Daily Archives: October 26, 2009

Do as we say ….

No later than last Saturday Obama praised small businesses, recognizing that they “support families, sustain communities and create the jobs that power our economy,”

So, as Ed Koch might ask, “how’s he doin’?” Not so well, according to this WSJ report:

W. Michael Brown has scaled back hiring plans in his Virginia auto-parts stores. Carl Redman halted an expansion project at his Oregon contracting business. Bill Hammack is preparing layoffs at his road-construction company in Georgia.

The economy remains unsteady 22 months after the recession began, with banks restricting credit and consumers hunkering down. For these small businesses, and many others across the country, there’s an additional dark cloud: uncertainty created by Washington’s bid to reorganize a wide swath of the U.S. economy.

The economic contraction is of course the prime force driving companies to lay off workers. But a health-care overhaul grinding through Congress could bring unknown new obligations to insure employees. Bush-era tax cuts are set to end next year, and their fate is unclear. Legislation aimed at tackling climate change might raise businesses’ energy costs. Meanwhile, a bill aimed at increasing transportation spending is stalled.

Many companies say they have responded by freezing hiring, cutting benefits and delaying expansion plans. With at least 60% of job growth historically coming out of the small-business sector, according to the government’s Small Business Administration, that kind of inertia could impede an economic recovery.

See, what these ingrates don’t recognize is that The One intends to save them money with this ObamaKare stuff, so they should be ut hiring and spending, not hunkering down for an impending hurricane. No, he hasn’t accomplished it yet, but he intends to, and in Obama World, a good intention is as good as done.

UPDATE: Or maybe, as suggested here, Obama just hates business.

At Big Government, Peter Schweizer writes, “Okay, it’s time to finally admit it:  Barack Obama hates businessmen.  Not just certain businessmen, mind you, but the entire profession:”

Of course President Obama will deny this.   He told Businessweek magazine in a recent interview that he is not anti-business and that he believes in the private sector.  But the evidence is overwhelming,  and it helps explain why he is pursuing kamakazi-like economic policies that will damage the private sector in America.

Obama has demonized just about every business sector in America.  Through the 2008 campaign to the present,  he has gone after credit card companies, the coal industry, mortgage companies, real estate companies, steelmakers, utilities, drug companies, doctors, oil companies, Wall Street, defense contractors, and health insurance companies, just to name a few.  In each case he has dinged them for greed, taking excessive profits, and failing to put people first.  His criticisms have not been over minor matters but over their basic core functions, and their values or lack of them.

Obama demonstrates almost complete ignorance about the private sector and it’s no wonder:  he has so little experience in it.  He has spent his adult life in college, teaching college, and organizing communities.  The one private sector job he has held, for a consulting firm in New York, he recounts as a terrible experience.  In his memoirs he describes the experience as working for a private business “like a spy behind enemy lines.”  He also recounts in his memoirs that the multinational corporations in the Indonesia of his youth were propelling the average worker “into deeper despair.”  He likened the presence of corporations in his native Africa to a form of “neocolonialism.”  Michelle Obama has beseeched young people, “We left corporate America, which is a lot of what we are asking young people to do.  Don’t go into corporate America.  You know, become teachers, work for the community,  be a social worker, be a nurse….move out of the money-making industry, into the helping industry.”

This is, of course, the Obama Cosmotology.  The private sector is largely populated by devils, who are self-oriented, concerned about personal gain,  and unconcerned about others.  The government, on the other hand, is made up of people bathed in altruism, whose only concern is you.  Thus it is quite easy for Obama to recall the divide between the private and public sector as “enemy lines”  even though he would never call the Iranian Mullahs, Hugo Chavez, or Vladimir Putin an “enemy.”


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Seems like the police arrested the wrong people

Los Angeles cops arrest couple for torturing, beating, a pair of “mortgage modification” scammers. Just saying ….

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No corporate jets for greedy executives



Your tax dollars at work

But in this age of austerity, the First Dog flies Presidential airlines and has veal cake for his birthday.Prepared by the White House chef, no doubt.


No trips to Las Vegas, no junkets at all for the wicked. But Bo? Man, he works for the government, just like that Freddie Mac cat. Sky’s the limit for those folks.

And how much does such a dog cost? A mere $2,000 or so. Why that’s less than you’ll be paying for ObamaKare! Chump change, we call it, cause if you pay it (Bo came in from Ted Kennedy via some rich supporter in Texas), you  be a chump.


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Shocker: NPR commentator compares Obama’s attack on press to Nixon’s

Non-shocker. After a deluge of angry emails from NPR listeners, he grovels on his belly, begs for forgiveness.

“I made a boneheaded mistake yesterday,” Rudin wrote on his NPR blog. “Comparing the tactics of the Nixon administration — which bugged and intimidated and harrassed journalists — to that of the Obama administration was foolish, facile, ridiculous and, ultimately, embarrassing to me. I should have known better and, in fact, I do know better. I was around during the Nixon years. I am fully cognizant of what they did and attempted to do.”

“I apologize for a dumb comparison.”

Rudin’s full-180 earned warm praise from NPR ombudsman Alicia Shepard. “While it was a dumb thing to say, I applaud Rudin for quickly apologizing,” Shepard wrote. “Journalists are going to make mistakes — not intentionally but they will happen. Acknowledging them goes a long way to maintaining credibility.”

I understand that as a government employee and a captive of the left a guy like Rudin has to toe the party line, but do you remember when newsmen had courage? No, I don’t either, but I’m told they did.


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For those not worrying about the sun burning out in 10 billion years, an alternative

Swine flu pandemic could swamp Internet. You’d almost think that some people whip up fear to justify their jobs, or something.

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So what for we need your hamburgers when we have tasty seal skin to dine on?



You want fries with that, Mama?

McDonalds closes its stores in Iceland.


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When they took away the fluffy toilet paper I remained silent because I was not an asshole


Done in by Mr. Whipple

First went Charmin, then light bulbs, soon meat. These people aren’t stopping until we’re living in dark caves eating dirt and sticks. When they’ve destroyed civilization, wiped out the human race and turned the world over to cockroaches they’ll be satisfied. Too bad they won’t be around to savor their triumph.


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How not to get a job

This is too involved to do more than link to, but if any of your kids is getting ready for the great employment search, it’s an informative lesson about how lying to employers gets around an entire industry in mere minutes. Ow.

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Bear Stearns trial going badly for prosecution

The feds are doing an awful job of proving their case against the two Bear Sterns executives they claim misled investors. I haven’t been blogging about it, but here’s just the latest ruling going against the government. Good reminder that just because the government says a crime occurred, it ain’t necessarily so or, can be proved.

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Bad news for NYC landlords

The Peter Stuyvesant ruling that effectively denied rent increases to landlords if they also had received certain government tax breaks did more than wipe out a few billion in various pension funds’ investments in that particular complex. Because of the ruling’s possible retroactive application, it has frozen the entire market in rent-stabilized apartments in New York City.

But lawyers on both sides of the issue said on Friday that it could take years of litigation to determine if the owners of Stuyvesant Town and other landlords must repay tenants for years of rent overcharges, or simply adhere to the court’s decision from now on. There could also be lawsuits over whether the owners, a partnership of Tishman Speyer Properties and BlackRock Realty, owe triple damages (the ruling did not specify a remedy).

Further, there could be dozens of lawsuits brought by tenants of other buildings claiming that their landlords also improperly raised rents and deregulated apartments while getting tax breaks for major renovations.

“Unfortunately for the real estate industry, I’m going to make a lot of money before this gets resolved,” said Stephen B. Meister, a lawyer who filed an amicus brief on behalf of the Real Estate Board of New York. “It’s going to take a long time.”


But, Mr. Meister said, “the overarching issue is retroactivity.”

“The tenants could win anything from hundreds of millions of dollars to zero,” he said. “They may not get a dime.”

Whatever the outcome, Mr. Posilkin said, the decision will immediately freeze the market for buying and selling residential buildings, because the potential liabilities are so unclear. Lenders may also be reluctant to provide landlords with loans for improvements, he said.

This obviously has no direct bearing on the Greenwich market, but if the New York apartment market freezes, a lot of lenders are going to be damaged even more than they already are.

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Great moments in real estate pricing

54 Rock Maple Road

54 Rock Maple Road

This is a nice house, if you like this sort of size, that was purchased when new in 2002 for $5.3 million. For reasons I never understood, the buyers priced it at $12.450 in 2007 and, even then at the crest of the bubble, that just wasn’t going to work. It’s a nice house, but not twelve-and-a-half million nice. So, it didn’t sell, and its price has been dropping ever since with a change in brokers along the way. Yesterday, it was asking $6.950 but it’s a good thing you didn’t buy then because today it dropped another million. New price, $5.950, which certainly makes it look a lot better than it did in 2007.


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Jeffry Picower had massive heart attack and then drowned

The machete plunged into his chest hurt the heart muscles maybe?

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This makes no sense to me but what do I know?

1 Milbank

1 Milbank

The condos at One Milbank will never be counted among my favorite places because the architecture reminds me more of Stalag 19 than Greenwich, but the location’s okay and presumably somebody wants to live there. I’m puzzled by unit 3G, however, which has dropped a little bit since it was first listed in 2007 for $3.2 million, to $2.682. While you can buy it for that, you can also rent it for $6,000 a month. I’ll leave it to you math wizards to confirm this, but my top of the head calculations tell me that there is no correlation between sales price and rental – assuming (a big if) that the sales price represents market value, the rental price is a steal. And if it’s the other way around then …


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Is the market improving? This seller must think so.

460 North Street

460 North Street

This is quite a lovely old house that was listed for $11.950 million in July, 2008 but wouldn’t sell even though it eventually dropped to $9.950. The listing expired yesterday and today it’s back, but at $10.950, so someone must expect good things to come.

Of course, optimism has always hung around this property. It was listed by the previous owner (and the same broker) for $12.5 million in 2003 and sold eighteen months later for $8.65

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Aw, what a nice thing to say!

I will always treasure the writer Howard Fast’s words to me after he’d read my first manuscript: “Chris, you don’t have to be a lawyer, you’re a writer – and a good one.”

Now, right alongside that kindness comes this, from a client to a friend of his looking for a real estate agent in Greenwich. “Go to his blogsite, but I warn you – he’s not your typical broker”.

I may just retire from sheer gratitude. Thanks, Mario!


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A house in Greenwich for $250,000?

Well , it’s in Greenwich if you consider Riverdale Avenue part of Greenwich, and some people, including the tax assessor and the developers of Riverdale condominiums do so who am I to argue?

37 Riverdale, a two-family, is listed (not on the Greenwich MLS but on the Connecticut) for $329,000, but the auction site says bids will be accepted starting at $250,000. It’s been quite awhile since anything in Greenwich was available for that price.

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Does 15 Linwood Avenue actually have a listing broker?

The Riverside home at 15 Linwood Avenue, foreclosed on last August, is being advertised on Craig’s List by a broker who claims to have the listing even though he hasn’t placed it on any regional or the Greenwich listing service. Frankie Fudrucker, who has experience with this sort of thing, suspects that it’s a young schlemiel, new to the real estate business, who’s been told by his boss to “go get some listings”. What happens in Brooklyn and possible, Riverside, is that the fellow goes prowling for a foreclosed property, puts it up for sale on Craig’s List and, if he finds a buyer, then goes to the lender and says, “have I got a buyer for you .”


Nothing necessarily wrong with that, and I have no evidence that that is in fact what’s going on here, but if Brooklyn is coming to Greenwich, you might want to make sure you know who you’re dealing with and whether in fact he has an agency relationship with the seller before you spend a lot of time and effort chasing a Craig’s List property.


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A political anecdote

I spent the weekend on a “spiritual retreat” with a bunch of guys who were all a lot tougher than your average Greenwichite (particularly this one) – I’d guess that at least 20% had seen hard time, and another 10 15% had at least briefly been on the wrong side of a jail cell’s bars. The tattoos on display would have made a sailor jealous and the language – well, it wasn’t the type heard around my yacht club, I assure you.

So I was amused and gratified to see the reaction of these men when, as we filed into the dining hall for Friday night supper, they saw a book written and left there by the local Catholic priest in charge of the camp we were renting, entitled something like “Homosexuality – the Drive to Suicide”. As one, they scorned the book, its premise and its author. “Screw him” was one of the milder phrases i heard.

Now, the group I was with encourages tolerance and acceptance of others (this blog is obviously written by my alter-ego), so I’m not claiming that all tattooed ex-cons reject the teachings of the moral right, but these did. And, over the weekend, as talk drifted to politics, they also seemed to scorn politicians of all stripes as lying, power-hungry mobsters trying to steal their money and tell them what to do.

All of which made me think that the time may be coming when a political party that preaches fiscal discipline only and rejects all attempts to legislate a particular morality could clean up in this country. The Republicans have been so fearful of losing their “Christian Right” base that they’ve alienated millions of voters who don’t share and won’t tolerate that vision. And the Democrats, fearful of losing their leftist fringe who demand unilateral disarmament and a claim to every dollar an individual earns have also alienated millions of voters. In short, these two parties have gone far right and far left and abandoned a huge number of people in the middle. I think someone could claim that middle and gain 51% of the vote (or at least 49%, plus a cooperative Supreme Court) and win the next election.

And that would be fun.


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I pointed this out some months ago but when the WSJ says it ….

McMansions – they aren’t building them like they used to.


If you’re looking to buy a brand-new McMansion in the ‘burbs, you’d better act fast. With home prices this low there’s not much incentive for builders to start new houses. And inventories are getting razor-thin: Economists and analysts at the National Association of Home Builders fall construction conference in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday pointed out that the current 7.3-month supply of new homes is the lowest it’s been since 1992.

Moreover, most of the summer’s pickup in home sales and starts, which has since abated, could be attributed to the $8,000 first-time home buyer’s tax credit. With that credit slated to end on Nov. 30—and with continuing problems securing money to build—builders have little incentive to ramp up their production of new homes.

Many places will take years to rebound. Rockville, Md. builder Robert Mitchell says these days he’ll only build a home when he has contract in hand, because his lenders won’t advance money for speculative building. “We sold off our standing inventory,” he says.

There’s no need to panic about a shortage of spec homes in Greenwich not yet, anyway. We have 82 houses built since 2007, ranging from $1.295 to $14.950 million, plus at least another dozen built as early as 2005 and still unsold. But when they go, and I suppose most of them will, eventually, despite so many being in crappy locations, if you want a new house you’ll be paying custom rates, not discounted. You’ll get exactly what you want, perhaps, but at twice the price. So I’d suggest that, if you find a house that you can live with, in a location that’s acceptable, negotiate hard and see if you can get it at a price you’re comfortable with. You can use the money you save to buy Steve Martin’s villa on St. Barts and live happily ever after.


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Greenwich United Way won’t set fund raising goal “Why embarass ouselves?” Chairman asks

The fund fell short last year so they’ve addressed the problem by lowering the hurdle – to the ground. The United Way does some good around town and it has nice people involved as volunteers, but I didn’t like it when the national chairman was spending my donations on sexual junkets with his secretary and when the local branch cut off the Boy Scouts because of that organization’s refusal to permit homosexuals to serve as scout masters (not a policy I agree with, by the way), I decided to shift my charity to other groups. So many charities, so few non-pc ideologues.

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