Monday, October 29, 2012

Tricks or Treats

Some tricks or treats for this Halloween 2012 –

Trick: To walk through a Vons grocery without someone asking, “Are you finding everything?”

Treat: In the ninth week of a finance class seeing the look in a students’ eye when they understand WACC and a Capital Budget.

Trick: The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown – welcome to the election of 2012.

Treat: Booking a flight across country with the same price as a year ago.

Trick: Watching grown men and women dress up for Halloween and look like total idiots.

Treat: There is no metaphysics on earth like chocolates.

Trick: Ben Bernanke and his plan to keep inflation down.

Treat: Carving a pumpkin to look like you actually planned.

“The witches fly
Across the sky,
The owls go, “Who? Who? Who?”
The black cats yowl
And green ghosts howl,
“Happy Halloween to you!”

WHY WE VOTE ON TUESDAY? – The story starts all the way back with the Founding Fathers. "The Constitutional Convention just met for a very brief time during the summer of 1787," Senate Historian Don Ritchie says. "By the time they got finished they were exhausted and they hadn't made up their minds on a lot of things."

They were pooped. So they left the question of when federal elections should be held undecided. Without that laid out, states were left to set their own voting dates, which meant several decades of electoral chaos. Ritchie describes it as a "crazy quilt of elections" held at all different times, all over the country.

Finally, in 1845, Congress decided to get things under control. Ritchie says lawmakers reasoned that Monday was out because (this is where the buggies come in) people would have to travel to the polls in their buggies on Sunday, the Sabbath. And in a mostly farming society, Wednesday wouldn't work because that was often market day.

So, Tuesday was the day, and that seemed to work great for 19th century voters. "In the 1840s, elections were a big to-do — there was a lot of hoopla, there were parades," Ritchie says. "Whole families would come on wagons from the farms; people would get dressed up for the occasion."

Though the America of buggies and markets has long since given way to minivans and supermarkets, Tuesday remains the day we vote.

OBAMA/ROMNEY NEAR $2 BILLION TOTAL - "Obama and his allies have broken the billion-dollar barrier. Obama for America, the Democratic National Committee and their joint fundraising group Obama Victory Fund have combined to raise $1,009,000,000 since the beginning of 2011, according to a POLITICO analysis ... A $90 million October put Team Obama over the top. ... Obama, who has railed against the influx of big money from conservative megadonors, quickly attributed the success to small donors, noting that since April 2011, 4.2 million people have donated. ...

"Meanwhile, Mitt Romney isn't that far behind the president. The committees in the Romney operation - Romney for President, Romney Victory and the Republican National Committee - have raised $921 million since the beginning of 2011. Romney wasn't involved in raising RNC funds prior to locking up the GOP presidential nomination in April, but cash raised by the RNC prior to then went to party building expected to help his campaign." 

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Richard Dreyfuss (65), Lyle Lovett (55), Jenny McCarthy (40), Gary Player (77).

ARTICLE OF THE WEEK -- N.Y. Times 3-col. lead, "Billions Amassed in the Shadows By the Family of China's Premier" (two strip pages; 4,600 words), by David Barboza in Beijing: "Many relatives of [outgoing Prime Minister] Wen Jiabao [the country's top economic official], including his son, daughter, younger brother and brother-in-law, have become extraordinarily wealthy during his leadership, an investigation by The New York Times shows. A review of corporate and regulatory records indicates that the prime minister's relatives, some of whom have a knack for aggressive deal-making, including his wife, have controlled assets worth at least $2.7 billion. In many cases, the names of the relatives have been hidden behind layers of partnerships and investment vehicles involving friends, work colleagues and business partners. ... [T]he family's ventures sometimes received financial backing from state-owned companies ... As prime minister in an economy that remains heavily state-driven, Mr. Wen ... has broad authority over the major industries where his relatives have made their fortunes. ...

"Their ownership stakes are often veiled by an intricate web of holdings as many as five steps removed ... In the case of Mr. Wen's mother, The Times calculated her stake in Ping An [Insurance] ... by examining public records and government-issued identity cards, and by following the ownership trail to three Chinese investment entities. ... The apparent efforts to conceal the wealth reflect the highly charged politics surrounding the country's ruling elite, many of whom are also enormously wealthy but reluctant to draw attention to their riches. When Bloomberg News reported in June that the extended family of Vice President Xi Jinping, set to become China's next president, had amassed hundreds of millions of dollars in assets, the Chinese government blocked access inside the country to the Bloomberg Web site. ...

"The review of the corporate and regulatory records , which covers 1992 to 2012, found no holdings in Mr. Wen's name. ... For much of his tenure, Wen Jiabao has been at the center of rumors and conjecture about efforts by his relatives to profit from his position. Yet until the review by The Times, there has been no detailed accounting of the family's riches. ... As prime minister, Mr. Wen has staked out a position as a populist and a reformer, someone whom the state-run media has nicknamed 'the People's Premier' and 'Grandpa Wen' because of his frequent outings to meet ordinary people, especially in moments of crisis like natural disasters. ... 'Wen is disgusted with his family's activities, but is either unable or unwilling to curtail them,' a Chinese-born executive working at an American company in Shanghai told American diplomats, according to [a] 2007 cable [disclosed by Wikileaks]."

--THE CONTEXT - Financial Times: "Although [Wen] is set to retire after next month's congress, he has been one of the most important proponents of political reform in the party and is likely to seek to retain influence in driving that agenda after he steps down."

SPORTS BLINK - S.F. GIANTS WIN 2ND WORLD SERIES IN 3 YEARS - S.F. Chronicle: "GIANTS SWEEP!" Our Tigers had a great season, just ran into a hot San Francisco club. Lets’ hope Jim Leyland, 67 (manager of Detroit), comes back for another season and the Detroiters give it another solid try next year.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 11/3, 8:00 PM ET, CBS: #1 Alabama Crimson Tide (8-0) visit #5 Louisana State University Tigers (7-1). Another HUGE SEC contest, Lou Saban’s Tide will be too much – Alabama 17 LSU 10. Season to date (5-4)

SMALL COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 11/3, 1:00 PM ET, SciFi Channel: Since 1906 this central Michigan classic has been played – (7-1) Adrian Bulldogs visit (6-2) Albion Britons. This battle for first place in the MIAA in Olivet, Michigan at Sprankle-Sprandel Stadium will be epic. Adrian 32 Albion 28.  Season to date (8-1)

NFL FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Sunday 11/4, 4:25 PM ET, CBS has the Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3) visiting the New York football Giants (6-2). A must for the Steelers, but remember Eli Manning. Giants 21 Pittsburgh 14.  Season to date (6-2)

THE SWAMI’S TOP PICKS – A horrible week for The Swami last week, time to get back on track: Bama 17 LSU 10, Adrian 32 Albion 28, Giants 21 Pitt 14, Cal Lutheran 35 ULV 24. Season to date (23-12)

JACKASS OF THE MONTH – Without question, Gary Bettman, Commissioner of the National Hockey League. As Don Cherry says: “This puke has to go!” Three work stoppages during his time as Commissioner, the sport is now a distant fourth behind the other major North America professional sports: NFL, NBA, MLB. When is hockey going to figure out this guy is totally worthless.

DRIVING THE WEEK - Sandy's impact will dominate the beginning of the week. President Obama has cancelled campaign events to monitor and the storm and direct response from the White House ... Romney still plans to campaign in Iowa and Ohio today ... Paul Ryan plans to campaign in Florida ... Vice President Joe Biden still has campaign events planned with former President Bill Clinton ... But Sandy could upend any and all existing campaign plans depending on the severity of its impact. No one wants to be seen out stumping for votes while people are suffering through a natural disaster.

Big economic number comes Friday with the October jobs report. It's expected to be in line with recent months and show a net gain of around 125,000 in the employer survey. The big wild card is whether the household survey reverses last month's big drop to 7.8 percent and hits 8.0 percent again, which would be very tough for Obama going into Election Day. If the percentage remains below 8.0 percent, the number probably won't make any difference politically unless it's another big drop, which seems highly unlikely.

QUOTE OF THE MONTH – “Minds are like parachutes. They only function when they are open.”  James Dewar

Next week; Campaign final thoughts and a place for brunch.

Until Next Monday, Adios.
Claremont, CA
October 29, 2012

#III-27, 132

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