Monday, May 27, 2013

The Greatest Generation

Excerpt from Tom Brokaw’s “The Greatest Generation”, 1998.

“I have a daily reminder of the war because of my disability. It changed my life.”

     The wartime exploits of Bob Dole are well known by now. He was a young lieutenant out of Kansas when he was gravely wounded as he led his squad from the 10th Mountain Division against a fortified German position in the Italian Alps. He almost died before he was evacuated to the United States for a long series of operations and excruciating therapy in what turned out to be the impossible task of completely saving the use of his right arm. The terrible wound came in a flash of enemy fire on an Italian hillside. The recovery took three years and three months in America, during which he almost died from infections and other complications.

     For part of his recovery period he was in a hospital ward with two other wounded veterans, Daniel Inouye of Hawaii and Philip Hart of Michigan. Later the three friends would serve in the U.S. Senate at the same time. Although they represented different political philosophies, that common experience of the war and wounds was a bond that transcended partisan considerations.

     Dole’s experience in the war and the sacrifices of his working class parents and friends from the small, hardscrabble town of Russell, Kansas, to help him recover from his injuries were appropriately familiar themes in his political career, especially in his campaign for president against Bill Clinton. It was always touching when this complex, proud man, so private and even abrupt when it came to other personal matters, talked about the time in his life, choking up as he described how his father, with so little means, struggled to make the train trip from Kansas to Chicago to see his badly injured son; how his mother, even though she hated smoking, held his cigarettes for him as he lay in a hospital bed, barely able to move either arm in the early going; how the people of Russell set up cigar boxes in businesses along Main Street and labeled them THE BOB DOLE FUND, raising eighteen hundred dollars for his medical fees, mostly through quarters and half-dollars. One of his neighbors was as poor as the Doles, but he wanted to do something, so, the Senator remembers with an affectionate chuckle, “He brought me a duck. Couldn’t afford anything else, so he brought me a live duck!”

     It may be difficult for current generations to understand just how much poverty there was across America, even after the war. Working-class families lived right on the margins with very little left over. They were used to it, as it had been that way since the beginning of the thirties, especially in rural America. Indeed, after the Depression, joining the Army was a step up for many Americans. Dole remembers, “It was a good deal; you got a good pair of boots, three meals a day, new clothing, a new rifle. It was the most many young Americans had ever had.”

     James DeVane grew up in rural North Carolina during the Depression. As a combat infantryman, he was captured by the Germans during the Battle of the Bulge and spent three harrowing months in a prisoner-of-war camp. Still, he believes what he and his family went through during the thirties was more difficult and more meaningful to his life. They lived in a simple log cabin, heated by coal and a wood stove, with no plumbing or electricity. DeVane carried a shotgun to school every morning so he could shoot game birds along the way for the kitchen table. His father raised pigs and goats and sold his catch of shad from the Cape Fear River. His mother organized local friends to gather mistletoe from the nearby woods and sell it to New York merchants. Together, DeVane’s parents managed to keep the family together, which so impressed their son that he’s able to say, “I know it was less stressful to fight as a soldier with only yourself or your squad to look after than it was to care for, feed, and raise children in the Depression.” DeVane, who now has a successful printing business, concludes, “World War II infantryman came from a background of heroes.”

Please think about this today and think about your family and friends who came before you who sacrificed their lives for you. God Bless America.

Claremont, CA

May 27, 2013

#IV-6, 163

Monday, May 20, 2013

Original Six Playoffs

Many of my readers are not hockey fans, I am. My earliest recollection of a game was attending a matinee game with my Dad on Saturday January 6, 1962; Detroit Red Wings beat the Boston Bruins 6-2. I have been a hockey fan ever since. This playoff year in the National Hockey League has some interesting matchups, Original Six matchups. In Round One it was Toronto vs. Boston, Round Two currently in progress has Detroit vs. Chicago and New York vs. Boston.

The Original six is a term for the group of six teams that composed the National Hockey League (NHL) for the 25 seasons between the 1942–43 season and the 1967 NHL Expansion. These six teams are the Boston Bruins, Chicago Black Hawks, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, and the Toronto Maple Leafs. All of the Original Six are still active franchises in the league.

The name is something of a misnomer, since there were other NHL franchises that ceased operations before 1942, including some that were founded before some of the Original Six. The term dates from the 1967 expansion which added six new franchises; hence the six expansion teams and the "Original Six". Only two of these six teams were members of the NHL in the inaugural 1917–18 season, but all six do date from the NHL's first decade, and pre-date the other 24 teams currently in the league by over forty years.

Hockey is a great sport; fast, physical, requiring skill and precision. The current stars; Sydney Crosby, Pavel Datsyuk, Steven Stamkos are down to earth quality people. In the next few weeks as the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs proceed, try taking in a game. Though difficult for some to watch on television, the sport is a great one and there is nothing better than Original Six playoff hockey.

“NEW NORMAL” IN COLLEGE DEBT – We are reaching a crisis point in this country’s higher education system. As college tuitions rise and federal, state and local funding for higher education falls – along with median household incomes – students are taking on staggering levels of debt. And many can’t find jobs that pay well enough to quickly pay off the debt. This has long-term implications for our society and our economy, as that debt begins to affect when and if young people start families or enter the housing market.

The student debt crisis may become a dangerous “new normal”, according to a report this past month by the nonprofit State Higher education Executive Officers Association.

In the new normal; retirement and health care costs simultaneously drive up the cost of higher education, the new normal no longer expects to see a recovery of state support for higher education, the new normal expects students and their families to continue to make increasingly greater financial sacrifices in order to attend college, the new normal expects schools and colleges to find ways of increasing productivity and absorb ever-larger budget cuts, while increasing degree production without, we hope, compromising quality.  Over the past decade average college tuition has increased 55%, while median household incomes fell by nearly 7%. Thus higher borrowing by students, student debt is now the second largest balance after mortgage debt. The relative burden of student loan debt is greatest for households in the bottom fifth of the income spectrum. And many of those graduates can’t find work or are underemployed.

Yet, this country needs a more knowledgeable work force to be competitive. While the number of college graduates in America is increasing, that number is growing even faster in many other countries. Our national educational aspirations and the debt crisis that they’re creating are colliding. We are on an unsustainable track. This will not end well.

GENERAL (GOVERNMENT) MOTORS IS BACK? – General Motor’s Company’s stock closed at $33.42 a share Friday, up 3.8 percent and hitting its highest close in more than two years. Friday’s close also beats the company’s initial public offering price of $33 in November 2010.

The stock has been growing steadily since early last year, as GM’s profitability and sales have been strong in the U.S. and China and it has shown improved financial performance in Europe. GM is looking to get out from government ownership to help the company’s perception among the public and ultimately help boost auto sales and market share. The Treasury Department still owns about 241.7 million shares of stock, the government plans to exit GM completely by the end of March 2014. The U.S. Treasury has recouped about $30.4 billion from its $49.5 billion bailout of the automaker.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Tommy Chong (75), Joe Dumars (50), Mike Myers (50), Stevie Nicks (65), Ron Reagan (55), Molly Sims (40).

COMMENCEMENT 2013 – The 2013 college and university commencement season week number three, here are this weeks’ notable speakers – May 21 – University of Baltimore; Bill Cosby, entertainer: May 25 – Bard College; Gabrielle Giffords and Mark Kelly, former Congresswoman and astronaut: Elon University; Brian Williams, news anchor: Hartwick College; Deepak Chopra, author: May 26 – Vassar College; Kristen Gillibrand, U.S. Senator New York State.

MARKET WEEK - Barring a major selloff in the month's final two weeks, investors clearly have not "sold in May and gone away". The major averages are coming off their fourth consecutive week of gains, with the Dow and S&P 500 at record highs once again and the S&P having chalked up 17 gains in 21 sessions.

BORROWING PICKS UP - "America's credit crunch is easing. For the past six years, consumers and businesses have struggled to borrow money, but slowly, things are getting easier. Large U.S. companies are taking advantage of low interest rates to borrow record amounts. ... Banks are opening the spigots for commercial and industrial firms, and loans grew at an 11 percent annualized rate in the first quarter of this year, the sixth double-digit percentage increase in seven quarters, Federal Reserve data show.

"... Residential lending began edging up last year, and even people with bad credit can get a loan to buy a car these days. In all, some $713 billion in credit flowed to U.S. households and nonfinancial businesses last year, double 2011's $336 billion, according to the Fed. That is still a fraction of the $2.2 trillion in credit that lifted American consumers and businesses in 2007."

U.S HITS DEBT LIMIT: EMERGENCY CLOCK STARTS TICKING - Treasury ran out of borrowing authority under the debt limit on Sunday beginning what could be a relatively lengthy period of "extraordinary measures" to avoid default. The debt limit essentially vanished for three months under a deal passed by Congress in February. That period ended May 19th. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew can now deploy the usual arsenal of moves to forestall a default including not issuing certain state and local securities and not investing in federal retirements funds (which would be made whole after the debt limit is hiked). Treasury is also enjoying better tax receipts and expects big checks from Fannie Mae so the U.S. may have until well into the fall to get a deal. But a deal still needs to get done. And there is no path to one yet apparent.

TOP STORY: YEN KEEPS DROPPING - "The Japanese yen has broken through a major psychological barrier against the dollar for the first time in four years, setting the stage for further weakness seen as a boon for the country's exporters and economy. For the past month, the yen had stalled before the 100 threshold and traders said its rise in afternoon trading in New York on Thursday to Y100.79 reflected stop-losses being triggered that sparked selling of the yen. ... The yen has weakened substantially against its major trading rivals since December, when Shinzo Abe was elected prime minister after campaigning to arrest the country's past two decades of falling prices and boost its economy.

"The sharp drop in the currency in recent months has already boosted profits for Japan's exporters and sparked a massive rally in the country's equity market, with the Nikkei 225 index up 36.5 percent this year. The Nikkie rose 1.8 percent in early morning trading in Tokyo on Friday. Further yen weakness is expected to boost inflation and push equity and property prices higher, but may also incur the wrath of Japan's trading partners as the country's exporters become more competitive. ... Analysts predict that if Japan's army of retail investors decides to wade into the short yen trade, the Japanese currency could weaken further."

BRAZIL AUTO CRISIS - The cars roll endlessly off the local assembly lines of the industry's biggest automakers, more than 10,000 a day, into the eager hands of Brazil's new middle class. The shiny new Fords, Fiats, and Chevrolets tell the tale of an economy in full bloom that now boasts the fourth largest auto market in the world.

What happens once those vehicles hit the streets, however, is shaping up as a national tragedy, experts say, with thousands of Brazilians dying every year in auto accidents that in many cases shouldn't have proven fatal. The culprits are the cars themselves, produced with weaker welds, scant safety features and inferior materials compared to similar models manufactured for U.S. and European consumers, say experts and engineers inside the industry. Four of Brazil's five bestselling cars failed their independent crash tests.

Unsafe cars, coupled with the South American nation's often dangerous driving conditions, have resulted in a Brazilian death rate from passenger car accidents that is nearly four times that of the United States, according to an Associated Press analysis of Brazilian Health Ministry data on deaths compared to the size of each country's car fleet. In fact, the two countries are moving in opposite directions on survival rates — the U.S. recorded 40 percent fewer fatalities from car wrecks in 2010 compared with a decade before. In Brazil, the number killed rose 72 percent, according to the latest available data.

WHY GOLD IS OVER - "Gold, down 17 percent since January, is poised to lose 20 percent in a year as inflation fails to accelerate and with the worst risks to the global economy waning, Credit Suisse Group AG said. Gold will trade at $1,100 an ounce in a year and below $1,000 in five years. Investors are losing faith in the world's traditional store of value even as central banks continue to print money on an unprecedented scale."


motza \MOT-ser\, noun: a large amount of money, especially a sum won in gambling.
“Good business to be in. I bet they made a motza out of that.”

pepino, noun: cucumber
Pepino is the Spanish word for cucumber. For example, if you’re shopping at the market, you could say: “Dos pepinos, por favor.” Two cucumbers, please.

WEDDING OF THE WEEK - --N.Y. Times: "Paulette LaRay Aniskoff and Matthew Reid Tinning were married Saturday evening at WeatherLea Farm and Vineyard in Lovettsville, Va. Malcolm Forbes Baldwin, the owner of the farm and a civil celebrant licensed by the County of Loudoun, Va., officiated. The bride, 36, is keeping her name. She works in Washington as a deputy assistant to President Obama. She is the director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, which creates opportunities for direct dialogue between the Obama administration and the public. She graduated from the University of Colorado. She is the daughter of Ellen B. O'Connor of Indianapolis and Walter Aniskoff Jr. of Windsor, Conn. Her father is an owner of a construction company in Windsor that bears his name.

"The bridegroom, 37, is the executive director of the Marine Fish Conservation Network, a nonprofit coalition of national fishing, conservation and scientific organizations in Washington that promotes environmentally sustainable fisheries. He graduated from the Australian National University in Canberra, from which he also earned a law degree. He is a son Barbara Joan Tinning and Rodney Warren Tinning of Canberra. His father retired as the director of staffing for the Australian Agency for International Development, a government agency in Canberra that provides financial assistance to developing nations." With pic

THE SWAMI’S TOP PICKS: NHL Playoffs, Second Round – Chicago Blackhawks, Los Angeles Kings, Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers. Season to date (6-4)

DRIVING THE WEEK -  IRS hearings continue including House OGR on Wednesday at 10 a.m. with Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal S. Wolin, IRS Inspector General J. Russell George, IRS Director of Exempt Organizations Lois Lerner, and Former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman ... Senate Finance has an IRS hearing at 10:00 a.m. Tuesday featuring outgoing acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller, Russell George and Shulman ... Lew testifies before Senate Banking at 10 a.m. on Tuesday on the annual FSOC report, though the IRS scandal is sure to arise. Lew testifies before House Financial Services on Wednesday at 10 a.m. on the FSCO report ...

House Ag has a hearing at 10 a.m. Tuesday on the future of the CFTC ... HFSC subcommittee has a hearing Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. on the CFPB and the qualified mortgage rule ... Fed Chair Ben Bernanke testifies Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. before he Joint Economic Committee on the economic outlook ... House Financial Services subcommittee has a hearing Wednesday at 2 pm. on whether DoJ views some banks as "too big to jail" ... Existing home sales on Wednesday at 10 a.m. expected to rise to 4.99M from 4.92M in March ...

FOMC minutes at 2 p.m. Wednesday not expected to include new info ... Apple CEO Tim Cook testifies Tuesday before Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations on the company's tax mitigation activity ... JPMorganChase shareholders vote on Tuesday in Florida on whether to recommend that the bank split the roles of chairman and CEO. If they do it would be a big blow to chairman/CEO Jamie Dimon.

Next week: Top Five and Jack Ass of the Month.

Until Next Monday, Adios!

Claremont, CA

May 20, 2013
#IV-5, 162

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Game of Golf

The game of golf means different things to different people: Tiger Woods, funny pants, an expensive hobby, nap time when on TV, the Golf Channel, eagles, birdies, pars, bogeys, snowman,  business meeting, charity event, cheaters.

To this writer it means two things: an opportunity to stay competitive in a game as I become an “O.G.” and to give back to the community I live in.

Every year I play in about ten charity fundraising golf events. They range from helping a University Law School, baseball and football teams, the American Red Cross, a local Hospital Foundation, Wounded Warriors, and the most recent one a local food and social aid organization.

To participate in these charity golf events provides the opportunity for me to give back to local and national groups I support. This past week the Inland Valley Hope Partners held their annual golf event to raise funds for local food banks and shelters for the homeless. I find it amazing in a country with so much wealth and technology we still have to raise money so a family can eat, so a family can have a roof over their head, so a family has the opportunity to battle an addictive disease. This organization, like many unrecognized organizations, does so, so much to help our fellow citizens. The commitment of its’ volunteers is a true pleasure and honor to witness.

This is why I like and play the game of golf; forget the prima donna Tiger Woods, forget the expensive resorts, forget the fancy equipment – I love the game, the friendships I develop playing it, and the people and organizations I help. Now if only I COULD PLAY THE DAMN GAME!!!!

FOOD ADDICTION - "Obsessed: America's Food Addiction -- and My Own," by Mika Brzezinski, with Diane Smith (Weinstein Books, 239 pages) - Chapter 2, "The Value of a Healthy Thin": " Weight is almost the only place where people are willing to speak bluntly about their prejudices toward an entire group of people. ... That willingness to stereotype reflects a prevailing idea that obesity results from lack of willpower and discipline. It totally ignores the reality of our contemporary food environment, which makes high-fat, high-sugar foods easy to access, and it shows ignorance about how such foods can get a grip on us that is hard to release. It shrugs off the mixed messages we get: one that tells us 'being thin is worth just about any price' and one that says 'this food is cheap, available 24/7, and designed to stimulate pathways in your brain that keep you coming back for more.' ...

"New Jersey Governor Chris Christie ... is often in the spotlight, not only because of his leadership role, but also because of his size. Like any politician, he's had to develop a thick skin, but he's still deeply hurt by some of the hateful comments and tweets he gets. He read me these two: HEY GOVERNOR, WHAT DID YOU HAVE FOR BREAKFAST TODAY, ONE STICK OF BUTTER OR TWO? and THINK GOVERNOR CHRISTIE CAN BE VP? HE'S TOO . . . FAT, AND AMERICANS HATE FAT PEOPLE. People would never say such vicious things about someone with any other type of health challenge. "It is extraordinary how brutal people will be about my weight," the governor said. He thinks people assume he is lazy or lacking discipline because of his weight, and wonders, "Do they think I got this far in life without discipline?" I've heard Oprah say the same thing ... 'For somebody like me who's had so much success in my life, and really been successful at everything I've tried, to not be able to be successful at this is incredibly discouraging,' revealed Christie.

"The attitude he encounters ignores the many complex factors involved in losing and regaining weight. Getting to a "healthy thin" certainly takes personal discipline and determination, but it also requires some changes in the world around us. It is not enough to say "eat less, do more." Or to follow columnist Eugene Robinson's simplistic advice for anyone with a weight problem: take a walk and eat a salad. 'That is the height of ignorance about what this issue is really all about,' Christie avows. 'I'm well beyond the taking a walk stage. I work out four days a week with a trainer. I'm riding the bike and lifting weights and doing floor exercises for an hour a day. For people who have never had issues with their weight, they can't understand it."

"Insiders said it was the only thing keeping the straight-talking executive from higher office. Despite Christie's denials, political fund-raisers say that the surgery is a clear sign that he's going to join the 2016 race ... Sources said Christie didn't make the decision lightly - he even had private conversations about the operation with once-rotund Jet coach Rex Ryan. Ryan lost about 100 pounds - down from a massive 350 - after he had the same procedure done in 2010. Christie has never revealed his weight, but estimates have run from about 300 to 350 pounds. He hired the same ace laparoscopic and bariatric surgeon as Ryan - Dr. George Fielding, head of NYU Medical Center's Weight Management Program. ... [H]e never went into Fielding's office for medical visits - instead, the doctor came to the governor's house in Mendham ... Christie said he went under the knife at 7 a.m. for 40 minutes and was home the same afternoon. The Doctor inserted a cone tube around the top of his stomach, where it restricts the amount of food he can eat at one time and makes him feel fuller, faster. 'A week or two ago, I went to a steakhouse and ordered a steak and ate about a third of it and I was full,' he said ... Sources said he has already shed nearly 40 pounds. ...

"As he drops pounds, doctors will pump more saline solution into the lap band, restricting his stomach further and forcing him to eat even less. In 2006, Christie said in an interview that getting a more involved surgery - gastric bypass - was never a consideration because it was 'too risky.' ... 'I know it sounds crazy to say that running for president is minor, but in the grand scheme of things, it was looking at Mary Pat and the kids and going, "I have to do this for them, even if I don't give a crap about myself."

--"Onward: What I've Learned Today ": "I want my girls to see me at peace with eating, and I might just be making progress in becoming a better role model. These days I'm eating more, and I don't feel hungry all the time. Today I made myself a sandwich with three eggs, Swiss cheese, and arugula on two big pieces of wheat toast, grilled in olive oil. I didn't measure the olive oil and I didn't worry about the fat in the cheese. And I ate all three eggs, including the yolks. ... I rarely take the path most people follow, and things usually work out best for me that way ... Talk to your friends and the people you love -- have the conversation about being obese. Confront them about their health and their weight, and then offer your support. ...

"I'll continue to speak out about the obesity crisis in our country, but when you hear me talking about healthy eating on TV, know that I'm not the skinny know-it-all who knows nothing about food obsessions. Know that I am struggling, too. As for Carlie and Emilie, they're beautiful just as they are. That's all they need to know. It took me way too long to understand that about myself, but thanks to my family and friends, better and more beautiful days lie ahead. With all my heart I wish the same for you."

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: George Brett (60), Pierce Brosnan (60), Bill Dillhoefer …has the greatest practice golf swing in the game, Michelle Lamotte …famous hotel/resort consultant.

COMMENCEMENT 2013 – The 2013 college and university commencement season week number three, here are this weeks’ notable speakers – May 13 – University of Pennsylvania; Joe Biden, VPOTUS. May 16 – LSU; Cookie Roberts, Political Commentator. May 17 – Wheelock College; Maria Shriver, Journalist and Author. May 18 – University of Virginia; Steven Colbert, TV Host. May 19 – Yale University; Cory Booker, Newark Mayor: University of Vermont; Wynton Marsalis, Musician: Morehouse College; Barack Obama, POTUS.

WHAT WE'RE READING: "The Guns at Last Light: The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945 ... Volume Three of the Liberation Trilogy," by Rick Atkinson, author of "An Army at Dawn" and "The Day of Battle" (Henry Holt, 896 pages): "In 1947, the next-of-kin of 270,000 identifiable American dead buried overseas would submit Quartermaster General Form 345 to choose whether they wanted their soldier brought back to the United States or left interred with comrades abroad. More than 60 percent of the dead worldwide would return home, at an average cost to the government of $564.50 per body, an unprecedented repatriation that only an affluent, victorious nation could afford. In Europe the exhumations began that July: every grave was opened by hand, and the remains sprinkled with an embalming compound of formaldehyde, aluminum chloride, plaster of Paris, wood powder, and clay. Wrapped in a blanket, each body was then laid on a pillow in a metal casket lined with rayon satin. Labor strikes in the United States caused a shortage of casket steel, and repatriation was further delayed by a dearth of licensed embalmers, although government representatives made recruiting visits to mortician schools around the country. ... Thus did the fallen return from Europe, 82,357 strong.

"As the dead came home, so too the things they carried . ... The Army Effects Bureau of the Kansas City Quartermaster Depot filled a large warehouse ... just below a majestic bend in the Missouri River. From a modest enterprise that had begun with half a dozen employees in February 1942, the Effects Bureau had expanded to more than a thousand workers, and by August 1945 they were handling sixty thousand shipments a month, each laden with the effects of the American dead from six continents. Hour after hour, days after day, shipping containers were unloaded from rail freight cars onto a receiving dock and then hoisted by elevator to the depot's tenth floor. Here with assembly-line efficiency the containers traveled from station to station down to the seventh floor as inspectors pawed through the crates to extract classified documents, pornography, ammunition, and perhaps amorous letters from a girlfriend that would further grieve a grieving widow. The prevailing rule ... was said to be 'Remove anything you would not be returned to your family if YOU were the soldier.' Workers used grinding stones and dentist drills to remove corrosion and blood from helmets and web gear; laundresses took pains to scrub bloodstains out of field jackets and uniform blouses. ...

"Banks of typists in an adjacent room hammered out correspondence to the next-of-kin, up to seventy thousand letters a month, asked where the soldier's last possession should be sent. Over the years Effects Bureau inspectors had found tapestries, enemy swords, a German machine gun, an Italian accordion, a tobacco sack full of diamonds, walrus tusks, a shrunken head, a Japanese life raft ... [and] thousands of diaries ... Even when the last old soldier has gone to his grave - and may the earth lie lightly on his bones - the cause for which he fought is sure to live on. The war and all that the war contained - nobility, villainy, immeasurable sorrow - shall light us down to the last generation."

Can you recommend any summer movies coming up, every year at this time I find it difficult to select a few goods movies out of the crush of summer releases.

Thank you.
Movie Buff

Dear Movie Buff –

We like the following for this summer:
May 10 – “The Great Gatsby”; star-studded remake of the great American novel.
May 15 – “Star Trek Into Darkness”; 12th Trekie movie, but a good one.
May 17 – “The Iceman”; a contract killer’s double life.
June 7 – “Hey Bartender”;  a documentary about a former Marine and a white collar worker trying to reinvent themselves tending bar.
June 28 – “Copperhead”; the Civil War viewed by a farmer from upstate New York.
July 3 – “The Lone Ranger”; anything with Johnny Depp as a star, a must see.
Aug 2 – “2 Guns”; Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg as federal agents both thinking each other is a bad guy.

Rink Rats.

THE SWAMI’S TOP PICKS: NHL Playoffs, First Round – Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Vancouver Canucks, Los Angeles Kings, Pittsburgh Penguins, Montreal Canadians, Washington  Capitals, Boston Bruins. Season to date (0-0)

THE PREAKNESS STAKES – the 138th running this Saturday here are our picks: (Win) Orb, (Place) Govenor Charlie, (Show) Will Take Charge.

DRIVING THE WEEK –  President Obama has a meeting with U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron this morning at the White House ... Obama and Cameron hold a joint press conference in the Rose Garden later in the morning ... In the afternoon, Obama heads to NYC for a trio of fundraisers, two for the DNC and a joint DCCC/DSCC event at the Waldorf ... CBO this week releases its analysis of President Obama's FY 2014 budget proposal, including estimates based on the impact of sequestration and the fiscal cliff deal ... National Association of Realtors holds its mid-year legislative meeting in D.C. starting Monday ... Senate Banking has a hearing Tuesday at 3:15 p.m. on attracting more private capital into the mortgage market ...

AEI has an event on the future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on Wednesday at 2 p.m., including remarks from former NEC member James Parrott ... Retail sales this morning at 8:30 a.m. EST expected to drop 0.3 percent, 0.2 percent ex-autos ... Industrial production at 9:15 a.m. on Wednesday excepted to drop 0.1 percent ... Housing starts at 8:30 a.m. Thursday expected to rise to 920,000 from 907,000 ... Consumer prices 8:30 a.m. Thursday to drop 0.3 percent overall and rise 0.2 percent ex-food/fuel ... University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment at 9:55 a.m. Friday expected to rise to 77.9 from 76.4.

Next week: the Original Six, student debt saga on the horizon and the words of the month.

Until Next Monday, Adios!

Claremont, CA
May 13, 2013

#IV-4, 161

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Double Life

I find myself these days living two lives: one life devoted to work, play, lets’ just say living. Another life devoted to social media (including this blog). For the sake of reality I try to keep both lives in sync with each other. I find this is an important part of my writing and communicating the views of the day. But, there have been times when my social media life (Blog, Twitter, Linked In, Facebook, You Tube, even email) becomes driven by the need to keep a distance from my “real world” of daily living.

Why, because you can fake it in the social media world. You can be someone you are not; there is no face to face conversation or acknowledgement. You can say what you want and get away with it, especially if you do not have many followers. This is wrong on many fronts. First of all I use some social media as a teaching platform, filtering information to students about economic issues of the day. Secondly, I truly respect my followers and readers and always want to represent my commentary, though sometimes a bit off the wall, in the best possible writing and mutual respect.

Yes, sometimes certain individuals or events get the better of me, but I try to keep a sound perspective on my view points. Have you read a Donald Trump tweet lately? If he truly is the same man in “real life” that he is on Twitter. Then this man has a problem. I blog, tweet, linked in, you tube, because I enjoy the writing and the exchange of thoughts, ideas and information. I do not blog, tweet, linked in, you tube, to kiss someone’s you know what, or make points with an associate, or hurt anyone.

This age of instant access media is exhausting.

JACK ASS OF THE MONTH – The horrible start of the Los Angeles (Anaheim) Angels has prompted us to review the Jack Ass case for Mr. Arte Moreno, the $1.16 Billion owner of the Angels. Mr. Moreno, who is quickly becoming the Donald Trump of baseball for constant over hyping of his $250 Million payroll team. The Angels are off to their worst start in franchise history (11 – 20), 9 games behind division leading Texas. Better yet they have raised ticket prices and concessions to league high prices. For these reasons Arte Moreno is our Jack Ass of the month.

2016 WATCH - NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo has book deal: "HarperCollins [said] Cuomo will write 'a full and frank account' about his private life and the 'profound moments' of his first term in office, including signing gay-marriage legislation. ... Cuomo ... was represented by ... Washington attorney Robert Barnett, whose clients include President Barack Obama and another possible 2016 candidate, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. The Cuomo book is scheduled for next year, when Clinton also has a book expected. ... Cuomo's deal may complicate plans for a biography on the governor signed up by HarperCollins last year. HarperCollins spokeswoman Tina Andreadis said ... that the book, by New York Post reporter and state editor Fredric [U.] Dicker, was still under contract. The Post and HarperCollins are part of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. ... Cuomo will write about being the father to three girls, his role in establishing housing for the homeless and the legacy of his father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo. ... Cuomo ... lives with Food Network star Sandra Lee."

SIGN OF THE TIMES: TREASURY TO PAY DOWN DEBT - "The U.S. Treasury expects to pay down debt in the second quarter of 2013 as the budget deficit that has dominated national politics starts to shrink. The forecast of a quarter of net debt repayment for the first time since 2007 shows how tax increases, a cyclical recovery in tax revenues and a squeeze on spending are ratcheting down the ... deficit. ... Treasury said it expects to repay a net $35 billion in the second quarter, compared with a February estimate that it would have to borrow $103 billion. ... The second quarter is always the best for government cash flow because tax returns are due in April.”

"The Treasury expects to issue $223 billion of debt again in the third quarter. But the return to one quarter a year of debt repayment highlights how aggressively the U.S. has cut the deficit this year, despite concerns about growth and political wrangling over tax and spending decisions. ... Bond investors have been expecting better U.S. fiscal data. Expectations of a falling net supply of Treasuries helped the yield on 10-year Treasury notes to approach their lows for the year on Monday, briefly dropping below 1.65 percent."

APPLE TAPS THE BOND MARKET - Apple Inc. sold the largest corporate-bond deal in history last Tuesday, a $17 billion offering investors hungrily gobbled up. Goldman Sachs ... and Deutsche Bank sold the debt for Apple to investors in all corners of the credit markets, from buyers overseas to municipal-bond investors to portfolio managers who typically prefer ultra-safe government debt. ... Apple was able to borrow the money in six chunks at historically low costs, taking advantage of a sharp decline in Treasury interest rates. ...

"Investors were also excited to add a new name to their debt portfolios - it was Apple's first bond offer in almost 20 years. There was $52 billion worth of orders for the deal, making it one of the most hotly desired bond deals Wall Street has ever seen. ... The technology company was able to borrow at rates nearly as low as the highest-rated triple-A firms in the world. It borrowed $5.5 billion for 10 years at an annual yield of 2.415 percent. It also issued three-year debt at 0.511 percent, five-year debt at 1.076 percent and 30-year debt at 3.883 percent. ... Apple has a huge cash stockpile, but much of its money is overseas. Raising cash in the bond market helps Apple avoid the big tax bill that would hit if the company brought its cash back to the U.S., executives said last week."

APPLE AVOIDS BIG TAX BILL - "Apple will avoid a potential tax bill of up to $9 billion by using the proceeds from its $17 billion blockbuster bond issue to pay shareholders rather than bringing back cash from abroad. The technology group would have paid as much as 35 percent in tax to bring that amount of cash back into the U.S. ... Apple, which has $100 billion worth of offshore cash, compared with just $45 billion in the U.S., last month announced it would partly fund a record-breaking $55 billion share buyback program by using money raised in the corporate bond market. The company will also save around $100 million a year from using the debt rather than straight cash. Although the company's $17 billion borrowing from the corporate bond market this week will cost it around $310 million a year in interest payments, it will regain about a third of that due to tax deductions."

PRESIDENT OBAMA'S CHECKLIST FOR THE FUTURE - in his commencement address Sunday afternoon at The Ohio State University, in Columbus: "We will need ... political will, to harness the ingenuity of your generation ... To repair the middle class; to give more families a fair shake ... To educate more children at a younger age; to reform our high schools for a new time ... To build better roads and airports and faster Internet; to advance the kind of basic research and technology that has always kept America ahead of everyone else ... To confront the threat of climate change before it's too late ... To protect more of our kids from the horrors of gun violence."

MARKET WEEK – The Dow and the S&P 500 are both coming off record closes, after a session that saw the Dow break 15,000 for the first time while the S&P 500 was making its first foray over 1,600. The Nasdaq Composite is coming off its highest close since November 7, 2000, but still sits 33 percent below its record close from March, 2000.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Bono (53), Candice Bergen (67), George Clooney (52), Missy Franklin (18), Willie Mays (82), Peggy Redman …a famous ULV institution, Mort Sahl (86), Sula Vanderplank …famous traveler and researcher.

COMMENCEMENT 2013 – The 2013 college and university commencement season week number two, here are this weeks’ notable speakers – May 10; University of Colorado – Julie Andrews, actress. May 11; Howard University – Bill Clinton, 42nd POTUS: University of South Carolina – Darius Rucker, singer. May 12; Marietta College – Carl Bernstein, writer: Duke University – Melinda Gates, philanthropist: Syracuse University – Nicolas Kristof, NY Times writer: Ripon College – Nate Silvers, NY Times pollster.

THE SWAMI’S TOP PICKS: NHL Playoffs, First Round – Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Vancouver Canucks, Los Angeles Kings, Pittsburgh Penguins, Montreal Canadians, Washington  Capitals, Boston Bruins. Season to date (0-0)

DRIVING THE WEEK – Congress is back and the Senate is expected to pass the online tax legislation today sending it to the House where its future remains uncertain but passage seems possible. ... President Barack Obama begins a "Middle Class Jobs and Opportunity" tour on Thursday with a visit to Austin and Manor, Texas (more below). ... JOLTS report at 10:00 a.m. Tuesday expected to continue to show high openings (but not enough qualified candidates to fill them, which just happens to be something Obama will talk about in Texas). ... Consumer credit at 3 p.m. Tuesday expected to grow by $16 billion. ... Initial jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. Thursday expected to rise slightly to 334K from last week's 5-year low of 324K. ... Treasury budget Friday at 2:00 p.m. expected to show surplus for the April tax deadline month of $106.5 billion, up from $59.1 billion last year. ... Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke on Friday speaks at the Chicago Fed annual conference.

Next week: the continuing saga of student debt and Dear Rink Rats.

Until Next Monday, Adios!

Claremont, CA
May 6, 2013

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