Monday, September 15, 2014

TOTAL RAY RICE JULY 31 INTERVIEW

Though Ray Rice* never says exactly what domestic abuse went on in the elevator on the night of February 14, 2014 (He says he does not intend to look backward.), he publicly apologies to his wife on TV at the end of July and says he let her down, along with his daughter, in-laws, mother, teammates, etc.  He does say he and his wife will become emissaries against domestic violence and try to help people when the time is right.  I agree it is not something he should just jump into.  At any rate, you can see his statement and most of the question and answer period yourself (18 Minutes) at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2ZM2O2ht9I).

One interesting point is that he says in the interview he would not appeal his punishment by the NFL although now (some six weeks later) he says he will appeal because he never lied to the NFL as he says they are now saying he did.

Being suspended for a year by the NFL will cost him something like $7 million assuming he is reinstated after a year, but he has been in the league for six years so he should be a very wealthy young man.  It is clear from his TV interview that he is totally unprepared for life without football

* Also see my previous piece "Videos Are Worth More Than A Thousand Words:" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2ZM2O2ht9I

Friday, September 12, 2014

"GOOD OLD DAYS"

I sort of miss the "good old days" of Presidents Ford who ended U.S. occupation of Vietnam, Carter with only the American embassy hostages.  Called by Democrats a "Warmonger," President Reagan stubbornly refused to go to war over three major Embassy attacks (twice in Beirut and one in Kuwait) plus the Marine barracks disaster, and at least when he went to war, he at least picked someone we could beat - Granada. President Bush (41), of course, did have Desert Storm (Iraq I) and his "invasion" of Panama to capture Noriega, but the things calmed down again with President Clinton with his drive by shooting in Iraq from American military airplanes.  Clinton, who had several terrorist attacks, also is distinguished by winning the only war won without "boots on the ground" - Kosovo - won by air power alone.  Those are about the years closest to peace I have seen in my 83 years since Japan invaded China in 1937.

This comparatively "sleepy" period from 1974 through the 1990s was preceded by WW-II of President Roosevelt, Korea of President Truman, and Vietnam of Presidents Kennedy,Johnson, and Nixon and succeeded by the Afghanistan and Iraq II wars of President Bush (43).  Now we can add the Iraq III/Syria war of our "peace" President Obama.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

VIDEOS ARE WORTH MORE THAN A 1000 WORDS!

So we have the highly covered Raymell "Ray" Rice debacle with his fiance and now wife, the former Janay Palmer.  Rice was a running back for the Baltimore Raven's football team in the National Football League. Once he ran for 412 yrds in A SINGLE high school football game!*  We all saw the video by security cameras of Rice dragging his fiance out of an elevator.  He is a nice looking young man.  It is hard to believe he hit his future wife, but he said he did and profusely apologized and said he would work on doing better.  Apparently she believed him, and they still got married.  But he is going to have to rewire a part of his brain, just as stroke victims have to do to make up for the lost part of the brain due to the stroke.  Let's hope his violence button is not hard wired.

Now if you are a young athlete of talent, you are coddled starting in childhood.  Who knows how many thefts, drunk driving and speeding violations, assaults, date rapes, etc. they are let off of because they are a rising athletic talent?  I don't know, but I have to wish that this violence was Rice's first offense, but probably wasn't.

So he was given a two game suspension.**  People and the media were not happy with this but, well, sort of accepted it.  Then after a couple of weeks the video appeared showing him actually hitting his fiance twice and knocking her out.  Now we all knew he knocked his wife out, but once the media and the people actually saw the blurry video, they thought he should be out of the NFL, maybe forever, and in the aftermath he was given an indefinite suspension to replace the two game suspension.  Well, who knows, in the end, this may be good for the two of them.

If Rice is smart he will devote his year of suspension to addressing the question of domestic violence.  Some will never forgive him, but Christians like a redemption story.   So this is a story that will unfold over the coming year.  Rice's wife hopes people will let them alone to work this thing out by themselves, although there are those that think she should ditch the bum.  And before this is over, the commissioner of the NFL may have to resign.  I don't know about the coach of the Ravens.

As for me, I learned long ago that a lot of people, maybe most, live messy lives, and I have to just accept that (I'm not sure mine has been all that clean, either.).  The fewer details I know, the better.  I don't know about you, but I have this sneaking desire to know what it was that pushed his button.  Did she say, "You are going to eat broccoli for dinner whether you like it or not." or "I've been sleeping with your best friend."  I have this secret wish to know but can resist it.  I don't want to know.

But and even BIGGER bigger story involves videos, that I have not seen, of an apparently Islamic British subject beheading a couple of Americans in front of a war weary nation unless we stop bothering ISIS.  Well, if anyone really thought that beheading Americans would cause them to withdraw from attacks on ISIS, they were badly mistaken, and the polls show Americans are ready for a new war.  We don't understand Muslims and no doubt they don't understand us.  If they wanted to suck America into a new war, they couldn't have done anything better.  Our peace President affirmed that in a speech last night (September 10).

Yes, tens of thousands of Americans are killed every year in automobile accidents and many times that are victims of life changing injuries.  Around ten thousand people every year die from gun related murders and even more from gun related suicides.  We accept these without question.  But a death from beheading motivates us.  In fact any death from terrorism motivates us - even one.

Of course there are those who want to relive our exit from Iraq as being the cause of ISIS, but we left 10,000 to 20,000 troops in Afghanistan and the Taliban recovered strongly.  Personally, I doubt if it would have made much difference.  But the fact is " Here we are" just as "here we are." was the case when candidate Obama became President.  So it is war again.  What more can you say about a country that treasures a game of war - football.  It is difficult being on top.

* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ray_Rice
** Note added 12 September 2014: The two game suspension for domestic violence was actually more severe than normal, which is to do nothing, but then there was the video of him dragging his then fiance out of an elevator.  For example, defensive end Greg Hardy of the Carolina Panthers actually has been convicted of domestic violence and received NO penalty from the NFL.  Hardy is appealing the conviction.  Then there is defensive tackle Ray MacDonald of the San Francisco 49ers who is was arrested for "felony suspicion of domestic abuse" with his pregnant fiance who had bruises on her arm and is still playing. (http://thinkprogress.org/sports/2014/09/09/3565086/here-are-the-two-other-domestic-violence-cases-facing-nfl-players-right-now/)

Monday, September 8, 2014

WHO WILL SUPPLY BOOTS ON THE GROUND?

What a lot of people don't do is review what has happened in Libya.  When we supplied air cover for the the mob there, we had all the ducks in a row.  Everyone was lined up, including the Arab League.  Well the mob won with our help, and we now see that a mob doesn't necessarily result in a going government.  Libya is a mess and as nearly as I can tell the Muslim religious right is gaining ground there.

But ISIS is more complicated than Libya.  We want to get rid of ISIS and so does Iran and presumably dictator Assad of Syria.  Sounds good doesn't it, except we are not really friendly with Iran because we think they want to get THE BOMB.  We also have said that Assad must go.  We must proceed without appearing to support either Iran and Assad.

As for Iraq, we have given air support to the Kurds who have long appeared friendly to us and are willing to fight (and we have also given air support to them before.).  I am less certain about the Shiites, but some of their forces do seem to respond if we supply the air cover.  I assume that a lot of the Sunnis in Iraq are getting fed up with the brutality of ISIS, but their resistance may be half heated unless there is an Iraq government that will share power with them.  We did give some air support for Iraq forces in Anbar Province, a Sunni province.

On Morning Joe this morning, Joe Scarborough indicated that the Arab League seems to have come on board with regards to ISIS.  Obama has also gotten quite a few other countries lined up so I guess he feels he can now proceed.  I had thought that Assad in Syria had seriously depleted the Free Syrian Army that I guess we can support; however, I heard one report of recent Free Syrian Army victories over ISIS.  These poor guys are having to fight on two fronts, but Obama indicates they are the ally of choice to supply the boots on the ground in Syria.  Perhaps if we help arm them and give them air cover they can do better and increase in size but others need to help in both Iraq and Syria.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

CORPORATE STOCK BUYBACKS HAVE PHONEY RESULTS

Ultimately for the professional investors, what matters is whether corporations are growing their earnings, and increasing revenues is more important that increasing earnings through increased efficiency.

To say that buying back stocks return value to the stockholders is a fraud.  If the company does not want to raise their dividends, they could issue a special dividend for the amount of the buybacks.  This would not commit the corporation to continue such a dividend but be a one-time thing.

The fad of corporations buying back their stock has two phony effects.  One is that it increases the price/earnings index (P/E) without showing increased earnings, i.e. buying a lot of stock at the market price tends to move the price of the stock upward without increased earnings.  It also shows the company does not know how to invest its money to grow the company, i.e. it wastes corporate money.  Companies are actually borrowing money to pay for these stock buybacks since interest rates are so low, but they are still paying some interest charges.

I know of no case where increasing the P/E of a stock where the company has declining or flat earnings results in a stock increase, though there may be a short pulse upward after the buyback because of amateur investors.  This is because the pros are not fooled.

Oh, in a few cases some stock buyback might be necessary to get stock for stock options of its employees, but that is not the reason most stock buybacks are done.

Monday, August 25, 2014

REMARKABLE WILMA RUDOLPH - A TRIBUTE

Wilma Rudolph
I always think of running champion Wilma Rudolph (June 23, 1940-November 12, 1994) as the most graceful sprint runner of all time.  Once she hit her stride, she would seem to just glide and not the short choppy steps of most sprinters (see picture below: Madison Square Garden).

She was the first American woman to get three gold medals in one Olympics - the Rome Olympics of 1960.  She was an unlikely running champion to say the least.  She was born prematurely at 4-1/2 lbs and had to survive two bouts of polio and Scarlett fever by the time she was 12.*  She also won a bronze star running in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics at the age of 16.  You wonder how her deformed leg ever got straightened out (see picture).  she was the fastest women sprinter of her day and won all sorts of medals at various track meets.  She set an Olympic record in the 100 m dash
Wilma Rudolph during a 50 m dash at Madison
Square Garden in 1961
at the Rome Olympics only to be called wind enhanced and discredited, but later she set another world record in the 200 m dash that was confirmed.  And this was after she had a child in 1958.  She retired from track at the age of 22 after giving birth to three more children.  Her early death was due to a brain tumor and throat cancer.
Wilma Rudolph wins the 100 m dash in the
Rome Olympics, 1960

She was named the top athlete for the 20th century by Sports Illustrated in the year 2000.  She even had a high school in  --- GERMANY --- named for her (Wilma Rudolph Oberschule).  For other honors see the reference.

* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilma_Rudolph

Thursday, August 21, 2014

TWENTY YEARS OLDER (Poem)

She gave a tap on my shoulder,
And we are now twenty years older.

But then we danced and danced all over the floor.
When the music stopped, we begged for more.

We had talked and danced and had such a ball
That I told her I would like to give her a call.

She said that if I wanted, her name’s in the book.
All I had to do was give it a look.

This I did and much to my surprise
She said she couldn’t meet me, I should realize

That her mother was visiting, and she couldn’t go
Out with me which left me so low.

But in the end we did get together
And lived ever after like birds of a feather.

                                               1986