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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

 

Jets Need one more for Playoff Berth

One truism I long ago learned about pro football is that things are always darkest before the dawn. How many would have suspected that the Jets coming into Sunday's game in Pittsburgh even had a chance to win there for the first time in franchise history? Yet, the experienced NFL bettor would have been on guard against the temptation to bet the ranch on the Steelers. For one thing, it figured to take two weeks for the Jets to adjust to the key loss of Jim Leonhard, and they had been through that. For another, the team's skill players figured to bounce back with a strong performance after two invisible weeks. Pittsburgh was also coming off a couple of maximum efforts and was susceptible to a let-down week.

Still, just as one should not have been overly depressed by the Jets' losses to New England and Miami, it would be a mistake to get too optimistic based on Sunday's impressive win. This team still does not dominate on either side of the line, even in victory. Also, the coaching continues to be a mystery in many ways. The Jets did have success in the first half running off tackle, but mysteriously did not continue that in the second half, running almost exclusively between the guards. On their last two possessions, the Jets misfired on three passes when they should have been working the clock and forcing the Steelers to use their time-outs. In one situation, they had a nice run by Greene to set up second and four, but instead of inserting Tomlinson to pick up an easy first down off tackle, they tried to surprise the defense with two passes, resulting in a punt without forcing time-outs or running down the clock.

There were some imaginative trick plays so we saw the best and worst of coaching decisions, but in the end, the Jets played very well to get in position to win, only to be very lucky that they held on.

As for the Giants fourth quarter swoon, there is really not a lot you can say. They beat up the Eagles for 3 quarters plus, and suffered a coaching and execution melt down that simply wasted that effort. I don't think it helps matters that Coach Coughlin loses his cool in such situations. He spent literally the last eight minutes berating his players, not that they didn't deserve it, but how was that helpful? This after creating a game plan and preparing his team to win despite the loss of his key receivers. It will be interesting to see how the Giants react next time out.

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No sooner do I go crazy for the Knicks than they lose three straight, albeit still playing hard, entertaining basketball. What's a little worrisome is that the team is suffering through a rash of minor injuries to key players that might slow it down for a while. This would be a good time for Coach to give his bench players some extra minutes.
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President Obama never looked better than at the tax rate extension signing ceremony. it is key for him to declare his independence from the progressive base that threatens to drag him down from the White House even as they are marginalized. Nancy Pelosi, the gift that keeps on giving, seemed stubbornly irrelevant during the tax debate, mindlessly repeating the inane talking points that she had distributed to her followers in a speech that made me wonder if she might be suffering dementia.
She had to repeat herself several times, running way over her allotted minutes without adding anything to the discussion.

The left wing bloggers continue to act as if nothing happened last November as they pursue their last few trinkets from this hapless Congress, including Don't Ask, Don't Tell (Don't Care), and worry about whether Bradley Manning is being tortured in his military brig (presumably, he is not getting enough exercise or writing paper; for the left, that now constitutes "torture"). They and Nancy are about to re-learn that there is hardly a form of animal life on this planet lower on the food chain than the minority party in the lower house of a bicameral legislature.

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The US is sadly overextended militarily. Say what you will about George W., and whether Iraq was the correct adventure to embark on, he instinctively knew not to open up a second front in the quagmire that has always been Afghanistan. Obama left himself few options after campaigning on the "war of necessity" versus the "war of choice." I would say that was a mischaracterization of both, but the more important understanding is that to take them on simultaneously is foolhardy.

Equally foolhardy is to start on a military commitment while imposing an arbitrary deadline on yourself, but that's exactly what Obama did in Afghanistan. This immediately put time on the side of the Taliban. Joe Biden, he of the "foot in mouth" disease, reiterated the administration's commitment to the timetable last weekend, even as the administration has been trying to come off it. Can't anybody here shut him up? (answer - No).

What brought all this to mind was the near blow-up in Korea, where surprisingly, cooler heads did prevail, at least for now. We have a REAL commitment to South Korea, and what were we supposed to do if a shooting war actually occurred? Believe me, there aren't enough gays trying to get into the military to make us effective on three fronts.

It seems to me this administration is going to have to figure out a military strategy that makes sense in this dangerous world. Our battles have to be picked more intelligently and less politically. We've also got to figure out an effective strategy for dealing with the real threats, and that would mean Iran and North Korea. I don't believe we are getting much benefit for the sacrifice of blood and treasure we are making in the so-called war of necessity.

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Interesting to see in the WSJ that people are already repeating my thought that the Fed should consider buying Muny Bonds instead of Treasuries. That's better than handing the states money in the form of stimulus payments from the Federal Government. If you own municipal bond funds, you should expect to see a grim statement at the end of December. Don't let it throw you. That's why we diversify.
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On December 13, we bought 20 shares of Lubrizoil (LZ) at 106.22, a "zero buy." On December 15, we bought 100 shares of FPL preferred (NEE.PR.C) for the IRA at 24.32. On 12/17, we think we sold our last 200 shares of Blockbuster at something like 18 cents (and still don't know what would possess people to bid it up that high) but we haven't got the price confirmation yet. Not that it matters, we figure to net close to zero. On 12/20, we bought 200 shares of Bryn Mawr Bank (BMTC) at 17.57.

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