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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

 

Recount shananigans

The Dems are up to their old tricks in Minnesota. You see, their philosophy is that the election continues during the vote counting, it's not a matter of simply counting ballots in a completed election. So you have their partisans actively trying to qualify, even duplicate, their candidate's ballots while trying to disqualify those of the opposition. So Al Franken, the lousy comedian who would be even a worse Senator, has "pulled ahead" of Norm Coleman in the recount by over a couple of hundred votes (out of millions). This scenario was predicted some time ago by the right wing talk radio hosts like Mark Levin, and why not since it is simply a repeat of Florida 2000 and other debacles in Arizona, New Mexico, Washington State, etc. On the other hand, the GOP usually gives up in these situations to preserve the public interest. Even an ethically challenged candidate like Nixon ignored pleas to challenge the obviously corrupt Illinois result in 1960 "for the good of the country." Not this time, though. The Franken operatives, and the Minnesota Democrat in charge of the recount have been so gross in their tactics, that Coleman is going to challenge "the result" in court, as he should.

News of that challenge was met by Senator Schumer and others demanding that Franken be given his seat, at least provisionally, in an attempt to present a fait accompli, another tactic straight out of the Dems playbook. Meanwhile, their position is complicated by the rationale they have chosen to not seat Mr. Burris of Illinois, the poor schnook appointed by that state's ethically challenged governor. The reason given was that his appointment was not properly certified (and neither was Franken's election). So if you can't seat one, how can you seat the other?

Meanwhile, there is serious business to be done in Washington. Why would anyone think these guys are really up to the job?

Sadly, a Democrat with real talent but a questionable reputation when it comes to personal affairs had to give up his cabinet appointment due to the appearance of a conflict over campaign funds. Somehow, one of Bill Richardson's major contributing companies ended up with a lot of state work in New Mexico, though it has not been implied that Richardson was behind all that. Nevertheless, it is another disappointment for him and his supporters, and the rumors about his personal life seem to make him unfairly vulnerable to this kind of thing.

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We saw some pretty good pro football over the weekend, and the question might reasonably asked why wild card teams on the road seem to be favored versus division winners in the first round. The answer is simple. It's hard to be the wild card. The wild card race is very competitive (witness New England, arguably the best team in football not getting in at 11-5) while the weaker divisions are not. The stronger division winners get a bye the first week, so the wild card games tend in recent years to be a setup for...the wild cards. Only a narrow win by San Diego left the wild cards at 2-2 when they could just as easily have been 4-0.

By the way, the last team the Giants wanted this weekend is the Eagles. They are hot and always play the Giants tough. Coming off the bye week and at home, the Giants should be favored, but this game will not be easy. If Big Blue gets by the Eagles, they should make a repeat appearance at the Super Bowl.

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We are off to a good start on the market so far, as Wall Street watches nervously hoping the January barometer will be positive. One thing about the market - you play it like you play against an NFL defense - you take what it gives you. Usually it doesn't give you what you want. Case in point. I am taking Sun Microsystems (JAVA) off the buy / hold list, at last, but wanted to sell my shares in the taxable account by 12/31 to offset some capital gains. Of course, I am not the only holder motivated by tax considerations, so Sun's price just lay there all through December, beaten down by tax selling. So finally, on 12/29. I threw in the towel selling 400 at 3.80 and 300 at 3.82. I decided to keep my IRA shares to see if I could get a little higher price after the New Year, when tax considerations would be left behind. Sure enough, the stock closed at 4.97 today. Since there should be some resistance at 5, I am likely to let the IRA shares go in the next day or two. But to get this kind of price on all my shares, I would have had to forgo the tax loss.

On 12/31, I bought 200 shares of Ladish (LDSH) for my IRA at 13.19. Yesterday, as promised, I bought a preferred stock, though they have had quite a run already the last few weeks. Frankly, I could not find a better buy than Citigroup (C.PR.S), what with the government bailout in hand, at 14.75 for 200 shares, where the yield is obscene. I did spot a couple of others that still have value despite having made great moves. There are several issues of ING preferred, and TransAmerica preferred, currently yielding double digits. Maybe next quarter. In the meantime, Citi already moved to 17.05.

Before you start to think about how smart I am, here were the purchase dates and prices for the Sun Microsystems shares I took losses in:

2/5/01 50 shares @ 115.00
2/12/01 50 shares at 98.25
3/12/01 75 shares at 67.25
9/17/01 100 shares at 37.44
4/29/02 125 shares at 32.76
9/22/08 300 shares at 8.58

Yecch.

Comments:
Love the honesty. It would be great if all of the so called analysts on Wall Street were as honest.

Hail Fredonia !

Rufus T. Firefly
 
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