Daily Archives: April 25, 2012

Dream on

Bloomberg: Housing declared “bottoming” after seven year slump

They’re playing with numbers – “32% closer to ‘normal’ ” – for instance, but since they’re looking at March contracts I did the same, for Greenwich:

March, 2012: 49

March, 2011: 69

March, 2007: 92

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Quick sale in Old Greenwich, so make of it what you will

32 Tomac

32 Tomac Avenue asked $1.795 and presumably got it, because it reports an accepted offer today just twelve days after being listed. Whatever.

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My advice is not to get too caught up in the current Old Greenwich/Riverside feeding frenzy

This house at 49 Shore Road, one of Old Greenwich’s busiest streets, was priced at $4.2 million in 2008 and sold 878 days later in January, 2011 for $2.650. One year later, the buyers have become sellers and offer it for $3.795. “Renovations” are mentioned but the house remains the same size, 4,000 sq. ft, only now there’s 1,600 feet of finished basement. $1.145 million to finish a basement? Not likely; try $40,000 or go wild and maybe you can reach $75,000. That’s with a gold-plated bidet.

So presumably the seller is using the Old Greenwich real estate market’s improvement this year to get this price. And she probably will, or at least $3.4. But beware, location still controls, and when Old Greenwich cools off, as it inevitably will, those who overpaid will be standing when the music stops. Just ask the original builder of this house.

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Warren Buffet wants his fellow billionaires to pay no higher taxes than his secretary and just spent a million bucks to make that so

Pilot and Friend of Warren John Travolta shows his true colors

He lobbies for, and gets a tax break for the fat cats who use his Netjets. “What’s good for me is good for America”, says the Oracle of Omaha.”

NetJets Inc., the private-jet company owned by Mr. Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., spent more than $1 million over the past three years to lobby Congress to cut a user fee, benefiting the company’s well-heeled customers, who buy or lease shares in planes. The reduced fee, part of the recent Federal Aviation Administration bill that took effect earlier this month, will save customers of NetJets and other similar companies roughly $83 million over about four years, according to congressional estimates.

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Disband all of Homeland Security, but start with the airport goons

Osama Bin Dina, terrorist

Pediatrician’s family misses their flight to Florida after TSA screeners paw their seven-year-old. The girl, who has cerebral palsy, was traumatized.

Dina, who is also reportedly developmentally disabled, is usually frightened by the procedure. Her family reportedly requests that agents on hand take the time to introduce themselves to her.

However, the agents on duty at the time began to handle her aggressively instead.

Air travel is difficult to the family due to Dina’s disabilities, but the nature of Monday’s inspection was especially traumatic for the child.

“They make our lives completely difficult,” her father, Dr. Joshua Frank, a Long Island pediatrician, told The Daily. “She’s not a threat to national security.”

Frank taped the encounter, which ended when a supervisor inspected her crutches and let them pass. But agents followed up and insisted upon doing a full inspection of Dina.

And out west, a Congressman complains that he was groped by a TSA agent. It’s not just the arrogance and rudeness of these drunk-on-power goons, it’s the billions we spend on them so that the government can pretend we’re safer. Sexual pat downs, raids on counterfeit tee shirt vendors and assault tanks for small town cops are all we’re getting for our bucks. That’s a very poor bargain.

UPDATE: Cobra sends along this story of a four-year-old subjected to the same type of bullying.What’s so disheartening is that the TSA investigated the incident and found nothing wrong – “our agent acted in accordance with proper procedure”. If searching a frightening a four-year-old, one who the TSA admits “we didn’t suspect was carrying a gun” is standard procedure, then change the procedure. Morons.

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I guess “experts” need something to write about

Good thing I’m an expert on nothing so I feel free to blather about anything that catches my interest. But the legal talking heads/reporters who pretend to an ability to read the tea leaves of oral argument before the Supreme Court kind of tick me off. The latest, from Politico: “Supreme Court Justices appear likely to uphold key part of Arizona law” might be true, but it very well might not – Justices have all sorts of reasons for asking particular questions, ranging from outright opposition to playing devil’s advocate to simply actually wanting clarification of a certain point. The thing is, you can’t (accurately) discern their ultimate decision from the questions they pose at oral argument. It’d be refreshing to hear one of these seers admit that, just once.

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One sale, one returnee

55 Oval in Riverside sold for $655,000. As a kid walking to Eastern my gang, boys and girls, would use the railroad tracks as a short cut (try doing that today) and  I always liked the looks of this house, perched high on the overlooking hill. Not much house: one real bedroom and a pretend one, plus a bath, but then, $655,000 in Riverside isn’t much of a price. Foreign (out-of-town) broker, buyer, wouldn’t you know.

And 53 Sterling Road is back again, now asking $5.375 million. A nice enough house I suppose, albeit not my taste, that the owners bought new in 2005 for $5.575 million. Someone foolishly advised them to try reselling it in 2007 for $6.895 and the result was what you’d expect. So they’re trying again.

Like all houses up there on the Bedford border, this suffers from its location. There ought to be a huge market for homes up here from Westchester property owners but I’ve never noticed it, perhaps because Bedford residents tend to be liberals and want to pay three-times the taxes of their Greenwich neighbors. Think Susan Sarandon.

Whatever the cause, no one seems to want to live up here these days. Certainly  criminals appreciate Sterling Road as a convenient spot to dump bodies but they rarely turn out to be house buyers, especially after they’re caught and incarcerated.

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Told you so

32 Coachlamp Lane has an accepted offer after 9 days on the market. Asking $1.350. I reported last Thursday after seeing it at its first open house that I thought it was well priced and, far more important than my opinion, a buyer thought so too, and has put his money down to prove it.

On a more depressing note, Coachlamp is the highest priced of the two homes reported so far today as having accepted offers.

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One prediction: it’s not worth reading

MIT Professor: ten predictions of the world my grandchildren will face in 100 years. You can read it; I won’t. Far more fun is reading what “experts” predicted 100 years ago – not even close. For instance, how could they have anticipated Al Gore inventing the Internet?

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New York City’s suicidal war on jobs

The author focuses on New York’s punitive regulations affecting street vendors but really, this is going around the country and against all jobs. Most people hate competition and do their best to limit it – witness the 500 hours ‘education” required of nail polishers, interior decorators, barbers, lawyers and teachers, just to name a few. All designed to quash competition, all readily acceded to by politicians, who also hate competition and are only too glad to help out the people who fund them.

years ago I had an Austrian friend who came to America and marveled that he could open a pastry bakery anywhere he liked. In Austria he’d not only had to serve a five-year apprenticeship but, to open his own shop he was required to get the consent of any other bakery in town (!).

We’re looking more like Austria every day.

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And just yesterday I was complaining that the Swiss have no sense of humor

Al Gore inducted into Switzerland’s “Internet Hall of Fame”. Next up: a Nobel Prize for saving the planet. Oh dang, they’ve already done that. Guess the Swedes have a funny bone too.

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They shoot horses, don’t they? Close the law schools

Good bye Old Paint

Too few jobs, far too many would-be lawyers.

MAKING LAW STUDENTS “PRACTICE-READY” WON’T HELP THE JOBS PROBLEM, when the problem is that there just aren’t enough jobs out there.“The problem, as these statistics illustrate, is that it appears essentially the same number of real legal jobs that existed 25 years ago are now being pursued by literally twice as many lawyers.”

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Bad news for higher-priced homes in Greenwich

In lieu of any current real estate news to report I thought I’d go back and see how many homes priced at $5 million and above have accepted offers in the past thirty days. Just five:

Deerpark, asking $7.995, originally asked $12.750 million

Meadow Place, asking $5.365 – Old Greenwich waterfront, land

542 Lake, asking $5.650 – new construction, original price $6.595

10 Normandy Lane – asking $5.3  – Riverside, but still an astonishing price

1 Farwell, asking $5.195, original price, $12.650 million.

Of those five, it’s a good bet that four of them are selling for under $5 million.

There are currently 158 homes for sale in Greenwich priced at $5 million and up.

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All you need to know

Democrats ban corporate money from convention (uh huh) and instead pressure unions to fund the coronation.

As for that “ban” on corporate funds? The LA Times was all over the story earlier this month.

 As a candidate in 2008, Barack Obama vowed to squelch the role of special interests in financing the party conventions — so he barred corporations and lobbyists from contributing money to this year’s national convention in Charlotte, N.C.
But even as Democrats tout the three-day event in September as a populist gathering, organizers have found ways to skirt the rules and give corporations and lobbyists a presence at the nominating convention. That suggests they can’t raise the $37 million for the political extravaganza without at least some help from moneyed interests.
Despite the ban on corporate money, for example, convention officials have encouraged corporate executives to write personal checks, according to sources familiar with the fundraising. And they have suggested that corporations can participate by donating goods and services to the convention, and by giving up to $100,000 through a corporate foundation.
They have also quietly explained to lobbyists that while they can’t make contributions, they can help raise money from their clients — by soliciting personal checks from executives or in-kind contributions from corporations. Lobbyists who bundle high sums will get perks like premium credentials and hotel rooms.
Labor unions, meanwhile, are not specifically prohibited from giving. They provided millions of dollars for the 2008 Democratic convention in Denver.

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Democrats vow to kill Keystone pipeline

Rust in hell, Keystone!

That’ll help. Do you wonder whether Harry Reid et als are in the pocket of the Saudis?

And Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is doing his best to push gasoline to $9, even $10 a gallon.

It was Salazar who was behind the bogus scientific justification for the offshore drilling moratorium. No one has gotten to the bottom of that one yet. Salazar continued  moratoriums on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, even though a federal judge (twice) ruled that the moratorium was illegal.

Here is ThinkProgress celebrating Salazar’s regressive energy approach. Some highlights:

– He suspended 77 controversial oil and gas leases in Utah, some of them near national parks and national monuments.

– Understanding that renewable energy projects create more jobs than fossil fuels development, he directed his agencies to make the development of renewable energy a priority.

– He withdrew the Bush administration’s industry-friendly research and development leases for oil shale development in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.

– He launched a department-wide effort to ensure that federal land management decisions respond effectively to climate change.

Salazar has spent his public life supporting policies that make energy more expensive. (It’s the goal of many in this administration.) It’s something we need to be reminded of every time he claims it has got nothing to do with him. Even if it doesn’t, it’s not for a lack of trying.

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Obama: every child should work in an office

Walt's first date

Obummer set to ban children from working on parents’ farms. God forbid a kid might want to become a farmer.

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But don’t stop American professors from traveling there to lend legitimacy to the regime and exercise their right of free speech

America, the Great Satan!

Obummer signs executive order imposing sanctions on US companies that help Iran silence and spy on its dissidents.

Can we get ahold of Professor Gautney’s tax returns and revoke her passport?

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“Unexpectedly”

Durable Goods Index for March falls 4.2% – “experts” predicted 1.7.

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Finally

PajamaMedia announces the first annual Walter Duranty Prize. Wikipedia nicely sums up Duranty’s career:

Walter Duranty (1884 – October 3, 1957) was a controversial Liverpool-born, British-American journalist who served as the Moscow Bureau Chief of The New York Times (1922–36). For a series of stories on the Soviet Union, Duranty won a Pulitzer Prize (1932). Duranty has been criticized for his denial of widespread famine, most particularly the Ukraine mass starvation (1932–33). Years later, there were calls to revoke his Pulitzer; even The Times acknowledged his articles constituted “some of the worst reporting to appear in this newspaper.”

The Times has refused to return the Pulitzer but will they also cherish a Duranty Prize? Probably not.

Here’s just a taste of the writing of the man who has inspired this new honor:

On March 31, 1933, Walter Duranty denounced the famine stories and Gareth Jones in The New York Times. In the piece, he described the situation under the title “Russians Hungry, But Not Starving” as follows: “In the middle of the diplomatic duel between Great Britain and the Soviet Union over the accused British engineers, there appears from a British source a big scare story in the American press about famine in the Soviet Union, with ‘thousands already dead and millions menaced by death from starvation.” Malcolm Muggeridge, a correspondent for the Manchester Guardian, called Duranty a “liar”.

The duel in the press over the famine stories did not damage esteem for Duranty — whose reporting The Nation had described as “the most enlightened, dispassionate dispatches from a great nation in the making which appeared in any newspaper in the world.” Following sensitive negotiations in November 1933 that resulted in the establishment of relations between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R., a dinner was given for Soviet Foreign Minister Maxim Litvinov in New York City’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. Each of the attendees’ names was read in turn, politely applauded by the guests, until Duranty’s. Whereupon, Alexander Woollcott wrote, “the one really prolonged pandemonium was evoked…. Indeed, one quite got the impression that America, in a spasm of discernment, was recognizing both Russia and Walter Duranty.”[6]

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What I (and many readers) have been saying

Severe shortage of skilled factory workers as schools channel students into college paths. Here in town, the auto shop has long since closed, Wright Tech in Stamford is no more and so on, throughout the state and the country. Not every kid wants to go to college and fewer still will benefit from it. And a degree in “Political Oppression of Women in Colonial America” will be far less useful than, say, knowledge of how to repair a robot.

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