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Thursday, May 19, 2011


Two heads - better than one

So, I sat in front of my computer last Thursday with time blocked out for a blog posting and enough material for the week. For maybe the first time in all the years of my blogging career, blogger was down! The window of opportunity passed, and with it the blog entry for last week. Since our last post, we've been to Harrisburg and Richmond, CitiField and to Cipriani's for a charitable gala and of course Birdland. All this has left precious little time for blogging. This weekend it's off to Cortland for graduation and next week alumni weekend at Haverford, with a trip to D.C. in between. The action is non-stop and we'll take blogging opportunities as they come.


The politicians have been doing their level best to provide material. Tha French head of the IMF is accused of a sexually predatory attack on a hotel maid while staying at the fashionable Sofitel in NYC (right across from my beloved Penn Club and the fabulous 44 Bar). The IMF has come in for constant and deserved criticism by Steve Forbes for about as long as I can remember so I can't feel bad for those folks, but to put this in perspective, Mr. Strauss - Kahn was a leading opposition contender for the French Presidency, so this is tantamount to seeing someone of Mitt Romney's stature in the French equivalent of Riker's Island.

Not to be outdone, the ex bodybuilder/actor/governor of California outed himself for fathering a child with his domestic help some many years ago, which precipitated Arnie's separation from Maria Shriver. It's just a hunch, but I think there might have been some underlying problem in that marriage anyhow. And to think, my wife never would hire a cleaning service.

In more standard hi-jinx, Newt Gingrich trashed the Ryan Medicare plan before claiming he was maneuvered into the statement by those awful left-wing anchors on the Sunday morning news programs. Time to give it up Newt. In the least surprising political announcement of all time, The Donald bowed out of the Presidential race before getting in. We knew there was no way Donald would ever put himself in a position where he would have to reveal his net worthlessness. Apparently he can't tear himself away from the really vital work he's doing on the Celebrity Apprentice. Also wisely giving up the ghost in favor of the big broadcasting bucks was former Governor Huckabee, another candidate we won't miss very much.

So we are gradually getting down to the serious candidates. The frontrunner may still be Mitt Romney, despite his lame defense and rationalization of the Massachusetts version of Obamacare, passed on his watch. However, we've always thought Pawlenty would make a serious run and he and the less formidable Rick Santorum don't yet seem fazed by the Romney fundraising edge. Then there is Governor Daniels of Indiana, still lurking while his wife decides whether to permit him to run. If she signs the permission slip, we will at last have a GOP candidate with a chance to win. The agitated cries for Governor Christie are four years too soon. He thinks 2016 will be the Republican year and has the convenient inexperience excuse for this cycle. Almost forgotten in all of this is Jon Huntsman, who has studiously avoided taking a position on any issue, and of course Sarah Palin, much to the consternation of Dems who rejoice in her foolishness.

Then there is Michelle Bachman. Is she a serious candidate? I just find it hard to believe. But there she is. We've also got businessman Herman Cain and libertarian Ron Paul making their common sense appeals. The problem for these candidates is that the GOP historically nominates frontrunners who have paid their dues in previous campaigns. If they follow that tradition, the ultimate candidate will be either Romney or Pawlenty and that's that. The only outside shot I could see coming in really is Mitch Daniels. Actually, I think both he and Pawlenty have a better shot than Romney at beating Obama. Romney is a smart guy but I can't see the party getting that energized about him. We'll see.


It is always so difficult to defeat an incumbent President, though it happened to Carter and Bush 41. LBJ was ousted by elements of his own party. So it's not unprecedented, and once the reflected glory of the bin Laden execution wears off, we'll still have Obama with all his warts - lousy handling of the economy, lousy foreign policy, high gasoline prices, Middle East policy no one can really fathom, including today's strange speech emphasizing Israel's return to the 1967 borders (he must have calculated that he can win NY and lose Florida just as easily without the Jewish vote as with it).

In recent days, the academic left has been beating its chest about the anticipated GOP filibuster of Goodwin Liu's nomination to the ninth circuit. Read today's WSJ editorial for the scoop about why this man should not be confirmed for a Family Court position, let alone the already radical 9th circuit. The Left Wingnuts want Obama to make a recess appointment to put him on the 9th circuit. To my knowledge, recess appointments for judicial posts are unusual to say the least. I took the opportunity (a rare posting these days) to warn my Communist friends that they had better be prepared for the next GOP President to also make judicial recess appointments if Obama makes this one.

I also took the liberty to assure them that as long as there are 41 or more GOP Senators, the only way, Mr. Liu will get into the Supreme Court is with a guest pass.

Last night, I went to the gala at Cipriani's in support of the Caron Foundation's New York work, a little $500 a plate soiree that raised about $1 million for a great cause - support and cure of addiction (drug and/or alcohol) afflicting so many of all ages in our city. A good friend of mine from our industry, Tom Moran, was presented with a well deserved award for his work, not only in support of Caron but his great efforts in Haiti, Ireland, etc., etc. He is truly a humanitarian, successful in business and at the same time, extremely generous with his time, energy, and dollars. Tom and I share certain political leanings which got me to thinking through some ideas that i began to consider last weekend when my former college roommate received an honorary degree from my alma mater for his work in founding and spreading the concept of a legal firm to represent youth, funded entirely from foundations, donors and government grants. He and another of the degree recipients took the opportunity to expound on the ideals they believe in - the importance of work such as theirs that benefits the community, the environment, etc.

I wondered if I was a graduate in that audience whether I would think that only selfless, social contributions were the work college had prepared me for and the only work worth doing. Upon reflection, I have little doubt that the younger generation will, as we did, keep such ideas in perspective. In fact, the same motivations that have always existed in our society will continue to motivate most of us - security for our families, personal success and gratification, and yes, the marshalling of resources we can use to help those less fortunate.

Luckily, there will always be a few like my roommate who never were interested in material things other than what they need to keep their socially oriented enterprise going. The fact is, we can't succeed without each other. People who staff these organizations like Caron, who dedicate their lives to serving others are so important, but they don't exist without the Tom Moran's of the world, and without the rest of us who contribute what we believe we can to the causes we admire. I think they realize that too, and it's nice when they recognize their benefactors.

On the other hand, I'm not sure what it is that the academic left recognizes. I'm afraid I consider them society's true drones.

By the way, also receiving awards last night were the ageless Patti Labelle and Dr. John. Dr. John capped the evening with a 40 minute performance in the grand tradition of New Orleans blues. It was a terrific evening.

The great 1986 Mets team had a two headed centerfielder - a platoon really that one sportswriter called Mookie Dykstra. Manager Davy Johnson found a way to get tremendous production from two dynamic players sharing one position. It was a big factor in the Mets' Championship season.

This year, the Mets after a false start, have developed a two headed second baseman. Daniel Murphy and Justin Turner took over as a second base platoon and turned the Mets most obvious weakness into a pretty decent situation. Now both are playing every day, Murphy at first base and Turner at third, filling in for injured stars. Meanwhile, the Mets understudy shortstop, Ruben Tejada has returned to play second where he continues his late season 2010 trend of improving offense to go with his outstanding defense. So things are looking up in Flushing by the Bay. It's still early enough for the Mets to ovecome their bad start and climb safely over the 500 mark. We are forever hopeful.

Blogger may have been down but stock transactions continue. On May 6, we bought 100 shares of my full service broker, Stifel Nicolaus (SF), at 43.80. The stock had recently split 3 for 2. On May 9, we ponied up 26.80 for 100 shares of IDT for the IRA, a zero buy. On May 12, we sold 400 shares of FSI International (FSII) at
5.23. We had purchased them on 11/12/07 for 1.90. On May 13, we sold 900 shares of Sirius XM (SIRI) for 2.28, taking a loss in the IRA (where losses are no help) since we paid 4.09 for 600 on 4/7/04 and 4.30 for 300 on 7/12/06. This happens when you use the first in, first out method for allocating shares, even though we are ahead on the stock overall. Later shares were purchased for much lower prices. On May
16, we bought 100 shares of Goldman Sachs Preferred (GS.PR.D) for the IRA for 22.42.

We have splits coming for FAST and AAON. May is normally not such a good month for stocks so we'll take all the good news we can get. Today, TMO announced a $3.5billion acquisition that fits strategically, but we have to wonder about a price tag that amounts to about 7 times sales. Even if earnings rise immediately, it just seems like the level of growth needed to support that kind of price is unrealistic. Nevertheless, TMO had a nice pop today. It's the kind of action that makes me want to lighten up a bit.

Enjoyed May's posts. It is nice to see you're not full of sour grapes that Obama got Osama. Had to chuckle too at your if I were a graduate musings. Yes, let's keep that charity urge in perspective. Enjoy Cortland and the rest of your travels. Dr. C
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