Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Protesting Rick Warren at the Inauguration?

Wow, am I a little behind on the latest controversy. And there's just too darn much to read. So rather than get educated, get ready for some hip shooting.

Barack Obama has chosen Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church to give the invocation at his inauguration. And apparently, there's a lot of people who aren't too thrilled about this- particularly, gays and other JO liberals whom I adore so much. These folks want to march on the church, they're calling Warren names, blogging to no end, etc. That's fine. It's called free speech.

But Obama chose Warren personally for this honor. Obama made a decision. Barack Obama- the guy that 56% of American voters voted for this year, is the president elect of our country. He represents change. He represents fresh ideas. He represents something other than the good-ol-boys network (as he's clearly proven with his cabinet selection so far...). He's the chosen one isn't he?

So what is up with all these people questioning his judgement already. He's not even in office and he's managed to offend the whopping 5% of Americans (who are gay) and all the other hateful, spiteful liberal loudmouths who think it's an Obamanation to have Rick Warren even present at his inauguration.

I am appalled at this blatant intollerance and second guessing of our president-elect. I can understand conservatives calling Warren a traitor or sellout or whatever for supporting a liberal leader, but Obama's own people are complaining. And he's not even in office yet!

Wake up America! You made a mistake in selecting Obama. You made a mistake in selecting someone who is really trying to unify. You made a mistake in selecing someone who is reaching across the aisle (both in politics and ideology).

What exactly were you expecting? Were you expecting Obama to go nutso liberal and throw all Republicans in Guantanamo? Ban churches? Declare national gay day. Announce that God doesn't exist? Allow pornography on daytime tv? Confirm the conspiracy theory that was 9/11? Appoint Tim Robbins and Babs to his cabinet?

Friday, December 12, 2008

New York Winners?

I should be working. And when I'm done working I can bury a cable wire, hang the rest of the Christmas lights, take a shower, fix the pool, go Christmas shopping, help at my daughter's school, network, or plan dinner. But instead I'll write about the Yankees- to an audience of...

So the big news of the MLB winter meetings is that the New York teams came away as big winners. How spending a ton of money translates to being winners is a little beyond me as has been proven time and time again over the last decade. So the Yankees have committed $23MM a year for Bartolo Colon II. Yes that's right, the second coming of big fatty. For those with short term memories, you'll see that Colon was traded to the Expos at the trade deadline in 2002 when he was 29. With the Expos, he went 10-4. A year later, he parlayed his success into a lucrative deal with the Angels, a 4 year deal worth about $51MM. He had two solid years but his last two years with the halos he was 7-13. He was 33 and 34 during those crap seasons.

Sabathia just came off a kickass season highlighted with an 11-2 post trade performance. Perfect contract year action. So now he's signed for 7 years with the Yankees at $161MM. That's $23MM a year. He's 2 years younger than Colon was. So that will translate to 4-5 years of kickass performance followed by 2 years of crap. So in reality, his true worth will probably translate to $32MM per year. Now I know that we're talking about two separate pitchers here, but here's the big (key word "big") parallel. Both Colon and Sabathia are big fat dudes- both listed at two and half spins on www.baseballreference.com (which is where I retrieved all stats that I've used for analysis). And big fat dudes tend to break down- especially pitchers who must exert so much force on their bodies 100 pitches per game. And if you compare a guy like Roger Clemens in 1986 to Clemens in 2006, and the dude gained weight. It's a simple derivative of age. So if Colon is listed as 250 now, how much did he weigh 5 years ago?

So the Yankees being defined as big winners sounds very similar to when they signed Carl Pavano. Pavano earned $5MM per win for the Yankees.

Moving on to the Mets and in particular Omar Minaya. Another Expos connection here. Minaya's the J-hole who actually traded for the Bartolo Colon rental- and he only had to give up Grady Sizemore (4 time MVP candidate and 3 time all star) and Cliff Lee (2008 Cy Young Winner, previous CY candidate and 1 time all star). Oh yeah and Brandon Phillips- the starting 2b for the Reds for the last 3 years. So Minaya is a genius if you ask any Expos fan. So now he's the GM of the big money Mets and he has been labeled a winner since he signed K-Rod and Putz. Really?

K-Rod has the new record for saves in a season but he didn't win any awards for that. Oh, I assume he won the Prilosec Relief award or whatever they call it. But anyone who knows closers knows that their lifespan is typically very short. Besides guys like Trevor and Mariano and Billy, closers typically flame out pretty quickly. Look at guys like Keith Foulke or Gagne. Those guys just puttered out after rising so quickly. In fact it's always a risk with any pitcher. It's a big risk to sign a closer- hence K-Rod smartly "only" got a 3 year deal at about $12MM per- which he was smart to take. And going back to Minaya's genius, what else was he supposed to do? The bullpen killed the Mets last year, there are very few top tier closers on the market this year, the Mets have money, so they signed K-Rod. Hell, I could have done that if I were in Minaya's position (ok, I don't speak spanish, so perhaps it would have been a more difficult conversation) So now the Mets have 2 closers of which Wagner is still servicable. So is their bullpen bolstered? Absolutely. Add to that the trade for JJ Putz who was the Mariner's closer in 2007 and you now have 3 closers.

But how many winter meetings end up with the Yankees, Mets or other big market team being declared the "winner"? Don't get me wrong, you can officially name some teams like the Padres, Nationals, Royals, Blue Jays, etc. "losers" and I don't dislike these teams, but they simply didn't make any moves that look like they'll improve their teams. But to name some teams "winners" is absolutely ridiculous. How bout we simply say that these teams spent the most money this winter meeting. Winners are determined in October (ok November) so lets save that label for the appropriate time because at the end of the year, either the Yankees or Mets or both will definately be losers.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Gift of Obama

So since the election has ended, my passions have dwindled a bit. But through the process I wanted to really learn about the candidates. So I signed up for both Obama and McCain's campaign email newsletters from about July forward.

It was pretty cool to keep up on things and hear what each candidate was focussing on, and once the election was over I received a nice thank you note from John McCain's campaign (via email). I received an email of a different tone from the Obama campaign as well. More of a "rah rah", thanks and we'll do a good job sort of email. Very cool- even though I didn't vote for Obama.

But I never unsubscribed from either list... and since then, I've not received anything from McCain- which makes perfect sense. But I've received a handful of emails from the Obama campaign. About four were actually pretty cool- non-editorialized announcement of his staff, innauguration stuff. No big deal. But I've received no less than 3 emails asking me to donate more money for which I will receive in return- either a t-shirt, mug, or calendar. Seriously? And for the purpose of replenishing the DNC war chest? They want individuals who are most affected by our economy to shell out more money to buy some licensed merchandise?

I guess if you want a Billy the Kid Knife

or the Baby Princess Diana Doll

then you can always go to the Franklin Mint. But Obama is now trying to angle into this market?

A Holiday mug (which looks sort of like a coffee mug) for $15

Or a calendar for $35

Or a T Shirt for $30

Maybe I'm not part of that culture that needs to commemorate things like this. I have a few T-shirts from places I've worked, a set of fraternity letters, an Expos baseball jersey, a Star Tours coffee mug. And yeah i guess I paid for some of those things. But now as a business owner I have coffee mugs, notepads and pens with my company logo. But I don't go selling those things to my clients. That would sort of set a crappy image with them. Would I want to hit them up for "donations" to help my business out? Isn't the real end result of the Obama presidency supposed to be a better America with more prosperity for the little guy? So how does making them (ok, us) pay a large amount of money for these trinkets help accomplish that end result? Plus, isn't there a whole industry in these sort of "licensed" merchandise already? Is he trying to put them out of business as well?

Perhaps I'll wait til January 1st rolls around and the calendars will be half off at the mall kiosk.

Now playing: New Order - Touched by the Hand of God (Biff & Memphis remix)
via FoxyTunes

Friday, November 14, 2008

Where to Vacation when you Never Vacation

We're pretty lame about traveling. We've been married for ten years and Nadine and I have vacationed to Mazatlan once. Our honeymoon was a drive up the coast from Orange County to Carmel and back. Since we had our daughter, we've flown up to Seattle and Vancouver once- that was pretty cool. Cole is now 3 and our kids have been on perhaps a combined 6 airplane flights. Our normal "vacation" is a week in California visiting Sea World, Disneyland or the beach. Pretty cool destinations if you live in Iowa or Katmandu, but considering that I grew up 20 minutes from Disneyland and lived in San Diego for 5 years, it's pretty boring.

When I was a kid, it was quite the opposite. My dad was a career Army officer so we as a family visited a lot of the places he had been in his youth. You know, stuff that all kids get to see- like France and Germany and Austria and Guatemala. My mom's Korean so I've done the 16+ hour flight across the Pacific. We went to Tahitii, Hawaii, Washington DC, St. Louis, New York City, Atlanta, Yosemite, The Grand Canyon. Didn't you go on extravagant vacations as a youth? And didn't your parents pull you out of school in February to go on such trips?

So unfortunately, my own family is the complete opposite of the one of my youth.

Well, we are officially planning a vacation for early 2009. A family vacation, and we're on a budget. So when I do my internet research, of course the hot destinations are Hawaii, Florida, or Cruises. But why is it that there are no guides for vacation destinations by month or by budget? Or am I simply looking in the wrong places? I get my mind set on a destination and then some yokel tells me that the best month to go there is August, or some other month besides the month we're planning on going. The bottom line is that there is ALWAYS somewhere cool to go for each month of the year and for each budget and for each climate desired. So why can't I find it?

Here's what I'd like to see: a website where you put these criteria
  • your home location
  • your family size
  • your budget
  • the month you want to travel
  • the number of days you want to vacation
Then, when you hit "submit", the results will show a few domestic and a few foreign destinations that are appropriate for that month. The results will show the various general costs associated with getting there (flight, train, boat), the reasons why those locations were selected. And if it turns out that you can't take 4 people to Kenya for 14 days on a $3000 budget, then it should show what you can get for that amount of money.

The most important criteria should be the desirability of that location for that month- period. Or heck, if my own opinion is not what everyone else wants, then perhaps you rank your search criteria based on level of importance.

Wouldn't that be cool? Where can I find this?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Gay Marriage should NOT be Legal.

I live in Arizona and two things were noteworthy and related. John McCain won here and the anti gay marriage measure on our proposition ballot passed. I voted for both and since they are conservative issues, it's logical that the state as a whole voted for McCain AND this proposition (proposition 102)

But so many Americans are claiming that this election was a vote against conservatism. A vote for change. A statement that America is sick of the bible thumping gun toting regressive conservatives. Was it? Was Obama being elected a statement against conservatism or was it more of the perfect storm that allowed him to be elected by a landslide.

The biggest hot button today is the backlash of the heavily Mormon-backed prop 8 on the California ballot. Yes, liberal, Shwarzenegger/Hollywood California where the media is so dominant and where so much of our national MTV generation was founded, they voted for the anti gay marriage proposition. Shocking isn't it?

So a "majority" of California is happy that their candidate was elected. Down with racism! I'm all for that. Yet there are tons of protests and boycotts and general civil disobedience that such a hateful proposition passed- passed in an election- not by a vote of the California Supreme Court. A vote by the people. Well, we know that a ton more blacks voted. After all, they actually had a reason to vote this time- instead of the standard two old white rich guy ticket that we've had for so many years. And we're proud to have a black president elect. The right decision was made. But just a minute, a wrong decision was made on prop 8. And guess whose fault it is? Those ignorant hateful blacks. And those ignorant hateful Koreans. And those ignorant hateful Mexicans. And of course those ignorant hateful mormons. And who is aiming so much hate towards those people? Many of the same jackasses- that's right jackasses who so strongly supported Obama. You think McCain supporters are unhappy with the prop 8 outcome? Sure there's such a thing as gay republicans, but let's be serious.

So which is it? And who has the final say? You don't like a supreme court decision so you put it on a ballot. You don't like the election results and you sue and take it to the supreme court. I know about checks and balances, but come on!

Sure, the mormons and evangelicals spent a lot of money to get prop 8 passed. You know why? Because they believe in the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman (despite their history in the past). And so they spent a lot of money to get it passed. And they spread "misinformation" and false fear in getting their message across. But didn't Obama spend a lot of money to get elected? And didn't he spread "misinformation" and false fear about McCain and himself and his past? I don't remember seeing any McCain infomercials. I don't remember seeing McCain commercials on every channel for a week straight. Why the double standard? And what if the 55 million McCain supporters started marching for a recall? They'd be considered racists. They'd be considered whiners. But a bunch of homosexuals and "straights against hate" supporters march and if someone objects, then guess what, those objectors are intollerant and hateful.

Don't get me wrong. I am a hater. I hate a lot of things- just look at my blog. I hate people getting murdered, and criminals getting away with crime, and disease, and getting ripped off, and expensive gas, and high taxes, and seeing stores close, and seeing my home value drop 60%, and when i'm out of cookies, and the Yankees, and when my feet itch, and when my dog pees in the house, and when people do a bad job, and when i forget to take the trash to the curb. But I don't hate gay people. I don't hate black people. I don't hate democrats.

I believe in democracy. I believe in tolerance. I believe in acceptance. I believe that when the people have spoken, they have spoken. I DO believe that marriage is and should be defined as between a man and a woman. I DO believe that we have enough to teach our children including about homosexuality.

My 7 year old daughter and I just read a Curious George story and a bird was described as gay. My daughter asked what that meant and luckily I could stick with the contextual definition for now. But when I talk to her about homosexuality, then I'll be ready for it and she's ready for it or will be soon. But most kids learn about marriage when they are 3ish. And if they're lucky, with their parental example, they see that it's a man and a woman- and it really doesn't need any explanation- it's observed. After all, they themselves came from the union of a man and woman- whether it was in marriage or not. So kids can spend a few years knowing "marriage" without having it explained to them. But now they want us to explain the complexities of marriage to our kids earlier and I'm not cool with that. It sucked explaining divorce to my daughter. Now you want me to tell her that "oh yeah, and two dudes can be married too"

And sorry to be simplistic, but how is it hateful to not want gay marriage, and how is their fight the same as the black civil rights fight? Blacks couldn't ride on the bus, or go to school, or serve in the same platoon as whites, or drink from common drinking fountains. And now they can. Gays can already be gay with each other. Gays can live with each other. That's not against the law is it? Imagine if we put people in jail for sodomy. Gays can bequeath their estates to one another- if Leona Helmsley can leave 12MM to her dog, then by golly gays should be able to give their money freely. Gays can share medical insurance- and if they can't, then why not? Gays can be legally bound to one another- and if they can't then why not? And if you tell me that by allowing gay marriage, they'll be able to do all those things, then I say to you, really? Gays really need the term "marriage" to make their lives complete? And if some people don't want gays to use the term "marriage" (the majority of people if i didn't already mention that), then perhaps we, yes WE are holding, no wait grasping, at yet another value that we see slipping away.

It's a slippery slope. I won't go into the "oh yeah, well if you allow gay marriage, then what about marrying your sister, or a minor, or a duck, or a car" argument. It's too exhausting, so let's go back a bit. In 1960, Jack Parr couldn't say "WC" for "Water Closet". Now we've got people skanking around on Rock of Love, being able to see full on hardcore porn at the simple click of a mouse, kids telling their teachers to F off and their parents suing for kicking their kid out of school, 16 year old pop stars dating 20 year olds, open and glorified drug use discussion on the radio. The slope is already slid down 90%, and the voice of reason is trying to hold on to the definition of marriage. It is about our kids. It's all about our kids. They'll learn about certain things in time. They all do. And it should be discussed by parents with internet filters, and TV rules, and teaching manners, and values. But when you have to change the definition of one of the basic concepts of our society, you are cramming it down our throats. And when only 5-7% of the population falls in that category, they have no right to complain when the majority doesn't want it.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

When Political Worlds Collide... But Refuse to Meet

You've got to admit that when you see an opinion you disagree with, the natural tendancy is to try and dispute it with our knowledge. Will extreme right wingers ever convince extreme left wingers or vice versa? Or do they immediately determine the angle of the opinion and filter in the Peanuts teacher voice? Or simply feel compelled to reply since there's a history of opposing views?

So where does that leave us in the big picture of our country? We've got polar opposites all across this country who will seemingly never see eye to eye but then you'll even get two republicans together and they might hate each other because one is a Palin "right" backward thinking, holding on to the past conservative, and one is a McCain "right" sympathizing sell out. And then when an election comes, it typically breaks down to blind allegiance regardless of the issues. Or the centrists could go either way. But most people see an R or a D and we vote for what our party is.

Is it a good attribute to be set in your ways? Black and white and no exceptions? Even when you're significantly in the minority? And if you're vocal and articulate about your minority view- like many tv and radio news figures, what is the end result of sticking to your guns- especially right after you lose? Is Ann Coulter really going to spend the next 4 years at the intensity level she's at?

Every once in a while someone blows around out of obscurity to rise to a significant leadership position. He's not the same old. He promises change and perhaps he has a history of doing just that. And perhaps the nation is ready to embrace that sort of change since they voted to increase his purchasing power by giving him a higher credit limit in the form of congressional allies. And perhaps that guy is Obama.

So, let's assume that we all love our country, its principles and our superiority to any other country (and if you don't like what i just said, then i appreciate you talking about your hatred for america yet how you continue to live here instead of your favorite non-american country) And say you love the fact that we do have the right to democratically vote for who we want, vote to get rid of who we don't want and actually have a voice in our livelihood, social issues and how our government spends our money.

And lets assume that you (like I) don't like certain things about our country- like poverty, and potholes, and intollerance, and healthcare, and morals, and war, and frivilous lawsuits, and hatred of american by both foreigners AND "americans", and injustice, and broken families, and crime and all sorts of other things.

How does continuing to polarize our opposing views on how things should be fixed give our elected officials any real chance at making changes. Is it the method or the result that is more important? Or would you rather have no acceptance of the proposed method and no change because nobody can agree on a method, which seems to often be the reality of it all. Is flat out hatred for those with the opposite view part of the solution? I find it hard to believe that even the God hating atheists would disagree with the teachings of Jesus whether you believe in Him or not. No, not the teachings of the church and not the examples of "Christians" you may know.

Guess what all you God haters, everyone- even the dude up front doing the preaching, has sinned and continues to sin. And if you haven't already put the Peanuts teacher filter on me since I mentioned God AND Jesus in the same sentence, why don't you pick up a bible and specifically read Matthew 5 through Matthew 7- and get yourself a New International version or Living Bible version so the language doesn't put you to sleep. And heck, you can even filter out every mention of God or Jesus and just read it like that. And I'm sure the God haters could even cite something similar that was written by "secular" philosophers that they might enjoy.

It is sort of fulfilling when you have banter with someone you disagree with. And if you are well versed, and they are well versed and you are respectful people then it can be fun. But hopefully it doesn't come down to personal attacks on each other for your beliefs. We just want people to see things our way. But if we want people to see things our way without keeping an open mind to "their" way, then we are not ever going to get any more unified as Americans. Are we scared of being "turned" their way so we blindly defend our views and don't even listen to theirs? Could we perhaps be wrong in some of our views or perhaps find a compromising viewpoint that we can both agree on? Expand our microcosm on a message board or blog or whatever, to a national level and that's what I'm talking about. What's it going to take to get the far left and the far right on not necessarily the same page, but at least within the same book? And if you say it will never happen, that it's that exact attitude that is destructive instead of constructive.

I love America and believe in democracy. Of course moderates will agree with what I'm saying, but for the extemes- tell me what you believe needs to be done to help unite our country or at least our own digital community. Tell me why you can't listen and consider the opposite view and instead of simply blindly hating it and citing the past, how bout offering a solution and a look forward?

The West Wing Parallel

I was a big fan of The West Wing. Sort of an idealistic view of how the right administration can make a difference. A noble president who loves his country. Sure it's a democrat based administration which is typical of both Hollywood and Sorkin, but the whole lame duck election storyline was very intriguing.

I won't bore anyone with the whole prediction of Barack Obama running and winning. You've got to admit that was pretty intriguing how this minority junior senator comes out of nowhere and not only comes to the spotlight but wins it all.

But in keeping with their message of unity, the newly elected Jimmy Smitts reaches out to his Republican rival (Alan Alda) and asks him to join his administration as secretary of state. Now I'm not saying that Obama should offer such a position to McCain who is slightly more hawkish than Obama. But the whole concept of "change" that was beaten into our heads should mean an effort at national unity right? At least that's what I would want. So of course Obama will select a diverse cabinet. He really doesn't need any blacks- after all, he's the boss now, so I don't see how anyone could complain if he didn't choose any blacks. Would they call him a racist? So of course he'll have a mix of women and minorities and some more right leaning individuals perhaps.

But what about John McCain? He was our candidate. He was the one voted for by 55 million Americans. And believe me, there are a ton of upset Americans right now. McCain has a long history of reaching across the aisle in bipartisal efforts. Will Obama reach out to McCain for a significant role in his cabinet? It really would send a good message to Americans. And I believe it would be a great gesture that could promote unity among us all.

And heck, he might even have a use for Ron Paul or Ralph Nader.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Last Push for Reality Against Obama

I'm tired of ignorance. I'm tired of laziness. I'm tired of people wanting change just for the sake of change. And that's exactly what people think they'll get when Obama is elected. Yes I said "when" because it is going to happen, despite what I vote, or my small circle of influence. Even the professionals aren't able to open the eyes of American on how Obama is not the savior that he makes himself out to be.

Will he give America a better image in the eyes of the world? Will he peacefully resolve the war in Iraq? Will he prevent future terrorist activity against Americans? Will he sound articulate and intelligent in his speeches? Will he bring economic stability and prosperity to America? Will he bring more jobs to Americans? Will he keep big corporations headquartered in America? Will he keep Americans healthy at an affordable price? Will he unify our country's politicians? Will he stop the hatred within our country?

The answer to many of these questions is a big fat "who knows" and "probably not". As someone said on the radio a few days ago, politicians speak of the winds of change and they always end up being a big leaf blower. They make lots of noise, blow everything around but then everything settles back down and nothing changes.

It's said that every president since Nixon has mandated that we would stop our dependence on foreign oil within just a few years. And where are we now?

Is our current push for more economic vehicles really a new trend? Wasn't the Honda CRX getting 50MPG back in 1983? How are we able to get the same computing power that put the space shuttle in orbit within a $300 iphone. But we can't get more than 30MPG in a car within that same timespan? Carter and Clinton couldn't do it. So Obama can?

But I digress. As you may know, I'm a real estate Appraiser, so I am heavily involved in the residential real estate market and was there for the Southern California boom and the Phoenix boom. So here's a little personal history and how it relates to the big picture.

My wife and I bought our first house in 1999 for the paltry sum of $220,000. A purchase price $20,000 more than the previous owners paid in 1987- that's right, in 12 years, the prior owners saw their home value increase a total of $20,000. In reality, they saw their value drop significantly during the late 80's/90's market downturn so they got out once they saw the light of day.

We bought our first house when my wife and I were both working, with no kids. I was making about $24k per year and she was making about $36k. We had our $20k down payment, we supplied full W2s, we provided bank statements, we provided references, etc. And since we didn't have 20% down, we paid PMI. Isn't that the right way to qualify for a mortgage? At least it was back then.

But then, when our home value went up to about $260k within a year, we refinanced to get rid of our PMI. We then refinanced when it was worth about $290k. After all, interest rates were dropping, and we wanted to improve our home features. So after that refi, we took some cash out, put it in the home, and our total payment was actually less than what we were originally paying when we first bought the home. Amazing. And for some reason we needed less and less documentation to get these refinances done. We didn't question it.

Then, when we had a major life change, my mom wanted to sell us her house. I had lost my job in the dot-com world and was preparing to delve into the appraisal industry. So now that my wife was making about $60k, how in the world could we afford a $600k home? Well guess what, some new "stated income" program allowed us to qualify for that house. Plus, since we sold our old house at a huge profit, for a 20% down payment and a lower than market value sale price, how could we say no.

So now we're in our interest only 5 year ARM at still an awesome rate and I was now appraising homes for a good company. So the affordability wasn't a factor at all. But in doing close to a thousand appraisals in SoCal between 2003 and 2005, I saw the mayhem that was going on. People buying crappy 1000SF 70 year old boxes facing busy streets for half a million bucks- and not to sound judgmental, but we're talking about people who appeared to be less than qualified (sorry to judge, but I won't question you on your job insights and you don't question mine). Entire neighborhoods of new tract homes worth $800k, with stay at home moms. People buying handfuls of homes at a time- after all, the ride was continuing.

But then when our second child was born and we saw the mayhem in California coming to a head, we realized that we needed to get out, move to a slower pace, and really raise our family in what we felt was the right way- one parent staying at home during the formative years, affordable home payments, less traffic, better economy, etc. So we "bought" a house in Arizona while we still owned our California one- with the intention of selling the California one and moving to Arizona directly. The house we had in California was worth about $900k, built in 1969 and about 2800SF. The house we were buying in Arizona was worth about $400k, built in 2005 and about 2800SF. Now that's practical- right?

Never mind the fact that we got stuck with a higher rate because the lender didn't believe that we were really moving into the home. We knew our intentions. We sold our California house at the perfect time and I started my business. But now that I was a local, I started to see the reality of what we moved into. On our block alone within a brand new master planned community of about 1700 homes, there are about 38 houses. Of those 38 houses, 12 are owner occupied. Of the rest, 25ish were investment properties. Those 25ish were owned by about 20 individuals- that's right, we have on our street alone several homes that are owned by the same person- who lives in another state. and then there's the rest that have been vacant since we moved in. Since then, we've seen about 8 houses on our block go into foreclosure and now we have about 12-13 owner occupied homes. But guess what, our home is now worth about $240k. We're faithfully making our mortgage payments, we take care of our yard, we love our community. But we've got a 5 year ARM with about 2 years left before it adjusts. So when you see the news stories of "people" who have fallen victim to this sort of thing, now you have an actual example. But we're still making our payments and are doing our best.

So now that I've gone off on some strange non-political rant, what the heck is my point? Well here's another video for you to watch. But instead of simply posting it, let me narrate from my own perspective. This is not a video with crazy music or nasty photos of people involved. Just their actual published and viewed statements and comments made by the individuals, newscasters and anyone else involved.

Now the first gentleman you see is a man named Andrew Cuomo and he was the chairman of the HUD during the Clinton administration. In this video from 1998 (around the time we bought our first house) you can see that he had this press conference essentially criticizing mortgage discrimination based on "financial credit history". Now I'm not sure what the main criteria should be for giving loans, but especially for something like real estate, I'd like to think that credit history is sort of a very important judge of someone's financial sensibilities. Or maybe I'm racist too for suggesting that credit history should be considered for giving mortgage loans.

So the banks had agreed (due to pressure from the CRA) to lower their standards for mortgage lending. This is despite the fact that (starting at around minute 3:04ish), Cuomo even admits that they expected more defaults due to this affirmative action. Why do I keep mentioning Cuomo? I'll get to that in a bit.

So who enforced and pressed for these loans to be given? Minority groups- minority groups with strong legal counsel. That's right, organizations like ACORN of which Barack Obama is so proud to have fought for. Now I've seen a lot of youtube videos with liberals mocking conservatives for not really knowing what ACORN stands for, but it's pretty simple. ACORN, among other endeavors legally fought for standards to be lowered so that more shaky loans could be given out to uncreditworthy people- specifically, minorities. And this was despite protests by Fannie and Freddie who thought it was a bad idea- the same Fannie and Freddie who are being bailed out by yours and my tax dollars for bad decisions that they made.

Now if you stand up to someone who's arguing for minority rights- regardless of what's the right thing, and they have a smooth talking lawyer, guess what- you're a racist. And you get Gloria Allred and Al Sharpton making you out to be the second coming of Hitler, and nobody wants that sort of PR nightmare. So unfortunately, the lenders had to succumb to the pressure of ACORN. And then subsequently Fannie and Freddie had to give in as well.

But with these loose credit standards available to minorities, guess what- those sort of loans started becoming available to practically anyone. And lending standards loosened even more. Using my own personal example above, we got a loan on a $600k house while we still owned our old house- and I was unemployed. We then bought our Arizona house while we still had our huge mortgage payment in California- and I didn't have to provide any documentation. And guess what, I'm not black! And I'm not Mexican!

And not to sound like too much of a connect the dots conspiracist, but as clearly described, Obama was significantly involved in the actions of ACORN. He pushed for these loans based on discrimination. Now again, not to sound racist, but there's nothing really immoral with what he and ACORN was doing is there? I believe in giving people the benefit of the doubt. I'm a forgiving person. I believe in the good in people. But giving a bunch of money to people who shouldn't have it in the first place? Is that smart? Not to mention that the loan payments changed over time to unaffordable levels. But will Barack Obama admit that he is a major contributor to our mortgage meltdown? At about minute 7:00 of the video, he fails to accept any blame- of course not- HE'S A POLITICIAN!

Now I've actually heard a lot of people say it's predatory lending, or fraudulent appraisals, or bait and switch tactics. And there is no doubt whatsoever that these sorts of thing occured. But why did they occur? Because with these mandated lending practices FROM THE TOP and from ACORN and Clinton, and yes Greenspan too, and yes the politicians who turned the blind eye, now you have so much competition to get these loans done that it was a mad scramble to all of us minnows. If I couldn't appraise a home in time for a value that was needed, there were a zillion other Appraisers who would be happy to. If a loan officer couldn't get the right loan for the client, then there were a zillion others who could (and by the way, unlicensed loan officers in Arizona- because it's not required). If the realtor couldn't make the deal work, then there were a zillion other realtors available. But who created these NINJA loans (No Income, No Job). Who forced everyone else to offer the same loan program in order to stay competitive? If WAMU had that loan program and Countrywide didn't, then Countrywide would lose a lot of potential business.

So who is to blame? In my book it's pretty clear that it's guys like Obama who are to blame. No, not him alone, but by gosh, he sure did fight tooth and nail to make sure that those sorts of loans were available.

Now getting back to Cuomo, let me tell you why his remarks on this video got me so riled up.

I am a Certified Real Estate Appraiser. That means that I took a certain amount of classes, took a few tests, paid some fees and most importantly, I spent 2 years in training under the supervision of an experience Appraiser. For two years, he reviewed every single appraisal that I did to make sure that it passed muster. After the S&L meltdown in the late 80s, appraising became a federally regulated industry with its own set of standards that must be upheld by Appraisers. And the good Appraisers in the world are honest people who do the right thing.

Now earlier in 2008, Mr. Cuomo- who is now the Attorney General for the state of New York has decided that the blame of the mortgage meltdown is a result of bad Appraisers. The most heavily regulated part of the real estate equation is the one who must now pay the price- for loan fraud, inflated values, and otherwise bad loans. Per his logic, it's not the fault of the mortgage companies. It's not the fault of Fannie and Freddie. It's not the fault of people like Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter for pushing to create potentially fraudulent loan types. And by gosh, it sure as heck isn't his fault. How was he involved in this whole process? Oh wait, why don't you watch the video again and listen to what this fine specimine helped mandate 10 years ago.

Now my rant is done and I feel like I've made my point on why Obama is NOT the answer.
  • If you want a fast exit from Iraq with defeat as our legacy- Obama is the man
  • If you want more corporations to leave America or outsource their operations because they don't want to get taxed so much- Obama is the man
  • If you want a president so heavily responsible for the mortgage meltdown that it's laughable- Obama is definately the man.
  • If you want to see more government spending- Obama is the man
  • If you want to see socialized medicine- Obama is the man
  • If you want to see more kindergarden teachers making their 5 year old students vow to defend gay rights without even consulting with their parents first- Obama is the man
  • If you want more "entitlements" for lazy people- Obama is the man
  • If you feel that rich people should pay more taxes to support the public schools that they don't even use and the social programs that they don't even use- Obama is the man
  • If you want a president who will actually polarize our country even more due to the crazy militant redneck racists that still exist in droves in our nation- Obama is the man. (for a guy who is hated so much and has such a low approval rating, George Bush seems to have fared pretty well in the physical threats against him category- Obama hasn't even been elected yet, and he's already had at least 3 thwarted plots against him. I'm telling you, there are some messed up retarded people in our country
Don't worry, I'm done for tonight. I'll save my Cuomo rant for later.

Oh yeah, and you know he's a Muslim too? ;)

Friday, October 31, 2008

The Simple Explanation of our Bailout

Ahh SNL. How even they are able to simplify the reality of things while making us laugh


Sunday, October 26, 2008

More on the Indians

A few months back I went through a cursory history of American Indians in each of our United States. I'm in the middle of a book called The Education of Little Tree by Forrest Carter (never mind who he is, that's not the point here), and I came across a very well written passage from chapter 6. I don't care about the accuracy of it or who wrote it. All I care about is how it was written:

...the government soldiers came, and told them to sign the paper. Told them the paper meant that the new white settlers would know where they could settle and where they would not take land of the Cherokee. And after they had signed it, more government soldiers came with guns and long knives fixed on their guns. The soldiers said the paper had changed its words. The words now said that the Cherokee must give up his valleys, his homes and his mountains. He must go far toward the setting sun, where the government had other land for the Cherokee, land that the white man did not want.

How the government soldiers came, and ringed a big valley with their guns, and at night with their campfires. They put the Cherokees in the ring. They brought Cherokees in from other mountains and valleys in bunches like cattle, and put them in the ring.

After a long time of this, when they had most of the Cherokees, they brought wagons and mules and told the Cherokees they could ride to the land of the setting sun. The Cherokees had nothing left. But they would not ride, and so they saved something. You could not see it or wear it or eat it, but they saved something; and they would not ride. They walked.

Government soldiers rode before them, on each side of them, behind them. The Cherokee men walked and looked straight ahead and would not look down, nor at the soldiers. Their women and their children followed in the footsteps and would not look at the soldiers.

Far behind them, the empty wagons rattled and rumbled and served no use. The wagons could not steal the soul of the Cherokee. The land was stolen from him, his home; but the Cherokee would not let the wagons steal his soul.

As they passed the villages of the white man, people lined the trail to watch them pass. At first, they laughed at how foolish was the Cherokee to walk with the empty wagons rattling behind him. The Cherokee did not turn his head at their laughter, and soon there was no laughter.

And as the Cherokee walked farther from his mountains, he began to die. His soul did not die, nor did it weaken. It was the very young and the very old and the sick.

At first the soldiers let them stop to bury their dead; but then, more died- by the hundreds- by the thousands. More than a third of them were to die on the Trail. The soldiers said they could only bury their dead every three days; for the soldiers wished to hurry and be finished with the Cherokee. The soldiers said the wagons would carry the dead, but the Cherokee would not put his dead in the wagons. He carried them. Walking.

The little boy carried his dead baby sister, and slept by her at night on the ground. He lifted her in his arms in the morning, and carried her.

The husband carried his dead wife. The son carried his dead mother, his father. The mother carried her dead baby. They carried them in their arms. And walked. And they did not turn their heads to look at the solders, nor to look at the people who lined the sides of the Trail to watch them pass. Some of the people cried. But the Cherokee did not cry. Not on the outside, for the Cherokee would not let them see his soul; as he would not ride in the wagons.

And so they called it the Trail of Tears. Not because the Cherokee cried; for he did not. They called it the Trial of Tears for it sounds romantic and speaks of the sorrow of those who stood by the Trail. A death march is not romantic.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

My Favorite Day of the Week

What's your favorite day of the week? Well I'm sure it depends on who you are and what you do.

If you're a toddler, you probably like "zoo day" or "music day" with your mom- or perhaps "playdate day"- again, not a specific day.

In elementary school kid, you probably like Friday- after all, it's usually Pizza Day. Or maybe in our crappy underfunded school system where PE is only twice a week, then perhaps PE day is your favorite- or Computer lab day. Or the one that parents hate- half day, which usually is on a Wednesday, as if we don't work.

Once you hit Jr. High or High school, perhaps you look forward to Fridays because of a different reason- like football night. Or sports in general might lead to "game day" being your favorite- or most hated, if your parents make you play.

We all look forward to Saturday since there's no school, and most people don't work. But for those who work retail, then Saturday would probably be a bad day.

Sunday's good for church. I'm in between Sunday services right now. We all need a little refreshing for the week, plus a day to worship.

Wait, I almost forgot payday. Maybe it's every other Friday or twice a month- what about the every other Friday schedule where you actually get 3 checks in a single month? Those are pretty cool aren't they? Or along the workweek vein, perhaps you look forward to "hump day" since the workweek is half over.

Well let me tell you my favorite day of the week. Perhaps it's a guy thing, I don't know. My favorite day of the week is Trash Day. That's right- my favorite day of the week is the day that the trash truck comes.

Now I don't have a large family- just two kids, my wife and a dog. I don't live on a big property- it's a tract home- we live at the end of a cul-de-sac, more on that later. But we collect plenty of trash. Nothing unusual, but it never fails that the curbside trash can is loaded 9 out of 10 trash days. Add to that the fact that my home office sits above the front of the house so I can see the trash man come, and I get immediate satisfaction upon its departure.

But I don't really enjoy trash or the trash dude. I enjoy the fact that it's gone. I enjoy knowing that I have a fresh empty can. It's sort of like when guys go to public restrooms- we always flush before we do our business. It's the fresh bowl mentality. And the reason it feels so good to see it go is that it means that I can fill it up again- the trash can AND the toilet.

Especially in the summertime in Arizona, when it's often 110 plus for months straight, it is not fun to mow the lawn. I'm not rich enough to pay someone to do it, plus I don't think that my "grounds" warrant hiring a gardener, so I do it myself. But I have to cut the grass no less than once every 10 days. If I miss that 10 day cutoff, then we have jungle action, with hidden dog crap. And then we're in trouble. So after grass day, I'll have perhaps 4 bags of grass, of which 2 will fit in the can with room for house trash. So then I have a few bags laying around on the ground because they will miss the bus. So the monstrosity of the overloaded trash can is now on the street awaiting "the man" (and this is a good man). if i'm lucky, my neighbor's trash isn't full and i hitchhike with his load- and he'd do the same with me- what do i care, it's all trash.

So especially on the days I'm in the office, I see that trash can awaiting the day of judgment. And then he comes rumbling up the street. I can't see him coming, but the sound is unmistakable and what a glorious sound it is. However, there are times when it is painful...

There are the times- when I drop the kids off at school on trash day and I have an important phone call to make, or I have a noon deadline and I haven't taken the trash out yet. I tell myself that I'll get it done by say 11AM. After all, he comes at noon or later every time. But then time flies by. And I lose track. And the line of sight deficiency comes back to bite me. I hear him rumbling when he's two houses away and it's too late. I kick myself in anger. Back in our old house in Seal Beach, we lived on a street and the trash man would do the opposite side first. So I'd have a good 3 minutes to make up for my lapse. But on my current culdesac, I'm screwed. I'm defeated by my own procrastination. I am ashamed.

But when all cylinders are firing and the trash is out and taken and I'm home and there's more to fill, I'll practically run out to the curb, bring it back to our side yard and fill it up again. I don't care so much that it's empty, it's more the fact that I can put trash in its place and I can trim bushes and get more crap out of the house and into the can. Then that "fresh" trash has a few days to settle while it waits for the Man to arrive again. What a glorious feeling

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Why Abortion Must be Kept Legal and Safe

As a conservative, I believe that abortion in general is bad. No, Roe vs. Wade should not be overturned. But for the most part abortion should be kept legal for situations such as rape, incest or other extenuating circumstances that I will not even begin to define. But it's all based on responsibility.

But with the new Nebraska "Safe Haven" law, I see parallels with the concept of responsibility. The safe haven law allows parents to drop off children that they are unable to keep without fear of prosecution for child abandonment. First oof, how this law got passed is beyond me, but i don't live in Nebraska and don't know the law and its history, but obviously it got what it needed to become a law. So let's just assume that the lawmakers and those who voted for it knew what they were getting into.

But so far as of October 14th, 18 kids have been dropped off. Wow. That's a lot of abandoned kids. I'd like to think that those families had drug problems or abuse problems, but unfortunately that's not the case. From this story, it looks like at least 11 were dropped off due to "overwhelmed" parents. Are out of control kids or parents who can't cope, the reason this law was made? Well, over 50% of those who've taken advantage of it so far are using it for this purpose.

So what does this have to do with abortion? I'll tell you what.

I'd be willing to bet (no scientific proof even attempted) that a very large number of abortions performed in our country are due to irresponsibility. And unfortunately, the most irresponsible people are young people. Me, I'm married with two kids and we are not in the market for a third, so if we accidentally get pregnant again, then at least my wife and I can take the responsibility for our irresponsibility. Perhaps we'd blame me for not getting snipped. Who knows. But when a 14 year old gets pregnant the first time she has sex because she wants to feel "loved" or a college student gets a little too drunk and has unprotected sex with a stranger, then you're talking about irresponsibility plain and simple.

Can we really expect our children to pay the consequences for these youthful decisions that are driven by very primitive motives? Have the married men out there ever had morning wood and absolutely had to have sex before taking a shower? I think that primal desire goes on through a majority of our lives.

So, while I don't believe in an easy fix for irresponsibility, do we really want more unwed teens- kids raising kids? Do we really want kids without fathers? Do we really want families that have to suffer a life of poverty because their parents couldn't finish school because they had an unplanned chiled? Don't get me wrong, those who have the kids and really try typically seem to have all the love that any other family might have, but it's really not a pattern that should be encouraged or even deemed acceptable.

So to summarize, the "Safe Haven" law is a ridiculous law that shows just how irresponsible many parents are- willing to drive cross country to Nebraska to take advantage of this law. But based on those early statistics, the logically similar unplanned pregnancy statistics deem it crucial that abortion be kept legal- not as a safety net like the abortion pill, but as a safe (though murderous) alternative to bringing unplanned children into the world to be raised by irresponsible people. And yes, it's still murder, so I don't think God's too cool with any part of this process. But unfortunately, it's a worldly problem that affects everyone- regardless of their involvement (don't you realize that our tax money goes to pay for these wards of the state?)

The Ideal World Series is at Hand...

As you can tell, I've lost some fire for the presidential election. And my passion is now directed towards something that's a little more pure, and consistent: Baseball- and specifically, the world series. Here's a little background in case you're curious.

Growing up in southern California, i was raised a Dodger fan, with the likes of Lopes, Garvey, Russell and Cey. When I was 11, the Dodgers made the playoffs against the Montreal Expos. I went to a game with my dad and for some strange reason I fell in love with them. Sure I rooted for the Dodgers in the World Series, but I had found a new team. Since Montreal is sort of far from Southern California, I never went to any games, and we were a one game a year sort of family. I also adopted the Angles since we lived about half an hour from their stadium. Went to the famous Donnie Moore playoff game against the Sox in 1986. This was an era where fans would still rush the field, so with one pitch to go, me and my buddy Curtis and his brother and father were by the right field foul pole with one foot on the rail, when Dave Henderson tied the game with him bomb. We stood there for the rest of the inning sort of wondering what to do next and we eventually sat down and we lost. Being an Expos fan, I sort of rooted for the Mets that year because of Gary Carter, as well as my hatred for the team that killed the Angels that year. I then took a hiatus from baseball from about 1987 through 1992- something about college. But then in around 1992, my love for the Expos was reignited. From about 1993, I started fervishly following the Expos again and we had a great team that year. And in 1994 when we had the best record in baseball, my friend Matt (also an Expos fan) and I agreed that if they made the playoffs, we'd go watch every game.

1994 was the beginning of the end for baseball. With the strike, my Expos lost their core and the steroids era was officially born. The demise of the Expos then started the widespread description of "small market team" and they became the case study. We all know the list of famous "Ex-pos"- You want the list? Here's who left for more money either via free agency or trade (regardless of how their career went after they left)- Randy Johnson, Andreas Gallaraga, Mike Lansing, Larry Walker, Ken Hill, John Wetteland, Marquis Grissom, Rondell White, Wil Cordero, Sean Berry, Cliff Floyd, Jeff Fassero, Kirk Reuter, Moises Alou, Darren Fletcher, Carlos Perez, Mark Grudzialanak, David Segui, Henry Rodriguez, Ugueth Urtain Urbina, Pedro Martinez, Javier Vazquez, Carl Pavano, and oh yes, Vladimir Guerrero- and the Expos weren't even allowed to try and resign Vlad. And this is just post-1989 activity. Couple in skyrocketing salaries, no salary cap and Bud "the J-hole" Selig and his mission to eliminate small market teams like the Expos and Twins, and we have the MLB that we see now. Teams like the Mets, Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, Cubs, etc. always have plenty of money to sign big name players, and teams like the Royals, A's, Pirates, Rangers and Rays never have enough money to bring in real teams- and the Rays of 2008 will not be the same Rays in the next few years- the stars will be fleeced by the Yankees or other big market teams- how can you turn down $15MM+ from a big market team?

So let's focus on what we have right now. The Phillies are up 3-1 on the Dodgers. The Rays are up 3-1 on the Red Sox. First, imagine a Dodgers/Red Sox world series. That would be awesome- with the whole Manny thing and Joe Torre touch and history of each team, cross country fever. The idea of that series is making Bud Selig soil his shorts. But at this point it's not likely that the Dodgers and Sox will meet in the fall classis. In fact it looks like it'll be the Phillies and Rays in the World Series... and Selig will also soil his shorts, but on the backside.

Now as a baseball purist and fan of the underdog, I'm rooting for the Rays all the way, but talk about a ratings nightmare. Two east coast teams. One team that nobody knows about- that happens to play in a big carnival jumper. I'll watch every game, but the powers that be are not happy with their product and the nightmare that will ensue. It's sad that our national pasttime has devolved into more of a popularity contest with hopeless hometown fans. Just look at the Marlins after 1997- worst record in 1998 or even after 2003- missed the playoffs. So these Cinderella story seasons are just that, but with no sequel. Go Rays!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Do you Have Pac Man Fever?

Finally, someone has written up a definitive list of incidents surrounding Adam "Pac Man" Jones. As usual, another well paid and well skilled athlete gets yet another slap on the wrist and yet another chance to redeem himself. He may be suspended for four games, but let's see what happens after that month off. My guess is that his latest drunk fighting incident isn't worthy of expulsion. And I'm willing to bet that Jerry Jones will feel the same way

Monday, October 13, 2008

Seriously, Will Old Guys Ever Get NASCAR Respect?

Jeff Burton is by no means old- he's 42. Now that's old if you're in the NBA or any other team sport, but he's a NASCAR driver. NASCAR is traditionally a sport where many drivers don't even reach prominence til they're in their 30s. Bobby Labonte won in all in 2000 when he was 36. Dale Jarrett was 43 when he won in 1999. Dale Earnhardt was 43 in 1994.

Jeff Burton has been finished in the top 10 in points 7 times (including the past 3 years). So what's the problem with him not getting any respect? I wrote before that he wasn't even mentioned in a race highlight feature on ESPN, but today, some clown still insists that he has no chance to win in 08 because he doesn't win races. Alan Kulwicki won in 1992 by winning only 2 races and by being consistent... and because of bad luck by a few other drivers. Does this author really believe that drivers ahead of Burton will finish the season without any bad luck at all? Kyle Busch was winning the entire season until some bad luck- and look at him now.

Again, I've never been a Jeff Burton fan, but in rooting for the underdog, I'm becoming one. I'm sick of guys like him not getting any respect because the younger sexier "name" drivers with big ears or big teeth get more glory than the little engine that can.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

How is Obama Connected to our Current Mortgage Crisis?

I've heard a lot of talk about censorship on Youtube of conservative videos. I just saw this one and it is incredible. I recommend that everyone confirm the facts on their own. I've gotten about halfway through factchecking and I'm satisfied. Sure it generalizes a bit, but the bottom line is that Obama is not the answer. McCain and Bush are less to blame for the mortgage problems than Obama and the democrats. See for yourself.

A few facts that stand out:

Banks have contributed more to Obama than to McCain- of course they play both sides, but the amount given to Obama far outweighs what McCain has received.

Jimmy Carter passed the Community Reinvestment Act which basically expanded lending practices to lower income folks. And if lending institutions were not giving enough of these loans to low income/minority borrowers, then they were essentially cut off or limited in their ability to do business. So basically the law forced this sort of lending. Sounds good on paper.

  • But then the S&L Meltdown led to the passing (by Republican George HW Bush) of the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act of 1989, or as is commonly known- FIRREA (cha cha cha)
  • At around the same time, democratic representative Phil Gramm authored legislation (passed into law) which increased subprime loans. Crowd favorite Bill Clinton then enacted new rules the allowed lower income people to get loans. This created the "subprime" mortgage and forced all banks to start offering them. And with those subprime mortgages came subprime mortgage securities.
  • The hated one (George W. Bush) then attempted to change this law in 2005 because he saw that it was in fact a major cause for the housing market problems. But democrats opposed it and killed the proposed legislation. After all, it's the corporations that run Washington, and when the huge machine that is housing is "succeeding" then you look like an ass for trying to slow it down or stop it.
  • A study in the pre-Bush era showed that predatory lending was taking advantage of gullible borrowers who were then going into foreclosure.

The further fallout of this act then led to a lowering and lowering of standards and the creation of more creative loans so that Fannie Mae could have more "product" to sell to investors. "Interest only", "no-doc", "option ARM". Heard of those? They were created so that more loans could be insured by the government sponsored Fannie Mae.

But as interest rates rose and inflation rose, and these loans started defaulting, the banks realized that the party was over and they stopped offering these loans. And with those borrowers now unable to refinance with a more affordable loan, more defaults resulted, and then depreciated home values, and then less people able to refinance, so more defaults. And so on.

Prior to the CRA, home values increased with inflation. But especially after Clinton's 1995 move, home values started going up way faster than inflation- that's right, starting in about 1996- before Bush was in office. And that's when speculators started coming in and buying "investment homes"- of course oftentimes lying about the true purpose of these homes. Trust me, as an Appraiser I've seen plenty of "owner occupied" loans where it was obvious that it wasn't true. But I was told that the home was owner occupied. It's not my job to check a person's ID when I appraise their home. I could have suspected all day long, but that did nothing to solve the problem- nor would it have.

Bush tried in 2003 to help regulate and stop this potential cycle, but democrats and the companies involved argued that it would limit their ability to lend to lower income people... The machine was "working" so Bush gave up.

And John McCain also tried to introduce legislation that would regulate Fannie and Freddie- and it too was blocked by the democrats.

Have you heard of Obama's trusted adviser James Johnson, who led his search for a vice presidential candidate? Johnson was president of Fannie Mae during the CRA expansion. He was most recently on the board of directors of Goldman Sachs- which gave Obama over $600,000. Johnson received "special" loans from Countrywide. He had to remove himself from the campaign when the Obama camp learned that he received those loans- from the company that would benefit from bailout legislation.

Have you heard of Franklin Raines? He was also a former president of Fannie Mae but was forced to retire under an investigative cloud over accounting standards and has been charged with a whole slew of crimes. Now I've read all over the place that he is/was Obama's adviser. But I believe that's merely sensationalism that is unfounded. But, he's worth mentioning here. He also received about $4 million in special Countrywide loans. He was also in the Carter administration when the CRA was first created! In June of 2008, the Washington Post reported that Obama's office had sought housing/mortgage platform advice from Raines. Three months later, McCain put out an ad touting that Obama and Raines are in cahoots. Only then- three months later, did the Obama camp officially refute the June 2008 article... oh and by the way, Raines received a $25 million dollar Fanniechute. Exactly the sort of thing that Obama is campaigning against. Why would the Obama camp refute this relationship only after negative press was brought out about it?

And did you know that between 1989 and 2008 Obama received $126k in campaign contributions from Freddie Mac? And I don't think Obama was in office that entire time- perhaps only about 4 years of that 20 year period. But during the same 20 year span, McCain only received $25k. And I think that McCain was serving our country during that entire span. I think that translates to about $31,500 per year to Obama and $1250 per year for McCain. Now why would Freddie give so much more to Obama than McCain? Or better put, why would Freddie give so much less to the man who wanted to impose restrictions on their business?

Moving on, did you know that Obama's law firm represented many lower class black people in Chicago? Sounds good. But he allegedly sued banks for not giving enough loans to low income people...

On an aside not worthy of its own post, did you know that the speaker of the house- Nancy Pelosi has the audacity to say that democrats have nothing to do with our current economic crisis? If you've read this post so far and confirmed any of the facts, maybe you would see her one word answer as flat out comical. Is she saying that republicans are 100% responsible for this? One would think...

So to summarize, Barack Obama's party and his own history shows that he is a major part of the economic problem in general, and the mortgage situation specifically. Yet he continues to blame the Bush administration for our failed economic situation. He categorizes McCain as one who offers the same solution as Bush.

How dare he. I'm pissed at that hypocrite.

I'm sure there are other bloggers who are more articulate than me, but my point here is that everyone needs to know this information about Obama. And if they still love the guy, then that's fine. But so little has been made of this that it's a disservice not to be educated so as to elect the best candidate to lead our country on this front and all others. Please do your own due dilligence. Get educated on your own. Don't believe the headlines and Keith Olberman and Chris Matthews and Bill Maher. Find out these things on your own.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Where does the McCain/Palin Campaign Go From Here?


I think we're in trouble here. And when I say "we", I don't mean republicans, I mean Americans. I've been a McCain supporter/ Obama basher for a short while now. All the time trying to educate my friends on why this Obama character will not be good for our country. But unfortunately, it looks like his opposition is showing a level of confusion and ineptitude that will allow Obama to waltz into office and begin the further descent of our nation. Never mind the possible no-show for the debate from last week, I'm talking about Sarah Palin.

Like many conservatives, I was pleasantly surprised by McCain's VP choice of Sarah Palin. I thought that she brought a great fervor to the campaign that would draw in a portion of Americans that was desperately needed- in fact two specific groups- right wing conservatives who don't like McCain and might not have voted, and women. She's truly free from legitimate controversy- and when I say legitimate, I'm talking about all the bull that the liberal tabloid press has been digging for. Now I'm not saying that it's untrue, but to think that politicians do not do things to further their own personal agenda is asinine. And in a small town, it truly is like Mayberry.

It really is unfair the amount of crap she's taking. I'm ok with criticism, but the vicious criticism is just plain barbaric and very typical of democrats. The CBC Network recently apologized for such an attack. Sandra Bernhardt got away with what Michael Richards and Dog the Bounty Hunter and Don Imus couldn't.

But what I'm talking about is her performance over the past few weeks including her recent Katie Couric interview. Now right or wrong, it's all about perception and my God, I perceived her as clueless. Or if not clueless on topical knowledge, then clueless on the proper way to answer the types of questions asked of her so as not to make her look bad. Have you ever been in a conversation with someone and you realized that that person (or maybe you) has no idea what they're talking about, and rather than defer, they start rambling. And at that point you've sort of tuned out of what they're saying. That's what I see in Palin. But the problem is, she needs to speak- we need to get to know her, but she doesn't know enough to speak intelligently.

Is she intelligent? Is she articulate? Is she likeable? Absolutely. But she's just not ready for prime time. Can she get ready on the job? Sure. And I'd much rather have the co-pilot in this scenario than the pilot. But our pilot is old, and their pilot is young. If you see two dudes in literal pilot uniforms on the tarmac and one is 40 something and black and the other is 70 something and white, I'd guess that 9 out of 10 would pick the young black pilot. But put that older co-pilot with the black guy and the attractive female copilot for the old white guy, and you'll see that drop to perhaps 5 out of 5. But ask those copilots about flying a 747, and you'll know right away if they are qualified to fly it.

Unless the McCain/Palin campaign is planning to pull off the ultimate bait and switch, sandbagging, sneak attack move, then we're done.

And here's another thing. I live in a town of 25,000- surrounded by about 35,000 county residents. I could find nothing about grass roots McCain/Palin campaigning. I sent an email to the McCain/Arizona campaign department... and I've heard nothing back from them. Not giving me much confidence in their organization skills. I hate trying to volunteer but then getting either rebuffed or ignored.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

McCain Pulling out of Debate- The Slants

First I listened to the liberal radio station- "He's tucking tail" "He knows he can't beat Obama" "He can't multitask" "He can't use a computer" Of course, lots of callers with their jokes about his age, calling him a Bush loyalist, he's a liar, etc.

Then I listened to the conservative station- "He's doing the noble thing" "He knows that this crisis it too important to avoid" "Obama should do the same" And then of course lots of callers commenting on how Obama will spin this negatively against McCain, Obama doesn't know what to do in a crisis, etc.

It's the polarity of these people that just drives me absolutely crazy. Stop the insanity!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Playing for a Crappy Baseball Team

As the baseball season winds down, we see some changes in postseason teams. Most significantly, instead of the evil empire Yankees, we have the Tampa Bay Rays. Very cool considering that they have the second lowest payroll in MLB- 37% of the Tigers payroll- and the Tigers are going home after this week. It sort of further kills Bob Costas' idea that only the highest paid teams win. Plus it makes me even angrier that my Montreal Expos got gipped in 1994 and have left the building.

But take a look at the DL guys on some teams. Talk about your biggest money in non performing assets. Some of these are just a shame. Data collected from ESPN

  • The Mets- did you know that Moises Alou is still playing? I think Albert Belle went off the books of the Orioles about 3 years ago.
  • The Braves have Hudson, Glavine, Smoltz. Solid pitching studs- $37.5MM- all on the DL
  • The Dodgers- Schmidt, Furcal, Andrew Jones- $45MM. That's a low percentage of their total payroll, but that's $15MM per player. At least they're on the way to a potential playoff spot.
  • The A's- $29MM out of $47MM total payroll. That's over 61% of their payroll on the DL. So much for Billy Ball this year.
  • The Nationals' total payroll is $54 million- of which $18.7MM is on the DL on multimillion dollar players. Is it bad luck? Was it bad contracts? Or is it just a bad team? Speaking from experience, I remember when Fernando Tatis came to the Expos against his will- and this was right after he hit two grand slams off of Park Chan-Ho in a single inning. and he just flat out sucked ass when he played for Montreal. It's that lame- woe is me, "I'm on a shitty team" attitude. And it's obviously followed the team to Washington.
  • The Yankees- $207MM payroll- no games in October. That's priceless! I know this goes against my whole premise of DL guys, but I have to pile on when I can.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Truth About Democratic Leaders and the Economy

Do you really think that Barack Obama will help the nation's financial situation? Think again:

What do the top ten cities with the highest poverty rates all have in common?

Most fascinating "cause and effect" relationships: Democrat leadership!
It is the disadvantaged who habitually elect Democrats --- yet are still disadvantaged.

Einstein once said: "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

Detroit, MI (1st on the poverty rate list).....hasn't elected a Republican mayor since 1961;
Buffalo, NY (2nd) ... hasn't elected a Republican mayor since 1954;
Cincinnati, OH (3rd)...hasn't elected a Republican mayor since 1984;
Cleveland, OH (4th)...hasn't elected a Republican mayor since 1989;
Miami, FL (5th) ....has never had a Republican mayor;
St. Louis, MO (6th)....hasn't elected a Republican mayor since 1949;
El Paso, TX (7th) ...has never had a Republican mayor.
Milwaukee, WI (8th)...hasn't elected a Republican mayor since 1908;
Philadelphia, PA (9th)...hasn't elected a Republican mayor since 1952;
Newark, NJ (10th)...hasn't elected a Republican mayor since 1907.

Can you see the connection? If not, refer to Einstein's remark above.

Monday, September 15, 2008

What Does RSVP Mean Today?

We just hosted a slumber party for our daughter who goes to Pickett Elementary in Queen Creek, AZ. She's 7 now and with the new school year we figured it would be a good opportunity to get to know some of the other kids in her class. So we made a creative invitation- no party reason (birthday, etc.)- just a slumber party- so no need to bring gifts. We clearly put that we'd appreciate an RSVP one way or another. We had our responsible daughter pass out those invites to her friends. We asked her teacher to make sure that they got distributed. We asked her if she was able to pass them all out. We had her check with them the next day if they took those invitations home to their parents. According to her, those invitations made it to their parental destinations.

But come party day, only 3 of 6 invitees called. One un-RSVPd and then half an hour after the party started, the 4th called to see if she could still come. At this point, all we cared about was a fun party for our daughter and her friends. So ultimately she had 3 guests- good showing. Good party, good times.

My concern is the common courtesy of our society. I know we live in a penny pinching era. I know that families have other obligations. Perhaps, they feel that they were given too short of notice for the party- whatever. But why is it that so many people do not bother to RSVP for things like this? It's just plain rude. Should invitations clearly say "no gifts"? RSVP does not mean "call if you're coming". It literally means "Répondez s'il vous plaît" which translates to "Please let us know if you are or are not coming"

All right. Got that out of my system. Back to work

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

How "Major" Events Affect the Stock Market

Big news over the weekend- The government is taking over Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. I know it's Tuesday, so why is this breaking news?

It's to prove a point that the stock market is the biggest joke in the world. On Monday morning, when the markets opened, this news affected the market in such a wonderful way. Particularly, the financial companies were boosted by this news. Citibank went from its Friday close of $19 up to $20.50 before settling in a tad lower. BofA went from $32ish to $35ish. Wachovia went from $16.80 to $19.50ish. And all it took was for our government to bail out the biggest backers of mortgages in our country at our expense as taxpayers. What a confidence booster!

So what's the story today? All three of these stocks I mentioned are now BELOW their Friday close. Did you hear me? BELOW their Friday close!

What's the excuse? Oh, Lehman Brothers is in trouble. So the entire sector takes a crap because of this? Let me get this straight. Our goverment privatizes two of the biggest mortgage backers in the country and it's a good thing. One single financial company has bad news and the effect is worse than the benefit of the "good" news. Yeah, that makes sense.

So what will it take for the market to continue to rise? Does the goverment need to privatize a few companies a day? Would that doe the trick?

In a few days the market will rally because of prospective peace and a few days later it will tank because of unease about peace. A few days later, the market will rise due to a hurricane fading away. A week later the market will fall because of another hurricane fading away.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Progressive Radio Blowing My Mind With Palin

I listen to a lot of political talk radio and as anyone should, I listen to both the conservative AND liberal stuff.

Now of course I'm biased, but the crux of what "progressive" radio's argument is:

Palin is a liar
Palin is a religious nutjob
Palin is irresponsible

I live in the Phoenix area so our local station is KPHX and it has some local guys and a syndicated obnoxious loudmouth from Florida. Besides the universal "progressive" schoolyard tactic of giving conservatives stoopid nicknames and making jokes about their intelligence or their faith or how they look, their shows are loaded with blind criticism without the substance of why and how their choise is better. Here's a few observations from the last few days:

Palin is a Liar
I've actually heard several hosts say that Palin lied about selling the governor's jet on ebay for a profit. As it turns out, it was only listed on ebay. It never sold. And when it did sell, it sold at a loss. Damn, they're right. She's a liar... But if you actually listen to the speech instead of these talk show hosts, you'll notice that all she actually said was "I put it on ebay" Go to minute 20:05 to see just that part- or back it up a few minutes if you don't believe me. And what's the problem with selling something at a loss? Don't things depreciate? Are they suggesting that if she kept it longer they would have got more for it? I didn't know that jets appreciated unlike everything else in the world. And, doesn't it actually cost money to even keep a jet? Maintenance, fuel, storage, crew, etc. So when you sell a non-performing asset, aren't you freeing up funds and at the same time saving money for the operation of that item? But of course that never gets mentioned. So who are the liars about this? And if these liberal talk show hosts fall back on the ignorance defense, is that really a good excuse for a person whose job is to supposedly educate and influence the public via the radio? Or if they fall back on the "I'm an entertainer" excuse, then that simply proves that their whole progressive radio concept is not serious- and logically, their whole liberal fight attitude. Perhaps they've seen the success of guys like Rush Limbaugh and figured there's a void on the other end of the spectrum so they could get a piece of the pie.

Another host was wondering out loud about Palin's jet from another perspective. She initiated the sale of a private jet because it was excessive. Yet now she flies a private VP candidate jet. How absurd! What a hypocrite! I've never run for vice president before, but I'd assume that candidates in general for president or vice president, actually travel around quite a bit. And I'm not sure how efficient it would be for Barack Obama or John McCain to fly first class on JetBlue wherever they go. That's just an opinion there.

Palin is a Religious Nutjob
Two guys today were talking about her christian religious beliefs with much disdain. The one this morning was generalizing about her beliefs and actually took a call from someone who said that she doesn't believe in medicine since she is pentecostal. Now to his credit, the host corrected the caller's misinformation, but his point was that she is ridiculous for her beliefs- oh yeah and made no mention that she left that church 6 years ago. Another guy today replayed bits of a speech that Palin gave in the last few days where she equated the Iraq war purpose with God's work. Also she said that the people needed to pray for Alaska's future. Reality is that this speech was given in June.

Now I'm a Christian so I know my beliefs, but I'm really not sure why so many liberals and specifically, certain talk show hosts are so anti-God. Basically they treat Christians like a minority whom it's OK to slam. Can I get a radio show and start bagging on the Pakistanis or Gays or Lesbians (they need several subcategories). Of course I can. But then I'll have Gloria Allred or some other freaky lawyer suing my ass or dragging me through the mud for my insensitive remarks. Even Jews have recourse. But you can say anything about Christians. Here's the reality- Christians and other creationism believers are still a pretty large number in our country. So I think that a lot of them actually appreciate her faith- both democrats AND republicans.

It seems like the democrats or liberal media are trying to make out their party as the Godless/AntiGod party. How "progressive" is it to resort to belittling the religious beliefs of others? Barack Obama himself has encouraged democrats to reach out to evangelicals and other religious groups. Is this considered reaching out?

Incidentally, Joe Biden is Roman Catholic (arguably one of the biggest reasons that so many people have lost their faith over the years). Barack Obama professes to be a Christian who has been friends with Jeremiah Wright for like 20 years and a member of his church for most of that time. Sure, Obama denounced the style and message of Wright and has since resigned his membership in 2008, but are "you" telling me that he spent the last 20 years as a member of a church where he disagreed with the message of the pastor? The guy who inspired one of Obama's books? So which is worse- a person who believes in speaking in tongues and the appocalypse or one who believes in the preachings of a traiterous, racist?

Perhaps if we had an atheist candidate, these "progressive" God-Haters would be appealing to a particular audience. But are they saying that their candidate is also just as much of a religious nutjob as Palin? The guy cut ties with his 20 year friend just in time to run for president. Palin is a devout Christian. Isn't that some pretty hardcore flip-flopping?

Palin is Irresponsible
Sarah Palin has 5 kids, with one who is "handicapable" (that's a shout out to all you liberal politically correct minded j-holes). She also has an unwed teenage daughter, and speculation is that the down's baby is actually her daughter's. Now she's running for VP of our country. How dare she leave her family behind to take on such a campaign! How dare she leave her crippled kid in his time of need! Who's going to take care of the kids?

Let me point something out to you. It's people like her who give democrats a bad name. In our conservative society, we believe in traditional nuclear family values. The woman needs to stay home and cook and clean. The husband needs to work and bring home the bacon (or moosemeat). Some jackass president passed a ridiculous law in 1993 that said that not just mothers, but fathers too have a right to stay home with their kids. This Sarah Palin character is exactly what is wrong with our country with her crazy liberal family values. She probably has a tattoo!

Oh wait a minute, I'm a bit confused. Sarah Palin's family embodies everything that liberals have been wanting for so long. And now that she's running for VP, she is the target of those same liberals! What is up with that? Are they for real? How can they fight for something for so long and then when they finally get it in a candidate, they slam her all to shreads. On top of that, Palin isn't some blueblood like Hillary. She didn't go to an Ivy League school, she wasn't raised in politics. And I don't know for sure, but I don't think she's worth $35 million. What is more attractive in a strong willed woman? How many Americans went to an Ivy League school? We've got a pure Americana candidate and she gets crapped on? Absolutely stoopid.

I'll say it again, give both sides a fair listen. You may still believe in Obama, but this isn't an exercise in the candidates' qualifications. I'm more concerned with the quality of the talking heads. I'm not a Rush Limbaugh fan, but check out the stations that he's on or Townhall.com for the conservative slant. Or check out Air America or Nova M Radio for the liberal views.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

RNC Protesters- Who are These Idiots?

So I haven't been able to watch the RNC each night but I've been boning up via CNN.com and their video clips. There are several clips each day showing the protesters outside of the convention and a few that actually got into the convention to disrupt the speeches. You know the ones- anti war, anti establishment, etc. I don't remember much of this at the DNC so perhaps the liberal media is slanting this to show that there are more protesters agains republicans than democrats- and have you noticed that the media simply calls them protesters and they let us assume that they are protesting the republicans. That's what I thought til I looked into it a bit.

But who the hell are these people? I mean I wasn't there so I don't have personal photos, but here are a few snaps of these folks as "borrowed" from the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and some blog called Indystar. Whether they are democratic Obama supporters, anti-republicans, or anti establishment folks, I don't know...

I mean, are these people expecting to be taken seriously with some sort of course of action beyond their "peaceful" protests? I just heard a podcast this morning on the Adam Carolla Show (about minutes 9:00 through 11:00) and it sort of sums up the whole "hippy" movement of back then and the ongoing movement that is these types of people. In summary- these people are (for the most part) a bunch of losers with nothing better to do except complain.

And take a look at this video of some protester action. Simply absurd. It's like the movie Road Warrior- cheap shots at cops, lawlessness, looting or general mayhem- yeah that's effective- the two party system is pretty much done now that these folks have shown what they're all about.And what's up with all the photos of the riot police? They have full face shields, tear gas, semi-automatic weapons, body armor. It's very imposing. But I love how the protesters complain about abuse. The above video is proof enough that any force used by the officers is justified. Is the liberal media also playing into the huge anti republican protests and the need for such heavy firepower? Or are they trying to say that these abusive protecters of our peace are in fact part of the problem?

Whatever the motivation, it's not very effective in and of itself, but it's more fodder for the image of republicans to be dragged down even more.