Monthly Archives: October 2009

Food fight moves to Town Hall

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Frankie Fudrucker compliments Livvy Floren on her dress

The great debate of 2009 focused on the Harbor Master yesterday and the going got tough. Lyn Lavery bitch-slapped an inebriated Livvy Floren for calling Lyn’s homeboy, Frankie the Fud, a “loser” whereupon Peter Crumbine jumped out of retirement and knocked Lavery sprawling on the floor. Selectman Tesei huddled under a desk while Jimbo Himes stood on it above him pleading, “please, people, can’t we all just get along?”

I’m told the whole fracas was recorded and is on the Chanel 12 news loop this weekend. Bring popcorn.

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Hurricanes end, world continues

Last September 1st I linked to an amateur weather watcher, Sea Blogger’s prediction that we’d see no hurricanes hit the eastern seacoast this year due to a persistent wind current pattern. Not only did that prove accurate, we’ve had the calmest hurricane season since 1997 and we are in fact at a thirty year low. Does this prove that global warming is disproved? Not in my book, but it should put a stick in the spokes of Al Gore and his fellow religionists who proclaim that global warming causes bad storms. If, as Gore maintains, the presence of hurricanes proves global warming, then their absence disproves it, no?

Regardless, it will be fun to watch all those NEA members who frightened millions of school children with forced viewings of “A Simple Truth” now hold new assemblies where they recant the error of their ways and explain that they really can’t blame local weather (or earthquakes or Jacko’s over-due death) on global warming. I’m guessing we won’t be hearing os such assemblies for quite a while – there are still trillions of dollars to milk from this scam.

UPDATE: Even some global warmers seem to agree: Exaggerated claims undermine drive to cut emissions, scientists warn.

Exaggerated and inaccurate claims about the threat from global warming risk undermining efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions and contain climate change, senior scientists have told The Times.

Environmental lobbyists, politicians, researchers and journalists who distort climate science to support an agenda erode public understanding and play into the hands of sceptics, according to experts including a former government chief scientist.

Excessive statements about the decline of Arctic sea ice, severe weather events and the probability of extreme warming in the next century detract from the credibility of robust findings about climate change, they said.

Such claims can easily be rebutted by critics of global warming science to cast doubt on the whole field. They also confuse the public about what has been established as fact, and what is conjecture.

The experts all believe that global warming is a real phenomenon with serious consequences, and that action to curb emissions is urgently needed.

They fear, however, that the contribution of natural climate variations towards events such as storms, melting ice and heatwaves is too often overlooked, and that possible scenarios about future warming are misleadingly presented as fact.

“I worry a lot that NGOs [non=governmental organisations] are very much in the habit of doing exactly that,” said Professor Sir David King, director of the Smith School for Enterprise and the Environment at the University of Oxford, and a former government chief scientific adviser.

“When people overstate happenings that aren’t necessarily climate change-related, or set up as almost certainties things that are difficult to establish scientifically, it distracts from the science we do understand. The danger is they can be accused of scaremongering. Also, we can all become described as kind of left-wing greens.”

Well yes, yes you can.

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The NYT reports that Obama used his visit to dead soldiers as a photo-op, until wiser editors intervened

The sentence that was in the New York Times, until it was not.

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There can’t be a crisis if we keep it under the rug, eh?

Federal banking regulators issue new guidelines permitting banks to hide non-performing loans. Your borrower’s loan is due? The assets securing his loan has fallen to 30% of its original value and he can’t refinance it or pay you back? Hey, don’t worry – the government doesn’t want to alarm folks by showing the destruction of value of bank’s portfolios so now you can just “restructure the loan in a prudent fashion” and presto! No problem, pal.

Just don’t count on ever getting paid back.

Federal bank regulators issued guidelines allowing banks to keep loans on their books as “performing” even if the value of the underlying properties have fallen below the loan amount.

The volume of troubled commercial real-estate loans is skyrocketing. Regulators said that the rules were designed to encourage banks to restructure problem commercial mortgages with borrowers rather than foreclose on them. But the move has prompted criticism that regulators are simply prolonging the financial crisis by not forcing borrowers and lenders to confront, rather than delay, inevitable problems.

[snip]

Critics say the new rules are yet another example of a head-in-the-sand approach by regulators, pointing to the relaxed accounting standards last year that enabled banks to avoid marking the value of the loans down. This is doing long-term damage to the economy, they say, because it ties up bank capital, preventing them from resuming lending.

Critics say a wiser approach would be for regulators and banks to deal with problems quickly like the Resolution Trust Corp. did in the early 1990s during the last commercial real-estate crash. Back then, the RTC helped purge the financial system of toxic mortgages.

The new guidance “gives people a long time to figure out they’re not going to pay it back,” said Douglas Durst, a leading New York City developer. “We are in a period where nothing is happening,” he said, adding that banks are “not making any new loans because they have this bad debt on their books and not writing it down and getting rid of it.”

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Missing the trees for the forest

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Tesei Manor, Belle Haven, circa 2008

Republicans whine that Demmerkrats are stealing their roadside campaign signs. If they are, well good for them – I just wish they’d take their own down too. But while Peter Tesei is knotting his underpants over this non-issue, he remains blissfully unaware of what’s really going on in town: the Democrats are passing out street money to down-and-out Republicans to wreak havoc on Tuesday.

Oh yes,I know this. Frankie Fudrucker is, of course, the Democrat Boss here in town and I’ve witnessed a steady stream of wan, haggard men, reeking of gin and dressed in whale pants and blazers with the faint outlines of the RHC crest ripped from the breast while being expelled for nonpayment of dues, shuffling into our offices, collecting some folding money from Fudrucker and heading back to Augie’s. It’s pathetic.

And what will these former financiers do? They’ll be getting out the vote, of course. Those whose Beemers haven’t been repossessed will drive their carless colleagues to the poll, with a promise that a vote for Lavery will get them a shot and a beer afterwards. Oh, the humanity!

And if I were the Republicans, that’s what I’d be yelling about.

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Big Government crushing small businesses

The blogosphere, particularly Walter Olson’s Overlawyered.com, has been alive with stories of how the new Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) is wiping out used book sellers, motorbike manufacturers and the like, but maybe the New York Times finally taking notice of the issue and profiling this small handmade toy maker being snuffed out will convince our politicians to be reasonable. So far, both the Consumer Product Safety Commission and Congress act exactly as our own Franklin Bloomer does when confronted with an absurd and punishing result of Greenwich’s FAR regulations: “so what?”

[M] akers of small toys and owners of toy resale shops and boutique stores — say their livelihood is being threatened by federal legislation enacted in the last year to protect children from toxic toys through more extensive testing. Big toymakers, including those whose tainted imports from China led to the recall of 45 million toys and spurred Congress to take action, have more resources and are able to comply with the new law’s requirements.

“This is absurd,” said Mr. Woods, whose toys are made of maple, walnut and cherry and finished with walnut oil and beeswax from a local apiary. He estimates it would cost him $30,000 — a figure he calculated from having to pay $400 in required tests for each of the 80 or so different items he produces — to show that they are not toxic.

“I use beeswax,” Mr. Woods said. “The law was targeted at large toymakers using lead. There was no exclusion for benign products.”

These homegrown toymakers are banding together to portray themselves as victims of bureaucrats and consumer advocates, and have started letter-writing campaigns to Congress.

The Handmade Toy Alliance, which has a section of its Web site titled “Countdown to Extinction,” sponsored a march on Washington last April and continues to buttonhole members of Congress. Still others have hired the Washington lobbying firm of Rudy Giuliani.

“The law is flawed,” said Rob Wilson, a director of the Handmade Toy Alliance, which wants Congress to reopen the 2008 legislation to new amendments. “It reflects decision-making that in a sane world makes no sense.”

“The law isn’t making toys more safe, but is making everything more convoluted,” added Mr. Wilson, owner of Challenge and Fun, an Ashland, Mass., company that sells organic toys from Europe. “We’re all losers, including the consumer.”

The law, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, was overwhelmingly passed by Congress in August 2008. For the first time, it set out mandatory safety standards for products used by children under the age of 12 and required toy manufacturers to test their products to prove that they were safe.

New regulations will not go into effect until February, but many of the big toy companies are not waiting — they are already testing toys in their labs, which have been certified by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, or through third parties.

The government estimates that $22 billion worth of toys are imported each year, mainly from big toymakers with plants overseas.

Before this law was passed, testing of toys was not required, and compliance with safety standards was voluntary. But the furor over the sale and importation of toys containing lead and other toxic materials, which led to widespread toy recalls in 2007 and 2008, assured its passage.

Some major companies lobbied to shape it, including toy manufacturers, like Mattel, andExxon Mobil, a maker of phthalates, substances used in many toys that are largely banned by the law.

The issue has put small toymakers at odds with consumer groups, which oppose any efforts to have Congress tinker with the new law out of fear that larger companies will try to gut its core provisions.

The nut jobs, too are unrelenting:

“This is landmark legislation,” said Nancy A. Cowles, executive director of Kids in Danger, a nonprofit that focused on safety in children’s products that supported the measure.

“These groups are not above using the small crafters to reopen the legislation and get the changes they want.”

Ms. Cowles also said parents needed to be assured that their children’s toys were safe, regardless of who made or sold them.

“From a product safety standpoint, it doesn’t make a difference whether the toy comes from a local store or a national chain,” said Ms. Cowles. “A child doesn’t know the difference and parents have the right to expect a safe product.”

The fact that an hysteric like Nanny Cowles, who can’t distinguish beeswax from petroleum, is head of a lobbying group says all I need to know about lobbying groups. We’re being regulated by morons.

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The good news, Honey, is that I got us Series tickets

Woman arrested for offering to swap sex for two World Series tickets, one for her, one for her husband. I consider my myself both an open-minded kind of guy and a baseball fan, but I’m not sure I’d approve of my wife, if I had one, going quite this far.

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