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Arne Duncan was just nominated by Obama to be Secretary of Education. As it turns out, Duncan was a baijtulejjvwcgbps20081216201011sketball player at Harvard University when a good friend of mineSteve Bzomowski – was an assistant coach there. Steve has coached me in my basketball skills since the 1990s and is himself a fantastic player who played his college ball at Fordham University. He’s also a very talented writer in his own right – I’ve often told him he should be a writer.

Steve has written a fantastic piece on Arne Duncan today on his own blog. Here’s a taste:

Another thing I remember is in pre-season pick-up games, Arne never called a foul when a defender fouled him. Never. I think he saw it, calling the foul, as an excuse he did not want to use if something had gone wrong – missed a shot, lost the ball or something. No excuses. Play through it. Get the job done. Overcome the obstacles, nobody bailing him out. Excuses equated to failure and he just did not see things that way.

I realize that many people reading this blog may not like or have voted for Obama, but I find it encouraging that he has picked someone with this kind of attitude – the “I will not fail” attitude combined with a team attitude. And it is some fine writing from Steve.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Arne Duncan, Sec’y of Ed, The Basketball Player

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Emanuel and Mayer LehmanImage via Wikipedia

Donald Luskin writes an editorial for the Washington Post talking about how the economy isn’t really that bad and that we just need to stop talking about it:

But that doesn’t make any of it true. Things today just aren’t that bad. Sure, there are trouble spots in the economy, as the government takeover of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and jitters about Wall Street firm Lehman Brothers, amply demonstrate. And unemployment figures are up a bit, too. None of this, however, is cause for depression — or exaggerated Depression comparisons.

More here: Quit Doling Out That Bad-Economy Line

Let’s look at some more of Don’s great timing (via Washington Monthly):

  • “So what words are left to describe a really big down day like Thursday? How about, “Stocks became a better bargain than ever!”” — July 27, 2007 (DJIA closed at 13,265.47, 1843.47 points higher than Friday’s close.)
  • “If you see any financial stocks that have gotten run over by a bus in the last couple months — and then the bus backed up and ran over them again — you might want to consider taking a flier, and putting some money down by expecting the unexpected.” — Oct. 26. 2007 (see a chart of financials over the past year here, and tell me whether you think Luskin was right. Best I can tell, they’ve lost about a third of their value, on average.)
  • “THE BOTTOM IS IN. Yes, I know I’ve been too early in saying to buy stocks during the correction from the October highs. But all the classic signals of a durable bottom are in place now. Let me count the ways.” — Nov. 30, 2007 (DJIA closed 13371.42, 1949.43 points above Friday)
  • “On Wall Street, vultures don’t go after dead things. They go after things that are alive and very cheap. And right now, they’re going after troubled financial stocks in a big way, which means it’s time to move in.” — Dec. 7, 2007 (see chart described above. Buy now, and you’ve only lost about 25%, on average, as of Friday.)

These are almost as good as Cramer calls – speaking of which – this is a great video clip summarizing Cramer’s fantastic calls:

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I like the folks over at Bespoke, but today they committed one of the great sins in statistics – mistaking correlation for causation:

“While fund raising statistics suggest that Barack Obama has strong support in the Wall Street community, the performance of the stock market in relation to Mr. Obama’s popularity suggests that investors may have a different view.  In the chart below we show the S&P 500 (red line) versus the price of the Intrade futures contract for Barack Obama to become president (blue line).”

Clearly what they’re trying to say here is that Obama futures are predictive of the S&P 500.  This, of course, is showing correlation, not causation.  I could find any number of charts which shows the same thing.  For instance, a chart of oil.

Leaving off the problem of relying on data from Intrade (which has been shown to be responsive to events rather than predictive) I could see the right-wing blogs picking this up as “see, some great market (because the Bespoke guys are great) economists are saying that Obama is causing the stock market to sell off!” – which, in any multi-factoral environment, is pretty obviously false. We don’t have to look far for other possibilities – sub-prime, war in Iraq, price of oil.

I don’t really care if you’re for McCain or Republicans in general, or for Obama or Democrats in general – what I can’t stand is stuff like this.  This isn’t the first time I’ve seen this, and it won’t be the last – this same sort of thing was written about by the Stock Chartist a few weeks back.

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This is what is important to remember on Memorial Day:

(Image courtesy of Mother Jones)

I’m completely against the War in Iraq and this is one reason why – putting our honorable military people in harms way for what I believe is a useless war.  But regardless of how I feel about the war, we have to think about and honor those people who serve our country.

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