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Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Sopranos and other Myths

First of all, let's clear up this Soprano's thing right away. Chase must be wondering just how stupid his viewers can be that they actually thought the ending was ambiguous. Tony is dead. In one of his typically moronic (i.e.hilarious) Malaprop filled conversations in a past episode, he had espoused the (apparently correct) theory that when you get whacked, you just cut to black, nothing else. And that's what the screen did at the end. Meadow's Keystone Cops parking imitation (how did she ever pass her road test?) delays her entrance to the diner, causing Tony to look up as the bell attached to the door signals her entrance (it tolls for thee) and the screen goes dark. Chase gets his last laugh by confounding all who had tried to predict the final episode closing theme by playing...nothing. The credits roll silently, leaving the viewer to wonder just who had executed Tony. The leading candidate seems to be the stranger who had just gone to the bathroom - a possible recall of the Godfather scene where Michael fetches the gun from the bathroom and eliminates The Turk. The other possibility, apparently not considered by many (any?) viewers is that Meadow does the deed! Motive? Her concern for her brother's welfare given their manipulative father. I agree it may seem far-fetched but it would seem to be the only other possibility. Why was she so nervous and flustered getting her car parked and running to the diner?


There is a growing consensus that if a Democrat wins the Presidency in 2008, as now seems likely, we will have a new approach to health insurance, perhaps one extending a Medicare like program to everyone. While the employer provided paradigm we now have is certainly flawed, I hope that we will move carefully before the government takes over one-sixth of the economy. For all its flaws, our system provides the best care anywhere, with little or no rationing of care. There is too much friction in the system and significant other flaws, but as we have seen in prior blog entries, we have a much bigger problem with our inability and unwillingness to pay for Medicare/Medicaid. Should we extend that system's bankruptcy to the whole system? I would rather first give these new programs being tested on the state level a chance to work or fail, but it looks like the politicians are ready to throw up their hands. If you think that a British style National Health Service will be an improvement, try watching Prime Minister's Question Time on C-SPAN sometime and listen to the almost weekly belly aching about the performance of their program.


The Presidential race is getting fairly complicated early. It now looks like Mayor Bloomberg, who is dropping his (nominal) Republican party affiliation, may make an independent run, and does anyone really know which major party he will take more votes from? Is Fred Thompson the real GOP front runner? The Dems hope so, since their worst nightmare is a run against Guiliani, who is very popular in the heartland. That's why you see the media being so negative on him (Newsday took him to task in a NEWS STORY, not a column, for quitting the Iraq Commission, supposedly to make lucrative speaking engagements). As I listen to my liberal friends repeat the mythologies of the left wing propagandists, I am forced to wonder how they will deal with all of the wild possibilities that may yet come up in the next 16 months or so. What if the Iraq surge works? What if the Middle East really blows up in Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, who knows where else? Where will Iran and North Korea be with their nuke programs next year? Will there be an immigration bill and who will get the credit/blame. What if the Dems deadlock in convention and Richardson emerges as the candidate, as has been considered a possible scenario here before?

Instead of dealing with the world's real issues, you get the usual catechism - Bush is stupid, Cheney pulls the strings (how would anyone not in the administration have any idea), Iraq was about oil or revenge, and the weapons excuse was a lie, not mistaken intelligence. Barack is very smart (maybe, but where's the evidence?), intelligence determines Presidential ability (if that's the case why did Nixon and Carter fail while Kennedy and Reagan succeeded?), global warming is real and is the most critical crisis we face (how would they know?), and oh yes, their favorite, Gore really won in 2000 (the next Florida recount he wins will be the first). So unfortunately, I have little hope that this election will be accompanied by meaningful discussion about the many important issues, even in the country's barrooms where you are most likely to hear debate that makes sense.


Much better to deal with stocks, where your report card is totally objective and you are graded five days a week. On 6/13, I bought 50 shares of EXPD as 41.98 for the taxable account, then watched my portfolio get straight "A's" for the balance of the week (I assume yours did too). Yesterday, I sold another 200 shares from the CNRD stash (taxable) at 12.65. These were still part of the 11/2/04 purchase at the bargain price of 1.95.

I love just about everything in the WSJ, as musings readers know, but the left hand column on page C1, usually written by Justin Lahart and Scott Patterson usually just makes me laugh. They have the difficult job of presenting both sides of any argument, but that often leads to silly conclusions. For example, they speculated that the market must crack because the housing numbers are so bad, i.e down so much. But they are down from the bubble and that comparison makes little sense if you believe the bubble dynamics were divorced from reality. Better to compare today's numbers with pre-bubble housing starts and sales. They may be bad, but in that light, they are not really frightening. It's similar to comparing today's NASDAQ to the bubble peak and lamenting that we can't approach that high. Well, we all "knew" that the index made no sense at 5000 then, and it wouldn't now either. Small stocks have done great and might need a little breather, not a race to a new high. If the index gains 10% per year (not counting dividends) which would be a nice performance, it will take almost ten years to make a new high.



Delete your bullshit mainstream media bookmarks.

Who wants corporate coordinated "blackouts" on real news?
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