Bernie Madoff

What a sad and tragic mess.  It is always amazing how people can be scammed and hoodwinked despite all we know about the dangers of investing.  I am reminded of President Reagan’s admonition:  “Trust yet verify.” 

About the only thing that investors can do is take a few steps to partially recover some of the losses.  First of all, consideration should be given to taking a  loss deduction for the investment as a theft loss.  The IRS could challenge that on various grounds but I doubt politically that the government which failed to monitor Madoff will want to issue assessments against the thousands of cases this could involve.  Of course, the deduction only helps if you have income to write it off against.  Secondly, investors can file SIPC claims with the trustee in New York.  Again, there are grounds upon which the government can deny these claims but nothing ventured nothing gained.  Finally, investors who paid advisors to handle their investments should ask for a refund of any and all fees which those advisors earned in placing their money in Madoff investments.

All of this won’t recoup these losses but it is something to try.

WV Inaugural Festivities

Very nicely done.  Although the crowds may have been down, it was by no means a poor turnout.  The event at the Clay Center showed how well that building can accomodate a group with plenty of room and style.  The swearing in was cold but I certainly prefer having it on the non-river side of the capitol.  It appeared one poor soldier was overcome by the cold but other than that, everyone toughed it out.

The civic center event was by far the best I have ever seen.  The four seasons themed decoration were very, very well done and the Spinners put on a classic Motown show. 

One word to those on the platform during the swearing in ceremony.  When you come down the stairs, all eyes are on you because, quite frankly, there is nothing else to watch.  The gents should take off their hats, bonnets or whatever adorns your cranium, hold it in your hand then put it back on when you reach your seat.  Governor Manchin even went so far to take off his coat as he descended the stairs and put it back on at his seat.  The parade of odd hat wearers was however interesting.  Several cowboy hats and a few “let’s go sledding” stocking caps were on display. 

In my opinion Joe Manchin has done a remarkable job for the state.  Presumably, his successor was somewhere on the platform on Monday.  He will be very hard if not impossible to replace. 

NFL Overtime

There has been a lot of chatter after the Colts/Bolts overtime game bemoaning that the Colts didn’t get the ball at all so whoever wins the toss wins the game.  Actually, I think the team that wins the toss only wins half of the time but perhaps the overtime rule should be changed.

Rather than go to the college rule which is a little Mickey Mouse, why not do what the NBA does?  Namely, play another set amount of time.  In the NBA I think they play another five minutes.  Perhaps the NFL should play ten minutes or even a fifth quarter.  That would be a fairer way to figure out who really was the better team on that day.


Bowl Victory

Not the way I predicted but it was the victory I predicted.  Hopefully, all the Stewart bashers will at least hold their tongues and pens for a while.  The Big East went 4 and 2 in bowl play which is not bad at all.  Interestingly, the two highest ranked teams, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, both lost whereas the next four (WV, Rutgers, UConn and South Florida) all won.  What does that mean?  Well, perhaps it means that the Big East is basically at the top of the “second tier” of college teams.  Not top 10, maybe even not top 15 but solidly in the 15 to 25 ranking area.  A decent springboard for a “loaded” team to make a run at the top 10 and even the top 5 each year. 

What will happen next year?  Probably about the same as this year.  If such is the case, 2010 could be the year WVU challenges for a spot at the top of the rankings.  For now, just sit back and enjoy a good bowl win, a better than average season and, if you want, smile a little bit at Rich Rod’s dismal showing.  Four million just doesn’t buy what it used to!

Meineke Car Crash Bowl

Here is exactly what will happen in Charlotte on December 27.  The Mountaineers will run wild all over the place posting upwards of thirty largely unanswered points.  Then UNC will start a come back as WVU starts to “seize up.”  Remember the Sugar Bowl against Georgia?  As the game draws to an end, it will be up to Pat White to score the winning TD.  He will throw a bubble screen pass to Noel Devine who will absolutely fake out two UNC defenders and rocket into the end zone.  Mountaineer win by single digits.  Ranked 23.  P.S.  The defense will register three sacks of the UNC quarterback.

In Defense of Coach Stewart

There have been some pretty negative columns recently about Coach Stewart.  I disagree with the “blame” that these pundits are laddling on Coach Stewart.  They are, of course, reacting to the fact that WVU was ranked #8 pre-season and is now not even in the Top 25.  But that misses the point I think.

Of the four games we lost, ECU was the big stinker.  Other than that the margin of defeat was three points, three points and four points.  The job of a coach is to get the team in a position to win.  Stewart obviously did that in those three narrow losses.  We all know that one play, one fumble, one interception could have turned those three narrow losses into three victories.  THAT MEANS COACH STEWART WAS JUST A FEW PLAYS AWAY FROM BEING 11 and 1.

In terms of a “downfall” from last year, look at LSU.  Does the fact that LSU had a miserable year record-wise mean that Les Myles can’t coach?  Hardly.

Finally, now folks are faulting Coach Stewart for being openly proud of West Virginia.  He understands that the Mountaineers represent the state and he is right to be upbeat about his team, his school, his state and our people. 

Sure, I would have liked the team to have had a better year.  Everybody would …. including Coach Stewart.  But when you look closely at the season, Coach Stewart did a fine job and should be recognized for that.  We are lucky to have him.  Don’t jump off the bandwagon too soon.  I predict those who do will be scrambling to get back on before too long.

Odds and Ends

How spoiled we are.  If WVU beats USF on Saturday, we will be 8-4.  Before the recent “golden years” we would have loved a winning season with a bowl game.  As far as Bill Stewart goes, I think coaches get far too much credit for winning programs and far too much blame for disappointing seasons.  If there really was a “trick” to coaching, it would be taught in universities and studied like other businesses and professions.  The fact that it is not leads me to conclude that coaching is more perception than reality.  Over any given season the talent level of the team will out.  Coaching can make a difference around the edges and bad coaching can sink a team but other than that I don’t think coaching makes that much difference.  The team does the winning and losing no matter who is wandering the sidelines.

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There are far too many legislative interims.  Some committees need to meet some of the time between sessions.  The present protocol of having every legislator attending meetings every month is unjustifiable.

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Pat White is one class act.  When the idea of having a “white out” in the stands for the last home game came up, Pat was against it.  He pointed out that he isn’t the only senior on the team.  I am really going to miss the gentleman from Daphne, Alabama and wish him well.