Monday, February 23, 2009

St. Patrick’s Day

If you were one of those who made the last minute decision not to boycott the stiletto heels and sugar rushes of Valentine’s Day, don’t beat yourself up too bad. It’s funny how just the mere threat of abstinence, from even a complete stranger, can fly wallets open everywhere. We spent millions in wilted flowers, stale candy and cards to be tossed for the sake of the saint but forget President’s Day. They can try to assault our patriotism by forcing presidential coins and plates down our throat, but we can somehow overcome without too much guilt. We do know where our priorities lie! Now on March 17th, we will celebrate even yet another saint we know nothing about.

Saint Patrick’s Day is in honor of an Irish priest who originally only dabbled in Christianity for tax purposes. Then he became a “wrong place, wrong time” victim of an assault on his family’s estate by Irish raiders and was imprisoned. It was there, actually out of fear and sake of sanity, that he became a devout Christian and met his destiny. Upon his release he traveled about Ireland, introducing and reforming pagans into Christians and was hence ordained Saint Patrick. He died on March 17th sometime around the 16th century and the Irish have honored him by partaking in dance and drink ever since.

Now you would think that he was probably a midget-like little fellow running around almost shaming the Irish into Christianity by the symbols of leprechauns and such, but he was not. As a matter of fact, it was an American, Mr. Walt Disney, who accidentally introduced that little tidbit of symbolism. After the make of his “Darby O’Gill and the Little People” movie, Americans took on this image of the Irish, thus adding leprechauns into their St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. It actually wasn’t until mid twentieth century that the Irish decided to capitalize on their green “gem” and opened up their traditions and ceremonies for tourism of outsiders.

So, once again, American retailers have taken what is actually a very religious and sacred day and made it into a spending day. March 17th was entering Lent so the Irish couldn’t feast on meat so they danced and drank instead. We, however, do both and to excess I might add. Through their commercialism, we all dress up like grasshoppers, make horrid attempts at “top o’ the day” and eat green eggs and ham. The only praying I have seen is to the porcelain god and then, by the end of the day, we are amidst a riotous crowd of hostility because some son of a bitch won’t quit pinching us! (I have never figured that one out!)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Economic Bailout - Just How Much is a Billion Anyway?

When I was young I heard there were small handfuls of millionaires in the world. As far as I knew they all lived in Texas. I couldn’t fathom a “million” dollars back then. As I got older I heard of a few billionaires, I always figured they were kings or sultans.

Now, scared and strapped Americans are hearing talk about billions upon billions. Our government recently approved a plan, signed into law that will spend $787 billion. The newscasters and folks on Wall Street say it’s a lot of money. So just how much money is that anyway?

Most simpletons like me may have a hard time figuring out “just what is a billion?” Well, let’s try to put this in perspective.

First, go find a whole bunch of one-hundred dollar bills. Start by placing them end to end, you can use tape if you need, but keep doing it over and over until you reach the amount of the stimulus package, let’s say about $787 billion – but you can round up or down. When you’re done, you’ll find the row of hundreds is 745,000 miles long. It’s a distance to the moon, back to earth and back to the moon. It would take a jet flying at 450 mph over sixty-nine days to cover the distance.

One billion seconds ago was the year 1978. Jimmy Carter was president and Queen’s hit “We are the Champions” was number one on the billboard charts, “Garfield” made its comic debut and Roman Polanski made his getaway to Europe.

A billion teaspoons of water will fill two Olympic size pools, four and one-half Nimitz class aircraft carriers weigh one billion pounds, six states the size of Texas equal a billion acres, and, a baby born today will be nearly 32 years old in a billion seconds.

Wow, that really sounds like a lot of money! Now I’m really depressed.

Pass this on to your friends!

Julie Anne

Monday, February 9, 2009

Pay Your Taxes

Pay Your Taxes
Another Hypocrisy from Washington

If you are among the middle class American population, this is to remind you to “remember” to pay your taxes. Struggling or not, recent weeks have taught us that unless you are among the Washington Elite, forgetting is not an option.

This double standard has spiraled way out of control. I have personally witnessed fellow employees literally handcuffed and toted away from their job by the IRS. Single, caucasian mothers working to keep their kids in school, food on the table….you get the picture. Often times we have watched as families were removed from their home, their one and only home mind you, not because they forgot but because they couldn’t afford to pay their taxes. American citizens have lost their one and only vehicle, their one and only savings account, swiftly taken out from under them with absolutely no excuses allowed.

Now, Tom and Tim and countless others got caught not paying their taxes and what did they get? No cabinet appointment.?? Oh, please! It happens every year, and every year “they will now be held accountable” blah, blah, blah.

Its tragic, the crude and deceitful tactics these IRS agents use to “remind” middle class America to pay their taxes. All authorized by these same people who “forgot”! Maybe if these same elite members of the Senate and Congress really were held with the same accountability, threatened and coerced as we are, the federal deficit would be greatly reduced. Possibly, if they had to pay all of their taxes and on time, the budget wouldn’t be in such horrific condition.

We pay again America. Maybe we should all just to “forget” to pay our taxes in 2009. Do you think Washington would wake up then? You can be certain it would not be they that suffer.

Julie Anne

Senate Republicans Continue Obstructionist Behavior

After eight years of ineffective leadership, can Senate Republicans not understand that their old ideas just don’t work for America?

It’s baffling that so many of our top elected officials in Washington just don’t get it! Our global economy is tanking, banks won’t lend money for fear of being undercapitalized against existing loans, home prices are contracting, foreclosures are at an all time high, and we lost 600,000 jobs in January. And the Senate Republicans “still” think they know what’s best for our economy.

Republicans in congress spent most of last week “trashing” President Obama’s economic stimulus bill, instead of making good faith efforts to cooperate and compromise en masse. Clearly some of their criticism was well founded, and it’s likely the compromise reached amongst a select few of the moderate Senate Republicans was warranted.

Unfortunately, though, the Republican strategy is that same thinking that led us into the mess we find ourselves in today. They still want tax breaks for wealthy Americans, still believing in trickle-down economics. They engage in fear-mongering, saying our economy will totally collapse if this bill passes. It’s time for the Republicans to get on board, because the train’s leaving the station without them.

It was high time that the President, Senate Majority Leader Reid (D-NV), and Speaker Pelosi (D-CA) succinctly pointed out that the Republicans “lost” the election. American voters went to the polls demanding change, and change is what they should see. Do Republican Senators really believe the voting public is unsophisticated and undereducated on the issues?

The arrogance of the Republican minority is palpable. They’re scratching and clawing to retain some level of leadership role, all the while doing nothing but holding back the man elected to lead us out of this mess. They’re screaming “fire” in the crowded theater, and bolting the doors at the front lobby.

If at no other time in our history, shouldn’t they make every effort to be a practical part of the “solution”? Isn’t it time for them to recognize the scope and immensity of this problem, and isn’t it time for all good Americans to come together for the common interest?

You may live in a red state, or maybe blue. Either way everyone should pay close attention to their elected officials right now, how they vote at this crucial time, what they say, and how they comport themselves.

This time like no other, we need our leaders to lead.

Julie Anne

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Remembering Tim Russert - What He Meant To Viewers

It's Sunday morning, and Sunday mornings haven't been the same. No, after losing America's leading political journalist, Tim Russert, our weekend routine just isn't the same. Like many, I take serious news shows seriously, and want to be well informed about my country, the world's political landscape, our economy and threats to our well-being. Every Sunday morning I spent one hour tuning in to NBC to get a slice of news I could really use.

I miss hearing those words "Moderator of Meet the Press, Tim Russert". For most, it takes years to develop confidence and faith in a television journalist. Viewers are jaded by varying news reports that turn out to be wrong, cable news anchors attacking their competitors, and journalists hosting shows where their respective opinions "are the news".

Over the many years of watching Meet the Press, I developed a high regard for Tim. Although never having the privilege of meeting him, you can tell when a man incorporates intellect, hard work, integrity and ethics as part of his personal and professional traits. I've never seen another broadcaster who could be so probing, provocative and yet tender all in the same half-hour interview.

We were fortunate as viewers that Tim let us in just a bit on his family life. You can tell when a man loves his father, his wife and his son. He was a wonderful author, and left a rich legacy to many fathers and sons in this country. Over the airwaves Tim's viewers felt they were his friends, his extended family.

Of course the "show" must go on, and serious viewers will open their mind to Tim's replacement. They'll sit back and evaluate, they'll listen and compare. David Gregory has such a large responsibility, earning the trust of viewers throughout the country, shooting straight, being an honest broker for the truth. He has large shoes to fill.

This past November I caught myself daydreaming just a bit - what if Tim were alive, can you imagine the Presidential coverage? I think he would have been so thrilled, so proud of America! What would his sign have said? His presence in the booth would have made a magical night all the more thrilling.

Julie Anne

Why Should I Bail You Out?

So, it took 4, what 5 years, for the Ford light to come on? Oh my God, we can’t afford this house! Do you think, maybe, you thought your arrogance was going to somehow support your mortgage? You must, because that same arrogance is begging me to help you pay for it now! Keeping up with the “Joneses” isn’t so flattering after all, is it.

I/We are those same “blue collar” citizens that were so “beneath” you (not worried about the Joneses) that you are now begging to bail you out of your foreclosure. Just because we chose to forego that swimming pool or three extra bedrooms or “room with a view”, we are somehow indebted to you and your inability to do your math? Or arrogance to ignore it. I find it humorous, as I’m sure most tax paying, average income families who actually struggle to even pay those taxes, that we received the same basic mortgage contract that you did and yet somehow you were coerced into signing the only one that was deceptive. Actually, I find it offensive. However, I do begrudge the low life mortgage companies that slid the garbage into the contract as well. They, too, must live by the Joneses.

First, let me say, I feel great compassion and sympathy for those of you who were making an honest living, paying for your modest home, and legitimately lost your income. I do not hesitate a moment to ask for assistance from the government or those of us actually paying our taxes.
I am appalled by these people who blame everyone but themselves for the loss of their home that they couldn’t afford in the first place. Certainly, they must have been robbed on the subway recently of their arrogance and such. Nothing else can explain why they would “stoop so low” as to ask “us” for help! And if they can’t afford it now, what are they asking for? Shall we go ahead and just “give” it to them? Because that’s not fair to them! They didn’t get to read all of the rules! Where does this stop? Those that think they are so untouchable and above the rest of us are getting their just due. And those of us that actually “read the fine print” are having to rescue them again!

Throw Away that Checkbook Register - It's the Internet Generation

I was railing on my son the other day for not balancing his checkbook. I had handed him a bank statement that had just come in the mail, he said “Ah, just throw that away, I don’t need it”. Taken back I said “what do you mean, of course you do, how else would you know how much money you have in the account”? He said, “Haven’t you ever heard of the Internet”.

The twenty-something’s of today live on the information fast track. They get their news off of a screen, they wouldn’t dream of walking all the way to the end of the driveway in 20 degree, bone-chilling winter weather to collect a newspaper. They don’t use checks, they use plastic. They don’t go to the post office or buy stamps, opting instead for email, electronic transfers and pay-pal.

But there’s hope! Mind boggling free online financial services are available only mouse clicks away. Have three or four accounts at different banks, mutual funds or other investment accounts? No problem. All this information can be compiled in real time onto one easy-to-read screen.

And again, two of the best services are absolutely free of charge. Both and offer fantastic services. After a quick no credit card sign-up, users can immediately enter their banking or investment institution, their electronic log-in to that institution and their password for the account.

The software does the rest on very secure servers, merging all banking and investment balances and transactions into one easy-to-read screen. The services are so flexible, current balance information can even be sent to your cell phone. Got that date and don’t know if it’s steak night or burgers, just send a few digits and your balance and last several transactions will show up on your phone.

Maybe my generation isn’t ready for such leaps and bounds, perhaps we’re not trusting enough of technology to let our banking information float through the boundless pulses of light that create our internet. But I suspect our prodigies are more than ready.

Check it out and see for yourself.

Julie Anne
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