Sunday, April 30, 2006

Where are they?

Over the last few days some protests have occurred related to the situation in Darfur, Sudan. As most are aware, this oversized pit of a country has had an ongoing civil war pitting the Arab government against the African rebels. In part it is religion, Moslems killing Christians, but mostly it is one set of tribes killing another set of tribes. You might ask what they are fighting over and land would be a small answer. Oil is another small answer. Sudan produces a bunch (million or so barrels) of oil a day that mostly goes to China...keep that in the back of your mind as on a rare occasion you hear that China has vetoed another resolution in the UN against Sudan. No accusations....just a comment.

Now the problem in Sudan is not new. As a matter of fact it has been going on for years. If you haven't been hearing about it regularly, you should probably be asking the peace activitists, the anti-war protestors and the media where they have been on Darfur?

You won't get much of a response. The US is not in Sudan....nothing for them to protest about therefore. Of course if we were to go into Sudan to stop the killing, would it be oil we were there about? Would we be getting in the middle of a civil war we have no business being in?

Of course the protestors over the last few days are calling for the US to do they can protest it is uncalled for, too much, too little, too imperialistic....SOMETHING....

Millions protested the US involvement in Iraq. Where are they?
Millions protested the US acts of imperialism. Where are they?
Millions protested the globalization impact of the US. Where are they?

Why they are home, planning protests on Monday in support of ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION.

Maybe I am being unfair. Let us look at the situation in Darfur and what 'they' are doing about it:

Peace talks to end the crisis in Sudan's Darfur region have resumed today in Nigeria's capital. Sam Olukoya reports from Lagos.

The peace talks include representatives of the Sudanese government and rebels operating in the Darfur region. Although the negotiations have been on for about a year without success, the rebels say they are hopeful that a final agreement will be reached during this latest round of talks. The split among the rebel groups is blamed for the failure of previous talks. This time, the rebels will present a united front. An upsurge in fighting has further underscored the need to urgently end the crisis. African Union peacekeepers in the region were recently killed in the face of repeated ceasefire violations. The Darfur crisis started two years ago when rebels of Black African origin took up arms against the Arab-dominated government. They accused the
Sudanese government of discriminating against Black Africans. The crisis escalated when pro-government Arab militias started attacking the African population. Over 70,000 people have died in two years of conflict in the Darfur region and more than a third of Darfur's six million inhabitants have fled their homes. For Free Speech Radio News, this is Sam Olukoya in Lagos.

Note: this was from last November. But we need to go back a bit...

Thursday, September 9, 2004 Posted: 3:54 PM EDT (1954 GMT)
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said Thursday that "genocide has been committed" in the Sudanese region of Darfur.

An international law expert said the statement does not require the United States to act, but establishes a basis for it to intervene under international law.

"That Powell has said this is politically significant," said Hurst Hannum, professor of international law at the Fletcher School at Tufts University in Boston. "It doesn't trigger any legal consequences ...(but) there will certainly be more of a push for something to be done."

Talks are continuing in the Nigerian capital of Abuja to "resolve the political dispute driving the conflict," the United Nations said.

Talks that continued up to today! With no results. Of course the use of the word genocide has created it's own little upset. The EU thinks that the US was overstating the case (again...), that the events in Darfur are in fact only, "crimes against humanity". Isn't that nice! Tens of thousands dead and it is only a crime against humanity....

But governments are notoriously slow to commit. Often the first ones on the ground in situations like Darfur are the aid groups. And many are and have been in Darfur for YEARS. We don't hear much about them because they don't care where the aid comes from, only that it keeps coming and that hopefully, help will come with it. But some organizations are more about the politics and less about the aid...

Darfur - As atrocities occurred in the Sudan we worked with Rev. Brian McLaren and the Cedar Ridge Community Church to organize five interfaith worship services in the spirit of justice targeting Washington, D.C.'s key media and policymaking institutions to generate awareness and pressure to end the crisis in Darfur. With our support you organized more than 100 concurrent events throughout the country. We will continue to lift up Darfur in future actions until peace and security is restored.

We Can End the Darfur Genocide
Sojourners is teaming up with our good friends at the Save Darfur Coalition and nearly 100 organizations to gather 1 million signatures on postcards to President Bush.

Yes that's right! Postcards to President Bush! $.05 a card, $.39 a stamp. One million cards...that is almost $500,000 that could actually be spent on AID to Darfur....but that would not get as much attention. Nor would the politicians have to respond to the aid, but they would have to met with the leaders of the 'movements'. And of course, a million postcards will of course go a long way to stopping illiterate tribesmen from killing illeterate villagers thousands of miles away...

Still, you do have to wonder about everyone else...where are they? has a coallition of over 100 organizations devoted to Darfur. Over 90 of them are based (listen for it...) in the US!

An NPR report on last night's episode of The World notes that crowds are taking to the streets in Khartoum to protest a US proposal to deploy UN troops to combat the genocide in Darfur.

To a backdrop of protesters chanting "Down With US" in Arabic and (conveniently) English, correspondent Jonah Fisher noted that people seemed to be condemning the United States for its suggestion of involvement, including bits with various Sudanese Moslems professing a desire to fight the US and the UN. The report conveys the impression that there's a groundswell of anti-American fervor among Sudanese, who just want to keep a Sudanese problem as a Sudanese issue.

Even the suggestion by the US that more needs to be done is met with protests. This is what the left has wrought. Anti-Americanism: Right or wrong, America is bad. Motives are suspect, aid is tainted, even positive suggestions evil. The protesters currently demanding action by the US are ignoring the will and wishes of the people that are the subject of their demands. Are not the Sudanese capable of making their own choices...and if those choices are mass slaughter, well, anything America is against, the protestors have to be for.....right?

What is the will of the Sudanese people? "Leave us alone!" So what are the protesters clamoring for? Imperialism??

Where are they? The protestors we have heard so much from:

BURUNDI AND EASTERN CONGO: Horror and hope from the heart of Africa

13 October 2005
by Eric Schiller
[Note: Schiller is a part of a four-person Christian Peacemaker Team (CPT) exploratory delegation to the Great Lakes region of Africa.]

I am now in the heart of Africa in the Eastern Congo, just across from the border of Burundi. So many horrific acts have been committed here in the past years. But people are also rebuilding hope.

Opps....not in Americans or Brits to save them if they should happen to, you know, piss someone off.

The UN has been such a stinker when it comes to action. But they can pass resolutions:

UN Resolutions

Resolution 1593 passed March 31, 2005 referred the situation in Darfur to the International Criminal Court. The Court can now begin investigating and prosecuting those responsible for committing war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

Resolution 1591 passed March 29, 2005 imposes an arms embargo on the government of Sudan, imposes targeted sanctions (travel ban and asset freezes) on those determined to be responsible for, and “demands” that the government of Sudan stop using air attacks against villages in Darfur.

Resolution 1590 passed March 24, 2005 establishes a 10,000 member peacekeeping force in Southern Sudan to enforce the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. The accord was signed in January, ending more than 20 years of civil war between northern and southern Sudan. In addition to 10,000 military personnel, the United Nations Mission in Sudan will also include 715 civilian police and is set to have an initial six-month mandate. The resolution does not directly address the situation in Darfur, but the Security Council is hopeful that effects of a lasting peace in southern Sudan will spill over into the troubled western region.

September 18, 2004
Resolution 1564, passed on September 18, 2004 called for the creation of a Commission of Inquiry to determine whether genocide has occurred and threatened possible sanctions against the government of Sudan if it does not stop the violence.

Resolution 1556, passed on July 30, 2004, gave the government of Sudan 30 days to disarm the Janjaweed and threatening economic and military sanctions if the orders were not carried out.

Notice that the UN force isn't going to Darfur, they just hope that if there is peace in the region, it will make the murderers more peaceful...ah come on guys, play nice...

Report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council on Darfur
May 10, 2005
A large number of internally displaced persons in the western Sudanese region of Darfur are unlikely to return to their homes in the immediate future, according to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s monthly report to the Security Council

Report of the Secretary-General on UN assistance to the AU mission in Darfur
May 3, 2005
The report states that prevailing insecurity continues to impede the delivery of humanitarian assistance and inhibits those displaced from returning home

UN Commission of Inquiry Report
January 25, 2005
The UN dispatched a commission of inquiry to investigate the situation in Darfur and “reports of violations against international human rights law and international humanitarian law.” The commission found that “Government forces and militias conducted indiscriminate attacks, including killing of civilians, torture, enforced
disappearances, destruction of villages, rape and other forms of sexual violence, pillaging and forced displacement, throughout Darfur on a widespread and systematic basis.”

A commission of inquiry...2 years after the mass murders began. But hey, ya need to know what the problem is before actually doing something.

This is the problem with peaceniks. They want to TALK. Even if it means standing in front of a bulldozer, TALKING stops everything bad from happening. A dialogue. Can't we just sit and talk like rational human beings and work it out? NO, apparently. Cutting up children and tossing the parts into wells is preferred to talking. So, if all you want to do is talk and all they want to do is kill, where are WE?

Amid the negotiations, the plight of 3 million refugees in Darfur has worsened. The U.N. World Food Program said Friday that it was cutting rations in half, citing a lack of funds.

Yep. Postcards good, aid, well, postcards good, Bush BAD.

Annan's latest appeal for funding reflects growing frustration as the United Nations has failed to collect even half of the $350 million it requested in March to run its relief operation in Darfur, a violence-torn, impoverished province roughly the size of France. In an effort to reach that goal, Annan will send private letters asking Japan, Germany, France, Spain, Italy and Belgium -- which have provided a total of just over $11.5 million in contributions since March -- to increase their funding for the United Nations' operations.

TOTAL $11.5 million! Are not the protesters against imperial America always complaining that we don't give enough? That other countries give more of their GDP in aid than we do? Where are the protesters complaining that the aid flow is running a little thin from a few of the BIG donors.

But it is not just Japan and the silly Europeans...

A senior U.N. official said that contributions from the four richest Gulf states -- Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates -- which will also get a plea from Annan, have been "totally insignificant."

Why should these countries be funding aid? Nominally, the government of Sudan is Moslem and they are just wiping out a few infidels. What's the problem?

"Surprisingly, it's been an uphill struggle to get normally generous donors to wake up to this unfolding catastrophe," said Jan Egeland, the U.N. emergency relief coordinator. "It would be a tragedy if now that we have finally broken down this Berlin Wall created by the Sudanese government around Darfur, we would lack the resources" to address the humanitarian crisis.

Egeland said that the bulk of the U.N. operations have been sustained by the United States, which has underwritten 45 percent of the U.N. budget for the issue, and Britain, the Netherlands and Norway.

It must kill him to admit that the US is funding 45% of the aid for Darfur. When we don't send troops, we send money. Of course, things might have changed since 2004....listen to Jose Barroso...

The U.S. and the EU: A Bilateral Partnership for Global Solutions
Speaker: Jose Barroso, President, European Commission

May 13, 2005

Council on Foreign Relations, New York, N.Y.

BARROSO: Oh, we are doing, we are by far the largest donor to Darfur. Once again, I’m sorry to speak about dollars or euros, but we are by far the biggest contributor now to Sudan and to Darfur in terms of aid. And we are supporting that process. We are supporting generally that process.

Now, we are doing it directly to those involved, and also to enhancing the capability— institutional capabilities—of the African Union. So they can provide themselves security. So, we are not considering at this stage foreign troops sent by the European Union, as the operation that is taking place in Congo, in Democratic Republic of Congo. So we are very much in favor of working in the framework of the United Nations or of the international organizations on those— or the regional organizations on providing security. Because security is the first issue.


Since 2003, the US has provided $545 million to Sudan for humanitarian assistance in Darfur while the EU has provided $290 million (Euro) SINCE 1993.

The number comparisons for 2005 are equally lopsidded, see:

So, where are they? The millions of protesters against Bush and the United States? Well...they are home...sending postcards....or they are somewhere else, safe. Darfur is an unsafe place and well, there is nothing there and if they want to slaughter themselves, if Bush is against it...WAIT, IF BUSH IS FOR GOING INTO SUDAN AGAINST THE SUDANESE WISHS, LET'S GET A PROTEST GOING!!

A short comment about George Clooney. He took a risk, he is speaking out. Bravo for him. Thank you sir. (Hope you don't mind if I reserve just a wee bit of my enthusiasm to see what you do later...)

Friday, April 28, 2006

Bankruptcy Reform - An Analysis

So, here we are. Six months after the BARF (bankruptcy reform) went into effect and the results so far have to be heartening to those millionaire card company CEO's. Todd Zywicki sure is impressed:


In addition to stopping the abuse, Zywicki says the law protects consumers.

"It's got a number of consumer-protection provisions, such as greater restrictions of debtors to reaffirm debts and penalty provisions for creditors that don't accept good-faith efforts for debtors to repay voluntary payment plans."

However, some of the people that have to suffer from Professor Zywicki's love child have a different opinion:

Judge opinion (quoted by Todd Zwyicki in a post on the subject):

Here's what Judge Markell wrote in his opinion in In re Kane, 336 B.R. 477 (Bankr. D. Nev. 2006) (I couldn't find the opinion on-line other than in Westlaw) at page 481:

This court concurs with Judges Mark and Riegle--the cap applies to all debtors who do not satisfy the 1,215-day rule--but for different reasons than either of them advanced. Whether the text is ambiguous or not, it is still possible to consider and implement what Congress unambiguously intended and to overcome the drafters' unfortunate choice of words. [FN7]

FN7. Section 522(p) is one of many examples of poor drafting in the new bankruptcy law, which Professor Todd Zywicki assured the Senate Judiciary Committee was "fine as it is," adding, "There is no word that I would change in this particular piece of legislation." SEN. JUD. COMMITTEE, Hearing on S. 256: Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005, 109th Cong., unofficial transcript (March 10, 2005).

Professor Zywicki whined:

Much to my surprise and dismay, it appears that I have been badly misquoted by Federal Bankruptcy Judge (and former law professor) Bruce Markell regarding my testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding BAPCPA. Not only did Judge Markell grossly take my words out of context in a published judicial opinion but I understand that he did the same thing in a recent speech to the a local bankruptcy lawyers association

Oh, poor baby. Of the 48 comments on Zywicki's post, about 45 of them said that the Professor WAS NOT TAKEN out of context. The remainder only suggested that the Judge's opinion was a valid opinion even if they disagreed with it. However, in fact, it was clear from a reading that Professor Zywicki did in fact endorse the bill as written without any need whatsoever for amendment.

That said, I went after the dear Professor in this post. One of my peeves was with the issue of fraud:

Yet, you reference a claim by the FBI that as many as 10% of bankruptcy filings are fraudulent. We are not aware of any debtors being arrested in the two districts we work in at any time in the last 7 years. The total number of filings during that time is over 150,000. A case from this week is illustrative of the scrutiny the trustees in this district use: a client appeared at the 341 wearing a single earring (a man). The trustee noted no jewelry was listed on the schedules and required amendments to be filed. Does this constitute fraud?

Professor Zywicki's claim is recalled again in the Bankrate piece:

Supporters of the law frequently cite fraud as the catalyst for change and point to findings by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which estimated that 10 percent of bankruptcies have involved fraud, with "hiding of assets" as the most common type. Feldstein believes, based on bankruptcy petitions his researchers have examined, that the percentage is an understatement.

Bullshit. Pure and simple. If 10% of the cases involved fraud, there would be 1,500,000 people facing federal prison over the last 10 years. In fact, the FBI has prosecuted less than 1000 cases in the last 10 years! Far from widespread, the issue is practically non-existent. Bankruptcy fraud cases are so rare, the FBI issues PRESS RELEASES when they get a case!

Professor Zywicki cited in his testimony and it was reported again in the Bankrate piece, a report produced by "SMR Research Corp., a market research firm". Does anyone know who the clients of SMR are? Why it is the banks and credit card companies. This is the same firm that helps credit card companies TARGET consumers for pre-bankruptcy cards .... sorry, credit cards. Do you think a company that helps credit card companies increase the number of active cards is going to suggest...they are promoting bad risks? Nahhh.

I went after SMR's report in this post also.

So, we have SMR and Professor Zywicki rehashing their position from the pre-signing days, claiming two things in the Bankrate piece: 1) it is too early to tell if the law has had much impact; and two, it has brought much needed relief to the credit card industry.

First, the impact: Filings are down 80% nationwide in the first 6 months of the new law. Even allowing for the idea that people that would have filed over the last six months rushed to be the law, filings should have rebounded by now. Roughly speaking, an additional 400,000 cases were filed in September and October over the previous years average. That is roughly 25% of the annual rate over the previous 3 years. If we had spread those 400,000 cases over the last 6 months, filing rates would still be down 45%.

Worse, one factor that drives people to bankruptcy is a threatened foreclosure. Foreclosures are up 50-60% so far this year. These people, previously a reasonable bankruptcy candidate, are just walking away in droves.

Second the credit card industry. On average, the credit card companies reported between a 1 and 2 percent reduction in PROFIT for the third quarter last year. (the period of heaviest pre-law filings). There has been of course NO reduction in interest rates. There has been an increase in the minimum monthly payments however.

Other factors. The fee to file bankruptcy changed with the new law. Chapter 13 went down - to encourage more chapter 13's we were told, and Chapter 7 fees were raised 30%. That lasted less than 6 months. On April 9th, fees for chapter 7 went up, again and Chapter 13 fees were increased 30%.

Let us look at a few other items in the Bankrate piece:

Financial organizations and researchers have listed 10 ways they believe the bankruptcy law combats consumer fraud:
  • A petitioner's lawyer must agree to review all financial claims and must sign off on the accuracy of the claims. Lawyers and petitioners can be penalized for fraud.

Sounds good right? Now think about a criminal attorney swearing that the client s/he represents is telling the truth. Now imagine what happens to the attorney when the client is found guilty. Why the court can demand payment from the attorney for court costs and potentially find him/her guilty of lying to a court! THAT is what the bankruptcy law has done to attorneys. Can you imagine attorneys quitting the practice? Don't imagine, it is happening.

  • Petitioners must file copies of their recent tax forms. This filing eliminates falsification of income and rids the bankruptcy system of criminals and other persons who don't file income tax returns.
Because of course, only criminals fail to file tax returns.
  • The U.S. Trustee program, which regulates bankruptcy laws, will contract with a third party to conduct audits for at least one out of every 250 bankruptcy filings in each federal judicial district.
A demand of a previous policy. Can you imagine an attorney that would risk their livelihood for a $750 fee from a bankruptcy client?
  • Mandatory bankruptcy credit counseling before filing provides debtors with alternatives to bankruptcy. It's designed to deal with "bad-apple debtors' attorneys" and "bankruptcy mills" that push people into bankruptcy without telling consumers all their options. The required counseling after a debtor files is intended to cut down on repeat filers. In addition, the counseling provision adds an additional paper trail for fraud investigators.
Here is a good one. A report on credit counseling results for the last quarter of 2005 (after the law went into effect) was discussed by me here. Primary result: 97% of people taking the pre-bankruptcy filing counseling, could not afford $100 a month towards their unsecured debts. This is 10 percentage points ABOVE the number of chapter 7 filers pre-law. Average of 13% of all filers were Chapter 13 repayment plans.

One final comment on Professor Zywicki. He commented back in 2005 that only 10-15% of filers would be affected by the new law. I said bull shit then, I say bullshit now. First, everyone has to pay the $50 for the credit counseling; everyone has to pay $90 more in filing fees, and attorneys (with their license and livelihood on the chopping block for every case) have raised their fees (almost every district we have heard from - about 1/3 of them) about 100%. That's right. Doubled. Why? Bankruptcy mills have undercut every attorney out there. The cost to file a bankruptcy in 2005 was virtually the same as in 1990. The mills are folding up and attorney's that 'dabbled' in bankruptcy have left. Fees have responded. The ones most hurt by all of the above? The least able to afford it.

The Bankruptcy Law does have a lot of supporters, unfortunately for consumers, none of them have to suffer. Judges, trustees, and attorneys have all reported the same: the law added much to the confusion surrounding filings, added expensive burdens to the courts and consumers and in the end, did nothing to fix the problems.

But the Banks and Credit Card Companies are happy!

Friday, April 21, 2006

The World's Bodyguard

The left would have us believe that it is not our place to get involved in the affairs of other countries - that they don't like - and the right would have us believe that it is our moral obligation to help those less fortunate.

A pox on both their houses.

The Left:
"Why Iraq? North Korea HAS nukes...why don't we attack them?"
Such mindless stupidity. The fact that North Korea could practically hand toss those couple of nukes on major population centers in South Korea leading to mass casualties seems beyond their ability to comprehend.
"They can't harm us, they are no threat."
A couple of guys from "them" hop a plane and fly it into a building. Harm and threat.
"Why can't Iran have nukes? We have them..."
If you can not see the difference between Iran and the United States...oh, wait, you can, we are imperialist, they just want to defend themselves.....right...and the threat from their leader to wipe Israel from the map, well, that's Israel's problem right?

The Right:
"They have a right to liberty."
Yea, and they have a responsibility to fight for it. It is not our responsibility to do it for them, help them yes, but not build the house and hand them the keys.
"If not us, who?"
The world, the part that proclaims itself civilized, has had it's military needs provided by the US for the last 60 years. They have forgotten that the absence of their military was not the reason for the absence of conflict. The Balkans proved that when faced with armed conflict in their own backyard, they have lost all will and means to deal with it. However, that does not mean we should continue to provide for them.
"They are a threat and must be faced"
Iran and North Korea and Syria are NOT threats to the United States. They can and will take opportunities to inflict casualties where and when possible against Americans, but there is no country, or even group of countries currently on this planet with the capability of inflicting permanent damage on the United States. Even if a nuke explodes in New York or Washington. Ignoring the utter stupidity such an act suggests, the repercussions against the perpetrators would exceed Dresden and Hiroshima by such a magnitude as I could imagine the entire world would be actually stunned into silence...for a time. I like to think no one is that stupid, but I know better. However. I see no reason for preemption. This is a change for me. Primarily because a large portion of AMERICANS are such whining cowards that our government fights wars short-sheeted. A large vocal portion of the American population can not conceive of a reason for war. It might take the deaths of a million fellow Americans on American soil to convince them otherwise. I am not asking for, or hoping for such an attack. I believe that given time, it WILL occur. And the longer people continue the whining and anti-war protesting, the MORE likely it will happen.

So. For the last 30 years or so, people have complained that we were acting like the world's police and who gave us that right? It was not a right, it was an obligation because so many countries in the world abdicated their responsibility to provide for their own defense. So much so that they began, and do believe, that their lack of responsibility in fact was a right.
The last 15 years, those same people have changed their words and increased their strident tone. Calling our actions imperialist. Again, such shear stupidity and ignorance should be dismissed out of hand, except it is coming from "learned and respected" sources. I am neither and it is stupidity and ignorance that fuels their beliefs.

I am tired of the shit we get for doing the right things. First, almost no one outside this country thinks it is the right thing we do, and second, a large portion of our own population does not believe or support it either. I don't always agree with the President, but I was taught that if you do the right things, a lot of people are not going to like you. It seems from the President's approval rating he is doing a lot of the right things.

I do not want to be protectionist or to withdraw into a shell. Too much of our economy relies on the outside world - although I believe that we could survive better than any other country if we were to do so. I do want every US military base in every other country closed and the military withdrawn to our shores. I believe that we can not do so for Iraq. Now, or for the foreseeable future. But there is no reason to still have troops in Europe or Asia.

I am tired of being the world's bodyguard. Time for everyone else to step up (or not) and take responsibility for their own survival. If Iran wants to nuke Israel, it faces a short existence as a net glass exporter. If North Korea wants to starve itself into oblivion, so be it. If Africa wants to continue slaughtering it's own population, let it. If South America wants to revert to socialist peasantry, I can live with it.

Is it the right thing to do? No, but what I think is right is no longer shared by the vast majority of non-Americans, nor by the 'apparent' majority of Americans.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Rule of Law

About a year ago, we had a client that owed money to the IRS. They filed bankruptcy and planned on repaying the IRS debt along with much of the rest of their debts. However, the IRS did not file a claim in the bankruptcy by the deadline. (They must if they want to receive money from the bankruptcy trustee.) A trial was held to determine if the IRS could still receive their money despite not filing on time. In court, on the record, the Judge ruled that the IRS had failed to file their claim on time and the law said they could not therefore receive funds from the Trustee. He further stated that his boss, the appellate court, held the same position. But he thought that was unfair to the IRS and ruled in their favor. Our client of course could appeal, but they are afterall, bankrupt and the cost to appeal was beyond them. However, they had planned on repaying the IRS, so there were no 'new' costs associated with the loss.

A couple of weeks ago, at trial, a Judge at the Circuit Court level said to the opposing counsel, "those sections don't apply in this case counsel...give me something to work with..." She eventually ruled against our clients and claimed that a wrongful act that did not cause a partnership dissolution was cause for denying our clients the right to join in the winding up of the affairs of the partnership. Again, it is very appealable and almost certain to be overturned. But after 5 years with no payment from them to us, three trials and hundreds of hours of work, they are practically at the poverty line and we don't handle appeals.

A conversation with a court clerk about illegal immigration turned ugly, I was called a racist because I called illegal immigrants criminals.

A non-citizen, here for almost 30 years, will be deported after serving time for confessing that he did in fact raise funds and support terrorist organizations after spending 5 years complaining that he not only did not raise funds or support terrorists, but that he was the victim of racism and bigotry.

Another non-citizen, here on a student visa, has been arrested and will likely be deported for calling for the assassination of the President and others. Many are coming to his defense saying he didn't mean for it to really happen.

A potential client came in today to talk finances, but a quick check of the court docket found a recent traffic ticket....for inattentive driving. Nothing else, just talking on the phone while driving on the Interstate. $175 fine. It didn't help his finances....

Getting justice requires money. I know, it is not supposed to be that way but attorneys every day represent clients that have not, can not, many never, pay for their services. A former client came in today to ask for a payment plan for fees they did not pay last year. $25 a month for 6.5 years, no interest.

A bankruptcy Trustee will receive $24k in fees for paying $6k in debts, and last year, the same trustee received $17k in fees to pay $7k in debts. Just two recent cases. He has been cited by the court for taking excessive fees in the past.

The law is a wonderful thing. It is however, used and abused daily. After the last couple of years of working for an attorney I can tell you without a doubt, the law favors one side...the side with the money.

Churchill said that democracy was the worst form of government, except for all the other forms. I would suggest that our legal system is the worst, except for all the other legal systems.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Iraq and the Anti-War Rant

Yesterday, about 36,000 residents of the 210,000+ people that live in Madison, voted in the spring election referendum calling for the troops in Iraq to be brought home now. Of course the impact of such a vote on REALITY, is zero. No troops will be positioned because the people of Madison want it so.

We can start off with a discussion of the relatively low turnout, but why bother. I voted. Most people don't. The vote totals were 24,344 for bringing the troops home and 11,252 against bringing the troops home. I voted against the referendum.

We attacked another country with an army estimated at 500,000, took control of an area the size of California, and we have lost just over 2,300 troops in three years. We have lost less troops in combat, troops that volunteered to serve and are willingly re-enlisting in large numbers, than civilians on 9/11.

For that priceless cost, two countries have been freed from tyranny and horrors seldom seen in the civilized world. However, 24,344 people in Madison decided that they have their comforts and to hell with anyone else.

I would like to believe that only 24,344 people in Madison are so callous and indifferent to the plight of others. But I know it is not true. Those 24,344 are just the tip of the iceberg. Of course they will complain that in fact it is their caring that causes them to support such a referendum. They are wrong. The people of Afghanistan and Iraq WERE NOT better off under their previous governments. And while North Koreans are inarguably some of the worst off people on the planet, it would cost tens of thousands of lives and the infrastructure of an entire country (South Korea) to change their plight. If Americans are unwilling to support the relatively low cost of Iraq, I can not imagine them even considering North Korea, despite their flippant attitude on the subject.

I can not imagine for a second that Clinton, Gore or Kerry would still be in either Afghanistan or Iraq - hell, I can't imagine we would have gone in there in the first place with either Clinton or Gore.

24,344 Madisonians proved yesterday that they do not care about the people of other countries, do not care about our troops but do care about their own comforts. Fortunately for us, the people in Iraq, Afghanistan and the rest of the world, we can 'safely' ignore them.

Sunday, April 02, 2006


Todd Zywicki of Senate fame for his support of the bankruptcy bill has complained that a judge that quoted his Senate testimony did so out of context. It was a whine of excellent proportions and I ignore it here. However, I did post a comment on his blog, recreated here for all to read:


He is not the only judge bad-mouthing the law. Hundreds of judges, trustees, bankruptcy attorneys and a large number of law school professors wrote extensively on what was wrong with that bill. Sen Feingold happens to be my Senator and I do not like him, but unlike the Republican Senator from Wisconsin who voted for the bill, he opposed both the intent and way the bill was rammed through. Your characterization only lent support for the effort and if you don't like the result, well, you are not one of the thousands of debtors that have to deal with it.

We were one of the voices in the wilderness shouting that the law was bad. From my blog and on my partners law office website , we tried to warn people.

Needed or not (and we didn't think it was needed to address the issues you so broadly claimed needed addressing), the law is a non-functioning nightmare.

Two issues most clearly stand out. Bankruptcies are down almost 80% nationwide - as intended by the bill - but foreclosures are up as much as 50% in some areas (68% in our district), so the reasons for people to file have not changed.

Second, the attorney fees, court filing fees (slated to go up AGAIN on April 9th), and the cost of credit counseling have made it very difficult for the people 'least likely to be affected by the law' to actually afford adequate representation.

Proclaim 'out of context' all you want, the judges and attorneys that have to deal with what you considered fine legislation for the next 20-30 years will remember your contribution for a long time. And if they immortalize you in their decisions, well, what more could an attorney want!?


Well, I did want to follow up on the one set of numbers I referenced in the comment with some hard numbers:

Metro Denver foreclosures increased to 1,523 in the first month of 2006, the highest number on record in Metro Denver. Compared to January 2005, the number of foreclosures in Metro Denver stands 37.1% higher. Denver, Adams and Douglas
counties reported the highest levels of foreclosure activity in January 2006 in terms of percentage gains from January 2005. Although all seven Metro Denver counties reported heightened foreclosure activity, Boulder, Arapahoe
and Broomfield counties reported the smallest percentage increases. The largest number of foreclosures in January occurred in Adams, Denver and Arapahoe counties.


Indiana lead the nation with its foreclosure rate was nearly 1 percent. The Midwest has had the roughest time lately in the country as stagnant employment and rising energy costs have hit the region hard.

Source The Realestate Bloggers

After recording more than 9,000 foreclosures in 2005, Wayne County ended January with 3,364 homes in active foreclosure, the highest of any county in the nation by more than 1,000."

Source Get Foreclosures Blogspot

"“This is the third straight month the U.S. foreclosure rate has moved higher, and it'’s the second straight month new foreclosures have topped 100,000",” said James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac.


If more people than ever are facing foreclosure and fewer people are filing bankruptcy...we have many more homes being liquidated and many more people falling off the homeowner rolls. This is neither good for the real estate markets nor the industries supported by home ownership.

Hey Todd...don't you feel proud!??