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

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