Friday, September 28, 2007

A show of support

Charlie Schutze is running for a position on the Supreme Court of Wisconsin. I support his run.

Charlie's website is here . I have known Charlie for a number of years as his law practice and Victoria's have considerable overlap. I have also occasionally done administrative work for him. I have found him to be considerate and dedicated to his family, clients, staff and community.

Daily, sole practitioner attorneys often provide the type of legal assistance to the public that larger firms tout as their pro bono work. Unlike attorneys in large firms that 'specialize' in particular fields, sole practitioners have to be experienced in the broad range of issues facing individuals, families and small businesses today. A sole practitioner might have a father seeking custody, a wife seeking a divorce, someone seeking help dealing with a DUI, long time clients getting estate planning, couples buying or selling a home and a parent accused of neglect. Experience dealing with the many facets of the legal world is exactly the type of experience we need in judges.

Charlie's opponent was appointed to the position and has created a mess with opinions based not in law but in outcome. And, after the debacle of the last election (our most recent addition to the Supreme Court is facing serious ethics charges - raised during the run-up to the election but apparently ignored - that may cost her the seat she spent over a million dollars trying to win), we need someone that is not beholden to either the trial lawyers nor the corporations that donated millions to the election of a judge.

Please consider him as we move towards election day.

And now a word about marriage

I am not prone to sharing links with people. I offer my opinion either on other sites or here. Linking is supposed to be the currency of the blogssphere and frankly, I seem to be one of the skinflints.

Most of you know that I am a conservative, especially in matters financial. Also, as many of you know, I am agnostic and in a long term lesbian relationship (14 years this Thanksgiving). This means that in some matters, I diverge from 'traditional' republican views. One of those is gay marriage. I am opposed to government getting involved in marriage. If the government is going to license the union of two adults, then discrimination is inappropriate. Marriage, as most view it, is a religious rite. I think churches and religions can make whatever rules they want about marriage and unions and the state should keep it's nose out of it. So, I have stood for civil unions, as long as everyone has a civil union and that 'contract' is the basis for government actions (property, custody, taxes....etc). We are not getting there.

The Mayor of San Diego made an announcement recently. After running against gay marriage, he was handed a resolution supporting it. Here was his press conference concerning his decision . I agree with him....please consider your own positions.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Saudi ....duplicity?

Is there any real reason to be friends with Saudi Arabia? I know all the conspiracy kooks that claim Bush is bought and paid for...but have we been bought and paid for?

I think I am going to renew a request to turn Mecca into glass...

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

But, sometimes I can get the first word...

Some pinheads in Iran have issued 10 questions for Lee Bollinger of Columbia University. I take my shot at answering them. One comment to start. Peoples in the Middle East (and many other places) expect respect and hospitality for guests. Bollinger was insulting, regardless of what he may actually have meant or said, the Middle East will consider his behavior very, very insulting. Good.

The questions:

1- Why did the US media put you under so much pressure to prevent Mr. Ahmadinejad from delivering his speech at Columbia University? And why have American TV networks been broadcasting hours of news reports insulting our president while refusing to allow him the opportunity to respond? Is this not against the principle of freedom of speech?

First, because Mr. Ahmadinejad has insulted the United States repeatedly in the past. First as a ringleader in the unlawful kidnapping of Americans and holding them hostage in 1979-1980. Then, as a leader of a country that is actively supplying material assistance to terrorists in Iraq. Such a platform as a University is well above the respect that should be granted such a despicable person. Mr. Ahmadinejad had an opportunity to speak after Mr. Bollinger, that is all that was offered. No media outlet is required to carry opposing viewpoints or be forced to grant Mr. Ahmadinejad additional broadcast time because he wants it. He can purchase the time if he so chooses. THAT is free get what you pay for.

2- Why, in 1953, did the US administration overthrow the Iran's national government under Dr Mohammad Mosaddegh and go on to support the Shah's dictatorship?

As I was quick to bring up the past, let me offer an opinion here also. In 1952 and 53, Dr. Mosaddegh was rapidly approaching the communist principles supported by and encouraged by the Soviet Union. Such principles were a direct threat to the United States and given the geographic location of Iran, a security threat to oil supplies. Such a turn towards communism was simply not allowable. The choice was not made easily, nor accomplished well, but the result speaks for itself. Communism was/is a dangerous political/economic system both for the world in general and for the people suffering under it specifically. I am not suggesting the Iranian people were better off under the Shah, but they were better off than under a communist rule, even if they stupidly choose such a rule.

3- Why did the US support the blood-thirsty dictator Saddam Hussein during the 1980-88 Iraqi-imposed war on Iran, considering his reckless use of chemical weapons against Iranian soldiers defending their land and even against his own people?

First, Iran had openly declared war on the US, so of course we were going to support your enemies. Iran had shown no particular desire to adhere to international law, no reason for us to withhold support of someone fighting you. Dictators is what we did, because the alternative was communists. Easier to control one bonehead than an entire populace of boneheads. We admit it was not a good choice, but the alternative was empire building and multiple wars...Europe tried that for 300 years with no success...we have tried a different path with more success. And as for Hussein, we have now rectified that error...why are you not happy about that?

4- Why is the US putting pressure on the government elected by the majority of Palestinians in Gaza instead of officially recognizing it? And why does it oppose Iran 's proposal to resolve the 60-year-old Palestinian issue through a general referendum?

a) the people of Gaza continue to lob missiles into Israel. The 'elected' terrorists of Gaza seek to destroy Israel. Just because an election - even a completely fair, open and honest one - is held doesn't mean we accept the consequences of such an election. Gaza decided that they want to kill Jews and destroy Israel. They held an election to prove it. So WHAT? Mob rule isn't just or fair. As long as stupid people vote for stupid things, stupid elections will be ignored by more intelligent people. b) see a.

5- Why has the US military failed to find Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden even with all its advanced equipment? How do you justify the old friendship between the Bush and Bin Laden families and their cooperation on oil deals? How can you justify the Bush administration's efforts to disrupt investigations concerning the September 11 attacks?

a). Frankly, we could find and kill OBL if we acted like ...well, Muslims...indiscriminately killing anything that moves. We try to be more selective in our killing fields. That is why OBL and other muslim mufsid hid as women, hid with women and children. They have no honor, they engage in hirabah. b) We try to hold the people actually responsible for terrorism accountable, rather than their whole family. the Bin Laden family is quite large, no need to tar and feather all of them. Further, we do believe engagement is better than war when possible. When people have a stake in commerce, they are less likely to blow it up. c) I am uncertain what efforts you speak of....maybe it is the same type of investigations into the holocaust you are so fond of?

6- Why does the US administration support the Mujahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) despite the fact that the group has officially and openly accepted the responsibility for numerous deadly bombings and massacres in Iran and Iraq? Why does the US refuse to allow Iran 's current government to act against the MKO's main base in Iraq?

Freedom fighters are always in the eyes of the beholders eh? Your support of terrorists in Iraq is ok, but our support of terrorists in Iran is not. Awww...too bad. Also, given the reporting quality of Iranian media, I would be remiss if I didn't question "massacres"?

7- Was the US invasion of Iraq based on international consensus and did international institutions support it? What was the real purpose behind the invasion which has claimed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives? Where are the weapons of mass destruction that the US claimed were being stockpiled in Iraq?

a) yes. UN support, multiple country support....I know you are not a big fan of research that actually deals with facts...but this one is pretty obvious. b) the real purpose was to provide the US military with sufficient bases and in place assets to attack you. We don't have the 'balls' to do it yet, but you are a people that keep giving! c) 177 tonnes of chemical weapons have been found. There are reports of massive movement of materials to Syria prior to our entrance into Iraq.

8- Why do America's closest allies in the Middle East come from extremely undemocratic governments with absolutist monarchical regimes?

Because the alternatives are extremely undemocratic governments with absolutist religious regimes hostile to non-muslim countries? Of course, ISRAEL is not a monarchy....nor is Turkey...or India...

9- Why did the US oppose the plan for a Middle East free of unconventional weapons in the recent session of the International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors despite the fact the move won the support of all members other than Israel?

When you outlaw the guns, only the outlaws will have guns. Right now, only Israel has unconventional weapons, though there are some states trying to get them. So the impact is not to prevent the weapons, but to disarm Israel. I know you THINK we are stupid, but...

10- Why is the US displeased with Iran's agreement with the IAEA and why does it openly oppose any progress in talks between Iran and the agency to resolve the nuclear issue under international law?

Because such agreements have worked out so well in the past! A lie is not deception if the person being lied to is deceptive, right? If your country actually lived up to the agreements it makes, we might be more open, however, your country has proved repeatedly that such agreements are worth exactly the paper they are written on.

Finally, we would like to express our readiness to invite you and other scientific delegations to our country. A trip to Iran would allow you and your colleagues to speak directly with Iranians from all walks of life including intellectuals and university scholars. You could then assess the realities of Iranian society without media censorship before making judgments about the Iranian nation and government.

Yes, but could we talk to your women and homosexuals?

I don't get the last word....

THERE ARE NO FREEDOMS WITHOUT LIMIT.....what part of that do you not understand?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Free Speeck

Does anyone agree with me that before we offer someone like the President of Iran our freedom of speech, he should be required, you know, to offer free speech at home?

Ok, maybe that is too hard. But someone from the Kos thinks she is actually turned on by the President of Iran DESPITE the fact that if she actually lived in Iran she would be killed out of hand for being lesbian...hello?

The Columbia faculty wants to hear from the President of Iran, but they don't want to actually LISTEN to him....because, you know....the President of Iran is for the genocide of Jews, the destruction of Israel, the murder (sorry the cleansing) of homosexuals and the destruction of the US....but he may just be 'posturing'.

The entire left wing of the American populace is like that kid in the insurance commercial when his dad, cleaning up the cornpuffs, asks his child (with the orange all over his face, hands and shirt) if he was responsible for the mess? No, is the response.

I am beginning to agree with the left. We brought the 9/11 hijackers down on ourselves. We invited them into this country and gave them our freedoms...none of the attendant responsibilities however and it appears we are going to continue to do so in the future. Columbia University said it would have invited Adolf Hitler had it the opportunity before Germany attacked Poland. You have to wonder how they would answer the question: if you could go back in time to just before WWII and kill Hitler, would you? It appears that many would say nope, they would join him in a lively conversation about how Jews were ruining the world and how French wine would taste with the veal.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Interest Rates

People, I don't care if our mortgage rates drop to 3%, adjustable rate mortgages are based (almost exclusively from our experience) on LIBOR, the London Interbank Rate!!

This week Month ago Year ago
1 Month LIBOR Rate 5.80 5.59 5.33
3 Month LIBOR Rate 5.70 5.53 5.39
6 Month LIBOR Rate 5.49 5.40 5.43

THIS is what is driving the ARMS....and the FED has NO control over it....

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


There is no need to question the Left's patriotism. It is apparent, it lacks any such emotion.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Global Warming Hot Spots

Read over the weekend:

"Scientists studying global warming have been reluctant to specify any particular area as contributing more to global warming. Although quick to specify general classes of emitters of greenhouse gases such as factories and vehicles, no specific location has ever been identified. In a leaked report from the U.N., this reporter has learned of three specific hot spots that apparently are causing as much as 15% of all the global warming greenhouse gases. The report suggests that a strong effort be made to limit gases from these three areas. Further reductions for the rest of the world would be minimal. They are: an area just north of Los Angeles, mid-town Manhattan and Washington DC. A fourth, minor area in Belgium, appears to be contained but a significant contributor."

Link is not working but I would suggest holding their breaths until everyone else gets on board with greenhouse gas reductions...

Friday, September 07, 2007

Gay Muslim Men

I believe it is possible, even likely, than fanatic Muslim men are gay. Consider this: they are usually unmarried, living with other Muslim men and are childless.

Also, who else needs 72 virgins for sex but men so unschooled in sex that each new partner needs to be equally unschooled?

I recall someone once commenting that terrorists are less than 10% of the Muslim population. Seems to be a coincidence but I think it bears out my theory..

Muslim jihadists are gay.


Why would anyone support ethanol:

1. It costs more to produce than gasoline
2. It takes more ethanol than gasoline for a car to travel each mile
3. It takes 1.5 gallons of gasoline to make 1 gallon of ethanol
4. It uses more water than gasoline to produce
5. It uses food resources to produce - increasing the cost of foodstuffs
6. It relies heavily on corn - corn is more water intensive and requires more fertilizers (made from petroleum products)
7. It is only cost viable with government subsidies - subsidies on the production side not capital side so an increase in volume equals and increase in subsidy costs
8. Less corn food production means higher prices for just about everything sweet

Ethanol means higher gas prices, lower fuel economies, higher food costs and higher government spending.

We have built more ethanol refineries in the last 5 years than oil refineries in the last 30.
We could replace ALL middle east oil if we opened all restricted American fields (Alaska, California and Florida coastlines)

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Housing market help

There has been a lot of talk about how to help the thousands of homeowners facing foreclosure as ARMs reset over the next 18 months. The following idea has been floating around and needs serious consideration:

When a person files bankruptcy, contracts can be modified or eliminated EXCEPT for the mortgage of the debtor's primary residence. If this portion of the law were changed to allow the interest rate to be frozen during the bankruptcy proceedings, three things could happen:

1. Only those people that need the help would get the help - means tested provisions of bankruptcy;

2. Only those people that are facing the loss of their primary residence would get help (investors would be out of luck);

3. Debtors would get assistance getting the rest of their debt situation straightened out so that when they came out of bankruptcy and the mortgage would resume it's normal rate of interest, they would be in better financial shape to handle it.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


Did you know that most adjustable rate mortgages are based on the London Interbank Lending Rate? Did you know that the rate has increased almost a full point in just the last 30 days? and almost 1.5% since the spring?

Finally, did you know that almost without exception, ARMs will reset to rate OVER 10%, in many cases as high as 12 or 13%

Inflation is 2-3%......not a bad spread on a secured loan.

What I did on my summer vacation....

Last week we had the opportunity to take our first vacation in 3 years. It was only for 8 days but at least we got away.

We booked the vacation on Thursday and spent most of Friday trying to tie up loose ends. We drove to my parents in Chicago on Friday evening, arriving around 8. My mother was nice enough to get up at 5am to drive us to the airport (10 minutes away). We checked in and worked our way through security. CJ said that the TSA people were nice but treated us like cattle! I thought they were efficient, professional and polite and I thanked them for their work. After putting on our sandals again(!), we headed for the gate. The plane boarded and took off on time. The flight was enjoyable and CJ took some great pictures.

We arrived in Southern California at 9am local and picked up our car (2006 Dodge Charger - big car, 24-26mpg). Instead of heading for the hotel (in Calabasas), we headed to Palm Springs. Lunch was pizza and cost almost $40! A drive over the mountains and Riverside County was enjoyable - especially the short rain, the only rain we would encounter the entire time there.

We headed for the hotel and arrived just after check in time. We stayed at the Good Nite Inn at the Malibu Canyon exit of the 101. We had found this hotel several years ago and found it both nice and convenient. A little more wandering and we stopped at a grocery store to pick up some supplies. One item: orange juice. Victoria's diabetes responds well to OJ if she gets a little low on sugar and we always keep some on hand. It only cost $10 for 1/2 gallon - we didn't notice until after we returned to the room.

Sunday we went to Santa Barbara. Victoria wants to consider this town as a possible retirement spot. We decided to stop in at an open house to get a feel for prices and the types of homes available. We found one in a nice, average neighborhood, far from the beach and hills. 1100 sq feet, 3 bedrooms, 1 1/2 baths. 6k sq ft lot. Nice backyard, nothing special, small patio, local plants. $1,295,000.

Yep. $1.3 million dollars. We found an older home, less "upgrades", corner lot about the same size also 3 bedrooms, 2 baths for $880,000. Realtor said the children of the owner who had just moved to a nursing home had lowered the price for a 'quick sale'.

The last house we saw was near the high school Victoria had found that had excellent student results and test scores. CJ loved the house. Nice upgrades (cabinets, floors, counters) but still only about 1200 sq feet, 6k lot and 3 bedrooms, 2 baths. $875,000.

We knew that California prices for real estate were going to be higher but...

On Saturday, we stopped in Rancho California for ice cream. I picked up the local paper and looked in the Real Estate section. I lived just 10 minutes north of there 25 years ago when Rancho California had just over 5k people, one little strip center, Winchester still had wood side walks and Temecula was a couple of thousand people, mostly ranches and Callaway Vineyards. Today there are over 180,000 people in the area. Of the 3 pages of real estate, one had a half page ad listing 20 homes. Every single home was for more than $500,000 and every single home was bank owned.

The realtor in Santa Barbara had been talking to others at the open house complaining that the media was blowing the foreclosure issue way out of proportion. We don't think so...

Monday we spent the day (mostly) at the beach in Malibu!! The water was COLD! But we had a good time. Tuesday we traveled around, including stopping at UCLA for a t-shirt for Victoria. Wednesday we did a little beach time and some more wandering in Santa Barbara. First stop was UCSB for a t-shirt and we then stopped by every home listed for sale in the Sunday home guide in Goleta (a suburb! of Santa Barbara and home to the high school). Nothing was less than $600,000.

Thursday was another beach day. We spent most of it in Laguna Nigel in south Orange County. If it were possible, the water was colder! Later, we headed south and found a great beach at Torrey Pines State Park just north of San Diego. The water was warmer, the beach was great sand and the waves were great. Too bad we didn't get there til 6:30pm. CJ got a great sunset picture.

Friday was a free day. I suggested a quick trip to the mountains and Victoria suggested a return trip to Torrey Pines. We headed for Mount Wilson and a great view of the valley. Unfortunately, on the way back down I hit a rock from a small rock slide. I didn't know it then, but it either damaged the oil filter or punched a small hole in the oil pan. We found it later in Palmdale when I stopped for gas and the oil just flowed from under the car. We found a Barnes and Noble nearby, called the rental car (Dollar) roadside service and they said they would get a replacement to us in a couple of hours. It was 1pm. 2pm. 3pm. 4pm. 5pm - hey, where is the replacement car? 20 more minutes was the reply.... 5:30pm, 6pm...finally. Dodge Magnum. Too late to finish the mountain trip, too late for the beach...we went back to the hotel disappointed. We did our laundry and packed up.

Saturday. This was check out day, but our plane was not due to leave til 12:25am on Sunday. Victoria suggested Torrey Pines, I wanted to hit Ojai (our target for Friday). I got lost and it took us 2 hours to get there instead of 1. It took us an extra 45 minutes to get out of there because I started back the wrong way! Three hours later we were in a traffic jam just in San Diego county. I got off the freeway 5 miles north of Torrey Pines and wasted 45 minutes getting there using the ocean highway....we arrived at Torrey Pines at 6:45. I got a little time in the surf, CJ got another picture of the sunset and Victoria didn't get any time in the water. It was a complete BUST. My fault. I should have just ignored the Ojai jaunt and headed for the beach.... We traveled up to the airport, dropping off the car at 10:30.

At Midway Airport in Chicago, there was free wireless such thing at Ontario in California. We boarded the plane on time, there were extra open seats to do a little stretching out on, but the plane was 30 minutes late leaving - maintenance paperwork...

We arrived in Chicago at 6am and caught a cab to my parents. We all crashed...quietly.

We put almost 1800 miles on the rental, we averaged 25 mpg and paid an average of 2.75/gal.
The airfare cost us just over $200 each, roundtrip, with all the extra fees. The hotel was about $85 a night. Not an expensive week all things considered. We relaxed. The average daytime temperature at the hotel was over 100 the entire week. The beaches were considerably cooler. Bad storms hit on Friday but missed us.

CJ took almost 150 pictures on our new 7 mega pixel camera and both of us got some nice tanning (Victoria uses lots of sunscreen and avoids a lot of exposure!)

How was your summer?