Daily Archives: September 9, 2013

An Accidental Tourist in Foreign Affairs

No, don't know what we're doing but our new friend Vladimir is gonna help us out

No, we don’t know what we’re doing – don’t have a friggin’ clue, in fact, but our new friend Vladimir is gonna help us out

Kerry’s blunder jumped on by Putin. Depending on the time of day, I vacillate between thinking Obama is an evil sick bastard scheming to destroy the United States or just the dumbest, least prepared president in the entire history of the United States. This evening, I’m back in the “he’s really this fuckin’ stupid” camp.

In what looks like an off-the-cuff blunder, Secretary of State John Kerry might have accidentally given Russian President Vladimir Putin the opportunity to muddy the international diplomatic waters and buy his friends in Syria some time.

During a press briefing on Monday, Kerry said that Assad could avoid American air strikes by giving up all his chemical weapons within a week. Within hours, the State Department was forced to walk Kerry’s new red line back with the claim that he was making a “rhetorical argument about the impossibility and unlikelihood of Assad turning over chemical weapons he has denied he used.”

It seems, then, reasonable to conclude that Kerry spoke out of turn. Kerry was not authorized to offer Syria an “out” or a new ultimatum. But Kerry’s hypothetical hyperbole appears to have already backfired.

In an obvious desire to make Kerry pay for his flub and throw a wrench in Obama’s determination to go to war with Syria, Putin has seized upon Kerry’s hypothetical and called on Syria to accept Kerry’s offer and turn over all of its chemical weapons. No one believes Assad would ever willingly give up his chemical weapons, but should he agree to an offer the Obama administration did not mean to make, it could stall American action for weeks and even months.

Syria is already warming to the idea.

This complication could be a major blow to all of the Obama administration’s prepared plans to punish Assad for using the weapons and to change the balance of power in the ongoing Syrian civil war.  Public opposition to Obama’s war is already surging. Weeks or months from now, after the torturous international diplomatic process that no one believes would end with Assad giving up the chemical weapons that keep him in power winds down, it is doubtful Congress or the American public would be ready to stomach a renewed push for war.

But now that Putin has suggested Syria say “yes” to an offer Kerry was sure no one would accept, the Associated Press is reporting that the State Department will take a “hard look” at Russia’s proposal.

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This is your Secretary of State

James Taranto apparently does for me what I will not do for myself: watch those Sunday morning news shows, and he’s resurfaced with this gem from John Kerry, Obama’s hand-picked choice to run our foreign affairs.

Kerry said the Americans were planning an “unbelievably small” attack on Syria. “We will be able to hold Bashar al-Assad accountable without engaging in troops on the ground or any other prolonged kind of effort in a very limited, very targeted, short-term effort that degrades his capacity to deliver chemical weapons without assuming responsibility for Syria’s civil war. That is exactly what we are talking about doing–unbelievably small, limited kind of effort.”

Pathetic? Of course, but wait! Unfortunately, there’s more!

Obama CheeriosUSA Today describes the administration’s strategy: “A second senior official, who has seen the most recent planning, offered this metaphor to describe such a strike: If Assad is eating Cheerios, we’re going to take away his spoon and give him a fork. Will that degrade his ability to eat Cheerios? Yes. Will it deter him? Maybe. But he’ll still be able to eat Cheerios.”

Well, the commander of the Marine Corps Reserves is a Gen. Mills. But perhaps it’s no coincidence that shortly after Barack Obama took office, the homonymic company discontinued Kaboom.

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A buyer for everything, at some price

Two listings to illustrate that.

326 Cognewaugh

326 Cognewaugh

326 Cognewaugh Road, $1.275 million, reports an accepted offer. This is about as typical a 1993 builder house as you can find, and stuck in the middle of winding Cognewaugh Road, with no back yard to speak of and plain, plain plain. One of my clients asked about it and I told him, “it’s not for you, but at this price, someone will buy it”. Looks like they have.

18 Porchuck Rd

18 Porchuck Rd

18 Porchuck Road, on the other hand, is still trying to find the magic price. It was brought on the market by Ogilvy at $9.5 million back in June, 2012 and has suffered the indignity of a number of price cuts since, one of which was the subject of a certain amount of derision on these pages back in August.  Another cut came today, when $1.3 million was sliced off yesterday’s price and the house can now be yours for just $4.5 million. Will this do the trick? We’ll see.

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Greenwich Republicanism writ large

 

You sayin' I'm stupid?

You sayin’ I’m stupid?

Angelo Codevilla: Parting ways with the American People 

Some three fourths of Americans oppose making war on Syria. Hence the Republican leadership class’ reflexive advocacy of entry into Syria’s civil war is cutting one of the few remaining ties that bind it to ordinary Americans.

Since September 2008, when President George W. Bush, Congressman John Boehner, Senators Mitch McConnell, John McCain, Lindsay Graham and the entire Republican Congressional leadership plus Karl Rove and his big donors backed by The Wall Street Journal editorial pages were key to foisting the $816 billion Troubled Assets Relief Program on a country that opposed it three to one, the Republican Establishment has united with the Democratic Party again and again to legislate the ruling class’ domestic priorities. Before President Obama elevated the Syrian civil war onto the national agenda, the same cast of characters was chiefly occupied with gathering votes to secure funding for Obamacare against a popular movement to de-fund it.

In short, by 2013 the Republican Establishment had proved itself so alien to the domestic concerns of that majority of Americans who dislike the direction in which the ruling class is pushing it, that the party was becoming irrelevant. Despite the Bush Administration’s disastrous commitment to Nation-Building however, the memory of Ronald Reagan’s and Dwight Eisenhower’s forceful, levelheaded patriotism still lingered about the party.

But by urging war on Syria more vehemently than Obama, the Republican Establishment may have finished off the Republican Party, as we know it. Surely it has discredited itself.

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Money money money money

A friend of mine who has done very, very well on Wall Street mentioned the other day that he was just back from Montana, where he and other successful financial types recreate, and that a discussion around the lodge had turned to the zero interest program maintained these past five years. Their conclusion was that the policy had enabled Wall Street to make incredible piles of wealth but the rest of the country, including their own siblings, well educated, ambitious people who had chosen not to go into finance, had either fallen behind or, at best, stayed in place. I certainly have no complaints: those of us who make our livings providing for the wants of such successful people by selling them houses and cars and boats or maintaining what they’ve bought are all doing well, but for those who aren’t attached to that gravy train, things aren’t so good.

Whether my friend’s observation is accurate or not, there is still a lot of money here in Greenwich, and here are some sales and new listings to prove it.

164 Round Hill Rd

164 Round Hill Rd

164 Round Hill Road has sold for $15 million even, 803 days after starting off at $19.450 million. The sellers paid $12,060,000 for its 17,000 square feet in 2004 and according to the listing spent “four years on restoration and renovation”. If they did, then they probably aren’t doing much better than breaking even on this sale, if that, but $15 million is still $15 million.

19 Meadow Place

19 Meadow Place

19 Meadow Place, in Old Greenwich, is a new listing, asking $14,600,000. This 0.6 acre waterfront property was once Mark O’Brien’s, who sold the land for $8.5 million in 2008 and decamped for Australia (New Zealand); some people said just in time, but I always liked Mark.

Lesser listings are also pouring onto the market now, an influx that is partly due to it being the start of the fall season but may also be attributable to Houlihan & Lawrence’s pirate raid of top agents from other brokerage firms: a cynic might think that some listings  were held off the market until their agents had jumped ship and wouldn’t have to leave them behind.

Whatever the case, 10 Winding Lane is on now, asking $4.150 million and 159 Park

159 Park Place

159 Park Place

Place wants $3.595. I haven’t seen either, yet, but Park Place looks promising: an old 1867 home, renovated and expanded, on one of my favorite streets in Greenwich. I look forward to its open house.

Screen Shot 2013-09-09 at 12.54.50 PMAnd a final sale, 52 Bruce Park Drive is reported, $1.270 million. This property was listed for $1.789 back in 2008 and kicked around for a while at steadily lower prices until it hit $1.495 and eventually expired. It was never listed on the MLS again, but it looks as though its last listing broker was approached by another agent and a deal was made.

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Brad Hvolbeck had a busy weekend

Two accepted offers reported, one large, one a mere starter home, by Brad’s standards but hey, he’s not proud.

44 Conyers Farm

44 Conyers Farm

44 Conyers Farm asked $14.5 million and 535 days after first making that request, it has a buyer.

545 North Street

545 North Street

In the lower range, 545 North Street, $6.495 million, also is reported as under contract. Sold new in 1999 for $4.4.

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What I said

Got it!

Got it!

Yesterday I suggested that Obama’s failed foreign policy was a feature, not a bug, for this community organizer determined to rid America of what he saw as Imperialistic urges. Today The Wall Street Journal is out with the same point (no, they don’t read this blog, they just have a longer deadline).

Summing up the net effect of all this, as astute a foreign observer as Conrad Black can flatly say that, “Not since the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991, and before that the fall of France in 1940, has there been so swift an erosion of the world influence of a Great Power as we are witnessing with the United States.”

Yet if this is indeed the pass to which Mr. Obama has led us—and I think it is—let me suggest that it signifies not how incompetent and amateurish the president is, but how skillful. His foreign policy, far from a dismal failure, is a brilliant success as measured by what he intended all along to accomplish. The accomplishment would not have been possible if the intention had been too obvious. The skill lies in how effectively he has used rhetorical tricks to disguise it.

The key to understanding what Mr. Obama has pulled off is the astonishing statement he made in the week before being elected president: “We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.” To those of us who took this declaration seriously, it meant that Mr. Obama really was the left-wing radical he seemed to be, given his associations with the likes of the anti-American preacher Jeremiah Wright and the unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers, not to mention the intellectual influence over him of Saul Alinsky, the original “community organizer.”

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Geeze, the season’s just started and already they’re stifling dissent

bag_head_ticketsWashington redskins restricts fans’ bags

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Palomino whinnies

But I whammad wit!

But I whammad wit!

A reader sent me a link to Greenwich Patch under the subject header, Whaa Whaa Whaaa”. That seems apt. Our former and unlamented Democrat candidate for First Selectman has penned a 367-page screed to the Patch “editor”, detailing what went wrong, how it wasn’t fair, what she actually meant to say and then blasting Republicans for running such a nasty campaign against her.

There’s not much worth responding to here, since the lady is toast and off the scene, but it is sort of amusing that she blames Peter Tesei for her woes, very much like her fellow Greenwich Democrat party leader Bill Gaston blames Bush for Obama’s blunders in the Syria.

From what I can tell, it was Paulmeno’s own party that done her dirty, because her friends were pissed at her: she was supposed to just serve as placeholder on the ballot until a qualified candidate could be found, but once she tasted the dizzying glamour of being the subject of a genuine Greenwich Time headline, she wouldn’t let go.

So they let go for her. Bye ku,

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Accepted offer, Riverside, Price cut, Riversville

11 Meyer Place

11 Meyer Place

11 Meyer Place, $939,000, has an accepted offer after just 17 days. There have been two sales of newish construction on Meyer at about $2 million, so anything is possible, but I get nervous seeing what some might call irrational exuberance for properties in this section of town.

534 Riversville: Paint it white and add a trunk?

534 Riversville: Paint it white and add a trunk?

No such exuberance is evident on the other side of Greenwich, where 534 Riversville has taken a $3 million price cut, from $16 to $13 million. A 1900 house, renovated in 2007, 11,000 sq. ft. and 10.6 acres left of the original estate. Maybe, but tastes are definitely running against 1900-1930 era houses, particularly ones this size.

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Beats working

Criminals injured while performing community service jobs hit the jackpot.

A criminal who hurt his ankle while cutting back brambles for community service was paid £73,000 compensation, it emerged today.

Probation Service bosses admitted this morning that offenders who injured themselves doing unpaid work had claimed hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ cash.

One convicted criminal was given £94,666 after he broke his arm falling from a ladder while doing community service with Surrey and Sussex Probation Trust, while another got £18,600 after injuring his back using a wheelbarrow.

Apparently, the process is:  get hurt, file wildly inflated claim, wait for postman to deliver cheque. Britain’ a funny place.

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Pope dies yet again, cardinals rush back from airport

Smoke?

Smoke?

Greenwich Democrats find still another candidate to run for First Selectman, who immediately calls for more debt, more spending. “We thought we’d try something different this time,” Democratic Chairman Francine X. Fudrucker told FWIW, “but then figured, ‘why bother?’ “

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This is exactly the sort of thing gay marriage opponents warned would happen

you may kiss the bride

you may kiss the bride

Judge Judy marries grandson in elaborate wedding. Destruction of the traditional marriage continues. Grandparents marrying grandchildren, can man marrying man’s best friend be far away?

Shocking.

pig_kiss

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