Monday, January 16, 2012

The Elephant in the Room

Have you ever heard of this expression, “the elephant in the room”. What does this mean? Is there someone who is rather obese in the room? Is there an odor resembling an elephant or animal in the room? Is this a small, confining room? Well in some examples this might describe the meaning of the expression but I tend to think of the saying as meaning something people know about but are afraid to mention, discuss, and confront.

I find many examples of the “Elephant in the Room” on a daily basis –

- The boss who cannot manage but continues to run the department because their boss is just as ineffective and lacking leadership.

- The University who has an athletic program but many of their sports have no on campus facilities.

- The public servant who serves at the mercy of the citizens but cares only about making money.

- Higher education students piling on more and more student loans with no guarantee that they can ever pay off this debt.

- The family that spends more on cell phones than on books for their children to read.

- The wife or girlfriend who knows her husband or partner cheats but does nothing.

What should one do to challenge these elephants? One word: faith. Faith in yourself that you know what is right and wrong to set it straight.

The world would be a much better place without all these elephants.

THE BIG NUMBER: $378 MILLION FOR APPLE CHIEF - "Apple Inc. Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook is due to receive annual compensation worth $378 million, boosted by restricted stock awards that are payable over the coming decade. The total includes $376.2 million in shares that will vest starting in five years ... Cook's base salary was $900,000 in 2011. ... Apple's board ... now led by Chairman Art Levinson, offered the stock options to Cook to help ensure that he doesn't pursue other job prospects. 'No formula or peer group benchmark' was used to calculate the amount, the company said in the filing. Steve Jobs, who passed the reins to Cook before his death in October, had given input about the pay package."

HOT STAT: CONSUMER CREDIT SOARS - "US consumer borrowing rose by far more than analysts had expected in November as Americans opened their wallets for cars and other purchases amid signs of an improving economy. Consumer credit surged by $20.4bn - the biggest jump since November 2001 - to $2.48tn, the Federal Reserve said. That was well above economists' median estimate of $7bn and nearly twice the high end of estimates of $11.6bn. ... Consumers' willingness to spend has risen as recent data have drawn a brightening picture of the economic recovery. ... Sentiment surveys have recorded rising confidence, and retailers enjoyed record sales on Black Friday, the official start of the end-of-year shopping season."

TOP STORY: WHY DALEY HAD TO GO - "Daley ... was never a great fit inside the West Wing - and Obama and his closest aides realized that mere months into his tumultuous tenure. People close to the situation tell POLITICO that Daley decided to bolt nearly a year earlier than expected in part because he felt marginalized. He was still involved in most key meetings, but he had waning influence ... Daley, a charming if blunt former Commerce secretary, had an even rockier relationship with key Hill Democrats, especially Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.). So the selection of low-key budget expert Jack Lew as his replacement was greeted with relief among Democratic lawmakers. Daley ... also so had a habit of freelancing, including his decision to sit down for a frank, expletive-laced interview with POLITICO's Roger Simon - without informing Obama's communications staff."

NEW HAMPSHIRE TAKEAWAYS - "1) Mitt Romney haters enter the final stages of grief ... Romney exceeded his own vote share from the 2008 primary, when he came in second. ... Having survived the evangelicals of Iowa and the famously ornery independents of New Hampshire, Romney now heads into South Carolina with momentum, making him the person undecided voters are likelier to tilt toward. ... 2) Jon Huntsman's surge ... may have fallen short of the second place he seemed headed for. But Huntsman went from cellar-dweller in the polls to third place in a matter of about two weeks ... 3) The GOP cannot ignore Ron Paul ... 4) There is no clear conservative anti-Romney ... 5) Super PACs are more important than ever: If there is anything that will allow Gingrich to keep going past South Carolina, ... it's the super PAC supporting him. The same is true for Santorum and for Huntsman."

ROMNEY ROLLS IN NEW HAMPSHIRE - AP with 95 percent of precincts reporting: Mitt Romney 39.4% (94,255); Ron Paul: 22.8% (54,513); Jon Huntsman: 16.9% (40,388); Newt Gingrich: 9.4% (22,518); Rick Santorum: 9.3% (22,293); Rick Perry: 0.7% (1,688)

ROMNEY 2008: 31.6% (75,546), second to John McCain: 37.1% (88,571)

MEET THE BILLIONAIRES DRAGGING OUT THE RACE - "Meet the three billionaires who could drag out the GOP presidential primary, bloody up front-runner .. Romney and weaken the odds of defeating ... Obama: Sheldon Adelson, Foster Friess and Jon Huntsman, Sr. The three men are contributing millions of dollars to a trio of outside groups flooding the airwaves in early voting states with brutal ads attacking Romney and ads backing the candidates they would prefer to win the Republican nomination. Adelson, a Las Vegas casino mogul, wrote a $5 million check - and has considered giving much more - to a so-called super PAC backing Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign. Huntsman, Sr. ... reportedly invested millions in a super PAC supporting the presidential bid of his son, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, Jr. And Friess, a Wyoming mutual fund master, acknowledged to POLITICO that he is a major financial backer of a super PAC supporting Rick Santorum called the Red, White and Blue Fund and is preparing to give more, but declined to say how much he has given or plans to give."

"The prospect that these candidates could carry on is a testament to the new world of campaign money ushered in by a pair of federal court rulings in 2010: A single wealthy donor can now prop up a presidential campaign with unlimited cash, even if the candidate is getting little traction with voters. 'I guess if Newt's got $5 million, it makes sense that Rick [Santorum] should have a little bit,' said Friess, who has known Santorum since the 1990s and shares his conservative views on social and foreign policy issues. ... 'I believe that Rick Santorum is the most electable candidate. And I'm just thrilled to be able to have played a role so far.'

HUNTSMAN OUT - "Every vote he took in S.C. and Florida was one Romney wouldn't get. We figured between 8 and 14 [points] in S.C.: That's the difference between a Romney win in S.C. and someone else winning. It doesn't do the party any good to drag this on. Mitt is the one who can beat Obama and turn economy around. He felt good coming out of New Hampshire, where we gained 10 points in three days. We expected the same movement in S.C., but it still would have left him short. He discussed with family and senior staff Friday through the weekend. The family came to the final decision, which everyone agreed with [Sunday]. He ran a race we can all be proud of. He addressed key issues like too big to fail banks that nobody else was taking on. His message of restoring trust in Washington is an important one that he will continue to advocate for."

EUROPE SINGS THE DEBT ROLL-OVER BLUES - "Europe has a $1 trillion problem. As difficult as the last two years have been for Europe, 2012 could be even tougher. Each week, countries will need to sell billions of dollars of bonds - a staggering $1 trillion in total - to replace existing debt and cover their current budget deficits. At any point, should banks, pensions and other big investors balk, anxiety could course through the markets ... Even if governments attract investors at reasonable interest rates one month, they will have to repeat the process again the next month - and signs of skittish buyers could make each sale harder to manage than the previous one ... Given this vicious cycle, policy makers and investors are closely watching the debt auctions for potential weakness. On Thursday, Spain is set to sell as much as 5 billion euros ($6.3 billion) of government bonds. Italy follows on Friday with an auction of more than $9 billion."

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Muhammad Ali (70), Mike Bossy (55), Jim Carrey (50), A.J. Foyt (77), Robert Kennedy Jr. (58), Renee Miller …famous Commencement hostess, Jack Nicklaus (72), Dr. Laura Schlessinger (65).

BCS COLLEGE BOWL PICK OF THE WEEK – Our season is over, congratulations to The University of Alabama Crimson Tide for winning the national D-1 football championship. We finished the season 12 – 8, it was fun, see you next fall.

COLLEGE HOCKEY PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 1/21, 7:00 PM ET, SHN, the rivalry continues in Potsdam; St. Lawrence University Saints (8-12-3) visit the Clarkson Golden Knights (10-10-5) in this ECAC classic matchup. St. Lawrence is led by Canton, New York native, Junior and Hobey Baker candidate, Kyle Flanagan. It will take a big game by Mr. Flanagan to upset the big green of Clarkson. We pick an upset, surprise, St. Lawrence to win. Season to date (1-2).

NFL PICK OF THE WEEK – Sunday 1/22, 6:00 PM ET, Fox; the New York Giants visit the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game. The Giants are on a roll and will continue on to Indianapolis and The Super Bowl. Season to date (10-9).

THE LINES: New England by 7½ over Baltimore (50 points) ... 49ers by 2½ over G-men (44 points).

THE SWAMI’S TOP PICKS – New England 28 Baltimore 17, New York 24 San Francisco 14, St. Lawrence 4 Clarkson 3. Season to date (3-3).


Are birth control pills tax deductible?

Looking for write offs.

Dear Looking for write offs:

Only if they don’t work.



I have always wanted to have my family history traced, but I can’t afford to spend a lot of money to do it. Any suggestions?

History buff.

Dear History buff:

Yes. Run for public office.



pusillanimous \pyoo-suh-LAN-uh-muhs\, adjective:

Lacking in courage and resolution; contemptibly fearful; cowardly.

Evil, unspeakable evil, rose in our midst, and we as a people were too weak, too indecisive, too pusillanimous to deal with it.
-- Kevin Myers, "An Irishman's Diary", Irish Times, October 20, 1999

postre, noun


De postre tomé un helado.

I had ice cream for dessert.

¿Qué hay de postre?

What’s for dessert?

DRIVING THE WEEK - $4/gallon gasoline is close at hand this spring in most of America. How will this influence summer travel plans? $2 billion a week is being spent in Afghanistan, President Obama continues this week to formulate a plan to end this U.S. commitment. The Euro debt downgrade last week sends another message to U.S. leaders to get our house in order.

Next week, Jack Ass of the Month.

Until Next Monday, Ciao.

Claremont, CA
January 16, 2012

#II-38, 91

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