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Friday, December 03, 2010


D.C. Hi-Jinx

The Pelosi - Reid show has moved from high drama to low comedy in this lame duck session as the Dems stage show votes to demonstrate to the public that they really want to preserve the Bush tax rates for those with incomes up to $250,000. Never mind that they would screw investors at all income levels by allowing tax rates on dividends and capital gains to rise, or that the people they claim to help would be the ones losing jobs when small business owners decide to lay off workers in order to offset their own increased withholding. Of course, the public is well aware of the D's position, having just gone through a campaign where it was reiterated ad nauseum, and then having decided to repudiate those same Dems. No wonder 20 Dems in the House refused to even go through the motions of voting Yea on the Pelosi proposal, voting Nay instead; those folks (many forced into retirement by their constituents) having got the public's actual message loud and clear.

Assuming you've been to this site before, you already know how this ends, with all of the current rates staying in place for 2 or 3 more years, and with Obama keeping the 99 week unemployment benefit in place for another year in exchange. Of course if anything is going to keep our unemployment rate at 9% or more, that's it, but never mind, we'll throw him that bone, he's so pitiful we just have to do something for him.

More interesting to me is that Obama's deficit commission, which was set up to fail of course, actually turned in an 11-7 vote for a program of serious spending constraints and revenue enhancers that represent breaks with political third rails here, there and everywhere. of course, it could not reach the impossible bogey needed of 14 votes to actually send a formal recommendation to Congress, but 11 votes are not bad, especially considering there was a pretty equal bipartisan split among the supporters. It should also be pointed out that several of the no voters like Congressman Ryan opposed, not because they thought the program too draconian, but because they felt it did not go far enough on restricting entitlements. I love Ryan, but this time, he may have erred by letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. Imagine if they had attained the unreachable 14 votes! That would have set Congress and the administration on its ear. The liberals seem to be the ones bleating about these proposals and they would have been beside themselves if they had passed, something that Ryan and allies might have considered.

Anyway, just having come this close puts some really important changes in play, like eliminating many "treasured" (but useless for most people) deductions and considering whole programs and departments for elimination. Man, if it was up to me, I'd take a meat cleaver to this federal edifice. For starters, we could lop off Energy, the FCC, Education, all support for public broadcasting, etc. etc. Let's decriminalize drugs and distribute them as legal but controlled substances. Let's review and eliminate all manner of federal subsidies - agriculture, higher education, etc. No more earmarks. Let's really bring entitlements back to earth - raise the full retirement age for social security, rationalize medicaid, start over on health reform. The savings would be all but incalculable. The deficits we are running today are criminal, and they will undermine this country if we don't address them soon. The public's message delivered on November 2nd is clear - we're ready to start. At least the commission seemed to hear it, even if liberal D's have not.


Thanksgiving night, my daughter and I went to the Meadowlands new stadium to see the Jets, and enjoyed a relatively (by recent standards) comfortable win. The new stadium is fine, although there was nothing wrong with the old stadium from a fan's perspective. Presumably there were not enough luxury boxes to suit the team owners. Anyway we had a great time.

This week shapes up as the Monday night GAME OF THE YEAR - SO YOU ARE HEREBY WARNED - a letdown is likely. But at least going in, the Jets are reasonably healthy and highly motivated. The Pats will be unbelievably motivated. Picture yourself as a player on that team and having to face Coach Bullycheck after losing TWICE to the Jets. Man, that's a little too ugly to comprehend. So the Jets will really have their hands full.

As for NY's other team (sorry, Giants fans), they had some first half red zone problems, but otherwise wore down the over achieving Jaguars. When the Jags had the ball in the fourth quarter, almost every play looked like a jail break as Giant pass rushers all but inundated the quarterback time after time. So that had to hearten the Big Blue faithful, maybe there won;t be a second half swoon this season after all. When the Giants look good, they are very good indeed.

New Yorkers don't quite know what to make of the Knicks' recent winning ways. Is this an aberration or has the D'Antoni "all hands on offense" style finally taken hold. Frankly, it's no matter. At least run and gun is fun to watch. Maybe we'll even go to a game when my daughter comes home for semester break.

Well, I've been busy, and not just with work. On November 24, we bought 50 more shares of Honeywell (HON) for 49.91, still a zero buy but one performing quite well. We elected not to trade on Black Friday, since the market figured to be a bit thin, but on Monday, we were back at it buying 25 shares of Con Ed preferred for the IRA (ED.PR.A) at 93.90. On the same day, we sold the remaining 500 shares of Ladish (LDSH) from the IRA at 46.50. This stock is subject to a takeover offer, part cash and part stock, as I have previously reported. We paid 13.19 for 200 of these shares on 12/31/08 and 9.51 for the other 300 on 2/17/09, for which I say thank you to "full service broker"" for that recommendation. By the way, some might think it took courage to step up and make those purchases in the midst of the financial meltdown, but what it really took was the discipline to follow our formula, which said buy, not sell, all during the depths of that awfulness.

On 12/1, we bought 400 shares of TAT technology (TATT) for the IRA at 5.50. This Israel based defense contractor may prove to be a lemon, but we are stubbornly following the formula, and this is a value buy. Today, we dumped the rest of our ADC Telecommunications, also the subject of a takeover, and we'll have the details of that transaction in the next post. Sorry for the teaser.

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