October 19, 2010

Why Early Voting Is a Travesty, Reason 12

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:10 pm

I had 11 reasons when I last wrote on this subject two years ago.

Make that 12 — “Activist” teachers (i.e., Democratic operatives) will take voting-age (we hope) kids to the polls during school hours:

Three van loads of Hughes High students were taken last week – during school hours – to vote and given sample ballots only for Democratic candidates and then taken for ice cream, a Monday lawsuit alleges.

The complaint was made by Thomas Brinkman Jr., a Republican candidate for Hamilton County auditor, and the Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending & Taxes against Cincinnati Public Schools.

“They plan to bring four more high schools (to vote) this week,” Christopher Finney, COAST attorney, said Monday after filing the suit.

… CPS spokeswoman Janet Walsh said taking students on school time to vote has been done before. “It has to be scrupulously nonpartisan,” Walsh said.

Stepaniak said church vans were volunteered to drive students to vote.

The suit alleges three van loads of Hughes High students arrived at the Downtown Board of Elections offices at 1 p.m. Wednesday, supervised by a school employee. School lets out at 3:15 p.m.

When they got out of the vans, the students, the suit alleges, also were accompanied by adults who appeared to be campaign workers or supporters for U.S. Rep. Steve Driehaus, D-West Price Hill, the congressman being challenged this fall by Steve Chabot. When the students got out of the vans, the suit alleges they were given sample ballots containing only Democratic candidates.

… The suit alleges those actions violated a 2002 agreement between CPS and COAST where the school agreed it wouldn’t allow school property or employees to be used for “advocating the election or defeat of candidates for public office.”

Information as to whether the kids could actually read what was on the ballots was apparently unavailable.

The original 11 reasons follow:

  1. The political landscape can change after you’ve voted.
  2. Candidates often reveal their less-than-desirable sides in the stressful runup to Election Day.
  3. Unpleasant or pleasant truths about candidates that should legitimately affect voter opinion sometimes arrive in the final days.
  4. Candidates can abuse early voting if they get into disputes over their residency or voter registration status.
  5. Early voting by mail corrupts the secret ballot.
  6. There is no way to verify that only duly registered voters cast ballots (i.e., a person can use someone else’s ballot to vote).
  7. There is no way to absolutely safeguard ballots against loss or alteration.
  8. It’s much easier for someone who wishes to vote in multiple states to do so.
  9. Boards of elections will want to start counting the votes before Election Day (in some cases, they already are).
  10. It’s even possible, because of the previous item, for an elections employee to determine whether or not a person who promised to vote early for a given candidate has actually voted.
  11. Pollsters are now revealing exit poll results to the public weeks ahead of what is still quaintly referred to as “Election Day,” influencing the subsequent pattern of voting.

Whopper of the Day, Housing Division

From Associated Press Real Estate Writer Alan Zibel, writing on today’s housing starts and new building permit reports from the Census Bureau:

The housing market suffered its worst summer in more than 10 years, despite the lowest mortgage rates in five decades.

No Alan. Even before adjustments for population differences, the housing market suffered its worst summer on record.

Readers are welcome to peruse the two reports cited above for smaller June through August or June through September results than we experienced in 2010:

– Housing starts: July through September, 2010 – 161,000; June through September, 2010 – 214,800
– Building permits: July through September, 2010 – 150,300; June through September, 2010 – 209,200

I’m almost certain that there aren’t any. The majority of previous June-September and July-September periods show over 100,000 during each month involved.

Sales figures for September aren’t out yet, but I don’t seem them changing the reality.

Or is this smart-aleck time at AP, wherein Zibel would respond: “Well, 50 years is ‘more than 10 years’”?

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UPDATE: My statement that “the housing market suffered its worst summer on record” is so obviously correct that there’s no room for debate. Looking through the above reports, the second-worst, third-worst, and fourth-worst years on record are as follows:

  • Starts, June-September –
    2009 – 222,400 (about 4% higher than 2010)
    2008 – 352,500
    1981 – 376,100
    1991 – 388,200.
  • Permits, June-September –
    2009 – 224,300 (about 7% higher than 2010)
    1966 – 319,600
    1981 – 339,700
    2008 – 343,700.

Every other year available (1959 – 2007) has over 400,000 starts during July through September. Every, single, one.

And Alan Zibel has the nerve to write that this year was only the worst in 10 years?

AP Continues Strange Infatuation With Steven Slater’s ‘Fame’

Here’s the headline at the Associated Press’s 12:49 p.m. report today on Steven Slater’s plea bargain: “Attendant who slid on chute to fame pleads guilty.” Earlier headlines had used the word “famous” (example here: “JetBlue attendant in famous meltdown pleads guilty”).

For those who still care about what words mean, the primary meaning of “famous” is “having a widespread reputation, usually of a favorable nature; renowned; celebrated.” Steven Slater is not “famous”; he is, or at least should be, “infamous” (“having an extremely bad reputation”).

So continues “The Essential Global News Network’s” strange fascination bordering on approbation of the flight attendant who, back in August, “went on the public-address system, swore at a passenger who he claimed treated him rudely, grabbed a beer and slid onto the tarmac” using an emergency slide.

Days after the Slater’s stunt, the headline on an item by AP’s Samantha Gross (covered at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) was “Flight attendant’s grand exit is a dream for some.”

A few weeks later, an unbylined AP story (covered at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) said that Slater “captured the nation’s imagination.”

Today’s story by Colleen Long continues the trend (bolds are mine):

The JetBlue flight attendant whose job-quitting meltdown landed him in court avoided jail time in a plea deal Tuesday that requires him to undergo counseling and treatment for a least a year.

Steven Slater spoke politely and calmly as he entered a guilty plea to a charge of second-degree attempted criminal mischief, a felony, and a lesser charge of fourth-degree attempted criminal mischief.

“At the end of the day, I’m a grown-up and I must take responsibility for my actions,” Slater said outside court. He thanked his attorney, prosecutors, his mother and his partner, and said the public interest in his case had surprised him.

Under the terms of the deal, Slater must undergo at least a year of counseling and substance-abuse treatment. If he completes the program to the judge’s satisfaction, the top charge will dismissed, the misdemeanor will remain and he will be sentenced to a year of probation.

He must check in with the court periodically and could also have to pay restitution to JetBlue. If he does not fulfill the requirements, he will get one to three years in jail.

Slater’s dramatic and unusual departure made him a cult hero to some. He was a topic on TV shows, on the front pages of newspapers and many cheered him for standing up to the inhospitable world of airline travel and for quitting his job so spectacularly.

… JetBlue told employees in a memo that press coverage was not taking into account how much harm can be caused by emergency slides, which are deployed with a potentially deadly amount of force.

District Attorney Richard Brown scolded Slater – and the public – for not taking his actions more seriously, noting it cost $25,000 to fix the slide and that the plane had to be taken out of service afterward, causing flight delays.

Slater’s childish actions had adult consequences. That should be the message coming out of the Slater incident. Instead we have a subculture, for which AP writers seem strangely sympathetic, that seems to think the whole escapade was cute and made some sort of “statement” — never mind its effects. The subculture is significant enough that Long notes the debut of “disgruntled airline employee or the angry steward” Halloween costumes.

Steven Hoffer at AOL.com brings up a more relevant and real-world matter: “The main question for Slater at this point may be whether he can land another job.

Given AP’s odd and consistent sympathy for Slater, I’d suggest the that former JetBlue flight attendant start here.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

The Foreclosure Document Mess: Cloward, Piven, and Their President Are Surely Pleased

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:55 am

foreclosure-dr9The system is nearly overwhelmed. It’s not an accident.

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Note: This column went up at Pajamas Media and was teased here at BizzyBlog on Sunday.

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The foreclosure document mess is a red-flag indication that a long-term leftist strategy to take down the nation as we know it is as close to “success” as it has ever been.

The latest as of when this column was drafted was this:

Officials in 50 states and the District of Columbia have launched a joint investigation into allegations that mortgage companies mishandled documents and broke laws in foreclosing on hundreds of thousands of homeowners.

Many banks, including Bank of America, have halted all sales of foreclosed properties. The State of Connecticut slapped a 60-day moratorium on all foreclosure sales earlier this month. Title insurers are backing away. A brazen gambit to get banks off the hook for many of their documentation errors, the “Interstate Recognition of Notarizations Act of 2010,” zoomed through Congress and reached President Obama’s desk last week. The president pocket-vetoed it.

“Mishandled documents”? “Documentation errors”? What’s this all about?

The goal of the unsuccessful legislation was to force state courts “to give equal treatment to notarized documents … that were notarized out of state.” Apparently, many overwhelmed mortgage servicers frequently failed to have their foreclosure documents properly notarized in the states where their delinquent borrowers live; in some cases, they weren’t notarized at all. In the courts, non-notarized or improperly notarized documents relating to real property usually aren’t enforceable. There appears to be little dispute, to paraphrase Jerry Lee Lewis, there has been a whole lot of wrong-state notarization and outright non-notarization going on.

The key word in the previous paragraph is “overwhelmed.” In full context, mortgage servicers’ inability to keep their foreclosure documents in order is best seen as a symptom of a system thrown into crisis by decades-long employment of a deliberately disruptive “progressive” tactic applied to housing and home lending. Its roots go back to 1960s radicals Richard Andrew Cloward and Frances Fox Piven.

The pair, in a 1966 Nation Magazine column, announced a goal, as described here, to “persuade millions of Americans to get on the relief rolls — to bankrupt the welfare agencies … (in order to) provoke a financial crisis that would force Congress to enact a guaranteed annual income for all Americans.” At the time, of the roughly 8 million Americans who were receiving public assistance, about 4.5 million were on “welfare,” then known as Aid to Families with Dependent Children. Cloward and Piven believed that adding another 8 million to the public assistance rolls would bring about the desired crisis.

The growth in dependency did occur; it just took a while. By 1991, a quarter-century later, the welfare rolls alone had increased by 8.5 million to almost 13 million. The caseload peaked at 14.2 million in 1994. Meanwhile, the Food Stamp program, starting from virtually unnoticeable levels in the late 1960s, grew into a $20 billion behemoth with 25 million recipients.

Yet the system didn’t buckle, partially because the increases didn’t occur quickly enough, but primarily because the left’s worst enemy, the USA’s still largely capitalist economy, expanded during most of that period at a rate that enabled it to absorb these mostly unnecessary costs. The systemic threat ended when the 1996 welfare reform law took effect, after which welfare rolls shrank significantly. Darn.

But what the left attempted with welfare is not the only potential application of what has become known as the “Cloward-Piven Strategy.” Succinctly stated by David Horowitz, it is all about:

… forcing political change through orchestrated crisis. … (It) seeks to hasten the fall of capitalism by overloading the government bureaucracy with a flood of impossible demands, thus pushing society into crisis and economic collapse.

The strategy’s filthy fingerprints are all over housing and mortgage lending, in at least these forms:

  • The Community Reinvestment Act and its amendments, which enabled “community organizations” to force banks to make imprudent loans as a condition of getting regulatory approval of mergers, acquisitions, and other corporate actions.
  • The explosive growth of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (Fan and Fred), and the quiet de facto government takeover of the mortgage loan approval process that accompanied it.
  • Once they had commandeered the approval process, the deliberate loosening of lending standards at Fan and Fred, which enabled throngs of undeserving applicants to buy houses they couldn’t afford.
  • As detailed by Peter Wallison and based on work by Edward Pinto, Fan and Fred’s 15-year campaign of fraudulently overstating the quality of loans in the mortgage-backed securities they issued. In December 2009, Wallison wrote: “… because of Fannie and Freddie’s mislabeling, there were millions more high-risk loans outstanding. That meant default rates as well as the actual losses after foreclosure were going to be outside all prior experience.”

If the system isn’t already overwhelmed, it’s awfully close. This Cloward-Piven attempt is working. Here’s a sign of how much “progress” has been made:

Potential paperwork errors on some of the $1.34 trillion of securitized home mortgages may give investors an opening to challenge the legality of deals, threatening to unnerve financial markets …. questions about the ownership of the loans … may allow investors to force lenders to buy back the securities.

Guess who issued a huge percentage of these mortgage-backed securities, and has hundreds of billions more in underwater mortgages sitting on their books? That’s right, Fan and Fred, who “just so happen” to have a promise of relief without limits from the Obama Treasury Department.

Unlike their twentieth century failure with welfare, this time the left’s goal of “pushing society into crisis and economic collapse” appears to be within their grasp — and the person who James Simpson described as “the Cloward-Piven candidate” in his brilliant September 2008 American Thinker column (“Barack Obama and the Strategy of Manufactured Crisis”) is now President of the United States. This is a man, as Stanley Kurtz recently noted at National Review, whose now-demonstrated socialist belief system “is still very much alive in the governing philosophy and long-term political strategy” of his administration. What basis is there for believing that Obama would not welcome a collapse while pretending otherwise?

The foreclosure mess is so pervasive that I don’t see how anyone can be comfortable making a prediction as to where it’s heading. From their outposts in the afterlife (a fiery one, I suspect) and New York, respectively, Mr. Cloward and Ms. Piven are probably quite pleased with developments thus far. Whether they ultimately get their way heavily depends on November’s election results, aggressive post-election action to restore constitutional governance, and lots of prayer for those who must deal with this.

Lickety-Split Links (101910, Morning)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 8:37 am

Dems are attempting bribery to get senior’s votes, and even the Associated Press can’t handle the fibbing:

Democrats are making a pre-election pitch to give Social Security recipients a one-time payment of $250, part of a larger effort to convince senior voters that their party, and not Republicans, will best look out for the 58 million people who get the government retirement and disability benefits.

… (Harry) Reid (said), “The only thing standing in the way of America’s seniors receiving this critical support are Senate Republicans.”

Actually, 12 Democrats and one independent who aligns himself with Democrats joined 37 Republicans in blocking the $250 bonus when Senate voted on the issue last March.

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Gallup doubles down on its contention about the direction of unemployment:

Unemployment, as measured by Gallup without seasonal adjustment, is at 10.0% in mid-October — essentially the same as the 10.1% at the end of September but up sharply from 9.4% in mid-September and 9.3% at the end of August. This mid-month measurement confirms the late September surge in joblessness that should be reflected in the government’s Nov. 5 unemployment report.

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This guy’s only mission in life, with maximum media cooperation and exploitation, is to diminish the influence of the mother of the mother of the baby he fathered in any way he conceivably can.

It’s despicable, but Saul Alinsky would be proud.

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Clueless: “MSNBC contributors can’t figure out why so many women are part of the Tea Party.”

What about $3 trillion in additional debt since Inauguration Day (can be replicated here) don’t you understand?

NationalDebt012009to101510

What about Mama Grizzlies don’t you people understand?

Positivity: The Meaning of Friendship (Jaxson Hinkens)

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:57 am

From Madison, Wisconsin:

Wisconsin QB Scott Tolzien learns the meaning of true perseverance and optimism from Jaxson Hinkens

Just watch.

Warning: Multiple-hankie alert.