Friday, February 29, 2008

Barack (Hussein) Obama's Church

Barack Hussein Obama (I have to include the "Hussein" part now that it irritates so many people) is a member of Trinity United Church of Christ. He has named the church's pastor, the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr., as one of his mentors. After the endorsement of "Nation of Islam," I thought it might be a good idea to see what Trinity United stands for. So I did. And I've gotta tell ya, the church has flavor... and not a good flavor.

The church adopted a motto, "Unashamedly black and unapologetically Christian," quite some time ago. What does this mean? If you choose to be a person who sees sunshine in the sky, you could see that statement and think that the black people of that congregation want to shine the light of Jesus on everybody - and that they're not ashamed of their skin color. Nothing wrong with this. But if you tend to be a cloudy sort, you could read that and think, "They don't want white people in their church. They want to be a BLACK church... and unapologetically "Christian" - which doesn't mean much if they're racist." 

Clearly, for me, learning their motto was not enough. I decided to look at the mission of the church. In this, too, there are some things that sound good -- and some things that sound not so good. Somehow this church in Chicago says it has "African roots." Not sure how they grew their roots in Africa, but so be it. Throughout their website there appears to be a heavy focus on race, which I find to be unfortunate. However, considering the heavy focus on race there has been for centuries before I guess it's understandable. 

In the church mission statement, they speak to being a "chosen people" that pays no attention to socio-economic or educational backgrounds. This is good. They don't discriminate on the basis of how much money one has or what their social status appears to be. Sounds Christian. But wait! There's more...

"The fortunate who are among us combine forces with the less fortunate to become agents of change for God who is not pleased with America's economic mal-distribution!" Say wha-??? Where do people come up with this stuff?? America has "economic mal-distribution?" (What is with these Obama supporters making up words, anyway?) Is it true that in order to be pleasing to God, we Americans must distribute the green stuff equally regardless of one's work ethic? 

Then the mission statement goes on to say, "W.E.B. DuBois indicated that the problem in the 20th century was going to be the problem of the color line. He was absolutely correct." This strikes me as an interesting inclusion since DuBois was one who thought all were equal. He wrote of the "talented tenth" and was a strong supporter of eugenics. Perhaps Obama is part of the "talented tenth," and thus doesn't find this line of thinking so offensive... 

Regardless, I question whether it is wise for the American people to give a position of power to a person who subscribes to such a theory along with a leaning towards political socialism. Nothing good has come from that particular combination in the past. In fact, great evils have been propagated from this very mindset. They say history repeats itself - let's try to make sure that doesn't happen here. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Nation of Islam

The leader of Nation of Islam, Louis Farrakhan, recently endorsed Barack Obama for President of the United States. Barack Obama was questioned about this endorsement and his answer was that he cannot censor anybody and that he hadn't sought out the endorsement. Okay - that's fair. But it's still fair to see what this particular group stands for... and to try and figure out how they believe that Mr. Obama will help them to achieve their goals. Nation of Islam is a group of black Muslims claiming to stand up for BLACK Muslims in the United States. According to their website, this is what that looks like:

1. We want freedom. We want a full and complete freedom.

2. We want equality of opportunity. We want equal membership in society with the best in civilized society.

3. We want our people in America whose parents or grandparents were descendants from slaves, to be allowed to establish a separate state or territory of their own - either on this continent or elsewhere. We believe that our former slave masters are obligated to provide such land and that the area must be fertile and minerally rich. We believe that our former slave masters are obligated to maintain and supply our needs in this separate territory for the next 20 to 25 years - until we are able to produce and supply our own needs.

4. Since we cannot get along with them in peace and equality, after giving them 400 years of our sweat and blood and receiving in return some of the worst treatment human beings have ever experienced, we believe our contributions to this land and the suffering forced upon us by white America, justifies our demand for complete separation in a state or territory of our own.

5. We want freedom for all believers of Islam now held in federal prisons. We want freedom for all black men and women now under death sentence in innumerable prisons in the North as well as the South.

We want every black man and woman to have the freedom to accept or reject being separated from the slave master's children and establish a land of their own.

We know that the above plan for the solution of the black and white conflict is the best and only answer to the problem between two people.

6. We want an immediate end to the police brutality and mob attacks against the so-called Negro throughout the United States.

We believe that the Federal government should intercede to see that black men and women tried in white courts receive justice in accordance with the laws of the land - or allow us to build a new nation for ourselves, dedicated to justice, freedom and liberty.

7. As long as we are not allowed to establish a state or territory of our own, we demand not only equal justice under the laws of the United States, but equal employment opportunities. NOW!

We do not believe that after 400 years of free or nearly free labor, sweat and blood, which has helped America become rich and powerful, so many thousands of black people should have to subsist on relief or charity or live in poor houses.

8. We want the government of the United States to exempt our people from ALL taxation as long as we are deprived of equal justice under the laws of the land.

9. We want equal education - but separate schools up to 16 for boys and 18 for girls on the condition that the girls be sent to women's colleges and  universities. We want all black children educated, taught and trained by their own teachers.

Under such schooling system we believe we will make a better nation of people. The United States government should provide, free, all necessary text books and equipment, schools and college buildings. The Muslim teachers shall be left free to teach and train their people in the way of righteousness, decency and self respect.

10. We believe that intermarriage or race mixing should be prohibited. We want the religion of Islam taught without hinderance or suppression.

So many contradictions... where to begin?!?

I especially like how they have among their beliefs and goals that the black people shouldn't have to subsist on charity while at the same time demanding their own "minerally rich land," no taxation, and 20 to 25 years of the white man completely providing for their new country. Pray tell, what is that if not charity?? I would also like to see the United States law that requires black people to live in the poor house on the public dole. 

Oh, and they also want "equal membership in society" while they demand their own country be handed to them on a platter. I also think it's a hoot that they're demanding from the United States government their own country "on this continent or elsewhere." Where else do they think the United States government could possibly give them something?? Oh, OH - I just had an idea! We could give them New Mexico!! Really, I've driven through it... there's not much there... and we could give it to them with the stipulation that they have to keep Bill Richardson!

Their demand that the federal government free "all believers in Islam" is good for a chuckle. Of course, top that with the complete freedom of all black prisoners on death row... and we could live in Utopia! I'm beginning to think that Islam attracts the emotionally disturbed variety of folks... aren't you? I mean, one could almost understand a group of blacks hoping to have all black death row prisoners taken off death row. But released?? C'mon... you've gotta at least pretend to be reasonable! 

And what's with number 6 saying something about the so-called Negro? Do you want to be called a Negro? If you don't, call yourselves what you like. I don't know of many people who are calling black people Negroes these days... do you? I've heard the term African-American frequently (although there was an opinion piece in the New York Times today decrying this very thing... the piece was called something like "Go Back To Black").

Number 8 tickles my funny bone, too. How many black people on the public dole, living in the slums pay taxes? I mean, these are the people this group is claiming to represent, right? Can't you just see them all in their humble abodes with their calculators feverishly working to file their 1040EZ forms? I'm thinking not. And since they're on the public dole, most likely living in public housing, do you think that they're paying property taxes? Doubt it. What taxes are they wishing to avoid? Sales tax? What a hoot.

And numbers 9 and 10 are just hilarious. Here is a group of black people who actually wish to go back to segregation... because they believe that this way they can teach Islam in the public schools. Somebody should tell these guys how much progress CAIR is making. It might help them to sleep at night. Frankly, with all their contradictions and hilarity in their own official literature, the idea of these people being in charge of education is just darned scary. For the record, "minerally" is not a word.

Well, go Obama go. And I still say give them New Mexico. 

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Mortgage Bailout?!?

Head's up, everybody. Today I'm writing irritated!

I keep reading in the news about a "mortgage bailout." There's all this talk about the "poor homeowners" who have gotten in over their heads... they bought at the peak of the housing boom and now their homes are worth less than the amount of mortgage held. Over a period of weeks, it has been implied that the President is a cold and heartless man because he refuses to bail out the irresponsible. It is now beginning to appear that the President may cave to political pressure and fashion a bail-out anyway.

Bank of America has proposed creating a Federal Homeowner Preservation Corporation that would buy up billions of dollars in troubled mortgages at a deep discount, forgive debt above the current market value of the homes and use federal loan guarantees to refinance the borrowers at lower rates. Does this irritate anybody besides me? A number of people went out at the height of a housing boom and purchased more home than they could actually afford. Some did it with interest only mortgages, which they KNEW meant they would eventually be required to refinance, which would bring their mortgage payments to a higher level. Some afforded their payments only by financing on an adjustable rate mortgage, knowing that as the rates go up their payments go up. And I can acknowledge that there are a few who have probably been suckered into their positions through some slippery actions on the part of a few greedy people in the industry.

Meanwhile, there are millions of responsible people in the United States of America. People who have worked hard to get where they are, purchased the homes they knew they could afford (no matter if the mortgage broker told them they could qualify for more), and have used the market to their advantage to get themselves in a better housing position responsibly. I lived in the Phoenix area during the largest part of the housing boom, and everybody I knew talked about it being crazy. Nobody thought it was going to last forever. And yet people purchased. History repeats itself and this sort of market correction has happened in over-inflated areas of the country before. 

What really frosts me is the idea that the responsible people are now supposed to front the money for a "Federal Corporation" (which is just putting a business-like name on a new federal bureaucracy) intended to bail out the banks who gave bad loans (buying up mortgages at deep discount) and forgive the debt above the current market value of people's homes. Given that market history does repeat itself, it is safe to assume that home values will again begin to rise. Why should the responsible people in the U.S. be required to bail out the irresponsible? Talk about the ant and the grasshopper!!

And then to top it all off and make me really angry, the bank came out and said, "We believe that any intervention by the federal government will be acceptable only if it is not perceived as a bailout of the bond market." Uh-huh. It doesn't matter if it actually IS a bailout of the bond market as long as it's not perceived that way. Well, this particular citizen doesn't find any bailout acceptable. 

The New York Times recently wrote a sobbing article about the homeowners in this plight saying that they were "stuck in their homes." Well, good gravy! They just bought them... if they're stuck there for a little while because they cannot sell and pay off their mortgage they will just have to wait for the market to go back up. This isn't rocket science. I understand that this can create challenges for some people... changes in their lifestyle may become important. Some people may need to move for a specific reason and find themselves unable to do so without destroying their credit. I get that it's a problem. But I don't believe that it's a problem that needs to be fixed FOR them. 

Apparently now policy makers are admitting that a government bailout presents a "moral hazard" in that it may encourage irresponsible behavior in the future (kind of a no-brainer, that one). It also creates the dilemma that the government would be stuck with billions of dollars in defaulted loans (meaning we the taxpayers are just paying for the problem) which would add to an already too large federal deficit and debt. Whew!! Right? They realize that it would be a desperately stupid thing to do!! I'm soooo relieved. But wait - the very next paragraph:

But a growing number of policy makers and community advocacy activists argue that a government rescue may nonetheless be the most sensible way to avoid a broader disruption of the entire economy.

This is, I think, extremely short sighted. Who cares if there is broader disruption of the entire economy?? Well, I do - but I'd rather see that than a government bailout of anybody. If Americans don't learn their economic lessons now, they never will -- and the economy will be in even more trouble down the road. It's kind of like having a child who is in deep trouble. Do you let them face the consequences of their own behavior even though it's painful for them to do so? Or do you rescue them and shield them from any consequences? If you rescue them, are they likely to recommit the same crime? I would argue yes... and the same holds true for all of us. 

There should be NO government bailout for any of the mortgagors in over their heads. And there should be NO government bailout for any of the mortgagees which lent irresponsibly. That's my very opinionated opinion and I believe I'll be sticking to it.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Picking Apart Paul

Life can be such fun!! I love the fact that the New York Times is delivered to my email inbox with no charge whatsoever... where else can you get entertainment for free?

Of course, this is only a valid thought if you're as twisted as I am, and most people aren't. I truly love reading the insanity that is routinely spouted by the likes of Paul Krugman, Maureen Dowd (although lately I find myself agreeing with many of her articles), and Bob Herbert. Most often I pick apart their articles, throw my hands up in the air, and get generally quite worked up. Some days it's the best exercise I get. 

Today there was a real doozy. Paul Krugman has declared poverty to be "poison." Because in Saturday's Financial Times, an article started out by saying, "Poverty in early childhood poisons the brain." Apparently, children growing up in poor families with low social status experience unhealthy levels of stress hormones which impair their neural development. So, supposedly because they lack funds and are exposed to stress, their language development and memory is impaired which leads to an inability to escape poverty for the rest of their lives. Uh huh. 

First of all, I have to say that I think this science (like the science of global warming) sounds a bit fishy. Who is to say that the lack of development seen in these children is a direct result of a lack of cash? Why are these families poor? Is somebody holding them down with their thumb? Why do they have low social status? Simply because of their lack of funds - or partly because of their chosen lifestyle? Does this study offer a valid explanation for ebonics? I mean, make up your minds, people -- is ebonics a culture to be treasured? Sanctified? Taught in schools? Or is "impaired language development" a negative that will keep folks in the poorhouse?

But back to Paul... He says that L.B.J. declared his "War on Poverty" 44 years ago - and as a result there was a large reduction in poverty over the next few years... and then he says "especially among children, who saw their poverty rate fall from 23 percent in 1963 to 14 percent in 1969." Really, this can only mean one thing... if the poverty rate is falling especially among children, the poor are having fewer children. It doesn't mean that people are being pulled out of poverty by the social programs available to them. Children don't have their own family classification available for research and discovery.

But alas, Paul says, progress stalled thereafter because politics shifted to the right - and attention shifted from the suffering of the poor to the alleged abuses of welfare queens driving Cadillacs. And then the fight against poverty was abandoned. Well... tell it to me straight, Paul. Were there welfare queens driving in Cadillacs or weren't there? If there were, don't you think they should be the object of a bit of focus? Shouldn't a program designed to bring attention to the "suffering of the poor" be designed to weed out queens in Caddies? Just a thought. 

I think the focus of the debate shouldn't be whether or not we've abandoned the poor, but rather how best to help them. Handing somebody a bit of cash might get them out of their doldrums for the moment, but what happens when that money is gone? They come right back and look for more where they last found it. Shouldn't they learn to find that money through hard work, not handouts? Are there perhaps just a few people on the dole who shouldn't be?

Paul says, "America's failure to make progress in reducing poverty, especially among children, should provoke a lot of soul searching." Wow. Especially among children again, huh? You can reduce poverty especially among children only one way. By making sure that poor people have fewer of them. How many of us would look at a financially disadvantaged child and say, "Oh, how sad that they were born. They'd certainly be better off if they weren't here." That's a judgment I'm certainly not willing to make. I'd be willing to bet some of the success stories out there of rising from poverty to middle class are glad they had the opportunity to do so. 

He also says that the people who say America is a land of the free where a poor man can work hard and make himself rich is just an excuse for poverty. Well, it might be a reason to leave some people in the poverty they created for themselves, but it's certainly not an excuse!! 

He winds up his article by comparing the United States to European countries in saying, "Poverty rates are much lower in most European countries than in the United States, mainly because of government programs that help the poor and unlucky." Wow. Well, I don't know about you, but I don't want a government program which is designed to "help the unlucky." That's the funniest statement I've heard in a while. Can you imagine? Some dufus goes and gambles all his money away and establishes himself to be the unluckiest dog in the universe - thus the government owes him a check. I don't think so!! It seems to me that the United States needs more policies that will reward perseverance, endurance, and hard work. Leave luck out of it. 

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Hoopla, Hubris, and Hypocrisy

Okay, so you know what I think about "An Inconvenient Truth." And you probably have surmised from my previous post a generalization of my opinion on Al Gore. But some may be interested in a little clarification of the finer points surrounding my overwhelming negativity. 

Al Gore has the audacity to live a lavish lifestyle as well as fly all around the world, enlarging his carbon footprint to Bigfoot proportions, in order to tell everybody else to stop flying around the world - sort of. Many of his suggestions for us lowly folk have to do with "we the little people" changing our lifestyle so that our carbon feet look like they were bound as babies (like my interesting Asian analogy?). 

I do not personally need a big ole' footprint... I'm happy living the fairly simple life I live. I hop on an airplane and fly coach maybe once a year. I drive to and from work teaching at the elementary school about three miles from my house. And I occasionally drive for my job as a realtor, although nobody could accuse me of being any too busy on that front. I live about fifteen miles from the grocery store I choose to patronize, and I try to be organized about my shopping so that frequent trips are unnecessary (although I must confess this is more due to a lack of desire to frequent the grocery than a desire for carbon savings). This is the lifestyle I love. 

What blows me away about Al Gore is his whining about the end of the earth drawing nigh while he does nothing to reduce his own carbon output. This freaks me out not a little -- because if he truly believed what he preaches, I would imagine that he would actually be trying to reduce carbon emissions in every way possible. If the world is truly going to be burned toast soaked in water within twenty years, how responsible is Mr. Gore to just continue living his lifestyle (as long as he's purchasing RECs - or renewable energy credits). In spite of the RECs, he's still contributing the same amount to the supposed problem.

Al Gore is openly admitting that his agenda is a political one. Now, many people have deeply criticized the current Bush administration for trotting out 9/11 every time they need some sort of anti-terrorist legislation passed or whenever there's a looming election, accusing them of using fear to induce a desired result. I, too, think that the script could change somewhat from moment to moment -- but only because there are other, more recent terrorist activities which could be cited. However, it's important to note that very few people are criticizing Al Gore's catastrophic GW predictions as "the politics of fear" in spite of the fact that Al Gore's political agenda is based on a fear of what MIGHT happen IF he's right -- while the current Bush administration's political agenda is based on a fear of what MIGHT happen AGAIN if something isn't done to stop it. 

In short, I cannot respect Al Gore or his mission in light of two things: Either (a) he believes his own rhetoric and still does nothing about his lifestyle to change the eventual outcome of the planet or (b - and more likely, I think) he doesn't believe his own rhetoric but continues to voice it in the hopes of a particular political outcome. Either way, his character is questionable at best.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

An Inconvenient Movie

It's been a particularly difficult week for me - and after a particularly difficult week, there's nothing quite like sitting down and watching Al Gore. Refusing to actually pay a dime to see his film "An Inconvenient Truth," I waited for weeks in order to get it from the library. And yesterday it arrived... so my husband and I sat down to watch it together. Now YOU get to benefit from this dastardly experience by reading my review of it!! (Stop pouting - nobody's making you read this...)

First of all, let me lay it all out there and admit that I'm not a scientist. Not of any sort. I don't claim to have vast knowledge of the earth's climate, I don't claim to be able to refute the very idea of global warming, nor do I WANT to. Thankfully, there's very little science to refute in Mr. Gore's movie, so I can criticize it all I want without any credentials. 

I have some extended family who have taken Gore's movie and run with it -- they have officially hopped onto the Global Warming bandwagon and started playing a jig on it. And their entire body of knowledge on the subject appears to come from Mr. Al Gore. So, before watching the film, I expected there to be some information in there that would at least sound convincing... but I didn't find any. 

I'd like to start with the most petty thing I thought during the movie. That Al Gore, while narrating something off screen, sounds an awful lot like Mr. Rogers. Only without the happy sweater, of course. And no puppets. :-)

There were a couple times during the movie where they cut to a cartoon to "prove a point." One cartoon used characters from "The Simpsons" and the other was a frog illustrating the frog in boiling water concept. Of course, in the froggie cartoon, the fated frog was saved -- because Al Gore thinks it's important to "save the frog." His insinuation was we are all about to be boiled alive and we just don't know it... and we should be grateful he's there to save us. 

I remember when I was a kid and there was a lot of worry about "holes in the ozone layer." Remember that? Well, that's no longer the worry. NOW we're worrying about the atmosphere becoming too THICK... so thick, in fact, that the heat which normally escapes the earth into space cannot get out. (Oh, that's right -- this was illustrated by yet another cartoon! I had momentarily forgotten about "Mr. Sun.")

Mr. Gore uses graphs to illustrate temperature patterns for the last (I kid you not) 650,000 years. (Of course, his graphs provide no data -- it's just a squiggly line going up and down over and over until it goes up, up, up... until Mr. Gore himself needs a motorized lift to get him high enough to point to the end.) He CLAIMS that scientists can chip into ice in the arctic regions and determine from the layers of ice what temperatures were in any given year. Now, like I said, I'm not a scientist -- but I'm extremely dubious about this idea. Common sense tells me that there just MIGHT be something fishy going on here. In order for scientists to "determine" temperature from a layer of ice, they are having to make an awful lot of assumptions -- and eventually they have to assume their assumptions are truth and run with them. So I'm not buying it as fact.

He also showed footage of the Antarctic melting in a disturbing fashion -- during January through March!!! You don't say!! Never mind that January is the Antarctic's SUMMER.

Throughout the movie, Al Gore refers to skeptics of man-made global warming as "so-called skeptics." Over and over again, in a derisive and condescending tone, they were "so-called skeptics." This led me to wonder what Al Gore thinks they really are -- not skeptics, but heretics? Ah, yes... that IS what he thinks they are. Because as far as he is concerned, man made global warming is a done deal. He said that the "so-called skeptics" claim that there is scientific debate on the issue, but there really isn't. He then cited a "comprehensive study of all scientific journals" in which they took a very large sample of peer reviewed articles (then quickly stated 10%), and in all (I think it was 986) the articles chose for their study, not ONE was skeptical of man made global warming. Now, this I think is just hilarious. This man who thinks himself absolutely brilliant has declared the debate over because they didn't put any skeptical peer reviewed articles in their study of 10% of all scientific articles. 

He focused a bit in his movie, too, on the fact that he lost the presidency and insinuated that it was stolen from him. Footage of people holding up ballots in total confusion, footage of the evil George W. Bush being sworn in, of the Supreme Court ruling... Oy. Clearly the man is a bit bitter about the elections. And clearly he thinks that if only he had won the presidency, the world would have averted this looming disaster called global warming.

Then, too, he often went back into his personal past... his son getting hit by a car at the age of six... his childhood... snore... 

Then footage of Katrina and the devastation of New Orleans (with nary a mention of Mississippi or Florida - apparently it's not as frightening to see people pulling together to help one another after a disaster). Footage of floods and droughts. And a really neat graphic showing how if the arctics both melt, the earth will flood BIG TIME, and millions of people will become refugees... imagine the devastation. 

Of course, if there's an alien invasion from the next galaxy over and the aliens decide they want the prime United States soil, then too there will be millions of people as refugees... imagine the devastation of THAT, will ya? Oops. I'm beginning to sound like a so-called skeptic. I'd better be careful lest the heretic police show up at my door. :-)

OKAY... At the end of the flick, Al Gore directs us to stop the madness by visiting his website After going there, I found that I could calculate my carbon footprint (lovely term) at 7.25 which is, according to Mr. Gore, AVERAGE. From here, I am encouraged to "go carbon neutral" with Native Energy by purchasing "carbon offsets." They are graciously willing to charge me every month for breathing, easily billed to my credit card. Hoooo-- weee!!! I can't wait to be charged just for the pleasure of drawing breath. What a racket. 

So basically, the accusation that Al Gore is paying for his excessively large footprint (and I'm talking about his lifestyle here, not his girth - thank you very much) by buying carbon offsets from his own company and then is, in turn, making a killing off all the others in the world willing to pay monthly just to breathe -- is probably quite true. 

According to Native Energy:

Renewable energy projects reduce global warming pollution on your behalf by reducing the amount of power generated by burning fossil fuels.
• Under federal law, renewable generators can force utilities to buy their power.
• For efficient grid operation, if the utility has to buy the project's power, it is going to use it.
• As a matter of physics, if the utility uses the renewable project's power, it must, for any given level of demand, use less from other sources.
• For efficient grid operation, they use less from those generators that have the highest fuel costs - fossil fuel plants.

The result is that for every kWh generated by a renewable generator, one kWh less is generated by fossil fuel plants.

Some renewable energy sources, like our family farm methane projects, reduce global warming pollution by reducing the amount of fossil fuels the farms themselves use for heat and colling, or by preventing emissions of methane gas from manure stored in lagoons.

By helping build new clean and renewable energy projects with Native Energy, you'll reduce CO2 pollution by helping change how our power is made.

This has me wondering... why, if federal law already REQUIRES power companies to buy what this place is selling, do they need our money?? I believe strongly in developing new technology for ourselves. Get us off foreign oil! Rah rah!! I think that it's great to create our power by using wind energy and solar energy or (like Duke Power here does) water energy. But I also think it's ludicrous for companies who produce such power to expect us to pay them something for nothing just because we live. And to guilt us or scare us into it by showing footage of the entire earth practically melting away is abhorrent. 

All this to say -- I think that "An Inconvenient Truth" is actually "A Convenient Scam."

Thursday, February 7, 2008

He's out?

So Romney decided to "suspend" his campaign for president. This is really, REALLY shocking to me. He had said he was in for the long haul... but I guess he's said a lot of things. I just never expected that to be one of the things he backed out on. 

One interesting aspect: he SUSPENDED his campaign, he didn't officially drop out. He's holding on to his delegates as of right now. And he has not come out and endorsed anybody. Is he hoping for an upset at the convention? Who knows? 

He said that he disagrees with McCain on many things, but that John McCain is strong on national defense... he supports the war. And that's something they agree on. Romney says he's concerned that a drawn out primary will lead to a less than adequate national campaign and a potential loss to the Democrats (which just wouldn't do). And in light of that, he's backing out. 

Where does this leave us? With McCain? I guess we were probably going to be saddled with the guy anyway... and where does Huckabee come in? It's funny, because all the talk shows seem to ignore him. The news outlets ignore him. He's kind of mentioned occasionally as an afterthought... "Oh, yeah... and Huckabee, too." But how will Mitt's leaving shake things up? Will Huckabee take anything from it? Oh, the suspense!! 

It's almost like when you really get into a television show... and they pull you into the story and then - take a three week break from airing the show. What?! Are you kidding? You're going to just leave me hanging here? Maybe this is God's way of teaching me patience... I guess he has to work on us in the avenues available. Politics and television... hmmm, I don't think I'm leaving anyone with a pretty picture of my life!

Ah, well... anyway. It's another interesting development - the plot thickens. Can't wait to see what tomorrow will bring!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

To Be Or Not To Be... Wealthy

Well, here's a thought: wealth is measured not by what you spend, but by what you HAVE. 

So many in American society look at the people who are living in the expensive neighborhoods, driving their expensive cars, eating out at expensive restaurants and think, "Wow... they've got MONEY." And I suppose some of them do. But what people spend isn't really a good measure of how wealthy or not wealthy a person is. Even the people who live this lifestyle and stay "within their means" are not necessarily wealthy. If a person takes home a large paycheck and spends it all, they are technically living within their means... but once that money is spent, they're no longer "wealthy." 

I really think that if Americans focused less on looking wealthy, we'd have a better chance of becoming wealthy. But too many of us are interested in the look -- so interested, in fact, that we're willing to pay well more than a product is worth (in interest) in order to have the product quickly. (This is true of cars, boats, expensive homes, televisions bought on credit or home equity, etc...)

I work in the real estate industry, and I can't even tell you how many times I've heard the mantra, "If you want to be successful, you have to look successful." Many of my peers pay large amounts of interest on car payments in order to look more successful than they are... and I have a hard time understanding why people want to be represented by a real estate agent who spends their money on a nice ride rather than investing in real estate. But I guess that's something to ponder later. 

What does success look like, anyway? Does it look like an expensive car? Does it look like a really nice house? Maybe success looks like a powerful position or a great title... If we're talking about financial success, I don't think that it looks like any of those things. I think that financial success looks like breathing easy because you've saved enough and invested enough so you don't have to work so hard just to keep your head floating above the water-line. I think success looks like something better than even a pay-as-you-go system... although it certainly starts there (rather than drowning in debt). 

We're trying so hard to keep up with our neighbors that we're drowning in debt... never realizing that, in turn, our neighbors are looking over at us and trying to keep up, also drowning in their own debt. At this rate, we're all going to pull each other down and drown together.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Politics As Usual

Ooooo... I've listened and cringed and listened and cringed... and, occasionally, thought, "Well, that's not so bad... maybe we're not COMPLETELY doomed..."

I still can't bring myself to see Romney as a genuine kind of guy. I know it's partly because of his many changes in his stances from when he ran as governor in a liberal state to running for the Republican nomination. I think it's also partly because he strikes me as a pompous know-it-all irritant. That said, I can see him holding his own in a debate with either Obama or Hillary, being willing to say whatever he needed to win the debate. :-) So, if all I cared about was electing someone with an "R" after their name, he might be my guy.

McCain still puts me to sleep every time he speaks. I'm getting a little bit better at battling my narcolepsy when he's talking, so I can now say that I know where I do and don't disagree with him. I guess I can buy the idea that McCain took his wet-noodle whipping on immigration and he now understands that he must secure the border before he can address those already here. On issues of global warming, I think he's off his rocker. I appreciate that he appears to be willing to continue the fight against radical Islam. I don't necessarily think that McCain will be great at appointing constructionist judges - he was praising Sandra Day O'Connor in the last debate. While she wasn't the worst, she certainly wasn't the best. 

Ron Paul... while I don't think that he's a viable candidate, I think it's reprehensible the way the press is treating him in the debates. If you're going to invite him to join, you need to treat him with the same respect you're affording the others. 

Huckabee, while I don't find that I trust him completely, has two things going for him. Before I get into that, I want to state unequivocally that each and every viable candidate up on the debate stage is a liberal. I know that the talk show hosts are very opposed to Huckabee because he will "destroy the Republican party." I don't buy this. Huckabee won't destroy the Republican party any more than any other candidate on the stage (Ron Paul included). They're all men with great weaknesses in the conservative arena. Huckabee has a couple things in his favor, though. One, he has maintained a steady conservative message on social issues, and when these issues come up he is able to address them boldly and in a clear and simple way. When he speaks on social conservatism, he is able to communicate the message in a way that makes such clear sense it could even be called persuasive. Also, Huckabee could hold his own in a debate setting with the Democrat opposition. This is not to say that he would necessarily win every debate, but he would have a fighting chance. (Compare this to McCain who would operate like Dole after he just took a valium.)

Deep sigh... after saying all this, I guess I have to say that I think I'm back to Huckabee being the best choice available to me at this time. I wish there were a different one, but I don't see it. I would love to hear from anyone who disagrees....