Daily Archives: March 27, 2010

The New York Times on recess appointments

Of course, that was then: This from 2006 – doubtless we can expect the same editorial tomorrow.

Seizing the opportunity presented by the Congressional holiday break, Mr. Bush announced 17 recess appointments — a constitutional gimmick that allows a president to appoint someone when Congress is in recess to a job that normally requires Senate approval. The appointee serves until the next round of Congressional elections.

This end run around Senate confirmation was built into the Constitution to allow the president to quickly fill vacancies that came up when lawmakers were out of town, to keep the government running smoothly in times when travelers and mail moved by horseback and Congress met part time.

Modern presidents have employed this power to place nominees who ran into political trouble in the Senate. Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton made scores of recess appointments. But both of them faced a Congress controlled by the opposition party, while the Senate has been under Republican control for Mr. Bush’s entire five years in office.

In some cases, Mr. Bush has used the recess appointment power to rescue egregiously bad selections that would never pass muster on grounds of experience and competence. (Remember last year’s recess appointment of the undiplomatic and Congressionally unacceptable John Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations.) In other cases, he has merely sought to avoid logjams that the White House created for itself by refusing to accommodate reasonable Democratic requests for information, documents and consultation.

Among those Mr. Bush unilaterally elevated to important posts this time around was Julie Myers, a government lawyer with ultrathin credentials whom Mr. Bush appointed to head the 15,000-person Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, the government’s second largest investigative force.

Also on the list was Ellen Sauerbrey, the unqualified political crony Mr. Bush chose to head the billion-dollar-a-year State Department office that helps coordinate emergency relief efforts for refugees abroad, and whose nomination had stalled for just cause in the Foreign Relations Committee.

Mr. Bush also bypassed Senate hearings on a new deputy defense secretary and for three of the six seats on the Federal Election Commission. The election commission appointees include Hans von Spakovsky, a Justice Department lawyer who overrode the objection of career lawyers to gain approval of a Georgia voter identification plan almost certain to harm black voters.

The White House regularly accuses Senate Democrats of unfairly blocking the president’s nominees, and it is true that one determined senator can freeze an appointment. But Mr. Bush’s record in this area owes less to unreasonable Democrats than to the low caliber of some of his choices, his disinterest in bipartisan consensus and his aversion to any form of accountability, whether to the Senate, the courts or the public.

UPDATE: welcome, InstaPundit readers. Monday through Friday, this blog is mostly (70% anyway) devoted to Greenwich, Ct real estate. Weekends are more political,both because there isn’t much real estate news to report and because I get bored spending all my time writing about overpriced mansions. But come back on Monday if you’re curious about what’s going on in Greenwich.


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Governors: we’re not spending too much, we’re taxing too little!

Throw ’em out – all of them. NYT: States expanding taxation to everything.


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Oops! NeverMind!

I have the hat - I still have it!

UN admits that cattle story a complete crock. Now that a scientist has exposed the fraud, the UN explains it thus:

Pierre Gerber, livestock officer at the FAO and one of the 2006 report’s authors, admits that the comparison was flawed. “It’s a weakness that we were aware of the issue when we used it,” he says. “But it’s not the point of the report. We included the comparison only because we wanted to give the reader a frame of reference.”

Quite the frame of reference. This crock of manure has been out there since 2006, and the media has eaten every juicy morsel. Now, four years later, when their fraud is exposed, the warmists say that “of course it was false – you didn’t know that?”

2006: UN: Cattle farming worse than car driving

Livestock threatens world environment

(One day ago) Toronto Star: How food contributes to global warming.

One hour until Let Freedom Shine!

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Another dim view of Obama’s mortgage plan

A dim perspective of its prospects, not a dimwit opinion (well I would think that, since this guy agrees with me. The definition of genius is the extent to which someone agrees with you, right?)

Alton Drew, Washington Examiner

So far these programs have been failing to get the mortgages of a targeted 4 million homeowners either refinanced or modified. Part of the reason for the failure in general maybe due to the administration’s constant blurring of goals and objectives when it comes to managing the economy.

For example, the government’s purported goal to stabilize the housing market won’t be met by funding incentives for banks to renegotiate existing home mortgages. For starters there are really two markets here: a housing market where, at its barest fundamentals, there is a consumer willing and able to purchase a house, and a house owner willing and able to sell a house and a finance market where there is a consumer willing and able to buy money from a bank and a bank willing and able to sell money to a consumer.

The homeowners targeted by the administration are not in the housing market. They have already bought a house. They wish to remain in the house; therefore are not in the market to sell one. What the government is doing is intervening in negotiations to remedy breaches in the finance contracts purchased in the finance markets that provided the funds used by the consumer to buy a house. The traditional way in which government intervenes is on the back end in the courts where either in a bankruptcy action or foreclosure action, the consumer and the bank settle on how they will either go forward with the loan or transfer the property.

Government coming in on the back end looks like government being non-responsive if not uncaring. It is better to look like it is taking action while picking up some votes versus allowing people to go into the streets. On the other hand, the $50 billion in resources that need not be spent if the existing wealth transfer mechanism of bankruptcy and foreclosure are used may be a better use of resources, especially if a participant in one of the aforementioned aid programs is not able to make the modified payments.

Rather than using a policy tool that will not impact the housing market in a positive way, the Obama administration should focus on energizing the economy by continually spending on infrastructure and financing job training in areas of employment for which there is a current and near term need. Growth in the economy will positively impact the market for the purchase and sale of houses.

If the problem is struggling home owners who are unemployed, focus on getting them employed. That will be $50 billion well spent.


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6:00 PM: 2 1/2 hours until the Let Freedom Shine moment

North Korea, USA?

Lights on at 8:30. F’em all!


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Hold your breath while waiting for the howls

Obummer makes 15 (!) recess appointments. When that Ol’ Debbil Bush made one, the noise from the left was deafening. I suspect you won’t need to dig out your ear plugs for these.

UPDATE: Here’s Chris Dodd (and others) on John Bolton’s recess appointment (he disapproved, surprisingly).

UPDATE II: The Associated Press puts it all in historical context – something it didn’t feel compelled to do, oddly enough, during the Bush era. But better late than never, no doubt and I’m sure that the next time a politician they disapprove of does something similar, they’ll remember their oversight.


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Hey Walt, you should see me now!


At last, a push-up bra for the fanny! Who needs poetry?

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Where are they now?

We love your adherence to democratic principles and to the democratic process.

Chavez arrests one of his last-standing critics, tells human rights activists to fuck off. Sean Penn was unavailable for comment.

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Fortunately, good cop work probably doesn’t depend on a working command of language

We got tasers - who the f**k needs English?

Greenwich appoints four new police captains. GPD Chief David Ridberg struggles to explain what it all means:

“I feel like we have always produced a very quality law enforcement product and that is only going to get better,” Ridberg said.

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A solution for Greenwich’s unsold spec warehouses

The Anteres Boyz dream of hedge funders

Shortage of slaughter houses imperiling small farmers. I’m thinking that 35,000 sq. ft.  monstrosity on Langhorne Lane, once owned by the Antares Boyz, could be perfect for this. Come to think of it, their hedge fund building at 101 W. Putnam is growing emptier by the day ….

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That shouldn’t be a problem for the next ten years or so

NYT: with so many Tea Party members unemployed, question of viability when economy improves

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What I said

Barry Ritholtz: what we need are more foreclosures, not fewer. Your deal gone bad is someone else’s bargain.

Rewarding Bad Banks: Despite the helping families rhetoric, it is not what these mods are about. The various foreclosure abatements, mortgage mods and capital write-downs are little more than a game of kick the can down the road. All of these programs are part of a broad “Extend & Pretend” mind set. They are an extension of the FASB 157 rule changes that allows banks to hide their bad loans.

The entire set of proposals can be described as “Whats good for the banks is good for America.” Only they are not. The various foreclosure programs are essentially a way the banks don’t have to take their write offs now. Avoid the hangover, have another shot of tequila, push the pain of into the future, regardless of economic cost.

Were the banks required to report their mortgages accurately and/or write them down, they would be revealed as insolvent.

Now we get to the ugly Truth: The mortgage mods and foreclosure abatement programs are really all about propping up insolvent banking institutions on the taxpayer dollar and at the expense of the middle class. These programs are another losing round of helping Wall Street at the expense of Main Street. It is the worst kind of trickle down economics.

Herbert Spencer wrote, “The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.” We have done precisely that.


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The accompanying photograph doesn’t instill much confidence

Participant readies for new sailing program


Greenwich Time: New non-profit sailing program kicks off season.

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Spec homes still coming on the market

3 Quintard Ave


Old Greenwich builder Peter Thalheim has placed his latest project on Quintard on the market at $6.25 million. He paid $2.8 for the 1/2 acre lot in 2008, which he may now regret, so the asking price is not crazy in view of that, but I’ll be curious to see how much someone is willing to pay to live on this very nice street.  

The house claims 9,000 + sq. feet a third of which, it seems, is underground. It has an elevator, which doesn’t impress me much, and some very modern fuel saving features, which do. Architecturally it looks like a big yawn but that’s just my opinion, not any kind of judgment of fact.  

So we’ll see – Quintard has always drawn big prices and perhaps this house will continue that streak.


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If only I believed Obama were so clever

Instapundit speculates on the reasons for Obama dissing Israel.

WHY HAS BARACK OBAMA TREATED NETANYAHU SO RUDELY? “Obama would never treat the president of Equatorial Guinea that way.”

Possibly Obama just hates Israel and hates Jews. That’s plausible — certainly nothing in his actions suggests otherwise, really.

But it’s also possible — I’d say likely — that there’s something else going on. I think Obama expects Israel to strike Iran, and wants to put distance between the United States and Israel in advance of that happening. (Perhaps he even thinks that treating Israel rudely will provoke such a response, saving him the trouble of doing anything about Iran himself, and avoiding the risk that things might go wrong if he does). On the most optimistic level, maybe this whole thing is a sham, and the U.S. is really helping Israel strike Iran, with this as distraction. The question for readers is which of these — not necessarily mutually exclusive — explanations is most plausible.


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WSJ: Time to storm the castle?

The Journal points out that these days, mansions are selling for less per square foot than more modest homes. That’s true, in many cases, but as always, it depends at least in part on location. You can still pick up an unfinished spec house for a good price, but I know of none in Greenwich in what I would call prime locations. That doesn’t mean they’re in grossly undesirable spots (although some are) but be aware that these places didn’t sell for a reason and usually, that reason turns around location and price. The price issue may have changed, the location has not.


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