Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Obama Politicizes the Holocaust

Is there nothing sacred to liberals seeking power? In the latest attempt to plumb the depths of decency, Democratic Presidential Candidate Barack Obama sought to use the liberation of Nazi death camps to push for his version of expanded government health care.

From the Washington Post: Obama's Uncle and the Liberation of Auschwitz:

"I had a uncle who was one of the, who was part of the first American troops to go into Auschwitz and liberate the concentration camps," Obama said, slowly and methodically. "And the story in my family is that when he came home, he just went into the attic, and he didn't leave the house for six months. Alright? Now, obviously something had affected him deeply, but at the time, there just weren't the kinds of facilities to help somebody work through that kind of pain."

What man could speak about the horrors of Auschitz, and somehow make it not about the millions of Jews that suffered and died in the death camps, but instead about how terribly hard it was for his uncle to deal with it, and how it showed that we needed better mental health care. That takes the "it's all about me" candidacy to a new low -- even the Jewish slaughter takes a back seat to how it effected Obama's family.

Oh, you may read elsewhere about all the mistakes in this story. It wasn't Obama's Uncle, it was his great uncle. It wasn't Auschwitz, and it wasn't really a liberation. The Post provides information about it in a factchecker segment Where is Auschwitz:

In an attempt to burnish his credentials with America's veterans, Barack Obama has frequently talked about his grandfather "who served in Patton's army." He has now added a new episode to his World War II repertoire: the uncle who liberated Auschwitz. Unfortunately, the story shows that the presumptive Democratic nominee has a poor grasp of European history and geography.

Actually, the WP is a little harsh, but also a little kind. Because long before Obama was running for President, back in 2002, he gave an anti-war speech where he told a similar story, but in that story his Grandfather had "heard stories" from the Americans who had liberated Auschwitz and Treblinka -- except of course Americans didn't liberate either of those two camps. Oddly, Obama never mentioned his Uncle in that speech.

Which seems strange, doesn't it? If he heard family stories about his uncle liberating concentration camps, why in 2002 does he instead attribute the stories to unnamed people talking to his Grandfather? And why, if Obama claims using Auschwitz this week was a simple mistake, did he make the identical mistake in 2002?

But frankly, the entire discussion of whether Obama's story was true or not is a smokescreen to keep us from seeing the REAL story. Which is that Obama used the horror of the death camps NOT to argue for the importance of defending freedom, or to make sure countries like Iran never succeed in getting a bomb that could finish the job Hitler started.

No, he invoked death camps to argue for better mental health care, and trivialized the tragic outcomes for millions of Jews and others by focusing instead on how "traumatized" his Uncle was at having to see it.

oh, but don't worry about Obama. He understands the rules about politicizing things -- and generally, Democrats get away with it. In fact, after many people pointed out his errors, he had the audacity (he excels at audacity) to claim that his opponents were the ones politicizing the holocaust (a wonderful attempt at projection):

Tommy Vietor, an Obama spokesman, decried "using the Holocaust and concentration camps as a political football."

Remember, this is the spokesperson of a candidate who just used the Holocaust and concentration camps to argue that he should be elected because he is for better mental health care benefits.

Update: And his claim that we did nothing for mental health after WW2 appears to be a lie as well. There was a movie done in 1946 called "let there be light":

The final entry in a trilogy of films produced for the U.S. government by John Huston. This documentary film follows 75 U.S. soldiers who have sustained debilitating emotional trauma and depression. A series of scenes chronicle their entry into a psychiatric hospital, their treatment and eventual recovery

But that doesn't sound as politically helpful as "he locked himself in the attic for 6 months".

Monday, May 26, 2008

A GI Bill we could all be proud of.

It's too bad the Democrats want to make everything about surrendering in Iraq, even their so-called "GI Bill". Otherwise, a smart guy like Jim Webb would be working with another true American Patriot and fellow warrior, John McCain, on a real G.I. Bill which actually contains the features the GIs really want -- portability of the educational benefits for their children or other relatives.

Of course, John's campaign lists many things he has done for veterans. In fact, before the democrats had to turn on him for political purposes, they used to acknowledge the fact that McCain was squarely for the veterans of our country.
John McCain's Many proposals for a GI Bill:

John explained his opposition to Webb's bill, which in fact does little for the GIs that work hardest for our country, and instead encourages them to quit early, which will harm the morale of those troops who decide to stay longer in service to the country. As covered by ABC news:

But I have one responsibility that outweighs all the others and that is to use whatever talents I possess and every resource God has granted me to protect the security of this great and good nation from all enemies foreign and domestic," McCain said in a Memorial Day remembrance speech in Albuquerque, NM.
McCain praised Virginia Democrat Sen. Jim Webb, the primary author of the bill that passed the Senate last week, as an "honorable man who takes his responsibility to veterans very seriously," but disagreed with Webb's plan, which provides education benefits to members of the military after just one enlistment in the service.

McCain's plan would offer more benefits to soldiers who have served longer terms.

"It is important to do that because, otherwise, we will encourage more people to leave the military after they have completed one enlistment," McCain said.

McCain's plan would also provide benefits accrued by soldiers to be transferred to spouses and dependents.

McCain, the soon-to-be Republican nominee, seemed to argue that the potential for military attrition, due even to a well-meaning GI bill, was something he had to fight against.

"It would be easier, much easier, politically for me to have joined Senator Webb in offering his legislation," McCain said.

When a Presidential candidate known for his strong unwavering support for our military and our veterans rejects the politically easy vote, you can be sure it's because he knows his bill is better for our veterans.

The only reason Webb can't support McCain's bill is because he is a member of a party that needs to end the war in Iraq, even when we are winning, but has no political muscle to vote for what they want. So instead they must do things like enact a so-called GI bill which is meant more to thin the ranks of the military, and especially of the experienced soldiers that are so important to the current success in Iraq.

It's a shame when our military is abused for political gain. Webb should know better, but he is so beholden to his anti-Iraq-war position that he cannot do the right thing for the fine members of the military, who have been begging for a GI bill which allows for portability.

Here's hoping there are enough Republicans with the courage of John McCain to sustain the veto Bush is certain to invoke, so that the Democrats are forced to allow McCain's bill to be voted on -- because if will certainly pass once the Democratic leadership allows it's members to vote their conscience.

Friday, May 23, 2008

"Big Oil"? What Big Oil?

I've been writing about how the Democrats are dead wrong about their energy policies. They are using the "crisis" of high gas prices, which they are largely to blame for in the first place, for political gain.

One myth they like to spread is about how "big oil" is controlling the price of gasoline.

The nice folks at powerline have posted a picture presented at the congressional hearings:

Can you find "Big Oil" in that chart? Hint: Look to the right. The 14th line over, in gray, is the first U.S. oil company, Exxon/Mobil.

Yep, thats right. Exxon Mobile, supposed behomoth, and evil "big oil" company controlling the world's supply of oil for it's own greed, is the 14th largest company. 13 other companies are bigger. Exxon/Mobile controls about 2% of the world's supply of oil. Two percent doesn't "control" anything.

But the Democrats, who sat dumbfounded through this presentation, didn't miss a beat, and tomorrow they'll still be selling the idea that there are evil U.S. oil companies who are to blame for your high gas prices -- when the simple truth is that we have high gas prices because the Democrats won't allow drilling anywhere in this country where there are significant supplies of oil, won't let anybody build any new gasoline refineries, and mostly spend their time supporting dozens of gas formulations, and the forced addition of our corn crop to the gasoling supplies.

Update: Here's some parts of the Powerline article on the subject:

With 94% of the world's oil supply locked up by foreign governments, most of which are hostile to the United States, the relatively puny American oil companies do not have access to enough crude oil to significantly affect the market and help bring prices down.
The United States--unlike, say, France--actually has vast petroleum reserves. It would be possible for American oil companies to develop those reserves, play a far bigger role in international markets, and deliver gas at the pump to American consumers at a much lower price, while creating many thousands of jobs for Americans.
So, why doesn't it happen? Because the Democratic Party--aided, sadly, by a handful of Republicans--deliberately keeps gas prices high and our domestic oil companies small by putting most of our reserves off limits to development.
ANWR contains vast petroleum reserves, but we don't know how vast, because Congress, not wanting the American people to know how badly its policies are hurting our economy, has made it illegal to explore and map those reserves, let alone develop them.

Democrats don't mind lying representatives?

One nice thing about being a Democratic representative is that your constituency doesn't really mind if you lie to them, so long as you beat the Republicans.

But I'm guessing even the most cynical Democratic end-justifies-the-means voter would rather their representatives not be THIS honest about it.

From Youtube, we have a town hall meeting with Democrat Congressman Paul Kanjorski. This happened a long time ago, last August in fact.

Here's what Paul said:

“I’ll tell you my impression. We really in this last election, when I say we…the Democrats, I think pushed it as far as we can to the end of the fleet, didn’t say it, but we implied it. That if we won the Congressional elections, we could stop the war. Now anybody was a good student of Government would know that wasn’t true. But you know, the temptation to want to win back the Congress, we sort of stretched the facts…and people ate it up.

Let me translate that for you Democrats. He said that ANYBODY who knows about government would know the Democrats couldn't stop the war. But the Democrats KNEW that the poeple who vote for them are stupid, and would eat up any lie they were told without question.

The Republicans are in trouble because the average Republican voter is smart enough to know when they are being lied to, and they actually care about things like honesty and integrity.

So far, the average Democratic voter has shown little concern with being lied to.

Here's the video:

Monday, May 19, 2008

DNC thinks Wikipedia isn't biased enough for them

Conservatives know that Wikipedia, which bills itself as the world's encyclopedia, for political information is often the playground for the left. Of course, Wikipedia makes some attempt to keep information factual, and since anybody can update information, the idea is that if someone makes a highly unfactual post, others can correct it.

Still, Wikipedia is very friendly to liberals. Even if you don't buy that there are major players in the administration of Wiki who are biased to the left, it is clear that factual news and information that plays to the left is not being filtered in any way.

But suppose we said that Wikipedia was, as it claimed, an unbiased, netroots-driven bastion of truth?

Then what do we make of the DNC? Apparently, Wikipedia is still a bit too focused on the truth for what they have in mind. So rather than simply overwhelming the mods at Wiki with their incessant political posts, they've decided to launch their own version of Wikipedia, which they are calling McCainPedia:

"McCainPedia" compiles DNC research on the presumptive Republican nominee under topics like "Economy," "Ethics" and "Security" and targets McCain's "empty rhetoric" on Iraq as well as his role in the Keating Five scandal of the early 1990s. Users are also invited to access DNC video from both YouTube and FlipperTV, the Democratic Party’s archive of campaign tracking video.

In launching the site, the DNC claims that anyone can research and share the material.

OK, so far there is zero difference between Wikipedia and this new site. So why duplicate the effort? The next sentence explains:

Unlike Wikipedia, on which the site is modeled, edits can be made only by DNC staff — not members of the public.

Can't have any of those unbiased moderators around fixing the errors and lies. Better to have the paid DNC staff provide the "truth", much the same way as was done in the book 1984 by the "Ministers of Truth".

The DNC has the rhetoric down:

“This allows us to fully validate all of the information that appears, ensuring accuracy and reliability,” the “About” section of the site says. Instead, the site is “run by the DNC’s Research, Communications, and Internet teams.”

Given the blatant lies in the official DNC advertisements (like their selective quoting of parts of a McCain speech which completely altered it's meaning, and their more recent absurd claim that McCain's prediction of Victory in Iraq was "settting a timetable"), it is hard to imagine anybody falling for the line that the DNC is more trustworthy than the Wikipedia staff when it comes to validating claims.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

No more Chicken in Every Pot -- Obama

Remember the good old days, when people running for President would offer prosperity? Remember "A chicken in Every Pot"?

Well, once again, Obama has decided to take a new approach, although one eerily reminiscent of Carter's philosoph of malaise. From Google news, "Obama spies endgame in Oregon":

"We can't drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times ... and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK," Obama said.

"That's not leadership. That's not going to happen," he added.

I don't drive an SUV, but it's not because I thought some other country was going to tell me no. I want a president who will defend our country against attacks by other countries, and will keep me from being answerable to some other government.

But apparently, Obama thinks his job is to tell us what other countries aren't going to let us do, and convince us that if some other country says no, we can't do it.

Barack Obama accepts Endorsement by Hamas

Normally, when you find out that a terrorist organization supports your candidacy, you denounce them and explain that you will be their worst enemy.

Barack Obama has decided to take a more conciliatory approach (I'd say "appeasing", but that seems to make Democrats really mad).

From the Daily news, Barack Understands Hamas View:

"It's conceivable that there are those in the Arab world who say to themselves, 'This is a guy who spent some time in the Muslim world, has a middle name of Hussein and appears more worldly and has called for talks with people, and so he's not going to be engaging in the same sort of cowboy diplomacy as George Bush,'" Obama said in an interview with The Atlantic.

"That's a perfectly legitimate perception as long as they're not confused about my unyielding support for Israel's security," Obama said.

Oh, I don't think there's any chance they are confused about Barack's support for Israel. For example, on Israel's handling of Palestinian terror attacks from 2007:

"[N]obody is suffering more than the Palestinian people..." said Obama, "the Israeli government must make difficult concessions for the peace process to restart..."

Of course, Barack has said a lot of things supporting Israel lately, because the Jewish lobby is a vital part of the Democratic Party base.

But Hamas does not appear to be confused by election-year conversions. And with Barack showing so much "understanding" of Hamas, one can see why they like him so much.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

House Speaker Pelosi gets Respect she deserves in Iraq

Although maybe not what she THINKS she deserves.

From Time Magazine, Pelosi gets quiet reaction in Iraq:

The arrival of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who came to Baghdad on Saturday with a congressional delegation, set off a now-familiar cycle of reaction in the Iraqi capital. First there was buzz around the city about flight delays from Baghdad International Airport, which goes into lockdown when VIPs land or takeoff. Since no dust storms were grounding flights, anyone traveling could have assumed some American bigwig was heading in.

Contrary to what most Americans are led to believe by the Democrats and the media, the Iraqi people LIKE America, and are generally excited to see who is showing up. But:

But when local TV reported the visitor was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, there was a collective shrug of the kind you might expect from Republicans catching a glimpse of her somewhere in McCain country.

If they knew what Pelosi would do to them if she got her way, they'd be a lot more concerned. As it is, they only know a little more than what OUR media tells America about the 2nd-most-powerful person in our government:

If they know who she is at all, she is generally seen as an antiwar caricature figure, someone whose views on U.S. troop withdrawals are widely considered unrealistic. Pelosi has said she wants to see most U.S. troops withdrawn from Iraq by the end of the 2008, a time frame virtually no Iraqi political leader sees as feasible. Not even Mahdi Army militia leader Moqtada al-Sadr, the fiercest advocate of a U.S. withdrawal on the scene, has called for such a rapid withdrawal of U.S. forces. Rather, Sadr contends that the Americans should simply announce a reasonable timetable for the departure of U.S. forces.

When you are to the LEFT of the terrorists, when the enemy even thinks your surrender terms are too generous, you really should quit your commander-in-chief job. Of course, as House speaker Pelosi has NO business talking about troop withdraw or any other aspect of what the military is doing in the war. On the other hand, she should be running a democratic institution, but instead she has turned the House into a puppet body, a sham political charade where committees are bypassed and votes are not only held open long after they should close, but are altered when they turn out the "wrong way".

So whatever contempt the Iraqi leader has for Pelosi, it is well-deserved:

The lack of popularity of Pelosi's views was evident in the fact that her first day on the ground Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki did not make an effort to see her. Maliki is currently in the northern city of Mosul overseeing a crackdown on insurgent networks there. But the city has been largely quiet in recent days, and there was no obvious pressing reason for the prime minister to skip Pelosi's arrival.

How about, he has no interest in wasting his time listening to her pretending the war isn't being won, and her hysteric calls for quitting the fight.

Time magazine even reminds us that she was on the wrong side of history on the troop surge:

Pelosi may not get much more warmth from the American military leaders she plans to meet either. Pelosi argued against sending additional surge forces to Iraq, a plan overseen by Gen. David Petraeus that is now widely credited with reducing the levels of violence in Iraq.

Let's never forget that. If Pelosi had had her way last year, she would NOT have been able to have this peaceful visit to Iraq. Instead, Iraq would be in turmoil, and our troops would be poised on the borders waiting the inevitable call to go back in at a high cost of life to re-gain what would have been lost by Pelosi's "tactics".

Oh, and then there's the small matter of her claiming our troops are criminals:

Moreover, Pelosi made waves on Capitol Hill in November by saying U.S. troops were torturing detainees - an accusation generally not taken well by men and women in uniform of any rank.

Especially when it's false.

Time contrasts the enemy's reaction to Pelosi's visit to Iraq with Secretary Rice's visit:

But for all of Pelosi's unpopularity, in many ways she got a nicer arrival treatment than the last senior female American official to appear in Baghdad, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Rice slipped into Iraq in January much the same way Pelosi did today — stealthily, with a terse confirmation by the U.S. embassy offering few details of the agenda. But within hours of Rice's arrival, TV news was crackling with word of it, and soon thereafter a volley of mortars fell on the Green Zone in an obvious message from Rice's detractors. No rockets or mortars were heard heading into the Green Zone today as word of Pelosi's presence hit the Iraqi airwaves in what amounted to a daytime news blip.

Well, the terrorists will always try to kill their enemies. Why would they target Pelosi, who is doing their bidding in Congress? The worst thing that the terrorists could do would be to take out sympathisers.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Saudis Increase Production, Pelosi Faults Bush

OK, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi didn't fault President Bush for getting Saudi Arabia to increase production.

She actually attacked him for NOT getting his "buddies" to increase production:

“As record oil prices continue to burden American families and businesses, reports indicate that the President’s visit to Saudi Arabia today to push for increased production has failed. Despite considerable influence, the Bush Administration has been ineffective in pressuring Saudi Arabia and, yet again, has failed to effectively use diplomacy to exact short-term relief for American consumers.

Ignore for a moment the absurdity of the 2nd-most-powerful elected official in our country treating a sovereign friendly nation like some frat-house sidekick to be pushed around. And ignore for the moment the longstanding (before Democrats lost all civility) policy of elected officials NOT attacking the President while he is on foreign soil.

There's this little problem -- Saudi Arabia actually DID boost oil output, and is ready to do more if necessary:

RIYADH (Reuters) - The world's top oil exporter Saudi Arabia said on Friday it was ready to pump more oil if needed and has already made a modest output boost.

And rather than rebuffing the President, the Saudi government is sending this additional oil to our country:

Naimi said most of the extra supplies would go to buyers in the United States, the world's largest energy consumer.

And, since Naimi is a bit smarter than Nancy Pelosi when it comes to understanding the world oil markets, he notes the move is mostly symbolic:

But Naimi told Bush and other U.S. officials in a presentation on Friday that an increase in oil output would not lead to a dramatic reduction in U.S. pump prices, a U.S. official said.
OPEC officials blame the high price on factors beyond their control, such as speculation and the weak dollar. Naimi reiterated those views on Friday, blaming oil's rise on international political tension, dollar weakness and the role of investors in the commodities market.

But there's more. She also touted legislation that will do nothing to help us out:

“Next week, the New Direction Congress will send legislation to the President to suspend deliveries to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, a tool that has in the past reduced prices for consumers.

Suspending deliveries to the SPR has NEVER reduced prices for consumers. What Pelosi is referring to is periods when oil has been SOLD from the SPR, usually in an emergency when supplies were scarce. And don't forget in 2000 when Clinton used the SPR to push energy prices down, in order to try to get Al Gore elected. Simply stopping the purchase of 70,000 barrels of oil in a market that moves over 70 MILLION barrels a day will do nothing to lower costs.

But there's more. On the same day, when the President is out of the country, and Nancy Pelosi is using that opportunity to attack him by urging him to stop the purchase of oil for the SPR, the DOE was announcing that it had already stopped the purchases:

The US Department of Energy will not divert any more crude oil to thenation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve as soon as the current six-month contractis completed in late June, the agency said Friday. DOE "will not sign contracts this year for the receipt and transportation" of 13 million barrels of crude oil to the SPR sites, theagency said in a statement.

BTW, this wasn't some brilliant new idea from the Democrats. Bush halted the SPR purchases in May of 2006 as well, as we find in this May 2006 article, Bush halts SPR Deliveries; Analysts see little Effect:

President Bush's decision to temporarily halt oil deliveries to the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve will not dramatically affect motor fuel prices this summer, an oil analyst with the Department of Energy told TRANSPORT TOPICS.

So let's summarize. Pelosi attacks Bush while he's on foreign soil for not getting Saudis to increase production; But they already increased production and offered to do more if needed.

Pelosi then urges Bush to stop filling the SPR, when the DOE has announced they are stopping.

And she claims this will save people money, when economists, the people who know oil like the Saudis, and even analysts and democrats in 2006, all know that small changes like this can't really move the market.

Oh, she also announced something called "NOPEC", where we apparently will call OPEC names and try to punish oil companies for trying to supply us with the gasoline we need, after blaming Bush for not convincing OPEC to be nicer to us.

And they are still looking for that elusive "price gouging". They've looked for years and found nothing, but still they look on.

When Pelosi took the gavel, Gasoline cost about $2.23 a gallon. She promised to lower that price. 16 months later, Gas gosts $3.75. Oil has more than doubled under the Democratic congress.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

I want to cut the grass for the county ($259 per house)

In the PWC BOCS meeting yesterday, they discussed the county program for cutting grass.:

Tall grass and weeds are a violation of the County Code. Neighborhood Services is tasked with investigating citizens' complaints of tall grass and weeds.
Any citizen may file a complaint for a weed case violation by calling Neighborhood Services at 703-792-7018. When the weed complaint is received, Property Code Enforcement Inspectors must visit the property, determine its zoning requirements and measure the height of grass and weeds. If the property is found to be in violation of the Code, Neighborhood Services must give notice of the violation to the owner by regular mail and allow two weeks for compliance. If the property is still in violation after re-inspection, the County will authorize mowing to be done at the owner’s expense.

The web site says that the price is severe:

The fee for mowing is substantially more than what the neighborhood mowers would charge. Fees are more than $150 for a town home to $600 for larger properties.

At the meeting, they said that in the previous year, they had about 600 homes under observation, and they cut about 150. This year they think they might cut houses up to 8100 times, although they seemed to say the more likely number is 1500 houses cut three times.

They said the price per house was about $259. I would be happy to cut, with the permission of the county, every home in my neighborhood, for only $100 each. To their credit, many supervisors questioned why it cost so much, and the county didn't have a good answer. I hope they can get a better price this year.

Maureen Caddigan said she had someone to cut her grass every week. Must be nice to be able to afford a grass cutting service. Of course, she voted to raise her salary this year even though we have to cut many services, so she should have the money.

Then she had the nerve to say that the county would save money "if Homeowners associations would do their job".

Realise that many HOAs (mine is one) do not have the power to cut people's yards. We are working on it. But it's really not the HOAs job to cut the yards, it's the people who own the yards. I'm sure that if we do this, we will get our neighborhood lawn service to cut the yards for significantly less than $259.

Now, they are saying that, with so many more houses, there would be a chance to lower the cost. But apparently last year nobody thought twice about wasting over 250 dollars of our money for each cut.

Now, there is a caveat. The charge is attached to the house as a lien, so eventually the county gets the money back. That means that the county has little reason to try to get a better price. It's like free money for everybody, at the expense of the person who didn't cut their grass.

And since they didn't cut their grass, and it's really annoying, it's hard to feel sorry for them.

We have about 6 homes in our neighborhood which seem abandoned or for other reason aren't cutting their lawns. It's annoying, there are actually woodland creatures living in some of the properties, and not the nice kind. I'm glad the county has a program.

However, it appears that the county will NOT be able to keep up with this program this year, because of the large number of forclosures (it probably won't help that we kicked out so many of the people who would cut grass cheaply :-) )

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Making Lemons from Lemonade

As Help Save Manassas President Greg Lettiecq commented on BVBL a few weeks ago, PWC home sales are actually up compared to last year.

Today, Greg notes that the Washington Post has noticed:

Even the Washington Post has noticed: the residential real estate market in Prince William is heating up, and the crackdown on illegal immigration is a contributing factor to this positive development:

And what does the Washington Post say is the big factor? From the article Home Prices Receding, Sales Rising:

Because of the number of foreclosures in Prince William, Manassas and Manassas Park -- 659 in March -- a lot more affordable houses are on the market, real estate agents said.

Yup. We have so many foreclosures, our homes are affordable again. Don't believe it? Here's more from the article:

the price and location of the single-family house off Liberia Lane made the first-time home buyer move to Manassas.

"This was a bank-owned property at a good price. It was an offer I couldn't pass up."

"People are seeing the prices come down to a point where it makes sense to purchase. What they would be paying in rent versus a mortgage is about equal, so there is a strong argument to buy."

What I found interesting here with the foreclosures was I could get a better deal than what I could have gotten in Florida" for the same size home, Garvey said.

There are lots of good deals out there, and anytime you have a commodity where there are good deals, there will be buyers lining up."

Real estate agents said the Prince William market is heating up more quickly than others because it took a bigger hit.

The cost is what brought Joe Munsell from Springfield to Bristow.

The MRIS data show the average recent sale price of a Manassas house is $195,500, 40 percent lower than last year. In Prince William, it's $299,600 -- a 26 percent drop. The average cost of a house in Fairfax and Loudoun is still more than $400,000.

Not exactly a report to cheer about. Our market was overbought, and due for a correction, but not much more than any other place in Northern Virginia. It's clear something peculiar to our county has made our county much more unattractive to drop our market by such a large amount.

But some think that making lemons out of lemonade is a good thing, and that an influx of first-time homebuyers purchasing homes that used to be people's move-up homes is a good thing.

Greg calls this a "positive development", probably because he isn't trying to sell his house. Although he has an odd definition for "value".

Now that many neighborhoods in Prince William County no longer resemble gang-infested collections of flophouses for illegal aliens, the value of entire neighborhoods has dramatically increased, making them substantially more attractive to potential homebuyers.

Normally, if you really fixed up a neighborhood, prices would go up, and people wouldn't want to sell. In this case, large numbers of people are abandoning their homes, much like what happens when you run a neighborhood into the ground. The "value of entire neighborhoods" is defined by the price people are willing to pay to live there -- and by that measure, our neighborhoods aren't "valuable", but instead "value-priced".

Greg predicts that rapidly dropping prices will lead to rapidly RISING prices:

Not only is the Rule of Law Resolution lowering costs for the county, but it is contributing to what is certain to become rising real estate assessments as actual competition is developing among buyers in the marketplace.

Maybe some time in the future there will be competition again, but the reason our market prices have collapsed is because, unlike Fairfax, there IS nobody "competing" to buy houses here -- at least there wasn't until the prices were reduced to fire sale levels.

It's kind of like a store running a going-out-of-business sale, and bragging about how many customers it is getting.

Greg may be correct that the illegal immigration resolution caused this -- if housing prices dropped more than other jurisdictions because we drove enough people (illegal and legal) away that we have a glut of houses.

Making our county, our state, and our country less friendly to people here illegally is the right thing to do. However, it's hard to be happy that the result is a collapse in our housing prices. While holding a clearance sale certainly brings in the bargain hunters, I'd much rather have REAL competition for our houses, driving up the prices, because PWC is a wonderful place to live.

A rational approach to handling illegal immigrants, one that doesn't make our legal immigrant community feel like second-class citizens, would make our county more desirable, without all the animosity, and without our county turning into an outlet mall for used houses priced to sell.

Have tools existed all along to combat problem of illegals?

In the wake of the supposed Help Save Manassas happiness with PWC reverting illegal immigration enforcement to the pre-resolution rules (for those not arrested for other crimes), one may ask if we really needed to spend so much time and effort, and stir up so much bad blood, to solve this problem.

Now Manassas City provides another example of how existing law, properly followed, seems quite adequate for controlling many of the problems associated with illegal immigrants.

In this case, last year many complaints were raised about the safety of street vendors selling food without appropriate controls in place for public health and safety. It turned out the Manassas City rules prohibited street vendors, but the city was issuing permits anyway. This led to illegal immigrant fighters insisting that Manassas City had to pass a new rule prohibiting illegals from selling things.

Well, now the City has passed a new ordinance allowing street vendors, and it doesn't say one word about illegal immigrants. But once again, HSM members are overjoyed. First, the story about the new city rules:

The city of Manassas adopted an ordinance this week that has painted the peddler picture crystal clear: People who are there illegally can't do it.
After nearly a year of deliberating on a new ordinance, council approved a measure Wednesday that allows peddling on city streets while upgrading the requirements to do so. Peddlers will now have to have photo permits on them at all times and must be properly insured for the use of any vehicle, whether a truck, van or push cart. The city will also perform state and local criminal background checks before issuing a permit.
Originally, the city wanted to adopt provisions in the ordinance that specifically referred to checking the legal status of anyone wanting to peddle goods in the city.

However, after seeking outside legal counsel on the matter, the city decided its current standards of practice and existing provisions in the ordinance more than made up for any new wording that may have been constitutionally problematic.
"The research of federal law indicated that I must deny a commercial license to any one not legally in the United States, so the language removed is not necessary in the ordinance."

Trying to shoehorn the language on illegals into the law was causing some of the same problems in the city that we have experienced in the county with our resolution -- such as the misguided but understandable fear of the hispanic community that they were being unfairly targetted by people who were using the illegal immigration issue as a smokescreen to "take back their neighborhoods" from immigrants.

This is an important law for the city. It allows for street vendors which were welcomed by the communities they served, even if disliked by others in the surrounding county. But it provides reasonable health protections, partly by insuring that those selling food aren't already breaking the law by being here illegally. People who know they can be deported probably aren't worried about getting arrested for health code violations, and if they caused illness they could simply pack up and run off.

Those here legally have something to lose -- their legal status if they are immigrants, or their freedom if they are citizens who have no where to flee to.

Sometimes you need to swing the pendulum too far in the other direction, in order to get to where common-sense provisions can be enacted. Last year we clearly were not doing enough to combat the real problems in the city and county. Now after a bit of overkill, we could well be reaching a rational consensus. I guess it remains to be seen how these new laws will work.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

County posts weakened resolution. Believers still in denial

The County has posted the new resolution. It clearly indicates that where the board used to require police to question anybody detained, now the police are only required to do so if they actually arrest someone.

Police officers are not to be mandated by the Department’s policies to inquire into immigration or citizenship status before a person is arrested for a violation of state law or County ordinance. Reasonable exemptions to require pre-arrest investigation of violations of §19.2-81.6 (previously deported immigrant
suspected of new crime) of the Code of Virginia, and any similar offenses created in future under state law, are permitted.

Now, since the board explicitly says officers are NOT to be mandated, and previously the policy required it:

pursuant to the Board’s policy, police officers were directed to inquire into the citizenship or legal status of individuals who they had detained in the course of their duties...

the Police Chief had to take action to rescind his previous MANDATE that was put in place because of the board's previous resolution.

But some bloggers are actually attacking Chief Deane for following the law. Specifically, Riley over at VirginiaVirtucon, and Greg L at BVBL.

Apparently, these two would have rather Deane keep mandating his officers question illegals, even when the law passed by the board specifically said officers were NOT to be mandated to question people anymore.

Here is the article about Deane's implementation of the board's new resolution:

Police Chief Charlie Deane on Wednesday revoked portions of Prince William County’s policy that directed officers to check the legal status of all suspected illegal immigrants stopped for minor crimes or traffic violations before an arrest.

The chief’s move followed a unanimous board vote late Tuesday night to direct officers to initiate immigration status checks only after arrests to eliminate the need for in-car police cameras to save money and guard against lawsuits.

So let's recap. The board has a policy mandating the police implement a policy to question people who are detained. The police implement the mandate. The board then passes a resolution explicitly requiring the department to rescind the mandate. The Police Chief responds by revoking the mandate as required by the new law.

And Greg and Riley want him fired for following the law. Isn't following the law what the "rule of law" is all about?

Why is it so hard for the supporters of the resolution to admit that the board rescinded a part of the resolution? They strengthened another part -- and thereby focused it on those illegals who have committed arrestable crimes.

But since the resolution supporters have touted the importance of incarcerating illegals on traffic stops, noting crimes committed by illegals who previously had NOT been detained at traffic stops, it is hard for them to now be supportive of a change which removes that part of the resolution.

So instead they pretend that "discretion" is better than a mandate, even though police always had discretion, and the mandate was what they pushed for because discretion wasn't getting the job done.

Riley reports that Greg L. is now going to turn his considerable "talents" to the task of "taking down" Chief Deane:

UPDATE: I’ve received word that Greg L. from BVBL is gathering info on Chief Deane that will “blow his doors off” within the next few weeks at most. Should be interesting!

Maybe BVBL see the writing on the wall. First, HSM members are shut out in the Manassas City Council race. Then Corey distances himself from BVBL, and gives a video interview explaining how he wants to greatly expand legal immigration, something that NumbersUSA (a supporter of HSM) is opposed to.

Illegal immigration is a real problem. Many who are fighting the resolution do so on the mistaken notion that illegal immigration is good, not bad, for our country. It's not, but frankly that's not the point -- the rule of law is important, and ignoring the law for gain will weaken, not strengthen us.

But overreaching by illegal immigration opponents risks a backlash that will damage the consensus we have for sound, rational policies against those who violate the rules and put themsevles ahead of others who want to work here, but legally, not by breaking and entering.

WJLA joins Post, WRC, MJM in saying board weakened resolution.

They could all be wrong, but at the moment, my opinion is they are not. Of course, the 11pm WJLA news report on this subject only quoted Supervisor Principi, so it's hard to say they are an unbiased source. They could have at least allowed Corey to claim he made things stronger.

WJLA report, Prince William County scales back illegal immigration countdown:

Prince William County (webnews) supervisors have made a key change to the county's illegal immigration policy, considered one of the most aggressive in the nation. The board decided late Tuesday to direct police officers to question criminal suspects about their immigration status only after they have been arrested.

Note the use of the term "directed". When the first resolution passed, it was the act of "directing" police to question people that was the subject of complaint, and supposedly what made the resolution effective. Before the resolution, police had the right to question people at their discretion. We didn't need a resolution to allow questioning -- we needed it to FORCE the police to question.

Of course, as some have noted, you can't really FORCE police to do things, although formal direction to do so did mean the department had to generate operating procedures doing so, and tell their officers to question illegals. If they hadn't, the police Chief would certainly have been fired for insubordination.

As WJLA's report says:

In October, the board directed police to check the residency status of anyone who is detained, no matter how minor the offense, if they believe the person might in the United States illegally.

See, currently the police are directed to question everybody who is "detained", but now they will only be directed to question those who are ARRESTED.

Republican Supervisor Martin Nohe said Tuesday that the change in the illegal-immigration policy will limit the county's risk of a lawsuit.

This is certainly true, but does it make sense that we could relax the controls over the discretion to question people, and be LESS at risk?

The reason the change in policy for ARRESTED people is less risky is because it implements an ironclad policy of questioning ALL arrested people -- so there's no way to question whether a police officer used his discretion in a way that violates someone's rights.

Of course, Principi didn't win everything he wanted:

Tuesday, [Principi] proposed a change that would have directed police to question a person's immigration status only after they have been arrested and taken to jail. He was the only supervisor to support it.

Instead, the policy directs police to question everybody who is arrested, whether they go to jail or not.