Saturday, February 14, 2009

In Gingrich Mold, a New Voice for Solid Resistance in G.O.P. -

In Gingrich Mold, a New Voice for Solid Resistance in G.O.P. - "As Republicans confronted President Obama in another budget battle last week, their leadership included another new face: Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, who as the party’s chief vote wrangler is as responsible as anyone for the tough line the party has taken in this first legislative standoff with Mr. Obama. This battle has vaulted Mr. Cantor to the front lines of his party as it tries to recover from the losses of November."
I was convinced the congressional Republicans were incapable of giving authority to anybody except chubby, jowly, inarticulate, insensitive dorks. It seems that I may have been wrong. Michael Steele, Eric Cantor...can it be that this party is regenerating itself?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Selig could make Hank Aaron HR king again | "Christine Brennan of USA Today called on Selig to alter baseball’s record book and reinstate Aaron as the official record-holder for the most career home runs. Aaron hit 755 in 23 seasons. Bonds broke Aaron’s record in 2007, and with his career seemingly over, he has 762 in 22 seasons.

In a telephone interview with Brennan on Wednesday, Selig said of altering the record book: “Once you start tinkering, you can create more problems. But I’m not dismissing it. I’m concerned. I’d like to get more evidence.”"

No way. This is not a bell that can be unrung. Besides, if you make Barry Bonds mad he will hunt you down and throw his head at you.

Pensions: the Polio of the 21st century | Pundit Review

Pensions: the Polio of the 21st century | Pundit Review: "A pension war is brewing — and it’s likely to pit state and municipal employees against citizens who foot the bill for government pension plans with their state tax dollars.

While employees of most companies have watched their 40l(k) plans — and their retirement hopes — shrivel in the bear market, public employees have been smiling."

No doubt about it--this is coming, and it will be uglier than homemade sin.

Hyatt and Stubblefield Blog: Keeping Homeowners Informed and Happy

Hyatt and Stubblefield Blog: Keeping Homeowners Informed and Happy: "During tough economic times, while it may prove necessary to reduce operating costs by, for example, limiting access to amenities or even shutting them down altogether, it is also imperative that the association keep homeowners informed throughout the decision-making process. Although excluding homeowners from decision-making may seem like the easiest, most conflict-free way to go, overlooking homeowner opinion may turn out to be the worst possible course of action, as angry homeowners may react very strongly and negatively to such lack of communication and involvement."
Good advice from Wayne Hyatt's firm, I'd say. Too bad more association lawyers and managers don't see things that way.

Maryland Officials Upset Homeowner Associations Over Clotheslines|NewsChannel 8

Maryland Officials Upset Homeowner Associations Over Clotheslines|NewsChannel 8: "FREDERICK COUNTY, Md. - Frederick County state representatives are promoting energy efficiency, asking residents to make use of their backyards to dry clothes, but it's a move that's stirring up controversy with homeowner associations.

'It is a community with a feeling of community, and this is why I feel for us to be told that we have to do away with what we agreed to is stepping on us,' said Worman's Mill housing association treasurer Cora Alter.

The Frederick community is responding to a bill that district delegates are pushing forward in Annapolis. If the bill goes forward, it will require homeowners associations to allow clothesline use - a way to promote and increase energy conservation.

That's quite a sentence Cora Alter cranked off. If you try to break it down logically your brain will start leaking from your ears.

Baseball Crank: POLITICS: Barack Obama's Gift To Conservatives

Baseball Crank: POLITICS: Barack Obama's Gift To Conservatives: "If Republicans support the Democrats' economic agenda and the economy gets better, Democrats will get all the credit.

If Republicans oppose the Democrats' economic agenda and the economy gets better, Democrats will get all the credit.

If Republicans support the Democrats' economic agenda and the economy does not get better, the two parties will share the blame.

If Republicans oppose the Democrats' economic agenda and the economy does not get better, Democrats alone will get the blame.

In other words, as a strictly political matter, the only major risk for the Democrats, and the only possible upside for Republicans, is if Republicans can distinguish themselves from what the Democrats are doing. And by taking the 'I won' approach, Obama is allowing, even compelling, moderate Republicans to do just that. The result is an opposition that is energized and sees a path to recovery, rather than one that is divided, demoralized and outmaneuvered."

Interesting analysis of the options facing the Republicans. I look at it from an electoral politics standpoint more than the rhetorical gamesmanship.

If the Republicans can't do something fast about their standing with young voters, Hispanic voters, and Asian voters, they are going the way of the Federalists and the Whigs. In the last election they scored about 1/3 of the votes from each of those three groups. A party of old white people has no future. If the Republicans can't turn this around before the next election--and I mean 2010--the Democratic Party may split and form a new second party that will replace the Republicans.

At this point I see a Republican Party with no leadership, little idea what it stands for, in total disrepute with most of the electorate, and no idea how to connect with emerging political forces and social groups. Bush built nothing the party could use, left no political heir, created no political infrastructure for them, and left no lasting accomplishments they can take credit for.

Instead, he rode the "War on Terror" horse into the desert until it died. Then he grabbed a helicopter to a gated community in Texas, leaving his party behind in the desert, with no food or water. The Republicans should be naming toxic waste dumps after him, but most of them still speak well of public.

McClatchy Washington Bureau | 02/12/2009 | Will the stimulus actually stimulate? Economists say no

McClatchy Washington Bureau | 02/12/2009 | Will the stimulus actually stimulate? Economists say no: "WASHINGTON — The compromise economic stimulus plan agreed to by negotiators from the House of Representatives and the Senate is short on incentives to get consumers spending again and long on social goals that won't stimulate economic activity, according to a range of respected economists."
Not being an economist, I don't pretend to know whether the Obama/Pelosi/Reid stimulus bill will work or not. However, I am struck by the pretend certainty all three of them display. Clearly there is disagreement among economists, so how can these three be so sure they are doing the right thing? One possibility is they don't know if it will stimulate the economy, but they are dead certain it will shower money on their supporters, and that's the main goal. I heard one Democrat senator the other day saying they can always come back for more money later, if this bill doesn't do the trick. How can that be possible? I get the sense that we are in the hands of people who have no concept that this is not their money they are spending.

States Recruit Worried Californians -

States Recruit Worried Californians - "Several Western states are launching aggressive efforts to poach jobs, talent and industry from California, sensing an opportunity to capitalize on the Golden State's current political and financial woes."
Pretty heavy irony, California having been the destination state of dissatisfied easterners and midwesterners for the better part of the 20th century. It was a place of unlimited opportunity for people with ideas, creativity, ambition, or just the willingness to work hard. No outside forces can be blamed for the crash of the Golden State. The place has been bankrupted by its own politics and policies. What a tragedy.

There is a moral to the story: the working, striving, middle class is the key to prosperity and social stability. If government treats them like dirt--taxing them to death, making businesses miserable, mocking middle class social values--it is the beginning of the end.

There is also a lesson for the folks running the US right now. They may want to take a few minutes off from their fantastic spending orgy, and their planned anti-carbon and anti-business environmental policies, to think about the tax impact on the middle class a few years from now. This much borrowing will lead to inflation. A loaf of bread will cost ten bucks. Social security, medicare, and every single pension fund will be overloaded with baby boomers--that is just inevitable. At some point the Chinese won't want to lend us any more money. And that's when the federal government will be asking us for huge tax increases. The US will have become California.

Six Meat Buffet » Blog Archive » The Revolutionary War Was Started Over Less: "Who can mobilize enough people for a March on Washington against the porkulus bill? It is clear by Harry Reid’s addition of an $8+ Billion light rail from Las Vegas to Los Angeles that the wish list keeps growing and there is no standard for Arlen Spektre or the RINOs in name that reign mainly from Maine to ever oppose it.

I would argue that this bill is so large that it demands consent from the public in the form of a special election. San Fran Nan’s grin has had more cuts made to it than the bill has.

It’s pitchfork and torch time. If Congress doesn’t listen to us then it should be burnt to the ground. It would still be exponentially cheaper to rebuild than our entire economy after this legislative abomination wrecks it."

What time is it? According to this fellow, "It's pitchfork and torch time." Second time in two days I've run across this imagery. Some folks are feeling that the Obama/Reid/Pelosi regime is running amok.

Obama: My plan means rehires here. CEO: Actually, more layoffs first | Top of the Ticket | Los Angeles Times

Obama: My plan means rehires here. CEO: Actually, more layoffs first | Top of the Ticket | Los Angeles Times: Speaking in East Peoria, President Obama says: "Yesterday, Jim, the head of Caterpillar, said that if Congress passes our plan, this company will be able to rehire some of the folks who were just laid off. And that's a story I'm confident will be repeated at companies across the country.'

Jim Owens, chief executive officer of Caterpillar who announced 22,000 layoffs recently and supports the president's plan, was asked if he agreed with that re-hiring assessment:

'I think, realistically, no. The truth is we're going to have more layoffs before we start hiring again.'"

I wonder is there is a point where the press starts to acknowledge that they helped elect somebody whose lack of executive experience is a significant problem for this country.

CNN Political Ticker: All politics, all the time Blog Archive - In Ford’s Theater, Obama invokes forbidden word « - Blogs from

CNN Political Ticker: All politics, all the time Blog Archive - In Ford’s Theater, Obama invokes forbidden word: "Macbeth": "On a trip to Ford’s Theater, site of President Lincoln’s assassination, Obama paid tribute to the 16th president’s ability to recall passages of Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Macbeth. And with that reference, he unwittingly ventured into what many theater hands believe to be dangerous territory: any mention of the name of the doomed Scottish king in a theater outside of a performance is considered verboten by many actors, who believe it will result in a cursed production — including a greater possibility of injury, bankruptcy, even death."
Oops. And just as the stimulus package is about to pass. Watch out for Banquo's ghost.

Apartment complex wants to snuff out smokes -

Apartment complex wants to snuff out smokes - "Heffelfinger recently got a letter from the property management firm at the Woodlayne Court apartments in Middletown where she lives imposing a no smoking policy beginning March 1 everywhere in the building, including inside individual apartments. Existing tenants will face the ban at the end of their leases. Heffelfinger has a month to month lease.

'I've lived there five and a half years. I mind my own business,' Heffelfinger said. 'I don't think it's right I have to move out because I choose to smoke a cigarette.'"

Begun, the smoking wars have.

Pajamas Media » The Bizarre Withdrawal of Commerce Secretary Nominee Judd Gregg

Pajamas Media » The Bizarre Withdrawal of Commerce Secretary Nominee Judd Gregg: "But in the last 72 hours, a development occurred that may have started Gregg thinking that being in the Obama administration wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be. The issue of the Census director reporting directly to the White House means that Gregg, as commerce secretary, would lose control of one of the major programs in the department. By, in effect, politicizing the Census, the Obama administration is throwing down the gauntlet and risking an all out war with congressional Republicans over the fruits of the national head count; redistricting the 535 congressional districts to reflect changes in population and the allocation of billions in federal spending.

The stakes are enormous. And given complaints against the Census by Democrats over the years regarding the undercounting of African Americans, Hispanics, and other minorities, we can expect the Obama White House to “find” as many of these grateful voters as is legally possible.

The potential for a true political realignment based on the gerrymandering of district lines in big states to favor more Democrats is now within the reach of the Obama White House. Is this the real reason that Gregg decided to withdraw? Perhaps he felt he was being set up to be the front man for a Census that could cripple the Republican party for years to come and wanted no part of it."

Like I said.

US lawmaker injects ISP throttle into Obama rescue package • The Register

US lawmaker injects ISP throttle into Obama rescue package • The Register: "US Senator Dianne Feinstein hopes to update President Barack Obama's $838bn economic stimulus package so that American ISPs can deter child pornography, copyright infringement, and other unlawful activity by way of 'reasonable network management.'"
Is this a backdoor way of creating government control of internet content, or am I just being paranoid?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Sen. Gregg Withdraws as Commerce Secretary Nominee, Citing Conflicts - First 100 Days of Presidency - Politics

Sen. Gregg Withdraws as Commerce Secretary Nominee, Citing Conflicts - First 100 Days of Presidency - Politics "Republican Sen. Judd Gregg withdrew his nomination to be President Obama's commerce secretary on Thursday, citing 'irresolvable conflicts' over issues like the economic stimulus package and the census."
If he had stayed on he would have gone down in history as the ultimate stooge for the Democrats. Not only was his defection moving perilously close to a 60 vote Democrat filibuster-proof majority. Add the fact that Obama took the Census away from him, which would have set up the Democrats to control national and state politics for ten years. Gregg saved himself from making Benedict Arnold look like George Washington--at least in Republican Party lore.

Spaceflight Now | Breaking News | Two satellites collide in orbit

Spaceflight Now | Breaking News | Two satellites collide in orbit: "In an unprecedented space collision, a commercial Iridium communications satellite and a defunct Russian satellite ran into each other Tuesday above northern Siberia, creating a cloud of wreckage, officials said today."
My brother put me onto this story. And I say to myself, this is one amazing coincidence. All that space out there, and two satellites just happen to run into each other. Not only that, but one is Russian and one is US. Why, it's enough to make you think that...maybe it wasn't an accident.

What This Country Needs Are More Pitchfork Moments Like These | Crooks and Liars: "Hundreds of people trying to save their homes from foreclosure flocked to Connecticut's wealthy Gold Coast this weekend to give financial kingpins a piece of their mind.
Homeowners are fed up – and many are frustrated that those who lead the companies that gave them their subprime mortgages live in luxury while they struggle so hard to meet their loan payments and not fall behind.

On Sunday, hundreds of angry homeowners and volunteers traveled in vans and minibuses and protested outside Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack’s multi-million-dollar mansion to tell the wealthy finance czar how they really feel."

Mystery Reader captures the zeitgeist of the moment.

Daily Herald | Dispute over Palatine subdivision unsettled; will come up again April 20

Daily Herald | Dispute over Palatine subdivision unsettled; will come up again April 20: "The Palatine Village Council has pushed back the vote on the proposed changes for the Maison Du Comte subdivision near Harper College to April 20.

Despite a council chamber full of residents Monday night, the board reasoned without a homeowners association representing the residents, they didn't want to take a vote.

'I can't go from door to door and meet with every husband and wife and find out what they want,' Councilman Mike Jezierski said."

Welcome to Palatine, Illinois, where only HOAs have standing to represent the interests of home owning residents of the community. Homeowners, go home. I keep telling people that HOAs have become an extension of local government. Now do you believe me?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Daily Kos: State of the Nation

Daily Kos: State of the Nation: US was 3 hrs away from economic collapse: "According to Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D) (PA-11), in mid-September of 2008, the United States of America came just three hours away from the collapse of the entire economy. In a span of 2 hours, $550 billion was drawn out of money market accounts in an electronic run on the banks.

Rep. Kanjorski: 'It would have been the end of our economic system and our political system as we know it.'

Kanjorski's bombshell begins to detonate at roughly 2:10 into the video."

This C-SPAN interview with Kanjorski is absolutely astounding. I'd like to know just how a gigantic run on the banks of this nation occurred. Who started it?

Rip up a house in repo, go to jail - Huntington Homes -

Rip up a house in repo, go to jail - Huntington Homes - "Last week a fellow Realtor mentioned that a neighbor held a “demolition sale” on their soon-to-be foreclosed home. She said the owner sold everything he could even including the bathroom fixtures! Any and everything was for sale. I let her know that was a very serious situation and lenders were beginning to prosecute people for doing so."
Fred Pilot sent this link. The thing is, I don't think people really go to jail for this. The article just says some lawyer pointed out vandalism is illegal. Fine. But are banks, local governments, and HOAs actually calling the cops after they repo the home and see that the fridge is gone? Or do they just sell it for whatever it fetches and take their money out of it?

City won't reduce community's fees | | Sarasota Florida | Southwest Florida's Information Leader

City won't reduce community's fees | | Sarasota Florida | Southwest Florida's Information Leader: "NORTH PORT - The Heron Creek gated community sought a break from a steep increase in road and drainage fees, but city officials rejected the request Monday, saying the charges were fair.

The North Port City Commission, in its capacity as the Road & Drainage District's governing body, refused to reduce the Heron Creek Country Club and Golf Course's assessment from $75,431 to $50,196."

A 50% price increase? Ouch.

Ask Dr. Joyce Starr and about Homeowner Rights internet radio show 2/12/2009 | How to Lose Your Home for $400 or Less

Ask Dr. Joyce Starr and about Homeowner Rights internet radio show 2/12/2009 | How to Lose Your Home for $400 or Less: "Host Name:
Show Name: How to Lose Your Home for $400 or Less
Length: 30 min
h:33321 s:421935
A homeowner based in Texas missed a $400 payment to his homeowners association - which soon mushroomed into an additional $3000/plus in legal fees, foreclosure and eviction. "
Link goes to archived file of internet radio show.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Bouncing Red Ball » 20+ really thin buildings and houses in Japan

Bouncing Red Ball » 20+ really thin buildings and houses in Japan
Check out these razor blades. Some of them look like a stiff breeze would knock them over.
GOP Lawmaker Calls for Probe of Obama Decision to Oversee Census - First 100 Days of Presidency - Politics "A Republican lawmaker is calling for an investigation of President Obama's plan to move the U.S. census into the White House.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, is sending a letter to committee leaders requesting a hearing.

'I'm deeply concerned' about 'the White House controlling the day-to-day operations of the Census Bureau,' Blackburn told"

I knew this was coming, and if it goes forward there will be a lawsuit over it. Article I, Section 2, of the Constitution says the census must be done as Congress directs, and Congress passed laws saying the Census Bureau is part of the Commerce Department, not the White House. If Obama wants to change that, fine, but I think he has to ask Congress to change the law and that will lead to a public debate.
KTNV ABC,Channel 13,Las Vegas,Nevada,News,Weather,Sports,Entertainment,,Action News .:. Contact 13 Investigation: Red curbs in one Southwest neighborhood: "Builder KB homes put in streets in the development that are too narrow for emergency vehicles to get through if cars are parked on both sides.

Even so, homeowners have been allowed to park on their street for at least a year.

'They've given us no alternatives for parking,' says neighbor Dara Jackson.

On one day, the red stripe went down, neighbors went to bed and when they woke up, 'We come out here getting ready to go to work and the whole side of our street is vacant,' says another neighor, Gladis Aguiler. Eleven cars were gone with no explanation. 'Our first thought was that our car had been Stolen,' Minkler explains. But they hadn't been stolen. Every car parked on their street had been towed away just hours after the curb was painted."

Monica Caruso sent this along. Whoever is responsible, the bottom line is that, as usual, nobody involved in the process has any respect for the rights of individual homeowners. Not the developer, not the city, not the police, not the tow company...nobody. And that is the essential, unchanging fact of common interest housing.

Jewish street patrols curb crime – and generate controversy |

Jewish street patrols curb crime – and generate controversy | "The four enforcers may not be members of the New York Police Department, but to the hardware store manager, if they’re not exactly the law, they’re certainly keepers of the peace. They’re members of a volunteer civilian patrol called Shomrim (Hebrew for “watchers”), which, in addition to Williamsburg, has independently run chapters in Crown Heights, Flatbush, and Borough Park – all Brooklyn enclaves densely populated by religious Jews.

Some people see them as a model for helping curb urban crime, though others fault them for clashing with outside groups – and even among themselves."

Privatization in action...

Monday, February 09, 2009

Japanese Firms Start Testing Robot-infrastructure Communication -- Tech-On!: "Shimizu Corp and Yaskawa Electric Corp opened the 'Smart Showroom' demonstration space as the first step of the 'Smart Robotics Building' project, which involves the use of robot technologies in intelligent buildings.

The project is aimed at providing various services and comfortable living environment through combination of building infrastructure technologies and robot technologies. Robots will play the roles of receptionist, guide, delivery personnel, cleaners, guards, etc in place of humans. For example, they will approach visitors, attend to and take them to their destinations in the building."

When the housing market recovers, or perhaps as part of generating that recovery, I think developers will be making expanded use of electronics, including robotics. They have to find some way to make the product more interesting and life-changing. Having a robot house-train your dog would be a step forward. First the robot has to be house-trained, I suppose. But if Skynet Corporation is involved you can count me out.
Action Report: Elderly condo residents may have to go without power | News for New Orleans, Louisiana: " METAIRIE, La. – A group of Metairie Senior Citizens are hoping that they will be able to stay in what they call the perfect place to spend their retirement years. They say they can't afford special charges for repairs, and their condo manager says if they can't pay, the seniors may end up living in the dark... Each owner is billed by the condominium association for the cost of repairs, which average about $1500 per condo, and the bills went out in mid-January. The rules say they must be paid, or power can be cut off in a month."
Hey, this common interest housing is such a great thing for old people, isn't it?

I think if I ever retire (which is doubtful given that my so-called pension depends on funding from the State of Illinois) I'll buy a trailer and live like James Garner in The Rockford Files, except that instead of solving crimes I'll spend my days watching the skies for UFOs. Somebody has to do it.

News from The Associated Press

News from The Associated Press: Mexican drug violence spills over into the US?: "U.S. authorities are reporting a spike in killings, kidnappings and home invasions connected to Mexico's murderous cartels. And to some policymakers' surprise, much of the violence is happening not in towns along the border, where it was assumed the bloodshed would spread, but a considerable distance away, in places such as Phoenix and Atlanta.

Investigators fear the violence could erupt elsewhere around the country because the Mexican cartels are believed to have set up drug-dealing operations all over the U.S., in such far-flung places as Anchorage, Alaska; Boston; and Sioux Falls, S.D."

I think it has already begun to happen in the Chicago area.
Fox News: graph of job loss during recessions
See that light blue line that is still headed off a cliff? That's the current recession. Based on experience we may see a turnaround soon. Let's hope so.
Look what is or was under consideration in Texas:: "HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES



Urban Affairs


11:30 AM, Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Conrad Hilton Ballroom - Univ of Houston


Rep. Kevin Bailey

The Committee on Urban Affairs will take testimony on Interim Charge #2:
'Research and update legislation that permits residential neighborhoods
who deed restrictions have lapsed to reinstate those deed restrictions or
create needed deed restrictions through a petition committee by expanding
them to more areas

Invited Testimony Only"

Thanks to the anonymous poster who sent this along. Don't have covenants? No problem. Your neighbors will impose them on you.
An interview with Robert Barro - The Atlantic Business Channel: "The last thing is just about the stimulus bills as it stands. Two things here. One thing is what do you think about the ratio of spending to tax relief in the bill. And the second is, if you judge it by Larry Summers standard -- that stimulus be temporary, timely and targeted -- does it clear the bar?

This is probably the worst bill that has been put forward since the 1930s. I don't know what to say. I mean it's wasting a tremendous amount of money. It has some simplistic theory that I don't think will work, so I don't think the expenditure stuff is going to have the intended effect. I don't think it will expand the economy. And the tax cutting isn't really geared toward incentives. It's not really geared to lowering tax rates; it's more along the lines of throwing money at people. On both sides I think it's garbage. So in terms of balance between the two it doesn't really matter that much."

Robert Barro is a famous Harvard economist who specializes in macroeconomics. He goes on to imply that Lawrence Summers is not high on his list of brain trust candidates.
ps: I am not an economist and have no firm opinion on whether the bailout/stimulus/boondoggle will prove to be a success or a failure. However, as a political scientist I do know a porkfest when I see one. That scares me. It would be an amazing coincidence if a bill was (a) perfectly tailored to pull the US out of the worst recession in decades; (b) driven entirely by liberal Democrats, and (c) coincidentally happened to fatten up all the interest groups that shoveled cash as Obama & Co. during the presidential campaign. We shall see, however. If in three years bread costs $10 per loaf, we will probably think the porky Obama bailout bill failed. Hope that doesn't transpire and we end up hailing Obama as an economic genius.

Could HOAs hurt the value of your home? | LOCAL NEWS | | News for Houston, Texas

Could HOAs hurt the value of your home? | LOCAL NEWS | | News for Houston, Texas: "Homeowner activist Beanie Adolph said she’s found “solid evidence” that some HOAs in Houston are not protecting the value of homes. In fact, she says they’re doing the opposite. Adolph is convinced that HOAs do more harm than good when they threaten to foreclose, which is legal under Texas law. With the help of her son, who is a lawyer, Adolph has sorted through seven years of data from Harris County. She says in Houston neighborhoods where HOAs filed foreclosures, property values went up 32 percent. In subdivisions where HOAs didn’t file any foreclosures, prices increased 59 percent."
With a link to their updated HOA data base.

Get Ready For the U.S. Census Fight, Chicago-style - The Sleuth

Get Ready For the U.S. Census Fight, Chicago-style - The Sleuth: "'With all of its political implications, hijacking the Census from the Commerce Dept. and letting it be run out of Rahm's office is like putting PETA in charge of issuing hunting permits,' a Senior Republican Senate Aide fumed to the Sleuth. (The aide said he needed to remain anonymous for fear of 'being redistricted -- Chicago style.'"
This is huge, and it is getting hardly any coverage. As I said the other day (see below), the Obama Administration is getting ready to play hard ball with the Census. This is an astounding power grab and I expect a court battle over it. The Constitution says the Census has to be done a certain way: "[An] Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct." [Article I, Section 2]. "They" means Congress. And Congress has passed laws putting the Census under the control of the Secretary of Commerce. Seems to me that Congress has the authority to hand the whole thing over to the President, but they haven't done that, and it wouldn't happen without the Mother of All Debates. We are talking about laying the foundation for 10 years of gerrymandered districts at every level of government. I see no way the President can make up his own rules on something of constitutional status that is governed by specific statutes.

Should a city have limits? |

Should a city have limits? | "The city of Charlotte often expands, gobbling up new territory to increase its tax base. The city's footprint has grown thanks to North Carolina's aggressive annexation law, which allow cities and towns to absorb nearby communities without the consent of the impacted residents. Supporters of the 1959 annexation law say it's an important reason why, for the most part, the state's cities are financially healthy. They argue that without the law, N.C. cities would resemble places such as St. Louis and Cleveland, where a small, struggling city is surrounded by a ring of more affluent suburbs. But there is a band of opponents who say municipalities have far too much power in their annexations, and they want to give residents a say."
Liberals (David Rusk and Myron Orfield, for example) tend to favor these aggressive annexation laws because big cities can eat up their suburbs, along with the people and assets that have moved there. They want cities to have "elastic" boundaries, as David Rusk puts it, so everybody in the metropolis can be forced to live under one big general purpose city government that redistributes wealth, runs a welfare state, and controls everything through master planning. Conservatives and libertarians (Bob Nelson, Peter Gordon, Fred Foldvary) generally oppose all this stuff because it is wasteful, inefficient, and undemocratic. At the extreme, they want small private governments all over the place that respond to mobile consumers who can jump elsewhere to find what they want. That way government is small and efficient. So this debate over Charlotte is part of a larger ideological struggle. News The Bailout that Ate The Earth: "The stimulus package the U.S. Congress is completing would raise the government’s commitment to solving the financial crisis to $9.7 trillion, enough to pay off more than 90 percent of the nation’s home mortgages.

The Federal Reserve, Treasury Department and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation have lent or spent almost $3 trillion over the past two years and pledged to provide up to $5.7 trillion more if needed."

And this is before the Obama Bailout.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Foreclosures bringing bad debt - Home & Garden -

Foreclosures bringing bad debt - Home & Garden - "In uncomplicated words, you assess the remaining members their share of the special assessment and then you take the bad debt and assess the members for the shortage. You must assess the foreclosed unit along with the other units. Then you treat the unpaid as a bad debt."
And that's how you do the Special Assessment Pokey.

Man Reported For Loud Music Accused Of Threats, Man Allegedly Threatens To Slit Neighbors' Throats After They Reported Him Over Loud Music - CBS News: "(AP) Police said a Manchester, N.H., man threatened to slit his neighbors' throats after they reported him for playing loud music. A 32-year-old man was charged with three counts of criminal threatening and two of criminal mischief after he admitted punching a hole in the neighbors' wall."
Maybe he punched a hole in the wall so they could hear the music better.

Washington Times - 'Doom' rhetoric seen by some as 'not presidential': "From crisis to catastrophe. Off a cliff. Dark, darker, darkest. Mortal danger of absolute collapse. Armageddon.

President Obama and top Democrats on Capitol Hill are deploying these and other stark predictions of doom and gloom to push through their economic-stimulus package. In terms not heard in Washington since the late 1970s under President Jimmy Carter's watch, the new president has sought to terrify Americans into supporting the $800 billion-plus bailout bill.

While President Bush was accused shortly after taking office in 2001 of 'talking down the economy' - and for saying the economy was 'slowing down' - Mr. Obama is using ever-heightening hyperbole to hammer home his message. But the strategy brings great risk for the 'Yes, We Can' man, who just three weeks ago told America in his inaugural address that despite 'a sapping of confidence across our land,' his election meant Americans had 'chosen hope over fear.'"

Maybe the Obama Administration and the congressional Democrats will run out of synonyms for disaster. What then? We will be suffering from a Synonym Deficiency of Unprecedented Proportions!

CNN Political Ticker: All politics, all the time Blog Archive - SC Governor: We’re moving close to ‘a savior-based economy’ « - Blogs from

CNN Political Ticker: All politics, all the time Blog Archive - SC Governor: We’re moving close to ‘a savior-based economy’ « - Blogs from "“A problem that was created by building up of too much debt will not be solved with yet more debt,” Gov. Mark Sanford said Sunday, making a reference to the federal deficit spending that will likely finance the federal stimulus package.

“We’re moving precipitously close to what I would call a savior-based economy,” Sanford also said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.

The South Carolina Republican said such an economy is “what you see in Russia or Venezuela or Zimbabwe or places like that where it matters not how good your product is to the consumer but what your political connection is to those in power.”"

That's an interesting metaphor.

Chesapeake parents take stand over teen's grades | |

Chesapeake parents take stand over teen's grades | | "How's this for punishment?

Trenton O'Neal stood near a light pole at the intersection of Airline Boulevard and Ahoy Drive in Chesapeake for hours on Saturday, a chest-to-trunk poster board of his bad grades dangling from his neck."

Tough love?

Regulators close failed banks in Ga., Calif. - Yahoo! Finance

Regulators close failed banks in Ga., Calif. - Yahoo! Finance: "WASHINGTON (AP) -- Regulators on Friday closed FirstBank Financial Services in Georgia and two California banks, Alliance Bank and County Bank, marking nine failures this year of federally insured institutions."
Nine this year? It is only February 8.

With condo foreclosures, others feel the pain, too: "When too many condominium owners lose their units to foreclosure, condo associations feel the financial pain.

That's bad news for homeowners and real estate investors who depend on these associations to take care of building maintenance, property insurance, utilities, landscaping and other shared amenities.

While most owners pay their association dues as they are obligated to do, a rising number have fallen behind for various reasons."

True enough. But the writer then gathers a vast spectrum running from CAI to CAI to CAI. The best quote is from collections-and-foreclosure specialist David Swedelson, who offers this compassionate observation: "If a minority of the homeowners can't afford the assessments, maybe those owners need to find another place to live."