March 30, 2008
On one side, Democrats emboldened by the Federal Reserve’s intervention in the collapse of Bear Stearns are demanding help for “everyday Americans.” On the other, Republicans including Senator John McCain, the party’s presumptive nominee, are urging restraint, reluctant to commit taxpayer funds to what they say is simply a bailout for greedy lenders and reckless buyers.
Of course this is only a problem for members of Congress who accept the premise that an individual's mortgage problems are a federal matter.
The Times opens it's article with this little anecdote:
To the right of his ground-floor unit, two apartments are in the early stages of foreclosure. Across the street, a three-bedroom unit has been seized by a bank. To the left, another one is up for auction.
“The government should help,” said Mr. Carpio, 57, a former truck driver whose wife is a security guard. “Somebody ought to do something.”
I can only agree with the last part of Mr. Caprio's statement "Somebody ought to do something." I'm sure Mr. Caprio and I would disagree on who that somebody is.
But since the Times seems to feel that one anecdote is enough, let me supply another. It's a story I've told here before, but as it's the best response I have to the Times story, I'll tell it again.
It's the story of two young professionals who met and fell in love early in their careers. They bought a modest home in an OK neighborhood though too close to the highway. They started a family and advanced in their careers. After ten good years in that home they felt they were finally in a position to make a move.
So they sold the house by the highway and moved. Not very far - they wanted to stay in the same school district. They found a nice little cape on a quiet street with a great yard for the kids and the dogs. The house wasn't perfect. The interior hadn't really been updated since it was built in 1952, but the price they paid left them able to deal with that.
So they moved in and set about improving the house. A new fence, taking out a wall between the kitchen and the dining room, enclosing a porch and opening that to the kitchen, lots of paint, new hardwood floors. Then the big project of adding a master bedroom to the second floor; in the middle of which it became necessary to re-side the entire house. If you guessed that the cash left over from the sale of the first house was long gone at this point and that they were financing a good deal of this work, you're absolutely correct.
This did not overly concern the couple though. Their debt was manageable at their current income and their future prospects were solid. Then the wife, who had had disk problems in her back for several years took a turn for the worse. After her third surgery she could no longer work and went on long term disability.
With the loss of 50% of her income, the debt level went from manageable to crisis. Particularly since at about the same time the low introductory rates on their first and second mortgages began to expire, just as interest rates were beginning to rise sharply.
"Somebody had to do something."
The couple took their first and second mortgages, and good deal of their ancilliary debt and rolled it into one fixed rate mortgage at the best rate they could get. Once the taxes and insurance were rolled in, the monthly payment was huge - equal to his entire take-home pay for the month. Which left the family living and paying all their bills on her disability.
Somebody had to do something.
The first year was brutal. The torturous living paycheck to paycheck balancing act that many are familiar with. Transferring debt from one credit card to another to take advantage of promotional rates. Double digit bank balances at the end of the month. A bare bones no frills lifestyle helped get them through.
At the end of the year, he got a raise from his employer. Not huge but it gave them a little cushion. They still lived the year month to month but just a little further from the edge.
At the end of the second year, he got another salary increase and things are looking a lttle easier going into the third year.
This could have been the poster family for the sub-prime mortgage crisis. They borrowed and planned and spent based on the expectation that their ever rising equity and incomes would be able to absorb the debt. Until the housing bubble burst and their low adjustable rate mortgages adjusted the only way they could possibly go. Up. And they would have been if somebody hadn't done something.
That somebody was't the federal government. It was me and my wife.
And that is the message I have for Mr. Caprio and residents of Los Portales. Somebody does have to do something. So suck it up and do it.
March 29, 2008
The Geert Wilders film linking Muslim violence directly to the Koran is currently available on You Tube, but I don't expect it to last long there either. You Tube has an established track record of caving in when ever a Muslim says "BOO."
So I downloaded it from You Tube and converted it to wmv file. I'll keep it available until I get a nasty gram from Pixy Misa that it is melting the servers.
Geert Wilders - Fitna the movie (Official English).wmv
March 25, 2008
The truly amazing thing about the imaginary candidate that is Hillary is the truly lame spin they are putting in this.
First her people were saying that she mispoke. But that doesn't seem adequate to cover telling a story based almost entirely on untruths. She did actually go to Tulza so we'll have to give her credit for accuracy on that point. But to misspeak is to say she went there on a Tuesday when she really went on Thursday. To misspeak is to say that Alanis Morrisette came along on the trip when it was really Cheryl Crow.
Misspeaking is not repeatedly telling a detailed account of events that never happened. Not on that trip or any other trip she took as First Lady.
I have heard some defenders of Mrs. Clinton assert that she merely embellished the story. Again, this falls a little short. To embellish is to add to existing details. Saying there were multiple snipers when there was only one would be embellishing. Saying there were snipers when there were none is not embellishing, it's making stuff up.
I heard Mrs. Clinton herself say that she made a mistake but it wasn't that big a mistake. I guess we can giver partial credit for admitting a mistake. But I bet if she were asked what the mistake was it would be misremembering the details of the trip. I doubt she would admit that her mistake was making up a fairy tale of her exploits in Bosnia and attempting to pass it off as a key part of her vast foreign policy experience.
She lied about the whole bosnia episode and almost every word she has said about it since has been a lie.
March 20, 2008
In an interview Obama elaborated on the disrespect he paid to his grandmother in his Big Speech on Race.
610 WIP host Angelo Cataldi asked Obama about his Tuesday morning speech on race at the National Constitution Center in which he referenced his own white grandmother and her prejudice. Obama told Cataldi that "The point I was making was not that my grandmother harbors any racial animosity, but that she is a typical white person. If she sees somebody on the street that she doesn't know (pause) there's a reaction in her that doesn't go away and it comes out in the wrong way."If Obama had shouted that from a pulpit you would be justified in mistaking him for Wright. It sounds like he buys into the reverend's preaching a lot more than he would have voters believe.
"...not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."I still have that dream.
March 19, 2008
If at any point in the last twenty years Barack Obama had shown any courage of the convictions he so eloquently proclaimed, I would say that he would be unbeatable.
But he has displayed none of that courage. He has displayed none of that conviction. He has displayed nothing but empty platitudes and worthless rhetoric.
He has had for twenty years a spiritual advisor whose fundamental view of the universe and of this nation he now declares is wrong. The truth is he either agreed with Reverend Wright or he didn't care enough about how wrong he was to do anything about it.
It's sad really. I never would have voted for him because his policy ideas are just too awful, but it would have been nice if he had been the real deal.
He could have made a difference. But in the end he is no different.
March 18, 2008
Here is what Barack Hussein Obama wrote at the Huffington post:
The statements that Rev. Wright made that are the cause of this controversy were not statements I personally heard him preach while I sat in the pews of Trinity or heard him utter in private conversation. When these statements first came to my attention, it was at the beginning of my presidential campaign.This is what he had to say about Reverend Wright in his big speech on race today:
I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy. For some, nagging questions remain. Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes.
March 17, 2008
Not that it really matters. I was NEVER going to vote for the man. Regardless of skin pigment or genitalia, I'm not voting for the socialist in this or any election.
The choir the daughter belongs to gave a concert at West Point yesterday. She unfortunately could not go because she was sick with a fever and laryngitis. She wanted to go even if all she could do was lip sync, and without the fever she would have.
I'm sitting in my cube in the new building the company moved to, looking out the window at the reservoir, typing this on the PDA because my laptop is not well today. I strongly suspect it might have something to do with the software update to Office 04 (MAC) that I installed yesterday. Because it was running fine before that. I decided to do this while attempting to run some maintenance software. I'm hoping it will distract me long enough for it to fix something before I decide it's not working and cancel it again.
I used to have this great tool called Applejack. It ran off a command code when you booted in single user mode. It was a little strange at first to see my MAC running with a black screen and green type waiting for me to key in commands, but it would do the job every time. Alas there is no version compatible with Leopard.
OK that didn't work. I mean I stopped the thing because it seemed to be stuck. Maybe I'm too impatient. I downloaded another maintenance program (Safari is the only app that seems to work. Useful enough but I need Illustrator and Photoshop to launch to get any work done).
Two and half hours later and full function appears to be restored. I really miss Applejack.
Since having a blog makes me qualified to comment on anything and everything, here's my take on the mortgage crisis and the bail-out of Bear Sterns.
Politicians are quick to blame the whole sub-prime mortgage crisis on deceptive and predatory lenders. In other words people who committed fraud. And instead of putting them in jail pending their bail payment, they're bailing them out.
Here's how I would handle it. Take the basic standard for fair legal lending practices. If a borrower can prove that the lender did not meet those minimum requirements, i.e. committed fraud, then their loan is closed, the property is theirs and the lender eats the loss on their way to trial on criminal fraud charges.
If you can't prove the fraud, you're on the hook for the loan. The lender can foreclose and get what they can for the property to minimize their loss.
If you're a lender and you made bad loans, well that's your own damn problem. If you resorted to fraud in selling those loans I hope you enjoy prison as much as you do bankruptcy.
Pain is how we learn from our mistakes. And it looks like we need to learn a few financial lessons. Government stepping in to cushion the blow isn't going to help us learn anything but how to let the government run more of our lives.
I really like the way James Lileks summed it up:
Speaking as an utter amateur, I’m worried less about a recession than inflation. I’m worried most about a recession, inflation AND a jolly round of trade wars, coupled with fragile banks, overcapacity, diminished consumer confidence and aggressive messianic collectivism. Something about that smells familiar. I love studying the thirties and forties, but not first hand.Got an email from my friend Jack with this link. Seems his son won the state middle school chess championship for the second time in two years. Congratulations to Michael and his very proud father.
March 16, 2008
In the ad she jokes about being too introverted on her talk show. She plays it up with the contrast that she is much more extroverted at a Mets game. The final joke is that you could call her "the blonde bullhorn." Then she adds that she's a natural blonde bullhorn, but that the only way to find that out for sure is to buy tickets to the game.
Thanks but I think I'll wait for helmet night.
March 05, 2008
The thing is, the clothes in the drier weren’t ready. They weren’t damp. The were wet. I checked the lint trap not too much there - but I cleaned it out anyway. I slid the drier out from the wall and looked in the vents. Not too bad I had cleaned them out a few weeks earlier. So I connected it all up again, set the time on the control knob and pushed start.
The drier is 6 years old. We have repaired it twice at over $100 a pop. 20 minutes later i was at Home Depot ordering a new dryer that was delivered today at 3:15. So I had to leave work early to deal with the delivery.
I walked out to the car and noticed a sizable bubble on the side of the right rear tire.
I crossed my fingers and headed for home and made it without a blowout.
Now my nice new drier is sitting in the basement waiting to be connected to electricity and the vent while I sit at the tire store waiting for them to replace all four five-year-old tires. Hoping they get them done before I have to pick up the boy.
The bright side to this tale of woe is that thanks to the miracle of e-filing and direct deposit we have already gotten our federal tax refund.
March 02, 2008
The question I have been pondering for the last several days is, "What would be the cultural impact of John McCain winning the general election." More specifically, what will happen to race and gender relations in our culture if the citizenry elects the old white guy instead of the the woman or the black guy?
It will come down to how those groups, and their most vocal activists, decide to view the glass. Assuming, as seems likely, that the democrats nominate Barack Obama (NOTE: I'm not writing Mrs. Clinton off until Obama is officially the nominee) What would be the perspective of "black leaders" such as Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton to his loss in the general election?
Would they see the glass as not half full, but full to the brim? Would they see the nomination of a black man by a national party for the office of president as a victory? Would they see every vote he receives as a vindication. Would they acknowledge that even though he lost, Obama's presence as a major party candidate in the presidential election represents significant progress on the issue of race in America?
Or would they see every vote cast for McCain not as a vote for more conservative(ish) policies, or as a vote in disagreement with Obama's political philosophy but as a vote for continued racism in America?
Given the history of these self-proclaimed "black leaders" to see everything through the a filter of racial injustice I wouldn't expect them to celebrate the success of Obama but rather to see his loss as an opportunity to denounce America for cultural racism. They would be unable to see an Obama loss in the general election as a judgement on the content of his character or his political ideas, because they reflexively judge him, and everyone else, only by the color of his skin.
Most importantly for them, the opportunity to demagogue an Obama defeat as the ultimate racial injustice, gives them the opportunity to get their name in paper, their face on television and to reassert their flagging relevance. Their interests, and the interests of those like them who may be less publicly visible, lie in not only maintaining but in widening any racial divide that exists in this country. For them, an Obama loss is a bigger plus than an Obama Presidency.
An Obama loss and the resultant demagoguery could set back race relations in this country 20 to 30 years.
We all lose.
This is not to say that we should elect Barack Obama just to assuage the victimology of racial politics. Neither, if the nomination goes the other way, should we elect Mrs. Clinton to appease the cries of sexism from the feminist crowd.
The policies they both put forward are nothing but pure socialism. Their ideas represent a complete break from the ideals of liberty, personal responsibility and individualism that are the foundation on which this country is built. Granted, no President ever gets to enact every idea they put forth. Thanks to the wisdom of those who came before us, the congress and the courts are there to stop them from going too far. But if Obama or Mrs. Clinton are elected and and carry through 25% of what they are promising on the campaign trail, the result will be higher taxes, economic decline, and loss of liberty.
We all lose.
It is going to be a long four years of fighting. Fighting to prevent the preachers of racial divide from tearing the country apart, or fighting the creeping crud of socialism. But I am at heart glass half full kind of guy. I don't think the race mongers and the socialists are strong enough to completely crush the American spirit. It may be a rough road, but we will reach the other end whole and stronger for the struggle.
March 01, 2008
Here are the rules:
Bold movies you have watched and liked.
Turn red movies you have watched and loved.
Italicize movies you saw and didn’t like.
Leave as is movies you haven’t seen.
The random commentary is optional and included mostly for my own amusement.
The Godfather (1972)
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
The Godfather: Part II (1974)
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Schindler’s List (1993)
Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) (I was a little schizophrenic on this one so I did bold and red. If I was feeling bipolar I probably would have thrown in italics too.)
Casablanca (1942) (Some day I'm going to rent this one)
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) (I liked the first ending - the coronation of Aragon at Gondor. By the fifth or sixth ending I just wanted it over.)
Star Wars (1977)
12 Angry Men (1957)
Rear Window (1954)
No Country for Old Men (2007)
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
City of God (2002)
Once Upon a Time in the West (196
The Usual Suspects (1995)
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
Citizen Kane (1941)
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
North by Northwest (1959)
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
Fight Club (1999)
Memento (2000) (Showing a run of the mill who done it backwards doesn't make it good.)
Sunset Blvd. (1950)
Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) (This would have been red about 120 viewings ago)
The Matrix (1999)
Taxi Driver (1976)
Apocalypse Now (1979)
American Beauty (1999)
The Departed (2006)
Paths of Glory (1957)
American History X (199
To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
The Third Man (1949)
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (194
The Pianist (2002)
The Shining (1980)
Double Indemnity (1944)
L.A. Confidential (1997)
Leben der Anderen, Das [The Lives of Others] (2006)
The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
Boot, Das (1981)
The Maltese Falcon (1941)
Saving Private Ryan (199
Reservoir Dogs (1992)
Forrest Gump (1994)
Aliens (1986) (I liked the book better)
Raging Bull (1980)
Singin’ in the Rain (1952) (What's not to like?)
Hotel Rwanda (2004)
Sin City (2005)
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
All About Eve (1950)
Modern Times (1936)
Some Like It Hot (1959)
2001: A Space Odyssey (196 (My God. It's full of crap)
The Seventh Seal (1957)
The Great Escape (1963)
On the Waterfront (1954)
Touch of Evil (195
The Elephant Man (1980)
The Prestige (2006)
Vita è bella, La [Life Is Beautiful] (1997)
The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
The Sting (1973) (You Fallah?)
Strangers on a Train (1951)
Full Metal Jacket (1987)
The Apartment (1960)
City Lights (1931)
Cinema Paradiso (198
Batman Begins (2005)
The Big Sleep (1946)
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
Once Upon a Time in America (1984)
Blade Runner (1982)
The Great Dictator (1940)
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Salaire de la peur, Le [The Wages of Fear](1953)
High Noon (1952)
Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (Could have done without the attack of the teddy bears and the whole nature vs technology crap though)
The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
Back to the Future (1985)
Oldboy (2003) (
Million Dollar Baby (2004)
Cool Hand Luke (1967)
Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)
Donnie Darko (2001)
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) (They should have stopped before making this one. But they're doing another one so I guess that "Last Crusade" title was just a scam.)
The Green Mile (1999)
Annie Hall (1977)
Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)
The Sixth Sense (1999)
Diaboliques, Les [The Devils] (1955)
It Happened One Night (1934)
The Deer Hunter (197
Life of Brian (1979)
Die Hard (198
The General (1927)
American Gangster (2007)
V for Vendetta (2005)
Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)
The Graduate (1967)
The Princess Bride (1987)
The Wild Bunch (1969)
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
Letters from Iwo Jima (2006)
The Night of the Hunter (1955)
The African Queen (1951)
Stand by Me (1986)
Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004)
Witness for the Prosecution (1957)
The Big Lebowski (199 (Dude. This movie sucks.)
The Conversation (1974)
Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
Wo hu cang long [Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon ] (2000)
The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
Gone with the Wind (1939) (haven't seen it. and I don't give a damn)
3:10 to Yuma (2007)
Cabinet des Dr. Caligari., Das [The Cabinet of Dr Caligari] (1920)
The Thing (1982)
Groundhog Day (1993)
The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
Toy Story (1995)
Out of the Past (1947)
Twelve Monkeys (1995)
Ed Wood (1994)
The Terminator (1984)
In the Heat of the Night (1967)
The Philadelphia Story (1940)
The Exorcist (1973)
Anatomy of a Murder (1959)
The Hustler (1961)
Toy Story 2 (1999)
The Lion King (1994) (If you had to watch this as many times as I have - you'd hate it too)
Big Fish (2003) (Surrealism and I don't get along)
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (199
Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
Young Frankenstein (1974)
Magnolia (1999) (No movie with Tom Cruise deserves to be this pretentious)
A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
In Cold Blood (1967)
Rosemary’s Baby (196
Dial M for Murder (1954)
All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
Roman Holiday (1953)
A Christmas Story (1983) (This one is in danger of suffering from familiarity breeding contempt)
Ying xiong [Hero] (2002)
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
Cinderella Man (2005)
The Searchers (1956)
Finding Neverland (2004)
Inherit the Wind (1960)
His Girl Friday (1940)
A Man for All Seasons (1966)
Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)
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