Wednesday, December 17, 2014

US to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba. Democrats can kiss Florida goodbye for 2016

This is no small tremor. This is quake with a magnitude of 8.5 on the Richter Scale. As somebody who previously lived and worked in South Florida for years, I can attest to two irrefutable truths: One, that the large Cuban expatriate community in that part of the state bitterly opposes any normalization of relations with the Castro regime. Two, that anyone (or party) who proposes or moves forward with such “progress” will be punished on the first Tuesday in November.

Ms. Clinton, Ms. Warren, or any other Democrat seeking the presidency in 2016 can officially kiss the state of Florida goodbye.

In a nutshell, US contractor Alan Gross, who has been jailed on espionage charges for nearly six years, is being released by the Castro regime in exchange for three Cuban nationals convicted of spying on anti-Castro activists in Florida. The Obama regime claims that this is a humanitarian exchange, but let there be no doubt: this is no quid pro quo deal in any way, shape or form.

Contrary to what Ed at HotAir.com believes, the Cuban ex-pat community in Florida is monolithically opposed to any actions that take pressure off of the banana republic regime that has enslaved millions, jailed thousands and continues to oppress the Cuban people. If they were predisposed to violent uprisings (they’re not), the ex-pats could make the Ferguson riots look like a peace march.

Back to my point of the post’s title, it’s important to note that two men of Cuban descent are considering a run at the White House in 2016. These are Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida. Another man considering a run is former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, a man that the Cuban ex-pat community named an “Honorary Cuban” in 2007.

Expect all three of these distinguished gentlemen to denounce today’s developments, and if one of them should gain the GOP nomination, the monolithic Cuban ex-pat electorate south of I-4 will crawl naked over broken glass to vote for the guy who opposes normalized relations with the regime that has bloodied and impoverished one of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean..

Update: right on cue:

Update: And Mr. Bush:

"I don't think we should be negotiating with a repressive regime to make changes in our relationship [until Cuba changes]," Bush said at an event in Florida on Wednesday morning,according to USA Today. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Crimson Tide standing on the edge of history

imageOn January 1st 2015, Alabama plays Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl, the first round of the first ever College Football Playoff. If the Tide can defeat the Buckeyes, then on January 12 they will face the winner of the Rose Bowl’s Oregon – Florida State battle in Arlington’s AT&T Stadium.

History can be made here. If Alabama defeats the Rose Bowl survivor and takes Title 16, it will forever erase the memory of the Miami dynasty of the 1980’s and make the Capstone the most storied football program in the history of storied programs.

Y’all know I’m a homer. I don’t hide that fact. I wear it like a badge of honor. But I am not an in-your-face Bammer either. I don’t dress up like a clown on game day. I don’t have a home with every corner decorated in Crimson and White. Hell, I don’t even have a Bama room.

But I know history unfolding when I see it, and folks… this is history unfolding.

Since his arrival in Tuscaloosa, head coach Nick Saban has led the Crimson Tide to three national titles, including two in a row. No one in the BCS era had ever repeated as BCS Champions and now that the BCS era is over, that feat can never be repeated. So there’s one angle on the “making history” narrative.

How’s this for making history: What team has the opportunity to claim both a BCS repeat and the first ever CFP Championship? Well, there’s only one, silly. And that’s Alabama.

Anyone who thinks this will be a cakewalk to glory is delusional. Ohio State is a worthy opponent, coached by a man who has beaten Alabama on his own way to a national title. Neither Florida State nor Oregon—two teams with quarterbacks and offenses that have given the Tide trouble in the past—aren’t slouches, either. The CFP committee made the right selections for the four team field. Saban and his brain trust have their work cut out for them, but no one thinks that Bama doesn’t have the tools to get it done.

That said, how prescient was the post from June 2012 from KrAzy3? The man laid out an argument that makes many people squirm, and he’s probably right that at some point in the future, the dropoff in quality between the No.3 team in the field and the No. 4 team will be significant enough to make people wonder why we went to a four-team field.

But a key point he makes is that the CFP is the direct result of the BCS pairing SEC West runner-up Alabama against SEC Champion LSU in 2011, which led to the historic BCS repeat. The talking heads and pundits at ESPN and Sports Illustrated were outraged, and the powers that be in college football went from being apathetic towards a playoff to rushing headlong towards one so that such an absolute tragedy never happens again.

This should make even the most casual Alabama fan laugh his or her ass off: Alabama is poised to ruffle the feathers of those little biddies all over again.

Win two more admittedly challenging games, and become the first team to win a championship in a playoff system that resulted from you winning a championship that almost no one outside the friendly confines of the Heart of Dixie thought you deserved.

If Alabama brings home the hardware on January 12, 2015, the Tide will have the last laugh, will have made college football history, and it will have Bama fans cackling in delight at the irony of it all.

An earlier version of this post had the CFB Championship game on January 14.

Monday, December 15, 2014

In warfare and politics, it is wise to choose your battles carefully.

clip_image001Sorry, Erick Erickson. Sorry, Sean Hannity. Sorry, Mark Steyn. Sorry, Mark Levin. Sorry, Rush Limbaugh.

You’re all wrong. The CROmnibus bill that is so vilified by pundits on the right doesn’t make for good policy. On that point, most people on the right can agree. I don’t like it either—it spends too much and doesn’t fix any of the myriad of problems this country faces going forward.

But two facts make passing the spending bill good politics. First, until this Congress adjourns, the GOP is a minority in the US Senate and there is still that recalcitrant demagogue in the White House. Republicans could have made a stand on principle by denying the President the funding he needs to effect his extra-constitutional XO on immigration. That’s a losing battle, and every sentient conservative knows it.

Second, what passed the Senate last weekend puts Barack Obama in an unwinnable position. He can veto the bill, which essentially shuts down the government. Or, he can sign it and allow the Dept. of Homeland Security to be funded until February, upon which he’ll be forced to either sign or veto a bill that defunds his lawless action. Either way, he can’t win. He gets defunded, heads or tails. And, by the time  Valentine’s Day-ish arrives, he’ll be facing the largest Republican majority in Congress since his Kenyan father was but a wee radical.

Sometimes, you have to trade part of the loaf so that you get to eat. Or, as I opined in last year’s post regarding the strategy and tactics of Sam Houston, you need to carefully choose when and where to fight your battles.


As a student of History, this is where I believe the lesson so aptly taught by Sam Houston comes in. In 1836, Houston, with a poorly trained, poorly equipped and vastly outnumbered force of volunteers, repeatedly retreated rather than fight the Mexican Army in the struggle to liberate Texas. His apparent refusal to take a stand and fight the demonstrably brutal General Antonio López de Santa Anna dismayed his officers and political supporters, but it was an effort to buy time and avoid a crushing defeat. Santa Anna had already overrun and massacred the defenders at the Alamo near San Antonio, and had ordered the mass execution of approximately 300 to 400 members of the Texas Militia at Goliad.

Houston wanted to fight on his terms, not Santa Anna’s, so he waited until Santa Anna made a mistake. Santa Anna did just that—dividing his forces in an attempt to surround Houston’s growing force of Militia and well trained regulars.

At the battle of San Jacinto, Houston made his move. In about 20 minutes’ time, Houston’s forces surprised and overwhelmed Santa Anna’s, ending the struggle and forcing Santa Anna into signing the treaty of Velasco, ending Mexican rule of Texas and paving the way for Texas to join the United States of America.

What can be learned from this, in the context of the current political struggle to wrest control of this great country from the grip of the brutally oppressive leftists?

In warfare and politics, it’s important to choose your battles wisely. Don’t strike when your enemy is strong and you are not. This is a divided government, but conservatives have control of only one house of Congress. No stand taken on principle has a prayer in hell of getting adopted and made the law of the land.

Bide your time. Consolidate your forces. Let your opponent make a mistake. The more arrogant and self-confident your opponent—as both General Santa Anna and Democrats (along with a sycophantic media) are—the more likely it is that your opponent will make a mistake that neither he nor his allies saw coming.


The iconic pundits I mentioned above are as exasperated with the GOP leadership as Houston’s officers and supporters were in 1836.

I find it ironic that Texas Senator Ted Cruz led the battle against the CROmnibus. It’s almost as if the man hasn’t learned the lessons from his own state’s history. Sam Houston could have taken a stand on principle, but he knew that his troops would be destroyed and his cause lost if he stood on principle at the wrong time or the wrong place.

I am a big fan of Ted Cruz. The man speaks about the Constitution like it is the document that sets forth what the co-equal branches of government can and cannot do, which is exactly what the Constitution is. But you can’t fight every battle against a superior force, which is exactly what the GOP in this Congress faces. Taking a stand on principle against a foe with superior numbers and a tactical advantage might as well be facing a Santa Anna firing squad. You always lose.

Why sacrifice so much to gain so little? Why not wait, as Houston did, until your enemy is weak and makes a mistake? Why throw your advantage away now, when you can use it against a weakened enemy later?

In January, a new Congress will be seated. As noted above, it will be the largest Republican majority since before WWII. Before them almost immediately will be the issue of whether or not to fund President Obama’s reckless and irresponsible attempt to encroach on the powers of the Legislative Branch.

There is much work to be done between January 2015 and December 2016, including a new budget resolution that will be bitterly fought between the Capitol and the White House. In February 2015 however, there will be an even more bitter fight over the President’s lawlessness, and choosing that San Jacinto that was the right strategy.

There’s an old saying: When a bear and an alligator do battle, the victor is determined by the terrain.

Choose your battles carefully. Do not strike when your enemy is strong but when he is weak and in an unwinnable position, as Mr. Obama will be two months hence.

Yeah, you gave up funding an irresponsibly out-of-control government until next year, but what you gained is ground that you can fight on, and a battlefield that you can win on.

Let’s fight the budget battle in September of 2015. Let’s fight the lawless President in February 2015.

And Mr. Cruz, study your history, sir.

Are you being harassed by Green Tree Servicing? You are not alone

clip_image001A year or so ago, my mortgage was sold to Green Tree Servicing, a South Dakota financial concern owned by Tampa-based Walter Investment Management. Green Tree specializes in serving sub-prime, nonconforming or other credit challenged mortgages.

My mortgage is none of the above. It’s a conventional 15-year mortgage. My credit rating is solid gold. We have been homeowners since 1988, and in those 26 years we have never missed a mortgage payment.

Nevertheless, Green Tree still uses the debt collector tactics applied to people struggling to pay their bills.

This is exactly what happened one day after a mortgage payment was due sometime in early 2014. The calls came at all times of the day, starting at 7:30 am and not stopping until 8:00 pm. The spiel is always the same: “Your payment is due immediately. If you do not make a payment by phone, it will hurt your credit score.”

They’ll claim that the amount paid from escrow is insufficient. They’ll claim that your payment can’t be posted because of the alleged escrow shortage. They’ll claim to have made a “forced insurance” payment because your homeowner’s policy doesn’t fully cover the dwelling and that you owe the difference. All of this is bull hockey.

The callers are consistently rude, unprofessional, pushy and insistent. They simply don’t listen. The calls also come from offices across the country. I’ve gotten rude, harassing calls from Texas, Missouri, Florida, South Dakota and Georgia.

I’m not the only one getting the unprofessional and illegal tactics, either. In fact, there are four other people in my school parish that are getting the same thing. Google “Green Tree Harassment,” and watch as thousands of links appear. The BBB, with which Green Tree is not accredited (I wonder why), has to date fielded nearly 2,000 complaints.

So, how’s that working out for them? Well, have a look right here of how the parent company’s stock price has performed over the last two years.

If you’ve been a victim of Green Tree’s harassment, there are steps you can take.

Step 1 is to consult with an attorney. Most will review your case for free (for reasons explained below).

Step 2 is to write a cease and desist letter to the company’s registered agent in your state. You will need to use your state’s Secretary of State’s website or office to identify the agent. Here is the text of the letter I sent:


Your name and address here

Date:

Green Tree Servicing, LLC

c/o CT Corporation System

2 North Jackson Street, Suite 605,

Montgomery, Alabama 36104

Re: Account Number — [enter account number here]

Sent via USPS Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested

Dear Green Tree Servicing:

Pursuant to my rights under federal law, I am demanding that you cease and desist telephonic communication with me, or about me to third parties (i.e. family, friends, neighbors, employers, etc) in relation to this account, including, but not limited to this list of telephone numbers:

[List numbers here]

Please direct future contact to me in writing only, addressed to my residential mailing address, which is shown above.

I would like to kindly remind you that Federal law requires collection calls to cease upon written request. See Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C § 1692 et. seq (“FDCPA”).

After effective written notice of request for telephone contact to cease has been received by your registered agent, financial penalties of $500 – $1,500 can be awarded per violation.

I will vigorously assert my rights under any applicable federal or state law, and I will seek relief in the form of monetary damages if these harassing calls are not ceased upon effective delivery of this letter.

Sincerely,


If you continue to receive harassing phone calls after getting the return receipt on your certified mail, keep a record of each one. The FDCPA allows monetary damages for each call, and makes the offending company pay attorney fees, so all damages paid by the offender go straight to you, while the attorney working your case gets paid by the offender.

What’s cool about this is that it might take a while for your state’s registered agent to notify the company, which in turn means that it might take a while for the company to notify its field offices that they are in receipt of a C&D letter and that they must stop calling. So it’s likely that even after you get your receipt from USPS, some calls are going to continue. 

While this process can be a general pain in the ass, it is effective. It also works with other debt collectors. Say you have a kid with a delinquent student loan whose debt has been sold off to a debt collector. Write them the letter above and your phone goes silent.

One caveat: FDCPA does not prohibit a lender from seeking to collect its own debt. So if you borrowed money from Hometown Bank, NA, that bank has a right to attempt to collect on delinquent debt. However, once Hometown Bank sells your loan to a sub-prime servicer or debt collector, the terms of FDCPA apply.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Fox’s Mike Pereira: Officials blew the call on Bradley Sylve’s interception

First things first—I’m not one to complain about one or two missed calls by the officials in college football games. In my philosophy, the best way of keeping this stuff from affecting the outcome of the game is to have played well enough so that you end up with a lead that makes these calls as irrelevant as they are controversial.

The truth is that the 2014 Iron Bowl was rather poorly officiated. There were missed calls all over the field; during almost all parts of the game. I really don’t blame the officials (much) because they have a difficult job to do. They have to make snap decisions during situations that can take seconds—if not fractions of a second—to unfold. But that’s why God invented Instant Replay and review.

The fact that this was a blown call that was subsequently upheld upon further review bears some scrutiny.

To set the stage, Auburn was up 33-27 with under five minutes left in the 3rd quarter. AU QB Nick Marshall attempted a pass to Quan Bray, who was being covered by UA’s Bradley Sylve. The play was close to the sideline, and both guys got airborne in order to get the ball.

It appeared that both players had their hands on the ball, prompting a simultaneous possession call. The issue is that the officials on the field awarded the reception to Bray, even though Sylve’s left foot clearly came down in bounds, while neither of Bray’s did.

Fox’s Mike Pereira weighed in on the call, and decided that the officials made the wrong call, and that they doubled down on the error upon further review.


This was a very difficult call to make on the field, because it was really tight and I think with simultaneous control of a ball in the air, you always think about the ball being awarded to the offense.

However, this rule interpretation is very specific on this play. It says when players are up in the air, like Bray and Sylve were, it's the player who comes down with it first in bounds, who should be awarded the ball. And in this case, Sylve's left foot hit first in bounds.

It's very clear in replay that the ball was intercepted by Sylve and should have been awarded to Alabama. But Auburn got the ball on a 35-yard pass completion and then went on to score a field goal on the possession to give the Tigers a 36-27 lead. 


The emphasis above is mine.

By any objective analysis of the play, it should have been either an incomplete pass, or an interception. Neither of Bray’s feet landed in bounds. And while both players clearly had their hands on the ball, Sylve’s left foot did.

I don’t have an embeddable video or GIF of the play (help me out here if you do), but here’s the link to Pereira’s analysis. 

Thankfully, the play didn’t affect the outcome of the game. When such calls do affect the outcome, I fall back on my argument that it was your own damned fault for letting it do so.

My co-bloggers have disagreed with me. As have my fellow denizens on Twitter and Facebook. That’s Ok. While I stick to my philosophy, it’s hard for me to argue that Bama just doesn’t seem to get the home cooking that other SEC teams do. That’s Ok, too. Well, maybe not Ok. But something that I think, as Alabama, this program has learned to overcome, or just get over.

We’re Bama. Since when was there not a target on the back of that Crimson jersey?