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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

 

Musings On a Cool May

The global warming crowd should be made to explain another raw and wet spring in NY. Somehow, I got two rounds of golf in over the weekend, including a rare and young 78 on Saturday, but we still haven't broken out the short pants. And forget about early evenings out on the patio with my jazz music and a martini. Presumably, the warm weather will come from out of nowhere, skipping spring weather entirely. But for now...yecch. We spent Mother's Day on my cousin's patio, shivering, and the same for last Saturday at my in-law's Communion party.

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It's not baseball weather, but for those of us who are mainly TV fans, and Mets fans, we certainly enjoyed the Mets breezing to two wins at hallowed Yankee Stadium over the weekend. For all the flak Willie Randolph is taking (exacerbated by his own paranoia), I wonder how much patience Yankee fans will have with Joe Girardi, whose injury plagued team is performing miserably. Maybe my friends who are Yankee fans will finally admit that Joe Torre was not part of the problem over there, if they really had a problem. Remember, in baseball, the playoffs are a lottery - it's getting to the playoffs that determines a team's success over the long season, and Joe got them there last year despite a team with lots of deficiencies.

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I haven't watched a pro basketball game in its entirety in a long time, but have to admit I could not take my eyes off Celtics - Cavaliers Sunday, basically because of the unbelievable performances of Paul Pierce and especially Lebron James who just did EVERYTHING. He is that rare superstar player who exceeds the hype. I don't know if the Celts will have much left for Detroit after that series.

Speaking of living up to the hype, if you saw Big Brown turn on the jets in the home stretch to demolish the Preakness field, you had to be impressed. This may be a mediocre group of three year olds he is slaughtering, but he is so much the best, not that much different from the way Secretariat manhandled the Triple Crown races. If he is sound for the Belmont, it may be a walkover.

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I think it's interesting that Al Gore is withholding his endorsement for either Obama or Clinton, and my presumption continues to be that he wants to leave open the possibility that a deadlocked convention will turn to him. Though the Obama people think it's a lock for them, I can't see it. Since when does the presumptive candidate get so badly beaten as Obama has in West Virginia and now Kentucky? The fact is that the super delegates are not bound to support the "popular vote winner" (whatever that is) or the "committed delegate leader" and in fact, the nomination may be in their hands. If enough stay uncommitted right to the convention, neither candidate will have a first ballot majority. That leaves open the possibility for the McCain nightmare, a race against someone else (presumably Gore).

My belief is that the Hillary candidacy is hopelessly compromised by her gaffes and her husband's arrogance, etc., etc. As for Obama, when it's him alone against McCain, the public will quickly tire of his meaningless platitudes and simple-minded "solutions" that are really non-solutions. Smart professionals among the Dems know that the strong possibility exists that Obama will turn into another Dukakis in the general election, and they sure don't want to relive that. Given the slightest excuse, they will look for a third option.

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So Ted Kennedy has a serious illness and now he will be the beneficiary of the health system he has tried so hard to upend all these years, another of the world's classic ironies. If any system can prolong his life and keep him in a productive state, it is the health professionals in the United States. Of course, Mr. Kennedy will have no problem paying since he enjoys Congressional insurance and is a multi-millionaire. But the fact is that our hospitals and doctors provide services for people who can't pay every day, and though they may have more limited choices than the Senator, the care they receive is generally at a very high level.

Of course, for that, we can in part thank the Senator who has done more to preserve Great Society health care programs than anyone else. It's interesting that while JFK was a President, (and one with a burgeoning reputation as viewed by historians), and RFK almost certainly would have been President, the brother who could not be President (because of various scandals) arguably accomplished more than either during a blessedly long Senatorial career. It is because of his record and legacy, not his personal popularity or "charisma," that Americans of all political stripes today are sad to learn of the medical challenges he now faces.

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On 5/12, I tried to buy a thousand shares of CardioDynamics (CDICD) with a limit order, which made sense in a lightly traded stock with a wide bid/ask. In fact, I was only able to obtain 300 for my IRA with that day order, at 2.00. This is the down side of limit orders, but the upside is that if it were a market order, it would have been executed at something like 2.20 or more. On Wednesday, I sold 100 shares of AXYS out of my IRA at 57.40 (purchased 5/1/06 at 16.80). On Friday, an extra trade because we have reached the next level of portfolio value (a level we haven't been able to hold for very long before), I bought another 6 shares of Alleghany Corp. (Y) for my IRA. Finally, yesterday, I sold 100 shares of Devon (DVN) for 121.70 (purchased 11/19/01 at 16.725 - split adjusted). We still have 200 shares left, and of course the stock has gone even higher since yesterday.

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