Sunday, August 23, 2015

Dating Game

It is that time of year where Rink Rats has a summer break: this week we will have our final guest blogger. Enjoy, we will see you on August 31 with our regular Rats.

Michael Jordan was born on the same day in 1963 as Larry the Cable Guy, which explains their fraternal twin slogans of Just do it and Git ‘er done. But Jordan was also born 27 years to the day after Jim Brown, so that the best basketball player of all time and the best football player of all time both entered the world on Feb. 17, making it the single most auspicious date on the sports calendar.

Or not, because LeBron James, Tiger Woods and Sandy Koufax were all born on Dec. 30, which is also the day (in 1968) that Frank Sinatra recorded “My Way.” Through it all, when there was doubt, those four ate it up and spit it out.

But the best sports day? That has to be Oct. 3, when the sports polymath Dave Winfield was born in 1951 within hours of Bobby Thomson’s hitting his Shot Heard ‘Round the World – and the same date in 1974 that Frank Robinson became baseball’s first black manager and that (in 1863) President Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving a national holiday, for which football fans are forever grateful, though not as grateful as they are for buffalo wings, which were invented in 1964 at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo on – deep breath – Oct. 3.

Except that it isn’t even the best date of that week, when you consider that Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier fought the 1975 Thrilla in Manila on Oct. 1, and Babe Ruth called his shot in the 1932 World Series on Oct. 1, and Roger Maris hit his 61st home run on Oct. 1 to break Ruth’s single season record, which would in turn be broken by Mark McGwire, who was born – yes – on Oct. 1. Pele retired on Oct. 1, and Disney World opened on Oct. 1 to give every Super Bowl MVP a place to go.

But is it the best day ever? Feb. 6 witnessed two good Super Bowls – Patriots over Eagles by three in XXXIX, Packers over Steelers by six in XLV – and Jordan’s dunk from the foul line in the 1988 Slam Dunk Contest in Chicago, striking the pose forever frozen as Nike’s Jumpman logo. But it’s best known as Babe Ruth’s birthday, and for that reason alone it could be a national holiday, if there wasn’t already one – July 4 – devoted to serial hot-dog eating, beer and America.

Every day is an epic history. The date of Aug. 24, saw Cal Ripken Jr. born and Pete Rose banned, instantly evoking indelible numbers (2,632 and 4,256) and nicknames (Charlie Hustle, Hit King, Iron Man) worthy of Vince McMahon, who was also born this day.

Some dates are notorious: Diego Maradona scored his infamous Hand of God goal on June 22, 1986, five years to the day after John McEnroe told Wimbledon chair umpire Edward James, “You cannot be serious!” Other dates make strange but wonderful bedfellows. Secretariat took Belmont on June 9 to win the Triple Crown, the same date Giants manager Mel Ott won the Double Crown, getting ejected from both games of a doubleheader. Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points on Dr. Seuss’s birthday, March 2, a shotgun-wedding anniversary of Wilt the Stilt and Yertle the Turtle.

The U.S. Olympic hockey team beat the Soviet Union on Feb. 22, 1980, in America’s greatest sports victory, which happened to fall on George Washington’s birthday. The waving flags in Lake Placid called to mind the one rippling in Washington’s boat as he crossed the Delaware – the hockey team and the Father of Our Country united by national pride, frozen water and fake teeth.

After Washington, the man most associated with ’76 is Julius Erving, also born on Feb. 22 and always  - as a Philadelphia 76er or a New York Net – swaddled in stars and stripes.

Feb. 22 is also the day the Beatles recorded the famous final note of “A Day in the Life.” This was in 1967, the Late Winter of Love, when five men played a thunderous E major chord on three pianos and a harmonium at the same time, providing the best sound on the best song on the best band’s best album, on what may be the best day ever. At the very least it’s further proof there’s a Life in the Day, every day of the year.

Steve Rushin, Point After writer, Sports Illustrated

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this weekend to: Usain Bolt (29) Orlando, FL., Morton Dean (80) Charlotte, NC,  Giada DeLaurentiis (45) Malibu, CA., Jill St. John (75) Beverly Hills, CA., Rafer Johnson (80) Los Angeles, CA., Steve Kroft (70) New York, NY., Robert Redford (79) Aspen, CO.,  Fred Thompson (73) Baltimore, MD.


Preseason NCAA College Football Top Ten – 1). Ohio State Buckeyes,  2). Auburn Tigers,   3). TCU Horned Frogs,  4). Michigan State Spartans,  5). Oregon Ducks,  6). Georgia Bulldogs, 7). Notre Dame Fighting Irish,  8). Ole Miss Rebels,  9). Arizona Wildcats,  10). USC Criminals.  All teams began training camp last week.

Preseason SCIAC Football Top Four – 1). Chapman Panthers,  2). Redlands Bulldogs,  3). La Verne Leopards,  4). Cal Lutheran Kingsmen – Teams report at the end of the week to their preseason camps.

Season to date (64-34)

Next week: NFL Preseason picks, Rink Rats is on vacation. We will be back on August 31.

Until Next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
August 24, 2015


Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Whole System Is Breaking Down

It is that time of year where Rink Rats has a summer break: the next two weeks we will have two guest bloggers. Enjoy, we will see you on August 31 with our regular Rats.

The Republican Party is in total chaos. Democrats aren’t there yet but may be approaching the neighborhood. It’s time to acknowledge that our political system simply isn’t doing its job.

Once again, following the first debate and its messy aftermath, the GOP establishment confidently predicts that the Donald Trump phenomenon is over, done with, finished, kaput. Why, he picked a fight with popular Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly! He bluffed his way through the debate with rhetoric and showmanship rather than policy positions! His campaign organization is in turmoil! He wouldn’t even pledge to support the eventual Republican nominee!

By any traditional measure, Trump is not a viable candidate. Yet he continues to dominate news coverage of the campaign, and thus far there is no indication that his transgressions have caused the plunge in his poll numbers that party pooh-bahs so eagerly anticipate.

As Buffalo Springfield once sang, “There’s something happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear.” (Ask your parents, kids.)

By one early measure — an online poll for NBC News conducted by the SurveyMonkey firm — Trump maintained his big lead following the debate, with Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.) and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson vaulting into second and third place; businesswoman Carly Fiorina, who dominated the undercard debate, reportedly leapt into the middle of the pack. The numbers in the SurveyMonkey poll are less important than the trend lines: So-called “protest candidates” are capturing voters’ imaginations in a way that establishment candidates are not.

Trump, Fiorina and Carson have never held elective office; the basis of their appeal is that they are not professional politicians. Cruz has spent his time in Washington ostentatiously declining to play politics as usual, recently going so far as to call his own majority leader a liar.

At this point, it is fair to say that a significant portion of the party has lost faith in the GOP establishment. It’s also fair to say that this has little or nothing to do with where candidates stand on the issues.

Trump made his initial mark in this campaign with demagoguery about illegal immigration. But with the exception of Jeb Bush, the other GOP contenders have basically the same position: Seal off the border with Mexico, if necessary by erecting a physical barrier.

Carson has compared the Affordable Care Act to slavery. No other Republican in the race uses such over-the-top language, but they all pledge to repeal Obamacare. Cruz vehemently opposes the Iran nuclear agreement. All the Republican candidates feel the same way. Fiorina wants to shrink bloated government. Everybody else does, too.

The irony is that the Republican field includes several candidates who, in theory, could be formidable in the general election. Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio are both from Florida, a state the GOP basically must win to have any chance in the Electoral College. Ohio Gov. John Kasich or Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker theoretically might be able to pry one or more of the Midwestern industrial states out of Democratic hands.

But the process of quelling the Trump-led insurgency is already boxing the whole field into absolutist positions that will be difficult for the eventual nominee to soften. The longer chaos reigns, I believe, the less room the GOP candidate will have to maneuver.

All of this should make Hillary Clinton very happy. But the Democratic Party and its likely nominee have problems of their own.

To be sure, I’d much rather be playing Clinton’s hand than anybody else’s in either party. In the RealClearPolitics polling averages, she leads her closest opponent for the nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, by 35 points — and beats every one of her potential GOP opponents in hypothetical head-to-head matchups.

One problem, however, is that her favorability has been going down, according to polls. Another is that while Sanders has made few discernible inroads with key parts of the Democratic Party coalition — especially African Americans and Latinos — he is within striking distance of Clinton in the first two caucus and primary states, Iowa and New Hampshire.

Sanders is drawing big, passionate crowds, and I believe one reason is that he, too, is kind of an anti-politician — a man who unabashedly labels himself a socialist and refuses to tailor his views to please a given audience.

Significant numbers of voters seem to be demanding authenticity, passion and rough edges from a nominating process designed to produce none of the above. To state the obvious, this could be a wild and unpredictable ride.

Eugene Robinson, Op-Ed writer, The Washington Post

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this weekend to: Russell Baker (90) Washington, D.C., Halle Berry (49) Beverly Hills, CA., David Crosby (74) Monterey, CA., Tim Hutton (55), Studio City, CA., Mark Knopfler (66) London, England


Preseason NCAA College Football Top Ten – 1). Ohio State Buckeyes,  2). Auburn Tigers,   3). TCU Horned Frogs,  4). Michigan State Spartans,  5). Oregon Ducks,  6). Georgia Bulldogs, 7). Notre Dame Fighting Irish,  8). Ole Miss Rebels,  9). Arizona Wildcats,  10). USC Criminals.  All teams began training camp last week.

Preseason SCIAC Football Top Four – 1). Chapman Panthers,  2). Redlands Bulldogs,  3). La Verne Leopards,  4). Cal Lutheran Kingsmen – Teams report at the end of the week to their preseason camps.

Season to date (64-34)

Next week: Guest Blog the next week, Rink Rats is on vacation. We will be back on August 31.

Until Next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
August 17, 2015


Monday, August 10, 2015

Get Out of Dodge

It is that time of year for the annual trip to family, friends, and the TSA: Time to relax, catch up on that book that has been acquiring dust on the night stand, put the knuckle heads from the office out of your mind, visit the Beach Bar, take in a thunder storm or two, and simply enjoy.

Obnoxious bankers, over ripe thinkers, misguided managers, blow hard politicians, and Rush Limbaugh, all can be put aside for two weeks. As John Stewart so aptly put this past week, a few days without B.S. is a good thing.

Vacation is a mindset, not just a balcony view or humidity change. To unplug from technology, no time restraints, spending time with those who really matter, the days are all about family bonding and that is the real vacation – no matter where in the world you are.

POTUS VACATION – President Obama headed for Martha's Vineyard vacation a day early: for more than two weeks of hoped-for rest coupled with extended pursuit of ... golf. ... He departed the White House last Friday with ... Michelle, ... Malia and Sasha, instead of on Saturday as initially planned. Obama plans no public events during the 17 days ...

The vacation will be his sixth on Martha’s Vineyard since taking office in 2009. Obama skipped a trip to the island during his 2012 re-election campaign. He was returning to the same secluded estate he rented last year, a seven-bedroom, nine-bathroom property in Chilmark, on the western part of the island, and valued at $12 million ... The property's amenities include a dual basketball and tennis court.

Seinfeld creator playing golf with Mr. President, Larry David was in a sand trap, trying to hit his apparently errant ball back onto the green. After the swing, which brought a bunch of sand along with the ball, Mr. David let out a yell of disappointment, perhaps because it didn't come close to the hole.

POTUS, who appeared to be wearing light colored pants, a white or beige golf shirt, and a beige baseball cap, took his turn next. His ball was sitting at the edge of the green. After a couple of practice swings, POTUS hit the ball with his putter and as it approached the hole, POTUS leaned back on one leg, raising the other leg up as if to will the ball to fall in. It did not." Pic

COLLEGE CHRONICLES – The nation’s 18 million undergrad students heading off for the next school year will pay an estimated total $18,943 on public college tuition and fees ($42,419 for private schools). An average newly minted grad with student loan debt will have to pay back some $35,000; overall national student debt has escalated to an all-time high of $1.2 trillion.

While the cost of U.S. higher education escalates, there’s a genuine silver lining in play. A  growing number of colleges and universities are now focusing on student-consumer value over marketing prestige, making this a new age of return-on-investment education. This pivot is the result of intense public scrutiny on the substantial cost of a degree vs. long tail worth — the very heart of FORBES definitive Top Colleges ranking, now in its eighth year.

This year’s No. 1 FORBES Top College is Pomona College Endowments, followed by Williams College Ephs and Stanford University Cardinal. The first Ivy League school to show, Princeton University Tigers, comes in at No. 4, followed by Yale University Yalies (No. 5), Harvard University Crimson (No. 6) and Brown University Bears (No. 8).  Rounding out the 10 finest schools in America are Swarthmore College Garnets (No. 7), Amherst College Lord Jeffs (No. 9) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Bytes (No. 10). Some of these schools need to work on their nicknames.

The Spin now begins.

CHINA ECONOMY SKIDS INTO SECOND HALF - On the heels of a tanking Chinese stock market, new data on the country's economy over the weekend added to a troubling picture heading into the back of the year. Exports fell 8.3 percent in July from a year prior. Factory prices remain on the decline, and economic growth while better than expected is still showing that the Chinese boom is fizzling. For now, China's central bank is showing no sign of easing its grip on the currency and letting the yuan depreciate - despite pressure from exporters for help.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this weekend to: Antonio Banderas (55) Madrid Spain,  Bob Cousy (87) Scottsdale, AZ., Elizabeth Dole (79) Washington D.C., Edge (54) Dublin, Ireland, Tim Gunn (62) New York, N.Y., Wayne Knight (60) Pasadena, CA., Donna Redman ….famous supporter of law enforcement, Charlize Theron (40) Malibu, CA.

2016 DEBATE PART ONE - DEBATE GRADES - Rubio: A; Christie: B+; Walker: B; Bush: B- Kasich: B; Carson: B; Huckabee: C; Paul: C; Cruz: C; Trump: Classy

7 takeaways: "1. Jeb was meh. ... 2. Trump's act is wearing thin - especially with women ... 3. Paging Ted Cruz. ... 4. The real Trump effect: Lots of fireworks, less substance. ... 5. John Kasich is emerging as a top-tier candidate. ... 6. Rand Paul needed to attack - and he did [Christie]. 7. Scott Walker was so-so - but had the best line of the night. ... 'Probably the Russian and Chinese government know more about Hillary Clinton's email server than do the members of the United States Congress.


Preseason NCAA College Football Top Ten – 1). Ohio State Buckeyes,  2). Auburn Tigers,   3). TCU Horned Frogs,  4). Michigan State Spartans,  5). Oregon Ducks,  6). Georgia Bulldogs, 7). Notre Dame Fighting Irish,  8). Ole Miss Rebels,  9). Arizona Wildcats,  10). USC Criminals.  All teams began training camp last week.

Preseason SCIAC Football Top Four – 1). Chapman Panthers,  2). Redlands Bulldogs,  3). La Verne Leopards,  4). Cal Lutheran Kingsmen – Teams report at the end of the week to their preseason camps.

(MLB, August 15) New York Yankees (61-49) 3 at Toronto Blue Jays (61-52) 6

Season to date (64-33)

MARKET WEEK – Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) has agreed to buy aircraft equipment maker Precision Castparts (PCP), in a cash deal worth about $37.2 billion.

U.S. stock index futures rose today as the Dow looked to bounce back after extending its losing streak to seven sessions Friday. European stocks , meanwhile, turned negative as disappointing China data weighed, while optimism for a new Greece bailout deal rose.

China stocks shook off weak economic data, surging nearly 5 percent today, after a report suggested that the mainland will finally begin to overhaul its stumbling state-owned enterprises.

DRIVING THE WEEK - Hillary Clinton's $350 billion plan to kill college debt: The plan, which would change the way a large swath of Americans pay for college, borrows ideas from the left and the right: Clinton will discuss the plan ... at campaign stops [today and tomorrow] in New Hampshire. Summer Term at The ULV ends this week with a flurry of Exams and Case Papers, College of Law begins today, anxious to see the numbers. Good luck to Dean Gil Holmes on the upcoming year.

Next week: Guest Blogs the next two weeks, Rink Rats is on vacation. We will be back on August 31.

Until Next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
August 10, 2015

CARTOON OF THE WEEKEND – B. Smaller, The New Yorker Magazine

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Dog Days of Summer

A special mid-summer weekend edition of Rink Rats this week, we will be back to our normal Monday schedule on August 10 and then we are off for two weeks as we will be visiting the great Midwest of these United States. Look for our guest blogs on August 17 and 24.

PEOPLE MAGAZINE SYNDROME – In a brief lapse of sound thinking I purchased a People Magazine this past week. Why? In my ongoing desire to secretly be a professional at wasting time I thought People would be a viable tool.

One problem, from the cover to the back page I did not know anyone or anything on those pages. Who is Kendra? Channing Tatum? Lil’ Kim? Cody Simpson? Mario Batali?

I am sorry…not a clue. Am I that out of touch?

I have to start attending more faculty meetings.

CAPITAL PUNISHMENT -  The U.S. Federal Reserve sent a message to the largest U.S. financial firms this week: Staying big is going to cost you. The Fed stated that the country’s eight largest banks should maintain an additional layer of capital to protect against losses, its plainest effort yet to encourage them to shrink. It also offered a reprieve to General Electric’s finance unit from more-intensive regulation, after the company promised to cut its assets by more than half. Our Heard on the Street writer John Carney notes that even though the Fed took back some ground on stress tests, it also gave a little bit on a capital surcharge.

BIG BLUE, A HARD THINK -  International Business Machines is having a hard time trying to reinvent itself as a modern technology innovator. Despite efforts to scale back on legacy hardware and push into cloud-based software and services, the century-old tech giant posted its 13th straight quarter of year-over-year revenue declines. Investors are also still not sold on the idea that companies such as IBM can successfully transition to the cloud, said one analyst. Meanwhile, Qualcomm, the world’s largest maker of chips used in mobile phones, is expected to conduct a sweeping strategic review that will look at the possibility of a breakup, among other options, after an activist investor pushed for change at the company.

TRUMP - Donald Trump lifts the veil on his empire: Donald Trump's mammoth financial disclosure report, released on Wednesday, opened the curtain on Trump's $1.4 billion in assets and how he earned the $431 million he reported making over the past 18 months. "One takeaway: it appears that Trump is a golf magnate at least as much as a real estate magnate. Trump earned at least $176.4 million from 15 golf courses in Scotland, Ireland and across the Eastern Seaboard - about 41 percent of the low-end estimate of his income since the beginning of last year." Trump also raked in royalties from licensing his name to be used on everything from hotels to mattresses, and earned a $110,000 pension from the Screen Actors Guild.

FORTUNE GLOBAL TOP 500 -  U.S. companies claimed the most spots on this year's list with 128 ... China's presence on the Global 500 continues to grow with 98 members this year, up from only 19 companies a decade ago. Banking was the industry with the most number of companies on the list, with 55, followed by petroleum refiners with 38 and automakers/parts suppliers with 34.

Top 10: 1. Walmart Stores ... 2. Sinopec Group (China) ... 3. Royal Dutch Shell ... 4. China Natural Petroleum ... 5. Exxon Mobil ... 6. BP ... 7. State Grid (China) ... 8. Volkswagen ... 9. Toyota Motor ... 10. Glencore (Switzerland).

AND BEYOND - NASA has announced the discovery of an Earth-like habitable planet, identified as Kepler-452b, about 1,400 light years away. It's been 20 years since it was proven that other stars host their own planets, and this marks the 1,030th confirmed planet in that time:

CHINA RESEMBLES U.S. 1929 CRASH - Bloomberg: "Chinese stocks will decline by an additional 14 percent over the next three weeks as the market demonstrates a trading pattern that mimics that of the U.S. crash in 1929, according to Tom DeMark, who predicted the bottom of the Shanghai Composite Index in 2013. ... The benchmark for mainland stocks will sink to 3,200 after plunging 8.5 percent Monday to 3,725.56 in the worst selloff in eight years, DeMark said on Monday.

"That would extend its decline since a June 12 peak to 38 percent. The gauge's moves since March are tracking those of the Dow Jones Industrial Average in 1929 when the gauge lost as much as 48 percent."

CALIFORNIA'S TEACHER SHORTAGE - California school districts face a teacher shortage, and the state doesn't have a strategy for growing its supply of high-quality teachers, a new Bellwether Education Partners report says. Districts and charter schools should play a greater role in developing their own supply of high-quality teachers, the report says. And teacher preparation programs should reframe their work to better meet the needs of schools and prospective teachers. That can include sharing and analyzing district data on hiring needs and the outcomes of program graduates, or strengthening clinical fieldwork and treating student teaching as a way to recruit prospective teachers. States should also hold teacher prep programs accountable for how they meeting the needs of districts and prospective teachers.

BIG RED – average car ownership now at a high, 11.5 years.

Even though U.S. auto makers continue to lose domestic market share, a spike in demand for heavier vehicles is leading to sales of the higher-profit automobiles.  Rising demand for pickup trucks and sport-utility vehicles, spurred by lower gasoline prices, is propelling margins at General Motors and Ford to levels more typical of German luxury car makers. In Europe, industry rivals reported contrasting quarterly results today. Volkswagen announced a slip in earnings, while Peugeot said that it had turned a profit for the first time since 2011. In Japan, Nissan also beat estimates to report a 36% jump in its first-quarter net profit.

AS THE FED TURNS - The waiting game continues. The U.S. Federal Reserve kept rates near zero but cited progress in the job market. That means a rate increase in September remains on the table, though inflation is an ongoing concern. This week’s statement from the Fed reinforced analysts’ projections that further rate increases will likely be measured amid a sluggish global outlook, soft U.S. inflation and accommodating monetary policy around the globe. There may be one thing, however, standing between the Fed and higher rates: China. Market turmoil in the country could weigh on the Fed’s deliberations.

BIDEN WORLD MIND MELD - Lot of chatter about a Joe Biden presidential campaign over the weekend spurred by a Maureen Dowd column and subsequent NYT piece. This is from a person in close touch with Biden world, based on many conversations with insiders over two years: "The Vice-President is the ultimate political animal, and political animals are constantly evaluating their opportunities. The Joe Biden pictured in What It Takes, the classic presidential campaign book about the 1988 presidential race, is a guy who desperately wants the ultimate prize. ...

Biden came from a dynastic political family long before anyone ever heard of Hillary Clinton. Once that bug bites you, you have it for life. Despite West Wing staff attempts to clip his political wings, Biden has a core group of very capable loyalists who are ready to jump at the chance to make him President.

His senior consigliere, former Senator Ted Kaufmann, leads the pack, but he also has an experienced hand on staff in Steve Ricchetti, his current Chief-of-Staff and a former Deputy Chief-of-Staff for President Bill Clinton. There is no doubt that his family wants him to do it, and that he would like nothing more. Given the seemingly early Democratic Party consensus around Hillary's candidacy, he and his team decided to take a pass on an active race, but they always understood that if Hillary implodes, the alternative would not be Sanders or O'Malley. No one is paying more attention to her high negatives in key states than Biden and his people.

Later this summer the entire Biden family will be vacationing together, and topic number one will be whether Joe should run. ... If Hillary falters on her own (as she appears to be doing), Biden would escape the epithets hurled his way by her loyalists that would blame him for standing in the way of her historic candidacy. Instead, he becomes the hero who saves the Party from an electoral debacle. It's a tricky business that requires precise timing to work. He cannot afford to be perceived as the 'unseen hand' behind her collapse.

Beau Biden's desire to see his dad in the race has been campaign fodder for weeks now. Does anyone really think that leaking Beau's deathbed wishes is an accident? In the end, Joe may not run, but only a fool would think he is not actively considering it. Hillary is no fool. ... And Biden's folks see the anemic fundraising of Priorities USA, Hillary's so-called SuperPac, as an opening for their own fundraising.

POLITICS 101 - The latest NBC/WSJ poll explains the rise of Trump and Sanders and the big problems facing Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush and every other establishment candidate. The economy is growing around 2.5 percent and creating jobs at a solid clip but people just don't feel like things are improving or that the U.S. is headed in the right direction. Slack wages explain some of it. But a lot of it is still hangover from the financial crisis and recession. The so-called "animal spirits" that drive better economic cycles - on both the corporate and consumer front - have just never emerged during this recovery. And they may never do so. It's hard to see any development likely to shake the national malaise. And a government shutdown battle and possible debt limit crisis loom this fall. Along with Fed rate hikes.

All this presents both big hurdles for Clinton, Bush and the rest as well as big opportunities. If any candidate can sell Americans on an optimistic vision for better days ahead they will likely sail into the White House. It's not going to be Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders. Trump's negatives are sky-high and Sanders is a socialist. But beyond them it is completely wide open. The GOP debate Thursday will be the first big chance for Bush, Rubio, Walker and the rest to take their shot at both exciting the base and convincing an angry electorate that America still has a new chapter and it's not far off.

COLLEGE CHRONICLES – Adjuncts at Whittier College gained some significant improvements to their working conditions in their first union contract, they announced late last week. They’ll see an increase in pay from $1,150 per credit hour to $1,550 by fall 2016, plus a $300 course cancellation fee within 21 days of the start of classes and pro-rated pay for any classes actually taught. A professional development fund also has been established.

 The Service Employees International Union-affiliated adjuncts also gained more job security, such as 1-year appointments starting with the second year of service (up from semester-to-semester appointments). The contract includes additional protections for reappointment and evaluation and a “just cause” standard for discipline and dismissal.

 Whittier adjuncts make up the third SEIU-related part-time faculty union to achieve a contract since SEIU began its Adjunct Action campaign, a major push to organize adjuncts across metro areas. Adjuncts at Tufts and Lesley universities saw similar gains in their first contracts. Dozens of other new unions are negotiating their first contracts.

Whittier President Sharon Herzberger said in an emailed statement that the college and SEIU "have been hard at work for about a year to reach a fair and mutually beneficial agreement. We look forward to continuing our constructive relationship with the union and our talented group of adjunct professors as we prepare to welcome our students in early September."

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this weekend to: Tony Bennett (89) New York, NY, John Landis (65) Los Angeles, CA, Tom McGuire …famous SLU alumnus & humanitarian, POTUS (54) Washington D.C., Martin Sheen (75) Malibu, CA.

RETIREMENT – Congrats to John Stewart’s final week at Comedy Central, he will be missed.


(MLB, August 8) Boston Red Sox (48-61) 4 at Detroit Tigers (53-55) 5

(Saratoga, Whitney Stakes August 8) $10.00 to win on Tonalist, John Velazquez the jockey

Season to date (63-32)

MARKET WEEK – U.S. stock futures were searching for direction to start the new month and new week, as Greek stocks finally reopened and promptly tanked. The S&P 500 gained nearly 2 percent in July. Investors looking for Fed clues await Friday's government employment report. The Athens stock market plunged today, reopening for the first time in five weeks. It dropped more than 20 percent at the open. Greek banking stocks were the worst hit.

Next week: College football preseason picks and time to get out of Dodge.

Until Next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
August 6, 2015