Supporting the Troops

This is unbelievable:

Michael Clauer is a captain in the Army Reserve who commanded over 100 soldiers in Iraq. But while he was fighting for his country, a different kind of battle was brewing on the home front. Last September, Michael returned to Frisco, Texas, to find that his homeowners’ association had foreclosed on his $300,000 house—and sold it for $3,500. This is story illustrates the type of legal quagmire that can get out of hand while soldiers are serving abroad and their families are dealing with the stress of their deployment. And fixing the mess isn’t easy.


Seeking to avoid hearing about the situation in Iraq, May stopped watching the news. She rarely answered the door, and Michael says he couldn’t tell her when he went “outside the wire”—off-base. May also stopped opening the mail. “I guess she was scared that she would hear bad news,” says Michael. That was why she missed multiple notices from the Heritage Lakes Homeowners Association informing her that the family owed $800 in dues—and then subsequent notices stating that the HOA was preparing to foreclose on the debt and seize the home.

In Texas, homeowners’ associations can foreclose on homes without a court order, no matter the size of the debt. In May 2008, the HOA sold the Clauers’ home for a pittance—$3,500—although its appraisal value was $300,000, according to court documents. The buyer then resold the house to a third person. (Select Management Co., the company that manages Heritage Lakes, declined to comment for this story.)

It wasn’t until June 2009 that May realized what had happened. Around that time, the new owner started demanding rent from the Clauers. She told Michael, who was still in Iraq. “At first I didn’t believe it,” he says. “I didn’t understand how someone can take your house and not give you anything for it.” When Texas Gov. Rick Perry visited Iraq in July, Michael says he told him about the problem. According to Michael, Perry called May and put lawyers in touch with the Clauers’ attorney, but couldn’t do much to alleviate the situation. (Perry’s office didn’t respond to calls seeking comment.) In August 2009, the new owner sent the couple an eviction notice, according to court records filed in the case. In Iraq, “the stress level was finally starting to come down,” says Michael, and he was “starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.” He adds, “Then all of a sudden I get hit with this, and I’m trying to get out of there and get home and see what I can do to fight this.”

There are so many things shocking about this, but what struck me the most was the nonchalance of Rick Perry. You would think any politician would realize the golden opportunity to look like the hero here- particularly intervening in the favor of an Army Reservist and resident of your state.

But then again, empathy is overrated in the GOP.

Not Sure What To Make of This

From the Federation of American Scientists:

Basic scientific research sponsored by the Department of Defense has suffered a precipitous decline in recent years, according to a newly disclosed 2009 report (pdf) from the JASON defense advisory panel.

“Basic research” refers to the investigation of fundamental phenomena, and contrasts with “applied research” that aims to meet a specific mission requirement or to solve a specified problem.

“Over the past decade, there has been an exodus of scientific and technical expertise from the U.S. government and, in particular, from the DoD [basic] research enterprise,” the JASONs said.

“Gone are many of the technically literate program officers who plied the streets of the scientific community to find those remarkable people who could help shape the future. Gone too are many of the scientists and engineers in the academic community [who were supported by DoD basic research contracts] and who contributed to revolutionary advances that changed the landscape of modern war fighting. And most importantly, lost is the opportunity to develop the next generation of scientific talent who would otherwise have been trained and capable of carrying the research enterprise forward.”

“Despite the importance of DoD Basic Research, we believe that important aspects of the DoD basic research programs are ‘broken’ to an extent that neither throwing more money at these problems nor simple changes in procedures and definitions will fix them,” the report said.

Anyone know more about this?

Republicans to Calderon: Callate, Pendejo

Here’s a little thought experiment: Imagine that Mexican Constitution made explosives legal, that Mexico had thousands of shops in border towns selling hand grenades, and that shit was blowing up everywhere here. Then imagine that Obama addressed the Mexican Congress and said the following:

And with all due respect, if you do not regulate the sale of these weapons in the right way, nothing guarantees that criminals here in the Mexico, with access to the same powerful weapons, will not decide to challenge Mexican authority and civilians.

My guess is that Cornyn and Kyl would be yelling treason, while McCain would be commandeering the Arizona National Guard as part of his invasion plan.

Those mild words (with references to the US, not Mexico) are what Felipe Calderon said yesterday in Congress. He’s concerned because the current violence in Mexico is armed in part from the 7,000 stores selling assault weapons on the US/Mexico border. Fewer than half of the Republicans in Congress bothered to show up, and here’s Cornyn:

“I have great respect for President Calderon, but he really shouldn’t turn this into an opportunity to tell us we should change our laws,” Cornyn said. He said that the Second Amendment, which gives Americans the right to bear arms, wasn’t a subject for diplomatic discussions.

I wonder what would happen if half of the Republicans missed one of Bibi Netanyahu’s joint addresses to Congress, and if the ones who did attend told him to STFU.

Sounds of silence

Presumably, the attacks will come, but I’m very surprised that there has been no mention yet at The New Republic or The Weekly Standard of Peter Beinart’s excellent, brutal anti-AIPAC/TNR/Weekly Standard piece from the New York Review of Books.

Beinart is a former TNR editor, as well as a big Iraq War pimp, so perhaps that inoculates him from the full 5,000-word Wieseltier treatment, but it’s been over 24 hours and no one has called him a self-hating appeaser of Islamofascism yet. What gives?

Worth a read

Israel is not my favorite topic and Peter Beinart is certainly not my favorite writer, but this New York Review of Books piece is gutsy:

Morally, American Zionism is in a downward spiral. If the leaders of groups like AIPAC and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations do not change course, they will wake up one day to find a younger, Orthodox-dominated, Zionist leadership whose naked hostility to Arabs and Palestinians scares even them, and a mass of secular American Jews who range from apathetic to appalled. Saving liberal Zionism in the United States—so that American Jews can help save liberal Zionism in Israel—is the great American Jewish challenge of our age. And it starts where Luntz’s students wanted it to start: by talking frankly about Israel’s current government, by no longer averting our eyes.

A good start would be to stop describing neoconservatism as “pro-Israel”. Facilitating irrational, suicidal behavior is not normally considered supportive.