A nice way to stay in touch with loved ones, and a convenient way to share my opinions without having everyone just walk away...wait a minute, where are you going? I wasn't finished..

Monday, December 31, 2007

New Years Resolution

Always remember Southern Cal is a rival. Michigan is an enemy. This history is reposted at Rock's House from time to time.

Notre Dame and Michigan - A History

It is well this week to reflect on relations between Notre Dame and Michigan: how they began, how they developed, why they are the way they are and what forces impel Michigan to be the way it is. Let us review and remember all that Michigan really stands for.

Chapter One - Seeds of Smallness - The Yost Legacy

Fielding Yost is by far the most influential person in the history of Michigan athletics. A review of his tenure vis-a-vis Notre Dame is instructive of how and why Notre Dame and Michigan view each other the way they do.

"The two most powerful conference members athletically and politically were Chicago and Michigan. Both would become the staunchest athletic foes of Notre Dame. In 1898 Michigan voted to deny Notre Dame membership in the (then) Western Conference."

"In June 1901 Michigan and Chicago orchestrated the conference's banning of Notre Dame from the initial I.C.A.A. track meet"

1909 - Notre Dame defeats Michigan for the first time. After the game Notre Dame player Red Miller goes to shake Fielding Yost's hand. "When Shorty Longman introduced me to Mr. Yost, who had been my idol for years, I was thrilled beyond measure. . . To my utter amazement, he greeted me by saying 'Miller you were guilty of the most unsportsmanlike conduct that I've ever seen in all my days.'" Yost was angry because Miller had waited several times until the last minute to signal fair catches on punts and Michigan had been flagged twice for interference. "The fair catches were perfectly legal" as officals later confirmed.

Later that year despite, having a worse record and losing to ND, Michigan was voted "Champions of the West" by some Western Conference sportswriters and Yost claimed the split championship was just. "Of course we are champions. They have a good team down there, but you must recognize the fact that we went into that game caring little whether we won or lost. Practice was what we wanted."

1910 - 24 hours before Notre Dame and Michigan are to play, Yost cancels the game. The two teams do not play again for thirty-two years.

1911 - A general policy of blackballing of Notre Dame by Michigan and Western Conference schools begins. Jesse Harper writes to ask Michgan to schedule a game: "I am very sorry you could not think it best to schedule a game for next fall. If at any time you should find that your schedule is not working out to suit you and that you would like to play Notre Dame, I would be very glad to hear from you."

1913 - ND begins playing schools outside the midwest as a result of the boycott. Army, Texas, Penn State and Syracuse are added to the schedule. The 1913 Army game -- only scheduled due to the Michigan boycott -- becomes one of the most famous in ND history as Gus Dorais and Knute Rockne use the forward pass to upset the top team in the then-dominant East.

1914 - Yost to his AD "Do not favor Notre Dame game. It would be a hard game. Not much money or prestige if we won."

One senior football player of the class of '14 bears particular ill will towards Yost and Michigan for blackballing Notre Dame. Also, despite his pass-catching ability as displayed in the game against Army, Yost works to keep this player off of All American teams. The young player swears to friends that he will ensure that Notre Dame not only never needs the Western Conference, Yost or Michigan again, but that she will eclipse them across the nation.

Rockne viewed Yost as "a hillbilly who was forever grinding a religious ax against Notre Dame, who was crooked as a dog's hind leg, who was selfish and vain beyond comprehension, who was blindly jealous of Rockne's own success and ascension to national stardom and who coached boring, neanderthal football."

1923 Big Ten track and field meet to which ND is invited. At a meeting of athletic directors Yost makes a comment in front of all listeners that Rockne is a "Protestant holdout at a Catholic school" and urges Big Ten schools to boycott Notre Dame in all sports. During the meet one of Michigan's hurdlers stumbled and lost. Yost inisted the hurdles had been placed wrong and demanded the race be re-run. Illinois, Wisconsin and other schools withdrew and Notre Dame joined in support of their protest. Yost then approached Notre Dame's captain and told him to tell Rockne that he was a quitter and that he and his "dirty Irish" would never play on Ferry Field again.

Rockne wrote Yost "The Western Conference could put in a regulation that all coaches had to join the Ku-Klux-Klan but that certainly does not apply to us any more than some of the other freak regulations they may have. Now if you personally don't want to meet Notre Dame, that is your business, no holler from this end. . . But I dont think it is fair for you to carry out a campaign against us. I have always been a loyal booster and admirer of yours and I always hope to be. However, I am no quitter. I will not sit by quietly and have my school knocked even though I am not of its faith [this was before Rockne converted]"

1926 - In a note to the Big Ten Commissioner, noting that Notre Dame had won its last twelve games against Big Ten teams Yost urges all to join Michigan's renewed boycott, "one can readily see how the Conference is helping Notre Dame."

1929 - After years of false assertions by Yost against Notre Dame, Michigan's longstanding unethical tactics are exposed in a study by the Carnegie Report on college athletics. The report cited Michigan as "among the least fortunate" of 100 schools investigated in the manner in which both the University and its alumni clubs provided loans, jobs and other forms of aid to athletes. That same year, the Big Ten Commissioner denounced the report and called Michigan "an ideal" for other college athletic programs regarding ethics.

Rockne's system, involving the famed Notre Dame Shift caught other teams off balance and was the rage in football. Yost begins a national campaign to get the shift banned and resort to old-style less fluid football not involving shifting or as much passing - in other words, a return to the rugby-style that earlier had led to many deaths and led to President Theodore Roosevelt calling for reforms in the game. Eventually, the rule was modified to require a "complete stop" - Rockne coached his players to do so - briefly - and still used his motion offense to win a national championship in 1924. Yost was outraged. Next, Big Ten officials began flagging Notre Dame on a consistent basis for its "slick" plays and quick shifts and reverses. In a game at Northwestern, Michigan alum and Big Ten official Meyer Morton penalized Notre Dame 95 yards, NW zero, leading to the famous Rockne quote to the official "Looks like a Big Ten suckhole out there to me." Rockne was also outraged that Yost had a say on which Big Ten officials called ND games against Big Ten teams, even though Michigan was not playing Notre Dame. Even with the new rules designed by Yost and his allies to impede Rockne, Notre Dame went undefeated in 1929 and 1930 and won two more national championships.

At the end of the day Rockne has become the prototype of coaches and an American cultural icon, the winningest coach in the history of football with towns, buildings, stamps and famous movies named after him and the most legendary of all team exhortations to his credit. Yost's name is generally known only to Michigan fans.

Chapter Two - The Crisler Legacy - "They Say Hail Mary's"

Finally, in 1942, after thirty-two years, a game was played between Notre Dame and Michigan. Michigan won 32-20. The next year, the game was played in Ann Arbor. The teams were ranked 1 and 2 in the polls and it was a huge game. Notre Dame won 35-12 on the way to the national championship. The star of the game was Creighton Miller, son of Red Miller who Yost had attacked in 1909. As after Notre Dame's first win over Michigan, Notre Dame's second win provoked a cessation of relations for another thirty years.

In a gesture of goodwill in order to strengthen relations between the schools, Coach Fritz Crisler was extended an invitation to the Notre Dame football banquet in 1943. He told a friend to graciously say he was deeply disappointed he could not attend and that "No one but you need know that I have my tongue in cheek when I say that."

A Michigan official told Crisler that if asked about the Notre Dame series he would say its a great series, we are looking forward to more of the same. Crisler told him "I would back you in public for any quotes and then chew you out in private for going beyond your authority." Crisler thereafter politely put off all requests for a game in 1944, 1945 or 1946. In 1946 he instituted a policy requiring that aside from conference games, Michigan only play three other games of which one must be Michigan State, one must be an eastern team and one must be a western team, effectively elimintating any chance of playing Notre Dame without having to admit that was what was being done. Frank Leahy won five national championships at Notre Dame and constantly wrote letters to Crisler begging for him to play a game. Crisler never responded to those requests, but did work behind the scenes in an attempt to have Leahy censured by the coaches association for "faking injuries".

Crisler remained AD until 1968 and never scheduled Notre Dame for a football game. Moose Krause, ND AD during the period, would call Crisler every year to seek a game and was declined for twenty straight years. Said Krause, "I think he didnt want to play us because we were the power in his own backyard. If Michigan lost to Army, well, they were back East. We were too close."

Crisler often said he just did not want to distract from the Big Ten focus of the program. Others thought Crisler harbored anti-Catholic sentiment and feared that Catholics in Michigan might root for Notre Dame. A Detroit News writer, Pete Waldmeir, who covered Michigan for decades says the excuse of not wanting to jeopardize the importance of the conference was a smokescreen. He opined "That's the party-line bullshit. It wasnt that at all. Fritz didnt give a damn about the Big Ten. And you can quote me on that. He told them what to do in football. He had his people placed all around the Big Ten." In 1956 Crisler told Waldmeir, "You know, its tough. Every Saturday morning from every pulpit in town, they're praying for Notre Dame in Ann Arbor." Even Michigan's later athletic director Don Canham all but admits his predecessor's anti-Catholic bigotry: "Fritz didnt have a deep-seated hate of Catholics or anything like that. But, you know, in those days they figured if a Catholic ran for President he couldnt win. . . . I mean it was a different world. And thats what you have to realize when you look at it with today's perspective."

Bump Elliott, Michigan's coach from 1959-1968 also endorsed the "religious threat" reasoning for not scheduling Notre Dame, noting that when he was an assistant at Iowa, some of their Catholic alumni rooted against the Hawkeyes and for Notre Dame. Father Edmund Joyce, Vice President of Notre Dame, said that the only two schools that ever used Notre Dame's Catholic affiliation as an excuse for not scheduling Notre Dame in football were Ohio State and Michigan. Said Joyce, "I always thought the two of them were together on this. I never believed it." Continued Joyce, in the neatest summary of what the Big Two are all about: "Ultimately, Woody Hayes was a little more honest about it. He said he didnt want to play Notre Dame because the Michigan game was the only big game on their schedule, whereas if they played Notre Dame it would detract from the Michigan game. In other words what he was saying was they dont like to lose. Those guys all had great egos and they didnt want to lose." Said Elliott, "I think Crisler felt our schedule was tough enough without playing Notre Dame."

Indeed, Crisler loaded up Michigan with home games, as many as seven in a nine game season and even today, Michigan's historical record is incredibly slanted with a large majority of games having been played at home. From 1943 to 1958 Michigan played Indiana fifteen times, all in Ann Arbor. They played MSU eleven of thirteen games in Ann Arbor from 1945 to 1957. Despite such favorable scheduling and a boycott of Notre Dame, Michigan did not win any national championships from 1948 through the resumption of the series with Notre Dame, while ND was winning championships in 1949, 1953, 1966, 1973 and 1977. And Michigan's light schedule may have had much to do with its lack of success against good teams for decades. In the 1970's, while Notre Dame was winning three Cotton Bowls, a Sugar Bowl, an Orange Bowl and a Gator Bowl, defeating undefeated Texas twice, undefeated Alabama twice, as well as Houston and Penn State, Michigan was 0-6 in bowl games.

One time, Crisler was assured by an alumnus that he could always count on support from Michgian alumni in his efforts to avoid scheduling Notre Dame and preventing other Big Ten schools from scheduling them, telling Crisler he could depend on "a public opinion sufficiently non-Democratic and non-Catholic." Perhaps the mentality and admirability of the second-most signifcant figure in the history of Michigan sports can be summed up in this quote from him about Notre Dame "You know, before the game they march them all off to church and they say their Hail Mary's,"

Chapter Three - The Canham Years - Michigan and The Big Ten Want ND's Money.

While figures such as Yost and Crisler didnt like Catholics or Irish, their successors did like green, the color of money. And money was precisely what led to Michigan realizing the greater spirit and glory of sport that a resumption of games with Notre Dame would serve. Businessman extraordinaire Don Canham became athletic director in 1969 and quickly looked for avenues to increase revenue. Notre Dame was one.

Canham quickly got the deal done and Notre Dame always had the utmost respect for him as he did for Notre Dame. Said Canham. "You have to give Notre Dame credit. Any sport you name Notre Dame goes after the best competition. Thats why they're Notre Dame." The class and largeness of spirit exhibited by Canham was a break with Michigan's heritage and one not to be followed by those around him.

Canham was ahead of the game for the Big Ten in reaching out to Notre Dame. In the late nineties, Big Ten officials hotly courted Notre Dame to join the conference -- for money not love. Notre Dame wisely demured. In an ironic twist of history largely and predictably ignored by the media, Notre Dame was being asked to join the regional institution whose many earlier rejections of Notre Dame had forced it to seek a national schedule and thus become the national athletic institution it was. Moreover, the institution that had done the most to attempt to destroy, undermine and thwart Notre Dame athletics was aghast and insulted at its rejection when it came begging for Notre Dame join it so that it could monetarily profit from the name and brand ND had built up over the years.

Chapter Four - Bo and Lloyd - Pettiness Personified

Sound familiar? "I dont know whether [playng Notre Dame] is in the best interests of Michigan because Michigan should be pointing to Iowa or Michigan State or Ohio State. It had just got to the point where if I had remained there as athletic director and Notre Dame continued to manipulate the position of the game and to do some of the things they were doing, I'd have dropped Notre Dame." Yes, it is Bo. He also resented that his players didnt agree with him. "When you're setting your goals in your first meeting, Notre Dame always pops into the picture. And you say 'Okay men, we're going to shoot for Notre Dame, but I'm going to tell you something, Notre Dame is a non-conference game, and we'll always play it as that. There are only so many games you can really get your team up to a fever pitch." Bo was 4-6 against Notre Dame.

Bo's frustration undoubtedly stems in part from the fact that during his tenure at Michigan, three different Notre Dame coaches won national championships while Bo never got close. And throughout Lou Holtz's tenure, Notre Dame won five major bowls and played in four others while Michigan was going 2-3 in the Rose Bowl and not making any other major bowl games. Bo, who had the worst record against top-ten teams of any coach who ever won over a hundred games, had some of his most galling and embarrasing defeats at the hands of the Irish, including three straight losses to Holtz to close his career, Harry Oliver's 51-yard boot, Bob Crable's blocked field goal, Ricky Watter's punt return helping catapult Notre Dame to a national championship in 1988 and Rocket's two kick returns in 1989. So Bo's desire to avoid Notre Dame is understandable. His class and Michigan manner were recently displayed yet again when in true statesman of the game style he proclaimed "To hell with Notre Dame."

Lloyd Carr has picked up many of the same tendencies as his predecessors. He frequently talks about how it might be a good idea to end the Notre Dame series. Also, he went ballistic over a perceived "injustice" when Notre Dame played Kansas before playing Michigan in 1999. He claimed there was a gentlemans agreement that neither school would play a game before this one. Krause was conveniently dead. Unfortunately, the then-alive Canham opted to tell the truth and denied any such agreement. Carr's dissembling was further undermined by the fact that Michigan played games before playing Notre Dame in 1978-82, 1991, 1993 and 1994. As former Michigan athletic director Jack Weidenbach points out, "We can move our games around too" and had done so to get a game before Notre Dame for years before Carr's Yostian tirade.

Carr's hostility to truth is also displayed in his recruiting efforts to play the race card. Carr frequently uses Notre Dame's Catholic affiliation [sound familiar] and location away from a large city to attempt to convince African-American players not to attend Notre Dame. Carr's tactics are especially unworthy considering that African-American athletes going to Notre Dame almost uniformly earn degrees while an African-American football player at Michigan for most of the last two decades is most likely to serve his time in the fields at Michigan Stadium and around the Big Ten and then leave school with no degree. Carr's average of three-losses a season with what is generally considered unlimited recruiting resources and limited academic demands on his players has placed him squarely in the Michigan mold. Consistent winning with few outstanding seasons.

In the end, much of the Michigan-Notre Dame relationship comes down to smallness and jealousy. Notre Dame has won far more national championships, more Heisman Trophies, has more All Americans. Its games are more highly-rated, its team more closely followed nationally than Michigan. It has its own network contract and every year that polling is conducted Notre Dame is chosen as America's most popular college football team. While Notre Dame has been consensus national champion nine times since the polls came into effect in 1936 and number two four times, Michigan has won a championship in 1948 and a half of one in 1997, and has finished second twice. Never has Michigan defeated an undefeated or number one or two ranked team in a bowl game to win a national championship as Notre Dame has done repeatedly. While Notre Dame has won bowl games against undefeated opponents seven times, Michigan has never won a bowl game against an undefeated opponent. And Notre Dame is the only school to have a winning record against Michigan over the last fifty years. Indeed, even failures such as Bob Davie and Ty WIllingham have a combined .500 record against Michigan, with Ty having a winning record against Carr! Adding fuel to the fire is the fact that the average Notre Dame undergrad far outshines the resume of his Michigan counterpart, having finished in the top ten percent of his high school class and scoring much higher on standardized tests. Even by the ludicrous standards of the U.S News and World Report survey by which large universities such as Michigan live, Notre Dame outranks them. All of this is galling to Michigan, whose worldview is one conditioned on absolute superiority to the Big Ten schools it regularly dictates to politically, defeats on the field and over whom it presumes intellectual superiority.

Nowhere is Michigan's "Notre Dame complex" more apparent than in the hostile, ugly treatment of Notre Dame fans at Michigan Stadium. Michigan and other fans routinely comment on how friendly and refreshing a trip to Notre Dame is for a game - a trip back to days of real college football sportsmanship. Michigan, on the other hand, while constantly publicizing its committment ot sportsmanship and the values of intercollegiate competition embarrassingly was forced to send an official apology to Notre Dame for the vulgar and violent treatment of Notre Dame's students and fans at Michigan Stadium in 2003. Unable to have a constructive, mature relationship with a school that sees itself as more than its equal, Michigan's relationship with Notre Dame has always been one of animus and pettiness, fueled at various points by historical prejudice against Catholics and envy of Notre Dame's unique place in the history of American sport and its success against the odds, all achieved outside the narrow confines of the conference walls Michigan so obsessively built and maintains.

* Sources: Kryk, "Natural Enemies: The Notre Dame- Michigan Football Feud", Sperber, "Shake Down the Thunder" and "Onward to Victory"; Notre Dame and Michigan Media Guides.

Sunday, December 30, 2007


It's looking good for Edwards.

When he planned his 2008 campaign he figured half the folks wouldn't vote for Hillary, but he didn't figure on Obama. So it's been a struggle. I continue to think that he's on the right track; anti-corporate and anti-war, and his policy papers have been the best on health care and trade policies.

His political strategy has been sound, too; paying a lot of attention to the less populous districts in the western part of the state. From a recent Newsweek article.

"For months, Edwards has been rounding up support in the state’s rural precincts where the front runners have paid less attention. While Obama and Clinton have drawn crowds in the thousands in places like Des Moines and Ames, Edwards has been winning over people in tiny towns like Sac City (population: 2,189). That’s important, the strategists say, because under Iowa’s arcane caucus rules, a precinct where 25 people show up to vote gets the same number of delegates as a place that packs in 2,500. In other words, even if he loses to Obama and Clinton in the state’s bigger cities, he can still win by wrapping up smaller, far-flung precincts that other candidates have ignored. “The bulk of our support is in small and medium counties,” says Jennifer O’Malley, Edwards’s Iowa state director. O’Malley says Edwards has visited all 99 counties in the state; the campaign has so far trained captains covering 90 percent of all 1,781 precincts. Rural voters are sometimes reluctant to caucus, so the campaign has been enlisting respected community leaders to encourage first-timers to get past their apathy or fear."

Another part of his strategy is to be everybody's second choice. If you're an Iowa caucus goer, and your candidate doesn't have the support of 15% of the people who show up, you can switch to another candidate or go home. If Edwards gets 65% of the 15% who support second tier candidates (can't get over the 15% threshhold) those additions would add up to 10% of caucusers to his column. Nice guys don't always finish last.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Monday, December 24, 2007

Populist Party

Too bad we don't have one. If we did we'd be choosing between Kucinich, the radical populist; Paul, the laissez faire populist; Huckabee, the fundamentalist populist; Edwards, the establishment populist; Obama, the new populist; and Clinton, the make believe populist. That would leave Giulliani, Romney, and McCain vying for the republican nomination - not a bad cross section. And Joe Biden, Dodd, and Richardson would be the Democratic contenders, all good folks. Of course Hillary would admit she doesn't really even know what a populist is, and slip back into the democratic fold - where her chances improve. The problem, of course is that there is such disparity among the populists. Could a Kucinich populist be persuaded to support a Paul candidacy? That's where party discipline comes in - and without a party we'll never know. The other part of the answer is that the republicans and democrats should merge into the corporate party. That would make the populist identity more binding, in spite of diversity of orientations. I'm less than half serious. But apres l'deluge, there will be redefinition and realignment

Janetts telling me we have to go get Mally. See Ya.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

In case you thought I was making it up...

about the banks bundling up credit card debt and selling it to insurance companies and pensions. Oh and I read a (sort of) funny blog this week about "jingle mail",
people just putting their keys in an envelope and mailing them to their mortgage company. Mommy said she saw an article advising people facing foreclosure to stop paying their mortgages. It'll take six months for them to get you out of the house and in the meantime you can save up enough to cover a big deposit on a rental.

Unpaid credit cards bedevil Americans By RACHEL KONRAD and BOB PORTERFIELD, Associated Press Writers
Sun Dec 23, 2:33 PM ET

SAN FRANCISCO - Americans are falling behind on their credit card payments at an alarming rate, sending delinquencies and defaults surging by double-digit percentages in the last year and prompting warnings of worse to come.


An Associated Press analysis of financial data from the country's largest card issuers also found that the greatest rise was among accounts more than 90 days in arrears.

Experts say these signs of the deterioration of finances of many households are partly a byproduct of the subprime mortgage crisis and could spell more trouble ahead for an already sputtering economy.

"Debt eventually leaks into other areas, whether it starts with the mortgage and goes to the credit card or vice versa," said Cliff Tan, a visiting scholar at Stanford University and an expert on credit risk. "We're starting to see leaks now."

The value of credit card accounts at least 30 days late jumped 26 percent to $17.3 billion in October from a year earlier at 17 large credit card trusts examined by the AP. That represented more than 4 percent of the total outstanding principal balances owed to the trusts on credit cards that were issued by banks such as Bank of America and Capital One and for retailers like Home Depot and Wal-Mart.

At the same time, defaults — when lenders essentially give up hope of ever being repaid and write off the debt — rose 18 percent to almost $961 million in October, according to filings made by the trusts with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Serious delinquencies also are up sharply: Some of the nation's biggest lenders — including Advanta, GE Money Bank and HSBC — reported increases of 50 percent or more in the value of accounts that were at least 90 days delinquent when compared with the same period a year ago.

The AP analyzed data representing about 325 million individual accounts held in trusts that were created by credit card issuers in order to sell the debt to investors — similar to how many banks packaged and sold subprime mortgage loans. Together, they represent about 45 percent of the $920 billion the Federal Reserve counts as credit card debt owed by Americans.

Until recently, credit card default rates had been running close to record lows, providing one of the few profit growth areas for the nation's banks, which continue to flood Americans' mailboxes with billions of letters monthly offering easy sign-ups for new plastic.

Even after the recent spike in bad loans, the credit card business is still quite lucrative, thanks to interest rates that can run as high as 36 percent, plus late fees and other penalties.
But what is coming into sharper focus from the detailed monthly SEC filings from the trusts is a snapshot of the worrisome state of Americans' ability to juggle growing and expensive credit card debt.

The trend carried into November. As of Friday, all of the trusts that filed reports for the month show increases in both delinquencies and defaults over November 2006, and many show sequential increases from October.

Discover accounts 30 days or more delinquent jumped 25,716 from November 2006 and had increased 6,000 between October and November this year.

Many economists expect delinquencies and defaults to rise further after the holiday shopping season.

Mark Zandi, chief economist and co-founder of Moody's Economy.com Inc., cited mounting mortgage problems that began after this summer's subprime financial shock as one of the culprits, as well as a weakening job market in the Midwest, South and parts of the West, where real-estate markets have been particularly hard hit.

"Credit card quality will continue to erode throughout next year," Zandi said.

Economists also cite America's long-standing attitude that debt — even high-interest credit card debt — is not a big deal.

"The desires of consumers to want, want, want, spend, spend, spend — it's the fabric of our nation," said Howard Dvorkin, founder of Consolidated Credit Counseling Services in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., which has advised more than 5 million people in debt. "But you always have to pay the piper, and that can be a very painful process."

Filing for bankruptcy is no longer a solution for many Americans because of a 2005 change to federal law that made it harder to walk away from debt. Those with above-average incomes are barred from declaring Chapter 7 — where debts can be wiped out entirely — except under special circumstances and must instead file a repayment plan under the more restrictive Chapter 13.

Personal finance coaches say the problem is most grave for individuals who are months delinquent or already in default — like Kenneth McGuinness, a postal clerk from Flushing, N.Y.

His credit card struggles began nine years ago, when he charged his son's college tuition and books. He thought he was being clever: His credit card's 6 percent "teaser" interest rate was lower than the 8.6 percent interest on a college loan.

McGuinness, 61, soon began using Citibank and Chase cards for food, dental work and copays on doctor visits and minor surgeries. Interest rates surged to 30 percent. Now he's $37,000 in debt and plans to file for bankruptcy in February.

"I tried to pay what I could and go after the high-interest accounts first," McGuinness said. "But it just kept getting higher and higher, and with late charges and surcharges I was going backward."

In the wake of the jump in defaults on subprime mortgage loans made to borrowers with poor credit histories, banks have been less willing to allow consumers to consolidate credit card debt into home equity loans or refinanced mortgages. That is leaving some with no option but to miss payments, economists said.

Investors also are backing away from buying securitized credit-card debt, said Moshe Orenbuch, managing director at Credit Suisse. But that probably has more to do with concerns about the overall health of the U.S. economy, he said.

"It's been getting tougher to finance any kind of structured finance — mortgages, automobile loans, credit cards, student loans," said Orenbuch, who specializes in the credit industry.

Capital One Financial Corp. reported that delinquencies and defaults are highest in regions where troubled mortgages are concentrated, including California and Florida.

Among the trusts examined, Bank of America Corp. had the highest delinquency volume, with overdue accounts valued at $5 billion. Bank of America defaults in October were almost 200 percent higher than in October 2006.

A spokesman for Charlotte, N.C.-based Bank of America declined to comment.

Other trusts — including those linked to Capital One, American Express Co., Discover Financial Services Co. and those containing "branded" cards from Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Home Depot Inc., Lowe's Companies Inc., Target Corp. and Circuit City Stores Inc. — also reported striking increases in year-over-year delinquency and default rates for October. Most banks and other financial institutions holding credit card debt on their own books also reported double-digit increases in delinquencies.

The one exception in October was JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s credit card trust, which reported declines in both delinquencies and defaults. A Chase spokesperson attributed this to its focus on prime borrowers and aggressive account management.

By contrast, Capital One executives told analysts last month that the company projected 2008 write-offs of credit card debt to be at least $4.9 billion. This projection, analysts were told, took into account growing delinquencies and potential effects if the housing market continued its downward slide.

Capital One spokeswoman Julie Rakes said the increase in delinquencies could be due to an accounting change last summer, which shortened the grace period between when statements were issued and the due date.

Capital One also reported that the number of accounts 90 days or more in arrears had increased between October and November. More than 1.2 million of Capital One's 30 million accounts were either delinquent or in default.

Many personal financial coaches expect this trend to accelerate in 2008 — particularly among people who took out untraditional loans whose interest rate has risen, requiring owners to pay mortgages several hundred dollars more than just a year ago.

"You're looking at more and more distress — consumers desperately trying to preserve their credit lines, but there's nowhere else to go," said Robert Manning, director of the Center for Consumer Financial Services at Rochester Institute of Technology. "It's like a game of dominoes."

Merry Christmas

I hope everyone is happy.

We've been busy with the normal Christmas stuff plus a couple of mishaps. I considered posting at Facebook that I hadn't been there 'cause I was busy posting to my blog, and writing here that I've been too busy at facebook to post to my blog. But you're all too smart for that.

Went to the Willow Christmas gala Thursday. It was really good, even better than last year seems to be the concensus.

I've got to shop for J-girl's present(s) today. I'm getting it done early this year. Usually I wait until the last minute.

But first, I have to take out the garbage. "Real women don't take out garbage"

Merry Christmas.

PS I didn't post the Infant of Prague this year, but don't forget, God is never more approachable than as the infant. Open your hearts.

Saturday, December 15, 2007


I'm pleased to present for your viewing enjoyment the 2007 Notre Dame Fighting Irish football HIGHLIGHTS

Courtesy of Oldie Olderson. Thanks Oldie

Why would anyone post


Hmm, it's getting better each time I play it,

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

This guy gets it

From article by Sean Olender at SFGate

"But unfortunately, the "freeze" is just another fraud - and like the other bailout proposals, it has nothing to do with U.S. house prices, with "working families," keeping people in their homes or any of that nonsense.

The sole goal of the freeze is to prevent owners of mortgage-backed securities, many of them foreigners, from suing U.S. banks and forcing them to buy back worthless mortgage securities at face value - right now almost 10 times their market worth.

The ticking time bomb in the U.S. banking system is not resetting subprime mortgage rates. The real problem is the contractual ability of investors in mortgage bonds to require banks to buy back the loans at face value if there was fraud in the origination process.

And, to be sure, fraud is everywhere. It's in the loan application documents, and it's in the appraisals. There are e-mails and memos floating around showing that many people in banks, investment banks and appraisal companies - all the way up to senior management - knew about it.

I can hear the hum of shredders working overtime, and maybe that is the new "hot" industry to invest in. There are lots of people who would like to muzzle subpoena-happy New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to buy time and make this all go away. Cuomo is just inches from getting what he needs to start putting a lot of people in prison. I bet some people are trying right now to make him an offer "he can't refuse."

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Willow's Reveal

Excerps from a couple of old time religion bloggers' recent posts

Reveal: Willow Creek is Weak

There is a buzz over a new book claiming that the basic model of ministry used by Willow Creek Church (the uber-mega-church of the evangelical world) is deeply flawed. Willow has released videos--one of which I tried to watch, but could not, given all the special effects and lack of substance--but I cannot find a substantive statement by Willow. I guess you have to buy the book, called Reveal. But I think I have picked up the basic idea from the CT blog and elsewhere.

The flawed model is that a program-driven church--big, slick, professional--will generate disciples (those who grow in love for God and others) by getting people to show up for activities. Now Bill Hybels and others are claiming this was a mistake. People need to take responsibility for their spiritual growth instead of just "participating" in the all the events.

Did Willow Creek Really Repent??

If you click on the title of the post (not here), it will lead you to a article talking of Willow Creek's new research into their own church and their lack of efficient and lasting results. To those who are outside looking in, it is no surprise. The language used by the pastoral staff at Willow Creek does not convince me that they know what they are talking about. We will see if they take their repentance seriously in retraction of all that they have done in the past in order to be more "effective." Are they just turning the same side of the coin of pragmatism? Hopefully, they will finally understand the Church through the study of God's Word and in its proclamation to the Church. Let us pray for our brethren and for God's grace to open their eyes.

and a response from Greg Hawkins of Willow Creek


I’m thrilled to see the high level of interest and energy behind the blogosphere comments about REVEAL. But I’ve read enough postings to think that it might be helpful to provide a few facts on three issues that keep coming up. Trust me. I’m not into “spin control” here. I just want to fill in some gaps.

1. It’s Not About Willow
• REVEAL’s findings are based on thirty churches besides Willow. In all thirty churches, we’ve found the six segments of REVEAL’s spiritual continuum, including the Stalled and Dissatisfied segments. And these churches aren’t all Willow clones. We’ve surveyed traditional Bible churches, mainline denominations, African-American churches and churches representing a wide range of geographies and sizes. Right now we’re fielding the survey to 500 additional churches, including 100 international churches. So, while REVEAL was born out of a Willow research project in 2004, the findings are not exclusive to Willow Creek.

2. Willow Repents?
• The first blog started with this question, and the answer is “yes”. But repenting is not a new experience for us. We’ve made a number of major course corrections over the years – like adding a big small group ministry for the thousands of new Christians coming to faith at Willow, and adding a mid-week service for our Christ-followers. We’ve always been a church in motion and REVEAL is just another example of Willow trying to be open to God’s design for this local church.

3. Is Willow Re-thinking its Seeker Focus?
• Simple answer – no. My boss would say that Willow is not just seeker-focused. We are seeker-obsessed. The power of REVEAL’s insights for our seeker strategy is the evangelistic strength uncovered in the more mature segments. If we can serve them better, the evangelistic potential is enormous, based on our findings.

I hope this was helpful. In any event, I’m enjoying following the dialogue. Keep it up! And let me know if you have any questions you’d like me to address.

Greg Hawkins

At Willow the singular importance of reading and study of the Bible is undisputed, and urgings to daily prayer are frequent and emphatic. The recent study's findings that these two aspects of religious practice are most beneficial do not contradict the established tenets of Willow Creek Church. Nor do these findings denigrate the value of small groups and worship services in establishing personal relationships with, or the desire to be in the service of Jesus. So, why the consternation?
I've noticed before indications of an evangelical schism that manifests itself most clearly in attacks on Willow Creek Church by self-styled representatives of Southern Baptist and Reformed churches. I greatly appreciate Willow, have immense respect for Bill Hybels and I think the exponents of the Churches of Apartheid and Lynching should be concerned with their own fielty in the service of Christ rather than with the sincere strivings of Willow Creek Church and the Willow Creek Association. They kind of remind me of the United Mine Workers Union. "Our communities have been despoiled and devastated, most of us have been laid off and the rest of us will die of black lung disease or in cave-ins, but we've been very successful in recent negotiations." Well, keep up the good work.

Thanks, Mr Hawkins, for responding in far more measured tones than I can.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

For a change

something fun, light, and frothy

I should explain, I was watching clips of British news commentaries, kind of like John Stewart, only more crass and cerebral at the same time when I came across this clip, which then led to the first clip I linked. (I'd hate for anyone to think I was sitting here on a Saturday morning googling Emma Watson.)

Friday, December 07, 2007

There's always hope

If I was going to jump off the bridge and I saw that phone and that sign, it would help me more than a whole lot of counselling, (I think.)

Monday, December 03, 2007

"When I saw the polls this morning,

I threw up in my mouth a little bit."

Sunday, December 02, 2007


I "joined" Facebook this morning It was kind of sad. No comments, no friends. It took me almost 2 hours to find a group I could join: Homestar Runner, and I'm still not sure it's right for me. Then I clicked on notes and got the message:

"Your friends have not written any notes yet.
You can write your own or find more friends."

Isn't that sad?

Saturday, December 01, 2007

A blanket pardon

My distaste for the kind of people who get elected to high office, and their self serving machinations to the extreme detriment of the people who trusted them with their votes leads me to write things like..."I would say it's the innocent who will pay the price, but they weren't innocent of being stupid, and people who elect Clintons and Bushes aren't stupid by accident, they work at it" Well, my daughters voted for Bush because they believed his expressions of Christian compassion for the unborn and that he would work to stop the slaughter of the innocents. They are both intelligent and thoughtful and they're both under thirty years of age. They haven't developed the cynicism which I have. Would I wish that they had? Not really.

They believe the struggle between good and evil is a struggle for men's souls, not for supremacy in the world. God is supreme and His will will be done. The suffering that people endure at the hand of lying, thieving, murderous politicians is something that is a consistent theme in human history. That sort will always endeavor to scratch and claw their way to the top of the dung heap. I can't even dispute my daughters faith that God will forgive them their sins as readily as He will forgive mine. I can't help but hope their lifetime of duplicitous insincerity makes it impossible for them to ask forgiveness. Of course, the girls would tell me that hoping something like that is also a failing.

So, anyway, I hereby exclude (some) people under thirty from my criticism of the voting public.