April 13, 2007

To Our Americans Serving in Iraq

Bob Parks is a genius. Put him on in Imus' place.

I've added Bob's website Black and Right to the blogroll

Busy Sunday?

Come on, it is for a good cause....

And so it begins....

Media Matters, April 12:

On April 11, NBC News announced that it was dropping MSNBC's simulcast of Imus in the Morning in the wake of the controversy that erupted over host Don Imus' reference to the Rutgers University women's basketball team as "nappy-headed hos." The following day, CBS president and CEO Leslie Moonves announced that CBS -- which owns both the radio station that broadcast Imus' program and Westwood One, which syndicated the program -- has fired Imus and would cease broadcasting his radio show. But as Media Matters for America has extensively documented, bigotry and hate speech targeting, among other characteristics, race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and ethnicity continue to permeate the airwaves through personalities such as Glenn Beck, Neal Boortz, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, Michael Savage, Michael Smerconish, and John Gibson.

So here we have it the hate left going against what they perceive to be EVIL CONSERVATIVE speech fueled oddly enough by the bad speech of a liberal.

Media Matters has zero credibility, they are not concerned with speech, they are only concerned with conservative speech.

This is from their mission statement: Media Matters for America is a Web-based, not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media.

A charity to attack conservative speech, God forbid someone has an opinion different than theirs.

If these people wanted to look into all speech, fine, this is strictly ideology based, and it is disgusting.

This is what the left has become of late, and it is this type of activity that leads Presidential candidates to skip debates based strictly on who is holding them!

Can you imagine a conservative skipping a debate on CBS? But that is what it is to be a modern day liberal, you must believe that no media is biased except Fox. Gimme' a break.

It is becoming clearer every day that the liberals who are leading the movement do not want to do anything other than attack their opponents, they offer no ideas, they are only offering investigations, witch hunts and in this case ridiculous one sided attacks.

Big Brother is out there and he hides behind the word progressive. There is nothing progressive about this.

RTA Shame

As we have written about here before, the Regional Transit Authority (RTA) has proposed a 650% increase in a rental car user fee from $2 to $15.

The $2 fee was instituted in 2005. Since that time the $2 rental fee has raised approximately $500,000 in taxes.

$496,000 of that money has been used up in a lobbying contract to raise taxes even higher for the proposed KRM (Kenosha, Racine, Milwaukee) rail line.

Yes $496,000 of $500,000 in tax money went to lobbyists to try to raise taxes higher.

There is a press conference/rally scheduled for this Monday the 16th of April at the Port of Milwaukee, the site of the scheduled RTA meeting, to bring this information forward to the public.

In a cowardly move, the RTA has cancelled their meeting, but the rally will go on.

Scheduled to speak are Chris Klisemet of Citizens for Responsible Government, Mark Block of Americans for Prosperity, and myself.

The total annual cost of the proposed transit (including capital cost amortization) is expected to consist of an 82% government subsidy --- Taxpayers pay 58% of the $10,900,000 annual operating cost and 100% of the $15,000,000 annual capital amortization cost. Annual cost to taxpayers is $21,300,000; riders, $4,600,000 (that is ---eventually, when ridership peaks).

The RTA wants to tell you that this is tax we will not pay, not true. Fully half of all rental car business comes from the local area. And if taxes are jacked up on rental cars insurance policies that include rental car coverage will be increased to cover the costs. Those increased premiums we will all pay.

And what happens when this revenue line does raise enough revenue to pay for the operating shortfall? Think about it.

Add that to the fact that the proposed rail line going all along the Kenosha to Milwaukee corridor does not even include a stop at the airport and what do you have?

Transit for transit sake, and a bad plan at that.

I'm all for mass transit, but the KRM line is nothing but a mass folly being thrust upon the taxpayers of the region.

$496,000 of $500,000 to hire lobbyists to increase taxes. Shameful.

Update: Owen and Peter are on this.

April 12, 2007

Cat Fan

Here come the thought police.

'It is our feeling that this is only the beginning. We must have a broad discussion on what is permitted and not permitted in terms of the airwaves" Al Sharpton.

Star Trek Meets Monty Python

Guilty pleasures meshed...

It is time to play our favorite game show....

What is 2070?

UPDATE: This was post # 2070 of Real Debate Wisconsin. I usually mention in passing when we pass a major number, but I was busy campaigning I let 2,000 pass me by.


NEW YORK - CBS fired Don Imus from his radio show Thursday, the finale to a stunning fall for one of the nation's most prominent broadcasters.
Imus initially was given a two-week suspension, to start Monday, for calling the Rutgers women's basketball team "nappy-headed hos" on the air last week, but outrage continued to grow and advertisers bolted from his programs.
"There has been much discussion of the effect language like this has on our young people, particularly young women of color trying to make their way in this society," CBS President and Chief Executive Officer Leslie Moonves said in announcing the decision. "That consideration has weighed most heavily on our minds as we made our decision."
Rutgers women's basketball team spokeswoman Stacey Brann said the team did not have an immediate comment on Imus' firing but would be issuing a statement later Thursday evening.

Jim Doyle is ____________________

I really enjoyed the global warming is _________________ thing. Keep it pithy though folks.


Jim Doyle is _____________________________.

Next... G Dub is.......

April 11, 2007

Prosecutors drop all charges in Duke rape case....

I'm wondering exactly when Al Sharpton & Jessee Jackson will be apologizing to the Duke students?

Enough Said

The protest has been canceled.
They could not get a permit and they expected way over 50 people.
People holding a protest who upholding the law as a concept is more important than the protest itself.
What a concept.

Major League Awards

This is from God Hates Cleveland Sports, an optimistic place to discuss all things using a ball in Cleveland.

They must have found a live chicken

The last time the Indians played home games in Milwaukee, they made the playoffs. Well, kind of. That was back in 1989, when the Indians making the playoffs was so much a fantasy they made a movie about just exactly what would happen if the Indians DID make the playoffs. Yep, "Major League" actually had its baseball scenes filmed at old Milwaukee County Stadium.

Now, thanks to Mother Nature, the Indians have returned to use Milwaukee's Miller Park as their home stadium. This time it's for real. And it just so happens to coincide with the DVD release of "Major League: Wild Thing Edition."

The Indians used a little of the Wild Thing magic to attract more than 20,000 fans to the opening game of the series with the Los Angeles Angels, and to hold on for a 7-6 victory. To honor the bizarre turn of events that has sent the Indians a few hundred miles west for some home games, and to honor one of the best sports movies of all time, here's the "Major League" awards for the first game of the series.

Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn Award -- to Tribe reliever Joe Borowski, who gave up two hits and one run to "earn" the save. For the second time he was bailed out by his defense, this time when catcher Kelly Shoppach gunned down pinch-runner Erik Aybar trying to steal second to end the game. Don't feel bad, Erick, Babe Ruth was once thrown out stealing to end a World Series! Perhaps Borowski needs glasses. Hey, he was serenaded to the Wild Thing music when he entered the game, so why not?

Harry Doyle Award -- to Sports Time Ohio color man Rick Manning, who sported the Wild Thing glasses during the pregame, although there was a nice big piece of masking tape holding them together in the middle. Rumor has it a couple pitches were even thrown just a bit outside.

Jake Taylor Award -- to Ryan Garko, who would have found himself behind the plate for the first time in the bigs if anything had happened to Kelly Shoppach, like an anvil falling out of the sky and landing on his head. The Indians believe Victor Martinez can return to action soon, perhaps the only blessing from the snowed-out series, meaning Garko is the only option for the tools of ignorance should disaster strike. And who could ever believe that anything would?

Eddie Harris Award -- to Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez, who was accused last week of using an illegal substance which he supposedly hid under the bill of his cap. K-Rod stayed in the bullpen during this one, and no one accused him of anything, be it Bardol, Crisco, or Vagisil.

Willie Mays Hayes Award -- to Grady Sizemore, who stole a career-high three bases, though he did not whip out an American Express card when he slid safely into any of them. He even mixed in a popout, though no push-ups.

Jobu Award -- to Slider, who made the trip with the rest of the team and even got to be a real slider when he slid down from Bernie Brewer's platform after home runs by Shoppach and Casey Blake. Or was it renamed Bernie Kosar's platform for this series? And no one told Slider to **** off!

Pedro Cerrano Award -- to Angels outfielder Vladimir Guerrero, who never met a pitch he didn't like. But even though he liked them all, they didn't like him yesterday, as he apparently had problems with the curveball, going 0-for-5 with a strikeout. Who knows, though, maybe Guerrero will grow up to become president of the Dominican Republic some day, at least on a television show.

Lou Brown Award -- to Eric Wedge, who didn't have to worry about his opposing manager pulling any stall tactics to get the game canceled due to bad weather. Even the 10 inches of snow predicted to hit Milwaukee overnight won't affect the rest of this series, thanks to the Miller Park retractable roof.

Roger Dorn Award -- NOT to Josh Barfield, who did dive for a ground ball off the ball of Orlando Cabrera, starting a nifty double play in the third inning. No word on whether Barfield wants to be an interior decorator when his playing days are over.

And now that the first game of one of the craziest series you'll see is over with, there's only one thing left to do.

Win the whole ********* thing.

Thompson Biskupic and Doyle, oh my.

I had a request yesterday for a Georgia Thompson post. Frankly I have not known what to think of this. This appellate decision could be over-turned i think this is far from over. And now we have people playing politics demanding an investigation to see if this was political, it boggles the mind. Seriously though if they want to look at aprtisan prosecutions they need not look any further than the Madison DA's office.

This Isthmus article sums things up nicely.

As legal developments go, this one was a stunner, a moment worthy of "Perry Mason" -- you know, where the legendary TV lawyer would deftly get a witness on the stand to confess to the crime, vindicating the defendant.

After just 26 minutes of oral arguments, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals threw out the conviction of Georgia Thompson, the former state Department of Administration official, on charges of fraud. Thompson, who steadfastly maintained her innocence, had been prosecuted by U.S. Attorney Steve Biskupic in a case seized on by his fellow Republicans to taint Gov. Jim Doyle. She had served four months of an 18-month sentence when the appeals court set her free.

That's right. It set her free. On the spot. No weeks of deliberation. No order that she merely be granted a new trial. The court deemed the evidence against Thompson so lacking -- "beyond thin," one member of the three-judge panel put it -- that it overturned her conviction and ordered her release.

The case against Thompson always seemed weak to the point of being suspicious. She was accused of steering a state contract toward a Doyle contributor. But there was no evidence she was pressured to do so, nor any suggestion that she benefitted personally from this act. And if she did in fact show favoritism toward the winning bidder, it may have been because it was a Wisconsin firm.

After the verdict, two jurors proclaimed their belief that higher-ranking state officials were involved -- an assertion for which there was never a shred of evidence.

These people were just aching for a chance to take a stand against corruption of the sort politicians are forever alleging that their opponents engage in. When Biskupic gave them that chance, they leapt at it.

As a result, Thompson's attorney, Steve Hurley, said in a statement, she lost her job, her life savings, her home, her liberty and her good name. At her sentencing, the government argued that Thompson deserved a stricter sentence because she did not accept responsibility.
"Today," said Hurley, "the government ought to accept responsibility for the consequences of its acts."

Good idea. There does indeed need to be a reckoning. At least two areas merit further review.
The first area is whether the charges against Thompson should have ever been filed. Obviously, the appeals court judges -- two of three of whom were appointed by Republican presidents -- felt the evidence did not support it.

Biskupic has been asked whether he intends to appeal. The more urgent question is whether the decision to prosecute Thompson was political from the start. This was always a valid question, given the zeal which Doyal rival Mark Green and his Republican allies sought to turn the case to their advantage.

But now this question has fresh impetus, given what we now know about the Bush administration's politicalization of U.S. attorneys. At least one of Biskupic's counterparts was pressured to engage in partisan prosecutions on timelines that suited electoral contests -- and fired when he declined. The integrity of Biskupic's prosecution ought to be called into serious question.

The second area that merits review concerns Gov. Doyle's shockingly self-serving and hypocritical comments in the wake of the appeals court's ruling. He angrily lashed out at the media for sensationalizing the case. He called Thompson's conviction "a terrible injustice," proclaiming her "an innocent woman who was imprisoned for more than four months just for doing her job." He said she had been used as "a political football."

Does Doyle really expect people to forget that, when it mattered, he was more than willing to throw Thompson to the wolves, rather than expend an ounce of political capital on her behalf? Indeed, he did everything in his power to distance himself from her.

"It is clear that Georgia Thompson acted on her own, and that no other state employee was involved," Doyle said following her conviction. "As I have stated before, I have zero tolerance for ethical lapses in government. When public servants abuse the public's trust, they forfeit their rights to continue in the state's employ."

That was Doyle when it mattered. He was completely comfortable letting a person he now deems obviously innocent go down in flames rather than lift a finger to help her.

Rest assured, if Doyle had said, back when it mattered, that he believed Thompson was being wrongfully prosecuted and had broken no laws, reporters would have found time in their busy schedules to report his views.

Doyle's effort to score political points from the court's ruling is nothing more than the latest attempt to use Georgia Thompson as a political football. And it's no less unseemly when the governor himself is doing the kicking.

UPDATE: Jeff Wagner has a great piece up this including an email from a former Peg Lautenschlager's top deputy who was a part of this joint prosecution.

I participated in several meetings with prosecutors and investigators both before and after the Thompson trial. Having spent more than a dozen years as a federal prosecutor and four more as the state deputy attorney general, I will attest that this case was handled by professional, career prosecutors and investigators in as fair, thoughtful, and apolitical fashion as any I have witnessed. In contrast, the one-sided, self-interested criticisms of the decision to prosecute stand apart in their rush to judgment.

As to the appellate decision, I echo the comments of other former prosecutors who pointed out the anomalous nature of the swift pronouncement from the bench. Appellate decisions overturning the considered judgment of a jury and veteran trial judge, based on the strength of the evidence, are exceedingly rare. We await a written decision to better understand the appellate court’s reasoning.

April 10, 2007

Becoming Illegal

(Actual letter from an Iowa resident and sent to his senator)

The Honorable Tom Harkin
731 Hart Senate Office Building
Phone (202) 224 3254
Washington DC, 20510

Dear Senator Harkin,

As a native Iowan and excellent customer of the Internal Revenue Service, I am writing to ask for your assistance. I have contacted the Department of Homeland Security in an effort to determine the process for becoming an illegal alien and they referred me to you.

My primary reason for wishing to change my status from U.S. Citizen to illegal alien stems from the bill which was recently passed by the Senate and for which you voted. If my understanding of this bill's provisions is accurate, as an illegal alien who has been in the United States for five years, all I need to do to become a citizen is to pay a $2,000 fine and income taxes for three of the last five years. I know a good deal when I see one and I am anxious to get the process started before everyone figures it out.

Simply put, those of us who have been here legally have had to pay taxes every year so I'm excited about the prospect of avoiding two years of taxes in return for paying a $2,000 fine.Is there any way that I can apply to be illegal retroactively? This would yield an excellent result for me and my family because we paid heavy taxes in 2004 and 2005.

Additionally, as an illegal alien I could begin using the local emergency room as my primary health care provider.

Once I have stopped paying premiums for medical insurance, my accountant figures I could save almost $10,000 a year.

Another benefit in gaining illegal status would be that my daughter would receive preferential treatment relative to her law school applications, as well as "in-state" tuition rates for many colleges throughout the United States for my son.

Lastly, I understand that illegal status would relieve me of the burden of renewing my driver's license and making those burdensome car insurance premiums. This is very important to me given that I still have college age children driving my car.

If you would provide me with an outline of the process to become illegal (retroactively if possible) and copies of the necessary forms, I would be most appreciative.

Thank you for your assistance.

Your Loyal Constituent,
Donald RuppertBurlington, IA

H/T Cyber Dad

Global Warming is........

Lets have a little exercise, fill out this statement.

Global warming is_______________________________.

I'll start.

Global warming is an excuse to tax the weather.

Something has been bugging me.

Sub prime this, bad paper that, congress needs to blah blah blah.

People are getting bit on sub-prime adjustable rate mortgages.

The housing market has slowed a bit and who is getting bit? People who took the most risk and those entering very risky interest only propositions.

People who take the biggest risk are usually rewarded the most or bitten the worst.

Of all those responsible though why is the Fed not mentioned? In my opinion the Fed took up rates too high too fast and that is at least part of what led to this high risk nightmare.

And why did they do it? Because the economy was too hot, they were trying to slow it down.

Can an economy be too hot?

Our unemployment is at what 4.4%? Quarter over quarter growth has been amazing and the Fed thinks they need to muck things up.

If mortgage lenders assumed too much risk they'll learn, I don't think we need Congress mucking things up worse. In the same breath they will tighten things up then whine when someone does not qualify for a mortgage.

The best thing they could do for the market would be to LEAVE IT ALONE. In fact backing interest rates down would most assuredly help.

That rabid Republican.

Seriously, they want to be the first family of our country but they can not even reach out to a neighbor....

Elizabeth Edwards afraid of neighbor
She has never met `rabid Republican,' but wouldn't be nice
Associated Press

RALEIGH --Elizabeth Edwards says she is scared of the "rabid, rabid Republican" who owns property across the street from her Orange County home -- and she doesn't want her kids going near the gun-toting neighbor.

Edwards, the wife of Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, particularly recalls the time neighbor Monty Johnson brought out a gun while chasing workers investigating a right of way near his property. The Edwards family has yet to meet Johnson in person.

"I wouldn't be nice to him, anyway," Edwards said in an interview. "I don't want my kids anywhere near some guy who, when he doesn't like somebody, the first thing he does is pull a gun out. It scares the business out of me."

But Johnson defended the occasion he brandished a gun, saying those on his land didn't have the proper approval.

"I use the gun for protection, and I considered that an appropriate time," Johnson said. "Sometimes you have to take drastic measures."

Edwards views Johnson as a "rabid, rabid Republican" who refuses to clean up his "slummy" property just to spite her family, whose lavish 28,000-square-foot estate is nearby on 102 wooded acres.

Johnson, 55, acknowledges his Republican roots. But he takes offense to the suggestion he has purposefully left his property, including an old garage he leases for use as a car shop, in dilapidated condition.

Johnson said he has lived his entire life on the property, which he said his family purchased before the Great Depression. He said he's spent a lot of money to try and fix up the 42-acre tract.

"I have to budget. I have to live within my means," Johnson said. "I don't have millions of dollars to fix the place."

Johnson, who has posted a "Go Rudy Giuliani 2008" sign on a fence just 100 feet from the entrance to the Edwards' driveway, has criticized Edwards for the scale of their nearby home. The property and home, which includes an indoor basketball court, an indoor handball court and an indoor pool, is valued at $5.3 million.

The Edwardses are still putting the final touches on the property, which they purchased in 2003.

"I thought he was supposed to be for the poor people," Johnson said. "But does he ever socialize with any poor people? He doesn't speak to me."

Johnson said he has put his property on the market, in part blaming the high property taxes for his decision to leave. He also wants to move for another reason.

"I don't want to live somewhere where someone's always complaining about me," he said.

Did we not send Scott Jensen to jail for this?


Mon Apr 09 2007 14:39:38 ET

It's being called the equivalent of a paparazzi gotcha: A snapshot of Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) and his chief political/media adviser David Axelrod -- taken in the Senator’s Capitol Hill office!

ROLL CALL reports: Congressional ethics rules forbid the use of federal office space for political and campaign activity. A spokeswoman for the Obama camp declined comment to the paper.

April 9, 2007

MRQ. The Cadbury Hangover Edition


Hey guys, c'mon, keep it down out there, I'm having kind of a bad sugar crash. It's a good thing Fred's here to help a sister out. And the Wisconsin Athletic Club.... I have to give mad props to those peeps for helping me burn a peep or two. Although burning peeps over an open flame on a fork is a little more fun...but there is always next year...

No peeps! Fuzz

We normally say the same thing about you Claude… you are good isht, just in moderation. Squiz

At that point, Jed released a fury of computerfu. I hope Jed just banned him/her from B&S and not the entire internet. I’ll have Al Gore look into it to make sure. Owen

April Drinking Brings May Flowers. Nick

I could really go for some global warming right about now… Phoenix.

We Will Not Sell You Those Two Large Bags Of Ferret Food Until You Move Your Van From In Front Of The Store. S**t List.

Which troubles you more? Rather's sideburns or Karl Rove's? Grumps.

I live in a city of idiots. Tracy.

CRAP CREDITS!!!!!!!! Silent E.

…everywhere I looked there were women in spandex moving rhythmically to the music. Scott

Maybe its time to move... The Game.

"This is the man who wrote the little story about the inspiration for Fat Squirrel Brad.

“Poppa?”, “Yes.”, “This diet is crap.”, We're doomed......... Tony.

Visit the Bison. Kyle.

"I'm for cheaper porn!" Jessica McBride.

My civil rights were violated by the State of Missouri… Josh.

If you not right the first time try, try again. GOP Folk.

Whenever I see the word reform, I can feel the government’s hand in my pocket? Elliot.

I like porn as much as the next guy, Elliot 2

Ok by me--I mock it all the time. Bubbi.

Us ordinary peons, NOT the filthy rich limo libs. Kate.

I, for one, welcome our new WMC overlords. Ben.

How’s that for gender equality? James T Harris.


Sccrreeeettttccchhhhhhh (as in, Fred Flinstone Tire Screech). I forgot something...

Yo Mamma. Aaron

No, Yo Mamma. Fred

Poetic Justice?

"My goal is to goad people into saying something that ruins their life." - Don Imus.

A differing tale of consensus.

Global Warming - Consensus good.

Genetic Engineering - Consensus bad.

... Clearly when it comes to climate change, environmentalists righteously wrap themselves in the cloak of scientific "consensus." They excoriate scientists and others who doubt that man-made climate change will necessarily be disastrous, accusing some of being essentially paid liars for the fossil fuel industry. But for many environmentalist groups not all scientific consensuses are equal. Consider the case of genetically enhanced crops.

"GMOs [genetically modified organisms] should not be released into the environment as there is not adequate scientific understanding of their impact on the environment and human health," warns Greenpeace. "Genetic engineering is imprecise and unpredictable. But most testing is carried out by the very biotech companies that have the most to gain from results that say GM food is safe," says Friends of the Earth. The Union of Concerned Scientists acknowledges that "there have been no serious environmental impacts-certainly no catastrophes-associated with the use of engineered crops in the United States." In addition, the UCS admits, "No major human health problems have emerged in connection with genetically modified food crops, which have been consumed by significant numbers of U.S. consumers." In fact, no--not just "no major"--human health problems have emerged. Nevertheless, the UCS concludes "the scientific evidence available to date, while encouraging, does not support the conclusion that genetically modified crops are intrinsically safe for health or the environment." What does "intrinsically safe" mean? On what evidence can the UCS conclude that even conventional crops are "intrinsically safe"?

The scientific consensus about current varieties of genetically improved crops stands in stark contrast to these dire environmentalist assertions.

Got it, consensus A good, consensus b bad.

No wonder environmentalists look so silly, they apply the rules so differently upon every whim.

Baseball Across America

Since the 2007 MLB is officially underway I am truly happy. Baseball has been a love of mine for awhile. I don't consider myself a seam head who gets into debates about pointless stats, but I truly love the game, especially in person. Nearly 11 years ago, my best friend and I started a quest to see all 28 teams at their home stadium. Since then, many teams have changed stadiums, and two new clubs have come into being, so we won't worry about seeing every stadium per se, just all 30 teams at home.

So far, we have been 20 stadiums, plus two supplemental destinations, and have had great experiences at every one. I have chronicled my journeys along the way and now put them in blog form. You can view it by clicking here and leaving your comments regarding any baseball experiences you have had.

See you tomorrow night...

Area homeowners caught in national 'meltdown' of mortgage foreclosures

The Journal Times gave us this story over the weekend. Tell me, what is wrong with this?

RACINE COUNTY - Mark Celeste says he made a grave mistake, and he may have to pay for it with his home.

Celeste and his wife, Julie, find themselves immersed in the ongoing mortgage "meltdown," as the Wall Street Journal has called it. Their lender recently filed a foreclosure action on their house at 3333 Erie St.

It began last August when Mark, then a cook at Great Lakes Naval Station, quit that job because of the long drive. "I decided to try to get something in Racine," he said.

But Celeste hasn't stuck at any job since. He's currently a third-shift dishwasher at the Iron Skillet restaurant on Interstate 94.

Meanwhile, Julie's home day care business has suffered from a plethora of new competitors as well as some nonpaying customers."If people don't know what to do, they go into day care," she said. "Nowadays, there's one on every corner."

The couple found themselves unable to come up with their $1,200 mortgage payment in January for the home they bought in 1990. Nor could they scrape up payments for February or March. The lender rejected their offer of partial payments.

Previously, the Celeste home was most notable as a creation of the architect John Randall McDonald, a Frank Lloyd Wright protege.

Now it's a statistic, part of a wave of foreclosure filings that was running at full steam throughout 2006 and continues this year.

According to data released Thursday, foreclosures here in the year's first quarter continued to match last year's abnormally high levels. The numbers from ForeclosuresWI.com showed 180 foreclosures were filed in Racine County from Jan. 1 to March 31, an average of 60 per month.

That matched last year's escalated pace, when Racine County reflected the national surge in mortgage defaults. In 2006, the county had 719 foreclosure filings, about 60 per month.

That pace is well ahead of the 2005 average of 44.25 per month.Statewide, in the first quarter an average of 77 foreclosures were filed every business day.

Combined forcesRobert Jansen, president of ForeclosuresWI.com, said several factors have combined to force homeowners into mortgage default: a mix of rising interest rates; a softening housing market; and the underlying dynamics of the subprime mortgage market.

In the past decade, federal regulators tightened controls on making loans to people with low incomes or poor credit histories. But the volumes of those loans rose as much of the subprime lending shifted from traditional banks to companies outside the reach of federal banking regulations.

The Wall Street Journal reported that 52 percent of subprime mortgages originated in 2005 were by companies with no federal supervision, primarily mortgage brokers and finance companies. Those companies are usually state-regulated, and the impact of their recent practices is becoming painfully evident."I know foreclosures are up," said Racine County Treasurer Elizabeth Majeski.

When she goes after tax-delinquent properties, she runs across the foreclosure filings. "Then I hold off," she said, because the lender usually pays the property taxes to protect its own interests."I'm seeing more of that," Majeski said.Statewide, said ForeclosuresWI.com, foreclosure filings rose by 34 percent last year compared with 2005. For Racine County the increase was about the same: 35.4 percent.

"Increased interest rates, compounded by adjustable-rate and exotic mortgages, have caused many homeowners' monthly mortgages payment to skyrocket to unaffordable amounts," Jansen said."

Furthermore, the cooling of the housing market has made it more difficult for those facing financial trouble to quickly sell their home and avoid foreclosure."No money downRacine County Register of Deeds Jim Ladwig said: "I think what you're seeing is a lot of people got mortgages with zero percent down, or 110 percent mortgages, and a lot of them were with a variable interest rate."The problem is: When they came due, people can walk away because they're not losing anything. People paid interest, but not principal; there were lots of them that were interest-only loans."

When the value on houses is going up 15 percent per year, that's a good deal." But it's not so good if housing values are only climbing by 2 or 3 percent.

Jansen said ForeclosuresWI.com has seen a significant increase in its subscriber base with the foreclosure explosion. Many more people - including real estate agents who want the listings of homeowners forced to sell - are now recognizing the opportunity foreclosures offer, he said."

Home buyers and investors are able to purchase a foreclosed property below market value, while also helping the homeowner save equity and avoid further damage to their credit by selling their property before it goes to auction."

But that doesn't ease the hurt for people don't want to give up their homes.The Celestes did not get into mortgage default because of the forces that created the current national foreclosure boom. But they still face the anguish of being in that position.

Their mortgage holder, Homecoming Financial, has reduced their interest rate and made it possible for them to make good on their missed three payments simply by resuming their $1,200 payments.Their only problem is coming up with $1,200 each month."I probably think the easiest solution to this whole thing is: Sell the house and get something that we can afford," Mark said.

But Julie, who said the house and yard are perfect for her child care business, said she's not ready to consider selling the house - yet."We're not going to get a penny if we sell it," she said. "I don't want to pay rent for 20 more years."