The limit of endorsements…

Although my days of voting in Republican primary elections are over, I don’t suppose I’ll ever stop keeping an eye on them. It was gratifying to read reports last night coming out of Georgia that both the governor and the secretary of state, officials who stood as a bulwark against Donald Trump’s attempt to illegally overturn election results, both won their primary fights against Trump endorsed opponents. It gives me at least a bit of home that even though Donald’s voice remains loud within the party, it may not command the unquestioning obedience that it once did. 

On the other side of the coin, we have utter wackjobs like Marg Green winning her primary in the Georgia 14th. That’s a clear indication that we remain miles and miles away from what anyone could reasonably call “normal,” but it’s a just barely a shuffle in the right direction… even if It’s probably still worrisome that the measure of a candidate is “well, at least this one isn’t crazier than a bed bug.”

Now, having said all that, I don’t mean to imply that any politician anywhere that won their primary yesterday is actually any good. The older I get, the more I hold the opinion that they’re all either useless, self-serving, creeps, crooks, or weirdos. Many of them seem to be all those things simultaneously. It’s a matter of picking through the trash heap in hopes that some of them are very slightly less awful than the others.

What a wreck we’ve made of a perfectly nice republic.

The Quickening…

The problem with having bought a house at the height of the real estate boom in 2007 while also being responsible enough to keep up with all the necessary payments is that you’re metric shit loads of cash underwater on the mortgage and no self-respecting bank wants to refinance a loan for a mortgagee who’s not teetering on the brink of foreclosure or bankruptcy. In other words, you have to be the proud owner of a “troubled asset” to qualify for many of the refinance options available. Alternately for a standard refinance through most conventional avenues, you’ve got to owe less than 80% of the value of the property. Without delving too deeply into my finances, I’ll go ahead quickenand say I owe way, way more than 80% of the home’s current market value. Because I played by the rules of the game, didn’t skip payments, and avoided becoming a general deadbeat, my options had mostly winnowed down to one: Sit down, shut up, and take it like a man.

While sitting at home on a snowy weekday, I saw a commercial for Quicken’s brand of mortgages. I don’t remember what I was trying to avoid doing, but whatever it was made spending time on the phone with another bank that was probably going to tell me no seem like a good idea by comparison. Surprisingly, a couple of phone calls, a few emails, and a dozen uploaded documents later, I’d locked in a rate and was preliminary approval on a refinance that decreased the life of the loan and lowered by interest rate (and monthly payment) significantly.

The whole process went from first contact to closing in just a hair over 30 days. That’s not bad for something any number of the large national lenders told me simply couldn’t be done. I’m not getting a dime for shilling for Quicken Loans based in this post. I’m doing it because I had a first class experience with them and realize that some of you might just be in the same boat I was. If that’s you, it’s well worth your time to give them a call and see if they can work some financial black magic for you too.

And the winner is…

Other than back in 1996 when I cast my first vote in a presidential election for Bob Dole, I’ve had a pretty good track record of backing the general election winner. I like to think that I’ll keep up that trend this fall, which is why here and now I’m throwing the full faith and credit of jeffreytharp.com behind the Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. Romney wasn’t my first choice during the Republican primaries, but he’s my last choice, and ultimately he’s the right choice for America.

The history, voting record, and gigabytes of other information about the candidates is available just about everywhere and I’m not going to reiterate those points here. I just wanted to take a few lines to explain my logic and to encourage everyone reading this post to ask themselves some hard questions before they walk into the voting booth on November 6th.

As a federal employee my immediate economic self interest would dictate that I vote for the candidate that is most likely to increase the size and scope of the government, who is most likely to raise my pay, and who is most likely to keep me employed. Mitt Romney isn’t that candidate. In fact under a Romney administration, there’s a fair chance that I’ll make less money, have less opportunity for growth, and possibly see my job eliminated all together. As an employee, that makes Romney a tough sell as a potential future boss.

It wasn’t until I looked at the current situation facing the country from a different perspective that I decided Romney was the one. I had to see things from the perspective of a citizen and not an employee before they came into focus. I think it’s abundantly clear that the trajectory we’re on under the current administration is simply unsustainable. We’re facing a season of hard and uncomfortable decisions and electing them to a second term only ensures more of the same.

I’m not under any delusion of Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan being the perfect candidate, but I’m not so ossified in my opinions to think I need to agree with every position a politician or a party takes on any particular issue. The fact is I disagree with them on some pretty key elements of social policy, but this time around it’s all about the economy, stupid. If we don’t get that fixed, all the other discussions are purely academic. Ending deficit spending, reducing the national debt to a manageable level, spurring economic growth and innovation, and reforming the current byzantine tax code are the big issues for 2012… and Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are where it’s at.