Daily Archives: May 24, 2010

End game in Korea?

No sensible person would think so, but with Obama and Kim Jong II  both saying we should prepare for war, the market’s freaking out. And why not? Does shed a little light on Japan agreeing to keep U.S. troops on Okinawa today.

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Dick Blumenthal and the Ballad of the Fake Beret (a work in progress)

Music here:Ballad of the Green Beret

Put silver wings, on my own chest

I’ll pretend, I’m America’s best,

Call me a man, but  then someday,

you will know,

I wear a fake beret

Trained to serve in privileged lands

I passed the canapes,

Hand to hand

I stand so tall, though five foot, say,

I really wear, a fake beret

Back at home, and old wife waits

Her phony soldier’s met his fate

A camera man got in his way,

He smacked him with,

His fake beret

Put silver wings on my own chest

I’ll pretend, I’m America’s best

Bury me deep, because someday,

You will learn, I wore a fake beret

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Well that’s okay then: White House investigates White House bribe to Sestak, decides no wrong was committed

I mean, if you can’t trust the Man from Chicago, whom can you trust? We probably should have elected that Hopey Change guy back in the last election, but too late now.

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Crucial issues: of course the Super Bowl should be played at Giant Stadium

Pat Summerall, 1958

The NFL hasn’t played a Super Bowl outdoors since 1975 but apparently there’s a good chance that the Meadowlands new (uncovered) stadium will be selected for the 2014 game this Tuesday. What a no brainer, even if it has taken them this long  to figure it out. Football is all about cold, adverse conditions and frozen mud. Go for it!

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The market is doing to Microsoft what the Justice Department could not

Between Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android, have you even heard of Microsoft’s cellphones? The biggest, baddest company in the world can’t seem to compete. They’re tossing out a bunch of executives this week and I presume will try to start over, but if regulator types would just learn to relax, consumers can handle monopolies all on their own – if a product sucks, they will buy something else. Nokia has learned that, too.

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Not a dime to cut

NYC bus drivers who are spat on take, on average, three months paid vacation to recover.

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Why does the NYT print this stuff in a time of war?

Secret (until now) plan to disrupt Al Qaeda revealed.

WASHINGTON — The top American commander in the Middle East has ordered a broad expansion of clandestine military activity in an effort to disrupt militant groups or counter threats in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and other countries in the region, according to defense officials and military documents.

The secret directive, signed in September by Gen. David H. Petraeus, authorizes the sending of American Special Operations troops to both friendly and hostile nations in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Horn of Africa to gather intelligence and build ties with local forces. Officials said the order also permits reconnaissance that could pave the way for possible military strikes in Iran if tensions over its nuclear ambitions escalate.

This same paper exposed the secret tracking of money transferred between terrorist cells a few years ago, while acknowledging that the tracking was not illegal and that the White House had specifically requested that they not reveal it. No enemies on the left, for the New York Times. They destroyed that program by publicizing it and, presumably, were proud to do so.

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Oh to be the son of the wealthy and influential

I wouldn’t know of course, but this young Lake Avenue man stole ( “borrowed without permission”) his friend’s parents’ car, drove it while drunk up to the Back Country, smashed up dozens of mailboxes, stole the mail, crashed the car three separate times and fled, each time, and eventually totalled the car on North Street at 6:30 Friday morning. His charges? A couple of misdemeanors.

A Greenwich man arrested Friday in connection with a destructive joyride through town has been charged with using a motor vehicle without the owner’s permission, sixth-degree larceny, third-degree criminal mischief and interfering with an officer. Joseph Waesche, 20, of 173 Lake Ave., was taken into custody and questioned Friday after leading police on a brief foot chase. Police filed charges against him Friday evening. Police said Waesche took his friend’s parents Lexus sport utility vehicle without permission Friday morning and began colliding into mailboxes and stealing mail. He was released on a $500 bond and is scheduled to appear in state Superior Court in Stamford on May 28.

It is entirely possible, of course, that our Greenwich cops were just demonstrating their usual restraint in charging Mr. Waesche but it’s been my experience, reviewing the police blotter over the years, that they’re often more exuberant and creative when compiling violations. I wonder what happened here?

UPDATE: Just pulled the tax card – they aren’t wealthy, by Greenwich standards. Must have hired a hell of a lawyer.

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So maybe there’s a deal here.

Met’s great Bobby Bonilla and his ex-wife are still wasting money on lawyers in divorce court, a year after their marriage was dissolved. Their house on Round Hill – decent, if not top-of-the -line, is still for sale, and coming down in price. Maybe they’ll need cash for those lawyers?

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Fudrucker finds a sacrificial lamb to replace him

Nancy Barton, left, discusses calf roping with Icy Frantz

Tired of always being the fall guy, Greenwich Democrat party honcho Frankie Fudrucker has found someone else to get walloped in the polls next election, one Nancy Barton of New Mexico, who will “challenge” Scott Frantz this November.

“She has a good sense of the community,” Fudrucker said before the nominating convention. “She knows what’s important. It’s about balancing the budget on the backs of the poor.” [slight editing here - Ed]

“In the last 20 years, we’ve gone from 2 percent of the state budget to 15 percent of the budget coming from Greenwich,” Fudrucker said. “We’ve been represented exclusively by Republicans, so I just wonder how people think it helped them. The answer is, it hasn’t.”

I’m thinking that, were it not for our Republican representatives, our share of the state budget would be 75% but heck – vote in a bleeding heart and see what happens.

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Too bad that if you wear it, your air bag will kill you

But hey, revenue is revenue: GPD kicks off seatbelt roadblocks. “So what, the new airbags kill belted passengers?” Chief Ridberg said, ” sue somebody – we got tickets to collect”. Love these guys.

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Push back – Brits are now global warming skeptics

No one believes the “science” anymore. Funny how distorting and hiding data will do that.

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Venezuelan workers get it, even if Sean Penn is too stupid to

Workers fear for jobs as Chavez threatens yet another expropriation.

FABIOLA SANCHEZ, Associated Press Writer
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) ― Venezuela’s socialist president is threatening to “go after” the country’s biggest food producer, and the corporation’s workers are not happy about it.

Union leader Richard Prieto says employees of Empresas Polar held meetings Monday and agreed to “defend our jobs throughout the country.”

Chavez on Sunday called for authorities to investigate whether the company has been hoarding food, saying if it continues “we will have to go after Polar.”

Employees say they fear a government takeover would leave them worse off.

That’s a twist on the situation in many Latin American countries, where workers have often protested efforts to privatize state-owned companies.

“All the companies the president … has expropriated, all those companies have gone bust,” Prieto said in a telephone interview from the northwestern city of Barquisimeto.

He cited the example of Vengas, a natural gas company that was seized by the government and is now called Gas Comunal.

“That company was the best gas business here in Barquisimeto,” he said. “Now you can’t get gas.”

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We’re in the best of hands, II

EPA demands that BP use a less toxic oil dispersant agent. “Invent one, damn it, right now!”

BP was locked in a tense standoff with the Environmental Protection Agency, which had ordered the company to stop using a chemical dispersant called Corexit by Sunday. But BP continued spraying the chemical on Monday despite the E.P.A.’s demand that it use a less toxic dispersant to break up the oil. The company told the agency that no better alternative was available.

Durbin was joined by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who were sent to the region Monday by President Obama in response to increasing criticism that the White House was not acting aggressively enough on the spill.

“The federal government has mounted the largest response to fight this oil in all of the history of this country,” Mr. Salazar said. Speaking of BP, he reiterated the phrase that the government would “keep our boot on their neck until the job gets done.”

Ms. Napolitano said the government had formed a group of “the best scientists available within the federal government” to calculate new estimates of how much oil has been released into the Gulf, suggesting that the government was not satisfied with BP’s estimates, which have attracted widespread criticism as too low. The group is expected to have its assessment ready by early next week.

So if I have this right, BP is doing what it can to stop the spill and contain the damage, while Obummer has sent his tools down there to point fingers, “assess the situation” and demand impossible, dream solutions, like a non-toxic, magic oil dispersant. We can sleep tonight.

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We’re in the best of hands

From Best of the Web, this:

Two Barneys in One!

  • “We have, I think, an excessive degree of concern right now about homeownership and its role in the economy. Obviously, speculation is never a good thing. But those who argue that housing prices are now at the point of a bubble seem to me to be missing a very important point. Unlike previous examples we have had, where substantial excessive inflation of prices later caused some problems, we are talking here about an entity–homeownership, homes–where there is not the degree of leverage that we’ve seen elsewhere. This is not the dot-com situation. We had problems with people having invested in business plans for which there was no reality, people building fiberoptic cable for which there was no need. Homes that are occupied may see an ebb and flow in the price at a certain percentage level, but you’re not going to see the collapse that you see when people talk about a bubble. And so those of us on our committee in particular will continue to push for homeownership.“–Rep. Barney Frank,June 27, 2005
  • “One of my biggest differences with the Bush administration, and even with the Clinton administration, was that they overdid that. I have always been critical of this effort to equate a decent home with homeownership. I think we should have been doing more to provide rental housing. My efforts have been to try and get affordable rental housing. I was very much in disagreement with this push into home ownership, and I think the federal government should not be artificially doing that.”–Rep. Barney Frank, “Power Lunch,” CNBC, May 21, 2010

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More on shadow inventory from Calculated Risk

Deferred condo projects joining the glut.

The term “shadow inventory” is used in many different ways. My definition is: housing units that are not currently listed on the market, but will probably be listed soon. This includes:

  • Unlisted new high rise condos as discussed above. Note: these properties are not included in the new home inventory report.
  • Homeowners waiting for a better market. Some of the increase in inventory in April might have been sellers hoping to take advantage of the tax credit. This includes the accidental landlords who will try to sell as soon as the market improves and the current tenant’s lease expires.
  • REOs, foreclosures in process and some percentage of seriously delinquent loans (some will cure, some are already listed as short sales). See: Mortgage Delinquencies by Period
  • It is difficult to put a number on the total, but it is in the millions of units and all this inventory will keep downward pressure on house prices for some time.
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    If you want to live in Back Country

    99 Lower Cross

    This estate sale at 99 Lower Cross is beginning to look at least somewhat interesting, with a price cut today marking it down to $4.695. It’s assessed at $6.56, was put up for sale last year at $6.8 million, so it’s approaching some kind of value, I’d think.

    Big house, built in 1987 and pretty much untouched since, so figure another million to dress it up.

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    Damn it, I’d tell you if there were real estate news!

    30 Baldwin Farms South

    No contracts, pendings, price reductions or sales of note. The under a million bracket plods along, and that’s it.

    This new listing at 30 Baldwin Farms South has promise. It hasn’t been touched since 1995, according to the listing, but it’s got two plus acres and a pool, it’s on a good street, and is asking $2.895 while its assessment is around $2.3. For this area, that falls into the general selling to assessment ratio, so the sellers seem to be rational. That sets them apart from most.

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    Uh oh – France to increase retirement age!

    Zoot alores! We must go back to work?

    No more retirement at 60, if this law passes. Perhaps the French workers can bring some of our own public employees over to testify how they retire at 44, at 125% of their salary. Why, the French will look like friggin’ martyrs!

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    Dumb headlines

    “Life sentence for stealing $4 pair of socks!” That’s what the headline says, but it turns out, the jackass is a repeat offender who, fresh from jail, arms himself illegally, heads off for a shoplifting spree at Walmarts and when confronted, drops everything except that pair of socks and shows his handgun to the unarmed security guard.

    I think life sentences are a waste of taxpayers’ money, usually, but in this case, I think the citizens of Florida are getting a bargain keeping this man off their streets.

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