Category Archives : Current Buzz

Ideas For Change

I received an email that may be old, but it was new to me.  Norma White is a lady from Texas who wrote a guest column proposing the following changes:

  • Limit Congress from serving more than two terms.  That is all that presidents are allowed.
  • Stop Congress from voting on their own raises.  How did that ever get started?
  • Stop paying lawmakers’ high-priced insurance premiums.  After all, they are only part-time employees.  They might pass some law changes on the insurance companies, if they had to find one.
  • Stop paying lawmakers their full salary after serving just one term, or at retirement.  We need to get rid of that pension plan; they’ve let other companies get rid of theirs.  You were lucky to get 40-50 percent of your salary after working somewhere for 35 years, but they get 100 percent.
  • Make Congress pay into the Social Security system.  They make laws for it.  If they spent some of their own money, they might be interested in making it solvent.
  • Stop handing out aid to illegal aliens.  If we did, then Medicaid and the food stamp program would have enough money to aid the aged and poor.
  • Secure our borders.
  • Stop allowing babies born to illegal aliens in the United States automatic U.S. citizenship.
  • Stop the abuse of our benevolent welfare system.  We feed children free meals three times a day until they are 17.  Churches give away good, clean clothes.  Companies buy and donate school supplies.  Emergency rooms provide health care at taxpayer expense and the food stamp program is buying food at home.  What are the parents doing for their children?
  • Have a computer program that cross checks Social Security numbers with fingerprints to stop fraud on many fronts.  Use it on voter registration, too.
  • Stop bailing out mortgage companies and banks that give loans to people who cannot afford them.
  • Stop companies from paying CEOs and other executives outrageous salaries and bonuses while doing away with workers’ pensions.
  • Stop all unnecessary spending so we will have the money for our nation’s security, and to help needy and elderly Americans.
  • Stop permitting anyone to have a photo with their face covered on driver’s licenses.

I wonder when this was printed; if it was a while ago it would seem almost prophetic.  At any rate, I’m sure many will agree with some and dislike other proposed changes.

Health Care Reform Terms You Should Know

Nobody I personally know works in congress or the senate.  Therefore, I don’t know anyone who is making money through lobbyists for their daily actions and votes.  Working for these institutions seems to be more of a money grab than a position where you represent the American public.  Political party affiliation doesn’t matter; on the outside and until proven otherwise, politicians are shady characters.

Cash For Cloture – The official name is H.R. 3590, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  But this week, it has acquired an unhelpful nickname: “Cash for Cloture.”

Cloture is the legislative term for cutting off debate and holding a final vote.  The term came from the fact that a closer look at the bill uncovers man backroom deals that were made to secure the 60 votes needed to invoke cloture.  I would say this isn’t surprising at all given the (un) ethical behaviors in our government.

Louisiana Purchase – $100 million in extra Medicaid money for the Bayou State, requested by Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.).

Cornhusker Kickback – $100 million in extra Medicaid money, this time for Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.).

U Con – Senator Christopher Dodd (D-Conn) had $100 million written into legislature for a medical center in his state.  Earlier, when GOP staff member mistakenly thought the medical center was destined for Indiana rather than Connecticut, they named it the “Bayh Off” for Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.).

Botax – Democratic leaders had a tax in the bill that created an appearance problem.  Fortunately, they had removed from the bill the tax on cosmetic procedures (the “Botax”) and replaced it with a tax on tanning (which would primarily impact House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio).

Handout Montana – Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) secured Medicare coverage for anybody exposed to asbestos — as long as they worked in a mine in Libby, Mont.

Gator Aid – Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) inserted a grandfather clause that would allow Floridians to preserve their pricey Medicare Advantage program.

Iowa Pork and Omaha Prime Cuts – Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) won more Medicare money for low-volume hospitals of the sort commonly found in Iowa, while Nebraska’s Nelson won a “carve out” provision that would reduce fees for Mutual of Omaha and other Nebraska insurers.

“I don’t know if there is a senator that doesn’t have something in this bill that was important to them,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) reasoned when asked at a news conference Monday about the cash-for-cloture accusation.  “And if they don’t have something in it important to them, then it doesn’t speak well of them.”

I wish we, the general public, could see through the facade and know how much money each one of these politicians will make because of health care reform.  It would be extremely naive at this point to think they are doing this without the possibility of personal gain.  It would also be naive to assume this all started in late January, when Obama became president.  Obama’s presidency is raising awareness because people are taking notice and paying attention for various “reasons.”  If we were paying attention for the past 100 years maybe things would be different.  As it stands, we may have traded one problem for another one and only time will show the better of two evils.


The Biggest Business Deal Of Your Life – Guest Post

Here at 7daybuzz we are always excited when one of our friends agrees to write something for us.  In light of recent developments surrounding Tiger Woods, this post written by Nathan J. Bennett is timely and appropriate.  We, as a society, are constantly changing our values, morals and beliefs.  As a result, thoughts concerning marriage come up often because of actions which take place as a result of those changes.  Here is one man’s take on marriage.

The Biggest Business Deal Of Your Life

Marriage is a social union or legal contract between individuals that creates kinship.  Marriage is also an institution that is historically filled with restrictions.  From age, to race, to sexual orientation, to gender, to social status, restrictions are placed on marriage by society for reasons of benefiting the children, passing on healthy genes, to keep property concentrated, or because of prejudice and fear.  As we all know many married couples opt not to procreate, and as far as the paperwork is concerned marriage is a business contract.

Since the United States has separated church and state there are a few things I find troubling from legal aspect to marriage.  Take away religion and marriage seems to me more of a business deal; investing your time, energy, and money into this deal to make your life better.  There is nothing in law stating that you have to be married to have kids or have to be married to live with someone you care about.  These are just traditions that we have kept since the church was in control.  Now we don’t even need to say “Under God” in our pledge of allegiance because it may offend someone.

So why is it, two individuals of the same sex cannot enter into this deal?  Not to say that the rest of society has to accept them as a married couple or view them in the same way as a man and woman who are married.  But why can those two individuals get the same financial breaks as a man and woman who opt to get married.  Many men and woman in this country get married for only financial gains.  Sex, partnership, kinship and pro creation have nothing to do with the act for many married couples. This is indeed sad but it does happen.

Secondly another aspect of marriage that I think would deter many people from getting married legally is if there was an enforced prenuptial agreement that couples could opt out of.  Most people do not go into marriage thinking that it is going to be over in less than 5 years, but more and more this is happening.  If two members go into a marriage with sensible heads and are really committed to making the marriage work this should not be a problem.  Let’s say by law if two members get divorced within ten years of getting married the prenuptial agreement comes into effect.  After 5 years of being married a partial amount of the agreement comes into effect.  If the marriage is so bad after only being married for two years then going back to your old lifestyle should not be a problem for you.  Things acquired while being married are joint property but prior to entering into the legally binding contract you should have some degree of protection.  At any time both members can create wills to make sure in unlikely event of their death all of their assets go to their significant other.  For the individuals who don’t want this, they can choose to opt out of it prior to the marriage.

Since the Government has got involved with that matter of our life, only for the legal aspects we should in turn protect ourselves.  This has nothing to do with religious,  or social etiquette of the matter, just the legal aspect for everyone’s personal protection. 

What Does The Public Option Mean Today?

Contrary to popular belief, the public option is not the entirety of the health care reform proposal in congress, or what President Obama proposed on the campaign trail as a fix for our broken health care system.  Health care reform includes everything needed to begin controlling health care costs, access to health care for all, and improved healthcare.

The public option is a plan.  For those who don’t have insurance provided by an employer, or for small businesses who want to buy a plan at an affordable rate, the bills would create a Health Exchange – a one-stop shopping market for health care.  Any private insurance company could offer a plan in the Exchange, but they’d have to adhere to certain standards:

  • There would be a minimum set of benefits for all plans, no one could be turned down on the basis of pre-existing conditions.
  • There would be guaranteed renewal of policies (no dumping a customer because they got sick.)
  • You would not be charged a different price because of gender, health status or type of employment.
  • You would be charged a different rate for age, but it would be more restricted than the Wild West of premium rates today.
  • If you couldn’t afford the full premium and you made less than 400% of the federal poverty line (about $43,000 for an individual or $88,000 for a family of 4), you’d get a subsidy so your premium would be pegged to a fixed percentage of your income.
  • Everyone would have a cap on out-of-pocket expenses. And finally,
  • All of the information and presentation would be transparent — you would be able to compare standard benefits across companies to find the one that works for you.

Although these bills keep changing, Congressional leaders who were opposed to supporting a bill including a public option have decided they will support such a bill.  However, the public option has been changed to the point where it may actually be better for us all.  Bypassing public trust issues, is a progressively watered-down public option preferable to a Medicare expansion combined with a national non-profit insurance plan similar to the one offered to federal employees, regulated by the Office of Personnel Management?

Bernie Sanders, one of the leading advocates of the public option, is now arguing that these proposals combined “may be stronger than the very weak public options that both the House and the Senate have already passed.”

Health care reform must expand access to include as many as of the 46 million uninsured Americans as possible.  What has been proposed to this point will move us towards this goal. 

Also, reform must create competition and reduced costs.  Reaching this goals via a government-ran system is what has ruffled many feathers.  It is something that is necessary and of course the government will suggest a government solution.

Every solution on the table thus far could be described as suboptimal, but we need a change.  Too much time and energy have been spent opposing health care reform simply because of who is proposing it.  That energy would be better spent offering alternative solutions.  Isn’t that part of complaining 101?  Someone who constantly complains should have an alternative solution.  Otherwise, shut up and get in line.

Bailed Out Banks: US Should Follow Europe’s Lead

Europe is united – something unusual – in sending a message to banks concerning bonuses. Britain and France’s leaders are embracing a one-time tax on large bonuses paid by bailed-out banks. This is something that goes far beyond what banks are doing here in the United States.

Noting how the money to bailout banks came from taxpayers, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicholas Sarkozy both came out in favor Thursday of slapping higher taxes on performance pay. Is this something our government is willing to do or will lobbyists prevent [wink] it from happening. I’m not sure, but some American banks are doing the right things on the surface.

Goldman Sachs, the elite investment bank that repaid its $10 billion in bailout funds earlier this year, said it will not give cash bonuses to its 30 top executives. Instead, the executives will be given stock that cannot be cashed in for five years. To me, if bailout money propped up Goldman Sachs and indirectly caused stock prices to rebound, what is the difference? I guess they can’t buy their husbands and wives that Lexus with the big red bow on it like the commercials.

Regardless of direct or indirect payments to executives, Goldman Sachs is a force on Wall Street and their actions will put pressure on other banks to follow suit or do something similar. Still, things have recovered fast enough to allow those executives to breathe a sigh of relief. The house in the Hamptons is safe.

Tiger’s Scorecard

Tiger Woods is accustomed to keeping a scorecard while golfing in a tournament.  Keeping score correctly is such a big part of golf that a player can be disqualified if their scorecard has an error on it.  Well, it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep score in this drama surrounding the world’s #1 golfer.  But hey, it is worth a shot.

  • The National Enquirerer ran an article about Tiger having an affair with a waitress/model/hostess/club hopper from New York.
  • Tiger had an “accident” leaving his house.  First reports indicate alcohol was not involved.  Later reports say Woods was laying on the street barefoot and sleeping.
  • Tiger apologizes for “transgressions” and says he has let his family down – something you don’t say if you only had a wreck.
  • A Florida trooper who suspected Woods was driving under the influence sought a subpoena for the golfer’s blood results from the hospital he was taken to after the crash, but prosecutors rejected the petition for insufficient information.
  • Woods allegedly gives his wife $5 million to stay with him for two more years, changes the amount she would receive if they divorce from $20 million to $55 million and reduces the number of years for her to get the money from 10 to 7.
  • If Woods’ wife, Elin, lasts another seven years, rather than just two, she’ll reportedly make $80 million total thanks to a new payment schedule spread out over the five years after the agreement vests—and it goes without saying that she’ll never be allowed to tell her side of the story.
  • At last count, 9 women have came forward saying they have had past affairs with Woods.
  • Tiger Woods Inc. reportedly paid girl #1, Rachel Uchitel, $1 million dollars or more to stay quiet and cancel press conference.

New Developments

  • On Tuesday, emergency workers were reportedly called to Woods’ mansion and a middle-aged woman with blond hair was taken away on a stretcher.  The 911 call came in at 2:36 a.m. and a woman was transported soon after to Health Central Hospital as an advanced life support patient, according to multiple reports.
  • News is also breaking today that Tiger’s wife has not only moved out but also plunked down more than $2 million to buy a house back in her native Sweden, U.S. and Swedish papers report.
  • Elin (Nordegren), 29, allegedly packed her bags and moved out of her home yesterday in Windermere, Fla. She reportedly purchased the house with her twin sister outside of Stockholm, the Swedish news agency HPG reports.

On one hand, it is hard to feel sorry for someone worth $1 billion dollars, but on the other hand something is going very wrong in his world.  When the dust settles, he will still have millions of dollars and his kids will hopefully be healthy.  In the meantime, Tiger needs to either learn how to be faithful or how to keep his jump offs (slang for mistress) quiet.

A Business Deal Or A Marriage?

First, I have to state the obvious: Tiger Woods’ recent physical injuries and property damage had nothing to do with a simple accident.  Also, I would be highly surprised if 1) his driveway isn’t at least two lanes wide 2) he doesn’t have backup sensors and/or a backup camera on his Cadillac Escalade and 3) his driveway isn’t so long that you would never back out of it anyway.  We also have to consider the damage to the car that isn’t consistent with backing into a fire hydrant and hitting a tree.  Yes, I learned that from watching CSI – the original, Miami and sometimes New York.  Many more theories could be applied to this situation, but it is now evident that something isn’t right between Tiger and Elin Woods.

He cheated.  She may have known about it and was cool until it came out in public.  She got so upset that she decided to play a little golf of her own.

Tiger Woods normally keeps his personal business to himself, but news of the superstar golfer, his wife and the legal documents concerning their marriage is slowly but surely coming out.  Like many previously thought, reports are saying that Elin Woods signed a prenup in 2004 which gives her $20 million dollars if the couple divorced after 10 years.  This brings up two points:

  1. $20 million dollars isn’t very much money for someone who has a $40 million dollar boat and buys islands.
  2. Elin Woods wasn’t too smart to sign this prenup in the first place.  She should have held out for a bigger contract.

I wouldn’t necessarily classify this union as beauty and the beast, but her beauty is only trumped by his money.  When this happens, like it does all too often with the wealthy, I normally blame both parties, but in this case Tiger seemed to have known what he was doing.  By giving her $20 million after 10 years he was basically confirming her place in the marriage: eye candy merely worth a small fraction of his empire.  But his smart thinking in 2004 has turned into a bad business deal in 2009.

Tigers “transgressions” are going to cost him $60 million dollars off the top – still not a great deal of money for someone who is reportedly hovering around the $1 billion mark in career earnings.  $5 million of that $60 million is “a $5 million payment immediately if she agrees to stay.”  So she has allegedly been given $5 million dollars if she agrees to stay for two more years.  Are we talking about two people who are married or Phil Jackson’s contract extension to coach the Lakers?

In addition to the $5 million dollar payment, their prenup is being renegotiated to kick in after 7 years with a price tag of $55 million. 

Since love doesn’t seem to be part of the equation anymore, lets look at this business deal:

Original deal

  • $20 million dollars for 10 years – $2 million dollars per year
  • Unspecified amount for child support for 2 children – very low estimate of $50,000 per month or $600,000 per year

New deal

  • $5 million dollar bonus/sorry gift
  • $55 million dollars for 7 years – $7.85 million dollars per year
  • After two years the child support option is still a possibility should the player, I mean wife opt out of the marriage.  However, the child support contract would be reduced by 3 years – the contract expires after 7 years instead of 10 – or the low estimate of $1.8 million dollars

Yeah, this contract business can get confusing.

Tiger’s legal team should ask the golfer two questions.  The first question is what would make him more comfortable.  It is probably more of a comfort to have his wife at home even though his “needs” could most certainly be met by a personal assistant, shopper, chef, nanny and other female “companions.”  All of these people will undoubtedly cost him less than the differnce or $5.85 million per year plus the $5 million dollar bonus.  But her contract may not have an early out clause so his savings could be considerably more since he wouldn’t have to make the $20 million dollar payment.

The second question Team Tiger should ask is if he is OK with absorbing the additional cost of the new contract and any tax benefits he could lose.  I would guess it isn’t a financial burden since this is what he is agreeing to.

At least I would advise him to call J-Lo and ask her about adding some wording about sexual frequency into his new deal.  Don’t you think that is the least concession Elin should be willing to make?

Tora Bora Revisited – We Fight Too Nice

“The failure to finish the job represents a lost opportunity that forever altered the course of the conflict in Afghanistan and the future of international terrorism, leaving the American people more vulnerable to terrorism, laying the foundation for today’s protracted Afghan insurgency and inflaming the internal strife now endangering Pakistan.”  France-Presse, 2009

The Geneva Conventions consist of four treaties and three additional protocols that set the standards in international law for humanitarian treatment of the victims of war.  If only we could get terrorists to follow the Geneva convention like we do!  Young Americans have died because we follow the rules against opponents who couldn’t care less.  When I first heard about this, I was asked if I had read about the senate report that said President Bush let Bin Laden get away.  To be fair, this could be looked at in three ways (at least):

  1. President Bush let Bin Laden get away.  For the people who are blaming President Obama for everything under the sun this is the view they should take.  That is of course if other things didn’t skew their opinion of our current president.
  2. President Bush was in charge (of course), but Donald Rumsfeld and General Franks were horrible advisers.
  3. Bin Laden was only a patsy anyway.  If all the cards were laid out on the table, some US agencies [cough, CIA] could be involved with funding some “organizations” to keep business going.

“President George W. Bush’s expression of America’s desire to get Osama bin Laden ‘‘dead or alive’’ seemed about to come true. Two months later, American civilian and military leaders celebrated what they viewed as a lasting victory with the selection of Hamid Karzai as the country’s new hand-picked leader. The war had been conceived as a swift campaign with a single objective: defeat the Taliban and destroy Al Qaeda by capturing or killing bin Laden and other key leaders. A unique combination of airpower, Central Intelligence Agency and special operations forces teams and indigenous allies had swept the Taliban from power and ousted Al Qaeda from its safe haven while keeping American deaths to a minimum. But even in the initial glow, there were concerns: The mission had failed to capture or kill bin Laden. Removing the Al Qaeda leader from the battlefield eight years ago would not have eliminated the worldwide extremist threat. But the decisions that opened the door for his escape to Pakistan allowed bin Laden to emerge as a potent symbolic figure who continues to attract a steady flow of money and inspire fanatics worldwide. The failure to finish the job represents a lost opportunity that forever altered the course of the conflict in Afghanistan and the future of international terrorism, leaving the American people more vulnerable to terrorism, laying the foundation for today’s protracted Afghan insurgency and inflaming the internal strife now endangering Pakistan.”

Republicans/Conservatives will be able to explain why Bush wasn’t responsible for this, but everything that has happened over the last 16 years and – hold on while I count from January 20th until now –  10 months is either Bill Clinton’s or Barack Obama’s fault.

“There were enough U.S. troops in or near Afghanistan to execute the classic sweep-and-block maneuver required to attack bin Laden and try to prevent his escape. It would have been a dangerous fight across treacherous terrain, and the injection of more U.S. troops and the resulting casualties would have contradicted the risk-averse, “light footprint” model formulated by Rumsfeld and Franks. But commanders on the scene and elsewhere in Afghanistan argued that the risks were worth the reward.”

What should the United States do now?  President Obama is no doubt being raked over the Republican coals for sending more troops to Afganistan, but a Republican president should have and could have done something to send a message to terrorists around the world.  I say send a message, because it will be impossible to totally erradicate the threat terrorists pose around the world.

I wish we could use our technology, strategic planning and tatical planning to end the war in Afganistan.  Yes, we may have to ask for a Geneva Convention pass, but if some other nations would temporarily look the other way, we could save the lives of some young men and women while sending a message to terrorists around the world.  If not, we should at least reduce the defense budget since we aren’t using all these cool war tools to their full extent.

Can We Make Every Day Black Friday?

We recently had the busiest shopping day of the year, known as “Black Friday.”  Not knowing how many people were out – I don’t participate in the getting up early part of this day – I would assume that it was another success for businesses.

The term “Black Friday” dates back to at least 1966, although its usage was primarily on the East coast. The term has become more common in other parts of the country since 2000.  Because Thanksgiving falls on the fourth Thursday in November in the United States, Black Friday occurs between the 23rd and the 29th of November.  According to Reuters, in 2007 135 million people participated in the Black Friday shopping rush.

Black Friday is not an official holiday, but many employees have the day off as part of the Thanksgiving holiday (with the exceptions of those employed in retailing, health care, and banking), which increases the number of potential shoppers.  Retailers often decorate for the Christmas and holiday season weeks beforehand.  Many retailers open extremely early, with most of the retailers typically opening at 5AM or even earlier.  Some of the larger retailers (depending on the location) such as Sears, Best Buy, Macy’s, Toys “R” Us, and Walmart have been reported to open as early as midnight on the start of Black Friday in localized areas and remain open for 24 hours throughout the day until midnight the following Saturday.  Upon opening, retailers offer doorbuster deals and loss leaders to draw people to their stores.  Although Black Friday, as the first shopping day after Thanksgiving, has served as the unofficial beginning of the Christmas season at least since the start of the modern Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1924, the term “Black Friday” has been traced back only to the 1960s.

The term “Black Friday” originated in Philadelphia in reference to the heavy traffic on that day (see Origin of the name “Black Friday” below).  More recently, merchants and the media have used it instead to refer to the beginning of the period in which retailers go from being in the red (i.e., posting a loss on the books) to being in the black (i.e., turning a profit).

OK, so people went out and got great deals last Friday.  Given the economy, I’m wondering about all these deals that were offered.  If a business can give these deep discounts and remain profitable, why couldn’t they do the same thing the rest of the year?  Even if the discounts weren’t as big I would think a business could reduce prices – not necessarily sales – and still make money.

I could be way off base with this, but we hear things about stimulating the economy and I have yet to hear anything about helping the consumer dollar stretch.  From gas at the pump to grapes at the grocery store, if consumers could buy more with their money I think we would be willing to spend more.

I vote for every day being a “Black Friday!”

Milking Those 15 Minutes…Adam Lambert

This is what Adam Lambert said on his CBS Early Show appearance today:

Lambert said on the show that he believes he has been unfairly attacked because he is a gay man, and he blamed parents upset with his performance for letting their kids watch the American Music Awards without supervision.

“It’s a double whammy — I think it’s because I’m a gay male, and I think people haven’t seen it before,” Lambert said about the negative response that has erupted over his Sunday night AMA performance.

Lambert said on “The Early Show” that it wasn’t his responsibility to worry about what kids were watching at home. “I’m not a baby sitter. I’m a performer,” he said. “It didn’t cross my mind, children. It was almost 11 o’clock. It was a nighttime show. I was there in an audience full of mostly adults.”

Lambert pointed out that other performers at the awards show indulged in some not-so-child-friendly behavior as well.

“Lady Gaga smashing whiskey bottles, Janet Jackson grabbing a male dancer’s crotch, Eminem talking about how Slim Shady has 17 rapes under his belt — there was a lot of very adult material on the AMAs this year, and I know I wasn’t the only one,” Lambert said.

I think this “guy” has got to go and I will be glad when his 15 minutes of fame are over.  Check this out, I don’t have a problem with him being gay because it doesn’t affect me at all, but I do have a problem with him acting gay.  Does that make sense?  He can do whatever he wants to do, but if something he chooses to do in his life is out of the norm, I think he should keep it to himself.  Sorry fellas, but when I see two women kissing it does not fulfill any fantasy I have; it is still something I find unnatural.  Fortunately, I still have yet to see Lambert’s act and I will probably watch it right after I finish watching Brokeback Mountain….Uh, never!

I didn’t like him on American Idol because I knew he was a diva then and he has proven me right.  He knew what he did would attract attention and he is getting it big time.  Shoot, I’m giving him some attention right now, but this will soon be over.

I’m actually growing weary of the whole American thing.  You just cannot convince me that the people who make it to the finals deserve to be there.  I know how the voting process goes, but I would think all the voters would wise up at some point.

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