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

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