Friday, October 3, 2008
Another example of how religion is, as Lewis Black might say, the root of all evil!
Read all about it here.
I watched the debate on Thursday night and Sarah Palin did not crash and burn like many thought she would. The expectations were so low that she'd have had to come out and take a shit on stage to do worse than the expectations.
That said, she didn't answer many of the questions posed to her... and to me, at least, that means she lost. Of course, Biden didn't set the stage on fire, but he did reasonably try to answer the questions that were asked of him.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
But, wait-a-minute, didn't he say he was an astronaut in the past?
The bettors think Obama will sweep all the states John Kerry won in 2004, plus the swing states of Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada. The only swing state bettors think McCain will take is Missouri.
If this map ends up being the final one, Obama wins 339 electoral votes to McCain's 200.
I sure hope they're correct!
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Regrettably, we're all focused on the mortgage holder that's stuck or behind, or whatever.
That's NOT what this is about. They are the instruments that brought this into existence, and lenders, banks, etc, may have caused it, but that's not the point.
Here's a close to home example. Liz just bought that house for $290K. Mike bought a Cape about 9 years ago for $120. That's 2.5 times price increase in under 10 years. Liz's house has about $50K worth of improvements, so that, in theory brings it down to about $240. Just 2x Mike's house...
The mortgage on the house was $313K. There were ZERO payments for 12 months prior to the sale. The interest rate was 10.45%. So, just straight interest, there was $33K in lost interest. So, the "true" debt was about $350K. The mortgage holder got $265 after all expense of the sale were deducted. So, the mortgage holder lost $85K.
Likely, the mortgage holder took that mortgage and bundled with a bunch of others and sold them to a bank. That bank was to use the future interest to pay interest on deposits, etc.
Because the home owner defaulted, the bank's customers were not able to get paid... So the bank had to take the owed interest out of reserves.... Multiply that by some quantity, and then the bank goes under.... etc. Multiply that by whatever and you have the dimensions of the problem.
If the bank needs money, then it cannot lend. That means that farmers cannot get advance on crops, business cannot buy equipment on credit against further sales, and all that....
"We" are all what this is about. The businesses that we use, services that we get, and all that depend very much on credit from large banks. Because of this mess, the whole flow of money could come close to stopping.
So, what we, regrettably need to keep focused on is that if this doesn't get fixed we all suffer.
Monday, September 29, 2008
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Last Wednesday, September 24th, Americans United sent out a press release that read as follows: Houses of worship that flagrantly violate federal tax law by taking part in a Religious Right-led effort to politicize America’s pulpits this Sunday will be promptly reported to the Internal Revenue Service, says Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), a Religious Right legal group based in Arizona, is urging pastors to endorse or oppose candidates from the pulpit on Sept. 28, even though IRS regulations forbid tax-exempt groups from intervening in political campaigns. Reportedly, about 30 churches will participate.
“Taking part in this reckless stunt is a one-way ticket to loss of tax exemption,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “We’ll be watching, and pastors who violate the law can expect their churches to be reported to the IRS the first thing Monday morning.”
Since 1996, Americans United has sponsored Project Fair Play, an effort designed to educate religious leaders about the requirements of federal tax law. AU has filed complaints to the IRS about 85 houses of worship and religious non-profits. One church lost its tax exemption, some have been audited and others have received IRS warnings.
Lynn noted that tax exemption is a privilege and it comes with certain limitations.
“Houses of worship exist to enrich people's spiritual lives, not act like political machines that issue marching orders to voters,” Lynn said. “They are tax-exempt because their work is religious and charitable, not political.”
Earlier this month, prominent Washington tax attorneys and former IRS officials Marcus Owens, Mort Caplin and Cono Namorato told the IRS that the ADF’s scheme is a “mass violation of federal tax law” and clearly violates the ethics rules governing practice before the IRS. They called for an IRS investigation and appropriate penalties for the ADF.
Meanwhile, Americans United is circulating a letter to churches advising religious leaders on the rules governing tax-exempt entities and politics. Churches should not participate in the ADF’s “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” scheme if they want to hold on to their tax exemption.
Many clergy have opposed the ADF’s plan for this Sunday.
Archbishop John C. Favalora of Miami released a statement indicating that none of his Catholic churches or priests will participate in the initiative.
The Rev. Eric Williams of North Congregational United Church of Christ in Columbus, Ohio, urged clergy all over America to give sermons in support of church-state separation and against partisan politics in houses of worship.
Americans United’s Web site, http://www.projectfairplay.org/, educates pastors, laypeople and others about the requirements of federal tax law. It also serves as a place to report tax law violations to Americans United.
Added Lynn, “Pastors who are thinking of joining the ADF’s gambit still have time to change their minds and I urge them to do so.”