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Thursday, March 21, 2013

 

The O in Israel and the Middle East

President Obama visited Israel this week, his first stop on his Middle East barnstorming tour, and did what he could to thaw out his frosty relationship with Israeli leader Bibi Netanyahu. He paid special attention to his advisors' talking points, making sure to emphasize the Jews' historical (biblical) birthright to the land and visiting Zionist monuments.  From Israel, he proceeded to occupied Palestine where he tried to assuage the locals by saying that "Palestinians deserve to have a state."  So, it's not just here that the "O" wants to have his cake and eat it too.  Don't take it personally.

It would have been something to be a fly on the wall when Netanyahu huddled with Deputy PM and sometimes rival Ehud Barak to do a post mortem on the American President's drop-in. Amazingly, your crack redwavemusings investigative reporting team has obtained (exclusively, I might add) a transcript of their candid conversation, which we reprint here:

BN: I thought he would never leave.  That man can talk a blue streak.
EB: Yeah, he's some sweet talker, like a big piece of halvah!
BN: At least he made an effort this time.  When I went to the states, he seemed to go out of his way to make me mad.  I finally said, "I didn't come here to be insulted."  So he says, "that's what you think!" Then he calls me an upstart! (sorry, Marx Brothers fans)
EB: Some nerve.
BN: I'm thinking who is this young semi-schv...
EB: Watch it, Bi Bi!
BN:-schmo telling me how to run my freaking country?  I don't tell Americans how to play basketball.
EB: Hold on there, we sorta do.  Remember, before Bill Russell and Lenny Wilkens, there was Red Auerbach and Red Holzman, not to mention Joe Lapchik and Al McGuire.
BN: Joe Lapchick and Al McGuire?
EB: I asked you not to mention Al McGuire
BN: Al McGuire wasn't Jewish, he was Irish!
EB :Funny, he didn't look Irish
BN: Anyway, now he wants to give those idiot Palestinians a state.  Can you imagine?  They couldn't run a decent size camel ranch.  How are they ever going to manage a state?
EB: I don't know, but it may not be all bad.  Maybe once they have their own place, they'll stop coming here.  And it's a pain in the tuchus already to occupy the territories.  Enough!  You want to be like the idiot Americans, stuck in Afghanistan?
BN: Oh God, even a worse place than the desert here.
EB: So maybe we can figure out a good way to make this happen.
BN: And if they start up again, we can re-occupy them if we have to.  It will be good practice for when we have to circumcise the Persians.
EB: Good plan.
BN: You want to hear a good one?
EB: Sure
BN: Obama and I made a bet.  He showed me his NCAA Tournament bracket, so I did one and I bet him mine would come out better than his.
EB: What stakes?
BN: If he wins, we have to show the Americans how we fixed that lousy missile defense system they gave us so that it actually works.  Suddenly, they're all worried about the North Koreans and that chubby peckerhead with all the threats and stuff.
EB: And what if you win?
BN: He has to visit Iran and personally give Khameni a swift kick in the tuchus.  No, really.
EB: I wonder if he knows how insulted those camel breaths get when you show them the bottom of your shoes!
BN: Heh heh.
EB: Well, I could use a belt, let me tell you.  Is it 5 o'clock yet?
BN: Somewhere.
EB and BN (together): L'Chaim

I ask my readers, please don't send this transcript to Julian Assange.
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Speaking of the NCAA's, I didn't bother with a bracket.  This looks like the kind of year where someone could come out of nowhere to win.  The smart money says the best teams are Louisville, Kansas, Indiana, but I think this could be the year of Miami, meaning both the University of, as well as the Heat.    So far, what I know is that the Big Five Champion LaSalle, whom we saw at the Palestra a month ago, won its play-in game.
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The Wall Street Journal really had it right about Andrew Cuomo in today's editorial.  For all the non-stop blather about establishing a business friendly environment in New York, things have never been worse for business here, and the ever increasing taxes and minimum wage in the budget proves the point.  With politicians, what they do is so much more indicative than anything they say. Since Republicans are an endangered species hereabouts, there is no relief in sight, I'm afraid.
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Meanwhile, the Cyprus bank crisis, which has been further complicated since the Russians use it as a tax haven (the way we use Guernsey and the Caymans), is indicative of the fact that the Euro crisis is far from over, and that the Germans have about had it with rescuing everyone.  The shocking proposal to put the snatch on depositors' money was less shocking than the unanimous vote by the Cyprus legislature to defy the EU's imposed solution.

Lest you think it can't happen here, consider that the Fed's interminable low interest rate campaign is effectively a confiscation of our depositors' interest income.  We are just a bit more subtle than the Germans, but no less willing to make savers pay for profligate spending by governments and others.
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By the way, if you get a chance, catch the replay of ventriloquist/comedian Jeff Dunham on CMT.  It is just a scream and definitely worth wading through all the commercials.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The Fed induced stock rally carries on virtually unabated.  Bull markets climb a wall of worry and this one is typical.  We've been taking profits, and will pay dearly on April 15, 2014, but that's life in the USA.  On 3/13, we bought 50 shares of AstraZeneca (AZN), a somewhat beleaguered drug stock with just about nothing in the pipeline.  In short, a perfect time to buy with the stock down to 45.67.  On 3/14, we bought 200 shares of the Sabra Health Care REIT (SBRP), a new issue recommended by Full Service Broker.  We needed some new preferred (and similar acting) names and this seems like a good one.  The REIT will assemble a portfolio of health related real properties like nursing homes.  We paid 25.  On 3/18, we sold 50 shares of Teleflex (TFX), a long time favorite that was trading in the ozone.  We got 81.19 for shares purchased on 6/16/06 for 51.20.    On 3/19, we sold 100 shares of Bristow Group (BRS) for 61.77.  Bristow is another one of our Tulane portfolio winners.  We paid 29.34 for these shares on 8/16/04.  Yesterday, we switched back to the buy side, paying 7.18 per share for 300 shares of Gencor (GENC) to put into the IRA.

Disclaimer time:  Neither redwavemusings nor its author are investment advisors.  The recording of these transactions is not to be construed as a recommendation of any security or action, and those mentioned here may be unsuitable for anyone else.  

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