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Thursday, June 05, 2008

 

Post Frisco Musings

Exactly a year after my last visit, this time I was prepared for the fall-like conditions of San Fran in early June. Yes, it was windy and very cool again all five days, but I had a fall jacket and pullover sweatshirt so at least I wasn't shivering this year. I returned to most of my favorite haunts in the area around Market Street - the Jazz Bistro (where I renewed my multi-year acquaintance with sax-man/ teacher Bill (Doc) Webster), Foley's Irish Pub, and of course Dave's (twice) for lunch. Also, Annabelle's where they were serving an excellent Silver Oak Cabernet. In addition I had an excellent meal at an Indian Restaurant and the best meal of the week at Boundaries, across the street from the Bay.

Stayed at the Palomar across the street from the Marriott (the host hotel), saving my company more than $100 per night, but also enjoying the quieter, classier hotel with a room equipped with a CD/DVD player, etc. This was a very good choice.

Since the Giants were in town this time, I was able to take the 20 minute walk to AT&T Park twice - on Friday (an extra inning Giants loss to the Padres despite an eighth inning round the horn triple play) and Monday night's thumping of the weary Mets, who had arrived in SF at five in the morning after a game at Shea Sunday night.
The ball park is quite friendly and fun, despite the constant wind (and frigid June temperatures). I enjoyed being able to walk there and back.

Despite their bad night on Monday, the Mets have shown signs of life lately, though they still are playing pretty sloppy defense. Don't want to be chasing the Phillies all year, I can tell you that.
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Hillary is throwing in the towel at the insistence of party leaders, though I am sure her every instinct tells her to keep her delegates through the convention, hoping for an Obama implosion that would turn the super delegates around. The fact that Obama and McCain are polling in a virtual dead heat spells trouble for the Dems, since they have had all the visibility and spent all the money. That might make Obama turn to Hillary as a VP candidate to try to hold her women voters in place, even though the last thing he wants to do is to include the Clinton's in his administration. I don't think she wants that job anyway, since she will be inevitably marginalized if forced upon him. However, it goes, I still think the Dems have eliminated Hillary by means of their usual circular firing squad.

So that makes Virginia Governor Kaine the favorite, I guess, since that is a battleground state Obama needs and can win with a little help. I guess Kansas Governor Sibellius is also a possibility, pandering to the women voters. Or, to counter his own inexperience, Obama might reach out to Senator Biden or Dodd, though neither comes from a battleground state. Governor Richardson would be a shoo-in except for his too colorful personal life.

On the Republican side, I think McCain is likely to surprise, not picking Pawlenty, Crist, Hutchinson, or even Sanford, the current favorite. I wonder if Condie Rice might surface again as a possibility. Or General Powell. They are talking a lot about Louisiana Governor Jindal but I think he is too young.

One thing the Dems believe they have going is that regardless of the outcome of the Presidential race, the new voters brought into the process by Obama will assure them of big pickups in Congress. The question is, how many of the new young voters are in districts where the Dems don't already have easy wins, and how many will maintain their enthusiasm in the voting booth to look beyond Obama's name on the ballot. My guess is there is less here than meets the eye. In fact, I think all of the election races will depend on whether the GOP can turn out their own voters again. Right now, their enthusiasm is pretty low, but that could change, especially if Iraq keeps going better and the economy starts to improve. They need to recruit better candidates though.

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Significantly, the Fed's Bernanke changed the economic climate the other day, committing to higher interest rates and a stronger dollar. Could Ben be a closet Musings reader? Don't look for the economy to come roaring back, but the new Fed policy increases the chances of avoiding serious inflation and is healthier long term than were the inflationary tactics of "Helicopter Ben."

Whatever happens, it is high time for the Congress and the new administration to get our nation's fiscal policy back in order, starting with ending all these senseless subsidies (for ethanol, corporate welfare, etc.) and finalizing a reasonable permanent policy on the estate tax so people can do some actual planning again. I would like to see the "tax cuts" (not really cuts while we have the AMT) made permanent, but at least the 15% dividend and long term gains rates need to be preserved if nothing else is.

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On 5/28, I bought 6 shares of Alleghany Corp (Y) again at 371.92. Yesterday, returning to action, I bought 900 shares of Hauppauge Digital (HAUP) at 2.26, hoping for its seasonal rally in the fall. Today, I was back buying the hapless Cardiodynamics again (CDICD), 1200 shares at 1.80. This was another limit order, but I got my whole order executed, albeit in five pieces. As long as all the pieces happen the same day, E - Trade charges only one commission.

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