Daily Archives: May 8, 2010

A new Scusie exclusive!

Scusie says, “Frank and Kathie Lee Gifford seen setting fire to Valbella’s”

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This should eliminate any possibility of a taxpayer bailout of California’s university system

UCLA professor (tenured no doubt) praises Castro, claims that whites are occupying Mexican territory and calls for revolution.If you were a Californian tax payer, would you dig deeper into your pocket to keep this system going?  I think not.

UPDATE:  It seems to be a 2007 tape from a high school teacher. Still sedition, still a blow to those who want taxpayers to save the public education system (which is too bad, in my opinion)

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Zimbabwe comes to Venezuela

Inflation hits 30% – Chavez will nationalize food importers next? It’s not his fault, understand – it’s those greedy capitalists.

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Another scalp for the Tea Party

Utah “conservative” goes down. That’s fine, but let’s go get some liberals. Although at this point, any incumbent will do.

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When I read a great article like this I grow so frustrated with the NY Times

Fabulous, in-depth reporting on Anwar al-Awlaki , the muslim cleric who seems to have been involved in 9/11 and continues to inspire terrorists today, including the Times Square bomber. I read this, or my cousin Henry’s reporting on the oil spill etc. etc. and it drives me nuts that this paper has such great reporters yet undermines them with what I perceive to be editorial bias and distortions (Cousin Henry, who is one such editor and his wonderful, brilliant wife Savannah another, would certainly dispute this). Whatever: read this piece. Here’s just a snippet from the six-page story:

As Mr. Higgie tells it, he told the imam to stop by if he was ever in the area — and got a strange response. “He said, ‘I don’t think you’ll be seeing me. I won’t be coming back to San Diego again. Later on you’ll find out why,’” Mr. Higgie said.

The next month, when Al Qaeda attacked New York and Washington, Mr. Higgie remembered the exchange and was shaken, convinced that his friendly neighbor had some advance warning of the Sept. 11 attacks.

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What I said

Matt Welch: We’re out of money

American conservatives, particularly the fiscal variety, tend to hold up the European Union as a model of irresponsible, big-spending economic policy. But consider this: According to E.U. rules, member countries cannot maintain budget deficits above 3 percent of gross domestic product; nor can their total debt rise above 60 percent of GDP. As Veronique de Rugy points out in this issue, the U.S. budget deficit in 2009 was three times the E.U.’s limit, and total debt will zoom past the 60 percent threshold sometime this year. Washington makes Paris look frugal.

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Rene Anselmo and real estate signs in Greenwich

News that the late Mr. Anselmo’s house has been listed with Brad Hvolbeck for $39,000,000 has stirred a number of questions about the man and his charitable acts, but perhaps the most significant impact he had on Greenwich was persuading the town to ban “for sale” signs.

Greenwich real estate was always run by a handful of privately held real estate firms and they never, ever used signs to advertise their properties.It was simply considered beneath them, and harmful to the Greenwich image.

In the mid-80s, as chain store realtors came into town and began buying out their smaller competitors, they also introduced signs. Even today, in the age of the Internet, a cheap, fifty-buck sign is still the most effective way to sell a house, outdrawing full page newspaper ads, huge Internet spreads and everything else. And in those days, they were even more important.

So realtors (and sellers)  wanted them, but Rene Anselmo did not;  he waged a one man war against them. He’d cruise around town in his Bentley convertible and collect them and bring them back to his home on North Street, where he’d call the agencies who owned them and tell them where they could pick them up. He was arrested repeatedly for his efforts, and the attendant publicity brought the issue to the town’s attention. A battle ensured: Rene and the few remaining independent realtors , Betty Moger of Cleveland, Duble and Arnold being among the foremost, and the chain stores. Not surprisingly, the chain stores lost and Greenwich banned all commercial real estate signs. Owners were and still are free to place their own signs – the First Amendment demands it, but otherwise, no signs.

I have my doubts about the constitutionality of the ban, but the chains have complied, and we have no signs. Which is great from an esthetic point of view, but sellers definitely pay a price. Regardless,(or as Hiram would doubtless suggest, anti-disirregardless)  the campaign was pure Rene: he saw something he didn’t like, and took action.

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Bummer in the Gulf

No workable link yet. but this email from the WSJ sounds bad:

BP has suffered a setback in the installation of the containment dome. Hydrate build-up stalled placement of the containment dome over gushing oil. The BP executive of the dome said, “I would say it has failed.”

Update: Now the story is up: The quote above is corrected

BP executives say progress has stalled in their effort to place a containment dome over the leaking rig in the Gulf of Mexico and are considering their options.

BP lowered a concrete-and-steel structure known as a containment dome almost a mile to the seafloor in an effort to stop the flow of oil from the drilling site. But gas hydrates, ice-like solids that form when methane gas combines with water under certain conditions, clogged the opening at the top of the dome, preventing oil from being funneled to the surface, said Doug Suttles, BP’s chief operating officer, on a media conference call. “I wouldn’t say it has failed,” Mr. Suttles said at a news conference. “What I would say is what we attempted to do last night wasn’t successful.”

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Wrong, wrong wrong

Seattle cops beat, kick, insult (innocent) Mexican suspect.

One of the officers involved, a 15-year veteran, apologized at a Friday night news conference for his “hateful words”.

The incident occurred as Seattle police were responding to an armed robbery call near a nightclub in Seattle’s Westlake neighborhood on April 17. Patrons had called police and described the suspects as Hispanic.

The video — shot by a freelance videographer and aired Thursday by KIRO — shows a group of officers surrounding two men lying on the ground.

At one point, an officer approaches one of the men and can be heard saying: “You got me? I’m going to beat the (expletive) Mexican (expletive) out of you homey. You feel me?”

Soon after, officers kick the man in the head, hand and leg.

It turned out the man was not the robbery suspect, and the officers let him go.

A tearful Detective Shandy Cobane told reporters the words he used “were offensive and unprofessional.”

“A day has not passed that I wished I could rewind the events of that night and take back those hateful words,” he added.

Cobane apologized to the Latino community, saying, “I know that my words cut deep and were very hurtful.”

They all get religion when they discover they’ve been caught on video.

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Greenwich Round Up gets into it with WGCH investor

Fun stuff, if you’re into this sort of thing, I am.

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People of good will

I just received this from a regular reader who, it’s safe to say, disagrees with my politics:

Chris: I’m crazy for sending you such fuel, but take a look at this Bloggingheads item in yesterday’s New York Times:http://video.nytimes.com/video/2010/05/07/opinion/1247467801640/bloggingheads-was-bush-right.html?ref=opinion&ref=opinion

The leftie, Glenn Greenwald, comes across as a know-it-all who won’t stop pontificating, whereas the righty, David Frum, seems much more at ease with his own ideas. Worse than that (for me): Bush policies come out smelling pretty rosy in this six-minute video.

I wrote back to him as follows:

Hi [XXX]  – funny – I was just watching that two minutes ago! And reached the same conclusion you did. How I admire you for admitting who came off better – I say that because I, too, try to keep an open mind and try to acknowledge when someone on the “other side” has the better argument. I’m only partially successful because my prejudices often interfere with my rational brain, but I do try. Your own example inspires me to try harder.

I’m pretty sure that, if we all would acknowledge that almost all Americans wish only the best for our country and our children, we can work our way to a better world.

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Connecticut writ large: New York State in paralysis

Illinois, California, New York: politicians simply can’t grasp the idea that they have to stop spending. Ours in Hartford can’t either, and we’ll be seeing this repeated, on a smaller scale, next year. In fact, we’ll see this same scene played out over most of the country in the next few years, and we’re in deep, deep trouble.


And Mr. Ravitch argues that grappling with the deep structural problems confronting New York is not something lawmakers have had to do in the past.

“They have never had to deal with a problem of this enormity before,” he said. “There were always escape valves — securitizing tobacco revenues, privatizing Blue Cross. I could give you a list of $20 billion worth of one-shots used to balanced budgets in the last 10 years.”

“They’re confronted by the fact they have to cut nine and a half billion dollars,” he added, “and that is an absolutely mind-blowing experience for people who have only been spending money all these years.

“It’s going to get much, much tougher, and next year it’s going to be much worse.”

The latest recession, Mr. Ravitch likes to say, is not like recessions past, when bust cycles were reliably followed by boom times that could bail out the spending addiction. The state faces deficits of $9.2 billion this year and $15 billion next year.

“We’re not going to go back to where we were,” Mr. Ravitch said. “The economic paradigm has fundamentally changed in New York and the United States. Our economy, in my opinion, has been receding for some time — it was kept alive by the credit bubble, and when that exploded, it exposed the fact that the competition, particularly in Asia for manufacturing, has devastated our economy.”

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Rats, sewage and flooding – our central fire house

The firemen have scheduled an open house today so that the public can see for themselves the condition of the building. In my opinion, any RTM member who’s thinking about voting against funding a new building owes us a duty to go see what he’s voting no on. I’m planning to go myself and see what else I can add to this article, but I do  know, from experience, that it’s usually far cheaper to tear down and start anew than try to restore an obsolete structure. I think we should proceed.

The fire department is also holding a open house today  from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday for members of the public to view the state of the building.

“They have to understand what they are voting for,” said Firefighter Dan Natale, a Greenwich resident and RTM member.

Natale said water damage is one of the major concerns, as heavy rains often flood the building’s flat roof, leaking down to the ground floor and mixing with sewage water. Firefighters said they often have to stack up sandbags to keep the water away from their kitchen and office space.

“This has got to be the least-maintained public building in town,” said Firefighter Martin Millea, a 20-year department veteran. “Most people go to work for eight hours a day and have much nicer conditions than us. We work here 24 hours a day.”

The bathroom, showers, locker rooms and sleeping quarters are also well-worn, with antiquated facilities that, in some spaces, are literally falling apart. Touring an upstairs bathroom, firefighters displayed how recent rainwater seeped through the ceiling, leaving dust and chipped paint caked on the floor. In addition to the mess rain leaves behind, firefighters said the facilities are also not practical, leaving no separate space for the lone female firefighter to shower or sleep at night.

The outdated building, which stands in the shadow of the new sparkling police department, even has a rodent problem. During Friday’s tour, firefighters heard a snap and realized a trap they set had caught a baby rat.

“This is what we’ve got to live with,” said Lt. Patrick Gordisky, a 38-year veteran. “It is just deteriorating. Nothing is changing. It has just been getting worse.”

Outside of the living quarters, Natale said the station leaves them with little space for storing equipment. Even a system set up to dry out fire hoses is no longer working.

Siecienski said if the funding is approved Monday, firefighters may be able to vacate the station next spring with construction beginning in July 2011. If the project is killed by the vote, firefighters fear they may be stuck in the old building for up to another three years.

“I don’t know what this place is going to look like in three more years,” Millea said. “It is not going to get better.”

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House prices continue to fall and have (much) more room to drop

Another pessimist? Sort of – this guy sees a bright side, as do I.

Everybody thinks rising home prices are good, but rising property prices may make many of us unnecessarily poorer by making it harder for future buyers and renters to pay the bills.

I wonder if the poor are hurt most by a policy which artificially supports housing prices? If true, then the Fed and the Treasury are taking dramatic action against the most vulnerable. The affordable housing people arguing in favor of foreclosure prevention are arguing against their own goals.

The key is uniting the value of real estate and the income of property owners and renters. What we need is a rational capitalist market. We need a market price driven by private actors. The Fed, the Treasury, and Fannie & Freddie have destroyed the free market in housing and by doing so they are orchestrating poverty and misery for any person who needs a place to sleep at night.

Real estate has an established price over time. That has been proven by Case Shiller. Their study of 120 years of data offers obvious evidence. They are on record saying housing is a stable asset with no change in value from 1890 to 1990. And all the other screamers who say pricing is different now simply argue based upon imagination and prejudice.

I say go with the hard data. I say Case Shiller is right. I say return to the trend lost in 1990. Values must fall. I estimate by an additional 22 percent.

I recommend reading the entire article – it’s short, but on point.

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Lunatics running the asylum

Let us rush to help the British conduct an election!

Third World observers criticize British election procedures. Nigeria criticizing another country’s election is fairly amusing – the idea of a First World country like Britain inviting these scum in to observe the Brit’s voting ways is downright rib-splitting funny.

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A small step forward

Verizon asks permission to stop passing out white pages. Next up, I hope, are all those unwanted yellow page books. But unlike the white pages, they still make money, so far, so we’ll probably be plagued by them for another decade before a stake is finally driven through the chest of that business model.

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