Monday, August 29, 2011

A Day at the Races

If it is August it is Del Mar Race Track in Del Mar California. If you like to view beautiful horses, the beautiful people, and make an occasional wager, this is the place for you. Rink Rats spent a day at the races recently and though The Swami lost $15, it was well worth the loss.

From the colorful paddock, to the ocean view grandstands Del Mar offers a wonderful way to spend a summer afternoon. Though I must admit betting Daily Doubles, Trifectas and Boxes can be a bit intimidating to the casual gambler. The track personnel are very friendly and help you understand the wager system. The thrill of feeling the power of the horses as they stride down the stretch is amazing, and if you should win the thrill is magnified.

The people watching at Del Mar is second to none: characters ranging from high heeled Orange County Housewife types to the professional horsemen to the regular once a year man or woman is quite fun. But also be ready to be humbled, The Swami’s wife beats him every time – say it ain’t so!

IRENE AFTERMATH - "Wet, deadly and expensive, but no monster" - AP: "The storm left millions without power across much of the Eastern Seaboard, left more than 20 dead and forced airlines to cancel about 9,000 flights. ... Many of the worst effects arose from rains that fell inland ... Residents of Pennsylvania and New Jersey nervously watched waters rise as hours' worth of rain funneled into rivers and creeks. Normally narrow ribbons of water turned into raging torrents in Vermont and upstate New York late Sunday, tumbling with tree limbs, cars and parts of bridges. ... Nearly 5 million homes and businesses lost power at some point."

Irene tally: 2.4 million people evacuated, at least 26 dead, more than 5 million homes without power

VERMONT DISASTER - Burlington Free-Press early Monday: "Vermont State Police and emergency managers’ report ... flash floods and stranded motorists due to Hurricane Irene. Drivers are being encouraged to stay off the roads. Thousands are without power. At least one person has been swept down a river and is presumed drowned. Montpelier is bracing for 'a major emergency' of overnight flooding. Throughout the state, a disaster is unfolding."

CATSKILLS DISASTER - Doron Tyler Antrim of the Hudson-Catskill Newspapers writes in The Daily Mail of Greene County, NY: "Flooding has been widespread and severe across the county today - the most damaging is on the mountaintop - following Tropical Storm Irene. Rain was heavy for most of the day and it swelled creeks to amazing levels. "There are many road closures and people are advised to stay home. More than 8,400 Central Hudson customers in the county, or about 30 percent, are currently without power. The utility has warned it will take several days to return power to some areas."

"IN MY TIME: A Personal and Political Memoir," by Dick Cheney, with Liz Cheney (out Tuesday from Mary Matalin's Threshold Editions; 565 pages.

--"On November 4, 2008, Barack Obama was elected ... [Bush chief of staff] Josh Bolten decided to host a unique session for the incoming chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, during our last weeks in office. Josh gathered all the living former chiefs of staff, about a dozen of us. Don Rumsfeld was there, Howard Baker, Jack Watson, John Sununu, and Leon Panetta, among others, and we met around the table in the office we had all once inhabited. Josh went around and asked each of us to give Rahm our most important piece of advice. By this time, of course, there'd been years of stories about how I was the evil genius controlling the Bush administration from behind a curtain, so when it came my turn I advised Rahm, 'Whatever you do, make sure you've got the vice president under control.' It was one of my better lines."

FINANCE, THE WEEK AHEAD - Wall Street plans a normal Monday morning open, something that was not a certainty before Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene passed through the New York area. With the worst case scenarios avoided, exchanges made the decision to operate normally, though some businesses remain closed and local travel in the New York area will still be somewhat difficult.

The major U.S. averages are coming off their biggest weekly gains in eight weeks, despite wide swings and high volatility. The Dow has registered triple-digit moves in six of the past seven sessions, and only once in the past seven sessions has it moved less than 1%.

Corporate earnings are not much of a factor this morning, but economic statistics are: the government is set to release July numbers on personal income and spending. Economists are forecasting a 0.4% rise in income following June's 0.1% increase, and they think consumer spending jumped 0.5% after declining 0.2% in June. We'll also get June pending home sales numbers from the National Association of Realtors, with a 1.0% decline representing the consensus forecast. Pending home sales had risen 2.4% in May.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Warren Buffett (81), Jimmy Connors (59), Dr. Phil (61), Carla Gugino (40), Salma Hayek (45), John McCain (75), Linda Prince …famous scientist, Rachael Ray (43), Frank Robinson (76), Tom Watson (62).

JACKASS OF THE MONTH - Texas “Governor Goodhair” Rick Perry said Fed Chair Ben Bernanke might be guilty of treason if he "prints" more money. A very impressive statement from a Presidential candidate. This simple statement alone earns “Governor Goodhair” the Jackass of the Month for August. We weep for our selection of candidates in the coming Presidential campaign.

NCAA COLLEGE FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP PICK: Who will be in New Orleans this January for the National Championship Game – The Swami likes Alabama vs. Oklahoma. The Sooners to win it all in 2012.

NFL SEASON PICKS: The Swami likes the following conference winners: NFC – Philadelphia, Green Bay, St. Louis and New Orleans with Dallas and Tampa Bay the NFC wild cards. AFC – New England, Pittsburgh, Houston and San Diego with Indianapolis and New York Jets the AFC wild cards. Green Bay vs. New England in the Super Bowl with the New England Patriots 2012 Champs.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 9/3, it is a whopper of a first game, #3 Oregon Ducks visit #4 and in jail LSU Tigers, 8:00 PM ET, ABC. The Tigers are 1 point dogs to Oregon, we like Oregon to win big in Arlington Texas. Season to date: (0-0) – Last Season (16-4)

SMALL COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 9/3, The St. Lawrence University Saints begin their 116th year of intercollegiate football by entertaining the Utica Pioneers at beautiful Leckonby Stadium, 1:00 PM ET, HGTV. The defending Liberty League Champs will win this opening game in what hopes to be another successful season. Season to date (0-0) – Last Season (12-3)

Next week, our weekly pro football pick of the week begins.

Until next Monday, Adios.

La Jolla, CA
August 29, 2011


Monday, August 22, 2011

Go To Pell

Across America this week Colleges and Universities begin the 2011-2012 academic year, I thought it appropriate this week to comment on the state of financing in college education. I am using a headline “Go To Pell” from an article I recently read in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

About half of undergraduates in America now receive Pell Grants. President Obama’s progressive dream of making this a universal entitlement seems close at hand. Why is this bad?

1). Millions of middle-class Americans who would have gone to college anyway are getting the award. Thus, the positive enrollment effect of Pell has become diluted, while an undesirable side effect – increases in tuition fees fed by Pell money has grown.

2). Many academically unprepared students are bribed to go to college for which they flounder, or are helped by deteriorating academic standards as exampled by grade inflation.

3). There are vast wastes of money. What is the success rate of Pell recipients? No one, especially the Obama Administration, knows.

4). There are no performance standards, no academic expectations, a marginal student who takes courses for eight years and then drops out gets twice as much money as a student who works hard and graduates with honors in four years. Academic mediocrity is celebrated and rewarded.

5). The program contributes to the growing disconnect between labor-market realities and student-employment expectations. In other words college graduates doing jobs traditionally held by those with high school educations. The over-investment in higher education deflects funds away from unfunded liabilities to fund senior citizen pensions and health care.

Higher education in America lives in a dream world, clueless to the extent this overspending effects our nation’s fiscal integrity and future stability. It is now time that not-for-profit and for-profit institutions manage their enterprises in tune with fiscal realities and common sense.

AMERICA’S LEAST POPULAR STARS: 1. Paris Hilton, 2. Charlie Sheen, T3. Britney Spears/Kayne 4. Schwarzenegger 5. Tiger Woods

AMERICA’S MOST POPULAR STARS: 1. Betty White, 2. Denzel Washington, 3. Sandra Bullock, 4. Clint Eastwood

OLD SCHOOL, NEW SCHOOL – Old School Bill Clinton: Out to eat juicy hamburgers and fries, then chase young woman. New School Bill Clinton: Out to eat soy burgers and carrots, then chase retired woman.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Sean Connery (81), Elvis Costello (57), Nori Murphy …famous academic techie, Diana Nyad (62), Will Shortz (59), Robb Suffredini …famous soccer coach.

NCAA COLLEGE FOOTBALL CONFERENCE PICKS: ACC – Florida State, Big East – West Virginia, Big Ten – Michigan State, Big 12 – Oklahoma, Liberty League – St. Lawrence, Pac 12 – Oregon, SEC – Alabama, SCIAC – Redlands

SPORTS BLINK - Sports Illustrated's college football preview issue includes "Best Games of 2011," by Gene Menez: 1. Oregon at Stanford, Nov. 12 ... 2. LSU at Alabama, Nov. 5 ... 3. LSU vs. Oregon, Sept. 3, in Arlington, Texas The first big Saturday-night game of the season ...4. Oklahoma at Florida State, Sept. 17 ... 5. Nebraska at Wisconsin, Oct. 1 Welcome to the Big Ten, Huskers. ... 6. Oklahoma at Oklahoma State, Dec. 3 ...7. TCU at Boise State, Nov. 12 ... 8. Wisconsin at Ohio State, Oct. 29 ... 9. Alabama at Auburn, Nov. 26 The last two national champions renew their annual hatefest ... 10. Texas A&M at Oklahoma, Nov. 5.

--SI has five regional covers this week: Alabama ... Oklahoma ... Stanford ... South Carolina ... Nebraska.

--SI's preseason Top 5: 1. Alabama ... 2. Oklahoma ... 3. LSU ... 4. Stanford ... 5. Oregon

HOLLYWOOD BOWL – Still remains the best place to see a concert in the summer. The atmosphere, the acoustics, the picnics – second to none. Thank you St. Lawrence Alumni, especially Pris Schroeder ’56, for a wonderful evening of food, wine, stories, and Disney’s Fantasia.

Next week, pro football picks, first week of The Swami’s college football game of the week and the Jack Ass of the Month.

Until next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
August 22, 2011


Monday, August 15, 2011

Dog Days of Summer

The dog days of summer are upon us: those last few days before school begins, hot and humid days with no worries and some down time before the busy days of September.

As usual baseball has sorted out by this time, the Red Sox and Yankees are the two best teams. Tony Villar is nowhere to be seen (what else is new). ESPN is constantly showing Little League baseball, why? The best shows are now on television: Breaking Bad, True Blood, Curb Your Enthusiasm and soon Boardwalk Empire and Mad Men.

A few observations as we head into these dog days of summer:

WHAT'S REALLY HAPPENING - Don't believe anyone who tells you this is a replay of 2008. It's not. Or at least it shouldn't be. European sovereign debt problems are significant but unlike the huge credit and real-estate price bubble that burst in the U.S. in 2008 and infected the balance sheets of nearly every bank on earth and crushed consumers leading to a deep, prolonged recession. And the wild market swings of the last week have very little to do with the S&P downgrade, no matter how many lazy news stories keep making the erroneous connection.

The S&P report was a very negative headline but it is no longer having any real impact on a market that is trying to figure out how far the European crisis is going to spread, how much banks are exposed to potential sovereign losses and how slow global growth will be the rest of this year and next. If anyone was worried about U.S. credit-worthiness the 10-year Treasury would not be yielding 2.20 percent, which adjusted for inflation is LESS THAN ZERO.

No one is worried about Uncle Sam's credit or the ability of the U.S. to deal with its long-term debt if it can get growth moving again. The U.S. could easily pass another big stimulus package without bothering the market at all. And at these rates (which amount to FREE MONEY) it would be a huge bargain (not that there is any chance it will happen).

During the process of finding a support level, the market is whipsawed by every rumor and data point and giant momentum swings feed on themselves, often with the help of pre-set computer algorithms and aggressive professional traders (AKA face-rippers). At some point (hopefully soon) a consensus will emerge on where equities should be priced and calm will return. Until then, if you are able, don't pay much attention to the daily freak outs. Because the only thing that could make 2011 look more like 2008 is a lot more irrational fear.

BUFFETT: TAX THE RICH - The Oracle of Omaha continues his media smorgasbord, an hour-long interview with Charlie Rose tonight and an op-ed today in the NYT asking Congress to stop coddling billionaires and hike up their taxes because everyone should sacrifice for the good of the country.

"I have worked with investors for 60 years and I have yet to see anyone - not even when capital gains rates were 39.9 percent in 1976-77 - shy away from a sensible investment because of the tax rate on the potential gain. People invest to make money, and potential taxes have never scared them off. And to those who argue that higher rates hurt job creation, I would note that a net of nearly 40 million jobs were added between 1980 and 2000. You know what's happened since then: lower tax rates and far lower job creation."


Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) (CO-CHAIR)
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.)
Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.)
Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) (CO-CHAIR)
Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.)
Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.)
Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.)
Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio)
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.)
Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.)
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.)
Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.)

DARTH VADER WATCH – Glad to see Darth Vader is back from vacation; RR missed his berating of employees and his management by intimidation. Rack this! If only his supervisors knew, or do they?

SILVER TONGUE DEVIL – Speaking of fine leaders, RR has noticed STD is back hustling his personal business while on COMPANY time. Only in America.

USA TODAY TOP 25 preseason college football coaches poll: 1. Oklahoma, 2. Alabama, 3. Oregon, 4. LSU, 5. Florida State, 6. Stanford, 7. Boise State, 8. Oklahoma State, 9. Texas A&M, 10. Wisconsin, 11. Nebraska, 12. South Carolina, 13. Virginia Tech, 14. Arkansas, 15. TCU, 16. Ohio State (what!), 17. Michigan State, 18. Notre Dame (not), 19. Auburn, 20. Mississippi State, 21. Missouri, 22. Georgia, 23. Florida, 24. Texas, 25. Penn State.

DODGER BASEBALL – Have you been to a Dodger game lately? If you don’t have a tattoo or a Raider T-Shirt they won’t let you in the ball park.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Robert De Niro (68), Magic Johnson (52), Mary Matalin (58), Ron Paul (76), Robert Plant (68), Robert Redford (75), Al Roker (57).


I am a man over forty and re-entering the dating scene, any advice?

--Looking for Ms. Goodbar


You may be older and wiser, and really know who you are and what you want, but you have no idea what it’s like to date in the new millennium. Some tips: Hit the gym – gym, tanning and laundry – all ways to improve your appearance and impress the ladies. Skip the bar scene – it is okay to go to bars with friends but do not do it to meet potential dates. Network – just like you would spread the word if you’re unemployed and looking for friends to hook you up with a potential job, tell everyone you’re interested in dating again. But do not use LinkedIn; nobody knows how to work it, or how it is supposed to be spelled, a waste of time. Good luck and one last thing if you have bad teeth, forget all I have said, you are doomed!

--Rink Rats

CONGRATULATIONS – Though details are sketchy, nephew GB has completed Officer Candidate School this past weekend. He now heads back for his final year at George Washington and then the Marines await.


sirocco \suh-ROK-oh\, noun:

1. Any hot, oppressive wind, especially one in the warm sector of a cyclone.
2. A hot, dry, dustladen wind blowing from northern Africa and affecting parts of southern Europe.
3. A warm, sultry south or southeast wind accompanied by rain.

“Plattsburgh New York, with its cutting tramontana and sultry sirocco days, we spent in the eternal city, taking rooms of an old woman who had a flat with stone floors and straw chairs in the via SUNY Plattsburgh.”

perderse, reflexive verb

to get lost; to be lost

“TenĂ­a miedo de perderse.”
She was afraid of getting lost.

Next week, more college football picks and the Jack Ass of the Month.

Until next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
August 15, 2011


Monday, August 8, 2011

The Social Assassin

Do you have a family friend, co-worker, neighbor, or even a relative who constantly does something obnoxious and bothersome? I bet you do. Then you need a social assassin; someone who can directly tell a person their faults, so you do not have to. Have a person (a social assassin) do the dirty work and point out ones’ faults. A great idea.

I picked this idea up from an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm the other night. But I propose we go one step further. A social assassin to also tell a friend, co-worker or relative about obnoxious behavior in the various social networks: Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Have you read some social networks lately, and I have to admit I am personally included in this analysis. There are times I need a social assassin to tell me to “get a life”. I believe these social forums can be good sources of thought and opinion, about real issues, not ones’ personal tastes and health habits. Do we really want to know about your kitty’s health issues, do we really give an RA about your horoscope, and is it necessary to relive your experiences at the dentist? If you are at fault in these and similar examples, you need a social assassin.

Have a boss who has the management skills of a mosquito. Hire a social assassin to set this person straight. The neighbor who every morning walks outside to get the morning paper in an outfit resembling prehistoric times, leaving little to the imagination as far as their body parts. A social assassin is the answer. The Uncle with so much hair in his ears that you only know he has ears is a day or so after a haircut. You see, these problems can be solved by a social assassin. The only problem where are these assassins?

THE STRINGS ATTACHED – One of the effects the recent downgrade by Standard and Poors of U.S. securities to AA+ is now with the U.S. not being the standard of all no risk investments, countries are now in a position to place terms on our doing business with them. As the U.S. debt demands continue to rise, countries like China, can say to us: sure you can have our money but at higher rates and also you (U.S) can no longer demand social justice reforms in China.

Or India can say to us: sure you can have our cash but at higher rates and also stop giving aid to Pakistan. Or the Saudis can say sure you can have our cash but give less aid to Israel. These are the strings that can now be attached to our borrowing due to the lowering of our risk. A very dangerous situation in terms of foreign policy.

THE BIG PICTURE - L.A. Times A1, "News Analysis: For all the drama, little got done: Each party got what it wanted most, but the compromise only delays tougher financial decisions," by David Lauter: "The bulk of the projected $2.1 trillion or more of cuts does not start kicking in until after the next election when a future Congress and president could choose to rewrite the plan - a point that many conservatives have worried about. ... The bill almost certainly defers until after next year's election the central choice most budget experts say the country eventually must make: higher taxes or deep cuts in Medicare ...

"A bipartisan congressional committee set up by the compromise bill is supposed to grapple with the long-term choices over the next four months. White House officials insist they see that panel as a serious opportunity to try again for a major deficit reduction deal. ... But many in Congress, whose leaders will appoint the panel's 12 members, believe the panel more likely will deadlock. 'I think it's very possible, maybe even probable, that with a committee you're going to have a 6-6 vote,' said Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) ... The George W. Bush-era tax cuts will expire barely two months after the [2012] election, virtually guaranteeing a new debate over taxes. And whoever takes the oath of office in January 2013 will inherit a debt still rising and another debt ceiling vote just a few months away."

WHY IT'S HAPPENING - "Short answer: Because we never really fixed underlying structural problems in the U.S. and global economies that had been building for decades ... Those problems included a U.S. economy that was living well beyond its means, consuming more than it produced. They included an Asian economic boom that relied on intentionally undervalued currencies that led to massive buildup of dollar reserves and a massive credit bubble in the United States. ... And they included a new European system with a single currency and a single monetary policy but not the single economy that is needed to go along with it."

Thomas Friedman, N.Y. Times, Aug 6 – “Also our slow decline as an economic super power is a product of two inter-related problems. First, we’ve let our five basic pillars of growth erode since the end of the cold war – education, infrastructure, immigration of high I.Q. innovators and entrepreneurs, rules to incentivize risk-taking and startups, and government-funded research to spur science and technology. We helped unleash two billion people in China, India and Eastern Europe. For us to effectively compete with them – required studying harder, investing wiser, innovating faster, upgrading our infrastructure quicker and working smarter.”

Instead we borrowed heavily for homes we could not afford and for overpriced education. We filled and created jobs in construction and retail that did not require that much education and paid these jobs with low wages. The same was done in Europe, all this debt blew up in 2008 – and now the second problem “deleveraging” or trying to – meaning saving more, shopping less, paying off debts and trying to dig out from all these mortgages and student loans. Plain and simple there is too much debt. It will take years to clean this up through defaults, spending control, inflation and a scheme to transfer wealth from creditors to debtors.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Halle Berry (45), Roger Federer (30), Pete Sampras (40), U.S. Coast Guard (221), Steve Wozniak (61).

ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF FINE LEADERSHIP BY THE MAYOR - L.A.'s mayor is turning to his buddies in Sacramento for help in paying out the $42,000 in fines, along with legal bills. And by having three separate legal funds, Villariagosa can collect more than the $1,000 typically allowed under city fund-raising rules. Contributors include former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, Assemblyman Ricardo Lara (a former Villaraigosa planning commissioner), state Sen. Kevin De Leon, former state Sen.Jim Brulte, former Assembly Speaker Willie Brown, former Assemblyman Dario Frommer, and Villaraigosa transit advisor Richard Katz.

Villaraigosa was fined for his attendance at 34 events, including Dodgers and Lakers games, and an assortment of concerts, including the one by the Spice Girls. Some of those events were held at venues owned by Anschutz Entertainment Group, which is seeking the city's help with building a $1.2-billion NFL stadium and a nearby convention center wing.

Other contributors include Haim Saban and Rob Reiner. Can't help wondering how much is coming from Villaraigosa's own pocket - you know, the way regular people would pay a fine.

Meatless Monday — you’ve probably heard of it by now — is a global movement to go meatless once each week. It’s not a campaign to turn everyone in the world vegetarian or vegan, and those involved do not judge meat-lovers; many involved are meat-lovers. Eating less meat has been proven to reduce the risk of diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart disease, curb obesity and has important environmental impacts, too. (Read more on You can eat less meat by filling your plate with vegetables and serving yourself just a little bit of meat, or you can give up meat for just one day per week. The latter is easier than it sounds, and you probably already love meatless dishes that you don’t label “vegetarian.” (If you eat cheese pizza for dinner, you’ve just had a meatless meal.)

Frittatas can sometimes be made with pasta, sometimes potatoes, but if you don’t have either, that’s okay, too. Kelsey Nixon’s Garden Vegetable Frittata is made with potatoes, spinach, tomatoes, basil and Asiago cheese. It’s fresh and light and makes use of the vegetables in-season right now, but you can easily substitute the ingredients based on what you have. So if you don’t have spinach, try arugula. If you’re out of Asiago, try provolone. If your herb garden is overflowing with parsley, throw that in too.

Garden Vegetable Frittata
Recipe courtesy Kelsey Nixon
Prep Time: 20 min
Serves: 6

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
5 small red potatoes, thinly sliced
1 bunch green onions, trimmed and sliced
1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced
1 cup baby spinach, torn
1 clove garlic, crushed
8 eggs
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil, plus more for garnish
1 to 2 cups shredded Asiago cheese, plus more for garnish
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sliced potatoes to the skillet, saute for about 6 to 8 minutes, until tender but firm. Remove the potatoes from the skillet. Add another tablespoon olive oil, and add the green onions, tomatoes, spinach, and garlic. Saute for an additional 1 to 2 minutes or just until the spinach is wilted. Season the vegetables with salt, and pepper.

In a medium bowl, beat together the eggs, basil, cheese, salt, and pepper. Pour into the skillet over the vegetables. Reduce heat to medium-low and scramble the eggs for 1 minute. Return the potatoes to the skillet. Cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes, or just until the eggs start to set around the edges. Drizzle olive oil around the edge of the pan to ensure easy removal.

Finish cooking in the oven for an additional 10 to 12 minutes, until the eggs have completely set in the center. Serve straight out of the skillet, or flip onto a serving plate. Garnish with shredded Asiago cheese and fresh basil.

Next week, words of the month and Dear Rink Rats.

Until next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
August 8, 2011


Monday, August 1, 2011

It's Not Over

Like me you are probably fed up with the media, inefficient leaders, and the endless numbers and just want to enjoy your last few weeks of summer before the pace picks up again in September. BUT, before we move on just know this – our economy is far from out of the woods. Growth is slow, manufacturing is weak at best, and unemployment high, consumer confidence is dropping: this adds up to trouble and a very entertaining election campaign next year.

Middle America will continue to pick up the tab (you and I), the rich will continue to own more and the poor has no idea what is going on because they are just trying to survive. My advice, enjoy your summer but take a look at your retirement portfolio, stay short in your investments and liquid. Avoid debt, build up savings as much as you can, go bowling but instead of ordering that second pizza send 10 bucks to UNICEF drought relief in Eastern Africa, $10 can feed a family of four for a week. Thanks!

WHITE HOUSE FACT SHEET - On the proposed debt-ceiling deal:

WHAT TOP DEMS THINK: "We are exhausted, just like everyone else who's worked on or covered this debate. But we feel very good about the end result. At its heart, this is a Senate proposal. The compromise was based on elements proposed by Senator Reid and Senator McConnell. The long-term increase of the debt ceiling and the joint committee - which keeps the ball in Congress' hands for the second act of this deficit drama - were Reid proposals, and the resolution of disapproval process came from Senator McConnell. We reached back into Senate history to use the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings act as the basis for the trigger. In the end, all we took from the House was the vehicle. Looks like the Senate is driving the car now - hopefully no one will get hurt."

WHAT TOP REPUBLICANS THINK : "We would have written a different bill if we controlled the Senate and White House. This is not perfect, but it's a positive step forward and consistent with our principles. There are no tax hikes, even though the White House was still calling for a 'balanced approach' on the Sunday shows yesterday. Republicans successfully fought for trillions in spending cuts even though the President wanted a 'clean' debt limit increase. It meets the 'cuts more than the debt hike' standard that Speaker Boehner laid out in a speech to Economic Club of New York in May. It advances the cause of a Balanced Budget Amendment. And it makes it virtually impossible for the [new] Joint Committee [on deficit reduction] to raise taxes. Not bad when you only control one-half of one-third of the federal government."

THE BIG IDEA - THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN , "Make Way for the Radical Center: A third way is on the way": "Thanks to a quiet political start-up that is now ready to show its hand, a viable, centrist, third presidential ticket, elected by an Internet convention, is going to emerge in 2012. I know it sounds gimmicky ... but an impressive group of frustrated Democrats, Republicans and independents, called Americans Elect, is really serious ... In a few days, Americans Elect will formally submit the 1.6 million signatures it has gathered to get on the presidential ballot in California as part of its unfolding national effort to get on the ballots of all 50 states ... 'Our goal is to open up what has been an anticompetitive process to people in the middle who are unsatisfied with the choices of the two parties,' said Kahlil Byrd, the C.E.O. of Americans Elect, speaking from its swank offices, financed with some serious hedge-fund money, a stone's throw from the White House. ... What did to books, what the blogosphere did to newspapers, what the iPod did to music, what did to pharmacies, Americans Elect plans to do to the two-party duopoly that has dominated American political life - remove the barriers to real competition, flatten the incumbents and let the people in. Watch out."

CAN STEVE JOBS HOOK US UP? - "When Apple reported last week that it had $76 billion in cash, we speculated that it might be enough to buy Goldman Sachs or Facebook. Today, Steve Jobs' reserves match up with the world's largest sovereign entity. That's right. Apple is currently more liquid than the U.S. government ... Washington now has a total operating balance of only $73.768 billion ... Apple currently boasts a cash reserve of $75.876-billion."


--President Obama: $2.4 trillion (includes $1.1 trillion in stimulus and tax cuts)

--President George W. Bush: $6.1 trillion (includes $1.5 trillion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and other defense spending, plus $1.8 trillion in tax cuts)

--President Clinton: $1.4 trillion

--President George H.W. Bush: $1.5 trillion

--President Ronald Reagan: $1.9 trillion

--Prior to President Reagan: $1.0 trillion

--Total: $14.3 trillion

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Tom Brady (34), Sidney Crosby (24), Marcel Dionne (60), Ken Dryden (64), Kathryn Harrold (61), Wayne Knight (56), President Barack Obama (50).

RIVETING READ -- The New Yorker, “A Reporter At Large – GETTING BIN LADEN: What happened that night in Abbottabad,” by Nicholas Schmidle, who speaks Persian and Urbu, and is the author of 2009’s “To Live or To Perish Forever: Two Tumultuous Years Inside Pakistan”: “On the morning of Sunday, May 1st, White House officials cancelled scheduled visits, ordered sandwich platters from Costco, and transformed the Situation Room into a war room. At eleven o’clock, Obama’s top advisers began gathering around a large conference table. … Brigadier General Marshall Webb, an assistant commander of [the Joint Special Operations Command], took a seat … in a small adjoining office … [with] the only video feed in the White House showing real-time footage of the target, which was being shot by an unarmed RQ 170 drone flying more than fifteen thousand feet above Abbottabad. … Obama returned to the White House at two o’clock, after playing nine holes of golf at Andrews Air Force Base. The Black Hawks departed from Jalalabad thirty minutes later. Just before four o’clock, Panetta announced to the group in the Situation Room that the helicopters were approaching Abbottabad. Obama stood up. ‘I need to watch this,’ he said, stepping across the hall into the small office and taking a seat alongside Webb. Vice-President Joseph Biden, Secretary Gates, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton followed him, as did anyone else who could fit into the office. …

“The Americans’ night-vision goggles cast the scene in pixilated shades of emerald green. … The SEALs were not wearing helmet cams … None of them had any previous knowledge of the house’s floor plan … Though the Americans had thought that the house might be booby-trapped, the presence of kids at the compound suggested otherwise. … A locked metal gate blocked the base of the staircase leading to the second floor, making the downstairs room feel like a cage. After blasting through the gate with C-4 charges, three SEALs marched up the stairs. … Three SEALs … blew open another metal cage, which obstructed the staircase leading to the third floor. Bounding up the unlit stairs, they scanned the railed landing. On the top stair, the lead SEAL swiveled right; with his night-vision goggles, he discerned that a tall, rangy man with a fist-length beard was peeking out from behind a bedroom door, ten feet away. The SEAL instantly sensed that it was Crankshaft. ([A senior] counterterrorism official asserts that the SEAL first saw bin Laden on the landing, and fired but missed.)

“The Americans hurried toward the bedroom door. The first SEAL pushed it open. Two of bin Laden’s wives had placed themselves in front of him. Amal al-Fatah, bin Laden’s fifth wife, was screaming in Arabic. She motioned as if she were going to charge; the SEAL lowered his sights and shot her once, in the calf. Fearing that one or both women were wearing suicide jackets, he stepped forward, wrapped them in a bear hug, and drove them aside. He would almost certainly have been killed had they blown themselves up, but by blanketing them he would have absorbed some of the blast and potentially saved the two SEALs behind him. …A second SEAL stepped into the room and trained the infrared laser of his M4 on bin Laden’s chest. The Al Qaeda chief, who was wearing a tan shalwar kameez and a prayer cap on his head, froze; he was unarmed. … The first round, a 5.56-mm. bullet, struck bin Laden in the chest. As he fell backward, the SEAL fired a second round into his head, just above his left eye. On his radio, he reported, ‘For God and country—Geronimo, Geronimo, Geronimo.’ After a pause, he added, ‘Geronimo E.K.I.A.—‘enemy killed in action.’ Hearing this at the White House, Obama pursed his lips, and said solemnly, to no one in particular, ‘We got him.’”

SUMMER MANAGEMENT COURSE 101 – Selfishness, self-centeredness, self-absorption: what ever became of the Golden Rule? It has turned into “do onto other’s what you want to do onto them and the heck with what they want.” Perhaps managers and leaders should take the Double Standard Assessment Test.

Scoring: 1 = rarely; 2 = sometimes; 3 = frequently

- How often do you say, “I’m sorry” vs. expect others to say, “I’m sorry”?
- How often so you say, “Thank you” vs. expect others to say, “Thank you”?
- How often do you say, “I was wrong” vs. expect others to say, “I was wrong”?
- How often do you patiently wait for people who are taking too long vs. expect people to patiently wait for you when you are taking too long?
- How often do you go out of your way to help someone without their having to ask vs. expect someone to go out of their way to help you without you having to ask?
- How often do you give people the benefit of the doubt vs. expect people to give you the benefit of the doubt?
- How often do you give others a compliment vs. expect others to give you a compliment?
- How often do you root for others vs. expect others to root for you?
- How often do you acknowledge the deeds of others vs. expect others to acknowledge your deeds?
- How often do you listen to others vs. expect others to listen to you?
- How often do you take responsibility for your actions vs. expect others to take responsibility for their actions?
- How often do you accept no for an answer from others vs. expect others to take no for an answer from you?

Know any bosses, managers, friends, family who should take this Management 101 Course?


12 – 19: You are (“high maintenance”) easy to upset and difficult to please and a drag. You tick off people and most people resent you. You probably are a VP in Marketing at a local University. Be careful, once people wise up and realize how little they get from a relationship with you and gather the courage to cut their losses, you are toast!

20 – 29: You are average. Not bad, not so great. You can move into the 30 – 36 category and become a valued friend and partner or you can spend too much time with the 12 -19 crowd and have them drag you down to their level (watch out for those team outings).

30 – 36: You really practice the golden rule and do onto others as you would have them do onto you. You are “low maintenance” (easy to please, difficult to upset). People may not realize and appreciate you for your great qualities at first, but over time they will. If they do not then they are in Group 12 – 19 and we consider them “Managers by Avoidance”. DO NOT get involved with people in the Group 12 – 19, over time they will only cause you to become frustrated or sullen.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK - Jay Leno: "We have fantastic news. The two sides have come to an agreement. The crisis is over. ... We are going to have football!"

Next week, meatless Monday, the Social Assassin and Dear Rink Rats.

Until next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
August 1, 2011