They got you thinkin’ that what you need is what they sellin’, made you think that buyin’ is rebellin’

I think my head is going to blow off of my shoulders this morning.

(CNN) — Three violent deaths in two stores marred the opening of the Christmas shopping season Friday.

A Wal-Mart employee at this Long Island location was killed in a rush early Friday morning.
A Wal-Mart employee at this Long Island location was killed in a rush early Friday morning.

In the first, a temporary Wal-Mart employee was trampled to death in a rush of thousands of early morning shoppers as he and other employees attempted to unlock the doors of a Long Island, New York, store at 5 a.m., police said.

…..”Several minutes” passed before others were able to clear space around the man and attempt to render aid. Police arrived, and “as they were giving first aid, those police officers were also jostled and pushed,” he said.
Sorry, everyone. There won’t be any Wine Dog shopping this year. Not because I don’t love you, not because I’m not willing to find you the perfect trinket, but because I am disgusted by the State of our Nation. I listened to BaaBaaWaaWaa interview Obama last night. He was so thoughtful about how the Captains of Industry who are laying off employees need to dial down their own salaries and bonuses, a drum I beat but not so thoughtfully over here at PBE. Maybe as a country we’re going to start to get it, I thought. He talked about turning off lights in his house at night and how he didn’t see how that was going to change at the White House. Maybe with he can turn this bitch around. The show was peppered with a gazillion Black Friday ads. And Black Friday it was for this family. Thousands of these people trampled the man so they could buy more cheap shit made in China. That is obscene. Even Justice Potter Stewart ought to know it. A 34 year old man died yesterday opening the doors to freaking Walmart when he was trampled. People continued to step on and over him and “jostle” the police and paramedics who were trying to help him. What a bunch of ignorant sheep assholes.
One of the things I notice in all of these REO properties I go into is how much crap they leave behind. On several occasions I’ve seen the brackets for multiple mounted big screens throughout the home. Piles of crap left behind that we have to wait while the attorneys go through their machinations. Useless crap, but by law the attorneys have to follow certain steps. I always look at that crap and think “What if you didn’t buy this crap and paid your mortgage instead?” Public Storage has made a bizillion dollars storing our crap. Builders have made a ton of money selling bigger homes so we had more room for our crap. What are we doing? We are a tribe wandering in the desert with no water for days but we will walk miles out of our way just to pick up a shiny object.
I’m sick of retailers. I’m sick of marketing. I’m sick of commercials. I’m sick of outsourcing and I’m sick of cheap crap from China. I don’t want to Expect More Pay Less while children work in sweat shops in third world countries. I don’t want to Save More Live Better if it means a man making $7 an hour gets trampled to death unlocking the door for a Christmas sale. I’ll pay more or go without simplify. And at the end of the day, I will live better.

Three scientists who are engaged in diabolical, avant-garde experiments previously performed only on insects and other small, meaningless creatures.

Where to start this morning?  Let’s start with the fun stuff.  Sonofabun wanted to be mentioned on PBE, he was feeling a little lonely I guess, so he did what any interloper would do.  He opened a spectacular bottle of wine.  It was a double mag of Marcelina 1995 Cabernet Sauvignon.  It was an excellent offering.  Marcelina is a product of the third generation of Gallo’s.  The grandkids make better wine than any of their forefathers.  I’ve had numerous fine offerings from their projects.  The same can be said for the Mondavi family.  This wine was smoky, with subtle fruit.  The tannins had mellowed properly with the time in the bottle and it was the perfect wine for a monstrous turkey dinner.  Sonofabun is also an amazing cook.  Almost as good as the Wine Dog.  One day we will play Iron Chef and he will have to fall on his knives in defeat!  OK, I might not have been able to brine a turkey like he did.  It came out perfectly.  He does Southern style sweet potatoes, which would be a preference of mine.  And we all ate too much to get to his desserts, with the noted exception of the maple frosted pecan something or anothers, of which I had 40 or so.  I do love me some maple.

Wednesday was the Wine Dog Family Massacree.  This occurs in Davis, California.  This was the first gathering since my Uncle’s passing several years ago.  There had been rumblings for the last few years and this year my cousin pulled the trigger.  All the Usual Suspects made the pilgrimage.  Cousin from Another Time Zone played chauffeur to the Old Folks, freeing up The Brother and I to hang out with the cousins like we did in our misspent youth.  Personally, I have never attended the Attack on Sac.  That occurs the night before Thanksgiving and hasn’t occurred in recent times, but it is the stuff that family lore is made of.  The Brother baked the pies.  Drambouie in a pumpkin pie, who’d a thunk it?  The Brother, that’s who.  He can put booze in just about anything and make it work.  He also did a sweet potato cheesecake.  A nice twist on the pumpkin cheesecake thing.  Cousin from Another Time Zone was assigned a fruited dessert.  We felt The Brother was expecting a cobbler, though he denies it.  We got all mavericky and baked a Maple Cranberry Pudding Cake.  It rocked.  I was in charge of salads so we had a Spinach, Hazelnut dried cranberry salad, an updated Waldorf and a Caesar.  Much debate was had over the anchovies, but in the end the voice said “No Anchovies Please”.   The Sailor prepared the perfect turkey.  I cracked a Chappallet Los Piedros, a 2002 Clos Pegase Cabernet Sauvignon and a 2004 Gunlach Bundchu Pinot Noir.

I am actually getting bored picking on LandAmerica.  (I’m sure that’s music to Richmond’s ears)  I will say I got a lot of stuff from the State of Nebraska and it took a day or two for my mind to remember that Commonwealth and Lawyers are domiciled in Nebraska.  I always thought that was kind of weird.  I still do.  Commonwealth was always a PA company to me.  I’ve worked for them several times over the years.  My last stint was when it was moved to Nebraska and I just completely spaced that out.  Lawyers Title has never mattered in Northern California.  They’ve been real players in other parts of the country, even somewhat in Southern California, just never much up here.  They do get big chunks of really big commercial stuff, I think just because the word “Lawyer” is in their name.

I’m really amazed that no one is taking the current administration to task on this bail out.  For the guys that have been talking “free market” and all that bullshit for eight years, they’re sure spending a lot of government tax dollars bailing out their cronies.  Yeah, it needs to happen or the whole thing is going to, well there’s going to be a huge sucking sound.  But really, according to your “economics” the government shouldn’t be bailing these guys out.  Who knows better than New Yorkers?  We might be heading to a tea party.  Anybody heard a word about privatization of Social Security recently?  OK, GW couldn’t fly a plane, find oil in Texas, run the Texas Rangers and I think we can put another feather in his cap full of incompetency.  He couldn’t run the country either.  Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover and Jimmy Carter can relax.  The worst President ever is number 43.

Now after two days of eating, I’m off to the gym, for about three hours.  Maybe four.  Where’s Jillian Michaels when you need her?

NASCAR Teddy speaks

From: LandAmerica CEO Communication
To: DL – Everyone at LandAmerica
Sent: Wed Nov 26 02:14:31 2008
Subject: LandAmerica Agrees to Sell Title Operations to Fidelity

Yesterday, we signed an agreement <http://landam.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=43&item=544 <http://landam.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=43&amp;item=544> >  to sell our principal title operations to Fidelity. This positive development is good news for our title insurance customers, employees and those who support them. Some employees will become part of the Transition Services team to assist with the orderly transition of our title operations to Fidelity. For those working in non-title subsidiaries, we will continue to assess the ongoing operations of those businesses. As we move forward, we will know more about the general impact of this transaction and will share that with you.

In order to make this transaction happen, we’ve had to take two important steps. First, we filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for our holding company, LandAmerica Financial Group, Inc. and for our 1031 company, LandAmerica 1031 Exchange Services. Chapter 11 is a relief provision that enables a company with financial pressures to take care of its customers, employees and creditors in an orderly process. In effect, Chapter 11 is the way we will address the significant level of debt at the holding company.

It’s important to note that LandAmerica has over 150 separate legal entities and only two of them are in protection under Chapter 11. All of our other companies are in operation as part of LandAmerica.

The Nebraska Department of Insurance (NEDOI) is taking the other step that must occur to move our business to Fidelity. On Monday, the NEDOI filed a court order to take over our underwriters in a process called “rehabilitation.” This is critical to the process that allows Fidelity to obtain our underwriters.

Both steps, Chapter 11 for two companies and rehabilitation for our underwriters, in coordination with the stock purchase, are in the best interests of all stakeholders. While we need to obtain certain approvals, we anticipate closing as early as year-end. These actions also enable two trusted and well-respected underwriting institutions, Lawyers Title and Commonwealth, to remain strong, viable contributors to the Fidelity family of title insurance companies.

This has been an anxious and unsettling time for all of us. We will continue to update you as decisions are made. Please read the attached Q&A for employees; customer flyers are also provided for each channel.

I am deeply disappointed over the need to file for bankruptcy protection for the LandAmerica holding company and the 1031 company. The sale of our principal title operations to Fidelity offers our stakeholders the best result available in this brutal real estate, credit and capital market environment. The vast majority of our employees will have the opportunity to become part of the largest, most financially sound title insurance company in our industry as the next chapter of our history begins.

Ted

Theodore L. Chandler, Jr.
Chairman and CEO
LandAmerica

p.s. I’m an idiot.

Kid, have you rehabilitated yourself?

Our girl is singing in Richmond this morning.

This makes me extremely sad. I’ve been screwing around for the better portion of a year picking on NASCAR Teddy, but this shit is serious. It’s people’s jobs. Thousands of jobs. Thousands of lives. I sure hope the board sat down and pulled all executive compensation, barred all dividends and sent NASCAR Teddy and his pit crew to the wood shed. Those assholes had better be working for $1 a month until they get this straightened out. I just hate when these dumbass executives sit around and and blame market conditions. It’s not market conditions. It’s your asinine egos and operating on credit. That’s what got you into this fine mess. Many of your units would operating properly if not for your business practices. Monstrous losses to fund the claims reserves because you outsourced the work to a foreign country does not make sense. How am I the only guy that understands that? Nevermind, OTG and Skippy get that just fine. They’ll know the exact figure, but claims reserves used to be 4% of revenue. Then it moved up to 9%. I’m now hearing numbers in the 20’s. How does that justify your outsourcing operations? The worst part of all this is that Bill ends up with the title units anyway. How can the regulators let one company, one guy, control this much of a business sector? This is terrible for the employees and awful for the consumer too. This week a FNF entity tried to charge my customer $25 for plotting out the freaking legal description on a map! No easements, just the legal. Are you kidding me? They told me they had to outsource a color coded map! Get a effin’ crayola and do your goddamned job! WTF? And this from the guy who’s going to get 46 percent of the market. Great for the consumer. Not so much. I hate being the back in the day when I was young sort, but for the love of God, every damned Title Officer used to have a freaking protractor and a rule and a box of colored pencils in their drawers. If they can’t run out the legal description, how the hell do they know what they’re insuring. This is the future of this industry and it’s a disaster for the consumer.

On another front, some idiot lender has quit accepting closing letters from LandAmerica agents. Huh?

…..will discontinue accepting Insured Closing Letters or wiring funds to any LandAmerica title agents. The following is a list of LandAmerica title underwriters to whom this will apply:

Commonwealth Land Title Insurance Company

Land Title Insurance Company

LandAmerica NJ Title Insurance Company

Lawyers Title Insurance Company

Title Insurance Company of America (TICA)

United Capital Title Insurance Company

I’m guessing this intellectual jewel came out of New Jersey. Nuff said. I’ll toss this one over to OTG.

The real pisser is that I wasn’t going to talk about title insurance. I was going to post a cute picture of my dogs and talk about training Rita last night at the Dog Club and what a great job she did. Now I’m really pissed off at NASCAR Teddy. But it’s the day before Thanksgiving, and actually the day of the Wine Dog Family Massacre, so here’s a cute picture of the dogs.

And here’s to hoping that LandAmerica doesn’t do anything else stupid today so we can all go have a nice turkey day. Oh, and a shout out to the Player, because you did the honorable thing, and oh yeah, you rock. Happy Thanksgiving…y’all!

[youtube 5_7C0QGkiVo]

No sweeping exits or offstage lines

Ahh, gentle readers. Y’all are so kind to me. Internal memo that goes something like this:

Sent: Tuesday, November 25, 2008 2:07 PM
Subject: 1031 Residential Customer Questions.pdf – Adobe Acrobat Standard

Our company is at a critical juncture, and you are on the front lines fighting for our survival. Thank you for that. I know you want answers, and I will do my best to describe where we are at this point in time.

When LandAmerica released third quarter 2008 results, we identified a „liquidity‰ problem inside our 1031 operation. For years, we have invested 1031 exchange funds in a type of investment called “auction rate securities.” These are considered cash equivalents, and during the year, the issuers of these securities would hold an “auction” so that investors could buy or sell their securities. In February, the market for these securities evaporated, meaning no buyers existed for sellers like us.

We’ve pursued many options to find liquidity. We even worked a liquidity line of credit into the proposed transaction with Fidelity. We talked to the federal government about bailout money, and on November 12, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said only banks and automakers would be recipients. We did all we could, and our last resort was to close our 1031 operations.

That action, of course, sent customers ˆ and you, our valued employees ˆ into turmoil yesterday. One thing you can do is help customers understand that our underwriters remain financially solvent with over $300 million in combined statutory surplus and some of the industry‚s most stringent requirements for reserves in place to protect our policyholders. Over $1.1 billion in cash and investments back the claims reserves of our underwriters.

What are we doing in the meantime? Whatever option you may have considered, we are probably working on it. Every alternative we are pursuing requires intensive negotiations with a number of parties, which makes the process very fluid.

This is a hard time for all of us. Please know that your leadership is fighting for our customers‚ business day and night at the highest levels, and the last chapter has yet to be written!

Don’t give up.

Sincerely,

Sincerely, are you kidding me? Oh hell yeah. Check this out.

1031-residentiae280a6r-questions

residential-cuse280a6email-flyer

I’d say they’re in full scale damage control.  I got three words Teddy.  Horse.  Barn.  Gone.

Now all you have to do is find the leak.