I will still participate in Instapundit’s effort to link to worthy charities that can make a difference to the hurricane victims in New Orleans and surrounding areas. My suggestion was Catholic Charities. Given the enormous Catholic population of Louisiana they are a wise choice. Professor Reynolds listed them, several times as a matter of fact, but gave credit to select other blogs instead. C’est la vie. After seeing the utter devastation on Dateline tonight, if my biggest problem is not getting thrown a bone by Glenn Reynolds, I am a lucky guy.
Archive for August, 2005
I lived in New Orleans in 1993-94. I have always loved the place. Right now, New Orleans and other gulf points are underwater as I type and watch the news. Entire neighborhoods, wards of the city, & zip codes are submerged. This is more problematic for New Orleans than any other metropolitan center. Sewers are exposed and cemeteries are above ground. There is no place for the water to drain. People are punching holes in their roofs to escape the water. My friend called to tell me that between 5am and 7am local time the French Quarter flooded. As I watched the news, all I could do was hope that it wasn’t as bad as it looked, but the reality is that it looks far better than the truth. The septic mess, the loss of precious lives and homes, and the utter devastation is unfathomable.
This building is in the French Quarter.
Not long ago, Maureen Dowd, that sweet, compassionate, open minded liberal columnist for the NY Times, wrote that Cindy Sheehan had "absolute moral authority" to speak out on Iraq because she lost her son in the war. My friend Andrew Clem emailed me the following links that show someone else with absolute moral authority answering back in an interview with Chris Wallace of FOX News.
As you probably know, Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace had as guests two Gold Star Mothers yesterday, one of whom happens to be from my community, Rhonda Winfield. Her son Marine Lance Cpl. Jason Redifer died in Iraq on Jan. 31, and she spoke very forcefully and movingly at a "support the troops" rally here in Staunton, VA on Saturday. I made a nine-minute video of the event, and posted it on my blog:
I also posted three still photos of the event in an earlier blog piece:
The media loves to amplify the anti Bush sentiments of 9/11 families to the virtual exclusion of those who support the administration. The same goes for families who have lost sons and daughters who have died for our country. You won’t see this on CNN or the Times.
To see Andrew’s video directly, click here.
If you live in a place where your home is periodically in danger of being destroyed by the weather, move.
According to Yahoo! Translation tools, the title of the post is "bubble." My wife is asleep, so I have no way of verifying. But you get the point. According to the Times of London, Greenspan is predicting a crash in housing prices. No new news there. After 9/11 rates were slashed, money was cheaper, the number of qualified buyers grew, and the ripple effect has had prices spiking. I personally have misgivings about a violent burst of the bubble occurring. I think prices will flatten, but barring a stock market crash, an S & L crisis or another calamity on the periphery I can’t see it happening suddenly. This is because, for one thing, the spike has more to do with supply and demand than cheap money. Manhattan is an island. To the east is an island. To the west is a wide river and then another state. There is only so much land in Metro New York, so scarcity will indicate higher value.
Here is the reason for my unusual title: Korea is undergoing a housing value spike as well. Their spike is also accompanied by talk of a crash, although the time frame is quite ambiguous.
Though the report points out that 30 percent of the apartment prices in Seoul are unreasonably overpriced on average, it forecasts the housing market bubble will not be eliminated for the next three to five years.
The last time I looked, Seoul wasn’t getting their mortgages backed by the US Federal Reserve. Is it a coincidence that they are experiencing a bubble too? Here is the problem with predictions: Eventually, everything happens. Korea, like the US, has a finite amount of land and a highly developed economy. Scarcity equals value. If the higher values are more due to that than simply cheap money, then it speaks of a far more stable environment than a bubble enabled by the Fed to offset the recession. Just my humble opinion.
In their never ending quest to undermine any legislative initiative of the administration, earlier this week the Times ran a piece entitled "Debtors in Rush to Bankruptcy as Change Nears" which focused heavily on people who have sad stories to tell. The crux of the story is that with bankruptcy laws changing soon, there is a spike in bankruptcies because some fear that if they wait they may have a tougher time having their debts discharged. One of the captions under a photo says
Delores Hawks, 56, of Ontario, Ore., went into debt to learn new skills.
Given that I am in the credit business, I take issue with the tone of the article. My experience with people who have declared bankruptcy is that the overwhelming majority were due to a lack of self control rather than calamity. I might add that lack of self control invites calamity. It should be hard to declare bankruptcy if the nature of the debts are consumer spending. Forcing people to restructure their debt instead of forgiving it does not seem unreasonable to me, and no amount of anecdotal sob stories is likely to change my mind. The only people I know that are critical of this new law are bankruptcy attorneys and knee jerk contrarians. I would think that more than proves the wisdom of the change in and of itself.
What is so unreasonable about paying back money you borrowed?
This week is the annual Best Colleges issue for US News and World Report. We love to read it, perhaps out of vanity. One of the ads reads:
BANKS LEND 17 TIMES MORE MONEY FOR CARS THAN STUDENTS.
The company, My Rich Uncle, makes student loans. Money, like soap, cars, roofing nails and fabric, is a product that is sold. Idealistic thoughts aside, its availability is determined by market forces. Simply put, most student loans are a bad bet. Car loans are a good bet. Student loans are unsecured loans with no collateral. Car loans, like mortgages and chattel loans, are secured and backed by collateral.
I am in a business where I need my clients/customers to have good credit (unlike bankruptcy attorneys, who need people to have credit problems). More than half the time when I have a borrower with a credit issue it involves student loans they defaulted on. More than 50% of the time. There are stretches when it seems like every credit issue for weeks is either credit cards or student loans they failed to pay back. Worse yet they seldom have a degree to show for the money they borrowed.
So, when private industry passes on the economics of the thing, you and I get fleeced with government sponsored programs with interest rates that are the inverse of the risk factors. We get caught holding the bag. Loans get approved, checks are mailed, students quit school quietly, and stereos fly off the shelves. There isn’t nearly enough accountability in the industry. Until there are more checks and balances of student loan programs, the money will continue to flow toward the surer bets and the government will manadate that we subsidize the difference.
With oil producers using their position to bleed every buck they can from the people of the United States, it would appear to me that they have moved up to the position of No. 1 terrorist. I’m sure you could find millions who would agree with me — all those SUV owners,
After reading this post yesterday on A Stitch in Haste, I sent an email to Dave Goebel, the C.O.O. of the New London Development Corp. NLDC, you will recall, is the quasi governmental entity that prevailed in the Kelo Vs New London case, where 7 residents lost their fight to keep their homes from being condemned under Eminent Domain. NLDC, drunk with power, now wants 5 years of theoretical back rent.
This is beyond the pale. So I decided for purely therapeutic reasons to register my disapproval. I never thought the guy would respond. He did. So here, with unedited text, is the entire email thread. I will allow the reader to decide for his or herself if I am indeed reacting ‘viscerally’ and ‘without reason.’ I am allowing the guy to have the last word in our exchange (top email, my initial communique is at the bottom), but will rebut him here. I don’t really want to debate him on it. The white paper he is referring to is here: Download NLDC.pdf .
Mr. Faranda:Thanks for the response. Let me address the issues raised.1. Since the property was in the name of the City of New London, residents were not required to pay property taxes.2. Actually no one paid a mortgage. In those cases where a mortgage was owed (2 cases), the bank who owned the loan took their money out of the court early on. They were thereby saved significant interest payments. This was not an intended part of the action taken by the City, but an unintended action that benefited the residents.3. I can not comment on any maintenance they might have done, but it is not evident externally. But, just so you know, there was a pre-trial agreement that required the residents to inform us of any maintenance charges they incurred, and not a person did it. Tough for us to fully understand this pat of the issue if we are provided none of the information the court ordered be provided.4. This was all about money. Had we been able to pay the residents what they wanted, all would have been happy. But, state statue does not permit that. Not here and not in Fairfield.I find it interesting that you chose to comment on this based on a July 14th article. That is over one month ago. It is odd that people’s passions get aroused one month after the article is published. And, you might be interested to know that I received one other comment from the Fairfield area as well, based on the same article. Seems odd to me.I have attached a white paper on the topic we provided to the state legislature. I thought you might be interested in it.Dave Goebel
You are being astonishingly intellectually dishonest with the idea that the Kelos and their neighbors have inhabited the property for "free" while the case was litigated. They paid property taxes, and in most cases, mortgages. They have kept the properties up and paid for repairs, maintenance and improvements. How is this "free?" If your property were condemned because some quasi-public entity wanted to convert it to a something else and you invoked your constitutional right to due process and lost, would you feel the same? Would you not then feel obligated to be reimbursed for the taxes, mortgages and upkeep you paid all through the time you litigated?
Just call it what it is- you want your pound of flesh. If the case before the court does not go in your favor, it is you who had the visceral reaction, not I. In a case where the shades of interpretation are so vague that it takes a court to decide, you have real gall to accuse someone who disagrees with being visceral and not reasoned. I look forward to the day that governments amend the laws so that this abuse of power can be prevented in the future.
Dave Goebel wrote on 8/17/2005, 10:19 AM:Mr. Faranda:If the City/NLDC ultimately win this case, and that is not decided yet, the result will be that the City has owned the properties for several years. There will be the owners of property that has been occupied by individuals for those number of years for free. Would you run your real estate investments that way? Would you advise your clients in that manner, that is to obtain ownership of property and let individuals occupy it without paying rent? I doubt it. What is the difference? Additionally, these are public tax dollars that are under discussion, not money that is being put into some private individuals pocket. No it is not pleasant, and it may or may not happen. But your statement is a visceral reaction and not reasoned on the basis of land use. I encourage you to re-think your position. I have attached a copy of a white paper we have done on the issue. If you have time, I encourage you to read it.Dave Goebel—–Original Message—–
From: J. Philip Faranda
Sent: Wednesday, August 17, 2005 9:28 AM
Subject: Kelo Vs New London
If the July 14 Fairfield Weekly story on your organization charging the New London residents who lost the case back rent is true, then I must register my own protest in the strongest terms.
You may have won in court, but in the court of public opinion it would be a horrible thing to promulgate indeed.
NLDC – EMINENT DOMAIN WP – W.doc
As for Mr. Goebel’s first two points, if the lender or taxing authority renounces the monies owed them, nobody in their right mind would chase them down to pay it. Had Kelo prevailed, I am certain they would have been told they owed the money.
The notion that the people did not keep the exteriors up simply dovetails with the assertion that the area was blighted to justify the condemnation. He would never admit anything to the contrary because it would hurt his case. I’m sure the exterior of Mr. Goebel’s home is much nicer in any event.
Mr. Goebel’s 4th point is that the residents were greedy and that the maximum amount the law would pay would not be enough to satiate their greed. Ridiculous. The constitution mandates just compensation, so state and local laws are moot. I seriously doubt the people were extorting the NLDC. I have a feeling Mr. Geobel knows more about greediness than Kelo and company.
Mr Goebel’s parting shots are just passive aggressive. I just read the article yesterday, so maybe he’s the one having the visceral reaction.
A big tip of the Yankee cap to KipEsquire/A Stitch in Haste for watching the issue so closely.
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Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi observed the 60th anniversary of Japan’s defeat in World War II on Monday by apologizing for the country’s past militarism in Asia and pledging to uphold its postwar pacifism.
In a speech at a government-sponsored memorial service at the Nippon Budokan hall here, Mr. Koizumi also reached out directly to China and South Korea by saying that the three nations should work together "in maintaining peace and aiming at development in the region."
Mr. Koizumi joined Emperor Akihito, who said he hoped that "the horrors of war will never be repeated," in bowing before an altar of chrysanthemums. Exactly sixty years ago, the emperor’s father, Emperor Hirohito, spoke directly to the Japanese people for the first time when he announced Japan’s surrender over the radio, saying they should "bear the unbearable and endure the unendurable."
In the first apology delivered on Aug. 15 by a prime minister since the 50th anniversary of the war’s end, Mr. Koizumi said: "Our country has caused tremendous damage and pain to the peoples of many countries, especially Asian countries, through colonial rule and invasion. Humbly acknowledging such facts of history, I once again reflect most deeply and offer apologies from my heart."
He added, "I would like to forge a future-oriented relationship of cooperation based on mutual understanding and confidence with Asian countries by squarely facing up to the past and correctly understanding history."
Air America, especially Randi Rhodes, seems to be canonizing Cindy Sheehan and her "vigil" outside President Bush’s Texas home. An article I read today confirmed a few things I have heard on talk radio, and the more I know of this woman, the less sympathy I have for her "cause," whatever that is.
Those who think that President Bush should meet with this poor grieving mother who lost her son in the Iraq War probably do not know that he already met with her.
First, she says, “I was a Mom in deep shock and deep grief.”
Then, two months later, came what she considered to be a disturbingly placid meeting with President Bush. While she found him to be a “man of faith,” she also said later that he seemed “totally disconnected from humanity and reality.” And when she later heard him speak of soldiers’ deaths as “noble,” Sheehan felt she had to do something.
“The shock has worn off and deep anger has set in,” she said.
Anger is part of the grief process, and while I cannot fathom the anguish of losing my own son, I do believe that she is transferring her anger in an inappropriate way. What if the mother of every victim of gang violence camped out in the front yard of that town’s police chief? Frankly, I get the sense that Sheehan, a lifelong democrat and an opponent of the first Gulf War, may be the one exploiting her son’s death. What people like Sheehan don’t understand is that many of the terrorism problems we have today are the result of the political cesspool we as the world at large have allowed the Middle East to become. Benign neglect will never solve that problem, the peace dividend will never be paid on it’s own, and I wish liberals would understand that as much as they have pretended to grasp the importance of a balanced budget in recent years (yes, deficits were OK when they funneled the money to their pet causes, but certainly not to make the world a safer place). So her son did indeed die for a noble cause. If she understood that, it would help immensely in coming to terms with her loss, but that would mean she’d have to subordinate her politics. The ego is a tricky thing.
Sheehan’s actions have probably done more to cause her recent separation from her husband than just the strain of losing their son. Here is another thing they aren’t reporting much: the rest of her family wishes she would cut it out and come home. Remember, these people know her, we don’t. We could be wrong, but are they?
Politics or Casey, Mrs Sheehan?