Tag: Congress

Random Thoughts

I sat down to write three or four different blogs tonight and I finally decided I just had too much on my mind.  So, in a shift from my normal style of topic based posts I am doing things a little bit differently.

Random Thoughts

Things on my mind:

1. I can’t believe that Casey Anthony was acquitted.  I am sorry but a mother (or aunt, or grandma or human being) does not lose their child for 31 days and not say anything to authorities.  Then there is the duct tape, emails, smells, the partying and pathological lying.  Just the fact that a case is based on circumstantial evidence is not a reason alone for reasonable doubt.  No prosecution’s case is perfect because usually if it is than there is a plea deal and no trial!  Reasonable doubt is not no doubt.  It just makes me sick that she could do this to her beautiful daughter and that she is getting away with it.  I’m sorry but it does.  Plus she was not found to be innocent.  I hate it when people say that . All she was found of is not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  There’s a difference!

2. The debate of a debt ceiling has also been on my mind.  Unfortunately I think the Republicans will capitulate to the President and continue the status quo of debt without any guarantee of real reforms.  Cuts will be bantered about but no sacred cows will be touched, no real entitlement reform.  Neither party wants to be seen as the ‘bad guy’ that is hurting babies and senior citizens- how about who is hurting our entire country? The greater debt we sink into the weaker our country becomes.  The only thing that Obama seems willing to cut is defense- something very comforting with the 9/11 ten year anniversary quickly approaching us (even if he cut the entire defense budget it still wouldn’t make a dent when compared to entitlement reforms of medicare, medicaid and social security).  Now Moody is considering lowering our rating, which means the dollar gets weaker, while the Chinese get stronger.  Is that what we want?  Not me.  Come on Republicans- get some guts!

3. On an entirely different note- Can’t wait for the new Harry Potter movie to come out.  I wasn’t nuts about the last one because I felt it dragged a bit, but I am eagerly anticipating this final chapter.  Every review I have read is full of praise (97% on Rottentomatoes.com).   I am not a huge fantasy fan but I loved the books and have also thoroughly enjoyed the movies.  The performances, special effects, and screen adaptations are first rate.   Its nice to have one summer movie to look forward to.  It just wouldn’t be summer without it. Btw- my sister is seeing it like 4 times this weekend! Now that’s hard core

4. On another movie note I saw Woody Allen’s new movie Midnight in Paris over the weekend and loved it.  For some reason it hasn’t gotten much play but it is a whimsical and funny story of a liberal writer who arrives in Paris with his less-sincere fiance and her parents.  He wants to soak up the mystique of Paris (the photography is great- makes you want to go to Paris so bad!  Anyone interested?).  Meanwhile, the fiance is more interested with her pedantic professor friend who muses in a different sort of way- he is all about knowledge, even trivia, where the writer wonders about life and love.  One night he steps through time and ends up in 1920’s Paris and then meets his literary and artistic idols of the day such as Gertrude Stein, Picaso, and Hemingway.  The movie asks the question- would life be better if only we had lived in a previous golden age?

5. I must admit that coming back from my break has been harder than I would have thought.  I miss the ocean so badly it hurts.  Sometimes I pretend the sound of the traffic outside my apartment is the waves and then I almost don’t want to step on to the patio and have the illusion ruined.  Its been cloudy and gray here and yesterday I was feeling a little depressed.  I have also been struggling to get low blood sugar readings (they are ok) here like the I did in Hawaii.  It makes no sense because I ate terribly in Hawaii. I think it may be that I went longer without eating so my levels got low and just couldn’t rise as much as they do, even with mediocre food.  I have been back at the diet front; however, and I think I have already lost 1 lb.

6.  My trainer is setting up a boot camp system that will help me record my progress in ways besides weight loss.  Starting next Wednesday we are going to do a set of challenges (push ups, tricep  curls, crunches etc).  Then we will repeat the same things every 6 weeks with a small prize for improvement.  I am very excited about.  I am also on the lookout for long-term goals for this year, something sort of like surfing was for me the last 2 years.  Any ideas?

7. Read a book this week that was a real snooze (how do you make the end of the world so dull?  she does it!)  but one of the things that annoyed me is the author threw in a number of references of how lame Fox News is and how the President from Texas (obviously President Bush) is an idiot.  It didn’t have anything to do with the thoroughly boring story but it still annoyed me.  If you want to write an opinion piece call the New York Times, don’t write a novel and subject the rest of us unwillingly to it.

I also reread All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot and thoroughly enjoyed it.  Its funny because you wouldn’t think an animal-phobe like me would like a story about a country vet but I do.  You see the story really isn’t about the animals- but the animal owners.  I counted over 40 different characters that Herriot creates throughout the book.  They are funny, sad, charming and totally delightful.  It is a terrific book- particularly for the light and airy days of the summer.  If you haven’t read it- read it!

8. Had a Chinese cooking lesson with my friends Taylor, Darcy and Melissa.  Was a lot of fun and totally what I needed to get out of my funk. We made egg rolls with pulled pork, pineapple, cabbage, carrots and scallions; along with wantons stuffed with real crab and cream cheese.  I even bought a fry daddy for the activity- something I’ve wanted for years and felt was too fattening.  Its still for a rare indulgence but it is healthier to fry at home.  Anyway, it was a good time and just what I needed.  Sadly I did not take any photos.  I always forget because other people in my family were always taking the photos. Plus, I’m kind of in between cameras right now.  I am still researching before I buy a new one.

9. I received, you won’t believe it, a REFUND from my eye doctor for a payment I had made previous to my surgery.  In order to work I had to pay  my doctor $1356- part deductible and part my 20%.  Well, I get my mail coming home and there is a refund check!  I call the doctors and they said the insurance company only applied $695 to the deductible so the rest was sent as a refund!  Who ever gets money back from the doctor? When does the insurance company cover more than expected?  Never.  I still can’t believe my good luck (and let’s be honest I was due for some good luck after the year I’ve had!)

10.  What did I do with that refund?  Well, I spent a small portion of it on an item I have wanted for several years- I bought a kindle!  Over the course of this trip I realized how much I wanted one and how tired I was of lugging around those heavy books.  I went ahead and ordered the 3G wireless and have been downloading up  a storm- mostly novels before 1923 which are free!  I have all my Jane Austen, George Elliot and Elizabeth Gaskell.  Its great!  I can also download all my audible downloads on the kindle at no extra charge.  I’ve always loved gadgets but come on the kindle is just fun!

this is supposed to look like I am deep in thought 🙂

Anyway, so those are my random thoughts for the day.  I love you all.  Thanks for listening to me ramble…

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I Told You So… The Stimulus Was a Bad Idea

My dear blog readers- let me draw your mind back to an entry of mine entitled “Why I think the stimulus plan is a bad idea.”  It was one of my most popular entries- even getting a space on the blogroll at cnn.com!  Now we have had several months of the plan, and I have been hoping it would prove me wrong with our economy showing signs of growth.  Unfortunately, even the media is beginning to realize the plan isn’t working and economic disaster could be looming.  In recent months we have seen GM declare bankruptcy (which the bailout was supposed to stop!), consumer spending go down, foreclosures increase, and unemployment rise (where are all those jobs the stimulus was supposed to create? There are some states with unemployment as high as 15%!).

I hope the media and the people keep a little bit of fire on their darling President Obama before he goes enacts another stimulus plan, which he is talking about doing!  It is fascinating to me that repeatedly President Obama’s personal approval ratings are always higher than the ratings for his policies.  Shouldn’t a politicians success be based on his policies?  Sometimes I feel like with President Obama we’ve created royalty- everyone loves him for the image but nobody pays that much attention to what he is actually doing.

Judging his policies, it is just common sense to not go into massive amounts of debt when there is no sign of paying other’s back in the near future.  There isn’t even a ghost of a chance we will be able to pay back the astronomical debts President Obama is creating- even he admits that.  What the president is doing is kind of like GM- they took a poorly managed, in debt company, propped it up with money without changing much of anything, and big surprise bankruptcy happened.  The infusion of money does not change ideas or policies- it merel gives bad ideas a longer timetable to waste money. For example, instead of GM declaring bankruptcy last fall like they should have, they did it in May after wasting 80 billion dollars.  This is how President Obama views a productive economy!  It’s nuts!

I encourage all of you to put pressure on the president and your individual representatives.  Let them know we are not in favor of this ridiculous spending and the unnecessary programs that go with it (and the increased taxes, which President Obama promised not to start). Listen, I don’t think President Obama is a bad person.  He just views the world differently than I do.  He feels that spending will catapult the country out of economic disaster.  I feel it is digging us into a deeper hole than ever before.

If you want an easy way to follow what your representatives are doing check out this bipartisan webpage http://www.thepeopledecide.us/home.php.  On this page you can see upcoming and recent votes, learn more about bills and find ways to contact Congressman.

The only hope I have is the few representatives who are standing up against the spending.  Keep going people like Jason Chaffetz!  You are the type of person we all need representing us!   Thanks for fighting against all of this crazy spending. Great job!

Here’s the article that blew me away:

Why Do Home Foreclosures Keep Rising? 6 Things You Need to Know

by Luke Mullins, USNews.com

Jul 20th, 2009

Five months after the Obama administration unveiled a sweeping initiative designed to reach 9 million struggling homeowners, home foreclosures continue to rise at an alarming rate. Foreclosure filings were reported on more than 1.5 million properties in the first six months of the year, a 15 percent increase over the same period of last year, according to RealtyTrac. All told, 1 in 84 American homes–or 1.19 percent–received a foreclosure filing during the period. “We talk about green shoots or about things getting worse at a slower rate, but this is one thing that is getting worse month by month,” says Patrick Newport, an economist for IHS Global Insight.

Here are six things you need to know about the rise in home foreclosures:

1. Unemployment: The erosion of the labor market–the unemployment rate recently hit 9.5 percent–is the key factor in the rise of home foreclosures, says Celia Chen, an economist at Moody’s Economy.com. “Employers continue to shed jobs, and that makes it difficult for even people with good credit who were doing fine to keep up with their mortgage payment,” Chen says. For example, a recent report issued by federal bank regulators found that home loans to borrowers with solid credit histories were going bad at a rapid clip. “Prime loans, which represented two thirds of all mortgages in the portfolio, experienced the highest percentage increase in serious delinquencies, climbing by more than 20 percent from the prior quarter to 2.9 percent of prime mortgages,” the report stated.

2. Plunging home values: Nearly three years after its peak, the painful decline in home prices continues. Although the pace of decline moderated slightly from the previous month, home prices in 20 major metro areas dropped 18.1 percent in April from a year earlier. Falling home values have dragged more than 20 percent of American homeowners “underwater”–meaning they owe more on their mortgages than the property is worth–as of the first quarter. By sucking equity out of homes, the price declines have also evaporated much of a homeowner’s financial incentive for paying their mortgage bill, Chen says. “When somebody doesn’t have equity in their house and they are struggling to pay their mortgage, the likelihood of a foreclosure is much higher,” she says. In addition, home owners with less equity in their homes will have a more difficult time refinancing their mortgage.

3. End of foreclosure moratoriums: The end of certain foreclosure moratoriums-including those of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which were lifted in late March-also contributed to the rise in foreclosures during the period, Chen says. As these efforts unwound, lenders and servicers put additional properties into their foreclosure pipelines, she says.

4. Is Obama’s plan working?: A key component of Obama’s housing rescue plan is an effort to restructure–or modify–as many as 4 million troubled loans. So far, about 325,000 modification offers have been made through the program, according to Bloomberg news. Chen says the program is having an impact for certain individual borrowers, but the efforts–at least so far–have not put much of a dent into the national foreclosure epidemic. “The program is making progress. It’s just that there are a large number of distressed borrowers out there,” she says. “It’s so hard to process all of those loans, and then second of all, not all of those borrowers will qualify for the program.” Borrowers have complained of long delays and bureaucratic hurdles in their efforts to modify their mortgages.

Though the administration’s effort includes incentive payments to convince servicers to modify the loans, Newport says some may find it less costly to foreclose on the property. “My understanding is that there is going to be some pressure from the administration to get banks to start renegotiating more loans,” he says. “But if [modification is] not in [the servicer’s] self-interest, I don’t think that they are going to do much.”

5. Mounting political pressure: Mortgage services appear to be facing mounting pressure from Washington to redouble their efforts. “We believe there is a general need for servicers to devote substantially more resources to this program for it to fully succeed and achieve the objectives we all share,” Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and HUD chief Shaun Donovan said in a recent letter to 25 mortgage servicing
firms. In a hearing last week, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd, a Democrat from Connecticut, expressed his frustration more directly. “Why am I still reading about lost files, understaffed and undertrained servicers, and hours spent on hold on the phone?” Dodd said in a prepared opening statement. “Why are servicers and lenders refusing to accept principal reduction so that homeowners can start building equity and get the housing market moving again?”

6. Foreclosure outlook: Despite this pressure, Newport expects foreclosure rates to creep higher for the next year or so. “It’s going to keep on getting worse until the unemployment rate peaks, which we think will happen in about the middle of next year,” he says. For her part, Chen argues that a successful mortgage rescue program could expedite a housing recovery. “The hope is that we will be able to push through enough mortgage modifications to prevent home prices from falling too much more,” she said.