Daily Archives: April 3, 2012

The community organizer speaks – and speaks again – and speaks again, and …

All your bases are belong to us (h/t, Doug cram)

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Get on the monthly subscription list and it’s affordable

Ol' Reliable

Ammunition sales soaring. Order a gross a month and you’ll pretty soon be sitting pretty.

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Say good by to your engines

The EPA has mandated a 15% ethanol mix for gasoline. This will, according to all the evidence I read, ruin every small engine out there, from outboards to chainsaws to leaf blowers (I can hear the cheers now) and probably will wreak havoc on your car’s motor too. Since the idea that ethanol would somehow reduce air pollution was debunked two decades ago this sop to the corn growers is a purely political move having nothing to do with the environment and thus outside of the EPA’s jurisdiction. Except in America, of course. Sooner or later, there’s going to be a revolution.

 

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Things are warming up out there in the country

Dollar Bill ponders a poser: But our con-law teaching assistant says they can't! I'm all confused.

Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals orders DOJ to respond by Thursday whether the Obama administration feels that federal courts have the power to strike down laws.

(CBS News) In the escalating battle between the administration and the judiciary, a federal appeals court apparently is calling the president’s bluff — ordering the Justice Department to answer by Thursday whether the Obama Administration believes that the courts have the right to strike down a federal law, according to a lawyer who was in the courtroom.

The order, by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, appears to be in direct response to the president’s comments yesterday about the Supreme Court’s review of the health care law. Mr. Obama all but threw down the gauntlet with the justices, saying he was “confident” the Court would not “take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.”

Overturning a law of course would not be unprecedented — since the Supreme Court since 1803 has asserted the power to strike down laws it interprets as unconstitutional. The three-judge appellate court appears to be asking the administration to admit that basic premise — despite the president’s remarks that implied the contrary. The panel ordered the Justice Department to submit a three-page, single-spaced letter by noon Thursday addressing whether the Executive Branch believes courts have such power, the lawyer said.

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Price reported on Milbank Condo

Not bad at all. 172 Milbank sold for $3.175 million. That’s not the $4.250 it’s wanted since 2008 but then, we can’t always get what we want. I apologize for the photoshopped picture but we work with what we’re given.

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Putting Old Greenwich’s allure to the test

Photo (not) by EOS. Doesn't a million plus get you a real photographer?

4 Lockwood Drive (off Edgewater) is back on the market again, still priced at $1.2 million, which is an improvement from its 2006 price of $1.699 million but not last year’s. This is a charming cape on a sweet street, but it’s got its master bedroom on the ground floor sharing a bath with another bedroom there, and two small bedrooms upstairs which also share a bath. The lot is undersized, 8,276 sq. ft. in the 12,000 square foot zone which means FAR allows just 2,607 square feet to go up. The house itself is already 2,239 sq. ft. which doesn’t include the garage – FAR does count that garage so there’s nothing much extra to be added on here. And only God and the P&Z know the impact of the new “green zone” regulation but I wouldn’t be surprised if you weren’t required to tear this down and erect a pup tent (okay, that’s a joke, but count on being  hammered by what the P&Z has slammed onto owners of small lots).

So will this fetch $1.2 million? Only buyers can say.

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A nice house goes on Summit Road

22 Summit Road (Riverside) sold for $1.075 on an asking price of $1.3 million. Houses on this side of the street (non-railroad) have decent yards. They used to be better, for kids, when the old Phoenix property’s meadow stretched behind them, down from Spring Street to Weston, but that’s progress.

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The foreclosures are coming, the foreclosures are coming!

There goes the neighborhood

After being held up last year because of the robo-signing scandal, foreclosed homes are due to hit the market in ever-increasing numbers. The bad news? They’ll be worth jack-squat.  Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers once said, “in the history of the world, no one has ever washed a rental car”. He may be a little off (I washed a rental once, when I couldn’t stand the dirt) but it’s a cinch that a homeowner with no money who knows he’s going to lose his house eventually isn’t going to spend much maintaining his home. That’s why on average, homes in foreclosure for under a year lose 35% of their value while those in the process two years drop 60%. And 43% of all houses currently in foreclosure have been there two years or longer.

A quarter of homes in long-term foreclosure may need to be bulldozed, according to the Cleveland Fed’s report. About 500,000 foreclosures in the U.S. are vacant, according to a housing study Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke sent to Congress in January. Many of them are “badly damaged,” he said.

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Okay, “Teabagger” Bill is in the closet, but who knew Obummer was in the cabinet?

I've got a secret

Russian spy stopped by FBI just as she was about to seduce “high level” cabinet member. And no, I don’t think they meant “member” that way.

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Quick sale

31 Tomac Avenue, Old Greenwich, $2.895 million, listed 3/07/20012, A/O today.

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Open house preview

The list is final and although there are three pages of houses, I don’t plan on wasting much gas today. Old listings way up near New York can stay there, including one that offers free lunch but is way overpriced (and I saw it two years ago – it’s back today at 20% more than was paid for it then). Lots of retreads, either from the past year or a few years back, none of whose prices reflect what’s happened to the market since, say, 2004, and some that, while reasonably priced, I’ve seen before. There are three I need to see but since I need to see them in order to report back to my clients, you won’t get their addresses here – not yet, anyway.

In all, buyers and their agents who’ve been hoping to see new inventory at good prices will be disappointed, once again. Is it the sellers who are in denial, their agents, or both?

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Why bother?

A condo at 40 Ettl Lane in Glenville (I’d call it “West of Greenwich” but that forms an inappropriate acronym) has reduced its price from $885,000 to $874.950 which, by my calculator, leaves it at 0.989 % of yesterday’s price. I understand the owners’ reluctance to lower their price – they paid full price, $955,000 for the unit in 2006 – but I don’t think this size reduction is going to help. It looks like a perfectly nice condominium, mind you, I’m just saying that if no one wanted it yesterday, this price cut probably won’t change anyone’s mind.

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Good economic news, even if it baffles me

Death by Fiat

Chrysler sales up 23%, 36% for Jeep. Even their Fiats are doing well. Personally, and having witnessed the lousy transmissions of the Chrysler minivans, a defect the company hid and then refused to fix, the only car I’m less likely to buy than a Chrysler is a Fiat. But what’s good news for their dealers now will be even better news for mechanics down the road, so to speak, so it’s all good.

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I do love the New York Post’s headline writers

“The Whale at the wall – Christie weighs in at Israel holy site”

NY Post photo

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So who exactly was Martha Johnson, until yesterday head of the GSA?

They're coming to take you away today ho ho, hey hey

Not much, according to this recounting of her resume.

Martha N. Johnson (born 1952) is a former official in the administration of President Bill Clinton who led the U.S. General Services Administration as the Administrator of General Services in the Obama Administration. Johnson resigned on April 2, 2012, following a scathing Inspector General report that revealed a “gross misuse of taxpayer dollars” on an internal conference that was “excessive, wasteful, and in some cases impermissible.

Professional career

From 1979 until 1985, Johnson worked as a manager for Cummins Engine Company, first in Columbus, Indiana and then in Jamestown, New York. She worked from 1985 until 1987 as the CFO for an architecture firm, in 1987 and 1988 as a recruiter for a staffing company, and from 1988 until 1992 as a consultant in a diversity consulting firm. During 1992, she was an executive recruiting consultant with Ben & Jerry’s for several months.

After working on the Clinton-Gore transition team, Johnson worked in the White House Office’s Office of Presidential Personnel until October 1993, and then served as an Associate Deputy Secretary of Commerce from 1993 until 1996.[4]

In March 1996, Johnson joined the General Services Administration, working there as a chief of staff from 1996 until January 20, 2001.

In November 2001, Johnson became vice president of the Council for Excellence in Government. In January 2003, she left the Council for Excellence in Government to become a director at Touchstone Consulting Group, which was purchased by SRA International in 2005. SRA then employed Johnson from March 2005 until November 2007.

Johnson left SRA to become a vice president of culture at Computer Sciences Corporation, a role she held until February, 2010, when she was confirmed by the Senate to join the Obama Administration as the Administrator of the General Services Administration.

Looks to me like she spent most of her career feasting off government-mandated victimhood programs, not exactly what you might want for the person in charge of spending billions of someone else’s money, because the world she was enmeshed in has nothing whatsoever to do with careful allocation of resources or controlling expenditures. Hence, clowns, mind readers and luxury suites in Las Vegas for herself and her staff.

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The Joe Biden of General Motors

Back to the drawing board

FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF POORLY CHOSEN METAPHORSThe Volt Is A Moonshot? I Get It, It’s THAT Moonshot.

A few days ago, the director of GM’s moon program, Bob Lutz, was at it again with his favorite moon analogy. Except that this time, Lutz asks readers to remember the “45th anniversary of the Apollo 1 disaster that killed three of our hero astronauts.”

I am old enough to remember that Chaffee, White and Grissom were killed by an electrical fire. Maybe that moon analogy wasn’t so good.

Or maybe it was.

Ouch.

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