Do As I Say, Not As "I Do"
I think that Romney and McCain and Huckabee have all of the ammunition that they need to sink the Battleship Giuliani.
As New York mayor, Rudy Giuliani billed obscure city agencies for tens of thousands of dollars in security expenses amassed during the time when he was beginning an extramarital relationship with future wife Judith Nathan in the Hamptons, according to previously undisclosed government records.
The documents, obtained by Politico under New York's Freedom of Information Law, show that the mayoral costs had nothing to do with the functions of the little-known city offices that defrayed his tabs, including agencies responsible for regulating loft apartments, aiding the disabled and providing lawyers for indigent defendants.
At the time, the mayor’s office refused to explain the accounting to city auditors, citing "security."
Hoe is a leader supposed to act? Let us take a look at the Giuliani Partners web site.
Giuliani Partners' professional guidance to leaders is based on six fundamental principles:
I think that we have to give Giuliani credit for Preparedness and Optimism, but no marks for Integrity, Communication, Courage, or Accountability.
Labels: Rudy Giuliani, Stupid Republican tricks
Rudy The Day
Why Rudy Giuliani thought that Bernie Kerik's various shenanigans would not somehow hurt his presidential chances is a matter for the pop psychologists out there. All I can fathom is that he simply thought that Americans would forget that Giuliani Security and Safety was originally Giuliani-Kerik LLC.
[Kerik's resignation] severs a lucrative professional relationship with his mentor, Mr. Giuliani, who made him first correction commissioner and then police commissioner and who helped make Mr. Kerik a wealthy man in the law enforcement consulting field. Mr. Kerik became a national figure after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, writing a best-selling book and earning the admiration of President Bush, who sent him to Iraq in 2003 as interim minister of the interior to rebuild that nation's police force....
Mr. Kerik, who served as police commissioner from Aug. 19, 2000, until Dec. 31, 2002, said he had decided to resign immediately from his positions as senior vice president of Giuliani Partners L.L.C. and chief executive of Giuliani-Kerik L.L.C., an affiliate. He said the furor that followed the Dec. 10 withdrawal of his nomination - when he said he discovered he had not paid taxes for a nanny and did not know her immigration status - was beginning to affect the firm.
That Bernie Kerik was involved in the "rebuilding" of the Iraqi police force, a force so robust and powerful that tens of thousands of American troops are somehow still needed to keep the peace, should not surprise anyone.
Labels: Bernie Kerik, blast from the past, Iraqi "government", Rudy Giuliani
Around here, the end of the month brings with it the latest monthly news about the slumping housing market. The best data comes from The Warren Group, which uses data from registries of deeds. The local realtors report on the housing market each month, as well, but prefer not to include foreclosure data, perhaps because that data is so depressing.
More importantly, the local realtors are always putting a positive spin on the market, for it is always a good time to buy.
"While sales were down last month, it is important to note that year-to-date residential sales activity is off only 2 percent from this time last year," Doug Azarian, president of the Massachusetts Association of Realtors, said in a statement. "In addition, residential inventory continues to decline from a year ago, and mortgage rates have come down in recent months. For qualified buyers, this remains a good time to buy."
Last month was also a good time to buy.
Doug Azarian, president of the Massachusetts Association of Realtors, said a pickup in sales of higher-priced homes this year is also shoring up median prices across the state. "It'll be interesting to see what October brings" after the steep decline in September sales, he said.
Despite September's decline, Azarian noted that overall sales in the third quarter were still the fourth highest in 27 years.
And another good time to buy was September.
Doug Azarian, president of the Massachusetts Association of Realtors, also issued a statement.
"It is definitely a positive sign to see two consecutive months of year-over-year sales gains to end the summer," Azarian said. "Combined with the recent interest rate drop by the Fed and continued legislative action on Capitol Hill, the potential for continued sales growth through the fall is good."
In August, Azarian was not quoted, but the local broadsheet found another realtor to exude optimism; we are told that "[t]he savvy buyers are out there picking up all kinds of wonderful deals."
In June, the real estate market was poised for recovery.
Doug Azarian, president of the Massachusetts Association of Realtors, said the spring market has been disappointing, but contended that there are signs it is moving closer to a turnaround. In addition to the stabilizing or slightly higher prices that his organization reported, inventories are shrinking....
"I'm optimistic that inventories are coming down," Azarian said. "The spring market was not as strong as we had hoped, but we are making progress in bringing supply and demand into balance."
In April, the market was supposed to be a stable one.
"They're hovering where they were a year ago, which shows the market has stabilized," said Doug Azarian, president of the Massachusetts Association of Realtors.
Realtors generally represent sellers, not buyers, but that they also make money only when sales happen. They have economic incentives to spin every morsel of housing data in a way that encourages buying, especially buying right now. Anyone expecting them to report on the housing market in an objective, historically informed manner might as well expect to get a real pony for Christmas.
Labels: real estate, realtors, Stupid reporting tricks
Foundation for a Campaign
now the Boston Globe has discovered—and seems to be a bit shocked—that Mitt Romney's charitable foundation has been used recently as tool of his campaign. (Although, it mist be noted that a modicum of actual charity is going on).
Mitt Romney's charitable foundation gave $253,833 to groups helping the needy and to organizations influential in Republican circles last year, while he was laying the groundwork for a presidential campaign, according to tax records.
In several cases, the groups or figures close to them have now given their support to Romney in his run for the Republican nomination.The Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington think thank, received $10,000, according to a report filed with the Internal Revenue Service. Its founder, Paul M. Weyrich, recently gave a key endorsement to Romney.
The Massachusetts Family Institute, which has led the fight against same-sex marriage in the state, received $10,000. Its president, Kris Mineau, now appears in a video on Romney's campaign website, praising Romney as a "man of faith and principle" who "has certainly left a mark" in the fight against gay marriage.
The Massachusetts Citizens for Life received $15,000. In March, the antiabortion group gave Romney, a relatively recent convert to the cause, its "2007 Mullins Award for Outstanding Political Leadership."
Donald C. Alexander, who was commissioner of the IRS from 1973 to 1977, said yesterday that Romney's giving "looks borderline to me," because federal law prohibits disbursements by a charity if they benefit its founders or principal donors.
"I can't say the rule was broken," Alexander said. "I can say this is risky and subject to serious consideration."
Alas, I can say that a rule was broken. Regardless of whether Mitt Romney is using the Tyler Charitable Foundation in a pay-to-play manner, what the Foundation is not allowed to do is to make grants to organizations that are not 501(c)(3) organizations without meeting very specific rules. The two most germane rules dictate that the donor ensure that the grant be used for charitable purposes and that the recipient keep the fund in a separate account dedicated to charitable purposes.
The problem is that Massachusetts Citizens for Life is a 501(c)(4) organization—that class of organization does not qualify for charitable contributions from individuals and organizations because 501(c)(4) organizations are allowed a fairly wide range of political activity. The rules I cited are designed to prevent private foundations from laundering charitable money for political purposes.
When I first wrote about this in May 2007, I also noted that The Tyler Charitable Foundation had donated to Citizens for Limited Taxation and Government, which is not even a federal non-profit corporation at all. Strangely enough, the Globe article does not even mention that donation at all.
Labels: Romney the Fraud, Tyler Foundation, Willard Mitt
Lending a Hand
Do take a few minutes to look at this most excellent site that satirizes the rhetoric and rationale for the payday loan industry. (The actual industry site is much less fun. No "Predatory Lending Tools"; no discussion forums; no barbed "testimonials" from victims.)
If the payday loan industry were merely a shady backwater of the financial services industry, then the Predatory Lending Association "website" would still be worthy and notable. But, increasingly, these firms are publicly traded companies, or, worse yet, divisions of banks like Wells Fargo and US Bancorp. What a country.
Labels: satire, stupid corporate tricks
The Spread of Democracy
As if we could not see this coming. Pakistan's President-for-20-to-Life, Pervez Musharraf, decrees a state of emergency so he can round up his opponents, emasculate the Supreme Court, and generally make a mockery of being a friend of democracy and open government.
So, what do the friends of democracy at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue do? That's right, nothing much.
In carefully calibrated public statements and blunter private acknowledgments about the limits of American leverage over General Musharraf, the man President Bush has called one of his most critical allies, the officials argued that it would be counterproductive to let Pakistan's political turmoil interfere with their best hope of ousting Al Qaeda's central leadership and the Taliban from the country's mountainous tribal areas.
Labels: Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, stupid foreign policy tricks