Thursday, June 3, 2021

DEATH BOX | Baby Boomers Face the End

What is a "death box"?
  • The Urban Dictionary says it is a computer or television to which a person devotes too much time ("Hey, let's go out. Let go of the death box.")
  • But a recent speaker at the Coffee House Club says it is a place where (1) one puts what one will need when a close relative dies, or (2) where one puts what our surviving close relatives will need when we die, or both. Examples: Living will, cemetery contact, location of will, location of liquid assets
Losing a close relative or friend is arguably one of the most difficult experiences in life. In addition to coping with the grief and loss of someone we care for, there are also a variety of challenging tasks and important financial decisions to be completed, including:
• Making final arrangements
• Reviewing funeral costs and funding options
• Settling an individual’s estate and heirlooms
• Working with various companies and government agencies
• Notifying family, friends and co-workers, and much more

Monday, March 22, 2021

MANHATTAN DA | Liz Crotty on June 22

Liz Crotty for DA, June 22
The Democratic Primary in New York is on June 22. This primary will determine who will be on the Democratic line in November.

One of the positions up for a vote is Manhattan District Attorney. The incumbent, Cy Vance, has announced he is not going to run again. He has his hands full finishing up some high-profile cases.

This post is an endorsement of a candidate for the Manhattan DA nomination, Liz Crotty.

I am posting this endorsement for two reasons. 

First, I attended the endorsement meeting of my local club and I was not given an opportunity to vote. I still don’t understand how that happened. But it means I am a free agent here, which is a good thing, because I strongly support Liz Crotty.

Second, I have known Liz for many years and I think highly of her. She grew up in Stuyvesant Town, an egalitarian complex on the east side of Manhattan near Baruch College, where I used to be an assistant professor of finance. She is the centrist in this primary and I wish we had more candidates who were prepared to take that stance.

I got to know New York City pretty well in the mid-1970s through the mid-2000s as a finance professor, then the CEO of an urban-policy think tank, and then chief economist for three New York City Comptrollers. Liz Crotty grew up during that period in New York City, and she knows how big an impact crime and civil unrest had on the city during that period. Liz says she experienced the scare of having to run into a Safe Haven Program store. She had to escape predatory men. Someone she knew was the victim of a stabbing.

She graduated from Fordham Law School, and in 2000, she began her six-year career at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office when Robert Morgenthau was Manhattan DA, until 2009.

I am a fan of the Morgenthaus, father Henry and son Robert. My Dad was hired by Henry Morgenthau, Jr. via a competitive civil service exam he took in 1933. Thousands of candidates took the test, and Morgenthau hired just three hundred for the Farm Credit Administration. Morgenthau was put in charge of that agency instead of being in the cabinet as Secretary of Agriculture, because the farm lobby objected to having someone Jewish like Morgenthau heading the agency. Instead, in 1934 FDR appointed Henry Morgenthau Jr. to the position of Secretary of the Treasury (there were also objections to that appointment, but FDR by then was on a roll and paid less attention to complaints about his appointments). I am writing the biography of Henry Morgenthau’s predecessor as Secretary of the Treasury, Will Woodin.

In her six-year stint as an Assistant District Attorney, Liz served first in the Trial Division. She worked on more than three thousand cases altogether. Her Trial Division cases involved street crimes, attempted murder, kidnapping, assault, burglary, robbery, and drug sales, as well as complex crimes like forgery, grand larceny, identity theft, and money laundering. Liz was known for investigating and resolving matters—whether by trial or plea, before both judges and juries.

After serving more than four years in Trial (Bureau 70), Liz moved into the Investigation Division, expanding her legal skills. For two years in the Investigation Division, Liz worked on complex white-collar cases on the local, national, and international levels.

After leaving the Manhattan DA’s Office, Liz worked in civil law on complex international investigations and litigations, involving aviation litigation, wrongful death, negligence, and product liability.

Liz started her own criminal-law firm twelve years ago. She and her partner built a law firm that, represents people throughout New York City and around the world, to help them receive justice. Liz represents people on crimes ranging from grand larceny, fraud, assault to rape, DWI, and weapons possession. A zealous advocate who fights aggressively for her clients, Liz is also well reasoned, approachable and personable.

She can see ways to make the District Attorney’s Office perform better. However, she understands the only way to improve the office is with a practical plan. Her plan starts with ensuring the office is prioritizing every New Yorker’s hope for public safety, because each neighborhood and community needs to feel that the District Attorney’s Office is tackling their concerns. That means it must be responsive to every community in Manhattan, as well as working with the police to ensure they are protecting us with dignity and honor.

Liz is admitted to New York State Courts and the Federal Southern and Eastern Districts of the New York. She currently serves as a board member for the Manhattan District Attorney’s Association, a not-for-profit alumni organization of the Manhattan DA’s Office. In addition, she serves on the New York City Bar Association’s Judiciary Committee, evaluating judicial candidates for election. Most recently, she was a judicial delegate to the NYC Supreme Court judicial convention.

She is a trained Mediator, having completed the Mediation Training at the NY Peace Institute. In addition, she volunteers with the CFI Project, which assists recent immigrant arrivals requesting political asylum and prepares them for their credible fear interview. Liz is also a volunteer on the pro-bono panel in New York’s Southern District.

On June 22, or possibly before, I plan to vote for Liz Crotty for DA.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

WOODIN | FDR's First Treasury Secretary Calms the Bank Panic

Will Woodin (2nd from right) examines a sheet of
greenbacks. He had $2 billion in banknotes printed
and then had Pathé News film them being shipped.
March 9, 2021—On this date in 1933, which was the Thursday after President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Inauguration, the Emergency Banking Relief Act was passed and signed. It may be some kind of legislative record. Congress was called into session with a few days' notice. The bill (EBRA or just EBA) was passed in the House in the first part of the day, in the Senate in the second part. It was then signed by the president.

It didn't go entirely smoothly. Copies of the bill didn't get to all the Members of Congress and it had to be read out in the House. Big pieces were yet to be added to what became the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, including the deposit insurance (FDIC) portion promoted by Rep. Henry B. Steagall and supported by many (not all) of the banks and the fencing off of insured banks from investment bankers, which was Senator Carter Glass's biggest interest.

When they arrived the previous weekend, Roosevelt and his first Treasury Secretary, William H. Woodin, got to work, supported by the "brain trust" led by Professor Raymond Moley and by some senior people from the outgoing staff of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve System. Woodin and Moley were staying at the Mayflower Hotel, but they worked well into the night trying to nail down the procedures for opening up the banks after they were closed by the national "bank holiday." Banks were closed in all 48 states. 

Roosevelt left Secretary Woodin to handle the legislation and the details of reopening the banks. Roosevelt worked on his first Fireside Chat, which was delivered on the radio   on March 12, 1933. Announcing Woodin's plan to a fearful nation, he said:

The new law allows the twelve Federal Reserve Banks to issue additional currency on good assets and thus the banks that reopen will be able to meet every legitimate call. The new currency is being sent out by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing to every part of the country.

Woodin, as a corporate CEO for 15 years, handled the printing of $2 billion in banknotes like he would any deadline for one of his railcar factories. He was there and he worked late to make sure that all the shifts were cranking out the greenbacks. Woodin made sure that Pathé News was there to record the money coming off the presses and the trucks loading up and zooming off to the different clearinghouse banks.

People got back in line at the banks, this time to redeposit the money they had taken out. By the end of March, two-thirds of the money that had been taken out of the nation’s banks had been redeposited. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

PRESIDENT BIDEN'S HISTORY-MAKING CABINET | 21 of 24 confirmed, including all agency heads

President Biden appoints the cabinet. The president
is usually shown "with" his cabinet, but is not a mem-
 ber of it, on the White House official cabinet page.
President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. has nominated 
24 people to cabinet-level positions. Twenty-one have been confirmed as of March 22. One nominee withdrew, given no likely path to confirmation.

The White House Official Cabinet Page shows cabinet members in order of succession, starting with the vice president. The president is not a member of the cabinet, but is usually shown in illustrations or photos "with" the cabinet since George Washington's first term.

U.S. Senate website page posts the current status of cabinet and other civilian confirmations. They are not all cabinet-level.

Succession to the presidency, in the case of the president's death or incapacity, is governed by the Constitution – Article II, Section 1, Clause 6, as well as the 12th Amendment20th Amendment and 25th Amendment. It starts with the Vice President and Speaker of the House and President Pro Tem of the Senate and then goes through the cabinet in the order in which the agencies were created (State, Treasury, Defense, Justice, and so on).

The Senate has confirmed 21 of President Biden's 24 cabinet-level nominees, as of March 22, including ALL of the fifteen heads of large agencies. 
1. Avril Haines, Director of National Intelligence, first-ever female DNI, confirmed 84 to 10, January 20. First nominee to be confirmed. (More below, by agency.)
2. Lloyd J. Austin III, first Black Secretary of Defense, confirmed 93-2, January 22. 
3. Janet Yellen, Secretary of the Treasury. Confirmed 84 to 15, January 25.
4. Antony Blinken, Secretary of State. Confirmed 78-22, January 26. This was the first agency  created, under George Washington.
5. Pete Buttigieg, Secretary of Transportation. Confirmed February 2.
6. Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of Homeland Security. Confirmed February 2.
7. Denis McDonough, Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Confirmed February 8.
8. Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture. Confirmed February 23.
9. Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.N. Ambassador. Confirmed February 23.
10. Jennifer Granholm, Secretary of Energy. Confirmed February 25.
11. Miguel Cardona, Secretary of Education.
12. Gina Raimondo, Secretary of Commerce. Confirmed 84-15, March 2.
13. Cecilia Rouse, Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers. Confirmed 95-4, March 2.
14. Marcia Fudge, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Confirmed March 10.
15. Merrick Garland. Attorney-General. Confirmed March 10.
16. Deb Haaland, Secretary of the Interor. Confirmed March 16.
17. Katherine Tai, Trade Representative. Confirmed March 17.
18. Xavier Becerra, Secretary of HHS. Confirmed March 18.
19. Marty Walsh, Secretary of Labor. Confirmed March 22.

Biden's Historic Cabinet. Of Biden's nominees, nearly half (46 percent, 11/24; with the vice president, 12/25) are women. Women previously never made up more than 41 percent of a cabinet, the highest percent having been in President Bill Clinton's second term. The cabinet was originally composed of just the heads of the largest agencies. That today is fifteen people, of whom five are women, one-third. The other nine positions are cabinet rank. President Biden's official cabinet page includes all cabinet-level appointments. Of Biden’s first 100-plus staff appointees, 60 percent were women, more than 50 percent were people of color and 20 percent were first-generation Americans.

Among cabinet appointees confirmed in the first 100 days of the last three presidential administrations, almost 72 percent were white, and 73 percent were male, says the Brookings Institution. Black Americans have never accounted for as much as one-third of the cabinet.

Note about the cabinet numbers: Cabinet numbers in the past have excluded the president and vice president. President Biden on the White House cabinet page may be signaling that Vice President Kamala Harris part of the cabinet, as she is first in the line of succession. Starting with George Washington, the cabinet has included the president but not the vice president. After the vice president, the Speaker of the House and the President Pro Tem of the Senate, the line of succession begins with leaders of the four agencies created by Washington—secretary of state, secretary of the treasury, secretary of defense (until 1947 secretary of war) and attorney general. Which title is cabinet rank can change with every administration. The order of succession is the order in which the agency was created.

George Washington had a cabinet of four men. George Washington's cabinet shows the President with four other men—the Secretaries of State (Jefferson), Treasury (Hamilton) and War (Knox), and the Attorney-General, heading the Justice Department (Randolph). It was formed after the middle of Washington's first term. The heads of the agencies are listed in order of succession to the presidency.

FDR had a cabinet of ten—nine men and one woman. Besides the four agencies that date back to Washington's cabinet—State (Hull), Treasury (Woodin), War (Dern), Justice (Attorney General Cummings), he added four new ones—Agriculture (Wallace), Commerce (Roper), Interior (Ickes) and Labor (Perkins). The other two agencies have since been dropped as cabinet-level positions, i.e., the Postmaster-General (Farley) and Navy Secretary (Swanson). 

Biden's cabinet is composed of the heads of the core fifteen agencies, plus nine other cabinet-rank positions, listed in order of succession. The first eight agencies are on FDR's list, but two were discontinued, and the Department of War on August 10, 1949 was renamed the Department of Defense. Since Roosevelt, seven agencies have been added: Health and Human Services (HHS, formerly HEW), Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Transportation, Energy, Education, Veterans Administration and Homeland Security (DHS). Total: fifteen. The order of succession is: Vice President, State, Treasury, Defense, Justice (Attorney General), Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Labor,  Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Energy, Education, Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security.

The nine other appointees of cabinet rank head smaller agencies or staff groups (3 men, 6 women). The order of succession is: EPA Administrator,  OMB Director, Director of National Intelligence, US Trade Representative (USTR), US Ambassador to the UN, CEA Chair, SBA Administrator, Science Advisor and the President's Chief of Staff (no Senate confirmation required). 

President's Social Media Handles: Twitter: @POTUS and @JoeBiden . Facebook: Joe Biden . Instagram: @joebiden and @potus. (First Lady Dr Jill Biden: Twitter: @DrBiden . Instagram: @drbiden and @flotus.)

Vice President Kamala Harris. Twitter: @VP and @KamalaHarris . Facebook: Kamala Harris . Instagram: @kamalaharris and @vp. (Doug Emhoff, spouse/second gentleman)Twitter: @SecondGentleman and @DouglasEmhoff . Instagram: @douglasemhoff and @secondgentleman.)

I. CORE-CABINET NOMINEES (Heads of large agencies, subject to Senate confirmation). 15 (10 men, 5 women). (WaPo's list includes the Vice President and Chief of Staff, for a total of 17. Chief of Staff here is in the second group in this list because the Chief of Staff does not head a large department. Cabinet photos also include the President himself, which with the Vice President and Chief of Staff would bring a photo of the core cabinet to 18 people. Other combinations are also possible.)

Agriculture Secretary
Tom Vilsack. He served as Agriculture Secretary under President Obama.

Attorney-General, Department of Justice (CONFIRMED March 10): Merrick Garland. Garland had been nominated for the Supreme Court. He was widely viewed as a superb choice but was not acted on by the Republican Senate.

Commerce Secretary (CONFIRMED, March 2): 
Gina Raimondo. First female governor of Rhode Island. When elected, faced the worst unemployment rate of any state and launched successful workforce training programs. Twitter: Gina Raimondo

Defense Secretary (CONFIRMED, January 22, FIRST BLACK DEFENSE SECRETARY): General (Ret.) Lloyd Austin. First-ever Black defense secretary. A former four-star general, he retired from the military in 2016. Confirmation hearing Jan. 19. Confirmed, January 22. Gen. Lloyd Austin.

Education Secretary (CONFIRMED)
: Miguel Cardona. Former commissioner of education for the State of Connecticut. He is a strong advocate for public schools. Twitter: Miguel Cardona

Energy Secretary (CONFIRMED February 25):
Jennifer Granholm, former governor of the State of Michigan and previous the that was attorney general of the state. Twitter: Jennifer Granholm.

Health and Human Services Secretary: Xavier Becerra. Former attorney general of California, he led the defense of Obamacare. TwitterXavier Becerra. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director: Rochelle Walensky.) No vaccination plan in place from prior president.

Homeland Security Secretary (CONFIRMED February 2): Alejandro Mayorkas . First Latino and first immigrant to the United States in this role. Confirmation hearing January 19. Twitter: Alejandro Mayorkas.

Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary
: Marcia FudgeFudge is the first woman to run HUD in 40 years. She’s the third Black woman named for Biden’s Cabinet. Twitter: Marcia Fudge.

Interior Department Secretary (CONFIRMED)
: Deb Haaland. The first Native American Cabinet secretary and Interior Department head, she marks a turning point for the U.S. government’s stance with our indigenous peoples, who have been highly affected by toxic air and polluted land. Twitter: 
Deb Haaland.

Labor Secretary.
Martin J. (Marty) Walsh (CONFIRMED, March 22). Mayor of Boston, he is the first union leader in the Labor post in half a century. The Department was created in 1933. Walsh champions a $15 minimum wage and paid family leave. Twitter: Marty Walsh.

Secretary of State (CONFIRMED January 26): Antony Blinken.  Blinken served as deputy secretary of State between 2015 and 2017. He advised President-Elect Biden for years and in 2008 worked on Biden's bid for the Democratic nomination, which he lost to former President Obama. Confirmation hearing Jan. 19. Twitter: Antony Blinken.

Transportation Secretary (CONFIRMED): 
Pete Buttigieg. Rhodes Scholar. Was Mayor of South Bend, Indiana. First-ever openly gay cabinet member. Likely future candidate for President. Twitter: 
Pete Buttigieg.

Veterans Affairs Secretary (CONFIRMED February 8). Denis McDonough. The Veterans Administration provides health care and benefits to 9 million veterans. It is the largest health-care delivery system in the nation. Twitter: Denis McDonough. Former chief of staff of President Barack Obama.

II. CABINET RANK NOMINEES (Smaller agencies and WH Staff subject to Senate confirmation except for Chief of Staff Ron Klain) 9 (3 men, 6 women)

Council of Economic Advisers, Chair (CONFIRMED, March 2): 
Cecilia Rouse. Rouse, a  Californian, PhD in economics from Harvard, was Dean of Princeton’s School of Public and International Affairs. Rouse's position is Cabinet status under Biden; Trump had demoted the CEA. (CEA Members: Jared Bernstein and Heather Boushey, confirmation not required.)

Environmental Protection Agency (CONFIRMED, March 10) AdministratorMichael S. ReganCabinet rank, but not a Cabinet Department.

Executive Office of the President, 
Chief of Staff (SENATE CONFIRMATION NOT REQUIRED): Ron Klain (pronounced KLANE). An alum of the Obama-Biden administration, Klain had previously been Biden's chief of staff when he was vice president, which includes the post-2009 economic crisis. He was appointed President Obama's Ebola czar in 2014. Ron Klain (Chief of Staff), @WhiteHouse or @WHCOS. (Deputy Chief of Staff: Bruce Reed.)

National Intelligence Director (FIRST NOMINATION CONFIRMED BY THE SENATE, 84-10 ): 
Avril Haines. Two-hour confirmation hearing, Select Committee on Intelligence.
(National Security Council: National Security Adviser: Jake Sullivan. Rhodes Scholar. This is not a cabinet-level position.)

OMB Director:
Neera Tanden on March 2 withdrew her name from consideration; President Biden has therefore withdrawn it from the list of nominees before the Senate for confirmation. (Deputy Director Shalanda Young has been confirmed; this is not a Cabinet-level position).

Science Adviser. 
Eric Lander. This position is newly elevated under President-Elect Biden to cabinet level. Lander was a leader of the Human Genome Project. He 
directs the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). Twitter: Eric Lander.

Small Business Administration. Isabel Guzman. Comes from the California Office of the Small Business Advocate. Former deputy chief of staff at the SBA and a small business entrepreneur.

U.N. Ambassador (CONFIRMED BY THE SENATE, February 23)
Linda Thomas-Greenfield. The post was non-Cabinet status under Trump, but was restored by President-Elect Bide
n. She was ambassador to Liberia and then Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs in 2013-2017.

U.S. Trade Representative
: Katherine Tai. First woman of color to hold this position.


CIA Director: 
William J. (Bill) Burns. Retired from State Department as Deputy Secretary in 2014. Former ambassador to Russia and Jordan. President of Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Was elevated under Trump to Cabinet level, but is not included in WaPo list as of January 16. Reports to Director of National Intelligence (Avril Haines). Bipartisan support in Intelligence Committee.

Climate Special Presidential Envoy: John Kerry. The new position was recommended by Justice Democrats and the Sunrise Movement. National Climate Adviser: Gina McCarthy.

Communications Director: Kate Bedingfield. Press SecretaryJen(nifer) Psaki. Twitter: Jen Psaki. VP Press Secretary: Twitter:  Sabrina Singh.

Council on Environmental Quality, Chair: Brenda Mallory

Domestic Policy Council, Director: Susan Rice.

National Economic Council, Director: Brian Deese.

The following table includes only the fifteen agency heads, the original definition of the cabinet. 







Secretary of Agriculture

Tom Vilsack

Dec 8, 2020

Feb 2, 2021

Jan 20, 2021

Feb 23, 3021

92-7 Vote No. 63

Attorney General

Merrick Garland

Jan 7, 2021

Feb 22, 2021

Jan 20, 2021

Mar 10, 2021


Secretary of Commerce

Gina Raimondo

Jan 7, 2021

Jan 26, 2021

Jan 20, 2021

Mar 2, 2021

84-15 Vote No. 70

Secretary of Defense

Lloyd Austin

Dec 9, 2020

Jan 19, 2021

Jan 20, 2021

Jan 22, 2021

93-2 Vote No. 5

Secretary of Education

Miguel Cardona

Dec 23, 2020

Feb 3, 2021

Jan 20, 2021

Mar 1, 2021

64-33 Vote No. 68

Secretary of Energy

Jennifer Granholm

Dec 17, 2020

Jan 27, 2021

Jan 20, 2021

Feb 25, 2021

64-35 Vote No. 66

Secretary of Health & Human Services

Xavier Becerra

Dec 8, 2020

Feb 23, 2021

Feb 24, 2021

Jan 20, 2021

March 18, 2021

Secretary of Homeland Security

Alejandro Mayorkas

Nov 23, 2020

Jan 19, 2021

Jan 20, 2021

Feb 2, 2021

56-43 No. 12

Secretary of Housing & Urban Development

Marcia Fudge

Dec 8, 2020

Jan 28, 2021

Jan 20, 2021

Mar 10, 2021


Secretary of Interior

Deb Haaland

Dec 19, 2020

Feb 23-24, 2021

Jan 20, 2021

March 2021

Secretary of Labor

Marty Walsh

Jan 8, 2021

Feb 4, 2021

Jan 20, 2021

March 22, 2021

Secretary of State

Antony Blinken

Nov 23, 2020

Jan 19, 2021

Jan 20, 2021

Jan 26, 2021

78-22 No. 7

Secretary of Transportation

Peter Buttigieg

Dec 16, 2020

Jan 21, 2021

Jan 20, 2021

Feb 2, 2021

86-13 No. 11

Secretary of Treasury

Janet Yellen

Nov 30, 2020

Jan 19, 2021

Jan 20, 2021

Jan 25, 2021

84-15 No. 6

Secretary of Veterans Affairs

Denis McDonough

Dec 11, 2020

Jan 27, 2021

Jan 20, 2021

Feb 8, 2021

87-7 No. 55