Monday, April 29, 2013

Bush 43 History Rewritten

This past week the George W. Bush (POTUS 43) Presidential Library was dedicated. Though it is still early now is a good time to begin a review of the Bush Presidency and its place in American history. Let it be said this blogger is not a big fan of the Bush Presidency. We believe he is a good man but his presidency was influenced greatly by the events of 9/11 and the sad direction of “Darth Vader” Vice President Dick Cheney.

Four years after he left office, the history of George W. Bush's presidency is being rewritten - ever-so-slowly, and not yet in ways that fundamentally challenge popular understandings of the man and his tenure. ... [1] Cheney was estranged from Bush: ... Bush has disclosed that he considered dropping Cheney as his running mate for several weeks in mid-2003. 'He was seen as dark and heartless, the Darth Vader of the administration,' he wrote in 2010. 'Dick's offer would be one way to demonstrate that I was in charge.' Cheney chastised Bush for repeatedly refusing to pardon Scooter Libby, an aide who got caught up in the Valerie Plame affair. ... 'You are leaving a good man wounded on the field of battle,' he told Bush. ... [2] The administration was a snake pit: ... Cheney laced into Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in his memoir ... Rice called Cheney's book 'utterly misleading' ...

[3] Bush and Obama are going down, or up , in history together: ... It is already clear that the continuities from Bush to Obama matter as much as the reversals, especially on national security. Obama applied the Bush surge strategy from Iraq to Afghanistan. Both men said they wanted to close the terrorist detention center at Guantanamo Bay but proved unable to do so. More broadly, both men are governing in a post-9/11 environment, in chronically sluggish economies, amassing large budget deficits. Both came to the presidency promising to be unifiers and each won reelection with narrow majorities cobbled together from deliberately polarizing campaigns. ... [New York Times reporter Peter Baker, author of 'Days of Fire: Bush and Cheney in the White House,' out in Oct., said:] 'Obama has kept a lot of what Bush left him ... and that is helpful to Bush [in arguing] that his policies were not an aberration' ...

[4] Bush is a personally decent fellow ... avoided taking pot shots at his successor. ... [5] The 2003 Iraq invasion looks no better in retrospect ... [6] Other mysteries remain: Bush kept a diary as president. He told Bob Woodward, who quoted from some of it in 'Bush at War.' Woodward could not get a definitive answer for his three subsequent books about whether Bush continued to keep the diary through his presidency, as Ronald Reagan had."

THE ARCHITECTURE : The George W. Bush Presidential Center is located on 23 acres at the entrance of the Southern Methodist University (SMU) campus five miles north of downtown Dallas. ... The 226,000-square-foot facility houses two entities: the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum and the George W. Bush Institute. It also includes a museum store and Café 43, catering to museum visitors and the local community. The Bush Center is enveloped within a 15-acre urban park recreating the historic native prairie landscape of the past. ... The Bush Library and Museum holds more than 70 million pages of paper records, 43,000 artifacts, 200 million emails and 4 million digital photographs. It is the largest holding of digital records of any presidential library.

The architectural signature of the Bush Presidential Library and Museum is Freedom Hall, a 67-foot-high, 50-by-50 foot 'lantern' made of Texas Cordova Cream limestone ... Freedom Hall encases a one-of-a-kind 20-foot-tall, 360-degree, high-definition video wall that orients visitors to the museum's permanent and temporary exhibits. The 14,000-square-foot permanent exhibit of the museum highlights principles that guided President and Mrs. Bush in public life. The museum features exhibits on education reform, the global war on terror, and the spread of human freedom, as well as the financial crisis, efforts to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS and other moments of the presidency. There is a full-scale replica of the Oval Office and a piece of steel from the World Trade Center in the museum."

TRUMAN - In his biography of Harry Truman, David McCullough wrote that CBS newscaster Eric Sevareid 'would say nearly forty years later of Truman, "I am not sure he was right about the atomic bomb, or even Korea. But remembering him reminds people what a man in that office ought to be like."

COMMENCEMENT 2013 – The 2013 college and university commencement season is now beginning, here are this weeks’ notable speakers – May 4; University of Michigan – Richard Costello, CEO Twitter: University of the Pacific – Walter Robb, CEO Whole Foods Market: May 5; THE Ohio State University – President Obama: New England Institute of Technology – Terry Bradshaw, Pro Football Hall of Famer.

JERRY BROWN, TERMINATOR - "The Real Terminator." The piece "examines how [Brown] has managed to rein in spending, raise taxes on the wealthy, and plug California's $27 billion deficit by making so many cuts that he 'scared the crap out of people.'" Brown "acknowledges that reviving California's economy has required him to embrace big business. 'People who do things tend to have a lot of money at the end of the day. It's not the granola crowd who are going to move mountains.' ...

"Brown's bachelor life included relationships with Linda Rondstadt, Barbra Streisand, Natalie Wood, Stevie Nicks, Liv Ulman and Arianna Huffington. He may not have the chummy charisma of a politician, but he may have something better: Mystery. Yes, he's an egghead, but he's one of the rare eggheads who could lead a cult. He's intimidating and unwilling to suffer anyone who isn't into suffering, but he's also excited to engage: He is not a man who is going to stop a good conversation because of his schedule."

MARKET WEEK – Wall Street's major averages are on track to chalk up another positive month, with two trading sessions left in April. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite haven't had a losing month since October, the Dow since November, and the Dow has yet to have a losing streak in 2013 longer than two days.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Adele (25), Chris Krich …famous football coach and leader, Willie Nelson (80), Michael Palin (70), Michelle Pfeiffer (55), Jerry Seinfeld (59). Also Rink Rats is celebrating the birthday week of Mr. Joe Zanetta, 60 years young, and still the best practice golf swing in the game.

WHY PEOPLE WORRY: WEAK GDP GROWTH - "Real GDP rose at a 2.5 percent annual rate in Q1, up from 0.4 percent in Q4 but weaker than the 3.0 percent consensus. We forecast 3.3 percent. ... The weaker-than-expected rise was despite a 1.0 contribution from inventories. Real final sales rose at a 1.5 percent pace, with real domestic final sales up at a 1.9 percent pace. The main surprise, for us at least, was another sizable drop in government spending: -4.1 percent at an annual rate following -7.0 percent.

"In other details, real residential investment rose at a strong 12.6 percent pace, although that was also a bit less than expected. Real consumption was up at a solid 3.2 percent rate - despite the payroll tax hike. ... In short, a somewhat disappointing report after the 0.4 percent in Q4, although that followed 3.1 percent in Q3. ... We still forecast a 2 percent pace for real GDP in Q2 followed by some acceleration 3.0 percent in Q3 and Q4. By then, fiscal drag should be fading."

APPLE ANGERS INVESTORS - Apple Inc. reported its first profit drop in 10 years last week. But that's not what has some investors steamed. The company is still massively profitable. Instead, it's the manner in which CEO Tim Cook has communicated with Wall Street and managed expectations. Apple shares are 40 percent off their peak partly on fears yesterday's numbers would be worse.

Here is North Shore Asset Management's Michael Obuchowski, who owns Apple shares himself and manages them for clients, in an email to M.M.: "I don't remember ever being that cranky after a quarterly call from an awesome, incredibly profitable company. I think Tim Cook is a great operations guy and he fully deserves to be the COO. Can we please have somebody with [guts] to become the CEO so Tim Cook can apologize to him or her in private and the real CEO can tell the investors how awesome the company is and manipulate sell side analysts' expectations as one should? Yes, I did just say that. It was hardly an embarrassing quarter for Apple.

"What made the results embarrassing was the executives' apologetic attitude and complete failure to communicate with the analysts. Somebody please call Greg Maffei for help? His Microsoft quarterly calls should be studied by all public companies. I am sure that he has a big enough ego to run Apple. It seems that it should be a prerequisite in Apple CEO interviews. ... What happened to the amazing culture that Steve created? Was it really all Steve Jobs?"
"Apple said it plans to return more than twice as much cash to investors than previously planned. The moves, designed to return $100 billion in cash by the end of 2015, include stock buybacks and increasing quarterly dividends. ... A less-positive undercurrent in Apple's results is a squeeze on gross profit margins, an important measure in the efficiency of the company's operations. The figures came in slightly lower than analysts expected, as the company's product mix shifted to cheaper devices like the iPad Mini."

DRIVING THE WEEK –  Massive week ahead for economic data highlighted by the April jobs report on Friday. Expectations are for a jump from 88,000 jobs in March to around 150,000 last month with no change to the 7.6 percent jobless rate. Another big miss on jobs would make the spring swoon fears even more intense. A bump back to trend-line growth would be a big relief ... Personal income and spending today at 8:30 a.m. EDT expected to show gain of 0.4 percent and 0.0 percent respectively ... Pending home sales today at 8:30 expected to grow 0.9 percent ... S&P/Case-Shiller home price index Tuesday at 9 a.m. EDT expected to rise 0.8 percent ...

"Consumer confidence at 10 a.m. on Tuesday expected to rise to 63 from 59.7 ... ADP private employment report at 8:15 a.m. on Wednesday expected to show a 155,000 gain ... ISM manufacturing at 10 a.m. on Wednesday expected to dip to 51.0 from 51.4 ... FOMC announcement on Wednesday at 2 p.m. expected to include no policy change but more dour language on the economy ... Initial jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday expected to rise to 346,000 from 339,000 ... ISM nonmanufacturing at 10 a.m. on Friday expected to slip to 54.0 from 54.5.”

Next week: Jack Ass of the Month and my double life.

Until Next Monday, Adios!

Carlsbad, CA
April 29, 2013

#IV-2, 159

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