Monthly Archives: March 2014

Democrats at work

DOJ orders boy’s baseball field destroyed because it’s nicer than the girls.

Of course, all these ridiculous acts, like the worst abuses of the EPA, the “endangered Species Act”, and Title IX are creations of Congress, and could be halted if Republicans had the balls to do it. They haven’t, and they won’t, so ….


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Harry Reid channels David Niven

Nope! Didn't say it

Nope! Not I

Christopher Buckley tells this anecdote:

“My favorite faux pas story-we tell it with reverence in my family-happened to David Niven, who was a pal of my dad. He was the kindest man on earth, didn’t have a mean bone in his body. A sweet, kind man. So he’s at a white tie ball and he struck up a conversation with a man. They’re standing at the foot of a grand staircase and two women appear at the top of the staircase and start to walk down and David nudges the man and says, ‘I say, that must be the ugliest woman I’ve ever seen in my life.’ The man stiffens and says, ‘That’s my wife.’ Desperate for a lifeline, David says, ‘I mean the other one.’ The man stiffens again and says, ‘That’s my daughter!’ And David, [after looking wildly about for an escape, finally turns back to the man and] says, ‘I didn’t say it!’

Mr. Reid must know exactly how David Niven felt although, being a Democrat, he probably doesn’t feel the least discomforted in denying the undeniable. Wednesday, he flat out denied calling critics of ObamaCare liars.

“I have never come to the floor, to my recollection, I’ve never said a word about examples that Republicans have given regarding ObamaCare and how it’s not very good.”

“Mr. President, the junior senator from Wyoming has come to the floor several times recently talking about the fact that examples that he and others Republicans have given dealing with ObamaCare, examples that are bad, I’ve called lies. Mr. President, that is simply untrue,” Reid said.”Mr. President, the junior senator from Wyoming has come to the floor several times recently talking about the fact that examples that he and others Republicans have given dealing with ObamaCare, examples that are bad, I’ve called lies. Mr. President, that is simply untrue,” Reid said.

Reid is contradicting his own statements made on February 26.

As reported, and as C-SPAN video of him shows, Reid said on the Senate floor:

“We heard about the evils of Obamacare, about the lives it’s ruining in Republicans’ stump speeches and in ads paid for by oil magnates, the Koch brothers. But in those tales, turned out to be just that: tales, stories made up from whole cloth, lies distorted by the Republicans to grab headlines or make political advertisements.” “There’s plenty of horror stories being told. All of them are untrue, but they’re being told all over America.”

He also blamed the Koch brothers, naturally.

Here’s Harry saying it, and – bonus tape! – him swearing, hand over heart, that he never said it:



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What’s six acres in the way back country worth?

15 Upper Cross Road

15 Upper Cross Road

Not $11.995 million, which is what 15 Upper Cross first asked in 2011, and probably not even $7.1 million, its new price today, after a million was shaved from yesterday’s ask. There’s a house here, but it was built in 1903 and last renovated in 1977 and, to my eye, doesn’t add value beyond the land itself. The owner must have disagreed when he first priced it 900 days ago but three years later, the market seems to be dissuading him otherwise.

I don’t hate all old houses, by the way. My grandfather Gerard Fountain, builder and architect, built lovely houses, including two on Heathcote Road in Scarsdale for his family and his sister’s, and they are still standing, still very much worth keeping. Here’s the listing for his own house at 8 Heathcote. Funny thing, it sold for $7.5 million after asking $11 million, which, never having seen the house inside nor knowing anything about Scarsdale prices, I suggested was nuts back when it first came on. Seller optimism is universal.

(I see from the pictures that someone has added fake beams and awful wood panels to some of the rooms since my grandfather sold it in the 1940s. I didn’t know the man, but I can absolutely guarantee you that a faux “hunting den” or “Austrian tap room”  were very much not part of its original design.)

8 Heathcote Rd, Scarsdale

8 Heathcote Rd, Scarsdale


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That was quick

24 Hearthstone24 Hearthstone, new construction asking $4.075 million, has sold for $3.875. 4,000 square feet above ground, 2,000 below, finished, 0.3 acre of yard. Builders paid $1.455 for the land a year ago, so it’s fair to say that, at least in Riverside, the old 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 formula for land, construction cost, and profit and overhead is no longer operative.



Screen Shot 2014-03-28 at 4.06.05 PM


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Thought experiment

Well see, it wouldn't fit on the front page

Well see, it wouldn’t fit on the front page

If a politician were caught in an arms smuggling conspiracy that sought to bring machine guns, missiles and RPGs from the Muslim terrorist groups in the Philippines to the US, where would the NYT put its coverage? Try to match each hypothetical with its corresponding placement:

Republican 2nd Amendment advocate     Page  21

Democrat ant-gun spokesman   Front Page

If you guessed “Democrat, Front Page”, you lost!

As Brittany Cohan notices this morning, “Today Show talking about Bridgegate. Nothing about gun running, FBI raids, bribery, illegal campaign spending, etc. Because they’re Dems.” If you’re not familiar with the gun running reference, it refers to this… [California State Sen. Leland] Yee discussed helping the [undercover FBI] agent get weapons worth $500,000 to $2.5 million, including shoulder fired automatic weapons and missiles, and took him through the entire process of getting them from a Muslim separatist group in the Philippines to the United States, according to the affidavit. The New York Times greeted that news with a one paragraph summary on page A21 Wednesday with the headline: “California: State Senator Accused of Corruption.”


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“New” listings, some of which actually are


Where the neighbors are few (bad pun;  excuse me)

Where the neighbors are few (bad pun; excuse me)

646 Riversville Road, $3.495 million, isn’t one of them. Five acres up near the Audubon, it’s been around since 2008, when its builder/owner offered to build a new house on it for just $12. 9 million. 2008 proved an inauspicious year for those kind of dreams and, as the price of the spec house dropped over time, down, eventually, to $7 million, the land itself dropped from $4.750 to, now, $3.495. It’s beautiful land – can it find a buyer at this new price? We’ll see.

By the way, although the existing structure, which looks rather like a horse stable, is described as “custom built”, either the builder built it for his herd or tastes were wildly different in 1953. Either way, I think the original idea of building new was probably sound.


3 Game Cock (sounds like a boast in a bad pick-up bar)

3 Game Cock (sounds like a boast in a seedy pick-up bar)

3 Gamecock Road is a new listing, I think.  [nope – readers tell me it’s been on for years]. Over in Byram, backing up to the Byram municipal boat storage lot, it has a beautiful view over the side yard of the neighbor across the street and, if that view is protected, might be worth investigating at just $1.175. Part of that investigation should include limited expansion: this is on just 0.12 acre in the R-12 zone, and flood hazards. The property is zoned AE by FEMA, but there’s no elevation given in the listing, so it could be high enough, not quite high enough, or destined to wear stilts in its future.

But it’s cute.

It's the little house by the boats

It’s the little house by the boats








9 Shore Rd

9 Shore Rd

9 Shore Road (over at the Stamford end) in Old Greenwich looks very nice, though $1.875 might give pause. Renovated in 2005, it overlooks Innis Arden Golf Course, which is always a plus. Again, while the house sits in the AE zone, there’s no elevation given, so you and your broker are own your own here. I haven’t seen it yet, but I look forward to doing so. Could be a winner.



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World’s smallest violin squeaks


It's tougher in the Bahamas

It’s tougher in the Bahamas

Gwyneth Paltrow bemoans her rotten job, envies moms with 9-5  hours who have it so much easier than she.

“I think it’s different when you have an office job, because it’s routine and, you know, you can do all the stuff in the morning and then you come home in the evening,” said the polarizing Paltrow. “When you’re shooting a movie, they’re like, ‘We need you to go to Wisconsin for two weeks,’ and then you work 14 hours a day and that part of it is very difficult. I think to have a regular job and be a mom is not as, of course there are challenges, but it’s not like being on set.”

Miss Paltrow made this plea for sympathy from Eleuthera, where she is presently resting up before returning to the grind and “shooting a couple of episodes for ‘Glee’ for the 100th episode.”

Send flowers c/o Barbara Streisand, Malibu, CA.


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Dump the mortgage interest deduction? Works for me.


If you had a mortgage, you could deduct it from your income, if you had income

If you had a mortgage, you could deduct it from your income, if you had an income

Time to scrap it.

Allowing individuals to deduct mortgage interest payments drives up taxes on other Americans given the need to recoup the lost revenue, or, alternatively, adds to the deficit. The mortgage interest deduction itself drains $100 billion annually from the U.S. Treasury. When other tax policies meant to encourage home ownership are added — including the deductibility of state and local property taxes and the exemption of capital gains taxes from selling a home — that number rises to $175 billion.

But even if one were to accept that boosting home ownership is a worthy goal for government, the interest deduction and accompanying tax benefits for homeowners should be seen as a miserable failure. That’s the conclusion of economists Andrew Hanson, Ike Brannon, and Zackary Hawley in a study prepared for the R Street Institute, a right-of-center think tank, and published in National Affairs.

The authors took a detailed look at the distribution of existing tax benefits for home ownership and found that the benefits do more to help wealthier Americans purchase larger homes than they do to encourage lower-income Americans who otherwise would be renting to purchase homes in the first place.

The study found that in Atlanta, Denver, Detroit, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Seattle and Washington, D.C., 80 percent of taxpayers earning more than $100,000 claimed the deduction, compared with just 25 percent of those earning less.

In monetary terms, the deduction is also significantly more valuable for higher-income households.

The deduction applies to mortgage debt of up to $1 million and debt from second homes can count toward that amount. Furthermore, because high-income earners are taxed at a higher rate, each dollar of earnings they get to deduct from their taxes is worth more.

A family with a household income of $500,000 with $1 million in mortgage debt being financed at 4 percent would generate $16,000 per year in tax savings, according to the authors’ calculations. In contrast, a household earning near the national median income of $51,000 with a home worth $221,000 (the median price), would receive tax savings of one-tenth that amount.

There are several leading objections to scrapping the mortgage interest deduction. One is that it would drive down home prices. Another is that American homeowners already purchased homes and did tax planning on the assumption that the tax benefit would be in place.

As to the first argument, while it’s true that limiting or eliminating the deduction would reduce the artificially inflated value of homes, that would be true of homes everywhere. That means homes would be cheaper for people shopping for new homes, as well as those hoping to sell their current homes and purchase new ones.

Also, proposals to reform the mortgage interest deduction can be designed to phase in the changes over time, so that homeowners can gradually adjust.

If we did this, it should be done as part of a broad program of reform including lower tax rates; otherwise, it’ll be just another mont grab by the D.C. Bloodsuckers.



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Contract and a bidding war

17 BarnstableLane

17 BarnstableLane

I mentioned a week ago that 17 Barnstable Road, $3.495, had a deal, and now it’s confirmed. This same property failed to sell some years ago; I forget the exact date, or price, and our new MLS system no longer carries properties histories so …. In any event, it went almost immediately this time.

29 Evergreen

29 Evergreen

And 29 Evergreen, land asking $1.250, was officially pulled off the market after five days, but a friend (former friend, since he didn’t use my services – only hope for you, ML, is to overcome your wife’s objections and let me post a deer stand in your woods) who was bidding on it tells me that bids went over $1.7 million. If the winner was a private owner who intends to live in whatever he builds here, that’s a number that’s not entirely crazy, although it verges on it. If it’s a spec builder, call in the bankruptcy lawyers.


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And here’s a temporary solution to high rents in NYC


I just LOVE my daddy!

I just LOVE my daddy!

Woman has herself adopted by senile citizen so she could inherit his rent-controlled $100 apartment.


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It’s obviously a day for final solutions


Yes, she's in a glass coffin, but have you ever known my wife to be so calm?

Yes, she’s in a glass coffin, but have you ever known my wife to be so calm?

Study: anti-anxiety drugs double mortality. Dead will do it.


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Finally, a final answer to global warming worriers


How I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb

How I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb

Study: even a small nuclear war on the other side of the world would drop global temperatures 3°.

Even a relatively small regional nuclear war, like a conflict between India and Pakistan, could spark a global environmental catastrophe, says a new study.

“Most people would be surprised to know that even a very small regional nuclear war on the other side of the planet could disrupt global climate for at least a decade and wipe out the ozone layer for a decade,” said lead author Michael Mills, an atmospheric scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado.

Researchers developed a computer model of the Earth’s atmosphere and ran simulations to find out what would happen if there was a nuclear war with just a fraction of the world’s arsenal. What they saw was the stuff of nightmares:

Firestorms would belch over 5 million tons of ash into the sky.

The ash would absorb the sun’s rays, causing deadly cooling on the surface.

Global temperatures would plummet by nearly 3 degrees Farenheit on average, with most of North America experiencing winters that would be colder by 4 to 10 degrees.

Lethal frosts would cover the Earth and reduce the growing seasons bu about a month for several years.

Rainfall and other precipitation would be reduced by about 10 percent, triggering worldwide droughts and leading to wildfires in the Amazon, which would spew more smoke into the atmosphere.

The sky ash would heat the stratosphere and accelerate the chemical reactions that destroy the ozone layer. The intense ultraviolet radiation that would get through to the surface would be a dramatic threat to human health and damage fragile ecosystems on land and sea.

Gotta love this part – talk about going out on a limb:

“All in all, these effects would be very detrimental to food production and to ecosystems,” Mills said.


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Some might call it fraud; I couldn’t possibly say that


89 Lower Cross Road

89 Lower Cross Road

89 Lower Cross Road, bank owned, has cut its price to $1.295 from $1.390. This “4-acre” lot is in fact a spit of land on the shoulder of Lower Cross (readers may remember the foundation and partially-framed spec house that sat there abandoned for years), with the rest of the lot either underwater or mired in swamp muck. Bad as that is, someone bought this land for $4 million in 2006 with the help of 100% financing. Oh, those were the days.

So what’s this land worth? I’d guess nothing; the bank would be better off giving it to the Land Trust and taking an inflated deduction based on that $4 million purchase price. If you want it, start at $50,000, and see what the bank has to say.


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And we’re back, unscathed

P.J.O’Rourke speaking at lunch at the University Club. Nice meal, excellent table company but ol’ P.J. delivered a canned speech, as he’s book flogging, and it sounded as though he’d done the spiel at least several times before. City seems about the same since I used to go there, so now there’s no need to revisit it for a while.

625 North Street

625 North Street

While I was gone, 625 North Street returned to the market. It didn’t sell last year at $3.9 million so they’ve raised the price to $4.385, a peculiar marketing strategy that is often tried and rarely succeeds. For the home of financial whiz-bangs, Greenwich seems to have more than its share of befuddled sellers.

In any event, this is a beautiful, 1795 Federal, updated, within reason, and a great house even with most of its original acreage divested. It still has two acres, and how much do you want to maintain, anyway?

At the right price, this is a wonderful buy. We’ll see what that right price is.


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Off to the Big City

Times Square, 1975

Times Square, 1975

First time in probably 12 years. If I survive, blogging will resume this afternoon.


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Sell solar short

Citi: Solar’s gonna be a winner.

1 Comment

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Well, given the location, I can understand this, but it’s too bad


Law student's special

Law student’s special

Pork take-out business told by its landlord to drop its slogan, “Where your pleasure is hand-pulled”. 

A pork takeaway set to open in a church-owned property next to Canterbury Cathedral has been told to ditch their ‘suggestive’ new slogan.

Pork & Co, which is due to open on Monday serving pulled pork, has been told by the cathedral to scrap the slogan – ‘Your pleasure is hand pulled’.

Takeaway owner Sam Deeson had T-shirts printed for the staff with the slogan emblazoned across it, not realising it would cause offence to church leaders.

Comments Off on Well, given the location, I can understand this, but it’s too bad

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Unionize college football players

Nice handoff - you get an A

Nice handoff – you get an A

It’s a sure bet that they aren’t receiving an education in exchange for risking their bodies. Here’s (another) tale from UNC, but it could just as easily have come from any big-time football program:

An “A-” essay, in its entirety.

On the evening of December Rosa Parks decided that she was going to sit in the white people section on the bus in Montgomery, Alabama. During this time blacks had to give up there seats to whites when more whites got on the bus. Rosa parks refused to give up her seat. Her and the bus driver began to talk and the conversation went like this. “Let me have those front seats” said the driver. She didn’t get up and told the driver that she was tired of giving her seat to white people. “I’m going to have you arrested,” said the driver. “You may do that,” Rosa Parks responded. Two white policemen came in and Rosa Parks asked them “why do you all push us around?” The police officer replied and said “I don’t know, but the law is the law and you’re under arrest.”




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Remember when Pelosi said there “wasn’t a penny left to cut” from the budget? She should have gone postal


I've looked, damn it!

I’ve looked, damn it!

Postal employees use government credit cards for gambling, personal travel, bowling.


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The only way out is divine intervention


My Harvard transcripts? Aw,you shouldn't have - now get rid of them.

My Harvard transcripts? Aw, you shouldn’t have – now get rid of them.

Obama disapproval rating hits a new high of 59%.

Obama spends five hours in prayer with the Pope.

Coincidence? I think not.

1 Comment

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