Monday, December 26, 2011

The Birthplace of the Republican Party

Rink Rats is spending a great part of the holiday season in Jackson, Michigan. Jackson is a city located along Interstate 94 in the south central area of Michigan, about 40 miles west of Ann Arbor and 35 miles south of Lansing. It is the county seat of Jackson County. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 33,534, it was founded in 1829, named after President Andrew Jackson.

Jackson is the disputed birthplace of the Republican Party. Undisputed is the fact that the first official meeting of the group that actually called itself “Republican” was held in Jackson under the Oaks on July 6, 1854. Earlier meetings of groups that later formed the Republican Party were held in Ripon, Wisconsin; Exeter, New Hampshire; and Crawfordsville, Iowa, and all four cities bill themselves as the “Birthplace of the Republican Party.”

Though being in the “Birthplace of the Republican Party” is very unsettling to say the least it is home to family and friends. The Republican Party has come a long way from 1854; from Abe Lincoln to Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney. As we head into a Presidential campaign year in 2012 let us hope true leaders come to the front this coming year.

DEBATE TAKEAWAYS -- "The 13th and final debate [before Iowa] went off with a whimper ... as frontrunners Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney kept the gloves on, and refrained from the fisticuffs they've engaged in over the last few days ... Gingrich was on the defensive for the first ... hour of the forum, as his rivals - save for Romney - pounded him over his contract with housing giant Freddie Mac. ... In his first answer of the night, the former House speaker came off as prickly as he defended his conservative credentials. The second hour of the debate mostly went better for Gingrich. Absent any attacks from Romney, Gingrich was able to settle back into his crowd-pleasing professorial routine ... Gone was the testy Romney of the Dec. 10 debate ... Romney bypassed repeated opportunities to slam Gingrich, and trained his sights on President Obama."

--THE BIG PICTURE - GOP field slouches toward finish line. The "debate ... did not show any of the seven candidates ... unambiguously dominating the stage. ... The evening - the last of an astonishing 13 debates to be held in 2011 - highlighted just how much the candidates are entering the new year defined as much by their vulnerabilities as for their assets. At the very moment when one or two candidates are usually beginning to surge, in the same way a distance runner has a finishing kick, this pack seems collectively slouching to the finish line."

COLD WAR HERO - "Havel, Czech playwright and president, has died" at 75 - AP/Prague: "Vaclav Havel, the dissident playwright who wove theater into politics to peacefully bring down communism in Czechoslovakia and become a hero of the epic struggle that ended the Cold War, ... died Sunday morning at his weekend house in the northern Czech Republic ... Havel was his country's first democratically elected president after the nonviolent 'Velvet Revolution' that ended four decades of repression by a regime he ridiculed as 'Absurdistan.' As president, he oversaw the country's bumpy transition to democracy and a free-market economy, as well its peaceful 1993 breakup into the Czech Republic and Slovakia."

JACK ASS OF 2011 – Number One: RR cannot think of more deserving Jack Asses for 2011 – The 112th United States Congress. There is no better example of the inefficiency of leadership in this country as this 112th Congress. From the debacle of extending the deficit limit to the year-end payroll tax battle, this Congress has proven beyond expectation the Jack Ass of 2011.

CHINA TO IMPOSE DUTIES ON U.S. CARS - "China will impose retaliatory duties on US car imports in the latest sign of trade friction between the world's two largest economies. In a statement, China's commerce ministry said ... that it was taking action in response to damage to its car industry from US 'dumping and subsidies'. The move will affect several larger vehicles popular in China, including sport utility vehicles made by Germany's BMW and Mercedes-Benz brands at their US plants. ... China overtook the US in 2009 as the world's largest vehicle market, and sales there account for a substantial chunk of profits for BMW and Mercedes, who build the SUVs they sell globally in North America."

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Ted Danson (64), Mary Tyler Moore (75), Meredith Vieira (58), Denzel Washington (57), Tiger Woods (36).

BCS COLLEGE BOWL PICK OF THE WEEK – Thursday 12/29, 5:30 PM, ET the Champs Sports Florida Citrus Bowl from Orlando, Florida, ESPN. Florida State Seminoles (8-4) vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (8-4) in the ACC/Independent match up. We like the Seminoles in this one for one big reason, it is always fun to see The Domers getting beat. The most overrated college football program of the last 20 years continues to make millions of dollars with average coaches and average talent. Season to date (9-8).

COLLEGE HOCKEY PICK OF THE WEEK – Thursday 12/29, 7:30 PM, ET the opening round of the Great Lakes Invitational Hockey Tournament from Joe Louis Arena in Detroit Michigan. We are back for another year of college hockey picks and we have a good one leading off: Boston College Eagles (12-6) vs. University of Michigan Wolverines (9-8-3). Though Big Blue is down this year the 14 time Great Lakes champion will be up for this matchup with Jerry York’s BC Eagles. RR likes Boston College to win in round one of the tournament. Season to date (0-0).

NFL PICK OF THE WEEK – Sunday January 1, 8:00 PM ET, NBC has a winner take all game between the Dallas Cowboys (8-7) at The New York Football Giants (8-7). Both teams are struggling but this still should be entertaining. We like The Giants to win and head to the playoffs. Season to date (8-8).

THE SWAMI’S TOP PICKS – Florida State 35 Notre Dame 24, Boston College 5 Michigan 2, New York Giants 24 Dallas Cowboys 21. Season to date (30-17).

THE BIG READ -- Joseph Stiglitz writes "The Book of Jobs" for Vanity Fair -- Web subhead: "Forget monetary policy. Re-examining the cause of the Great Depression-the revolution in agriculture that threw millions out of work-the author argues that the U.S. is now facing and must manage a similar shift in the 'real' economy, from industry to service, or risk a tragic replay of 80 years ago." -- "The fact is the economy in the years before the current crisis was fundamentally weak, with the bubble, and the unsustainable consumption to which it gave rise, acting as life support. ... It was absurd to think that fixing the banking system could by itself restore the economy to health. ... Government spending [during World War II] unintentionally solved the economy's underlying problem: it completed a necessary structural transformation, moving America, and especially the South, decisively from agriculture to manufacturing. ...

"The millions of jobless former factory workers once employed in cities such as Youngstown and Birmingham and Gary and Detroit are the modern-day equivalent of the Depression's doomed farmers. ... Of four major service sectors-finance, real estate, health, and education-the first two were bloated before the current crisis set in. The other two, health and education, have traditionally received heavy government support. But government austerity at every level-that is, the slashing of budgets in the face of recession-has hit education especially hard. ... What we need to do instead is embark on a massive investment program-as we did, virtually by accident, 80 years ago-that will increase our productivity for years to come, and will also increase employment now. ... We have to transition out of manufacturing and into services that people want-into productive activities that increase living standards, not those that increase risk and inequality."

DRIVING THE WEEK – President Obama is in Hawaii, Rink Rats is in Michigan, College Football bowl games dominate sports television, the only people truly working this week are the not-for-profit fund raisers collecting those end of the year donations. Good luck JZ, JB, and Rink Rats old friends Darth Vader and Silver Tongue Devil.

Next week, 2012 predictions.

Happy New Year all Rink Rats readers!!!

Until Next Monday, Adios.

Jackson, MI
December 26, 2011

#II-35, 88

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Rink Rats Christmas Part Deux

Now, getting it right may not come easy to everyone. So, here are a few holiday-party pointers based on advice from etiquette expert Reggie Dunlop:

1) Show a genuine interest in what other people are saying. In other words, don’t look over their shoulder to see if there’s someone better to talk to or if they have more of those mini pigs-in-a-blanket. 

2) Be aware of your body language. In other words — seriously, are you looking over my shoulder? 

3) Do your homework. In other words — Hey, what did I tell you about eye-rolling? I’m trying to help you here. — Remember when you got tongue-tied talking to the boss last year? Just come up with a few non-controversial things ahead of time — a few talking points to make sure you have a nice, non-embarrassing chat. Pick a couple of fun current events, like Alec Baldwin being kicked off a plane for playing “Words With Friends” or how popular, on a scale of 1 to 10, Rod Blagojevich will be in prison, did you notice Darth Vader’s hair? Or, you can talk about the wackiest holiday present you’ve ever received. In a recent CareerBuilder survey, some of the wackiest gifts reported were a zombie figurine, a keychain that shouts expletives and a bacon of the month club membership. Whatever you do, don’t show up without material.

Also, something we learned last year — be positive. If you’re going to complain about the company, the boss or the food at the party, have the sense to do it when the entire company including your boss and your boss’s boss aren’t around. You never know when someone might hear you.  Here are the stages of a holiday party:

NEITHER RAIN, WIND OR SNOW - "Cuts to first-class mail to slow delivery in 2012, unprecedented cuts by the cash-strapped U.S. Postal Service will slow first-class delivery next spring and, for the first time in 40 years, eliminate the chance for stamped letters to arrive the next day. The estimated $3 billion in reductions, to be announced in broader detail later Monday, are part of a wide-ranging effort by the Postal Service to quickly trim costs and avert bankruptcy. They could slow everything from check payments to Netflix's DVDs-by-mail, add costs to mail-order prescription drugs, and threaten the existence of newspapers and time-sensitive magazines delivered by postal carrier to far-flung suburban and rural communities."

FOR HISTORY - "US forces quit Iraq nine years on, IRAQ-KUWAIT BORDER  - The last US forces left Iraq and entered Kuwait on Sunday, nearly nine years after launching a divisive war to oust Saddam Hussein, and just as the oil-rich country grapples with renewed political deadlock. The last of roughly 110 vehicles carrying 500-odd troops ... crossed the border at 7:38 am (0438 GMT), leaving just a couple of hundred soldiers at the US embassy, in a country where there were once nearly 170,000 troops on 505 bases. It ends a war that left tens of thousands of Iraqis and nearly 4,500 American soldiers dead, many more wounded, and 1.75 million Iraqis displaced."

--"The astronomic costs of the Iraq war," RR fact box : "Human cost: Since the US invasion in March 2003, at least 126,000 Iraqi civilians were killed in the war, according to Boston University professor Neta Crawford. In addition, another 20,000 Iraqi soldiers and police were killed, along with more than 19,000 insurgents. ... [T]he Pentagon says the United States lost 4,474 troops, of which 3,518 died in combat ... And the United Nations estimates that 1.75 million Iraqis were made refugees by the war ... Troops deployed: ... The US troop presence reached 165,000 at the end of 2006 before President George W. Bush decided on a 'surge' of 30,000 reinforcements in a bid to counter spiraling violence. ...

"Financial cost: The Pentagon has spent nearly $770 billion since 2003 on operations in Iraq ... The future cost of medical care and pensions for veterans will grow exponentially in coming decades. Linda Bilmes, professor at Harvard University, estimates that pensions through 2055 for veterans will reach $346 billion to $469 billion ... Other losses: Around 60 percent of the Iraqi National Archives, equivalent to tens of millions of documents, went missing, were damaged or were destroyed as a result of water leaks and a fire at a storage center in the aftermath of the 2003 invasion."

SAYONARA, 2011 -- "Killing of bin Laden voted top news story of 2011," by AP: "The killing of Osama bin Laden ... was the top news story of 2011, followed by Japan's earthquake/tsunami/meltdown disaster, according to The Associated Press' annual poll of U.S. editors and news directors. ... Placing third were the Arab Spring uprisings ... The international flavor of these top stories contrasted with last year's voting - when the Gulf of Mexico oil spill was the top story, President Barack Obama's health care overhaul was No. 2, and the U.S. midterm elections were No. 3.

"Here are 2011's top 10 stories, in order: 1) Osama bin Laden's death .... 2) Japan's triple disaster [earthquake, tsunami, nuclear crisis] .... 3) Arab Spring ... 4) EU fiscal crisis ... 5) U.S. economy .... 6) Penn State sex abuse scandal .... 7) Gadhafi toppled in Libya ... 8) Fiscal showdowns in Congress .... 9) Occupy Wall Street protests ... 10) Gabrielle Giffords shot ... Among the news events falling just short of the Top 10 were the death of Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Jobs, Hurricane Irene, the devastating series of tornados across Midwest and Southeastern U.S., and the repeal of the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy that barred gays from serving openly in U.S. military."

TOP FIVE JACK ASS OF 2011 – Number Three: Sarah Palin. This past summer Sarah Palin revealed to us how well polished she is on her history: “He who warned, uh, the British that they weren’t  gonna be takin’ away our arms, uh, by ringing those bells, and um, makin’ sure as he’s riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that we were going to be sure, and we were going to be free, and we were going to be armed.” Can you imagine her and Rick Perry in a debate?

Number Two: Arnold Schwarzenegger. Maria Shriver filed for divorce in July after the Terminator, former Governor of California admitted to fathering a child with a household employee ten years ago.  In addition his hair color changed six times.
Next week the number one Jack Ass or should I say Jack Asses of 2011.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Ashleigh Banfield (45),  Jimmy Buffet (65), Chris Evert (57), Al Kaline (77), Susan Lucci (65), Jan Stephenson (60).

BCS COLLEGE BOWL PICK OF THE WEEK – Tuesday 12/20, 8:00 PM ET, ESPN, our favorite bowl name; the Beef O’Brady Bowl from St. Petersburg, Florida. The Thundering Herd of Marshall University (6-6) vs. The Golden Panthers of Florida International University (8-4). The Panthers are making back-to-back bowl appearances for the first time in school history, and won a school-record eight games this season. Marshall has defensive end Vinny Curry, who ranks second nationally this season with 21.5 tackles for loss, tied for second nationally with six forced fumbles and tied for fifth with 11 sacks. RR likes Florida International to win the Beef Bowl. Season to date (9-7).

SMALL COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – The season is over for Small College Football. Congratulations to Wisconsin Whitewater for winning their third straight D-III title. The Warhawks are impressive.  Season Final (14-2). Next week College Hockey Pick of the Week.

NFL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 12/24, the battle of two teams headed south: The New York Football Giants (7-7) visit the New York Jets (8-6), 4:15 PM ET, CBS. Both teams must win to keep their slim playoff hopes alive, The Jets to win this Jersey Bowl game.  Season to date (8-7).

THE SWAMI’S TOP PICKS – Florida International 42 Marshall 24, New York Jets 17 New York Giants 14, Detroit 28 San Diego 21. Season to date (29-15).

MONDAY FUNNIES - Don't miss "Jesus" visiting Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos in the locker room, courtesy of "Saturday Night Live." (Done with warmth and not offensive to the faithful.)

DRIVING THE WEEK - React to Kim Jong-il's death will dominate early before the focus turns back to the Beltway drama over the payroll tax cut expiration. Sounds like the measure is going down in the House barring a last minute save. This means Reid will have no choice but to relent and bring the Senate back into session. Because there is no way he can allow Democrats to get the blame for taxes going up on millions of middle-income Americans. House GOP has cover because they did pass a bill approving an extension ... CFTC meets on Tuesday to talk about derivatives rules ... Top economic data include final read on third quarter GDP, jobless claims and consumer sentiment on Thursday.

SECOND NEW YEARS WISH - Let this coming year be better than all the others. Vow to do some of the things you've always wanted to do but couldn't find the time. Call up a forgotten friend. Drop an old grudge, and replace it with some pleasant memories. Vow not to make a promise you don't think you can keep. Walk tall, and smile more. You'll look ten years younger.

Next week, Christmas in the birthplace of the Republican Party.

Until Next Monday, Feliz Navidad.

Claremont, CA
December 19, 2011

#II-34, 87

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Rink Rats Christmas

Many people have asked this writer: What is a Rink Rats Christmas?

A Rink Rats Christmas is online shopping (not one visit to a store), it is peanut brittle, sugar cookies, Hockey Night in Canada, getting the light timers in sync, wearing shorts when it is below 45 degrees, playing golf in a ridiculous Santa hat, being The Commissioner, Holiday Inn, watching nephews play hockey, watching nieces being nieces, Baileys and eggnog, and above all else being with my Dad and my wonderful Rink Rats family.

HOLIDAY COCKTAIL – Pear Martini: Grey Goose Pear Vodka, St. Germaine topped off with Champagne – delightful.

HOLIDAY SONG – “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”, The song was written in 1943 by J. Kimball Gannon (St. Lawrence University Class of 1924), with Walter Kent and Buck Ram, and first recorded by Bing Crosby. Meaningful to GIs and their loved ones at home during World War II, the song was more popular for a time than Crosby's "White Christmas." Gannon was the composer of many popular songs from the Big Band era, and was nominated for four Academy Awards for his work.


• 3 cups all-purpose flour

• ¾ teaspoon baking powder

• ¼ teaspoon salt

• 1 cup unsalted butter

• 1 cup sugar

• 1 egg, beaten

• 1 tablespoon milk

• 2 shots Baileys Irish Cream

• Powdered sugar, for rolling out dough

• Refrigerate dough for 2 hours

• Cut desired cookie sizes and shapes

• Bake @ 375 degrees for 7-9 minutes

TOP FIVE RINK RATS HOLIDAY MOVIES: (5). Christmas Vacation, (4). Home Alone, (3). A Charlie Brown Christmas, (2). A Christmas Carol (1938 edition), (1). It’s A Wonderful Life.

TOP THREE RINK RATS HOLIDAY GIFTS – (3). Peace and Love, (2). Quiet, (1). Quiet.

GARDENING FOR CHIRSTMAS – Rink Rats use a living tree every year taken from our garden for our Christmas tree. The tree is watered and pruned during the year to produce a lovely holiday tree. We like to thank the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden for their expertise and guidance in helping to maintain our living tree. If you are not a member of RSABG you should be a wonderful organization and people who devote themselves to maintaining beauty year round.

TOP FIVE JACK ASS OF 2011Number Five: Drivers who drive while texting and talking into a cellular telephone. It continues to amaze this writer how this continues, we have even noticed police officers on many occasions speaking into phones while driving and not using their turn signals. I can imagine what it is like in the State of Ohio with their drivers.

Number Four: Rod Blagojevich, former Governor of Illinois and convicted of 18 corruption charges, including trying to sell or trade the vacant senate seat when Obama became President. Mr. Blagojevich was recently sentenced to 14 years in prison.

Next week numbers three and two Jack Ass of 2011.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Bob Barker (88), Ben Bernanke (58), Steve Buscemi (54), Dick Butkus (69), Governor Andrew Cuomo (54), The Los Angeles Times (130), Keith Richards (68), Steven Spielberg (65), Lesley Stahl (70).

BCS COLLEGE BOWL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 12/17, Famous Idaho Potato Bowl from Boise, Idaho 5:30 PM ET, ESPN: the Ohio University Bobcats (9-4) against the Utah State Aggies (7-5). After a rough start, the Aggies finished the regular season with five straight wins -- all by a combined 18 points. Ohio won nine, but probably should have won more in 2011, and is looking for its first bowl victory in six tries. Vegas likes The Aggies by 2 points, so do we, go with Utah State over Ohio University. Season to date (9-6).

SMALL COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 12/17, The Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl for D-III football supremacy pits perennial winners the Mount Union Purple Raiders (12-1) against the Wisconsin Whitewater Warhawks (14-0), 7:00 PM ET, ESPN2. This is the year for the Warhawks, D-III champions. Season to date (13-2).

NFL PICK OF THE WEEK – Sunday 12/18, The New York Jets (8-5) visit the Philadelphia Eagles (5-8), 4:15 PM ET, CBS. The Jets must continue to win to keep their slim playoff hopes alive, the Eagles are fighting for their jobs. We like The Eagles to win and make the Buddy Ryan Mark Sanchez feud even more interesting. Season to date (6-7, shocking).

THE SWAMI’S TOP PICKS – Utah State 35 Ohio 24, Detroit 21 Oakland 20, Baltimore 24 San Diego 21. Season to date (28-13).

SPORTS BLINK - "RG3 wins first Heisman Trophy for Baylor," : "Robert Griffin III , a junior quarterback known as RG3, beat out [Andrew Luck,] the preseason favorite from Stanford on Saturday night, becoming the first Baylor player to take home college football's most famous trophy. Right before his name was called, Griffin took a deep breath. ... He took a few long strides up to the stage and let out a laugh when he got there, making a joke about the Superman socks - complete with capes on the back - he was wearing ... Griffin received 405 first-place votes ... Luck received 247 first-place ... [Griffin] is the son of two U.S. Army sergeants who settled in central Texas ... An aspiring lawyer who is working on a master's degree in communications, he holds 46 school records."

DRIVING THE WEEK - First part of today will be dominated by further global market reaction to the euro summit's mixed-bag outcome. Early signs overnight showed an equally mixed-bag response with Asia opening higher but the Euro dropping ... Payroll tax cut fight will roll on with a vote on the House GOP version with the Keystone XL pipeline provision. That version may get out of the House but its dead in the Senate where Majority Leader Harry Reid has called it a "partisan joke." Odds remain that the tax cut gets extended but it appears headed to the wire ... Jon Corzine is back on the Hill on Tuesday to testify on the MF Global collapse before Senate Agriculture at 10:00 a.m. and on Thursday afternoon before a House Financial Services subcomittee ...

On Wednesday at 2:00 p.m., Fed Chair Ben Bernanke is scheduled to meet with the Senate GOP conference ... House Oversight TARP subcommittee has a two-day hearing Thursday and Friday mornings at 10:00 a.m. on "What What the Euro Crisis Means for the Taxpayers and the U.S. Economy" ... Senate Banking has a hearing Tuesday morning on oversight of the FHFA, Tuesday afternoon on the foreclosure process and Wednesday morning on "investor risks" in the capital raising process. ... Top data this week include retail sales out Tuesday (expected to show a gain of about 0.5 percent) and the FOMC announcement, also Tuesday, which is not expected to show any change in policy or tone. This should suggest there is no more quantitative easing on the immediate horizon.

FIRST NEW YEARS WISH - Inspire Greatness in Others: to be a good leader. Be present. Go see your people. Be mindful that there is incredible leadership all around you. Go find it. Not just hide out in your dark office. Go tap it. Go mine it. And here’s a key question: would you want to report to yourself? It’s little things, too. When you say hi to somebody, do you mean it, or is it just a casual comment?

Next week, the office holiday party and our year-end review begins.

Until Next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA

December 12, 2011

#II-33, 86

Monday, December 5, 2011

Happy Holidays: Las Vegas Style

Only in Las Vegas at holiday time can you witness 44,000 deranged runners braving 40 degree temperatures on Las Vegas Boulevard, Cheap Trick playing in a parking lot with Occupy protestors chanting we love Elvis, 20,000 cowboys spitting tobacco and asking “who is Cheap Trick?”, 5,000 Michael Jackson fans gathering to pay homage-about half wondering why Tito and Germaine are not singing Christmas carols, and finally only in Las Vegas at holiday time is there more red polyester than common sense. Isn’t America great?

GAME CHANGE? New Hampshire Sunday News (Manchester Union Leader), the Granite State's only statewide newspaper, endorses across the top of last week's front page, "For President, Newt Gingrich" - "An Editorial," by Joseph W. McQuaid, publisher: "This newspaper endorses Newt Gingrich in the New Hampshire Presidential Primary. America is at a crucial crossroads. It is not going to be enough to merely replace Barack Obama next year. We are in critical need of the innovative, forward-looking strategy and positive leadership that Gingrich has shown he is capable of providing. He did so with the Contract with America. He did it in bringing in the first Republican House in 40 years and by forging balanced budgets and even a surplus despite the political challenge of dealing with a Democratic President.

"A lot of candidates say they're going to improve Washington. Newt Gingrich has actually done that, and in this race he offers the best shot of doing it again. ... Truth be known, many in the liberal media are belittling the Republican candidates because they don't want any of them to be taken as a serious challenger to their man, Obama. ... Newt Gingrich is by no means the perfect candidate. But Republican primary voters too often make the mistake of preferring an unattainable ideal to the best candidate who is actually running. In this incredibly important election, that candidate is Newt Gingrich."

IF YOU READ ONLY ONE THING - Economist cover, showing a €1 coin with a flaming comet tail, "Is this really the end? ": "A euro break-up would cause a global bust worse even than the one in 2008-09. The world's most financially integrated region would be ripped apart by defaults, bank failures and the imposition of capital controls ... The euro zone could shatter into different pieces, or a large block in the north and a fragmented south. Amid the recriminations and broken treaties after the failure of the European Union's biggest economic project, wild currency swings between those in the core and those in the periphery would almost certainly bring the single market to a shuddering halt. ... The chances of the euro zone being smashed apart have risen alarmingly, thanks to financial panic, a rapidly weakening economic outlook and pigheaded brinkmanship. The odds of a safe landing are dwindling fast."

EPIC "MORNING JOE" promo: Mika sprinting to work, Joe gambling on the street, Willie clubbing, Barnicle driving a Hoveround. Plus Louis Burgdorf cameos.

FOR REPUBLICANS – Last week's George Will column, written from L.A., is sure to be clipped and emailed around, cited by lawmakers and used in business speeches: Carl Karcher, the founder of Carls Jr., a fast-food chain that's huge on the Pacific coast, "died in 2008 but his legacy, CKE Restaurants, survives. It would thrive, says CEO Andy Puzder, but for government's comprehensive campaign against job creation. CKE [has] more than 3,200 restaurants (Carl's Jr. and Hardee's) ... When CKE's health care advisers, citing Obamacare's complexities, opacities and uncertainties, said it would add between $7.3 million and $35.1 million to the company's $12 million health care costs in 2010, Puzder said: I need a number I can plan with. They guessed $18 million -- twice what CKE spent last year building new restaurants. ...

"CKE has about 720 California restaurants, in which 84 percent of the managers are minorities, and 67 percent are women. CKE has, however, all but stopped building restaurants in this state because approvals and permits for establishing them can take up to two years, compared to as little as six weeks in Texas, and the cost to build one is $100,000 more than in Texas, where CKE is planning to open 300 new restaurants this decade. ... CKE will have to convert many full-time employees to part-timers to limit the growth of its burdens under Obamacare. ... Puzder says one certainty is that many businesses that now are marginally profitable will disappear when Obamacare causes that margin to disappear. A second certainty is that 'employers everywhere will be looking to reduce labor content in their business models as Obamacare makes employees unambiguously more expensive.'"

WHAT DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN told David Gregory on last week's roundtable: "I think there's a space now for President Obama. I think the post-partisanship has to go. That was what he came in hoping for. It proved not able to work. But if you look back at ... FDR, he first tried to be a bipartisan leader, and then he got so hurt by the rancor of the Republican right, who called him a traitor to the class, that he went right after them. And he wins in a landslide. ... I don't think that'll work for Obama 'cause he's not a warrior, a happy warrior in that way.

"But there is a model for him in Teddy Roosevelt. Similar time to ours: Squeezed middle class, up and down gap between the rich and the poor. ... Obama first talked about the failure of the super committee when he put out his grand proposal. It was the idea that people want fairness, they want balance. That's what Teddy Roosevelt was all about. Every sentence was balanced."

"17-DAY VACAY": Drudge reported that President Obama will travel to Honolulu on Sat., Dec. 17, and return Mon., Jan. 2, with no public events scheduled.

JOBLESS RATE DIPS TO LOWEST LEVEL FOR LAST 2 YEARS -- UNEMPLOYMENT AT 8.6%: Boost for White House as Economy Shows Some Resilience" …120,000 ADDED TO PAYROLLS IN NOV.: Drop also reflects that many quit seeking work" ... "Jobless Rate Nears Three-Year Low: Unemployment Falls to 8.6%, Boosted By Retail Hiring; Euro Fears Loom" ... Financial Times splash, "US jobs data lift recovery hopes: Confidence bolsters Obama's re-election plans - Reports fuel debate over extending stimulus" ... "U. S. jobless rate takes a sharp drop: November's mixed data give Democrats and Republicans fuel for the presidential campaign".

A major reason the unemployment rate fell ... was that people gave up looking ... About half the drop came about for a good reason - more people describing themselves as employed - and half for a bad reason - people dropping out of the labor force, perhaps out of frustration. ... The 120,000 net new jobs employers reported are only about the rate of job creation needed to keep pace with a rising population."

Financial Times: "The relatively encouraging jobs report landed in the midst of a heated political fight over the extension of stimulus measures for the US economy - including payroll tax cuts and unemployment benefits - due to expire at the end of the month. ... Congressional leaders from both parties have said they would like to see a deal, and have mostly been feuding over how to pay for the roughly $200bn price tag of these measures. ... But the chances of an agreement were dealt a blow on Friday when rank-and-file House Republicans expressed deep misgivings about the stimulus extension in a closed-door session with senior party officials."

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Larry Bird (55), Gerry Cheevers (71), Sen. Susan Collins, SLU ’72 (59), Kirk Douglas, SLU '36 (95), Margo Dow …famous accountant, Rahn Emanuel (52), Teri Hatcher (47), Laurie Hill, MSU '75 …famous golfer, Wink Martindale (78), Rita Moreno (80, Little Richard (79), Jay-Z (42).

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 12/10, the Cadets from Army (3-8) against the Midshipmen of Navy (4-7), 2:30 PM ET, CBS. Again do battle in Philadelphia, a yawner of a game but good for the country, Navy to win. Season to date (8-6).

COLLEGE FOOTBALL -- BC PICKS - CHAMPIONSHIP: Alabama vs. LSU, 8:30 p.m. ET, Jan. 9 ... ROSE BOWL: Oregon vs. Wisconsin, 5:10 p.m. ET, Jan. 2 ... FIESTA BOWL: Stanford vs. Oklahoma State, 8:30 p.m. ET, Jan. 2 ... SUGAR BOWL: Michigan vs. Virginia Tech, 8:30 p.m. ET, Jan. 3 ... ORANGE BOWL: Clemson vs. West Virginia, 8 p.m. ET, Jan. 4.

SMALL COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 12/10, the semi finals of the D-III playoffs: St. Thomas Tommies (13-0) visit Wisconsin Whitewater Warhawks (13-0), 3:30 PM ET, ESPN3. The Warhawks are marching towards a title, look out Tommies you are in the way. Season to date (12-2).

NFL PICK OF THE WEEK – Monday 12/12, the laugher of the year, St. Louis Rams (2-10) visit the Seattle Seahawks (5-7), 8:30 PM ET, ESPN. What can we say a snoozer, Seattle to win. Season to date (6-7, shocking).

THE SWAMI’S TOP PICKS – Navy 24 Army 14, St. Lawrence 5 Clarkson 3, Seattle 24 St. Louis who cares. Season to date (26-13).

DRIVING THE WEEK - The GOP race is now down to a Romney-Gingrich battle. Romney and his surrogates are expected step up efforts this week to draw sharp "contrasts" with the former speaker, who is leading in Iowa and gaining in New Hampshire. Gingrich is expected to get ex-candidate Herman Cain's endorsement at some point soon. Will it me much help? Probably not. The GOP field debates Saturday in Iowa. ... Data today include ISM non-manufacturing index which is expected to show a gain to 53.5 from 52.9. ... Look for weekly jobless claims to retreat back below 400K on Thursday.

Next week, our Martha Stewart holiday edition.

Until Next Monday, Adios.

Las Vegas, NV
December 5, 2011

#II-32, 85

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Game

There are many big games going on these days: Michigan v. Ohio State, Harvard v. Yale, USC v. UCLA, St. Lawrence v. Clarkson, Florida v. Florida State, Arizona v. Arizona State. Where you are in the U.S.A. determines the significance of The Game.

As I have begun my holiday season travels there are many other more important games going on I have been noticing, such as. The game of the growing divide between rich and poor in this country, the game of Generals retiring from the military with six figure pensions with corporate consulting gigs and wounded veterans who struggle to find work and adequate health care. The game of poor leadership from the White House, to the Congress, to the State Houses, to local City Halls and city council members whose biggest accomplishment is counting down Christmas twelve months a year. The game of six figure college administrators who lead students to six figure debt and lifelong financial burden, the game of labor unions selling out their members to maintain their seven figure incomes while services and efficiency have become a thing of the past. The game of health care where corporations reap huge profits and most Americans (especially the elderly) have inadequate health care. The game of getting in line at 1:00 AM to purchase a 42’ plasma television, while your children, alone at home, cannot read or write properly, the game of watching tornadoes in November, melting ice packs, droughts, and hearing a political commentator, with orange tinted hair, say it has nothing to do with global warming.

So who won the SC-UCLA game????

THE SECOND EGYPTIAN REVOLUTION: "Frustrated by their unfinished uprising, Egyptians take to the street again to protest their military rulers," by Abigail Hauslohner/Cairo : "What started as a protest led by Islamist groups to condemn a proposed set of supraconstitutional principles that would give the military broad power and immunity in a new Egypt has wound up attracting liberal and young voices as well .... And when the crackdown came, it activated a wide range of Egyptians, many of whom say the revolution is still fruitless and unfinished. ... Protesters in Cairo are rekindling the words that have come to symbolize the uprising of January and February-and every other Arab revolution since: 'The people want the fall of the regime.' And in some cases, they've added a few more words: 'and the field marshal.' That would be the most prominent face of the new regime-Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, 76, who has headed the ruling military council since the ouster of Mubarak, whom he served as Defense Minister."

BREAKING OVERNIGHT: CHINA FACTORIES SLUMP - Reuters/Beijing: "Chinese factories battled with their weakest activity in 32 months in November, a preliminary purchasing managers' survey showed, reviving worries that China may be skidding toward an economic hard landing and compounding global recession fears. The HSBC flash manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) ... slumped in November to 48, a low not seen since March 2009. The data showed the world's growth engine is not immune to economic troubles abroad, and could further unnerve financial markets already roiled by Europe's deteriorating debt crisis."

TOURNAMENT OF ROSES - The 28-year-old actor and motivational speaker radiates joy. ... Earlier this month, JR Martinez was chosen as grand marshal of the 123rd annual Tournament of Roses parade. He was on the cover of People magazine and named one of its 'sexiest men'... And on Tuesday, he became the new 'Dancing With the Stars' champion. Martinez and professional partner Karina Smirnoff claimed the mirrorball trophy over fellow finalists Rob Kardashian and Ricki Lake."

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Woody Allen (76), Tyra Banks (37), Jeff Bridges (62), Dick Clark (82), Bo Jackson (49), Jay Jones …the lab coat haunts me, G. Gordon Lilly (81), Edwin Meese III (80), Vin Scully (84), Britney Spears (30), Lawrence Summers (57), Lee Trevino (72).


stertor \STUR-ter\, noun:
A heavy snoring sound.
“He was snoring, a wheeze and stertor that animated the papers scattered round him...”
-- T.C. Boyle, Riven Rock
mismo, adverb
Apart from meaning the same, mismo is used to emphasize and pinpoint certain adverbs. It’s useful to learn these combinations of mismo with another word as single units.
“Nos podemos encontrar aquí mismo.”
We can meet right here

NHL 20 GAMES – The first 20 games of the 2011-2012 season have been completed here are the best teams and players at this point in the season:
Pittsburgh (32 points), Chicago (31), Toronto (30), Boston (29), Detroit (29).
Phil Kessel, Toronto Maple Leafs, (16 goals, 30 points).
Brian Elliott, St. Louis Blues, (1.34 goals against, .951 save percentage).

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 12/3, #10 Oklahoma Sooners (9-2) visit #3 Oklahoma State Cowboys, 8:00 PM ET, ABC. I still believe The Cowboys have been overrated all year, The Sooners to win this one and force an LSU-Alabama BCS Title game.                                                                                                          
Season to date (8-5)

SMALL COLLEGE PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 12/3, the D-III Quarterfinals has #6 Wabash College Little Giants (12-0) visiting #2 Mount Union Purple Raiders (10-1), 12:00 PM ET, HGTV. The Little Giants glory season will come to an end at  powerful  Mount Union.                                                                                                   Season to date (11-2).

NFL PICK OF THE WEEK – Sunday 12/4, Green Bay Packers (11-0) visit The Meadowlands and the New York Football Giants (6-4), 4:15 PM ET, Fox. We have been predicting The Packers demise weekly now, and will continue to do so – The Giants to win and begin their march to a division title.                                           
Season to date (6-6).

THE SWAMI’S TOP PICKS – Michigan State 28 Wisconsin 24, Boston College 5 Boston University 2, New Orleans 32 Detroit 24.                                                                                                                                      Season to Date (24-12).

DRIVING THE WEEK - European headlines will again set the global tone even as Congress returns to take up the critical issue of extending payroll tax cuts and emergency unemployment benefits beyond Dec. 31. There is limited disagreement over extending the tax cuts but huge disagreement over how to pay for it. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Dems would support a millionaire's surtax but that's not going anywhere. So they will have to find another way ... President Obama is back on the jobs trail on Wednesday, this time in the swing state of Pennsylvania where he will almost certainly play up what he believes will be lost if the tax cuts and UI benefits are not extended: 1 million jobs and 0.5 percent of GDP. Republicans meanwhile will likely counter that the President seems to spend a lot of time campaigning on the public dime.

There is a ton of important U.S. data all week (including new homes sales at 10:00 a.m. this morning) but the HUGE number, November jobs, comes Friday. Some signals have suggested the number could approach 200K, but consensus is for 125K with the jobless rate staying at 9.0 percent.

Next week, Vegas for the holidays.

Until next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
November 28, 2011

#II-31, 84

Monday, November 21, 2011

It Begins

The Holiday travels begin: one word – help!

Why, why, why?

I could be home in Archie’s chair, a cocktail, salami, my iPad and Blackberry a short distant away, watching football, hockey, CNBC, Weather Channel. But no, freeways, airports, cold weather, hearing loss, mayhem – why?

One word – family. Love them to death but can’t they come here????

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Troy Aikman (45), Barbara and Jenna Bush (30), Goldie Hawn (66), Caroline Kennedy (54), Stan Musial (91).

FIRST LOOK -- FORTUNE's 2011 "Business Person of the Year": Starbucks chairman and CEO Howard Schultz -- David A. Kaplan: "Back in September, two days before Barack Obama delivered his speech to Congress on jobs, he put in a call to Howard Schultz ... The business icon had suddenly become a political activist, announcing that because he was disgusted with Washington's dysfunction, he would cease making campaign contributions to incumbents in either party. ... Obama ... had no personal relationship with Schultz, a registered Democrat, and the two had met only once, when Obama was the junior U.S. senator from Illinois. 'Howard,' said the President, 'I'd like to talk to you about a number of things, including your campaign initiative, as well as your thoughts on the economy and job creation.' ...

BACKSTAGE - HOW THE SUPERCOMMITTEE FLUNKED : The supercommittee last met Nov. 1 - three weeks ago! It was a public hearing featuring a history lesson, "Overview of Previous Debt Proposals," with Alan Simpson, Erskine Bowles, Pete Domenici and Alice Rivlin. The last PRIVATE meeting was Oct. 26. You might as well stop reading right there: The 12 members (6 House, 6 Senate; 6 R, 6 D) were never going to strike a bargain, grand or otherwise, if they weren't talking to each other. Yes, we get that real deal-making occurs in small groups. But there never WAS a functioning supercommittee: There was Republican posturing and Democratic posturing, with some side conversations across the aisle.

We thought that human factors would prod ambitious members to crack the code, and that the committee would take on its own ecology, regardless of pressures from above or below. But we were punk'd: The supercommittee - one of the most fascinating government experiments of this generation -- never existed as a dynamic political organism.

The official deadline for action by the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction is Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving. The real deadline is Monday night, since any plan has to be posted for 48 hours before it's voted on. So conversations this weekend revolved around how to shut this turkey down. Aides expect some "Hail Mary" offers on Sunday, and there's something on the stove that could be inoffensive to both sides. But the committee may not even have a fig-leaf agreement to announce. Total, embarrassing failure. The markets and the country will hate it.

SUPERCOMMITTEE FAIL: WHY MARKETS SHOULDN'T CARE - No one ever gave the supercommittee much of a chance, so it's hardly a surprise they are meeting those low expectations. There is no debt limit or government shutdown crisis looming. The "government is broken" argument is not wrong but it's not new and there are plenty on both sides who think doing nothing here was better than anything on the table. The failure triggers automatic "sequester" cuts of $1.2 trillion over 10 years (thought they don't kick in until 2013 and are thus deeply suspect.) ... There probably won't be any downgrades and if there are ... so what.

The S&P downgrade had no impact on the 10-year Treasury yield, which kept dropping after the ratings agency made its controversial summer move. And the biggest reason the supercommittee fail is a big fat nothing-burger? The economy is showing signs of life with a decent chance that jobs growth hits close to or over 200K in November and that fourth quarter GDP surprises to the upside. Growth won't erase big structural benefits vs. tax rates problems but it will make the numbers easier.

NFL - Sunday stats - NFL release : "New Orleans' DREW BREES (3,326 yards, 23 touchdowns), Green Bay's AARON RODGERS (3,168 yards, 31 touchdowns) and New England's TOM BRADY (3,032 yards, 23 touchdowns in nine games) have all passed for at least 3,000 yards and 20 touchdowns in their team's first 10 games (Brady and the Patriots play their 10th game on Monday night). This is the first time in NFL history that three different quarterbacks have passed for at least 3,000 yards and 20 touchdowns in their team's first 10 games. ... The GREEN BAY PACKERS defeated Tampa Bay 35-26 and improved to 10-0. The Packers have won a franchise-record 16 consecutive games (including the playoffs) and are the third defending Super Bowl champion to start the following season 10-0 (1990 San Francisco 49ers and 1998 Denver Broncos). The Packers are 10-0 for the third time in franchise history (1929 and 1962). Green Bay won the NFL Championship in both of those seasons. ...

"The DETROIT LIONS erased a 24-7 deficit to defeat Carolina 49-35. The Lions are the first team in NFL history to win three games in a single season in which it trailed by at least 17 points. The Lions won games in Weeks 3 (20-point deficit vs. Minnesota) and 4 (24-point deficit vs. Dallas) after trailing by at least 17 points. ... Green Bay quarterback AARON RODGERS completed 23 of 34 passes (67.6 percent) for 299 yards with three touchdowns and one interception for a 112.3 passer rating in the Packers' win. Rodgers is the first quarterback to record a passer rating of at least 100 in 10 consecutive games in a single season. He had previously been tied with PEYTON MANNING (nine in 2004) for the longest such streak. Rodgers has passed for at least two touchdowns in all 10 games this season and is the fifth quarterback in NFL history with multiple TD passes in each of his team's first 10 games. The other four quarterbacks to accomplish the feat are Pro Football Hall of Famers JOHNNY UNITAS (1959) and DAN MARINO (1984) and PEYTON MANNING (2004) and TOM BRADY (2007)."

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 11/26, it is finally here, Ohio State Buckeyes (6-5) at #15 ranked Michigan Wolverines (9-2), 12:00 PM ET, ABC. Ohio State stinks this year, Michigan is getting better, but still it is the best game of the year. The Big House will be rocking as Michigan takes Ohio State in a laugher.
Season to date (7-5).

SMALL COLLEGE PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 11/26 and the next round of the D-III playoffs have #5 ranked Linfield Wildcats (10-0) at Wesley Wolverines (10-1), 12:00 PM ET, HGTV. Linfield is the best in the west after beating Cal Lutheran (SCIAC) by three points on Saturday. We like them to continue on in the playoffs with a big win in Dover, Delaware.
Season to date (11-1).

NFL PICK OF THE WEEK – Thursday, 11/24 – parades, shovel the sidewalk, the smell of Turkey in the oven, Green Bay Packers (10-0) at Detroit Lions (7-3), 12:30 PM ET, Fox – this is Thanksgiving in America. The Lions need this one to get into the playoffs, it will be a tough one but the Lions will win.
Season to date (6-5).

THE SWAMI’S TOP PICKS – Michigan 35 Ohio State 21, BC Lions 28 Winnipeg Blue Bombers 17, Detroit 42 Green Bay 40. Season to Date (22-11).

DRIVING THE WEEK - Today is all about markets reacting to (and politicians spinning) the supercommittee failure (or celebrating a SHOCKING and nearly impossible breakthrough). Later in the week features some key U.S. data and European debt sales ... President Obama is in New Hampshire on Tuesday to talk about the jobs bill at Manchester High School Central. ... Third quarter GDP gets revised on Tuesday ... Wednesday is loaded with juicy data due to the holiday with weekly jobless claims, personal income and spending and Reuters/U. Mich. consumer sentiment (a key number heading into Black Friday and the full-tilt holiday shopping season)

Next week, words of the month and Jack Ass of the month.

Until next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
November 21, 2011

#II-30, 83

Monday, November 14, 2011

Friend or Foe: Snobs

There have been a lot of discussions recently about snobs, especially those who live in Claremont, California. It seems Claremont residents believe they are a higher being. As a snob to a small degree I feel I can comment on this, my snobbery involves restaurants, bars, streets, and to a certain degree areas of the USA.

Snobs are like conservative Republicans: a pain in the a _ _, but they keep a proper balance on things. I truly believe we all aspire to be a snob, snobbery feels good – now I do not condone snobbery to our neighbors or religious groups but being a snob can give one purpose in their daily routine.

Is Montclair really worth a visit? Decent restaurants along Foothill Boulevard, I don’t think so. I was feeling a bit down in the dumps this morning, I feel much better now.

PERSONAL FOUL AT PENN STATE  – Maureen Dowd writes: “Like the Roman Catholic Church, Penn State is an arrogant institution hiding behind its mystique. And sports is an insular world that protects its own, and operates outside of societal norms as long as victories and cash continue to flow bountifully. Penn State rakes in $70 million a year from its football program. The delusion that the ability to win football games indicates anything at all about your character or intelligence other than that you can win football games.”

TOP STORY - "Ohio vote shows unions still a political force," by AP's Sam Hananel: "Labor unions are celebrating one of their biggest victories in decades after turning back an Ohio law that curbed collective bargaining rights for state public workers. The vote showed unions are still a potent political force ... The question for many is whether to interpret Tuesday's Ohio referendum as simply a rejection of Republican overreach in a heavily unionized state or more broadly as a barometer of a battleground state that could resonate with voters nationwide. Union leaders say they hope it brings about a resurgence for a labor movement long in decline...

GOP DEBATE WRAP: PERRY DESTROYED; ROMNEY CRUISES - Only one huge headline from last week's CNBC debate: The (final?) implosion of Rick Perry's campaign. The Texas governor was never very strong during the two-hour affair (or any previous debate). But he crashed hard in a classic deer-in-the-headlights moment likely to live in campaign lore when he could not remember the third federal agency he would shut down as president. ...

Perry: "And I will tell you, it is three agencies of government when I get there that are gone. Commerce, Education, and the -what's the third one there? Let's see ... Okay. Commerce, Education, and the...”... CNBC's John Harwood: "You can't -- you can't name the third one?" Perry: "The third agency of government I would -- I would do away with Education, the Commerce... Commerce and, let's see. I can't. The third one, I can't. Sorry. Oops."

INTERNET EXPLODES - Perry came back 15 minutes later and named the Department of Energy as the third he would shutter. But by then Twitter had exploded with blistering commentary, including from many prominent Republicans, about the end of the Perry campaign. The rest of the debate didn't really matter much. Herman Cain drew cheers again and Maria Bartiromo got booed for bringing up the sexual harassment scandal. No surprise. But Cain won't be the nominee. Newt Gingrich gained a bit of traction with another fairly strong, media-bashing performance where he demonstrated his fluency on a wide-range of issues.

But while he has a strong core of elite GOP support, it's difficult to see Gingrich posing a real threat to Mitt Romney, who made no mistakes last night (other than some mussed hair) and won strong applause for brushing past the Cain scandal without a comment while training his fire on President Obama. And Romney, who took some of the edge off his opposition to the auto bailouts, faced none of the withering attacks he endured (especially from Perry) at the last debate.

Indeed, during some of his warmer exchanges with Gingrich it seemed Romney was preparing to offer the former House speaker a senior post in his administration. ... Perry brain freeze is here if you have not already watched it 50 times.

THE BIG IDEA -- - Bloomberg Businessweek cover, "WHY AMERICANS WON'T DO DIRTY JOBS,": "It's a hard-to-resist syllogism: Dirty jobs are available; Americans won't fill them; thus, Americans are too soft for dirty jobs. Why else would so many unemployed people turn down the opportunity to work during a recession? Of course, there's an equally compelling obverse. Why should farmers and plant owners expect people to take a back-breaking seasonal job with low pay and no benefits just because they happen to be offering it? If no one wants an available job-especially in extreme times-maybe the fault doesn't rest entirely with the people turning it down. Maybe the market is inefficient. ... The notion of jobs in fields and food plants as 'immigrant work' is relatively new. As late as the 1940s, most farm labor in Alabama and elsewhere was done by Americans.

"During World War II the U.S. signed an agreement with Mexico to import temporary workers to ease labor shortages. Four and a half million Mexican guest workers crossed the border. At first most went to farms and orchards in California; by the program's completion in 1964 they were working in almost every state. Many braceros-the term translates to "strong-arm," as in someone who works with his arms-were granted green cards, became permanent residents, and continued to work in agriculture. Native-born Americans never returned to the fields. 'Agricultural labor is basically 100 percent an immigrant job category,' says Princeton University sociologist Doug Massey, who studies population migration. 'Once an occupational category becomes dominated by immigrants, it becomes very difficult to erase the stigma.'"

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Traci Attman …famous text writer, Joe Biden (69), John Boehner (62), Dick Cavett (75), Prince Charles (63), Ann Curry (55), Boutros Boutros-Ghali (89), Carrie Lewis Hasse …famous half-marathoner, Diana Krall (47), Condoleezza Rice (57), Richard Simpson …famous strategist, Lorene Thomas …famous party planner, Sam Waterston (71), Judy Woodruff (65).

SPORTS BLINK -- REMEMBERING JOE FRAZIER -- 'JOE FRAZIER, 1944-2011: Relentless Champion of the 'Fight of the Century by Dave Anderson : 'For all the deserved accolades for Muhammad Ali, I've always believed that each at his best, Joe Frazier, who died Monday night at age 67, was the better fighter. And the better man. After both entered the Madison Square Garden ring undefeated in 1971 for what was called the Fight of the Century, Frazier flattened Ali with a left hook and earned a unanimous and unquestioned 15-round decision that Ali didn't wait to hear. His jaw swollen, he hurried out of the ring on the way to a nearby hospital. He knew who had won. The Thrilla in Manila in 1975 was awarded to Ali when Frazier's trainer, Eddie Futch, wouldn't let him answer the bell for the 15th round because 'he couldn't see the right hands coming' out of his closed left eye, but Frazier soon talked freely in the interview area.... That evening, at a party in an old Filipino palace, Ali, his ribs battered, walked stiffly and sat stiffly, painfully offering a finger or two instead of shaking hands. At his hotel, Frazier sang and danced. Seeing them both, if you didn't know what had happened in the fight, you had to think Frazier was the winner.'

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 11/19, USC Trojans (8-2) visit #4 Oregon Ducks (9-1), 8:00 PM ET, ABC. Can SC win a big one, especially at Oregon? We don’t think so, the only remaining question is: what uniform will The Ducks wear?
Season to date (7-4).

SMALL COLLEGE PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 11/19, the D-III playoffs begin with the SCIAC runner-up #13 Redlands Bulldogs (8-1) visit Belton, Texas and the #4 ranked Mary Hardin-Baylor Crusaders (10-0), 4:00 PM ET, HGTV. The American Southwest Conference champions are tough, too tough for Redlands.
Season to date (10-1).

NFL PICK OF THE WEEK Sunday 11/20, San Diego Chargers (4-5) @ Chicago Bears (6-3), 4:15 PM ET, CBS. This could be it for Norv Turner’s coaching days in San Diego, rumors are flying that he has lost the team. The Bears will help this out by routing the bolts.
Season to date (6-4).

THE SWAMI’S TOP PICKS The Swami is coming off a few off weeks, time to get back on track: Oregon 45 USC 28, St. Lawrence 4 Harvard 2, Chicago 24 San Diego 20.
Season to Date (20-10).

BEYOND THE BELTWAY - "Nixon Library director to step down: Timothy Naftali led transformation from roadside attraction to respected institution," by L. A. Times' Christopher Goffard (Saturday's second front): "Naftali, 49, who presided over the transfer of the long-ridiculed private library to federal hands in 2007, will leave Nov. 19 and said he plans to turn his focus to finishing a book he's been researching on the 37th president's great rival: John F. Kennedy. ... For years after its opening in 1990, the [library's Watergate] exhibit reflected Nixon's own version ... In April, [Naftali] unveiled a $500,000 new exhibit that featured a comprehensive chronicle of Watergate, placing it in the context of a broader pattern of dirty tricks and sabotage ... The Nixon Foundation, made up of the former president's loyalists, fought unsuccessfully to block portions of the exhibit [as] part of a larger clash between the Foundation and Naftali. The foundation temporarily suspended event funding in 2009, when Naftali invited former White House counsel John Dean to speak."

DRIVING THE WEEK - Italy remains the dominant financial story and today's bond sale will help drive market sentiment on whether a euro zone crack-up can be avoided ... President Obama has a fundraiser in Hawaii today before moving on to Australia on Tuesday and then Indonesia ... Supercommittee enters its final full week of talks with no deal in sight though there is now talk of a move to increase revenues while leaving the actual details on tax hikes to next year. Obama still has not issued a veto threat on any effort to circumvent the sequester ... Top data this week include retail sales for October on Tuesday, expected to gain around 0.3 percent ... CPI out Wednesday expected to increase 0.1 percent excluding food and energy ...

Next week, the holiday travels begin.

Until next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
November 14, 2011

#II-29, 82

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Education Bubble

You heard about the High Tech Bubble, you heard about the Housing Bubble, you even heard about the Double Bubble, but now hear about the Education Bubble, and it could be even uglier, especially for those in higher education.

The higher education business model of the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s can no longer exist. Every year colleges and universities increase tuition, room and board 3%-6% knowing full well that student loans (exempt from bankruptcy laws, thus the Federal Government bails out the defaulted loans), Pell and other government financed grants will always be there to supplement education costs. Also, the days of knowing a graduate will have a job waiting for him and her are now far from over.

To work around the growing bubble, universities allow poorly prepared students, faculty and administrators into their programs to maintain revenues and lower operating costs. The perfect storm is approaching: (1) students and their families are thinking of non-traditional forms of higher education to reduce the cost and debt, (2). The economic conditions of the United States; recession and/or slow growth for many years, (3) the ability for federal and state governments to fund education is now limited and nonexistent, (4) the Federal Reserve may bail out student lenders, but this sets the stage for an even larger collapse (like we are seeing in housing), and (5) students may be reaching the point that their education is not serving them, so why pay?

All of the above is approaching, already here , or not too far away. The major problem is student debt, many homeowners “strategically defaulted” when they realized their house was wasting their money. Why would not students just drop out of the system if their student loans were high enough? If this happens who pays, the tax payer and as you can see in the current political climate the tax payer has had enough.

The higher education model must change for the 21st century especially at those colleges and universities who do not have the luxury of larger benefactors and endowments. I believe there are administrators and government leaders out there to meet this challenge of changing the higher education model, time is running out, good luck.

STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS KEEP FIRING - From blog post by Commerce Department chief economic Mark Doms: "So far this year state and local governments have been cutting jobs at the same pace that private sector firms are adding them. Over the first 9 months of the year, private payroll employment has grown 1.2 percent (1.3 million jobs) while employment in state and local governments declined by 1.2 percent (234,000 jobs). With cuts so deep, few services are spared, including for local schools. ... Nationally, employment in local education has shrunk by nearly 270,000 jobs since August 2008 even as enrollment continues to rise.

TOP 1% IN U.S. – (1) Bill Gates (Microsoft) $59.4 billion, (2) Warren Buffett (Berkshire Hathaway) $39.0 billion, (3) Larry Ellison (Oracle) $33.0 billion, (4) Charles/David Koch (Oil & Gas) $25.0 billion, (5) Christy Walton (Walmart) $24.5 billion.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Al Arbour (79), Nadia Comaneci (50), Linda Gordon …famous shopper, Kathleen Jenrich …famous LA Angels fan, David Kung …famous investor, Chris Noth (57), Bonnie Raitt (62), Fuzzy Zoeller (60).

NHL OCTOBER SUMMARY – power rankings for October: (1) Pittsburgh, (2) San Jose, (3) Washington, (4) Chicago, (5) Toronto (yes The Leafs!).

Players of the Month: Phil Kessel, Toronto; Kari Lehtonen (Dallas); Nikolai Khabibulin (Edmonton).

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 11/12, #7 Oregon Ducks (8-1) visit #4 Stanford Cardinal (9-0), 8:00 PM ET, ABC. A huge game in Palo Alto to determine Pac 12 supremacy, this is the Cardinal’s year RR likes Andrew Luck and crew to win.
Season to date (7-3).

SMALL COLLEGE PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 11/12, 4:00 PM ET, HGTV; the Whittier Poets (2-6) visit University of La Verne Leopards (3-5) at Ortmayer Field. Coach Krich has had a decent first year at La Verne, he can set the stage for a better second year and program with a victory over Whittier. La Verne will win big.
Season to date (9-1).

NFL PICK OF THE WEEK – Sunday 11/13, 4:15 PM ET, Fox has the New York Giants (6-2) at San Francisco 49ers (7-1). A great matchup with two of the more surprising NFL teams through the first half of the season. The Giants will have a letdown after their victory of the Pats; RR likes the 49ers to win.
Season to date (5-4).

THE SWAMI’S TOP PICKS – Stanford 38 Oregon 31,La Verne 42 Whittier 20, Detroit 24 Chicago 21. Season to Date (19-8).

DRIVING THE WEEK - European headlines, especially out of Greece and Italy, will continue to drive U.S. markets, which appear headed to a lower open this morning on concern over Italy ... GOP candidates gather for an economic debate in Michigan hosted by CNBC at 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday. Mitt Romney has stayed far away from the Herman Cain sexual harassment scandal and will likely to continue to do so ... Will Rick Perry, who desperately needs to cut down Cain's tea party support, follow suit or go on the attack? ... On Thursday, First Lady Michelle Obama will speak to business leaders, veterans and military spouses at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's 4th Annual "Hiring Our Heroes" event. ... President Obama heads to Honolulu on Friday for the start of the APEC summit and will spend the weekend in Hawaii before moving on to Australia and Indonesia ... There is always the chance the trip will get cut short if the supercommittee appears to be breaking down as its Nov. 23rd deadline nears.

Next week, friend or foe: snobs.

Until next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
November 7, 2011

#II-28, 81

Monday, October 31, 2011


Here are a few spooky events and observations on this Halloween 2011.

The Detroit Lions and the Buffalo Bills are becoming elite NFL teams.

The United Nations has determined today 7 billion citizens now reside on planet earth: with 1 billion citizens having inadequate drinking water and 2.2 billion citizens with no proper sanitation facilities.

Peanut butter prices are up 40% in our grocery stores due to the hot/dry summer season.

1 trillion dollars of student debt liabilities now exist in America. The Education Bubble nears.

University of La Verne football program has the second toughest schedule in all of D-III football this season: that explains why ULV is up in the Forbes Rankings.

Men over the age of 30 continue to wear baseball hats backwards, adding to the dumb and dumber of society.

Herb Cain leads all Republican candidates in the current poles, again adding to the dumb and dumber of society.

Tattoos, why?

Rachel Maddow needs to lighten up.

Students admitted to a MBA program who do not know how to use Excel, Word, PowerPoint, online research and speak English…How are the numbers?

Yes Claremont, CA is full of snobs, we admit it, now move on.

RR does not buy Darth Vader’s new “the world is nice and good” routine. Fellow citizens still beware.

A family member has a television in every room of the house, including the garage, except for the bathrooms.

Tim Tebow, why the big deal?

Both Dancing with the Stars and 2 1/2 Men had larger average audiences than WS Game #5.

GOOGLE HOMEPAGE - is a time-lapse video of pumpkin carvers creating jack-o'-lanterns that spell "Google." The page then automatically gives search results for "Happy Halloween."

MORE APPLE - “Can somebody help me out?” Michael Oher, an offensive lineman for the Baltimore Ravens, asked on Twitter a few weeks back. “Who was Steve Jobs!”
Oher, of course, knew about the company Jobs had run, even if he wasn’t a true believer. “Do you need all 3? iPhone Laptop and iPad? I don’t think so,” he had said after Apple unveiled its newest iPhone earlier in the week. More significantly, the Ravens are one of a few N.F.L. teams—Tampa Bay, Atlanta—to get rid of bulky paper playbooks in favor of an iPad preloaded with the team’s slate of plays. Players also use iPads to review game film, and fans use them to watch the games.

FIRST LOOK: JOBS' PROTÉGÉ TAKES THE STAGE - "Steve Jobs protégé Scott Forstall is a lot like his mentor: Brilliant, presents well, a deft infighter-arguably just the S.O.B. Apple needs to stay on top. Here is the first full profile of Scott Forstall, a 42-year-old senior vice president who may be the most important Apple employee you've never heard of. ... Forstall runs Apple's mobile software division, iOS, 'one of the most valuable corporate assets on earth,' understands both development and design, and already has his name on 50 Apple patents. Colleagues either revere him or detest him but Apple needs to keep him happy -- and keep him from antagonizing the inner circle of the world's most valuable tech company."

EUROPE MAKES THE BIG DEAL - "European leaders reached a deal with Greek debt-holders on last week that would see private investors take a 50 per cent cut in the face value of their bonds, a deep haircut that officials believe will reduce Greek debt levels to 120 per cent of gross domestic product by the end of the decade. The agreement, made just before 4am ... includes a new €130bn bail-out of Greece by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. ..."

ECONOMIC GAME CHANGE? – Last week's triple score of a big European debt deal, decent 2.5 percent U.S. GDP growth and a blockbuster market rally shakes up the old CW (President Obama runs blistering negative campaign in terrible economy) and presents what could become a new CW (which is actually a return to an older CW): Obama runs in a modestly recovering economy against a GOP opponent who wants to return to policies in place as the financial crisis hit.

Of course, it's too soon to predict this reality will come to pass. Growth needs to get over 3 percent to start pushing down the unemployment rate. And, once again, the biggest obstacle facing a fragile economy is Washington dysfunction and gridlock.

RR spoke to a number of economists and political operatives the last few days all of whom said two things could derail what appears to be a slow but steady recovery: Total collapse in the supercommittee talks leading to new downgrades and increased anxiety about U.S. governance; and failure to reach agreement to extend payroll tax cuts next year.

SPORTS BLINK - COMEBACK CARDS!, "PAINT THE TOWN RED: [St. Louis] Cardinals win 11th World Series title," by Tom Verducci: "With a thoroughly underwhelming 6-2 victory in Game 7 -- at least against the backdrop of 32 pressure-packed days of the purest baseball drama a fan could hope to see -- the 2011 Cardinals ... will go down as one of the great comeback teams in championship history. They proved they were more than just the 'hot' tournament team, as can happen in this three-round playoff system. They were ferocious in rising to multiple challenges. On Aug. 24, the Cardinals stood 10½ games out of a playoff spot with just the 12th-best record in the majors (67-63). On the last day of the season, they needed a win and a Braves loss just to get into the postseason."

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Laura Bush (65), Sally Field (65), Art Garfunkel (70), Dr. Steve Lesniak …famous home designer, Jane Pauley (61), Gary Player (76), Dan Rather (80), Maria Shriver (56), Bill Walton (59).

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 11/5, Number One vs. Number Two: LSU Tigers (8-0) visit Alabama Crimson Tide (8-0), 8:00 PM ET, CBS.. Two great defenses in this one, we like The Tide to win and set up a national title game vs. Stanford come January. Season to date (7-2).

SMALL COLLEGE PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 11/5, the famous Cranberry Bowl Game, the 33rd season of this small college classic 12:00 PM ET, The Food Channel: Massachusetts Maritime Buccaneers (5-3) visit Bridgewater State Bears (6-2) in this NEFC conference battle. RR likes the crimson and white of Bridgewater to win this one going away in the Cranberry Bowl. Season to date (8-1).

NFL PICK OF THE WEEK – Sunday 11/6, 4:15 PM ET, CBS: Green Bay Packers (7-0) visit the San Diego Chargers (4-2). A key game for the lightning bolts to maintain playoff hopes, RR likes San Diego to give The Pack their first loss of the year. Sorry BE. Season to date (5-3).

THE SWAMI’S TOP PICKS – Alabama 20 LSU 10, Alfred 24 Ithaca 17, San Diego 17 Green Bay 14. Season to Date (18-6).

DRIVING THE WEEK - Huge week for economic news concluding with the October jobs report on Friday. Consensus is for around 100K, roughly the same as last month, which would tend to confirm that the economy isn't shrinking but is also not growing fast enough to bring down the 9.1 percent unemployment rate. Some more bullish analysts expect the number to come in at 150K (still not enough to move the unemployment needle). Anything around 150K or above would be a HUGE upside surprise. Anything significantly below 100K would be a big disappointment and blow to the Administration. ...

President Obama heads to the G20 meeting that begins in Cannes on Thursday to discuss, among other things, the latest big bazooka plan to save the euro zone and prevent global contagion (hopefully limiting the U.S. victims to MF Global). White House Press Secretary Jay Carney and other officials brief on the trip this morning at 10:30 a.m. at the White House... FOMC meets Tuesday and Wednesday with no major changes expected in the Wednesday statement with the same three dissents.

Wall Street is on track to post some impressive October numbers ahead of the month's final trading day, though creeping doubts about the European debt crisis solution could scale back some of those milestones in the day ahead. At this point, the Dow is poised to post its best monthly point gain on record and its best monthly percentage gain since January 1987. The S&P 500 is on track for its second best monthly gain ever, trailing only October 1974.

JACKASS OF THE MONTH - Wow. 9-9-9 proponent Herb Cain is up with a new web ad that really "blew" us for a loop. Titled "Now is the time for action," the ad stars Cain chief-of-staff Mark Block rambling in rather predictable fashion about his boss ("I really believe that Herman Cain will put 'united' back in the United States of America, and if I didn't believe that, I wouldn't be here," etc).

The ad is horribly made, strangely-lit and Block appears to be shaking his head "no" throughout as if he doesn't buy a single word he's saying. But the truly weird part of the ad comes at the end when Block exhales a giant puff of his cigarette at the camera and we cut to a stonefaced Cain, who then tosses his head at the audience and breaks into a creepy laugh as teabager anthem "I Am America" plays in the background.

Next week, the education bubble.

Until next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
October 31, 2011

#II-27, 80