Saturday, January 31, 2009

Come on Congress really? $819 billion

In today's economic climate, I am not totally opposed to some sort of stimulus package. I am really beginning to think we need one. But not one littered with pet projects. Right now the "stimulus package" that passed in the House has things like money to build up SCHIP, new schools, renewable energy, roads and I have even heard a new mob museum in Vegas. Come on. I know this is being done under the guise of job creation and money in people's pockets, but after the projects are done, where do we go from there?

I think one thing that needs to happen is fix the banking system. Congress passed TARP, which was supposed to buy up bad assets of banks and allow them to function without that bad debt. But in fact, what has happened is they got the cash, handed out billions in bonuses and they have done nothing to take care of the core problem. What needs to happen is they need to file for what is essentially bankruptcy. The banks go into receivership of the government, deposits are protected, and all of the liabilities are wiped out. I know this will hurt investors, but frankly they took a risk and they are already lost lots of money, the current program is helping there either.

One the banks' liabilities are wiped out, then they go on the block to be sold, instead of right now where the government owns often a majority, which essentially is nationalized banks. We know the government is not a good manager of money or businesses, look at social security. Politics don't make good business strategies. I heard one person put it, the banks would not be giving loans to the financially sound people that should be getting them, instead they would be giving loans to lower income groups that can't afford to pay them back, thus continuing the problem we are in. It looks better politically to give loans to those groups than the financially sound groups.

Once the financial system is taken care of, help the tax payers, and I do mean those who actually pay taxes. Putting the money in the hands of the people always helps the economy. Don't be giving credits to people who don't even pay taxes. I know they are low-income, thus the reason why they are not paying taxes, but find ways to help those groups make more money, education, training, etc.

This is a problem that was created over the course of 10 plus years and will not be fixed next year. Don't expect that our president is some savior and will waive his hand and it will all be over. He isn't that good. No one is. Patience is key, save what you can, and Congress, stimulate not pay for pet projects. This is not the time.

Post-racial America? Not so fast...

I have heard a lot of people talking about a post racial America. Never in my lifetime had I thought we reached that point in this country when I saw a black man take the oath of office. One of my friends, after a long conversation, changed my mind on that.

So you know, I am a white man in middle America. So please take my thoughts with that in mind, but know that I have thought long and hard and feel strongly about this.

My friend, Tami, is a black woman and, as she tells it, lives her life everyday with some sort of racism. She is closely connected to issues surrounding race because of her job. She has a pretty good pulse on the issue. She acknowledges that things are better and have changed. But there is still a ways to go in being called a post-racial America. She was raised in the Midwest in a middle class environment. So, she feels this is not exclusive to any class.

I don't want this to sound like I have a friend that is black and therefore it applies to every situation. It doesn't. But I know, because of who she is and what she does, this is not something that just applies to her.

I think we need to look at the connotation of racism. We need to seek to redefine that connotation. When someone hears the word racism it often conjures up thoughts of horrific behaviors like lynching, burning crosses and the like. What people don't think of is a black person is looking for a job a black person may have to think about how they wear their hair. Will they have to straighten it instead of wearing it as it comes naturally out of their head. They have to worry about being perceived as not wearing their hair "nice enough."

My friend referred to racism this way in her blog:

It is covert and institutional. There always was a “silent” aspect of racism, separate from the lurid images broadcast nationwide during the civil rights movement. A lot of that racism still exists even though black folks can sit in the front of the bus now, but it is a racism that is hard to explain to someone who does not experience it.

Everyone lives their life with some sort of prejudice (which is maybe how we should refer to modern day racism). We all have conscious and even subconscious thoughts that make us react to people in different ways. We may be looking through a stack of resumes and see a name that sounds black, Malik or Aaliyah and put those aside. In fact, there have been studies to prove this. Not that there was any intention to do so, but that person had some sort of subconscious prejudice. Therefore, a black person must think about what they are doing and where they are going everyday and figure out how they should react. another example is "driving while black." There are some neighborhoods that a black person must think about going into for they may be pulled over for no other reason than they are black.

I heard you say that your boys have made comments asking if people actually treated others so abhorrently as blacks were treated during the Jim Crow years. I say that in some regards that is good that they are asking those questions because they have not seen that, but I also worry about that, based upon my conversations with my friend. Because racism is not so apparent that many people now believe that it does not exist except in little pockets of stupidity as we see pop up from time to time in the news. In some regards, fortunately it now only happens in pockets, but unfortunately--it happens at all.

Tami referred to modern racism also in her blog:

"Modern racism is like a dull ache:

Being able to only rise so high in the company despite excellent credentials and performance ...a dull ache.

Having your natural kinky hair stared at and pawed by strangers...a dull ache.

Being followed around department stores by security officers...a dull ache.

Worrying about young male loved ones often stopped by police for "driving while black"...a dull ache."

I hope that you will look at some of the things that I have presented here and I truly hope that you will look to make yourself better and think about their thoughts and actions. I think it is time we have a real substantive conversation on race, not the defensive, accusatory conversations of the past.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Trust but verify -Ronald Reagan

It has been a while since I have posted. I just moved and didn't have internet for a while and I moving really takes a lot of time.

I wanted to write this time about the media. We are now deep into the information age (and by now there may be a new age that I haven't heard of yet) and we have a 24-hour news cycle. The media is forced to fill time with analysis of every aspect of a story and often times they talk to people who are no where close to the situation they are analyzing. Doing this they often blow things way out of proportion.

I am also tired of the the media following the policy of "it it bleeds it leads." There are hundreds of stories that aren't getting told or not getting the attention they deserve. It is the job of the media (national and local) to keep and eye on our government and tell us the stories that are relevant to their constituency. I don't mean to belittle the tragedy of someone's death but someone getting shot has a little impact on the public as a whole. Don't get me wrong their death is terrible and should not happen, but I need to know what affects everyone--or at least a majority of the people. If crime is on the rise and a shooting sets a record for my city, then I need to know to keep our government in check. I am the government and the media is to be our voice and helping us to keep an eye on them. Often, they regurgitate the press release of each side and call it "fair and balanced."

We as consumers of media need to hold them responsible. We want to know things that matter to us, don't make up stories during sweeps to set people in a panic like, "Guess what is in the ice at the restaurant you eat at." (imagine that said in the loud and boisterous announcer voice.)

Come together, we need to keep an eye on the government we elect. Become informed, demand more of the media and the people you elect to your local, state and national governments. Become an involved citizen. Don't reelect someone because you like their name and they haven't bothered you before. Know what they stand for and if you believe they have you in their their best interest.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Eliot Spitzer, what were you thinking?

Eliot, Eliot, Eliot...

How could you? $80,000 on hookers? My how the mighty fall.

I am thinking about your family. I am a big family man. They are the most important thing to me next to God. What you have done is reprehensible. It was very selfish and narcissistic. What you have put your family through is, well, I just can't come up with the word.

I saw your wife up there standing next to you and I just felt so sorry for her. I don't know if she has forgiven you or just standing there by you for the kids or what. But what strength she has as a woman. I know some think what she is doing, standing by him, is teaching young women the wrong thing, but if is that what she feels is best for her and her family, who are we to judge. I hope young women can see her commitment, her love and garner that from this horrible situation. Not everyone should stay with your significant other in a situation like this, but every person is different and each will react in a different way. We don't know what is going on in her head and behind the scenes. If she feels that is what she needs to do, then I pray for her, for God to give her comfort, peace and support to get through this very hard time.

I look at my two-year old daughter and I can't imagine how someone can put her through something like that. I look at my wife and the love that I have for her...they just don't make words for the strength of love I have. And I hope that everyone that has a wife and a child feels what I do. There is nothing like it.

How does someone, unless really messed up in the head, put someone you care about like that through infidelity like that, so public, so humiliating.

I encourage anyone who reads this and has been through the pain of something like this to talk to us. Maybe your thoughts might help a man or woman out there going through this or it might make someone think twice if they are considering cheating.

If you are one of those people, please think of your wife, husband and family. Talk to your significant other and work it out some way. It is not fair to cheat on them. It is selfish.

I wish all that are going through something like this the very best and send my prayers out to you.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

From the outside looking in

Ok, so I admit I never have been a Hilary Clinton fan, but now, I must say there is no chance of me liking her. I can't believe the win-at-all-cost mentality that her campaign has taken. I mean really, you have to win some 60% of the votes of the remaining races to just surpass Obama, and that is still not enough to clinch the nomination. A margin by which you haven't won a race yet.

Now, she is offering the vice presidency to the current leader, what audacity. How does someone down by more than 150 delegates and 600,000 votes offer the vice presidency? I'll tell you how, she is a Clinton.

She pulls out Resko on Obama and shady real estate deals? HELLO??? What about Whitewater among the many other scandals the Clintons are/were involved in.

Hiliary??? Where are your tax documents? Where are the documents showing us, the public, your involvement in you husband's administration, of which you tout as experience? Why are they still locked up in your hubby's presidential library?

She is trying to seat Florida and Michigan, which she agreed should not be counted and now she thinks they should be seated. Come on, no matter what there is no fair way to seat them, even with a re-vote. I can't stand the woman. How is all of this good for the country.

Republicans never really liked her, but now her own party doesn't like her and some would go so far as to hate with the heat of 10,000 suns (really I heard this somewhere).

Hiliary, you are a polarizing figure. You are losing the popular vote, the delegate vote and really should stop the "fight" as you out it. No one really wants you as the nominee except for you and your cronies.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Are you there Congress? It's me voter.

I know that there is a lot of focus on the presidential race right now, but I wanted to take a little bit and talk about what Congress is doing for us, rather what they aren't doing for us.

They have become a lain duck Congress. Name one bill that they have passed other than the fake economic stimulus package. All that really does is put a few hundred dollars in our pockets and other than that nothing else. I ask, what will a credit starved, foreclosure riddled country use with that money? Being one in a tight financial position, my guess is one of two things, pay bills that are late to catch up, only to fall behind again or stash it away since everyone is talking about-dare I say it-recession?

Those checks are no more than a political attempt to buy a vote.

Both houses are locked in political end-fighting. I have to say that I am not that only one that disagrees since their approval rating in in the tank.

I encourage you to follow what congress is doing during this huge political hype around the presidential race.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

My first time

Well, this is my first time to blog. I called it "from my armchair" well frankly, that is where I am writing from. I also called it that because I am sitting from the sidelines looking in. I am just a white guy from the Midwest offering my thoughts on life, politics, sports and whatever else crosses my line of sight.

Today, I wanted to talk about a conversation I had earlier today with my boss. We are all of the time talking about politics. My boss fancies herself a liberal (though I think she is more of a centrist on some issues than she will admit) and I find myself on the other side of the aisle (though I would say that I am not too far to the right). What I really like when we talk, is that we are still friends despite our differences. We have candid, intellectual conversations and I really feel that I learn something when I walk away from the conversation.

Today we talked about race and the campaigns for the presidency. I had said to my boss that I was really impressed how Obama hasn't seemed to bring his race up while on the campaign trail. Then my boss brought up that if he had he would be branded as playing the race card. That kind of made some sense to me. I mean, those on the far right seem to be looking for something to grab hold and run with. Don't get me wrong, I think a lot of what the pundits on the right say makes sense to me, but sometimes it feels like those on the far reaches of either side are out for blood and would latch on to anything that they can run with and blow it out of proportion.

We started to talk about his church, the United Church of Christ in Chicago and their commitment to the "Black Values System." I had asked my boss that if Barack should have to answer the question of what that means. My boss felt like he shouldn't have to answer that. I said that I thought he did simply because I as a white person don't understand what the "black values system" is. I am not saying that it is wrong or any different from my own for that matter, but I don't understand what it is. My boss, who is black, said from her side, there isn't much difference than the values that you hold as a law-abiding, decent human being. The system is built, though, from experiences that I can't really understand. I really understood that. I am not a black person and I can't begin to know the experiences of someone of another race.

As we continued to talk, I told my boss that I fell that idea of diversity is more that tolerance. How am I to understand what built those values unless I am told. I as a white person cannot figure that out on my own. That is why I feel like that if Barack uses those principles to guide his life and decisions that I need to, as an informed voter, understand what a "black values system" means. Again, it may be nothing different that someone saying, "my Midwestern values," but I don't expect someone from Oregon to necessarily understand what that means even though they may not be different than "northwestern values."

I know many of the Democratic candidates don't generally build their platform from their religion. Many if not all state they are Christian but beyond that they really don't beyond that. Just the opposite on the Republican side. But I say that if you say that you are a Christian then the values and principles that guide you to be a Christian must have an impact in your decision-making process and if you prescribe to a "black values system" as stated by the church of which you attend that should be explained. Even if it is no different that the majority of people's value system. My thought is if it is the same, than call it the same, if you separate your values system from that of let's say a Christian values system then please explain it to me. If there is no difference than tell me so. It makes sense to me the "black values system" of the church is developed from experiences that I can't understand, but again how can I be someone who understands what you have gone through when you don't talk to me about it.