Wednesday, October 21, 2009

October 21, 2009 Wednesday

I am feeling much better today and cleaned the kitchen and did a wash. Unfortunately, everyone else is not feeling well. I was able to make them hot tea and give medicine to the animals since they are sick too. The two new kittens have upper respiratory infections and no one felt well enough to catch them and give them their medications. I could not give them their medications the last few days.

I am the only one that is up right now and will be changing the bed linen which will not be easy since there are people in the beds. Everyone will sleep better with clean linen.

I got out of bed last night and watched the last part of Front Line which I am glad I did. It was about a lawyer named Bond who was a President Bill Clinton appointee who was the head of a small agency and who warned everyone about the derivatives market and how everything in the markets was headed for a big crash. She put in a set of regulations and tried to explain that Wall Street could not regulate itself. Because she was a woman, people like Greenspan and Larry Summers talked down to her and Congress treated her like she was a leper. In a short time, the market behaved as she said it would. Some of the men in charge said they were wrong and should of listened to her. Some like Larry Summers took her ideas and ran with them. Greenspan said he was wrong. Front Line showed her being grilled by the men on the Hill and no one came to her defense. She resigned in 1999 after Congress gutted her agency's power.

I wrote an email to the president that I hoped he watched Front Line. Summers is his adviser. Summers treated Bond deplorably. He was asked to leave Harvard for saying that women were incapable of understanding science. I think it is time for him to go.

When Front Line interviewed Bond, she did not say anything negative about any of the men who treated her terribly. She did warn that regulations should be put in place otherwise Wall Street will crash again.

There is a reason I included this story in this blog. Bond was a very smart woman who went to school at Stanford University and suffered discrimination all of the way through school. When she was elected president of the Law Review, her professors and administrators sent her a letter saying that they were there to help her should she feel she was in over her head. They would never have sent such a letter to a man.

Part of becoming healthier is believing in oneself. She sat there in front of all those senators and never backed down from her belief that the financial system was going to crash because of the way derivatives were traded. They treated her like she was stupid and a dumb woman who did not know what she was talking about. She never backed down. When she left those hearings she implemented the regulations. They took her power away from her.

Part of being healthy is standing alone and believing in oneself so strongly that no one can break your belief in yourself, your vision. When I was in my last job it was so hard to believe in oneself. I was not as strong as Bond was then. In order to survive, one has to be. Women who have survived in the past were as strong as she was. Queen Elizabeth I was as strong as she was. She never married because she knew she would lose her power and become nothing more than chattel so she played a game with her advisers always skipping around the question of never finding the right man to marry when she had no intention of marrying. She kept her own counsel.

Below is a biography of her from Wikipedia:

Brooksley Born

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In office
1996 – 1999
President Bill Clinton

Born 1940
San Francisco, California
Political party Democratic
Alma mater Stanford University, BA & JD
Profession Lawyer, Public official

Brooksley E. Born is an attorney and former American public official who, from August 26, 1996, to June 1, 1999, was chairperson of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the federal agency which oversees the futures and commodity options markets.



Early life

Brooksley Born attended Abraham Lincoln High School in San Francisco. She graduated high school at the age of 16 and then attended Stanford University, where she majored in English and graduated with the class of 1961. She had initially been interested in pursuing a career in medicine. However, the guidance counseling service at Stanford opposed this, as it was their stated opinion that a woman who was interested in becoming a doctor, instead of the


suitable career of a nurse, was merely materialistic and had no sincere interest in healing.[1]

She then attended Stanford Law School, one of only seven women in her class. She gradu

ated at the top of her class, and was named president of the Stanford Law Review. She is sometimes credited with having been the first woman in American history to hold the editorship of a major law review.[2] She was the first female student ever to hold the post. Prior to graduating in 1964 she received the "Outstanding Senior" award.

Legal career

Immediately after law school Born was selected as a law clerk to judge Henry Edgerton of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Following her clerkship, she became an associate at the Washington-based international law firm of Arnold & Porter, where she subsequently rose to a partner. Born was attracted to Arnold & Porter because it was known as one of the few major law firms to have a woman partner at that time, Carolyn Agger, who was the head of the tax practice.[1]

Born had a long and distinguished legal career, serving both the private interests of her clients at Arnold and Porter and the interests of the American public through her prodigious volunteer work. Her early career focused on international trade law, in which she represented a number of Swiss industries and the government of Switzerland.[1] She developed a practice representing clients in numerous complex litigation and arbitration cases involving financial market transactions. Among her other high-profile cases was the matter of the Hunt Brothers attempt to corner the silver market in the 1970s. She eventually rose to be the head of Arnold & Porter's derivatives practice. Notably, Born was named a partner at Arnold & Porter while working part time so she could raise her two young children. When both of her children were school-age, Born returned to practice full-time.

Born took a two year leave of absence from Arnold & Porter to accompany her first husband to Boston, where he had received a fellowship. During that time she worked as a research assistant to law professor Alan Dershowitz.

Born was among the first female attorneys to systematically address inequities regarding how the laws treated women. Born and another female lawyer, Marna Tucker, taught what is considered to have been the first “Women and the Law” course at Catholic University’s Columbus School of Law. The class exclusively concerned prejudicial treatment of women under the laws of the United States, past and present.[3] Born and Tucker were surprised to discover that there was no text book on the issue at the time.[1] Born is also one of the co-founders of the National Women's Law Center.

Throughout her career and into her retirement Born was active in the American Bar Association, the largest professional organization of lawyers in the United States. Initially Born was named a member of the governing council of the ABA's Individual Rights Section, eventually becoming Chairperson.[1] Born and Tucker founded the ABA Women's Caucus, the first organization of female lawyers in the ABA. She held several senior positions in the ABA, including being named the first woman member of the ABA’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary. As a member of the Judiciary Committee Born provided testimony and opinion on persons nominated for positions as Federal judges. In 1980 she was named Chair of the committee. As Chair of the committee, Born was invited to address the U.S. Congress regarding the nomination of Judge Sandra Day O'Connor to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In 1993 Born's name was floated as a possible candidate for Attorney General of the United States, although ultimately Janet Reno was nominated.

Born and the OTC Derivatives Market

Born was appointed a member of the CFTC, on April 15, 1994, by President Bill Clinton. While on the commission and after becoming its chair two years later, Born sought comments on the need to regulate derivatives, specifically swaps that are traded at no central exchange, known as the dark market, and thus have no transparency except to the two counter-parties (no actual regulatory scheme was proposed at the time). Born's team completed a complicated financial analysis which led them to anticipate a serious crisis. That crisis did affect the US and world markets in 2008; but if Born had her way, it might have been prevented. According to Born, it "will happen again and again unless we learn from experience."[4]

The request for comments, called the "Concept Release," stated that the growth of trade in derivatives had prompted the CFTC to re-examine its regulatory scheme.[5] The request for comments was opposed by Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan and Treasury Secretaries Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers.[6] Specifically, on May 7, 1998, former SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt joined the other members of the President’s Working Group – Treasury Secretary Rubin and Federal Reserve Board Chairman Greenspan – in objecting to the issuance of the CFTC’s concept release, in which Born attempted to shed light on the dark market, citing grave concerns about the possible consequences of the CFTC’s action. In particular, these concerns focused on the risk that such discussion would increase legal uncertainty concerning swaps and other OTC derivative instruments and, thus, reduce their value. They claimed potential turmoil created by the report and concerns about the imposition of new regulatory costs also might have stifled innovation and pushed transactions offshore.[7]

As the financial crisis of 2008 gained momentum, newspapers began reporting on what might be some of its causes, including the adversarial relationship Greenspan, Rubin and Levitt had with Brooksley Born,[8] with Greenspan leading the opposition, and how Born's recommendations were suppressed.[6] She is retired from Arnold & Porter and until recently had declined to comment on the unfolding crisis and her efforts to rein in the growing market for derivatives. "The market grew so enormously, with so little oversight and regulation, that it made the financial crisis much deeper and more pervasive than it otherwise would have been." The disagreement has been described as a classic Washington turf war. She now laments the influence of Wall Street lobbyists on the process and the refusal of regulators to discuss even modest reforms.[9]

In 2009 Born was awarded the John F. Kennedy Profiles in Courage Award in recognition of the political courage she demonstrated in sounding early warnings about conditions that contributed to the current global financial crisis. According to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, "...Brooksley Born recognized that the financial security of all Americans was being put at risk by the greed, negligence and opposition of powerful and well connected interests... The catastrophic financial events of recent months have proved them [Born and Sheila Bair] right. Although their warnings were ignored at the time, the American people should be reassured that there are far-sighted public servants at all levels of government who act on principle to protect the people’s interests."[10]

She is married to Alexander E. Bennett (also retired from Arnold & Porter). She has five adult children - two from a previous marriage to Jacob Landau and three stepchildren.[11][12]

Honors and awards

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