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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

 

Independence Day Edition

It may seem pretty pathetic to be reduced to blogging on July 4, but the rain has moved into the Northeast, cancelling most of the music/fireworks celebrations and even chasing me from my nice backyard patio stereo speakers, so here I am at my computer with WKCR's Louis Armstrong "birthday" celebration playing in the background. Louis always said (and apparently believed) that he was born July 4, 1900 but the records show that he was, in fact, born August 4, 1901. Rather than resolve the ambiguity, WKCR plays "Pops" for 24 hours both on July 4 and August 4. You can hear it and their other fine programming all over the world streaming on the internet on WWW.WKCR.ORG.

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The more I watch the candidacy of Rudy Guiliani, the more convinced I am that he would be both the most capable GOP candidate and its strongest choice in terms of the general election. The question with him has always been how he would do in the primaries, and the liberal media has played that to the hilt (especially reporting his declining GOP poll results without considering that he still does the best of all GOP candidates in head-to-head matchups with the leading Dem contenders). He is the last person the Dems want to run against, believe me. They would much rather take on a social conservative that would drive the independent swing vote into the Dems' camp. Anyway, Rudy's interview in the last WSJ weekend edition was a very clear exposition of his campaign points and his foreign policy views, and pretty convincing in its clarity of vision.

Earlier in Rudy's career, I was not a fan at all. I thought he overreached as a US attorney in his Wall Street cases, and virtually all of the convictions he achieved were overturned on appeal. As Mayor of New York City, Rudy's record was outstanding, but he was a bit heavy handed, polarizing the City along racial lines. Before 9/11, Rudy's tenure as Mayor had outlived his popularity and he never could have been re-elected, nor would he have beaten Hillary Clinton for the Senate had he stayed in that race. His leadership during and after 9/11 restored his reputation and his popularity, especially outside of New York.

2008 will be a difficult election for any Republican candidate, unless things are an awful lot better in Iraq and Afghanistan, or unless the terrorists remind those who have become complacent that they can still be dangerous by means of a successful attack. Let's hope the latter does not happen. If the former occurs, Rudy and McCain will be the beneficiaries, and either one could serve this country quite well and honorably as President.

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The end of the Supreme Court session included a decision concerning school assignments that has the mainstream media in a hysterical uproar, some (for example Newsday) bemoaning the result that Brown v Board of Education has been overturned. Of course this belies their typical approach to Court cases, which is to look at the result instead of actually reading the opinions to see what the Justices actually ruled and why. In fact, Brown was not nearly overturned; I would say it was affirmed. What Brown said was that school assignment could not be determined solely by race, or by factors that de facto were equivalent, and that separate but equal was not an excuse for doing so. In the case of Brown, that disqualified an assignment approach that resulted in racial segregation. In the current case, the Court also said that race should not be the determining factor (though it could be a factor). So the ruling is consistent with Brown. The difference is that this time, the method invalidated was one aimed at an arbitrary quota system (based on whites vs non-whites) aimed at more integration. So the media's quibble is with the result, even though the process is consistent with the Brown ruling.

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As predicted here several posts ago, once Scooter Libby lost his appeal, the President came through with an action to avoid having him spend any time in jail. However, the President used his commutation power rather than the pardon procedure, although a pardon could also be forthcoming later. The difference is really not that great, since in either case, the case's result is left in place. The President could not change that; only a successful appeal could remove Mr. Libby's felony conviction.

Unfortunately, the President's message accompanying the commutation fell well short of the mark. He emphasized the damage that Mr. Libby's conviction has caused to his career and reputation, in effect saying that the jail term was extraneous. Instead, President Bush should have pointed out that the perjury charge should never have been brought since Mr. Libby's misstatements (or lies, if that was what they were) were insignificant and immaterial to the investigation. The investigation was about who leaked Valerie Plame's CIA status. By the time Mr. Libby was interviewed, everyone knew who had leaked the information (Richard Armitage of the State Department) and there was no need to even continue the investigation. The question remains, why didn't the Special prosecutor bring a case against the leaker, instead of the alleged perjurer?

The answer is obvious, though you won't find it in the NY Times. The Special Prosecutor was on a political witch hunt, the object of which was to tie the Plame leak to the Administration and particularly Dick Cheney's office. The State Department was not an object of this investigation since they were never on board with Administration policy. So the facts never fit the aims of the special prosecutor and his cheerleaders in Congress and the media.

So, I am OK with commuting Libby's sentence, though it hardly makes him whole. I am not OK with the President's lame explanation, nor with the VP's silence on the subject. Most of the general public, especially those who lean Democratic, now believe that Libby and Cheney's office have gotten away with the leak and avoided jail time unfairly. In fact, the person who got away with the leak has never been charged, and that is one I can't understand.

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It's in the can! The Bourne Ultimatum, third in the action series starring Matt Damon is set to open August 3rd, and that will mark my return to the movie theatre for the first time since Howard Stern's Private Parts, an eon ago. Previous to that, was Ghost so most of my movie watching has been cable/tape/DVD for an awful long time. The Bourne Supremacy was one of those rare sequels that was actually better than a very good original so I've just got to see part 3.

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We should have noted last month the passing of former Yankee, Athletic and Brave 3rd baseman Clete Boyer, who was one of the best fielders at his position of his or any era and a very dangerous #8 hitter on the great Yankee teams of the early 1960's. As one who always rooted against the Yankees, I had a great appreciation for arguably the best defensive infield ever (Pepitone, Richardson, Kubek and Boyer). Clete would have been a perennial Gold Glove if Brooks Robinson wasn't winning all of them. He was also overshadowed by his older brother Ken, also a good fielder, and a much better hitter on some very good Cardinal teams. Ken's promising managerial career was cut short by his untimely passing. Clete finished his playing career in Japan, then coached in the majors and managed in the minor leagues.

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On Monday, I bought 700 shares of the beaten down FSII for 3.16, hoping for some averaging down magic again. Believe me, it's a long shot in this case. There was some good news last week, when Andrew Corp (ANDW) received a better takeover offer. The market continues to treat us very well in the face of some really serious concerns, and we'll take it.

At least one musings reader has requested a full exposition of the stock picking and trading system that I obliquely refer to from time to time (actually, I don't trade, but that's another story). So I am considering doing so, of course with all the proper disclaimers. So with that teaser, you're just going to have to keep returning here and pushing the visit meter inexorably toward 1000.


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