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

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