September 2008


Mr. Frank is perhaps the most guilty of all of those who have worked hard to prevent efforts – beginning as far back as 2003 – to address the flawed policies of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac which Mr. Frank oversees as Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.

In 2003, Frank opposed Bush administration and Congressional Republican efforts for the most significant regulatory overhaul in the housing finance industry since the savings and loan crisis. Under the plan a new agency would have been created within the Treasury Department to assume supervision of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored companies that are the two largest players in the mortgage lending industry. “These two entities, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, are not facing any kind of financial crisis,” Frank said. He added, “The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing.”

You can read about the GSE meltdown time line here. Try not to blow a gasket or bleed out of your eyeballs when you read what Mr. Frank and his ilk have to say about their management skills and their expert opinions on the matter. They basically tell us to butt-out and to mind our own business.

On the failure of the U.S. House of Representatives to pass 700 billion bail-out plan.

Opponents said part of the reason for the opposition from Republicans was what they termed a partisan speech by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, said one GOP source. House Minority Whip Roy Blunt said he thinks Republicans could have provided a dozen more votes had Pelosi not given her speech.

Pelosi had said that Congress needed to pass the bill, even though it was an outgrowth of the “failed economic policies” of the last eight years.

“When was the last time someone asked you for $700 billion?” she asked. “It is a number that is staggering, but tells us only the costs of the Bush administration’s failed economic policies — policies built on budgetary recklessness, on an anything goes mentality, with no regulation, no supervision, and no discipline in the system.”

Here are a few facts Nancy Pelosi should have studied before her ass replaced her brain.

The Bush Administration raised a red flag starting in April 2001. The administration’s 2002 budget request declares that the size of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is “a potential problem” because financial trouble in either one of them could cause “strong repercussions in financial markets.”

In 2003 the White House warning about Fannie and Freddie was upgraded to a systemic risk. that could spread beyond just the housing sector.

In the fall of 2003 the Bush Administration was pushing congress hard to create a new federal agency to regulate and supervise Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac both Government Sponsored Enterprises or GSEs. The then Treasury Secretary John W. Snow: “So we need a strong world class regulatory agency to oversee the prudential operations of the GSE’s and the safety and the soundness of their financial activities.” (Snow was nominated as Secretary of the Treasury by President George W. Bush on January 13, 2003 and unanimously confirmed by the US Senate. On May 30, 2003, it was formally announced that Snow would leave this position. On this same day, it was announced that President George W. Bush had nominated Henry Paulson, CEO of Goldman Sachs, to replace Snow. )

But Treasury Secretary John W. Snow was getting a lot of push back from then ranking member and now chairman of the house financial services committee Democratic congressman Barney Frank “Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are not in any crisis”. In fact Frank said the federal government should be encouraging Fannie and Freddie to do more to get low income families into homes and he believed to many people had a sky is falling mentality. Frank: ” The more people in my judgment exaggerate the threat of safety and — the more people conjure — the possibility of serious financial losses to the tribute which I do not see, I think we see an entity that a fundamentally sound financially, and withstand some of the disaster scenarios and even if there were problems the federal government doesn’t bail them out, but the more protected everything there, then the less I think we see in terms of affordable housing.”

The legislation was blocked

In 2005 Fed chairman Alan Greenspan added his voice on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac after many leaders admitted major accounting screw ups. Greenspan: “Enabling these institutions to increase in size – and they will once the crisis in their judgment passes – we are placing the total financial system of the future at a substantial risk.” Greenspan added later at another hearing on the topic: “If we failed to strengthen GSE regulation we increase the possibility of insolvency in crisis.” But the two mortgage giants had staunch defenders. Democratic senator Charles Schumer said “I think Fannie and Freddie over the years have done an incredibly good job and are an intrinsic part of making America the best housed people in the world. If you look over the last one — whatever years they’ve done very very good job.”

Senator John McCain cosponsored legislation pushing for regulation delivering a speech on the Senate floor in 2006. McCain: “For years I have been concerned about the regulatory structure that governs Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac In the sheer magnitude of these companies in the role they play in the housing market the GSEs need to be reformed without delay.”

This short news report chronicles the events of the meltdown. Notice the Republicans are saying as far back as 2000 “Hey – there’s a problem here” and how Barney Franks (D) and the rest of the Democrats come back with “No, there isn’t. In fact, we want to do more to sell mortgages like these.” You can watch the video here.

I was born in America. I learned English from my parents as was taught about syntax in school. So, when I make a phone call and get that damned automated operator, why the hell do I have to press “1” for English? Shouldn’t the foreign-language speaking immigrant be asked to press “1” for their language?

Hmm?

Click hereto read the Science Daily article highlighting research provided by asking church-goers “What if there were no God”.

… research finds that conservatives fear unchecked human impulses that challenge the status quo. What McAdams and Northwestern researcher Albaugh also find is an underlying, but different, fear that drives liberals as well.

“Political conservatives envision a world without God in which baser human impulses go unchecked, social institutions (marriage, government, family) fall apart and chaos ensues,” says McAdams. Liberals, on the other hand, envision a world without God as barren, lifeless, devoid of color and reasons to live.

“Liberals see their faith as something that fills them up and, without it, they conjure up metaphors of emptiness, depletion and scarcity,” McAdams said. “While conservatives worry about societal collapse, liberals worry about a world without deep feelings and intense experiences.”

The study findings may shed light on why conservatives prefer more authoritarian leaders while liberals do not, he adds.

ED:

Liberals are more concerned about their personal feelings and the feelings of others. (preservation of self)

The conservative strives to fight against changes that are viewed to be detrimental to social order and culture. (preservation of country)

It underscores my belief that there is a culture war being waged in this country. It explains why liberals appear to me as being hate-filled and eager to engage in hyperbole (sans facts) against their perceived enemy.

A current-day case in point can be seen by the vile comments and view-points (from those who align themselves with the Democrat Party) being hurled toward Sarah Palin and her family, all of which are emotionally-driven opinions against a perceived enemy viewed as being a part of an authoritative and dictatorial (Republican) party.

It explains how Obama’s presidential campaign rests on concepts of great social change and multi-cultural attitudes.

It explains why Obama takes every opportunity to point out how our country’s values and culture is “wrong”.

It explains why Obama addresses European audiences with speeches of little value to Americans.

It explains why Obama sees it as important to advance mandatory Spanish language education for Americans while in the same breath advancing the idea immigrants will learn English “on thier own.”

It’s all so very clear, now.

Thursday , September 18, 2008
Associated Press

GALVESTON, Texas —
Hundreds of people whose beachfront homes were wrecked by Hurricane Ike may be barred from rebuilding under a little-noticed Texas law. And even those whose houses were spared could end up seeing them condemned by the state.

Now here’s the saltwater in the wound: It could be a year before the state tells these homeowners what they may or may not do.

Worse, if these homeowners do lose their beachfront property, they may get nothing in compensation from the state.

The reason: A 1959 law known as the Texas Open Beaches Act. Under the law, the strip of beach between the average high-tide line and the average low-tide line is considered public property, and it is illegal to build anything there.

Over the years, the state has repeatedly invoked the law to seize houses in cases where a storm eroded a beach so badly that a home was suddenly sitting on public property. The aftermath of Ike could see the biggest such use of the law in Texas history.

“I don’t like it one bit,” said Phillip Curtis, 58, a Dallas contractor who owns two homes — a $350,000 vacation home and a $200,000 rental — on Galveston Island’s Jamaica Beach. “I think the state should allow us to try to save the houses. I don’t appreciate the state telling people, `Now it belongs to us.’ It breaks your heart.”

The former state senator who wrote the law had little sympathy.

“We’re talking about damn fools that have built houses on the edge of the sea for as long as man could remember and against every advice anyone has given,” A.R. “Babe” Schwartz said.

Ike’s 110 mph winds and 26-foot waves obliterated the 4- to 6-foot dunes and redrew the tide lines along a broad stretch of the Texas Gulf Coast.

Texas General Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, a Republican whose office is responsible for policing the beaches, said he saw hundreds of houses in jeopardy of being declared on the beach unlawfully as he flew over the coastline this week.

“And those are the ones still standing,” he said. Other homes, he said, were reduced to pilings sticking up out of the sand or water.

Patterson said no decision on whether homeowners can continue living there would be made for at least a year, while authorities watch the ever-shifting boundaries of the beach.

“You want to have at least a complete all four seasons and find out what Mother Nature is actually going to do until she finishes what she’s going to do,” Patterson said.

That could put homeowners in a bind. Many may be afraid to spend money on home repairs if there is a chance the state is just going to condemn the property.

Those whose homes were destroyed can collect insurance. But it is unclear whether those whose undamaged homes are condemned under the Texas law will get any compensation, from the state or anyone else. Land Office spokesman Jim Suydam said the agency used to offer people up to $50,000 to move, but he didn’t know if that fund still exists.

Rebuilding the eaten-away beaches does not appear to be an option. Schwartz said that the Gulf of Mexico does not deposit sand on Galveston Island and other nearby beaches, and that trucking in huge amounts of sand would not work, because storms would just wash it away within a year or two.

The law was enacted when there were far fewer houses on the Texas coast. In fact, there are lot more houses on the coast now than there were in 1983, during Hurricane Alicia, the last time the law was invoked against large numbers of homeowners. Many of the beach homes on Galveston and other nearby beaches are second homes, many of them rather modest.

Schwartz said the area’s homeowners should not be surprised.

“Every one of them was warned of that in their earnest money contract, in the deed they received, in the title policy they bought,” he said. “And whether you like it or not, neither the Constitution of the United States nor the state of Texas nor any law permits you to have a structure on state-owned property that’s subject to the flow of the tide.”

California and Oregon have similar laws.

State Rep. Craig Eiland, a Galveston Democrat, said he is not aware of any move in the Legislature to change the Open Beaches Act. And the track record for those who choose to fight the state in court is grim.

“No one has ever succesfully ever beaten the state when the state comes after you under the Open Beaches Act,” said Charles Irvine, a Houston coastal law attorney. “But everyone still tries to think up innovative arguments.”

Susan Holman, 60, of Dallas, owns a house with her brother on Pirate’s Beach on Galveston Island. Her parents built it 25 years ago as a vacation home. The home is still intact, but the water’s edge is now close, meaning the house might be seized.

“Until we know more, I’m not going to worry about something that hasn’t happened,” she said. But she added: “If that did happen, it would break our hearts.”

ED: My initial reaction is “Good. It serves them right.” I cannot muster up any compassion for anyone dumb enough for wanting to build a home in areas such as this. It defies logic and therefore falls into an emotional driven decision, which are almost always never good ones.

This is certainly a case of “ya roll the dice and ya takes your chances” and they lost and now they whine.

As they say, “You can’t fix stupid.”

Cell Phone Ban Sought for Calif. Train Operators

LOS ANGELES — The state’s top rail safety regulator said Monday he would seek an emergency order banning train operators from using cell phones, as federal investigators sought to determine whether the engineer of a commuter train was text messaging before a crash that killed 25 people.

In 2003, the NTSB recommended that the Federal Railroad Administration regulate the use of cell phones by railroad employees on duty after finding that a coal train engineer’s phone use contributed to a May 2002 accident in which two freight trains collided head-on near Clarendon, Texas. The coal train engineer was killed and the conductor and engineer of the other train were critically injured.

The California Legislature last month sent Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger a bill that would outlaw texting while driving. According to the Governors’ Highway Safety Association, four states have banned texting while driving — Alaska, Minnesota, New Jersey and Washington — and similar laws are under consideration in 16 other states.

ED: I’ve been saying it since 1995, perhaps a bit earlier and that is we won’t get a law banning cell phone use while operating a moving vehicle until a congressman’s son or daughter gets killed by a driver on a cell phone.

Look, people, the single minded purpose of an operator of a moving vehicle should be centered on it’s safe operation. Said another way; “Get off your Goddamned phone and drive your Goddamned car before you kill someone!”

In this case it is a train which is even better in my opinion because before people “get it” it usually takes a magnified event; single car accidents just don’t get the attention this problem deserves.

Justified Homicide
At the end of 2005 over 207 million people were cell phone subscribers. You can imagine what that number is today.

In 2000, over 41,000 people died on the nation’s highways. That same year the CATO Institute calculated that of the 41,000+ deaths, 300 were the result of using a cell phone while operating the vehicle. The folks doing the calculation reasoned that individual liberty and free markets is worth those 300 deaths calling it “justified”. They further stated they did not believe a ban was wise citing cell phone use “provides substantial personal and societal benefits, but does not contribute to a large number of serious accidents.”

This is stunning. It is tantamount to an authority approaching you and then stating to you that your value as a human being and a functioning part of society is zero. The authority then explains that it is more important to allow others to exercise their individual liberty to access free markets and talk with a friend or family member while they drove their car. So based upon this comparison and assessment the authority pulls out a gun and shoots you dead where you stand and then turns to your family members and says: “He is one of the 300 people that need to die this year. Have a nice day”.

Justified homicide is the label to be applied here.

How do you like that?

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