Wednesday, May 20, 2009

On Not Closing Guantanamo - The Fear-Mongering of Republicans Never Ceases to Amaze Me

We have all kinds of dangerous Americans in prison.

And yet...

Republicans have brainwashed people (including, sadly, a bunch of Democrats) into believing that about 200 terrorism suspects can't be housed in American prisons.

These terrorism suspects don't have super-powers. They've not going to jump over the fences, mind-control all the guards or create an atomic bomb out of their tea. So why not house them in American military jails? Didn't we manage Germans and Japanese in American military jails without having them invade America? Maybe Americans were just smarter and braver during World War II.

I suspect the majority of the people remaining in Guantanamo probably do have ties to terrorism. We've released nearly 500 "terrorists" from Guantanamo over the last seven years because there was inadequate evidence (even by Bush administration "standards") to hold them.

What should happen is that the remaining terrorism suspects should be moved to at least two American military prisons and they should be tried. If they're innocent, they should be returned to their countries. If they're guilty, they should serve out their term in an American military prison. Obama has forcefully stated that America won't continue the heinous practices of the Bush administration, including terrorism. But holding terrorism suspects indefinitely in a third-party country has seemed, frankly, as un-American as engaging in torture.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Some Signs of Life in the Pittsburgh Housing Market

The Pittsburgh housing market had a massive crash in the late '70s and early '80s when manufacturing jobs went abroad. I remember coming in from Ohio to visit Jim's family and seeing literally half the houses in some neighborhoods with For Sale signs. As a result of that massive crash, the Pittsburgh housing market has been on the cheap side ever since. So, while parts of the rest of the national housing market have been crashing, Pittsburgh's housing market hasn't lost too much value, though it has been on the quiet side.

We live in the country not too far from Pittsburgh International Airport, in a development of new houses. The oldest house in our development is about six years old, and most of them are in the three-four year range. I generally like it, except for the need to drive everywhere to get anything (*sigh*). But, it's quiet and we finally have the space to shelve all of our books.

When we moved out here three years ago, there were about 100 houses built, in an area where, maybe, something like 220 houses could be built total. While there was a fair amount of building activity for the first year, the last two years have only seen one or two houses being built at a time.

I took a longer walk than usual today, and walked up into the newest street. Where about six weeks ago, there were, maybe, two houses being built, there are five new houses framed-in and two cellars. A surprising increase in activity.

The builder builds big but not "luxury" homes, so they are fairly affordable. And there's maybe only about 10 existing houses in the neighborhood that are on the market. But that upswing in new construction is interesting and is probably some good economic news.