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Sunday, September 20, 2009

 

Off to the Scene of the Crimes

Headed out Monday for a meeting in D.C. this week, though actually on the outskirts in National Harbour, MD. That still puts us close enough to the gang that can't shoot straight, aka the current administration. Last week's foreign policy misses, the waffling on a needed Afghanistan surge in the face of objections from the passivist left and the abrupt change in direction concerning the European missle shield (to satisfy Russian objections while steaming our allies) continues a trend the Obama team put in place quickly. That is, disappointing our friends (Honduras, Columbia, Mexico, Chinese capitalists, Iranian protesters, now Poland, Ukraine, Georgia, and of course, Israel) while gratifying our termentors (Venezuela, Cuba, Iran, N. Korea, Russia, etc.). Such moves do nothing to dispel the concerns expressed by the fringe right that Obama was some kind of Manchurian Candidate. Of course, they are also consistent with Democratic foreign policy leanings for at least the last 40 years. You would have thought they might have learned something from the successful Reagan/Bush prosecution and windup of the Cold War, but alas...

The most aggravating of these gaffes continues to be the failure of Hillary's State Department to correct its absurd policy in supporting the ousted Honduran President Zelaya. The most dangerous is its inability to contain the Iranian nuclear program.
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Yesterday, VP Biden came to (and disrupted) our meeting, since the security procedures that accompany him cause lockdown for hours. He gave the expected talk about the health care bill, 45 minutes of partisan ranting and half-truths that convinced no one and earned surprisingly few applause stoppages. This Administration is kidding themselves if they think that they can sell this proposal. Time to try for something much smaller that preserves the private side (what's left of it) of the health industry. I'll provide more detail about his speech and my reactions to it in the next post.

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What a great night I had Tuesday, jazzing in New York. No need to recount the weirdness that led up to it (suffice to see that using on-line reservation systems to score tables at jazz clubs can be a most unrewarding experience, even when there are seats to be had), but I saw a really good organ quartet at Smoke where I was a first time visitor, and then saw Marion MacPartland and friends at Dizzy's followed by the after hours set which was performed by the Helen Sung Trio.

Smoke is a small but homey club and restuarant on the upper West Side with sensational acoustics for jazz and a darned good German pilsner on tap. Ths whole quartet was good but I especially liked Paul Bollenback on guitar and Jim Snidero on sax.

Marion MacPartland has some difficulty with the arpeggio's and faster passages but woulds't we all had her chops in our nineties! No matter, when her friends include Nicholas Peyton, whose trumpet playing has grown so much more assured and solid while retaining that beautiful tone since the last time I saw him. He's the best around, that's for sure. Also had Ken Poplowski on clarinet, and them playing together with Ms. MacPartland's trio, it was pure joy.

We've written about Helen Sung before and she is simply getting better, as are the drummer and bassist in her trio. These young musicians are so good, and what a bargain to see them at Dizzy's in the After Hours slot.

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I hate saying good things about Swarthmore grads, but U.S. District Court Judge Jed Rakoff's decision to throuw out the settlement fining B of A regarding the Merrill bonuses was right on the money. When the stockholders were victimized by the payment of these bonuses, how can the appropriate remedy be a fining of the corporation, i.e. a monetary penalty for the stockholders, the victims of the alleged fraud? That the AG's and SEC bureaucrats feel this is appropriate demonstrates perfectly the bankruptcy of their prosecutorial strategy of extorting settlements instead of seeking verdicts against the actual perpetrators.

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In a rare brilliant insight, the Census Bureau reported that the recession appears to have cut families' earnings and increased the ranks of those in poverty and uninsured. I would never have guessed that could happen!

Equally perceptive was the observation by Governor Paterson that those awful, outsized bonuses paid to financial executives had yielded significant state tax revenue, now missing. Seems that without the bonuses, the Governor has found an additional deficit hole he can't close. Funny how that works.

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Following our purchase of HDIX Monday for 6.31, we sold 200 shares of Books a Million (BAMM) from the IRA on Wednesday for 12.51 (bought on 12/15/08 for 1.90) and on Friday, sold 300 shares of Marine Max for 7,49 from the taxable account. 200 of those shares were purchased on 10/26/07 for 14.24 and the other 100 on 10/12 08 for 3.01).

We'll review this week's transactions when I get home.

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