Thursday, December 25, 2008

What I Got For Christmas..

It feels like it has been forever, but a grownup Christmas wish has finally come true this year.

You see, for some people Christmas means it is time to find the perfect gift for that special someone. For others, it means going to mall after mall, store after store, etc. etc. to give it your all (and in some cases give UP your all only to be reminded later) to buy stuff for loved ones. Then there are those who simply wants people to be together and not to be alone for Christmas. Let me be clear: gift giving, as long as it is not taken to a great extreme, is ok. There are many different reasons for this season, no matter what any given organized religion, economic institution, or government institution dictates it to be..

Take the gift of reevaluation:

Recently, President-elect Obama picked an ultra religious conservative pastor to kick off his inauguration ceremony. At first I thought, "Whatever. I don't know anything about that man, I'll wait and see what this means." As the media and gay leaders began to give energy to this, I began to get angry at him and this latest pick. In the context of few (if any?) nominations of openly gay people to his administration, it just did not look good. At all. How in the world could Obama bring such visibility to such an anti-gay person? What about those campaign promises to Americans with different sexual orientations and gender identities?

Then, a friend recently blogged about something that people are not talking about: he is ending his inauguration ceremony with a positive, gay friendly pastor. Her point? The previous administration ushered in an successful campaign to eliminate rights from a targeted group, people are having a dialogue like never before about gay rights, Obama is starting his celebration with a person people have great differences with, and ending it on a positive note. Think about it. Got me to reevaluate what is going on out there.

Then there is the gift of family:

This year marks the first that Steve and I have been able to celebrate Christmas with my mother at her home in Florida and fate had an interesting way of having my father join us. He's staying at my brother's house, which is across the street from my mom's.

Its challenging for some people to have their loved ones at their side, for whatever reason, during the holiday season. For years, I have celebrated Christmas and other holidays with my partner's family. A couple years ago I was fortunate to have some of my family join Steve and me for a fateful Christmas. I will never forget that I have been blessed with the opportunity to travel to Mexico to be with my gramma and my mom's family for the holidays several times over the years. Its not easy for Steve and me to have family so spread apart.

Quick aside, before I continue:

My parents have been divorced for about fifteen years, since 1993 I believe.. Some children of divorced parents have had the good fortune of having parents in their lives who have become better friends than spouses. Some children have parents with great differences and rifts between them. On their own, over time, my parents have shared me with what has kept them from having any relationship whatsoever. Although: my mom has had comforting words for my dad when his loved ones have passed away, and my dad has been there when my mom's loved ones have passed away. So I admit, to say they have had no relationship whatsoever is rather unfair.

Back to the gift of family, and the grownup Christmas wish finally granted:

After years of celebrating holidays without my biological family, we all got to have Christmas Eve dinner together. Jav with his boyfriend, Jason. Lupita with her partner, Adam and their beautiful baby Adan. Arturo with his wife Celeste. Art's beautiful children Karina and Breanne. Of course, me with my boyfriend Steve. All of us having dinner together and enjoying each other's company. Nice. Very nice indeed.

At first the thought of everyone in close proximity with each other conjured thoughts of drama and a whole lot of what if's. In the end there was no way in HELL that any member of the family, in such close proximity with each other, would be spending time alone. A couple times throughout the day several of us discussed how this day would play out. In the end: with some uncertainty, of course we should all be together for dinner.

Then after a Baptist Christmas Eve service it happened: my mom extended the invitation to my father and of course said some things in addition to the invitation. My daddy, the proud and stubborn man he is, accepted the invitation and of course had to respond to my mom. My sister was standing there, completing a rather emotional quartet. At that point I just didn't care about what was being said as tears of joy began to flow down my face. All I could do was chuckle, cry with joy, mutter something to end the discussion, express my pride in having my mami and papi by side this Christmas, and clutch the four of us together while I hear my sister saying something simple about us having a hug of piece.

So what I got this Christmas? Opportunities to reevaluate things, to be with my family for Christmas, and to get a new grownup Christmas wish. That wish? For my parents to develop their relationship as friends.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The End Of A Trek Era

The Internet is buzzing with news about the passing of Majel Barrett-Roddenberry. I met this wonderful woman years ago at a Comic Con, I believe. She and John De Lancie signed one of my now most treasured items of all time: Star Trek novel Q-In-Law.

With a reboot of her husband's beloved Star Trek just around the corner, her passing marks the end of an era. The news hit me surprisingly hard and I'm suddenly finding myself feeling a whole lot older. Mrs. Barrett-Roddenberry, with that wonderfully playful smile of hers, will surely be missed.

Click here for the news at

Monday, December 15, 2008

On Lame Duck Bush And The Iraq/Hussein Legacy

We are approaching the final days of the lame duck bush administration. Judging from the celebrations at the White House on election night, surely people out there are counting down the final days to January 20, 2009. Maybe they're counting down to the final minutes.

Anyway: some of the bush legacy will undoubtedly involve Iraq. Did you know that 60 Minutes had a segment on the interrogation of Saddam Hussein? That 60 Minutes interview of the man who interrograted Hussein, in my opinion, certainly places the bush legacy into a certain perspective. I heard about that segment months ago.

When reflecting on the interview, its difficult not to question United States intentions and interests in the Middle East. Especially now that petro companies have more freedom to be fruitful. At least the cost of gasoline has dropped significantly these days.

I digress. Here we have a defiant man with no remorse for what he said and did and at first was more concerned about Iran than the United States. A man full of surprises: in fact he may have had a unique respect for women. More than some Americans, I might add.

Some highlights:

  • The real reason for Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait: a grossly inappropriate comment about Iraqi women

  • No weapons of mass destruction, but he did want to bring them back

  • Hussein reacts to Baghdad moving on without him

  • Hussein considered Bin Laden a fanatic and never wanted to be associated with him

  • Hussein has respect for Reagan and Clinton as leaders, but not for bush senior and junior.

Here's a link to the 60 Minutes article complete with video, in all its glory.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Little People, Big Problem?

What a most unfortunate turn of events. The Roloff family just might be a bit on the hypocritical side. They've painted for themselves a rather interesting picture.

Allegedly, Jeremy Roloff has a tendency to use derogatory language about Gays, Mexicans, and who knows who else on his MySpace page. Coincidentally his MySpace profile is reportedly now set to private. The Learning Channel and the Roloff family seem to be ignoring the issue. And to make matters more interesting, Amy Roloff includes a link to the notoriously anti-gay Focus Of The Family web site on her web site.

Makes me wonder what they really think of this big world of ours.

Click here for a good starting point on a disappointing, disturbing turn of events for this tolerance-preaching family.

Monday, December 1, 2008

On The Dark Side Of Black Friday..

Fascinating, this Black Friday phenomenon. I finally experienced it for myself. All in all, not a bad experience. No sign of an economy in recession, I think.. Would've been a little better had I gotten more rest the night before.

American TV should be commended for running a very organized ship for their big sale. Prior to the doors opening at 5am, salespeople outside issued maps of the store and shouted out instructions to the crowd. Simple, really: know what you want to get, and follow the designated line to get to the desired product. Once inside, the crowd was welcomed by balloons, signs, and salespeople directing people to their destination.

Too bad we don't get to hear more about events like that. Maybe the positive publicity would give businesses an incentive to control their crowds and draw them in. Oh, what the hell do I know.. ;)

Then there is the darker side of Black Friday. Of course I'm referring to the news about the tragic accidents which occur on this day. This year is no exception.

There is the unfortunate death of the Long Island Walmart employee trampled by the crowd. The shooting at the California Toys 'R Us is admittedly rather unexpected. What has me quite disturbed is the apparent lack of response to news of the woman who suffered a miscarriage after being trampled by the Long Island Walmart stampede.

Read all about it here.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Nope.. Gore Didn't Invent The Internet!

Yes, I know that is pretty old. But picking on Gore for claiming to invent the Internet is still funny. Anyway, today I learned something new myself about the massive network we all know and love.

Internet doesn't exactly come from interconnected network, as I could've sworn I was taught. You know, from one of those Computer Science degrees which require a class in Data Structures. Pointers, anyone? The name actually comes from something a little more.. shall we say.. galactic..

Click here to find out the original proposed name for the network now known as The Internet.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Milwaukee's Protest Of The California Ban On Gay Marriage

Unfortunately I was unable to attend Milwaukee's protest of Proposition 8. In part because I've been domesticated, which isn't the worst thing.. ;) Seriously: Steve and I had family obligations for a good part of the day.

For those of you living in a cave or crawling out from under a rock, Proposition 8 is an amendment to the California Constitution which eradicated the right for same-sex couples to marry. This horrible amendment is one which even Governor Schwarzenegger opposed and has expressed hope that his state's Supreme Court will be able to overturn it.

This year's election may have brought more people of all colors out to vote, but one unfortunate consequence, possibly due to the turnout, is that gay marriage is now banned in more states than before.

Click here for a video of the Milwaukee protest.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Watching History Unfold, Welcome President-Elect Obama!

What an unbelievable time. This is a time to be proud to be an American. US Citizen. Whatever. :) We're about to place a person of color in the center seat of our country.

And to think that this nation was struggling with civil rights just forty years ago. To those that have said, "there will not be a black president in our lifetime" I have one thing to say: look what we've done today.

Regardless, there is plenty of work ahead. We continue to deal with civil rights struggles today. In a way this becomes evident when you look at the final Obama and McCain gatherings. Both senators are gracious in the final remarks, and their audience reactions to me are signs of the times.

The McCain gathering: one which Fox 6's Katrina Cravy described as, "a smaller party, a little more intimate." A gathering where a person of color appeared to be nowhere in sight. Any mention of Obama resulted in boo's which forced McCain to pause during his final address. Pauses where he had to wave the audience down to calm them down.

The Obama gathering: mentions of McCain did not result in the same boo's. Quite the opposite, the audience's graciousness matched that of Obama himself. This gathering represented the wonderful diversity of this country. It was chock full not just of white people but also people of color, of all sexual orientations, of all gender identities -- all walks of life were surely there.

There is another gathering to take note. One in Washington D.C., in front of the White House whose current occupant has a dismal 28% approval rating. A gathering which is celebrating incoming President-Elect Obama and the inevitable departure of President Bush.

The message behind today's historical moment cannot be any more clear. People are anxious for Bush to step down. Our leaders shall not ignore and put down this nation's diversity. The nation will move forward and recover from the damage which has been done.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

OK, Sports Fans - Its Obama Approaching The McCain End Zone..!

Hey, all you sports fans out there! Check out this analogy of the current state of the 2008 presidential campaign.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Land Of The Free For Blocking The Vote? Who Is In Control?

What an amazing country we live in. We have freedom of expression, freedom of religion, etc. We have inalienable rights such as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Some rights are granted by law. Among them is the right to vote and elect our own president.

Yet there are those that work to eliminate or deny access to certain rights for specific groups. Sometimes people are afraid of the power of underrepresented groups which tend to vote Democrat. They can be blatant and eliminate rights by amending the constitution, or find systematic ways to deny access such as keeping people from voting. All this makes me wonder who is really in control, considering McCain didn't seem to have much of a choice in his VP pick.

Land of the free indeed!

Check out:

"They didn't let John McCain pick the person he wanted to pick as VP," (Bush strategist) Dowd declared during the Time Warner Summit panel. "When Sarah Palin got picked instead of Joe Lieberman, which I fundamentally believed would have given John McCain the best opportunity in this race... as soon as he picked Palin, that whole ready versus not ready argument was not credible."

Bush Strategist: McCain Knows He Put Country At Risk With Palin Pick at the Huffington Post

Rolling Stone's Block The Vote article

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Obama vs. McCain Roast At Albert E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner

Check it out. A lighter moment between the two presidential candidates. This is the final face-to-face meeting that Obama and McCain will have before the election. In this video, the two get to roast each other and they get some nice jabs in. It seems all in good fun, and quite human dare I say..

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Outbursts At Obama & McCain Rallies

During the debate, McCain appeared to equate Obama's criticism of specific points about his plan with the negative tone spewed from his own campaign. He blames the tone of the campaign on Obama turning down invitations to hold town hall meetings together. Then, McCain hinted at things he did not like happening at the Obama rallies and either had no time to talk specifics, or chose not to speak further.

Try running a couple Google searches to see what is being said about the rallies. Searching on "outbursts at McCain rallies" yields a different set than searching on "outbursts at Obama rallies."

See for yourself here:

Outbursts at McCain rallies
Outbursts at Obama rallies

Obama & McCain, Show Us The Money!

I found out about a great little table, which paints a great picture of how much we'll pay in taxes under the candidates' plans. Obama vows the middle class will benefit from his tax cuts. McCain promises the same - mainly for the rich.

See for yourself here.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

McCain: So Much For Respect!

Wouldn't you know.. McCain isn't doing what he set out to do. My, what a surprise. Today he was caught saying, "I don't need lessons on telling the truth to the American people, and were I ever to need any improvement in that regard, I probably wouldn't seek it from a Chicago politician."

So much for carrying out a respectful campaign.

For some reason this reminded me of Palin comparing herself to a pitbull. Wait a minute: isn't that particular breed of dog one that municipalities across the land are trying to ban? Don't some people relate the breed to urban dysfunction?

I suppose if she can get away with comparing herself to such an animal, anything goes at this point.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Are Political Satire & Sarcasm The Same As Freely Expressed Death Threats?

David Frum is a former speechwriter to President Bush and appeared on today's Rachel Maddow show. Below is a segment from today's show. To summarize, the interview went in a direction that Rachel Maddow had not planned to take.

That is putting the conversation mildly.

A large portion of it was taken up by discussing the verbal attacks shouted against Obama that people have been making at McCain and Palin rallies. And, that satire and sarcasm about McCain-Palin has pretty much the same ugly tone as shouts from the Joe Six-Packs out there saying, "kill him" when referring to Obama. (??)

Mr. Frum says he doesn't know what exactly the people have said at these rallies because he was not there. I guess he hasn't been watching video shown on TV lately. Nor does he seem to have the time to learn how to respectfully interrupt his host by saying, "excuse me" before doing so.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

So Its Come Down To.. McCain Defending Obama After Stoking Hate & Fear?

It is just getting more and more amazing. McCain is starting to defend Obama. He's doing this after his campaign has "taken off the gloves" and begun making brutal personal attacks. Meanwhile, Palin has been found to be unethical during the Troopergate investigation.

A McCain's spokesperson had the gall to blame Obama himself for the personal attacks.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

NSA Spying On Americans.. And Sharing Phone Sex?

Speaking of disrepect.. allegedly the NSA is spying on Americans living abroad. The Bush Administration is quick to remind us that "there is a constant check to make sure our civil liberties were treated with respect." Meanwhile, the NSA seems to be getting off on sharing intimate calls between Americans living abroad and their loved ones. Americans such as those soldiers giving their lives (for oil and United States interests) in Iraq.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Financial Crisis Suspended For Politics As Usual

I think these videos speak for themselves, given that the candidates' attacks are getting more and more personal. Who cares if we're in the midst of a financial crisis now turned global? Someday we'll all look back at the day our government handed us and our children a shitload of debt to pay, and lament the budget surplus and world respect we lost.. No matter: the candidates and their followers are giving us lessons in how to be (dis)respectful!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Two Weeks In The Life Of A Capitalist Country

I'd actually like to try to recap a rather interesting couple weeks in politics:

  • The economy nosedives.

  • The president and one of his appointments request unregulated control over $700,000,000,000 to bail out the economy via a three page draft bill.

  • The finger pointing begins, while the people and the government debate that horrible bill.

  • McCain decides to suspend his campaign, stands up David Letterman and chats with Katie Couric, suggests canceling the Presidential Debate, talks surge instead of economy, races in a tizzy to Washington, and solicits bailout support from his Republican peers by phone.

  • In the meantime, the House works over the weekend to introduce the 109-page Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 into HR 3997. It improves the bill from horrible to just plain bad.

  • Republicans publicly and pre-emptively proclaim the bill will pass.

  • The Speaker of the House makes what some consider to be a partisan speech, reminding the Representatives that Bush inherited a budget surplus and led the nation to a huge-ass deficit.

  • The House votes against the bill.

  • Lo and behold, human nature dictates that the finger pointing must resume. Meanwhile, Bill O'Reilly engages in verbal warfare with Barney Frank.

  • The Senate debates, mutates, and corrupts HR 3997 into 451-page HR 1424 -- their version of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008. It adds tax breaks for rum, auto racing tracks, etc. Click here and then scroll down for the full list that makes the just plain bad bill even worse.

  • Obama and McCain vote Yes on the bill.

  • McCain suggests Bush should veto the bill.

  • Bush signs HR 1424 into law, which is basically a collection of bills -- some which were originally proposed in Congress back in March, 2007.

  • Meanwhile..

    Obama seems to be monitoring from the sidelines and only chiming in when necessary,

    Palin exceeds expectations in the one and only Vice Presidential debate and the McCain-Palin campaign releases their control over the media's access to Palin,

    Bush and Congress approval ratings go way, way low,

    Obama gains points in the polls, and

    Coincidentally gas prices begin to drop while Western oil companies quietly increase their presence in Iraq, contributing to their economy.

Everybody get all that?

O'Reilly vs. Frank

Together We Represent A Perfect Ideal (??)

Soon after I woke up, I started replaying parts of the debate in my mind. I remembered Sarah Palin's statement, "together we represent a perfect ideal." Then I pulled a Bill O'Reilly and unfortunately became fixated on that. It doesn't sit well in the context of the conservative tendency to work towards eliminating rights from gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Americans.

Here's the full statement, from the Commission On Presidential Debates web site, with emphasis added:

My experience as an executive will be put to good use as a mayor and business owner and oil and gas regulator and then as governor of a huge state, a huge energy producing state that is accounting for much progress towards getting our nation energy independence and that's extremely important.

But it wasn't just that experience tapped into, it was my connection to the heartland of America. Being a mom, one very concerned about a son in the war, about a special needs child, about kids heading off to college, how are we going to pay those tuition bills? About times and Todd and our marriage in our past where we didn't have health insurance and we know what other Americans are going through as they sit around the kitchen table and try to figure out how are they going to pay out-of-pocket for health care? We've been there also so that connection was important.

But even more important is that world view that I share with John McCain. That world view that says that America is a nation of exceptionalism. And we are to be that shining city on a hill, as President Reagan so beautifully said, that we are a beacon of hope and that we are unapologetic here. We are not perfect as a nation. But together, we represent a perfect ideal. And that is democracy and tolerance and freedom and equal rights. Those things that we stand for that can be put to good use as a force for good in this world.

John McCain and I share that. You combine all that with being a team with the only track record of making a really, a difference in where we've been and reforming, that's a good team, it's a good ticket.

Click here for the full transcript.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The VP Debate: Do Gays Fit In "A Perfect Ideal?"

Together, we represent a perfect ideal. And that is democracy and tolerance and freedom and equal rights. Those things that we stand for that can be put to good use as a force for good in this world.

John McCain and I share that.

--Governor Sarah Palin, 2008 Vice Presidential Debate

Here are my quick thoughts on tonight's debate. It exceeded expectations. I appreciated hearing that both Biden and Palin agree on their stance on gay marriage. On a side note, it was neat to watch the Biden and Palin families interact on the stage after the debate.

I'm feeling surprisingly good about the two vice presidential candidates after tonight. It was a relief to actually hear an attempt to explain, in a public forum, that the purpose of the Constitution is to grant rights and privileges and not to eliminate them.

Amazing the power of one word, no? This word, marriage, conjures up thoughts of two very intertwined concepts: religious ceremonies and civil contracts. It intertwines church (religious ceremonies) and state (civil contracts).

Not all religions are the same. Some religions are more tolerant than others. Some embrace and value their gay followers. Some allow their gay followers to become high ranking leaders in their organization. Some recognize the union of two loving people regardless of sexual orientation.

Due to the separation between church and state I will never understand why the church is able to waive a pen on the civil contract that is part of marriage.

Thank you for your tolerance Governor Palin. I think we want a little more than that:
  • We want the same access to that civil contract as heterosexuals do.
  • We want the legal protections and privileges that both church and state are able to grant at the stroke of a pen.
  • We want a Constitution that does not exclude and eliminate.
We want equal rights. We hope to be included in that perfect ideal.

Barney Frank Vs. Bill O'Reilly: Priceless!

Oh, the power of context. And selectively excluding someone's quote:

Take the following, spoken by Barney Frank in July of 2008, and shown on The O'Reilly Factor this October 2, 2008 about 22 minutes into the show.

..they are not the best investment these days, from a long term standpoint going back. I think they're in good shape going forward.

Then take Bill O'Reilly, quoting Barney Frank and placing blame on him. He ignores the first part and fixates on:

I think they're in good shape going forward.

..and so on. To make a long story short, a rather unprofessional display unfolds. O'Reilly starts by claiming everybody should be angry at him. Barney Frank defends his record. Before Barney Frank can finish, O'Reilly begins to interrupt and then raises his voice. Eventually all you hear is both speaking on top of each other.

What are they talking about, you ask? Fannie and Freddie. It goes pretty much downhill from here. He accuses Barney Frank for being the reason people decided to purchase stock in Fannie and Freddie back in July of this year.

Amazing that Barney Frank is able to keep his cool, remind him about the first part of the quote, and chime in: "the joke is that I could have a rational discussion with you" during O'Reilly's unprofessional ranting and raving.

Break to commercial. After the break O'Reilly says, "did I raise my voice.. its the Irish.."

Wow. What a show indeed.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Just Where Do Obama and McCain Stand? You Decide!

Questions that seem to come often include:

  • Is there any way to learn where Obama and McCain really stand, other than by relying on biased, muckraking political ads and web sites?
  • How have these two senators voted in Congress?

I asked a close friend about this. She pointed me to web sites for the Washington Post and the Library Of Congress. So, I decided to dig around and I found several easy to use pages with boatloads of information on Obama and McCain.

Below are two links at the Washington Post with pages containing the following information:
  • Brief biographies

  • Their roles in Congress

  • Their key votes (as determined by the Washington Post

  • Information about their state

  • Official financial disclosure statements detailing who has given them money

  • How many votes they missed in the current Congress

  • How often they voted with their parties

  • Their most recent votes

At the bottom of the page is a link to their full, unedited voting record. From here, drilling into individual vote results will take you to a summary for the respective bill at the Library of Congress web site. Don't be discouraged at the amount of information to sift through.

Looks like the Washington Post has done a great job at summarizing the information. Its a worthwhile visit if you believe their stance on the issues is represented by their voting records. Just remember to dig into the bills themselves because they are sometimes mutated by riders and amendments before the final vote.

Washington Post's Summary of Senator John McCain

Washington Post's Summary of Senator Barack Obama

There is also a similar summary over at GovTrack.US which includes easy to use information about the bills they have introduced into Congress. Check this place out if you believe their position is best represented by the bills they have sponsored and cosponsored. Information presented here is mainly from the current congressional session. Summary Of Senator John McCain Summary Of Senator Barack Obama

Finally - I've whipped up a page which will show you bills they have sponsored/cosponsored in the current and previous congressional sessions.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Move Over Clay Aiken, Mark Buse Is Gay!

Breaking news! A high ranking McCain staffer is gay! Now, people will stop talking about Clay Aiken!

Yeah.. right..

Let's get real, folks. In my opinion, no surprises here as to why the mainstream media didn't run with this one.

1: Clay Aiken is a househould name.
2: Umm.. who is Mark Buse?
3: How is McCain's popularity changing these days?

Something tells me the mainstream is usually more likely to sensationalize a newly outed gay celebrity over a gay public servant no matter who he/she works for.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Oil + Domestic Situation = Delay Troop Withdrawal From Iraq?

Once upon a time, Greenspan reflected on why we went to war in Iraq. Then came the 2008 presidential election. Finally, Americans all across the country watched the first presidential debate.

Is it me, or does McCain sound obsessive regarding Iraq? Meanwhile there are reports that the power-hungry Bush administration wants to delay pulling our troops "due to political circumstances related to the domestic situation" in our nation. All this surrounded by reports of Western oil companies making inroads in a country where we basically conducted a regime change.


Monday, September 22, 2008

Finger Pointing For Today's Financial Mess

Fun stuff. So begins the finger pointing. Got to admire the people that are doing what they can to find reasonable solutions to this mess.

I'm no expert: something needs to be done, but giving non-elected individuals unregulated control of $700,000,000,000 at any one time certainly doesn't sound like a good solution to me. That is $700 billion in taxpayer dollars. Make the corporate idiots which made the irresponsible choices pay for their mess, not Joe Taxpayer.

The finger pointing seems to be centered on a bill back in 2005 which never became law. Instead of pointing you to people's opinions, how about information from the good ol' Library of Congress. There's a lot to sift through here..

References to the Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Reform Act of 2005 in the Congressional Register

House Of Representatives Bill Summary & Status File

Senate Bill Summary & Status File

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Government Wants Quick Action.. And More Power: Big Government Is Coming Back!

Funny.. do the American people realize that if Paulson gets the swift action he asks for, without debate, that the following clause in that plan will take effect?

Sec. 8. Review.

Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.

Many sites are showing the text in the draft legislative proposal for treasury authority.

I'm no expert, but this is how it sounds to me:

It basically gives non-elected people (one appointed by the president) far reaching, unregulated power over large sums of money, specifically $700,000,000,000 at a time. At least they had the foresight to give themselves a time limit on some of this new power.

In this proposal Secretary is defined as Secretary of the Treasury. Its not clear on which taxpayer is protected. Day-to-day middle class taxpayers? Rich CEO taxpayers? Who is being protected, and at who's expense?

Here are some of the more interesting sections:

Sec. 2. Purchases of Mortgage-Related Assets.

(a) Authority to Purchase.--The Secretary is authorized to purchase, and to make and fund commitments to purchase, on such terms and conditions as determined by the Secretary, mortgage-related assets from any financial institution having its headquarters in the United States.

(b) Necessary Actions.--The Secretary is authorized to take such actions as the Secretary deems necessary to carry out the authorities in this Act, including, without limitation:

(1) appointing such employees as may be required to carry out the authorities in this Act and defining their duties;

(2) entering into contracts, including contracts for services authorized by section 3109 of title 5, United States Code, without regard to any other provision of law regarding public contracts;

(3) designating financial institutions as financial agents of the Government, and they shall perform all such reasonable duties related to this Act as financial agents of the Government as may be required of them;

(4) establishing vehicles that are authorized, subject to supervision by the Secretary, to purchase mortgage-related assets and issue obligations; and

(5) issuing such regulations and other guidance as may be necessary or appropriate to define terms or carry out the authorities of this Act.

Sec. 3. Considerations.

In exercising the authorities granted in this Act, the Secretary shall take into consideration means for--

(1) providing stability or preventing disruption to the financial markets or banking system; and

(2) protecting the taxpayer.

Sec. 5. Rights; Management; Sale of Mortgage-Related Assets.

(a) Exercise of Rights.--The Secretary may, at any time, exercise any rights received in connection with mortgage-related assets purchased under this Act.

(b) Management of Mortgage-Related Assets.--The Secretary shall have authority to manage mortgage-related assets purchased under this Act, including revenues and portfolio risks therefrom.

(c) Sale of Mortgage-Related Assets.--The Secretary may, at any time, upon terms and conditions and at prices determined by the Secretary, sell, or enter into securities loans, repurchase transactions or other financial transactions in regard to, any mortgage-related asset purchased under this Act.

(d) Application of Sunset to Mortgage-Related Assets.--The authority of the Secretary to hold any mortgage-related asset purchased under this Act before the termination date in section 9, or to purchase or fund the purchase of a mortgage-related asset under a commitment entered into before the termination date in section 9, is not subject to the provisions of section 9.

Sec. 6. Maximum Amount of Authorized Purchases.

The Secretary's authority to purchase mortgage-related assets under this Act shall be limited to $700,000,000,000 outstanding at any one time.

Sec. 7. Funding.

For the purpose of the authorities granted in this Act, and for the costs of administering those authorities, the Secretary may use the proceeds of the sale of any securities issued under chapter 31 of title 31, United States Code, and the purposes for which securities may be issued under chapter 31 of title 31, United States Code, are extended to include actions authorized by this Act, including the payment of administrative expenses. Any funds expended for actions authorized by this Act, including the payment of administrative expenses, shall be deemed appropriated at the time of such expenditure.

Sec. 9. Termination of Authority.

The authorities under this Act, with the exception of authorities granted in sections 2(b)(5), 5 and 7, shall terminate two years from the date of enactment of this Act.

On Face The Nation: Greed Is The Root Cause Of Financial Crisis

Yesterday afternoon I see the scariest of headlines on the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. It said, basically, Bush wants additional emergency powers during the nation's current financial crisis. Today I hear the most amazing thing on Face The Nation.

Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) and Representative Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts) are on the show. Mr. Shelby addresses a question about overhauling rules and regulations by stating:

"What caused this? What's the root cause of all this, and where we are today? Greed and lack of regulatory oversight."

Mr. Frank ended the segment by saying "Amen" to what Mr. Shelby said. I'm no expert in economic matters. But I do know that there is probably plenty of blame to go around for this mess.

To put this in context, there have been discussions about executive compensation throughout all this. Some are saying, "tax the executives." Sounds good to me: punish those irresponsible few which put their "needs" first instead of the needs of the many. How wonderful that Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson seems to be ignoring the role of executive compensation, based on his interview on This Week with George Stephanopoulos.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Experience, Umarried Pregnant Teenage Daughters, and Values: What If?

So now we are entering a very interesting time, politically speaking. Inexperience seems to be a common theme these days. Add real life and conservative values and what do you get?

Oh, where to begin. What if..

On one hand, we have a young candidate with an elder running mate. On the other hand, we have an elder candidate and a younger running mate. At least with regards to age the politics seem a little consistent.

Next take experience into account. One ticket has an inexperienced person in the highest government position. The other places an inexperienced person as second in command. Looks like inexperience is good for one but not the other.

Personally I'm impartial about the experience question. I despise hearing the phrase, "not enough experience" or anything remotely similar to it. I am far more likely to trust an eager, hardworking intern than any tenured employee with a sense of undeserved entitlement anyway. How is anyone is expected to gain experience if they're being held back and/or not given a chance?

Next up, what happens when you try to prohibit what people do and restrict what they learn? There are far too many examples of that.

Let's take a quick look at Sarah Palin's family. Conservatives around the country are praising the family's pro-life family values in action. I suppose for this high profile conservative family it doesn't matter that the pregnancy happened outside of marriage, regardless of what Bristol was taught.

I agree that this is a private family matter. I was thrilled to see Obama quickly tell people to back off. Yet, I cannot help but wonder what would've happened under a different set of circumstances. What if Bristol's life were in danger? What if Bristol had been raped? This article appears to answer the latter question.

The two hypothetical questions can be seen as pro-choice rhetoric. Its difficult to really know anyone's response to a situation until faced with it. Regardless, the Palin family's approach to these two questions are the true test. I cannot help but wonder what they would do publicly and privately. Would their actions be consistent with their values?

This much is certain: mom's abstinence values did not rub off on Bristol nor were lessons learned. Clearly focusing on abstinence and responsibility for unwed parents is not always the answer.

I surely haven't forgotten my teenage years. Nor have I forgotten my siblings' teenage years, and what we all put our parents through. Uncontrollable teenagers is a reality any family may face.

Experience, values, and who they apply to. Most intriguing indeed.

What if..

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Marquette Interchange: Fabulous Finish, But We Don't Know How To Merge..

The time is finally here. The morning of Tuesday, August 19 marked the opening of all ramps that make up the new Marquette Interchange. Only final touches remain, but its time to test if the tax dollars poured into the new system pays off.

Don't get me wrong. I love the work and the end result. The project team has done a phenomenal job in keeping the project WAY ahead of schedule and under budget. Many, many complements on a job extremely well done. It certainly helps that the weather was, for the most part, cooperative during crucial portions of the implementation.

It is definitely a beautiful structure, and actually quite fun to drive around.

However there are several design decisions which stump me and apparently I'm not the only one. For example, the addition of the I-43 North to Michigan St. exit and the open space between the I-43 to Lakefront / I-43 to I-794 ramps. My gut tells me the latter is an accident just waiting to happen. It seems far too easy for a rushed and frustrated driver to take the Plankinton exit and make a last ditch effort to switch lanes to go to the lakefront or the other downtown exits. Other people have agreed with me: no amount of signage can combat human nature.

Maybe its just a matter of getting used to all the new ways of getting around. I've keenly noticed that since the majority of the ramps opened a week or so ago, that traffic actually appears to be worse than before on the I-794 leg between the lakefront and the I-94/I-43 split. I'm anxious to see how the traffic flow changes over time, and am confident it will improve once we're all used to the new digs.

A good friend of mine summarized it best by saying, "we are in a society that does not know how to merge." At least here in Wisconsin. Yes, to those of you that know me: feel free to twist that statement any way you'd like..

Come on, people! Start using the new ramps and learn how to merge already. By the way -- the drive on the new I-43 North to I-94 West ramp has one hell of a kick-ass view!! As is the drive from I-794 West to I-43 South. ;-)

John Stewart's Review Of The Don't Ask, Don't Tell Hearing

May this video never be removed from the Comedy Central web site.

Here is a comical review of Elaine Donnelly's comments against repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Sure is something to watch someone like her try to keep a specific group of people from having the choice to serve in the military. Land of the free indeed.


Saturday, July 26, 2008

Don't Ask, Don't Tell: A Dumb And Bonkers Donnelly Crusade

A House of Representatives panel holds a hearing on the absurd policy of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. They bring in some twat named Elaine Donnelly who respects gay veterans AND is on a crusade to keep gays out of the military. Rep. Vic Snyder (D-Ark.) says it best, labeling her statement "just bonkers" and "dumb."

Friday, June 27, 2008

Al Sharpton on Stereotypes and Stupidity

Let's take a quick look at Al Sharpton. On the one hand, he's mindful about playing into stereotypes and taking appropriate action. On the other hand, he makes a stupid remark about Anderson Cooper's place in the afterlife while defending Cooper's right to get there.

So, can someone tell me just what the Reverend Al Sharpton is about? Didn't he just play into stereotypes? Don't know about you, but I'm fairly sure I can figure out the answer to these questions.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Protester Washout

Multiple tornado warnings for Milwaukee in one weekend. Who would've thought. To say that strong storms hit southeastern Wisconsin would be an oversimplification.

Tell that to water-logged New Berlin. Our basement was among the lucky ones because some of our neighbors had more water than we did. And we could barely keep up, sucking up water non-stop Saturday night from 5:30pm to 9:30pm once we got the sump pump to drain to the side of the house instead of to the overflowing culvert. We had several inches in spots while our neighbors had enough to go past the first step in their stairwell.

Anyway, I can just hear the crackpots now: This is God's punishment for PrideFest!

Well one thing is certain: I don't remember the weather ever being like this for a PrideFest weekend. Never thought I'd see the day where rain would keep me away. And this year, we had the added bonus of having two groups protest the festival: nazis and gay bashers.

So here's my take on this weekend's weather: this is karma's way of washing out those god-damned protesters..

All I care about is that everyone who evacuated the festival made it safely to their destinations.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Bush On Freedom

Over the past several years some rights and freedoms of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans have been taken away in most of the country. The government has greatly expanded its powers in the name of national security and terrorism. Yes, I know: the people of this country still have a lot of freedom. Who cares if rights are being taken away from a few people which don't fit the norm?


So I laugh that the president begs (dictates? demands?) the Arab leaders to produce more oil and bring the price down, and then gives them a speech on freedom.

"There is much to do, " he said. "The future is in your hands -- and freedom and peace are within your grasp."

Crazy talk if you ask me. I laugh at the hypocrisy.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Land Of The Free, Except For Song Of The South Fans

So check it out. There's this harmless movie out there called Song Of The South. Uncle Remus has a great line in this movie that goes something like this: "If there's a problem with the stories, then why do they last so long?"

Nearly twenty years after Disney decided to never release the movie, it continues to last and to stand the test of time. The demand doesn't cease. Just go check out and while you're at it sign a petition linked at that site.

This touching movie, set in the South and in the post-Civil War era, is a harmless collection of stories about Brer Rabbit. I finally watched the entire movie, and all I have to say is, "what the fuck?"

One thing is certain. Can't wait until 2036 when this movie becomes part of the public domain. Not that its stopping people today from doing what they can to get their hands on this little gem. And I mean that from technical and storytelling standpoint.

At least we have two very visible survivors of a twenty-year-old controversy: the Splash Mountain attraction, and the Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah song. It will certainly be a wonderful day when we can look back at this point in time and laugh at how foolishly we handled the infinite diversity of our human differences in race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. etc. etc. Land of the free indeed.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

True Leaders Say No To Gay Marriage Bans

Years ago, a good friend once told me that a true leader does the right thing even though popular vote encourages the opposite. When I read about Puerto Rico's marriage ban, the memory of that observation came to mind. I've observed that truth time and time again.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

My Review of Rosa Salvaje [3 Discs]

Not the same classic!

By overload74 from New Berlin, WI on 1/20/2008


3out of 5

Pros: Engaging Characters

Cons: Disappointing, Soundtrack Dubbed Over, Not What I Expected

Describe Yourself: Casual Viewer

Beware if you purchase this item. The soundtrack has been dubbed over with new music. It is a hack job, it appears half the show is re-edited and cut out. It's not the same classic, regurgitated as a run-of-the-mill, everyday novela.

Usted tenga pendiente si compra este video. La musica esta cambiada, la novela esta cortada, y ahora parece como qualquier novela. No es la misma clasica que era antes.


Monday, January 7, 2008

Touch by HTC versus Apple iPhone

I finally jumped on the bandwagon and purchased a smartphone. I must confess I did consider getting the Apple iPhone. I found out right away about its irreplaceable battery. This was a complete turnoff so I stayed clear. I later saw a commercial for the Windows Mobile based Touch. When I finally got my hands on one, well.. I couldn't resist.

Then, I was curious: what complaints have people had about these two phones? I checked and quickly found web sites dedicated to complaining about the iPhone. The Touch? It is a phone Microsoft bashers love to hate, yet sites dedicated to complaints about this little wonder have yet to crop up.

See for yourself, and make your own opinion:

Google Search: iPhone complaint

Google Search: HTC Touch Complaint

Tornado Rainbow Triangle