Thursday, September 30, 2010

Bailout for Homeowners -- Is It Working Where You Live?

Living in one of the states hardest hit by the recession, I've seen first hand how many people are facing the ugly reality of losing their homes. It's awful to see friends lose their homes because of a job loss or cutbacks at work. Still, I have to wonder if all of these mediation and bailout programs are working. Nevada has received nearly $200 million from the feds for various programs but from what I can tell it hasn't made much difference. The dead lawns persist and many homeowners are still underwater in their mortgages. Our house is worth at least $50,000 less than we paid for it six years ago and we bought at the beginning of the boom not at the peak. I would love to walk away from it but that's not just the right thing to do. So we continue to make the payments and hope that one day the value returns. Our house has essentially become a forced retirement savings account since we probably won't be able to sell it until we're 60.

I was in favor of the bailout for the banks as I thought that letting them fail would have devastating consequences for all of us. And I'm for bailing out homeowners to keep them from losing their homes. However, I am not for bailing out those who gambled on the market as investors or who kept using their home equity as a credit card. If you gamble, sometimes you lose. And then you pay. Anyone who's ever been to a casino or the track knows what I mean.

The sad reality is that whether or not these bailout programs are working there is little choice but to keep going. Just like the banks, the alternative is too frightening. What we're doing may not be working but don't you think that failing to do anything would be even worse?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

I Approve This Message...

Election Day is 37 days away and honestly, it can't come soon enough. I'm not anxious because I want to know whether Harry Reid will still be Majority Leader of the Senate or who will be the next governor of California or if Lisa Murkowski can win as a write-in candidate. I care about those races but that's not my motivation. Nope, my desire is purely selfish. I'm counting down to Election Day so that I can get my TV back. I am sick of campaign ads. When my 3yo is telling me she loves Harry Reid because he approved this message or is reciting Sharron Angle's position on Social Security, I know the flood has turned into a tidal wave. I swear, she doesn't get to watch that much TV!

As a former campaign staffer and sometime campaign consultant, I cannot tune out the ads. It's like a car wreck -- I have to watch. But I am tired of all the noise and frankly, all the distortions. No one is immune and the flurry of accusations is flying so quickly that it's impossible for the ad watch folks to keep up. You really have to pay close attention to the legitimate political coverage to be able to decipher fact from fiction. And while you would be hard pressed to find a voter who says they listen to attack ads, there's no denying they work. And that disconnect has always puzzled me. Everyone says they want to know what candidates are about and vote on issues but campaigns are won based on name recognition and driving your opponent's negative perception numbers up.

Between the two-year slugfest that was the 2008 presidential campaign and the 2010 campaigns that started in 2009, it feels like we now live in a never ending election cycle. And it's exhausting listening to this much negativity. I'm ready for it to end, if only for a few weeks until we start chattering about 2012. Still I can't help but wonder what it would take to change the dialogue. If we don't like listening to attacks, then why are they so effective?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

LiLo Needs To Learn The Hard Way

Watching my 3-year-old totter on the edge of the deck in our backyard I had given up. My repeated attempts to warn her that walking on the edge would inevitably result in a fall had fallen on deaf ears. Some lessons she will just have to learn the hard way without me there to buffer the blows.

Lindsay Lohan is a lot like my daughter in that apparently she is going to have to learn the hard way that her hard partying ways are trouble. The actress reportedly has failed two mandatory drug tests and according to this story is due back in court this week. Lohan's planned return to the big screen could be in jeopardy if the judge won't let her travel. Under the terms of her sentence she could end up back in jail. I say it's time to throw the book at her. Maybe a real stint in jail is what it's going to take for her to get it. She may be special but when it comes to the law, she's run out of chances for special treatment. It worked for Robert Downey Jr. And maybe it's what it will take for Lohan to finally sober up. Addiction is a disease but if the sick don't stick with treatment they must suffer the consequences. Remember all this started with a 2007 incident of driving under the influence -- it's time the law protect the rest of us from her careless behavior.

LiLo says she's ready to face the consequences -- more jail or more rehab? What do you think?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Trying To Keep Up!

So when I started this blog I thought I'd just write some interesting stuff, post it, and that would be that. What a naive new blogger I was. There is so much to learn! I'm finding blogging to be a whole new world and a whole new community of friends and connections. I've met other like-minded ladies via TwitterMoms, found a bunch of bloggy friends via blog hops, and discovered a whole new community via Networked Blogs. I'm Twittering, FB'ing and hopping like I never thought possible. And I'm pretty sure I'm making some mistakes along the way. So followers, friends, connections and raters, please bear with this newbie as I try to figure it all out. I will do my best to follow back, retweet and hop as instructed - but if I get it wrong, please let me know and I'll do my best to make it right. And please, any wisdom or advice from my sage blogging friends is so much appreciated!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Would You Ever Try To Ban A Book?

In 2010, it's hard to believe that anything is off limits. When porn is readily accessible to anyone with a cable or Internet hookup, I was rather surprised to learn that people are still trying to ban books from libraries. That seems so last century. But between 2001 and 2009, there were more than 4,000 challenges to books in the US and more than 450 just in 2009. Not a staggering number but more than I would have expected. Most challenges were due to sexually explicit material and offensive language though being anti-family or advocating the wrong religious viewpoint are other often cited problems. Check out all the statistics and the list of frequently targeted books at the American Library Association's website at

But what I found most interesting is that most of the challenges were brought forward by parents trying to remove books from school libraries. As the parent of a small child, I'm sympathetic. I wish I could protect my daughter from everything I see and hear that I think is inappropriate for her or simply offensive. But it's just not possible and frankly, it won't serve her well in the future. How else is she going to define her own boundaries of taste and acceptability if she isn't occasionally exposed to something that goes beyond those boundaries? How is she going to understand how lucky she is to live in a free society if she can't read about the concept of "Big Brother" in 1984? How will she know how much our world has (or hasn't) changed its attitudes about race if she can't read To Kill a Mockingbird? How can I teach her tolerance and acceptance if she is only exposed to that which is familiar? Classics are often defined by the simple fact that they challenge us to confront that which makes us uncomfortable.

Is it difficult? Absolutely. I dread the days I know are coming when I have to explain things like prejudice and bigotry. I've already had to begin what will certainly be an ongoing conversation about her body and sexuality, and it totally makes me uncomfortable but I do it anyway. Hiding her from these difficult realities would be shirking my duties as her parent and taking the easy way out of the tough job of being a mom. There are certainly questions of what is age appropriate but that's up to me to define as the parent of my child and I wouldn't dream of forcing another to follow my standard.

There is a lot in this world that my daughter will encounter that I would prefer to shield her from. But I think it's wiser to arm her with the critical thinking skills and the moral code to evaluate what she confronts rather than teach her to hide from it. It's the price we pay to live in a free society and I'm absolutely willing to pay it. What about you?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Bristol and Levi -- Will Their 15 Minutes Ever End?

Fear not! This is not a political rant about Sarah Palin. I have many opinions on the lipsticked bulldog from Alaska but I'll save those for another day. No, today I want to take aim at her coattails so skillfully ridden by daughter Bristol and her on-again, off-again boyfriend Levi.

Sarah's eldest daughter had my sympathy when her pregnancy became the fodder for 24 hour news coverage. How awkward to not only have your whole school but the entire country watching and judging you. I too winced when David Letterman went for laughs at her expense. It seemed both unfair and inappropriate. And I agreed when Sarah demanded her daughter's privacy be respected. But then Bristol went on Oprah and apparently got a taste for the spotlight. Next she was doing abstinence ads. Then she was on GMA talking about how hard it was to be a single mom. Then she was announcing her reunion with Levi via a tabloid mag. Then she was wishing her mom would come to the wedding. Then she was announcing her breakup with Levi via a tabloid mag. Now she's going to be on DWTS. Apparently being a teen mom and daughter of a former politician now qualifies as "stardom".

Levi Johnston is the modern day Kato Kaelin. Famous by association is enough to help him turn his 15 minutes into 15 months and counting. When his relationship with Bristol didn't work out the first time, he quickly learned how to make a living bashing her parents. He became a fixture on Access Hollywood and The Insider hawking whatever tidbit of gossip about the Palin's that would get him air time. When that didn't get attention, he got naked for Playgirl and hit the red carpet with Kathy Griffin. Then he got back with Bristol only to get dumped again when she found out he might have gotten another girl pregnant. His latest stunt -- a reality show based on him running for mayor of Wasilla, a job Sarah Palin once held. This guy will do anything to avoid getting a real job and apparently there are plenty of TV producers and publicists willing to help him out.

I wish the tabloids and reality TV show producers would go on a Bristol and Levi fast but it seems unlikely as they are obviously good for business. Not even Sarah can unring the bell. It makes me long for the tabloid couple of yore, Britney Spears and Kevin Federline. At least her pre-Federline successes made the headlines before her demise captivated us. All we've ever watched of Bristol and Levi is their demise. When you start off at the bottom there's really no comeback to root for.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Blog Hops and Such

So I'm discovering there is so much to learn about blogging -- and here I was such a simpleton to think that I just post my ramblings online and by magic I'd have a bazillion followers. Ha! So I'm trying to figure out this blog hopping thing. From what I can tell, it's like an online party where a bunch of blogs are in one place and you can shop for the ones you like. that's something I understand! So I'm giving it a shot today with "Follow My Blog Friday" -- see the widget on the right? I've found a bunch of blogs to follow and am hoping to get some followers too. Crossing my fingers...

I really wish there was "Blogging for Dummies" somewhere as I could really use it. Who knows, maybe there is and I just haven't found it yet.

I'm taking advice if anyone is handing it out!

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A New Chapter Begins...

It's been almost three years since I added the title of Mommy to my resume. And though I knew it would change my life I could never have anticipated the wondrous, chaotic, emotional, challenging, exhausting and beautiful journey it has been. My angel has gone from helpless infant to chubby baby to troublesome toddler to inquisitive preschooler. Yep, I said it -- preschooler. She takes that big step next week when she starts preschool. Let's not get it twisted, she's only going to be in school three-and-a-half hours a day two days a week. Not quite like we're sending her off to boarding school or anything, but still a big deal. It's not like this will be her first social experience. We've done baby boot camp, music class, playgroup and such. But it's always been her and I -- together. A package deal. Now she's stepping out on her own and I couldn't be more thrilled. Or more nervous. Or more emotional. I know she is ready and I know it will be wonderful for her (and for me!) to venture out on her own even if it is only for a few hours a week. It's the beginning of her finding her path and learning how to navigate it without me buffering her every move.

The good news is it's only preschool! We still have so many other firsts ahead of us. First sleepover. First best friend -- first fight with best friend. First win -- first loss. First heartbreak. And firsts I can't begin to imagine or anticipate. But I look forward to them. The good and the bad, the easy and the hard, the joy and the pain. The story of her life is just beginning. And I can't wait to see what the next chapter holds -- for both of us. So far, it's been a fantastic read.