Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tipping Point?

I read somewhere last year that the nationwide total real estate market had never gone down more than 20% since the Great Depression. It took ten years after the great depression for prices to come back to their former highs.

The July S&P Case-Shiller index indicates that we hit that low over the summer. [Look at that graph and tell me if that's not the nastiest thing you've ever seen.] Granted, Case-Shiller is not a clear reflection of the total U.S. real estate market. It measures single family units in 10- and 20-city composites leaving out commercial real estate, raw land, condos, townhouses, and new homes. That being said, as of the end of July, the 10-city composite showed a 21.1% decline from the June/July '06 high and the 20-city composite showed a 19.5% fall from the high. So we are nearing Great Depression territory at least among lived in, single family homes in the big metro area markets.

Who knows where we're headed. Some suggest that the market is showing signs of bottoming in some areas. The rate of price decline in some markets is slowing. It's hard to believe we're bottoming, tho, given the fact that the credit markets are nearly frozen and we have yet to see many of the bank-owned foreclosed-upon subprime homes hit the market. At the same time, the number of existing subprime mortgages is falling as more and more people refinance or leave the keys on the counter for the bank. Certainly the market will not turn until the inventory heads back in the other direction. In August there was a 10.4 month inventory of houses on the market. Tho, down from a high of 11.1 months in July, that needs at least to get back down below 9 months.

The determinant--and the big mystery--is the effect the economic turmoil over the last few weeks will have on all this. It can't make things any better. And surely there will be unintended consequences, most of them probably negative, that come with any new legislation and regualtion from inside the Beltway.

P.S. on Pelosi

Just came across the Pelosi quote that I scribbled on scratch paper yesterday and which set this whole tirade off. From her news conference right after the House voted down the banking rescue bill:

"We delivered on our side of the aisle."

Either you're such a sad, back-benching hack that you will say anything or you are stupid and/or on crack and have no touch with reality. You delivered 60 percent of the House Democrats. 60 percent! You are the majority party! In the House that means you have control over everything. You, Madame Speaker, couldn't get 40 percent of your own party to vote with you?! You couldn't even get your own leadership to vote with you! Six committee chairmen voted no.

No, you did not deliver. And by that, I mean, you Speaker Pelosi did not deliver. You are completely incompetent.

Back Bencher

This woman is horrible.

The second highest compliment I give is in telling someone they made a difference. That they left something not only not less, but greater than it was when they found it. Our honorable Speaker does not qualify to receive that compliment.

Pelosi doesn't know how to do her job, and, what is much worse, doesn't even know what her job is. You don't bring a vote to the floor if you don't know the outcome ahead of time, Madame Speaker. Every high school student body president knows that. You can't blame yesterday's train wreck on anyone but yourself.

You are in a position of power
. If you are not going to get the vote you want, exercise that power, do not bring the vote to the floor.

The market in toto lost a trillion with a "T" dollars in value yesterday. Yes, Madame Speaker, that's even more than we spent in Iraq last year. Don't be a freakin' amateur. We can't afford it.

Your job in time of crisis (and I never use the word crisis) is not to attack "this administration". Leave that to the back-assed, back bencher representatives from Podunk. Your job in time of crisis is to do what's right for your country and for the world. You're not in the middle school gym locker room, you're the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives for goodness sake. You're playing a childish game that diminishes your position and demeans the office you hold.

Shame on you.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Pirate update

The pirates reportedly are demanding $20 million in ransom for the 33 Russian tanks, ammo, crew, and ship. One crew member died from hyper tension according to the pirate spokesman. Someone on Fox said that while they were demanding $20 mil., the pirates would probably settle for anywheres from one to three mil.

Fortunately, the ship is now safely anchored (so no one will have to spend too much sweat searching for it) with the American guided missile destroyer, Howard, nearby keeping an eye on it.

"We want ransom, nothing else. We need $20 million for the safe release of the ship and the crew," Ali said, adding that "if we are attacked, we will defend ourselves until the last one of us dies." [italics added]

I got news for you, Mr. Ali. You're a dead man walking. When the Russians get there, they won't be playing by ACLU rules. If you have any desire at all to live to see the next Ramadan, best that you jump in the water and swim to shore sometime in the night.

As an aside, what do you suppose are the qualifications for being a "Somali pirate spokesman"? And shouldn't that be spokesperson?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Halloween is near

We dressed Buck for Halloween early this year.

Friday, September 26, 2008


Aaarrrrrggghhh mateys, look what we found!

In a move reminiscent of the Walter Matthau classic Charlie Varrick, Somalian pirates stumbled upon a Kenya-bound ship containing 33 Russian T-72 tanks and quite literally a boatload of ammunition. No worries, tho, unloading the tanks would be a "very difficult" endeavor that the pirates likely are not capable of pulling off. I wonder if those T-72s come with owners manuals. . . . imagine the product liability warnings.

Now the Russians are sending a navy frigate to the scene to get things straight. What's that line?--"The [pirate's] code is more what you'd call 'guidelines' than actual rules." My guess is that the Russians will go by their own code if they ever get their hands on the Somali pirates.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Electoral Count

Intrade has Barry ahead 291 to 247.

Hedgehog has it tied 269-269. 270 are needed to win. Remember from your Constitution that if no one gets a majority of electoral votes, as would be the case here, it goes to the House of Representatives where each state gets one vote and 26 votes would be needed to win.

Wouldn't that be a circus?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


The presidential Fatheads are here!!!! These things are great.

When I ordered the one for the Redskins last year and got U. Mich at half price, I suggested they make them for John Riggins, Clint Eastwood, and Ronald Reagan. Monica Lewinsky, too, if I remember correctly.

The only problem here is that Barry and McC cost the same. Shouldn't the McC Fathead cost more? To make it "fair" just like Barry's tax increases will make it all "fair". Those fat cat Republicans should show their patriotism and pay more.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Don Says It's McC

Donald Trump endorses McCain. I have mixed feelings on The Don, but definitely respect his business acumen. From an interview on the Greta show last night, here seems to be his bottom line:

VAN SUSTEREN: Are you endorsing him because you've known him for a long time, or is it--tell me the difference between Senator Obama and Senator McCain in your eyes.

TRUMP: Well, I can tell you one of the differences is that Senator Obama wants to raise taxes beyond belief, and senator McCain doesn't. And in a fragile economy like we're in right now, you cannot go around raising corporate taxes and lots of other taxes. You just can't do it. Then you really will see the great depression.

I couldn't agree more. This is the only issue as far as I'm concerned. I guess taxing the rich would be more "fair" (I mean that most sarcastically), but what will be the price to make people feel good--to make it "fair"? Misery for the working Joe. A depression not seen since the Thirties.

All those Baby Boomers getting ready to retire will sell. They'll get out of both the stock market and the real estate market. And they'll never get back in, thus prolonging the misery. Too many entrepreneurs with the capital to invest simply won't, thus killing job growth for a prolonged period. It won't be pretty. For anybody.

Fear the change.

Yipee, Our Financial System is Collapsing

It's a tough position the Dems find themselves in having to root for further economic collapse.

Weather Channel weather people root for angry "Cat. Five" hurricanes. Firemen crave fires. Crazy lefties pray for higher unemployment and lower stock prices. The worse the economy gets, the better for Barry. Similar it is to the situation 18 months ago when they were cheering for the surge to fail in Iraq. The more casualties, the deeper the quagmire, the better chances that voters would choose "change".

It's not so different from crazy Republicans who hope for some sort of terrorist attack that would send voters McC's way.

Bottom line is that this economic mess is another Black Swan. It'll end up being the worst mess since the Great Depression. Greenspan calls it a once in a century occurrence. Maybe everyone should have seen it coming, but no one saw this coming. Blame it on Bush, on Congress, on Wall Street, on lobbyists, on predatory lenders and corrupt appraisers and spoiled Yuppies with their McMansions. Blame it on greed if you like, but all I ever saw was people trying to do the best they could. The blame game has no winner.

It is what it is.

Maybe we should just do like Willie and gratefully acknowledge that "fortunately we are not in control."

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

No to Georgia

I've been going back an forth with a blogger who advocates admitting Georgia into NATO. A political liberal, he argues that Putin would never dare invade a NATO country and so, by entangling ourselves with Tiblisi, we draw a line that the Russian Bear would never cross.

Using the word "never" in this case is naive to the point of being dangerous. The Soviets, of course, would "never" have dared invade Afghanistan. The Germans would "never" have dared to invade Poland. Saddam, I'm sure, thought that because he had done such a good job convincing the world that he had weapons of mass destruction, we "never" were going to invade Iraq. Yeah, and those sub-prime CDOs were "never" a risk to the stability of the American banking system.

Invading Georgia is a gimme for the Russians. It's on their border. It's small and it's weak--the size of South Carolina with approximately the same population. Swallowing Georgia would boost Putin's and Russia's manliness both at home and on the international playground. It would strengthen Moscow's stranglehold on Europe's energy supply. It would even make them rich.

From Putin's perspective, what's the potential downside? We might boycott the winter Olympics? Weak. We'll kick them out of G8? Boo-hoo. We'll put more missiles in Poland? My guess, they can live with that. Yet in the end they'll still have Georgia. And they will have sent a message to Ukraine: play by Moscow's rules or suffer the Georgian fate.

Georgia in NATO would be a big mistake. As I say to my kids, be careful in choosing your friends. George Washington put it differently in his farewell address when advising future generations to steer clear of permanent alliances--avoid entangling alliances.

So, let the European nations kill Georgia's admittance to NATO. Barry and McC, you can say it's important all you want. That shows that you're strong and gets you votes. But . . . are you really willing to go to war over a piss ant country the size of South Carolina?

For the sake of our future, don't commit us to a fight on the far side of the Black Sea. The risk far outweighs the reward.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Look Out Localities

This is going to be the toughest problem facing the economy over the next two or three years. All the local governments living off the teat of the booming real estate bubble have now made promises they won't be able to keep.

Says the AP:
"The three main sources of revenue for cities -- income tax, property tax and sales tax -- are all declining, the report warns. Meantime, health care, public safety and fuel are getting more expensive."

Read all about it .

Friday, September 12, 2008

"You Don't Know What You're Getting"

I love Wifey. She's not the political junkie that I am who follows every headline on most days.

But she's pretty good at hitting it on the head now and again.

On the O'Reilly show the other night (see below), Dennis Miller opined that Gov. Palin is "deep, deep inside [Obama's] melon, man". He doesn't know how to react--attack? hold back? ignore? fake a Biden heart attack to get Billary onto the ticket?

Wifey and I were watching and so I asked her to speak for all of Womankind. "You're a woman. What is it about the governor that's catching on so well?"

"She's authentic."

"But she's a politician and all politicians embellish. You can't honestly believe all that stuff about Sarah-cuda," said cynical me.

"At least when you look at Palin, you know that the embellishment is an amplification of her true self. When you look at Hillary up there, you have no idea what's being embellished."

I think that says it all.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

More Asininity

This quote from an IBD op-ed series entitled "The Audacity of Socialism":
"I don't know which is the worst evil," [Jim Wallis] said in a 1994 interview with the Los Angeles Times magazine, "the crackhouse or the gentrified house."
Crackhouse = gentrified house? Really? Someone out there please explain. . . .

Wallis is the minister "tapped [by Barry] to oversee the drafting of the faith-based plank of the party platform." It appears that he's one of these community organizing ministers who thinks that if you're not out there working for social justice--presumably, social just as defined by him--that you're not being a good Christian. I guess this quote means that you're a sinner if you go into a crappy neighborhood, risk, in many cases, life and limb in addition to capital, to try try spruce the place up.

Oops, I forgot--neighborhood re-hab is only a good thing if the government does it by taxing the crap out of me so they can give my money away in the form of grants to community organizers. Instead, why not skip a few steps and provide tax incentives that encourage me to go into crappy neighborhoods to spruce things up? Answer: community organizers bring in more votes than I ever would.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Surprise, Surprise

Dear M. Sarkozy, U.N., Euroland, and the West in general:
We're never going to leave. Anything you're not willing to fight for, we'll just keep.

Russian foreign minister makes it official. Says he:

"Russian forces are on the territory of South Ossetia and Abkhazia at the request of the presidents and parliaments of those republics and on the instructions of the Russian president," Lavrov told a news conference.

"In the next few days an agreement should be signed which will give a legal basis to the presence of Russian forces. They will be there for a long time, at least for the foreseeable period. That is necessary to not allow a repeat of Georgian aggression," Lavrov said.

I told you so.

Monday, September 8, 2008


Every once in a while one feels like he's been in the right place at the right time. This particular morning was better than church.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Thanks, Kurt

Check em.

I couldn't figure out what those things were at first.

Saturday, September 6, 2008


This cracks me up.

Here's The Wall Street Journal today quoting from the New York Times about the nomination of Geraldine Ferraro. (She, by the by, is someone I have grown truly to respect.) The NYT, of course, being one of the ones leading the attack against Sarah-cuda.

Notable & Quotable
September 6, 2008; Page A9

From a New York Times editorial on July 3, 1984, on Geraldine Ferraro's nomination for vice president:

Where is it written that only senators are qualified to become President? . . . Or where is it written that mere representatives aren't qualified, like Geraldine Ferraro of Queens? . . . Where is it written that governors and mayors, like Dianne Feinstein of San Francisco, are too local, too provincial? . . . Presidential candidates have always chosen their running mates for reasons of practical demography, not idealized democracy. . . . What a splendid system, we say to ourselves, that takes little-known men, tests them in high office and permits them to grow into statesmen. . . . Why shouldn't a little-known woman have the same opportunity to grow?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Keep Thinkin', Dems

Redford delivers one of many great lines in Butch Cassidy and the Sunshine Kid: "You just keep thinkin', Butch. That's what you're good at."

The Dems must be going through a little of that now. It will be the polls and, eventually, the votes that will determine the impact of Gov. Palin's nomination and the effect of her speech last night. Between the time she was picked and last night, tho, she, her family, and McC certainly did get hammered.

The Democratic Spinmeisters whom I stayed up late into the night watching didn't know what to do with her. She's something they've never seen, something from out of The Blue.

You guys "just keep thinkin'," tho. It's what you're good at.

Big Sis

My favorite moment of the night last night.

Adios Kwame

Those durn racists in Detroit threw out "The Hip Hop Mayor".

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Blogger Shot in the Head

In some parts of the world writing the wrong thing on your blog can be fatal.

Muckraking blogger Magomed Yevloyev from Ingushetia, a Russian subject republic next to Chechnya, had reportedly been warned not to return home from a trip out of the country. Yet return he did only to be taken into police custody as he stepped off the plane. He showed up at the hospital 20 minutes later with a bullet in his head. A police spokesman said that the blogger had been taken into custody and, "Along the way, a shot was involuntarily fired from a policeman's gun and the bullet hit Yevloyev's head." In the temple.

Yevloyev ran a website that reported Ingushetian news including many stories uncovering government corruption. It had been shut down before for printing "extremist" views.

One more reason to be thankful we live in the U.S.

"It's a hell of a thing, killing a man. Take away all he's got and all he's ever gonna have" (Clint Eastwood as Willian Munny in Unforgiven).

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Anbar Chooses Peace

Yesterday, the U.S.turned primary security operations over to the Iraqis in the western province of Al Anbar. That's the 11th province of 18. More importantly, it's the first Sunni majority province to be turned over.

"Iraqis - like countless other Muslims across the world - witnessed al Qaeda's brutality first-hand and rejected it," said President Bush in a short statement.

Like 'most anything else of such consequence, there are many factors that led to the turnover, a turnover that would have been unthinkable just two years ago--the surge, the change in American tactics, the Anbar Awakening, the death of so many insurgents. Who knows how much secret diplomacy has been going on out of sight of world press? (The Saudis, Jordanians, and Syrians all share borders with Anbar.) It's never one thing but this is certainly a good thing.

So now's a time to celebrate peace in this troubled corner of the desert.

For the life of me, I can't understand why this in not front page of every newspaper in the country. No matter, it's still cause for celebration.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Press Asininity

Some jackass reporter on ABC News this evening said about the pregnancy of Gov. Palin's daughter that "the press should have been given this." Where does one begin?

"Should have been given this." So the McC people "should" have said, "Here's our running mate, the next Vice President of the United States. She has done X, has fought for Y, has accomplished Z, and, by the way, her 17 year old daughter is pregnant out of wedlock. Yes, here's the name of the father and his home address so that you can go park your jackass press van outside his house tonight and catch him on his way to school in the morning. If you miss him in the morn, no worries, you can show up at football practice and interview his coaches and teammates." Classy, very classy.

This is yet further evidence that the big time press reporters are as inside-the-Beltway/out-of-touch-with-America as the jackasses sitting on the floors of Congress. This is not about you, Jackass Reporter. We don't care about your ratings. Or you career. Most of us don't think this even is a story. It certainly has nothing to do with the vice-presidency. The privacy of this family is much more important than whether or not you get the story.

"Should have been given this." Get a freakin clue: your right to know ends at our front door. Whether we're running for office or not.

Obama Shows Class

Barry told the press today to back off. Very classy. This from Christina Bellantoni at the Washington Times:
[Obama] issued a strong statement to "back off" reports of Bristol Palin's pregnancy, telling reporters families — and especially children — are off limits in this presidential campaign.
Mr. Obama, campaigning here, also noted that his own mother was 18 when she gave birth to him.
"People's families are off limits," he said. "People's children are especially off limits. This shouldn't be part of our politics. It has no relevance to Gov. Palin's performance as a governor or her potential performance as a vice president. "
"I would strongly urge people to back off these kinds of stories," he added. "That shouldn't be a topic in our politics."
He vehemently pushed back against an unnamed McCain aide suggesting his campaign had any ties to the blogs that were spreading rumors before the news broke, saying he was "offended" by that and if any of his staff was involved in spreading the issue, "they'd be fired."
"We don't go after people's families. Our people are not involved in any way," he said

The hope here is that the country can move on from here without, as they say, further comment. I'd much rather hear debate on the future of Social Security and Medicare.