WC Varones

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

I'd pay to see that

"... today she can do indescribable things with lentils."

- from Daddy Eats Dead Cows, by Mark Oppenheimer, Slate.com

This sounds like a job for Gerard Finneran

Airline pay toilets:
The head of budget European airline Ryanair unleashed a flood of indignation and potty humor Friday when he suggested that future passengers might be obliged to insert a British pound coin for access to the lavatory to get some in-flight relief.

Airline chief Michael O'Leary suggested that installing pay toilets would lower ticket costs and make flying, somehow, easier for all.

Go ahead, make my day.

HT: Blinko and Ang.

It's getting harder and harder to be a vegetarian

Happy BFF!

It's not happy hour on Friday until there's a bank failure. Sheila Bair is a coy little tease, keeping us waiting today. But in the end, she didn't disappoint:

California unemployment hits 10.1%

... and we're just getting warmed up.

No matter how high Schwarzenegger raises taxes, he's not going to fill the budget hole. It's the spending, stupid! And marginal increases in tax rates will be offset by decreases in taxable economic activity (investing, working, consuming).

California is doomed. For more on that subject, see here:
There’s good reason why most states won’t fall down the fiscal black hole where California now dwells. This is a state whose politicians, public sector unions and advocacy groups have been living in a fantasy world of overspending, investment-deadening taxation and job-killing regulation. Looking out over the state’s prospects and examining the budget deal that legislators have put together (jerry-rigged as it is with revenue gimmicks and unrealistic projections), the only question is who will be begging Washington for more money sooner, the banks, the auto companies or the Terminator?

The similarities between California and the auto companies are especially striking. Neither can afford their workforce. California schools pay their employees 35 percent more on average in wages and benefits than the national average (17 percent more when adjusted for the state’s higher standard of living), a significant bite because the state funds much of local education (to the tune of $42 billion last year). Benefits are a big part of these costs. A public employee in California with 30 years of service can already retire at 55 with more than half of his salary as pension, and public-safety workers can get 90 percent of their salary at age 50.

Another budget buster is California’s spending on social services, clocking in at about 70 percent more per capita than the national average. Leading the way is state spending on cash assistance programs (that is, welfare), where the state expends nearly three times more per resident than other states. There’s a good reason for this rich budget. California’s legislature has only reluctantly embraced federal welfare reform, and for years the state has had one of the worst records in moving people from welfare to work because state law limits the ability of welfare administrators to sanction those who refuse to participate in work programs.

Stress tests? Don't stress!

You know those "stress tests" that Timmy the Tax Cheat and Zimbabwe Ben were going to do to see what banks are really sound?

Turns out they're not so stressful. The base case is for -2.0% GDP this year, and +2.1% next year. The downside case is -3.3% this year, and +0.5% this year.

Wow, so even the worst case is a mild recession and we rebound next year. So what's everybody all worried about? Go out and buy yourself a Lexus and a flat panel!

UPDATE: GDP is already running -6.2%, and the "stress test" worst case is still -3.3%. The stress tests are a cynical ploy by the Obama administration to give passing grades to failing banks as an excuse to keep giving them more taxpayer money.

Sellers unclear on the concept: Del Mar

Real estate market health is often measured in months of supply on the market. 2-3 months supply would be a hot market. More than 6 months' supply would be a slow market.

How is our old friend Del Mar holding up?



The green houses are for sale. The blue houses are sales over the past three months. Hmmm. 90 green and 2 blue. That's 11.25 years of inventory.

What's the problem? Unrealistic sellers. The asking prices are not in the range where people are buying. The two sales were at $1.4 million and $1.85 million, or $987 and $590 per square foot. Meanwhile the listings are at $3.9 million (mean) and $2.5 million (median), and $1494 (mean) and $1017 (median) per square foot.

But hey, what's the rush? At those prices, these houses only cost you $10,000 or $20,000 a month to carry. Sellers can afford to wait 11 years. It sure would suck to be the poor schlub realtor who has to keep holding open houses for 11 years though.

Del Mar is the new Hotel California: you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave. Or maybe it's the new Roach Motel: the idle rich check in, but they don't check out.

Now Playing

This is where Cheryl Merrill and I agree to disagree

Cheryl Merrill and I agree on a lot of things.

This is not one of them.

Senator DeMint says it's time for "Peaceful Demonstrations"

I like the "Chicago Tea Party" idea floated last week better, but in this article, you'll read stuff like this, about DeMint's comments:

One thing he is looking for is a strong governor or two.

States need to stop putting their hands out to the federal government and start pushing it away, DeMint figures -- and maybe start questioning some of the modern dogma that says the feds can prevent offshore drilling, or withhold gas tax money or inject themselves as much as they want in education, health care and other issues.

Don't hold your breath.

The sad fact is, the people who understand American freedom can't rely on their leaders anymore.

"Really, I think the hope right now is not in Congress to make the right decision, cause they're not," DeMint says. "It's just whether or not the American people are going to stand up and say enough is enough.

If you'd rather light a candle than curse the darkness

Total Recall 2009

Best affordable suburbs

Business Week has a new story on "America's best affordable suburbs."

California's best? Arcadia.
Median household income: $68,384
Median home price: $695,000

Only 10x median income? That's really leading the way on affordability!

Because they know all about deep shit

Brown flies to meet President Obama for economy crisis talks
- headline, The Independent, 2/22/09

Audacity of Deficit Spending

President Obama has committed to reducing the deficit, sorry the DEFICIT, to $533 BILLION by the end of his first four years in office. I know, you think I just gave you the punch line before the setup but that is what it says here.

So start making your post USA plans now. America is in its last phases of existence. The Republicans under GW and the Democrats under Obama are responsible for end of the existence of this nation. And all anyone is going to do about it is blame the other party.

Ya’ll deserve what you get. When you vote for catch phrase solutions, you get catch phrase solutions. Nice knowing USA……

Good advice

"Ask For BANK OWNED" - Century 21 sign, Modesto



I've become a bank-owned snob in San Diego. If a seller is not a bank, he's not realistic about the price.

MOAPP: The Mother of All Printing Presses

Portfolio magazine:
The $1.35 trillion that the Federal Reserve created out of nothing from September through December would stretch nearly to the sun and back if $1 bills were lined up end to end.

Got wheelbarrows?

Happy BFF

Happy Bank Failure Friday everyone! Sheila was a bit conservative this week. She only took down Silver Falls Bank in Silverton, Oregon. Some may say she just wasn't putting in the effort. Others might suggest that she's saving her strength so she can help nationalize BofA and Citibank. Go get'em Sheila!

Gold hits $1000

Woo-hoo!!!

What? Nobody feels like celebrating today? Not feeling too festive?

Gold hitting $1000 is like collecting on your homeowner's insurance after the whole neighborhood has burned down.

Chick drivers

You'll probably want to hit your mute button...the song is annoying but the video good:

Schwarzenegger California tax calculator

Here's a tax calculator from the Sacramento Bee to show you how much Schwarzenegger's tax increases will cost you.

Because I'm sure that even in these tough economic times, your family can spare $1000 or $2000 for the state employee unions who have generous pensions and near-lifetime employment.

California budget fraud

In response to a question from Mr. Juggles of Long or Short Capital, I found this summary of the California budget plan in the San Jose Mercury News.
Here are the specific taxes:

— Increases the state sales tax by 1 cent on the dollar, generating $5.8 billion through the next fiscal year.

— Raises the fee for licensing vehicles to 1.15 percent of market value, up from the current .65 percent. The move is projected to generate $1.5 billion. A portion of the fee will be dedicated to local law enforcement.

— Adds a 12-cent gasoline tax, raising $2 billion.

— Imposes a one-time, 5 percent surcharge on people who owe personal income tax at the end of 2009 to generate $3.2 billion. If the state receives more than expected from the federal government, the surcharge would be reduced to 2.5 percent.

— Reduces the amount taxpayers can claim on a dependent care credit to the federal level of $100 instead of $300, adding $1.4 billion.

Note that even with huge tax increases, the budget is not even close to balanced and relies on borrowing from next year and beyond and on a big federal bailout. There is very little in actual spending cuts, and we are left spending at far higher levels than the bloated budget Schwarzenegger inherited from his predecessor Gray Davis, who was recalled for fiscal irresponsibility. What happens when we get to next year and the economy hasn't miraculously bounced back? Are we going to get another federal bailout and borrow even more from the future?

As to the status of the budget vote, there is still no deal but the Democrats and Schwarzenegger are going to keep legislators in session and keep beating on Republicans until one more of them folds.

Best practices guide to social collapse

I haven't even finished reading this yet, but it's good.

I've said it before: "The thing about being a survivalist kook and stockpiling gold, guns, and food is that there's no downside. Even if you're wrong, you've still got gold, guns, and food."

Del Mar CRE update: Presidents' Day edition

In previous CRE updates, we have focused on Olde Del Mar, on old Highway 101. For today's Presidents' Day edition we wander further afield to "Del Mar Terrace" and "Point Del Mar" at the south end of Del Mar along Carmel Valley Road.

Here are a couple offices overlooking the lagoon:





And then we get to the granddaddy at the Point Del Mar complex: 8000 square feet suitable for whatever you want: "retail / restaurant / medical / office." Wow... all those possibilities and no takers.


It's a nice spot and extremely freeway-accessible. The sign has been out for at least a year, I think. As a matter of fact, I don't know if anyone has used it since it was the old AAA office, which moved a mile away a few years back (likely because the greedy landlords tried to jack them on the rent -- who's laughing now?). Here's what it looks like now:



Notice the soothing sounds of the gentle stream in that video? That's what you get for your $275 - $300 monthly HOA fees if you're lucky enough to buy in the "exclusive" gated community of Point Del Mar... but that is a story for another day.

The same complex currently houses a lot of cosmetic surgery places, as well as the plummeting Brookfield Homes, which is still trying to sell McMansions in undesirable parts of San Diego County like San Marcos and Chula Vista. Any guesses how long they'll still be here?

Del Mar CRE update

(previous Del Mar CRE update here and all the priors can be found by putting "CRE" in the search box at the top of the blog)

I took the camera out last night because of this:



The picture doesn't do it justice. It was amazing. You're lucky you didn't see it because everything you saw from then on would look ugly by comparison.

But while I had the camera out, I took an evening stroll around Del Mar. None of the properties in previous CRE updates appear to have been filled. And I found this:



A new "For Lease" sign, on the top (2nd) story above a company called Johnson & Rountree. It looks like a big office with panoramic ocean views. If they priced that right, somebody would take it. Hah. I just googled Johnson & Rountree and they are debt collectors. There's somebody who ain't going out of business. Maybe they'll wait a few months and then move upstairs at a fire sale price.

Remember that yogurt shop that was "opening soon" a few months ago in the old shoe store?



It's still opening soon.

Lululemon, a company that sells overpriced yoga clothes, appears to be pulling out of Del Mar.



That one is being rented by Capital Growth Properties, Greg and Darlene's company that we saw in a couple places last week. Fortunately for them, it looks like they are just agents, not investors. If they owned all the places they're trying to rent, they'd be bankrupt.

We did find one sign of retail strength, though. Banana Republic is boldly raising prices. Remember that 70% off Final Days sale they were having a few weeks ago? Well, now they are only giving 40% off:



And driving through neighboring Solana Beach today, it looks like Del Mar's epidemic is highly contagious and spreading:



Run, Abel, run!

We need news helicopters to find this guy and put the freeway chase on CNN.

Moderate Republican Abel Maldonado, under pressure from Schwarzenegger and Democrats to provide the final vote to crush the people of California with huge tax increases, has fled the capitol in violation of a legislative lockdown.

Don't squeeze the Abe!

UPDATE: No white Bronco today:
Senate staff said Maldonado was located in his Senate office and returned to the floor. He had not left the building.

We're #1

... on google for Schwarzenegger sucks.

And that phrase is getting a lot of searches lately. I wonder why.

Stay of execution for California taxpayers?

With this gang of crooks in Sacramento, I don't want to get my hopes up. But we haven't had a vote yet on the massive tax hikes that Schwarzenegger wants to impose on Californians. The leftists wanted a vote today.

California already has the highest income taxes in the nation and the highest sales taxes in the nation. Schwarzenegger and the Democrats want to raise those taxes even higher to pay for their irresponsible spending. And car taxes. And gas taxes. Schwarzenegger wants to stomp on the throats of downtrodden Californians in the worst economy since the Great Depression.

The balance of power lies with Republican legislators, who signed "no tax" pledges to get elected, but are now waffling and apparently inclined to vote for Schwarzenegger's and the Democrats' huge tax increases.

The fact that the vote hasn't happened yet is a tiny sign of hope. If there was ever a time to call and scream at your California legislators, it's now.

UPDATE: RINO whores still batting eyelashes at state employee unions, well into the night.

They are still answering phones at Senate Minority Leader Dave Cogdill's officeand Assembly Minority Leader Mike Villines' office, where I just gave them a piece of my mind. I hope you will do the same. Cogdill phone: (916) 651-4014. Villines phone: (916) 319-2029. Don't be lazy. Give them a call.

Year 2000 pricing in Ramona, CA 166 Shandy Lane 92065

How would you like a nice house in San Diego County on 2.75 acres with views for $299,000? Sound impossible? It's not.

I drove out there today, and the house looks like it's in good condition. Ramona is a cute, ruralish horse town in northeastern San Diego County, between the Wild Animal Park and the mountain tourist stop of Julian. It is a little too far to commute to most of the employment centers in San Diego (45 minutes to an hour), but it's certainly not BFE.

The house sold for $178,500 in 1994, and $390,000 in 2003. A geometric interpolation puts the current asking price equal to mid-2000. And it's been listed at this price for three months. That's going to hurt the chances of the numerous places like this one, where people are still holding out for 2003 prices.

If you're trying to sell a less-than-unique property in this environment, you had better be the price leader. Do what Jim the Realtor says and cut your price 5% every two weeks until you get some action.

Greenspan's Body Count: Wayne "Mike" Anderson

Ask not for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for Wayne "Mike" Anderson:
Wayne "Mike" Anderson knew what the knock at the door of his Stratmoor Valley home meant: He was being evicted.

He wasn't ready to leave.

Unemployed, awash in debt and hiding an October foreclosure from loved ones, the 55-year-old shot himself Wednesday morning as a sheriff's deputy stood outside the home south of Colorado Springs. His live-in girlfriend was at work. She never knew they were being forced out, friends said.

"He felt like he was in a corner, and that's what he had to do to free himself," said Bennie Walker, a family friend who said she thought of Anderson as an uncle.

Friends believe Anderson, who they say he used to work as a surgical nurse, began sliding into depression after losing his job about two years ago.

Unable to find work in his field, Anderson turned to the same risky borrowing that helped plunge the country into a foreclosure crisis, borrowing against the modest split-level home at 1720 Ascot Road his parents bought in 1969 and left him in their will.

In May 2007, Anderson took out a $116,000 mortgage from Accredited Home Lenders Inc., one of the nation's largest subprime lenders.

It carried a nearly 12 percent interest rate, described by El Paso County Public Trustee Tom Mowle as "shockingly high." The average that month was 6.26 percent, according to mortgage giant Freddie Mac.

The loan appears to be what mortgage lenders call "Ninja" loans - given to borrowers with no assets, no job and no income. Such loans were common earlier this decade, but are now outlawed in Colorado.


Greenspan's Body Count now stands at eighty-one:
Wayne "Mike" Anderson
Jeffrey M. Pearson
Ervin Antonio Lupoe
Ana Lupoe
Brittney Lupoe
Jaszmin Lupoe
Jassely Lupoe
Benjamin Lupoe
Christian Lupoe
Steven L. Good
Adolf Merckle
Mike Upham
Randy Motts
Kristy Hunt
Joseph Nesheiwat
Tom Brisch
Alex Widmer
Brian Pugh
Marilyn Lewis
Sid Agrawal
Kirk Stephenson
Barry Fox
Dallas Dwayne Carter
David Hetzel
Sharron Hetzel
Cliff Kendall
Pamela Ross
Roland Gore
Mrs. Gore
Wanda Dunn
Karthik Rajaram
Subasri Rajaram
Krishna Rajaram
Ganesha Rajaram
Arjuna Rajaram
Indra Ramasesham
Joe X
Isabelle Jarka
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

Bank Failure Friday - the Triple Triple

Last week we asked what a double hat trick or two consecutive triple plays were called. None of you yobs knew the answer, so you probably don't know this one either: what do you call three hat tricks in a row?

Today's Bank Failure Friday is the third consecutive Friday of three bank failures. And while usual suspects Florida and Illinois were once again represented, so was a new face: Nebraska.

Corn Belt Bank and Trust Company, Pittsfield, IL
Riverside Bank of the Gulf Coast, Cape Coral, FL
Sherman County Bank, Loup City, NE

Did Gretzky ever get three hat tricks in a row? Sheila Bair did. Will she go for four next week?

UPDATE: GRAND SLAM!!! Pinnacle Bank of Oregon, Beaverton, OR! Dare we hope for a touchdown?

Homes for Good Party Members Only

So it begins: the yes-we-can-implement-communism president is going to reward all those who were irresponsible by paying their mortgages for them.

Under the evolving plan, homes would undergo a standardized reappraisal and homeowners would face a uniform eligibility test, sources said.

Bank regulators have used 38 percent of gross income as a benchmark for one mortgage relief program. If a homeowner is spending more than that amount on housing, they may qualify for a streamlined loan program, but the Obama administration may choose a lower percentage as a trigger for relief in any new plan.


If you can afford to pay for your mortgage, sorry you are out of luck. And if you rent because you can't afford a house in the first place, fuck you.

This makes absolutely no sense. You get government help because you purchased a home that you cannot afford. What is wrong with those people renting anyway? Just because you signed up for a mortgage doesn't give you the right to a home.

History has shown that communism does not work. You cannot reward incompetence and hope for a competent economy. I guess Obama didn't take that course at Harvard.

Take the Burden of investment decisions from us, please.

What? Citizens be "free to invest anywhere they want"? God Forbid! No! Only Government can be trusted to invest our money for us. If I thought anyone in Washington DC had any brains, I would imagine that whoever spoke after John Kerry performed this little dictatorship-of-the-proletariat rant might have simply retorted as follows:

"Hey Johnny boy, how'd it work out when the people trusted the government with their Social Security money"?

Notice the confidence he has when he tells us that "The government, yes, the government has the ability to make a decision the private sector won't make today". Uh, I think that's exactly the problem, John! He's not the only powerful politician out there saying, as our Dear Leader said the other night, "Only the government" can fix this. As long as Dear Leader was educating us ignoramuses, he should have mentioned that Only Superman can fly for real.

[****Even scarier is Kerry in this longer clip****** from about the 1:00 mark to about 2:40. What do you think people's reactions to this line of thinking would be if they had seen this clip on, hmm, say, the nightly news maybe? Isn't expressing frustration that tax cuts often help people to pay down credit card debt as worthy of mass-ridicule as saying "go shopping to help the economy" was after 9/11? He literally asks "what good does it do us" when people pay down credit cards!]

I could go on, but let's all face it. This video clearly demonstrates the kind of thinking that will dominate our Federal Government for the next few years at least. Thank God I have someone other than a broker to tell me where to invest now. I never knew if I could trust him.

Frisco blows

The end of Bay to Breakers.

If Schwarzenegger's massive tax hikes don't drive you out of California, maybe the demise of all of its cool traditions will.

Can anybody recommend a town that still knows how to have fun?

Sellers unclear on the concept: 1176 Nardo, Encinitas, CA

Wishing price for your smaller, older, rental house, in an average-ish neighborhood east of the freeway: $695,000.

Refusing to let prospective buyers see the house before agreeing to buy it: Priceless.
Please DO NOT DISTURB OCCUPANTS. SHOWN WITH ACCEPTED OFFER AND 24 HOUR NOTICE TO OCCUPANTS/TENANT. DO NOT DISTURB TENANTS!! CALL LISTING AGENT WITH ANY QUESTIONS. Shown with accepted offer only with 24 hours notice to occupants/tenants.

UPDATE: To try to fill in the seller's picture a little more, let's look at the tax assessment. The same Redfin link shows an assessed value of $562,343. This would be what the seller paid for the house, minus 2% per year for inflation. That would mean the seller purchased for around $525,000 near the peak, in 2004 or 2005. Now assuming the seller has great credit and locked in a 5.5% 30-year-fixed loan with 20% down, his mortgage is going to be $2400 a month. Property taxes on the place are $520 a month. So he's into the place for at least $2920 a month, assuming he got a great rate and put in a big down payment (not likely in the bubble years), and before maintenance and insurance. Realistically, the guy's probably looking at closer to $3500 a month.

So what could he rent it for? Well, there are an awful lot of 3-BRs west of the freeway going for $2200 - $2800. And this guy's place is old and tiny. For comparison, here is a much nicer 4-BR in the same neighborhood for $2750. If he's getting $2500 a month for it, he should be kissing his tenants' feet. Hence the reluctance to disturb said tenants. Still, $2500 coming in each month and $3500 going out is not a pretty picture.

Still delusional from the bubble though, Mr. Landlord doesn't want to cut his losses and price his house in the $400,000s where it might sell. He's holding out for some sucker to come along who wants to pay a big premium to buy a dump.

Timmy the Tax Cheat lays an egg -Tim Geithner crashes market

This is the guy who is so awesome that we have to overlook his tax evasion so that he can save the world?



This was his big moment, a much anticipated speech in which he would reveal his brilliant plan to save the financial system. Let's go to the market reaction:



That speech was painful to watch. Geithner was like an unprepared schoolboy trying to fake it through a class discussion. Paulson didn't have a clue either, but he faked it better.

UPDATE 2/11: There is some discussion in the comments below about the market starting to tank slightly before Geithner spoke. I speculated that the text of Geithner's speech had been released at 8AM. This graph, from this morning's WSJ, confirms that:

Audacity of RV'ing

The President Yes We Can was in Elkhart, Indiana yesterday giving a speech to terrify and confuse the simple minds of this great nation. Mish published his speech here.

The comedy of this event is that Elkhart is the RV construction capital of the world. It's a study in an economy based producing goods that leave the region and provide local income. But because of the policies of the Fed and the Treasury, we are going to have massive inflation. At the same time Pres. YWC's Energy Secretary wants to increase the cost of gas to European standards. How's the RV industry going to survive if gas costs what it does in Europe? He's giving a speech and supporting an economic policy that all but assures RV's are a thing of the past. That is audacious indeed.

ACORN will get billions in "Stimulus" Money?

4 or 5 billion dollars would go to ACORN if this stimulus bill passes? It's not just a payoff to an organization that helped the President get elected. Obama has a long history with them. He "community-organized" for them. He trained ACORN workers in the methods of Saul Alynski, the Chicago Socialist. He was ACORN's lawyer in multiple court cases. If you thought using the threat of labeling banks "racist" in order to bully them into giving loans to high-risk borrowers was a good idea, you'll love the newly-expanded ACORN. If you enjoy thousands of fake names being on our voter registration roles, then this will make your day.
A rising chorus of GOP leaders are protesting that the blockbuster Democratic stimulus package would provide up to a whopping $5.2 billion for ACORN, the left-leaning nonprofit group under federal investigation for massive voter fraud.

Most of the money is secreted away under an item in the now $836 billion package titled “Neighborhood Stabilization Programs.”

Ordinarily, neighborhood stabilization funds are distributed to local governments. But revised language in the stimulus bill would make the funds available directly to non-profit entities such as ACORN, the low-income housing organization whose pro-Democrat voter-registration activities have been blasted by Republicans. ACORN is cited by some for tipping the scales in the Democrats' favor in November.

According to Matthew Vadum of the Capitol Research Center, the stimulus package now under consideration includes:

# $1 billion stashed away in Community Development Block Grant money that ACORN often vies for successfully.

# $10 million to develop or refurbish low-income housing, a specialty of ACORN’s.

# $4.19 billion to stave off foreclosures via the Neighborhood Stabilization Program. Vadum states the current version of the bill would allow nonprofits to compete with cities and states for $3.44 billion of the money. Some $750 million, however, would be exclusively reserved for nonprofits such as ACORN, which is actually an umbrella organization for over 100 progressive organizations.

University of California corruption continues

We have followed the UC corruption scandal (many posts, including here and here).

Now the UC admits it lied to the public about giving a $100,000 severance package to an administrator who took another job in the UC.

Administrators are lining their own pockets while the state is in the worst state financial crisis ever. If you're an alumnus, don't contribute. If you're a taxpayer, tell your state legislator to cut off funding. If you're a student, leave a flaming bag of dog shit in the dean's office.

Questions from a frustrated buyer

My posting this morning on Craigslist:
I want to buy a modest but liveable house west of the freeway. Why is everybody still asking bubble prices? There are dozens if not hundreds of houses asking a million or more. Very few of them sold at those prices all year, and they certainly aren't going to sell now with the quadruple-whammy of a severe recession, Schwarzenegger's budget disaster, the stock market meltdown, and the rediscovery of lending standards.

People are still holding out for peak 2005 prices in this area while everywhere else in the county they are at 2003 heading to 2002.

The median household income in Encinitas is around $80,000 (before the recession kicks in). Do all these sellers really believe that every house out there is worth 12x to 15x the median income?

Who do they expect to buy these places? Exactly who has a $200,000 cash down payment and can qualify for a $800,000 loan? Don't most of the people who fit that criteria already have a house (or two)? Who is the marginal buyer here?

And the price-to-rent ratio is still ridiculous. Why would somebody pay $7000 a month in mortgage and property taxes for an average house when they can rent a nicer place for $3500 a month?

If you've got a cute little place west of the 5 and you're willing to sell for 2003 prices, please contact me. Condos need not apply.

Autism - vaccination link study is a hoax

Wow. The Lancet, a formerly respectable medical journal, was fooled when Dr. Andrew Wakefield doctored a study to invent a conclusion. Some people stopped vaccinating their kids, and kids died.

Stimulus

Stimulation shouldn't cost almost a trillion dollars.

Elliot Spitzer's high-end liaisons with "Kristen" cost something around $5,000. At that rate, Obama's stimulus is enough to buy a Kristen for every adult male in the country.

In tough economic times, shouldn't we be a little more frugal and buy everyone a $5 BJ from Hugh Grant's Divine Marie Brown?

Thought inspired by John Enright's Rhyme of the Day.

Del Mar CRE update: Del Mar Workout disappears in the middle of the night

Another one bites the dust. We've been tracking the Del Mar commercial real estate implosion, and this case is no exception.

Del Mar Workout closes without notice to employees, customers:
The popular and long-standing gym Del Mar Workout closed abruptly without notice, shocking members and employees alike.

"We wholeheartedly regret to inform you that Del Mar Workout has closed its doors for good as of 12:01 a.m. on 12/16/09," a sign posted on the door of the gym by former owners Dave and Sonya Stauffer stated. "This is a decision that did not come easy. We apologize for no notice but we were left with no other choice."

Sucks to be you if you pre-paid an annual membership!

Here's the Del Mar Workout location:



From the looks of the little office park, there's more space available than just the Del Mar Workout space. And here's the building next door:



And Greg and Darlene have another offering about a mile to the south at 9th and Camino Del Mar:



None of the properties from earlier Del Mar CRE surveys appear to have been rented.

Madoff Map Madness

The WSJ had this map of Madoff victims yesterday. It reminds me of something from a movie about a massive nuclear strike. Come to think of it, "Madoff" could be the name for a new Russian ICBM.



I don't feel sorry for the idle rich in Palm Beach or the bankers in New York who killed American capitalism. Pity about Denver though. I always liked that city.

And here is the full victim list, which could be a handy tool for scammers. Anyone on this list has a very high probability of being both rich and stupid. Wanna buy a bridge?

Be careful what you wish for

I always wanted to see the collapse of the American culture of consumption.

Now that it's happening, I'm terrified of what comes next.

Greenspan's Body Count: Snatched from the Jaws of Death

Nice try, Alan Greenspan. But thanks to a compassionate talk radio host and some lazy Maine DEA agents sitting around listening to the radio, "Carol" won't be joining Greenspan's Body Count.
The caller, who identified herself as 54-year-old “Carol,” told Carr during yesterday’s show that she moved to Jonesport, Maine, three years ago, bought a $59,000 house and had been trying to get a job, without success.

In a stunning on-air admission, “Carol” revealed that she swallowed 100 pills in a suicide attempt last February when she was about to lose her home. Her daughter from Montana showed up “out the blue” and “saved my life,” according to an audiotape of the show.

Ever since, her two daughters have been paying her mortgage and other bills. “And now, they’re so strapped out from helping me that I am right back where I was last February and seriously contemplating suicide,” said “Carol.”

“Don’t kill yourself, Carol,” Carr said. “It’s always a bad mistake to kill yourself, Carol. I’m serious about that. Your family never recovers from a suicide.”

“Carol” became emotional during the 3 minute call, saying she was “burdening” her family.

Carr talked with her a bit longer before moving on to other callers. But his listeners wanted to stay on the subject, with several trying to pursuade Carol not to take her life.

Carr told listeners that he’s made jokes about it in the past but that his grandfather killed himself in 1931 during the Depression. “The family basically never recovered,” Carr said.

It turned out an agent with the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency was listening to Carr’s show, and police were quickly dispatched to Carol’s home.

Bank Failure Friday: FirstBank Financial Services, McDonough, GA

Happy Bank Failure Friday, everyone!

FirstBank Financial Services, McDonough, GA.

UPDATE: Sheila scores the hat trick: Alliance Bank of Culver City CA, and County Bank of Merced, CA. Is there a hockey term for getting hat tricks in consecutive games? What about a baseball term for getting triple plays in consecutive innings? At In-N-Out, they'd probably call it a double-triple. For the taxpayers, it's gonna be a donkey punch.

Find your inner Obama

The Detroit Free Press, which used to be a semi-serious newspaper, has given up on adult readers and is now catering to the kindergarten crowd.

Can you cut out this Barack Obama mask and take your picture with it? I knew you could.

Lots of boys and girls in Detroit can:



W.C. Varones can, too:

Maybe it'll be used for Landscaping costs?

Milwaukee Public Schools would reap $88.6 million over two years for new construction under the economic stimulus package just passed by the U.S. House of Representatives - even though the district has 15 vacant school buildings, a large surplus of property and no plans for new construction. [emphasis added]


Oh, Wonderful Stimulus Package, How do I count the ways?

....and Then there are Statistics

Nancy Pelosi said that if Congress doesn't pass the stimulus bill quickly, then 500 million Americans lose their jobs every month we dont pass a stimulus package

This is either a fool's mistake, or deliberate deception. I mean, if she counted ALL 57 STATES, the number would be much higher!

Sadly, I would bet $500 million of my own money that there are many many Americans who believe her.

Can't We Just Be More Like the French?

In this case I'm not being sarcastic. Yes, the French (read: "the F-R-E-N-C-H") might be moving slightly away from socialism just as we are diving head first into it. What did it take for them? Riots and massive unemployment? It looks like it. Hm, just what will it take for us to decide to "calmly step away from the socialism"? The French President Sarkozy is resisting calls for an "Obama-style" stimulus package for France!

He's cutting the government! He's cutting spending! Imagine doing all that, right in the middle of Europe, right out in the open! And people in France are marching in protest. Sarkozy appears to be biting the bullet, accepting a temporary contraction of the French economy instead of piling on punishing levels of debt!

An interesting question is: Should we believe the Union's crowd estimate, the Interior Ministry's crowd estimate quoted in this bit from the article linked above:
LYON: Prime Minister François Fillon on Monday rejected demands that the French government seek to stimulate consumer spending, rather than follow his plan to stimulate corporate and infrastructure investment, to lift France out of its economic slump.

"It would be irresponsible to chose another policy, which would increase our country's indebtedness without having more infrastructure and increased competitiveness in the end," Fillon said in a speech in Lyon.

More than 1.1 million people took to the streets across France last Thursday, according to the Interior Ministry, with unions putting the number of protesters at 2.5 million, to call on President Nicolas Sarkozy to stop cutting government jobs, increase the minimum wage and spend more on households as the economy enters its first recession since 1993.

Opponents of the government have been calling for an "Obama-style" stimulus plan, one that puts money directly into the pockets of working people.

French unemployment rose by about 45,000 people in December, Finance Minister Christine Lagarde said Monday, taking the jobless ranks to the highest level in about two years.

Sputnik?


Iran sends first home-built satellite into orbit.

We all know what the real significance of the Sputnik launch was, don't we?

WC, that's such a beautiful shot of the sunset (see below)! Just a slightly differently tinted sky than this guy hopes to see over the US someday.

The winter of our discontent

Oh, when will these winter nights end?


Photo courtesy of M.D.

Markopolos Testimony to Congress on Madoff and his SEC enablers

... is right here. Read the whole thing. It's a damning indictment of the incompetent, and likely corrupt, SEC.

Going to see Allah

This video comes from our friend Blinko, with this explanation:
This video was made by the bad guys. The cameraman is filming his friend as he praises Allah and launches mortar shots at American troops. Little does he know that new mortar shell tracking technology can track the trajectory of a hostile round and fire a retaliatory shot to precisely the spot from which the hostile shell was fired.?This only requires the hostile mortar to fire 2 to 3 rounds. Count the number of mortar rounds the masked insurgent fires in the video. See how well it works.

Isn't technology wonderful?


Big Brother, Where Art Thou - Oregon

Gov. Ted Kulongoski has come up with a brilliant idea to make up for the lost tax income from all our fuel efficient cars: put a government GPS on every car and tax it according to the miles driven. Read the article here.
Comrade James Whitty, manager of the agency's Office of Innovative Partnerships and Alternative Funding has this to say:
    "Vehicles are coming that get upwards of 100 miles per gallon and electric vehicles are coming," he said. "They're not too far away, and they won't pay any gas tax. We need a road revenue system that can sustain itself."

This raises some serious issues:

  1. Apparently the car you purchase is not totally yours. The tracking device that will log the miles you travel using GPS technology will be the property of the State and I'm sure it will be against the law for you to destroy it, even though it's a part of the car you purchased. Huh, property rights anyone...
  2. They can and will track you from the dog track over to the liquor store all the way to Airborne for Men adult entertainment in Providence, RI. They’ll even know when you car is visiting with known enemies of the state like Libertarians. Sure they say they aren’t tracking you but of course they are. A computer must keep the data stored and of course that data is accessible. Does that seem big brother-ee to you?
  3. This is a huge regressive tax. Anyone who has to drive long distances will be punished. Conversely those who can afford to live in downtown Portland won't be as hard hit. Sure a gas tax is the same but since Oregon has no sales tax than really this will only hit those who have to drive long distances.

Anyway I wonder if these car tracking devices were discussed with the agreement to bailout the car companies? I'm sure they were not because the US of A stands for liberty, right?

Greenspan's Body Count: Jeffrey M. Pearson

The latest addition to Greenspan's Body Count actually predates most of the cases on the list. It was the heady days of 2004, when Greenspan was still revered as "The Maestro," but his easy money orgy was already providing big-time opportunities for fraudsters. But all good frauds must come to an end:
With investigators closing in, a 63-year-old Bexley man retreated to an East Side cemetery on a sunny September afternoon, put the barrel of a .32-caliber revolver in his mouth and pulled the trigger.

It was 2004, and a massive mortgage fraud was beginning to unravel.

The suicide would further complicate a thicket of real-estate transactions, far-flung millionaire investors and loans totaling tens of millions of dollars that were suddenly pouring into run-down Columbus neighborhoods.
The deceased was one Jeffrey M. Pearson, one of several people involved in the fraud.

HT: HousingBubbleBlog.

Greenspan's Body Count now stands at eighty:

Jeffrey M. Pearson
Ervin Antonio Lupoe
Ana Lupoe
Brittney Lupoe
Jaszmin Lupoe
Jassely Lupoe
Benjamin Lupoe
Christian Lupoe
Steven L. Good
Adolf Merckle
Mike Upham
Randy Motts
Kristy Hunt
Joseph Nesheiwat
Tom Brisch
Alex Widmer
Brian Pugh
Marilyn Lewis
Sid Agrawal
Kirk Stephenson
Barry Fox
Dallas Dwayne Carter
David Hetzel
Sharron Hetzel
Cliff Kendall
Pamela Ross
Roland Gore
Mrs. Gore
Wanda Dunn
Karthik Rajaram
Subasri Rajaram
Krishna Rajaram
Ganesha Rajaram
Arjuna Rajaram
Indra Ramasesham
Joe X
Isabelle Jarka
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

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