February 28, 2009
February 27, 2009
The 22 caliber machine gun.
THE EYEBALLING GAME: Fun but addicting
February 25, 2009
*Enabling Up to 4 to 5 Million Responsible Homeowners to Refinance: Mortgage rates are currently at historically low levels, providing homeowners with the opportunity to reduce their monthly payments by refinancing. But under current rules, most families who owe more than 80 percent of the value of their homes
have a difficult time refinancing. Yet millions of responsible homeowners who
put money down and made their mortgage payments on time have – through no fault of their own – seen the value of their homes drop low enough to make them unable to access these lower rates. As a result, the Obama Administration is announcing a new program that will help as many as 4 to 5 million responsible homeowners who took out conforming loans owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac to refinance through those two institutions.
*Consider a family that took out a 30-year fixed rate mortgage of $207,000 with an interest rate of 6.50% on a house worth $260,000 at the time. Today, that family has about $200,000 remaining on their mortgage, but the value of that home has fallen 15 percent to $221,000 – making them ineligible for today’s low interest rates that now generally require the borrower to have 20 percent home equity. Under this refinancing plan, that family could refinance to a rate near 5.16% – reducing their annual payments by over $2,300.
This hypothetical family have unfortunately put $53000 down a home and in the present downturn have seen 39K of their cash vanish. That's unfortunate, but they are not upside down on their loan. They are still making the payments and they can either sell the home and eat the loss or they can do the responsible thing and continue to make the payments and hope the price recovers. And lets face it historically 6.5% anit half bad.
I remember asking my father when I bought my first home if he had any advice. His response was that perhaps I should ask someone else because he lost money on every property he ever owned. I have to say I have done only slightly better than my dad but someone needs to explain why our hypothetical family deserves my money in this situation. They are not loosing their home they are loosing their equity. Sorry but economics happens and its not my responsibility to make them whole.
From Time Magazine: I Bought an Expensive House. My Bad, Not Yours: Read the whole thing.
The only people affected by plummeting real estate prices are the ones who bought a house that cost more than they could afford, hoping for a spike in value so they could sell at a profit or take out a new loan based on an increased value. Their home wasn't just a place to live; it was an investment they thought they could liquefy at will. If we're saving these poor souls from the 26.7% drop in their investment, we should give twice as much aid to everyone who has lost approximately 50% in the stock market since its peak. Especially those in Vanguard's Tax-Managed Capital Appreciation Fund.
February 24, 2009
February 23, 2009
We have all been behind the person at the checkout that swipes their card and because the reader does not instantaneously change they swipe it again... and again... and again. More furious with every stroke. They stare bug eyed at the little screen a voice in their head muttering "work damn it, work".... Finally, after 3.2 seconds the screen changes but the delay has paralyzed the central nervous system and they are unable to decipher the message flashing on the screen.
GOOD GOD! What does it want of me?" the voice screams, all senses focused on the two by five inch plastic glazed pixels, hand trembling white knuckled on the stylus.
In eons past a person that entered this mode while hunting and gathering would have taken flight back to the cave, but to do so today would be to abandoned the fresh bagels and milk byproducts already safely tucked into the reusable hemp tote.
After what seems like an eternity the cashier breaks the icy silence, "You need to verify the total sir" her deadpan delivery knifes though the customers fog of war as she has done countless times over the course of the day...
Of course you or I have never done this.
February 22, 2009
Happy Anniversary Babe
From the Wasington Post:
Worried the federal government is increasing its dominance over their affairs, several states are pursuing legislative action to assert their sovereignty under the 10th Amendment of the Constitution in hopes of warding off demands from Washington on how to spend money or enact policy. The growing concerns even have a handful of governors questioning whether to accept federal stimulus money that comes with strings attached...
Oklahoma state Sen. Randy Brogdon introduced a resolution that he said would enable his state to "reclaim its 10th Amendment right to reject any and all acts of Congress that go beyond its enumerated powers in violation of the 10th Amendment." Other states pursuing sovereignty resolutions are Hawaii, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire and Washington. Similar measures are likely to be introduced in more than a dozen other states, analysts said.
The Memorial from the State of Washington (PDF here ) lays out how the federal government has in the past intruded on states rights and violated the 10th Amendment through unfunded mandates and by co-opting state regulatory responsibilities. Just so Obama can grasp the historical significance of the 10th Amendment, this legislation contains 4 clauses that explain the intent of the founders. This is appropriate I guess considering Obama's propensity to invoke the words of everyone from Abe Lincoln to George Kennan in his speeches. What is curious is the timing of these actions. Has the reality of Obama suddenly put fear into the hearts and minds of these legislators?
It is going to be hard to undo 60 years of federal domination now that the precedent has been set. It will be interesting to see if the democrats try to force the stimulus on the states that have opted not to take the money. We may be in for the biggest fight over state rights since the Civil War.
Last session the legislature was unsuccessful in killing Iowa's Right to Work Law. This year they are attempting to get in through the back door by requiring companies to pay union wages. When the democratic majority failed to garner the necessary votes they made the unprecedented move of holding the vote open over the weekend to give them time to strong arm democrats that failed to toe the union line.
From the Cedar Rapids Gazette:
DES MOINES — The vote on House File 333, which proposed to set a prevailing wage for some public construction projects, still stood at 50 “aye” and 47 “nay” Saturday after House Speaker Pat Murphy, D-Dubuque, ordered the voting machine held open until Monday afternoon to give representatives time to cast their votes or possibly think again. “There’s not going to be any pressure put on people,” Murphy said. “It gives them the chance to reconsider and change their minds...”
Murphy said the extraordinary strategy to hold the vote machine open was implemented because majority Democrats believe it is important to raise wage thresholds for middle-class Iowa workers as the state prepares to launch a raft of public infrastructure projects funded via the federal stimulus money or disaster recovery programs. Critics warned that the measure would add millions of dollars to the cost of public projects. Opponents also said the bill was a political payback to unions by Democrats who hold a 56-44 House majority.
The logic / obfuscation of Representative Rick Olson, D-Des Moines is stunning;
"A prevailing wage will reward middle-class families that put in the work of rebuilding our state after the historic floods and help our state grow out of the recession, while developing a highly-skilled work force ready for the jobs of the 21st century," said Rick Olson, D-Des Moines, who was to lead discussion on the bill."It will protect the jobs of local workers by stopping big corporations and construction companies who drive down wages by using low-skill laborers and illegal immigrants."This has nothing to do with the middle class, last summers floods, or developing a skilled workforce. It is about making union shops competitive by government interference in a businesses wage and benefit structure. If the evil corporations are using low skilled labor or illegal immigrants there are already codes in place that address those issues. The legislature should be spending their time ensuring those laws are enforced instead of hindering businesses on behalf of unions donor.
February 20, 2009
JUNEAU -- Environmental groups said they would fight any legislation that would let oil companies drill sideways from outside the boundaries of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge into its oil and gas reserves, predicting it would be "dead in the water" under the Obama administration.
Their response came within hours of U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski's announcement Thursday that she planned to introduce a bill that would allow for use of a technology called directional drilling under the surface of the coastal plain -- a relatively small but controversial area on the northern edge of the refuge.
February 19, 2009
If oil technology permitted the extraction of oil from from outside the boundaries of ANWR would the environmentalists caribou nonsense cease? I predict that by tomorrow they will be up and arms over this proposal proving it isn't about the caribou at all.
Picture: Thousands of dead caribou surround a drilling platform at Alaska's Prudoe Bay;)
In a move that could help increase home ownership rates among minorities and low-income consumers, the Fannie Mae Corporation is easing the credit requirements on loans that it will purchase from banks and other lenders.
The action, which will begin as a pilot program involving 24 banks in 15 markets -- including the New York metropolitan region -- will encourage those banks to extend home mortgages to individuals whose credit is generally not good enough to qualify for conventional loans. Fannie Mae officials say they hope to make it a nationwide program by next spring.
Fannie Mae, the nation's biggest underwriter of home mortgages, has been under increasing pressure from the Clinton Administration to expand mortgage loans among low and moderate income people and felt pressure from stock holders to maintain its phenomenal growth in profits.
In addition, banks, thrift institutions and mortgage companies have been pressing Fannie Mae to help them make more loans to so-called subprime borrowers. These borrowers whose incomes, credit ratings and savings are not good enough to qualify for conventional loans, can only get loans from finance companies that charge much higher interest rates -- anywhere from three to four percentage points higher than conventional loans.
''Fannie Mae has expanded home ownership for millions of families in the 1990's by reducing down payment requirements,'' said Franklin D. Raines, Fannie Mae's chairman and chief executive officer. ''Yet there remain too many borrowers whose credit is just a notch below what our underwriting has required who have been relegated to paying significantly higher mortgage rates in the so-called subprime market.''
Demographic information on these borrowers is sketchy. But at least one study indicates that 18 percent of the loans in the subprime market went to black borrowers, compared to 5 per cent of loans in the conventional loan market.
In moving, even tentatively, into this new area of lending, Fannie Mae is taking on significantly more risk, which may not pose any difficulties during flush economic times. But the government-subsidized corporation may run into trouble in an economic downturn, prompting a government rescue similar to that of the savings and loan industry in the 1980's.
''From the perspective of many people, including me, this is another thrift industry growing up around us,'' said Peter Wallison a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. ''If they fail, the government will have to step up and bail them out the way it stepped up and bailed out the thrift industry.''
February 16, 2009
February 14, 2009
Washington, D.C. - ... Iowa's U.S. senators complained that the deal could have been better but they were kept out of negotiations of the $787 billion spending package, despite their seniority on key committees...Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, criticized President Barack Obama for allowing the Department of Agriculture to receive no money for developing renewable fuels...It was very shortsighted, very shortsighted for them to do that," ... "Somebody was asleep at the switch in his shop down there."
February 13, 2009
He knew how bad the stimulus was before last week. He knew that Obama had no intention of letting someone from the opposition wield any sort of power in his administration, be it at Commerce or State for that matter. The census decision proves that. He knew that there was no bi-partisanship in the Bailout Honey Bucket nor would his position make it anymore likely. Greg also knew that this was a ploy to meddle in the republican caucus, perhaps with B.HO persuading the N.H. governor not to seat another republican.
Given all that, is it possible that over a couple beers a few Republicans thought, "Wouldn't it be funny to accept a cabinet post then back out at the last minute claiming the President is a partisan pud whacker?"
It cetainly looks that way.
At a hearing, Feinstein expressed surprise over Pakistani opposition to the campaign of Predator-launched CIA missile strikes against Islamic extremist targets along Pakistan's northwestern border. "As I understand it, these are flown out of a Pakistani base," she said.
Can anyone be this damn STUPID or is it as I suspect that the left has an agenda and the war on terror is not part of it.
February 12, 2009
DES MOINES (AP) - Iowa lawmakers are considering changing the way the state's presidential votes are counted as part of an effort to break from the Electoral College system.The proposal is moving through the state Senate and so far has generated little opposition.
It calls for Iowa to join with other states and pledge its electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote, no matter who wins in Iowa.
Once states representing 270 electoral votes have adopted such a resolution, it would go into force.Support for such a move has been building since 2000, when President Bush became president despite losing the popular vote to Al Gore.
Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA)for Kicking Free Speech to the Curb
SENATOR TOM HARKIN (D-IA): Well, anytime – just let me know Bill. I love being with you, and thanks again for all you do to get the truth and the facts out there. By the way, I read your Op-Ed in the Washington Post the other day. I ripped it out, I took it into my office and said 'there you go, we gotta get the Fairness Doctrine back in law again.'
February 11, 2009
February 10, 2009
My immediate task is making sure that the second half of that money, $350 billion, is spent properly. That's my first job. Before I even think about what else I've got to do, my first task is to make sure that my Secretary of the Treasury, Tim Geithner, working with Larry Summers, my National Economic Advisor, and others, are coming up with the best possible plan to use this money wisely…Giethner Speaks, Market Tanks.
...I don't want to preempt my Secretary of the Treasury; he's going to be laying out these principles in great detail tomorrow. But my instruction to him has been, let's get this right, let's create a template in which we're restoring market confidence.
This is the tax cheat that had to be confirmed because he was the only one that could save the world. In typical Obama fashion he built up expectations and then Geithner comes up lacking. Am I sensing a pattern here? Larry Kudlow wonders if Geithner is ready even for prime time:
The day after President Obama’s big news conference, and on the day Treasury-man Tim Geithner unveiled his Bank Bailout Nation TARP III Plan, stock markets plunged in a vote of no-confidence, with the Dow dropping nearly 400 points.The Comedy Continues.
The President is running around the country pissing like a puppy, screaming catastrophe at every opportunity, while trying to put lipstick on his stimulus pig. Let this be a lesson to you, the White House is no place for on the job training.
A group of alumni, highly established in their careers, got together to visit their old university professor. The conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life. Offering his guests coffee, the professor went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups - porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain-looking, some expensive, and some exquisite - telling them to help themselves to the coffee.
After all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor said: "If you noticed, all the nice looking expensive cups were taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is but normal for you to want only the best for yourselves that is the source of your problems and stress. Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the coffee. In most cases, it's just more expensive and in some cases even hides what we drink. What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but you consciously went for the best cups and then began eyeing each other's cups."
Now consider this: Life is the coffee, and the jobs, houses, cars, things, money and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain life, and the type of cup we have does not define nor change the quality of life we live. Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee.
Enjoy your coffee. Being happy doesn't mean everything's perfect. It means you've decided to see beyond th
I kid you not this is how it ended. I NEED TO KNOW...See Beyond What Damn It?
Then there was this....
Saved the best for last.
Place the contents of your wallet on a photocopy machine. Do both sides of each license, credit card, etc. You will know what you had in your wallet and all of the account numbers and phone numbers to call and cancel. Keep the photocopy in a safe place. (NOT IN YOUR WALLET MORONS!)
Limit the damage:
We have been told we should cancel our credit cards immediately. But the key is having the toll free numbers and your card numbers handy so you know whom to call. Keep those where you can find them. (If you enlarge the photocopy the numbers should be readable)
Cover Your Ass:
File a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where your credit cards, etc., were stolen. This proves to credit providers you were diligent, and this is a first step toward an investigation (if there ever is one).
Call the 3 national credit reporting organizations immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and also call the Social Security fraud line number. I had never heard of doing that until advised by a bank that called to tell me an application for credit was made over the Internet in my name.
February 07, 2009
""Running digital only would save about $30,000 a month, Jennifer Konfrst, communications manager of Iowa Public Television, said. "But, as a public service industry, we think it's our role to help local Iowans make the switch.""
February 06, 2009
One senses in a new way the disaster that is Nancy Pelosi. She was all right as leader of the opposition in the Bush era, opposition being joyful and she being by nature chipper. She is tough, experienced, and of course only two years ago she was a breakthrough figure, the first female speaker. But her public comments are often quite mad—we're losing 500 million jobs a month; here's some fresh insight on Catholic doctrine—and in a crisis demanding of creativity, depth and the long view, she seems more than ever a mere ward healer, a hack, a pol. She's not big enough for the age, is she? She's not up to it.
This week Ashley Judd has gone after Governor Sarah Palin for the "senseless savagery" of aerial wolf hunting in order to either raise money for an animal rights (misnomer) organization, or to give purpose to her otherwise empty and pitiful life.
But Ms Palin said opponents such as Ms Judd misunderstood the Alaskan way of life and that aerial hunting was part of a state-managed "predator control" programme aimed at preserving stocks of moose and caribou, on which locals rely for food.
By controlling wolf and bear populations, she said, moose populations that have been at persistently low levels for many years stand a chance of recovery. Early results from six areas where hunting and trapping has been introduced show that moose populations are improving, according to the state's Department of Fish and Game.
"The ad campaign by this extreme fringe group, as Alaskans have witnessed over the last several years, distorts the facts about Alaska's wildlife management programmes," Ms Palin said. "Alaskans depend on wildlife for food and cultural practices, which can't be sustained when predators are allowed to decimate moose and caribou populations. Our predator control programmes are scientific and successful at protecting vulnerable wildlife.
"These audacious fundraising attempts misrepresent what goes on in Alaska, and I encourage people to learn the facts about Alaska's positive record of managing wildlife."
February 05, 2009
I realized after I revamped the sidebar that I had unconsciously stolen the line "Spawn Till You Die" from Alaska artist Ray Troll of Juneau. So in hopes of avoiding some nasty copy write infringement battle here is a nod to the slightly demented art of Ray Troll.
Via: Borderline Sociopathic Boys
I want to personally thank every single member of Congress who is here, abipartisan group who worked tirelessly worked tirelessly for so long that we could see this day. And I want you all to know that I am confident that, if we work together, if we come together, we can finally achieve what generations of Americans have fought for and fulfill the promise of health care in our time.
For those starry eyed conservitives that fawned over Obamas cabinet choices as proof that he was a closet post partisan centrist, his actions the last three weeks should be proof that he is truly an partisan egalitarian liberal to the nth degree.
Update: From Big Lizards: "President Obama offers symbolic post-partisanship only in style, never in substance. He invites Republicans to his pad to watch the Superbowl; but he doesn't invite them into the process of crafting the misleadingly labeled "stimulus" package. No, that minor trillion-dollar boondoggle will be written entirely by the Democrats, of the Democrats, and for the Democrats."
February 04, 2009
For those toiling away in the middle class the knee jerk reaction to this is easily, "screw them" but the reality is that this is the first step onto a very slippery slope. Unlike the Wage and Price controls of the 1970s (which did not control inflation as intended) these controls are strictly punitive plus if this is not challenged it sets a precedent that could be wide ranging. Interfering in the operations of private industry by presidential fiat has been found unconstitutional in the past and this order must be challenged.
Via Politico: Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN) -- one of the lead Blue Dogs -- made a startling admission to lefty Liberadio on Sunday, suggesting the White House quietly encouraged him to buck House leadership on the stimulus.
Then last week she made a stuttering explanation for how funding abortion clinics would reduce costs and therefore be good for the economy. Now we learn from the Madam Speaker that if the stimulus plan does not pass 500 million jobs will vanish in America.
This is a disturbing pattern from someone who is arguably the most powerfull person in American. You have to ask yourself if she is up to the task of leading the congress and the political fight that is brewing with the Office of the President. It is evident there are signs that these pressures are having a detrimental effect on the person that is only two heartbeats away from the Presidency.
February 02, 2009
Last night in a pre Superbowl interview with Matt Lauer, Barry demonstrated that he is a bit of an ASS.
Obama spoke about the stimulus package, his favored team in the Super Bowl (the Steelers), the BlackBerry he uses and how he felt about being cut from the cover of US Weekly on which his wife and daughters appear.
"It's a little hurtful," Obama said.
"You got replaced by Jessica Simpson," Lauer said.
"Who's in a weight battle, apparently," Obama said. (laughingly)
In his effort to find his true self Barry has been going out of his way to imitate the greatness of past presidents. From recreating the Lincoln train ride to his inaugural, to last weeks oval office casualness in the style of Thomas Jefferson (it will be interesting to see if he starts meeting White House Guests in his pajamas). I am really struggling though to find an instance where a president, on national television, called a citizen a big fat cow. Nice Barry!
We also learned several weeks ago that now that the election is over Barry is going to get his daughters a dog. Ahh how sweet you say, but what does that tell us about the President? The Obama kids are 7 and 10 and no dogs were here to fore pooping on the Obama's carpet . Dogs take commitment, they need fed, housebroke, exercise, someone needs to clean up the yard, and they need medical care. In short you have to be a dog person. The Obamas of course want to maximize the happiness of thier children and their ideology says that the best way to do that is through some sort of government intervention. In this case they now have access to the White House dog handlers to handle all those puppy dog inconveniences and the kids get thier puppy. Nice Barry!
Finally, for the last two years we have been hearing about the death of the old political order. In Barry World, we were led to believe, we would move beyond partisan enmities and he would teach the world to sing in perfect harmony. Last week however we found what the new dynamic looks like in practice.
The attitude reminds me of an old drinking toast. " Heres to you and heres to me and if we should ever disagree...Fuck you and heres to me." Nice Barry
President Obama listened to Republican gripes about his stimulus package during a meeting with congressional leaders Friday morning - but he also left no doubt about who's in charge of these negotiations. "I won," Obama noted matter-of-factly, according to sources familiar with the conversation.