More travel, but first . . .

SCOOTER

Bob M: ‘Having just served five weeks as a juror in a murder trial, I know first hand the hard work and difficulty twelve people face as they seek to come to agreement on charges as serious as these. The fact that twelve people found Libby guilty on four of five charges is huge. Just huge! Libby is guilty – and who did he work for? Bush and Cheney.’

☞ Imagine if they had worked as effectively to get Bin Laden (‘dead or alive’) as they did to get Wilson and his wife.

COULTER

Jeff: ‘Well, Coulter is pretty clearly a self-loathing gay man in drag, but please don’t compare him to idiots. I have good friends who are idiots.’

Andrew Sullivan was in the room when she said it. His response to her response that it was ‘just a joke.’

FORECLOZHER

“In all the years I’ve done this, I’ve never seen this many foreclosures,” said Nancy Bennett, supervisor of St. Lucie’s circuit civil clerks division who has worked in the office for more than 20 years. “It has never been like this.” . . .

☞ Stories like this lead buyers to drive harder bargains and sellers to accept less . . . which drives home values partway back down to where they were a few years ago and puts more mortgages under water . . . just as introductory come-on rates are phasing out and monthly payments are rising . . . triggering more foreclosures . . . which adds more supply to the market for homes, driving prices down further . . . undermining consumer confidence, creating fears of a recession that would cost jobs and lead to more foreclosures, which . . . well, you get the idea.

The optimists, like long-time observer (and newsletter publisher) Adrian Van Eck, believe the bottom has been reached or is very near. Homebuilding has been ratcheted way back, to keep unsold inventories from piling up as they might have, he argues; and Fed chair Ben Bernanke, he believes, has a strong bias against allowing a vicious cycle to start (or, if it’s started already, against letting it get very far).

I obviously don’t know who’s right, but I would not rush to buy stock in homebuilders or sub-prime lenders, even though they’ve fallen sharply. And if I were in the market for a house, I’d be making aggressively low offers.

And now . . .

COSTA RICA

Terry: ‘I just returned from an eight-day bicycle tour of Costa Rica. We rode from the San Jose airport to the Pacific. A few observations: 1. I drank only tap water and had no ill effects. 2. Although most of the bridges were one lane with no guard rail, crossing them on a bike was not disconcerting. 3. Every visitor should do a zip line canopy tour. 4. Most restaurants had a daily lunch special called ‘casado’ with a choice of either beef, chicken or fish. It cannot be beat.’

☞ On top of which, there are no contingency plans to bomb Costa Rica!

Sat Feb 24, 2007 8:10PM EST NEW YORK (Reuters) – Despite the Bush administration’s insistence it has no plans to go to war with Iran, a Pentagon panel has been created to plan a bombing attack that could be implemented within 24 hours of getting the go-ahead from President George W. Bush, The New Yorker magazine reported in its latest issue. . . . In response to the report, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said: ‘The United States is not planning to go to war with Iran. To suggest anything to the contrary is simply wrong, misleading and mischievous. The United States has been very clear with respect to its concerns regarding specific Iranian government activities. The president has repeatedly stated publicly that this country is going to work with allies in the region to address those concerns through diplomatic efforts,” Whitman said.

IRAN

A three-minute video.

 

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