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 TIME.com, "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!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UnJX2FiW-ik

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 manifestaci├│n se desarroll├│ 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 www.bgci.org/usa/bcap.

DISSERTATION BLUES – For all our Rink Rats readers who are dealing with your dissertation these days here is an article to ease your pain: http://chronicle.com/article/Advising-the-Dissertation/124782/

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

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Final Quarter

October begins, the final quarter of 2010. To me seeing October on the calendar means it should start getting cooler, time to get out the sweater vests, the Lions’ season is already over, the Wings’ season is just beginning, and of course the dread of all dreads time to think about Christmas. How much money do I plan on spending? Do I buy any gifts for coworkers? Could this be the year to forget about Christmas cards? Then the miracle answer comes to me, gift cards! Okay, stress and anxiety are done, now what am I going to be for Halloween????

RIDE SHARE WEEK – For all you practice what you preachers October 4-8 is Ride Share Week. http://www.metro.net/about/commute-services/rideshare-week-2010/

GAY CANDIDATES - AP: “Just three of the 535 members of Congress are openly gay, and two Democratic candidates running for the House hope to inch that number up to five. David Cicilline (sis-uh-LEE'-nee), mayor of Providence, R.I., is running to succeed Patrick Kennedy. In California, Palm Springs Mayor Steve Pougnet (poo-NYAY') is trying to knock Republican Mary Bono Mack out of the seat she has held for 12 years.”

PAYING MORE AT DUNKIN'? HERE'S WHY - AP reports, via USAToday: “Coffee prices hit a 13-year high last week, extending a rally that has sent prices up about 43% in the past three months. Coffee for December delivery settled up 2.25 cents at $1.9455 a pound Wednesday after hitting $1.9865 per pound earlier in the day. … The impact of the months-long climb is leading to higher retail coffee prices on several major brands, including Folgers, Dunkin' Donuts and Millstone. Last week's rally appears to be largely due to speculative trading because fears have eased about weather and supply issues”

COULD '10 BE WORSE FOR DEMS THAN '94? Mark Halperin e-mails elaboration on a “Morning Joe” prediction: “Based on the current national environment, the enthusiasm gap, the state of the economy, the failure to materialize of a lot of what Democrats were counting on (health care law getting more popular, and 'recovery summer' taking hold), and polling in individual races, on the current trajectory, with no unexpected intervening events, Republicans are in a position to pick up as many as 60 seats.” Swing needed for control: 39 seats. GOP netted 54 seats in '94.

WOMEN MAKE FEW WORKPLACE GAINS - NYT's Catherine Rampell reports: "Women made little progress in climbing into management positions in this country even in the boom years before the financial crisis, according to a report to be released on Tuesday by the [GAO]. ... As of 2007, the latest year for which comprehensive data on managers was available, women accounted for about 40 percent of managers in the United States work force. In 2000, women held 39 percent of management positions. Outside of management, women held 49 percent of the jobs in both years. Across the work force, the gap between what men and women earn has shrunk over the last few decades. Full-time women workers closed the gap to 80.2 cents for every dollar earned by men in 2009, up from just 62.3 cents in 1979. Much of this persistent wage gap, however, can be explained by what kinds of jobs the sexes are drawn to, whether by choice or opportunity."

THE MOST INTERESTING THING the administration's doing that you're not following (unless you're Teddy Downey) - USA Today cover story, "As for-profit colleges rise, students question value -- Critics: Some schools mislead on accreditation," by Mary Beth Marklein: "In 2008, about 2,000 for-profit colleges ... enrolled nearly 1.8 million students - an increase of 225% in 10 years. About 9% of all college students now attend for-profits; most attend schools owned by one of 15 large, publicly traded companies that each enroll tens of thousands of students. Last year, federal student loans and grants made up an average 77% of revenue at the five largest for-profits. Advocates of for-profit colleges say their programs, which often operate online or in rented office space, serve a key role in educating students who juggle work and family demands. But the U.S. government has stepped up its scrutiny amid growing concern that for-profits are reeling in billions of dollars in federal aid by using aggressive ... practices to lure students to programs that might not yield a useful education. The Education Department has proposed penalizing for-profits whose students graduate with more debt than they can afford, and Congress began a series of hearings this summer on whether federal aid to for-profit colleges - more than $24 billion in 2008-09 - is being put to good use."

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Fred Couples (51), Brett Favre (41), Karen Hasse …famous tennis star, Mario Lemieux (45), Yo Yo Ma (55), John Mellencamp (59), Steve Miller (67), Annika Sorenstam (40), Dick Tracy (79).

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 10/9, Michigan State Spartans (5-0) ranked 17 @ University of Michigan Wolverines (5-0) ranked 18, 12:30 ET, Big Ten Network. The Spartans march into The Big House playing inspired football, Michigan by 5 points…I cannot believe I am saying this give the points and take the Spartans of East Lansing, sorry Dad.
Season to date (5-0).

NFL PICK OF THE WEEK – Sunday 10/10, New Orleans Saints (2-1) @ Arizona Cardinals (2-2), 4:05 PM ET, Fox. The Saints offense has been poor thus far, are the Cardinals a contender this year? We shall see. Saints favored by 4 points, give the points and take the Saints in the desert. The Swami needs a win here – poor start to the NFL season.
Season to date (1-3).

SMALL COLLEGE PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 10/9, the tailgates will be rocking outside Ortmayer Field, Occidental Tigers (2-1) @ University of La Verne Leopards (0-3), 4:00 PM ET, Discovery Channel. The stars will be in proper alignment this Saturday, The Leopards will pull the upset 21 -17.
Season to date (4-0).

NHL 2010-11 PREVIEW – Another season begins for the best sport in the world. Eastern Conference winners: Pittsburgh, Buffalo and Washington; Western Conference winners: Detroit, Vancouver and Los Angeles; Stanley Cup finalists: Washington & Detroit; Stanley Cup Champions – Washington Capitals.

RINK RATS DOG WHISPERER – When you walk your dog, does your pet lead you? This is incorrect; your pet should follow you when going for a walk, you are the boss.

STOCKS UP EVEN AS SMALL INVESTORS FLEE - WSJ's Tom Lauricella reports: "The ability of stocks to rally-even though small investors headed for the exits-came as a growing chorus of bulls noted that corporations are going in the opposite direction. They have been selling bonds at a furious pace and, with a record level of cash in their coffers, many analysts believe they will start ramping up purchases of their own stocks. ... Now, many are now looking to the November U.S. elections to resolve uncertainties about tax policy and government regulation. That, they say, could be the catalyst for corporations to start putting that cash to work, if not through stock repurchases then through dividend increases, mergers and acquisitions, or increased capital spending. ... Reflecting the narrow buying interest behind the rally, the gains came on extremely low trading volumes. Traders say the third-quarter rise in stock prices, concentrated in September, came mainly as hedge funds lifted bets put in place to help protect portfolios should stocks fall."

FIRST MONDAY OF OCTOBER – The Supreme Court begins today and for the first time in American history three women are members of the court. Can you name them?

Next week, a fall garden check list.

Until next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
October 4, 2010