Daily Archives: May 17, 2010

Blumenthal lies again

Dick Blumenthal, Harvard war hero

I wrote earlier about Dick Blumenthal lying about being captain of the Harvard swim team. This one seems more substantial, but in line with the first.

According to the New York Times, he never served in Viet Nam. Why is this disgusting? Because unlike the claim that he donned a tight Speedo and swam a few laps, laying claim to the bravery and self-sacrifice of soldiers who fought in battle should be beyond the pale. Read “We Were Soldiers Once, and Young” and tell me that a man who claims, falsely, to have been among those men deserves any public office, let alone Senator.

At a ceremony honoring veterans and senior citizens who sent presents to soldiers overseas, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut rose and spoke of an earlier time in his life.

“We have learned something important since the days that I served in Vietnam,” Mr. Blumenthal said to the group gathered in Norwalk in March 2008. “And you exemplify it. Whatever we think about the war, whatever we call it — Afghanistan or Iraq — we owe our military men and women unconditional support.”

There was one problem: Mr. Blumenthal, a Democrat now running for the United States Senate, never served in Vietnam. He obtained at least five military deferments from 1965 to 1970 and took repeated steps that enabled him to avoid going to war, according to records.

The deferments allowed Mr. Blumenthal to complete his studies at Harvard; pursue a graduate fellowship in England; serve as a special assistant to The Washington Post’s publisher, Katharine Graham; and ultimately take a job in the Nixon White House.

In 1970, with his last deferment in jeopardy, he landed a coveted spot in the Marine Reserve, which virtually guaranteed that he would not be sent to Vietnam. He joined a unit in Washington that conducted drills and other exercises and focused on local projects, like fixing a campground and organizing a Toys for Tots drive.

Would someone please put a spike through this monster’s heart? I’m just a little blogger, with a lawyer’s view of the fraud that the man is, but surely someone out there with real press credentials can alert the public to this man. He should be stopped.

UPDATE: Ooh ooh ooh! Look what’s been included in the story overnight: I hope because of a message I sent the reporter yesterday, but credit or not, I’m happy:

On a less serious matter, another flattering but untrue description of Mr. Blumenthal’s history has appeared in profiles about him. In two largely favorable profiles, the Slate article and a magazine article in The Hartford Courant in 2004 with which he cooperated, Mr. Blumenthal is described prominently as having served as captain of the swim team at Harvard. Records at the college show that he was never on the team.

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Terrorist waste

Boys and their toys: cops spend millions on useless junk If you seriously think that we can’t cut billions from the federal budget, you are living in dreamland. This Hearst report is about one little state, one little program. Expand that to all fifty states, and all our spending, and tell me I’m wrong.

Can coffee cups and camcorders make us safer?

Even as the recent arrest of a Bridgeport man in connection with the failed Times Square bombing has brought a new focus on terror, a Hearst Connecticut Newspapers review shows state and local officials across Connecticut have parlayed an unending stream of federal homeland security money into a bonanza of “free” items. They include meals by the hundreds, dozens of SUVs, logo-embossed coffee cups, flat-screen televisions, camcorders, bullhorns, business cards, pricey power boats and a “deluxe” portable restroom.

Lt. Gov. Mike Fedele, who is seeking the Republican nomination for governor, spent $15,000 to produce an edition of his cable access talk show, “Open Mike,” on homeland security. Gov. M. Jodi Rell‘s administration used $50,000 to help fund a 2008 Connecticut Public Television documentary on volunteerism.

Connecticut’s Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management has received at least $182.5 million in federal homeland security money between 2002 and 2010.

“Billions have been spent by the federal government in the name of homeland security, and chunks of that cash have gone to each of the 50 states and hundreds of localities,” the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Public Integrity concluded in a recent report on homeland security spending.

“Government auditors say that even now the Department of Homeland Security can’t gauge how much the grants have made America safer,” the nonpartisan organization’s report said.

Scott DeVico, spokesman for the state Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, defended the purchases, saying the money has made Connecticut safer and better prepared for a disaster.

He cited the recent failed bombing attempt, pointing out that state agencies were quickly notified by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force as events unfolded through a “fusion center” created with federal money that allows local, state and federal agencies to share intelligence. “Communications continued with our New York counterparts throughout the incident and continue today,” he said.

The federal program initially focused on providing equipment and training to enhance security and help communities respond during a terrorism attack. But the program’s mission soon expanded.

The federal Department of Homeland Security now provides grants to purchase just about anything that could be considered useful during a disaster, such as a hurricane, flood, major accident, explosion or unforeseen event.

What the money bought

Hearst Newspapers found that some of the state’s purchases were clearly aimed at terrorism, such as Geiger counters, gas detectors, protective clothing and medical supplies. But other items represented more routine purchases, such as coffee cups, educational television programs, SUVs, copy machine toner, office supplies and Blackberry phones. Some probably would have been bought anyway with local or state funds.

The review found only one item that was consistently rejected by state officials — business cards. Still, two boxes of cards for homeland security staffers, costing $33, did get through the state’s approval process.

“We missed that one,” said Peter Matos, a fiscal officer for procurement for the state homeland security department, which reviews applications from towns and cities and state departments.

Here are a few of the purchases approved by the state:

The Connecticut Intelligence Center in 2007 bought 288 coffee mugs, with an eight-color emblem on one side, for $1,893. “While we understand that the agency viewed the purchase of the coffee mugs as a public education tool, Governor Rell believes we need to look for better ways to spend those funds in the future,” a spokesman for the governor said Friday.

Winchester, a town of 10,716 in Litchfield County, received a $12,559 high-tech remote video surveillance system. It was recently used to monitor rowdy teenagers at a town beach.

Stafford received a $343 60-inch projection screen and a $1,044 color printer.

Bridgeport in 2008 received a $300,000 fireboat that’s capable of discharging 1,450 gallons per minute onto a burning boat or shoreline structure.

Milford gained two animal transport trailers valued at a cost of more than $22,000, and a $336,000 “live fire shoot house” for police training. The facility, purchased for the region, features custom-built rubber walls and allows officers to fire live bullets at fake targets. “They bought that with homeland money?” State Police Lt.Timothy Kradas, a grants administration officer for the state Department of Public Safety, asked. “The state police don’t even have one.”

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Now they’re sorry

Byram  regrets the failure of the Whaba boys’s condo project. Total bullshit. The community held up this project for years, screaming about size, scope, the lack of free ice cream for kids,whatever, until they succeeded in getting it scaled down to a completely unprofitable size. Now the head of that opposition (or to be fair, his successor) laments the “market timing” that doomed the project. Nonsense. I wrote columns on this, back when I had a column at Greeniwch Post, asking what, exactly Byram wanted.

They got what they wanted – a derelict, abandoned project that they now complain is a blight on the neighborhood. No sympathy here.

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No wonder Monica Noel is away

Reader IL sends along this arbitration award: $1.8 million against a Madoff feeder fund. Not Walter’s and his Fairfield Greenwich Group, but same cause of action, same facts. The old homestead on Round Hill Road draws closer to the auction block.

May 17 (Bloomberg) — An investor in J. Ezra Merkin’s Ascot Partners LP, a feeder fund for Ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff, was awarded $1.75 million by arbitrators who found Merkin intentionally breached his fiduciary duty by not disclosing Madoff’s role in the fund, according to a court filing.

Merkin also was negligent in performing due diligence on Madoff, a majority of an arbitration panel found, according to a petition filed today in New York state court. Investor Noel Wiederhorn, who put $1.46 million into Ascot Partners in 2003 and 2004, is seeking a judgment confirming the award, which was for the amount he invested plus interest.

Wiederhorn, a Wycoff, New Jersey, pediatrician, also asked that the sealed record of the arbitration case be made public.

“These findings could have significance in later litigation and arbitrations against Mr. Merkin as well as against numerous other Madoff feeder-fund managers,” Weiderhorn’s attorney, David Bamberger, wrote in asking for the record to be unsealed.

The evidence showed “major contradictions and ambiguities” in transaction confirmations, which should have caused Merkin to question the Madoff trades, according to his filing. The evidence in the hearing also established the “extreme improbability” of the transactions Madoff reported in the over-the-counter options market, the papers said.

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Obama: “I’ll tell you what you need to know”

The Prez signs “freedom of the press act”, but refuses to answers any questions from, er, the press.

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So sad

From a reader:

I’ve opted to go through the CT state modification program. The lender refused to discuss modification until I defaulted…so here we are.

I have no interest being a burden on other taxpayers – I want to renegotiate the terms of my loan.

This is all my fault. I don’t expect anyone else to pay my debts.

Banks, countries, cities and states will be bailed out (funnily enough by me and other taxpayers). We’ve all lived beyond our means. All of these will get more funds to survive. I won’t.

Nobody cares about the guy in the street.
I screwed up…most people on this blog would seem to think hey buddy that’s your fault, so pack your bags and go….

we’ll see how it works out…I’ll let you know…

Commentators, heads up: no bashing – I won’t  tolerate or post it. I was showing a distressed property yesterday – five children’s bedrooms, all occupied. Knowing that those kids were all going to be moving on to a different, worse lifestyle in a few months was a depressing, sad event. It affected my buyer clients too. No wonder it’s hard to sell houses in this market: there’s no joy in it anymore.

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Waltzing Matilda

I pointed out almost three weeks ago that Australia was moving to shut down its most profitable industry, mining, by imposing a 40% “super tax” on earnings. The response of the industry was entirely predictable: Rio Tinto and others announced that they were deferring expansion plans, which will lead to less, not more tax revenue.

Here in the US we will learn nothing from this exercise, but we should.

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A nifty fossil find, if that sort of stuff turns you on

As a boy, I would fight kids who tried to kill these. Now that I know I was defending 480 million years of evolution, I'm kind of proud of myself.

It does me, and here’s a great story from the NYT putting these critters in their proper place. I had hoped, back in the day, to add a geology/paleontology major to my philosophy degree but the burden of an extra year at college and a general ineptitude in science put paid to that adventure. But I remain fascinated by the subject.

But the fossil record then goes dark: the Cambrian-period innovations in life appeared to have few clear descendants. Many scientists thought that the likely explanation for this mysterious disappearance was that a major extinction had wiped out much of the distinctive Cambrian life. It seemed that the complex organisms emerging in the Cambrian had come to an abrupt demise, disappearing with few traces in the later fossil record.

Not everyone was convinced, however, and now a trove of 480-million-year-old fossils in Morocco appears to strike a blow to the idea of a major extinction. The international team of scientists who discovered the 1,500 fossils said their find shows that the dark stretch in the fossil record more probably reflects an absence of preservation of fossils over the previous 25 million years.

The team reports in the current issue of the journal Nature that the large number of “exceptionally preserved” Moroccan species exhibits apparently strong links to Cambrian species known from fossil beds in China, Greenland and, most notably, the Burgess Shale. The scientists think this solves the mystery. The Moroccan fossils, they said, establish that Burgess Shale-type species “continued to have an important role in the diversity and ecological structure of deeper marine communities well after the Middle Cambrian.”

The Moroccan fossils include sponges, worms, trilobites and mollusks like clams, snails and relatives of the living nautilus. Another fossil was similar to today’s horseshoe crab, a biological throwback familiar to beachcombers. Now, the scientists said, its antiquity appears to be even greater — some 30 million years earlier than previously thought, possibly in the late Cambrian.

The discovery team’s principal scientist and lead author of the journal article was Peter Van Roy, a Belgian paleontologist who is a postdoctoral fellow at Yale University. He has worked in Moroccan fossil beds the last 10 years, but it was only last year on a field trip, financed by the National Geographic Society, that he and other scientists uncovered the riches of a site near the Atlas Mountains and the city of Zagora.

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Instapundit’s diving in the Caymans, Tom Ward’s in England

So how am I supposed to entertain myself or sell real estate? Who knows when Tom will make it back through the ash? Glenn, on the other hand will be back next week, and and has a roster of top bloggers filling in for him. You want depressing news, check out the stories these people are following.

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Mortgage modification program a bust

Via BusinessInsider, Calculatedrisk takes a look at the government’s plan to help distressed homeowners. They’re totally f**ked. What’s Plan B?

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“This time,” Obama vows, “I’ve got it right!”

Officer Joe Bolton and friends

Obama tries third attempt to nominate head for T.S.A. “Joe didn’t go to Harvard,” Obama admitted, “but he knows how to deal with government-types. I’m thinking this time’s the charm.”

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In the long run, they’ll all be dead, but the Greek commies have this one right

They want to default on the debt and bring down European bankers. They’re stuck in a doomed system – not reason to suffer five years of deprivation just to hold the Euro up for a few more years. The Greeks are going back to donkey carts, and they might as well get on with it.

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It’s a good thing Facebook didn’t exist when my son John worked at Manero’s

Waitress fired after complaining about a cheap tipper on Facebook. When John waited at Manero’s he would come home some nights fuming about lousy tippers but fortunately, he had only me to complain to. Had Facebook been available ,,,, Of course, now his dad has a blog, so we could both get in trouble.

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Wanna read the Wall Street Journal for free? Here’s how to do it.

I’m happy to pay a small subscription price to support such excellent reporting. But when I link to them, I’m aware that some of you are not subscribers and can’t get the content.

So what’s worse? Posting their copyrighted material for non-subscribers or giving you an end-around?  I don’t know, but here’s the end-around.

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Muslim girl wins Miss USA Pagent. Obama, Trump conspire to ruin America

Is that a grenade launcher in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?

I spend no time on the whacko left or right fringe of the political dialogue, but apparently there’s a conspiracy theory brewing that blames Obama for this result. PopeHat, NOT one of the whackos, reports.

This is all about as amusing as the John Birch Society was in the early 60′s, but with the Commies coming back on the Left and these people crawling out from under rocks on the Right, we sure are in for interesting times. Can’t we all agree to just track down Rodney King and beat the hell out of him? We’d all feel better.

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More on buyer’s representation agreements

I posted Saturday on Buyer’s rep agreements which prompted a reader’s question about who pays the commission under such an agreement. In almost all cases, it’s still the seller. Houses on the MLS provide for buyer’s reps to receive a 2.5% commission, paid for by the seller. (and by the way, if we don’t have a signed buyer’s agreement, the selling broker keeps the full 5% and we get nothing).

But as a buyer’s rep, I also dig around to find distressed properties and, in some cases, the foreclosing bank won’t pay a commission if a low enough price is reached. I still want to paid, of course, so in those cases, my agreement with the buyer calls for him to pay a commission (2 1/2 or 3%). It’s entirely up to the  buyer – he doesn’t have to buy the house if he doesn’t want to add some cash for my time. But in three cases I’m working on, the houses started at above $9, and we’re working on $3 million, above $5, and we’re working on $2 and, another house at $5 that we’re  trying to get for $1 million. Seems to me that, if I can save someone that much money, I’ve brought value to the deal and deserve to be compensated, just like the investment bankers who are my clients.

But buyers are funny. Anyway, I make no apologies for my fees – if a buyer perceives no value, he or she is free to go somewhere else.

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Phew! Bombing thwarted in Jersey City, but it’s just our dumb old Mafia, not the (other) terrorists

Gasoline bombs discovered, defused and perps arrested. But there’s a vacant pizza parlor involved, so relax.

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Fun!

Dow’s off 160, oil below $70, Euro tanks. Business Insider claims it’s a bull move but it illustrates its article with a picture of a bear, so I assume the editors will catch up with themselves before too long. Got an offer on your house? Call up and take it.

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Can’t we reciprocate?

Slim Pickens drops in on Teheran

Iran offers to ship low-grade uranium to Turkey. Why not send some high-grade uranium back to them, delivered at very high speed? When it absolutely, positively has to be there ….

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Bottom story of the century

Town Emergency Department spending fifteen bucks a month for Accuweather enhanced reporting. Greenwich Time got my pal Fudrucker to declare that he’s against it, but he’s protecting his fellow Demmerkrats and would probably denounce Peter Tesei’s brushing his teeth as a waste of water. Frankie is in favor of trillions of dollars wasted on welfare and socialized medicine, but gets fiscal discipline religion when the Republicans spend pennies.

Hmm. I may not bring him an Arcadia coffee this morning. That $2.50 would go a long way toward paying the town’s Accuweather bill.

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