Monthly Archives: September 2008

Protected: how the economy affects me

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you have got to be kidding me

As I understand it, one of the big underlying causes of all this turmoil is that the mortgage lending operations started issuing mortgages that were just wrong. At best, they were bad judgement; at worst, they were predatory. After all, millions of mortgages were issued based on adjustable rates, which were then refinanced at higher interest than the borrower could afford. Or mortgages were issued with interest only payments, leading up to balloon payments. And the whole thing was based on an assumption of increasing value in the housing market.

Secretary Paulson says now that the bailout doesn’t need any further provisions on keeping families in homes, because giving the banks the capital and unfreezing credit would allow the mortgages to be refinanced, keeping people in their homes?

So why doesn’t the $700 billion bailout program include accountability that says the lending institutions who issued the mortgages have to reissue and refinance them at reasonable rates? Why can’t there be some sort of caveat placed on this bailout that forces banks to work with people to avoid foreclosures? Couldn’t the failing mortgages be re-evaluated and refinanced based on current home values and interest rates, not the previously inflated values and the adjustable, increased interest rates in ARM’s? If the mortgage lenders are going to lose money, wouldn’t they lose MORE money by foreclosing and having to re-sell the house at current values anyways? Would it increase the value of these securities at ALL to force the securities holders to push the lenders to keep people in their homes?

And in any case, WHO is being held accountable for being allowed to issue the mortgages that now make up the “toxic debt” that the Fed now wants to buy up on my behalf?

why yes, my baby IS adorable!

Series of photos of Ben, on walks this weekend, behind the cut. Here’s a teaser:

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adventures from Venice to Pasadena

Yesterday, I had to go to the eye doctor for a checkup. A year ago, this just meant leaving work early. Now, it meant getting me AND Ben out the door, and finding someone to mind him while I was gone. Which is why I called my friend Zee, who absolutely adores Ben, works from home, and lives in Venice, just south of my eye doc in Santa Monica. Of course, I was running late, because it took HALF A FREAKING HOUR TO GET THE TWO MILES DOWN VERMONT TO THE FREEWAY, so I had enough time to shove Ben, in his car seat carrier, at Zee, hand her the diaper bag with his supplies, and get to the eye doc ten minutes late.

Ben’s usually great with people who aren’t me or Paul. On Day One he was being passed around by my friends who visited me in the hospital. He’s totally used to what I refer to as his “fan club”: all my female friends who just adore the little guy. And he’s a total ham as a result, smiling and chortling at whoever’s in sight. So I was confident he’d be fine with Zee. Until I got a phone call halfway through my exam, and couldn’t even hear Zee over the screaming of my son in the background. But we figured out it was gas, and I told her what to do (“sssshhhh” in his ear, loudly, so he relaxes enough to burp), and then I went back in to finish the exam. (The doctor’s office manager was not thrilled with me, between being late and the mid-appointment break. Oh well. Welcome to new parenthood!)

I texted Zee as I was leaving the doctor, to check in. She texted back that everything was fine. Then, as I was driving back over the Venice border, I called – and again, all I could hear was Ben’s unhappy screaming. (It wasn’t the hungry wail, or the gas squeal) I drove as safely and quickly as I could to find a parking spot, and hurried up to see how badly my son was tormenting poor Auntie Zee.

The problem now is that I react to Ben’s emotions. It’s like that episode of Futurama where Bender gets an emotion chip and is hooked up to Leela’s feelings. When Ben is in pain or upset, I get upset. When he whangs his head into something, or gets his shots, or just gets hurt by something, he lets out these short shrieks of pain as a result and I start crying. So when I heard him wailing in the background, I had to fight myself not to speed south to get him. Because I wasn’t sure how much he missed me, but I was pretty sure that by holding him, I would make him feel better.

But when I got there, he was fine. He’d just been really gassy, and Zee had walked him around until most of it came out. He was also overtired and WAY overstimulated by being someplace new. So I put him in his sling, covered him up so it was dark, and we started walking to dinner. I figured he’d go to sleep (which he did) and stay asleep in the sling in my lap while we ate. He’s done that before, and I’ve actually been able to go out to eat with friends as a result. But this was not a good day for baby Ben, because as soon as we sat down at the sushi place, and got our hot sake, he started squirming. Then whimpering. Then chuntering. THEN crying. And the whole time, he was trying to gum through my shirt to my boob. I spent the rest of the meal either cradling a sling-wrapped bundle and singing “Half a World Away” under my breath, into his ear, or actually breast feeding him in the restaurant, hidden behind the sling. Not a good evening out for Ben.

We walked back to my car (while Ben napped again in the sling), and then I suggested visiting my old apartment. My old roomate Andrew still lives there – or, as I refer to him to Ben, “Uncle Gorilla”. Andrew has a gorilla suit, which he put on for a short time at my wedding reception, which was hilarious. Now, he has a beard, which I keep insisting is his gorilla nature coming out. And he, in my old apartment, is less than two blocks now from Zee’s new place. So we stopped by and chatted for a few minutes, while Ben sat calmly on Zee’s lap and looked around. “Look baby,” I said, “this is where Mommy used to live before Daddy dragged her off the West Side and away from the beach and all her friends.” Sometimes, I miss living on the West Side, and visiting my old neighborhood last night, as well as my old friends, it was definitely one of those times.

Today, I took Ben to Gymboree in South Pasadena. The entire experience is written up in my Yelp review. It’s all about my concern with how antiseptic the place in, especially since the instructor today HAD A COLD and was still around very small babies. I’m so usually NOT concerned with germs that I forget to ask people to wash their hands before touching Ben, so for a place to make me actually worry about cleanliness is pretty bad.

Then we went to Whole Foods in Pasadena. But before we could go in, I had to handle Hungry, Cranky Baby. Most of the time, my baby is great. Except when he’s hungry. THEN we have problems. Ben wanted his lunch, and he wanted it NOW, which is why he yelled for the entire ten minute drive up from South Pasadena. I opened the back door of my microvan, sat down in the cargo area with him, and fed him both the bottles I’d brought with me: the milk I pumped before leaving, and then another couple ounces of formula. I have to supplement with formula these days because he eats SO FREAKING MUCH (just over five ounces in a feeding). Then I had Calm, Sleepy Baby instead, so I was able to shove him into his baby sling, and go about my shopping.

about grocery shopping

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  • 22:10 at a Vaud and the Villeins show at Cafe Fais Do Do, and its like being in mid century New Orleans #

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a few personal anecdotes against McCain’s health care proposal

This is not about universal health care. I, and my family, would probably be worse off under universal healthcare, because we have a lot of coverage from our employers, which gets us really good medical care. I went to Cedars Sinai for Ben’s birth, after all – I got immediate, quality attention and a private room. I might not have had the positive experience I did under universal healthcare, with a more crowded hospital.

This is about the “consumer based healthcare” that McCain proposes, which can be detailed at his website:

John McCain Will Reform The Tax Code To Offer More Choices Beyond Employer-Based Health Insurance Coverage.
While still having the option of employer-based coverage, every family will receive a direct refundable tax credit – effectively cash – of $2,500 for individuals and $5,000 for families to offset the cost of insurance. Families will be able to choose the insurance provider that suits them best and the money would be sent directly to the insurance provider. Those obtaining innovative insurance that costs less than the credit can deposit the remainder in expanded Health Savings Accounts.

What McCain proposes is taking away the tax credits that go to employers that provide health insurance options, and giving it to the people to choose their OWN heath insurance coverage. But NOWHERE does it say that he will hold the insurance companies accountable to fair practices if this happens. And, without the clout of an entire company’s worth of business, it may leave millions of Americans open to a serious vulnerability at the hands of the insurance companies.

From Obama’s proposal – which is very similar, but includes accountability:

National Health Insurance Exchange:
The Obama plan will create a National Health Insurance Exchange to help individuals who wish to purchase a private insurance plan. The Exchange will act as a watchdog group and help reform the private insurance market by creating rules and standards for participating insurance plans to ensure fairness and to make individual coverage more affordable and accessible. Insurers would have to issue every applicant a policy, and charge fair and stable premiums that will not depend upon health status. The Exchange will require that all the plans offered are at least as generous as the new public plan and have the same standards for quality and efficiency. The Exchange would evaluate plans and make the differences among the plans, including cost of services, public.

THAT is what we need in America. We need a system that stops the health insurance industry from fucking everyone over. Not universal healthcare – just accountability for the existing system. Let me share with you a couple anecdotes that explain why I feel so strongly about this:

why the health insurance corporations cannot be trusted and need to be held accountable

and now i remember where i’ve heard McCain’s speech before…

I think McCain lifted some lines from this episode of the Simpsons:

LISA: Mr. Burns, your campaign seems to have the momentum of a runaway freight train. Why are you so popular?

BURNS: Lisa, there’s no single answer. Some voters respond to my integrity, others are more impressed with my incorruptibility. Still others buy my determination to lower taxes. And the bureaucrats in the state capital can put that in their pipes and smoke it!