Daily Archives: June 28, 2010

My man Henry Fountain is still on the beat

BP contingency plans – Coz Henry’s covering it (alert to readers concerned about clicking on links – it’s the NYT – I can’t always vouch for their accuracy, although with Henry, I can, but virus free, yes).

UPDATE: I have received a number or messages from readers concerned about clicking on links and getting viruses. I ALWAYS link only to trusted sources but now I clear links in comments too. You can never be too careful, but I’m doing my best to keep this site clear of crap.

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For law geeks

Instapundit has this : I suppose you have to like the study of law to be excited about this, but for me, it’s a big deal – and it may be for you, even if you don’t know it yet. One day, years from now, when the current liberal class has been dismissed, legal scholars will reassess Justice Thomas’s work and, I predict, give him the recognition he will never receive in his lifetime.

RANDY BARNETT: “Today, the Privileges or Immunities Clause has risen from the grave. Only a plurality was willing to use the Due Process Clause to apply an individual right to the states. The crucial fifth vote was provided by Justice Thomas’ extensive fifty-six-page originalist opinion that rested solely on the Privileges or Immunities Clause. Neither Justice Alito for the plurality, nor Justices Stevens or Breyer in dissent, even attempted to impeach Justice Thomas’ analysis, which now stands uncontradicted in the Supreme Court Reports. Decades of academic research that has lead to a remarkable consensus among constitutional scholars that The Slaughter-House Cases was wrongly decided have now been vindicated. Only a remarkably tepid and barely defended assertion of stare decisis by Justice Alito now stands in the way of a complete restoration of the ‘lost’ Privileges or Immunities Clause at the heart of Section One of the Fourteenth Amendment.”

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A McDonald Happy Meal

Supremes affirm 2nd amendment right to own a weapon. Check the link for a full discussion, pro and con, but (a) an armed populace is safer than a disarmed one and (b) had that little girl in Rye been carrying one of these puppies, it would have been the coyote seeking medical care, not her.

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Stupid is as stupid does

Sexy, impractical, unprofitable and soon to be discontinued

Tesla IPO huge hit. The company has never made a dime and never will make a dime, so either buyers of its ipo are fools (good choice) or figure US taxpayers will bail them out (better choice). The marketplace has lost all reason, either way.

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I guess this was inevitable

McChrystal to resign from Army. He did nothing wrong and served our country well – what a shame.

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Then I’m not going

Sex banned in space station. Spoil sports.

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Cool! SMERSH is back!

FBI rounds up Russian spy network. I love this quote:

Neighbors in Montclair, N.J., of the couple who called themselves Richard and Cynthia Murphy were flabbergasted when a team of F.B.I. agents turned up Sunday night and led the couple away in handcuffs. One person who lives nearby called them “suburbia personified.” Others worried about the Murphys’ elementary-age daughters, who were driven away by a family friend.

Jessie Gugig, 15, said she could not believe the charges, especially against Mrs. Murphy, who was an accomplished gardener.

“They couldn’t have been spies,” Ms. Gugig said. “Look what she did with the hydrangeas.”

Hey – she’s 15,  so of course I give her a break. But it’s still funny. To he honest, it’s also a comment I can easily imagine myself making – I mean, who suspects Mrs. Murphy, the gardener next door, of being a Ruskie spy? But now that I think of it, how well do I really know Janet Bein, my own neighbor? Sure she seems like a wonderful wife and mother but …?  ; )

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Excuse me?

Philadelphia to bar INS access to arrest records. Look: one country, one set of laws. If someone is here illegally, then I want the INS to know about it and if some city refuses to cooperate, then how about depriving it of all federal funds? Works for me.

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Poor little kid

A six-year-old girl was attacked by a coyote in Rye over the weekend. Coyotes don’t wander all that far so I wouldn’t think Greenwich residents are in danger from this particular beast, but as a parent, my heart goes out to the child. It’s neat that we’re seeing all sorts of creatures come back to the east, but coyotes don’t seem to be much of an improvement.

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Shogun

Courtesy of NetFlix, we’ve been watching Shogun, that great mini-series from 1980. Wonderful stuff – I’d forgotten how the filmmaker just let the scenes run in Japanese – back in 1980, when Pal Nancy and I watched it, we became so immersed in the language that we came to understand it, sort of. What a shame the networks can no longer afford to do these projects today. But how lucky that they survive via NetFlix. Next up, Winds of War.

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Short term thinking and investing

This is pretty much my thinking. I doubt there’s anything to be done about it, but I don’t think it’s good for the country.

We all suffer from a remarkable degree of impatience. We live in a world of sound bites, and the sense of instant gratification permeates every corner of our society.
In my chosen field of money management, the expression “long term” is an endangered species.
Consider public policy, executive compensation, the manner in which we communicate and the investment business.
Public policy: Hard, thoughtful political decisions are discarded in favor of short-term and popular decisions. In the end, these decisions are usually more costly.
Executive compensation: Many of our business and investment managers have gotten away with a “heads I win, tails you lose” mentality over the past decade, and it nearly destroyed our financial system.
Communication: In our social lives and in the way we communicate, convenience, expediency and haste rule the day. Speed dating and texting have replaced romance and conversation. Even texts are abbreviated as we now tweet. (Literacy and SAT English scores must be on the descent!)
Investment business: Demands on short-term investment performance have intensified and have never been greater. Short-term decision making and trading (what I describe as worshiping at the altar of momentum) has increasingly trumped intelligent, analytical and thoughtful long-term investing.
In the business media, the staccato pace of CNBC’s prime time “Fast Money” and “Mad Money” shows make them so popular, as do their Fast Messages and Lightning Rounds. (“Slow Money” and “Sane Money” would not make money for CNBC in today’s world.)
Investors in mutual and hedge funds have become ever more conscious of short-term performance. As a result, few money managers have the luxury of “forever” as Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B) investor base grants him. Indeed our investors’ capital is now almost “call” money, as multiyear hedge fund lockups have morphed into monthly and quarterly redemption privileges for their investors.

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Okay, this is nasty

73  page police report says Al Gore was whoring. It doesn’t change my opinion of the man, but those who once admired the Nobel Prize winner may have a different reaction.

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A send off for Justice John Paul Stevens

After acknowledging Justice Ginsburg’s loss, the court bade farewell to Justice Stevens, and according to this story, reporters and lawyers, men and women alike, wore bow ties in his honor. That’s kind of cool.

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This sounds encouraging

Greenwich Time reports on changes school superintendent Sydney Freund has made in his first year. I’ve only heard the man once, but he struck me as a great boon to Greenwich, and I do believe he’ll bring our schools back to where they should be, and once were.

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Martin Ginsburg, R.I.P.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Ginsburg’s husband died over the weekend. He seems to have been a remarkable man, who stood by and supported his wife in her own career since 1954. I may now live two doors down from Pal Nancy, but I’m a firm believer in standing by (or in my case, close to) your woman. Judge Ginsburg is herself ill with pancreatic cancer, and I’m sorry for her loss of her husband, and I regret that his passing seems to have been pretty much over-looked with the start of the Kagan hearings and the death of Senator Byrd.

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Downtown condos

Brother Gideon points out the most recent sale of one of builder ALBERT  Orlando’s condos, this one at 108 E. Elm Street, for $4.7 million in just 67 days and suggests that the man has a genius for building what people want in a downtown condo. And indeed he does. All three of his projects have sold out, quickly, in good markets and bad, and at exceptional prices.

No one else to my knowledge has been able to duplicate his success, which is fascinating. You’d think a competing builder could tour an Orlando project and just build the same thing but somehow, this guy has the magic and others don’t.

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Positive review of the new iPhone from BusinessInsider

Geeze, I’ve got to get busy selling houses if I’m to get an iPad for Ma, one for myself and now a new iPhone. IPhone users – any point in paying for the extra memory? I seem to get along fine with the dim little brain I have in my current iPhone, but maybe there’s a reason to pay for more. Is there?

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Commercial real estate blues

My pal Fudrucker does some commercial real estate as well as residential, and is just back from a meeting with some heavy hitters in that field – boy are they bummed. Word is, the bottom may be as far out as 2014. Rents are down, down down, and commercial real estate is all about money flow. And unlike residential real estate, there’s no such thing as a short sale – it’s bankruptcy or no deal.

I know from nothing about commercial real estate, but I don’t find this vision unpersuasive. Things do not look good, from this bear’s perspective.

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Just what we need – another war!

Talk is that we’re gearing up to take on Iran. US and Israeli ships transited the Suez las week, we know there are Israeli subs stationed off Iran, Saudi Arabia has cleared its airspace for Israeli overflights and now Stratfor is placing a good portion of our fleet within striking distance of that country. I’m not inclined to think this a good idea. Where’s Robert Byrd when we need him?

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Glenn Marr, top notch fellow

I’m just back from sealing a deal with Glenn Marr, a Stamford realtor (Marr and Caruso) for a bank-owned property here in Old Greenwich.  Bank- owned deals are difficult yet, despite both us being under the weather last week, Glenn kept this deal alive and as of a few minutes ago, I believe my client has the property he wants. Only at the end did Glenn reveal that his own client was the next highest bidder, and how cool is that? He could easily have derailed my deal and doubled his commission, but he did not.

Realtors have a dubious reputation, some of it deserved, but it’s a joy to work with an honest, competent professional – no need for games, just two people representing their clients to the best of their ability. I didn’t know Glenn before this transaction but I look forward to dealing with him again. Great guy.

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