WC Varones

Don't lend your hand to raise no flag atop no ship of fools

Reality bites

So what if you're one of thousands trying to sell your average L.A. house for high six figures now that no-down, no-doc loans are gone? There are still people who make a quarter of a million dollars who could buy it, right?

One problem: people who make a quarter million and have saved a down payment are not stupid.
If you make a quarter of a million dollars a year, does it make economic sense to buy a house in L.A. right now? Back-to-back commenters on L.A. Land answered that question on the blog earlier today with a resounding "no."

Common Sense wrote:

"My wife and I earn around $250K per year, are in our mid 30's and have a newborn child. In any other planet, we should be able to own a very nice house. However, in Los Angeles, the only thing we can properly afford would be a starter home at $750K, maybe that gets you a 2 bed, 1/2 bath crack house, and our combined salary puts us in the top 3% in annual wages in the US.

This just doesn't make sense and will be a big reason why Los Angeles will experience a BLOODBATH in housing prices falling for the next several years, that is unless the entire city is inhabited by multi-millionaires.

In the meantime, we'll keep renting our excellent 2000 square foot apartment, paying nothing, taking awesome vacations, going to excellent restaurants, etc. and saving, saving and saving (A LOT).

We'll enter the market when home prices fall to planet earth (2-4 years).


A few minutes later JayC wrote:

"... wife and I make ~$250K/year, live in apartment on westside, and child is on the way. The problem isn't that we don't make enough or that our expectations are too high (as realtors might say). I've been living in LA my whole life and I DO know what people who make $250K/yr SHOULD be living in. It may not be Beverly HIlls, but it sure is more than a 1500sq-ft fixer in Sherman Oaks. Sucks not to have any tax breaks, but I'd rather pay $1800/mo to rent a townhouse than pay $5000K/mo to rent money from the bank that owns the house I 'bought.''


This doesn't apply only to L.A. Look up your area's median household income here. If you're asking more than 3 to 4 times median income for your house, it better be something special. And if you're asking 8 to 10 times median income, it better be amazing.

Zogby: The Palin Bounce

Better than the Biden Thud, eh? Zogby:
Republican John McCain's surprise announcement Friday of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate - some 16 hours after Democrat Barack Obama's historic speech accepting his party’s presidential nomination - has possibly stunted any Obama convention bump, the latest Zogby Interactive flash poll of the race shows.

The latest nationwide survey, begun Friday afternoon after the McCain announcement of Palin as running mate and completed mid-afternoon today, shows McCain/Palin at 47%, compared to 45% support for Obama/Biden.

In other news, Chuck Norris has endorsed Palin, but only out of fear of what she'd do to him.

Prudish librarian + police incompetence = hilarity ensues

Old Zeke has pulled off this exact prank before, but never to such thunderous effect.
The librarian said she had sent William an e-mail and received a very sassy reply, according to the Times:

"I want your sweet body against my skin."

It was clear to William, as it would have been clear to anyone with a technologically inept mother, what had happened: The librarian had sent her e-mail to the wrong address, and the person with that address, one Ben Hallowell, had decided to play a rather hilarious joke by sending a long and filthy e-mail to the librarian.

Well, the joke is hilarious to us. It wasn't so hilarious to William, who was interrogated for 30 hours by cops who insisted he was a libarian-lovin perv and is now suing the city.

More Sarah Palin facts

Little known fact: Sarah Palin drank a team of sherpas under the table in a bar in Nepal, then immediately recorded her Grammy-winning rendition of "The Villages."

Greenspan's Body Count: Life in the Fast Lane

In today's episode of Greenspan's Body Count, Greenspan's easy money fueled a lifestyle of Hummers, booze, drugs, strip clubs (and hummers?) for a young mortgage broker. In a late-night, post-strip-club, drug-fueled haze, mortgage broker Steven Clark murdered his friend Robert Wagner:
Clark's trial included testimony about his lifestyle as a young mortgage broker in his 20s with plenty of cash who liked to drink and use drugs, cruise in his Hummer and get into scuffles in the Old Port.

During the trial, witnesses testified how Clark, Wagner and another friend drank heavily at the Platinum Plus strip club on Valentine's Day night before going to Clark's house where they consumed hallucinogenic mushrooms and drank beer.

Clark testified that he shot Wagner twice, but said he acted in self-defense after Wagner lunged at him with a knife. He later enlisted his father and brother to help him bury Wagner's body on his father's wooded property in Baldwin, but his father later turned him in.

This is what Greenspan's bubble has done to America's youth.

Greenspan's Body Count now stands at forty-three:

Robert Wagner
Lt. Michael Howe
John Roberts
Palmer C. White
Dianne Pittman White
Ed Boesen
Edwin F. Rachleff
Carlene Balderrama
Troy VanderStelt
Scott M. Coles
Dawn E. Armstrong
Thomas Lizotte
Jonathon Calvin "40-Cal" Jacques
Salvador X
Lupe X
Jade X
Little Boy X
Little Girl X
Kashmir Billon
Bill McMurtry

Lisa McMurtry
James Hahn
Raymond Donaca
Deanna Donaca
[redacted]
[redacted]
Michel Veillette
Nadya Ferrari-Veillette
Marguerite Veillette
Vincent Veillette
Mia Veillette
Jacob Veillette
Maurice Pereira
Natasha Pereira
Mark Achilli
Raed Al-Farah
Andrew Kissel
Rufus Shaw Jr.
Lynn Flint Shaw
Mr. Pierce
Walter Buczynksi
Marci Buczynski
Jason Washington

Facts about Sarah Palin

You have to be fast these days. I was intending to build this site, but somebody beat me to it.
Little known fact: Sarah Palin's son is going to Iraq after the surge, because a Palin during the surge would have been unfair.

Little known fact: Sarah Palin makes Andrew Sullivan regret some key life choices.

Little known fact: Sarah Palin will give birth to the man who will lead humanity's war against the machines.

Little known fact: Sarah Palin doesn't need a gun to hunt. She has been known to throw a bullet through an adult elk.

You anti-Palin people don't get it. If Palin is not qualified, how on earth is Obama qualified? Palin has executive experience. Obama and Biden have a combined Zero years of executive experience. Zero with a capital Z.

Palin shouldn't be the VP nominee; she should be at the top of the ticket. She single-handedly routed the corrupt, entrenched Alaska Republicans, and she's a principled reformer and outsider. What more could you possibly want?

Palin?

Romney and Pawlenty have made comments indicating they are not it. Sarah Palin has allegedly been seen getting on a plane overnight with her kids.

Palin's credentials are there. She is an energetic reformer who took on the corrupt Alaska Republican machine and won.

Palin would be a risky choice. The base goes wild, but McCain has the base already (let's not kid ourselves; myself aside, conservatives will overwhelmingly vote for McCain). It may pay off with women and Hillary supporters, but that's questionable. If she's portrayed as a right-wing anti-abortion candidate, the pick will backfire.

Still, the risks are worth the likely upside. It's the anti-Biden pick. Obama went safe and got a dud; McCain took a chance and may have caught a star.

UPDATE: Holy crap. Look at Palin's bio. Moose hunter, beauty queen, pilot, musician, ice fisher, marathon runner.... She makes Chuck Norris look like a sissy.

Greenspan's Body Count: Collateral Damage -- Lt. Michael Howe

Thanks to commenter Marcia Dorsey, a friend of Body Count victim Palmer White, for alerting us to another victim: Lt. Michael Howe, who died of a stroke after investigating the grisly murder-suicide crime scene.
The incident that preceded Howe’s death unfolded in Sunday’s early morning hours, when the county’s SWAT team responded to the 4200 block of Mary Ridge Drive in Randallstown, after a man, Palmer White, 71, called 911 saying he had committed a murder.

“He indicated he had just killed his wife, Dianne,” Johnson said.

SWAT officers entered the house, where they discovered Palmer White dead as well.

Within hours of the apparent murder-suicide, Howe began to feel pains. He was rushed to Carroll County General Hospital, and later transferred to Johns Hopkins, where he died.

“Unlike a light switch, you just cannot turn these incidents off,” Johnson said. “It takes hours to calm down from these high stress situations.”

Greenspan's depravity knows no bounds. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends, and colleagues of Lt. Howe.

Greenspan's Body Count now stands at forty-two:

Lt. Michael Howe
John Roberts
Palmer C. White
Dianne Pittman White
Ed Boesen
Edwin F. Rachleff
Carlene Balderrama
Troy VanderStelt
Scott M. Coles
Dawn E. Armstrong
Thomas Lizotte
Jonathon Calvin "40-Cal" Jacques
Salvador X
Lupe X
Jade X
Little Boy X
Little Girl X
Kashmir Billon
Bill McMurtry

Lisa McMurtry
James Hahn
Raymond Donaca
Deanna Donaca
[redacted]
[redacted]
Michel Veillette
Nadya Ferrari-Veillette
Marguerite Veillette
Vincent Veillette
Mia Veillette
Jacob Veillette
Maurice Pereira
Natasha Pereira
Mark Achilli
Raed Al-Farah
Andrew Kissel
Rufus Shaw Jr.
Lynn Flint Shaw
Mr. Pierce
Walter Buczynksi
Marci Buczynski
Jason Washington

Constitution: It Was Nice Knowing Ya

The more we blindly follow our leaders, the more they chip away at the foundation our country. I'm sure this action, reported in the article linked below, was perfectly acceptable to all of the kool aid drinkers in Denver.

"Freedom of speech, as long as you don't say too much."




UPDATE: Hotel Managing Director Marcel Pitton responds to a Varones inquiry regarding allegations that a signed complaint from the hotel triggered the police thuggery.
Dear Mr. Varones,

Further to your e-mail please let me clarify what actually occurred in front of our hotel.

The ABC news cameras were intruding on the entrance of the hotel, creating an unsafe entrance/exit for our guests, which are our priority at all times. The Denver Police Department asked them to move to the side several times so that our guests could enter/exit, and ABC refused. ABC was clearly told that they could stand on the sidewalk but it is illegal to block an entrance to any business, which is what they were doing. After not complying with the police requests, they were then asked to move to the other side of the street. It is our understanding that ABC continued to speak belligerently to the police and was arrested for not complying with police orders. The arrest resulted from issues between the police and ABC, not The Brown Palace Hotel.

Marcel Pitton
Managing Director

Whether these two or three non-obese journalists with a camera "blocked the entrance" to a large hotel and threatened the safety of guests is left to the judgment of you, the readers, and, we hope, the courts.

Because, um, he had to pick someone Presidential



HT: Lou Minatti

AAUGH!

Although she came in dressed as the Great Pumpkin,



Hillary's real role last night was to play Lucy pulling away the football from Obama's Charlie Brown.

Pure Drippin' Greed

I love stories like this: Contra Costa Times

To summarize, a jag-off buys a house in 1999 for $230,000; tries to sell the house in 2005 for $525,000; gets an offer for $495,000 and says no. Now he's looking at selling it for $350,000. He is given an offer for 115% of purchase price but he wants 128% of the purchase price. He declines and now is "screwed". He's gotten 3 offers around 350K so he's still well in the green but apparently he hasn't sold.

This real estate downturn is going to take a very, very long time. But don't worry, I can wait.

What, me worry?

Well, Hank Paulson has the two GSEs that support the entire U.S. mortgage market about to blow up, but he's apparently not doing anything about it this weekend. But who are we to ask Paulson to work on a summer weekend?

Not that there's much he can do, except start shoveling taxpayer dollars into the black hole of fraudulent mortgages on fantasy-appraised houses. And the first multi-billion-dollar band-aid will be far from the last. He can't make the bondholders take a haircut, or his masters in China will punish him severely. He can't wipe out the preferred holders, because the preferred holders include hundreds or thousands of U.S. banks that would collapse.

In fact, "nothing" is exactly what Paulson should be doing. The Chinese sold us hundreds of billions of dollars of cheap crap that we didn't need, then invested the proceeds in Fannie and Freddie bonds that explicitly were not backed by the government. If those bonds go bad, well, that's exactly what China deserves. F them for not reading the prospectus.

Hey Hank, why don't you go on a long fishing trip deep into the woods where you'll be out of contact.

Don't drink and drive - you might hit a bump and spill your drink

Last night in Del Mar, the cops set up a DUI checkpoint, catching several people leaving the racetrack.



One woman was sobbing hysterically at the side of the road. Her husband had been hauled off to jail and she didn't know where she was or how to get home. She kept insisting that her husband wasn't drunk, and that it was her cup of beer that was spilled all over inside the car.

Unfortunately, we recorded no wood shampoos all evening.

Biden? You must be joking.

If the rumors are true, Biden is Obama's VP pick.

What the hell is Obama thinking? He has to come up with a cranky old blowhard to counter the cranky old blowhard McCain?

I'm starting to think Obama might actually find a way to lose this thing.

W.C. is drinking

Kenwood Jack London 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon, $24 per bottle by the half case at Vons and other fine supermarkets.



It's made from grapes grown on the grounds of Jack London's Wolf House in the hills of Sonoma County, and it's a consistent winner in blind tastings. Try the $18 zinfandel too.

Bank Failure Friday

Happy Bank Failure Friday, everyone!

Who do we get today? Vineyard Bank? Other small fries? Is it too early for WaMu? What about Lehman? I think I smell some GSEs burning.
Watch this space.


UPDATE: The Columbian Bank and Trust of Topeka, Kansas. Thin gruel indeed.

Stupid bank tricks

A couple weeks ago, I got a credit card offer from Capital One for 0% APR for 16 months on balance transfers up to 30k. I accepted and gave them the account number of my car loan to pay off. Today, I received a new credit card with a 10k limit and a rejection of the balance transfer. I guess credit is tightening faster than the marketing department can keep up with, but at $50 - $100 customer acquisition costs, that's a bad way to run a business.

I called Capital One and told them where they could put their credit card.

I'm going to start replying to their future offers the same way I reply to WaMu:

Capital One sucks

I didn't know he was locked up

Free Obama button

The real FED

Independent Accountant posted this which is a link to a very interesting description and history of the FED. Again it harkens back to my positively ignored question to Representative Tauscher on who controls the FED. The article answers what Tauscher probably doesn't even know.

At some point we have to learn Santa Clause is not real; just like at some point we have to learn that the ideals of the founders of this country are no longer the ideals of those in charge of this country.

Great post IA.

I.O.U.S.A premier tomorrow



If you're not alarmed yet about the debt crisis, you need to watch this movie. The premier tomorrow (Thursday) night will include a live discussion by satellite featuring Warren Buffett and former U.S. Comptroller General David Walker.

Find out where the premier is playing near you here.

Economists: homeownership is a bad thing

... or at least the amount of subsidies and resources we waste on homeownership is a really, really bad thing, says Nobel Prize winner Edmund Phelps:
``It used to be said that the business of America was business,'' Phelps says. ``Now the business of America is homeownership.'' To grow optimally, he says, America needs to get beyond its house passion.

Like an apartment building, the Phelps argument works on multiple levels. The first is obvious. The federal government allocates too many resources to housing. Back in 2005, when the troubles of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac weren't yet commanding the front page so regularly, the government was already spending about $41 billion to subsidize housing directly.

More than triple that amount, or $147 billion, was foregone on indirect tax subsidies to homeowners. That chunk of change might have been used for any number of government projects that would appeal to everyone from Laura Bush to Dennis Kucinich: pounding percentages into fifth-graders' heads, lowering the capital-gains tax, declaring summer gas holidays -- you name it. There's a certain laziness to the national campaign for homeownership, and it has cost the country a lot.

The real estate obsession is also a private-sector problem. The most important component of U.S. growth is productivity. To put it in schoolbook terms, if Americans find new ways to make more widgets in less time, that translates into higher wages.

Such productivity gains do occur in housing. But larger gains are usually to be had elsewhere: Silicon Valley, for example. Yet those tax incentives suck private funds into the less-efficient housing industry.

I'd add that the ownership society has created the illusion that people don't need to save for retirement because rising house prices will make them rich. That worked for the last generation, but baby boomers and post-boomers are about to get a rude awakening...

HT: DV(s)

Now playing on this blog

Senator Feinstein's moronic response

I expressed how I don't approve of the bailouts of Freddie and Fannie and she replies with almost mocking content. I get the point, my senators are stupid people, paid by very connected people, to steal from productive people. Senator Feinstein doesn't understand the issue and is only trying to keep the wheels of government theft and irresponsibility rolling.

And why should the government buy homes? That is the one that just makes me RAGE! I can't afford a home and that won't change if cities are going to purchase homes to keep them off the market. WHAT?!?!? How does that make sense? Oh and all you homeowners that think that's a good idea, they are actually draining the property tax pool so either you pay more or get less services.

I hope she's a stupid person because, if not, then she's just an evil person and that's probably worse.

Final note: WHY WON'T MY REPRESENTATIVES ANSWER MY QUESTIONS!?!?!? They send form letters mocking my questions instead.

Dear [Negocios Loucos]:

Thank you for contacting me regarding housing market reform and foreclosure prevention legislation. I recognize how important this issue is, and would like to share with you what Congress has done to help.

Like you, I am very concerned about the current economic downturn, which has been caused in part by the declining housing market. To address record- high foreclosure rates among American homeowners, on July 30, 2008, the President signed the Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008 (Public Law 110-289) into law. I am hopeful that this broad housing package will help hundreds of thousands of Americans keep their homes while stabilizing the housing market going forward.

Specifically, this legislation will:

oCreate a new program within the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) to help homeowners facing the threat of foreclosure. The HOPE for Homeowners Program will allow the FHA to refinance mortgages in certain cases where banks voluntarily provide loan modifications. To inquire about this new program, please contact the FHA directly at 1-800-CALL-FHA.

oEstablish a new and independent regulator for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to ensure that they responsibly fulfill their role in the housing market.

oGrant the Secretary of the Treasury emergency financing authority to purchase debt securities and stock from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

oPermanently increase the conforming loan limit for government-backed mortgages to $625,500, which allows more Californians to obtain mortgages at lower interest rates.

oProvide first-time homebuyers with a tax credit, equivalent to an interest-free loan, worth up to $7,500.

oProvide $3.92 billion in Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) to allow local governments with high foreclosure rates to purchase and rehabilitate foreclosed upon properties.

Additionally, I am pleased that legislation I introduced, along with Senator Mel Martinez (R-FL), known as the "S.A.F.E. Mortgage Licensing Act of 2008" is included in the bill. This important legislation will require all mortgage brokers and lenders to meet minimum national licensing standards in an effort to curb abusive lending.

Please know that I will keep your comments in mind should further legislation to address our country's housing crisis come before the Senate.

Once again, thank you for writing. If you have any additional questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact my Washington, D.C. office at (202) 224-3841. Best regards.


Sincerely yours, Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator

Schwarzenegger gone wild

This afternoon, Governor Schwarzenegger called in, unsolicited, to L.A. radio's John and Ken Show. As soon as the hosts started asking tough questions about the budget, the thin-skinned Schwarzenegger became really defensive, started talking over the hosts, and accused them of "lying" to the audience. The KFI web site will likely have the interview up soon.

Unintended dark humor

Like the anti-marijuana film "Reefer Madness" that became a hit with college stoners, this bubble-era Realtor advertisement's connotations are no longer what the producers intended.



Now in 2008, with John struggling to make the rising mortgage payments and more than $100,000 underwater on his house, what do you think happened to John? Did he join Greenspan's Body Count? Did he take his wife with him, like Palmer White? Maybe the kids, too, like Michel Veillette? Or did he take it out on Suzanne the Realtor, like Robert Arnold Johnson did? Century 21 Realtor Suzanne researched this ad

Sheila Bair procrastinates

Another Bank Failure Friday has passed with no bank failures. That's two in a row.

Lazy bureaucrat Sheila Bair had better pick up the pace if she wants to close hundreds of banks in the next year.

Nothing to see here, folks

First, the punchline:
The FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force is assisting in the investigation but FBI spokeswoman Kathy Wright said the incident has no apparent connection to terrorism.

Then, the set-up:
The Denver coroner said Thursday a man found dead in a downtown hotel room with a pound of highly toxic sodium cyanide nearby died from cyanide poisoning.

However, the medical examiner's office could not say if 29-year-old Saleman Abdirahman Dirie, of Ottawa, Canada killed himself. [...]

An online threat posted in July by a man with a similar name warned of death. The blog discussed the killing of Christians in Somalia by Islamists. The person who posted on the blog was a Muslim who appeared to condemn Christians.

"Having the bible in one hand, and a bread in the other hand, is not a correct thing! Kill Them , Kill them, Kill them, that is my massage (sic),!" read the posting by Abdirahman Dirie on the 'Solmali's for Jesus' Blog.

Come on, who hasn't checked into a hotel with a pound of cyanide? You know, it's useful for getting out laundry stains.

47% of Americans are far too stupid to be allowed to vote

These idiots shouldn't even be allowed outside without a helmet.

47% Favor Government Mandated Political Balance on Radio, TV


Forget the First Amendment. 47% of the people think the government should decide what the two acceptable views are on every issue, and then mandate that those two views are espoused equally on the airwaves, to the exclusion of all other viewpoints.

It's bad enough that the horrible McCain and Obama are the only two viable Presidential options. The return of the "Fairness Doctrine" would ensure that only McCainish and Obamaish viewpoints are aired on every issue.

And if we applied the "Fairness Doctrine" to NPR, it would have to be half Rush Limbaugh.

Conde Nast Portfolio: strong out of the gate

I just got a $12 subscription to the new(ish) Conde Nast Portfolio, and it's well worth it.

In the August issue, Angelo's Many 'Friends':
In January 2004, Richard Aldrich, a California state appeals court judge, decided to refinance his 8,200-square-foot house next to a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course at the Sherwood Country Club in Westlake Village. He turned to a prominent Sherwood member: Countrywide Financial chief executive Angelo Mozilo.

Aldrich’s application was assigned to a loan officer named Robert Feinberg; the judge was seeking a $1 million loan and a $900,000 line of credit. By email, Feinberg alerted Mozilo that the credit line was “above what guidelines allow.” Mozilo responded, “Go ahead and approve the loan, and close it as soon as possible. Don’t worry about this deal, it’s golden.” Countrywide further waived half a point, or $5,000 on the million-dollar loan. (Homebuyers can reduce their interest rates by paying points, which are equal to 1 percent of the value of a loan.)

That wasn’t Aldrich’s only contact with Countrywide. At the time he refinanced, a class action lawsuit against Countrywide was pending before the appellate court, brought by borrowers contending that the company offered an inadequate payment to settle allegations that it charged excessive fees for credit reports. That August, Aldrich was part of a three-judge panel that unanimously rejected the borrowers’ appeal.


It goes on to explore other corrupt Countrywide deals for politicians. Click over and read it for free. And then get yourself a cheap print subscription.

Greenspan's Body Count: 'Til Death Do Us Part

Serial killer Alan Greenspan is really picking up the pace.

In today's episode of Greenspan's Body Count, a sheriff's deputy in Lehigh Acres, Florida, delivering a foreclosure eviction notice found a young husband and father murdered, allegedly by the victim's wife:
There was John Roberts, 27, found by that deputy Monday morning, dead of multiple gunshot wounds in his own bed. Then there was his wife, Amber Rose Roberts, 24, found walking several miles away on Greenbriar Boulevard with her two young children and a story about being kidnapped. In between, there was a gun in a canal and a host of inconsistencies. [...]

"Everybody is kind of shocked around here," [county clerk Charlie] Green said. "Amber never said anything ... She was very nice, very quiet. She did an excellent job for us, and what a tragedy. This is one of those situations when people need to holler ‘help’ when they need help."

Records from the Lee County Clerk of Courts indicate the Roberts’ mortgage with Wells Fargo was delinquent. The last monthly payment of $985 was made Feb. 1, 2007, records show.


Greenspan's Body Count now stands at forty-one:

John Roberts
Palmer C. White
Dianne Pittman White
Ed Boesen
Edwin F. Rachleff
Carlene Balderrama
Troy VanderStelt
Scott M. Coles
Dawn E. Armstrong
Thomas Lizotte
Jonathon Calvin "40-Cal" Jacques
Salvador X
Lupe X
Jade X
Little Boy X
Little Girl X
Kashmir Billon
Bill McMurtry

Lisa McMurtry
James Hahn
Raymond Donaca
Deanna Donaca
[redacted]
[redacted]
Michel Veillette
Nadya Ferrari-Veillette
Marguerite Veillette
Vincent Veillette
Mia Veillette
Jacob Veillette
Maurice Pereira
Natasha Pereira
Mark Achilli
Raed Al-Farah
Andrew Kissel
Rufus Shaw Jr.
Lynn Flint Shaw
Mr. Pierce
Walter Buczynksi
Marci Buczynski
Jason Washington

The WTF Are You Talking About award

Today's WTFAYTA medal goes to John McCain, who, in reference to a phone call he made to President Saakashvili of Georgia, said,
I said to him--and I think I speak for all Americans--we are all Georgians.
You'd have thought that the last portion of that quote, preceded by a dramatic pause and delivered with the utmost gravity, would have made some measure of sense. Nope. Seriously dude, WTFAYTA. Well done, sir.

Batman

I saw Dark Knight at the IMAX a couple weeks ago.

If you've seen it, you'll appreciate this:

Government for Morons

I wrote my senators protesting the Fannie and Freddie bailout and got a response from Senator Boxer. Especially read the red highlighted passage. I think Forest Gump would even realize this is not logical Jen-aheee.

Dear [Negocios Loucos]:

Thank you very much for writing to me about the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac).

As you know, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are government sponsored enterprises (GSEs) that were created to facilitate homeownership by buying mortgages from banks. Founded in 1938 and 1968 respectively, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have come to play a central role in the housing market and now hold or guarantee mortgages valued at more than $5 trillion -- about half the home loans in the United States .

The GSEs' charters limit them to buying single-family and multifamily home mortgages originated by other companies. This makes them more exposed to problems in the housing and mortgage markets than other financial institutions. Because of falling home values and rising foreclosure rates, the value of the GSEs' loan holdings has decreased drastically. Fears that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac might not be able to cover these losses have caused stock market share prices of both companies to plummet, furthering concerns about their ability to remain solvent.

Although Fannie and Freddie are both stockholder-owned corporations and are not explicitly backed or funded by the U.S. government, there has always been a widely held belief that the federal government would step in if either company were threatened with failure.

Congress recently passed the Housing and Economic Recovery Act, which was signed into law on July 30, 2008 as P.L. 110-289. To stabilize the housing finance market, and make sure that affordable home loans continue to be available, the new law grants temporary emergency authority to the Treasury Department to purchase debt securities or stock issued by both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. This authority is the best way to boost market confidence in the GSEs and reduce the likelihood that the government will need to lend a hand. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have not tapped the assistance offered separately by the Federal Reserve, and regulators have stated that the companies have enough capital to continue their operations.

In addition, the legislation creates an independent regulator with increased authority to set strong capital standards so markets can count on the safety and soundness of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and so that they can continue to provide our nation's families with affordable mortgages.

The future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is vital to the banks, savings and loans, and credit unions that own $1.3 trillion of securities issued or guaranteed by the two mortgage companies. The two GSEs are equally important to the foreign investors who own an additional $1.3 trillion in securities. Given the importance of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, to both U.S. and foreign concerns, the failure of either company could have far-ranging consequences for the strength of the U.S. economy, faith in American markets, and the value of the dollar.

Again, thank you for writing to me. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future on this or other issues that concern you.


Barbara Boxer
United States Senator

Greenspan's Body Count: Palmer White

Some of you may think living in Baltimore is reason enough to commit suicide. And you may be right. But that's not what drove Palmer C. White over the edge:
Palmer C. White called 911 about 7:30 a.m. Sunday with a simple message: He had killed his wife in the basement of his Randallstown home and was headed back down there to kill himself, Baltimore County police said yesterday.

Not long after, a police SWAT team entered the house and found White, 71, and his wife, Dianne Pittman White, 55, in the basement, dead of gunshot wounds, police said. Authorities released their names yesterday.

Police said yesterday that Palmer White had "several medical and financial problems." They said they did not know why his wife had been killed.

According to court papers, Palmer White was sued last year by Capital One Bank for payment of more than $1,300 on a charge account and was sued this year by Beneficial Mortgage Co. of Maryland for failing to make payments on a $20,000 loan he took out in 2005.

Now $20,000 sounds like minor league stuff to those of us out in California, where loans are never less than six digits and $20,000 is just your annual Starbucks tab. But it goes to show that even small amounts of indebtedness can seem overwhelming to those on a limited income. A little Nancy Reaganesque advice: the next time your credit pusher offers you some free HELOC money, Just Say No (not that they will offer -- most credit pushers have blown themselves up along with their victims).

[edit: incredibly insensitive and inappropriate remark deleted.]

Greenspan's Body Count now stands at forty:

Palmer C. White
Dianne Pittman White
Ed Boesen
Edwin F. Rachleff
Carlene Balderrama
Troy VanderStelt
Scott M. Coles
Dawn E. Armstrong
Thomas Lizotte
Jonathon Calvin "40-Cal" Jacques
Salvador X
Lupe X
Jade X
Little Boy X
Little Girl X
Kashmir Billon
Bill McMurtry

Lisa McMurtry
James Hahn
Raymond Donaca
Deanna Donaca
[redacted]
[redacted]
Michel Veillette
Nadya Ferrari-Veillette
Marguerite Veillette
Vincent Veillette
Mia Veillette
Jacob Veillette
Maurice Pereira
Natasha Pereira
Mark Achilli
Raed Al-Farah
Andrew Kissel
Rufus Shaw Jr.
Lynn Flint Shaw
Mr. Pierce
Walter Buczynksi
Marci Buczynski
Jason Washington

Yeah, yeah, yeah, a bunch of kids in a pool

Even if you're an Olympic cynic like me, this might be inspiring.

Georgia on my mind

I wonder if GW saw this when he gazed into Putin's dreamy eyes.

Putin obviously looked into Bush's soul and saw all hat, no cattle. Russia invades a U.S. ally and all Bush can do is whine like a little girl.

That's what happens when you're a debtor nation who's blown its resources on pork, entitlements, and bank bailouts, and whose military is overextended. You have no carrots or sticks to use when someone decides to play neighborhood bully.

MGM Mirage begs for Dubai dollars

See this post on my poker blog.

Greenspan's Body Count: Ed Boesen the Florist

Today's episode of Greenspan's Body Count comes from a pillar of the business community in Des Moines. Boesen the Florist has been a fixture of Des Moines since its founding by Theodore and Betty Boesen in 1923. Currently, their grandson Ed Boesen owns it with his brothers. Well, Ed not so much anymore. Ed got into other business interests, including real estate speculation and development in Greenspan's bubble. Well, that didn't work so well. Boesen the Florist committed suicide and now at least five banks are suing the estate for about $26 million in bad debts, including this one:
Boesen and his wife, Maureen, borrowed $290,000 on May 25, 2007, to purchase the property at 927 Ordnance Road in Ankeny. The building is assessed at $189,000, according to the Polk County assessor’s office.

The bank informed the estate that it was in default on the loan on July 28.

Ed Boesen, the florist who dared to dream the impossible Greenspan dream. Greenspan's Body Count now stands at thirty-eight:

Ed Boesen
Edwin F. Rachleff
Carlene Balderrama
Troy VanderStelt
Scott M. Coles
Dawn E. Armstrong
Thomas Lizotte
Jonathon Calvin "40-Cal" Jacques
Salvador X
Lupe X
Jade X
Little Boy X
Little Girl X
Kashmir Billon
Bill McMurtry

Lisa McMurtry
James Hahn
Raymond Donaca
Deanna Donaca
[redacted]
[redacted]
Michel Veillette
Nadya Ferrari-Veillette
Marguerite Veillette
Vincent Veillette
Mia Veillette
Jacob Veillette
Maurice Pereira
Natasha Pereira
Mark Achilli
Raed Al-Farah
Andrew Kissel
Rufus Shaw Jr.
Lynn Flint Shaw
Mr. Pierce
Walter Buczynksi
Marci Buczynski
Jason Washington

Bank Failure Friday

Who's next? Will we get a bank failure (or two or three) this afternoon, or do we have to wait until next week?

There's lots of speculation on Vineyard Bank (VNBC), which was outed in the LA Times yesterday. And I've got my eye on a tasty Vegas bank that I'm sure will blow fairly soon. And of course there's the whale, Shamu's cousin WaMu, which is on death watch, but we may still be a little early on that one.

Watch this space.

UPDATE: No bank failures this weekend. Sheila Bair and the FDIC had better get busy. If they are going to close 100+ banks in the next year, they can't afford to skip weekends like this.

Greenspan's Body Count: Unsung Victims

While Greenspan's Body Count officially stands at thirty-seven, the true count is far, far higher. Most suicides don't receive press attention. But this report from Florida's Lee County illustrates that the unknown victims are significant in number:
The number of suicides in Lee County has tripled in the past year, and mental health experts believe they know what's driving the increase. They say it's just a tragic sign of the times because people are struggling to make ends meet and feel they have nothing left to live for.

Virginia Cervasio, of C.A.R.E.S. Suicide Prevention, lost her son to suicide two years ago. Since then, she's made prevention her mission, starting C.A.R.E.S. as Southwest Florida's only suicide-specific help center.

She says the trend is alarming. Foreclosure rates are at an all-time high and economic stress is creating a feeling that there's no way out.

"The age group that we're seeing, the majority age group of suicides is between ages 30 and 60-years-old. We believe the economy has a lot to do with it," said Cervasio. "People are losing their homes. They're losing everything that they worked for, for all their life."

Scam artist upset about end of scam

One of the few bright spots in the housing bailout bill was the end of "down-payment assistance."

"Down-payment assistance" was a scam wherein the homebuilder inflated the home price, then sold it to someone who didn't have a down payment. The homebuilder funneled cash for a fake down payment to the buyer via a non-profit group. These loans were obviously toxic, as there is no incentive for someone with no skin in the game to keep making payments on a depreciating house.

You can imagine what happened next. The banks and Fannie and Freddie that were stuck with the fake down payment loans lost a lot of money, and will require massive taxpayer bailouts.

Given the disaster they've caused, it's true chutzpah that D.R. Horton CEO Don Tomnitz is whining about the end of down-payment assistance.

B of A - Countryfried mess continues

This is a good read for those interested in the Countrywide debacle.

Essentially, B of A hoped they could get the servicing business without taking on the liabilities of Countryfried's horrible loan portfolio and other legal headaches. Well, it's not working out so well.

Greatest movie of all time

Britney Spears to play killer lesbian stripper in Quentin Tarantino's next movie

Layoffs on the burning shore

Another business flees Schwarzenegger's California:
Digital prints provider Shutterfly discloses it is closing its Hayward factory next spring, a move that eliminates 100-plus East Bay jobs. Why the shutdown? Shutterfly says it has become too costly to do business in California. Specifically, it's too expensive to operate a manufacturing center in the Golden State. The Silicon Valley online commerce company provides digital photo products and services, allowing customers the ability to upload, share, store and edit digital photos. The manufacturign operations will move to Arizona. Shutterfly also has a factory in North Carolina. The decision will idle 106 employees, according to state labor documents. [...] In July CSAA officials said the high cost of doing business prompted them to close three customer care centers in California.

Schwarzenegger has a solution, though: raise taxes!

Third party candidates

She's more interesting and articulate than McCain



... but I'm still voting Libertarian.

Why the old media is dying

A hot young pop star goes lezbo, and they stop following her.
Lindsay Lohan said Friday that police have no business getting involved in her personal life, a day after the police chief explained that the paparazzi were no longer an issue — in part because the 22-year-old actress had evidently "gone gay."

For a new media guy who gets it, see McDanger's blog today.

jetBlue Blues

I flew jetBlue for the first time this weekend. The personal TVs are pretty cool. However the 2:30 AM phone call I received this morning that my 11 AM flight was cancelled and there were no other flights available all day kind of sucked.

The first guy I saw at a random diner at 7 AM Friday in a small town on Long Island was Vito from the Sopranos. I wasn't sure at first because I figured everybody in New York looks like that, but it turns out it really was him.

Ellen Tauscher - Congress Gone Wild

I wrote this email to my local congresswoman on July 9th. CLICK HERE

I recieved a response on August 1 which I have printed below. The original email was regarding the Bear Stearns bailout and I asked her about the FED's ability to tax without the sign off of congress. I asked who controls the FED if, as she stated before, Congress does not so as to keep the FED apolitical. Her response, while completely ignoring my questions, indicates what is really wrong with our government and with our economic situation today. She certainly does not represent me. She representes the crooks, the liars and the frauds.

I bolded some of my favorite lines of her response below.

Dear [Negocios Loucos]:

Thank you for writing to me about the need for Congressional action to help Americans secure solid mortgages and to keep their homes. Across the nation, roughly 8,000 families are being foreclosed on every day, and I believe that Congress has an opportunity to help prevent these losses. I welcome this opportunity to share my work to help home owners and buyers.

An important part of helping Americans buy and keep homes is providing access to safe and affordable financing. As you may know, Congress passed an economic stimulus package this year that raised the conforming loan limit for government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and also increased the Federal Housing Administration's (FHA) authority to insure mortgages in high-cost areas. Higher limits are essential for homebuyers and refinancing homeowners in regions like the Bay Area where prices are well above national averages. However, these increases are set to expire at the end of this year. For this reason, I led 44 members of the California delegation in urging Congressional leadership to help homeowners in high costs areas by making the higher loan limits permanent.

More recently, the House of Representatives passed the Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008 (H.R. 3221), which will allow the FHA to extend loan guarantees to at-risk borrowers so they can refinance into viable mortgages. In exchange for accepting a substantial write-down of the home's fair market value, the existing lender would receive a payment from the proceeds of the new FHA loan. This would allow lenders to recoup more of their investment than they would through foreclosure proceedings, and it prevents more properties from going into foreclosure.

In addition to helping homeowners, the Foreclosure Prevention Act lends a hand to first-time buyers. While I was disappointed that passing the bill required the House to accept a Senate provision to limit down payment assistance, this bill provides tax credits for first-time homebuyers to ensure that the pool of homeowners continues to grow. The bill expands homeownership opportunities for veterans, as well, and it helps returning soldiers avoid foreclosure and stay in their homes. H.R. 3221 also creates a new fund to boost the nation's stock of affordable rental housing in both rural and urban areas. Finally, the bill includes an overhaul of the regulations governing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, so that we can ensure these loan guarantors remain solvent and reliable.

Earlier this year I supported H.R. 1852, the Expanding American Homeownership Act of 2007, which would establish a national housing trust fund to finance borrower counseling and other affordable housing initiatives. Independent counseling has helped millions of Americans create plans to keep their homes, and access must be expanded. I am committed to giving first-time homebuyers and new homeowners the resources they need to find a mortgage they can afford so that they can stay in their homes without the fear of foreclosure.

Unfortunately, many homeowners have been foreclosed on already, and neighborhoods are suffering from the blight of empty houses. Because state and local governments have first-hand knowledge of the needs of local communities, I believe that the federal government should make available loans and grants for the purchase and rehabilitation of foreclosed homes, with the goal of renting or reselling to families in need as soon as possible. H.R. 3221 will provide just this kind of assistance to communities around the country.

I believe that responsible federal assistance will be critical in keeping Americans in their homes and our economy out of crisis. I look forward to working with my colleagues in both chambers to send legislation to the President that will protect our communities and prevent home foreclosures, and in that process, I will be sure to keep your comments in mind.
Correspondence from constituents like you is essential to my work in Congress, and I hope that you will continue to inform me of your concerns. If you're a homeowner or are considering buying a home and you have questions or could use guidance, please visit the
Resources for Homeowners portion of my website to find helpful resources. If I can be of further assistance, please feel free to contact my office at 925-932-8899 or 202-225-1880.



Sincerely,Ellen O. TauscherMember of Congress
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