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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

 

Post Memorial Day Musings

Believe it or not, Memorial Day started as a day of remembrance honoring those who served in the military and sacrificed for the country, not as a day for a bar-be-cue. I wonder how many gave any thought yesterday to the young men and women serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, Korea and elsewhere, protecting our freedoms and advancing our nation's legitimate interests. The military today, of course, does more than fight wars and patrol areas under threat. They also provide aid when calamity strikes our friends around the world, and help rebuild communities as they are doing in Iraq (and have done since the main fighting ended). Today, the military released the information that violence in Iraq in the last month had reached its lowest ebb since the war began. Probably won't see that on the network news, PBS, or hear it on NPR though. The last thing the liberal media wants you to know is that the surge suggested by Senator McCain has been wildly successful, and that the end of the fighting might be within sight. Still there is much to do in Iraq and, of course in Afghanistan. And let's keep in mind that although Al Queda has suffered major reversals in a number of theatres, it is far from finished.

Of course, an Obama victory will likely reverse much of this success. Are we that stupid? Well, if Jimmy Carter could be elected, anything's possible.

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Joe Lieberman's recent WSJ op ed about Democrats And Our Enemies got a lot of notice in these parts. One wonders how long the nominally Independent Lieberman and the Dems can co-exist. At some point, perhaps in January, it will make sense for him to cross the aisle and become a Republican officially. Musings will certainly welcome him to the fold when that happens.

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The liberal media loves the idea that Libertarian candidate Rob Barr might siphon votes in key states from McCain, and look for them to provide him plenty of free coverage to help him out. But if the race is close as I expect, there will be very few Republicans defecting to Barr. Conservatives hate to waste their votes.

I did vote for Harry Browne when he ran as a Libertarian in 1996 when it was clear that Bob Dole had no chance in NY (or most other places) against Bill Clinton. There was no chance my vote would matter. This race figures to be quite different.

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Why do the Mets keep losing? A lot of folks around here have been pointing the finger at Willie Randolph, and the manager is always part of it. He sets the tone, and like any manager, the right combination of discipline and inspiration drives better performance. But there are lots of other reasons. Here's a partial list: Carlos Delgado has about had it, although he seems to have finally figured out that he will do better hitting it the other way at this stage of his career. Castillo is also shot - bad knees. His bat has no pop of course, at a time when there are a lot of strong hitters playing second base. Schneider looks to be a very mediocre catcher at best, both offensively and defensively. Both Reyes and Wright are playing below par - especially defensively. One wonders whether they are being pushed hard enough by Willie. Among the pitchers, Santana is getting by with depleted stuff - he is wearing down, if you ask me. The young pitchers have been wildly inconsistent. Overall, the Mets are not playing smart, alert baseball.

You don't win the games on paper, you win them on the field. There is so far no clear evidence that the Mets are one of the league's better teams. They could be, but everyone could be. Baseball is a young man's game - most players prime years are before 30. That's why the Marlins and Rays can suddenly emerge as contenders.

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Any stock or commodity will have short term reversals on their way up or down, but I really think oil may have put in an important top at around $135. People are going to drive and fly less and China will be reeling from this earthquake for quite a while. I think oil has to come down because something important is happening to the demand side, and the search for substitutes is intensifying.

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Last Wednesday, I bought 1000 shares of CardioDynamics for the IRA at 1.82. They proudly announced today that they were in compliance with NASDAQ rules requiring the stock to trade at 1 or higher, thanks to the 1-7 reverse split. I still think they should have gone 1 for 20 to get the price up to 5 where funds and institutions can consider it. Then today, I bought 200 shares of Quanta Services (PWR), a new name recommended by my full service broker. I bought it there for 29.20. We'll be buying again tomorrow, but then it's off to San Fran for a long business meeting (five nights) so that will mean a short hiatus for trading and blogging.

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