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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

 

Yuletide Musings

The Redwavemusings election forecast was pretty close to the actual result.  In NY, the GOP flipped the Senate as we predicted, and both of my dark horse Congressional candidates, Grimm and Zeldin, came through.  Nationally we had the GOP narrowly winning the Senate, gaining 6-7 seats, but in the end, they gained 9!  That's because they flipped NC and held both GA (without a runoff) and KS.  The GOP really did damage in the Governor's races, going over the 30 mark with upset wins in MD and IL, and beating the world's worst candidate, Martha Coakley in MA.  Winning those three true blue states should have sent the Dems into serious introspection, but I see no signs of it yet.  Imagine if the close Senate races in NH, and surprisingly, VA had also gone for the Red team!

Dems ascribe the whole debacle to lousy turnout, which it was, but the fact is that millenials, Latinos, and even women showed little interest in voting for Democratic candidates.  2016 could be quite different, and a lot can change in two years.  The media has already sounded the starting gun on the Presidential race, mostly anointing Hilary Clinton as the heir apparent, but my view is that similar to 2008, the eventual President is not really on our radar screen yet.  And I'm not up for kick starting the next round this early anyway.
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Last week, the major discussion topic in political circles was the Senate report on the CIA's methods for extracting information from known terrorists (actually, the lame duck majority's report; the GOP did not support it by and large with the notable exception being Senator McCain, who has actually experienced torture).   There are good arguments on both sides.  Torture does not reflect well on the inflicter. Publicizing and condemning these episodes, on the other hand, provides propaganda fodder for our antagonists.  It seems to me that the debate about whether torture yielded actionable intelligence is beside the point.  It's either right or it's not.  Personally, I won't lose a minute of sleep over whatever befalls Al Queda and Taliban types.  Their methods will always be worse, as they've proven for the umpteenth time in Pakistan today, in Australia over the weekend and everywhere you look.  These are not soldiers deserving of treatment in line with the Geneva conventions.  They are cowardly beasts.  So if the CIA went down the wrong road, I would chalk that up to good intentions under duress, a lesson learned and move on.  What we need is a stronger will to eradicate these beasts, and that will require a certain ruthlessness on the battlefield.

By the way, while I recognize that drones minimize our casualties, I have a negative view about them.  There is too much collateral damage and it's kind of a cowardly tactic.  In the long run, I don't think they are effective.  This administration is dedicated to the proposition that actual warfare is to be avoided.  While an admirable sentiment, I don't now how you get rid of the earth's scum without taking it on in combat.

It's also time we supported our friends a bit.  That means Israel.  There are perfectly awful things going on with anti-Israeli boycotts and other anti-Semitic initiatives throughout Europe.  Europeans of almost all stripes seem to have fallen for the propaganda of the Palestinians.  That's something I'll remember when I'm shopping for wine and other commodities Euro countries export.     
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In the world of sports, we have the prospect of the football playoffs, when mercifully, I won't have the Jets to watch.  This Jets team is the worst since the Rich Kotite, Charley Winner days, and while Rex is sure to walk the plank as a result, he is only partly to blame.  The real culprit is GM Idzik who assembled a team without cornerbacks in what has become a pass happy league.  Not too smart.  Though the Jets are marginally better at wide receiver than last year, it is still a team that somehow never has anyone open.  So I'm not really sure how Rex was supposed to win too many games.  Still, the ideal position for Ryan is defensive coordinator somewhere.  He just doesn't know offense and a head coach simply cannot delegate that whole sphere to a coordinator as he has done.  The tip off was early in the season when the Jets called an errant time out negating a game tying field goal.  It turned out that Rex hadn't called it; it was called by either the OC or a player!  How can that happen? 

My view is that both Rex and Idzik should be gone.

To the consternation of certain Giant fans I know, it looks like their coach will be back to try again next year.  At least he has two super bowls on his resune.
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Then there's hockey and my resurgent Islanders.  Saturday night's game against Chicago was the most entertaining and best played hockey game I have seen in years.   Funny how no one is belly aching about the Coliseum now that the Isles are playing well.
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As for the Mets, I'm not sure why they invested in a 32 year old outfielder with declining (though still useful) skills, when his numbers are sure to fall at Citifield (versus Colorado) even with shorter fences.  Yet there he is.  As for the "need" to trade a surplus starting pitcher, I wonder why?  Aren't these guys going down all the time?  Wouldn't the best way to limit the young pitchers' innings be to go with a 6 man rotation?  Maybe then Terry could leave them in the game longer and not use up his bullpen by the end of May.
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For anyone who made it through Peter Pan Live a couple of weeks ago, you have my eternal admiration.  Maybe if you were unfamiliar with the kinescope of NBC's 1950's-60's productions, you simply didn't realize how bad the current version was.  Though Allison Williams did her best in the title role, she is, to paraphrase Lloyd Benson, no Mary Martin.  As for Christopher Walken, all I could think about was how does a great actor like that allow himself to be so miscast?  And why play Hook as such a dour, wooden scoundrel?  After all, Walken showed he could act with enthusiasm in Wedding Crashers.  He could have made the attempt anyway.

The other gripe I had is that allowing political correctness to play havoc with a work of art is singularly bad judgment.  The show stopper in Peter Pan is the Blood Brothers song and dance number where Pan and Tiger Lilly strike up their alliance.  But in Live, Tiger Lilly's Indians somehow became Islanders - Polynesians, which I guess should have been an affront to any Hawaiians watching. The lyrics were all changed, the song was ruined, it had none of the heart stopping energy of the original, and I wasn't sure whether to just gag or turn the set off.

So if you want to see it done right, get the DVD with Mary Martin and Cyril Richard as Captain Hook, who stole the show by the way, in what should be a fool proof part.  Mary Martin was one of Broadway's all time greats, starring in the original casts of Peter Pan, The Sound of Music, and South Pacific. How's that for a hat trick!
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The stock market is not for the timid or the faint of heart these days.  Most people should be in the market through their 401{k} and mutual funds.  Only those of us who are hobbyists and really spend time on this shtuff should be investing in individual stocks. Fund investors should stay in the game, as Jim Cramer says.  The market is going to have its ups and downs, but if you believe in America and in capitalism, your money needs to be working for you to keep up.

We are heading into year end in what looks to be a break even year.  If so, we'll take it. Next year figures to be better since it's the third year of the Presidential cycle and that's usually the friendliest.  For now, though, it just looks like the market wants to sell off into the close every day.  That's both bearish and discouraging.  That's also why the Redwave formula for people at my advanced age is to keep 20% in cash at all times.
Here are the transactions since we last posted.
    
 Purchases

Date      Symbol           Shares         Price          Comments 
11/24      NEM               200           19.54          Value buy
11/24      ALGN               50           55.64          Still building position
11/24     BK.PR.C          100           24.19          Preferred on sale
11/25     TATT                344             6.45        Market order, didn't quite fill
11/25     XLY                  100           38.45
11/26     PRH                  100           24.87       New preferred - insurer
11/26    NWSA               200           15.45
12/1      PQ                     600             3.64     Oil patch - Tulane portfolio
12/2     TIP                       20           112.78    Inflation hedge still makes sense
12/5     NR                      300              9.80    Another Tulane stock - oil service
12/8     PQ                      600              3.63   Energy shares on sale
12/9    TAI                      100             20.32
12/11  PWR                    100             28.22  Wind is on sale too
12/15  HSC                    200             16.83
12/16  BK.PR.C             100             22.76

Sales                                                                    Date purchased   price paid
11/3     SXI                       50             86.09              5/11/98            30.25
11/4     GIFI                     100            20.97              8/11/04            20.34
11/7     KNX                    100            29.94              1/10/00             3.33
11/7     KMX                    50             56.19               1/20/09             7.99
11/10   ITW                      25             92.73               9/15/06             44.50
11/11   GIFI                     100            22.13               5/18/05             18.64
11/20   BOLT                   500           22.00               1/7/09                7.92
11/20   BOLT                   300           22.00               4/2/09                7.70
11/20   BOLT                   200           22.00               5/9/14                16.27
11/25   SHLM                  100           38.93               2006                  24.01
11/26   LOW                     50            62.80               6/27/05              28.30
12/4    USAK                   100           21.47               10/17/12             3.43
12/10   SEIC                    100           41.02               12/4/08              13.86          



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