Monday, September 27, 2010

Hot and Cold

This weekend in Southern California it is hot! In Claremont Sunday the temperature was 106 degrees. Many people say it is global warming or the world is out of whack, but realistically September is always the warmest time of year in Southern California, it is just a bit more extreme this weekend, so just “deal with it”.

The same holds true with the economy, it is in a mess. It will be years until we can say finance is back to normal (if there is a normal). But this happens, yes a bit more extreme this time around but economies crash and go into slumps. Two years ago this week, the financial world imploded. In the past 24 months, the markets have recovered big chunks of their losses. As it turns out, the government bailouts, guarantees, direct investments, and loans prevented a collapse and created the conditions for a market and economic recovery, however shaky.

The Panic of 2008 left behind a legacy: heightened investor skepticism, new regulations, and a shrunken financial sector. There were and are plenty of losers; 125 banks have failed, unemployment is high and will remain high until business becomes confident in the recovery, all government budgets have been severely affected, and faith in our leadership has lessened. But we still go on; we cackle and text into more cellular phones, if you don’t have a HD television in every room of your home you are in the minority, women pay $250 for purses, men pay $250 to watch The Lakers. We “deal with it” and no matter how it seems the economy is out of whack, like this past weekend’s heat wave it will pass and what we think and believe is normal will return.

RECESSION HAS ENDED - The organization responsible for dating changes in the U.S. business cycle said the U.S. recession that started in December 2007 ended in June of last year.

In a statement on its website, the National Bureau of Economic Research said that in determining an end to the downturn, "the committee did not conclude that economic conditions since that month have been favorable or that the economy has returned to operating at normal capacity." As worries persist about the struggling U.S. economy and its future path, the NBER warned "any future downturn of the economy would be a new recession and not a continuation of the recession that began in December 2007."

BIG MARKET CHANGES SINCE LEHMAN - WSJ's Tom Lauricella and Mark Gongloff report on pg. C1: “Two years after Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. collapsed into bankruptcy, the impact of the financial crisis can be seen on almost every market around the globe. The preference of investors for reliable income streams from bonds of all types has led to big rallies in both safe-haven U.S. Treasurys and risky 'junk' bonds, even amid a chorus of warnings about a 'bond bubble.' But many stock markets, most notably in the U.S., haven't reclaimed losses suffered since Lehman filed for bankruptcy on Sept. 15, 2008. The Dow Jones Industrial Average remains more than 900 points below its pre-Lehman level. U.S. financial stocks, at the epicenter of the crisis, remain nearly a third lower than where they were two years ago.”

NFL TICKET PRICES - AP: "The Team Marketing Report said Friday that average ticket prices for NFL games increased 4.5 percent this year to $76.47, up from a 3.9 percent hike last season. The New York teams had the steepest increases after moving into the New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. Jets non-premium tickets went up 31.8 percent to $114.64 on average, and the Giants rose 26 percent to $111.69. New Orleans raised its average 20.5 percent to $74.99 after winning the Super Bowl. New England's prices stayed flat, but it still had the highest average cost - $117.84. ... Cleveland has the lowest average ticket price at $54.51."

OLDER UNEMPLOYED FEAR NEVER WORKING AGAIN - NYT's Mokoto Rich reports on pg. A1: "Since the economic collapse, there are not enough jobs being created for the population as a whole, much less for those in the twilight of their careers. Of the 14.9 million unemployed, more than 2.2 million are 55 or older. Nearly half of them have been unemployed six months or longer, according to the Labor Department. The unemployment rate in the group -7.3 percent - is at a record, more than double what it was at the beginning of the latest recession. After other recent downturns, older people who lost jobs fretted about how long it would take to return to the work force and worried that they might never recover their former incomes. But today, because it will take years to absorb the giant pool of unemployed at the economy's recent pace, many of these older people may simply age out of the labor force before their luck changes. ... Being unemployed at any age can be crushing. But older workers suspect their résumés often get shoved aside in favor of those from younger workers."

WHO'S STILL RICH? Per Forbes: Bill Gates ($54b), Warren Buffett ($45b), Larry Ellison, Christy Walton, Charles Koch, David Koch, Jim Walton, Alice Walton, S. Robson Walton, Michael Bloomberg ($18b), Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Sheldon Adelson, George Soros, Michael Dell.

TREASURY TO SCALE DOWN GM IPO - NYT's Nick Bunkley and Michael J. de la Merced report on pg. B1: "The initial public stock offering by General Motors will be smaller than previously suggested, and the federal government will most likely sell a relatively small portion of its 61 percent stake in the company, according to people with knowledge. ... To fetch the highest possible price for the government, G.M. is planning an overall offering of stock valued at $8 billion to $10 billion, which is lower than previous internal targets. ... Earlier, there were suggestions the stock offering could rival the largest in United States history, when the credit card giant Visa raised more than $19 billion in 2008. G.M. and its bankers had been pushing for the largest possible offering because that would mean higher fees for the bankers and a larger pool of investors for G.M. But the Treasury Department has made it clear to G.M. and its underwriters that the government is more interested in setting the highest price possible for the stock rather than maximizing the size of the offering. While both G.M. and the Treasury still hope to reduce the government's stake in the company to less than 50 percent and rid the company of its Government Motors nickname, that goal may not be met, one of the people said."

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 10/2, Stanford Cardinal (4-0) ranked #9 visit the Oregon Ducks (4-0) ranked #4, 8:00 PM ET, ABC. Jim Harbaugh (next coach at Michigan) takes his Cardinal into the Duck Pond, give the 6.5 points and take the Ducks. Season to date (4-0).

NFL PICK OF THE WEEK – Sunday 10/3, Baltimore Ravens (2-1) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (3-0), 1:00 PM ET, CBS. Who cares about Big Ben, The Steelers are 3-0, give the 1.0 points and bet on the “Steel Curtain”. Season to date (1-2).

SMALL COLLEGE PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 10/2, The tenth ranked Polar Bears of Ohio Northern (3-0) visit the number two ranked Mount Union Purple Raiders in a HUGE Ohio Athletic Conference tilt, 1:30 PM ET. Mount Union has too many veterans, go with the Purple Raiders as they march to the Stagg Bowl. Season to date (3-0).

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to President Jimmy Carter (86), Don “Soul Train” Cornelius (74), Cynthia Denne…famous Health Crusader, Bryant Gumbel (62), Steve Lesniak…famous Education Crusader, Jacques Martin (58), Se Ri Pak (33), Sting (59).

DONALD RUMSFELD'S memoir, "Known and Unknown," will be out in January. AP National Writer Hillel Italie: "Rumsfeld, 78, will write about his childhood and long political career, ... the publisher, Sentinel, said in a statement Monday. ... Rumsfeld received no advance and will donate all proceeds to veterans charities. The statement from Sentinel, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA), said Rumsfeld would include anecdotes about everyone from Elvis Presley to his close friend and ally Dick Cheney, the former vice president whose own memoir is scheduled for the spring."

JACKASS OF THE MONTH – It is the purpose of this blog to inform, offer insight and opinion. Again this month we honor those who go beyond the call of duty to humiliate themselves. This month in the short history of this blog we have our first two time winner: Robert Rizzo, former City Manager, and seven other former city officials. For stealing millions of dollars from the City of Bell, California. It takes a very special JACKASS to achieve this ultimate in recognition. It is a mad, mad, mad, mad world when individuals who are appointed or elected to represent their fellow citizens take advantage of them as they have done in Bell. It should be every citizen’s responsibility to hold their public officials accountable; thank you to citizens of Bell, L.A. County and the Los Angeles Times.

Next week: The first of October, are the Christmas decorations up yet?

Until next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
September 27, 2010

Monday, September 20, 2010

I Am Not Happy

I’m not happy when I see leaders (administrators) who spin their poor performances and poor leadership by sending emails glorifying achievements they accomplished not by their own decisions but through the luck and the good fortune of the situation.

I’m not happy when I see the only two choices I have for Governor is a candidate who is a puppet for the labor unions and Willie Brown Democrats and a candidate who thinks the best way to solve a problem is click the delete button.

I’m not happy that I cannot spend more time with my father.

I’m not happy when RR in Ann Arbor has an attitude about his job after only three wins over average at best teams, Mr. R you still have to beat that school to the south before you get to keep your job.

I’m not happy Stevie Y is in Tampa Bay, he’ll be back in Hockeytown.

I’m not happy until I get a “ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ snack”.

I’m not happy most drivers still cackle on their cells phones while driving and never use their turn signals.

I’m not happy when nieces and nephews do not send “thank you” notes.

I’m not happy when I drive on the I-94 freeway from Chicago to Detroit and there is a mileage marker every .2 miles – a waste of money and it drives you nuts.

I’m not happy that Representative John Boehner can get away with having a “fake” tan.

I’m not happy when I see Graduate students unable to write a complete, simple sentence or know how to research a subject.

I’m not happy when I see awarded Graduate degree individuals unable to write a complete, simple sentence or know how to organize their day or communicate effectively with others.

I’m not happy that I probably will have to pay more taxes this year.

I’m not happy when I have to share a bathroom.

I’m not happy when I do not know who is Mike Villines.

I’m not happy that it costs $9.00 for a watered down beer at the L.A. County Fair.

I’m not happy when I see the only qualification for working on L.A. local news is cleavage and knowing how to say “breaking news” in as many ways as possible.

I’m not happy when I cannot cheer up people I love who are sad.

I’m not happy when I have to drive Foothill Boulevard.

I’m not happy when I realize I have more email accounts than pairs of pants; I must be a “geek”.

I’m not happy that the only decent bar/restaurant east of Pasadena is in Arcadia, Matt Denny’s.

I’m not happy when organizations must resort to telemarketing firms to solicit donations instead of using their own employees and students.

I’m not happy that after 45 years of playing golf I still stink!!!!

I am happy now; I appreciate the opportunity to vent.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 9/25, number one ranked Alabama Crimson Tide (3-0) head to Arkansas (3-0) to take on number ten ranked Razorbacks at 1:30 PM ET, CBS. The Tide are four point favorites, give the points and pick Alabama to continue to be the best team in the country. Season to date (3-0).

NFL PICK OF THE WEEK – Sunday 9/26, Detroit Lions (0-2) @ Minnesota Vikings (0-2) at 1:00 PM ET, CBS. The winner of this game has a chance at a decent season, the loser can get ready for hockey. Minnesota is a ten point favorite, we take the points and go with Detroit to begin the long road back. Season to date (1-1).

SMALL COLLEGE PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 9/25, The Dutch of Central College (3-0) at The Kohawks of Coe College (3-0), 2:00 PM ET. The Iowa Conference has never had two top ten ranked teams meet before. We take Coe to beat Central College by a score of 21 - 17, in this huge inter-conference game. Season to date (2-0).

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Michael Douglas (66), Faith Hill (43), Guy La Fleur (59), Tom Lasorda (83), Sophia Loren (76), Bill Murray (60), Lute Olson (76), Bruce Springsteen (61), Ava Suffredini (5), Julius Walecki…famous economist.

OUTLAW PLASTIC BAGS IN CA - The bill, carried in the Senate by Gil Cedillo of Los Angeles, received just 14 votes on the final night of the legislative session. Six Democrats joined Republicans in opposing the measure to ban single-use plastic bags statewide. The bill "had been the subject of a furious lobbying campaign by the plastic bag manufacturing industry, which called it a job killer. It would have been the first statewide ban, although a few California cities already prohibit their use."

Will we ever have leadership in environmental policies in this country? With plastic bags in California and throughout the country and wet lands recovery in Louisana – this generation of leaders is leaving the world a far worse place for the next generation.

MEDIAWATCH - “News-hungry public still using 'old media,'” by Howard Kurtz (“Media Notes” column on Style front): “A new Pew Research Center study says that on a given day, Americans spend 57 minutes getting the news from television, newspapers or radio, just as they did in 2000. But they spend an additional 13 minutes each day consuming news on the Web -- a figure that doesn't even include stories viewed on cellphones. … Andrew Kohut, the center's president, … noted that nearly one in 10 people under 30 volunteered that they read the New York Times online when asked to name a few Web sites they use for news and information.”

COMING SEPT. 24 -- “Waiting for 'Superman,'” a sobering documentary by Davis Guggenheim, director of “An Inconvenient Truth” - Synopsis, from Paramount Vantage and Participant Media: “The movie exposes several uncomfortable truths about the present state of public education in the U.S.: A shocking number of students in the United States attend schools where they have virtually no chance of learning-failure factories likelier to produce drop-outs than college graduates … In many school districts around the country, admittance to the best public schools is determined through a lottery system, where our kids are either 'winners' or 'losers' … Most school districts are unable to reward great teachers or fire bad teachers, so instead they're transferred from school to school, or suspended with full pay for years, doing nothing.”

The call to action and reform, spelled out on screen during the credits: “Our system is broken And it feels impossible to fix But we can't wait … We know what works -- quality teachers, more classroom time, world class standards, high expectations, real accountability … The problem is complex - but the steps are simple: It starts with teachers becoming the very best, leaders removing the barriers to change, neighbors committed to their school, you willing to act.

LOST DECADE INDEED - No way to spin the Census numbers as anything less than horrifying. The aughts were simply terrible for the non-rich in America. Just a couple of the grim facts: poverty rate up to 14.3 percent in 2009; median household income adjusted for inflation down 4.8 percent. Bottom line: Life in middle class and below America is getting steadily worse and there is nothing on the horizon likely to change that. And we wonder why so many people are really, really angry and casting around for something different.

COLIN POWELL, who endorsed Barack Obama in 2008, tells NBC's David Gregory on "Meet the Press": "The President ... has to, I think, shift the way in which he has been doing things. I think the American people feel that too many programs have come down. There are so many rocks in our knapsack now that we're having trouble carrying it. I think the president has to, like a razor blade, just go right after the single issue that is uppermost in the minds of the American people, and that's employment. And he's done a lot with health care, with cap-and-trade, with education. And I understand the importance of all of that. But as far as the American People are concerned, the main attack is employment. ... I think he has lost some of the ability to connect that he had during the campaign. And it is not just me picking on the President. It's reflected in the polling."

HIGHLIGHT REEL – Michigan State Spartans “great call” to beat Notre Dame this past Saturday.

Next week: Our monthly economics review and our Jackass of the month.

Until next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
September 20, 2010

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Recipes for the Soul

With the economy still in the tank, politicians promising and unaccountable, and the pace of life picking up after a relaxing summer, Rink Rats thought it best to provide a few recipes for the soul. To ease our readers into the autumn season and relax you with some comfort food and drink:

First a wonderful recipe for a Pulled Pork Sandwich – there is nothing better on a crisp fall day to bite into superbly prepared PPS. To wash it down a drink entitled Spicey Red Beer, a concoction perfectly suited for the fall and especially tailgating. We top our recipes for the soul with Tequila Bars. There is no better way to end a meal or to just snack, on these wonderfully lite and flavorful bars.

Pulled Pork Sandwich

For the Pork:
• 6 tablespoons paprika
• 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
• Scant tablespoon onion powder
• Kosher salt and coarsely ground pepper
• 1 10-to-12-pound boneless pork shoulder or Boston butt, rinsed and dried
• 12 soft hamburger buns, split
• Coleslaw, for serving

For the Barbecue Sauce :
• 2 cups ketchup
• 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
• 1/4 cup granulated sugar
• Freshly ground pepper
• 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
• 1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
• 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
• 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
• 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
• 2 tablespoons light corn syrup

If using a gas grill, preheat to high on one side; put soaked wood chips in a smoker box. Once smoking, reduce the heat to maintain a temperature of 275 degrees F and cook the pork, covered, on the cooler side of the grill.

Rub the pork
Make the barbecue seasoning: Mix the paprika, sugar and onion powder in a bowl. Transfer 3 tablespoons seasoning to a separate bowl, add 2 tablespoons salt and 3 tablespoons pepper, and massage onto the pork. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to 1 day. (Reserve the remaining barbecue seasoning.)

Prepare the wood chips
Soak 6 cups wood chips in water, about 15 minutes, then drain. Don't over soak, or the wood will snuff out the fire.
Light the grill
Fill a smoker or kettle grill with charcoal and light. (Rink Rats use lighter fluid; you can also use a chimney starter.) When the coals are mostly white, spread them out with tongs. Spread 1/2 cup of the wood chips over the coals (use 1 cup for a kettle grill). The temperature of the grill should be about 275 degrees F.

Cook the pork.
Place the pork fat-side down on a rack in the smoker or on the grill. Cover and cook, rotating the pork every hour or so, until a thermometer inserted into the center registers 165 degrees F, about 6 hours total.
Feed the grill
As the pork cooks, add more charcoal and wood chips to keep the temperature between 250 degrees F and 275 degrees F and to maintain the smoke level.

Make the sauce
Meanwhile, mix the ketchup, 1 cup water, both sugars, 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper, the onion and mustard powders, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, corn syrup and 1 tablespoon of the reserved barbecue seasoning in a saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, at least 2 hours. Let cool, then reheat on the grill when ready to use. "Time for a beer break, this is a long recipe."

Shred the pork
Transfer the pork to a rimmed baking sheet (you'll want to catch all the flavorful juices) and let stand until cool enough to handle. Shred into bite-size pieces, pile on a platter and pour any juices from the baking sheet on top.

Make the sandwiches
Mound the pork on bun bottoms, paint with a little barbecue sauce, top with slaw and cover with the bun tops. The best sandwich ever.

Spicey Red Beer

• Ice cubes
• 1/2 cup tomato juice
• 1 dash Worcestershire sauce
• 1 dash hot sauce
• Splash olive juice
• 1 (12-ounce) bottle ale style beer
• Pimento stuffed olive, for garnish

In a frosted beer mug filled with ice, combine tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce and a splash of olive juice. Pour in cold beer. Garnish with olive. Also good for a hangover.

Tequila Bars

• 1 12-ounce box vanilla wafers
• 1/2 cup pine nuts
• 3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), melted
• 1/3 cup tequila
• 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
• 5 large egg yolks, plus 2 egg whites
• 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
• 1 tablespoon sugar
• Agave nectar or honey, for drizzling (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Pulse the wafers and pine nuts in a food processor until well ground up. Add the butter and blend until evenly mixed. Set aside 1/4 cup of crumbs; press the rest evenly into a 9-by-13 baking pan. Bake until golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes. Cool.

In a medium bowl, thoroughly whisk together the tequila, lime juice, egg yolks and condensed milk.
In another medium bowl, beat the egg whites and sugar with an electric mixer until they hold soft peaks. Gently fold the egg whites into the tequila mixture. Spread the filling evenly over the crust and bake for 25 minutes; cool. Sprinkle the reserved crumbs on top. Chill in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight before cutting. Drizzle with agave nectar, if desired.

"Feel better."

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 9/18, Iowa Hawkeyes (2-0) @ Arizona Wildcats (2-0), 10:30 PM ET, ESPN. The 9th ranked Iowa Hawkeyes march into the desert favored by 1.0 point. We pick The Wildcats to beat their Big Ten rivals, take the points. Season to date (2-0).

NFL PICK OF THE WEEK – Sunday 9/19, New England Patriots (1-0) @ New York Jets (0-0), 4:15 PM ET, CBS, NYJ -1.0 point. Rex Ryan will have his hands full in this key early season match up, The Jets will need more than a cocky coach to beat the Pats, take the points and the Patriots. Season to date (1-0).

SMALL COLLEGE PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 9/18, Alfred University Saxons @ St. Lawrence University Saints, 1:00 PM ET. The 25th ranked Saxon Warriors roll into Canton with a power house, no chance for the Saints, 40 -10 Alfred. Season to date (1-0).

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week for Lauren Bacall (86), Maria Bartiromo (43), George Blanda (83), B.B. King (86), Dan Marino (49), Dan Pugliese (??), Bill O’Reilly (61), Trisha Yearwood (46).

IF YOU THINK YOUR “STUFF” MATTERS (aerial of homes destroyed in San Bruno, Calif., when a natural-gas pipe exploded)

BASEBALL SOAP OPERA - Now, as the 2010 season draws to a close, the torpedo has struck a direct hit. The (Frank & Jamie) McCourts are in a free-fall for all the public to watch, live in divorce court, California-style; and their grand bauble – The Los Angeles Dodgers, historically the beacon of continuity, respect and backroom influence -- has crumbled on and off the field. Even worse, the team is being defined by a word that hasn't been associated with the franchise since World War II: unstable.

The collapse is an extraordinary example of greed and unaccountability gone wild in a decade already full of them. Piece by litigated piece, the most important West Coast franchise in the game is being tarnished, and the skeptics who doubted the McCourts in the first place are swallowing the bittersweet aftertaste of being right.

GOOD BYE - For three decades, Paul Conrad's cartoons in the Los Angeles Times were conversation starters, debate shapers and eyeball attractors. He was one of the paper's best known journalists, the one sure to draw the longest lines at book signings and other public appearances. He was liberal but skewered almost everybody, and he famously had independence from the editor and publisher, who would regularly get calls from this or that mayor, senator or president demanding that Conrad be stopped. One of his favorite honors was to be included on President Richard Nixon's enemies list, and his website says his favorite irony was "holding the Richard M. Nixon Chair at Whittier College (1977-78.)"

Next week: "I'm not happy".

Until next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
September 13, 2010

Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day

The first Labor Day was observed on September 5, 1882 in New York City, by the Central Labor Union of New York, the nation’s first integrated major trade union. It became a federal holiday in 1894, when, following the deaths of a number of workers at the hands of the U.S. military and U.S. Marshalls during the Pullman Strike, President Grover Cleveland put reconciliation with the labor movement as a top priority. Fearing further conflict, legislation making Labor Day a national holiday was rushed through Congress unanimously and signed into law a mere six days after the end of the strike. The September date originally chosen by the CLU of NY was selected as the official date. All 50 U.S. states have made Labor Day a state holiday.

A LABOR DAY THOUGHT WE LIKED, from NPR's Scott Simon: “Having no job does not mean having no work. Your children must still be fed, bathed, and ferried to school … But you have less money for food, gas, and the new shoes your children need for school. … Having no job means that things people talk about these days -- iPads, android phones, 3-D movies, new music, or meeting friends over $4 coffee drinks -- are just beyond reach. You worry about getting dull, having nothing to talk about, and losing friends. … You may blame politicians, brokers and bankers, but in the middle of the night you might turn your eyes to the sky and wonder what you did, didn't do, or should have done. … This Labor Day we might salute the millions of Americans who don't have jobs, but who in many ways work harder than ever.”

L.A. Times lead story: “Ugly reality looms for job seekers: It could be years before the labor market recovers. Many will run out of benefits long before that,” by Alana Semuels: “Major employers including automakers and building contractors were at the core of the meltdown this time around. Even when the economy picks up, these sectors won't quickly rehire all the workers they shed during the downturn. Many small businesses, squeezed by tight credit and slow sales, similarly aren't in a hurry to add employees. Some big corporations are enjoying record profits precisely because they've kept a tight lid on hiring. And state and local governments are looking to ax more teachers, police officers and social workers to balance their budgets.”

LABOR DAY ALSO REPRESENTS – unofficial kick off for the fall political campaigns (same old promises, same old results); hockey season is not too far away; the three plus hour baseball games are almost over (especially for L.A. Dodger and Angel diehards); SC hottest month (September) is now here; U.S. Open Tennis & College Football all weekend; time to tax plan for the end of the year; and of course time to go back to work (ugh)!

BREAKING - LARRY J. SABATO, Director, U.Va. Center for Politics, “Sixty Days to Go: The Crystal Ball's Labor Day Predictions: “Republicans have a good chance to win the House by picking up as many as 47 seats, net [39 needed for control]. This is a 'net' number since the GOP will probably lose several of its own congressional districts in Delaware, Hawaii, and Louisiana. … If anything, we have been conservative in estimating the probable GOP House gains, if the election were being held today.

“In the Senate, we now believe the GOP will do a bit better than our long-time prediction of +7 seats. Republicans have an outside shot at winning full control (+10), but are more likely to end up with +8 (or maybe +9, at which point it will be interesting to see how senators such as Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, and others react). GOP leaders themselves did not believe such a result was truly possible just a few months ago. If the Republican wave on November 2 is as large as some polls are suggesting it may be, then the surprise on election night could be a full GOP takeover. Since World War II, the House of Representatives has flipped parties on six occasions (1946, 1948, 1952, 1954, 1994, and 2006). Every time, the Senate flipped too, even when it had not been predicted to do so. These few examples do not create an iron law of politics, but they do suggest an electoral tendency. The seat switches are probably coming in Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware (but only if the eventual GOP nominee is Rep. Mike Castle), Indiana, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania. We expect Republicans to pick off at least a couple of these states: California, Illinois, Nevada, Washington, and Wisconsin. While it is possible that Republicans will lose one or two of their own open seats, the only 50-50 chance of that right now is in Florida-and it might not happen even there. There can also be unanticipated shockers if a GOP wave develops. While we rate Gov. Joe Manchin (D) the early favorite to fill the late Sen. Robert Byrd's seat, his Republican opponent, John Raese, is a self-funder in a strongly anti-Obama state. The inescapable conclusion is that the Senate is on the bubble, with only a slight lean at Labor Day toward Democratic retention.

“The statehouses will provide the third leg of the Republicans' 2010 victory. We have long suggested the GOP would gain a net +6 governorships. We now believe they will win +8. This boon to the GOP for redistricting will be enhanced by a gain of perhaps 300 to 500 seats in the state legislatures, and the addition of Republican control in 8 to 12 legislative chambers around the country.”

FIRST LOOK - NEW YORK's John Heilemann, “A debate has been raging over why our education system is failing. A new documentary by the director of 'An Inconvenient Truth' throws fuel on the fire: Davis “Guggenheim's new film, 'Waiting for “Superman,”' is set to open in New York and Los Angeles on September 24 … Guggenheim has uncorked a kind of sequel: the 'Inconvenient Truth' of education … 'Superman' ... traces the stories of five children -- all but one of them poor and black or Hispanic -- and their parents as they seek to secure a decent education by gaining admission via lottery to high-performing charter schools. At the same time, the film is a withering indictment of the adults -- in particular, those at the teachers union -- who have let the public-school system rot, and a paean to reformers such as Canada and Michelle Rhee … 'The movie is going to create a sense of outrage, and a sense of urgency,' says Arne Duncan, Barack Obama's secretary of Education. Obama has … unfurled an education agenda that has delighted reformers, upset the unions, and in the process delivered more on his promise of transcending partisan divisions in the service of pragmatism than he has on any other issue. 'The chief obstacle for “An Inconvenient Truth” was the environmentalists, who'd become smug and complacent and had no idea how to tell their own story,' [Guggenheim] says. 'It's the same with the education wonks. They're gonna pick apart this aspect and that aspect of the movie, and they're gonna totally miss the point.'”

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week for Carly Fiorina (56), Hugh Grant (50), Brett Hull (46), Garrison Keillor (68), Mickey Lolich (70), Rachel Ward (53), Rogie Vachon (65).

SPORTS ILLUSTRATED forecasts SUPER BOWL XLV: Steelers 33, Packers 27.

SPORTS BLINK - USA Today cover story, “STADIUM VS. HOME: Can the NFL make being there match what's on TV?” by Sean Leahy: “The average cost to take a family of four to an NFL game was $413 in 2009. … DirecTV sells its season-long Sunday Ticket package - aggressive … to make trips to stadiums more appealing. … The Dallas Cowboys set a new standard with a massive overhead HD video board that was unveiled last year at the team's new $1.2 billion stadium in Arlington, Texas. The New York Jets and Giants opened a shared, $1.6 billion stadium with HD boards this season, and the Baltimore Ravens, New England Patriots and Washington Redskins installed giant HD boards this year that cost millions of dollars and will offer fans not just live action and replays but also the RedZone Channel. The Ravens are among several teams wiring their stadium so fans can use Wi-Fi with their cellphones. Meanwhile, some teams are testing mobile units that will allow fans to see replays and other games from their seats. The Patriots are among the teams trying a free smartphone application called YinzCam that fans in club seats can access via a Wi-Fi network. The Miami Dolphins use a handheld unit called FanVision that they distribute to season ticketholders.”

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 9/11, Michigan Wolverines @ Notre Dame Fighting Irish, NBC 12:30 PM ET. Forget the point spread, Big Blue will prevail against the Irish in the annual over hyped game. Season to date (1-0).

NFL PICK OF THE WEEK – Thursday 9/9, Minnesota Vikings @ Super Bowl Champions New Orleans Saints, NBC 8:30 PM ET. Point Spread is 4.5 give the points and go with New Orleans to beat the ageless Brett Favre and The Vikings.

SMALL COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 9/11, Union College Dutchmen @ Ithaca College Bombers, 1:00 PM ET. After their win over the mighty Saints of St. Lawrence this past weekend look for the 16th ranked Bombers to beat Union 31 – 10.

CONGRATULATIONS – To the Bonita High School Bearcats winning the Smudgepot back from the San Dimas Saints this past Friday night 41-20.

RECORD - Southern CA coldest summer on record – average temp 70 degrees. Forecast for a drier winter.

THE MARKETS - Investors would ordinarily be glad to see August end, given that it was the worst August performance for Wall Street since 2001 and the first losing August since 2005. September, however, is traditionally one of the poorest months of the year for the major stock market indexes, although that was not the case in September 2009.

SIGN OF THE TIMES, NYT 9/5 – Student Loan debt is now greater in the U.S. than credit card debt. “Attendance at for-profit postsecondary schools has grown sharply in recent years. These schools run the gamut, offering anything from two-year vocational programs to four-year degrees, and they include online schools. In some ways, the schools’ growth comes at a relatively high risk to taxpayers. Students at for-profits take out more debt than their peers at traditional schools and default at much higher rates; they also account for about 9 percent of students but receive 24 percent of Stafford federal loans. The Department of Education is proposing a rule change aimed at reducing some of those risks. If the rule change is approved, more than 2,600 postsecondary educational programs could lose access to federal funds. The rule would require certain schools to prove they are preparing students for gainful employment that keeps them paying their loans on time and out of significant debt. The department estimates that up to 307,000 students could find themselves at such programs, though it says that most would then switch to eligible ones.”

Next week: Some recipes for the soul.

Until next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
September 6, 2010