Monthly Archives: April 2013

Old story but it continues today so why not revisit?

Here's looking at you, kid

Here’s looking at you, kid

Congress forces Army to keep spending billions on a tank no one wants or needs.

Built to dominate the enemy in combat, the Army’s hulking Abrams tank is proving equally hard to beat in a budget battle.

Lawmakers from both parties have devoted nearly half a billion dollars in taxpayer money over the past two years to build improved versions of the 70-ton Abrams.

But senior Army officials have said repeatedly, ‘No thanks.’

Yet in the case of the Abrams tank, there’s a bipartisan push to spend an extra $436 million on a weapon the experts explicitly say is not needed.

‘If we had our choice, we would use that money in a different way,’ Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army’s chief of staff, told The Associated Press this past week.

Why are the tank dollars still flowing? Politics.

Congressional backers of the Abrams upgrades view the vast network of companies, many of them small businesses, that manufacture the tanks’ materials and parts as a critical asset that has to be preserved.

The money, they say, is a modest investment that will keep important tooling and manufacturing skills from being lost if the Abrams line were to be shut down.

While I wasn’t there at the time, I recall reading that somewhere around 1941, 1942, our country experienced a sudden need for battle ships, tanks and even airplanes and within months, companies that had previously been churning out sewing machines and belt buckles were in the armaments business. I imagine we could do that again.

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Walter Olson moves up?

My friend Walter Olson has moved his Overlawyered.com blog to the Cato Institute. A link to Walter’s site has been over on the right (naturally) of this blog for years. If you haven’t used it to keep track of the inanities of our modern society of flawed men and laws, here’s a good opportunity. Sample: U.K.: bags of nuts recalled for lacking “Contains Nuts” warning label.

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Next time they support the right of Nazis to march through Skokie, remember this

Nazi ACLUACLU attends Philadelphia mayor’s investigation of offensive magazine article to voice its support for the mayor.

There are many stories that the national media find uninteresting. One of them, surprisingly, turns out to be the mayor of a major city ordering an investigation of a city magazine for its political content. The Philadelphia Human Relations Commission has broad authority to investigate various complaints and impose penalties. Even if the city’s actions are blatantly unconstitutional, costly administrative proceedings can tie up accused offenders for years (see “The Sensitivity Apparat,” February 4, 2013).

…..

[Speaking at the investigation was ] Mary Catherine Roper, a staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania’s Philadelphia office. After a perfunctory lecture on the importance of the First Amendment, she offered the following: “I’d like to speak as a white person who lives in Philadelphia for more than 25 years. .  .  . As a white person, I was deeply embarrassed by that magazine article, and that did not speak for me.” The PHRC can rest easy about putting the press on the hot seat. The ACLU may give a nod to the First Amendment, but in this particular instance their heart’s not in it.

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Yo, Mamma! Take that kid across the bridge and suckle him there! (That’ll be $70,000, please.)

I'd rather be in Manhattan

I’ll take Manhattan

NYC looking to pay someone $70,000 to encourage breast feeding in Brooklyn. I’ve just done that.

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Maybe we could arrange a swap, our college students for their kids

Young Cubans want off the island.It might be expensive in terms of numbers; five Brunswick grads , $1 million and a trade to be announced later for each ambitious young Cuban, but who’d complain?

And if we could somehow persuade the commies to take Dollar Bill, would any price be too high to pay?

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They must think they’re enforcing American law, or something

A country that's lost its will to defend its borders has lost its will to live

A country that’s lost its will to defend its borders has lost its will to live

Brits refuse to deported convicted drug dealer who came in illegally because separating him from his new girlfriend would violate his “human rights”.

Ali was brought to Britain “irregularly” by a people-smuggling gang in 2000, when he was 24, and has never been in this country legally. Two years after arriving he made an asylum claim which was refused, as was a subsequent appeal. However, for reasons which are unknown, he was not deported and continued to live in Britain.

He had a child with an Irish woman and then another son with a woman from Liverpool but has no contact with either child, the Upper Tribunal Immigration and Asylum Chamber heard.

In November 2005 he was convicted of possessing Class A and Class C drugs, and fined.

Just over a year later he was convicted of another offence at Snaresbrook Crown Court in London but this time it was more serious – possessing Class A drugs with intent to supply – and he was jailed for four years. Under immigration laws any foreign national jailed for a year or more should be subject to automatic deportation.

The drug dealer was released on bail in January 2009. Deportation proceedings began again in 2010, and Ali again lodged an appeal. He told the court he would be in danger if he was returned to Iraq because he was so Westernised.

Allowing him to stay at the second hearing, Judge Perkins said he was impressed by evidence from Ali’s girlfriend, Cy Harwood, 31, a Londoner who has trained as a beautician. They met in 2005.

The judge ruled that Ali’s deportation would have a very damaging effect on her and would be a breach of the couple’s rights under Article 8.

“Destroying an important relationship in the light of a reformed criminal who was last in trouble over six years ago [of course, he’d been in prison the past six years, a small matter the judge overlooked – Ed] , I find, just too much and I am satisfied that an exception is made out,” he said.

The case raises new concerns over the arguments sometimes put forward by foreigners who are seeking to stay in Britain, such as the Bolivian man whose case was first reported in The Sunday Telegraph in 2009.

Camilo Soria Avila argued that he should not be deported partly because he and his boyfriend had bought a pet cat, Maya, and joint ownership of the animal added weight to his case that he enjoyed the “right to family life” in Britain.

The immigration tribunal ruled that sending Mr Avila, 36, back to Bolivia would breach his human rights because he was entitled to a “private and family life” with his British boyfriend Frank Trew, 49, and joint ownership of a pet was evidence that he was fully settled in this country.

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McCain and Biden Agree: expose, prosecute US forces who “tortured” prisoners

It took me a minute to figure out that they were talking about our guys interrogating their guys but by golly, they are. After first agreeing that we should be looking for “lone wolf” terrorists, the new Obama buzzline for “not Islamic, that’s for sure, because you know, Al Qaeda’s like, gone, man”, the boys turn to weightier matters:

McCain followed up by saying that those who tortured U.S. prisoners, in violation of the Geneva convention, should be exposed and be held responsible to prevent repeated abuses.

Biden agreed with the man once held as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War. He said the internal debate in Congress and at the White House is how things got to that point, but it’s not yet resolved.

They aren’t speaking of Al Qaeda sawing off Daniel Pearl’s head, they want to prosecute the men who went after the executioners.

We’re in the best of hands.

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What’s next for Bob Horton, drain the Byram pool?

Say goodnight

Say goodnight

My absolute favorite liberal and friend Bob Horton says it’s time to throw in the towel on the GHS Music Palace. Bob cites just a few of the many good reasons to delay tuba practice but any good reason will do: if the palace proponents have lost Horton, the fat lady has sung.

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Oh, the humanity!

It will never be new again!

It will never be new again!

Reader PC sends along this heart rending story: 18-year old’s new Mercedes suffers 3″ scratch while parked at New Canaan High School. Police have dropped everything to investigate.

PC does see a bright side to this tale of woe: parents worried about random acts of terrorism in New Canaan may now look to Greenwich for a safe place to park their children’s Mercedes.

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Amateur Hour in the White House

Bwarrwy sorry

Bwarrwy sorry

When the Golfer in Chief threatened Syria last August that the use of chemical weapons would be “a game changer” that “would cross the red line”, the Syrians weren’t the only ones to ask, “or else what?”. Assad then went ahead and gassed civilians and the world looked to Washington to see what it would do.

Yesterday, the leader of the free world punted. After weeks of ignoring irrefutable proof that chemicals had been employed, Obama was forced to admit it publicly and warned that, any further use of chemicals, if used in a “systemic fashion” would really, really tick us off. “The occasional bomb, well okay, everyone gets hot under the collar now and then and can be excused for spraying some sarin across the landscape, but if Syria does it on a regular basis, then boy, will there be consequences!”

No one I know wants to see us get tangled in Syria (well John McCain does, but he’s just upset that the Syrians aren’t practicing safe gun control), but even a Kenyan parent knows that you don’t threaten children or rulers of other countries with consequences you can’t deliver. Obama did just that back in August, and now he, and we, look like the impotent fools we are. The Iranians must be trembling in their tents when they think of Joe Biden’s threat last month that just like Syria, they too were “nearing the redline.”  Oh, Allah spare us from the wrath of Barry!

There’s no disagreeing with our petty little ruler’s observation that “elections have consequences”. It just seems so unfair that we all should suffer for the wrongs of the 52%.

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Yes, it’s come to this

OMG! Run away!

OMG! Run away, Carolyn!

UConn Fluke protests new Husky mascot because it frightens her and thus promotes rape.

The new logo for the University of Connecticut’s sports teams is a terrifying husky dog that calls to mind images of sexual assault, says one student.

The new logo was unveiled last week, receiving mixed-to-negative reviews from UConn fans who preferred the older, cuter husky dog.

But one student went much further, criticizing the new, meaner logo for being a pro-rape symbol.

In an open letter to UC President Susan Herbst, self-described feminist student Carolyn Luby wrote that the redesigned team logo will intimidate women and empower rape culture.

Luby wrote, “What terrifies me about the admiration of such traits is that I know what it feels like to have a real life Husky look straight through you and to feel powerless, and to wonder if even the administration cannot ‘mess with them.’ And I know I am not alone.”

The logo and the teams it represents are menacing to women, she wrote.

The next time you hear of a proposal to cut UCONN funding, and the politicians rise as one to denounce the idea, describing higher education as critical to the future of this state, think of Miss Luby; it is she, not some dumb dog, who is the true face of modern higher education.

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Why do I suspect that it was the male camel jockeys who were drawn to his smoldering good looks?

Saudi Arabia deports actor for being too beautiful. Authorities claim it was their wimmin folk who were in danger of swooning but looking at the guy, I don’t think so.

Decisions, decisions oh Allah, help me make up my mind, Omar or my camel?

Decisions, decisions oh Allah, help me make up my mind, Omar or my camel?

There’s no doubt that Omar Borkan Al Gala is  a handsome man. But, is he illegally attractive?

The poet and actor is believed to be one of three men who were kicked out of a cultural festival in Saudi Arabia after he was considered “too handsome” for the women present, who may have fallen for him.

Arabic newspaper Elaph reported earlier this week that three men were forcibly removed from the grounds by religious police, who deemed their collective good looks as “too handsome” for the event.  “A festival official said the three Emiratis were taken out on the grounds they are too handsome and that the Commission members feared female visitors could fall for them,” the newspaper said.

Steps were then taken to return the men to Abu Dhabi.

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Done playing possum, he stopped loving her today

George Jones dead at 81. The quintessential country singer story, with the exception that the drugs and the booze didn’t kill him off young. I heard he got sober some years back and I hope that’s true, and that he lived a full happy life afterwards.

In any event, here’s a clip from one of my favorite movies, with Henry Gibson filling in for Mr. Jones.

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A River Runs By It

656 River Rd

656 River Rd

656 River Road (the other River Road, east side of the Mianus) sold for $660,000. If you prefer a semi-isolated location, which I do, this was a sweet property, right on the river. The house was originally listed for $1.395 back in 2006 but even then, while prices were crazy, they weren’t that crazy. It sat vacant for years, came back on in 2012 at $799, dropped $100,000, and has now sold. Again, not the property for someone looking for neighbors next door and the train behind you – that’s why God invented Summit – but very nice for something completely different.

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Life is unfair.

11 Butternut

11 Butternut

Or not, depending. 11 Butternut Hollow Road has been up for sale, with a brief hiatus, since September, 2009, when it started at $2.695 (sellers paid $1.615 in 2002). I didn’t think much of that price and neither did the buying public, obviously, since it languished, even as it dropped in price. It was at, I think, $2.195 when its last listing expired and the owners gave the listing to a new broker, who must have persuaded them to drop below $2 million, to $1.995. Result: accepted offer in just 11 days.

Now I know nothing about who suggested that ridiculous price of $2.695 in the first place, owners or agent, and if it was the agent, then the owners were certainly justified in blaming her for their lengthy stay on Butternut Hollow, years after they’d decided to move. On the other hand, it’s often the owners who set these prices and if that was the case here, then it seems rather mean-spirited to let the first agent spend four years trying to unload the ol’ homestead and then dumping her just as the price is dropped to a sellable level.

But that’s the business. It’s also why I won’t take overpriced listings: too often, the first and second agent does the work, the third cleans up.

(As an aside, I couldn’t find a client who liked this house enough to even bid on it, but different tastes among home buyers is as common as overpricing by owners, so …)

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Accepted Offers

Low price range and Riverside continue hot, other areas and prices, not so much

90 Buckfield

90 Buckfield

90 Buckfield, way up there, started at $1.995 about a year ago, dropped to $1.395 and found a buyer. I thought this offered some good value, but it is a hike from town.

51 Pine Ridge

51 Pine Ridge

51 Pine Ridge (off of Stanwich), dropped from $1.575 to $1.499 and 214 days after being listed, has an a/o. If you like contemporaries, and I do, and don’t mind not having much yard, this was okay; needs a lot of updating.

16 Willow Rd

16 Willow Rd

16 Willow Road, Riverside, $2.795, 10 days. No need to explain.

18 Lancer

18 Lancer

18 Lancer, over north of the Post Road, priced at $979,000, 9 days.

12 Oak Drive

12 Oak Drive

Back in Riverside, 12 Oak Drive (off of Indian Head) sold for $1.680 million. This one did take a while to move, but I attribute that to its opening price of $1.9 million, which was a lot to ask for a tired old home. Then again, $1.680 is a lot to pay for a tired old home, so go figure.

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Three years late, NYT admits Andrew Breitbart was right

The late Andrew Breitbart attacked, attacked and attacked again the “Pigford Settlement” that Obama’s Department of Justice used to funnel literally billions of dollars to the favorite constituents. He was ignored or dismissed as some crazy racist fool by the mainstream media – mostly just ignored. Today, (with only a passing reference to Breitbart, six pages in), the NYT exposes the scandal to its readers. If you’re unfamiliar with this colossal rip off of your tax dollars, read the entire article, but keep your blood pressure medicine handy. Excerpts:

Ever since the Clinton administration agreed in 1999 to make $50,000 payments to thousands of black farmers, … Hispanics and women had been clamoring in courtrooms and in Congress for the same deal. They argued, as the African-Americans had, that biased federal loan officers had systematically thwarted their attempts to borrow money to farm.

But a succession of courts — and finally the Supreme Court — had rebuffed their pleas. Instead of an army of potential claimants, the government faced just 91 plaintiffs. Those cases, the government lawyers figured, could be dispatched at limited cost.

They were wrong.

On the heels of the Supreme Court’s ruling, interviews and records show, the Obama administration’s political appointees at the Justice and Agriculture Departments engineered a stunning turnabout: they committed $1.33 billion to compensate not just the 91 plaintiffs but thousands of Hispanic and female farmers who had never claimed bias in court.

The deal, several current and former government officials said, was fashioned in White House meetings despite the vehement objections — until now undisclosed [except by Breitbart – Ed] — of career lawyers and agency officials who had argued that there was no credible evidence of widespread discrimination. What is more, some protested, the template for the deal — the $50,000 payouts to black farmers — had proved a magnet for fraud. …

The compensation effort sprang from a desire to redress what the government and a federal judge agreed was a painful legacy of bias against African-Americans by the Agriculture Department. But an examination by The New York Times shows that it became a runaway train, driven by racial politics, pressure from influential members of Congress and law firms that stand to gain more than $130 million in fees. In the past five years, it has grown to encompass a second group of African-Americans as well as Hispanic, female and Native American farmers. In all, more than 90,000 people have filed claims. The total cost could top $4.4 billion.

From the start, the claims process prompted allegations of widespread fraud and criticism that its very design encouraged people to lie: because relatively few records remained to verify accusations, claimants were not required to present documentary evidence that they had been unfairly treated or had even tried to farm. Agriculture Department reviewers found reams of suspicious claims, from nursery-school-age children and pockets of urban dwellers, sometimes in the same handwriting with nearly identical accounts of discrimination.

As a senator, Barack Obama supported expanding compensation for black farmers, and then as president he pressed for $1.15 billion to pay those new claims. Other groups quickly escalated their demands for similar treatment. In a letter to the White House in September 2009, Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, a leading Hispanic Democrat, threatened to mount a campaign “outside the Beltway” if Hispanic farmers were not compensated.

The groups found a champion in the new agriculture secretary, Tom Vilsack. New settlements would provide “a way to neutralize the argument that the government favors black farmers over Hispanic, Native American or women farmers,” an internal department memorandum stated in March 2010.

The payouts pitted Mr. Vilsack and other political appointees against career lawyers and agency officials, who argued that the legal risks did not justify the costs.

But critics, including some of the original black plaintiffs, say that [passing out blank checks]  is precisely what the government did when it first agreed to compensate not only those who had proof of bias, but those who had none. “Why did they let people get away with all this stuff?” asked Abraham Carpenter Jr., who farms 1,200 acres in Grady, Ark. “Anytime you are going to throw money up in the air, you are going to have people acting crazy.”

Accusations of unfair treatment could be checked against department files if claimants had previously received loans. But four-fifths of successful claimants had never done so. For them, “there was no way to refute what they said,” said Sandy Grammer, a former program analyst from Indiana who reviewed claims for three years. “Basically, it was a rip-off of the American taxpayers.”

“Once those checks started hitting the mailboxes, people couldn’t believe it,” said Mr. Wright, the Pine Bluff justice of the peace. “Then it dawned on them. ‘If Joe Blow got a check, I can get one.’ ”

On a recent Thursday at the Greater Second Baptist Church in Little Rock, several hundred African-Americans listened intently as  [Professional Black Man] Mr. Burrell told them they could reap $50,000 each, merely by claiming bias. He left out the fact that black men are no longer eligible, and that black women are eligible only if they suffered gender, not racial, bias.

“The Department of Agriculture admitted that it discriminated against every black person who walked into their offices,” he told the crowd. “They said we discriminated against them, but we didn’t keep a record. Hello? You don’t have to prove it.”

In fact, he boasted, he and his four siblings had all collected awards, and his sister had acquired another $50,000 on behalf of their dead father.

She cinched the claim, he said to a ripple of laughter, by asserting that her father had whispered on his deathbed, “I was discriminated against by U.S.D.A.”

“The judge has said since you all look alike, whichever one says he came into the office, that’s the one to pay — hint, hint,” he said. “There is no limit to the amount of money, and there is no limit to the amount of folks who can file.”

He closed with a rousing exhortation: “Let’s get the judge to go to work writing them checks! They have just opened the bank vault.”

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The more things change, the more they stay the same

Well I didn't do anything, THEY did!

Well I didn’t do anything, THEY did!

Wetlands Chairman Lawrence Perry tossed out after  approving temporary road permit through the Zaccheus Mead neighborhood.  Where’s the change? Well the decision related to land owned by the Rockefeller family and fifty years ago, that would have been the end of the matter. But with no Rockefellers left in town, their clout has diminished. Tesei, having received his marching orders, threw poor Lawrence to the wolves.

And the thing that’s remained the same: the wealthy still run the town, or at least as much of it as the Cos Cob mafia permits them to.

Drew Mazullo (Cos Cob) was the deciding vote in Perry’s dethroning, by the way, but I’m guessing that was motivated by the perception in Cos Cob that Perry was ready to approve the Synagogue.

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28 hours on, Dollar Bill still can’t answer

360 per hour, no maternity leave

360 per hour, no maternity leave

Yesterday evening FWIW’s village idiot Dollar Bill posted the following:

The vast majority of restaurant personnel, including those making mi.minimum wage or subminimum wage, cannot be replaced by robots, as should be obvious to all but cracked Randbots.

Since the irreplaceableness of unskilled hamburger flippers was not obvious to this Randbot, I asked Bill to defend his proposition. So far, he has not; he cannot*, just as he’s been unable to define concepts like “fair share” and “greed” or to answer a single question posed to him by readers challenging whatever particular inanity Bill uttered .

Which is why I keep Bill around: he serves as a perfect example of how the modern progressive mush-mind is programmed to avoid argument. They’re trained by example to employ discussion-ending phrases and catchwords, like “racist”, “sexist”,”homophobic” “common sense”, “everyone knows” and, as Bill sputtered yesterday, “obvious”.

But, while Alisnki knew exactly what he was doing, a person of low intelligence like Bill isn’t let in on the game, nor need he be. Beginning in grammar school and continuing through college these sheeple are shaped into intellectual dullards, useful to their masters but incapable of independent thought. I could go on, but we’ve all met this mass – they’re our reporters, Hollywood stars, teachers and local politicians. Bill’s at the lowest end of this spectrum – he’s one of the dolt you see sticking up campaign signs on roadways during elections, a job designed to fill their need to feel important and involved while removing them from headquarters.

So no, I wasn’t expecting an answer from Bill because I know he’s not capable of providing one. He’s trained to throw his phrases out and stand back as they cow his fellow sheeple into silence. When that doesn’t work he is, as we see, at a loss for words.

* While Bill’s silence is attributable to his defective lizard stem, the facts are against him as well.

No longer will they say, “He’s going to end up flipping burgers.” Because now, robots are taking even these ignobly esteemed jobs. Alpha machine from Momentum Machines cooks up a tasty burger with all the fixins. And it does it with such quality and efficiency it’ll produce “gourmet quality burgers at fast food prices.”

With a conveyor belt-type system the burgers are freshly ground, shaped and grilled to the customer’s liking. And only when the burger’s finished cooking does Alpha slice the tomatoes and pickles and place them on the burger as fresh as can be. Finally, the machine wraps the burger up for serving.

And while you fret over how many people you invited to the barbecue, Alpha churns out a painless 360 hamburgers per hour.

San Francisco-based Momentum Machines claim that using Alpha will save a restaurant enough money that it pays for itself in a year, and it enables the restaurant to spend about twice as much on ingredients as they normally would – so they can buy the gourmet stuff. Saving money with Alpha is pretty easy to imagine. You don’t even need cashiers or servers. Customers could just punch in their order, pay, and wait at a dispensing window.

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And the living wage continues to exact its toll

Low-skilled jobs in the health care industry are disappearing.

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