The way things look ...
alt= puppy peeking through porch spindles Ocean City boardwalk at night pool closed for season Cmas tree refleceted in glass paperweight (estab. 1999)

Presidential Job Approval
Gallup Wkly: 39% - 3/11/18)
Gallup's US Economic Confidence Index Components (+16, -1)
Gallup - 12/26/17
Civilian Labor Force Participation Rate: 63.0%
Bureau of Labor Statistics - Feb 2018

Tax Reform
I Q 18 II Q 18 III Q 18 IV Q 18
Priv Sect Emp
(000) vs 4Q '17)
Priv Sect Wages
.05% .08%*
(annualized %)
Non-Res Fixed Inv
(annualized %)
Fed Receipts (biil.)
vs. prev. yr to date
1,256 1,287
Deficit (biil.)
vs. prev. yr to date
192 216
* Jan, Feb

 3/17/18 --Cead Mile Failte 

One hundred thousand welcomes to this, our virtual St. Patrick's Day party webpage.

In Ireland, this day has traditionally been treated as primarily a religious observance, starting out with church in the morning, and dedicated to serious spiritual and cultural reflection during the remainder of the day.

Saint Patrick, Christian missionary, bishop and apostle of Ireland, died on March 17, 461 Saul, Downpatrick, Ireland. See History Channel.

A measure of our degeneracy here in the colonies is that we have turned it -- like Halloween, traditionally a day to honor the dead, and New Year's, a day of personal rededication -- basically into a national drink-up.

In all fairness it was the Irish principally who first screwed up Halloween, so only fitting that they should get a little of that back on their national day.

First, there is the parade. You can catch New York's version, the granddaddy of them all, as they say, at

(The very first St. Patrick's Day parade took place in 1762 when Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through New York City.)

Streaming starts around 11 am, and you can stay there, if you want, to the bitter end. That's what my parents used to do in their retirement. (It's on TV locally, still.)

They'd set up a card table in the living room (in an era when houses generally had one television), and have a leisurely lunch capped off with something sweet and several cups of coffee poured with their best china service, eventually leading into scotch and soda and rye and ginger. (That may seem backwards but my parents never were ones to wreck a good high.)

There they'd be still when I got home from work. Wide awake and in a pretty good mood. (Them, not me.)

At that point we'd move ritually inside for corned beef and cabbage, a meal I never cared much for until I reached adulthood myself. And bottles of beer. The latter probably the thing that turned me around.

Other posts on this page ...

Keeping track.
"They have learned that the fountain of youth / Is mixture of gin and vermouth."
Where you stand depends on where you sit (Miles's Law)

You may not have time for the parade, much less such a leisurely indulgence of it. But the corned beef is pretty easy so long as you have the wit to remember to put it on early.

Mastery of the preparation involves little more than tossing a chunk of meat into simmering water for three hours. Cook the carrots, potatoes, and cabbage as you usually would. Just throw them in the same water. They all finish up at the same time, as very good friends.

You don't have to bake your own Irish soda bread, although it's pretty easy too. (I trust. I'm actually trying my hand at it this year for the very first time. I never used to like raisins either.) But you can just buy it.

And then for us (me) it's time for Irish coffee. Coffee, Jameson's (or Tullamore Dew or Bushmills, whatever's on hand), a little sugar and whipped cream (out of the can is fine). And then, for those still awake and able to get there unassisted, time for bed.

To put you in the proper mood during cocktails and the meal and the post meal, here's a playlist of twenty-some Irish ditties to create the atmosphere. Just in case you don't already a playlist of your own stored somewhere. Click the picture.

You want a really virtual St. Patrick's Day party? Facetime us, and we'll synchronize our music play and spend some time exchanging toasts, reminiscences, funny faces and other pleasantries. We'll be around.

It's suggested you finish your night off with The High Kings music video (on the YouTube list) of their rendition of The Parting Glass*. It will send you off to bed with a tear in your eye. How Irish.

Or the last part of one of the night's NCAA tourney basketball games. How American.

Erin Go Bragh, babies!

"Walls for the wind,
And a roof for the rain,
And drinks beside the fire -
Laughter to cheer you
And those you love near you,
And all that your heart may desire!" 
- Irish Blessing

*The Parting Glass is actually Scottish in origin. It was the most popular parting song in Scotland before Robert Burns supplanted it with Auld Lang Syne (1788). The Irish appropriated it from the Scots and turned it into a drinking song. How like them.

 2/10/18 --Put Up and Shut Up - Tax Reform Scorecard 

The president has already made clear that he's already decided "Tax Reform" is already a huge success. Fantastic. Already transforming our way of life. Which is kind of charming since the effect of the new withholding schedules is only beginning to show up in John Q. Public's wallet with February's paychecks.

Bigly? Maybe it will be, but how can he know so soon? Maybe we should wait and see before declaring victory.

How good will it really get? And how will we know? The metrics all can, and will, move in one direction or another in response to any variety of inputs that don't have much to do with tax collections (all that "reform" really changes). But success or failure for this already-famous tax initiative will probably not be nuanced. The result will be pellucid. It's either a big success or it's a flop. No one will be interested in the whys or wherefores.

One suspects the President feels the job was over as soon as the bill passed. He's already moving on. And he expects everyone else will feel the same. He's probably not even thinking anyone will try to follow it along and make sure.

But here at websitesammy we're stupid that way. So with this posting we inaugurate (good word, no?) a running scorecard that will track the salient economic elements that should define how salutary an effect the new reforms are working on us and our financial spirits.

To recap, the stated intentions behind the legislation were these:

  • for economic growth to improve significantly (measured by Gross Domestic Product: GDP
  • for jobs and corporate investment to increase significantly, creating a stronger workplace and greater employment,
  • for payroll wages to rise,
  • for government revenues to grow sufficiently to outpace spending (keeping the deficit from blowing up).

"And if it looks like this then you're doing it right," to quote noted financier Lou Bega.

The measures we need to track, quarter to quarter, are private sector workforce size, private sector employment cost, gross domestic product, non-residential private investment, increase or decrease in the size of the federal deficit, and federal revenue growth.

All captured on the scorecard above, to be updated each quarter. The first two metrics are courtesy of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the second two come from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, and he last two are from the Congressional Budget Office.

Exciting, huh? How will it turn out? No one knows, including Steven Mnuchin and the president. That's why we're doing this, to find out. By the numbers, so to speak.

This posting will gradually recede down the page with the passage of time and flow of tides, like they always do. But the Scorecard will remain with us, riding high in its own banner right there at the top of the page. For, oh, let's say the next three years.

Then we can talk, Mr. President.

  2/2//18 --O Tempora, O Mores 

Christine Keeler died in December, in case you missed it. Didn't get a lot of coverage. Understandable. These days what does other than the Trump White House?

But even under quieter circumstances,readers might not get excited over this bit of news. You'd need to have been born before 1950 to remember her. And those old enough to remember probably can't anyway or at least can't remember much.

And why should they? Be like Hamlet marveling at the actor emoting over the Queen of Troy's grief at her husband's death when the Dane prince himself is struggling to get worked up sufficiently to avenge his own father's murder? ("What's Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba?")

The story of Christine Keeler has interesting parallels for our times and on a number of salient levels. There is this saying in French, Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose. "The more things change, the more they stay the same." Part of the charm of this fatalistic little epigram is that its elements can be directly transposed and it still seems to make a lot of sense. Plus c'est la meme chose, plus ca change.

What was known as "The Profumo Affair" offers interesting insights into what has changed in our lives over 50 years and what has not. And what probably never will.

At the height of the Cold War, Christine Keeler, a rather stunning looking nineteen-year-old, a cabaret dancer and aspiring model in London, got involved with a married government Cabinet minister who was twice her age and married.

John Dennis Profumo was the up-and-coming British politician—Harold Macmillan's Secretary of War—who in 1961 entered into a consensual sexual relationship with Keeler, which, uh, went viral. At first he tried denial, but the scandal eventually led to his resignation from the Conservative government, and finally Macmillan's resignation as prime minister, for "health reasons" in October 1963. The Conservatives lost the ensuing election to Labor's Harold Wilson, ending 13 years of unbroken Tory rule

So how did those two hook up in the first place. Easy? The Rooskies did it. Took sexual advantage of her to compromise him. Really. Well, maybe not really. But that was the story some papers were selling. And the people were buying. As is their wont.

A key figure in the Profumo debacle was Dr. Stephen Thomas Ward, a socially well-connected osteopath who took Keeler under his wing shortly after he met her in Murray's Cabaret in Soho, where she was cabaret dancing (i.e., toplessly).

Christine had come to the big city looking for excitement, adventure and the benefits of better social connections. Ward, who could provide all three, began to show her around.

At a pool party at Cliveden, the Buckinghamshire mansion owned by Lord Astor, Christine caught the eye of John Profumo, the 5th Baron Profumo and aforementioned political up-and-comer. How did she engage such an obviously busy man? She was the one swimming naked in Lord Astor's pool. Profumo, a bit of a libertine, as up-and-coming politicians can be, asked to be introduced. Ward obliged.

"The last thing in speed." Keeler and Rice-Davies

In short order Profumo and Keeler took up an affair. She was young, innocent, stunning AND very active sexually speaking: a girl on the very cutting edge of the 60s. And this was only July of 1961.

As fate would have it, another set of eyes at the Cliveden party took note of Christine's breast stroke in the pool, and that was Yevgeny Ivanov, a naval attache at the Soviet Embassy. Ward was socially connected with him as well and was happy to make another introduction, with same inevitable result. Any friend of Ward's could apparently be a friend of Christine's, for whom "very active sexually speaking" also entailed a strong bias toward polygamy.

She took the geometry in her stride and managed it well, which is to say discretely as well as enthusiastically. Truth be told, there were others in the equation too. Which is actually what eventually brought the whole Profumo matter to a head in the public consciousness.

The British intelligence agency MI5 already had their eyes on Ivanov, as they did any Russian diplomat in their country snooping around. This was during the Cold War and in addition to having more fun in London than they could in Moscow, then as now these guys had a job to do gathering intelligence for the Mother country.

Keeler and Profumo's affair was brief. Some suggest it ended after a few weeks, while others believe it continued, with decreasing fervor, until December 1961. It's generally believed MI5 did the math for Profumo and warned him off Keeler and the Ward crowd for his own good.

British Intelligence (MI5) knew Yevgeny Ivanov thanks to a Soviet double-agent named Oleg Penkovsky, and what they knew was that Ivanov was an intelligence officer in the GRU (Glavnoye Razvedyvatel'noye Upravleniye: Soviet military intelligence). Ward and Ivanov had become firm friends in London. Ivanov frequently visited Ward at his home at Wimpole Mews and sometimes joined weekend parties Ward hosted at the Cliveden cottage (which he rented from Lord Astor).

One story has it that MI5 considered Ivanov a possible defector, and sought Ward's help in turning him. Another take was that Ward might be complicit, aiding and abetting Ivanov in his espionage efforts, Many thought Ivanov was using the Keeler menage a trois to gain access to sensitive papers in Profumo's possession while the British politician was too distracted or besotted or just too stupid to realize what was going on.

Keeler herself was indifferent to politics.

Christine Keeler was born in Uxbridge, west London, on February 22, 1942. Her father deserted the family while she was still a child, and her mother later set up home with another man in a pair of converted railway carriages near Windsor. Christine was sexually abused as a teenager, both by her mother's lover and by his friends, who often employed her as a babysitter.

As soon as she was old enough, Christine headed off to the big city.

The doctor is in. Stephen Thomas Ward: osteopath to the posh.

Whether or not Ward was a spy can be, and still is, debated by those with long memories and lasting interests. What he wasn't, was a pimp. But that's what he was accused of when the Profumo story broke out into the open. Even Christine seemed to be of two minds on the spy angle, telling different stories to different journalists at different times in her life. (For which she got paid.)

One thing Keeler was not, was a prostitute. At least not technically. She said she only took money for sex occasionally when she was really short of cash. Apparently her compensation for sexual favors was mainly the company she carried on with and the lifestyle she shared in. And, of course, the sex.

No, she did not have sex, paid or no, with Ward. That wasn't the basis of their relationship. It seems most likely they were, seriously, just good friends. And roommates. He put a roof over her head in London. He didn't take money from her. In fact he most likely contributed monetarily to helping her maintain her exciting new lifestyle.

He did the same for her fellow cabaret dancer and wide-eyed cosmopolitan ingenue, Mandy Rice-Davies, a fetching blonde originally from Wales with a sexual outlook profile that pretty much matched Christine's.

It was a firearms violation involving two other of Keeler's sexual partners, well after her relationship with Profumo, that brought the Keeler lifestyle into what Billy Joel termed "the white hot spotlight."

Two East Indians, a jazz singer by the name of Aloysius "Lucky" Gordon and an aspiring jazz promoter and accomplished petty thief, Johnny Edgecombe, were competing for Keeler's affections at the time, but were not so gifted with the same diplomatic skills, or taste for public probity, as Messrs. Profumo and Ivanov possessed. These guys bristled with mutual jealousies and recriminations, which led by turns to an ugly public quarrel with Keeler involving a gun.

John Profumo and the missus, a bit of a looker herself in her time.

At one point things had gotten a little too rough between Keeler and Gordon. Edgecombe stepped in as her protector and slashed Gordon's face with a knife. Then after Keeler ended her relationship with Edgecombe and he had a very angry Gordon on his tail, he showed up in December 1962 at Wimpole Mews where Keeler was visiting, and, failing to gain access, fired five shots at the building.

It made the news.

Edgecombe's arrest and trial brought Keeler some public attention. And as tends to happen in such situations, where the press, in pursuit of a hot story, is consumed with publishing all the news that fits, the more salacious the better, Christine's other, more sensitive assignations gradually leaked into public knowledge as well.

The face that launched a thousand flash bulbs

(Edgecombe served five years for possession of a firearm with the intent to endanger life. After his release he scored, at last, some notable success as a promoter and also worked in films and TV. He succumbed to lung and kidney cancer at age 77 in 2010)

But thence the "Profumo Affair," brought on by two guys who had nothing to do with it. It was, of course, abetted by a concern on the part of at least some of the people that at least some of Keeler's affairs could have had at least some impact on national security. Again, the Cold War.

By March 22 1963, Profumo found it necessary to deliver a statement to parliament, denying any "impropriety whatsoever" in his relationship with Christine Keeler. And there that would put an end to that. But by June, he was resigning and Ward was being arrested and charged with living on immoral earnings. This despite the fact that the man was already fairly wealthy with a top-drawer medical clientele.

For Profumo, then considered a prospect for foreign secretary and even maybe a future prime minister, it was the end of a very promising career. His affair with Keeler was no doubt one of many such liaisons he and other Tory Cabinet ministers routinely engaged in. But with the trial, public gossip and the Fleet Street Tabloids were going so far as to link Tory politicians with call-girls and sex orgies (not so far-fetched, by some accounts).

Macmillan and his Cabinet began to fear that Ward trial publicity could surface the names of other establishment figures involved in sexual escapades that would not look good in the light of day.

For Ward himself it got a good deal worse than that. Two days after Profumo's resignation the good doctor was arrested and charged with living off immoral earnings and of procuring. His trial, which posterity has tended to regard as an act of "political revenge," establishment types getting back at a nuisance who'd, however unintentionally, embarrassed them and disturbed the serenity of their social order, began on July 22, 1963.

Evidently while living with Ward, Keeler and Rice-Davies in turn had made small contributions to household expenses and repaid moneys Ward had lent them. The prosecution's case, as preposterous as it may seem, was that these payments represented immoral earnings. Keeler and Rice-Davies were the prosecution's principal witnesses.

On July 30, toward the very end of his trial, Ward in despair took an overdose of sleeping tablets. The next day the jury found him guilty in absentia. (He beat the pimping charges.) On August 3, before sentencing, Ward died without regaining consciousness from his overdose.

17 Wimpole Mews, where one night shots rang out.
"How could they know the palace there had been
Behind the door where my love reigned as queen?"

The media were quick to condemn both Christine Keeler and her friend Mandy Rice-Davies as prostitutes. The thought was not entertained that they might just be randy young women who'd had a stroke of luck with their social calendars and were making their own decisions about their choice and numbers of sexual partners. Picking mainly from among a pool of people who could afford to pick up the check. (With a few low-lifes thrown in on the side. Girls just want to have fun.)

And besides, if they weren't prostitutes then how could Ward be prosecuted as a pimp and for living on immoral earnings?

In December 1963 Keeler herself was sentenced to nine months in prison after pleading guilty to perjury. (She served six.) She had accused Lucky Gordon of assault in 1962 and he got a six-year sentence, but his conviction was overturned on appeal when it was found that the evidence given by Keeler at trial was substantially false. Gordon died in 2017 at the age of 85.

After her release, Keeler sort of faded away. She went through two brief marriages, bore two children, who remain loyal to her, and led a life of undistinguished obscurity and relatively low means. She made some money writing about her experience and giving interviews about a story that steadily lost its importance as the years passed.

She, or rather it, never completely left the stage. There was a movie or two made about the affair, videos and television appearances, even a song by Phil Ochs. In 2013 a West End musical was staged based on the incident, believe it or not. Stephen Ward with book and lyrics by Don Black and Christopher Hampton and music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, enjoyed a very brief run at London's Aldwych Theatre in 2013.

Yevgeny Ivanov was recalled to Moscow in December 1962, before the Profumo affair went public, and continued his naval career in the Soviet Union, serving with the Black Sea fleet. In his memoirs Ivanov claimed to have obtained significant military intelligence while circulating in British political circles.

He said his GRU seniors had been unaware of his relationship with Keeler until the story broke in the UK. He'd seen no need to report upon a private relationship. Revelations of the affair did cause his wife Maya to leave him, however. He was reportedly awarded the Order of Lenin at some point in his later years. In 1994, he was found dead in his Moscow flat at the age of 68.

John the 5th Baron Profumo? A dozen years of charity work in the East End won him a CBE (Commander of the British Empire) in 1975. Bestowed by the Queen in person. He lived well on his substantial inherited wealth. In 1995, Margaret Thatcher invited him to her 70th birthday dinner.

On March 7, 2006, Baron Profumo, at the age of 91, suffered a stroke and died two days later surrounded by his family.

In 1963 Keeler sat for a photo to promote a proposed film on The Keeler Affair. But the first true Love Child of the '60s proved squeamish about posing nude. Photographer Lewis Morley persuaded her to sit astride a plywood chair so that the back would obscure most of her body. In fact, she confessed later she had her knickers on for the entire shoot. The chair got a tonier ending than Keeler did. It is on display in London's Victoria and Albert Museum, the world's largest museum of decorative arts and design.

On December 5, 2017, Christine Keeler passed away at age 73 at the Princess Royal University Hospital in Greater London. She had been suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The news of her death was posted on Facebook, by her son, two days later.

She had been living for several years by then under an assumed name. Her London playmate, Mandy Rice-Davies who'd led a more conventional post-scandal life, had predeceased her three years prior, at age 70, from cancer.

So they're all gone now. Only the story lives, calling to us from the past, from time to time, to remind us of who we are.

Time eventually makes fools of us all, Eric Temple Bell observed a century ago (writing under an assumed name). But except for sacrificial lamb Stephen Ward, the men of the Profumo affair seemed to fare somewhat better than the women, in both reputation and consequences.

That may have been as much due to social class as gender, and anyway perhaps by now, with the "Me Too" movement and increased feminine assertiveness, things will be different. Some people thought they might be after the Profumo Affair. Or after the 60s. Or after 1972.

Men as a class do tend to display bad instincts when in the presence of very good looking women and in the possession of too much stature or power. Some women know how to navigate these circumstances, some how to exploit them. Some are just brutalized by them, victims of their own innocence, naivete or lack of animal awareness.

And Russia, well, Russia is like the poor.

Bell said the only solace from our foolish fate is the knowledge "that greater shall come after us." A. E. Houseman observed that the only real escape is by dying young. As to the former, who cares? And as to the latter, who wants to do that?

  He said ... She said ...

The U.S. gross domestic product, a broad measure of the economy, increased by 2.3 percent, in 2017, federal economists reported Friday. GDP growth slowed in the year's fourth quarter to an annualized rate of 2.6 percent, breaking a two-quarter streak of growth of more than 3 percent. The economy grew far faster in 2017 than during the year before, but the slowed fourth quarter growth underscores the challenge President Trump's administration will have in delivering the growth rates he has promised. Officials had focused on 3 percent GDP growth as proof his economic policies were working, and Trump has said it could go far beyond that target.
January 26, 2017 (citing BEA GDP release of same date)
So we're at 3.3 percent GDP. I see no reason why we don't go to 4 percent, 5 percent, and even 6 percent.
President Donald Trump White House Remarks, December 6, 2017.


Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.
Martin Luther King, Jr., from his book Strength to Love, a collection of his sermons, published in 1963, dealing primarily with racial segregation in the United States and the importance of permanent religious values.