Monthly Archives: August 2013

Since nothing of substance transpired at last night’s BOE meeting, here’s something else

Ramadamadingdong Tamm and supporters (Frank Ferricker, center) serenade BOE members and guests

Ramadamadingdong Tamm and supporters (Frank Ferricker, center) serenade BOE members and guests

Observing the goings on at last night’s Board of Education meeting I was struck by the rigid hierarchical nature of school administration and its insistence on prompt obedience. At the last meeting I attended, our new school supervisor William McKersie opened by mentioning that a yellow packet of materials had been distributed, and then instructed everyone in the audience to “hold them up, so I can see that you all got one.” Wow – he told them to do it and at least half the audience; adults, presumably successful, accomplished individuals, dutifully raised their packets high.

Last night he did it again. Ascending the podium, Dr. McKersie cleared his throat and said in a deep, sonorous voice, “Good Evening”. No response. He paused, then repeated “Good Eveeennning”. And by golly, this time almost three-quarters of the audience boomed back, “good evening.” Even allowing for half the chanters just being polite, that’s a huge Pavlovian response to authority. This stuff has a life-long affect on some people; for the rest of us, it just serves as a reminder of why we so hated school.

(By the way, is there some reason female PTA members feel it necessary to go in pairs to the microphone, even when only one of them will speak (read a prepared speech, actually)? I know girls do that when they head off to the bathroom, but at public meetings too? Just asking.)


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♬ When will they ever learn, when will they eeevvverrr learn?


It was just a (bad) TV show

It was just a (bad) TV show

Woman busted for hiring undercover cop as hit man. After following stories like this for decades, the lesson is clear: there are no legitimate, honest hit men out there for hire, only undercover cops. You want something done right, do it yourself.


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Why are our three stooges silent?

(UPDATE: GPD Folks informs us that it was a Metro North SWAT team on that train, not our own force.  I’m leaving this post as is because the point is the same: the authorities think a single-shot firearm is sufficient for a citizen to try to defend himself and his family, while the police (who are theoretically trained, and better marksmen, although they aren’t) feel it necessary for their own protection to go after a single (unarmed) bad guy with fully-automatic assault rifles – on a train crowded with hundreds of unarmed, defenseless civilians. I won’t change the post except for this: our three stooges have company up in Hartford.)

The three Greenwich selectmen recently signed on to the “Mayors Against Guns” initiative presumably because they’re worried about the safety of their fellow citizens and think that the way to preserve that safety is to, among other things, ban what Selcetman Drew Marzullo described as ” high-capacity assault weapon with the capability of firing hundreds of rounds with one pull of the trigger”  That kind of rifle is illegal and civilians are prohibited from owning them, but the police do have them, and used them two days ago to frighten  commuters. Peter Tesi is the town’s police commissioner and, at least nominally, in charge of them. He might want to make inquiry of the chief as to why the force felt it necessary to barge onto a crowded train with assault rifles “capable of firing hundreds of rounds with one pull of the trigger” to apprehend (try to – they failed) a single “heavy-set Hispanic”. Is spraying a commuter car with hundreds of bullets a safe, even a sane idea, or is this an example of boys with toys run amok?

Gives literal meaning to the term “overkill” – time for retraining? Video here.

All Aboard the Sugar Donut Express!

All Aboard the Sugar Donut Express!


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The question is not whether the US can bomb Syria without England, but why does Parliament have a say while our own Congress doesn’t?


Democrat protestors prepare for war

Democrat protestors prepare for war

Parliament has voted to deny British Prime Minister Cameron authority to join in the idiots’ crusade and accordingly, plans for British involvement in Obama’s War have been dropped.

Obama, undaunted, is moving ahead with his own assault plans.

Great Britain has been nothing but a bag carrier for the United States since it sold off its last aircraft carrier and is irrelevant to the current situation. But it still operates by the rule of law, not personality, so the question of war was put before Parliament, and defeated. Obama is going ahead in violation of international law, the constitution of the United States and the War Powers Act, all to the apparent approval of his Democrat base.

Really, the cheerful surrender of their rights and liberties to this man is more frightening than anything that awaits us in the Middle East.


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Obama kills Civilian Marksmanship Program, by executive order

Keepin'em off the streets since 2013

Keepin’em off the streets since 2013

I started to write about this, then decided we’ve had enough gun stuff for the day, but I just heard Joe Biden on NPR talking about what a brilliant, “common sense” move this was and how public safety was nw assured yadayadyada, and so here it is:

Following up on his executive order earlier today directing his Justice Department to refuse to enforce federal drug laws, and just a month after issuing an executive order to his Department of Homeland Security to refuse to enforce federal immigration laws (here, and here), Obama effectively shut down the 110-year-old civilian marksmanship program with yet another executive fiat. “It won’t save lives, but it’ll sure show how deadly serious I take this whole presidential thing”.

The White House announced on Thursday that it intends to “ban almost all re-imports of military surplus firearms to private entities” through executive order, which would effectively shut down the 110-year-old Civilian Marksmanship Program.

In a Fact Sheet published on today referencing the upcoming executive order the ban on importing military weapons is designed to “keep military-grade firearms off our streets.” Exceptions for import may be allowed for museums.

The rifles that the Executive Order would affect are typically from U.S. allies and are pre-Vietnam era. Without the importation of these rifles, the CMP is likely to become defunct and thus destroying a 110 year tradition of saving military arms and their civilian ownership.

The CMP tightly controls the importation of obsolete military weapons. The program was created by the U.S. Congress as part of the 1903 War Department Appropriations Act with the purpose of allowing civilians to hone their marksmanship skills, should they later be called into military service.

Participants receiving firearms through the CMP must comply with all state and federal firearm laws and undergo a background check conducted by a dealer holding a Federal Firearms License in order to receive the gun.

Additionally, they must also be a member of a CMP affiliated shooting club, making participating in the program more difficult than anyone trying to purchase a firearm through usual retail channels.

There are no data indicating any of the weapons involved in homicide were imported surplus military rifles. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s homicide crime statistics, rifles accounted for only 323 deaths out of 12,664 homicides in 2011, the most recent data set provided by the FBI.

Feel safer now? I feel less secure, knowing that our mainstream press swallows this crapola and regurgitates it, unchanged, as directed by its  masters.


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I almost forgot: BOE meeting at the high school tonight, 7:00 PM!


Celebrating the new school year

Celebrating the new school year and welcoming the BOE

Come hear the Board’s ideas on redistricting. Better, come hear what dissident board members Herr Pieter von Brunski and Peter Sherr have to say about a legal challenge to the state’s entire race-based demand for shifting students. If we’re lucky, the soon-to-be anointed Democrat BOE member Ramadamdingdong Tamm will surface and let us know what she thinks about the matter – heck, it’d be a treat to find out whether she thinks at all. Ommmm.


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McMansions come back

"The Owlsley"

“The Owlsley”

So says the WSJ, but what troubles me is that the trend is because buyers today are on their 2nd or 3rd home and want, and can afford larger space (2,692 sq.ft., on average, which describes an undersized pool house here in Greenwich, but never mind). First time homeowners have been priced out of the market by rising land costs and higher mortgage rates. Greenwich homes may be selling to highly successful people from around the country but somewhere back there in Indiana is a house still owned by the Greenwich buyer. If our hypothetical new Greenwichite has to sell his first home to afford a house here, and there are no buyers back there, …trouble.

The average size of a new home now exceeds the lofty levels reached during the housing boom, the latest indication that the new-home market is catering more to older, more affluent buyers and less to younger and first-time buyers.

During the finance and housing downturns, many home builders downscaled and built smaller and less expensive homes in response to an era of frugality. But that has changed, especially for upscale buyers who are purchasing their second- or third-generation home and account for a greater portion of deals. First-time buyers, meanwhile, have been sidelined by more-stringent lending standards and rising interest rates.

In the new-home market, “what’s left is people who have means,” said Brad Hunter, chief economist for housing-research firm Metrostudy, a division of Hanley Wood LLC. “They are buying homes that they can afford, which tend to be bigger.”

While economists say move-up buyers have been emboldened by factors such as job stability and rising stock-market wealth, the same isn’t true for first timers. “The first-time buyer now has to come up with 20% down payment and a pristine credit score, and that’s harder to do,” said Stephen Melman, director of economic services for the National Association of Home Builders. “If the [remaining] buyers are trade-up buyers, you’re going to end up with larger, more expensive homes.”

The National Association of Realtors reports that first-time buyers have accounted for 29% of home transactions so far this year, whereas they typically have represented roughly 40% since the 1980s.


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Senator Robert KKK Byrd (D., W.Va), dressed for the MLK celebration

Senator Robert KKK Byrd (D., W.Va), dressed for the MLK celebration

Confederacy is the new Democrat talking point. Anarchy keeps looking better.

Democrats have a flair for whisper campaigns.

When they want to damage their opposition, they float a word or phrase that starts in the farthest reaches of the blogoshpere which then works its way into the mouths of activists, media allies, debate moderators and politicians.

It works like magic. Just ask any Obama voter where they first heard the term “war on women” and watch them struggle to answer. Hmm… was it the Huffington Post? The Daily Kos? ABC News? Obama?

The new whisper campaign aims to re-write history and paint conservatives as “Confederates” or “members of the confederacy.”

It doesn’t matter that the Republican Party was founded to end slavery which Democrats supported. Nor does it matter that the Civil Rights Act was overwhelmingly supported by Republicans, not Democrats.

It doesn’t matter that the last member of the KKK to serve in congress, Senator Robert Byrd was a Democrat. Nor does it matter that the only black member of the US senate, Tim Scott is a Republican.

All that matters is the new talking point. See if you can spot the trend…

August 16, 2013: MSNBC host uses the term Neo-Confederate to describe libertarians and conservatives.

August 20, 2013: MSNBC contributor uses the term Neo-Confederate to describe 2nd Amendment supporters.

August 27, 2013: Before MLK celebration, Jesse Jackson calls the Tea Party the new Confederacy.

August 28, 2013: MSNBC host asks – Are Conservatives the new Confederates?

This phrase or some variation of it will be repeated endlessly between now and the 2014 mid-term elections. It will eventually make its way into MSM television reports and onto the front page of various newspapers.

As I’m writing this post, liberal activists and bloggers are crafting posts and post comments that include the words “Confederates” and “Confederacy” to describe anyone who opposes Democrats. That’s how this works.

Keep your ears open.

I guarantee you we haven’t heard the last of the new “Confederacy” meme.


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Which is why we need a new party, free of Republicans

Fat cat conservative

Fat cat conservative farmer

Republican “conservatives” lash out at Heritage Foundation for opposing Farm Subsidy bill.

Business Insider’s Josh Barro:

National Journal reportsthat the Republican Study Committee, a group of conservative House members with deep ties to Heritage, has banned Heritage employees from its meetings. They’re mad that Heritage tried to kill a farm subsidy bill that Republican House members very much wanted to pass back in July…..

In 2011, the Peter G. Peterson Foundation commissioned long-term federal budget proposals from six think tanks spread across the political spectrum, from Heritage on the right end to the Economic Policy Institute on the left. The proposals diverged widely in most areas, from taxes to entitlements to defense. One of the few areas of agreementamong all six proposals was that farm subsidies should be reformed and reduced.


Then, House Republicans separated the bills and passed a farm subsidies-only bill with just 12 Republican defections. Heritage infuriated House Conservatives by issuing a “key vote” against the bill, arguing that it did not align with Heritage’s (perfectly reasonable) principles for reforming and reducing farm subsidies…..

The RSC’s problem with Heritage isn’t that it’s trying to push the GOP too far to the right to be competitive in elections. Their problem with Heritage is that they’re interfering with the GOP’s effort to put special-interest politics ahead of conservative principles.

House Republicans do not actually care about free markets or cutting government. They care about pleasing their electoral constituencies and getting re-elected. Old people tend to vote Republican, which is why House Republicans have built their last two campaigns around attacking President Obama with claims he was cutting Medicare. Almost all rural areas are represented by Republicans, which is why Republicans don’t want to cut farm subsidies.



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No more (local) real estate reporting until Tuesday

GAR Evil Princess putting the moves on Houlton High's Potato King

GAR Evil Princess putting the moves on Houlton High’s Potato King

Our devoted staff at the Greenwich Board of Realtors has closed shop, headed up to Houlton, Maine for an extended holiday weekend and won’t be posting any more real estate news until Tuesday. A reader suggested I dredge up some old postings on houses sold long ago and I might, so check back in later. I’m sure I’ll find plenty of other things to pontificate and huff and puff about while awaiting the return of our GAR friends, but real estate, not so much.

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Contract and a new listing

534 North Street

534 North Street

Just about my favorite house in town, 534 North Street, is finally under contract. This 1819 Federal is a treat to drive by and a reminder, however bitter-sweet, of what North Street once was. The price that did the job was $2.395 million (that’s the last asking price; presumably the actual selling price will be less). The owners tried to get $3.295 million last year but no one bit. Overshooting by a million bucks will do that to a house.




Fountain's selling tip of the day: If you want to charge $4.5 million for your house, don't use a photo taken in mid-March for a late August debut, and stain the freakin' deck.

Fountain’s selling tip of the day: If you want to charge $4.5 million for your house, don’t use a photo taken in mid-March for a late August debut, and stain the freakin’ deck.

Under new listings, 5 Grimes Road in Shorelands (Old Greenwich) is up, asking $4.495. This was built in 1991, so probably didn’t get hammered by Sandy but much of Shorelands did. Readers? Experience? Insights? $4.5 seems pretty steep to me, but we’ll see.

Comments Off on Contract and a new listing

Filed under Buying/Selling Greenwich Real Estate, Contracts, current market conditions, Inventory, Mid Country, Neighborhoods, Old Greenwich, pricing

Not much of a house, but not much of a price, either

18 Spezzano Drive

18 Spezzano Drive

18 Spezzano Drive, Riverside in NoPo, has dropped from $649,000 to $525,000. 840 sq.ft., just 0.1 acre, and looks like it needs a lot of work, but if you can get this for under $5, which you probably can, you could be in town on a decent street for not a whole lot of money. $75,000 would go a long way to making this a nifty little bungalow, I’ll bet.


Filed under Buying/Selling Greenwich Real Estate, pricing, Riverside

John Robbens, on the scene

John’s a great photographer and an Old Greenwich native, so it’s hardly surprising that he was on hand to capture this scene of our local police stopping a hand-held cellphone user yesterday.

Put down the phone and come out with your hands up!

Put down the phone and come out with your hands up!


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Price cut on Round Hill, land sale in Riverside

286 Round Hill Road

286 Round Hill Road

286 Round Hill Road has taken yet another price cut and is now down to $3.250 million. This is a great house, built in 1900 (renovated and expanded since), on 3.5 acres in the 2-acre zone, and all-in-all, feels like a wonderful place to live. But it was  placed for sale in 2009 at the daunting price of $5.375 and although as the years passed that price dropped, it moved slowly, step-by-step, inch-by-inch, so that now, when it’s probably priced about where it should have been four years ago, a buyer’s response upon seeing it the first time is likely to be “why should I buy what no one else wants?”  Don’t let this happen to you.

12 Long View, Rvsd

12 Long View, Rvsd

Over in Riverside, where people do still want to live, 12 Long View Avenue (the short strip connecting Gilliam and Armstrong) has gone to contract after just two weeks, at $2.9 million. 0.8 acre in the R-12,000 zone and two separate building lots, but this buyer’s taking both, so look for a large house*. This is probably wise, because so much of the property is wetlands that a single house will be easier to fit around them, rather than trying to cram two houses onto what dry land there is.

The house it will be replacing, by the way, is the ugliest house I have ever seen, anywhere. The Fountain boys grew up just a few doors down on Gilliam Lane and have watched in wonder as over the decades owners came and went while the structure remained. Back in the 50s Popular Mechanics awarded it a prize for requiring the least maintenance of any home in the country, but it looks like a slate-sided outhouse and aside from the nostalgia of it all, I don’t think the neighborhood will miss it.

* it occurs to me that a builder may have bought both lots with the intention of building two houses. In my opinion, this would be the wrong choice, regardless of the presence of those wetlands, because there’s such a shortage of large (by Riverside standards) lots, a builder can expect a premium for building on one. Look at Kali-Naggy’s experience on Marks Road, also in Riverside. He took a lot of, I think, 0.6 acres, split it in two and tried selling the resulting houses for $4 million each. He never got it.


Filed under Buying/Selling Greenwich Real Estate, Contracts, Mid Country, Neighborhoods, pricing, Riverside

When Obama’s lost the liberals at Slate, he’s lost his base


Don't let your new friends at Sidwell tell you you're a bad person just because your parents are.

Don’t let your new friends at Sidwell tell you you’re a bad person just because your parents are.

Only bad people send their children to private school.

And it’s not just Obama she condemns, but those icons of liberalism, Teddy Kennedy, Hillary Clinton, 45% of our sittng senators and 52% of the Black Congressional Caucus (plus 38% of the Hispanic Caucus, but who’s still counting?). 



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On suicide

The tragedy of the young Greenwich boy who shot himself two days ago should not be used as political grist, but his death did cause me to focus on one particular aspect of the new gun control laws being enacted across the country, including here in Connecticut, that will achieve the exact effect of what control advocates claim they seek to protect against, suicide.

Anti-gun legislators have imposed new laws requiring health professionals to report to the state anyone who is contemplating suicide. So anyone feeling suicidal, gun owner or not, is now faced with a choice: seek treatment, in which case he will be recorded in a permanent central registry as secure, the NSA and IRS scandals have shown, as the lowest-level governmental employee chooses to keep it,  or “tough it out”. The head of Silverhill Psychiatric Hosital and its chief psychiatrist, each of whom supports the rest of the gun law, think this is crazy, a complaint that can be made about most of what passes for legislative solutions to the problem du jour, but the truth is there nonetheless.

It shouldn’t be too hard for even, say, an EMT to see why forcing a person considering suicide to choose between being permanently stigmatized and, in the case of gun owners, having his gun collection confiscated and thereafter barred from owning any, or declining to seek treatment and hoping the feelings will pass, may well cause more suicides, not reduce them.

Put in a way that might help that ambulance driver grasp the concept, suppose that a smoker, fearing he was suffering a heart attack, knew that the responding emergency crew would report him to the health authorities, who would then confiscate the cigarettes in his home and bar him from purchasing more for five years. How many smokers might decide not to call for help and hope that what they thought might be a heart attack was instead a mere case of indigestion?

Nanny Bloomberg would delight in forcing despicable, filthy smokers to make that choice and in fact, I’m surprised he hasn’t already enacted a law for it; those interested in saving the lives of heart attack victims might disagree.


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Finally, a house I’d gladly pay $7.5 million for (well, I’d certainly negotiate a bit)

Moon Ranch

Moon Ranch

Steve McQueens’s Idaho ranch

Pioneer Moon Ranch – New Listing


Once owned by legendary Hollywood actor Steve McQueen, the 500± acre Pioneer Moon Ranch lies at the foot of the Pioneer Mountains surrounded by breathtaking beauty 25 minutes from downtown Ketchum and the famous Sun Valley Resort. The ranch is defined by the East Fork of the Big Wood River, an intimate freestone stream which flows the length of the property for a mile and a half through open meadows dotted with colorful wildflowers, vigorous stands of willow and aspen, and 150± acres of rich irrigated bottomland pasture. The East Fork and its lush riparian corridor support an array of wildlife, including moose, deer, elk, and a wild rainbow trout fishery. The ranch adjoins the Sawtooth National Forest and federal lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and is immediately accessible to miles of hiking, hunting, fishing, horseback riding, mountain biking, and backcountry skiing.

The beautifully maintained residential compound is located between two branches of the East Fork to maximize privacy and comfort. The compound features a classic 1,625± sq. ft., two-story log home with covered porches that was built in 1990 and remodeled in 1999 and 2010, and a 1,542± sq. ft. log annex constructed in 2010 with an adjoining 1,728± sq. ft. garage.


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Waiting for Corey

Waiting for Corey

On a day where Democrats did everything from comparing Martin Luther King to Jesus (that was President Obama, who feels qualified to assess the talents and divine nature of both of his lessers) to white guys saying MLK would be a proud supporter of gay marriage and illegal immigrants, I’m grateful to Breitbart for finding Dr. King’s widow’s views on illegal aliens: she was against them

In a 1991 letter to Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Coretta Scott King and other black community leaders argued that illegal immigration would have a devastating impact on the black community. At the time, Hatch was working his U.S. Senate position to undo some enforcement measures laid out in Ronald Reagan’s 1986 amnesty agreement, attempting to weaken interior enforcement and sanctions against employers who hired illegal aliens.

We, the undersigned members of the Black Leadership Forum, write to urge you to postpone introduction of your employer sanctions repeal legislation until we have had an opportunity to report to you what we believe to be the devastating impact the repeal would have on the economic condition of un- and semi-skilled workers—a disproportionate number of whom are African-American and Hispanic; and until we have had the opportunity to propose to you and to our Hispanic brothers and sisters, what we believe could be a number of effective means of eliminating the discrimination occasioned by employer sanctions, without losing the protection sanctions provide for U.S. workers, especially minority workers.

The black leaders wrote that they feared lack of interior immigration enforcement would lead to future illegal immigration, and the hiring of those illegal immigrants into jobs that could be occupied by black and Hispanic American citizens.

“We are concerned, Senator Hatch, that your proposed remedy to the employer sanctions-based discrimination, namely, the elimination of employer sanctions, will cause another problem–the revival of the pre-1986 discrimination against black and brown U.S. and documented workers, in favor of cheap labor–the undocumented workers,” they wrote. “This would undoubtedly exacerbate an already severe economic crisis in communities where there are large numbers of new immigrants.”

Coretta Scott King and the other black leaders added that they were “concerned that some who support the repeal of employer sanctions are using ‘discrimination’ as a guise for their desire to abuse undocumented workers and to introduce cheap labor into the U.S. workforce.”


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Brother Gideon awakes

Sotheby's agents apply at HoulHoulihan Lawrence

Sotheby’s agents apply at Houlihan Lawrence

Gideon seemed to have quit blogging a while back and so as his older brother I felt it necessary to punish him by delisting him over there on the blog roll. It wasn’t that, of course, that inspired him to suddenly post again, but rather news of Houlihan and Whatstheirface coming into town and raiding some of the most successful agents. 

Gideon observes that for agents, it really doesn’t matter where we work, so why bother switching firms? He mentions “better advertising of listings” but as far as I’m concerned that’s a shuck: houses are brought to buyers’ attention on the internet these days, and the large, full-page spreads in Greenwich Time are there to promote the brokerage firm, not the house, and to boost the homeowner’s flagging spirits – so much easier than telling the poor chump his house isn’t selling because it’s overpriced.

But table hopping is part of the fabric of real estate agency life, and it’s how we agents can extract a higher percentage of the take, so I’m all for it. Too bad I’m too toxic to be so recruited, but that’s a very small, and quite acceptable price for my independence and freedom from the bureaucracy of these large firms.


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Lowest common denominator

Anon$anon sends this photo that’s on the Internet today: So what do these men have in common? Martin Luther King rose above a viciously segregated society, earned a doctorate of divinity, defied racists, was beaten and jailed for his beliefs and led a movement that resulted in the most profound social change in our country since the Civil War. Young Trayvon was a thief and a druggie who, while on suspension from high school for both activities, became embroiled in a conflict with a Hispanic and was shot for his troubles. He accomplished nothing of significance while he lived and almost certainly would have maintained that record of failure had he extended his stay on this mortal coil. What did they have in common? Oh yeah, they were both black.

To compare the two is not to honor the late, unlamented Trayvon, it’s to disrespect Dr. King.

Trayvon and Martin

Trayvon and Martin


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