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.