Daily Archives: March 14, 2014

He probably won’t win next year either

irish-yoga-390x285Ireland: Man abuses gardai after losing out on “Person of the Year” award.

Defence lawyer Gabby Deane said Curley admits to having a colourful past. However, he has been in a relationship with Ms Fulham for the past seven months and it has changed his life.


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Better than a sharp stick in the eye, I suppose


Well you shouldn't have moved!

Well you shouldn’t have moved!

Playboy model agrees to stick tee in her buttocks and let someone else drive. Hilarity ensues.

Sure, the catwalk is exhilarating, but the life of a model can also be degrading. It can be even more degrading when the model in question chooses to lie down on a golf course to allow some dude to stick a golf tee between her butt cheeks so he can try to hit a golf ball balanced precariously atop the tee.

Things did not end well for Playboy model Elizabeth “Liz” Dickson when, she says, she made this questionable series of choices two years ago.

She’s suing, of course.


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This is beyond stupidity

Don't worry, we'll pay you to rebuild, right here.

Don’t worry, we’ll pay you to rebuild, right here.

A reader brought this to my attention: the government has just repealed the 2012 law that attempted to bring some sense to flood insurance rates, and has reverted to the taxpayer-subsidized scheme that brought us Sandy, and every other flood disaster of the past decades.

President Barack Obama is set to [did] sign into law a bipartisan bill relieving homeowners living in flood-prone neighborhoods from big increases in their insurance bills.

The legislation, which cleared Congress on Thursday, reverses much of a 2012 overhaul of the government’s much-criticized flood insurance program after angry homeowners facing sharp premium hikes protested.

The bill would scale back big flood insurance premium increases faced by hundreds of thousands of homeowners. The measure also would allow below-market insurance rates to be passed on to people buying homes in flood zones with taxpayer-subsidized policies.

Critics say Washington is caving to political pressure to undo one of the few recent overhauls it has managed to pass.

“While politically expedient today, this abdication of responsibility by Congress is going to come back and bite them and taxpayers when the next disaster strikes,” said Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, a Washington-based watchdog group. “Everyone knows this program is not fiscally sound or even viable in the near term.”

The hard-fought 2012 rewrite of the federal flood insurance program was aimed at weaning hundreds of thousands of homeowners off of subsidized rates and required extensive updating of the flood maps used to set premiums. But its implementation stirred anxiety among many homeowners along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts and in flood plains, many of whom are threatened with unaffordable rate increases.

The legislation offers its greatest relief to owners of properties that were originally built to code but subsequently were found to be at greater flood risk. Such “grandfathered” homeowners currently benefit from below-market rates that are subsidized by other policyholders, and the new legislation would preserve that status and cap premium increases at 18 percent a year. The 2012 overhaul required premiums to increase to actuarially sound rates over five years and required extensive remapping.

The top leaders of both parties came on board, overcoming resistance from defenders of the 2012 overhaul like House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, whose turf was trampled along the way.

“Members on both sides of the aisle and a broad geographic distribution got involved. And when you get enough members involved, it’s going to get the attention of the leadership, and that was a major factor,” said Rep. Charles Boustany, R-La.

If we as a country can’t even rationalize a simple insurance program, there’s really no hope for social security or medicare reform or any program that someone currently enjoys: farm subsidies, military bases, ethanol.


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Old favorites resurface

400 Round Hill Rd

400 Round Hill Rd

400 Round Hill Road is back, now asking $14 million. It once asked $19.9 million, in 2007, but eventually sold for just $11 million in 2008. Those buyers put it back up for sale at $12.995 in 2009, couldn’t get it, so pulled it until bringing it back today at its new improved price.

UPDATE: Ah – this is Sandy Weill’s place. He originally bought it and gave it to his son, Marc, then bought it back for $11 million when his son moved out of town and couldn’t sell it on his own (must be nice to have a bank like Sandy). Now no one in the Weill family wants it, so it can be yours.

129 Clapboard Ridge

129 Clapboard Ridge

129 Clapboard Ridge asks $3.9 million. Sold for $3.2 and $3.4 in 2002 and 2010, respectively.

44 Calhoun Drive, $3.595 million.This one started at $4.950 long ago and has been coming on and off the market since.

54 Dingletown

54 Dingletown

54 Dingletown, $2.950 million. It tried for $3.9 in 2009, $3.445 and $3.225 in 2012 and 2013, and now this. They’ll get it right someday, and perhaps this is that day.


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Obama blocks Justice Department from investigating Harry Reid

Rube charade

Rube charade

FBI pulled from corruption case.

FBI agents working alongside Utah state prosecutors in a wide-ranging corruption investigation have uncovered accusations of wrongdoing by two of the U.S. Senate’s most prominent figures — Majority Leader Harry Reid and rising Republican Sen. Mike Lee — but the Justice Department has thwarted their bid to launch a full federal investigation.

The probe, conducted by one Republican and one Democratic state prosecutor in Utah, has received accusations from an indicted businessman and political donor, interviewed other witnesses and gathered preliminary evidence such as financial records, Congressional Record statements and photographs that corroborate some aspects of the accusations, officials have told The Washington Times and ABC News.

But the Justice Department’s public integrity section — which normally handles corruption cases involving elected figures — rejected FBI agents’ bid to use a federal grand jury and subpoenas to determine whether the accusations are true and whether any federal crimes were committed by state and federal officials.

Mass recusal

The investigative efforts have been further complicated by the fact that Mr. Reid worked to get Mr. Lee’s chief counsel, David Barlow, confirmed in 2011 as the U.S. attorney in Salt Lake City. That action — a DemocraticSenate leader letting a Republican be named to a key prosecutor’s position in the Obama administration — raised many eyebrows and angered some Democrats.

Subsequently, the entire office of federal prosecutors in Utah was forced to recuse itself from the corruption case after questions surfaced about a conflict of interest involving one prosecutor and a subject of the probe. After the recusal, state prosecutors secured a court order transferring the federal evidence gathered up to that point to their possession.

The process has left FBI agents in the unusual position of trying to help two local prosecutors make a case in state court without the ability to use the federal court system to determine whether accusations against two powerful members of Congress are true.

People familiar with the probe said both FBI agents and local investigators have been frustrated for months by the Justice Department’s inaction on the initial accusations and evidence against the two senators, and those concerns were recently elevated to FBI headquarters.

The special agent in charge of the Utah office was summoned earlier this month to Washington to meet with senior FBI officials, and the bureau’s Utah office has been instructed that the FBI agents working the case may only assist in the state probe and cannot pursue federal criminal investigative leads — unless Justice finally approves a corruption probe.

The frustrations have prompted discussions of seeking a special prosecutor who would bypass theJustice Department and U.S. attorney’s office and evaluate the evidence independently.


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They must know he’s planning to retire there

enhanced-buzz-29590-1334807453-10Hawaii tries to ban eating cats and dogs.

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What, again?

4465242Obama admits he lied about that “keep your doctor” bit.

“For the average person, many folks who don’t have health insurance initially, they’re going to have to make some choices. And they might end up having to switch doctors, in part because they’re saving money,” said Obama in an interview with the medical website WebMD.

“But that’s true if your employer suddenly decides we think this network’s going to give a better deal, we think this is going to help keep premiums lower, you’ve got to use this doctor as opposed to that one, this hospital as opposed to that one. The good news is in most states people have more than one option and what they’ll find, I think, is that their doctor or network or hospital that’s conveniently located is probably in one of those networks. Now, you may find out that that network’s more expensive than another network. And then you’ve got to make a choice in terms of what’s right for your family.”

This is different than what Obama said when he was selling Obamacare. “If you like the plan you have, you can keep it.  If you like the doctor you have, you can keep your doctor, too.  The only change you’ll see are falling costs as our reforms take hold,” said Obama in his weekly address on June 6, 2009.

Of course, now that he’s amended his law to drop the requirement that you buy ObamaCare – a provision he once thought important enough to go all the way to the Supreme Court to defend as “essential” to the success of his plan, there’s really no reason for people to care about all this. Don’t buy insurance until or unless you get sick, then sign on. The thousands of dollars you’ll save over the years by not paying premiums will more than make up for the loss of choice of a doctor.


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Open houses from yesterday

There were several of note, and here’s one:


14 Edgewater Drive

14 Edgewater Drive

14 Edgewater Drive, $1.995 million. To be honest, this is a tough one to evaluate so far as pricing goes. It’s a really beautiful house, completely redone and expanded at a superb quality level. But it’s small, very small, and I’m a little taken back at $2 million for this size, on Edgewater. That is not to say it’s over-priced because I’m not at all sure that it is. I’ll be watching to see what the market tells us.

By the way, listing agent Ellen Mosher has done a very wise thing by addressing the flood plain issue in advance. She (well, the owners)  had a survey done, with an elevation certificate, obtained a flood insurance quote ($3,600 current, $4,500 locked in for at least the next two years), and has all that information ready to hand for buyers. It took a while for agents and owners to recognize the implications of the new regulations, but Ellen’s approach is the smart one and one that we’ll start seeing more of. Get the information before listing a property, and let people know what they’re dealing with. Uncertainty kills deals, not facts.


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Contract reported

31 Vista Drive

31 Vista Drive

31 Vista Drive (Indian Harbor Association), 3 acres of waterfront asking $7.995 million has a contract, 1,413 days after starting off in 2010 t $16.750.  I always saw this as a land sale but the owners obviously didn’t. Just as obvious, the market didn’t agree with them

By the way, there are a lot of houses with accepted offers already that haven’t been reported yet because contracts are still being worked out. One illustrative example is a house in mid country Cos Cob (I won’t disclose its location now, because it isn’t public information)- that came on at $1.8ish last week and whose owners accepted an offer earlier this week. A pretty typical mid-70s home, nothing special, but in excellent shape and priced right where it should have been, so, it’s absolutely no surprise that it sold quickly. Buyers (I get this from the owner, who’s  a friend – I have no connection with the sale) are pretty typical: they’ve already lost two houses to other buyers, so they came in with an offer within 95% of ask, with no mortgage contingency. My friend might be a bit unusual because he saw the bid as a solid one and rather than wait around to see if a better offer came along, he accepted this one. House listed, one broker open house, five days of showings, done. Nice feeling, and it beats dicking around for 1,413 days.

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I have my doubts about this picture

Hunter claims to have shot 500-pound wild hog. Pigs can grow that big, but the picture sure looks photo-shopped to me – like the dead pile of pork chops was superimposed on the background shot of a marsh. Hmm.

I had been thinking of escaping the winter and heading down to a friend’s ranch in Florida for my own porker hunting but real estate suddenly got busy, and making hay now may pay for an elk hunt in the fall, so I’ve stuck around. Usually, and in a great piece of timing, the market slows down in November just as the hunting picks up. God was a hunter.

Real, or Memorex?

Is it real, or is it Memorex? (Photo credit, Zapgruder)


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Early to bed,early to rise

Okay, we’re back up,and so is the internet.

Here’s an interesting Gallup poll showing the major concerns of Americans – climate change and race relations, two of the very largest of Obama’s targets, are at the bottom.I’m sure a concerted effort by the Democrats and their media allies can improve the ranking of those topics by November, but they’d better get busy, fast.



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