Archive for August 2009

The Council Has Spoken: August 28, 2009

Congratulations to this week’s winners:

Council:  Joshuapundit - Obama Vs CIA: New WH Interrogation Unit Created As Panetta Threatens To Resign

Noncouncil: Wall Street Journal - The Summer of Discontent

Full voting here.

Beer-Drinking Muslim Model’s Caning Delayed


Of all the offenses committed by supermodels that could possibly deserve caning, drinking beer isn’t one of them. Oh, that’s right. We’re not supposed to judge other cultures because all are equal and some are more equal than others (like anything that’s not Western). Still, caning would add a wrinkle to “America’s Top Model”.

Naomi Campbell Magazine - Fury -

The Council Has Spoken: August 21, 2009

Congratulations to this week’s winners:

Council:  Bookworm Room - The view from the other side re health care

Noncouncil: zenpundit - On Afghanistan and Strategy

Full voting here.

The 2nd Amendment Is Mine Now

I bought my first firearm tonight – a .22 Marlin rifle with Bushnell scope. It isn’t as sexy as the Cx4 Storm or the Colt LE6920 M-4 on the shelf, but it’s a start.

Eagles Pick Squeaky For Defensive Coordinator

Friday, August 14, 2009


Charles Manson follower Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, convicted of trying to
assassinate former President Gerald Ford, out of prison after spending
more than 30 years behind bars has been picked up by the Philadelphia
Eagles to be their defensive coordinator.

“She signed with the Eagles,” agent Joel Segal told The Associated Press
in a telephone interview Thursday. He said it was a two-year deal. Segal
reports that she will replace interim defensive coordinator Sean
McDermott who replaced Jim Johnson after Johnson was diagnosed with
cancer in the 2008-09 season. Johnson passed away on July 28th.

“This is America,” Coach Andy Reid proclaimed. “We do make mistakes.”
The 60-year-old former Manson Family member deserves “a chance to prove
she’s doing the right things,” Reid added.

“Everybody we talked to said the same thing,” Eagles President Joe
Banner told the Daily News, “that [Fromme] was remorseful and had gone
through an incredible transformation, that she was basically good at
heart. We heard this over and over again from people who felt she
deserved a second chance.”

Manson is serving a life term in San Quentin in California for the 1969
murders of actress Sharon Tate and eight others. Fromme, one of his
“family” of followers, was not implicated in those attacks.

The Council Has Spoken: August 14, 2009

Congratulations to this week’s winners:

Council:  Joshuapundit - Mirage: Obama’s Middle East Strategy

Noncouncil: The Chronicle of Higher Education - The Shame of Academe and Fascism, Then and Now

Full voting here.

The Enemy Within

The Obama Propaganda Machine is taking aim at the mob. Here’s the mob the Obama machine has in its crosshairs,the one that he’s promised to “hit back twice as hard.”

The Council Has Spoken: August 7, 2009

Congratulations to this week’s winners:

Council: Soccer Dad - Worth every penny of “free.”

Noncouncil: Political Math - Obama Health Care Reform and Wait Times Visualization (In Lego!)

Full voting here.

Praire Fire Anger

Victor Davis Hanson nails it.

A well educated technocracy—we see such figures in the emblematic Timothy Geithner, Eric Holder, or Barack Obama himself —have most of their lives served in government, largely regulating, overseeing, organizing, auditing, and sermonizing far more productive and capable others. One of the worst flaws of this species of utopian technocrat is the notion that he wishes to curtail in others the very things he wishes to enjoy without constraint himself.

The elitist attitudes of the Pelosi-Obama axis are simply stunning. More than Republicans and conservatives in general, their own hubris will be their undoing. Do they honestly believe that making an enemy of the common people is going to keep them in power?

The True Agents of Change

One of my colleagues at work suggested that I form a support group for disgruntled Obama voters and he would become a charter member. While the Obama Propaganda Machine (White House, MSNBC, New York Times, is in full gear trying to smear everyone who expresses their unhappiness with the President as being sponsored by interest groups and the GOP, all they have to do is look at the polls and see that the president’s policies are more unpopular than he is. It’s only a matter of time before Obama owns his policies and becomes as unpopular as they just the unpopularity of the Iraq war tarred Bush.

By attacking dissenters they are making sure that people like my peer at work won’t vote for Obama or his party anytime soon. He’s a smart guy who gave Obama the benefit of the doubt. Now that Obama and the Democrats are proving themselves to be as elitist, liberal and demogogic as conservatives claimed, he’d sooner erase his porn collection and embrace Jesus Christ as his lord and savior than vote Democratic in the next four years (if you knew the guy you’d know how truly crazy this would be).

I wasn’t unique in expecting Obama’s fall. Obama ceased to be a politician in 2004 and became a celebrity of rock star proportions, and as soon as that happened, his presidency was doomed. America builds up its celebrities, then relishes their demises as they fail to live up to their hype.

Obama has been hyped in a way in this nation that I’ve never seen in my forty odd years on this planet, nor historically – from my understanding of history.  Obama himself seemed amused by the cult of personality surrounding him, never considering that the cult would eventually wise up and leave him alone after he failed to deliver on his promises.

Obama didn’t promise the End of Days as Joseph Smith jr. had, but he did promise everything to everyone.  Now the conservative independents and Democrats that supported him are peeling off after his administration’s detonation of the national debt into the stratosphere. New York Jewish Democrats are fearful over his antagonistic policy towards Israel – the only nation Obama feels that he can bully in the Middle East. Environmentalists watch with horror as the promise of greenhouse gas reductions go up in smoke.  Now the grand liberal dream of universal health care seems ready to pop as citizens grab their pitchforks and run to the town halls to face down their elected representatives.

When I saw that the legislation paid for abortion on demand, I knew that the situation was much worse than the administration feared. America is schizophrenic on Abortion – and as an American I am too. As I have written elsewhere on the web, I believe that Abortion is murder, but I also believe that the state doesn’t have a right to force a woman to continue a pregnancy she doesn’t want. Killing unborn babies is terrible, but forcing a woman to be a mother is worse in my view. It’s a lesser of two evils, but both are evil choices. Sometimes the choice isn’t between good and evil, it’s between evil and less evil. It’s taken awhile to for me to learn that.

The idea of national health insurance covering the killings just won’t fly in our society. Yes most private health insurance covers the procedure, but most Americans don’t know that or can’t relate to it if they do. It may seem irrational but it’s not; it’s just an extremely complex reaction to a complex issue.

I’ve opposed Barack Obama’s candidacy since the very beginning. I’ve never liked him; never trusted him, and the cult of personality around him just reminded me of the groupies and assorted hangers-on that followed the Grateful Dead around the country, getting stoned or tripping out and believing that the band played good music. I’d rather listen to an accordion version of Marilyn Manson greatest hits played backwards than hear a single bar of the Grateful Dead because unless you’re so screwed up you can’t find your head with two hands, the band’s music sucks.

But the most potent critics of cults are those that have left them, and Obama’s policy failures are forcing many to tip the dixie cups of kool-aid onto the floor and question the administration. These ex-Obamanistas will be much more effective at taking down the cult of Obama than any right wing organization or blog. My colleague at work is only the first of many, and the legions of those like him will be the forces of “change” in 2012 – not grumpy old conservatives like me.

The Rebellion Begins…

Here’s some interesting finds on the Web.

The poster below has been appearing in Los Angeles. No one knows what its story is:

Found this one at Cruel Kev, a fellow libertarian leaning Republican:

From Suzy Rice:

The “Hunt” for a Buyer

About five years ago I watched Toll Brothers throw up 5000-7000 sq ft houses on 1/2 acre plots of land in a development called “The Hunt at Brandywine” now known as “Brandywine Hunt”.  I worked nearby and I was amazed at how little time it took to build these behemoths. From foundation pour to final landscaping was less than 3 months if memory serves, and watching these homes rise out of the Delaware dust I realized that the McMansion is the antithesis of everything I believe in.

The homes are mass-produced with little craftsmanship, following a mix-and-match modular design where people choose from a limited set of elements, creating a neighborhood where the homes look uncannily similar – like children from an incestuous mating. Because the homes are on small plots of land there is little privacy – especially when large windows overlook your neighbor’s home just a few yards away. There are no mature trees; the few that stood on the site when it was a racetrack and parking lot were scraped off. The lawns look sterile, and the common space where a large lake sits has “NO TRESSPASSING” signs staked every 100 feet or so.

But worst of all was the fact that the houses were ostentatious. Their facades meant to tell the world that the owner was wealthy even though in 2005 anyone with a pulse could get an interest only jumbo mortgage. No one needs to live in a 7,000 square foot house, but choosing to live in one meant that the owner wanted to make a statement to the world that she had money to waste in purchasing, maintaining and heating 7,000 square feet of the 22,000 square feet of rocky Delaware soil.

7,000 square feet of living space. A brown bear in the Rocky Mountains requires a home range of 9,673,804,800 square feet (347 square miles). We are not brown bears of course, but how big of a house do we need? The average American home size in 1950 was 1,000 square feet. The average American family was bigger back then, yet they somehow managed to pack everyone in 1,400 less space than the average US home in 2004.

My wife and I are fans of the Not So Big House movement documented by writer Sarah Susanka in a book with the same title. A Not So Big house is the synthesis of comfort, beauty and efficiency. Rooms are meant to be used – not to impress – and are designed accordingly. The form follows function model isn’t new and has its roots in the Arts and Crafts and Prairie School movements of a century ago reaching their pinnacle in the design of Frank Lloyd Wright. Ultimately we desire a bubble of a comfortable cozy space surrounded by well made floors, walls, ceilings and windows.

The McMansion builds a brittle, empty shell around a large impersonal space. It costs less money for builders like Toll Brothers to build a 5,000 square foot house metal studs, dry wall and composite moldings than it does to build a 1,500 square foot home with brick, plaster,  and wood moldings. Every angle or corner adds cost, so today’s developers minimize them building what is in essence a rectangular box that varies little across the country. McMansions in New Mexico are rectangular boxes with adobe motif and a gas fired kiva. McMansions in New England are rectangular boxes with brick facades and an electric fireplace. The essence of the McMansion is the same just as a Big Mac tastes the same in Moscow Russia as it does in Moscow Idaho. Over the past half-century builders have worked to convince us to believe that “bigger is better” because such thinking enhanced their bottom lines. The result is an overpriced, soulless middle-class ghetto – Brandywine Hunt.

The old cliche is that the three most important things in real estate are location, location, location. The troubled Brandywine Town Center (BTC) is next to the development. BTC is a sprawling mall in one of the best locations in Delaware that has failed to lease much of its commercial and retail space since it was built earlier in the decade. It sits at the end of a heavily trafficked 5 mile long corridor walled by numerous strip malls and one large indoor mall, Concord Mall ending at the Pennsylvania state line, offering tax free shopping to the southern suburbs of Phildelphia.

Yet at BTC furniture stores come and go and the place is half vacant. A small covered mall is empty. Anchor stores are Lowes, Target and a movie theater which pull in consumers yet somehow not enough to keep other stores in business. The store closest to the Hunt is Christmas Tree Shops – selling lowpriced unwanted goods from around the world.  Across the street from the hunt are modestly priced condos and apartments whose residents once fought both BTC and Brandywine Hunt developments. In both cases the developers won these battles, but the empty commercial slots at BTC and the dehumanizing design of Brandywine Hunt prove that the outcome of these battles is less clear.

That hasn’t stopped some for pursuing the dream offered by Toll Brothers. The homes at “The Hunt” originally sold for $700k-$850k. Today, 4 years and a real estate meltdown later two of these homes are for sale for over a million dollars.  Here’s one listing for $1.125 million. A quick search of public records netted this information:

As this record shows the home sold for $860k almost 4 years ago. The seller is asking for a 30% return on his/her investment. Will he or she get it?

Here’s Google map’s view of the area:

View Larger Map

Here’s a streetview within the development itself:

View Larger Map

Do these look like million dollar homes to you? What is the likelihood that the seller of the $1.125 million property will turn a profit on their 4 year “investment” – let alone receive an offer close to the asking price? Am I wrong in believing that the seller is… high?

The loans that financed The Hunt have disappeared. Banks are now requiring large down payments and refusing Jumbo loans. The current limit for the jumbo is $417,000 – roughly a third of the asking price of the homes in The Hunt. Middle class buyers cannot afford million dollar homes. This is a fact that people forgot during the housing boom, and one that the current sellers of the homes at the Hunt haven’t learned yet. This limits the pool of buyers for these homes to the upper class, and in Delaware the upper class does not want to live next to Target and a half-empty shopping mall.

The only way home owners in The Hunt are going to survive is by staying put. After 10 years of Obama-inflation they may be able to get more than they paid for their houses, but only because cashiers are Walmart will be making $150,000/year. Of course I could be wrong and the seller $1.125 million property will find a greater fool, but will that fool be able to finance the property?