Take This House and Shove it!

Chapter 2

“Dear God, please bring the real estate market back. I promise not to piss away all my money this time,” says a sign in a real estate office.

Pahrump, Nevada wasn’t even on my radar when I moved to Las Vegas from California; I just ended up there. My trusty side-kick, Monty and I were rambling along highway 160 one afternoon, looking for a good place to get out and run, when we came to Pahrump. Monty’s the yellow Labrador who keeps me sane.

In the following weeks, I researched properties and then decided to make an offer to purchase a charming little fixer on an acre in Pahrump, thinking it would be a great rental property. My Vegas clients began to take an interest and I became their Pahrump real estate agent. It got to the point that I was spending more time showing houses there then I was in Las Vegas. So, I did something I swore I would never do again; I moved into a fixer. It was christened, “The Pahrump Dump.”

In early 2004, during the sixty days I’d had my little acquisition in escrow, its value went up $10,000. The real estate boom was on. We were all working flat out, coining money.

The next year, I re-financed my, “Pahrump Dump” to build a garage and replace the downstairs flooring. Nonetheless, because my daughter was so sick, I spent most of the money on trips to doctors and hotels for me during her lengthy hospital stays.

Fast forward to the fall of 2008, at my real estate office.

Harry’s deep blue eyes, no doubt they sparkled on better days, were filled with fear. Conspicuous gray roots showed through Ruth’s well cut honey-blond hair–probably a couple hundred dollars’ worth of meticulous care in a Vegas salon–and her beautiful green silk shirt looked like it needed some dry-cleaner love. I can’t give you their real names because I keep all my real estate files confidential.

In 2004, they’d retired, moved from Troy, Michigan and then bought a cute little house in Pahrump. That day, sitting across my desk, Ruth had wrung her lace handkerchief into a wet lump. I handed her a box of tissues to dab at her tears.

Red blotches of shame and anger competed for space on Harry’s face. “We thought we had such a deal when we bought the house. Back East, prices were more than double what we paid here,” he said. Now, since the company cut our retirement checks by 60%, we can’t make our mortgage payments anymore.”

“After thirty years working for the same people, they just stole our money,” Ruth blurted.

Ruth and Harry had met twenty-five years earlier when they were both young, salaried  workers for Delphi Corporation, a car parts manufacturer that was a spin off from General Motors. When the Federal government took over the collapsing General Motors, Delphi went bankrupt. Twenty thousand non-union employees like Ruth and Harry had their pensions cut and in some cases, eliminated entirely.

They thought their only recourse was to sell their home. Unfortunately, Ruth and Harry’s home was valued at approximately thirty thousand dollars less than their mortgage and seventy-five thousand less than its 2004 value, at the time they met with me. I explained the option of a short sale where we would need their lender’s approval to sell for less than the amount owed. Their other recourse was to try for a loan modification from the lender.

I knew an attorney in Las Vegas who had a decent success rate in getting mortgage payments lowered for his clients. I referred Ruth and Harry to him, thinking that I might have to pay the same guy to help out with my own loan modification. It had been almost two months since I’d sent the paperwork to my lender.

A month later, I’d met with a dozen more folks in the same boat, and Ruth called to tell me that their prospects for lower mortgage payments looked very good. Around the same time, I got a letter from my lender ASC, (America’s Servicing Company) asking me for more information before they could modify my mortgage. It turned out they needed everything because they’d lost the first batch of paperwork I sent.

The snotty little creep on the other end of the phone had me feeling like Willy in Death of a Salesman; I was either down and out or delusional to be asking for a lower loan payment. I suddenly understood Harry’s fear. I was only a few months away from foreclosure if things didn’t improve.

Then the shit really hit the fan. Bank of America, curse their slimy little souls, almost tripled the interest rate on my two credit cards with no explanation. There was no reasoning with them; they wanted more money, could not tell me why, and that was that.

It had become increasingly difficult for buyers to get home loans because the banks changed their lending guidelines almost weekly. My closings were dropping like flies in a cloud of bug spray.

I finally got mad. What the hell was going on? Chapter 3 next week.

(Copyright © Susannah Surgeoner 2012-2013.)

Share
Posted in Blog: Just for the Hell of it. | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

Take This House and Shove It!

Take This House and Shove It!

I don’t live here anymore.

“Like a bird on a wire, like a drunk in a midnight choir, I have tried in my way to be free.”  Songwriter Leonard Cohen had me pegged with that line decades ago.

I took a nose dive off that proverbial wire when my beautiful daughter Samantha died.

Like an army of two, we had battled her strange disease for seventeen years, from doctor to doctor, from alternative medicine to big pharma’s experimental drug trials, never giving up hope. I took her to India to see a doctor who is a renowned healer, to Los Angeles where a gaggle of specialists diagnosed and re-diagnosed her condition, and to San Francisco for a special herb tea.

We spent weeks at a time every year in the hospital where pain medication and steroids were administered intravenously. Sometimes she failed to wean herself off the pain meds after she was discharged. Mistaken by a local doctor as an addict—I still don’t think the guy could diagnose a broken leg—Sam went along with the program, threw her narcotics away, and then suffered through agony each day without them.

In the end, she chose to live drug free in India, beside the ocean, surrounded by beautiful flowers and the gentle people who had become her friends. Years of Western medicine had weakened her heart and it just stopped beating. She died peacefully in her sleep.

Sucked into a black hole of grief, I could not do my job as a real estate agent; I couldn’t even make it to the grocery store without wearing sunglasses to hide my red swollen eyes and a lugging box of tissues for the tears. At times unable to sleep, I would leave my house in the hour of the wolf, 3:00 in the morning, and walk with my two dogs down the dark country road, crying my eyes out.  

Thankfully, I had managed to save enough money that I could afford to do the irreducible minimum. A year later, I finally surfaced from my personal Armageddon to find the real estate market going down for the third time into lower lows all across the country. I wasn’t worried at first because I’d seen previous crashes in my career and real estate always came back; right?

Back in 2004 and 2005, my fellow agents and I would joke that the price of a house on our Multiple Listing System could change in seconds. In the morning, it was priced at $200,000 but it could be $205,000 by dinner time. None of us were prepared for the world to cave in as it did in 2008. Real estate values reversed with a vengeance.

Loan modifications became the way to go as values dropped below mortgage amounts. A parade of clients passed my desk, some angry at their lenders, some actually weeping over the deteriorating equity in their homes, all of them losing the game of real estate to the card-sharks calling themselves bankers.

Fake loan modification experts, who billed $3000 and more to handle the homeowner’s bank-required paperwork, multiplied like horny rabbits. The bankers wanted reams of paperwork, in most cases triple what they needed to grant the loan in the first place.

Stories proliferated about banks losing documents, or claiming to have received them and then not responding for months and then only to inform the homeowner that they were foreclosing. Lenders granted loan payment reductions and then reneged after the borrower had made their pre-modification qualifying payments for three months. Those payments were usually higher than the initial mortgage payment.

By 2009 in Nevada, if a homeowner had received a notice of default, the first step in a non-judicial foreclosure, on or after July 1st of that year, they could participate in the Nevada Supreme Court’s new Foreclosure Mediation Program. The Court designed the program to help homeowners avoid foreclosure by negotiating a loan modification with their lender in front of a Court appointed mediator. I got out my pom-poms and wrote effusively about the program. At first, it seemed that many foreclosures were being averted.

I attended one mediation with a client, before the Court changed the rules so that Realtors could not speak for homeowners, and managed to negotiate a reduction in the principle amount of the mortgage plus a reduced interest rate. A spokesperson for the lender, Citi Mortgage, agreed by telephone, which was on speaker so that all parties could hear, to all the terms, promising to mail the homeowner a new payment amount within 30 days. It was a huge win.

I decided to apply for my own loan modification. Even though I’d been a Realtor for decades, like the busy contractor who leaves his own house to the very last for repairs, I hadn’t really thought about my own property for years. My credit was good because I’d managed to keep paying my bills and the mortgage religiously each month.

I ran up comparable properties on my listing system and found that my home, which had been appraised at over $250,000 in 2006, was then valued at less than my mortgage amount of $148,000. Shocked, I contacted who I thought was my lender, America’s Servicing Company (ASC.) It hadn’t occurred to me that they didn’t really own my loan.

I dutifully supplied all the documentation that a chirpy gal at ASC requested and tried to get on with my life.  What a fiasco that turned into. Chapter 2 next week…

 

Copyright Susannah Morgan Surgeoner 2012, 2013.

Share
Posted in Blog: Just for the Hell of it. | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off

War and Peace

In this holiday season, I feel like a BB in a Mason jar—those glass jars my Gran used for canning peaches—with my thoughts and emotions ping-ponging off obviously skewed news stories with such regularity that I hardly know what to think. From Benghazi, where Americans died after being abandoned by their government, to the rampant murder of our soldiers in Afghanistan by so-called friendly Afghans, the bizarre low-key response from the Whitehouse and Congress baffles me completely.

At times like this, I find that a good re-read of one of the classics usually puts my mind in order. Leo Tolstoy, the Russian author best known for his two novels, War and Peace and Anna Karenina, was also a philosopher and vocal proponent of non-violent resistance.

Today, when various factions try, yet again, to ban Christmas I wonder about the real agenda behind this affront to our values. On the other hand, I question the desire of some self-proclaimed Christians to erase the boundary between Church and State.

Almost 150 years ago, Tolstoy was bent on the separation of Orthodox Christianity, which was merged with the state in Russia at the time, from what he believed was the true gospel of Jesus Christ, as per the Sermon on the Mount. In his, The Kingdom of God is Within You, (1894) Tolstoy states, “Nowhere, nor in anything except in the assertion of the Church, can we find that God or Christ founded anything like what churchmen understand by the Church.”

He also questions government on war; “How can you kill people when it’s written in God’s commandment: ‘Thou shalt not murder.’?”

It seems to me that most of officialdom in Washington, D.C. is composed of little more than wobbly armchair warriors. The President, who’s never been in the military but has his own enemy “kill list,’ sets out ridiculous Rules of Engagement for our troops that are more suited for football than a bloody war; the perfectly blow-dried Joint Chiefs of Staff inexplicably announce a time table for war, and Members of Congress vie for their 15 seconds on CNN or FOX to spurt mealy-mouthed insults against the other side.

In an article of December 4, 2012, Robert Burns of the Associated Press (AP) explodes heretofore secret details of our dead and wounded soldiers in Afghanistan. Working through the Freedom of Information Act to get secret U.S. Army reports, Burns was able to piece together an attack in October 2011 where U.S. Army Captains, Joshua Lawrence and Drew Russell were killed. “They were not killed by the Taliban as the U.S. led military coalition indicated the day after the Oct. 11, 2011 assault.” He says that Lawrence and Russell, “…were killed in what U.S. investigators later called, ‘a calculated and coordinated’ attack by Afghan soldiers trusted to work alongside their U.S. partners.”

Burns states that U.S. officials in Kabul and Washington routinely withheld details of attacks on American soldiers until pressed for the truth by AP, “At least 63 coalition troops, mostly Americans have been killed, by the AP’s count, and more than 85 wounded by insider attacks this year. That’s an average of nearly one attack a week. In 2011, 21 insider attacks killed 35.”

Tolstoy’s words from War and Peace, should be observed by Washington policy makers, “War is not a polite recreation, but the vilest thing in life and we ought to understand that and not play at war. We ought to accept this terrible necessity sternly and seriously. It all lies in that: get rid of falsehood and let war be war and not a game. As it is now, war is the favorite pastime of the idle and frivolous.”

Moving on to more recent literature, Dereliction of Duty, by H.R. McMaster is a remarkable description of the disastrous policies of President Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, and General Maxwell Taylor and their deception of Congress, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the American public that sucked the U.S. into the Viet Nam war.

Not much has changed in 40 years. Dereliction of Duty II is an 84 page unclassified report published in January 2012, by Lt. Colonel Daniel Davis, a 17 year Army veteran, after his second tour of duty in Afghanistan. He says, “Senior ranking U.S. military leaders have so distorted the truth when communicating with the U.S. Congress and American people in regards to conditions on the ground in Afghanistan that the truth has become unrecognizable.”

Here we are; the war in Iraq has ended leaving the blood of American soldiers caked in the sand and very little else. Iran, with her soldiers shouting “Death to America,” is now Iraq’s new best friend. The war in Afghanistan is a mess of lies and deception with Americans being murdered weekly by insurgents who never became friendlies, despite what their leaders supposedly decreed.

What has the U.S.A. gained? Where did all the war money go? Who benefits from continuing the war? Where are all the well informed, non-violent protesters?

The President has vowed to end the war while personally ordering weekly executions by drone from a secret “kill list,” and Congress babbles on about everything except the dead and wounded in these, their largely undisputed wars.

Sorry Tolstoy, peace on earth may take a while yet…

Share
Posted in Blog: Just for the Hell of it. | Comments Off

Letters to my Vagabond Sister

Dear Sis,

I received your postcard from Astana, Kazakhstan yesterday. What a marvelous photo of the Ishim River! I Googled Astana to find out more about where you are. The city reminds me of you—bold and sturdy, dressed in the charming whimsy of another era.

Trust you to end up in exotica while I trudge along roads more travelled. The fur people, Rachel and I have just arrived in Salt Lake City to help Agatha with her new house. Remember how Monty Dog had his nervous breakdown when we were in India and he was at the boarding kennel? I simply could not go through that again. Ziggy profited from the experience because I couldn’t board one without the other. (I know you’re laughing at me.)

Understandably, nobody would take Josephine Cat for the duration and so we had to bring her along. As you know, that little black helion bites and scratches everyone but me. Rachel named her, ‘The demon spawn,’ after the cat scratched her face, just missing the eye.

The Vet gave us some Valium to help calm her down enough to get her into the cat carrier. I shoved the recommended dosage down her throat and went out to pack up the truck. When I got back, Josephine was laying on the bed, eyes glazed and mouth open, deadly still.

“I think I killed the cat,” I said to Rachel, who looked at me and began to giggle.

Rachel poked the cat in the ribs. Nothing. She poked again, and after a moment, the very tip of the cat’s tail twitched in response. Josephine remained pretty much comatose during the first 400 miles until we stopped at a Best Western for the night.

She came out of the drugging with a screech and proceeded to howl relentlessly from then on. The only time she shut up was when she was pissing on the carpet or the comforters on the two beds. The cost of damages doubled the room charge…sigh. For the remainder of the drive, she yelled and I swore at her. The two dogs, having been perfect gentlemen at the hotel, slept in the back, oblivious to the racket in front.

Rachel, after a good long laugh at the expense of the cat, was her usual serene self throughout it all. 

Today, Ziggy and Monty are snoozing in the sun in Agatha’s big back yard, and Josephine is hissing at shadows in the basement, hopefully for the duration of our visit.

As I sit here writing to you, I almost forgot how Josephine came into my life; it must be seven or eight years ago now. When I first moved into my house in the desert, a little brown mouse, who I named Fred, would come and sit in the middle of the floor at night and look at me while I watched television. I got to like Fred’s little ‘meet and greets,’ until he decided to bring his friends along. Six cocky little rodents was five too many.

M was visiting at the time. So, we charged down to the local SPCA and rescued Josephine from certain death. I should have known something was terribly wrong when the cat took a swipe at the person who’d been feeding her on the way out the door. However, the arrival of Josephine did curb Fred and friends’ nightly appearances. She either chased the mice away or killed them. I didn’t pay much attention to their fate at the time; I was more concerned about getting some strange disease bred from mouse droppings.

Even though there hasn’t been a mouse sighting in years, we’re still putting up with the cat’s rotten disposition. Visitors are warned to avoid her like the flu. As it goes with so many things in life, Josephine’s value is now debatable; she’s become an unmanageable solution to a forgotten problem.

Thinking about the cat brings up a case in point—you know how I love a good plot. I had a brief chat on Twitter the other day with Amber Lyon, the three-time Emmy winning journalist who left CNN over repercussions from the National Defense Authorization Act, (NDAA) which President Obama quietly signed it into law last December 31st.

Amber says the NDAA, “…gives the U.S. Military the power to detain anyone without trial indefinitely, further criminalizing dissent and investigative journalism in the United States.” And, “The NDAA turns the U.S. government into a dictatorship, the U.S. military into ‘secret police.’”

Several legal pundits including the ACLU, are arguing against it, and journalists are rightfully upset. Pulitzer Prize winner Chris Hedges says that what the NDAA is really doing is setting up a legal mechanism where dissent becomes criminal. Add the fact that the Obama Administration has used the archaic Espionage Act, which hasn’t been used since WW I, six times since 2009 to charge whistleblowers as spies, and we writers have a problem. 

This law makes it possible for writers to be indefinitely detained and then charged with treason and spying if we don’t give up our confidential sources.

The NDAA strips Americans of their Constitutional right to free speech—all to catch a few bad guys. Like my rotten cat and the mice, it seems that the solutions for terrorism may have become worse than the problem.

Please don’t go taking pictures of any terrorists?

Lots of love,

S.

(Note: Names in the above are fictitious.)

 

 

 

Share
Posted in Blog: Just for the Hell of it. | Tagged , | Comments Off

$Dollars or War?

Until 1971, the US dollar was backed by gold. When our international trading partners began to worry about the solvency of the USA and demanded more and more of our gold in exchange for the dollar, President Nixon took us off the gold standard. The dollar became a fiat currency which is essentially an article of faith, backed by confidence in the U.S. government that floats in value against a basket of world currencies. 

When the value of the dollar began to shrink and inflation was on the rise in 1974, President Nixon sent Henry Kissinger to cut a deal with Saudi Arabia to sell their oil only in dollars, and to put their profits into U.S. Treasury bonds. In return, the US military would protect Saudi Arabia from foreign threats. By 1975, all the countries in the OPEC oil cartel in the Middle East had jumped on the protection wagon and the “petro dollar,” was born.

No country in the world could buy oil from OPEC in anything but US dollars. For more than three decades, the US has been able to print money to buy oil while every other country has to exchange currencies, trade goods and services with the U.S., or borrow from the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank to get their oil dollars.

The dollar became the world’s “reserve currency,” and was stockpiled by central banks in almost every country. Pretty much every international trade was done in U.S. dollars, with the currency being controlled by the Federal Reserve Bank of the United States. Look on the top of any U.S. bill and see where it says Federal Reserve Note.

In November, 2000, Saddam Hussein decided that Iraq would no longer sell its oil in dollars but would take only euros. In 2003 the U.S. invaded Iraq. With the fall of Hussein, Iraqi oil reverted to trading only in dollars.

The second challenge to the U.S. petro dollar came from Libya in 2009 when Muamar Gaddafi was elected chairman of the African Union. Gaddafi’s avowed purpose was to create the United States of Africa with a new currency, the dinar, backed by gold. After the fall of Gaddafi in 2011, before the rebels had even finished the battle, a central bank was created by the fledgling democracy.

Meanwhile, in 2008, Iran opened its own oil trading bourse on the Persian Gulf island of Kish. At first, they dealt mainly in petrochemical products, and vowed to take any currency except the U.S. dollar in exchange for their products, as a prelude to flat out oil trading. Iran is the third largest oil producer in the world. The U.S. government then enlisted the aid of its international trading partners and piled up sanctions against Iran, which now means that trading oil with Iran can block a country from any dealings with the U.S. economy, whatsoever.

The sanctions have had the effect of markedly decreasing Iranian oil sales; have put the local currency into a tailspin, and impoverished Iranian citizens. Of course, we cannot ignore the mad ravings of Iran’s President Ahmadinejad against Israel; that he has put his army at the disposal of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad to help quash the revolution there, or that Iran has managed a friendly, new-best-friend occupation of Iraq, now US troops are gone.

To avoid the sanctions against Iran and to buy oil, several countries including China and India, are trading by barter. Iran is happy to take their gold, washing machines, bok choy and rice, toys, or clothes for oil.

The question is: how much longer are our trading partners going to put up with the dollar as their reserve currency backed only by confidence in an insolvent U.S. government? For decades, Washington politicians have mortgaged the American soul to the Federal Reserve Bank by borrowing more and more to support their senseless spending.

Since the financial collapse of 2008, banks have received trillions in bail-outs while the average American citizen struggles to make ends meet. Neither President Obama nor Mitt Romney are talking about the possible, if not potential, wipe-out of the U.S. petro-dollar.

Japan and China are already trading between themselves in their own currencies. Russia is trading with Asian countries in rubles, and I suspect that France has figured out a way to trade Iranian oil for baguettes or God only knows what.

As the world turns away from U.S. currency, more and more ends up back here, inflation follows, and the price of everything for Americans goes up. Look at the gas prices, not to mention the increase in food prices over the past few years.

In my, perhaps slightly corked view, until the USA becomes a net exporter of oil, by drilling up and selling the billions of barrels we have under our own feet, we will be at the mercy of Muslim jihadists bent on subjecting the world to 16th century Sharia Law. On the other side of the coin, we’ll be at the mercy of politicians spinning away the truth in exchange for their 30 pieces of silver from banksters who stand to profit from war.

Share
Posted in Blog: Just for the Hell of it. | Tagged | Comments Off

Spiking Turds

There’s an old newspaper term, “Spike it,” that refers to a reporter’s story which is not printed in a newspaper, but instead is smashed onto a long sharp nail mounted on a wooden block on the desk of the newsroom editor. Editors, being human, can spike a story for many different reasons. Recently, believable accounts of violence in the Muslim world appear to have been spiked in favor of political slop from the Whitehouse.

In July of this year, an obscure film, The Innocence of Muslims, was premiered to an audience of less than a dozen in a rented theatre at the seamier end of Hollywood Boulevard. In late August, the video trailer for the movie was translated into Arabic by a radical Egyptian exile who then contacted journalists in Egypt and the Middle East. On September 8, Egyptian satellite TV host, Sheikh Khaled Abdallah, ran the translated version of the video.

In the next few days, views of the U-Tube video sky rocketed into the thousands. The Libyan government warned the U.S. State Department that there would be trouble on the anniversary of 9/11.

According to Time Magazine, small groups had been demonstrating for months outside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Egypt trying to obtain the release of the blind sheik, Omar Abdel Rahman, who was convicted in the U.S. for planning a series of bombings and assassinations in the 1990s. 

In a sophomoric attempt to thwart violence, and before any meaningful protest had erupted, the Cairo embassy staff issued a statement, “We condemn the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims.”

On September 11, 2012, mobs of Muslims breached the walls of the Cairo Embassy, burned the U.S. flag and hoisted a black al Qaeda flag in its place. That evening, the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi was assaulted by a group of heavily armed men with RPGs, laser-guided mortars and machine guns. Ambassador Stevens was sodomized and murdered. Three Americans were killed trying to defend the consulate.

Within 24 hours, intelligence sources, the Whitehouse, and various news sources including CNN knew that the Benghazi event was a terrorist attack. Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, then lied to the world saying that spontaneous protests over the film caused the attacks in both Libya and Cairo. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton spouted the same story line as did President Obama and Whitehouse press secretary, Jay Carney.

For nine days, the Obama administration claimed that there was no information to suggest a terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, and the filmmaker was arrested. The mainstream media supported the lies worldwide.

Information surfaced that the State department had not only turned down requests for more security personnel in Libya, but had recalled at least 16 military security people. All this after a warning from the Libyan government, and several intelligence reports from the CIA, pointing to an increase in violence from al Qaeda in the area.

Screaming Muslim clerics, using the film as an excuse, instigated protests in 33 cities on 5 continents where people were injured and killed.

 On September 19, Mathew Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, testified before Congress that the Libyan incident was a terrorist attack.

Magically, on September 20, the Whitehouse press secretary changed his tune and said, “It is, I think, self-evident that what happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack.” He still blamed the film as the reason for the protests and denied that anything was pre-planned by the attackers.

“Hey, Ahmed, let’s take our RPGs to the protest tonight.”

In the past few days, my twitter friend, Matt VanDyke, @Matt_VanDyke, who was imprisoned in Libya by Gaddafi, has informed us that the attack was most likely planned quickly with a few cell phone calls. Apparently, al Qaeda members have stockpiles of sophisticated weapons ready to use at a moment’s notice.

As late as September 25, more than two weeks after the murder of Ambassador Stevens, President Obama stated that the investigation into what happened in Benghazi was still ongoing. The FBI team sent to investigate had been prevented by the Libyan government from going to Benghazi as of that date.

President Obama has ordered that all potentially inflammatory words against Islam in FBI and other government documents be removed; he has bowed to an Arab king, made speeches that attempt to appease Muslims, (as recently as his speech to the UN), and generally ignored the fact that extremist Muslims want World War III.

There has been a concerted effort by supposedly intelligent news sources to spike stories that contradict the PR lines coming out of the Whitehouse. This is no mere failure to report the facts; on the contrary, it is an all-out campaign to support lies emanating from an elected politician.

Absurdly, the Obama administration has deleted the word, “terrorism,” from their dictionaries and tried to get the public at large to do the same. We didn’t have a terrorist attack at Fort Hood when the murderer shouted his Muslim war cry; we had, “a work place incident.”

Even though news sources knew there had been a terrorist attack on the anniversary of 9/11 in Libya, and even though the twaddle spewing forth from the Whitehouse was analogous to wet turds, the media went along with it for nine days. Instead of spiking the truth, the mainstream media should have been spiking the lies.

There’s no doubt that news editors, who allow themselves to be held captive by the politics of their employers, have no stomach for the messy business of spiking turds.

Share
Posted in Blog: Just for the Hell of it. | Comments Off

To the Moon Alice, to the Moon!

I recently watched an old TV sit-com, The Honey Mooners, where bus driver, Ralph Kramden, and his friend Ed Norton, a sewer worker, persistently try and fail to get rich. Alice, Ralph’s wife, insults his money-making schemes with cutting remarks. Ralph replies by raising his fist and shouting, “To the moon, Alice, to the moon.” Her deadpan face and his puffed up anger is hilarious.

In reality, when things don’t go your way often enough, when a bad situation is out of your control, when you’re worn out from taking deep breaths and pasting a smile on your face; it’s human nature to get angry. I’ve always been a glass-half-full kind of gal, but things are beyond crazy out here.

The housing market is still underwater and gasping for breath nationwide. 1 in 4 homeowners owe more than the current value of their homes. All the home equity that was a huge factor in the retirement plans of millions of Americans is long gone. Poof! Now retirees are looking for jobs that don’t exist.

A loan rep told me last week that sales in the Las Vegas area, which includes pretty much all of Southern Nevada, are down 50% due to low inventory of homes for sale. Southern California has similar problems. (My job as a Realtor supports my writing habit.)

Part of the problem is that the FHA, (Federal Housing Authority) has not been releasing their inventory of foreclosed homes onto the market, but has been selling them in bulk to investors.

They’re happy over at the FHA, which is bailed out almost monthly with taxpayer money, because they got 95% of the current appraised value in their sales, numbers which would amount to 30% to 50% of their original loan amounts. (For example, home values in Southern Nevada have crashed almost 70% from 2006.)

My world tipped from glass-half-full to, “Where the hell’s the wine?” when I received an email from someone who actually read the Obamacare Bill. I welcome anyone who can dispute the following, taken from the Bill:

Page 22: the government will audit the books of all employers who self-insure.

Page 27: a government commission will be formed to decide on individual health care.

Page 29, lines 4-16: health care will be rationed to $5000 per year for individuals and $10,000 per year for families.

Page 50, Section 152: health care will be provided to all non U.S. citizens, legal or illegal.

 Page 58: the government will have real time access to your finances and a national Health Care I.D. card will be issued.

Page 72, lines 8-14: a Health Care Exchange will be formed to bring all private plans under government control.

Page 102, lines 12-18: all people eligible for Medicaid will automatically be enrolled. (There is no choice.)

Page 195: Employees of the Health Care Administration will have access to all Americans’ personal and financial records.

Page 253, lines 10-18: the government will set the value of doctors’ time and professional judgments.

Page 239, lines 14-24: physician’s services will be reduced for Medicaid.

Page 280, Section 1151: the government will penalize hospitals for preventable re-admissions. (“Nurse; wasn’t this guy in an accident last month? We can’t admit him again. Don’t worry about the chest wound…” my warped humor.)

Pages 354: the government will restrict enrollment of special needs individuals.

Here’s the real kick in the gut; the health of seniors under Obamacare pretty much boils down to the government ordering them how and when to die. There’s no room for miracles here:

Pages 425 lines 4-12: the government mandates advanced care planning where seniors must be interviewed once a year and decisions made as to what care they can and cannot receive.

Page 425, lines 17-19: living wills and power of attorney will be mandatory.

Page 426 lines 1-3: the government will provide an approved list for “end of life,” resources.

Page 427 lines 15-24: physician orders for “end of life,” are mandatory.

Page 429¸ lines 1-9: advanced care planning consultation will be used frequently as the patient’s health deteriorates.

Page 429, lines 13-25: the government will specify which doctors can write an “end of life,” order.

Page  430, lines 11-15: the government will decide what level of treatment seniors will receive at the end of their life.

Thanks mainly to the plotting and scheming of Nancy Pelosi, (“You have to pass the bill to read what’s in it.”) Obamacare is mandatory and it does have a $2 trillion price tag. So far, Medicare has been raped and pillaged for over $500 billion in Obamacare costs, a sordid joke, because the government owes $16 trillion and needs to borrow more just to keep afloat.  

In short, our government can now kill off our seniors, borrow the money to do it, all while making sure that every illegal alien gets health care. “To the moon, Nancy, to the moon!”

Share
Posted in Blog: Just for the Hell of it. | Tagged , , | Comments Off

The Emperor has No Spine

In this political season, newly released books and films are taking an extraordinary look behind the scenes at President Obama’s decision making process. In his book, “Leading from Behind: The Reluctant President and the Advisors who Decide for Him,” Richard Miniter writes that the President cancelled the ‘kill’ mission on Osama Bin Laden three times on the advice of Valerie Jarrett.

Jarrett has the wordy job description of: senior advisor to the president and chief liaison to the business community, state and local governments and the political left. The President openly admits that he runs every decision by Valerie Jarrett, who has been a close family friend and confidante since Barrack Obama first entered politics. It’s been reported that both the President and Michelle Obama seek advice from Jarrett several times a day.

Miniter, a two time New York Times bestselling author, cites an anonymous source in the Joint Special Operations Command who says Obama cancelled the bin Laden mission in January 2011, February, and then again in March, on advice from Jarrett, before finally giving the go-ahead.

After knocking heads with Jarrett, two Chiefs of Staff, Emanuel and Daley, left the Whitehouse. One unnamed advisor says in a recent New York Times article, “He’s got a real mess in the West Wing…Valerie is effectively the Chief of Staff, and he knows but he doesn’t know. She’s almost like Nancy Reagan was with President Reagan but more powerful.”

One of Valerie Jarrett’s personal pet projects was Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Olympics. It turns out that the property that was supposed to house Olympic buildings was a squalid slum, which Jarrett controlled and wanted to tear down. She advised the President to fly to Copenhagen to make a personal appeal to the Olympic Committee. The whole thing was a dismal failure costing taxpayers millions in jet fuel and entourage bills. Chicago never made it past the first round of voting by the committee. Lots of egg on the walls of the Oval Office!

Said to be, “the other side of Barrack Obama’s brain,” in 2008 by CBS news, the New York Times now calls Valerie Jarrett, “The Other Power in the West Wing.”

The bankrupt, ‘green project,’ Solyndra, costing taxpayers more than $500 million, was another Jarrett hobby horse.

The book, “No Easy Day: The First Hand Account of the Mission that Killed Osama bin Laden” written under the pseudonym Mark Owen, a Navy SEAL Team Six member who was on the mission, contradicts the story leaked from the Whitehouse. Owen has said that he wrote the book, in part, because he objected to the security leaks.

While Pentagon officials are publically huffing and puffing over Owen’s book, and benching active duty SEAL Team Six members, they conveniently forget that the Whitehouse has given two filmmakers classified information on the raid. The filmmakers, director Kathryn Bigelow and screen writer, Mark Boal were given access to the Operator and Commander of SEAL Team six, Whitehouse top officials, CIA and Pentagon officials.

Transcripts obtained by the group, Judicial Watch, which were released under the Freedom of Information Act; show that Michael Vickers, the Pentagon intelligence chief disclosed the identity of one of the SEAL members to the filmmakers. Writer, Boal and director, Bigelow met with National Security Council official, Denis McDonough and counter terrorism advisor, John Brennan.  The filmmakers were invited to the Whitehouse’s supposed secret ceremony validating the SEALs after the Bin Laden raid. They were also granted access to, “the vault,” where CIA planning for the raid took place.

The film was first scheduled to air before the elections to help make Obama appear, “gusty,” by calling for the Bin Laden raid. The release has reportedly been put off until December to avoid seeming political.

Authors, of the book, “Counterstrike, the Untold Story of America’s Secret Campaign Against Al Qaeda,” Thom Shanker and Eric Schmitt, said all their top secret information was leaked directly from the Whitehouse.

Another film, “2016: Obama’s America,” by Dinesh D’Souza, is a conservative documentary, exploring Obama’s anti-colonial and socialist roots, his sad childhood where he was abandoned by both parents, and what the country will look like if Barrack Obama is elected for a second term. While Liberal pundits pan the film, made for $2.5 million, it has grossed over $9 million to date and gone from opening in a handful of theatres to over a thousand showing it now.

The policies of the President of the United States have apparently been vetted, approved and possibly even written by Valerie Jarrett; a woman born in Iran, who cut her teeth on politics working for the Mayor of Chicago, and who has a history of making money from the misery of tenants living in her slums. Jarrett’s idea of redistributing wealth clearly means distributing it into her own pockets, while the poor are parked on a distant horizon, waiting for help.

It appears that the President’s spine stays vertical only by virtue of his puppet master, Valerie Jarrett, holding his strings tight.

The media pundits who pushed so hard to get Barrack Obama elected should be feeling the blow-back from all their pissing into the wind. I’m not holding my breath as long as Chris Mathews is still having chills run down his legs. Then again, four-year-old wet pants would be a bit chilly…

Share
Posted in Blog: Just for the Hell of it. | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off

The Last Twenty Yards

Some people have a life philosophy of; “If it’s meant to be; it will be. Watching the Olympics reminded me of one of my Gran’s favorite maxims, “God helps those who help themselves.”

I grew up as a member of a swim team. From Junior High through college, I trained five days a week, and travelled to swim meets monthly. Those experiences, racing in a pool, or sometimes in a lake, formulated my life view.

It always seems to be the last twenty yards of a race that yield victory or defeat; when your arms and legs are screaming in pain, when you think you can’t push any harder, when you have nothing left. Winners manage to reach inside themselves and pull out that extra something from their very souls; normal folks get through it, and losers slow down.

In one important swim meet, I choked on water just after the turn. At first, I just put my head down and swam. Then I tried to cough out the water but I couldn’t breathe. It was a life changing moment for me. I just didn’t have it in me to finish that race. Years later, I wondered what I could have done differently.

People said, “It wasn’t meant to be,” and I wanted to choke them. Who the hell decides what is and is not meant to be in my life? That very statement, while meant to console me, flew in the face of my concept of free will. I was responsible and nobody else. I still remember the exact nanosecond when I breathed in instead of keeping my mouth shut. (I seem to have a talent for opening my mouth when a closed one would be more advantageous.)

A litany of examples in literature, the arts, the news and in the lives of others, have led me to the conclusion that believing in a cause point for my life that is outside of myself is an excuse for non-action. I cannot expect someone else to run my race.

The Declaration of Independence, drafted by Thomas Jefferson, states “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

It reads, “the Pursuit of Happiness,” an action, and not a state of being. Sitting on my duff wishing for, visualizing, or praying for happiness is merely a good start. I have to actually do something to make it real. 

As Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney’s newly chosen running mate, said this week, “We promise equal opportunity, not equal outcomes.” Meanwhile, our president wants, “A new vision of America in which prosperity is shared.”

If I work my butt off to be successful, am I supposed to share it with someone who sits on their butt waiting for the happiness of success to fall on their heads? On the flip side, if I want to be a couch potato and not work, can I get a government hand-out to go shopping? Hey, Wall Street investment banksters have been getting obscenely large government subsidies for years.

While politicians blather on about class warfare, trying to get us to believe that successful people paying more taxes will solve our economic problems, the real war on the economy has been a guarded secret. Only recently we discovered that the Federal Reserve Bank has spent $16 trillion bailing out U.S. and foreign banks.

Wall Street banksters concocted mortgage-backed securities which contained sub-standard home loans and sold them throughout the international investment community. When foreign institutions found out that their so-called AAA investments were a crock, they came after the U.S. Treasury, the Federal Reserve Bank and Wall Street to get their money back.

Bank debt was bought by governments, thereby making it sovereign debt which is now drowning Europe. The U.S. Treasury has bought hundreds of billions in toxic mortgage-backed securities created by the banksters.

To get life back into their diseased balance sheets, by collecting insurance money on delinquent home loans; the banksters foreclosed any which way but loose on American homeowners. They manufactured false documents willy-nilly to achieve their ends. Found guilty, they were fined $25 billion collectively by the U.S. Attorney General. $25 billion collected to offset more than $16 trillion?

Money from smart investors, those guys and gals who are successful, is now flowing out of Europe by tens of billions a month. Like water sloshing against a levy in a hurricane, investment money is looking for an outlet. For now, it’s the U.S.A.

Some say there’s $200 trillion still at risk from the banksters mortgage fraud. How big is the cover-up, really? How much longer can the U.S. government exist in a form of undeclared bankruptcy?  How much more money can the U.S. Treasury rob from American taxpayers to keep this Ponzi scheme afloat?

Currently, all the swimmers in this race away from economic Armageddon are treading water. The last twenty yards to financial stability will have to be swum by the U.S. President, after the election. Will he have the soul to finish a winner?

Share
Posted in Blog: Just for the Hell of it. | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Hearts and Minds

Now that US troops have been withdrawn from Iraq, the war drums are beating again over Iran. One excuse for war is a threat, made by a blithering idiot in the Iranian military, to shut down the Straits of Hormuz. That action would stop the flow of oil to much of the world.

Of course, an obvious solution to dealing with countries who don’t like us, together with the rising price of gas, the failing US economy, and job losses—“Drill, baby drill!”—is ignored by the armchair warriors in Washington D.C.  Who knows, maybe some of them are drooling over the prospects of insider stock tips on arms and weapons manufacturers. While we would end up in jail for insider trading, (using confidential information to profit on the stock market) members of Congress are apparently not held to the same laws.

The romanticism of war, espoused mainly by those who have not fought in one, is nauseating in light of the costs. As one former soldier, Stan Goff, says of the Vietnam conflict, “In our process of fighting to stay alive, and in their process of trying to expel an invader that violated their dignity, destroyed their property and killed their innocents, we were faced off against each other by people who made these decisions in $5000 suits, who laughed and slapped each other on the back in Washington D.C. …” None of the wars in Vietnam, Iraq or Afghanistan were actually declared, “War,” by Congress, but they did vote to send in US troops.

According to the Brookings Institute, approximately $1trillion dollars of US taxpayer money was spent over the course of the Iraq conflict; 4,486 soldiers were killed, more than 32,000 were wounded, 75 helicopters were downed, 150 journalists were killed, more than 100,000 Iraq citizens were killed, and over 2 million Iraqis are refugees in Syria and Jordan. It cost $390,000 per year to keep one soldier at war in Iraq, and the US paid over $20 billion for air conditioning there. I couldn’t find any information on money paid to the US from Iraq oil revenue. Meanwhile, 46 million Americans are getting food stamps because they can’t afford food.  

Iraqi politicians are now battling each other in efforts to control the country. I have to wonder just whose hearts and whose minds we won over there, or here, for that matter.

I recently read, “On Killing: the Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society,” the revised edition, by Lieutenant Colonel Dave Grossman. The gist of the book is that human beings do not want to kill and therefore, soldiers and police officers have to be conditioned to do so. Grossman maintains this to be universally true for all people with the exception of sociopaths. He writes, “When people become angry or frightened, they stop thinking with their forebrain (the mind of a human being) and start thinking with their midbrain (which is indistinguishable from the mind of an animal.) They are literally scared out of their wits. The only thing that has any hope of influencing the midbrain is also the thing that influences a dog: classical and operant conditioning.” In other words, stimulus-response psychology that was originally developed by Pavlov decades ago is being used to train soldiers and police officers.

Grossman says that the prevalence of violent entertainment today influences some people’s midbrain to such an extent that they are conditioned toward violence, and will act upon any stimulus that is relevant to them such as; drugs, alcohol, physical abuse, or a perceived threat. Just remember, before you yell at a police officer over a speeding ticket, that guy or gal has most likely had stimulus-response conditioning in their training, and it will click in. They don’t know if your midbrain is in control or not. You will be treated as a threat, subdued with professional skill, and taken away for the courts to handle. Yes, Virginia, it is a brave new world.

I am not an advocate of the kind of gun control that many Liberals would like to see, but Grossman’s book puts my pistol packing associates in a whole new light. I work with several gals who carry loaded guns around in their purses. While I doubt that any of them have been in a serious situation where self-defense was a matter of life and death, the idea that fear could trigger a midbrain response is scary. On the other hand, if the world falls apart next week; I won’t have to lend them a rifle…

Share
Posted in Blog: Just for the Hell of it. | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Sociopaths in the Money

We’ve all had a sociopath in our lives. They’re the charming ones who constantly try to impress everyone with their superior knowledge; the ones who manipulate everything to their own ends, the pathological liars who feel no remorse or guilt over hurting people. They’re the ones who have a grandiose opinion of themselves, who feign true emotions, and who are relentless in their campaigns to destroy the well-being of their designated enemies. They have a deep seated rage at their core that pops up in psychotic outbursts which are intended to tyrannize their victims. They are the 1% of us who have neither conscience nor empathy.

In May of this year, Dominick Corolla, Steven Goldberg and Peter Grimm, former GE bankers, were found guilty by a jury in New York of conspiracy to commit fraud. The national media avoided the trial, leaving coverage up to Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone magazine in the July 5th issue.

The gist of it is that the GE men, in concert with most of the major Wall Street banks, fiddled with interest rates on bonds to rip off municipalities across the country for almost a decade. When a city or county needs to raise money, to build things like hospitals or schools, they go to Wall Street bankers who create investment bonds which are then sold to investors. The money from the bonds is invested and interest is paid to the city or county until they need it to pay construction workers. Millions, if not billions of dollars slated for various projects, lie dormant in interest bearing accounts across the country. The GE men, along with major banks, conspired to pay less than current interest rates on the bonds. They took turns awarding contracts first to one bank and then to another with full disclosure of the bids to all the banks involved.

The rip-offs look inconsequential when taken one at a time, but when viewed over a decade and thousands of projects, the numbers are huge. Say the going interest rate was 5.5% per year, the bond contract would be given out a 5.3% and the bank involved would siphon off the difference. They gave campaign contributions to numerous politicians as bribes to get the contracts for both the issuance of the bonds and the subsequent investment of the money realized from the sale of the bonds. The defense argued in court that the interest rates given were simply based on fluctuating free market rates and that nobody was harmed–very much.

As Taibbi says, “…this is what Wall Street learned from the Mafia: how to reach into the penny jars of dying hospitals and schools, and transform their desperation and civic panic into fat year-end bonuses…No harm, to them, means no visible harm i.e., that what taxpayers don’t know won’t hurt them. This is logical thinking to the sociopath—like saying, it’s not infidelity if your wife never finds out.”

The newest scandal involves Libor rates, (London Interbank Offered Rate,) the interest rate that banks pay when they borrow money. Over $800 Trillion in financial instruments world-wide are pegged to the LIBOR rate. It has now come to light that Barclays bank in London, England has been fiddling with that rate, keeping it artificially low for the benefit of their fellow bankers. Consumers depend on the LIBOR rate as the base for their mortgage, car and business loan interest rates. Those with fixed incomes get their interest payments based on the LIBOR rate.

On Tuesday, July 17th, 2012, Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank, admitted that both he and Timothy Geithner, U.S. Treasury Secretary, have known since 2008 that the LIBOR rates were being falsified. Yet, they did absolutely nothing.

In Mental Health circles, the terms, ‘sociopath,’ and ‘psychopath,’ are frequently interchanged.

In an article in the U.K. Independent newspaper, Brian Basham talks about a meeting he had with a top international banker. “…a senior UK investment banker and I are discussing the most successful banking types and what makes them tick…He then makes an astonishing confession: ‘At one major investment bank for which I worked, we used psychometric testing to recruit social psychopaths because their characteristics exactly suited them to senior corporate finance roles.’ Here was one of the biggest investment banks in the world seeking psychopaths as recruits.”

Recently, HSBC bank was caught helping Mexican Drug Cartels and terrorists launder their money in the U.S.

Leading banksters show no remorse for the international financial crisis that they caused with their various rip-offs including; the sale of phony mortgage backed securities, false LIBOR rates, outright theft of money from taxpayers, and money laundering. Instead, they appear in Congressional Hearings, oozing superiority and charm, denying their crimes with outright lies, smiling, while our elected officials kiss their butts.

And the results? Think: unlawful foreclosures, scamming of insurance companies to pay off full loan amounts on unlawfully foreclosed properties, millions of lost jobs due to credit squeezes on businesses, housing values crashed, psychotic rules that prevent many Buyers from getting home loans–all while Wall Street banksters get millions in bonuses. I’d love to read the FBI profiles on sociopathic banksters who should be in jail.

Share
Posted in Blog: Just for the Hell of it. | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off

Mortal Sins

Obamacare emerged from the U.S. Supreme Court wounded but still breathing. Now that Justice Roberts has called the penalty for not buying health insurance, a tax, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is ramping up their hiring process for thousands of new agents to police us all.

Governor Paul LePage of Maine is calling the new army of IRS agents, reportedly 16,500 strong, the “New Gestapo.” If you do not buy health insurance you must report it on your tax return, and consequently, the IRS can enforce a tax penalty. Whether we can afford it or not, healthy, taxpaying Americans will be footing the bill for approximately 50% of the population who neither pay for health care, nor pay taxes.

The tax for those not buying health insurance in 2014 is said to be $95.00 for a single person and $285 for a family. By 2016, a single person will pay $695 and a family will be taxed $2085. If you don’t pay, the IRS will penalize you, and start adding monthly interest to your tax bill. Wall Street Journal senior economics writer, Stephen Moore, says that these taxes will impact families making $120,000 a year and maybe less.

That’s a far cry from President Obama’s 2008 campaign promise not to raise taxes on families earning less than $250,000 per year. Where I come from, it’s called flat out lying. First, the President said the Obamacare mandate was not a tax; then his attorneys went to the Supreme Court and argued it was a tax. After promising not to raise taxes on the middle class, he hid the fact that his health care legislation taxes the hell out of them.

The Catholics call lies that harm others, mortal sins. Aristotle said that a person who lied could not be believed in anything they said. St. Augustine, Immanuel Kant and St Thomas Aquinas all condemned lying in any form. One could be tortured, murdered, jailed and still have no excuse to lie.

Seems like we’ve gone a long way backward in standards of morality when the President of the United States can spout lies with abandom. Still, certain Members of Congress and some media talking-heads support him. I guess they haven’t read the 2700 page Obamacare bill yet.

 I rather like Freidrich Nietzsche’s opinion in his work, “Human, All Too Human,” when he concludes that some people refrain from lying simply because they don’t have the wherewithal to maintain their lies, that we tell the truth out of our own weakness. Of course, the President doesn’t have that problem because he has dozens of staffers to keep him on course.

One summer, when I was six and my brother was four, we went down the road to visit our friend, Elizabeth, whose family owned the local dairy. There were rolls of quarters on the dining room table that her father had been stacking up to take to the bank. When our friend left the room to get us sodas, my brother quickly stuck one role in his pocket. For days afterward, we bought too much ice cream, and too many candies.

When our parents noticed the weird change in our eating habits as well as the amount of time we were spending away from home, they questioned us. We lied through our teeth. My father was concerned that some child molester had been giving us money. Mom was angry that we weren’t eating her dinners.

After a few days of parental interrogation, both my brother and I plummeted into the depths of depression. Not only did we complicate our lies, but we plum forgot what we’d said the day before, and so, we confessed. After a good spanking administered by Dad, we were sent to the dairy to make amends.

Ashamed, we became slaves to the dairy owner for a week. We cleaned the horse poop in the stable, ran errands, pruned rose bushes, washed dishes, and mopped floors, all while listening to Elizabeth’s gleefully delivered insults. My father thought lying was a felony, and the farmer was determined to teach us the consequences of theft. 

Looking back, our six and four year old selves must have been lousy workers. Nonetheless, both my parents and the dairy owner were interested enough in our moral welfare to teach us a lesson. It worked!

Politicians lie badly, just like kids. I’d like to give them all a good spanking and then consign them to week’s work in the Whitehouse gardens, in full view of their opponents and the press. Never mind Virginia, you don’t have to remind me that the child-abuse police would probably jail me.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “A child is a curly, dimpled lunatic.” Nowadays that seems to apply equally to bankers, politicians and bureaucrats who lie, cheat, and steal with no thoughts of the consequences. Just saying…

Share
Posted in Blog: Just for the Hell of it. | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off

Tis the Season of the Witch…

Lately, I’ve been researching and writing my 3rd novel. One of my characters is a white witch, and so, tis my season of the witch until I finish the book.

There’s the, “Rule of Three,” in witchdom that is taken very seriously by the good spell casters. It says any lie, foul deed, or evil spell will return to its creator threefold. If you happen to run into a seriously ill person who’s puking inside a chalk pentagram while burning mucky smelling herbs and black candles; it’s a safe bet they’ve been casting harmful spells.

In my opinion, the concept isn’t so different than the one of karma held by the Hindus and Buddhists; or, as the Bible says, “As ye sew, so shall ye reap,” loosely translated as, “What goes around comes around.” My Gran nailed it when she said, “Don’t expect to keep your hands clean when you’re slinging mud around.”

 President Obama sold his Affordable Care Act, (Obamacare) downplaying the mandate that everyone must have insurance or pay a penalty. He was adamant that it was not a tax. Meanwhile, his attorneys went to the Supreme Court and argued that the mandate was a tax. They wanted to use the Commerce Clause, which says the U.S. Congress may regulate trade/commerce amongst foreign nations and States, as a way to tax and regulate health care across the country.

Supreme Court Justice Roberts called it what it has always been, a tax, and then said the Commerce Clause must not be used as a gun to the head of States who want to opt out of Obamacare. 

A few reports claim that a tax of almost $700 a year will be levied against young, healthy Americans who choose not to enroll in Obamacare. From what I’ve read, there’s also a new 3.8% tax when you sell your home.

Seems to me like the lies about the costs of Obamacare are coming back to haunt the liars threefold.

Some Democrats are trying to start a race war, saying things like the Republicans don’t like our President because he’s black. CNN ran a Rodney King special when he died recently. You know, Virginia, the black man who fought the Los Angeles police and got beaten on videotape; the guy who said, through his broken nose, “Can’t we all get along?”

One of the problems in that whole episode was that KTLA TV in Los Angeles cut the first part of the tape that showed King attacking a police officer, and didn’t mention the fast speed car chase that preceded the incident. Sloppy journalism and a stupid court ruling, which let the police officers off completely, started a race riot in Los Angeles in the 1990’s.

I’ve known a few LA cops who became racially prejudiced after trying to police the war zone of drugs and drive-by shootings in East LA. They were rude, crude racial supremacy types that I no longer wanted to know.

Back at the Whitehouse, President Obama bemoans his dwindling election campaign funds while hosting a Gay Pride event. Leading news anchor, Anderson Cooper of CNN, now says he’s gay. The problem I have with the media blather on gays is that they’re NOT the problem. The real problems are: 46 million Americans on food stamps, unemployment at an outrageously high level, and millions of people dumped from their homes in possibly illegal foreclosures.

With the financial lobby in Washington, D.C. spending billions a year, bewitching Congress, shutting them up on the subject of mortgage fraud, I have to wonder who should be President. Is Romney the better bet, because he’s worth over $200 million and therefore has no reason to get himself suborned by Wall Street banksters? Maybe.

In Southern California, the wishes of homeowners could be coming true. The Counties of San Bernardino, Fontana and Ontario are joined in a proposal to use the government’s “Eminent Domain,” law to take over underwater mortgages. Under eminent domain, a government can take over a property if it benefits the public. They buy it by paying current market prices to the property owner.

The county managers are working on a plan to keep thousands of people in their homes who have mortgages that are higher than the value of the properties. They want to buy the mortgages at current value and give the lower mortgages back to the resident homeowners. Finally, something that may work to halt banksters from kicking people out of their homes in foreclosures…

 As I’ve written before, the banksters get the full, original loan amount paid to them from insurance when a home is foreclosed. After they get the loan paid off, the servicing companies, the ones who collect the monthly mortgage payments, get to keep money earned in the subsequent sale of the home. It’s been a wicked recipe for stealing houses over the past few years by the servicing arms of Wall Street banks Wells Fargo, Citi, and Bank of American, to name a few.

Currently, there’s so much mudslinging going on in the media that it’s difficult to see anyone with clean hands. Perhaps political hopefuls would do well to have another look inside the Bible, or their own minds for that matter, and identify just what crop of negative nonsense they’re sewing. 

While I’m not really planning to cast any spells, it sure is fun to write a character that does. Then again, I could change my mind…a few dollops of this and that with candles under a full moon…Virginia stop laughing!

Share
Posted in Blog: Just for the Hell of it. | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Armed and Dangerous

I remember being a precocious and pigheaded twelve-year old, mouthing off in my grandmother’s kitchen until I’d pushed her a bit too far. She was preparing fish for dinner; picked up a lovely little trout, and slapped me across the face with it. We both stood there in complete shock for a moment until she started laughing so hard, she had to sit down. It took me a while to see the humor in fish as weapon.

This past week, the police in Lowell, Massachusetts provided comic relief from the drudgery of bad news when they arrested a man for assault with a deadly weapon—hot French Fries. He’d thrown some at his step-daughter. Beware the Military-Potato complex!

On his way out of office in 1961, President Dwight Eisenhower warned us to beware, “the Military Industrial Complex.” He was making the point that the corporations involved with the manufacturing and financing of war materials could get big enough to take over the country. He also said, “Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity.” 

In 1953, Eisenhower supported Britain in efforts to overthrow the ruling monarch of Iran by letting the CIA have free reign over the matter. The CIA employed thugs and demonstrators to get rid of the monarch and install the Shah of Iran. As history reads, the Shah used his secret police to imprison and torture pretty much everyone who disagreed with him. While the US got a share of Iran’s oil, the term, “Ugly American,” turned into a whispering campaign overseas. 

In 1961, at the end of his term in the Whitehouse, President Eisenhower was probably having a few second thoughts. The CIA had become all powerful, and FBI chief, Hoover, when he wasn’t cross-dressing, had used the FBI, under the direction of Senator McCarthy, to look for communists under every bush and in every Hollywood movie. Even though Eisenhower had put an end to the Hoover-McCarthy episode; the bad taste remained and Hoover kept right on making dossiers on just about everybody.

No doubt, there were actual communists in the country, but like a pendulum that had swung as far right as fast as possible; McCarthyism had poked a gaping wound in the American political psyche.

The Shah was ousted in 1979 when the Shia Muslim cleric, Ayatollah Khomeini, took over the country, and turned it into dictatorship ruled by himself, as spokesman for the Prophet Muhammad and God. Apparently, he had the same kind of secret police as the deposed Shah in that he tortured and killed more than 30,000 people who disagreed with him.

A few years ago, it was reported that the Iraq war cost around $2 billion a week. Here we are today, after spending a $gazillion on 2 wars over a decade: 46 million Americans are on food stamps, an official tally is 8.2% unemployment but the real numbers are probably double, our troops are out of Iraq for the most part, the War in Afghanistan is winding down, but nobody’s talking about the money that’s been freed up.

To make matters creepier, we are now negotiating with the infamous Taliban in Afghanistan in an effort to bring the war to a close. Even worse, Iranian Shia Muslims, the guys who supplied weapons to kill Americans in Iraq, now control the country. The US spent a shit-load of money; brave American soldiers lost their lives, and we got nothing in return. It breaks my heart.

The religious war between the Shia and the Sunni Muslims has been going on since the Prophet Muhammad died, centuries ago. The Shias believe that their Ayatollah is the spiritual hand of God who is incorruptible and must be obeyed. The Sunnis believe that the Ayatollahs are men chosen by the people who can be removed at any time. Iran has been controlled by the Shias since 1979, while 80% of Muslims world-wide are Sunni. Syria sides with the Shias.

Some Middle East experts believe that the whole region is on the tipping point of a religious war that could shut down oil exports for decades. In a possible foreshadowing of future events, the Khamenei family, led by the Ayatollah Khamenei, took control of all of Iran’s oil last year, making them one of the wealthiest families in the world.

Nonetheless, mobs of extremists on both sides, their hashish-dulled brains consigned to the 16th century, are armed and dangerous, waiting for their chance to become dead martyrs for their own brand of Islam.

I say, let them go to it; we can watch from here.

In the USA, geologists, both government and private, concur that newly developed technology can provide enough oil and gas to last us for 200 years. With Americans out of work and short on money for food, I have to ask; why did the Federal government prevent energy production in the US, while fighting wars in the Middle East?

It seems to me that we have an obese government buying things from folks who, after decades of reaping the benefits from wars we didn’t need to fight, consider it their just deserts. Perhaps a few fresh fish slapped in the faces of politicians would shock them into common sense. I’m not holding my breath…

 

 

 

Share
Posted in Blog: Just for the Hell of it. | Tagged | Comments Off

My Tea Pot Cracked!

There’s been so many, ‘Tempests in Tea Pots,’ these past few years that mine finally cracked. Mixing metaphors with great gusto here, it’s as if our financial Humpty Dumpty was pushed off the wall a few years ago, is smashed to pieces on the ground, and our elected officials walk on by howling up at the moon.

The latest tea pot squall is President Obama’s new rule for immigration: don’t arrest kids who were dragged over the border by their parents. It’s a good and fair rule, but our President forgot to include the US Congress in his calculation. He’s supposed to enforce the laws of the United States, not circumvent the ones he doesn’t like.

Most likely, there’s a few immigration Bills gathering dust in some committee room or other, as Members of Congress follow their own myopic agendas to keep themselves in power. The media is currently touting every possible viewpoint on the subject, while weeds grow over the Humpty Dumpty of our broken financial system.

Another little tempest was the trading loss of $2 billion by JP Morgan Chase, the largest bank in the world. The media went nuts predicating a second financial crash. The bank had a $19 billion profit last year, even though an obscure IMF missive reports that approximately $14 billion of that was in U. S. government subsidies.

I watched a portion of the CEO of JP Morgan Chase, Jamie Diamon’s, testimony before the Senate Banking Committee. It was a nauseating display of ass kissing by US Senators, who looked like valets outside a Vegas strip joint, simpering away in front of the blow-dried, rock star banker. It was obvious that they had no clue about the derivatives market as Senator after Senator stumbled while reading questions written by their staffers.

Apparently, JP Morgan’s trading portfolio is still heavily weighted in mortgage backed securities. You know, Virginia, all those mortgage loans that were pooled into trusts and sold just like stocks worldwide, where thousands if not millions of borrowers on those loans have defaulted. They’re called, ‘derivatives,’ because they’re derived from mortgage loans. Nonetheless, Dimon is convinced that his bank really is too big to fail because they have hundreds of $billions in capital. He also said that his bank was forced to take TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) money that they did not need at the time. What? Why are they taking $14 billion a year?

It’s estimated that 12 million mortgages nationwide are underwater; meaning the home values are less than the loan amounts owed.  Dimon wants the Congress to work with the big banks to, “fix the mortgage market.” Perhaps Congress will actually get some smarts and make a law, like the trashed Glass-Steagall Act, that prevents banks from gambling/trading with depositors’ money.

Unemployment is said to be a little over 8%. When you take into account the underemployed and those folks who’ve just given up looking for a job, it’s probably more like 14% or 15%. Couple that with the falling value of the US dollar and we’ve got big problems. Our US Treasury Secretary and the head of the Federal Reserve Bank are printing money like wall paper, thereby devaluing the dollar.

A very real, big fat tempest hanging over the horizon won’t fit in any tea pot: other countries are looking to get rid of the devalued US Dollar. Last summer a group of Asian countries announced their intention to form a trading block that excludes the USA. The Chinese are now arguing for the US dollar to be dropped as the world’s reserve currency. Currently, most international trades are done in dollars, a fact that keeps costs down for Americans. The Chinese are now insisting that trade with them is done in their currency, the renminbi, commonly known as the Yuan. Recently, they have opened a trade with Japan where the Japanese Yen is traded directly with the Yuan, thereby ignoring the dollar completely.

China now has a bigger military, more reserves in cash, and more natural resources in terms of mines and oil wells they’ve bought around the world, than the USA. China’s policy is that any company doing business in China must give over their proprietary technology as a condition of doing business there. Our spineless Congress has done nothing to curtail China’s infringement on US technology because the US government is in hock to the Chinese by continually borrowing money to keep on spending. Instead, they grind out more and more repressive regulations for American businesses to follow.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the inventory of homes for sale is dropping like a rock. Banks aren’t releasing their foreclosures onto the market because they’re scrambling to make sure their paperwork was correct when they foreclosed. Bankers and their attorneys can now go to jail in Nevada, with perhaps more states following suit, if it’s shown that they have a history of using false documents in foreclosures. I’m not holding my breath for common sense to come out of Washington, D.C.; I’m trying to find a new tea pot.

As a writer, who has a day job as a Realtor, politics and banking are looking like a Middle Earth version of Sesame Street these days. You just can’t make this stuff up like a character for a novel.

 

 

Share
Posted in Blog: Just for the Hell of it. | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

Chewing Off Pieces of the American Soul

By day, I’m a Realtor; by night, I drink wine and eat chocolate while writing tales from a sexy ghost called, Charles Sutton. This is a real estate story.

Joe called me the other day. He went through bankruptcy almost two years ago. In the bankruptcy court, Wells Fargo obtained permission to foreclose on his home. He feels like millions of disgruntled Americans who’ve ended up in the bankruptcy courts after soul-wrenching job losses, or those who couldn’t get their lender to give them a realistic home loan modification. Joe pretty much said, “Take my house and shove it!”

Today, eighteen months later, Wells Fargo still hasn’t foreclosed on Joe’s home. He and I got to talking. You know, Virginia, how I love to babble on about interesting happenings.

We discussed the real problem at the bottom the housing collapse—the securitization of home loans by Wall Street banksters. Home loan securitization is an ongoing process that politicians and attorneys, to a greater or lesser degree, either fail to understand or choose to ignore. The banksters designed it to baffle us all with bull shit while they raked in $billions selling home loans.

While securitization appears complex, the basics are simple. You get a home loan from, say, Fred’s Loans Inc.; in many states, your mortgage consists of a deed of trust and a promissory note, the deed of trust attaches to your house, and the note gives the terms of payment. These are two separate legal documents.

Fred then sells both the trust deed and the note to a Wall Street bank, who funnels hundreds, if not thousands, of similar home loans into a ‘loan pool.’ The next step is for that bank to sell them to a ‘Depositor,’ usually another Wall Street bank subsidiary.

Your note and deed of trust are now with a ‘Depositor,’ and should have been assigned properly from Fred’s Loans to the Wall Street bank and then to the ‘Depositor,’ showing signatures on your original note each time it was sold. A real estate note is like a check. You receive it from one party, and you can sign it over to someone else by putting your signature on the back of the check—it’s a negotiable instrument that must be dealt with as per the law called, ‘The Uniform Commercial Code.’

Then, the ‘Depositor,’ assigns all the home loans over to a specially created, ‘Trust.’ The trust then sells interests in the loans to investors. Most of these trusts were formed under the Trust Laws of the State of New York. They all have ‘cut-off,’ dates. All the loans must be assigned to the trust on or before that date.

These trusts have complex, ‘Pooling and Servicing Agreements,’ which describe what can and cannot be done by the servicing company, the company who collects your monthly mortgage payments. Every step of the process is designed to protect the trust from bankruptcy by any of the preceding parties. The trust is registered, together with a schedule of all the mortgages involved, as a mortgaged-backed security under the Federal Securities and Exchange Commission.

When home values began crashing in 2007, banks tightened lending to the point that businesses across the nation were gasping for credit. Without credit, businesses folded or down-sized and job losses began. Millions of unemployed borrowers defaulted on their mortgage payments. By 2008, mortgage servicing companies were enthusiastically foreclosing all across the country.

What many people don’t know is this: the mortgaged-backed trusts took out loan insurance. If a borrower, whose mortgage is in the trust, declares bankruptcy, the insurance kicks in and the loan is paid off. If a foreclosure happens, insurance kicks in and the loan is paid off. That’s why the Wall Street banksters wanted AIG, the huge insurance company, bailed out with taxpayer money. At $182 billion to date, it is the largest Federal bail-out in history.

Most of the trust agreements allow the servicing companies to foreclose. So, the insurance has paid off the loan and the investors are happy; the servicing company now gets to sell the foreclosed home and keep the money. In effect, they’re stealing properties on the backs of taxpayers. Why should they bother with loan modifications?

Nonetheless, some judges are stopping servicing companies from foreclosing. They are challenging the servicers to provide documents showing that the trust, which employs them, is the promissory note holder for the foreclosed property. In a growing number of cases, they cannot show that the homeowner’s promissory note bears all the correct endorsements from the loan originator through the securitization process into the trust.

In their greed to sell securitized loans as fast as possible, Wall Street banksters got sloppy with paperwork. Many notes and deeds of trust were never properly endorsed over to the trusts, and others were never even part of the trust named in a given foreclosure.

Under New York State Trust laws, nothing can be received by a trust after its legal cut-off date. During foreclosures, servicing companies have attempted to assign documents to the trusts after the fact, but any assignment of a deed of trust or a promissory note after the cut-off date is void.

Joe guesses that Wells Fargo hasn’t figured out how to legally foreclose on him yet. He noted that politicians aren’t talking about the mess made by the banksters, that they seem to be hiding it.

Then he said, “I guess it depends on who you’re going to let chew off a piece of your soul–the politicians, or the banks.”

Please write with comments or questions to: writersusannah@gmail.com.

 

 

Share
Posted in Blog: Just for the Hell of it. | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off

Miss Otis Regrets…

When the words don’t come easily; I know I’m on the wrong track. As a rule, my fingers do a bad job of keeping up with my mind while I’m writing. Nonetheless, I’ve been limping along recently, plucking at the keyboard, not quite writing a murder mystery. Apart from the fact that the main character in my two novels, Charles Sutton, ghost, will not get out of my head; I’ve been splashing away in a sea of lines that I can’t use.

Over the past few months, I’ve eagerly read books on marketing, including John Locke’s book on how he sold a million e-books, and numerous, “How To,” blogs from authors who appear to be selling thousands of their own books every day. Many of them advise you to define the reading audience and then write specifically for that group.

Because I love a good murder story, and because there seems to be an absolutely humongous readership for that genre, I decided that I could sell lots more books if I wrote murders.

But alas, my love affair with the concept of writing to a specific demographic was tantamount to pimping out my Muse. It rebelled and then disappeared entirely. I gradually lost confidence in my ability to write much of anything at all, like a painter I used to know who couldn’t get a gallery to show his work. He eventually got a job in an ad agency, painting pictures of widgets for ad campaigns. I’d see him in the Pub, sad eyes drooping over the top of his beer mug, drinking away into the wee small hours.

This is not to say that Locke and others are wrong. They’re not only good writers but they’re quite right that writing to a marketing plan helps to sell books–kudos, hugs and my very best wishes to them all. 

However, me being me, I am forced by a quirk of nature to pay homage to my own peculiar brand of integrity. I am not only under siege by an ungodly compulsion to write what I see and what I believe, but I suffer through bizarre mental and spiritual earthquakes that impact my storylines.

Last night, I got my soul and my Muse back.

Like the character in Cole Porter’s famous song that begins, “Miss Otis regrets that she is unable to lunch today, Madam,” I shot down my false lover–that wanton desire for fame and fortune. If my fate is to be that of Miss Otis, and I am to be hung by my critics from the nearest tree; I will not send my regrets. I will carry on writing, first for myself, and then for everyone else. If a reader does not like my stories, that’s okay, there are millions of other books for them.

Yes, I know; I may be following the course of obscurity. I could fade into eternity like a silent little fart, but I will have said what I wanted to say. Perhaps only one lone reader will benefit from my work. That’s still better than never to have fallen in love with a character, or never to have been seduced by a word.   

When all’s said and done, when I’m staring at my toes in my final minutes on this earth, when all I have left is my tattered but unbroken, and perhaps silly, brand of integrity; I’ll still be plotting to sneak into the Light before the Devil knows I’m gone.

If you want to see what I’m on about, click on “The Novels” icon at the top left of this page…

Share
Posted in Blog: Just for the Hell of it. | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

How to Bend Minds

It’s a P.R. world. Public Relations is the technology of communicating management policy in a way that people adopt it as their own. Or simply put, PR is the machine that gets you to buy an agenda.

Probably the most successful PR coup of our time was David Axelrod’s campaign to get Barrack Obama elected to the United States Presidency. The candidate had to look good and be appealing to masses of young voters. Enter Barrack Obama; a green U.S. Senator with no business experience who had charm, wit, good looks, and a Harvard law degree.

It was brilliant. Rock bands were hired to perform free concerts. In Germany, one of Europe’s top names performed a free concert just before Obama spoke. Thousands turned out for the concert and then listened to what the man had to say as the cameras rolled. In the US, Springsteen tickets can run $100s. He was free for Obama.

The country was ripe for change after President Bush’s fiasco with the missing weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. That snafu set the stage for a Democratic Party takeover.

David Axelrod has been plotting campaigns for politicians since 1985. He is famous for a technique called “Astroturfing,” wherein front groups are formed to do protests or rallies in favor of whatever the paying client wants. If  there is a fight to ban dogs from city parks and Axelrod is in charge, be sure there will be a group called, “Citizens Against Dogs in Parks,” formed to protest loudly on the steps of City Hall.

ACORN was ready made for the Obama campaign. They had thousands of employees and volunteers across the country. As the unions joined onto the PR wave, Front Groups abounded across the country for Obama. (Note: After his stint in the Whitehouse, Mr. Axelrod is back in the private sector designing the 2012 Obama campaign.)

Axelrod had media connections going back decades. The message formulated was, “Hope and Change.” “Yes we can!” became a battle cry across the nation. It was  like Woodstock on steroids. “Yes we can What?” never came up. The Republicans were campaigning in the tired old 1990′s style and had no traction against Axelrod’s PR machine. Maybe they’ve learned their lesson.

So, here’s the formula:

1. Define your goal.

2. Do thorough surveys of public opinion on the subject to get their, “Button Words.”

3. Concoct your message to push those buttons.

4. Select a candidate or spokesperson to deliver your message.

5. Enlist every press and media contact possible to support your campaign.

Now comes the interesting part, manipulating the press and media for coverage.  A good press release needs four things: Controversy, Big Names, Money, and it must put someone in the spotlight who is being attacked. (Note: add Sex to the mix and it can go viral.) Politics is a ripe field for all items.

6. Once you have the media cooking, give the public what it wants and that’s usually something for nothing. Free rock concerts did the job in Axelrod’s Obama campaign.

However, there’s a pretty strong caveat in the PR world: do not tell lies; tell an acceptable truth. Lies are mine fields and sooner or later, one of them will blow up. ACORN was a mine waiting to go off and it did.

The next time you read an article, try and look behind the words for the agenda it represents. What is the author trying to get you to believe? I don’t care what your politics are. I do care that you know when someone is trying to bend your mind.

Please check out my work by clicking the button marked, “The Novels,” at the top right of this page?

 (c) copyright Susannah Morgan 2012

A similar article was published in 2009….in the author’s opinion, it’s more relevant today.

Share
Posted in Blog: Just for the Hell of it. | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off

Rules of Engagement

Our President appears to be intent on supplying grist for the mills of idiots, as in: journalists whose IQ’s are in line with the mentally challenged. The recent furor over Rush Limbaugh’s vulgar comments about a 30 year old female activist, purporting to be a law student, has marginalized stories about real life and death situations. While Rush apologized, and is still being condemned, Bill Maher’s constant four-letter-word diatribes against women go unheralded by the media. The pundits excuse this blatant reporting failure, saying that Maher is on HBO, and can therefore say anything he wants. President Obama comments on Rush and ignores Maher. But then, Maher donated $1 million dollars to the Obama Public Action Committee for re-election.

In Afghanistan, the Rules of Engagement, forced upon the American Military by the Obama Administration, have cost lives. President Karzai has decreed, and the Whitehouse and higher ups in the U.S. Military have agreed; that no night raids can be conducted against the Taliban in villages, insurgents caught in the act of placing explosives are later to be released, no air support can be called in unless the troops are imminent danger and civilians are not in danger, U.S. troops cannot fire unless they are fired upon first, and only female soldiers can search female Taliban suspects.

Then there’s the rule of behavior for searches and handling religious books. First an Afghan soldier must be called in; any Quran found must be handled with clean white gloves or a white cloth and cannot be put on the ground. If a U.S. soldier is in any doubt while conducting a search, he must call a military Chaplin for advice. You can’t make this stuff up…

President Obama’s apology for the, “accidental burning of Qurans,” at a US Military base in Afghanistan is nauseating at best, and a slap in the face to our Military at worst. The Qurans burned had notes scribbled throughout them and had been used by Taliban and al Qaeda prisoners of war to pass messages to each other. The holy books had already been desecrated by the prisoners. According to some Muslim circles, they were properly destroyed.  

Instead of insisting that the military contain the protest held by a gaggle of Afghanis outside the base walls, our President seized upon the incident as a way to further his touchy-feely-appeasement agenda toward enemies of the USA. Without intervention, the protestors grew in number. I have no doubt that if Barrack Obama had lived through one tour of duty in the Middle East, his perspective would be radically different, instead of just plain radical.

Any Viet Nam veteran will tell you that President Lyndon Johnson’s micro-management at the time cost lives and eventually, the war. Combat troops faced a similar situation where they actually had to ask permission to fire at the enemy. (I got that from a Marine who did two tours.) Afghanistan is apparently going the same way. We do not hear loud outcries by our media when eleven Afghan soldiers fire on NATO forces; when the food in a mess hall is poisoned by, “loyal,” Afghans, or when a British cemetery is desecrated by Libyans.  

More important, the word, “Victory,” has apparently been deleted from the dictionaries of both the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Whitehouse.

On top of the apologies and his cow-towing to Arab kings, President Obama is now cutting pay for U.S. combat troops. As of February, according to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, soldiers who receive $225 monthly combat pay must prove they are in immediate risk of harm.

An active duty Marine posted this: “So, I just got a letter from Mypay (the way we get paid in the military,) saying that I will only reason Combat Pay while deployed for the days that I take fire or am in a hostile area. Now as an Infantry Marine, I am constantly in a combat zone…it may not always be popping off, but for them to take that away from us is bullshit.” I agree.

A person who puts their life on the line in combat doesn’t do it for a lousy $225 month; they do it out of a sense of duty. While it’s understandable that a President with no military experience could fail to empathize with the pressures of combat, or the sacrifices in blood and lives, he should not be denigrating active duty service men and women by cutting their meager pay. He should feel guilty that he hasn’t given them a raise! 

In the words  of John Bernard, who spent 26 years in the US Marine Corps and whose son was killed in combat in 2009: “…Our leadership is no longer interested in right or wrong, truth or lie, acts of desecration or accidental disposal, the survival of our nation or the perception of our strength. All that really counts is ensuring that the most despicable people and cultures of this world truly believe our heartfelt apology—for existing…” Bernard’s blog: “Let Them Fight or Bring Them Home.”

I know, Virginia, I do go on, but some things just get my goat! We need new Rules of Engagement for governing idiots. Rule #1: Any elected official who tries to run a war is automatically impeached! Rule #2: See Rule# 1. 

God Bless Our Troops!

 

Share
Posted in Blog: Just for the Hell of it. | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

Sergei, Charles, Snickers and The Big Kahuna

It’s late but too early for the witching hour. I’m playing a Rachmaninoff CD as I sip an Austalian red wine called The Big Kahuna. The wine has just enough of a raw edge to compliment the Snickers bar I’m munching.

I can smell my home made chicken soup simmering in the kitchen. I know; it’s the long hot summer in the desert, but the nights are coming with a bit of a chill now, and soup is quick and easy fuel for writing.

Charles Sutton, the ghost in my novels, seems to whisper thoughts straight into my mind. My fingers barely keep up. In the light of morning, I may trade parts of this strange reality for something less weird, but maybe I won’t.

In reviewing the first of my two books for the sake of continuity, wherein Sutton struggled with intermittent bouts of insanity, I came across this:

“Floating on the waves in the sunlight, I heard the haunting strains of a piano flowing from the open windows of a little white building on the shore. It was Palermo, Sicily. I followed the music and entered a large, white room to see a young man playing a grand piano in time to a recording.

The only furniture was a crude wooden table, a chair and the piano. There were windows on three sides, all open to the sight and smell of the sea. One brilliant mandarin red rose stood majestically in a crystal goblet on the piano. The pianist was playing with his eyes closed, completely absorbed in Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto Number 2.

I leaned against a wall, captured by that music. Rachmaninoff portrayed my life in his notes. I wept.

His concerto described the blackest pits of despair and the quiet solace of sunshine above the clouds. It galloped on horseback with exuberant young men through forests of  the tallest pines, whispered the bewitching pangs of first love, and cried out the visceral pain of love lost. It twittered with the seductive curiosity of innocence and moaned the tired desperation of old age, until finally, it played my madness in all its suffocating defeat. Then, gently and with great tenderness, it brought me back to the purest clarity of my true self. Rachmaninof  saved my soul that summer day in Palermo.” Charles Sutton, ghost, THE SORCERER’S CONFESSION.

When I’m stymied or mentally clogged with the seemingly endless barrage of useless information that is daily life, I listen to the classics, let my imagination loose and float away for a while. When I’m driving, I like country music because I don’t have to think about it. I love rock and roll, Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd, U2, Blue October, and the list goes on when I’m cleaning the house, partying, or wanting a lift.

And finally, there’s the beautiful silence of the early morning hours when even a thought is too loud. The birds are asleep and the only movement comes from the dogs and me, trudging along our little country road under the big stary sky of Southern Nevada.

Shit! The soup is burning…

1st book in the series:  THE  SORCERER’S CONFESSION: 99c   http://www.smashwords.com/view/books/62266

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0052MT2W8

2nd book in the series: THE SORCERER’S PROMISE: 99c http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/69745

www.amazon.com/dp/B0058JKS14

Share
Posted in Blog: Just for the Hell of it. | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off