Sunday, October 31, 2010

Bill Whittle's What We Believe

What they need to achieve this goal is an authoritarian government

As I've said before they want to kill people's mobility. It's a static view of the world. What happens if you live in one of these happy work to work communities and like it but want to change jobs to one that is too far to bike or walk to? You have to drive or move. And, so everything gets mixed into the wonderful soup of free people exercising their freedom. The solution of course will be the requirement for a government permit or permission to do what you want to.

Coercing People Out of Their Cars

Making it simple

Why the Tea Party? Ask John Kerry.

By Victor Davis Hanson

John Kerry once again lashes out at the hoi polloi: “It’s absurd. We’ve lost our minds. We’re in a period of know-nothingism in the country, where truth and science and facts don’t weigh in. It’s all short-order, lowest-common-denominator, cheap-seat politics.”

This comes after earlier John Kerry comments that “we have an electorate that doesn’t always pay that much attention to what’s going on, so people are influenced by a simple slogan rather than the facts or the truth or what’s happening” — and reminds us of the 2004 blurt about George W. Bush, “I can’t believe I’m losing to this idiot,” which was itself a bookend to the later 2006 put-down, “You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq.”

Here we have a synopsis of the modern technocratic mindset, oozing with condescension and petulant about the inability of the masses to appreciate their genius. The rejoinder from the despised Tea Party would, of course, be something like, “Hmmm, we may not be zillionaire U.S. senators, but none of us would be stupid enough to buy a $7 million play yacht in the midst of a recession and then try to avoid paying the government $500,000 in excise and property taxes on the sale — while calling for higher taxes on others.”

What the Tea Party is about, among many things, is a fury at political elites who talk down to taxpayers and fail to abide by the rules and protocols they think others must embrace. In that context, Kerryism is simply a convenient window into the world of a tax-dodging Treasury Secretary Geithner; the contorted sermons by Obama about a frightened electorate, captive to its emotions and lashing out against his agenda in irrational ways; the constant refrains against the “rich” juxtaposed with the serial golf outings and Michelle’s Costa del Sol/Martha’s Vineyard vacationing; and the disconnect between, say, Al Gore’s green world for us, and Al Gore’s own world of mansions and private jetting, or John Edwards’s mansion playroom set against John’s two nations of rich against poor.

Build the tunnel...

NJ tunnel closure cost: 44,000 jobs

...which may not be necessary at all; send the bill to our children and grandchildren; subtract those supposed 44,000 jobs lost from the huge loss of jobs that will occur when you take that much money out of the economy.

At the 10/30 rally

Among those who appeared at Jon Stewart’s DC snarkfest (and attempt to suppress Democratic GOTV activists?) Rally to Restore Sanity in DC today was Yusuf Islam, the artist formerly known as Cat Stephens.

Yusuf Islam (aka Cat Stevens), backing Salman Rusdie fatwah, appears at DC

(AhlulBayt News Agency) - It’s a curious choice, to put it mildly, given Yusuf’s alleged support of the fatwah against Salman Rushdie. All audio of the words he used to allegedly support the fatwah (which he has strenuously insisted he did not do) has been removed from YouTube, apparently at the crooner’s behest.

And here’s Salman Rushdie’s own take, in a 2007 letter to the Telegraph, on what Yusuf meant:

Cat Stevens wanted me dead

However much Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam may wish to rewrite his past, he was neither misunderstood nor misquoted over his views on the Imam Khomeini fatwa against The Satanic Verses (Seven, April 29). In an article in The New York Times on May 22, 1989, Craig R Whitney reported Stevens/Islam saying on a British television programme “that rather than go to a demonstration to burn an effigy of the author Salman Rushdie, ‘I would have hoped that it’d be the real thing’.”

He added that “if Mr Rushdie turned up at his doorstep looking for help, ‘I might ring somebody who might do more damage to him than he would like. I’d try to phone the Ayatollah Khomeini and tell him exactly where this man is’.”

In a subsequent interview with The New York Times, Mr Whitney added, Stevens/Islam, who had seen a preview of the programme, said that he “stood by his comments”.

Let’s have no more rubbish about how “green” and innocent this man was.

is it bigotry to favor western civilization?

Bill Maher: Am I Racist to Feel Alarmed By the Thought of Islam Taking Over the Western World?

The need for remedial classes grows for people who know nothing about the Constitution.

Bachmann wants Constitution classes for lawmakers

Obama could use them as well as well as some american history lesson not taught by America's haters.

It appears rape and homosexuality are rampant in the Muslim world

Man kidnapped for refusing to pimp teenager

Six Saudis kidnapped their neighbour and photographed him naked after he refused to seduce a boy for them to rape, a local daily reported on Wednesday.

The six grabbed the 20-year-old man in front of his house in the eastern town of Qatif and drove off to a remote area, where they forced him to strip off after he refused their repeated demands to convince a teen-age boy in the same neighbourhood to go with them, Alyoum Arabic language daily said.

“They photographed him naked and threatened him that they would make his pictures public if he tells the police,” the paper said.

It quoted the man as saying he reported the case to the police, who seized the six but released them later on bail.

“They are still sending me text messages threatening me and my family…I told the police again but they are doing nothing,” he said.

Investigators said they had released the six on bail in accordance with the law, which stipulates that those who kidnap people above 15 years old can be freed on bail pending trial. But they added the defendants would be severely punished if they are convicted by court.

The thuggish nature of the left...

Why Doesn't Everyone Know Jan Schakowsky's Husband Wrote ObamaCare in Jail?

By Stella Paul
I know who's got my vote for the cutest couple since Bonnie and Clyde. It's the larcenous lovebirds from Chicago: Jan Schakowsky, the most far-left member of Congress, and her bank robber husband, Robert Creamer, who wrote Obamacare in jail.

What a romance! She waited as he served time for sixteen counts of bank fraud, selflessly devoting herself to trying to impeach Dick Cheney and to showering federal funds on her biggest, most ethically challenged contributors.

And he persevered inside the graybar hotel, aflame with the inspiration that became Stand Up Straight! How Progressives Can Win, a 628-page manual for how "to reshape the structure of one-sixth of the American economy" -- namely, health care.

Endorsed by David Axelrod and SEIU honcho Andrew Stern, Stand Up Straight! gave Democrats the perfect voodoo recipe of lies, lies, and boiled frog's eyes they used to cook up ObamaCare.

Here's how David Horowitz's Discover The Network describes it:

Creamer's book advocated a "public plan" that would guarantee every U.S. resident's "right" to health care; this plan eventually would serve as a model for the "public option" in subsequent legislative proposals by Congressional Democrats.

In addition, Creamer laid out a "Progressive Agenda for Structural Change," which included a ten-point plan to set the stage for implementing universal health care:

  • "We must create a national consensus that health care is a right, not a commodity; and that government must guarantee that right."
  • "We must create a national consensus that the health care system is in crisis."
  • "Our messaging program over the next two years should focus heavily on reducing the credibility of the health insurance industry and focusing on the failure of private health insurance."
  • "We need to systematically forge relationships with large sectors of the business/employer community."
  • "We need to convince political leaders that they owe their elections, at least in part, to the groundswell of support of [sic] universal health care, and that they face political peril if they fail to deliver on universal health care in 2009."
  • "We need not agree in advance on the components of a plan, but we must foster a process that can ultimately yield consensus."
  • "Over the next two years, we must design and organize a massive national field program."
  • "We must focus especially on the mobilization of the labor movement and the faith community."
  • "We must systematically leverage the connections and resources of a massive array of institutions and organizations of all types."
  • "To be successful, we must put in place commitments for hundreds of millions of dollars to be used to finance paid communications and mobilization once the battle is joined."

"To win," added Creamer, "we must not just generate understanding, but emotion-fear, revulsion, anger, disgust."

Now don't you find this tale of the Obamacare-writing bank robber and his congresswoman moll pretty darn interesting? Even, shall we say, newsworthy?

After all, nothing more intimately affects our lives than the Obamination currently shutting down Catholic hospitals, sending premiums skyrocketing, and limiting patients' access and options.

And if you really want nightmares, check out Congressman Kevin Brady's organization chart that displays ObamaCare's new government agencies, regulations, and mandates.

In addition to showing the massive expansion of government and the overwhelming complexity of new regulations and taxes, the chart portrays:

  • $569 billion in higher taxes;
  • $529 billion in cuts to Medicare;
  • Swelling of the ranks of Medicaid by 16 million;
  • Seventeen major insurance mandates; and
  • The creation of two new bureaucracies with powers to impose future rationing: the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute and the Independent Payments Advisory Board.

Hey, thanks for nothing, Robert and Jan!

Yet somehow the great media machine has not seen fit to tell voters about the rancid Romeo and Juliet who gave us this unholy mess.

Instead, they've inundated us with:

- Christine O'Donnell dabbling with witchcraft in high school

- Meg Whitman's housekeeper's immigration status

- Linda McMahon's World Wrestling Entertainment treatment of women

Somehow, I don't think when a family member's life hangs in the balance, my first thought will be with female wrestlers.

Well, even if the media did miraculously decide to ask Schakowsky some hard questions, she'd be tough to find. She's awfully busy, calling Tea Partiers "despicable," storming into polling places to illegally electioneer, and sending out her dearest friend to scream at Andrew Breitbart that he's gay.

Fortunately, Chicago voters in the 9th district have an outstanding candidate to vote for in Joel Pollak, magna cum laude Harvard graduate, who published two acclaimed books while attending Harvard Law School. Pollak has been endorsed by Alan Dershowitz, his former professor and a lifelong Democrat.

You can contribute to Joel Pollak here.

Wouldn't it be a thrill to annoy the Silent Media and retire the Bonnie and Clyde who held up the nation?

Illuminating the clash of cultures.

Op Ed: Taming the Wild East -- Arab Honor Killings in Israel

Slavery for non Muslims lives on

Muslim tortures, accuses Christian who refused slavery

The media have chosen sides and they want to count

Anchorage CBS Affiliate Caught on Voicemail Conspiring Against Alaska’s GOP Senate Candidate

To the left only the ends matter.

What's the problem? Aren't we all allowed to choose who we live next to?

No boys allowed

Except of course if you're Christian or have some other criteria the left doesn't like. What do you want to bet there isn't a conservative lesbian living in the building either.

Bitter clingers but without G-d or guns

Totenberg's 'Very Afraid' of These Elections; Thomas Thinks They're 'A Joke...Political System's a Mess'

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Why shouldn't they heckle him. Bush did much more for Africans with AIDS

Obama deals with protests in Connecticut

Why shouldn't she be an authoritarian, Obama is, the nutty leftwing base is.

Requiem for the Pelosi Democrats

Ethanol rant

Well, today I went out to see if any of the other gasoline powered tools suffered the same stale fuel disease as the chain saw. Guess what, none of them would start except for one which ran for exactly three seconds and then wouldn't restart.

So, I spent two hours draining each gas tank into an approved container and then the two gas for straight gas and the other a gas/oil mixture. Now to dispose of the fuel in an environmentally sound fashion. Not as easy as it sounds as the local recycle center claims they will take waste gasoline but want the container it comes in as well and I'm not willing to pass along a 10 dollar container all that easily. Will see what happens tomorrow.

Talking about the truly ignorant, here they are

“Rally to Resore Sanity” pledges to “strictly prohibit filming” at National Mall

More GM stupidity

Gone In 14 Seconds: Why The Cadillac Escalade Is America’s Most-Stolen Vehicle

Friday, October 29, 2010

This may be a little arcane but it's an example unintended consequences of government action

This hit me the other day. A large dead tree fell near the house and I went to cut it up to give away as firewood. Obviously, this requires a chain saw. No problem. I went and got my trusty Stihl 025 16" long bar saw and prepared for a couple of hours of exercise. I must say that I enjoy the physical and mental challenge.

This is where the story gets sad. After setting up I go to start the chain saw and it won't start. I do all the things necessary to start it. But, no dice. I pull the plug and make sure it's not flooded. I change the spark plug even though the one in there was not used for more then about two hours. Still no running engine. I do every little thing I've learned over the years but nothing.

So, today I trundle off to my local Stihl dealer to figure out what's up. I tell him about my problem and he takes it to the back room be he too has no success until he drains the fuel and puts in fresh fuel. Bang, two pull and the engine roars to life. The problem stale fuel. How could that be? I filled my 1 gallon gas can just two months ago with fresh fuel and 2 stroke oil. Well as you will see from reading the article linked above the ethanol blend required in California has a much shorter shelf life then non ethanol fuels. The fuel in the tank might last longer then the fuel in the chain saw's fuel tank because the gas can is sealed while the saw is not.

Read the article because it not only affects small motors but has some bad consequences for your auto motor. Now this is all happening with a 10% ethanol blend. But, that's soon to change to 15% and the results will be catastrophic. To use the leftist mantra it will hurt the poor most, it certainly will. The poor own the oldest cars and those least capable of surviving the onslaught of 15% ethanol fuel. Got an historic, classic or older muscle car you will either have to find alternative sources of non ethanol fuel (probably illegal in most state) or put it up on a pedestal.

Remember ethanol was the cure for MTBE, that other government sponsored disaster.

I know this government is hostile to the auto and the mobility it provides the population. In the name of the environment and other such distractions, they are pushing us to a place where the government will decide if you can go someplace you want to because it will be too expensive. Do you think these statists would mind forcing you to live and work where they decide you should. Like that wonderful place call China you'll need a permit to move, government approval to change jobs. It's what the left here now call state capitalism. Communism with a smiley face. Thinks it's absurd. It's what Obamacare is. Sure the government will sell its shares of GM to the public but as we've already seen with Chryslers bondholders the rights of capital are subservient to the governments whims. If Obama could fire the President of a publicly held company you've already blurred the line between government and private interests. The government's excuse as always will be it's for the good of the country.

How much freedom are you willing to give up?

More MoveOn incitement


Anyone surprised?

Communist Party USA Leader Openly Backs Obama and the Democrats

Tyner is uncompromising in his support for the Democrats and Communist Party "friend" Barack Obama.

Ask the guy whose SSN it was

Use of false Social Security number not impersonation, justices rule

Ask why the man needed a false SSN?

They're not paying taxes because they're elitist hypocrites

Report: DNC repeatedly delinquent on property taxes

By: David Freddoso

Just across the Potomac, Democrats are attacking GOP House candidate Keith Fimian for once having a tax lien placed on his business (he later paid it off). But as it turns out, the Democratic National Committee is one of Washington, D.C.’s perennial tax scofflaws, Pajamas Media reports:

The Democratic National Committee and the party’s private club in the nation’s capitol have been delinquent with tax payments on sixteen separate occasions over the last seven years, Pajamas Media has learned.

According to District of Columbia government records, since 2004 the Democrats’ main political committee and its National Democratic Club — an exclusive restaurant and hideaway on Capitol Hill where prominent Democrats and their guests dine — have been hit with fines and interest penalties in excess of $115,000 for failure to pay their property taxes on time.

Officials at the D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue reviewed tax records with Pajamas Media. Government records here and here paint a picture of two highly visible political establishments that have been tax deadbeats for most of the last seven years. This year, the club fell so far into tax arrears that it was listed as part of a D.C. government “tax sale” in August. The DNC and the club finally paid the property taxes in September to dodge a government seizure and a public auction sale.

What's the problem with the League of women's Voters?

Another Debate Audience Recites Pledge When Another Moderator Says ‘No

A bittersweet story

Secret World War II heroine's file released


A Referendum on the Redeemer

Barack Obama put the Democrats in the position of forever redeeming a fallen nation rather than leading a great one.


Whether or not the Republicans win big next week, it is already clear that the "transformative" aspirations of the Obama presidency—the special promise of this first black president to "change" us into a better society—are much less likely to materialize. There will be enough Republican gains to make the "no" in the "party of no" even more formidable, if not definitive.

But apart from this politics of numbers, there is also now a deepening disenchantment with Barack Obama himself. (He has a meager 37% approval rating by the latest Harris poll.) His embarrassed supporters console themselves that their intentions were good; their vote helped make history. But for Mr. Obama himself there is no road back to the charisma and political capital he enjoyed on his inauguration day.

Columnist James Taranto on Democrats and the youth vote, and editorial writer Matt Kaminski on Iranian influence-buying in Afghanistan.

How is it that Barack Obama could step into the presidency with an air of inevitability and then, in less than two years, find himself unwelcome at the campaign rallies of many of his fellow Democrats?

The first answer is well-known: His policymaking has been grandiose, thoughtless and bullying. His health-care bill was ambitious to the point of destructiveness and, finally, so chaotic that today no citizen knows where they stand in relation to it. His financial-reform bill seems little more than a short-sighted scapegoating of Wall Street. In foreign policy he has failed to articulate a role for America in the world. We don't know why we do what we do in foreign affairs. George W. Bush at least made a valiant stab at an American rationale—democratization—but with Mr. Obama there is nothing.

Associated Press

All this would be enough to explain the disillusionment with this president—and with the Democratic Party that he leads. But there is also a deeper disjunction. There is an "otherness" about Mr. Obama, the sense that he is somehow not truly American. "Birthers" doubt that he was born on American soil. Others believe that he is secretly a Muslim, or in quiet simpatico with his old friends, Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers, now icons of American radicalism.

But Barack Obama is not an "other" so much as he is a child of the 1960s. His coming of age paralleled exactly the unfolding of a new "counterculture" American identity. And this new American identity—and the post-1960s liberalism it spawned—is grounded in a remarkable irony: bad faith in America as virtue itself, bad faith in the classic American identity of constitutional freedom and capitalism as the way to a better America. So Mr. Obama is very definitely an American, and he has a broad American constituency. He is simply the first president we have seen grounded in this counterculture American identity. When he bows to foreign leaders, he is not displaying "otherness" but the counterculture Americanism of honorable self-effacement in which America acknowledges its own capacity for evil as prelude to engagement.

Bad faith in America became virtuous in the '60s when America finally acknowledged so many of its flagrant hypocrisies: the segregation of blacks, the suppression of women, the exploitation of other minorities, the "imperialism" of the Vietnam War, the indifference to the environment, the hypocrisy of puritanical sexual mores and so on. The compounding of all these hypocrisies added up to the crowning idea of the '60s: that America was characterologically evil. Thus the only way back to decency and moral authority was through bad faith in America and its institutions, through the presumption that evil was America's natural default position.

Election Night at Opinion Journal

Visit on Tuesday night for live commentary from The Wall Street Journal editorial board.

Among today's liberal elite, bad faith in America is a sophistication, a kind of hipness. More importantly, it is the perfect formula for political and governmental power. It rationalizes power in the name of intervening against evil—I will use the government to intervene against the evil tendencies of American life (economic inequality, structural racism and sexism, corporate greed, neglect of the environment and so on), so I need your vote.

"Hope and Change" positioned Mr. Obama as a conduit between an old America worn down by its evil inclinations and a new America redeemed of those inclinations. There was no vision of the future in "Hope and Change." It is an expression of bad faith in America, but its great ingenuity was to turn that bad faith into political motivation, into votes.

But there is a limit to bad faith as power, and Mr. Obama and the Democratic Party may have now reached that limit. The great weakness of bad faith is that it disallows American exceptionalism as a rationale for power. It puts Mr. Obama and the Democrats in the position of forever redeeming a fallen nation, rather than leading a great nation. They bet on America's characterological evil and not on her sense of fairness, generosity or ingenuity.

When bad faith is your framework (Michelle Obama never being proud of her country until it supported her husband), then you become more a national scold than a real leader. You lead out of a feeling that your opposition is really only the latest incarnation of that old characterological evil that you always knew was there. Thus the tea party—despite all the evidence to the contrary—is seen as racist and bigoted.

But isn't the tea party, on some level, a reaction to a president who seems not to fully trust the fundamental decency of the American people? Doesn't the tea party fill a void left open by Mr. Obama's ethos of bad faith? Aren't tea partiers, and their many fellow travelers, simply saying that American exceptionalism isn't racism? And if the mainstream media see tea partiers as bumpkins and racists, isn't this just more bad faith—characterizing people as ignorant or evil so as to dismiss them?

Our great presidents have been stewards, men who broadly identified with the whole of America. Stewardship meant responsibility even for those segments of America where one might be reviled. Surely Mr. Obama would claim such stewardship. But he has functioned more as a redeemer than a steward, a leader who sees a badness in us from which we must be redeemed. Many Americans are afraid of this because a mandate as grandiose as redemption justifies a vast expansion of government. A redeemer can't just tweak and guide a faltering economy; he will need a trillion- dollar stimulus package. He can't take on health care a step at a time; he must do it all at once, finally mandating that every citizen buy in.

Next week's election is, among other things, a referendum on the idea of president-as- redeemer. We have a president so determined to transform and redeem us from what we are that, by his own words, he is willing to risk being a one-term president. People now wonder if Barack Obama can pivot back to the center like Bill Clinton did after his set-back in '94. But Mr. Clinton was already a steward, a policy wonk, a man of the center. Mr. Obama has to change archetypes.

Mr. Steele is a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution.

Want to see the efficiency of socialism at work

AP IMPACT: Mismanagement rampant in public housing

WASHINGTON – There were accusations of an executive slush fund, financial shenanigans and dictatorial management. But it was the $900,000 in secret sexual harassment payments that got the head of the nation's fourth-largest housing authority fired and had the mayor asking how the housing board missed it all.

Yet Philadelphia's isn't even close to the worst of dysfunctional housing agencies across the country that operate with no budgets, untrained staff and shoddy record-keeping, according to a review by The Associated Press of inspection and audit records of 146 housing authorities that the government considered the most troubled.

The documents show the U.S. spends hundreds of millions of dollars each year on housing authorities that don't follow financial rules or, worse, lack even the most basic policies for spending petty cash or using government credit cards.

"How is it possible that you didn't know?" Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter asked as his city became a high-profile symbol of scandal and mismanagement in the nation's public housing system. "It defies logic and credibility that all of these things could be kept away from the board for so long a period of time."

Actually, it doesn't.

The AP's review found that federal money intended for one program occasionally gets used for others. Contracts are signed without bidding or approval. In New London, Conn., housing officials had no written contracts at all.

Yet Washington's hands are largely tied since the threat of withholding or reducing funding to punish irresponsible housing authorities ultimately would in effect penalize poor tenants for the mismanagement of their landlords.

All of this is supposed to be audited, but sometimes that either doesn't get done or there's no paperwork on file to prove it. Early this year, federal officials were still trying to resolve problems with 2006 and 2007 audits from Highland Park, Ill.

Meanwhile, waiting lists for getting into public housing are often ignored. And once tenants are in, landlords frequently don't know whether they're charging the right rent. In Dallas, housing employees made income calculation errors in the files of two out of every three tenants.

Philadelphia is not the worst-managed housing authority in the country. Not even close. The Department of Housing and Urban Development has identified 146 housing authorities as having major problems, and flagged them as "troubled."

The AP requested under the Freedom of Information Act all inspection and review documents related to the most troubled agencies. The Obama administration turned over thousands of pages of sometimes haphazard and incomplete reports and said they were the only documents available at headquarters. To get a clearer picture of a troubled housing authority, officials in Washington would have to gather information from regional offices.

The documents the AP reviewed showed a housing system in which agencies must become nearly insolvent before the federal government steps in. And even when Washington does intervene, the mismanagement can continue for years while the U.S. continues subsidizing the housing agency.

The U.S. public housing system is a bureaucratic labyrinth of local, state and federal governments and nonprofit, quasi-government housing agencies. Housing budgets are typically controlled by housing boards, separate from city budgets. Depending on the city, mayors and city councils may or may not have a say in how the boards are run.

Some boards don't meet regularly. Or if they do, they don't keep minutes of their meetings. Benton Harbor, Mich., is home to what federal regulators described as an "unmotivated board."

That leads to situations like the one in Philadelphia, where the mayor wants the authority to appoint more members of the housing board. In Garrison, Texas, where the housing authority has been cited for overspending and poor money management, the federal government's improvement plan included asking the mayor to appoint someone with financial experience to the board.

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, who is investigating HUD for subsidizing housing for thousands of sex offenders, said it's up to the Obama administration to fix these problems.

"It's an understatement that too many public housing authorities operate poorly," Grassley said.

But such problems have existed for decades, making HUD a target of criticism through Democratic and Republican administrations.

"A lot of people assume that HUD can snap its fingers and make it all better," said Sandra Henriquez, assistant secretary for Indian and public housing. "We are asset managers. We are not responsible for the direct day-to-day operation of any housing authority."

Housing authorities draw most of their money from the $26 billion budget of HUD's Office of Public and Indian Housing. But that money doesn't buy Washington control of the nation's 3,300 housing authorities.

It's not hard for local housing officials to keep problems under wraps, or at least make them appear manageable, particularly in smaller communities that aren't scrutinized as big cities. Often, by the time Washington gets wind of problems, the housing authority's balance sheet is full of negative numbers.

"Since we're the regulator, the compliance monitor, people will do anything to keep HUD out of their business, and therefore aren't forthright and get too far down the road before they ask for help," Henriquez said.

Once a housing authority is in trouble, finding someone to fix the problem can be difficult. New housing executives often don't know what they're up against until they walk in the door and discover years of mismanagement.

"When you open a file and you see nothing on the financial side has been done, it gets awfully scary. You don't know where to start," said Joe Torres, the acting housing director in Willacy County, Texas. Torres is the fourth person to occupy the job since mid-2008. The county is still looking for a permanent replacement.

Haphazard record keeping can extend to policies, too. Housing authorities in Royal Oak Township, Mich., New Britain, Conn., and Lackawanna, N.Y., have been cited for having inadequate or nonexistent policies for writing checks, dipping into petty cash, swiping government credit cards or using government vehicles.

With so much federal money coming in and such lax policies about how to spend it, the potential for misuse is great.

For years, Doris Marie Abeyta wrote checks to her family from the Alamosa, Colo., housing authority accounts. It wasn't difficult: Board members regularly signed blank checks and relied on employees to fill them out.

The executive director, Patricia Martinez, didn't mind. She was embezzling, too. By the time they got caught, Abeyta had taken more than $400,000, Martinez nearly $1.3 million.

Prosecutors said the two began dipping into the accounts in 1998, stopped when HUD audited the housing authority in 2006, then started up again in 2007. Both pleaded guilty to embezzlement and are serving prison terms.

If things go really wrong at a housing authority, Washington can put its organization in receivership, essentially seizing control. There are six local housing authorities under HUD receivership. Taking control of all 146 troubled housing authorities would be a huge new federal expense.

"The biggest stick we have is to shut off funding. We'll turn off the money until you say, 'OK, OK, OK,'" Henriquez said. "But what that really does, that punishes the people who need the subsidy. That punishes the residents who need the service."

So, while some housing authorities make progress, others have problems year after year. In mid-2008, federal officials cited Corsicana, Texas, for its long delays in filling vacant apartments. It shouldn't take much more than a month to fill a vacancy, HUD said. In Corsicana, it took an average of five months. The report noted that Corsicana had unnecessarily long delays in 2005, 2006 and 2007.

"It takes housing authorities a while to get into noticeable, demonstrable trouble," Henriquez said. "However long it took them to get into trouble, it will take them at least that long if not longer to get out of it."

Henriquez said the Obama administration wants to have another option, a threat that housing authorities would take seriously but wouldn't amount to widespread eviction. She also said she'd like HUD to replace the single housing authority audit with more focused reviews that would help HUD spot problems sooner.

Both of those changes could require congressional approval.

When stories like the Alamosa embezzlement case or the Philadelphia scandal emerge, there's a temptation to put new regulations in place, said Michael Liu, who served as President George W. Bush's first head of Public and Indian Housing. But often that just means more paperwork and more headaches for local officials, raising the likelihood that they'll cut more corners.

For now, the system clunks along. Names come off the troubled list and are replaced by new ones. The size of the list changes some, but it hovers at around 4 percent of the nation's housing authorities. For some, the black mark prods them to make changes quickly.

For others, like the housing authority in Winter Haven, Fla., years pass with little improvement. The organization has been labeled troubled since 2003. Five years later, an inspector found the housing authority was not preparing monthly budget analyses, its staff and managers were inadequately trained, and the board's monitoring and accountability were inadequate.

Today, seven years after it first appeared on the list, Winter Haven remains troubled.