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Harry Newton's In Search of The Perfect Investment Newton's In Search Of The Perfect Investment. Technology Investor.

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8:30 AM EST Friday, October 13, 2006: I was able to pay tennis for 2 1/2 hours yesterday. My six-month tennis elbow is getting better. That's the good news. The bad news is I don't know why. I suspect it's the Epitrain...

which I love. I can't believe I can't figure WHY? Most frustrating.

Equally frustrating is figuring out this stockmarket. I'm guessing it's a little higher earnings and much lower gas prices as a result of:

1. Few hurricanes.
2. Warm weather.
3. Energy industry (countries and companies) doing what's necessary to get their friends re-elected on November 7.

Which all suggests, to my brain, that energy prices will bounce back and the stockmarket will fall back. Is this a prediction? HELLOOOOO! You can't make them. No one can. But no one also went broke from taking a profit. It is not a bad idea to think about taking some profits off the table. And do it as we get closer to November 7.

Money managers' performance: I promised. But getting numbers month by month, quarter by quarter and fitting them into a spreadsheet isn't that easy. For the nine months to end September my top performer is up 36% and my worst is down about 7%. The top performer is an ultra-small cap fund. My worst performers are in biotech.

What's causing delay is I'm trying to get general performance figures for the year -- in addition to how they've done for me. My numbers vary by when I gave them money or took it out. Some managers also report only gross figures. Some report only net.

The American public speaks up. I hope our politicians read today's Thomas Friedman column:

James Carville, the legendary Clinton campaign adviser who coined the slogan, “It’s the economy, stupid,” knows a gut issue when he sees one. So when Mr. Carville contacted me the other day to tell me about the newest gut issue his polling was turning up for candidates in the 2006 elections, I was all ears.

“Energy independence,” he said. “It’s now the No. 1 national security issue. ... It’s become kind of a joke with us, because no matter how we ask the question, that’s what comes up.”

So, for instance, the Democracy Corps, a Democratic strategy group spearheaded by Mr. Carville and the former Clinton pollster Stan Greenberg, asked the following question in an Aug. 27 survey of likely voters: “Which of the following would you say should be the two most important national security priorities for the administration and Congress over the next few years?”

Coming in No. 1, with 42 percent, was “reducing dependence on foreign oil.” Coming in a distant second at 26 percent was “combating terrorism.” Coming in third at 25 percent was “the war in Iraq,” and tied at 21 percent were “securing our ports, nuclear plants and chemical factories” and “addressing dangerous countries like Iran and North Korea.” “Strengthening America’s military” drew 12 percent. Mr. Carville also noted that because their polls are of “likely voters,” they have a slight Republican bias — i.e., they aren’t just polling a bunch of liberal greens.

“When we lay out different plans for how to deal with Iraq, any plan that also includes energy independence tops any other plan that doesn’t,” said Mr. Greenberg, who added that people are not expressing this view because they are worried about price, but because they are starting to understand that our oil dependence is fueling a host of really bad national security problems. “There is frustration that leaders have not taken it up,” he added. “There is a sense that the public is ahead of the leaders, and there is actually a sense of relief when anyone talks about [energy independence] with any seriousness.”

Mr. Greenberg said he started noticing this during this year’s re-election campaign by Ed Rendell, the governor of Pennsylvania. When his Republican challenger, Lynn Swann, first jumped into the race, public polls showed the two candidates in a dead heat. Governor Rendell eventually pulled far ahead in the polls, though, and among the key issues that helped to separate him, said Mr. Greenberg, was the governor’s stressing of alternative energy, and his “PennSecurity Fuels Initiative” to lessen dependence on foreign oil and grow the state’s clean energy market.

What this means for Democratic Party candidates, argues Mr. Carville, is that it’s no longer enough to have “energy security” as part of a 12-step plan for American renewal. No, it needs to become a defining issue of what Democrats are all about.

It should “not be part of an expanding litany, but rather a contracting narrative,” explained Mr. Carville. “It can’t just be that we are for a woman’s right to choose, and education and energy independence. This is the thing we need to get done above and beyond everything else.” People should associate “energy security” with Democrats the way they associate “tax cuts” with Republicans, he argued. “This is not something to add to the stew — this is the stock.”

The best way for a party that is often viewed as weak on national security to overcome that deficit is to be for energy independence, he noted. Indeed, nothing would be more potent for Democrats now than to capture energy security and all the issues that surround it — from improving our trade deficit by not importing more oil to improving the climate to improving U.S. competitiveness by making us leaders in alternative fuels.

So does this mean the public would accept a gasoline or B.T.U. tax? No, said Mr. Greenberg. The public wants government to impose much higher auto mileage standards on Detroit and much more stringent energy codes on buildings and appliances. People want a tough regulatory response, à la California.

Remember, Mr. Carville and Mr. Greenberg are professional campaign advisers. They get paid to get people elected — not to offer feel-good nostrums. So when they tell you that their polling and focus groups around the country show that “reducing dependence on foreign oil” is voters’ top national security priority, you know that this issue has finally arrived. The party that captures it most credibly will be rewarded.

Hello? Anybody listening?

Best Cuban Joke
This is my translation of an actual Cuban joke forwarded to me by a Mexican diplomat in Washington.

On a recent visit to Cuba, Vladimir Putin found that most Cubans' shoes have holes in them, and so he asked Fidel, "Oye chico, how is this possible after 40 years of 'progress'?"

Annoyed, Fidel answers, "And what about Russia? Have you done any better?"

Putin says, "Ombe, When you want I'll invite you to Russia and if you find a single person with ripped-up shoes you have permission to kill him. No problems."

They got on Putin's plane and went to Russia. As soon as Fidel got off the plane, the first thing he saw was someone whose shoes were all ripped up, and so he grabbed his pistol and BOOM! killed him.

The following day, Russian newspapers carried this banner headline: "Old Bearded Man Kills Cuban Ambassador in Moscow Airport."

Another dumb blonde joke
A girl was visiting her blonde friend, who had acquired two new dogs, and asked her what their names were.

The blonde responded by saying that one was named Rolex and one was named Timex.

Her friend said, "Whoever heard of someone naming their dogs like that?"

"HELLOOOOOOOOOOO.....," answered the blonde. "They're watch dogs!"

This column is about my personal search for the perfect investment. I don't give investment advice. For that you have to be registered with regulatory authorities, which I am not. I am a reporter and an investor. I make my daily column -- Monday through Friday -- freely available for three reasons: Writing is good for sorting things out in my brain. Second, the column is research for a book I'm writing called "In Search of the Perfect Investment." Third, I encourage my readers to send me their ideas, concerns and experiences. That way we can all learn together. My email address is . You can't click on my email address. You have to re-type it . This protects me from software scanning the Internet for email addresses to spam. I have no role in choosing the Google ads. Thus I cannot endorse any, though some look mighty interesting. If you click on a link, Google may send me money. Please note I'm not suggesting you do. That money, if there is any, may help pay Claire's law school tuition. Read more about Google AdSense, click here and here.
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