Friday, November 30, 2012

It Wasn't a Mandate

It wasn't a mandate.
As an independent, I voted for Barack Obama because the Republican Party was full of people who think when a woman is raped, Tinkerbell steps in to prevent conception. I also care about minorities and their future in this country, which I don't think Republicans think much about. (Although I think the saving grace of George Bush was that he was in no way a racist)
The Republican Party is full of people who don't believe in evolution, equality, or having rich people pay their fair share.
This doesn't mean that I thought Obama was a good president. This doesn't mean I think Nancy Pelosi cares more about America than Mitch McConnell.
It's time for the Democrats to tell us where they want to cut. They seem to have been emboldened by the election victory, not realizing it was more a rebuff of the Neanderthals in the Republican Party than it was an endorsement of their positions.
Obama has the support of 49% of the American people in the latest approval ratings. I'm waiting for a real bipartisan approach to our pressing problems.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

How to Survive a Sleazy Real Estate Market

Despite the fact that there is a lot of sleazy stuff going on in the housing market you can be successful in purchasing a home.
The crucial thing is finding a real estate agent who's both a good person and incredibly smart and savvy.
Let me give an example. I started out using a cut rate real estate buying service where they kick back half the commission. The franchise owner was really smart and knew his business. But he never came to the property; other employees were responsible for showing up at the property and guiding us through the process. I never once questioned the ability of the real estate agent who owned a the franchise, or his ethics, but there were too many other people involved in the process to prevent my driving a good bargain.
So I switched to an agent who was one of the nicest people I've ever met. He's the guy you'd want to live next door to and make your best friend. But when I realized I was in a situation in which the Flipper hadn't paid off the property he was selling to me, because he was waiting for his lender to give him my money, I'd realized I'd gotten into a big mess. None of the requested repairs were made on the property, they were just waiting on my money to pay off the former owner who was underwater and needed to get out. The Flipper was connected to a large property title company (an entity you may never have heard of if you don't live in California); had the lender in his back pocket and was doing incredible volume. He didn't need to sell to me because there was always another sucker looking for a deal. When I realized what was going on and that my agent didn't have a clue, I decided to look for another agent. I really felt bad since I really liked the agent I was with, but he should have caught the scam. (This trick is actually legal in California if the flipper tells you he's doing this from the start)
My new agents were fine people and also were incredibly savvy. Since they work the Westside of Los Angeles they had seen every scam that came down the Turnpike. They found me a bargain and we did business with the seller's real estate agent, who had high ethical standards. He came back to help us after the deal had closed to provide assistance.
This whole experience took over a year, but we rented for seven years after selling our condo until a decent deal opened up. I never thought of patience as one of my virtues, but somehow this paid off.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Hart of Dixie is Good For Us

Hart of Dixie is good for us.
This doesn't mean that Hart of Dixie is realistic. But then our politics aren't realistic, our economic theories about rational markets bear no resemblance to the way the world actually works, and our wars are fought because Democrats are afraid of Republicans.
When I was a kid, my mom was a widow, and I had no idea how men were supposed to behave. I watched  television and learned what fatherhood was all about by watching "Father Knows Best," "My Three Sons," and "Leave It to Beaver." They weren't realistic either, but later when I was teaching college students from the Inner City, I observed the young men I was trying to help didn't get much help from MTV on how to treat women and become responsible. My unrealistic examples were much more useful than theirs. In some cases, I became the male influence in their lives, because as a student wrote on Rate My Professor, "He's not Black, but you can't have everything."
I watch Hart of Dixie because people have values on this show:
 People cooperate together when a storm hits.
Doctors actually care about their patients, and
Black and White people work together to run their town. On occasion, they even kiss each other.
Don't tell me that's not the real world. My students came from South Los Angeles and Compton so I know the facts.
But I've believed since I walked out of a George Wallace lecture at Syracuse University that the world shouldn't be that way. I expected by now we wouldn't still be divided by race.
When I was 15-years-old I ran away from home in New York and walked into a Colored bathroom in Columbus, Georgia. They all laughed at the "Paddy" who was too dumb to know where he belonged.
I couldn't believe this was my country. I hadn't seen this on TV and I was disgusted by it.
When I look at Hart of Dixie I can pretend that America is better and pray it  becomes that way before I croak.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Kong Fu Zi Still Runs China

Kong Fu Zi (Confucius) still runs China.
As the negotiations end in Beijing and the Politburo standing committee is unveiled we can see that the princelings, the children of an earlier generation of leaders, have grabbed the top spots. They already control much of the wealth in China.
As the New York Times said these princelings, who had endured the great leap forward and the cultural Revolution had learned that you could only trust family. After years of communism, blood is the only thing that matters. For example, Wen Jiabao's family now controls $2.7 billion. The illusion of communism has helped create an aristocracy in China. Xi Jinping, who replaces Hu Jintao, comes from a prominent family that has been important in China for generations.
How did a country that was allegedly communist end up being run by an aristocracy?
The answer lies in Chinese history.
 Confucianism stressed the importance of the relationships between the emperor and the people, husband and wife, father and children and the duties within these relationships. Your family was what really mattered.
The one philosopher who sought to change that was Mo Zi, who said all people should be valued and treated well, but this angered the Confucians and ultimately it was blood once again that mattered in China.
Long ago, Mo Zi enunciated the concept of the value of every individual and could have created a different society. His concept of jian ai, or universal love toward all mankind was a truly revolutionary idea for Chinese thought, but the followers of Confucius fought the concept. Confucians instead wanted special treatment of clans or families to isolate them from others who did not share their blood. So you had a society where you’d give a job to an incompetent family member, but philanthropy was not encouraged.  Buddhism was the only place where equality was part of the admission process.
At the end of the 19th century, the Japanese expanded the concept of family to sons’ in law, colleagues, and friends and it made Japan stronger. On the other hand, Sun Yat Sen, the father of modern China, said “The Chinese people are like sand, they fall through my hands.”
So after an experiment with communism, China has returned to a feudal state run by aristocrats who decide everything.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Generals haven't e-mailed my Wife

I asked my wife this morning if she received any emails from American generals yet.
She replied, with an unhappy look on her face, that she seems to have been the only woman in America who hasn't been pursued by a high-ranking General.
I told her that it probably was because she was born in Nanjing.
She seemed to feel better after that, but I know it's tough being left out of the loop when most American women are being pursued by our military leaders.