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Friday News: RIP Earl Hamner of “The Waltons;” T-Mac Bizarrely Pleased...

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by Lowell Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Friday, March 25. Also check out the NewsHour's interview last...

Progressive Champ Barney Frank Retiring from Congress

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Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) announced today he won't seek another term, pledging not to become a lobbyist like so many of his former colleagues. Rep. Frank was The Green Miles' member of Congress for several years & once came to speak to my high school government class. I've always admired his unapologetic progressivism, exemplified by this quote from a 2008 profile of Rep. Frank in The New Republic: "When [Barack Obama] said we shouldn't fight the fights of the '90s, I said, 'Well, what about abortion? Gay rights? Which one do you want me to give up?'"

But Rep. Frank may be best remembered for showing reasonable Americans how to stand up to the Tea Party's angry, hateful conspiracy theories. In 2009 at the height of the Tea Party's disruptions of Congressional town hall meetings, a Tea Partier at one of Rep. Frank's sessions compared President Obama to Hitler. Rep. Frank first rejected her comparison with a rational response, but when she persisted, Rep. Frank told her, "Trying to have a conversation with you would be like trying to argue with a dining room table. I have no interest in doing it."

Bonus clip of Rep. Frank teaching House Republicans how to use Robert's Rules of Order after the jump.

The Indignity of Home Finance and More

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The righteous pontificators claim the housing bubble was the product of Barney, Fannie, Freddie, and policies that encouraged individual home ownership. Their perspective is that of millionaires without a nickel's worth of contemporary financial or life experience. Ethically corrupt lenders fostered liar's loans and the financial firewall of spurious derivatives.

There are many reasons why the real estate market is in the tank and that lenders are much more cautious than during the go-go days. But there is no good reason for the whipsaw lending environment that has turned the home buying experience into an undignified series of insults. Today's buyers are paying the bill for financial institutions that kept a blind eye to economic reality because they knew they could assign unwarranted risk away from themselves through derivatives. That combined with a very forgiving market created a highly risk tolerant environment that encouraged unwarranted loan approvals. Bob Brinker has it right when he says that never did the government tell lenders: "Go forth and make bad loans."

Recent experience is a contrast in then and now. A decade ago I purchased a home. Closing was a painless process that I should have paid more attention to, but was so easy I didn't give it a second thought. My wife and I were in and out of closing in less than an hour, no questions asked on either side of the table. Last fall, we decided to relocate and began a painful and disheartening journey through Virginia culminating in a tortuous and insulting process that had us very close to just walking away.