Dec. 7th, Forewarned, Not Forearmed?

Thursday, December 7th, 2006

I’ve been interested in the World War II Japanese Internment travesty since I learned of it as a near tot. Living in Chapel Hill I’ve had the chance to know some interesting folks, Eric Muller for one.

Eric, self-publisher and UNC Law professor is an internment expert. He often posts his research on that, the Holocaust and other WWII related issues over on isThatLegal.org. Fascinating, if at times disturbing, reading.

Today he’s talking Dec. 7th, 1941 and the trail of bread crumbs leading up to the foreseen attack on Pearl Harbor and the collateral damage it caused the Japanese-American community.

Judge Free Speech

Friday, October 20th, 2006

As I’ve mentioned a few times before, I’m hooked on the ‘blog CreditSlips, “A blog on all things about credit and bankruptcy. We are seven academics who will use this space to do what we like to do when we get together–discussing and debating what does happen and what should happen when consumers and businesses borrow money.”

Local UNC law professor, Japanese internment expert and battler of the Malkinator, Eric Muller (isThatLegal.org), turned me on to these wild-n-wacky debt analysts last year.

One of their more interesting and disturbing threads involves Judge Leif Clark, a man of conscience, driven to criticize the precipitous dissipation of our civil liberties. Turns out that the Judge exposed himself to censure for practicing his First Amendment right to declaim the Bush madministration’s actions.

Over the past two weeks, I have been following a story about Leif Clark, a bankruptcy judge in San Antonio (see here and here). As regular Credit Slips readers will remember, Judge Clark wrote a letter to National Public Radio responding to an interview. In the letter, Judge Clark made remarks highly critical of the Bush Administration’s attitude toward civil liberties. At the time, I thought we had the proverbial tempest in a teapot about whether Judge Clark’s comments violated the Canons of Judicial Ethics which forbid judges from engaging in “political activity.” The San Antonio News-Express has reported that Judge Clark’s comments are now “under review by the chief judge of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, the tribunal that disciplines federal judicial misconduct in Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi.”

Further commentary over on CreditSlips.

You can’t squeeze orange juice from a turnip….

Monday, July 31st, 2006

Citizens aren’t geese and, for most, the golden eggs they pay in taxes don’t come easy.

While I’ve been critical of both the county’s and town’s 2006-2007 budgets, it’s Chapel Hill’s efforts that have disappointed me the most.

Why? The advertised “balance” was based on reductions in fiscal responsibility, a “lucky” sales tax windfall and some other sleight-of-hand. Beyond that, last years political promises to directly include our saavy citizenry in improving the cost-effectiveness of services were not followed through on. Additional campaign-promised expenditures made it into the budget but not the concomitantly discussed reductions.

I believe that a realistic appraisal of our community’s financial future should start with our elected officials weening themselves off the idea that real-estate values in our community will constantly accelerate. Both Orange county’s and Chapel Hill’s 2006-2007 budgets forecast a continued growth in real-estate values – a projection that belies macro-economic events.

To wit. Gross (as in vulgar) national debt. Accelerating energy costs. Potential war-related chaos. Stagflation. And the very real possibility of the real-estate boom busting.

Today’s rant on locally short-sighted taxation trends comes via UNC Prof. Eric Muller (isThatLegal.org) who tipped me last week to another excellent local pool of talent – a group of UNC Law School folks ‘blogging on credit, debt and bankruptcy ( Credit Slips ).

From today’s post Deregulation Drags Down Economy

The NYT ran a story that connects two dots—the housing bust and a slowing economy. Because housing has been a big employer, as new home construction comes a standstill, the effects will reverberate through the economy. Thus comes the answer to a question I’ve heard many times: So long as I’m not strung out on some crazy mortgage, why should I care if the housing market implodes? Because it affects the whole economy.

Not just the whole economy but the whole financial infrastructure of our country. This, of course, includes our local ability to fund required programs, let alone “nice to haves” (intern programs, swimming centers, etc.).

A prudent step would be to evaluate local tax revenue against longer time frames and a broader, maybe a bit more negative, perspective.

Eric Muller’s Sad Serendipity

Friday, July 28th, 2006

I’ve been reading UNC Law School’s Eric Muller’s ‘blog IsThatLegal for several years.

He has an incredible knack ferreting out information and reporting on one of the low points for American democracy – World War Two’s mass detention of citizens of Japanese origin (covered in his book Free to Die for Their Country).

(more…)

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