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Monday, June 11, 2007

 

Calmer Musings

After 83 and 86 (both from the back tees) this past weekend, my disposition has returned to normal and so I can face this chaotic world with a little equanimity (there's a $5 word!).

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Golf aside, the highlight of this weekend was seeing a couple of hundred Long Island high school kids perform a program of classical music at Lincoln Center's Avery Fischer Hall. Last piece on the program was the majestic Ninth Symphony by Beethoven with my daughter in the Chorale. This work is quite a challenge for these students, but after a shaky first movement, the orchestra really got into a groove (sorry for the jazz metaphor) in that incredible second movement. For the fourth movement, assisted by a quartet of professional singers, the Chorale sounded magnificent, made up of four high school chorales and two other student groups. For a parent, it was a very exciting and fulfilling experience, and you could see many of the youngsters were really into it. Of course, for some of the kids, it was more of a "being there" experience, whether it was because they would rather have been hanging out with friends, or that they were simply overwhelmed by the difficulty of the task involved. My daughter claimed to have been mainly "lip synching.;" even if true, I was happy for her that she got to do whatever singing she did on that stage, and will always have that memory.

That got me to thinking about the state of the generation we baby boomers have raised. It's as different from us in the way that they think and pursue their future, as we were from our parents. And it is only fair to say that while we were trying to save the world (and its whales)and having very modest success, too many of us came up short in the area of providing a stable or traditional home for our kids to grow up in. This was such a contrast to our parents generation, where divorces were rare and most homes were very traditional. However, the kids in my daughter's generation have adapted well; there is no assumed family structure and no stigma attached to growing up outside a traditional structure. They are much more open with each other than we were, provide more support for each other, and are much less competitive in general (though the top group still over achieves, like many I saw at the concert). In short, I would expect them to find their way on their own terms, and though their expectations may be different, I believe the world is always improving in so many ways.

Unlike my liberal friends, who worry ceaselessly about environmental imperfections, global warming, poverty and war, and now worry about the seeming lack of awareness in young people, I choose to follow the Reagan path and believe that you have to maintain perspective about where you are coming from, and that we will continue to make progress in all these areas and each generation's world will be better, as long as we allow freedom to flourish and the incentives that are inherent in democratic capitalism to challenge and guide our efforts.

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Tonight, the Senate defeated a "no confidence" vote on Attorney General Gonzales. This was hardly a surprise, since 60 votes would have been needed to pass it. The vote was scheduled merely as a political ploy to embarrass the Republicans, who, at this point, are frankly beyond embarrassment. The irony is that the problem with the firing of the attorneys and other questionable actions by the AG is not that they might have been illegal (a stretch in my opinion) but that they were further evidence (as if more was needed) of the politicization of the AG's office. This was a continuation of the precedent set by the perfectly awful John Mitchell, and then revived by Janet Reno. I'm wondering if, instead of the AG being a cabinet post, perhaps it should be a creature of Congress or the Judiciary. If the AG is going to serve at the pleasure of the President under the current politically polarized climate, we can expect continuing mischief out of that office, no matter how little "confidence" Congress registers in the incumbent.

On another note of administration low jinx, people are wondering how long it will take for President Bush to pardon Scooter Libby. The answer is that will only happen if and when his last appeal fails. For a pardon to be offered and accepted, Libby would be implicitly admitting guilt, and I don't believe either he or the President (or the Vice president) believes he is guilty of anything. So they will tough out the appeals, expecting to win the case before it's all over. If they do not, then the pardon will be done.

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The market recovery on Friday was also a nice mood booster, and even today's sideways action was bracing for those prepared for a Blue Monday. On Friday, I bought 200 shares of PBCT at 19.57, and today bought 100 shares of HZO at 21.23, both for the taxable account. HZO is one of my favorite symbols. The stock is Marine Max, a retailer and servicer of recreational boats.

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