culture. Rio has incredible sites like the Sugar Loaf and the Corcovado.Rio has incredible beaches. Rio is over 500 years old and has deep roots and traditions. Rio also still has poverty and some really heavy violent crime. You learn quickly to be “street wise” in order to survive.
Back in 1991 I was offered an apartment right on Copacabana for about $26,000 US. I turned it down. If I had taken the deal I would be a rich man now. If you want to retire to Rio you need to bring at least $500,000 US to buy a one-bedroom condominium. Your medical insurance will be cheaper than the US but not much cheaper. Food will be just as expensive as the US. Cars and electronics will be more expensive.
But if you really love Rio none of that matters.
Elena does not love Rio and would never go there so it’s out for me. But I still go every year to get back in touch with one of the happiest parts of my life and the city that I will always love so much.
The dream was telling me that it was not meant for me to go to Rio and live because I would lose Elena.

A Beautiful Summer Day In Tuscany

Yesterday was my last day in office as vice-president of the Pacifica Democrats. I presided over the election for new officers and changes to the by laws. There were some big surprises. I’m glad to be just a member again. I took Elena to Pasta Moon in Half Moon Bay for a late luncheon. It was a great venue. We felt like we were in Tuscany on a lovely summer day.