Saturday, January 03, 2009

Sam Shepard Arrested -- Blows It Big Time -

Sam Shepard Arrested -- Blows It Big Time - "Sam Shepard got popped early this morning for an alleged DUI and speeding. Shepard was doing a reported 46 MPH in a residential zone in -- get this, Normal, IL. The actor responded to the cops request to pull over by parking his Tahoe on the curb. According to the, the 65 year-old blew an impressive 0.175 which is roughly twice the legal limit."
The Right Stuff days are over, I guess. Sam Shepard played test pilot Chuck Yeager in The Right Stuff. For Chuck Yeager a .175 was the blood alcohol level you woke up with on a week day, just before flying an experimental aircraft at 600 mph. Now you go 46 and go to jail. Plus you get a bad mug shot.

Presenting: Cro-Magnon v. Neanderthal in the Battle of Extinction | Popular Science

Presenting: Cro-Magnon v. Neanderthal in the Battle of Extinction | Popular Science
Good headline for the start of the NFL playoffs.

Who Saw The Housing Bubble Coming? - "There were, in fact, many warnings dating back more than seven years--but in the euphoria of rising home prices, no one listened. As time went by and no crash occurred, many of those doing the warning lost credibility or decided that perhaps they were wrong and moved on to other issues."
For my part, I starting posting warnings from others about the housing bubble in August, 2004, but wasn't sure prices were about to collapse yet, and by summer of 2005 I was saying "did you hear a pop?"

'Grand View Six' group fights for right to place political signs

'Grand View Six' group fights for right to place political signs: "Six homeowners, sued for placing campaign signs in their yards during the last election, are fighting back.

The homeowners reside in the Grand View subdivision, a 198-home neighborhood northwest of Patterson and 28 roads, and are being sued by their homeowners association. The HOA’s covenants and restrictions ban political signs from yards, and the HOA contends it has state law on its side. A spokesman for the homeowners disagrees."

Thanks to Mike Reardon for sending this link. Here we have an association spending the members' money to fight for the power to ban political signs--even though there is a state law saying people can display them. What an outrage. Take a look at this, all you libertarians who love HOAs.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Ill. governor's federal security clearance revoked: "CHICAGO (AP) - The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has revoked embattled Gov. Rod Blagojevich's access to classified federal security information, officials said Friday."
This is terrifying. I mean that Rod Blagojevich had a security clearance until today. Can't you just hear him trying to sell classified information? "Are you kidding me? This ^&%$ is @#$%^& golden! I'm not giving this information up for %^&#^*& nothing, you ^*^^$$^&&*^%$#@@#!!"

CNN Political Ticker: All politics, all the time Blog Archive - Aides: Democrats have plan if Burris shows up « - Blogs from "Senate Democratic leaders think Roland Burris, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's pick to fill President-elect Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat, will likely show up on Capitol Hill Tuesday for the opening day of Congress, according to a Democratic aide familiar with Senate Democratic leaders' plans.

They have prepared a contingency plan in case he does, the aide added.

Burris will not be allowed on the Senate floor, according to this aide and a Senate Democratic leadership aide."

Oh, really? The Democrats who run the Senate are going to physically prevent the only black Senator from entering the chamber? That should make for some images we haven't seen since about 1962. Maybe they can find someplace to hook up a fire hose.

I hope he shows up and calls their bluff.

Five Democratic governors seek $1 trillion federal assistance | U.S. | Reuters: "Governors of five U.S. states urged the federal government to provide $1 trillion in aid to the country's 50 states to help pay for education, welfare and infrastructure as states struggle with steep budget deficits amid a deepening recession.

The governors of New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Ohio and Wisconsin -- all Democrats -- said the initiative for the two-year aid package was backed by other governors and follows a meeting in December where governors called on President-elect Barack Obama to help them maintain services in the face of slumping revenues."

If we continue with this bailout madness the role of the national government in our economy and our system of federalism will be fundamentally transformed. To do such a thing by constitutional amendment would be at least a legitimate decision that the people have the power and the right to make. They would not do it, of course, and the bailout is unpopular. It would never pass as a constitutional amendment. But it is being done simply on the authority of a horrifically unpopular Congress, and a historically unpopular lame-duck President who has a record of making disastrous or highly questionable decisions.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Ash borers spread in Cook County -- "Trees in south and southeast Cook County forest preserves have been found to be infested with emerald ash borers, which have already killed millions of trees throughout the upper Midwest."
They are pretty little bugs, but the ash borer may turn out to be a horrifically expensive pest for municipalities and homeowner associations. The infested trees have to be cut down and removed, and that costs $500 per tree at least, according to one arborist I spoke with.

Calif. Taxpayers Due Refunds May Get IOUs - NBCBAYAREA-

Calif. Taxpayers Due Refunds May Get IOUs - NBCBAYAREA- "If you expect you'll be getting a refund from California when you file your 2008 state income tax return, be prepared: you may instead receive a 'registered warrant.' Translation: an IOU.

California is rapidly running out of money. Blame it on the state budget deficit that continues to bleed billions of dollars from California's reserves. Facing inadequate credit to make up the difference, California's Controller John Chiang warns that by the end of February, the nation's most populous state may not be able to pay some of its debts, and instead be reduced to issuing those creditors IOUs."

That is pretty cheeky. How about if, just to be consistent, those taxpayers who owe the state more money on April 15 send the state an IOU?

Government aid could save U.S. newspapers, spark debate | Special Coverage | Reuters

Government aid could save U.S. newspapers, spark debate | Special Coverage | Reuters: "NEW YORK (Reuters) - Connecticut lawmaker Frank Nicastro sees saving the local newspaper as his duty. But others think he and his colleagues are setting a worrisome precedent for government involvement in the U.S. press."
It doesn't take much imagination to understand why this is a terrible idea. If governments sponsor newspapers, you can kiss goodbye to the entire idea of a free and independent press.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Gates to keep crime out of Mohali-Chandigarh-Cities-The Times of India

Gates to keep crime out of Mohali-Chandigarh-Cities-The Times of India: "MOHALI: A 'gated community' in the USA stands for a specially created residential area where the well-provided can stay in peace, cut off from the insanitary outside world. The gates there are filters of luxury that keep out nastiness. The municipal council of Mohali decided on Tuesday to create gated communities in the city. But here, the reason for their existence will be security.

MC will install 45 gates at all the entry and exit points of different residential areas in Mohali at a cost of Rs 66 lakh.

After Mumbai terror attacks, Mohali police had proposed that each sector in the city should have just one entry and exit point."

Submitted for your consideration: a world of gated communities.

Whatever happened to ... those financially-strapped gated communities? : Local : Naples Daily News

Whatever happened to ... those financially-strapped gated communities? : Local : Naples Daily News: "The Quail West community in North Naples has fallen into bankruptcy.

Affiliates of the once high-powered developer Ginn Cos. based in Celebration, Fla., have filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy petitions on two high-end resort communities: Tesoro in Port St. Lucie and Quail West.

The bankruptcy filings come after Ginn-LA defaulted on $675 million in debt owed on four of its communities six months ago. The other two communities are Ginn sur Mer in Grand Bahama Island and Laurelmor in Boone, N.C."

So the answer to the question is: "Bankruptcy." And there will be a whole lot more coming. But I believe the law of bankruptcy leaves owners on the hook for the association's debts, up to the value of their units. - Lawmakers Could Receive IOUs In Budget Crisis - Lawmakers Could Receive IOUs In Budget Crisis: "SACRAMENTO (CBS13) State controller John Chiang sent out warning letters to agencies warning that they could receive IOUs in place of paychecks in one month. Many state workers are safe, protected by a court ruling, but elected leaders and their staff may be about to get hit in the wallet.

'We are in a very difficult situation,' said spokeswoman Hallye Jordan from the Controller's Office. 'The state is running out of cash.'

In two weeks, Chiang will pull the trigger and start the process of issuing IOUs for 1,700 people -- legislators, judges and their appointed staff. The IOUs will go out after February 1st if the budget crisis isn't solved."

At least the legislators are first in line to get paid in monopoly money.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Chronic caller charged with crime in Tamaqua --

Chronic caller charged with crime in Tamaqua -- "A Tamaqua man who had more than 100 contacts with police in the past two years faces charges of harassing authorities with calls about a rock in his yard being moved 4 inches, pool water ruining his grass and children making noise."
Here is a fellow who should have moved to an HOA. He would have been in heaven.
Why Roland Burris will be seated in the US Senate: The Seventeenth Amendment to the United States Constitution: "When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of each State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct."
This is pretty clear. Blagojevich is still the governor because the legislature hasn't impeached him yet, even though it was obvious at least a year ago that they needed to. There is a vacancy. He has a duty to fill it. He just did. The legislature also hasn't gotten around to making this a temporary appointment pending a special election, so I think that means Burris has the job until the term expires in 2010.

Now Jesse White, the Illinois Secretary of State, claims he will refuse to certify this appointment to the US Senate. I think he can be forced to do that by writ of mandamus. His function here is limited. He just certifies that the governor made the appointment of a particular person. He has no other discretion.

Then comes the claim by Harry Reid that the Senate will not accept Burris in any event. They will rest this assertion on Article I of the US Constitution. That reads in part as follows: "Section 5: Each House shall be the judge of the elections, returns and qualifications of its own members...Each House may determine the rules of its proceedings, punish its members for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two thirds, expel a member."

Reid apparently thinks this means he and his pals can on their own authority decide not to seat a Senator who was duly elected or appointed. That is ridiculous. They can pass on the "qualifications" of the person, and those qualifications are defined in Article I as well:

"No Person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen..."

The Senate's function is limited to ruling on age, citizenship, and residency. That's it. The US Supreme Court said as much in Powell v. McCormack, when the House tried to prevent Adam Clayton Powell from taking his seat because he was charged with making personal use of public funds and evading court process. The Supreme Court said, "...In judging the qualifications of its members, Congress is limited to the standing qualifications prescribed in the Constitution. Respondents concede that Powell met these. Thus, there is no need to remand this case to determine whether he was entitled to be seated in the 90th Congress. Therefore, we hold that, since Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., was duly elected by the voters of the 18th Congressional District of New York and was not ineligible to serve under any provision of the Constitution, the House was without power to exclude him from its membership."

That covers the Burris situation pretty well, except that Burris has an even stronger case than Powell because Burris isn't accused of doing anything wrong. The wrongdoing came earlier and concerned other potential appointees to that seat. If Powell couldn't be excluded by the House for his own apparent wrongdoing, certainly Burris can't be excluded by the Senate merely because the Governor who appointed him is under a legal cloud.

Maybe all these folks will ignore the limits on their authority, but I think Blagojevich may very well win this set in the end, just like he won the pathetic excuse for a legal challenge put forward by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

One final thought: Blagojevich abuses his power, so the Attorney General abuses her power by asking the Illinois Supreme Court to abuse their power. They won't, so now the Secretary of State and the US Senate, seconded by the incoming President, say they will abuse their powers to get even for the governor's previous abuses of power. Is there any public official in this entire daisy chain who has any understanding of this simple fact: in this country, government power is limited in specific ways, and those who occupy public offices are sworn to respect those limits? Anybody? Hello?

Housing Market Divorce Twist: Neither One Wants The House

Housing Market Divorce Twist: Neither One Wants The House: "With nearly one in six homes worth less than the mortgage owed on it, according to Moody's, divorce lawyers and financial advisers around the country say the logistics of divorce have been turned around. 'We used to fight about who gets to keep the house,' said Gary Nickelson, president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. 'Now we fight about who gets stuck with the dead cow.'"
Nobody wants to be the one who has to buy out the other and keep the house. Instead the smart move is to get bought out and take your half and...then what?

Foreclosure isn't just for lenders these days | Lynchburg News Advance

Foreclosure isn't just for lenders these days | Lynchburg News Advance: "TAMPA - Donna White never thought she’d lead the charge to foreclose on her neighbors.

But that was before she was forced to fork over extra cash every month to cover bills they refused to pay.

At one point, 60 percent of the 242 owners at Kings Lake Townhomes in Gibsonton weren’t paying their monthly $194 town home association fee."

It never was just for lenders, but finally the press is catching on to how many HOA and condo foreclosures there are.

YouTube - VeggieTales Silly Song "Gated Community"

YouTube - VeggieTales Silly Song "Gated Community"
Just what the culture needed.

Speeding ticket drove mailboxing |

Speeding ticket drove mailboxing | "A man who was arrested for vandalizing mailboxes in Lake Wildwood was upset over a speeding ticket he received from the community’s security guards,according to a release from the Nevada County Sheriff's Office.

During the evening hours of Dec. 25 and 26, approximately 55 plus mailboxes were vandalized in Lake Wildwood, the release said.

Deputies assisted security officers early Saturday morning to arrest Nolan Gail, 19 in his truck. Gail was visiting his girlfriend in the gated community.

Gail was booked into the county jail on felony vandalism charges after he used his vehicle to ram the mailboxes, the release said.

The estimated damage was between $8,000 to $10,000.

Gail denies responsibility for damaging all of the mailboxes.

“There’s no way I destroyed more than 12,” he said."

I think copping to 12 will do just fine as a confession. | Connecticut gated community fetches $10.6M | Connecticut gated community fetches $10.6M: "The apartments are located at 35 Sharon Road and sold for $68,000 per unit. Built in 1974, the property contains 156 units on 10.51 acres. It is a 134,904-square-foot gated community and was financed by Fannie Mae through PNC ARCS, a Fannie Mae DUS lender."

Blagojevich to name Roland Burris to Obama's Senate seat :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Gov. Blagojevich: "Gov. Blagojevich today is expected to name former state Comptroller and Attorney General Roland Burris to Illinois' vacant U.S. Senate seat, a knowledgeable source said this morning."
Burris is 71 years old, black, and a former state Attorney General and Comptroller. His political career was over until he (and probably Emil Jones) convinced Blagojevich to make him a Senator, because he has run unsuccessfully for Mayor of Chicago, Governor (twice), and Senator. That is the trifecta if you ask me. However, I suspect he would have been at least as good at those jobs as their current or previous occupants, and he is as qualified to be a US Senator as anybody, I suppose. I think that will become obvious as Burris defends his appointment in the media over the next few days.

With his crafty little mind, Blagojevich thinks this appointment will pit the leaders of the Democratic Party, who are white liberals, against black politicians and voters. He hopes the party will have a huge crisis because the Democrats will have to decide whether to reject on legitimacy grounds a respected black politician who is actually qualified to be a Senator--unlike the pathetic Caroline Kennedy, who can be rejected because she is, like, unqualified, you know?

And in the process, Blagojevich thinks he will gain some black popular and political support that will help insulate him against impeachment by the Democrats who run the state legislature. Burris is a buddy of Emil Jones, who as leader of the State Senate was the only major ally Blagojevich had. Jones' shenanigans in the Senate enabled Blagojevich to bring the state government to a standstill over capital spending, taxation, education funding reform, and everything else. Jones is a dunce, Blagojevich is a narcissistic fool, and now they have the Burris appointment to create more dysfunction with. Grandstanding and dysfunction are Blagojevich's hallmarks.

Home prices plunge record 18 percent in October: S&P | Reuters

Home prices plunge record 18 percent in October: S&P | Reuters: "'The bear market continues; home prices are back to their March, 2004 levels.' David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at Standard & Poor's, said in a statement."
March, 2004? That's not such a bad thing, is it? We were young and carefree then.

Unfinished subdivisions stuck with underfunded HOAs

Unfinished subdivisions stuck with underfunded HOAs: "Developer abandonment is likely to become a serious issue in the coming year for as many as 200 of the more than 10,000 Arizona communities under HOA control, both opponents and supporters of Arizona's HOA policies say."
Detailed and scary story. These developer abandonment cases are only part of the problem, though. Foreclosures, mismanagement, embezzlement, and litigation will continue to plague many communities.

Fred Pilot notes that the numerous comments to this linked article are striking--take a look.

Police: Pa. man shot for making noise during movie - Yahoo! News: "PHILADELPHIA – A man enraged by a noisy family sitting near him in a movie theater on Christmas night shot the father of the family in the arm, police said.

James Joseph Cialella, 29, of Philadelphia, faces six charges that include attempted murder and aggravated assault. He remained in custody Saturday.

Police said Cialella told the man's family to be quiet, then threw popcorn at the man's son. The victim, whom television reports identified as Woffard Lomax, told police that Cialella was walking toward his family when he stood up and was shot."

Fred Pilot found this example of holiday cheer. Movies cost about ten bucks a head these days, so you'd think people would behave. But no. Many people are so noisy and inconsiderate that only the action movies are worth seeing because the noise drowns out the cell phone conversations. I think many people have never been taught that you can't behave in public the way you can in private places like your living room. In private you can act like a jerk and those close to you just have to suffer or throw a lamp at you, or perhaps tie you up and leave you in the back yard for the coyotes. In public, however, you have to behave. It was once called "manners," a word that has dropped entirely from the American vocabulary.

But shooting people is not the remedy for bad manners in public or private, so the gunfire trumps the noise complaint anyway.

So says Mr. Manners.

Phoenix officer won't allow neighbor to get stranded cat - Phoenix Arizona news, breaking news, local news, weather radar, traffic from ABC15 News |

Phoenix officer won't allow neighbor to get stranded cat - Phoenix Arizona news, breaking news, local news, weather radar, traffic from ABC15 News | "'There's some friction here between these neighbors and I said I could care less about the people I just want to go up and get the cat,' said Smith.

Smith and Toman said they chose to go behind the home on a public sidewalk and lean a 25-foot ladder against his back wall.

In this way they figured they were not on his property.

Just as they were about to get the cat, Smith said, 'This guy comes barreling out of his house, flashed his gun and his badge, and started screaming and freaking out.'"

Normally I would think having a police officer for a neighbor would be a good thing, but it seems in this case it hasn't worked out that way. The cat has been in the tree for 8 days.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Caroline Kennedy tells Daily News: I wouldn't be beholden to anybody

Caroline Kennedy tells Daily News: I wouldn't be beholden to anybody: "'I'm really coming into this as somebody who isn't, you know, part of the system, who obviously, you know, stands for the values of, you know, the Democratic Party,' Kennedy told the Daily News Saturday during a wide-ranging interview.

'I know how important it is to, you know, to be my own person. And, you know, and that would be obviously true with my relationship with the mayor.'"
I think we need, you know, more of these, you know, intellectual heavyweights in, you know, the Senate. You know?

Amateur crimefighters are surging in the US - Times Online: "There are, according to the recently launched World Superhero Registry, more than 200 men and a few women who are willing to dress up as comic book heroes and patrol the urban streets in search of, if not super-villains, then pickpockets and bullies."
I think we have reached the high or low point of the privatization revolution.