February 27, 2008

The Presidential Candidate Name Game

Filed under: News from Other Sites,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 4:50 pm

The middle-name controversy concerning the presidential candidate I often refer to as BOOHOO (Barack O-bomba Overseas Hussein “Obambi” Obama) has reached a fever pitch.

Goodness, a talk show host used Obama’s actual middle name a few times when he warmed up an audience for the GOP’s presumptive presidential nominee.

The GOP’s presumptive nominee was not pleased with the talk show host, nor was Bill “If This Doesn’t Prove I’m a Lefty Blogger Nothing Does” Sloat at The Bellwether Daily, who likened the offending talk show host to small, disgusting insects that crawl the earth. Classy.

Nix, as would be expected, ratted out hypocrisy and inconsistency, of which there was no shortage.

Captain Ed opined that using Obama’s middle name more than, I don’t know, once every year or so (is Inauguration Day okay, Ed?) is “asinine emphasis.” So, apparently, did Karl Rove.

Now far be it from little old me to defy the conventional “wisdom” of others, including some alleged conservatives, and open myself up to accusations of blatant inconsistency.

So from now until Presidential Election Day 2008, I will engage in equal opportunity overemphasis. The major remaining presidential candidates will often be referred to here as follows:

The names just noted may be subject to further extension if circumstances warrant.

So now everyone can be equally annoyed or humored, regardless of which candidate I happen to be referring to at the time.

OFHEO Report on Home Prices: Down 1.3% in 4Q07; Down 0.3% in Past 12 Months

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 3:32 pm

This is a national crisis?

The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight has released its Housing Price Index for the fourth quarter of 2007. It is the most comprehensive look at home-price activity in the US, as described here:

The HPI is a broad measure of the movement of single-family house prices. The HPI is a weighted, repeat-sales index, meaning that it measures average price changes in repeat sales or refinancings on the same properties. This information is obtained by reviewing repeat mortgage transactions on single-family properties whose mortgages have been purchased or securitized by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac since January 1975.

The HPI serves as a timely, accurate indicator of house price trends at various geographic levels. Because of the breadth of the sample, it provides more information than is available in other house price indexes. It also provides housing economists with an improved analytical tool that is useful for estimating changes in the rates of mortgage defaults, prepayments and housing affordability in specific geographic areas.

Though not a bundle of roses, the results are not exactly the Armageddon Old Media wants to portray:

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. home prices fell in the fourth quarter of 2007 according to OFHEO’s seasonally-adjusted purchase-only house price index. The index, which is based on data from home sales, was 1.3 percent lower on a seasonally-adjusted basis in the fourth quarter than in the third quarter of 2007. This decline was substantially greater than the 0.3 percent price decline between the second and third quarters. Over the past year, prices fell 0.3 percent, as the fourth quarter decline erased earlier price gains.

The full PDF can be found at the home page (PDF is pretty large; the excerpted text above is from the beginning of the PDF).

I’m withholding further commentary on this until Saturday, when I’m able to gauge how much Old Media coverage the report received. My bet: minimal.

RIP, Bill Buckley

Filed under: News from Other Sites — Tom @ 11:38 am

From Kathryn Lopez at the Corner:

I’m devastated to report that our dear friend, mentor, leader, and founder William F. Buckley Jr., died overnight in his study in Stamford, Connecticut.

After year of illness, he died while at work; if he had been given a choice on how to depart this world, I suspect that would have been exactly it. At home, still devoted to the war of ideas.

….. our fervent prayer that we continue to do WFB’s life’s work justice.

I’ll second that.

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UPDATE: Buckley’s obituary at NRO, which will surely saturate us in a positive way in the next few days, is here.

UPDATE 2: Michelle Malkin (of course) and AllahPundit at Hot Air are all over it. The AP story at Breitbart also has several good links in the left frame.

America Needs You, Wesley Pruden (Back at the Washington Times)

Item: Less than six weeks after legendary editor Wesley Pruden’s retirement, new Washington Times editor John Solomon has begun selling out to politically correct and objectively inaccurate language (additional HTs to NewsBusters’ Tim Graham, and to John Haskins in an e-mail). The reason for the Times to even exist is slowly but surely being eliminated.

Accordingly, this parody, sung to the tune of Chicago’s 1975 hit, “(America Needs You) Harry Truman” came to mind, in hopes of convincing Pruden to reconsider the virtues of returning, if only for a year:

America needs you, Wesley Pruden
Wesley could you please come home?
The new guy’s really bad,
A PC flack gone mad.
So Wesley please come back and save the paper we all know and love.

America’s wondering,
What possessed you,
To leave at such a critical time.
John Solomon’s a hack,
We really need you back,
‘Cause DC doesn’t need two WaPo’s doing the news hand in glove.

We know you’re still doing your weekly riff,
And we’re glad that you could.
We also know that retirement,
Is usually very good.
But the paper you nurtured, whose circ you furthered,
Is not doing what it should,
You’ve gotta come back and take no pris’ners
When you’re in charge you would.

America needs some Prudenizing,
It’s time to set things straight again.
Just wait until ’09,
Then retiring would be fine,
So Wesley please come back and save the paper we all know and love.
Wesley please come back and save the paper we all know and love.
Wesley!
Wesley please come back and save the paper we all know and love.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Couldn’t Help But Notice (022708)

Memo to Objectively Unfit and Supposedly Reconsidering-it Mitt Romney (HT Gregg Jackson in an e-mail): Don’t even think about it, pal. We weren’t done, and you don’t want the rest out there.

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This will keep IT managers up at night:

A team including the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Princeton University, and other researchers have found a major security flaw in several popular disk encryption technologies that leaves encrypted data vulnerable to attack and exposure.

“People trust encryption to protect sensitive data when their computer is out of their immediate control,” said EFF Staff Technologist Seth Schoen, a member of the research team. “But this new class of vulnerabilities shows it is not a sure thing. Whether your laptop is stolen, or you simply lose track of it for a few minutes at airport security, the information inside can still be read by a clever attacker.”

The researchers cracked several widely used disk encryption technologies, including Microsoft’s BitLocker, Apple’s FileVault, TrueCrypt, and dm-crypt. These “secure” disk encryption systems are supposed to protect sensitive information if a computer is stolen or otherwise accessed. However, in a paper and video published on the Internet today, the researchers show that data is vulnerable because encryption keys and passwords stored in a computer’s temporary memory — or RAM — do not disappear immediately after losing power.

Ouch. Don’t let that laptop stray.

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Congressman John Boehner, with this move, is again showing why he’s a great American. The Earmark Reform site needs to be kept open, and those who are in the way of reform need to be exposed. The attempt to shut it down is a blatant attempt by Speaker Pelosi to continue, and extend, business as usual, and is simply unacceptable.

Those who are in the way of earmark reform need to pay a price at the ballot box this year.

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I think this Washington Post article on home-equity lines deliberately overplays the severity of what’s happening.

Here’s an example:

Countrywide Financial, the nation’s largest mortgage lender, suspended the home equity lines of 122,000 customers last month after reviewing their property values and outstanding loan balances. The company, like others, has an internal automated appraisal system that tracks values.

The company declined to disclose how many of the affected borrowers lived in the Washington area. About 381,000 borrowers in the region had home equity lines at the end of last year, according to Moody’s economy.com.

USAA Federal Savings Bank froze or reduced credit lines for 15,000 of its customers, including Corazzi, and will not reconsider its decisions until “real estate values improve substantially,” the company said in a statement.

The first paragraph uses a big number with no context. How many million equity lines does Countrywide have? That info should be pretty easy to find, or ask for. If it’s more than 2.3 million (and I suspect it’s a lot higher), then only 5% (and I suspect the percentage is much lower) of Countrywide’s equity lines have been suspended.

Because there is no paragraph break between the first and second paras, the second excerpted paragraph’s stat is vague. I can tell that it’s equity lines from all lenders, but I believe that many readers will believe it’s Countrywide only, and may even think that one-third of Countrywide’s lines (122K/381K) are affected, which would clearly be wrong.

Finally, note the subtle change from the first paragraph, which covered freezes only, to “froze or reduced” in the third.

All in all, I believe the authors intended to make things look worse than they really are. After all, what’s usually happening is that an unused credit line is being reduced. Seriously now, if the bank lowers the credit line on a credit card you seldom use from $10,000 to $5,000, where’s the suffering?

Positivity: Girl Gets Kidney From Stranger

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:58 am

From Atlanta:

The picture of the smiling little girl on the flier was more than Laura Bolan could take. The 8-year-old on the pamphlet needed a kidney transplant, and Bolan knew she could help.

She did a quick Web search on the surgery and talked it over with her husband. Then she made a phone call to offer one of her kidneys to Sarah Dickman.

The suburban Atlanta girl was born with the genetic disease juvenile nephronophthisis, which slowly destroys the kidneys. Without treatment, it can kill a child before the age of 15.

Bolan, 34, had never met Sarah when she agreed to donate the organ.

“It breaks your heart to know there’s a little girl sick out there who you could help,” Bolan said earlier this week.

The pair underwent successful surgeries Thursday at hospitals across the street from each other in Atlanta. Surgeon Dr. Thomas Pearson said both patients were doing well on Friday, and initial tests of Sarah’s new kidney showed it was working normally.

Sarah was expected to be in intensive care for at least a day and then spend up to a week at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston. She said she was looking forward to being free from a dialysis machine so she can spend the night at her best friend’s house.

And when doctors remove her catheter, she can take bubble baths again because there will no longer be the risk of infecting the skin around the tube.

Best of all, she can go to Kangaroo Bob’s, a children’s recreation center with inflatable slides, mazes and obstacle courses.

“I’ll get to go there on my birthday because I won’t have this anymore,” she said, pointing to the catheter.

Bolan was expected to return home after a few days at Emory University Hospital. She first saw a flier about Sarah in September at the elementary school where two of her children are students. Sarah attends the same school.

Bolan knew she had the same blood type as the little girl, so she called the number on the flier that evening.

Go here for the rest of the story.