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Thursday, July 30, 2009

 

Who is Greg Craig?

According to Mary Anastasia O'Grady in her Monday "Americas" Column in the WSJ,
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203609204574312363465346516.html, White House Counsel Greg Craig is most likely President Obama's most influential advisor on Latin America. That is a pretty scary prospect given Mr. Craig's known leftist proclivities and his history (he was the lawyer in the Elian Gonzalez case who advocated the forced return of the 7 year old boy to Cuba).

This explains in large part the Administration's 180 degree policy error in the Honduras affair. This week, the Administration symbolically terminated the ambassadorial privileges of four of the leading figures in the Honduras government, including the Court Justice who determined that former President Zelaya should be arrested. The continuing support for Zelaya and US pressure on the interim government of Mr. Micheletti is a source of embarrassment and shame to all Americans who believe in liberty and the rule of law (which Zelaya was about to subvert when he was forcibly removed from the country in his pajamas).

When Craig and Obama throw our lot in with Communist thugs like Castro, Chavez, Morales and Ortega instead of true advocates for democracy, you have to wonder about their political philosophy.

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Just when it seemed that the health care "reform" bill could fade to oblivion, the Blue Dog Democrats and the moderate Republican types (Grassley and Snowe), claiming to have won compromise and cost reduction, breathed new life into it. Of course, "progressive" Democrats (socialists, really) were apoplectic about the replacement of a public insurance option with non-profit co-ops in the bill, but the reality is that the bill would put the camel's nose in the tent and it is still a very bad bill. The conservative (for Democrats) blue dogs always give in at the end, exchanging their votes for what prove to be meaningless concessions. So it should not come as a surprise that the fight goes on, even in the face of cascading poll numbers for health reform efforts.

Defenders of private health insurance and freedom to choose medical services need to continue to communicate and keep the pressure on during the Congressional recess. Congressmen in contested districts need to know that a vote for socialization of our medical system means the end of their terms in office in November, 2010 .

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Meanwhile, whatever the problem, Dems in both the Congress and in the high - tax state legislatures all seem to have the same solution. Tax the top 1% of the people, surtax them, find their foreign accounts and put them in jail, curtail their bonuses, etc. You'd think the executive class was a bottomless pit of money. But how are we supposed to reinvigorate the economy if we reduce bonuses and salaries, tax employment at small businesses, curtail conventions and business entertainment, etc.?

The musings portfolio is up about 13% this year, and we are now only about 20% from our peak, but it's no thanks to the politicians of this country who have exactly the wrong answers. If they actually get their way and turn the US into a Peoples' Republic, that will be my signal to sell it all and give up investing. Our formula can work under capitalism, but I don't have an investing strategy that works under no growth socialism.

We reported previously how bank regulators, particularly the FDIC, were pressuring community banks to raise excess capital or face being shut down. One of our stocks, HNBC, missed its June 30 capital raising deadline as expected, but we continued to buy in the face of the threat, warning all the time that this was a very high risk strategy. Our last such buy, for our IRA was at the ghastly low price of 4.14 on July 13.

On over the weekend, HNBC received a takeover offer from another one of our stocks, FNFG, for 5.50 in stock. So we sold those 500 shares on Monday, getting 5.26. We'll keep the rest of the shares (a loss position by the way) and take more FNFG stock. In its earnings report this week, HNBC reduced its good will asset by enough to take its book value down to 5.50 a share in line with the takeover offer.

On July 22, we sold 100 shares from the IRA of Lubrizoil (LZ) at 53.75. The shares were purchased on 9/15/03 at 33.46. Then on 7/27, we sold 100 shares of JM Smuckers (SJM) from the IRA at 50.62, a small gain on shares purchased 1/19/04 for 46.22. We will keep selling into this rally until our cash reaches its 20% target allocation.

Comments:
Many of the "talking heads" on TV state there is a law which prohibits health care insurance companies from going into states to provide competition. Is there such a law? If so, why shouldn't this law be repealed and allow additional competition?
As always,
Hail Freedonia!
Rufus T. Firefly
 
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