Friday, July 24, 2009

Ho-ooold Meee Nowwww - I really want to tell you I'm Sorry...

Ok, boys - enough with the testosterone fest...act like grown-ups.

Charges Dropped, but Henry Louis Gates Seeks Apology

Officer at eye of storm says he won't apologize

Obama regrets remarks in racially charged case
“He did not say he had apologized to Crowley, but his words were regretful.”

Here is some help since all three of you were absent from kindergarten the day they taught the lesson on saying sorry when you mess up… – “If you need to say "I'm sorry" but aren't sure how to start, then you've come to the right site!”

Officer Crowley - Just say you are sorry for putting an older man in a cane in cuffs when a stern lecture would have sufficed.

Professor Gates - Just say sorry for not respecting a simple police order and over-reacting to the people who were just doing their best trying to protect your property.

Mr. President - Please just say sorry for calling the police stupid.

If women were in charge this would've never happened.

First - A woman wouldn't have tried to break in - she would have whipped out her cell phone and called a locksmith. Then she would have gone over to a neighbors and they would have just hung out on the other lady's porch drinking a glass of wine while waiting for the locksmith.

Second - A female cop would just have let the alleged-burglar-turned-homeowner have their tantrum and let it pass since she is used to dealing with the same behavior from her two-year old.

Third - Even a female President wouldn't have spent so much time gabbing on the phone as President Obama. He is really racking up the minutes to the Cub's pitcher, the Professor and the Cop. Is he gonna start calling America's Got Talent winners too?

Can one headline that isn't a matter of domestic stability or national security pass without an official White House comment or phone call from the President? Can a month pass without a prime time news conference?

Everything isn't a crisis and every issue doesn't warrant a Presidential response.

The health care system is not going to collapse if our elected representatives head off to Martha's Vineyard for August Recess without passing a bill. Our system was built on a slow deliberative process with checks and balances and it's generally worked for 230+ years.

Remember the last President who ruled like everything was a crisis? We ended up with the Patriot Act, 2 wars and Guantanamo Bay.

“Obama is a perfect extension of Bush's worst trait as president. In the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the Bush administration pushed through the Patriot Act, a massive, transformative piece of legislation that plainly went unread even as Congress overwhelmingly voted aye. Bush whipped up an atmosphere of crisis every time he sensed a restive Congress or a dissatisfied electorate. And at the end of his tenure, he rammed through the TARP bailout at warp speed, arguing that the United States yet again faced catastrophe at the hands of an existential threat…Bush learned the hard way that running government as a perpetual crisis machine leads to bad policy and public fatigue. Obama's insistence on taking advantage of a crisis to push through every item on the progressive checklist right now is threatening to complete that cycle within his first year.” Matt Welch & Nick Gillespie

C’mon Mr. President - rise above - before everyone tunes you out. Or maybe you were also absent from kindergarten the day they read the story about Chicken Little and the sky falling?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Citizen's Letter Writing Campaign to Congress

I don’t care if you believe in the concept of government health care or not – the real point of this letter writing campaign is to slow down the process and make sure we are getting the best solution - not the fastest or most politically motivated one.

Average citizens like us are the ones who will pay with our wallets, jobs, and health. We do not have the resources of the big pharma companies, the hospital lobby, the unions, the doctors lobby etc. All we can do is mobilize - one letter at a time to make ourselves heard.

There is no way our representatives have read or have had any true debate about these 1000+ page health care bills they are rushing to pass.

Please join this letter writing campaign to ask your representatives in Washington to find a bi-partisan solution to this problem that will factor in the quality of care as well as the costs.

a.Senate -
b.House –

1. To Your Senators:
The Honorable (full name)
(Room #) (Name) Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator (last name):

2. To Your Representative:
The Honorable (full name)
(Room #) (Name) House Office Building
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Representative (last name):

My name is (your name) and I am writing to ask you to thoughtfully review the health care bills before you. I am concerned at the speed to which this very complicated and serious legislation has raced through Congress.

Unlike most letters you get, this one is not to telling you how to vote.

This letter is request from a citizen to ask you to SLOW DOWN the process. I am concerned that 1000+ page bills are being rushed through committees without enough due diligence.

I am concerned about the cost of this plan based on the report from the Congressional Budget Office.

This Congress has only been in session since January - I can’t imagine all of the committees with jurisdiction over health care have had the time to hold hearings and invite doctors, patients, economists, insurance and pharma execs etc to testify to hear all sides and find a workable solution.

Health care is a very serious issue - please search for compromise and make sure that you have done homework on the details before voting for any bill that will affect the lives and livelihood of all Americans.

All I can ask of you, as my voice in Washington, is that you weigh the benefits against the costs and support a bill that makes sure we take care of the health of Americans in a way that doesn’t adversely affect the economy or imposes taxes on business and result in more lost jobs.

Please don’t let bi-partisanship or politics drive your decision. It’s just too important.

Contact Info (Optional)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Poem - Chirp Chirp

I will not Twitter, I will not Tweet
I don't think you all should care about my every feat
Like when I woke up, what I am wearing and what I will eat

I will not tell you what I doing at every moment
I just don't understand everyone's enjoyment
In hearing about their buddy's every bowel movement

No one should think themselves so important to humanity
That they need share everything through this technology
Remember the online world can't replace a real community

If you only want to hear from me in 140 characters or less
If you think that picking up the phone to call is useless
I can't agree, cause I don't think friendship should be so effortless

Hearing an old friend's voice would be much more sweet
Seeing you in person would be really neat
I will not Twitter, I will not Tweet

Monday, July 13, 2009

I guess I'll just get a 3rd job instead...

No anti-big government commentary. I am just going to outline my experience working with an Obama program as a cautionary tale. The only thing I wonder is "What if this was a serious medical issue and I had government health insurance?"

Since this a lay-off blog this is on topic. My income was cut in half with my new job. Yay. I have been dealing with it by cutting a lot of things. I can't cut my mortgage – WAIT! Obama to the rescue!

I found out, according to the guidelines, that I should easily qualify for the Homeowners Stability & Affordability Act loan modification program.

And for the record - No, nein, Non, Nai, or whatever language it’s still NO - I don’t see any contradiction in taking government money when its there...I just don’t think it should be there at all. But since it is - I want mine.

Technically if you have lost your job or lost income and your monthly mortgage payment is 31% or more of your gross monthly pay your lender and the guv'mint are supposed to modify your loan to get it down to 31%. Sounds simple. My loan is 40% of my new salary. Woohoo.

6/16/09 First call to the "hotline". 888-995- HOPE. (awww). I am asked repeatedly if I want a modification or a refi. “Um, I dunno, aren’t you supposed to figure that out for me, Mr. Hope Hotline guy?” It was obvious at this point they someone had just rented a few floors in a building, bought 10,000 phones and trained people to ask questions off a script. (I did confirm this later - its a 3rd party company that slapped a call center together after the big White House announcement)

He really had no clue. Finally, I just let him stick to the script and gave all of my financial info to Miguel. He said I’d get a letter in two weeks.

I was little put off by his cluelessness so I called Citibank directly and was transferred to a Refi guy who told me I didn’t qualify for anything and I needed to refinance immediately. It became obvious he makes commission off my refinance and not my modification. I said to him that according to the 31% rule, I qualify and it doesn’t make sense to refinance cause my payment actually goes up and I have to pay fees. I am now on this guy’s regular call list and he won't leave me alone after I told him repeatedly I will not refinance under any circumstances. He gives salespeople a bad name.

6.17.09 I decided to try again cause I was a little worried about what number I actually called the day before and who I just gave all my info to. I spoke to Linda, a very nice and optimistic woman, who told me I should have no problem qualifying and to submit my info online and fax it immediately. So I did ($25 for the fax).

6/18.09 I notice on my mortgage sign-in page a notice that my "Modification is being worked on, give it 30 days" Wow, progress!

6/30/09 I get a phone call from Kimberly. "We need to get all of your information." "Um, I gave it to Miguel AND I filled out the online form which I faxed in." "We need it again..." This takes at least 30 minutes each time. Kimberly told me that the qualification depended on your current gross income and your current expenses.

7/12/09 I arrive home to three letters from Citibank. All form letters, all the same and dated June 30th with July 1 postmarks on two and July 2 postmarks on 1. The letters said they have been trying to reach me but were unable too…Huh? I talked to Kimberly on the 30th. I was concerned because the letter said that I had 7 days to respond but I had been out of town and that time already passed. I called over the weekend but the phone just rang and rang – no message.

7.13.09 I warn you, your head my explode just reading this. This is a 3 hour ordeal.

I got a busy signal when I tried to get thru to the “Mortgage Outreach Support” (MOS) 877 #. I kept trying and finally got thru and was put on hold for 15 minutes before Mrs. Valentino answered. I could barely understand her because of an accent. She told me she needed more info from me and proceeded to ask me the same questions Miguel, the website, Kimberly had already asked me...

Then I was immediately told I didn’t qualify but not given a reason. I asked to talk to a supervisor. The supervisor, informed me that I had to call the refi people to exhaust all options. I calmly (I was still calm at this point) explained that I tried to refinance and my payment would go UP. She told me it was a “special refinance office" and I had to try before they would review my case. Ok fine.

She transferred me and the guy immediately told me that refinancing wouldn’t lower my payment. I told him I already knew that but I had to go through the “process” and could he please mark it in my record and tell me the next step. He had no clue what I was talking about. There was no “special refi”. So, the refinance office doesn’t talk to modification office.

I called the main Loan Mitigation office at Citibank instead of the MOS # because I couldn’t get thru to the 877 # again. Edward said he couldn’t help me that all he could see is that I was denied but it didn’t say why. He told me my record was tagged as "special" (awww) and to call the 877 # and gave me an 866 alternate #. The 866 # didn’t work.

My head is about to pop off at this point.

I called the 877 #. On hold for 25 minutes. Got a person and immediately asked for a supervisor. She transferred me back to the hold line. 15 minutes later someone came on! She couldn’t hear me. I frantically checked my phone to see if I had it on mute. I didn’t and all I heard was “Hello? Hello, Is anyone there?”. Then my cell phone died. I went and got a glass of wine.

I counted to 1,000 (10 wasn’t going to cut it) and I called back. I’m a glutton for punishment.
35 minutes later I got a person! The SAME THING happened!!! I was on a different phone, a landline this time, and she couldn’t hear me. Something is wrong with their phone! Then I heard a CLICK.

End of story. So much for "Hope for Homeowners". More like frustration, angst and incompetence.

PS: (I did confirm the MOS phones were not working properly after one more feeble call to Citibank)

PPS:It's not just me...
A LONG WAY HOME: Getting a loan modification to avoid foreclosure not as easy as advertised