The ObamaCare ruling: Four positive things

Chief Justice John Roberts is a Genius!

Chief Justice Roberts actually ruled the mandate, relative to the commerce clause, was unconstitutional. That’s how the Democrats got Obama-care through in the first place. His ruling means Congress can’t compel American citizens to purchase anything. Ever. The notion is now officially and forever, unconstitutional. As it should be.

"Construing the Commerce Clause to permit Congress to regulate individuals precisely because they are doing nothing would open a new and potentially vast domain to congressional authority. Congress already possesses expansive power to regulate what people do. Upholding the Affordable Care Act under the Commerce Clause would give Congress the same license to regulate what people do not do. The Framers knew the difference between doing something and doing nothing. They gave Congress the power to regulate commerce, not to compel it. Ignoring that distinction would undermine the principle that the Federal Government is a government of limited and enumerated powers. The individual mandate thus cannot be sustained under Congress’s power to “regulate Commerce.”
Excerpt from ruling (p 12):
Those decisions are entrusted to our Nation’s elected leaders, who can be thrown out of office if the people disagree with them. It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices
Here are the four positive things:
  1. It's a tax: Roberts correctly called it a tax. Republicans can run on this!
  2. Door closed on the use (er ... abuse) of the commerce clause to compel citizens to purchase something!
  3. The ball is now in Mitt Romney’s court. The GOP leaders of the Congress have been given a political gift of historic dimensions
  4. We are just months away from another quadrennial election. People have a choice and if we (the collective we) are stupid enough to reelect Obama well we deserve what we get!

Um .... they knew about it for 2 weeks and did nothing!

Credit card skimming scam targets Rosedale food court locale; $100K lost Excerpt:
A scheme to skim credit and debit card numbers from customers at a Rosedale Center food court restaurant is responsible for about $100,000 in bogus charges, Roseville police said Thursday. Police are publicizing the case in hopes that they will hear from diners who used a credit or debit card at the Chinese Gourmet Express. ... Also, the restaurant's corporate office told Roseville's lead detective that its executives became aware of a computer breach about two weeks earlier, involving the theft of customer credit and debit card information but the had yet to notify law enforcement.
Comment: Chinese Gourmet Express What would Charlie Chan say?: "Always danger where men are evil, but knowledge best weapon for protection". Source

Will Hillshire get gobbled up?

Hillshire to debut amid acquisition speculation

Hillshire Brands Co. is set make its debut as a public company Friday after spinning off from Sara Lee Corp., and speculation about it being an acquisition target is already under way.

Hillshire will focus on meat brands such as Jimmy Dean, Ball Park and its namesake Hillshire Farm, which Sara Lee acquired in 1971. It will also sell frozen desserts and bakery products.

The other company to emerge from Sara Lee will be an international coffee and tea company called D.E. Master Blenders 1753, referring Douwe Egberts, one of the company's coffee brands. That business will be based in the Netherlands.

In a note to investors this week, Bernstein Research analyst Alexia Howard said there are a range of potential suitors for Hillshire Brands, including Hormel Foods Corp. and Tyson Foods Inc. She noted that no other meat-focused company of Hillshire's size and strong stable of brands had been previously available.
Comment: Hormel would be a good match

Stossel: "No-discrimination insurance isn't insurance. It's welfare."

In Praise of Discrimination in the Health Insurance Market


... discrimination is what makes insurance work. An insurance regime where everyone pays the same amount is called "community rating." That sounds fair. No more cruel discrimination against the obese or people with cancer. But community rating is as destructive as ordering flood insurance companies to charge me nothing extra to insure my very vulnerable beach house, or ordering car insurance companies to charge Lindsay Lohan no more than they charge you. Such one-size-fits-all rules take away insurance companies' best tool: risk-based pricing. Risk-based pricing encourages us to take better care of ourselves.

Car insurance works because companies reward good drivers and charge the Lindsay Lohans more. If the state forces insurance companies to stop discriminating, that kills the business model.

No-discrimination insurance isn't insurance. It's welfare. If the politicians' plan was to create another government welfare program, they ought to own up to that instead of hiding the cost.
Comment: On this day the the landmark SCOTUS Obamacare ruling is to be announced, this frames the discussion well! When it comes to economics, I'm basically a Libertarian


Kraft ... spin-off details

Kraft Foods Inc. To Transfer Stock Listing to NASDAQ


At the time of the spin-off later this year, Kraft Foods Inc. will change its name to Mondelez International, Inc., and the company's common stock will trade under the symbol MDLZ. Concurrently, the North American grocery business will be spun off to form a new company, Kraft Foods Group, Inc., whose common stock will trade under the symbol KRFT. The symbol KFT will be retired at that time.
Comment: On "Mondelez" = "delicious world" but some people find the name offensive.


"Hot Potato" investing - the antithesis of value investing

Is the Buy & Hold Stock Strategy Officially Dead

If you hold onto an investment for longer than five days, consider yourself the new millennium's version of Benjamin Graham.

The average holding period for the S&P 500 SPDR (SPY), the ETF which tracks the benchmark for U.S. stocks, is less than five days, according to shocking statistics in analyst Alan Newman's latest Crosscurrents newsletter.

"Given recent average volume, the SPY trades its entire capitalization and then some each and every week," wrote the always-provocative analyst. "Does anyone really wish to argue where valuation might enter the picture in this scenario? Value does not matter in the slightest."

Analysts blame the hot potato market on the disappearance of the individual investor and the entry of the high-frequency trader. After three bear markets in the last decade, individual investors - especially baby boomers careening toward retirement - don't have the risk tolerance to be burned once again.

"True liquidity has not come back and the pros and high frequency traders rule the world," said Brian Stutland of Stutland Volatility Group. "Plus, if the average person ever comes back, then they won't have time to play all day long back and forth in the market. So, maybe buy and hold really is dead."

Newman notes in his newsletter that the average holding period for all stocks was almost four years from 1926 through 1999. After a tech mania, a housing bubble, and the explosion in electronic trading, the average holding period sits at just 3.2 months today.
Comment:  I'm a "buy and hold" guy. I subscribe to Benjamin Graham's value investing model. I eschew stocks that I don't intend to keep at least (but probably more like 3) 1 year


No gift for you!

The Obama event registry

HT: Obama Asks People Getting Married To Forgo Gifts, Ask Their Guests To Donate To His Campaign Instead…

Sara Lee fireworks

Sara Lee Corp. Board of Directors approves a 1-for-5 reverse stock split immediately after the spin-off

Comment: Kind of complex but if I understand it correctly all will be happening the 1st week of July. To keep this simple (for my pea brain) suppose an investor has 100 shares of SLE
  • SLE will split off coffee business into new company called D.E MASTER BLENDERS 1753 (unsure of the stock symbol but it won't be DE because that is John Deere
  • SLE investors will receive a $3.00 special dividend per ahare (for for 100 shares = $ 300
  • Then SLE will do a reverse stock split and the 100 shares will be 20
  • And the new company name will be Hillshire Brands with a stock symbol of HSH


Student aid raises tuition

Pell Grants Flunk Out

Started in 1972 to help poor kids pay for college, Pell Grants are now so broad that more than half of all undergrads benefit. In the 2009-2010 school year (the most recent data available), 60% of all college students received a grant—a total of 9.6 million students. Between 2008 and 2010, the number of Pell grantees increased by almost 50%, roughly doubling taxpayer cost.


Because the amount of a Pell Grant for full-time study depends on both a student's financial straits and the cost to attend school, better-off students often receive the large Pell Grants and apply them to more expensive schools. According to Ms. Robinson and Mr. Cheston, in 2009-2010 20% of Pell grantees from families making over $60,000 opted to take their federal checks to schools that cost $30,000 or more per year. That luxury wasn't available to students from lower income families, who attended ritzy schools at a much lower rate.

Universities learned long ago how to capture the extra cash and adjust their price schedules accordingly. While Pell Grants and other student aid are intended to make college more affordable, they're contributing to the ever-higher tuition spiral. Write 100 times on the chalkboard: Student aid raises tuition.
Comment: Another government created bubble.


Obama as "Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Slayer"

Noonan: Who Benefits From the 'Avalanche of Leaks'?

Liberally quoted in the Sanger book, and in Dan Kaidman's "Kill or Capture: The War on Terror and the Soul of the Obama Presidency," is the White House national security adviser, Thomas Donilon. When I was a child, there was a doll called Chatty Cathy. You pulled a string in her back, and she babbled inanely. Tom Donilon appears to be the Chatty Cathy of the American intelligence community.

It is good Congress has become involved. They wonder if the leaks have been directed, encouraged or authorized, and by whom. One way to get at that is the classic legal question: Who benefits?

That is not a mystery. In all these stories, it is the president and his campaign that benefit. The common theme in the leaks is how strong and steely Mr. Obama is. He's tough but fair, bold yet judicious, surprisingly willing to do what needs to be done. He hears everyone out, asks piercing questions, doesn't flinch. He is Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Slayer.
Comment: The leaks are a sort of swashbuckling bravado!

More on Robert Gates' advice:
After the killing of bin Laden, members of the administration, in a spirit of triumphalism, began giving briefings and interviews in which they said too much. One of the adults in the administration, then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates, reportedly went to Mr. Donilon's office. "I have a new strategic communications approach to recommend," he said. What? asked Mr. Donilon.

"Shut the [blank] up," Mr. Gates said.

My fine

Comment: While we waited we watched half a dozen or more cases. Many were DUI's and all of them were the 2nd arrest. And all of them had a fine of $ 900 with $ 800 stayed .. for a total of $ 100. Mine was three times that amount. Doesn't make sense but I had budgeted $500 so I'm not complaining


College scholarships meant only for Whites?

White student lauded after returning college scholarship meant for blacks

The scholarship application itself stated only that African-Americans were “encouraged” to apply. Warren applied online and apparently never saw a separate letter sent to school counselors specifying that it was for black students.
Comment: Here's my question. Suppose a group of us got together and funded a scholarship only for Whites. Would that be racism?


Subaru starts after hibernating on lake bottom

This Subaru Started After Sitting On The Bottom Of A Lake For Three Months


This semi-beater ’96 Legacy was driven on the ice some three months ago, as a guy went fishing. Despite his claims that the ice was strong enough, the Legacy went through the ice, head-first. The driver only had time to turn off the engine and get his dogs out of the trunk, as the Legacy soon fell completely through and sank to the bottom of the (admittedly characteristically shallow, four-meter-deep) Finnish lake.
Comment: HT. Photos with first link!


On being handcuffed

Above is an image of me on crutches from last month (Kerrville TX with my Mother, wife and sister)

I can't stand up without crutches. With crutches I walk about 1/4 the speed of normal walkers and cannot walk very far. 

But for expired tabs, the Plymouth police thought it necessary to take away my crutches, pull my arms behind my back and cuff me. 

I'm a real threat to society!



Final thoughts on arrest and legal situation


  • I was wrong. I did fail to pay my tabs. I'm not sure how that oversight occurred but it did.
  • I'm glad that the Plymouth police stopped me! I really mean this.
  • My saying - and I did say this when asked - "I drive the vehicle about once a week" was perceived to be some sort of admission that because I only drove it once a week that somehow I thought it was OK to not pay my tabs.
  • Unfortunately my saying "[it] was just an oversight on my part" was ignored.
  • The charge of "intent to evade taxes" was an egregious completely unsupported and unprovable charge. (I proved this by demonstrating that I have consistently paid my taxes and that the really expensive taxes I gladly pay. Take for example my property taxes which may be paid biannually (I believe they are due in May and October). The last two years (since have paid my mortgage off and I manage my own escrow and pay the taxes directly instead of having the mortgage company pay the taxes from escrow), I have paid my entire annual property tax amount on the first day I was able to pay them on the Hennepin Co tax site. This is not the action of a man who intends to evade taxes. Additionally one can easily reduce taxes legally. I do not invest in the Nuveen Minnesota Intermediate Municipal Bond Fund but as an investor I could easily invest in this fund and avoid $ 48 of Minnesota state taxes. I'm smart enough to know how to legally avoid $ 48 of state taxes. I'm not stupid enough to think I could evade taxes by not paying license plate tabs on a 10 year old truck! Intent to evade taxes ... ridiculous!
  • About the Plymouth police ... I appreciate you ... I really do. Thank you for serving our community. But was it really necessary to handcuff me and bring me in for this! I think not! You could have done better.
  • My own out of pocket was a $ 300 fine, $ 78 in court costs, and $ 100 to get my truck of of impound.
  • But the city and state wasted resource as well. How much did it cost you?
  • I think that giving me a ticket for $ 300 would have saved me time and money and would have been a better use of state resources!
  • Finally I thank Steve Goldfarb - the attorney who represented me! I would never go to court without professional representation. The stakes are too high and the system is stacked against the individual. This man worked aggressively for me!
 Comment: For all posts on this subject click here (scroll back to the 12/30/2011 post for the first)


Our celebration tonight

Kathy and Roger (Sister-in-law and Brother) came by for dinner. We had pizza. Then we watched the following video .... then we had ice cream and coffee

Resolution of Court case

Peet Court Outcome 06082012

After a full morning in court, we return grateful for the outcome. I had been charged with a Gross Misdemeanor - an "intent to evade taxes" Early this morning I prepared talking points to review with my attorney. As follows:
  • I've lived in Hennepin County for 16 years and over this time frame I have paid $ xx,xxx in property taxes. I documented the previous year's taxes for my attorney
  • Last year alone I paid $ x,xxx. in state income taxes. I had documentation for this
  • The amount of "evaded" taxes was less than $ 100.
  • My other car - the Buick - has annual license tab fees of $ 251. Again I had documentation that I had paid that. The reasoning here is that if I intended to evade taxes, I would evade taxes on the much more expensive vehicle.
  • My concluding point: I am not a tax evader. And that the failure to have current license tabs on my truck was a simple omission and there was no "intent to evade taxes"
My attorney met with the Plymouth attorney. The charges were reduced from a Gross misdemeanor to a Petty Misdemeanor (there are three grades of misdemeanor in Minnesota: Gross, Misdemeanor, and Petty Misdemeanor A Petty Misdemeanor is not considered a crime in Minnesota ... it is more like a traffic offense. I paid a $ 300 fine and $ 78 in court costs.


He's brave, he's green, and he's queer

Gay Green Lantern may be seen in a different light

"He's going to be the leader of the team, this dynamic hero, he'll do anything to save people, the bravest man on the planet. Why not just make him gay as well?" says Earth 2 writer James Robinson.
Comment: And I thought it was Robin!

Unemployment ticks up to 8.2%

US stock futures plunge on dire jobs numbers Excerpt:

U.S. employers created 69,000 jobs in May, the fewest in a year, and the unemployment rate ticked up to 8.2 percent from 8.1 percent. Economists had forecast a gain of 158,000 jobs. The Labor Department also said 49,000 fewer jobs were created in March and April than first expected.
Comment: My earlier prediction on 12/29: "Unemployment will briefly drop and then increase before the election" Yesterday was a friend's last day at work ...