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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

 

Odds and Ends

Having spent the weekend in the City attending an association meeting, I can safely report that Gotham is not only the Jazz Capital of the world, but also has replaced New Orleans as the drinking capital. The hotel bars may close early at 2 AM, but the bulk of the watering holes go full bore until 4. Sadly, I must confess to being an eyewitness. As for the music, we enjoyed a spectacular trio at Birdland (Michele LeGrand a youthful 75, Lou Nash on drums and the great Ron Carter on bass, perhaps the best in the world). It was a truly memorable set. The next night, in the fabulous Kitano Hotel bar, we heard a very fine quartet led by veteran pianist Don Friedman. Finally, one of the law firms was nice enough to invite hundreds of the attendees to the beautiful Rainbow Room, complete with a 20+ piece swing big band.

It doesn't get any better than that, believe me.

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I guess faithful blog readers are waiting for me to weigh in on Scooter Libby and whether or not he should receive a Presidential Pardon. I don't have very strong feelings about that, since I expect the verdict to be overturned on appeal anyway. The grounds for appeal will be that the judge incorrectly disqualified expert testimony on how the human memory functions, which would not only cast reasonable doubt about the alleged perjury, but also about what other witnesses said was the truth in the first place. So Scooter is unlikely to serve any jail time anyway, and since acceptance of a pardon implies guilt, he would probably prefer to wait for his appeal to be completed first anyway.

This is not to say that I am convinced Libby is innocent of perjury. He may well have lied to protect Cheney and Rove. However, he clearly was innocent of being the leaker/outer of Valerie Plame, which was supposed to be the subject of the special prosecutor's investigation in the first place. Of course, that whole wild goose chase was unnecessary since Richard Armitage, the under-secretary of state, had already admitted to being the outer. Not that there was anything much to out - Ms. Plame was hardly under cover nor on any kind of assignment requiring secrecy. In fact, she has shown herself to be a quite adept publicity hound.

In fact the whole investigation was a colossal waste of taxpayer money and proof again (as if we needed it) of the utter stupidity of the independent counsel law. Long after Fitzgerald should have closed up shop, he was putting a secondary figure through a perjury trial, knowing he was not the real perpetrator, and in fact, ignored the person known to be the perpetrator of what was, in fact, a non-crime. Only in America.

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The other laugh of the week has been the shock of the Senate Democrats and the liberal media concerning the firing of the 8 U.S. attorneys, which, of course is the administration's choice, though why it would exercise that prerogative at this point in its tenure is yet another testament to the mindlessness of recent White House decisions. Apparently, the Democrats have forgotten that one of the first things the Clinton's did on attaining the White House was to fire all of the sitting attorneys. Of course, the Conservative Press, especially my buddies at the WSJ, spent 8 years in agitated apoplexy over those firings. All in all, there is enough self righteous and hypocritical nonsense coming from both sides here.
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Another tank job by the market today, as it moves toward a test of the low set the week before last. I hate when it happens on Tuesday. Big Monday moves are often reversed the rest of the week, but Tuesday tends to be a day that defines the trend for the week. This market is really spooked because the excesses of the mortgage loan players is being reversed and the landing is not a soft one. A lot of these players are going down, I'm afraid, and its also going to pin big red numbers on their banker friends, like UBS, and the hedge funds that think they're so smart. These were the characters buying these horrible loans from the originators and relying on repo clauses that will not now be performed. Besides the ridiculous elimination of any loan standards by some of these mortgage brokers, there also appears to have been a fair amount of fraud involved in obtaining and repackaging these mortgages.

It was also a bad sign when the reflex rally last week was so unenthusiastic. We're in a down trend for sure, but it may still be only a correction not the beginning of a bear market. And of course, I'm not making predictions, just letting the market tell me what to do, and hoping to keep enough cash around to pay the bills and keep the lights on. Good thing it's DST.

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I don't watch enough college b-ball games to really dope out the tournament, but I know that Florida has as good a chance to repeat as any team should expect in this 65 team format. It's tough for teams like Syracuse, that play a murderous Big East schedule, to have as good a record as they had and not even get in, but any team that close to the bubble is probably not a threat to go anywhere anyway. You also have to wonder about a team like Alabama that starts the season in the top 10 and earns a ticket to the NIT.
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On 3/7, I bought 50 shares of SF, a new name, for my IRA at 42.35. Today, I bought 100 shares of ADPI at 20.31 for the taxable account.

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