Okay, I’m back

John’s as well as can be expected, I spent a while in the woods (futilely) chasing turkeys , and I’ve returned to find that nothing’s changed. I’ll catch up on real estate new shortly, but here’s news that should surprise no one: Congress claims exemption from insider stock trading laws. Who says Republicans and Democrats can’t unite when thievery is on the agenda?

In a little-noticed brief filed last summer, lawyers for the House of Representatives claimed that an SEC investigation of congressional insider trading should be blocked on principle, because lawmakers and their staff are constitutionally protected from such inquiries given the nature of their work.

The legal team led by Kerry W. Kircher, who was appointed House General Counsel by Speaker John Boehner in 2011, claimed that the insider trading probe violated the separation of powers between the legislative and executive branch.

In 2012, members of Congress patted themselves on the back for passing the STOCK Act, a bill meant to curb insider trading for lawmakers and their staff. “We all know that Washington is broken and today members of both parties took a big step forward to fix it,” said Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, upon passage of the law.

But as the Securities and Exchange Commission made news with the first major investigation of political insider trading, Congress moved to block the inquiry.

The SEC investigation focused on how Brian Sutter, then a staffer for the House Ways and Means Committee, allegedly passed along information about an upcoming Medicare decision to a lobbyist, who then shared the tip with other firms. Leading hedge funds used the insider tip to trade on health insurance stocks that were affected by the soon-to-be announced Medicare decision.

Calling the SEC’s inquiry a “remarkable fishing expedition for congressional records,” Kircher and his team claimed that the SEC had no business issuing a subpoena to Sutter. “Communications with lobbyists, of course, are a normal and routine part of Committee information-gathering,” the brief continued, arguing that there “is no room for the SEC to inquire into the Committee’s or Mr. Sutter’s purpose or motives.”

Wall Street investors routinely hire specialized “political intelligence” lobbyists in Washington to get insider knowledge of major government decisions so that they may make trades using the information. But little is known about the mechanics of political intelligence lobbying, which falls outside the scope of traditional lobbying law, and therefore does not show up in mandatory lobbying disclosure reports.

There are occasional hints, though.

Personal finance forms reveal that from July of 2011 through May of 2013, David Berteau served as a consultant to Height Analytics, the political intelligence firm at the center of the SEC’s current probe. At the time of his work for Height Analytics, Berteau simultaneously worked as a vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a prominent think tank in Washington. Berteau is now the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Logistics and Materiel Readiness.

Congressional travel forms show that on December 12, 2012, Emily Porter, at the time an employee of Boehner’s office, traveled to New York on a sponsored trip to meet with JNK Securities for a group lunch with business clients. According to the Wall Street Journal, JNK “has emerged as one of the most aggressive” political intelligence firms on Capitol Hill.

This is hardly the first time Congress has moved to undermine its own ethics rules. In 2011, congressional Republicans quickly abandoned their promise to post the text of bills online “for at least three days” before

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89 responses to “Okay, I’m back

  1. Cobra

    Welcome back. You were missed.

  2. Hey jerkhead, leaving us dangling presuming the worst is really cruel. Go turkey shooting, by all means, but when YOU know that WE know that John’s health is “as well as can be expected”, a simple one-liner, gone huntin’ would have helped some of us from near apoplexy. Sheesh pal.

  3. t

    can anybody recco a service to plan a maple or birch tree in Old Greenwich? And somebody to come in and turn the water on back to sprinklers? New to area, need to embrace spring. Just cut down a fifty year old maple. It died. I’ve got a place for one.

    • WichNative

      I’ve used Shane Wilson and crew from Greenwich Landscapes (203-223-4419) for over 10 years for everything (trees, masonry, maintenance)… great work, good guys and reasonably priced (for Greenwich standards that is)

    • hmmm

      Just turn the water on and set your timer. It’s pretty easy

      • Anonymous

        Yes, you need someone to turn off your sprinklers since you have to get the air out of the hoses, but turning them on is as easy as turning on your water and plugging in your system and setting the timers. Run each station once and make sure each sprinkler head is working. Pretty easy.

  4. Anonymous

    Spring market is toast. Record number of homes for sale in all areas of Greenwich. Seems that a tsunami of folks want to cash out before the inevitable popping of fed/central bank induced bubbles.

  5. P

    Welcome back. Did you run into any would-be presidential candidates among your feathered friends?

  6. Cos Cobber

    Welcome Back…

    Washington can’t live under the rules they have passed for the rest of us. Its that simple. What an embarrassment.

  7. Walt

    Dude –

    TURKEYS MY ASS!!

    You went to Phuket, now didn’t you? WITHOUT ME!! Went in for a quick drop and pop? Get a quick gonad squeeze? YES YOU DID!! I KNOW IT!! Then fly back home? Pretend you went hunting? You did hurry up bang bang with a Mao Mao, NOW DIDN’T YOU!!

    I know your routine, YOU FRIGGING PERVERT!! Did you hook up with your favorite little LBFM? Mei Luv Tai Ne Dik? Was Hu Flung Dung there? How about Yu Suk Kok? I miss those slanty eyed little stud muffins. The best thing is you could Phuk yourself to death in Phuket for like $100. Good thing you have never made that much. Why is this country so over priced Dude?

    Anyhows. Glad to know John is OK. Even though I am the eternal optimist, I must admit I was worried by your silence. If I knew you were with Ai Bang Dip Shits, I wouldn’t have been worried. Glad you are back.

    Did you pick me up any hash while you were there? Or were you just obsessed with satisfying your tiny little zipper weasel? You frigging loser.

    Your Pal.
    Walt

  8. Walt

    Dude –

    And today is VE Day. Don’t you think that deserves a post? YOU FACIST!!

    Our Victory against England – that is what VE stands for Dude, but they left out the A – I don’t really know why -was one of our finest moments. As a people, we were at our best at that time, I think.

    Although I am not sure if we were enslaving Negro’s that far back. And we didn’t yet fight a Civil War, where we really tried to kill each other. Anyhows, VE is a very special day.

    And it was miraculous times. The Founding Fathers got us away from those tea drinking, crumpet eating, ascot wearing British fairies, and launched a new Nation. How cool was that?

    They did away with King’s Rule, and elected Benjamin Franklin as our first President. They realized women were not smart enough to vote, that law should be determined at the local level, and that the Federal Government is just here to protect our borders and our populace.

    Where did we lose our way on these fundamental, undeniable principles?

    Your Pal,
    Walt

    • anonymous

      Crapweasel Ø sends Susan Rice to speak to the WWII vets while he flies to North Dakota to pander. He’s such a sh**head.

  9. Libertarian Advocate

    SCoaMF for Stuttering Clusterfuck of a Miserable Failure, and he IS one.

  10. housecat

    Relieved to hear that things are well, relatively-speaking.

  11. Riverside Dog Walker

    http://president.williams.edu/letters-from-the-president/announcement-regarding-the-vice-president-for-institutional-diversity-and-equity-2/

    Alas, Williams College seems determined to follow the path of Wesleyan and Smith. The petite Accolays may have to look elsewhere.

    • anonymous

      Such crap. Diversity for diversity sake is crap. Hiring a diversity dean is so over the top wrong I don’t have enough crap synonyms for it.

      The line of her bio that says it all:
      …..and is often quoted in national media.

      • Riverside Dog Walker

        I sent this email to Adam Falk, President of Williams College. Still awaiting a reply. Incorporated some of the things I learned reading this blog.
        ——————————————————————————————-
        Dear Mr. Falk,

        My reaction to this recent announcement is ARE YOU SHITTING ME? Firstly, let me say that my sincere desire is for EVERYONE in this country to be successful. You may recall or have read that a long time ago, this country stood for opportunity for an individual based on merit and hard work. People came to this country for this opportunity to succeed on their own merits, and not to be judged based on the social class to which they were born, or their religious beliefs. They were willing to endure many hardships for an unknown outcome because they thought the risk was worth the potential reward, not only for themselves, but for their children and their children’s children.

        Somewhere along the line, we have lost our way. People have become entitled to things they did not earn or achieve. It is fashionable to be a victim whereas this used to be seen as an unfortunate occurrence. Outcomes aren’t your fault, it is the fault of the system. Therefore, we must make decisions not based on merit, but on such principles as ‘diversity’ and ‘equity.’ Please explain to me how and where this has EVER worked in the long run? It is an illusion.

        I think I can tell you a few things about creating one’s own opportunities through hard work. I implore you to NOT preside over the decline of a fine institution, nor to devalue the currency of a Williams diploma through the misguided pursuit of political correctness. I can tell you in the business world my colleagues and I could care less about the color of an employee’s skin or their sexual orientation, if they can contribute to the goals of the organization. I can also tell you that a degree from formerly respected institutions such as Wesleyan and Smith is now held in disdain. Do not go down this path. You will suffer the same fate. It is a global economy and there are more than enough hungry, smart, driven, people willing to compete for opportunities. Do not teach your students that the way forward is through anything other than hard work and merit.

        • I am standing up applauding. That’s one incredibly awesome and perfectly worded letter. I wish you would publish it nationwide somehow. Or in the Williams alum pages. Bravo. Bravo.

        • Peg

          Applause from me, too.

          Many of the parents of my childhood friends were either immigrants escaping the Nazis or first generation born here. They began life with nothing. Seeing them work a full time job, then go to school at night was not uncommon.

          Their material goods were most modest, both because there wasn’t that much with which to acquire them, and because they knew the value of saving what little they did have and investing it.

          More than a few of that generation built businesses, got professional degrees – they eventually did achieve a certain level of financial worth.

          Where on EARTH did we get this notion that all young people should be mandated into earning a “livable wage”? Why do we think that everyone should live in a lifestyle that they see in TV sitcoms or movies?

          People who think like Falk are absolutely DESTROYING what made our nation – and our people – great.

          As my ancestors would say “Oy vey.”

        • Cos Cobber

          Bravo

        • anonymous

          This video from Oberlin is hysterical.
          From Weasel Zippers:
          Some college feminists couldn’t take the visit of Christina Hoff Sommers to Oberlin. Seems her just being there ‘triggered’ them into a panicked state and needed to be stopped.
          So these folks who are not the really the Oberlin College choir made this terrific song. Enjoy!

  12. Mike

    Welcome back

  13. Accolay

    Glad all is well. We missed you!

  14. OT- Whats up with the Bershire Hathaway sign “You’re almost home” tied up on the Riverside Ave train bridge? Beyond tacky!!!!! Is this the new billboard? Looks horrible!

    • R and B

      I think she put it up for the Riverside Run…almost home i.e., almost to the finish line. Tacky, yes I agree. But I’m thinking it was just for the Run, and now it’s coming down. Not even sure it’s allowed?

  15. Walt

    Dude –

    Are you takin a huatis…a hawatis…are you taking a break from blogging? That would be totally understandable. I know you have a lot on your mind, and also a mind capable of handling very little.

    SO TAKE A BREAK!! Go kill something!! Go back to Phukit!! Just send me the admin credentials, and I will keep this place humming!! I can probably guess them. Dork123? Tinypenisboy69? Myfartssmellnice?

    Ayhows, I will change the format. The first thing to go is the mast head. We replace that with pictures of hot nude Japs. Who doesn’t like that? NO ONE!!

    And I want to go to an interview format. I think the reader would like that. First up? GAR EVIL PRINCESS!! I want to know if she goes commando, is bushy or bald…I bet bald, BTW, and ask if she realizes she is an obsolete dinosaur. Who no one likes. Then I would try and bang her. But that goes without saying.

    Then I would like to interview Francis. No – really. I know he has the personality of a toad, and looks like Nathan Lane, but I have serious questions for him. I would like to know if his commie belief system is tied to the fact that he was molested by a Priest as a child. Does he feel guilty stealing from the poor and illiterate via the lottery? Does he understand Liberal ideology has destroyed every city under its rule? Can he cut me in on some of his kickbacks?

    And then Bob Horton. He somehow makes a living as a writer for a newspaper that no one reads!! He has the dream gig!!

    And I will do a “Man on the Street” video postings. Where I ask random questions of people on Greenwich Avenue. I think I will start with this one. Hotties only.

    When should I start?
    Your Pal,
    Walt

  16. in case anyone is bored, here’s how you get a crashed plane out of Antartica:

  17. Toonces

    Bravo RDW. Let us know if you get a response from the school. Chris, hope you’re doing OK and wishing Pal Nancy a belated happy Mother’s Day. She’s a great mom!

  18. Mickster

    Heard an interesting diversity story recently. States, cities and municipalities with pension funds invested are obliged (encouraged?) to invest in a certain % of funds run by minorities. A well-known black NYC HFund with a really mediocre track record just got $300million investment. How would you imagine a first responder would feel if he knew that his pension money is tied up with a fund that has lousy returns just because the owner is black? Crazy time.

    • About as crazy as the black Maryland AG appearing on stage with Prince at his No Justice No Peace concert for Freddie Gray. There goes HER objectivity (not that there was any to begin with).

      About as crazy as Michelle Obama addressing the graduates of Tuskegee warning them to brace for age old racism and how hard the road will be for ‘people like you and me’, despite some of the best and brightest minds coming out of Tuskegee. For Michelle, it’s always about HER and what the press feels about HER and how that translates to new graduates.

      About as crazy as two police officers killed in Mississippi by FOUR black yutes and there’s no cry for justice there.

      Young blacks have some of the worst role models today (Sharpton and The Obama’s), all telling them the entirely wrong message about succeeding in life. It’s such a shame they keep falling for it.

      • Maitre d'Oyer et Terminer

        Which is why many compare the modern Democrat Party to the Plantation of the 1800s. The Al’s and Jesse’s being modern trustees for a mulatto Overseer, all of them operating F/B/O Massahs Soros, Dimon et al.

      • there will be no peace if the definition of justice is a moving target

        • Babylon Sister

          So, using big impressive words, she’s calling black people stupid and weak. What a shallow bigot she is. Just another ignorant mouthpiece for the leftists who exploit their shared audience to keep uninformed people pulling levers at the polls.

          I’m saddened by this emerging perpetuation of the victim narrative harping “black exceptionalism”. Since when are blacks the only people in the history of the world to have been exploited, tortured, and murdered at the hands of Godless tyrants? 6 millions Jews were killed in the Holocaust. Estimates of the numbers Stalin systematically slaughtered typically range from 60-90 million, mostly of whom were white. But who cares?

          Honey, call me. I’ll buy you a one-way ticket to Havana so you can enjoy what *true* equality feels like… as long as you promise to stay there.

  19. NewToTown

    What neighborhoods in Greenwich would a black family fit in best?

  20. Cos Cobber

    I was asked to seriously entertain this question for a real friend of a friend who was genuinely seeking the same advice (it wasn’t a set up – it was an honest question) and after a couple seconds of thought, I concluded that there was no right answer. Like all of us of various colors, the right neighborhood or right town requires a vastly broader set of questions such as lifestyle, economics, commuting needs, housing style, etc. There is no answer for a race based housing choice question.

    • CC: It’s often not about color even.

      My mother told me that when they first moved to Wilmington from Niagara Falls in 1953, my dad, a young but up and coming exec at duPont, they shopped for houses in one of the oldest neighborhoods. Their broker told them not to bother, that the established old money neighbors wouldn’t want someone Italian next door. My parents fought much stereotyping of their heritage, although both were born in America, both college educated, a waspy town can be very difficult to newcomers, especially not their own kind. At some point early on, my dad even considered changing his name, but thankfully he did not. He prevailed, was very successful, they felt some rejection yet chose to rise above it. I’ve said this here before but when my sister and I married, we both got new very waspy last names. My dad, half jokingly, said we crossed over and when I tell someone, proudly, that my grandparents came as dirt poor immigrants from Italy, I get “YOU ARE ITALIAN? You don’t look it!”. 🙂 Epilation works wonders on mustaches! 🙂

      • Happy in Riverside

        EOSR,
        My parents came from Italy ! Worked hard and made millions ! Raised families and have successful children, and many grandchildren! Many Italians in Greenwich have a similar story! Italian people have a great work ethic , family oriented , fun and pray to God a lot ! God Bless the Italians and anyone who is smart and lucky enough to married to one!!!!

        • Hey, goombah! Love your story and agree about the work ethic. if you haven’t seen it, find and watch the PBS series Italian Americans. Maria Bartiromo brilliantly hosts one segment about her roots.

          Ci vediamo!!

    • Anonymous

      It is an interesting question. Over the years Greenwich has become more diverse in terms of religion, a large Jewish community here, and a very popular place for all sorts of ex pats. However very few UMC African American families chose to live here. Not sure of the reasons.

  21. Anonymous

    Greenwich HS ranked #14 in CT by U.S. News & World Report.

    http://www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schools/connecticut/rankings?int=c0b4c1

    Darien HS #8
    New Canaan #15

    • housecat

      Dare you to move to East Hartford! US news uses one rather odd criterion in calculating a school’s ranking, which seems to skew the results quite a bit (see the second column).

    • Cos Cobber

      Seems like a decent result considering we are much larger, have 25% of our population in private schools, are 28% minority and 14% as poor. We should be in the top ten, but its not a terrible position. We are a town of 62k, not sub 30k like all the other suburban comps (with the Town of Fairfield a notable exception with 60k)

      • Toonces

        Toonces AKA GPS cheerleader chimes in: GHS just today announces that one teen has been named to the “US New and World Report Next Generation of STEM leaders” (Peter Russell) and one teen is going to the Math Olympics (Michael Kural). Some fabulous teachers no doubt in all school districts in CT but criteria are really arbitrary as Housecat notes. Nice actually to see schools in Hartford and New Haven doing so well.

      • Anonymous

        Well put Cobber. Clearly GHS is going to have a lower median result compared to Darien and New Canaan. However at the top end I am sure the opportunities to succeed are similar in all the schools. I think GHS college placement and science awards illustrate that well.

      • anonymous

        CC: today Øbama chided people who send their children to private school and who work out at private clubs, lamenting that they are separating themselves from the public.

        May I just say HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA.

        This from a man who sends his children to private school and doesn’t exactly work out at Gold’s Gym.

        HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA.

        • Cos Cobber

          Obama still gladly accepts hefty donations contributed by the private school/private club crowd. Anyone seen George Soros at the Griff this year?

        • Toonces

          Anonymous @ 3:11pm – of course. Just more “do as I say, not as I do”. Goes along with the “congress not subject to harassment laws, or securities laws or obamacare”.

        • anonymous

          Toonces: he’s getting some comeuppance today. Senate DEMOCRATS block the fast track trade agreement bill.

          May I just say HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA.

        • housecat

          This from a man who *attended* private school, anon. If he’d been sent to the local public school in HI, he’d still be there now.

          • Toonces

            sorry to nit pick housecat – you know I love you but… A. the public school in HI might have been as good as the private school (as they are here) and B. the people who pushed him to candidacy would still have done so. Note I didn’t specify who “the people” are. That will come out eventually. Now I am sounding like AJ. I find it so interesting that they are punishing charter schools, one of the real hopes for improving public schools, while sending their precious kids to Sidwell Friends.

        • housecat

          I would normally agree with you, T. But in this case, the public schools in the state of HI are terrible. (I’m from there.) Growng up, the federal Bd of Ed gave the entire system a D grade every year. There were more private schools per capita in the state than anywhere else. There were two very good schools (Punahou, Iolani), a bunch of decent schools (ie, HSG, Hanahouoli), and a lot of mediocre ones. It’s not like the mainland, where local property taxes fund neighborhood/local schools. The money is doled out by the state, allegedly on an equal basis, so that the poorer districts don’t get shafted/richer districts aren’t funded better. In practice, this hasn’t worked out very well. There were schools that were safer to go to than others – as in, you’d be somewhat less likely to get your ass kicked by the “locals” if you were “haole” (white) – but the quality of education wasn’t so hot. I wish this wasn’t the case, because it means that the smart kids whose parents can’t fork over the $$ for private school get totally screwed. There are plenty of endemically smart people in hawaii who’ve been shafted by the public education system. (The entire state government is a textbook example of how not to govern.)

          • Toonces

            Thanks hc – I didn’t realize Hawaii had such terrible public schools.
            How cool to be from Hawaii though 🙂

        • GreenITCH

          Not sure it matters where Obama went to school as much as when he has had the ability to choose he sent kids to private school .. often the case with the liberal elites , espousing the virtues of public schools then opting for private education for their children . Rahm Emmanuel no different

        • housecat

          Itch: I get what you’re saying. Just sending his kids to Sidwell while chastising other private school parents for forgoing public ed is hypocritical enough. But I do think it bears mentioning that O is himself a product of private education, and had his mother/grandparents sent him to Roosevelt HS vs Punahou, he almost certainly wouldn’t have gotten to where he is now. (Yes, I realize Affirmative Action likely played a role in college admissions, but however misguided (arrogant, etc etc) he is, he’s not stupid.) There’s a reason few people other than the occasional pop star or football player make it out of HI, and when they do, they nearly always went to one of the better private schools. He knows this. It just makes it worse.

  22. Analyst

    Per their website, these rankings are pulled from the ’12-’13 school year. I would not be surprised to see GHS climb higher next year when the Class of ’14 data is used. That was a very strong academic class! And based on Toonces’ info, sounds like the upward trajectory will continue.

    • Mickster

      I would have lived to see another column: $pend per pupil. My guess we would be #1. Just a guess.

  23. Anon2

    I’m presuming Chris is needing time away from FWIW and we aren’t entitled to know the why of this extended absence, except if he is down enough that we could rally someway to help. If he’d rather deal alone, perhaps Gideon can comment here to say just that. Stress and worry are a deadly combo and depression can easily set in so dealing alone can be unhealthy too. Mickster, you must know how to get to FF or Gideon, or Chris himself.

    • Mickster

      Yes, I do but I myself find John’s condition difficult to deal with – I have kids the same age and would have ‘real issues’ trying to cope. CF has my number if he needs to chat. Don’t want to poke my nose in where it may not be wanted…
      I’m almost around the corner from CF.

      • Anon2

        Valid point except if he’s dealing with depression. Knowing firsthand how debilitating it can be and how sufferers cloister, reaching out would be how I’d phrase it. Not sticking your nose into where it’s not wanted. There’s a big difference.

  24. Cos Cobber

    Anon2, good point – it would be nice if Gids and others who have regular in person contact could verify his whereabouts to us on the board at least daily.

    On the real estate front not too much to report from what I see.

    7 Osee Place in Cos Cob closed today at 1,475M which I think was full asking price for this little prewar bungalow.
    7 Relay Place in Cos Cob- about as tidy as a little cottage can be – is now under contract. List at 819k.

    Back on 5/8/15 38 Bramble sold for $3,757,500.

  25. Walt

    There is no silver bullet on how we all cope with grief. We all do it differently.

    Some like to be around groups of people, and cry and hug, and others like solace, and others like to just be left alone for a while. No manner of dealing with life’s hardships is necessarily better than the other. It’s a very personal thing. We all do it differently. And we should all respect that.

    But no one, when grieving, or hurting, or feeling down, no matter how they choose to deal with it, which we should all respect, want’s their friends to call them names. Put further burden on them, than they already have, when they are already burdened enough. You may not be the most important thing on his mind right now. SURPRISE!! And I would hope you are all smart enough, and not so Greenwich self-entitled enough, to understand that.

    So give him some space. I think it’s the human thing to do.

    • Anon2

      Let me be perfectly clear, I am not advocating to be in his face. I’m not suggesting he needs to worry about us. I agree that space is a good thing but only only only if his need to be alone is not clouded by depression. I’ve suffered bouts of deep depression in my life and there’s a huge difference between it and grief. Grief does take many forms. Depression takes one. That’s the only reason I’m asking one of his friends to check in on him.

    • Mickster

      Point taken.