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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

 

Summer Fun Begins

I know I promised that in this post, I would provide the entire investing/trading formula in one post for the first time, but I'm afraid I will postpone that effort until the next post.  There's just too much juicy stuff to discuss.

Item: As Obama appointments endure close Senate scrutiny, Susan Rice gets named Obama's top security advisor.  So he found a place to finally position the incompetent US diplomat without needing Senate approval.  It must be noted that, even discounting Rice's pathetic performance as administration shill in the Bengazi episode, Rice has an unrelenting record of failure, including her work in Africa, at the UN and so on.  Apparently competence is devalued in the current White House.  As further proof, we have the nomination of James Comey as FBI Director.  Mr. Comey was nominated because he is a Republican who bucked the Bush Administration, not only on the warrantless wiretapping program but also on the Special Counsel fiasco on the Plame case that persecuted the innocent Scooter Libby even after it was known to all that Armitage was the leaker. Presumably Obama thinks that Mr. Comey's nominal Republican roots will provide enough cover to get him confirmed. We'll see.

Item: U.S. belatedly provides weapons to Syrian rebels.  Of course, too little too late, since Hezbollah and the Russians have already saved the Assad regime.  But do we even know what we are trying to achieve there?  Do we know what we would get if the rebels replaced Assad?  More and more, the Syrian Civil War actually looks more like a sectarian struggle between Sunni's and Shia's.  In that case, I don't know what our role is or should be as the temptation to wish a pox on both their houses is considerable.  If that sounds a little like the morass that Afghanistan has become, you're right.  And our premature withdrawal from Iraq has left that beleagured country with its own daily sectarian violence.  In short, Obama has made a total mess of the Middle East everywhere you look.  Why should anyone be surprised?  What experience and competence did he bring to this job anyway?  And that all leads to...

Item: Obama moves forward on regulatory initiatives to deliver results promised to his environmental activist supporters.  This Administration does everything for political purposes, and when politics fails, they retreat to strong arm measures.  On the environment, Obama clearly has declared war on coal, but make no mistake, he will deliver enough on all fuel sources to keep his environmental donors (whose real agenda is anti-corporate, anti -industrial) quiet.  Those interests in natural gas and nuclear who think their cleaner fuel sources are going to be embraced are delusional.  Obama said he will approve Keystone but only if it does not add to environmental damage.  But that has all been assessed.  The fact is, Obama and his EPA can find any excuse to shelve the project if they deem it necessary to keep their donors in line.  There is no reason not to make the decision now, but Obama wants to see whether the greater pressure will build for jobs or for climate control.  Then he will make a political decision.  As for the anti - frackers, the studies and evidence continues to show that fracking does not cause gas to get into drinking water.  Poorly sealed old conventional gas wells do.  But that won't stop the anti-frackers who can't be confused by the facts.  When environmentalism is your religion, anti-industrial positions are adopted on faith.

Item:  Term ending flurry of Supreme Court decisions sets chins wagging nationwide.  The Court's long awaited decisions on many controversial cases predictably caused sharp criticism (on political grounds) from people who should know better, including the President, radio commentators of every political stripe, and of course, from the dissenting judges.  To hear Obama's comments, one wonders if it's actually possible that he avoided taking a constitutional law class during his seven years in the Ivy League and law school.  It would seem so.  Have we ever had a President who seems so unfamiliar with the Constitution?

As for me, I have my opinions, but would rather not go into a lot of detail without actually reading the opinions first, which should be up on the Supreme Court's website.  I have to say that on first impression, (news reports, biased and otherwise) it should make for some interesting reading.  I was pretty sure the DOMA was going down, and happy to see that it did so basically on a state's rights rationale.  When DOMA passed, I thought it odd that the Congress would define marriage, which is a state licensed institution.  As for the change in the Voting Rights Act, liberals seem to have had the expected hissy fit that anyone would tamper with their Civil Rights legislative icon.  Actually, the Court called for the Act to apply when current data is used, and to not discriminate in its application on the basis of old data.  That sounds reasonable on its face, but I have to wonder what Constitutional justification there is for any such discrimination.  I think Roberts' logic might be off there.  Having said that, it seems that there are plenty of legal grounds for citizens and the Justice Department to challenge unfair discrimination, wherever it occurs.

The WSJ effusively praised the logic in Justice Thomas' majority decision on the Texas admissions case, so I am anxious to read that one.  He continues to be the most underrated Justice, IMO.
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Thursday night I am going to see Counting Crows (leading off - The Wallflowers) at the Hammerstein Ballroom.  Then Friday night, it's Birdland for the Big Band and Anat Cohen.  But summertime is jazz festival season, and you should check to see who's coming to one in your area.  The DC festival is over, but here's a quick rundown of some of the others..  At various venues, Westchester County's festival runs from June 19 to August 29.  Recommended acts include the Dezron Douglas Quartet and the Mike LeDonne and Groover Quartet.  Summerstage in Central Park this summer will have Bobby McFerrin, Kenny Garrett and Lee Konitz among others.  Saratoga Springs Freihofer's Jazz Festival, June 29-30 will have Buddy Guy, David Sanborn, Kevin Eubanks, McCoy Tyner, John Scofield, the Presevation Hall Jazz Band, and Tony Bennett.

The Louis Armstrong House Museum will have three great shows this summer, July 4 and 20, and August 17, featuring some of New York's top young talent.  The Anderson Twins lead a sextet, then its Bria Skonberg and the Hot Five, and finally Jon-Erik Kellso & Earregulars.  These headliners have all played with David Ostwald at Birdland.

Go to www.belleayremusic.org for details concerning the Catskill Mountain Jazz series, featuring Bill Charlap, Kenny Barron, Paquito D'Rivera & Dizzy Gillespie's Big Band.

Hartford Connecticut's festival takes place at Bushnell Park, July 19-21.  Arturo Sandoval will be the headliner.  Bellefonte, PA has the Jazz PA festival July 26-27 where Sheila Jordan headlines.  Newport, RI has an awesome lineup August 2-4 including the Bill Charlap Trio, Chick Corea, Eddie Palmieri, Lew Tabackin, Natalie Cole, Roy Haynes, Wayne Shorter, and Herbie Hancock.  The Litchfield Jazz Festival in Goshen, CT August 9-11 brings in Geri Allen, Eddie Palmieri, Vincent Herring and Eric Alexander to headline.  Finally, Morristown, NJ on August 17 will have Bucky Pizzarelli's Guitar Summit and Rob Paparozzi & Hudson River Cats.
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On 6/10, we sold 100 shares of Graham Corp (GHM) from the IRA at 27.32.  In fact almost all of the transactions to be reported this week were in the IRA.  We had paid 23.28 on 1/18/11.  On June 11, we bought 15 shares of the Gold ETF (GLD) at 132.26.  It looks like we are catching a falling knife on this one, but the formula drives us to buy on the way down.  They don't ring a bell to tell you you're at the bottom.  On 6/12, we bought 100 shares of Main (MAIN) at 27.99.  On 6/13, we bought 100 shares of Kaman Corp. (KAMN) at 33.24, a zero buy.  Then on 6/14, we sold 100 shares of IDT at 20.38, versus a purchase price of 9.35 on 12/21/11.  On 6/17, we paid 23.65 for 100 shares of San Diego Preferred (SDO.PR.A).  Preferred stocks have been marked down as interest rates back up.  On 6/19. we sold 100 shares of Hartford Insurance Group (HIG) at 30.11.  We had paid 26.76 on 10/29/10 and 26.43 on 6/13/11 (these purchases were actually of Hartford Preferred which has been converted).  Then on 6/21, we bought 100 more shares of MAIN at 26.99, a value buy. 

On 6/24, we bought 100 shares of Bio Reference Labs (BRLI), which returns to our buy / hold list after an absence of over 5 years.  We made money in this stock but sold it fearing that technology was available that would allow doctors to analyze blood work without sending it to a lab.  That technology has not been adopted, and BRLI has continued to thrive.  So, we'll build a new position.  We paid 28.18.  Today, we added another 100 shares of the Sabra Health Care Reit (SBRAP) at 24.71.

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