Thursday, January 26, 2012

Four Years Late and Billions of Dollars Short

Mass re-financing is in the news lately, a program where the federal government will guarantee the loans of homeowners who have established credit worthiness but have homes so far underwater no mortgage company will touch them. This is a radical concept for some, as it could put the government at risk for billions of dollars if people start defaulting. That alone will probably kill the bill, as the government is currently afraid to buy three-ply toilet paper if it will increase the debt.

The real problem is the whole idea is too late. This idea should have been crammed down the banks’ throats as a condition of TARP, with the banks accepting most of the risk. It’s not like the banks haven’t extended themselves in a similar manner before.

Remember when Donald Trump was bankrupt? The Donald certainly doesn’t. Trump has claimed various levels of bankruptcy four times and come out ahead each time. Why is that? It’s not because he’s smarter than everyone else; one look at his hair tells you that. No, The Donald got so far into the banks they couldn’t afford for him to go tits up, so he pretty much got to dictate terms. (Sound familiar?)

What the banks and government fail to recognize—or just don’t care about—is that we’ve been in the same situation for the past four years, with one exception: it’s not one guy who owes a massive amount of money, it’s a lot of people who owe a little. True, loans in the $100,000 to $300,000 range seem like a lot of money to us, but to these guys $100,000 is an office decorating expense. They’d rather throw thousands of people into the street than say, “Let’s find a win-win here. We won’t make quite as much, but we won’t have to sell a $250,000 home for $100,000, either.”

But they won’t. And no one will bring it up to them now, because government has no place telling banks how to run themselves. All government does is make sure they stay afloat when their Ponzi schemes fall apart on them.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Theology 101

Last week I received—along with twenty or so others—the following e-mail from someone I have known as far back as I can remember:

Brilliant in its simplicity................
A. Back off and let those men who want to marry men, marry men.
B. Allow those women who want to marry women, marry women.
C. Allow those folks who want to abort their babies, abort their babies.
D. In three generations, there will be no Democrats.
Damn - I love it when a plan comes together
God Bless America

My reply (To all, of course; this is me we’re talking about):

I know well two gay couples who are married, one male, the other female. The men adopted an infant girl two years ago; the women each have a child from sperm donors. Those children are raised in loving, stable homes. If Rachel were of the proper age, I would not hesitate to let her stay with either couple.These are people who are hurt by the perpetuation of attitudes that convey them as somehow less worthy of the same consideration any of us would want or expect, not stereotypes standing in as straight lines for a joke.

Since we’re just kidding around and no offense should be inferred (right?), let’s talk about the inbred cousin fuckers who, left to their own devises, will constitute the core of Tea Party support in three generations.

Oh, wait. That’s been done already.

The sender of the original e-mail then replied with:

I am totally anti gay. You will never convince me that gay marriage is right or should be condoned. Thank god I live in a state where the governor thinks the same.

This leads me to several questions about Christians I have wondered about for years. I hope someone can enlighten me.

The dictionary definition of “Christian” as a noun is, “a person who believes in Jesus Christ; an adherent of Christianity,” and as “a person who exemplifies in his or her life the teachings of Christ.”

We all know I am no Bible scholar, but I’ve been around enough to know a little. Things like:
There are two books to the Bible: the Old Testament and the New Testament.

The New Testament covers the teachings of Christ.

Christ’s teachings include such sentiments as “love thy neighbor,” “hate the sin but love the sinner,” and, “let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

The Old Testament tells the tales of God before Christ’s time, when, to paraphrase Lewis Black, He was a Prick. Fire and brimstone, stoning, plagues, floods, slavery. The Old Testament sounds a lot like Mississippi in 1957.

If we accept that the Old Testament was written before the New Testament, and that the writers of the New Testament knew this, then it is reasonable to assume the New Testament is intended to supersede the Old. Where they differ, the New should take precedence.

Christians, believing as devoutly as they do in the teachings of Christ, should then look to the New Testament when determining courses of action with things they do not understand or agree with. Forgiveness and forbearance replace the Old Testament’s eye for an eye vengeance, and punishment such as was administered to Sodom and Gomorrah. More than any other religion, and regardless of whether they truly believe homosexuality is a sin, Christians should accept and forgive; that forgiveness is the bedrock of their religion. True Christians would not dream of denying anyone, straight or gay, the same rights and pursuit of happiness they themselves enjoy.

So here’s my question: Where are all the Christians we keep hearing about in this “Christian” nation? Christianity in America is strictly Old Testament, unless someone is asking for a little forbearance and charity for themselves. That’s not what Christ had in mind for his followers. He wanted them to forgive others, not expect it for themselves.

American Christians need to walk the walk if they’re going to talk the talk. Being a Christian is not just saying all the right things when you want them to apply to you and dragging out the Old Testament when someone does something you don’t like. It means treating those others as you would like to be treated. Even more, it means placing yourself in their position, and wondering what it would be like to be treated as “good Christians” treat them, knowing the only forgiveness you’ll find will come only after abject surrender to their way of thinking.

What would Jesus Do? Right.

Monday, January 16, 2012


Mitt Romney is, and has been, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. Yes, he could still be found with either a dead girl or a live boy and blow it, but given his “contenders” it might take both to derail him now.

Romney is a good choice for current Republicans, a man who will say anything if he thinks it will help him. No, I mean it. Not just the usual, “I’ll cut taxes and increase services for you personally while screwing everyone you don’t like” stuff all politicians say. I’m talking about simple stuff that points out what a clueless SOB he really is.

For example:

Comparing his current “unemployment” with Floridians who are currently unemployed. Mitt used the similarities in their situations in an attempt to bond with people he wants to vote for him. Of course, Romney is unemployed by choice, and can well afford it. He failed to notice the $200 million elephant shitting on the tablecloth.

His claim he knows what it’s like to worry about getting a pink slip. Romney was born into a wealthy family. He graduated from Harvard’s Law and Business schools with a law degree and an MBA. Even if Bain had seen fit to can him in the early days, Mitt’s family would be fed and his health taken care of, unlike someone who needs his job—and maybe a little more—to pay the rent and health insurance.

The man will lie about his own first name. When CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked the candidates to identify themselves with something along the lines of, “‘I'm Wolf Blitzer and yes, that's my real name,” Romney followed up with, “I'm Mitt Romney and yes, Wolf, that's also my first name.” Aside from being a pathetic attempt to seem like one of the guys, his comment ignores the fact that Romney’s first name is Willard.

A faux pas? Maybe. Taken together with other comments, this last (my personal favorite) shows a rich kid who so badly wants to included with the regular guys he’ll do anything—anything—to be accepted. He doesn’t see he’s not one of them, and he never will be.

Presidential candidates are asked how they’ll handle the 3:00 AM phone call, like Russian missiles are already over the North Pole. The 3:00 phone call most people are worried about these days is the one that wakes you up to tell you your kid has been in an accident or a parent has had a stroke and you need to get there right now except the kid had the family’s only car or your parents live in Arizona now and you don have anything like the money needed to get there in a timely manner, even if you could afford the time off from work. Romney has no clue what that’s like, and shows how far he is from getting one every time he makes one of those pathetic statements.

Then there’s the story about letting making the dog ride on top of the car for a family trip. His Harvard degrees and job at Bain didn’t allow him to spring for a kennel? Maybe they thought the dog would enjoy the family reunion on Lake Huron. Rent a bigger car. It’s not bad enough the man can’t be trusted to give a straight answer about his name; he’s cheap, too.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Another Voice, With More Clarity

Jim Winter is a hell of a good writer, whose Road Rules made my highly-coveted (cough,cough) list of best reads for 2011. Jim’s an insightful gut and recently posted to his blog (Edged in Blue) something I wish I’d written. He says a lot of things I believe, and better than I have been able to.

He’s going to vote for Obama; I’m not. (I’m not going to vote for any of the current Republican crop, either. My vote is still for sale available.) That’s not to say he’s not disappointed; his list of Obama’s failures—and failings—matches mine quite well. I could go on for a while, but do yourself a favor and read it for yourself. I can’t do it justice.

(Jim also does periodic capsule biographies that are as good and concise as anything you’ll find. Well worth checking out.)


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Sometimes a Great Nation

It is not unreasonable to judge a republic, at least in part, by the quality of its leadership. No matter what anyone thinks of its leaders, the people voted for them; the credit—or discredit—goes to them.

What passes for leadership in the current Republican Party should put all notions of American Exceptionalism to rest. (The Democrats are in a sorry state themselves, but the levels to which Republicans will sink have been largely undiscovered until recently.) Mitch McConnell and Eric Cantor are the party “leaders” of their respective houses. McConnell has been quoted as saying they could do what was best for the country, but their job was to unseat Barack Obama. Cantor is such a lying weasel his press secretary kept interrupting Leslie Stahl when Cantor found himself trapped by the fact that St. Ronald Reagan raised taxes a dozen times. Cantor maintained all the while Reagan had not. Speaker of the House John Boehner doesn’t wipe his ass until the Tea Party tells him which hand to use; they make up barely a quarter of his caucus.

This year’s crop of presidential candidates competes on a daily basis to see who can promote the most regressive, repressive, reactionary policies imaginable. Herman Cain is one step above a sexual predator. Michele Bachmann is, to be fair to her, bat shit crazy. Ron Paul has the virtue of sincerity. His policies would return the nation to the early days of the Industrial Revolution in some ways, farther back in others. Newt Gingrich never met a fact he couldn’t make up; Rick Perry never met a fact he could remember. Jon Huntsman comes across as putting the nation first, though should he receive closer scrutiny his policies aren’t much less regressive then his peers. Rick Santorum would return much social policy to feudal times.

Then there is the “presumptive” nominee, Mitt Romney, who won the New Hampshire primary last night. Romney likes to portray himself as the adult in the room, with policies that avoid the Tea Party extremes on the right as well as the nanny state on the left. He has the hair, the smile, and works overtime to project an aura of the guy you’d like to see in charge.

In fact, he’s a greedy, insensitive son of a bitch.

Now that the rug rats have pretty well burned themselves out amusing the media, our watchdogs have time to pay attention to Romney. What he’s showing them is not pretty:

Last week’s comment that he likes “being able to fire people who provide services to me,” was spoken in the context of health insurance. The initial uproar was inaccurate; more on that later. The issue here isn’t that it’s good to be able to get rid of a company that gives you substandard service; we all like doing that, as cable and cell phone companies are well aware. What damning here is that Romney doesn’t understand the average person doesn’t have the option to change health insurers.The vast majority of people in this country have health insurance provided by their employer on a take it or leave it basis; they have the option to stick with it or buy their own. Even if they’d like to opt out and get their own—assuming they can afford it—no one has issues with their health insurer unless they’re sick. At that point, no one else will pick you up because you have a pre-existing condition. Romney points to his experience as governor of Massachusetts to show his health care expertise; in fact, he lacks even basic knowledge of how it works.

He uses his experience at Bain Capital to show he can run a large organization. Paul Krugman puts to rest the myth of running government like a business pretty tidily here. In short, if a business lays off half its workers, it still has the rest of the world to sell its stuff to. Nations—even export-heavy nations—sell the majority of their good internally. Lay off too many of them ad no one has money to buy anything else.

Romney’s claims to have created 100,000 jobs while at Bain don’t hold water. He dared to look someone in the eye and talk about knowing what it’s like to worry about getting fired, seeing no distinction between being a “freshly-minted MBA” with an already wealthy father and someone who will lose his health insurance and house if he gets canned.  He even had the chutzpah to claim to be unemployed himself.

Now he claims the “firing people” line was taken out of context. A recent Romney ad shows Barack Obama saying “if we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose.” What’s left out is the line immediately before that: Obama was quoting an aide to John McCain in 2008. Complaining about out of context quotes takes Romney to a new level of the Menendez Brothers Duplicity, killing one’s parents then begging for mercy as an orphan.

Great nations have great leaders. Take a look around at who’s in charge and who wants to be. Then look into a mirror and tell yourself they reflect a great nation. I dare you.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Random Thoughts After the Iowa Caucuses

Mitt Romney “won” with 30,015 “votes,” or 24.6% of the total. In 2008 he lost with 30,021 votes and 25.2%. So this year he gets six fewer votes, and drops 0.6% of the total, and calls it progress. Definitely a Republican.

Rick Santorum lost by 8 votes. It’s only a matter of time before he claims he lost because at least ten aborted fetuses would have voted for him had they been allowed to be born. Of course, he won’t mention how many of those would not have lived long enough to vote if his other social policies were also in effect.

Romney and Santorum combined didn’t muster a majority. This confirms Romney’s status as the World’s Tallest Midget.

Ron Paul finished third. He wants to abolish the Department of Education and let the states take care of it. Paul is from Texas, where Rick Perry is governor, and a bunch of people thought he was the best man for the job twice. This is not a ringing endorsement of allowing states to run education.

Newt Gingrich won the second tier, finishing fourth. He’s now in the enviable position of being the oldest one at the kids’ table for Thanksgiving dinner, waiting for some adult to croak so he can move up. The attention Santorum will receive in New Hampshire may be just the thing.

There are three reasons Rick Perry couldn’t do better than fifth. Christians are discriminated against, there aren’t enough immigrants in Iowa. and

Michele Bachmann had a moment of unprecedented lucidity and suspended her campaign after attracting only 5% of the vote in a state that adjoins hers. Maybe Iowans knew her better than she thought.

Jon Huntsman skipped Iowa to focus on New Hampshire, where splitting the Mormon vote with Romney won’t hurt him as much.

Herman Cain got 0.05% of the vote because Iowans are racists who hate pizza.

On the Democratic side, Barack Obama edged out Randall Terry, Darcy Richardson, and Vermin Supreme with 98% of the votes. The losing candidates all claimed to be hurt by not bringing their birth certificates.