The New York Times had an excellent piece this morning on the fact that sellers are increasingly offering substantial non-price concessions in order to move their homes. As the article notes (and has been mentioned repeatedly on BTP) these concessions are not recorded in the sale prices that enter the standard house price indexes. Therefore these indexes are missing some of the price decline in recent months.
I promised a BTP goat prize to articles commenting on housing prices that did not note this seller side concession issue. In the future, such articles will get a BTP-NYT goat prize.
JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: AN ACCOUNTABILITY MOMENT. Public outrage; political infighting; the outbreak of myriad corruption, real estate, and sex scandals -- Jo-Ann Morttakes us on a tour of the Israeli domestic political scene in the wake of the war in Lebanon. It ain't pretty.
POLITICIZING THE TREASURY. So there I was, happily tracking down some dry budgetary statistics to bore you all with, when I noticed something odd on the Treasury Department's homepage. On the left sidebar, in the top, "DIRECT LINKS" category, the first entry was "Health Savings Accounts." The next was "Refund Status," followed by "IRS Tax Reforms," both categories I would expect elicit more interest than HSAs. Under "Browse Key Topics," you see such standbys as "Accounting & Budget," "Currency & Coins," "Economy," and, yep, "Health Savings Accounts." Not "Health Care," mind you, but "Health Savings Accounts."
HELP IS ON THE WAY. Press release in the ol' inbox today: "Movements for Peace, Katrina Recovery, Immigrants' Rights, Women's Rights, Labor Rights, Environmental Sanity, Electoral Reform, and Impeachment Plan Joint Encampment in Washington."
If Bush gives in to their first seven demands, will they agree that Dick Cheney doesn't need to be made president?
MCCAINIACS. Word today is that former Dean for America webmaster and current EchoDitto CEO Nicco Mele is swinging into Camp McCain. Nicco is an old Common Cause guy, and retains the affection many campaign finance reformers have for McCain, so it's not an entirely surprising move. It seems, however, oddly tone deaf on McCain's side. EchoDitto is a political firm formed out of the ashes of the Dean campaign. It serves a variety of clients, all of them liberal, nearly all of them offensive to Republicans. We're talking Air America, the UN World Food Program, Jennifer Granholm, Barack Obama, and so forth.
BUSH AND THE FLASHMAN. To me, the strangest thing about the president's summer reading list is not its heft, nor its inclusion of heavyweight history and existential literature, but the indication that the President is working his way through the Flashman series, by George MacDonald Fraser. And no, I don't mean it's odd because Sir Harry Flashman is a coward, a liar, a drunk, and a bully; nor is it odd because Flashman is more than willing to let his countrymen die to save his reputation.
"Look, I served with George Allen when he was governor. I don't think he belongs in public service, to be honest with you. There are Republicans that are capable and smart, thoughtful people -- and he's not one of them."
YOU, SIR, ARE NO KARL. Just to chime in on the latest macacagate news, it's worth noting that for all the fuss about Dick Wadhams being the next Karl Rove, he sure seems to have forgotten Rule #1 of campaign damage control: Either apologize completely and fully from the start, or don�t apologize at all. Instead of throwing up bogus explanations and semi-apologies and half-apologies and then trying to blame the media, Allen should have either blown the thing off or apologized to S.R. Sidarth the next day. Instead, we are now on Day 10 of Macaca-watch.
MACACA FRACAS. Over at Midterm Madness, Steve Benenreports that George Allen finally decided to apologize to S.R. Sidarth yesterday -- while leaving to his campaign manager the task of firing up the Republican base with a very different take on the whole matter.