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February 27, 2009

Entertainment: Wonderful Wednesdays At The White House

president-obama-stevie-wonder  Obama is proving that he can ‘walk and chew gum’ at the same time.  President Obama and his team are truly working hard and finding time for entertaining without compromising their work on behalf of the American people.  Balance – what a great thing to have in the White House.

The White House is the place to be on Wednesdays!

Since the presidency changed political hands less than six weeks ago, a burst of entertaining has taken hold of the iconic, white-columned home of America’s head of state. Much of it comes on Wednesdays.

The stately East Room, where portraits of George and Martha Washington adorn the walls, was transformed into a concert hall as President Barack Obama presented Stevie Wonder with the nation’s highest award for pop music on Wednesday.

A week before that, it was the foot-stomping sounds of Sweet Honey in the Rock, a female a cappella group, that filled the East Room for a Black History Month program that first lady Michelle Obama held for nearly 200 sixth- and seventh-graders from around the District of Columbia.

Cocktails were sipped during at least three such receptions to date, all held on Wednesdays.

Bookending the midweek activity were a Super Bowl watch party for select Democratic and Republican lawmakers and a dinner for governors, the new administration’s first black-tie affair. It was capped with a performance by the 1970’s pop group Earth, Wind & Fire, and a conga line.

The flurry of entertaining is in keeping with the promise by the Obamas to make the White House a more open place for everyone.

The governors’ dinner was “a great kickoff of what we hope will be an atmosphere here in the White House that is welcoming and that reminds everybody that this is the people’s house,” Obama told the state chief executives after they had dined on Maryland crab, Wagyu beef, Nantucket scallops and citrus salad.

“We are just temporary occupants. This is a place that belongs to the American people and we want to make sure that everybody understands it’s open,” he said.

At the dinner in the State Dining Room, the Obamas looked comfortable, chatting and smiling with their guests. Afterward, they escorted the governors down the hall to the East Room, which had been arranged with few tables and chairs to encourage dancing to “September,” “Boogie Wonderland” and other hits from a musical group Obama listened to growing up.

The conga line formed after the media were escorted out and, apparently, after Obama had called it a night.

“Thank you also for waiting until I had left before you started the conga line,” the president told the governors the next morning. “I hear it was quite a spectacle.”

Some Obama guests say he immediately puts them at ease. He indulges them and serves cookies, too.

“People like me felt comfortable in his presence,” said Rep. Mike Honda, D-Campbell, a self-described “poor country boy” who said he felt like a “freshman going to the senior prom” when he attended a White House reception for leaders of the congressional caucuses.

“Sometimes when you’re in the presence of the most powerful person in the world, in the most powerful democracy in the world … I was in awe that I was comfortable,” said Honda, chairman of the Asian Pacific American Caucus. “I think that’s his style and how he grew up, who he is.

“He’s down to earth and engaging,” Honda said.

Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., was among those invited for the Super Bowl. He said Obama, an avid sports fan, joined his guests for most of the game between the Arizona Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers.

“It wasn’t a circumstance where he came in and said ‘Hi’ and then left,” Franks said. “He actually stayed and watched the game.”

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn, said Obama was very cordial, and he and the first lady made everyone feel comfortable. The president talked to everyone before the game started, she said, including a 12-year-old boy who asked Obama where the bathroom was.

“My favorite part was when he personally served us cookies — oatmeal raisin — when we were watching the game,” she said.

The gathering over hot dogs and hamburgers was one of several get-to-know-the-members-of Congress events Obama held as he lobbied lawmakers to support the nearly $800 billion tax-and-spend economic package he recently signed into law. His efforts produced no Republican votes in the House and just three in the Senate, but Franks said he still appreciated the Democratic president’s efforts to reach out to the opposing party.

“I think the value of social interaction like this is not so much that it co-opts anyone in any way. It certainly didn’t in my case,” said Franks, who said he had a substantive conversation with Obama at the party, “I think it humanizes and personalizes opponents. We can diminish politics and try to work together for what’s right for the country.”

Obama played the role of “first fan” at the Wonder tribute, where he opened up about his and his wife’s common enjoyment of Wonder’s music.

“As Stevie knows, I’m a huge fan. And he has been a great supporter,” Obama said before presenting the award-winning, singer-songwriter with the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song from the Library of Congress.

He said Wonder’s songs “became the soundtrack of my youth” and that in them he “found peace and inspiration, especially in difficult times.”

Obama presented the medal to Wonder, and then wrapped the singer in a bear hug. As the media were led out of the room, Wonder struck up “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours,” which was a staple of Obama’s campaign rallies.

Original post at: http://www.mercurynews.com/politics/ci_11796961

 

 

 

 

February 26, 2009

President Obama’s Diplomacy At Work

I am so impressed with the amount of work that’s being accomplished simultaneously for the American people by the Obama administration.  This team have only been office for 5 weeks and look at all they have accomplished – impressive!

President Obama’s management style and approach has already made a world of difference in the way America is viewed, feared and respected. 

Three years ago President George W. Bush could barely get the leaders of Pakistan and Afghanistan to be polite to each other. When Bush pressured Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan and Hamid Karzai of Afghan to pay a visit to the White House they came kicking and screaming and wouldn’t shake hands!

secretary-of-state-hillary-clinton-2-25-09 Yesterday night it was very different story.  Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi of Pakistan and his Afghan counterpart, Rangeen Dadfar Spanta, had a ‘nice’ dinner together and assured each other that they were committed to fighting extremists in both countries. The objective of the talks was to produce a new strategy for the region – the two Ministers camps in the same room talking about a common approach was definitely a step in the right direction.

In the same way the Bush administration spent three years urging the Egyptian government to free Ayman Nour, the country’s most prominent political dissident, to no avail. But last week, in a move that many interpreted as a goodwill gesture, the Egyptian government abruptly released Nour, citing “medical reasons.”

Likewise, two weeks ago, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia dismissed two powerful religious figures — including the head of the cane-wielding hard-core religious police known as the mutawa — as part of a government shuffle that appeared aimed at reforming the kingdom’s hard-line religious establishment.

While it might be a stretch to think that King Abdullah, who has been slowly inching toward modest reform, suddenly cast out the head of his religious police to suck up to the Obama administration, the new cooperation coming from the Egyptian, Afghan and Pakistani governments however is a clear-cut confirmation that these three governments want to work with President Obama.

“I think the Ayman Nour release is definitely connected to Obama,” said George Perkovich, vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “It was a fairly simple thing for the Obama administration to say to the Egyptians that if you want Mubarak to see our guy, this has to happen.”

As for “Afpak” — the new shorthand for Afghanistan/Pakistan being popularized by Richard Holbrooke, the new high-level American envoy for the two countries — Perkovich says that both governments are trying to put their best foot forward. They expect demands from the Obama administration for the Afghan government to do more to fight corruption and drug trafficking, which many in the West believe has helped to fuel the resurgent Taliban and for Pakistan to do more to crack down on extremists in the border region.

Holbrooke is a veteran diplomat known for dragging reluctant Serbs to the peace table during the Balkans conflict. Perkovich suggests that the prospect of being put under any kind of judicial scrutiny by President Obama may have scared the Afghan and Pakistani delegations into making nice. “Some of this is them saying, ‘O.K., these guys mean business, and Holbrooke is going to be coming out here every month, so let’s see if with little gestures we can turn down the pressure.’ “

The United States wants Pakistan to focus more on insurgents and a little less on its long-running fight with India, which Washington believes is occupying the Pakistani Army, whose time would be better spent — in America’s view — on Afpak, instead of what might be called Indiapak.

Pakistan‘s foreign minister said Wednesday that his country has asked the United States to provide unmanned aircraft that would allow Pakistan to strike extremists hiding in rugged terrain along the Afghan border.  Shah Mahmood Qureshi said in an interview that Pakistan, and not the United States, should have control of the missile strikes that have killed high-level extremists but also civilians.

The U.S. missile strikes are one of the most sensitive issues in U.S.-Pakistan ties. Qureshi said they are making it harder for his government to persuade infuriated Pakistanis along the frontier to support the fight against militants. “We feel that if the technology is transferred to Pakistan, Pakistan will be in a better position to determine how to use the technology and, without alienating people, achieve the objective,” Qureshi said.

“Pakistan is a willing partner with the U.S. in this fight,” he said. “Let us exercise that judgment.”  The Bush government, Qureshi said, “had a point of view, and it was like the approach was, ‘This is it; take it or leave it.'”

The Egyptians want the United States to do a little more to press Israel on settlements in the West Bank. And in Afghanistan, where the presidential election season will be getting under way soon, Karzai has been striking increasingly anti-American tones, in a move to distance himself from the United States at a time when America is viewed with increasing hostility in that country.

“At the end of the day, we have some very significant policy differences with all of these countries,” Pollack said.

president-obama-japan-pm-taro-aso-2-24-09 On Tuesday President Obama continued with his diplomacy push and met with Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso. Obama told Aso that the United States wanted to strengthen ties with Japan, a country Obama described as the cornerstone of U.S. security policy in East Asia and a major economic partner. Aso, who is struggling to stay in power, was the first foreign leader to visit the Obama White House, and the president called the prestigious invitation “a testimony to the strong partnership between the United States and Japan.”

“The friendship between the United States and Japan is extraordinarily important to our country,” Obama told reporters. “We think that we have an opportunity to work together, not only on issues related to the Pacific Rim but throughout the world.”

The Japanese leader, sitting next to Obama in the Oval Office before their private meeting, said the world’s top two economies “will have to work together hand in hand” to solve the “very critical, vital issue of the world.”

February 25, 2009

First Dog Will Arrive In April And Might Be A Portuguese Water Dog

portuguese-water-dog  It’s (almost) official: The Obamas are getting a rescued Portuguese water dog.  Or, rather, Michelle Obama told People magazine that the family was on the lookout for a dog who fit that description, was “old enough” and was a “match” for the family dynamic. 

The primary rationale behind the choice of a Portuguese water dog is, of course, its allergy-friendly coat (a trait also found in poodles, soft-coated wheaten terriers and other breeds).  The breed’s temperament and “middle of the road” size were also factors, according to Mrs. Obama, who added: “And the folks that we know who own them have raved about them.  So that’s where we’re leaning.” 

Our colleague Johanna Neuman at the Top of the Ticket blog explains that one of those “folks we know” Mrs. Obama references is another Washington mover-and-shaker:

The choice is also likely to delight Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy, an early Obama supporter who has two Portuguese water dogs himself and has never been shy about lobbying for his causes.

(One of Kennedy’s dogs, Splash, is the narrator of his children’s book, “My Senator and Me: A Dog’s Eye View of Washington, D.C.“)

The timeline for the new addition?  Look for its arrival after spring break, says the first lady. 

From People:

Here’s a sample of a typical family conversation on the matter: “So Sasha says, ‘April 1st.’ I said, ‘April.’ She says, ‘April 1st.’ It’s, like, April!” Mrs. Obama recalls. “Got to do it after spring break. You can’t get a new dog and then go away for a week.”

The Obamas’ one dog-related sticking point, now that the breed is decided, is the new pet’s name, People reports:

“Oh, the names are really bad. I don’t even want to mention it, because there are names floating around and they’re bad,” Mrs. Obama says with a laugh. “You listen and you go -– like, I think, Frank was one of them. Frank! Moose was another one of them. Moose. I said, well, what if the dog isn’t a moose? Moose. I’m like, no, come on, let’s work with the names a little bit.”

The level of interest nationwide in the first family’s dog search has been surprising, Mrs. Obama told People.  But it’s “all great and gracious attention. People are just being as helpful as you can imagine.”  The interview will appear in the issue of People due on newsstands this Friday.

“The Portuguese water dog is a fun-loving dog with a lot of energy,” Michelle Barlak of the AKC told the Baltimore Sun. “It’s a great family dog, but they have to understand the dog will require quite a bit of exercise…. Two young girls who are very active are good companions for the dog.”

What do you think of the Obamas’ choice?  Will an energetic water retriever be a good match for the first family? 

 

Original article:

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/unleashed/2009/02/obama-portugues.html

February 24, 2009

Tiger is Back — YES!!!

tiger-isleworth-country-club-2-091 

I am sooo excited to see Tiger back – golf just has not been the same!

The practice range at Isleworth Country Club in Orlando is vast, beautiful and exposed, and in the last month it has been one of the final testing grounds in the comeback of Tiger Woods. At various times on different days, Woods has gone there to hit balls so often that some of his neighbors could not help but sneak a peek. Among the curious was fellow PGA Tour professional Nick O’Hern, who spotted Woods during a recent session and decided to observe a golfer on the mend. Woods placed a ball on a tee. He set the head of his driver behind it. He took the club back, swung hard and watched the ball go skyward. Instead of doubling over in pain, as he did last June while winning the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines with bones shifting in his left leg, Woods stood tall at the finish. Then, without hesitation, he started over and did it again. “He was bombing it out there,” O’Hern says. “As physically fit and mentally tough as he is, I’m guessing he’ll win at least one major this year.”

This is the picture that the sports world has been missing for the last eight months while Woods has been healing from surgery to rebuild his left anterior cruciate ligament: the rocket tee shots and trundling chips, the dynamism and charisma of an athlete in his prime. Though Woods’ return this week, at the Accenture Match Play Championship at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club near Tucson, is not unique in the annals of sport, the circumstances surrounding golf and the world beyond seem to cry out for his presence.

The economy is tanking. The best player in baseball admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs. Golf sponsorship has become more risky amid falling television ratings and tightening purse strings. Even in the calm after football season and before the basketball postseason, golf has had trouble making a dent — until now.

“To me, when you have what is going on in the country, people escape their troubles by watching sports, and this is the biggest sports story we have going right now,” says Tommy Roy, the executive producer for golf at NBC Sports, speaking of Woods’ return. “He’s so likable in the way that he plays, it sucks you in.”

Roger Maltbie, an on-course reporter for the network (which will air the Accenture’s final rounds), is more pointed. “We are starved for him,” says Maltbie, who played for 22 years on Tour. “The year seems flat. I don’t mean to be unfair to any of the other guys, but a lot of people can play the fiddle. Only one guy is Itzhak Perlman.”

That Tour commissioner Tim Finchem saw fit to release a statement after Woods’ announcement — “We are delighted that Tiger is returning to competition,” Finchem said — only underscores Woods’ meaning to the game in good times and bad. Finchem has asked players to do everything they can to enhance the Tour brand, from adding tournaments to their schedules to showing appreciation to sponsors, pro-am partners and fans. Some are taking the plea to heart; Tour pro Robert Garrigus says that he now thanks tournament volunteers even after he makes a bogey. And now here comes the 33-year-old Woods as the Tour’s biggest attraction, something of a one-man stimulus package. “We’re going to bring some fans back,” says Rich Beem, winner of the 2002 PGA Championship.

Even beyond Woods’ resumption of his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18 major titles — a mark Woods could tie by winning the Grand Slam this year — there are other benefits golf may soon realize with Tiger back in the fold. The Tour’s six-year contract with network television expires in 2012, and there is no bigger selling point than Woods as golf’s leading man.

Beyond our borders the Tour, along with the game’s other governing bodies, submitted a bid last month to the International Olympic Committee to include golf in the 2016 Summer Games. Last year several top-ranked players from a variety of tours filmed a four-minute, 35-second video trumpeting their support for the initiative. The opening footage is of Woods pumping his fist. The closing scene has Woods saying that he could not think of a better sport to make an Olympic event. “Having the Number 1 most recognized athlete in the world playing our sport certainly is something that makes [it] even more attractive for the Olympics,” says Ty Votaw, the PGA Tour VP who doubles as the executive director of the International Golf Federation Olympic Golf Committee.

tiger-woods-and-family Despite the demise of his endorsement deal with General Motors, Woods’ comeback stands to generate other business opportunities. On his bag he will carry the logo of AT&T, the company that sponsors his tournament outside of Washington, D.C., over the Fourth of July. Nike, which manufactures Woods’ clubs, balls and apparel, is also planning to release a new commercial timed to his comeback at the Match Play. The company often has launched commercials to coincide with Woods’ victories, including at the 2005 British Open and at last year’s U.S. Open, his final tournament before undergoing ACL surgery.

“We look at Tiger as if he’s making history every time he tees it up,” says Cindy Davis, the president of Nike Golf. “We do everything we can to capitalize on that energy.”

In some ways that energy has already started to build. When word filtered throughout Riviera Country Club last Thursday that Woods was coming back, the entire vibe around the Northern Trust Open changed. His peers talked about his impact on the course and at the gate. Yet Woods was quick to remind people that he is a golfer, not a savior. “The only thing I can control is, obviously, my play,” he said during a conference call. “We as a collective whole on the PGA Tour have to do a better job of making sure we appreciate all the fans and sponsors for what they do for us and allowing us to have an opportunity to compete and play for a living. I think over the years we may have taken that for granted. Now is a time that reality certainly has checked in.”

Woods’ reentry paid immediate dividends for the Match Play. After attracting 128 media outlets and 379 journalists last year, when Woods defeated Stewart Cink 8 and 7 in the final, the tournament this year issued credentials for more than 175 outlets and 500 media members. The list includes the network nightly news shows, CNN, the BBC and even a publication from Sweden, the home country of Woods’ wife, Elin.

The unanswered question is how well Woods will perform. He’s won 65 Tour events and 11 more tournaments worldwide, but will he be the same golfer after an eight-month layoff? Woods says even he is curious to see, but his peers have little doubt. They envision a golfer inspired by the birth of his second child (Charlie Axel, on Feb. 8), a golfer hitting shots pain-free for the first time in nearly two years, a golfer accustomed to carrying the game on his shoulders.

“I actually think he’ll be as good as ever, if not better,” Padraig Harrington said in the gloaming on Thursday at Riviera. “A long and forced break makes you love the game even more, if it’s possible for him to do that.”

Rocco Mediate, who pushed Woods to 91 holes at last year’s U.S. Open in San Diego, would know better than most what to expect. “He’s the man, he’s the king, he’s it,” Mediate said. “Our Tour’s cool, but it’s really cool with him. I guarantee you that he wins [the Accenture Match Play]. You think he’s coming out not 180,000 percent? He’s not coming out going, let’s see how I do. That’s not going to happen. He’s still Tiger.”

The golf world and everything it touches can only hope.

Original article at:

http://www.golf.com/golf/tours_news/article/0,28136,1881342-0,00.html

 

Watch President Obama’s Address to Congress Tonight

president-barack-obama-seal Tonight, five weeks into his presidency, President Obama will address a joint session of Congress. Although this is not an official State of the Union address, it is an opportunity for him to talk to Americans about the challenges our country faces and his plans for the future.

President Obama has been working really hard to get America back on track.  In five weeks he has done more that will help rebuild America than George W. Bush did in four years. 

He has already taken important steps to improve our lives and the lives of our children including:

  • signing a $787 billion stimulus package on February 17 that will help our citizens, states and municipalities
  • signing a housing-rescue plan
  • reversing the Bush Administration policies that have impeded state efforts to provide health coverage to children
  • signing the expansion of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), taking care of unfinished business from the last Congress and providing health coverage to an additional four million children
  • signing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, offering significant relief to millions of struggling children and families

Tonight President Obama will tell us how he intends to proceed and build on his momentum with plans to continue to help struggling American families, steady the markets and get us out of this economic crisis.

Watch President Obama’s address tonight at 9:00 p.m. EST.

February 23, 2009

Jobs in Dubai Desert Dries Up And Foreign Workers Flee!

palm-island-dubai 

If it can happen in Dubai, it can happen anywhere.  It’s a confirmation that international finances are horrendous when Dubai’s economy dries up!  

Dubai is one of the seven emirates and the most populous city of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It is located along the southern coast of the Persian Gulf on the Arabian Peninsula.

Ian, a foreign worker, is a 38-year-old Englishman who moved to Dubai 2 years ago to take a job as an engineer. He lived in Dubai and became very confident that Dubai’s fast-growing economy would continue for at least a decade so he purchased a condominium for almost $300,000 with a 15-year mortgage.

90 percent of the Dubai population is made up of foreign workers.  Management teams were recruited with big salaries and with promises of an extraordinary financial future and guaranteed jobs.  Ian was laid off 2 weeks ago and is desperately searching for a job since he doesn’t know what else to do because he owns property there. If he can’t pay off his mortgage he could end up in debtors’ prison.

With Dubai’s economy in free fall, newspapers have reported that more than 3,000 cars sit abandoned in the parking lot at the Dubai Airport, left by fleeing, debt-ridden foreigners (who could in fact be imprisoned if they failed to pay their bills). Some are said to have left maxed-out credit cards inside the cars with notes of apology taped to the windshield.

The main problem is that the jobless in Dubai lose their work visas and then must leave the country within a month. That in turn reduces spending, creates housing vacancies and lowers real estate prices – a downward spiral that has left parts of Dubai once hailed as the economic superpower of the Middle East looking like a ghost town. Tens of thousands have left, real estate prices have crashed and scores of Dubai’s major construction projects have been suspended or canceled.

Last month local newspapers reported that Dubai was canceling 1,500 work visas every day. Real estate prices, which rose dramatically during Dubai’s six-year boom, have dropped 30 percent or more over the past two or three months in some parts of the city. Many used luxury cars are for sale, sometimes being sold for 40 percent less than the asking price two months ago according to car dealers. Dubai’s roads, usually congested with traffic this time of year are now mostly traffic free.

Dubai at first seemed to be a refuge, relatively insulated from the panic that began hitting the rest of the world last fall. The Gulf is cushioned by vast oil and gas wealth so some who lost jobs in New York and London began applying and accepting jobs there.

But Dubai, unlike Abu Dhabi or nearby Qatar and Saudi Arabia does not have its own oil.  Dubai built its reputation on real estate, finance and tourism. Now many expatriates are talking about Dubai as though it has been a con game all along. Sensational rumors have been spreading that Palm Jumeira (Palm Island) – the artificial island that is one of this city’s trademark developments is sinking.

Ian says he doesn’t know what to believe anymore and he is becoming a little panicked as he continues looking for a job, hoping that he finds one before his 30 days runs out.

It was reported earlier today by the Dubai Department of Finance that The Central Bank has pledge the first US$10 billion of what will eventually be a US$20 billion bond program to help Dubai meet its financial obligations so that the government can continue with its development plans. This will provide the Dubai Government with the necessary liquidity to substitute the funds that have dried up globally in the last 12 months and help them to meet all their upcoming financial obligations.

Dubai’s government and government-owned corporations have an estimated US $80 billion in combined bonds and other outstanding loans to help finance the breakneck growth and economic diversification that have made it a developmental model for the Middle East.

 

 

February 22, 2009

President Obama’s Housing Plan Will STEADY The Market For All of Us

happy house President Obama proposed a housing plan last Wednesday that will help to start clearing a path that will end the foreclosure crisis we’re in.  It’s not perfect but it’s a GOOD start!

Yes, it will help some people who don’t “deserve” to be helped, just as the bank bailouts have helped Wall Street executives – none of whom deserved to be helped. Let us be reasonable, realistic and rational – there is NO perfect solution to this huge problem.  If you ask 100 of the greatest economic minds to come up with a solution for this crisis you will get 100 different answers that will each have merits and flaws.  

The ninety percent of us who were not naïve or fooled by the smooth-talk and blarney of greedy mortgage brokers under normal circumstances would never be asked to bail out the 10 percent that needs it — but these are not normal times.  If we don’t help those who are destitute right away we will all be pulled into a deep dark hole that none of us will be able to get out of anytime soon.  This is our choice plain and simple; help those who need help or continue to bitch, moan and do nothing and see our economy plunge to depths that will make today seem like the good times. Stopping the cycle of foreclosures is critical and is the only thing that will slow our country’s downward economic spiral and help the markets.

President Obama’s Housing Plan will help people who got plain-vanilla conforming mortgages and who have never fallen seriously behind on their monthly payments. They will most likely qualify to refinance at lower guaranteed interest rates — even if they owe as much as their house is worth.

It will also help people who have subprime mortgages or exotic loans, such as pay-option adjustable rate mortgages.  These folks might qualify to keep their current loans but will have them modified to make the payments more affordable.

The mortgage modifications in the plan include three essential elements that will bring us stability and help homeowners who have one home that they are living in. These mortgage modifications will only apply to the existing loans that have caused all the trouble we’re in.   These modifications will not apply to loans made in the future and will therefore not hurt the mortgage market.

The first element will help homeowners currently at risk of foreclosure. It would provide cash incentives to lenders in exchange for modifying a loan until the borrower can comfortably pay it. Lenders would receive the incentive for modifying the loan before it becomes delinquent.

The second element is for homeowners who are still making their mortgage payments on time but can’t refinance because they don’t have enough equity in their homes and owe more than their homes are worth. If a homeowner’s mortgage is held or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac (which 2/3 are) the homeowner would be guaranteed a lower interest rate and allowed to refinance.

The third element allows Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to expand their mortgage lending by pledging an additional $200 billion in government capital. Since private lenders are still refusing to make mortgage loans, it makes sense for the government to encourage Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to lend and start the credit wheels rolling again.

The Obama administration is wisely taking advantage of the government’s new ownership of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac by putting the two entities to work for the people of America. 

At the same time the Obama administration is offering aid to responsible homeowners who might be infuriated with the idea of helping “irresponsible” homeowners.  Our fellow citizens who read the fine print and made smart fiscal decisions by purchasing homes they could afford but were whacked by the housing bust will benefit from lower interest rates and other resources. This is the administration’s way of acknowledging that they see and hear the frustration of the masses and will extend a hand with some assistance to the responsible ninety percent.

The very capable and intelligent Shaun Donovan, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development believes that by doing all these things they will be able to stop most of the out of control foreclosure, stop property value from depreciating while simultaneously increasing property value across the nation by approximately $6,000.  This would be great since we’ve only seen housing prices decline these past two year.  Yeah for some growth!

President Obama still has to get some of these vital proposals through Congress. Republicans and financial service lobbyists has already declared a ferocious opposition to the proposal to change the bankruptcy law that would allow judges to modify distressed homeowners’ mortgages.

Now is not the time for selfishness – think of your fellow citizens in places like Nevada, Florida and California where foreclosures have reached a critical mass. In these and other states foreclosed properties are driving down the value of homes in communities, property taxes are not being paid, streets are not be cleaned, garbage not being picked up and teachers, police and fire men are being laid off.

It is predicted that if something isn’t done now, there could be as much as 8 million foreclosures over the next four years.

Americans are ready to move forward and start the healing of America.  Since President Obama announced his plan on Wednesday, mortgage lenders have already reported a dramatic increase in the number of calls from homeowners who want to refinance. LendingTree.com has said that refinancing volume shot up 88 percent over the previous week because of Obama’s plan.

The plan may not be perfect but it is a step in the right direction and will stop the foreclosure roller coaster and help credit to start flowing again.

What’s good for the people is usually not good for politics.  Let us do what’s good for the people and get beyond party politics, principles and philosophies so we can get stability in our financial markets. WE need stability, stability and more stability now.  Let us think more about WE as a nation and less of ME as an individual as WE go through this time of national crisis.

America is still the greatest country in the world, let’s work together and keep it that way!

 

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