Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Last call...

We are a week from election day. It is Halloween. At least the scary people I see today will make me smile.

I have addressed this issue twice and I do it here for a final time. I will not vote for any incumbents. And I am asking you to do the same. For most of us here in my home state that means voting for Republicans.

My rep, Tammy Baldwin(D) has been an OK rep. She hasn't done much, hasn't stirred any pots, caused any scandals and apparently been a good person serving in Congress. Her opponent is agoofus . I can't imagine him actually doing any good in Congress. After 6 years, of doing nothing much, it is time to give someone else a chance. Bye Tammy.

One of my senators, Herb Kohl(D) is also one of those non-descript Congress people. Year after year of nothing bad, nothing good...just putting in their time servants. Kohl is rich, doesn't need a lot of money for his campaign. His opponent is so unremarkable, I can't even remember who it is. (The Green candidate I saw on TV for 5 minutes and he should NEVER been allowed to be in public again.) Bye Herb.

Our governor is Jim Doyle(D) and he has been caught dirty. Too bad his challenger, Mark Green (R) has been caught equally dirty. For the first time ever I got called to respond to a poll (on stem cell issues). Basically, I said I was for it, and Green's position was unlikely to change my position. Bye Jim.

There are a couple of other local races but of no national consequence. And that is my problem. The Republican leadership (WH and Congress) have so thoroughly screwed their base that their only mantra right now is "you have to vote for us, or else it isPelosi". How pathetic is that?

IF I had the opportunity to vote on a National basis next week, I would give the Democrats both House and Senate. Virtually every issue the Democrats can cause trouble about, doesn't affect me directly. What happens in Iraq will damage us for decades, will probably cause more attacks on US soil - BUT not here in Wisconsin. Gay marriage, I oppose it (despite being in a lesbian relationship) because I don't believe the State has any business sanctioning a religious union. Democrats have already voted forDOMA so where is the issue there? Supreme Court: I'd rather have a deadlock court (going 5/4 on every decision) than an ideologically pure left or right court.

The only issue nationally for me is tax cuts. With the economy in it's current condition (sick but not showing any major symptoms), Democrats will face opposition to any effort to let the tax cuts end.

Sorry guys, but when someone misbehaves, they must be punished. Anything else sends a message of acceptance, even at some minor level.

The national Republicans have abandoned their base, their principles. Democrats are likely to find having power is not nearly as enjoyable as wanting power. Right now we have a Charlie Brown populace and a Charlie Brown political leadership. I am tired of watching for the Great Pumpkin.

This country NEEDS to get off the f**king fence.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Once more, with enthusiasm!

After extensive comments regarding BARF (to those familiar with the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 2005), a year of dealing with the consequences and reading written judicial opinions thereof, I have had the displeasure of reading analyses by those given a platform by which they can spew their lack of knowledge.

Unfortunately, another such analysis has seen the light of a fog-covered, dreary October morning.

What's our review of BR law on its 1st B-Day

Martin Segal has started his review with this clear point:

Like any new law of such importance, it was controversial and the reviews are mixed. Credit card companies and other business supporters say it has been a success because it reduced allowable debt cancellation under Chapter 7 liquidation bankruptcy and increased the number of debtors who had to repay creditors under a Chapter 13 payment plan.

Ignorance is bliss. Few laws are written and passed in this country that so
completely ignore all the professional opinions of those likely to have to deal with such laws. Professors that teach law, especially bankruptcy law, opposed this abomination by a huge margin. Trustees that would have to implement the law, opposed it almost unanimously. Bankruptcy judges opposed it. NONE of these groups would benefit from the passage of the law, or by it's demise. Strictly on the merits and
the likely consequences was it opposed and that opposition was IGNORED by the Congress and the press.

And given the opinions being written by judges that have to deal with this "law", there have been no mixed reviews, at all.

Of course, one of the preferred outcomes of the enactment was the drastic reduction in bankruptcy filings. And to say it was a success in this regard ignores all the signs and statistics. Filings have already returned to levels seen just 7 or 8 years ago.

Take the number of filings that occurred last year and subtract the average of the
previous two years and you will find almost 700,000 filings that could be attributed to the new law. Those 700,000 filings, assuming they were spread out over a 2006 without the law would have resulted in approximately 1.2m filings. A figure not far below the 1.35 million estimated for 2006 had the 2003-2004 trend continued.

Another "consequence" hoped for, predicted and claimed by the pro-BARF lobby was the reduction in cost to the average American consumer. It was estimated that bankruptcy was adding $400 to every Americans interest burden. Well. With the implementation of the law and the 'vast' reduction in filings....has ANYONE seen a reduction in interest rates by credit lenders???

Opponents argue the law fails consumers for these same reasons. A true evaluation probably lies somewhere in between.

No. And a true evaluation you are not going to get from Mr. Segal.

Formerly, a judge would determine if a case qualified for Chapter 7 based on a petition filed by the debtor asserting insolvency. Now debtors must
qualify their income under a complicated ''means'' income test based on their state's median income level. If they don't qualify, Chapter 13 repayment is required.

Spoken like a true academic. Having never sat through bankruptcy hearings (I'll bet - but hey, I could be wrong, I don't actually KNOW Mr.Segal....wonder if he is friends with Todd Zwyicki?) Mr. Segal doesn't even know how filings are handled. Judges seldom get involved in the vast majority of cases. The trustee assigned the case makes any initial determination that there is an issue regarding the
appropriateness of a filing. And the 'complicated means test' only comes into play when the debtor household earns over the state median income. But we have found that 97% of filers do NOT earn over the state median.

Of course proponents of the law felt judicial discretion was inappropriate and therefore mandated a means test to eliminate any pesky application of ...you know...fairness.

Chapter 13 filers must repay amounts for five years based on stricter IRS living standards. Before a judge set three-year repayment schedules based on what a debtor could reasonably afford to pay.

Mr. Segal compounds his obvious ignorance with a flat out distortion. If 97% of filers do not meet the state median income and chapter 13 filings are about 40% of the filings, then 97% of the chapter 13's are by people that CAN file a chapter 7, are below the state median and DO NOT have to repay for 5 years or use the 'stricter' IRS guidelines. And the ignorance of the "Before a judge set..." is just astounding. Plans were proposed by the debtors and if no one objected, confirmed. In our district and in many others, 80-85% of all cases were routinely confirmed. Those proposed by experienced bankruptcy attorneys were often confirmed at a 95% or
better rate.

Attorneys for debtors can be personally fined for inaccurate filing information in schedules of assets and liabilities.

This is just so false it borders on malpractice...oh wait...Mr. Segal is a legal academic...he doesn't actually PRACTICE law. There are no fines for attorneys. There are however new liability issues for attorneys. If a trustee or creditor makes a motion in the bankruptcy case and it is determined that a debtor provided false information and a court determines a reasonable inquiry by the debtor's attorney should have found the false information, THEN the debtor's attorney is liable for the trustee or creditors expenses including court costs, without limit.

What Mr. Segal and the supporters of this little provision envisioned was debtor attorneys, so used to flagrant abuses of the law and living large, would flee in abject terror of the prospect of such unlimited liability. If a criminal retains an attorney and tells the attorney he is innocent and it is determined that the criminal was in fact guilty - he was caught on tape committing the crime - might some legislator decide that the attorney should be held accountable for the court costs and the legal costs of the state for the trial? Wouldn't a reasonable attorney, upon investigating the information provided by their client, determine his true guilt and force the criminal to a plea....to avoid the litigation?

Don't bother them with details.

Formerly,Chapter 7 homestead exempt property was determined by state law. Florida allowed a ''millionaire's exemption'' of unlimited value even if the property was bought shortly before a bankruptcy filing. Now debtors can only exempt a maximum $125,000 of homestead value if the property was bought within 40 months before filing.

I am not going to spend a lot of time on this. It affects only a couple of states but what is interesting is that it affects retired people more than any other group. How? You see, most retired people sell their paid for homes in the states they lived and worked in for years and then moved to states like...Florida. For whatever reason....say their former employer goes bankrupt and voids the retirement plan....the retirees face bankruptcy. That newly purchased Florida real estate is
no longer protected in bankruptcy...but you didn't hear that possibility in Senate debate...

Before secured auto loan debts were repaid based on the full unpaid loan balance. Now repayments are reduced to actual vehicle value.

If previous points were misleading or distorted, this is a flat out lie. Prior to BARF fair market value was the maximum for auto loan repayment. There was considerable legal wrangling about what was fair market value, but under the new law, if the auto was purchased in the previous 910 days, the full loan must be repaid (or vehicle redeemed/surrendered). If purchased more than 910 days prior to filing, replacement value applies.

So much for the legal analysis....let's get to his analysis of the consequences:

As predicted, the number of Chapter 7 filings has greatly decreased
because of stricter requirements and Chapter 13 filings have correspondingly increased.

There is NO research to indicate that the 'stricter requirements' have caused a
decrease. As indicated above, it is likely that the rush to file prior to the law's enactment had a direct impact on the decline. As 97% of those that have taken credit counseling (and some 40% have not yet filed) qualified for chapter 7, it would seem some other factor(s) have had an impact on the number of filings. Could it have been the 43% increase in the court costs? Could it have been the $100 cost to do credit counseling and credit management mandated by the law? Could it have been the 50 to 100% increase in attorney fees caused by the increased liability, extensive new requirements for documentation and verification? Could it have been the press (and attorneys) that relentlessly pounded home the idea that "you better file now before the law changes" that left a lasting impression of the 'impossibility' for filing now? Nah....

Also, we must note this "...Chapter 13 filings have correspondingly increased." As a percentage of filings, chapter 13s are up. In actual numbers, way below the previous 2003-2004 average. But if 97% of filers qualify for chapter 7, why are 40% of them filing chapter 13? There must be a reason...

Primarily, people file chapter 13 to save an asset such as their home from foreclosure. And lo and behold, nationwide, foreclosures are up 50% this year. Maybe, just maybe, the increase in foreclosures are driving more people to file chapter 13...could be...ya know... (ps, foreclosures are likely to exceed 1 million for the first time ever this year...)

Chapter 7 applicants are permitted to tithe up to 15 percent of their income to charity as an expense. Some suggest this opens a loophole that allows
people who are otherwise over the means income limit to lower their net income under the allowed ceiling and preserve their filing. Many people have done this to stay in Chapter 7.

IF a debtor is below the median, there is no means test and the amount they tithe is basically irrelevant. If they are above the median though, they can't tithe in a chapter 13...per a recent ruling in NY. This so put Senator Hatch, the leading cheerleader of bankruptcy reform, in such a bad place (being from Utah, many, most of his constituents tithe) that he has introduced AN AMENDMENT to the reform. Something he opposed stridently during debate.

Mr. Segal's claim that "Many people have done this.." lacks ANY support. There have been NO studies done yet on such a claim.

Applicants who couldn't technically qualify for Chapter 7 debt liquidation have had some success claiming ''special circumstances'' beyond their
control forced the filing. Hurricane Katrina victims were given this privilege.

I am uncertain where this comes from. I am unaware of any "special circumstances" that prevent above the median income filers from being forced into chapter 13. There have been some allowances made for Katrina victims but I believe they applied to deadlines and documentation requirements. And to suggest ANY privilege was obtained just because a hurricane DESTROYED YOUR HOME AND EMPLOYER...well, there ya go!

New credit counseling requirements, originally thought to be oppressive, have worked fairly well. There are approved agencies that charge reasonable fees of $50 to $100 for the requiredprefiling and post-filing services, and judges can waive payment for lowincome debtors.

Yea, so well. Judges can waive court filing fees for low income debtors (generally only those that are not represented by an attorney - filing pro se - not a good choice given the complexities built into the new law). The agencies can waive their own fees, judges have no say in them....stupid.

The old law allowed a discretionary ''hardship discharge'' to Chapter 13 debtors before their completion of their five-year payment term. They had to prove that income problems were caused by unforeseen difficulties such as job downsizing, illness and accident, and that creditors had already received as much as they would have been paid under Chapter 7. Now many debtors are testing the time limits of early discharge by broadening their claims of payment difficulty.

The law is one year old....how much testing of the time limits do you think could be going on? The average plan pays secured and priority debts in the first years and unsecured debts in later years....plans started this year haven't had a chance to even begin paying ANYTHING towards unsecured debts. And where is the support for his "...many debtors are testing..." claim? WHERE?

Some experts have pointed out an inherent flaw in the current law. Debtors who can't qualify for Chapter 7 because their income is too high may also be
barred from Chapter 13 relief due to its eligibility ceilings of $307,675 for unsecured debts and $922,975 for secured debts. Critics suggest the new law should have either greatly increased or totally eliminated these Chapter 13 limits.

This is just stupid too. We call these clients chapter 11 clients. You know...like Donald Trump...serial filer....practically untouched under the new law. Do you want to waste some time to calculate the approximate percentage of the population with sufficient income to fund a 900,000 mortgage and 300,000 in credit cards? Less than 1 percent? And how many of them have filed this year, 1, 2?

Mr. Segal. No where on your website do you claim any particular knowledge with regard to bankruptcy so maybe you should avoid answering questions outside your legal specialty.

Disclaimer: I am not an attorney and nothing posted here should be considered legal advice. Seek knowledgeable legal counsel if you are considering bankruptcy and take no referrals from Mr. Segal!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Bankruptcy Reform - One year later...

There have been many stories in the press about the anniversary of the bankruptcy reform act and it's impact. In general, the reports are holding to party line. I say that because one of the goals of the reform was to reduce bankruptcy filings and filings are down significantly. Although some are calling the current level "historically low", you need only to go back 7 or 8 years to reach monthly filing levels comparable to the previous quarter.

Let me take some of the talking points and address them specifically.

Significantly lower filing rates. The first goal of the legislation was to reduce the number of bankruptcy filings. I want to offer an analogy: a medical clinic is seeing 1000 patients a month with minor to major wounds. The clinic supporters, faced with increasing costs to serve patients, decide to charge everyone coming in according to their income. Activists complain that will cause some patients to not come to the clinic but supporters claim those that can afford to pay, will pay
their fair share and those that do not will continue to get free or close to free care. After instituting the plan, admissions drop to 600 a month.

Now the question is, did the number of people that got injured drop? Did fewer people get hurt because of the possibility they would have to pay for medical care?

The number of bankruptcy filings in 2004 was lower than 2003. Absent the reform act, it is likely that the trend would have continued. As many supporters of the reform pointed out, the economy was getting better. Assuming a similar drop from 2004 to 2005 as 2003 to 2004, about 1.4 million people would have filed. As about 2.1 million did, we can say that 700,000 people filed either: because get while thegettin was good; or they were going to file anyway and getting in under the old law was a rational choice. Adding 90% of the rush filers to the probable filers in 2006, would have given us about 1 million filers this year, roughly a 30% drop. How
much of that drop could be attributed to different factors will be left up to researchers in the future but let us look at the possibilities:

Fewer people filed bankruptcy in 2006 because:

The law made it more difficult for above median income debtors to file chapter 7

This is the reason most commonly cited by the pro reform groups/supporters. However, it generally fails to acknowledge one fact ignored IN THIS CONTEXT, the number of chapter 13 filers grew by as much as 50%. Why? These are people that are BELOW the median. They, theoretically, can file chapter 7 but CHOOSE to file chapter 13.

The cost to file bankruptcy (regardless of chapter) has increased, pricing many of the most needy out of the ability to file.

This was the reason most opponents gave for opposing the reform act. Attorney fees increased across the board and across the nation. In many areas, attorney fees had been capped by courts and kept at artificially low levels for years. In our area, fees had remained steady for more than 10 years. The increase in documentation requirements and the requirement that attorneys VERIFY AND ATTEST to the accuracy of information provided by the debtor, resulted in courts allowing higher fees. The court costs to file a chapter 7 rose by 43%. The requirement that all debtors take and pay for credit counseling added another $50 to the costs (effectively increasing the filing costs by 67%). For some people, especially the least able to afford it, the court cost increase was/is prohibitive. [Before some moron claims that the very poor can get the fees waived, they should be aware that - in general - a person represented by an attorney that gets ANY fee, is generally NOT able to get the court
costs waived. The court believes if you can afford an attorney, you can afford the court costs, even if the attorney is working for a substantially reduced fee. Given the requirement that attorneys verify and attest to the accuracy of debtor information, such a situation will become very rare, the liability issues alone cause attorneys nightmares.] Finally, many attorneys allowed clients to pay part of
their fee upfront, and the balance after filing. This gave clients relief and although most courts (when presented the issue) denied attorneys the balance of their fees post filing, bankruptcy attorneys took the risk. Under the new law, that risk is unacceptable and very few attorneys (none we know of) provide payment plans, instead requiring the full fee to be paid in advance of filing. The significant increase in attorney fees, the significant increase in court fees and the addition of secondary fees has made filing more expensive for those people most in need of bankruptcy - DESPITE claims by reform supporters that it would not hurt below median filers at all.

The means test will either weed out those that do not really need to file or force them to file chapter 13.

Reports from credit counseling services indicate that 97% of the people taking credit counseling have insufficient income to pay their bills. But only about 60% of those that have taken the counseling have actually filed. Any argument that suggests that those that have not filed after taking credit counseling were potential abusers under the old system and too scared to face the new system ignores the 97% claim. More likely, the people that don't file CAN'T AFFORD TO. Again, if 97% of the people
that take credit counseling can't afford to pay their bills and chapter 13 rates INCREASE, then people are filing chapter 13 despite the fact they will probably fail. In the past, 40% of chapter 13 filers fail to complete their plan. The reasons are many, but chapter 13 budgets are usually very tight (even under the old law) and leave little room for unexpected expenses. Failure rates will take years to determine under the new law, but if the 97% number is accurate, expect failure rates to climb.

So, why would someone with little hope to pay their bills, and below the median income, file chapter 13? And to do so increasingly under the new law?

Chapter 13 is most commonly used for people that wish to retain an asset, such as a home. People facing foreclosure can file chapter 13 and reorganize their debts allowing them to keep their home. When foreclosure rates increase, so do the number of chapter 13 bankruptcy filers. And what has happened to foreclosure rates recently? Up 50% nationwide so far this year. For the first time ever, foreclosures will number over 1 million....historical. The number of chapter 13 filers is increasing because the number of people facing foreclosure is increasing (IMO). Despite the changes in the law, the number of chapter 13 filings is down considerably LESS than chapter 7 filings.

Some words on the law itself (rather than it's consequences). When debated, Todd Zywicki, a primary drafter of the law, sat in front of a Senate committee and claimed the law was just fine, no amendments were needed. After 8 years of trying to get through Congress, the draft bill addressed all the "real" concerns of those opposing it. In action however, the law has left many judges andtrustees frustrated. In a rare display of displeasure, judges around the country are noting their frustration in written opinions. On judge cited Mr.Zywicki's testimony disparagingly. Mr. Zywicki cried foul, but the overwhelming response to his complaint that he had been taken out of context was one of dismissal. Attorneys almost unanimously felt the Judge had not erred. Recently, Senator Hatch offered an amendment to the reform law...apparently, the 'perfect' law had a consequence that hit too close to home for the Senator from Utah (the state with the highest percentage of bankruptcy filers and one of the largest percentage of charitable givers) when a judge ruled that chapter 13 filers could not continue charitable contributions.

Lastly, bankruptcy fraud. One of the chief complaints of pro reform advocates was the claim that 10% of bankruptcy cases included fraud. This percentage was thrown about very often in the debate but NO support for it was ever given. First, let me give you an example of "fraud", hiding assets: A client appeared at a bankruptcy hearing wearing a stud earring. The trustee noted that there was no jewelry listed in the personal property schedule and required the petition be amended to include the stud earring. Value, $5. This was fraud, caught by a trustee, under the old law. REAL bankruptcy fraud is so rare, that when cases were brought, the FBI issued press releases! This year, the Justice Department and the FBI investigated cases in 36 bankruptcy districts and of the 250,000 cases filed, they found 18 with fraud. 18.

How much fraud has occurred?

From 1988-1995: 1474 cases referred, 355 convictions (~7.5 million cases filed)
From 1995-2001: 6090 cases referred, 482 convictions (~7 million cases filed)

14.5 million cases, 7600 cases referred .05% fraud rate. Where oh where did 10% come from? By the way, only 837 convictions came out of those 7600 cases, or .0058%

The most recent report on the 18 cases out of 250,000 filed indicates .072% fraud rate...gee...under the new law, the fraud rate, WENT UP! We'll see what the actual conviction rate is much later.

By every measure, the number of bankruptcy filings is increasing post reform enactment. It may take time to reach previous levels, but there is no doubt it will happen. Reform promised several things: fewer filings - CHECK; more chapter 13's - CHECK; less fraud -OOPPS; continued availability for those most in need - OOPPS; lower credit interest rates for everyone (oh, you didn't hear that claim...sure, it was right there when they said that loose bankruptcy rules were costing everyone $400 a year in extra interest paid, suggesting that everyone would be paying $400 less per year when the law was changed - your interest rates on credit cards and other loans have gone down this year...haven't they?) -OOPPS.

Remember this next time some paper or news station reports that bankruptcy reform has worked, the only ones bankruptcy reform has helped, were the credit card companies that did not report a SINGLE quarter of losses due to the 2.1 million bankruptcy petitions filed last year.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Is there any reason to rehash this?

Those opposed to voting to return the GOP to Congress provide a long
list of failures by the GOP. A failure of leadership both in the
Congress and by the White House.

It is clear that a Democrat
controlled Congress certainly will not address GOP/Conservative
concerns so voting for them as punishment will only make matters worse.

that Democrats will make things worse is not a good reason to vote for
Republicans. Ground your teenager to his room and he will be unable to
do hislawnmowing chores. Your punishment to others, hurts you. Classic cutting off your nose to spite your face.

Or is it?

bad behaviour is never an appropriate response. But if the punishment
is likely to cause more problems than continued bad behavior - how do
you stop the bad behavior?

I don't have a good answer to that, but I am sure that grounding the Republicans, isn't it.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Numbness...or short attention span?

A suggestion has been made that Americans are numb to the death and destruction impaled on our psyche daily by the press. Ya think?

In the United States in 2005 there were:
16,927 murders
417,122 robberies
93,934 forcible rapes

Meaning, everyday in the United states there are 46 murders, 1,142 robberies and 257 rapes. Put that next to the droning of how many people were slaughtered in the name of Allah in Baghdad today.

Now, in this country, no matter how "numb" we are to the daily carnage we hope that the criminals are punished and we are saddened for the victims. Ok, not really unless it is close to home, but you can be pretty certain, NO ONE IS CHEERING!

No preacher is standing in front of his flock and telling them to go forth, murdering and raping! (Unless that preacher happens to be MUSLIM...then I am not so sure.)

People are not NUMB to the carnage in Baghdad (and make no mistake, despite the occasional car bomb in Mosul or Basra the main problem is in Baghdad and it's suburbs) they just recognize two minor facts: A larger percentage of the population is actively supporting the carnage; and it is a DAMN WAR ZONE! Duh!?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Bankruptcy Fraud: a review

The Justice Department and the FBI have jointly announced a significant nationwide sweep of bankruptcy fraud criminals.

Yep, you can read how after investigations in 36 districts the sweep netted:

18 cases, and 78 people.

Out of over a quarter million cases.

MAN that new law is great!

Monday, October 16, 2006

A call to dis-arm

I know that I have a small readership, and generally you do not make comments, but I am asking now.

Please leave a comment: agree or disagree (additional comments are welcome)

In passing I have answered the anti-war group that we should recall all military personal, no matter where stationed, home.

I AM NOW MAKING THAT REQUEST. I want every single military member currently assigned to ANY station overseas, returned to US soil within 90 days. From South Korea, from Japan, from the Philippines, from Diego Garcia, from Afghanistan and Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, from Europe, from England, from South and Central America.

Recall however that military troops also guard our embassies and consulates the world over. They are to be returned also. Recall ALL embassy staffs and ambassadors. Given that we are leaving, I expect the world to respond in kind. As some countries may be reluctant, I ask that the creditials of every diplomat currently in the US be revoked. All embassies are to be closed and vacated within 10 days. No asylum will be granted to anyone currently here on diplomatic creditials. Further, as the UN constitutes a 'foreign' presence, it is also to be vacated within 7 days. All foreign nationals on diplomatic work at the UN are to leave within 7 days.

All deployed naval groups are to return to home ports. All deployed air units are to return to their home fields.

Effective immediately, all vessels not under the US flag are to be boarded prior to entry into US navigational waters. All aircraft requesting landing in the US must provide personal information on ALL travelers at least 3 hours prior to DEPARTURE or the planes will be turned away, militarily.

The left has been screaming for this for more than a year. Step up now and support this request.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

What's a moderate to do?

Rep. Mark Foley resigned. Too bad he didn't have a democratic PR person on the payroll, it may have helped him keep his seat.

Right now, if I were the democrats (I use the small d to denote all of that particular political persuasion), I'd keep my mouth shut about Foley and what anyone might have known, when. The democrats might not have noticed, but they are standing in the finest of crystal chambers holding big, heavy rocks.

Rep. Mark Foley resigned. Apparently, he has some semblance of character remaining. There are many examples of less notable Democrats.

Just to the right of this post is a little icon RESET. It is a link to my website that suggests we should not be voting for incumbents. Several noted essayists have recently penned that however disgusted we find ourselves with the current Republican majority, having Democrats running Congress (or even half of it) is a far greater potential disaster. I find their arguments compelling. However.

Rep. Mark Foley resigned. I accept that we elect humans to Congress. With all their faults and personal deficiencies. I am however troubled by the unseeminglyness that seems to pervade the very pores of those that have held office for (apparently) more than a few hours. There is a war on and the 'prisoners' we have captured receive better food, medical treatment and personal services than just about every American EXCEPT those in Congress. According to some human rights stupidity, I heard that the significant weight gains experienced by the 'detainees' in Gitmo is "evidence" of their mistreatment. The GOVERNMENT of the United States is fighting a war EXACTLY as the British fought our 'war of independence'. Marching with drums in bright red coats onto a field of battle, all but saying, "shoot ME! Please!"

Rep. Mark Foley resigned. The man charged with finding Osama bin Laden in the CIA a week ago stated: "Richard Clarke, Sandy Berger and President Clinton LIED." And was he pissed when he said it. Mr. Clinton stated the week before that he tried very hard to get bin Laden, but failed. Mr. Clinton was right, he FAILED. He failed to protect US in 1993 at the World Trade Center, in Africa (in Somalia and the embassies), in Yemen and he contributed mightily to 9/11. George Bush Sr failed us in Iraq in 92 and contributed to WTC in 93. Reagan failed us in Beirut. And George Bush Jr has failed us. But Bush Jr will be leaving soon enough, unable to continue his failures. However, Congress has failed in it's duties and has every appearance of continuing to do so. On virtually EVERY topic, our government is failing and spending obscene amounts of money doing it.

Rep. Mark Foley resigned. Not because of 9/11, not because the FBI found $90,000 wrapped in foil in his freezer, not because he has an intern 'service' him in his office, but because of words written on a computer screen.

If Congress and the Administration had ONE OUNCE the integrity of Rep. Mark Foley, they would resign too. I don't expect it and therefore, I continue to support, NO TO INCUMBENTS.