Thursday, September 25, 2008

Zero-Down Mortgages: In the 2004 GOP Platform

Philip Klinker at PolySigh has a great find.
I see from various points of the blogosphere that the real reason for the financial meltdown is the push for more home loans in poor and minority communities, using impractical instruments like zero-down mortgages. Well, if that's the case, then the electorate should punish the party that had this in it's 2004 platform: [PDF]

Ownership should not be the preserve of the wealthy or the privileged. . . . [We] believe in the power of ownership to create better lives, we want more people to own a home. . . .

Homeownership is central to the American dream, and [we] want to make it a reality for everyone. That starts with access to capital for entrepreneurs and access to credit for consumers. Both have improved immensely in the past four years, resulting in record levels of homeownership. For the first time, more than half of all minorities own their home.

We support the . . . goal of increasing the number of minority homeowners by at least 5.5 million families by the end of the decade. Since . . . 2002, an additional 1.6 million minorities have become homeowners. The Self-Help Homeownership Opportunities Program helps low-income families purchase a home. The most significant barrier to homeownership is the down payment. We support efforts to reduce that barrier, like the American Dream
Downpayment Act and Zero Downpayment Mortgages.

I heard Orrin Hatch blame Bill Cinton for the current market mess. Well, read that and weep, Orrin. A hell of a lot of taxpayers and (ex-)home-owners sure are weeping now, thanks to the GOP.

Edited 9/11/2012 to change the dead link to the 2004 GOP platform and point it to a live one at

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Mexico, Venezuela, Spain.... What's the difference?

They're all in Latin America, so they all speak Latin, right?

Who gives an interview to a foreign reporter without knowing the name of the top couple leaders there?


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Foreign Policy at the Local Level

Preemptive thievery during the Republican convention. The thief stole according to the victim's principles:

Asked by the interviewer how America would pay for a military confrontation with Iran, he said the U.S. should take the country's resources.

"We should plant a flag. Take the oil, take the money....."

She took him at his word: knocked him out with a mickey, swiped $120,000 worth of valuables, and planted the flag of "Gabriel Nathan Schwartz is an idiot" on his nekkid winky.

Also, why does a single 29-year old man have expensive earrings and a necklace in his hotel room?

UPDATE: Wonkette has much more and better snark, and includes a video of an interview with Gabriel Nathan Schwartz. The video really is vile. He is the face of today's Republican party: "Lower taxes and more wars," blind belligerance, and nasty nasty whoring behind closed doors.

What a douchebag is Gabriel Schwartz.

Douthat,: Self-confessed Liar

Andrew Sullivan notes that Ross Douthat thinks outright lying is fine. This makes Douthat what people know as "a liar," and everything else he says is now, by his own admission, suspect.

Funny how these supposedly high-minded "Grand New Party" writers reveal themselves as the same old type of Republican hack. Makes it pretty apparent that the thesis of Grand New Party isn't really an idea for the Republican Party to change paths, but just to "win elections and govern the country in accordance with whatever goals led you into the arena in the first place...."

Goals which, if it's expedient, you should lie about in order to sucker the rubes to vote for you, so you can still serve the plutocrats.

I suppose every Douthat comment can now be addressed with "Is that a lie? If it's not, it really wouldn't matter to you though, right?"

Brooks Reads Books! He's an Elitist!

David Brooks writes slitheringly about what a bad leader Sarah Palin could be, but backhands and backtracks through the whole enterprise.

He casts the Palin pick as an argument about elites versus "common-sense folks," while referring to "summered in Tuscany," "repertoire," "utopian," "egalitarianism," the "Federalist Papers" (do they sell those papers at WalMart?), and those who apparently sneer at "Wal-Mart."

And after all that Brooks seems to approach, but never firmly arrive at the view that picking Sarah Palin as potentially the 45th President of the United States is not the best idea in the history of the republic. I take away from Brooks that educated people disagree (using arguments that Sarah Palin has shown no evidence of understanding) about whether Sarah Palin has the capacity to effectively lead the country beginning in 2009.

But David Brooks, an educated elite writing for educated elites in elevated prose, won't write a declarative sentence stating whether he believes she's capable or not.

A plutocrat like Brooks won't even say what he really thinks. How amazing that he's just another Republican hack rather than someone concerned about the governance and the future of this great nation.

I'm pretty certain I've shopped at WalMart more than David Brooks. I've even bought vienna sausages at Walmart--vastly more than I'd guess David Brooks has.

As a vienna sausage buying Walmart shopper and therefore (according to Brooks' shorthand), not an elitist, I can authentically state emphatically that I think Sarah Palin would be a terrible head of state.

And I can write that in prose much unlike Brooks' fumbling, elite prose. Like this: "If Sarah Palin becomes President next year, it would be a disaster for the United States."

David Brooks - Why Experience Matters

Still, he's better than William Kristol. Thanks, New York Times for employing people who will not tell us what they really think lest it hurt the Republican chances in November.

Also, watch and wait for Brooks to swing 180 degrees and become an enthusiastic Palin suppoter if she manages to get through a debate without televised projectile vomiting.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Irrelevant Image

Queen Elizabeth I on a pogo stick!

Simon Munnery in Stewart Lee's   Late But Live  at Edinburgh, 2008.

Serious Republican Thinkers

Reihan Salam (writer, with Douthat, of "Grand New Party"), reveals that the Grand Old Party is really what they want--but maybe with a telegenic new face.

I'm not surprised. I've heard a few interviews with both guys and it's obvious that, underneath that tissue of pseudo-depth is a vast sea of hackery.

This is the "serious" wing of the Republican Party noise machine.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Politics In Depth

i just ran across quite a good blog that's not well known. Gerry Canavan.

This image alone should elevate him to the pantheon: Gerry Canavan: American Politics (in chart form)

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Edgar Wright — A Bit More Interesting

Edgar Wright -- director and co-writer of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, talks at length with Elvis Mitchell of KCRW's The Treatment, about the surpassingly entertaining TV comedy from the UK, Spaced.

Edgar Wright — The Treatment -- KCRW

Simon Pegg, Jessica Stevenson-Hynes, and Edgar Wright will be making great things for years to come. Hear about it here.


Since I helped the Alaska government with server problems last week, I figured I'd post an update about the Richter divorce papers:

Alaskans fed up as press floods area -Vogel

Vogel is probably right that the Richter papers weren't what the National Enquirer was speaking of.

I'll grant him that.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Alaska Records of Palins' Ex-business Partner

For some reason, after Andrew Sullivan posted that Sarah and Todd Palin's former business partner had filed an emergency motion to seal the divorce records, the alaska courts website he linked to went down.

As a public service, I'll mirror that information here. First a screenshot of the page (whatever navigational and decorative images on the page didn't load), then as a paste of the text content.

For John McCain, who says he's interested in "transparency in government," you're welcome.
Click above image to enlarge. Text is pasted below. Captured Fri, Sep 05, 2008, around noon EST.

Docket Search

3PA-07-01581CI In the Matter of: Richter, Scott Alan and Richter, Deborah Marie

Search Criteria
Docket Desc.
Begin Date Sort
End Date Ascending
Search Results 21 Docket(s) found matching search criteria.
Docket Date Docket Text Amount Amount Due Images

09/04/2008 Order Denying Motion Case Motion #3: Motion to Make Case File Confidential 0.00 0.00

09/03/2008 Motion to Make Case File Confidential Attorney: Pro per (0100001) Scott Alan Richter (Petitioner); Case Motion #3 0.00 0.00
09/03/2008 Motion for Expedited Consideration of: Motion to Make Case File Confidential Attorney: Pro per (0100001) Case Motion #2 0.00 0.00
05/19/2008 Notice to Employer Re: Children's Medical Insurance Deborah Marie Richter (Co-Petitioner); 0.00 0.00

05/19/2008 Cust/Spprt/Visit Modified. Case Closed. (no motion link) 0.00 0.00

05/19/2008 Order Granting Stipulation Case Motion #1: Standard Motion 0.00 0.00
04/03/2008 Stipulated Agreement for Child Support and Parenting Agreement Attorney: Pro per (0100001) Case Motion #1 0.00 0.00

04/03/2008 Case Reopened 0.00 0.00

09/18/2007 Child Support Order 0.00 0.00

09/18/2007 Decree of Dissolution Granted 0.00 0.00

09/18/2007 Shared Custody Child Support Calculation 0.00 0.00

09/18/2007 Amendment of Agreement 0.00 0.00

09/18/2007 Hearing Result: Hearing Held The following event: Dissolution Hearing w/Children scheduled for 09/18/2007 at 3:20 pm has been resulted as follows: Result: Hearing Held Judge: Zwink, David L Location: Palmer Courthouse 0.00 0.00

08/14/2007 Civil Deficiency Memo mailed re: agreement re retirement benefits and last quarterly statements of same; specifics of shared custody agreement. 0.00 0.00

08/14/2007 Hearing Set Event: Dissolution Hearing w/Children Date: 09/18/2007 Time: 3:20 pm Judge: Zwink, David L Location: Palmer Courthouse Result: Hearing Held 0.00 0.00

08/02/2007 Affidavit/Scheduling of Hearing Scott Alan Richter (Petitioner); 0.00 0.00

07/24/2007 Certificate of Completion of Viewing "Listen to the Children" Video Scott Alan Richter (Petitioner); Deborah Marie Richter (Co-Petitioner); 0.00 0.00

07/24/2007 Information Sheet 0.00 0.00

07/24/2007 VS401 Certificate of Absolute Divorce or Dissolution 0.00 0.00

07/24/2007 Proposed Child Support Order Submitted Prior to Hearing 0.00 0.00

07/24/2007 Petition for Dissolution of Marriage (With Children) Receipt: 268635 Date: 07/24/2007 150.00 0.00

Reformer with Results

John McCain George Bush is running as a refomer!

Yay, four more years of fake Republican "reform."

Ongoing Investigation

Wonder why McCain Campaign Steve (Rove's Student) Schmidt is saying he'll take no more questions on the failure that is the Palin vetting process?

It's probably because he refuses to comment on an ongoing investigation.

Vetting ususally takes place before you pick someone. McCain shoots first, thinks later.

And that's how he'd run the USA.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Imagine Inside the McCain Campaign

With all the pressure McCain is under thanks to his criminally poor vetting of his VP pick and the subsequent media demands for information and answers, let's take a moment to feel for the poor McCain staffers who are now having to put up with McCain's volcanic temper and nastiness:

Wonkette: Meet President McNasty

Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of people: the total assholes trying to prop up another total asshole.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008


I get the feeling that McCain's VP pick may be come known as Sara "SHOCKING REVELATIONS!" Palin. I'm pretty sure that more baffling stuff is to come out about her and her circle.

I hope we get her rollout continually punctuated by such things, so she can't really settle in.

Because I think in speeches and debates she's going to do well (by the media standard of "exceeding expectations"). She's a former sports newsreader so she knows how to use a telePrompter, which McCain can't manage. Her speeches at rallies have been perfectly serviceable. The speech they write for her, despite having to deal with significant obstacles, will probably be pretty good. Also, she may throw out some curveballs at the media that will garner her sympathy. Evidently she really can play the victim well, and she's become a victim.

She's evidently smart and capable as a modern (i.e. substance-free) political figure. And the Republicans believe the campaign "is not about issues."

So let's not deride her capabilities in that regard. Let's just hope that all the craziness sitting on the permafrost up there manages to slide into the press down here.

For more background on Palin's time in Wasilla and her characteristics in general, you currently can't do much better than this writeup done by a Wasilla resident in the comments to this Washington Independent story. All the craziness and power-hungriness and demands of fealty are there. But also pay attention to here personal characteristics-- she'll be media-friendly for low-information voters.

Dear friends,

So many people have asked me about what I know about Sarah Palin in the
last 2 days that I decided to write something up . . .

Basically, Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton have only 2 things in
common: their gender and their good looks. :)

You have my permission to forward this to your friends/email contacts
with my name and email address attached, but please do not post it on
any websites, as there are too many kooks out there . . .



I am a resident of Wasilla, Alaska. I have known Sarah since 1992.
Everyone here knows Sarah, so it is nothing special to say we are on a
first-name basis. Our children have attended the same schools. Her
father was my child's favorite substitute teacher. I also am on a
first name basis with her parents and mother-in-law. I attended more
City Council meetings during her administration than about 99% of the
residents of the city.

She is enormously popular; in every way she’s like the most popular
girl in middle school. Even men who think she is a poor choice and
won't vote for her can't quit smiling when talking about her because
she is a "babe".

It is astonishing and almost scary how well she can keep a secret. She
kept her most recent pregnancy a secret from her children and parents
for seven months.

She is "pro-life". She recently gave birth to a Down's syndrome baby.
There is no cover-up involved, here; Trig is her baby.

She is energetic and hardworking. She regularly worked out at the gym.

She is savvy. She doesn't take positions; she just "puts things out
there" and if they prove to be popular, then she takes credit.

Her husband works a union job on the North Slope for BP and is a
champion snowmobile racer. Todd Palin’s kind of job is highly
sought-after because of the schedule and high pay. He arranges his
work schedule so he can fish for salmon in Bristol Bay for a month or
so in summer, but by no stretch of the imagination is fishing their
major source of income. Nor has her life-style ever been anything
like that of native Alaskans.

Sarah and her whole family are avid hunters.

She's smart.

Her experience is as mayor of a city with a population of about 5,000
(at the time), and less than 2 years as governor of a state with about
670,000 residents.

During her mayoral administration most of the actual work of running
this small city was turned over to an administrator. She had been
pushed to hire this administrator by party power-brokers after she had
gotten herself into some trouble over precipitous firings which had
given rise to a recall campaign.

Sarah campaigned in Wasilla as a “fiscal conservative”. During her 6
years as Mayor, she increased general government expenditures by over
33%. During those same 6 years the amount of taxes collected by the
City increased by 38%. This was during a period of low inflation
(1996-2002). She reduced progressive property taxes and increased a
regressive sales tax which taxed even food. The tax cuts that she
promoted benefited large corporate property owners way more than they
benefited residents.

The huge increases in tax revenues during her mayoral administration
weren’t enough to fund everything on her wish list though, borrowed
money was needed, too. She inherited a city with zero debt, but left it
with indebtedness of over $22 million. What did Mayor Palin encourage
the voters to borrow money for? Was it the infrastructure that she said
she supported? The sewage treatment plant that the city lacked? or a
new library? No. $1m for a park. $15m-plus for construction of a
multi-use sports complex which she rushed through to build on a piece
of property that the City didn’t even have clear title to, that was
still in litigation 7 yrs later--to the delight of the lawyers
involved! The sports complex itself is a nice addition to the
community but a huge money pit, not the profit-generator she claimed it
would be. She also supported bonds for $5.5m for road projects that
could have been done in 5-7 yrs without any borrowing.

While Mayor, City Hall was extensively remodeled and her office
redecorated more than once.

These are small numbers, but Wasilla is a very small city.

As an oil producer, the high price of oil has created a budget surplus
in Alaska. Rather than invest this surplus in technology that will
make us energy independent and increase efficiency, as Governor she
proposed distribution of this surplus to every individual in the state.

In this time of record state revenues and budget surpluses, she
recommended that the state borrow/bond for road projects, even while
she proposed distribution of surplus state revenues: spend today's
surplus, borrow for needs.

She’s not very tolerant of divergent opinions or open to outside ideas
or compromise. As Mayor, she fought ideas that weren’t generated by
her or her staff. Ideas weren’t evaluated on their merits, but on the
basis of who proposed them.

While Sarah was Mayor of Wasilla she tried to fire our highly respected
City Librarian because the Librarian refused to consider removing from
the library some books that Sarah wanted removed. City residents
rallied to the defense of the City Librarian and against Palin's
attempt at out-and-out censorship, so Palin backed down and withdrew
her termination letter. People who fought her attempt to oust the
Librarian are on her enemies list to this day.

Sarah complained about the “old boy’s club” when she first ran for
Mayor, so what did she bring Wasilla? A new set of "old boys". Palin
fired most of the experienced staff she inherited. At the City and as
Governor she hired or elevated new, inexperienced, obscure people,
creating a staff totally dependent on her for their jobs and eternally
grateful and fiercely loyal--loyal to the point of abusing their power
to further her personal agenda, as she has acknowledged happened in the
case of pressuring the State’s top cop (see below).

As Mayor, Sarah fired Wasilla’s Police Chief because he “intimidated”
her, she told the press. As Governor, her recent firing of Alaska's top
cop has the ring of familiarity about it. He served at her pleasure
and she had every legal right to fire him, but it's pretty clear that
an important factor in her decision to fire him was because he wouldn't
fire her sister's ex-husband, a State Trooper. Under investigation
for abuse of power, she has had to admit that more than 2 dozen
contacts were made between her staff and family to the person that she
later fired, pressuring him to fire her ex-brother-in-law. She tried to
replace the man she fired with a man who she knew had been reprimanded
for sexual harassment; when this caused a public furor, she withdrew
her support.

She has bitten the hand of every person who extended theirs to her in
help. The City Council person who personally escorted her around town
introducing her to voters when she first ran for Wasilla City Council
became one of her first targets when she was later elected Mayor. She
abruptly fired her loyal City Administrator; even people who didn’t
like the guy were stunned by this ruthlessness.

Fear of retribution has kept all of these people from saying anything
publicly about her.

When then-Governor Murkowski was handing out political plums, Sarah got
the best, Chair of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission: one
of the few jobs not in Juneau and one of the best paid. She had no
background in oil & gas issues. Within months of scoring this great
job which paid $122,400/yr, she was complaining in the press about the
high salary. I was told that she hated that job: the commute, the
structured hours, the work. Sarah became aware that a member of this
Commission (who was also the State Chair of the Republican Party)
engaged in unethical behavior on the job. In a gutsy move which some
undoubtedly cautioned her could be political suicide, Sarah solved all
her problems in one fell swoop: got out of the job she hated and
garnered gobs of media attention as the patron saint of ethics and as a
gutsy fighter against the “old boys’ club” when she dramatically quit,
exposing this man’s ethics violations (for which he was fined).

As Mayor, she had her hand stuck out as far as anyone for pork from
Senator Ted Stevens. Lately, she has castigated his pork-barrel
politics and publicly humiliated him. She only opposed the “bridge to
nowhere” after it became clear that it would be unwise not to.

As Governor, she gave the Legislature no direction and budget
guidelines, then made a big grandstand display of line-item vetoing
projects, calling them pork. Public outcry and further legislative
action restored most of these projects--which had been vetoed simply
because she was not aware of their importance--but with the unobservant
she had gained a reputation as “anti-pork”.

She is solidly Republican: no political maverick. The State party
leaders hate her because she has bit them in the back and humiliated
them. Other members of the party object to her self-description as a
fiscal conservative.

Around Wasilla there are people who went to high school with Sarah.
They call her “Sarah Barracuda” because of her unbridled ambition and
predatory ruthlessness. Before she became so powerful, very ugly
stories circulated around town about shenanigans she pulled to be made
point guard on the high school basketball team. When Sarah's
mother-in-law, a highly respected member of the community and
experienced manager, ran for Mayor, Sarah refused to endorse her.

As Governor, she stepped outside of the box and put together of package
of legislation known as “AGIA” that forced the oil companies to march
to the beat of her drum.

Like most Alaskans, she favors drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife
Refuge. She has questioned if the loss of sea ice is linked to
global warming. She campaigned “as a private citizen” against a state
initiaitive that would have either a) protected salmon streams from
pollution from mines, or b) tied up in the courts all mining in the
state (depending on who you listen to). She has pushed the State’s
lawsuit against the Dept. of the Interior’s decision to list polar
bears as threatened species.

McCain is the oldest person to ever run for President; Sarah will be a
heartbeat away from being President.

There has to be literally millions of Americans who are more
knowledgeable and experienced than she.

However, there’s a lot of people who have underestimated her and are
regretting it.

•“Hockey mom”: true for a few years
•“PTA mom”: true years ago when her first-born was in elementary
school, not since
•“NRA supporter”: absolutely true
•social conservative: mixed. Opposes gay marriage, BUT vetoed a bill
that would have denied benefits to employees in same-sex relationships
(said she did this because it was unconsitutional).
•pro-creationism: mixed. Supports it, BUT did nothing as Governor to
promote it.
•“Pro-life”: mixed. Knowingly gave birth to a Down’s syndrome baby
BUT declined to call a special legislative session on some pro-life
•“Experienced”: Some high schools have more students than Wasilla has
residents. Many cities have more residents than the state of Alaska.
No legislative experience other than City Council. Little hands-on
supervisory or managerial experience; needed help of a city
administrator to run town of about 5,000.
•political maverick: not at all
•gutsy: absolutely!
•open & transparent: ??? Good at keeping secrets. Not good at
explaining actions.
•has a developed philosophy of public policy: no
•”a Greenie”: no. Turned Wasilla into a wasteland of big box stores
and disconnected parking lots. Is pro-drilling off-shore and in ANWR.
•fiscal conservative: not by my definition!
•pro-infrastructure: No. Promoted a sports complex and park in a city
without a sewage treatment plant or storm drainage system. Built
streets to early 20th century standards.
•pro-tax relief: Lowered taxes for businesses, increased tax burden on
•pro-small government: No. Oversaw greatest expansion of city
government in Wasilla’s history.
•pro-labor/pro-union. No. Just because her husband works union
doesn’t make her pro-labor. I have seen nothing to support any claim
that she is pro-labor/pro-union.


First, I have long believed in the importance of being an informed
voter. I am a voter registrar. For 10 years I put on student voting
programs in the schools. If you google my name (Anne Kilkenny +
Alaska), you will find references to my participation in local
government, education, and PTA/parent organizations.

Secondly, I've always operated in the belief that "Bad things happen
when good people stay silent". Few people know as much as I do because
few have gone to as many City Council meetings.

Third, I am just a housewife. I don't have a job she can bump me out
of. I don't belong to any organization that she can hurt. But, I am no
fool; she is immensely popular here, and it is likely that this will
cost me somehow in the future: that’s life.

Fourth, she has hated me since back in 1996, when I was one of the 100
or so people who rallied to support the City Librarian against Sarah's
attempt at censorship.

Fifth, I looked around and realized that everybody else was afraid to
say anything because they were somehow vulnerable.

I am not a statistician. I developed the numbers for the increase in
spending & taxation 2 years ago (when Palin was running for Governor)
from information supplied to me by the Finance Director of the City of
Wasilla, and I can't recall exactly what I adjusted for: did I adjust
for inflation? for population increases? Right now, it is impossible
for a private person to get any info out of City Hall--they are
swamped. So I can't verify my numbers.

You may have noticed that there are various numbers circulating for the
population of Wasilla, ranging from my "about 5,000", up to 9,000. The
day Palin’s selection was announced a city official told me that the
current population is about 7,000. The official 2000 census count was
5,460. I have used about 5,000 because Palin was Mayor from 1996 to
2002, and the city was growing rapidly in the mid-90’s.
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