DrMyers’s Blog

June 2, 2009

Are you Sirius?? One Stock that will Shock you!

span>sirius-xm_mergerAfter the serious upset on Wall Street, questions began to be asked by many Americans! Just as his two predecessors did before him, President Hoover went to the Secretary of the Treasury Andrew W. Mellon (who would be considered a modern day Warren Buffet) to no avail. It had been speculated that “Short Selling” (the anticipation of making a profit from declining prices…expecting a drop in price. Selling the stock and buying it back later at a lower price leaves the difference as the profit). On November 23, 1929, The Economist asked: “Can a very serious Stock Exchange collapse produce a serious setback to industry when industrial production is for the most part in a healthy and balanced condition? … Experts are agreed that there must be some setback, but there is not yet sufficient evidence to prove that it will be long or that it need go to the length of producing a general industrial depression.” History later revealed that the experts were wrong, and it would only be World War II that would bring us out of the depression caused to the improprieties of those on Wall Street.


 


Just as the Economist was misguided, or shall we say wrong, in its publication almost eighty years ago, on Feb. 10th, the New York Times Reported that Sirius XM was in danger of filing for bankruptcy (implying a dire situation). Coming from such a trusted source (with its own stock dropping at the time, and the next month laying off 100 employees, cutting the salaries for the rest of the year by 5 percent) many share holders were surprised to hear that the company they had bought stock (NASDAQ: SIRI) at inviting rates, were decreasing while the company itself could boast in growth with a successful merger and an increase in subscribers. Something just was not adding up!


While the New York Times was letting go of employee’s, a press release came from the Sirius XM, with this quote from its president, “In the fourth quarter 2008, the company’s first full quarter of combined operations, SIRIUS XM made remarkable financial progress…For the first time in company history, we reached positive pro forma adjusted income from operations of $32 million, as compared with a loss of $224 million one year ago. Fourth quarter 2008 revenue of $644 million grew 16% over the year ago quarter while total cash operating expenses declined by 22%, a clear demonstration of our focus on improving profitability. Despite challenges in the overall economy and in the auto sector, we look forward to continuing to deliver on the synergies of the merger.” Can anyone remember what was happening around the last quarter of 2008? I can tell you! 1. GM, Chrysler, and Ford stood before Congress requesting a “Bail Out” 2. Bernie Madoff caused Billions of Dollars worth of damage to the pockets of investors due to his Ponzie Scheme and 3. Lehman Brothers was liquidated! What FACT would cause The New York Times, MSNBC, and other news channels to predict the demise (or bankruptcy filing) of their “Competition”, resulting in apparent stock fluctuations in the market?

With GM and Chrysler both declaring bankruptcy, common shareholders within Sirius XM Radio are asking questions, demanding answers, and not allowing other media outlets determine their fate, and why would they? With subscription rates second only to Comcast, Sirius XM appears to be a “Leader” in the industry, with no signs of letting up and neither is Liberty Media. Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei stated, “We are excited to be investing in Sirius XM. We have been impressed with the company, its operations and management team…Sirius XM’s ability to grow subscribers and revenue in a difficult financial and auto market is indicative of how listeners view this as a ‘must have’ service.”


This “Must Have” service is being defended in the new documentary “STOCK SHOCK: The Short Selling of the American Dream” http://stockshockmovie.com/ . Directed by Sandra Mohr and Narrated by Richard Keane, it appears as if they are taking pieces of the puzzle from Stock holders, industry professionals, pages of history, a glimpse of the future, and are carefully putting them all together. This documentary expounds upon how easily the public can be, and has been fooled by propaganda initiated through the NYSE, profiting only a few while causing millions of others to lose countless hours of sleep and money!


This documentary reveals the not so obvious future that many, who are in competition with this service, would rather the people overlook; Sirius XM Radio will be around as long as the United States Government is backing automobile warranties and IPhones are giving subscribers the option to listen to this service outside of the car. It is the observation of this blogger that Sirius XM will be taken much more Seriously within the upcoming months. With both Michael Moor (Untitled production and currently filming) and Oliver Stone (“Money Never Sleeps” in Pre-Production) preparing to come out with films, also dealing with the American Financial system in some aspect, “Stock Shock” appears to be a precursor to many untold truths finally revealed this year!

Perhaps a President who silently guided America through the “Roaring 20’s” could share some basic truth upon our situation:

Former US President Calvin Coolidge

Former US President Calvin Coolidge

“After all, the chief business of the American people is business. They are profoundly concerned with producing, buying, selling, investing and prospering in the world.”

May 12, 2009

He’s Just Doing His Thing!: Miss California Retains Her Crown

 

Carrie Prejean - Miss California USA

Carrie Prejean - Miss California USA

Contests typically draw controversy.  At the present moment, Al Franken and Norm Coleman are currently winding down a very closely run contest for the Minnesota Senate seat.  Some controversies can last for decades, while others can last for days.  There are even instances where the public will never be aware of the controversies surrounding some contests whose results are made public.  

 

The latest Controversy, was in part brought to an end today, but raises some very interesting questions, and could affect the progress related to the agenda of Human/Civil Rights Campaigns.  

Today in a Press Conference, Donald Trump (Owner of the Miss USA/Universe Contest) announced that regardless of the public comments made by Miss California and Miss USA Runner up, Carrie Prejean, that she would retain her crown.  This decision came not 24 hours after the administrators of the Miss California Contest “fired” Ms Prejean, due to “Violation of Contract”.

During the Miss USA Pageant, blogger Perez Hilton , who was described as “doing his thing” by Donald Trump, asked a question regarding her support of Gay Marriage.  She responded, predicated with her intent not to offend anyone,  that in “My America” marriage is defined between a man and a woman.  Today, she was encouraged to reiterate her belief, aligning herself with the current belief of the President and Secretary of State (who was also a Presidential Candidate).  Supported by Mr. Trump (who refused to answer questions regarding his own personal belief on the subject) , Ms Prejean proudly encouraged others to use her experience as inspiration when standing up for their beliefs, regardless of the negative backlash that might accompany it.

A very serious question must now be posed:  When does one’s opinion regarding the Definition of Marriage infringe on the obstruction of civil liberties?  And; will the denial of Same-Sex marriage be looked at in the same manner as we look at inter-racial marriage today (which is still looked upon negatively in certain parts of the country).

One must remember that it was a little over 40 years ago, that it was still illegal for interracial couples to be married.  Leon Brazile (who was a trial judge in the case) echoed the rhetoric of German Physician Johann Frierich Blumenbach who stated, “Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.”  The pivotal vote taken by the DC City Council to recognized such marriages, sparked the legislation that was seen before the Supreme Court, which in turn descended that, “Marriage is one of the “basic civil rights of man,” fundamental to our very existence and survival…. To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State’s citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discrimination. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.

During the Press Conference, the President’s view of marriage was touted by both Mr. Trump and Ms Prejean.  Another important question must be posed:  Will President Obama support legislation to legalize Gay Marriage?  If he does not, does this make him as bigoted as those who did not support his candidacy because of his color?

Today, the celebrated “opinion” of Miss California, has placed the Human Rights Campaign in an awkward position.  They could use this decision to press the Gay Marriage Debate to the forefront to gain definite results, or they could regroup and reanalyze their stance on the subject, which could result in the whole subject to be dropped all together.  What do you think?

Perhaps a voice from the past could help shed light on this subject:

 

 

 

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson

 

 

All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression. 

~Thomas Jefferson

Nyuk, Nyuk, Nyuk: Rush is a Big Boy, he can take it!

1963-streisand-jfk-90For 89 years, the White House Correspondents Association has been hosting a dinner at the Washington Hilton. Some of the biggest names our time have played this event, singing, dancing, and roasting the President of the United States. Jimmy Durante (and his nose) made the crowds laugh, while Bob Hope’s criticism was always taken in stride…he usually golfed with the President. Yakov Smirnoff had a unique play on words that tickled the funny bones of correspondents, while Al Franken was busy making as many friends with the core as possible (he would need their assistance in the future). None of these legendary performances were talked about in the media on Monday, it was the comments of Wanda Sykes and President Obama that took the show.

 

Wanda Sykes made comments during her big night, that some considered a step too far, about one of the most outspoken conservative radio talk show hosts in America, Rush Limbaugh.  A reference to a remark made by Limbaugh at the beginning of the President’s term, caused Sykes to weight in on what sounded like a personal opinion of Rush Limbaugh.  While in a statement Limbaugh stated that he hoped the President fails, Sykes gave her remedy in the hopes that the radio host’s kidney’s would fail.  This joke received mixed reactions, but no one from the correspondence dinner left the event in protest, or even disgust.  Sykes was congratulated for giving a “stellar” performance, and the night went on.  

When does a joke go too far??  One may ask, if the word “joke” is replaced in that question, perhaps we could get to the bottom of a lot of problems.  For instance:

When does policy go too far?

When does bigatry go too far?

When does war go too far?

When does torture go too far?

There are many questions, once again I reiterate, that must be answered long before we question the seriousness of “Jokes” told about a man who is accused weekly of offending at least 1,000 people.  For an example;

On the October 23, 2006 edition of his radio show, Limbaugh imitated on the “Ditto Cam” (the webcam for website subscribers to see him on the air) the physical symptoms of actor Michael J. Fox, who has Parkinson’s disease. He said “(Fox) is exaggerating the effects of the disease. He’s moving all around and shaking and it’s purely an act … This is really shameless of Michael J. Fox. Either he didn’t take his medication or he’s acting.”

 With the boldness to criticize the disabled, I think Rush Limbaugh does not need the press to “stand-up” for him…he’s a big boy!

While journalists today debated whether or not Wanda Sykes took her jokes to far; U.S.-born journalist Roxana Saberi was set free today after an Iranian appeal court cut her eight-year jail sentence for spying to a suspended two-year term. Saberi, a former Miss North Dakota, looked thin and tired at Sunday’s hearing. Last week, her father said she had ended a two-week hunger strike and was “very weak.” The judiciary denied she had refused food, and said she was in good health.  

Althought correspondents had the chance today to reflect on a “risque” joke they heard while enjoying some fantasic food and being surrounded by celebrities, Saberi was in prison, refusing food, and listening to the daunting noise of imprisonment…my how our priorities have fallen.

Priorities in the media vary, but regardless of how far the envelope is pushed, comedy will still be comedy.  Perhaps that great comedian could shed some light on how to view the status of this situation:

Lenny Bruce

Lenny Bruce

 

 

 

“Satire is tragedy plus time. You give it enough time, the public, the reviewers will allow you to satirize it. Which is rather ridiculous, when you think about it”       ~Lenny Bruce

 

May 11, 2009

Where do we go from here: A Night of Laughs!

corrOnce again, Washington DC received many west coast visitors.  On Saturday Night, President Obama was given the opportunity to do give remarks in front of most of Hollywood’s A-list talent and correspondents from every network.  Followed by Wanda Sykes, both have been given very high marks in the media for their performances.  While the world took a breather from the whirlwind of H1N1 and torture talk, we sat back and heard a few good one-liners, and for a second, the sheer amusement of our government was remedy enough to calm the minds of few, and strike the funny bone of many.

In America, we have used the arts to mask, cope, and address problems that plague and threaten our way of life.  The surge of the movie industry occurred as people needed an escape from the everyday reality of the depression.  Rock & Roll articulated the “new & improved” outlook of the 1950’s youth in comparison to the conservative upbringing of their parents.  During the late 60’s R & B began to articulate the displeased views of America’s youth regarding Vietnam, and that administration’s handling of the conflict.   Studio 54 flourished in the 1970’s, as the old guard once again was cast aside, and many minorities were finding their place and voice in that disco filled society.  The Rock Music of the 1980’s described Generation X, and how society misread and/or misunderstood their wants, desires, and motivations.  With rap music making a significant imprint on the 90’s, teens and young adults alike began to describe their emotions through poetry spoken in sync to different rhythms of music.  As we have entered the new millennium, youtube and itunes being blasted from iphones and ipods.  The current trend of headphones coming from pocket sized devices are seen regularly,  as today’s modern man/woman can pick and choose what trend in music, movies, and comedy they would personally like to identify themselves with.

Although, the President and many others were able to, for just a night, look at the lighter sides of the current situation, one harsh reality will be facing Americans as Monday Morning rises in the distance.  The unemployment rate rose to 8.9 percent from 8.5 percent in March, the highest in more than a quarter-century.  President Obama has recognized that this financial problem was indeed years in the making, and he is predicting that it could take months (even years) to come out of the current recession. 

Stress tests given to the 19 largest banking institutions, which the reports were less severe than some experts had been preparing for, revealed: (see link below)

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124182311010302297.html#project%3DSTRESSTESTDOCS0905%26articleTabs%3Dinteractive

 The test results showed that the 19 banks faced a total of $599 billion in losses over the next two years under the government’s worst-case, Depression-like scenario. 

These tests has also brought about deadlines for banks, in which consequences for deadlines not met have not been laid out by congress as of yet.  Congress has directed the banks as follows:  Any tested bank needing to boost its capital buffer will have until June 8 to develop a detailed capital-raising plan and until November 9 to implement that plan.  Some banks have already begun this task, with Wells Fargo raising 7.5 billion dollars in stock through a public offering. Other banks have made plans to fill their capital holes by tapping public markets. 

One must keep in mind, that the banks have not been the only dire, important factor negatively impacted by the current turn of economic affairs.  The Baby Boomer Generation is chomping at the bit for ways to keep their homes, cars, and ways of life somewhat intact during the dreadful time.  Since December 2007, the number of Americans over 55’s in work has risen more than 800,000.  Many baby-boomers have been forced to re-enter the workforce after losing their retirement and/or pension funds.  One may ask, how has age discrimination played out in the competition for work since the start of this recession, and if Affirmative action will survive the backlash of this recession.

Nonetheless, in this American Culture, we have coined the phrase, “Laughter is the Best Medicine”; but will Laughter be enough to treat the American Economy and the effects it is having on its citizens…only time will tell.

I have always learned that it’s best to learn from people who have lived through situations such as this before, and a little wisdom just may share a little light to us from our Allies across the Atlantic.

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.    

Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt

 


 

 

May 8, 2009

“Let Me Make Myself Perfectly Clear”: I’ll never tell!

 

Nancy Pelosi - Speaker of the United States House of Representatives

Nancy Pelosi - Speaker of the United States House of Representatives

The Speaker of the United States House of Representatives is a coveted position by many politicians. Landmarks around Washington and the United States have been built to honor these great politicians of old. Hailed for their abilities to turn ideas into law, to craft and implement policies, to keep their party’s in check and voting along the proper lines; this role is an important and influential role that can influence the laws that are passed, and the policies that are implemented. Third in line for the presidency if anything unfortunate happens, one must be careful of who fills this position, and parties select as carefully as possible when electing the Speaker to articulate their voices.

 

In years past, we have had some Mice (Howell Cobb, who led the secessionist movement, and is considered to be one of the founders of the Confederacy) and Titans (Joseph Cannon, who was on the first cover of Time Magazine on his last day in office) who have banged that powerful gavel. A little unknown fact about this position is that one does not have to be serving in the House of Representatives to be elected to this position (which I at times believe would be a commodity). Also, it is not often seen, that one is elected to this position within his/her first session; but this has happened before in the past, and the gentleman who filled this position partly crafted the role as Speaker into what it is known to be today. Henry Clay laid the framework to this the role as Speaker of the House as we know it. Followed by Joseph Cannon and Sam Rayburn, the Capitol now boasts a speaker who is a first for this generation, and regardless of politics or party; The First Female Speaker of the House will open doors for many others to follow through.

Nancy Pelosi, D-California, is serving as the Speaker for the 111th Congress of the United States, and as of late, her integrity (along with many others) has been in question. On April 23, Ms. Pelosi told reporters “we were not, and I repeat, were not told that waterboarding or any of these other enhanced interrogation techniques were used.” Rather, she said, she recalled being told by the CIA that the techniques “could be used, but not that they would.” With the growing public’s distaste towards the government’s use of “Water boarding”, fingers have been pointed towards, who knew what, when, and why they not spoke up against it. When asked if they were informed, some members of congress (including Speaker Pelosi) stated that they knew about it, but did no know it was in

use.http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/WSJ_JusticeMemo_090507.pdf

In a report released by the CIA, Congressional leaders were briefed in detail about techniques used in the Central Intelligence Agency’s interrogation program. This report displays the most thorough
information the CIA has on dates, locations, and names of all Members of Congress who were briefed by the CIA on enhanced interrogation techniques. According to these documents, Speaker Pelosi (who was, at that time, the highest ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee) was one of the first to know about the techniques.

One question that should be asked now, is if this “Change” and “Transparency” heralded by these representatives towards President Obama, will spill over to the Capitol Building, and into the halls of congress. Regardless of party, the American People, in my mind, are tired of the finger pointing which only covers the truth behind the misdeeds performed by those sent to represent us. When and where will this be stopped.

 
 While, in this case, Republican members of congress have taken this opportunity to pounce on the Speaker, and stated last month that congress was informed early on about these techniques; these same Republicans were unable to go further on and state that these techniques were not procedures that adequately or respectively represent the United States of America…all except one (and it wasn’t Arlen Specter).

John McCain and Barack Obama DO agree on this statement….Torture (in any form) is Wrong! As he stated in Newsweek, “Our commitment to basic humanitarian values affects–in part–the willingness of other nations to do the same. Mistreatment of enemy prisoners endangers our own troops who might someday be held captive. “Barack Obama has deemed Water boarding as an unacceptable form of interrogation (or in other words Torture). It is for the safety of our soldiers, currently engaged in battle on foreign soils, and it is to uphold our agreement with the UN, that we do not torture. Regardless of how we feel the “enemy” would deal with Americans as captives; The American Government gave its word to the United Nations and to its people that it would not engage in torture. To utilize these vile techniques, will further ruin the integrity of this country…in which faith is currently being restored day by day.

Still waiting for the Republican Party to find its voice, and waiting for the Democrats in Congress to show bi-partisanship; The American People need a CLEAR answer from both parties, and these answers should be congruent with the agreement we signed with the United Nations.

Nonetheless, we as a nation can make it through this period, and the words from a former Speaker of the House might just help us see the way:

 

Our country–whether bounded by the St. John’s and the Sabine, or however otherwise bounded or described, and be the measurements more or less;–still our country, to be cherished in all our hearts, and to be defended by all our hands. 

Robert Charles Winthrop

Robert Charles Winthrop

May 7, 2009

Bad Advice to the President: Will Lawyers Pay the Piper?

 

Velma Sanders (My Grandmother) b.1917

Velma Sanders (My Grandmother) b.1917

I can remember running and playing with friends in the country.  Growing up in a small town (Goodlow, Texas; population 312) neighbors and family were plenty, and dirt roads were vast.  Sometimes I can remember climbing down in the creek bed, and following it all the way out by my Aunt Emma’s house (1912- 2002), after which the journey home would began, and there was always a tough decision to make.  We could go straight home or we could go home…but with detours.  Now this individual decision was made with deep thought and consultations with the guys, which eventually lead to mischief, causing something memorable to happen and we would then go home.

 

 

On one occasion, I was with my cousin, and we planned to do the usual, but Aunt Emma instructed us differently.  I will never forget it; Aunt Emma was from the “old-school” and she was about 5’0 (if she was an inch), and always wore an apron.  She made it perfectly clear, that if we were to go away from the house that we wouldn’t stop by Uncle Jay’s her brother (1908-2000).   See, Uncle Jay and Aunt Carrie (Married 1935) were great cooks from the good old days!  Typically, when us kids would stop by there, we would fill up on fresh cake and a big glass of milk, which consequently would ruin us for dinner.   Well, my cousin and I set out, and as we were headed back, we decided (after much deliberation) to just pay a little visit to Uncle Jay and Aunt Carrie.  Sure enough, we ate to our hearts content, and then walked back to Aunt Emma’s.  On the way home, I told him to make sure that he didn’t mention the whole “dropping by Uncle Jay’s” and he stated with a grin, “You know I won’t say nothing!”.  Now, little did we know, Trey had left an article of clothing there at Uncle Jay’s, and Aunt Carrie thought it would be responsible to call Aunt Emma, and let her know!  Aunt Carrie told Aunt Emma, “ not to scold Trey for losing the article of clothing, that it was safe with her.”

This reminds me of the current status in which the Bush Administration and their lawyers are in.  Being aware of torture as a means of interrogation used by governments to attain information from Prisoners, the US signed an agreement with the United Nations stating that we would not engage in torture; after consulting with their lawyers, the Bush Administration used a technique called Water boarding ( which was used during WWII on our soldiers, and a technique we deemed as torture at that time) and, according to Condaleeza Rice, if the President approved…it wasn’t breaking the Law (just like Nixon).  When asked by the American Public, we were told the truth…but not the whole truth.

As reported by the Wall Street Journal, at the center of the frenzy are four detailed legal analyses, “The memos, written by Justice Department lawyers in 2002 and 2005 and recently declassified and released, read as you would expect them to. The individuals writing them were reflecting their own interpretation of the law, their own policy views, and quite possibly the policy preferences of their bosses.”  

This problem is a clear representation of what happens when one branch of government, tries to act without proper checks and balances.  Clearly, this method of interrogation was not to be decided upon by just lawyers who were advising the president, or interpreting the law (which is the job of the Supreme Court).  As a result, being that the Executive Branch took it upon their selves to act independently, our reputation was tarnished both at home and abroad.  The question which is now being asked by many, is if the lawyers who gave this advice to the administration, will be prosecuted; or will anyone else from the Bush Administration pay some sort of price if they are found to have broken the law.  

Well, to answer that question, I should finish my story from earlier. .. 

As we walked into the 6 room house, the questions began, and we played it cool.  We told her everything that we did, save the whole Uncle Jay thing.  As I began to walk out, Aunt Emma grabbed me, and said a simple phrase (after giving me a good pop)…,”I’m going to call Velma (my grandmother b.1917) and tell her what you did.”  Now I knew Granny (as I called her) did not want me going over to Uncle Jay’s, and at this point, I was simply scared to walk home.

When I stepped onto the porch, my Grandmother met me there, and she didn’t just talk to me.  She whooped my behind, and told me that “grown folk” make rules for good reasons.  And if I decided to break those rules, I’d have to “Pay the Piper”, just as I did by taking the spanking.

The UN made rules, we broke them knowingly (especially sine we hired lawyers to help us go around the agreement) and those responsible must pay the consequences.  

 

As stated by a great American General:

 

 

“A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.”

~ Dwight D Eisenhower  

May 6, 2009

Capital Hill Acknowedges Gay Mariage: Will the Country?

 

One single voice rang out over the sound system, while the DC City Council prepared to vote in the Wilson Building on Tuesday.  Stating that he had always supported homosexuals, but did not support this bill, Marian Barry was the lone voice in opposition against recognizing Gay Marriage in DC.  Voiceterous crowds outside and inside the building, spoke in favor for and against this campaign, and as the members voted, the room stood still.  With four States supporting Gay Marriage (Iowa, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut) DC will be among many state legislatures discussing the passage of Gay Marriage.  San Francisco started handing out same sex marriage certificates in 2004 and since then, campaigns have been launched for gay marriage to be recognized in states across America.

One would ask, what is the controversy?  But, before we tackle that can of beans, we should familiarize ourselves with the current definition of Homosexuality. *As defined by US Legal Definitions:

“Gays and lesbians are homosexuals who are sexually attracted to members of the same sex. Typically, gay refers to a man whose sexual orientation is to men and lesbian refers to a woman whose sexual orientation is to women. Bisexuals are sexually attracted to members of both sexes.”  During the 20th century, homosexuality was a “taboo” subject, causing some of our most notable figures to stay “closeted” or to suffer ridicule and/or discrimination because of their sexuality;  Montgomery Clift, Jack Cassidy, Barbara Jordan, Thornton Wilder, Gene Robinson, Rock Hudson, etc.

The definition of marriage is not that simple.  Law dictionaries recognize eight different styles of marriage:

Common Law Marriage

Marriage Licenses

Covenant Marriage

Open Marriage

De Facto Marriage

Personal Relationships Common Law Marriage

Marriage Counseling

Sham Marriage

The type of marriage mostly associated with religious organization is Covenant Marriage which is defined as:

“A covenant marriage is a marriage entered into by one male and one female who understand and agree that the marriage between them is a lifelong relationship. Parties to a covenant marriage have received counseling emphasizing the nature and purposes of marriage and the responsibilities thereto. Only when there has been a complete and total breach of the marital covenant commitment may the non-breaching party seek a declaration that the marriage is no longer legally recognized.” (Although this was traditionally used by religious fundamentalist, most churches recognize the individual’s right to seek a divorce.  This divorce is typically recognized in most protestant churches).

To make things even more complicated (as far as religion is concerned); according to the CIA, the following is the order of religious preferences in the United States:

§  Christian: (78.5%)

§  Protestant (51.3%)

§  Roman Catholic (23.9%)

§  Mormon (1.7%)

§  other Christian (1.6%)

§  unaffiliated (12.1%)

§  none (4%)

§  other or unspecified (2.5%)

§  Jewish (1.7%)

§  Buddhist (0.7%)

§  Muslim (0.6%

 Within each one of these religious sects, marriage customs are different, and hold different requirements for the parties involved.

Religious circles here in the US (predominately Muslim, Jewish & Christian) view gay marriage as a non-issue because their religious convictions prohibit same sex marriages to be recognized by the Church, Synagogue, or Masque; while non-religious citizens view this also as a “non-issue” stating that due to the separation of church and state, marriage is not legitimatized by a religious sect, to be recognized by the state.  Since the turn of the 21st century, tolerance to same sex marriage has increased, and if continued at the same rate, 10 states will recognize same sex marriage by 2020.  

Sexual Reorientation was a widely used practiced in the United States during the 20th century, and was designed to keep humans from practicing Homosexuality.  Although varied, treatments have included biological, behavioral, cognitive, psychodynamic, and religious modalities. In recent years, treatments intended to alter sexual orientation have involved religious and psychodynamic counseling.  In recent history, intolerant attitudes and views regarding same-sex marriage and/or homosexuality have been compared to the bigotry attitudes suffered by women in the 1910’s and African American’s in the 1960’s.  In the United States, 45 states and the District of Columbia have statutes criminalizing various types of bias-motivated violence or intimidation (the exceptions are AZGAINSC, and WY).  

Christianity, which most American’s identify with, has varying views on homosexuality and its acceptance by the church.  Most churches do not accept the act of homosexuality, and views it as a sin.  With this view, the idea of marriage between homosexual is not an accepted practice within their religious sect.  Being that this arrangement is not recognized by the sight of GOD, they also believe that it should not be recognized by the state.  Practicing homosexuality, in the eyes of the church, is a moral and mental decision made by an individual. 

My opinion:  Until Religious Leaders step up to the plate, dialog with politicians, and define the line of separation, that properly checks both church and state, this argument will continue.  Homosexuals seek to have marriage recognized by the state, so they can be afforded the same rights as heterosexual couples have (such as insurance, medical decision power, property, etc).  This judgment cannot and should not be clouded by the church’s non-congruent attitude towards marriage, divorce, and/or homosexuality.

Both those in favor have created videos:  Some more satirical, others more serious.  How long this debate will last, one may never know, but James Baldwin did have incredible insight that might just tell us the answer:

Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them. 

James Baldwin


May 3, 2009

Political Match Game = Stress in America!

 

Uncle Sam Stressed!

Uncle Sam Stressed!

Sunday morning, I woke up singing a little song under my breath.  Rolling out of bed, and into the bathroom, this song kept resonating with me, as my mood grew more inquisitive to knowing, “What’s the Name of that Song”.  With a few things I needed to get done on the computer, I sat down, and started to surf the net.  Researching, as usual, I began to bob my head, to the nameless tune, where by this time, I narrowed down I heard Frank Sinatra sing.  Reaching for the spoon as I ate my yogurt, I began to audibly attempt to put some variation of words together, to complete the mystery composition…this was becoming an irritant: What’s That Song?

Suddenly I remember, “Something…Knife”, is in it somewhere.  Whimsically laughing, how absurd, of course my mind would equate a nice sounding song to violence.  By this time, my research effort was becoming pathetic, and I finally gave in, starting a search for the song.  Unlike when I woke up, I had found myself stressed because I could not remember the stupid song (it is amazing how a refreshing song just became stupid because I could not remember its name).

When thinking of stress, I usually think of GAS (General Adaptation Syndrome) which is a human’s response to the “stressor”.  In my opinion, over the last week, the political machine in America is dealing with a tell -tell sign of stress…GAS!

The first stage of “GAS” is Alarm.  This alarm comes once the potential stressor is identified or recognized.  With the public’s rejuvenated interest in “policy”, politicians have become more forthright with “WHY” they are not the blame for some of the nation’s problems.  When questioned if his involvement with the automaker “Chrysler” this past week, and his public call for the GM Chief to step aside, was too close for comfort, President Obama defended his actions by reminding the press/public that things were not “perfect” when he came into office.  The errors of his predecessors are quickly stated when introducing solutions and new policies to the American people.  This is a classic sign of Alarm; seeing the American people’s reaction to the policies and procedures set forth by the Bush Administration, and his desire not entice the same reaction towards his own policies and procedures.

Resistance is the second stage of GAS.  If the stressor persists, it becomes necessary to attempt some means of coping with the stress. Although the body begins a sequence that attempts to adapt to the strains or demands of the environment, the body cannot keep this up indefinitely, so its resources are gradually depleted.  The Republican party this week, has shown definite signs of resistance, so much so, it lost one of its members to the other side and is poorly contesting the race in Minnesota, which is expected to go in favor of Democratic candidate Al Franken.  Rush Limbaugh and Michael Steele have been in a public struggle, competing for the megaphone to speak on behalf of the Republican Party, accusing Specter of flipping his former party the bird, to bidding him good riddance!  The Democratic Party has been using a strategy, labeling the Republican Party as the “Party of No”, painting an ever more unlikable picture of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell while a likable picture of the President is being portrayed to the people.  The effectiveness of this strategy is shown in the recent polls which reflect a high approval rating for the President, although not all that approve support his policies.   

A very visible sign of stress lies in the spirit of the American People which is Exhaustion.  As in relation to the body, when dealing with stress under exhaustion, all the body’s resources are eventually depleted and the body is unable to maintain normal function.  With the Economic system in shambles, and the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics reporting that 9% of the population as of March 2009 is unemployed, I would say that the American people are in the most dangerous position when it comes to GAS.  Being in the last stage, if extended, long term damage may become a result; and with the H1n1 present now, I think that an immediate remedy is needed to rid the US of GAS.  It will take the American People holding their representatives up for scrutiny and accountability if we plan on implementing some form of “Stress Management” that can be effective enough, to start focusing on problems facing the American People that are currently jeopardizing the health and well being of the nation.

As for the song, it finally came to me.  Frank Sinatra sang a great song called, “Mack the Knife”, which although is a fun moving song, tells the tale of many who fell victim to Macheath!  If you ask me, there have been many victims to what some call the “Political Match Game” here in America, and when trying to figure out exactly what it is that is causing more problems than solutions, it closely resembles the art of trying to remember the name of a tune, to which you know no words, but only melody.

Regardless, I am reminded of the words stated by that great American writer that sums up our current political positions:

Mark Twain - American Author

Mark Twain - American Author

“Civilization is the limitless multiplication of unnecessary necessities.” 

~Mark Twain

April 30, 2009

Day 101: Bankrupt or A New Lease on Life?

 

 

chrysler_logo1

Yesterday news stations around the country dug through their stock piles, and played everything from Obama’s inauguration speech, to seeing the Commander in Chief running alongside the new family addition.  Conservative stations rallied around many missteps made by the young administration, while more liberal stations cracked open the Champaign, and heralded the President as the “New Deal” of the 21st Century.  Report cards were given in an interactive report between news pundits and watchers.  Finally, the President gave a speech, being very honest about his opinion of the work accomplished by his administration, but far from content or satisfied.  The milestone of 100 days seemed to scoot by, only with the shadow of the flu lingering steadily over head…that was until today!

Day 101 marked a loss of profits for Exxon Mobil, which sent economic advisers into an analytical frenzy, while Wall Street took comfort in a lower jobless claim.  Then, shareholders at Chrysler were offered a deal that they had to refuse.

Shareholders were offered over a 60% loss, which the minority overwhelmingly weighed their distaste, causing Chrysler to file for bankruptcy.  For months, Chrysler maneuvered around bankruptcy, grasping with the fact that as of November 2008, their sales had fallen over 34%.  Speaking with its competitors, Chrysler was included in the “Big 3″ auto bailout, where American Taxpayer Dollars were pumped into the auto makers, with hopes that it would stimulate faith in their product, and faith in their leadership.  

The American Government stepped in even more, and from the White House, newly elected President Barack Obama, obligated the Government to stand behind the warranties given by Chrysler.  A very bold move, but a move that gave the appearance that the recent actions could work, as the long going negotiations with Fiat continued, and a deal seemed to be eminent.  With the President issuing his statement today, how does this bode for GM, Ford and the trust within the American people?  When first mentioned, approval ratings for the Auto Bailout under Former President Bush, waned at best, while Americans who had been forced into bankruptcy within their own lives, were forced to watch the government step in, and as of today, not save Chrysler from going down the same route.  Why did Chrysler not want bankruptcy, and how will this affect our already shaky economy, and our pocket books?

Maybe we should ask, “What is Bankruptcy?”  Bankruptcy is a legally declared inability or impairment of ability of an individual or organization to pay its creditors.  Plain and Simple!  You owe it, you can’t pay it, you now declare to the government that you are unable to meet your obligation.  One would ask, why on earth Chrysler would, or any other of the auto makers, be hesitant to simply tell the truth.  As the “Big Three” sat on Capitol Hill, they asked for tax payer dollars because of their inability to pay their debts, while the tax payers were struggling to pay their own debts.  The only reason, one could imagine that a company would avoid bankruptcy could be found in the following statement.  In Chapter 7, a debtor surrenders his or her non-exempt property to a bankruptcy trustee who then liquidates the property and distributes the proceeds to the debtor’s unsecured creditors. In exchange, the debtor is entitled to a discharge of some debt; however, the debtor will not be granted a discharge if he or she is guilty of certain types of inappropriate behavior(e.g. concealing records relating to financial condition).  In Chapter 11, unless appointed for cause, the debtor acts as trustee of the business.   This means, if within the bankruptcy investigation, Chrysler if found to have varying types of inappropriate behavior, the Federal Government would have been enablers, by using American Taxpayer Dollars, to keep the improprieties of auto leaders covered, by keeping their business running without an outside examination of their practices and books.

One may ask, “Who else will admit their problems were too great for the American Taxpayer to save”, and one may wonder if conservatives were right, if the American Government put taxpayers at risk by interfering within the free market economy.  What is evident is that this decision will likely set the tone for similar discussions with bondholders of General Motors Corp — which is now on the clock to restructure its operations by the end of May, which taxpayers also have a vested interest in.

 

President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama

 

Today, President Obama ensured that he is confident that his auto taskforce will be able to work with GM in restructuring their operations and making it a more viable company.   The President also reassured America that he agreed with Chrysler’s decision to file for bankruptcy, and that it would reemerge stronger because of it.  

It is unmistakable that the number 100 can mark monumental success in grade and age, but when dealing with the tax payer dollars and a shaky free market society, Barack Obama just took a course in “Challenges in Negations 101″ taught by the American People.  Perhaps Alexander Hamilton said it best:

In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men the great difficulty lies in this: You must first enable the government to control the governed, and in the next place, oblige it to control itself. 
~Alexander Hamilton


November 21, 2008

Guys & Dolls or Freddie & Fannie: A Captive Audience

Last night at the Palace Theatre, located in Corsicana, Texas, I decided to treat myself to a show.  Remembering that this was “Community Theatre”, I paid my cash for a balcony seat, and got ready to enjoy the production.  For anyone who’s ever seen “Community Theatre” knows that there is no such thing as a bad show, you can have a great time no matter what.  Although ready for the fumbled lines, misinterpreted script, or green actor, last night was a pleasantly different experience.  I truly enjoyed the show, just as the people sitting around me.   Last night, the players at the palace theatre had a good show.  What is a good show?  A good show is the ability a theatre company has in keeping an audience engaged, and keeping an audience captivated by what appears spontaneous action on stage. 

I believe that it would be safe to say that since September 2008, Freddie Mac & Fannie Mae’s opening act to “Bail Out Blues” has kept the American People both captive and engaged.  We’ve seen the American People oohhed and awwed by, debates halted and the first draft failing, with special appearances by Ford, GM, and Chrysler.  Secretary Paulson has played a relatively good lead in this production while I believe the most entertaining of them all are the home grown actors:  Congress!  Maxine Waters put her best foot forward, and Barney Frank has been nominated from my understanding as Best Supporting Actor in a financial crises.

The problem is, the American People, numb from the spirited campaigns, do watch CNN and Fox News with anticipation as if it were a production.  Sadly, Capital Hill is producing.  With meeting after meeting, and no relief to be in sight, the American People I am sure would rather enjoy an ending at this point, rather or not if it is happy or sad.  

Yesterday, some good news did come from the original players.  Mortgage finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are suspending foreclosures for about 16,000 households during the holiday season.  In case you were not aware of what these companies actually do, they buy mortgages on the secondary market, pool them, and sell them as mortgage backed-securities to investors on the open market.  As of September 7th, Both players were seized by the American Government, and with their CEO’s tossed out, the institutions are now run by the Government.  

The fall of these companies, aided Washington in its ability to tell the difference between Main Street and Wall Street.  Everyone on Main Street was screaming for a “Bail Out” long before Wall Street took notice.  Now understanding the relationship between the two, lawmakers are acting as if they are fighting for “Main Street” again, when they should have been fighting for Main Street in the first place.  

Main Street, as we’ve learned, not only effects Wall Street.   Japan’s stock market plunged 4 percent Tuesday, its biggest one-day loss in two years, and even with precautions, the uncertainty of “Main Street”, shows the uncertainty of the stability in markets all over the globe.  

Who knows, this production could be only a shortlived hit, and one of those award winning shows no one ever remembers;  but at this time, we are not sure if the Inauguration will be our lead into intermission, or the closing of a very “Mind & Money” stimulating all star production.

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