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Monday, March 08, 2010

 

Road Trip

There's March Madness and March travel. I am off to Albany, NY or as we fondly call it here in the Empire State, the Corruption Capital. There I will meet with numerous legislators and their staffs and go through the motions of promoting our trade group agenda when we all know that no one could possibly be paying any attention, until the unelected and soon to be ousted Governor is gone. From Albany, I'll be flying to Phoenix to spend the balance of the week with other interested parties from our industry as we observe and comment on the mainly ineffectual and short term insurance Commissioners (there are notable exceptions, by the way) trying to keep up with fast moving and impactful international accounting developments. This is preliminary to the National meeting in Denver that begins March 24.

In other words, this is a superb opportunity to do a fair amount of airplane reading, though not such a good opportunity for blogging (hence, the back to back postings). But I do have some things to comment on, light and not so light, though not much time since I still have to pack and make the 6:05 train tomorrow morning. So here goes.

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I predicted (to my wife) that Cablevision and ABC would find a way to return Channel 7 to the airwaves by five minutes before curtain for the Oscars, and they missed that deadline by about 17 minutes. So, many of us missed the opening monologue, probably the highlight of the show. Steve Martin did nail more than a few good one liners over the course of the evening, but what Alec Baldwin thought he was doing out there is a mystery to me - he looked like he was impersonating Peter Boyle doing Frankenstein most of the time. I had told lots of people that this would finally be a win for Jeff Bridges, well known to be one of my faves, and we were not disappointed. Of course, I have not seen any of the movies yet, but I'll get to them when they hit HBO.

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Saturday night, Mrs. Redwave and I went to see the 70's Soul Jam and it more than lived up to expectations. There was a certain poignancy to the evening since singer Ron Banks of the Dramatics had passed away unexpectedly last Thursday, and this was their first show without him (over some 37 years). Nevertheless, the four surviving members (I think only two originals at this point) had a terrific set of about 50 minutes to resume the show after intermission.

Carl Carlton had been the opening act, entering to his big hit "Everlasting Love" and doing one or two others. Mrs. RW seemed shocked by his early exit but I quickly pointed out that in this field, Mr. Carlton was merely a warm-up act. So it was, as the Chi-Lites, after covering a couple of Temptations songs, and doing a couple of their up-tempo numbers, launched into their two great ballads, "Oh Girl" and "Have You Seen Her." So we were to intermission after only about 45 minutes of bracing music.

No matter. After the rousing Dramatics set, the clear stars of the show entered, Philadelphia's Stylistics, with an outstanding set that lasted nearly an hour and included all of their monster hit gooey ballads as well as a song off their new CD.
As one of them said, "if you guys left the house with things a little out of order, we'll have everything back in place by the time we finish."

Now we paid $60 dollars a ticket for this show and sat in the 5th row in Westbury's Theatre in the Round with the rotating stage. I paid $180 for my ticket to Clapton and Beck at MSG. I enjoyed both evenings but guess which I would prefer to do over again tomorrow. We'll be looking for the Soul Jam again next year, that's for sure.

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On the jazz scene, we've got Bill Charlap's trio in the midst of a two week run at Dizzy's Cola Club, and this week, John Pizzarelli leads a group at Birdland. Next week, it's an outstanding group led by the best drummer around today, Lew Nash, at Birdland. You can't go wrong at any of these shows.

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The Dems seem intent on a suicide mission on health care, but the votes are still really up in the air. One thing is clear - whether they pass it or not, the Dems really own this bill, and Pelosi and Reid can make that argument to wavering party members, namely that they might as well pass it since they are going to pay in November regardless. Which begs the question, doesn't anybody really care about doing the right thing for the country anymore?

My prediction now is that the Dems will lose worse than they did in 1994. Some may think it's too early to say, but really it's not. The fact is, given the 21st century dynamics of elections, it is already pretty late in the game. Here's why.

If you look at the NY Senate race, appointed Senator Gillibrand should be an easy mark even in this notoriously blue state. However, it is very concerning that Republicans have not fielded a strong candidate yet. Blakeman is running, but he's a "who's he?" candidate. Meanwhile, Pataki and others who could win easily remain resolutely on the sidelines.

Frankly, if I wasn't so busy with a job, bridge, and this damn blog, I might make the run. Trouble is, a candidate like I would be should have been out there 2 or 3months ago, getting the exposure, raising the money, and making the case, town by town, county by county. That's just not happening (it is happening in the governor's race where Rick Lazio is brewing a Scott Brown type surprise). In other words, except for a name candidate, it's already too late! In fact, candidate filing deadlines are already coming up in many states.

Though the GOP is underperforming in that particular race, in most places around the country, the GOP is recruiting excellent candidates, some mounting primary challenges, while the Dems either have a hopeless incumbent or worse, a no-name liberal in the same position the GOP is in in NY. Couple that with the fact that wild horses won't keep conservatives and angry independents from the polls this November, while Dem voters will have to be airlifted to the polls, and the stage is set for a slaughter of epic proportions.

Furthermore, don't believe that the anger is directed equally against incumbents of both parties. It's just not so. Witness Governor Perry's performance in the Texas primary and the near certainty of his re-election. The anger is directed at fiscal profligates and thieves. Conservatives will benefit, and they are almost all Republicans.

In this regard, Senator Bunning may be a screwball but the Dems will find that the public is surprisingly sympathetic to his old fashioned filibuster. They won't be able to make hay over his delay of ever more federal spending, no matter how beneficial they believe the programs to be.

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