Monday, December 27, 2010

2010: The Best and the Worst Part Deux

Best Movie of 2010 – “Inside Job”, this crisis of finance capitalism as a great crime story.

Worst Movie of 2010 – “Yogi Bear”, this stinks Boo Boo!

Best Song of 2010 – “Need You Now” by Lady Antebellum, not real country but a catchy song.

Worst Song of 2010 – “O Let’s Do It”, by Wacha Flocka Flame featuring Diddy, Rick Ross and Gucci Mane. Huh?

Best Weather Meteorologist of 2010 – Jackie Johnson (Plymouth, Michigan), KCBS-TV, Los Angeles, California, the best with high and low fronts.

Worst Weather Meteorologist of 2010 – Tomasz Schafenaker, BBC-TV, London England. A notorious nerd throughout Europe.

Best Party of 2010 – Any party at the University of Colorado, Boulder that Alex B. attends.

Worst Party of 2010 – Tea Party, its platform is explicitly populist and is generally recognized as conservative and libertarian. It endorses reduced government spending lower taxes reduction of the national debt and federal budget deficit, adherence to an originalist interpretation of the United States Constitution and has plenty of wacky candidates.

Best Politician of 2010 – Susan Collins, Republican Senator from the State of Maine, St. Lawrence University ’75. Finally someone in Congress who knows how to compromise!

Worst Politician of 2010 – Nancy Pelosi, Democrat Representative from the State of California. Just get out!

Best Alumni Director of 2010 – Beth Elmore, University of La Verne. On her budget it is amazing what she can do.

Worst Alumni Director of 2010 – Dewey Stafford, University of Phoenix. Mr. Stafford invited alumni to a “burn your paid in full student loan documents” party – no one showed up.

Best News Story of 2010 – Thirty Three Chilean miners rescued after 10 weeks underground, all safe and in good health.

Worst News Story of 2010 – (Tie) The continuing Mexican Drug Cartel war, to date in 2010 over 11,000 deaths, and the British Petroleum Gulf oil spill; killed 13 men, spilled 4.9 million barrels of oil and cost an estimated 20 billion dollars.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Ted Danson (63), LeBron James (26), Sandy Koufax (75), Frank Langella (71), Matt Lauer (53), Agnes Nixon (83), Donna Summer (62), Meredith Vieira (57), Jon Voight (72), Denzel Washington (56).

COLLEGE FOOTBALL BOWL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 1/2, Rose Bowl, 5:00 PM, ET, ESPN. #5 Wisconsin Badgers (11-1) vs. #3 TCU Horned Frogs (12-0). Wisconsin makes its first trip to Pasadena in 11 seasons, while TCU becomes the first team from a non-AQ league in the BCS era to play in the Rose Bowl. Both teams scored 520 points, tying for fourth nationally. While TCU boasts the stingier defense, Wisconsin racked up 201 points in its final three regular-season games. We pick the Badgers to win in Pasadena.
Season to date (14-3).

NFL PICK OF THE WEEK – Sunday 1/2, St. Louis Cardinals (7-8) at Seattle Seahawks (6-9), 4:00 PM ET, Fox. This NFC Worst title game to decide who gets beat the first week of the playoffs. We like St. Louis to win in Seattle.
Season to date (6-10).

TOP STORY -- Census results to spark map fights, Tuesday's release of Census Bureau results ... marks the beginning of a season of politics in its rawest form, a time of ruthlessness, scheming and, above all, self-preservation. For the next year, ambitious and sharp-elbowed legislators around the nation will look to Machiavelli, rather than Jefferson or Hamilton, for inspiration as they draw the congressional maps that will begin and end political careers and determine the partisan makeup of Congress over the next decade. Some incoming House freshmen are already marked men and women-before they've been sworn into office. Some veterans are about to be brusquely pushed into retirement. A few members of Congress will be forced into head-to-head battles with colleagues in order to survive another term.

Lose 2: N.Y. , Ohio
Gain 4: Texas
Gain 2: Fla.
Gain 1: Ariz., Ga., Nev., S.C., Utah, Wash.
Lose 1: Ill., Iowa, La., Mass., Mich., Mo., N.J., Pa.

EARLY 2011 PREDICTION - As we dim the lights until the New Year. Rest up because 2011 will be a blockbuster. To name just a few hot agenda items: the run up to the State of the Union and the debate over spending cuts and possible Social Security changes; Treasury's attempt to get out of AIG and declare TARP a total success; the bitter debate over Dodd-Frank implementation, from debit card fees to derivatives; the emergence of a new Wall Street with less proprietary trading and tougher capital requirements; the start of the 2012 GOP presidential primary campaign and the continued rise (or precipitous fall?) of the tea party. And don't forget the huge forthcoming debate on restructuring Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as well as continued fear that European economies could fall apart and the U.S. housing market could continue to struggle.

For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
~T.S. Eliot, "Little Gidding"

A happy New Year! Grant that I
May bring no tear to any eye
When this New Year in time shall end
Let it be said I've played the friend,
Have lived and loved and labored here,
And made of it a happy year.
~Edgar Guest (DCDS ’32)

Next week, our 2011 predictions.

Until next Monday, “Feliz Ano ~ Nuevo!”

Claremont, CA
December 27, 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010

2010: The Best and the Worst

Best Sports Story of 2010 – Zenyatta’s 19 race winning streak and the narrow defeat at The Breeder’s Cup in the race of the year.

Worst Sports Story of 2010 – Tiger Wood’s melodrama, what else is new about big time athletes.

Best Word of 2010Vuvuzela: the South African plastic trumpet that drove us all nuts during the World Cup Soccer matches.

Worst Word of 2010QE2, a stupid name for driving America further into debt and recession, for you non-economic types the word is not the ocean liner, but the abbreviation for the Fed’s latest round of quantitative easing, its purchase of Treasury bonds.

Best Television Show of 2010 – "Boardwalk Empire", this drama about the machinations – criminal, political, social, sexual – in Atlantic City during Prohibition.

Worst Television Show of 2010 – "Dancing with the Stars", has been entertainment and sports people dancing the waltz to “Do You Thing I am Sexy”.

Best Collegiate Story of 2010 – University of La Verne’s hiring of its’ first female President, hope springs eternal.

Worst Collegiate Story of 2010 – University of La Verne’s announcement it will borrow money to build a new dormitory, parking and relocate athletic fields. An unwise choice for a private institution struggling in a recession to borrow money instead of fundraising the resources first. Is there a need for this course of action or is it ego driven administrators trying to save their jobs?

Best Economic Story of 2010 – Facebook, its’ growing dominance on the internet and for creating a whole new generation of people without a clue.

Worst Economic Story of 2010 – Unemployment, the continuing high number of out of work Americans, even though corporations have billions of dollars in cash ready to reinvest in their businesses but fail to do so.

To be continued next week…

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Jimmy Buffett (64), Chris Evert (56), Jane Fonda (73), Steve Garvey (62), Paul Hornung (75), Jim Leyland (66), Susan Lucci (62), Kiefer Sutherland (44), Dick Wolf (64).

COLLEGE FOOTBALL BOWL PICK OF THE WEEK – Wednesday 12/22, the MAACO Las Vegas Bowl in Las Vegas Nevada, 8:00 PM ET, ESPN. #19 Utah Utes (10-2) vs. #10 Boise State Broncos (11-1), both schools already have won two BCS bowl games. On the downside for Utah, starting quarterback Jordan Wynn won't be able to play due to shoulder surgery, meaning backup Terrance Cain will get the call. That's not too bad, considering he's 9-1 as Utah's starter. It will be interesting to see how the Broncos react after dropping from a BCS bowl game to Las Vegas. The Utes (what is a Ute) are 15 point dogs to Boise State. Give the points and take The Broncos in Vegas.
Season to date (13-3).

SMALL COLLEGE PICK OF THE WEEK – Congratulations to Wisconsin Whitewater in winning their second straight D-III football championship. We conclude our Small College Football Pick of the Week with a 12-3 record, not bad. We begin a new pick of the week on January 3, 2011 with the College Hockey Pick of the Week.

NFL PICK OF THE WEEK – Sunday 12/26, New York Jets (10-4) @ Chicago Bears (9-4), 1:00 PM ET, CBS., it will be a cold one at Soldier Field but the playoffs beckon for both teams. The Jets are 2 point underdogs in this one. We like The Jets.
Season to date (6-9).

WEST WING MUST READ - "A hefty portion of the $858 billion tax package will benefit middle- and upper-middle-income Americans - precisely the demographic that felt neglected the last two years as the White House and Congress focused on the major health care law and on helping the unemployed and people facing foreclosure. These new tax breaks ... could pay big political dividends to Mr. Obama and other Democrats in 2012. ... The single most expensive component of the package - other than the continuation of all of the marginal rates - is a two-year adjustment of the alternative minimum tax, to prevent it from hitting millions more households. This would insulate couples with income up to $72,450 in 2010 and $74,450 in 2011 at a cost of $137 billion. ... Middle- and upper-middle-income Americans will also benefit most from the one-year payroll tax cut."

RELIGION - Have you been in a Starbucks lately, it is like being in one of those strip mall churches. Various denominations of preachers are in attendance, for $6.00 you get a cafe latte and your soul cleansed.

STRESSED OUT - Five most stressed out economies are: Nevada, Florida, California, Michigan, and Arizona. The index calculates unemployment, foreclosure and bankruptcy rates.

MORE FACEBOOK - I hope this Time Magazine Person of the Year award will finally get Zuckerberg the attention he deserves.

MORE ON THE BUDGET WOES - CBS's "60 Minutes" also focused on the state budget crisis last night: "It has gotten much less attention because each state has a slightly different story. But in the two years, since the 'great recession' wrecked their economies and shriveled their income, the states have collectively spent nearly a half a trillion dollars more than they collected in taxes. There is also a trillion dollar hole in their public pension funds."

And So This Is Christmas;
And What Have We Done?
Another Year Over; A New One Just Begun;
And So Happy Christmas;
I Hope You Have Fun;
The Near And The Dear Ones;
The Old And The Young.
John Lennon

Next week, our year end best and worst concludes.

Until next Monday, Felices Fiestas!

Claremont, CA
December 20, 2010

Monday, December 13, 2010

Rink Rats Holiday Tips

HOLIDAY GARDENING - During the Christmas Season, many guests choose to give their hosts a beautiful Christmas cactus. Bright and cheery during the season, these beautiful plants don't always continue to be as radiant after the New Year celebrations. However with some TLC this does not have to be the case. With proper care, you Christmas cactus can thrive all year long and brighten many holiday seasons.

One of the first things to remember about the Christmas cactus is that the blooms do much better in a cooler environment. The plant can be maintained nicely at a moderate temperature, while still placing the cactus where it can get natural sunlight. Also be mindful of any nearby air ducts or fireplaces. The drafts of warm air are not good for the plant.

In like manner, it is important to remember that a Christmas cactus requires moist soil, unlike its desert cousins. The good old-fashioned finger test will help you to know when to water your cactus. When you find the first inch or so of the soil is beginning to dry out, water the plant thoroughly. Attempting to water the cactus on a regular schedule, such as once a week, will most likely not keep the plant healthy. Because the moistness of the soil will vary, depending on such factors as humidity level, lighting access, and how quickly the cactus is growing, it is important to check it on a regular basis and water accordingly.

While there is no need to add fertilizer to the soil when you first acquire the cactus, you may find it beneficial to add nutrients to the soil throughout the year by periodically adding a fertilizer blend that is recommended for blooming plants. This will help keep the soil rich in what the cactus needs to not remain healthy, but also to grow and thrive.

While natural light is good up to a point for your cactus, avoid placing it in direct sunlight. Over time, too much direct sunlight can actually brown the leaves. A better solution is to locate the plant where it can get the gentler rays of the morning sun, but be protected from the harshness of protracted exposure during the day. The smaller amounts of direct sunlight, coupled with indirect lighting throughout the day will result in a strong healthy plant that will yield more blooms next season.

Be mindful that it is important to repot your cactus as it grows. As with any plant, it needs room to grow and be healthy. Use a good quality potting soil mixed with clean sand. Be sure to prune the cactus as well. The pieces you prune may be in good enough condition to root and allow you to grow additional plants.

Toward the middle of October, increase the amount of time your Christmas cactus spends in the dark. During this period, the darkness will stimulate the production of blooms that should be open and vibrant in time for the holiday season.

HOLIDAY GIFT GIVING – Should you have an economist in your family or have someone who follows current economic issues, we recommend “Too Big To Fail” by Andrew Ross Sorkin. The New York Times reporter gives an accurate and entertaining review of how the US got into its current economic mess.

Give Rink Rats for the holidays, you can’t beat the price and the weekly posts are entertaining and informative. Rink Rats is offering a special, sign up by the end of the year (12/31/10) you receive a copy of the University of San Francisco “How To” Manual signed by Homa Shabahang.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Steve Buscemi (52), Tim Conway (77), Al Kaline (76), Ray Liotta (56), Brad Pitt (47), Keith Richards (67), George Shultz (90).

COLLEGE FOOTBALL BOWL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 12/18, the uDrove Humanitarian Bowl from Boise Idaho begins our Bowl Season picks. The Northern Ilinois Huskies (10-3) meet the Fresno State Bulldogs (8-4), 5:30 PM ET, ESPN. Northern Illinois is making its third consecutive bowl appearance for the first time in school history and is 2-3 all-time in bowl games. Even though the Huskies lost a heartbreaker in the MAC title game, they still have a chance to go for a school-record 11 wins. Fresno State is making its fourth straight bowl game and is in the Humanitarian for the first time since 2007. The Huskies are 3.0 point favorites. Take the points and Fresno State to upset The Huskies.
Season to date (13-2).

SMALL COLLEGE PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 12/18, for the sixth year in a row the Stagg Bowl (D-III Championship game) has the Mount Union Purple Raiders #2 (13-0) vs. the Wisconsin Whitewater Warhawks #1 (14-0). Talk about a rivalry in Salem Virginia. We like the Warhawks to win.
Season to date (11-3).

NFL PICK OF THE WEEK – Sunday 12/19, New York Jets (9-4) visit Pittsburgh Steelers (10-3), 4:00 PM ET, CBS. The Steelers are 6.0 point favorites. The Jets will continue their decline, Rink Rats takes Pittsburgh and the points.
Season to date (6-8).

WELL DONE – Congratulations to the Bonita High School Bearcats for completing a successful football season (12-2). Though losing in the final championship game they represented the community well.

Dear Rink Rats:

I supervise three people at my work. This time of year I am always troubled on whether I should give a gift to the individuals I supervise. Should I just take them to lunch, buy them a gift, if so how much should I spend? These individuals work very hard for me throughout the year but I do not want to upstage other employees whom I work with.

- Puzzled Santa

Dear Puzzled Santa:

It is refreshing to see a supervisor care for their employees. Rink Rats recently had a similar question from an Associate Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer (just that title alone indicates this person is clueless). This individual expressed not knowing what the Holidays are or represent and saw no need for employee recognition. We say this person could not be farther from the truth. As a supervisor you should acknowledge your staff throughout the year not just during the holidays. Then for the season a simple gift of what you can personally afford is appropriate. But we stress recognition should be yearlong as a way of showing your appreciation to the staff.

Peppermint Holiday Cookies
Serves: 36


• 3/4 stick Crisco® Butter Shortening Sticks or 3/4 cup Crisco® Butter Shortening
• 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 2 tablespoons milk
• 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
• 1 large egg
• 2 cups all purpose Pillsbury BEST® All Purpose Flour
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup crushed peppermint candy canes or 3/4 cup peppermint hard candies

Prep Time: 25 mins
Total Time: 35 mins

1. HEAT oven to 350ºF.
2. BEAT shortening, brown sugar, sugar, milk and vanilla in large bowl of electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Beat in egg. Combine flour, salt and baking soda. Mix into shortening mixture at low speed just until blended. Stir in 1/2 cup crushed candy. Shape into 1-inch balls. Place 2-inches apart on ungreased baking sheet.
3. BAKE 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately sprinkle each cookie with about 1/4 teaspoon crushed candy. Cool 2 minutes. Remove to rack to cool completely.
4. TIP - To have enough crushed candy for this recipe, use 9 medium candy canes or 36 peppermint hard candies.

The Supreme Court has ruled that they cannot have a nativity scene in Washington, D.C. This wasn't for any religious reasons. They couldn't find three wise men and a virgin.
Jay Leno

Somehow, not only for Christmas,
But all the long year through,
The joy that you give to others,
Is the joy that comes back to you.
And the more you spend in blessing,
The poor and lonely and sad,
The more of your heart's possessing,
Returns to you glad.
John Greenleaf Whittier

Next week, our year end best and worst begins.

Until next Monday, Buone Feste!

Claremont, CA
December 13, 2010

Monday, December 6, 2010

Be Careful Out There

On a recently completed a 1,400 mile, seven day auto trip through California it was truly amazing to again view so many different landscapes and scenery. But the seven day drive also further established to this traveller how many bad drivers there are out on the highways. Please bring back summer public education driver training, because whoever is training our drivers of today is not doing a good job.

Forget the law that forbids cellular phone talking while driving, it is still being done, along with texting, applying makeup, reading an iPad, listening to an iPod, watching a Pixar movie, eating and drinking. Do drivers use turn signals anymore? On a freeway when you are not passing anyone please be in the far right lane and let other cars pass, if you cannot drive the speed limit move into the right lane.

Message to the Obama Administration: forget the bankers and wall street who will always find a way to rip us off, go after these drivers: (1) anyone who drives and lives in Ohio, (2) mothers with students attending private schools who drive monster SUVs, (3) Arts & Science professors, (4) law enforcement officers (fine examples they set), and (5) anyone who drives a Kia (a menace to society).

While driving through California Rink Rats recommends these following places to stop and eat:

Margie’s – Paso Robles: great iced tea

Tap Room – Pebble Beach Lodge: the Rueben sandwich melts in your mouth, old school

San Francisco Deli – Redding: super French Dip sandwich

Black Bear Diner – Gilroy: grilled cheese to die for

Hog’s Breath Inn – Carmel: Clint knows how to serve a cocktail, “made my day”

Madonna Inn, Silver Bar Lounge – San Luis Obispo: great people watching, and what people it is like attending a bad wedding

MORE GENERAL MOTORS HELP - General Motors won't have to pay federal taxes on up to $50 billion in profit under an unusual provision of its government-funded bailout, giving the car maker an added boost as it returns to a publicly owned company. GM may use the $50 billion in so-called tax-loss carry-forwards to shield that amount of profit from U.S. taxes for up to 20 years.

CONNECTING THE DOTS - L.A. Times lead story, "Rumblings of inflation grow louder: Prices of a wide range of commodities are rising, and Americans are starting to feel it in their pocketbooks," by J. Huffstutter and Tom Petruno: "The effects are rippling from financial trading floors to local stores, forcing consumers to shell out more for everyday basics - a cup of coffee, a box of cereal, a gallon of gasoline. Those increases are being driven in part by short supplies of some crops and raw materials caused by poor weather in major producing regions and robust demand from emerging markets such as China and India. Investors and speculators also are pushing up prices as they jump into rising commodity markets. They are being drawn to these so-called hard assets to hedge against inflation and the risk of further devaluation of the dollar and other paper currencies. ... Raw coffee prices on commodity exchanges are up 60%. ... Retail food prices have already started to rise after remaining relatively flat for the first half of the year, said Ephraim Leibtag, an economist with U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service."

Holiday cheer watch: Google is giving all its employees a $1,000 cash bonus (and paying the tax on it) along with 10 percent raises to ensure they don't all go work at Facebook

MORE BE CAREFUL OUT THERE – First Greece, then Portugal and Spain, now Ireland, watch out United States in 2011. Europe is borrowing money to bail out countries that got in trouble by borrowing too much money. Forget what Ben Bernanke said on 60 Minutes, bankers are still gambling with your money: the winners – government (they keep spending), corporate executives (huge year end bonuses) and commercial banks (record profits), the losers – the American taxpayer (picking up the tab for generations to come) and corporate shareholders (why not profits distributed in dividends). Watch for at least five states to declare bankruptcy in 2011. It is not over, save your money.

CURRENCY WAR - "We're in the midst of an international currency war," Brazil's finance minister said recently. The world's biggest economies are combatants, and they all want the same thing: a weaker currency.

Japan, Taiwan and South Korea have publicly intervened in open markets, to make their currencies weaker. China has not been so public, but it's pretty clear that the country is keeping its currency artificially weak.

In the U.S., the Fed has kept short-term interest rates superlow and has printed more than $1 trillon to buy mortgage bonds — moves whose main purpose is to stimulate domestic spending, but which also tend to weaken the dollar's value against other currencies.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Larry Bird (54), Dave Brubeck (89), Dick Butkus (67), Andrew Cuomo (52), Kirk Douglas (93), Bobby Flay (45), Teri Hatcher (45), Laurie Hill …famous Spartan, Igor Larionov (50), G. Gordon Liddy (80).

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 12/11, the last regular season week of the college football season has the Navy Midshipmen (8-3) vs. the Army Cadets (6-5), 2:00 PM ET, CBS. Navy are 9.0 favorites in the 111th renewal of this historic game in Philadelphia give the points and we pick Navy to win.
Season to date (12-2).

SMALL COLLEGE PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 12/11, the semifinals of D-III have the #1 University of Wisconsin Whitewater Warhawks (13-0) visiting #3 Wesley Wolverines (12-0) in Dover, Delaware, 12:00 PM ET, ESPNU. Rink Rats likes The Warhawks to win and head back to the championship game for the sixth straight year.
Season to date (10-3).

NFL PICK OF THE WEEK – Sunday 12/12, Philadelphia Eagles (8-4) vs. Dallas Cowboys (4-8), 8:00 PM ET, NBC, the Eagles are 3.5 point favorites take the points and the Cowboys in this NFC East battle. The Cowboys continue their return to respectability.
Season to date (5-8).

SPORTS BLINK - @TigerWoods answers fans' questions on Twitter: (Do we care??)
--Favorite team to root for (besides Stanford)? "Lakers, Dodgers, Raiders"
--"Coming to America," or "Hangover"? "No movie compares to Caddyshack"
--Can he rock a full beard, or only the goatee? "I can barely grow a goatee"
--What does the man who can buy anything want for Christmas? "Stanford in the National Championship Game"
--Favorite course? "St. Andrews"
--Best pre-round meal and "in the bag" snacks/food? "During round I eat peanut&banana sandwich & almonds"

HOLIDAY MOVIES – Rink Rats recommends the following movies for your holiday viewing:

King’s Speech – feel good movie, well-acted
127 Hours – amazing since it is a true story
Slap Shot – still the best sports movie of all time
Nobodys Fool - Paul Newman at his best

Christmas gift suggestions:
To your enemy, forgiveness.
To an opponent, tolerance.
To a friend, your heart.
To a customer, service.
To all, charity.
To every child, a good example.
To yourself, respect.
Oren Arnold

Next week, holiday cooking and gardening.

Until next Monday, Joyeuses Fetes.

Claremont, CA
December 6, 2010

Monday, November 29, 2010

Mayor Who???

JACKASS OF THE MONTH – Our Jackass of the month for November is a favorite of Rink Rats, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa: the 41st major of Los Angeles, now in his second term, born Antonio Villar on January 23, 1953. Mayor Villar graduated from UCLA and attended The People’s College of Law an unaccredited law school, he has failed the California Bar Exam four times and is unable to practice law.

In five plus years Tony Villar as mayor has accomplished absolutely nothing. His education, bicycle safety, transportation, film production, tax increase policies have all been disasters. His personal life makes Bill Clinton look like the Dalai Lama. He is an embarrassment to the Hispanic community and the Democratic Party.

Mayor Villar (Villaraigosa) just go away!

THE CASE FOR TARP - The Wall Street bailout program officially ended this month. Herb Allison, who oversaw the program for Treasury, wrote in a HuffPo op-ed: "It was unfair. It was appalling. But it was necessary. We had no other choice. Two years ago, we stood at the brink of an economic catastrophe. Ordinary American families were questioning whether their money was safe in banks. ... And now that the fog of an intense financial panic has lifted, it's clear that the critics and cynics were wrong. TARP has proven remarkably successful at stabilizing the economy and laying the foundation for future growth. ... The question, then, is why does TARP remain unpopular, despite its success? I believe, in great part, it's because a number of myths about the program stubbornly persist. Many people think that TARP cost $700 billion. But Treasury is now confident that the lifetime cost to taxpayers will be less than $50 billion."

GENERAL MOTORS IPO WHAT IT MEANS - GM sold about 478 million shares at $33 each, a price higher than the company and its bankers thought was possible just weeks ago. ... Among foreign buyers will be China's largest car maker, SAIC Motor Corp., which ... will buy about $500 million of shares for a GM stake of close to 1% ... The proceeds will help pay back the U.S. government for the $49.5 billion it spent on its controversial rescue of GM ... The government needs GM shares to rise sharply over the coming years for it to be repaid in full. ... With Wednesday's sale, ... the Treasury lost roughly $4.5 billion on GM shares it acquired at an effective cost of $43.84 apiece. ... If GM's underwriters exercise all their options to sell additional shares, GM's IPO at $18.1 billion in common shares would be the second largest U.S. IPO after Visa's $19.7 billion sale in 2008."

The Detroit automaker that was humbled before Congress and the world as it shuttered 11 plants, closed 1,500 dealerships, jettisoned four brands and dismissed tens of thousands of workers, returns to Wall Street.

TREASURY CELEBRATES (FOR NOW) - A senior administration official last night said Treasury would sell as much as 45 percent of its stake in GM for $33 per share, generating up to $13.6 billion and reducing the government' post-IPO ownership to as low as 33 percent: "We view this as a major milestone. We feel good about it. At the time [of the bailout] many critics believed that GM would never come out of this and if it did it would come out wounded." Asked why Treasury wasn't holding onto more shares on the theory that the IPO could have a big "pop" when it starts trading and continue rising higher in the months ahead: "We have said from the beginning that we wanted to exit this investment as soon as practicable."

In total, the offering is expected to raise $23.1 billion for GM. In order to break even on its initial $50 billion investment, Treasury must now sell its remaining shares at an average of around $50 each. Treasury is expected to sell off the remaining stake over the next two years-after a six-month post-IPO break-and will continue to reduce its already limited involvement in the day-to-day operations of GM. Wall Street underwriters, led by JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley, are not exactly making out like bandits on the deal, taking just 0.75 percent of the total value, according to government officials.

The $40.1 billion in repayments would mean the Obama administration has more than recouped its $36.1 billion investment in GM and the federal government would recover all but approximately $9.4 billion of its $49.5 billion overall investment in GM ($13.4 billion of which came under the Bush administration).

BAILOUT RECOVERY NOW AT $250 BILLION - Dow Jones reports: "The U.S. says taxpayers have recovered more than $250 billion from the Wall Street rescue with last week’s delivery of proceeds from the [GM IPO]. The Treasury Department updated its recovery of [TARP] funds with the formal announcement of the delivery of the $11.7 billion in net proceeds from the GM IPO. ... With the GM proceeds, there have been $252 billion in TARP funds returned to taxpayers, Treasury said."

REALITY CHECK - "In richest US county, thousands need handouts" - Leesburg, Va.: "Wendy Latham checked off a wish-list for her family: cereal, diapers for two-year-old Cole, bread, pizza and, in an ideal world, turkey and other fixings for Thanksgiving dinner. ... [S]he is one of hundreds of residents of Loudoun County in Virginia, the richest county in the United States, who have to rely on handouts from a food pantry ... to feed their families. ... The national poverty rate in the United States is 14.3 percent, the highest it's been since 1994."

SAY WHAT: "I think she's very happy in Alaska -- and I hope she'll stay there."
— Barbara Bush, on Sarah Palin

"I think the majority of Americans don't want to put up with the blue bloods. And I say it with all due respect because I love the Bushes."
— Sarah Palin, in response

TOP TALKER - 'NFL's Union Leader Says Lockout 'Near Certainty' Next Season,' by Bloomberg's Curtis Eichelberger: 'The executive director of the National Football League players union said a player lockout next season is a 'near certainty,' and that it would cost the U.S. economy an estimated $5 billion in lost wages, taxes and other revenue if the entire season is canceled. In an interview on 'Political Capital With Al Hunt' airing this weekend on Bloomberg television, union chief DeMaurice Smith said if NFL owners lock out players in order to get concessions in a labor dispute, ... 'The magnitude of the loss would be at the very least about $160 million to $170 million per team-city ... That is a conservative estimate of the economic impact.' NFL spokesman Greg Aiello challenged Smith's numbers, saying they came from union projections rather than a government agency, investment bank or noted economist.'

NOT BAD FOR GOVERNMENT WORK - Speaking of salaries, USA Today's Dennis Cauchon reports that "the number of federal workers earning $150,000 or more a year has soared tenfold in the past five years and doubled since President Obama took office"

ECONOMIC STRESS – The top five states for economic stress are: (1) Nevada, (2) California, (3) Florida, (4) Michigan, (5) Arizona. The stress index calculates economic conditions based on unemployment, foreclosure and bankruptcy rates. This index is for September 2010.

MAFFEI IS TOP PAID - WSJ's Joann S. Lublin reports: "Gregory B. Maffei won the executive-pay sweepstakes during a year when his investors also fared well. Mr. Maffei, the leader of Liberty Media Corp., enjoyed total direct pre-tax compensation of $87.1 million last year, four times his 2008 package and enough to land him atop the rankings in The Wall Street Journal's latest CEO pay survey, which includes all 456 of the biggest U.S. public companies. ... Not far behind Mr. Maffei was Larry Ellison, Oracle's billionaire founder. Long ranked among the best-paid CEOs, he received a $68.6 million package that mainly consisted of options valued at $61.9 million."

FORECLOSURE MESS COULD THREATEN BIG BANKS - AP Business Writer Marcy Gordon: "The disarray stemming from flawed foreclosure documents could threaten major banks with billions of dollars in losses, deepen the disruption in the housing market and hurt the government's effort to keep people in their homes, according to a new report from a congressional watchdog. ... If the irregularities are widespread, the consequences could be severe, the Congressional Oversight Panel said."

DANGER, WILL ROBINSON - European officials, increasingly concerned that the Continent's debt crisis will spread, are warning that any new rescue plans may need to cover Portugal as well as Ireland ... The current situation feels eerily similar to what happened months ago in Greece, where the cost of borrowing rose precipitously. ... Of paramount concern to policy makers in Europe is Spain, which is struggling to close its own deficit of 9 percent of G.D.P. at a time when unemployment is more than 20 percent and the economy is failing to grow. Watch for 2011 to be a very bad year also for US if spending does not decrease dramatically.

BOND MARKET DEFIANCE - Mark Gongloff writes: "Bucking the Federal Reserve's efforts to push interest rates lower, investors are selling off U.S. government debt, driving rates in many cases to their highest levels in more than three months. The Fed's $600 billion program to buy Treasury bonds began late last week and is kicking into high gear this week. ... That should have driven prices up on those bonds and lowered their interest rates, or yields, which move opposite to the price. Instead, yields on almost every Treasury have been rising. The trend is a potential problem for the economy and the Fed. Rates had fallen sharply for months in anticipation of a Fed buying program, and in a short time much of that effect has been lost, spelling an unwelcome rise in borrowing costs throughout the economy."

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Woody Allen (75), Jeff Bridges (61), Alex Delvecchio (79), Caroline Kennedy (53), Bo Jackson (48), Edwin Meese III (79), Little Richard (78), Vin Scully (83), Lee Trevino (71), Katarina Witt (45).

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 12/4, it is championship season now in college football. This week the Southwest Conference championship game is a good matchup: #9 Oklahoma Sooners (10-2) vs. #13 Nebraska Cornhuskers (10-2) in Dallas, 8:00 PM ET, ABC. The Sooners are 4 point favorites, we pick The Sooners to cover and win. Is Rich Rodriguez fired yet???
Season to date (11-2).

SMALL COLLEGE PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 12/4, the quarterfinals of D-III have the surprising Alfred Saxons (10-2) @ #1 Mount Union Purple Raiders (12-0), Noon ET, CSN. The Cinderella story ends this week, we pick Mount Union over Alfred.
Season to date (9-3).

NFL PICK OF THE WEEK – Thursday 12/2, Houston Oilers (5-6) @ Philadelphia Eagles (7-5), 8:00 PM ET, NFL Network, another sleeper Thursday NFL Network matchup. The Eagles are 7.5 favorites take the points and Philadelphia in this one.
Season to date (4-8).

Top Five Worst NHL Teams at a Quarter through the Season
1). New York Islanders: Mike Bossy could still play on this team at 49.
2). Edmonton Oilers: young talent but a few years away.
3). New Jersey Devils: what happened????
4). Florida Panthers: Paul Gallagher, Murray Cawker (St. Lawrence Alumns) what’s going on?
5). Calgary Flames: overrated and over paid.

SPORTS BLINK: if you are in the area this week the CIF Mid Valley Semifinals pit La Serna Lancers at the Bonita High Bearcats on Friday – the dream season continues for The Bearcats.

Next week, our holiday movie picks.

Until next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
November 29, 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010

Top Five

lame duck

1: one that is weak or that falls behind in ability or achievement; especially chiefly British : an ailing company
2: an elected official or group continuing to hold political office during the period between the election and the inauguration of a successor

Top Five Lame Ducks:

1). Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House: just get out
2). Jennifer Granholm, Governor of Michigan: just get out
3). Rich Rodriguez, University of Michigan head coach: please just get out
4). Arnold Schwarzenegger, Governor of California: time for Terminator IV
5). Steve Morgan, President University of La Verne: thanks for the memories

Top Five Reasons To Be Thankful

1). Family
2). America
3). Day after turkey sandwiches
4). Democracy
5). NHL Center Ice

Top Five Signs Of Trouble On A Mexican Cruise

1). Smoke in the engine room
2). Out of Dramamine
3). Featured cruise movie is Poseidon Adventure
4). Featured cruise book signing by George W. Bush
5). Only alcohol on board is Two Buck Chuck

Top Five Reasons To Not Go On a Seven Day Auto Trip With Your Better Half

1). One word: questions
2). You cannot drink and drive
3). Snoring
4). Out of Valium
5). No NHL Center Ice

Top Five Newest Countries

1). Kosovo: 2/17/2008
2). Montenegro: 6/3/2006
3). Serbia: 5/21/2006
4). Timor-Leste:5/20/2002
5). Palau: 10/1/1994

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Congressman John (Sun Tan) Boehner (61), Jamie Lee Curtis (52), Joe Gibbs (70), Berry Gordy Jr. (81), Amy Grant (50), Scarlett Johansson (26), Megyn Kelly (40), Senator Mary Landrieu (55), Jim Northrup (71), Mike Scioscia (52), Shannon Sisk …famous educator, Steven Van Zandt (60).

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 11/27, well it is finally here the game; Bo vs. Woody, Class vs. No Class, Good Drivers vs. Bad Drivers, Outstanding Academics vs. The Gong Show, University of Michigan (7-4) @ Ohio State University #9 (10-1), 12:00 PM ET, ABC. Rink Rats is picking The Buckeyes (what is a buckeye?) for two main reasons: one, it will be Rich Rodriguez’s last game as head coach for Big Blue and two, Ohio Slate is the better team. There is always next year.
Season to date (10-2).

SMALL COLLEGE PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 11/27, the second round of the D-III playoffs has a good central New York matchup: Alfred Saxons (9-2), the Empire 8 conference champs @ #20 Cortland State Red Dragons (10-1), the New Jersey Athletic conference champs, 12:00 PM ET, MSG Network. The Red Dragons will be too much for the Saxon Warriors, we pick Cortland State to move on, 42 – 17.
Season to date (9-2).

NFL PICK OF THE WEEK – Thursday 11/25, the annual Turkey Day game in Detroit has the (2-8) Lions entertaining the (8-2) New England Patriots, 12:00 noon ET, CBS. It looks like a mismatch but we like the Lions to win, New England is coming off a tough Sunday night game and the Motowners always play well on Thanksgiving.
Season to date (4-7).

Top Five Reasons The Detroit Lions Are Losers

1). William Clay Ford: owner forever
2). Matt Millen: General Manager 2001 - 2007
3). Marty Mornhinweg: his name and head coach 2001 - 2002
4). Matthew Stafford’s shoulder
5). Stroth’s Beer: 2000 stopped brewing in Detroit

Top Five Reasons Bristol Palin Will Win Dancing With the Stars

1). Sarah Palin
2). Sarah Palin
3). Sarah Palin
4). Sarah Palin
5). Two Buck Chuck

Top Five NHL Teams at a Quarter through the Season

1). Detroit Red Wings: Dan Cleary and Jimmy Howard
2). Los Angeles Kings: the best special teams
3). Vancouver Canucks: excellent depth this season
4). Montreal Canadiens: Jacques Martin head coach, St. Lawrence University alumnus
5). Washington Capitals: best forwards in the league

Top Five Institutions with the Worst Alumni

1). Ohio State University: enough said
2). Plattsburgh State University: poor marketing department
3). Whittier College: Richard M. Nixon
4). Clarkson College: engineers
5). University of Southern California: O.J. Simpson, Donald Segretti and Ron Ziegler

WORDS OF THE MONTHretrograde \RE-truh-greyd\, adjective: having a backward motion or direction; retiring or retreating; exhibiting degeneration or deterioration. “But, contrary to my expectations, the Search Committee took, a decided retrograde motion.”

temer, verb: to be afraid. "Teme al professor.”

Next week, our monthly finance blog and our jackass of the month.

Until next Monday, Adios and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Carmel By The Sea, CA
November 22, 2010

Monday, November 15, 2010

"One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer"

As we sort through holiday catalogs, internet email ads, newspaper ads, it is obvious most families have little money to spend on holidays this year. Too bad our local, state and federal governments are not this disciplined in their holiday spending. If we would listen to the Federal Reserve and Mr. Alan (it is time to just get out) Greenspan we should max out our credit cards. Rink Rats suggestion, hang on to your money, you will need it in 2011 when it is really going to get ugly; invest in bonds that have 0% interest, stocks are overvalued, housing will continue to slide, and unemployment will remain very high. One solution, follow Mr. Thorogood – “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer”.

Speaking of holidays, anyone want to venture a guess when the adult contemporary station goes all-Christmas in Southern California? It has to be just a matter of days. Several stations around the country have already gone full-blown holidays.

This holiday season instead of buying the latest warfare video game, how about giving to your local food bank, give blood, give your time to a local school or church, and think not of yourself but others.

FED HAS TO ACT BECAUSE NO ONE ELSE WILL - LA Times' report: There were the usual kind words and olive branches extended post-election day. But nothing could hide the fact that the two parties have deep and abiding differences on nearly every issue. ... The composition of the House and Senate may have changed, but not Washington: The place may be more polarized than ever. That could make it exceedingly difficult to accomplish anything of great magnitude between now and the next presidential election in November 2012. The clearest indication of the growing partisan gap was last week's rout of the Blue Dog caucus, a group of moderate and conservative Democrats who urged the party to adopt a more business-friendly and fiscally conservative agenda."

A MONETARY "HAIL MARY"? - WSJ: "Many outside the Fed, and some inside, see the move as a 'Hail Mary' pass by ... Bernanke. He embraced highly unconventional policies during the financial crisis to ward off a financial-system collapse. But a year and a half later, he confronts an economy hobbled by high unemployment, a gridlocked political system and the threat of a Japan-like period of deflation, or a debilitating fall in consumer prices. The Fed left open the possibility of doing more if growth and inflation don't perk up in the months ahead. The $75 billion a month in new purchases of Treasury debt come on top of $35 billion a month the Fed is expected to spend to replace mortgage bonds in its portfolio that are being retired."

ELECTION NIGHT TV - "Broadcast nets behind Fox on election night" - AP: "Fox News Channel came out on top during the one hour of midterm election coverage when the three broadcast networks and the cable news channels competed head-to-head. The Nielsen Co. said Thursday that Fox had 6.94 million viewers during the 10 p.m. hour Tuesday. NBC was second with 6.27 million, followed by CBS with 5.86 million and ABC with 5.53 million. CNN had 2.59 million viewers during that key hour and MSNBC had 2.04 million. ... ABC said the 6.79 million viewer average for its entire 90-minute election telecast beat NBC and CBS. CBS, whose evening news broadcast with Katie Couric is a perennial third-place finisher, touted its defeat of ABC at 10 p.m."

FED BREAKS TABOO - WSJ: "The Federal Reserve will print money to buy nearly as much U.S. Treasury debt in the next eight months as the U.S. government will issue. ... In normal times, this is one of the great taboos of central banking because it is seen as a step toward spiraling inflation and because it risks encouraging reckless government spending. The central bank is betting these aren't normal times. Financial markets last week responded warmly to the Fed move, but outspoken critics of the policy issued full-throated critiques. ... Thomas Hoenig, president of the Kansas City Federal Reserve and the lone dissenter in Wednesday's decision, said in an interview Thursday that he worried the Fed would be too slow to reverse the policy and that would cause new problems. 'Leaving it in there longer than-in hindsight-we will think was appropriate, will create the next series of problems, whatever those are,' he said. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and his allies argue that today's economy is too weak and banks too reluctant to lend to generate much inflation."

Dear Rink Rats:

I recently attended a dinner honoring an individual who is retiring after many years as President of an institution. The dinner was well attended with supporters of this individual and the institution. As the evening came to a conclusion, with the long winded speeches coming to an end it was time to acknowledge the individual. My question: is it mandatory to stand and applaud this individual? Is it proper to just sit and applaud? Can you recommend a proper and respectful action?

- Puzzled

Dear Puzzled:

It depends on how many Vice Presidents work under him or her at the institution. The higher the number of Vice Presidents the less we are obligated to stand and applaud. It should be obvious to anyone who has common sense, the efficiency of an organization is determined by the number of upper and middle managers it has. Has this individual administered the institution’s management properly? Only you can decide.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Troy Aikman (44), Traci Attman … a very special lady, Vice President Joe Biden (68), Prince Charles (62), Bo Derek (54), Larry King (77), Carrie Lewis … one of a kind, Stan Musial (90), Gary Player (75), Martin Scorsese (68), Sam Waterson (70).

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 11/20, they don’t get any bigger on the west coast, #6 Stanford Cardinal (9-1) @ California Bears (5-5), 3:30 PM ET, Prime Network. Stanford is 8 point favorites, give the points and pick Stanford and the next Michigan football coach, Jim Harbaugh.
Season to date (9-2).

SMALL COLLEGE PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 11/20, the road begins to the D-III football championship, the playoffs begin. Our game this week is a battle to settle a score. #17 Cal Lutheran Kingsmen (8-1) travel to #12 Linfield Wildcats (8-1), 3:00 PM ET, Bravo. The Kingsmen beat Linfield in week #1 but the Northwest Conference champ will win this rematch, 35-31.
Season to date (8-2).

NFL PICK OF THE WEEK – Sunday 11/21, Detroit Lions (2-7) @ Dallas Cowboys (2-7), 1:00 PM ET, Fox. The Lions are much better than their 2-7 record indicates and the Cowboys are coming off a big win against The Giants. Detroit is 7.0 point underdogs, take the points and pick The Lions to win in Dallas.
Season to date (4-6).

IN MEMORY – A correction to last weeks’ memorial to Sparky Anderson. He was not the only manager to win a World Series title in both leagues: Sparky Anderson - 1975 and 1976 Cincinnati Reds, 1984 Detroit Tigers and Tony LaRussa - 1989 Oakland Athletics, 2006 St. Louis Cardinals. Thank you Mr. H.

SPORTS BLINK – Congratulations to one of our favorites the Bonita High School Bearcats for finishing their regular season (9-1). Now it is on to the CIF playoffs.

NHL - The NHL's three stars for October were the Lightning's Steven Stamkos, Bruins' Tim Thomas and Avs' Chris Stewart. What no Red Wings?

Recipe of the Month: Pomtini

The combination of tart and sweet is a recipe for a party in anyone’s mouth, a great cocktail to celebrate the holidays.

1 ½ oz Vodka (we prefer Ketel One)
1 oz Juice – Pomegranate
1 ½ oz Juice – Grapefruit
½ oz Juice – Lime
½ oz Sugar – Syrup

Combine all ingredients in a mixing cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with orange twist or mint sprig.
“На здоровье (Na zdarov'e)”

Next week, what is a lame duck?

Until next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
November 15, 2010

Monday, November 8, 2010


The mid-term elections are now over we begin a new phase of lacking political consensus. When I see the new Speaker of the House, John Boehner (Fake Tan) is the largest House recipient of Wall Street money this past year, much of it from financial institutions bailed out by TARP and the single most important goal of the Republicans in Congress these next two years, per Senator Mitch McConnell, is for President Obama to be a one-term President, I figure it is now wise to concentrate on state politics.

But wait, the teacher union backed Jerry Brown is our new Governor. Hold on to your checkbook, California will now become even more expensive to reside in. Once small business gets a handle on how Governor Moon Beam will run the state, businesses will be heading for Oregon, Utah, Nevada and Arizona. I figure it is now wise to concentrate on local politics.

But wait, when I see that our City Manager in Claremont earning $265,789 per year in salary for a city with a population of 37,780 and when I see the Fire Chief of the City of La Verne, population 33,981, take a salary of $283,865 per year, I have to ask the question should I give a hoot! Stop the madness! From Washington to Sacramento to La Verne do any of these people have a clue? Have you ever visited a government agency or office? Does this behavior and expenditures warrant these salaries and policies?

Oh well, thank God Macy’s will be open at Midnight on Friday after Thanksgiving, I can feel better while I max out my credit card on products made in China, India, Vietnam by companies who used to be in the United States.

FIRST LOOK -- HENDRIK HERTZBERG, lead "Talk of the Town" in the forthcoming New Yorker: "Obama's temperament has become a political liability. In 2008, his calm was a synergistic counterpoint to the joyous excitement of the throngs that packed his rallies. In the tidy, quiet isolation of the White House, his serene rationality has felt to many like detachment, even indifference. For him and for the country, the next two years look awfully bleak. Capitol Hill will be like Hamburger Hill, a noisy wasteland of sanguinary stalemate. There will be no more transformative legislation; it will be all Obama can do simply to protect health-care reform from sabotage. The economy, like the climate, will be left to fend for itself. And the world will watch, wonder, and worry."

GEORGE W. BUSH's memoir, "Decision Points," will be out Tuesday and is getting the most extensive rollout of any book in history, according to publishing sources. The plan was choreographed by Bob Barnett; Dana Perino; David Sherzer, of the Office of George W. Bush; and David Drake, the director of publicity at Crown Publishers. It all starts Monday on NBC with a prime time hour with Matt Lauer. On Tuesday, Bush does a book signing in Dallas, and is featured on "The Oprah Winfrey Show." (The segments already taped at her studio in Chicago, and WITH HIS MOTHER AND FATHER in Kennebunkport, in a boat and at their compound on Walker's Point.) Also on Tuesday, Bush does Rush Limbaugh, and Sean Hannity radio and TV.

--On Wednesday, 43 appears again with Matt Lauer, this time live on "Today." On Thursday, he does Bill O'Reilly, at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, near Dayton, in connection with a Veterans Day Tribute. And on Friday, he does Greta Van Susteren, in connection with the groundbreaking of the George W. Bush Presidential Center, at SMU. On Saturday, a SEPARATE Sean Hannity interview airs. On Sunday, Nov. 14, he does a CBS News "Sunday Morning" segment with Jim Axelrod (with Mrs. Bush), and the president and Jeb Bush appear on CNN with Candy Crowley (so every interview has a unique component.) Then, the president is on "Fox and & Friends" from Monday, Nov. 15, through Wed., Nov. 17. Then on Thu., Nov. 18, he's on JAY LENO.

"DECISION POINTS" ($18.90 on Amazon)

FRANK RICH, "Barack Obama, Phone Home": "You can't win an election without a coherent message. Obama, despite his administration's genuine achievements, didn't have one. The good news ... is that the G.O.P. doesn't have one either. ... The president's travails are not merely a 'communications problem.' They're also a governance problem ... The plot of Obama's presidency has been harder to follow than 'Inception.' ... He can no longer limit interactions with actual working Americans to photo ops on factory floors or outsource them to a 'Middle Class Task Force' led by Joe Biden. ... In the 1946 midterms, the unpopular and error-prone rookie president Harry Truman, buffeted by a different set of economic dislocations, watched his party lose both chambers of Congress ... Two years after this Democratic wipeout, ... Truman roared back ... Surely there are dozens of supporters reassuring Obama with exactly this Truman scenario this weekend. But if he lacks the will to fight, he might as well just take his time and enjoy the sights of Mumbai."

MAUREEN DOWD - "'Blindsided': A President's Story": "In his deftly crafted and utterly selective new memoir, W. is the president we all wished him to be: compassionate, bipartisan, funny, charming, instinctive, independent, able to admit and learn from mistakes ... Heck, after I finished reading it, I was ready to vote for the guy. The book lacks the vindictive or vaporous tone of many political autobiographies. It's peppered with endearing personal stories, like the time W. made a Rose Garden speech supporting a Palestinian state and his mother called afterward to ask sarcastically, 'How's the first Jewish president doing?' But when I look at the sad eyes of President Obama, buried alive with his party beneath the heedless decisions and reckless spending and tax cuts of his predecessor, I snap out of it. ... Yet if W.'s decision-making leaves something to be desired, his story-telling is good. He writes of a visit to Russia, when Putin showed him his black Labrador, Koni. 'Bigger, stronger, and faster than Barney,' Putin bragged. Later, when W. recounted this to Stephen Harper, the Canadian prime minister, Harper drolly noted, 'You're lucky he only showed you his dog.'"

DRIVING THE WEEK - Obama will face some serious opposition to trade targets at the G-20 meetings on Thursday and Friday. He will also continue to get an earful from world leaders concerned that the Fed is pushing down the dollar to boost U.S. exports at their expense ... SIFMA annual meeting takes place at the Marriott Marquis in Manhattan beginning this morning. Top speakers include retiring Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro ... MSNBC's Keith Olbermann returns from his suspension on Tuesday ... Conan O'Brien kicks of his TBS show tonight at 11 p.m. ... Bond markets closed Thursday in honor of Veteran's Day

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Barbara Boxer (70), Bob Gibson (75), Billy Graham (92), Miranda Lambert (27), Al Michaels (65), Chris Noth (56), Gen. David Petraeus (58), Warner Wolf (73), Neil Young (65).

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 11/14, as the season is winding down a key SEC matchup with #22 South Carolina Gamecocks (6-3) visit the Florida Gators (6-3), 7:15 PM, ET ESPN. Can former coach Steve Spurrier pull off the upset in the swamp, Florida is 7 point favorites, we think they are too – pick Florida.
Season to date (9-1).

SMALL COLLEGE PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 11/14, an Empire 8 rivalry game with the Ithaca College Bombers (6-3) visit the 24th ranked Cortland State Red Dragons (8-1). Cortland State is playoff bound and has too much defense for The Bombers, pick Cortland 24 – 7.
Season to date (7-2).

NFL PICK OF THE WEEK – Sunday 11/15, New England Patriots (6-2) visit the Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2) in this battle of AFC big boys. Pittsburgh is 3.5 favorites and beginning to get into playoff form, give the points and pick the Steelers.
Season to date (4-5).

IN MEMORY – Sparky Anderson, the only major league baseball manager to win The World Series in each league, passed away this past week. A players’ manager he leaves behind a legacy of great baseball and philanthropy second to none.

SPORTS BLINK – Congratulations to the St. Lawrence University Saints football program for winning the Liberty League conference and earning a place in the D-III college football playoffs. The Saints record is 4-5 but who cares they are in the playoffs.

VETERANS DAY – is Thursday November 11, put up your flag and support our service men and women.

Next week, catalogs and holiday shopping.

Until next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
November 8, 2010

Monday, November 1, 2010

Autumn Is Here

You know autumn is here to stay when the sun no longer shines on sections of your garden. The sweater vests have now moved from the storage closet to the dresser. You know autumn is here to stay when hot tea is now the choice in the morning instead of orange juice and the U of M Wolverines are on a losing streak because they are now playing decent teams. You know autumn is here to stay because college administrators who were bragging about their great enrollment numbers two months ago are now panicking because they cannot balance their budgets, oh well lets’ raise the tuition a bit more.

You know autumn is here to stay because your summer tan is now a faded memory and you have to change the on/off timing on your indoor/outdoor lights. Crock pots are now in, barbecues are now out, apple cider tastes better, iced tea has lost its’ taste, Mexican food is out, Chinese food is in, obnoxious fund raising telephone calls from church, college, whatever, are growing, obnoxious political telephone calls have stopped, what to do for Thanksgiving and Christmas is always in the back of your mind, missing the warm sun on your face and the cool wind off the lake or ocean is always in the back of your mind – “how many more months to spring??” Ugh!!!

The 2010 Zagat Fast-Food Survey's Best Burgers:

1. Five Guys
2. In-N-Out Burger
3. Wendy's
4. Burger King
5. McDonald's

Rink Rats top five all time movies:

5). Slap Shot (1977)
4).The Maltese Falcon (1941)
3). Citizen Kane (1941)
2). The Godfather (1972)
1). Casablanca (1942)

SUNDAY READING - Letter to N.Y. Times Public Editor Arthur S. Brisbane - "Marriage and Achievement: The heavy majority of couples typically featured in the Sunday wedding announcements either attended elite universities, hold corporate management positions or have parents with corporate management positions. It's nice to learn about the nuptials of the privileged, but Times readers would benefit from learning about a more representative sampling of weddings in our diverse city. ... Max Sarinsky, Manhattan."

GDP LOOK AHEAD: DEPENDS ON CITIES/STATES - Reuters' Emily Kaiser reports: "The only question about the rate of U.S. economic growth right now is which adjective fits best: sluggish or slumping. The answer may lie in city halls and governors' mansions. ... The range of forecasts ... is wide, stretching from 1.0 percent to 3.6 percent. State and local government spending is one big wild card. ... State and local governments normally account for a little more than 12 percent of GDP, outpacing the federal government, which has been clocking in just above 8.0 percent since last year (and had been closer to 7.0 percent before the recession). Most states and municipalities have balanced budget rules, which means when revenues fall, something has to go. In September, it was jobs. State and local governments shed 83,000 workers last month, a huge surprise that made the overall employment picture look considerably darker than economists had expected."

POST-ELECTION: OBAMA TO FOCUS ON DEFICIT- AP's Ben Feller reports: "Preparing for political life after a bruising election ... Obama will put greater emphasis on fiscal discipline, a nod to a nation sick of spending and to a Congress poised to become more Republican. ... He is already giving clues about how he will govern in the last two years of his term. Obama will try to make gains on deficit reduction, education and energy. ... While trying to save money, Obama will have to decide whether to bend to Republican and growing Democratic pressure to extend Bush-era tax cuts, even for the wealthy, that expire at year's end. ... Moving to the fore will be a more serious focus on how to balance the federal budget and pay for the programs that keep sinking the country into debt."

PLAYBOOK ODDS FIXING: Republicans net 51 House seats (39 needed for control) - 8 Senate seats (10 needed for control). When people ask us our hot hunch for an upset, we say that Harry Reid could still win - gives you a sense of how bad the C.W. is for Ds. For the past two weeks, Alex "Morning Score" Burns' parlor-game hot hunch has been Rep. Joe Sestak (D) winning in PA SEN.

BOND YIELD GOES NEGATIVE - FT's Aline van Duyn, Michael Mackenzie and Nicole Bullock report in the page 1 splash: "The abnormal state of the credit markets came into focus as the US Treasury sold bonds with negative interest rates for the first time and Goldman Sachs prepared to issue its first 50-year debt deal. Both developments on Monday highlighted the difficult choices facing investors at a time when interest rates are at historical lows and the [Fed] is moving towards more asset purchases aimed at boosting the economy and staving off deflation. Investors who believe the Fed will succeed in its efforts - which would lead to higher inflation - accepted a yield of minus 0.55 per cent on $10bn of Treasury Inflation Protected Securities - or Tips - which compensate holders if the consumer price index rises. At the same time, retail investors looking for higher yields in the current low interest-rate environment were targeted by Goldman, which prepared to sell $250m of 50-year bonds that are expected to pay interest of up to 6.25 per cent."

HISTORY - In fact, divided government is the rule rather than the exception in the US; indeed, the last president to serve an entire term with both a House and a Senate controlled by his own party was Jimmy Carter.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Laura Bush (64), Glenn Frey (62), Art Garfunkel (68), Godzilla (56), Linda Gordon …famous shopper, David Kung …famous economist, Lyle Lovett (54), Jenny McCarthy (38), Maria Shriver (55).

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 11/7, a huge Pac 10 match up with the winner moving on to battle Oregon for the conference title; University of Arizona Wildcats (7-1) and 15th ranked visit the Stanford Cardinal (7-1) and 13th ranked, 8:00 PM ET, ABC. The future Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh led Cardinal are 7.5 point favorites, give the points and take Stanford.
Season to date (8-1).

SMALL COLLEGE PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 11/7, it is homecoming weekend in La Verne, CA as the winless Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens (0-7) visit the University of La Verne Leopards (0-7), 4:00 PM ET, Sci-Fi Channel. Both teams are desperate for a victory, but the Sagehens have the edge with a better quarterback, we pick The Sagehens in a close, high scoring game; 35-31.
Season to date (6-2).

NFL PICK OF THE WEEK – Sunday 11/8, it has been awhile but a meaningful game in the AFC West; Kansas City Chiefs (5-2) @ Oakland Raiders (4-4), 4:15 PM ET, CBS. Are The Raiders for real? They are 2.5 point favorites in this historic rivalry, we pick The Raiders.
Season to date (3-5).

RUNWAY FASHION - Fashion Week has come and gone, the runway collections have been shown, a winner has been chosen, and the losers have been sent home. Now all that's left is the reaction, and what a reaction it is.

Like a foul stench of hipsters and toxic waste out of an abandoned Village Venture port-a-john, Gretchen Jones won (spoiler alert!) and, it seems to me, no one is happy about this. In fact, I've heard more than one person say that they're going to quit watching the show. One word….”Mondo”.

IN MEMORY - Boston Globe p. 1, "Theodore Sorensen, JFK's aide and wordsmith, dies," by Bryan Marquard: "Theodore Chaikin Sorensen, whose prose mingled with the thoughts and words of his close friend John F. Kennedy to create some of the most memorable presidential speeches of the 20th century, died yesterday. Mr. Sorensen's wife, Gillian, said he died in a New York City hospital of complications from an Oct. 22 stroke. He was 82. Despite a stroke nine years ago that left him nearly sightless, Mr. Sorensen had continued to be a vibrant link intellectually and philosophically to the Kennedy administration and the Camelot aura that defined the clan, launching the political careers of the president's younger brothers, Robert and Edward. ...

"Through the years, reporters routinely asked Mr. Sorensen if he wrote the line in Kennedy's 1961 inaugural address that arguably is the most famous sentence the president ever spoke: 'Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.' 'Having no satisfactory answer, I long ago started answering the oft-repeated question as to its authorship with the smiling retort: "Ask not,"' Mr. Sorensen wrote in "Counselor: A Life at the Edge of History,' his 2008 memoir. ... Not yet 25 in January 1953 when Kennedy, then a US senator, hired him as an assistant, Mr. Sorensen had arrived in Washington, D.C., a year and a half earlier, fresh from law school and a life lived almost entirely in Lincoln, Neb."

EMAIL - Forty-one years ago last week, a pair of computer scientists tried to send the world's first computer-to-computer message via the internet. The message was to be the word "log." Their connection crashed before they got to "g”, sound familiar.

FINANCE - The most anticipated week of the year on Wall Street is finally here - and many are curious to see where the stock market will head once the midterm elections and this week's Fed meeting are in the books.

The Dow and S&P 500 have just posted their best combined September/October percentage gains since 1998, while the Nasdaq had its best performance for those two months since 1982.

SPORTS BLINK - Not even two generations of Presidents Bush could save the Texas Rangers from getting pushed to the brink by the red hot San Francisco Giants and their young gun pitcher Madison Bumgarner. World Series is 3 -1 Giants.

AND FINALLY – Where are the Notre Dame fans???? Anybody seen them????

Next week, $283K.

Until next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
November 1, 2010

Monday, October 25, 2010

VOTE: But for Whom???

My only recommendation for this coming Election Day November 2 is to take some time and vote seriously for your local candidates; the city councils, state senates, state assemblies, judges and local propositions that directly influence your life. How many of us can name your state senator? Your state assembly representative? Your superior court judge? Your school board members? These local elected officials control and influence our lives, not Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reed or Barbara Boxer. Take a few moments to visit their website, read their views or lack of views. Pay no attention to political advertising or whether they have a nice sounding name, get to know what the candidates are all about. I guarantee you will feel better knowing who you voted for and even though your candidates and choices may not win you will know you have participated honestly and seriously as a citizen.

FROM BAD TO WORSE FOR DEMS – Rink Rats has said for a weeks that Democrats will almost certainly lose the House. The question now seems to be just how bad it will be. POLITICO's James Hohmann reports that things did not improve over the weekend: "More bad polls. More bad fundraising numbers. More dreary talk on the Sunday shows. It added up to a brutal weekend for Democrats. ... In the eyes of the experts, the House Democratic majority most likely won't survive Nov. 2, with political handicappers expanding their predictions to envision the possibility of a Democratic wipeout. ... The Senate may stay in Democratic hands - but only by the narrowest of margins, so slim that it will make a handful of moderates from both parties the only people who will decide whether anything gets done."

Rink Rats predicts a net gain of 42 seats in the House and 4 seats in the Senate for the Republicans.

MARK HALPERIN's "One Nation" column on, "Why Obama Is in the Jaws of Political Death": "Barack Obama is being politically crushed in a vise. From above, by elite opinion about his competence. From below, by mass anger and anxiety over unemployment. And it is too late for him to do anything about this predicament until after November's elections. With the exception of core Obama Administration loyalists, most politically engaged elites have reached the same conclusions: the White House is in over its head, isolated, insular, arrogant and clueless about how to get along with or persuade members of Congress, the media, the business community or working-class voters. ... The politically good news for Obama is that no matter what the outcome of the midterm elections, everything changes in January. ... But before then, Republicans are almost certainly going to demonstrate that you can beat something with nothing, especially when Americans seem to think that the Obama Administration hasn't much to offer either, except more of the same that isn't working."

SIREN - "Three GOP candidates spend $243M," by Alexander Burns: "A group of three Republican candidates has spent nearly a quarter-billion dollars on statewide campaigns this cycle, overshadowing even the heavyweight independent groups commonly considered the biggest financial players of the 2010 election. The trio of Meg Whitman in California, Rick Scott [running for governor against Alex Sink] in Florida and Linda McMahon in Connecticut together has burned through more money than the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, American Crossroads and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees have pledged to spend - combined. ... None ... is ahead in the polls. ... Whitman and McMahon [are] behind."

FRANK RICH, "What Happened to Change We Can Believe In?": "PRESIDENT Obama, the Rodney Dangerfield of 2010, gets no respect for averting another Great Depression, for saving 3.3 million jobs with stimulus spending, or for salvaging GM and Chrysler from the junkyard. ... [T]he most relentless drag ... [is] the country's fatalistic sense that the stacked economic order that gave us the Great Recession remains not just in place but more entrenched and powerful than ever. No matter how much Obama talks about his 'tough' new financial regulatory reforms or offers rote condemnations of Wall Street greed, few believe there's been real change. ... We can blame much of this turn of events on the deep pockets of oil billionaires like the Koch brothers and on the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision ... But the Obama White House is hardly innocent. Its failure to hold the bust's malefactors accountable has helped turn what should have been a clear-cut choice on Nov. 2 into a blurry contest between the party of big corporations and the party of business as usual."

L.A. Times 1-col. lead, "TIMES/USC POLL: SURVEY SHOWS LEGAL POT BID FAILING ... Cooley and Newsom hold slim leads for attorney general and lieutenant governor": "California's marijuana legalization ballot initiative, Proposition 19, is trailing badly, according to a new Los Angeles Times/USC poll, which found likely voters opposing it 51% to 39%. In the race for attorney general, Republican Steve Cooley holds a narrow lead over his Democratic opponent, Kamala Harris. ... San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom has a slight lead in the race for lieutenant governor. Newsom was ahead of Republican Abel Maldonado, a former state senator from Santa Maria who was appointed lieutenant governor in April, 42% to 37%. The marijuana legalization measure has led in most polls, but support has softened recently. The initiative's supporters, who are short on money, have not run the television advertisements that most political strategists say are essential to communicate with voters in a state the size of California."

DRIVING THE WEEK - Eight days until the election and the state of play seems locked down: Washington appears headed to the very rare alignment of a GOP-controlled House and a Democratic Senate and White House. ... The dominant economic news will come Friday when Commerce releases its first take on third quarter GDP, offering Democrats one last shot at a decent headline number on the weekend before voters pull the lever (or touch the screen or whatever). Unfortunately for Dems, the reading is not likely to come in above an anemic 2 percent, up just slightly from 1.7 percent in the second quarter.

JACKASS OF THE MONTH – Nancy Pelosi and Sharron Angle. Two distinguished nominees; one (Pelosi) should know better and one (Angle) knows nothing. Nancy Pelosi has worn out her welcome as Speaker of the House, time to move on Ms. Pelosi. The Republicans on November 2 will win 42 seats and John (Is it real or fake tan?) Boehner could become the new Speaker. The Democratic Party supplies the bread and she has provided the baloney – well it is now time for a new head chef. Sharron Angle, Republican Senate candidate in Nevada, represents the new American political candidate in the tradition of Sarah Palin, Christine O’Donnell, Mike Villines, and a few of our local representatives who will remain nameless – one word for these candidates clueless. They are successful due to our insecurities, ignorance and our obsession with reality television.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Hillary Rodham Clinton (63), Charlie Daniels (74), Mike Eruzione (56), Bill Gates (55), Bobby Knight (70), Diego Maradona (50), Dan Rather (79), Grace Slick (71).

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 10/30, a Big 12 shoot out this weekend; #6 Missouri Tigers (7-0) @ #14 Nebraska Cornhuskers (6-1), 3:30 PM ET, ABC. A week after beating #1 Oklahoma the Tigers are 6 point dogs in Lincoln. Give the points and go with Nebraska.
Season to date (7-1).

SMALL COLLEGE PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 10/30, they don’t get any bigger in central Michigan than the Adrian Bulldogs (3-4) @ Albion Britons (4-4), 1:00 PM ET, MIAA Network. This MIAA Conference rivalry determines bragging rights to highway US 127, go with the Purple and Gold Britons this year.
Season to date (5-2).

NFL PICK OF THE WEEK – Sunday 10/31, a rare NFL win for The Swami last week – well get used to it! This week the (5-1) Pittsburgh Steelers @ (4-3) Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints, 8:00 PM ET, NBC. The Saints are favored by 1 point, give the points and pick The Saints to get back on track over The Steelers.
Season to date (2-5).

SPORTS BLINK - WORLD SERIES ODDS - Bloomberg, "Giants May Thrive as Underdog Against Rangers in World Series": "The Texas Rangers are the 5-6 favorite at the Las Vegas Hilton to win on their first visit to the World Series. The Giants, who last played for the Major League Baseball championship in 2002, are even money, meaning a winning $100 wager would return $100 along with the initial stake. 'It could be the closest World Series in years,' Jay Kornegay, executive director of the Las Vegas Hilton Race and Sports Book, said in a telephone interview. 'It's a fascinating contest between the pitching of the Giants and the hitting of the Rangers.'"

MEDIAWATCH - Chicago Tribune 4.5-col. lead, "Tribune Co. CEO resigns: Executive team replaces Michaels; exit follows uproar over behavior," by Michael Oneal and Phil Rosenthal: "Having lost the support of many employees, his board and the creditors that will soon take over the bankrupt media company, Tribune Co. Chief Executive Randy Michaels resigned Friday, as the company's board sought to end one of the most tumultuous episodes in the history of the 163-year-old Chicago institution. Michaels was replaced by a four-member office called the Executive Council, which will be charged with stabilizing the company while it struggles to exit bankruptcy court after almost two years of fractious, stop-and start negotiations with creditors. Michaels' departure followed weeks of escalating allegations that he and his 'friends and family,' a cadre of former colleagues and associates from the radio industry, had tarnished the company with boorish, sexist behavior and a general atmosphere of juvenile unprofessionalism in the corporate suite. ... By the time The New York Times published a report this month that colored the company as a raucous 'frat house' characterized by inappropriate, highly sexualized behavior, a lack of stored goodwill with large parts of the organization meant the team had little support when it most needed it."

WALL STREET is coming off seven weekly gains out of eight weeks as we enter the final five trading sessions of October - and barring a severe five-day slump, the major averages will end October with their third monthly gain out of four.

BUSINESS BURST -- --L.A. Times, "Aerospace suppliers brace for defense spending cuts: Nearly 5,500 California firms with a total workforce of more than 130,000 could be affected. Analysts expect many of these small shops to go out of business, merge with rivals or cut employees to survive," by W.J. Hennigan: "Aerospace has been one of the few bright spots in the region's dismal economy, offering high-wage engineering, manufacturing and administrative jobs at a time when construction, real estate and banking work has grown scarce. ... Most of these small shops depend on subcontracts from giant defense contractors, which have announced a wave of job cuts in recent weeks, citing expectations of a protracted contraction of Pentagon spending. ... 'This is not the 1990s,' Ashton Carter, the Pentagon's chief weapons buyer, said during a media conference last month. 'But neither is it the 2000s, when we had double-digit year-on-year growth and we could always reach for more money.”

COMPANIES PLOW CASH INTO STOCK BUYBACKS - WP's Jia Lynn Yang reports: "For months, companies have been sitting on the sidelines with record piles of cash, too nervous to spend. Now they're starting to deploy some of that money - not to hire workers or build factories, but to prop up their share prices. Sitting on these unprecedented levels of cash, U.S. companies are buying back their own stock in droves. So far this year, firms have announced they will purchase $273 billion of their own shares, more than five times as much compared with this time last year. ... But the rise in buybacks signals that many companies are still hesitant to spend their cash on the job-generating activities that could produce economic growth. Some companies are buying back shares partly because they don't want to invest in developing new products or services while consumer demand remains weak, analysts said. ... Historically low interest rates are also prompting some companies to borrow to repurchase shares."

LOTS OF OPENINGS; FEW HIRES - WSJ's Mark Whitehouse reports: 'Employers are being pickier, or not trying as hard as they usually do to fill the openings they have. The reasons for the foot-dragging are closely related to the reasons employers aren't creating many openings in the first place. Companies lack confidence about the outlook for consumer demand, they're not sure what the government will do with taxes and regulation, and they want to keep squeezing as much output from their current workers as they can. ... As of August, the recruiting intensity index stood 14% below the average for the seven years leading up to the recession. The economists estimate that the lack of intensity accounts for about a quarter of the shortfall in hires compared with openings.'

VIDEO OF THE MONTH – Check out this cool video of an Army Sergeant parachuting into University of Michigan Stadium (The Big House) – you don’t see them doing this in South Bend!

Next week, our monthly entertainment and dining reviews…remember to VOTE.

Until next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
October 25, 2010

Monday, October 18, 2010

Bankers: How Low Can You Go

The roll of a bank in our economic system is to be a safe depository for their customers’ monies in return for business and consumer loans (car, home, etc.). A bank is to make its’ profits from the difference earned on loan interest and the interest paid on their deposits. Beginning in 1980’s, these profits were not enough, banks saw other investment houses earning huge profits off new investments so they thought it was their turn to earn these profits. The problem is that bankers’ are not that smart. From the Savings & Loan debacle of the 1980’s, to deregulation under Bill Clinton in the 1990’s, to the look the other way administration of George Bush in the 2000’s, banks have developed a keen eye for unethical and fraudulent behavior. By creating securities off mortgages they never really should have loaned out to risky borrowers they have lost billions of dollars, of which has now been paid back by American citizens (taxpayers).

Today we now learn that the process by which bankers are foreclosing on the properties that they never should have financed is flawed by mismanagement. When will it end! It reminds me of an organization in the process of hiring a new President, only a select few can participate in the process but it is the whole organization that will suffer should the process select an incompetent leader. Commercial banks generated huge profits at very high risk with only a select few prospering and when this process collapsed it is the entire American taxpayers who pick up the tab for their unethical behavior. Where has accountability gone in our culture!

If you are interested in this please see the movie “The Inside Job”.

Speaking of the American taxpayer, ever wonder where your taxes go – here is an example from 2009:JUST HOW BAD IS THE HOUSING MARKET? - We offer some equally grim analysis from Laurie Goodman of Amherst Mortgage Insight suggesting that if the government does not step in with another (much more effective) modification program, one in 5 borrowers will lose their homes, which would be both politically and economically cataclysmic.

From Goodman's report: "The bottom line: 20 out of every 100 US 1st Lien Residential Mortgages are already impaired. 9 are seriously behind in their payments. 6 have been behind and are now 'Dirty Current' - these loans are re-defaulting at an eye-popping rate of 50% per annum. 5 are Underwater by more than 20% of current value and are defaulting at a 20% per annum pace."

JUST HOW BAD IS THE JOB MARKET? - ADP reports that private sector employers cut 39,000 jobs in September, much worse than expected. Couple that with grim housing data and you have a recipe for two things: Bad election results for Democrats (despite the usual late-cycle "tightening" in the polls) and almost certain action by the Federal Reserve in November to follow Japan's lead and plunge into serious quantitative easing. The Fed, in turn, is probably the Obama administration's only hope to juice the economy heading toward the reelection campaign because there will likely be no agreement on stimulus spending or serious tax cuts on Capitol Hill come January.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Chuck Berry (84), Willie Horton (68), Huell Howser (65), Kim Kardashian (30), Kevin Kline (63), Wynton Marsalis (49), Tom Petty (60), Lindsey Vonn (26).

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 10/23, the key college match up this weekend is between two Tigers; #6 (7-0) LSU @ #4 (7-0) Auburn, 3:30 PM ET, CBS. No one is hiding behind confidentiality in this big game, Auburn is favored by 4.5 points, give the points and take Auburn to win big. Season to date (6-1).

SMALL COLLEGE PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 10/23, a key Empire 8 conference match up this weekend: #18 (7-0) St. John Fisher Cardinals @ #19 (5-1) Alfred Saxons, 1:00 PM ET, HGTV. The winner of this game will be a likely E8 conference winner and on to the D-III playoffs. Take the Cardinals to win big on the road in western New York. Season to date (5-1).

NFL PICK OF THE WEEK – Sunday 10/24, The Swami’s troubles continue in the NFL this season. This week the New England Patriots (4-1) head to one of the best cities in America, San Diego to take on the Chargers (2-4), 4:15 PM ET, CBS. Norv Turner is in his last days as a head coach, San Diego is favored by 2.0 (no way), take the points and the Pats. Season to date (1-5).

The woman applying for a job in a Florida lemon grove seemed to be far too qualified for the job. The foreman frowned and said, "I have to ask you this: "Have you had any actual experience in picking lemons?" "Well, as a matter of fact, I have!" "I've been divorced three times, owned 2 Chryslers, and I voted for Obama." Thank you KG of NYC.

2,000 feet below the surface and we are watching LIVE the rescue of the miners, BUT I get no Blackberry signal in certain parts of Claremont AND my cable is always down…go figure.

WORDS OF THE MONTHfulsome \FUL-sum\, adjective: offensive to the taste or sensibilities. “The search committee’s visit with the employees proved nothing but fulsome flattery.”

desarrollar, verb: to develop; to take place. “La manifestación se desarrolló sin incidentes.”

SPORTS BLINK – The Bonita High School Bearcats continue to power through their football schedule (6-0). This week the Walnut High School Mustangs venture into Glenn Davis Field Friday October 22 @ 7:00 PM PT. Please support your local team wherever you live.

Next week, Rink Rats election 2010 picks, our monthly Finance comments and of course the Jack Ass of the month.

Until next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
October 18, 2010

Monday, October 11, 2010

Fall Gardening

You've been weeding until your back hurts all summer, but your job isn't over yet. Before the cold weather sets in there is plenty to do in your garden to keep it healthy and beautiful, and set it up for the spring.

Every area of the US is different. In Vermont you'll want to take precautions to protect young plants from the freezing cold, whereas in Claremont that won't be as much as a concern. Regardless, there are some garden tasks that are important in every climate.

If you aren’t interested in waiting until spring for color, now is the time to plant pansies. These little flowers will make it through the frosts and rebound in the spring with new blossoms. The perfect time to plant is when the soil is between 45 and 65 degrees.

You’ll want to neaten things up around the garden, and not just for appearance’s sake either. Cutting back perennials, removing dead annuals, and removing weeds and leaf debris will all keep the garden healthy through the winter and help protect against pests. Plastic bagging your fall leaves for trash pickup is not the way to go. Dispose of any diseased plants or materials, and it's best if the rest goes into a compost to feed your garden next year!

As temperatures fluctuate when winter sets in, the soil will heave and break up root systems. You can avoid this by mulching in the fall to keep the temperature more consistent. You can choose straw, mulched leaves, or wood shavings, but be aware each takes different considerations. Clear away the summer mulch first, and wait until the ground is frozen or almost frozen.

Finally, fall doesn't mean you have to forego fresh herbs; simply bring them indoors! Not all herbs will grow indoors, so be sure to read up and then select the appropriate varieties such as thyme, rosemary or even parsley. It is important that they receive enough sunlight, so place them in a location that receives approximately 6 hours of sunlight. Remember, some herbs will require less sunlight. During the fall and winter months, your herbs won't require as much water, however, misting will keep them happy!

PLANT SCIENCE BULLETIN – How prepared is the U.S. to meet future botanical challenges? The Chicago Botanic Garden and Botanic Gardens Conservation International‘s U.S. office have been working with partners across the country, including the Botanical Society of America, to assess current and future botanical capacity in the United States. The aim of this grant-funded project is to understand the resources we currently have to conserve and manage native plant species and habitat, identify gaps in capacity and highlight opportunities to fill them in the future. Thanks to the over 1,500 survey respondents and 30 workshop participants who contributed to this project in 2009. All surveys were anonymous, and covered topics like academic background, research & management interests and expertise, access to resources, & opinion on conservation issues. Full survey results are summarized in a report outlining strengths & areas for improvement in plant science education, research, & habitat management in the United States which can be viewed and downloaded at

DISSERTATION BLUES – For all our Rink Rats readers who are dealing with your dissertation these days here is an article to ease your pain:

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Sue Bird (30), Jeff Bracken …famous auto executive, Angela Landsbury (85), Bob Miller (72), PBS (40), Peanuts (60), Summer Sanders (38), Paul Simon (68), Karla Suffredini …the best Mom and Sister, George Wendt (62), Michelle Wie (21).

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 10/16, Number 1 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes (6-0) @ number 17 ranked Wisconsin Badgers (5-1), 7:00 PM ET, ESPN. The Buckeyes are 6.5 point favorites in Madison, give the points and again, I cannot believe I am saying this, we pick Ohio State to win in Cheese Land.
Season to date (6-0).

SMALL COLLEGE PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 10/16, another HUGE battle in Cheese Land; the Warhawks of University of Wisconsin at Whitewater (5-0) and ranked #1 in D-III visit number 17 University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire Blugolds (3-2), 4:00 PM ET, HGTV. The Warhawks are a power house we pick them in a close one, 28 – 24.
Season to date (4-1).

NFL PICK OF THE WEEK – Sunday 10/17, Brett Favre, his voice mails and the Minnesota Vikings entertain the troubled Dallas Cowboys (1-3), 4:15 PM ET, Fox. Dallas is a 2.5 point dog, Minnesota is coming off a tough Monday night game in New York, take the points and go with those Cowboys.
Season to date (1-4).

SPORTS BLINK - It's never too early for March Madness. USA Today's "College Basketball" special edition predicts a Final Four (Houston, April 2-4) of Duke v. UNC and Purdue vs. Michigan State, with Sparty spanking Blue Devils for national champion.

DAILY CALLER banner: "Fore More Years! After 14th straight report showing higher than 9.5% unemployment, Obama plays 52nd round of golf as president."

SOCIAL SECURITY 2011 — As if voters don't have enough to be angry about this election year, the government is expected to announce this week that more than 58 million Social Security recipients will go through another year without an increase in their monthly benefits. It would mark only the second year without an increase since automatic adjustments for inflation were adopted in 1975. The first year was this year.

TUBE WATCH - A lot of critics are calling this fall TV season lackluster but there are some bright spots. Here are my top picks:

1. "Boardwalk Empire" (airs 9 p.m. Sundays on HBO): cinematic and gripping, this Martin Scorsese gem is worth the investment.

2. “Mad Men” (airs 10 p.m. Sundays on AMC): the best show on television, if you are not watching it – stop watching mindless reality shows and watch “Mad Men”.

3. “Parenthood” (airs 10 p.m. Wednesday on NBC): great cast and good writing, which is rare for network television.

SHOCKER – LA Times reports that nearly 200(!) L.A. County employees made over $250K last year. And we wonder why California has a budget problem.

THE MARKETS - Stocks just finished their best September since 1939 but low volume and heavy short interest (bets on declines) suggest October could get much uglier. Or it could get even better if third quarter earnings come in strong and jobless claims keep dropping as they did yesterday. The real problem remains the consumer and all the pain of paying down debt that still remains ahead.

AGRICULTURE GOING STRONG - NYT's William Neuman reports: “Even as the broader economy falters amid signs of a weakening recovery, the nation's agriculture sector is going strong, bolstered in part by a surge in exports, according to federal estimates of farm trade and income released on Tuesday. The estimates confirm what economists have been saying for months: agriculture, which was generally not hit as hard by the recession as many other segments of the economy, remains a small bright spot going forward. … The estimates show that American farmers will ship $107.5 billion in agricultural products abroad in the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30. That is the second-highest amount ever, behind the record $115.3 billion in exports logged in 2008, when commodity prices soared as the global demand for agricultural products was helped by fast-growing economies in the developing world.”

BOB WOODWARD: "It's on the table. And some of Hillary Clinton's advisers see it as a real possibility in 2012. President Obama needs some of the women, Latinos, retirees, that she did so well with during the 2000 primaries. And so they switch jobs. And not out of the question. The other interesting question is, Hillary Clinton could run in her own right in 2016. And be younger than Ronald Reagan when he was elected president. Now, you talk to Hillary Clinton or advisers, they say no, no, there's never a political consideration here, no, no. Of course, the answer is, when you point out to them that her clout around the world when she goes to Europe, when she goes to Asia, when she goes anywhere, is, in part, not just because she's secretary of state or because she was married to Bill Clinton, that people see a potential future president in her."
As predicted in Rink Rats.

Next week, Bankers have replaced Used Car Salesman as the slugs of the planet.

Until next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
October 11, 2010