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A perfect early fall day at Geneva Lake, Wisconsin. If the Buffet Tax and the cuts in loopholes that surround it are truly in the offing, and the political will to enact those reforms remains in question, the 21st century version of the French Revolution may be deferred in America. Now if only we could also create some new jobs…

Even after Congress acts, one way or the other, the U.S. will still have a national debt on the order of $20 trillion.

How much is that? Try 100 times the supposed $200 billion in gold bars hidden away at Fort Knox, Kentucky. Of course, there hasn’t been an independent audit of the remaining gold at Fort Knox for 50 years, thanks to Congress, and we went off the gold standard many years ago.

There’s nothing behind our national debt now but us. Anyone want to pass the hat?

The habitues of Morning Joe flapped on this AM about the so-called negative “optics” of First Lady Obama’s jaunt to Spain with her daughter, trailing all the apparent pomp of privilege and security that accompanies the family of a sitting American President. They said that when the Times’ Maureen Dowd said Michelle should be home making her stressed husband toast (Feliz Cumpleaños, and Adiós By MAUREEN DOWD Where’s the first lady when the president needs her? Going her own way.August 7, 2010), that means White House staff are buzzing with hate and envy over the First Lady’s apparent insensitivity to how the masses eye such an adventure.

The Morning Joe crew added that Laura Bush would take vacations to hike in National Parks, a seemingly more patriotic destination. But the truth is, everybody, down to the garbage truck driver, takes a vacation if they can and goes where they want and can afford, and they don’t give a damn what their neighbor thinks about it, and perhaps even gloat about the fish they caught at the lake or the waterslide their kids frolicked on at the Dells.

After a career in public relations, I’m a cynic when it comes to “optics.” Michele Obama does more public service work than any 50 society matrons rolled into one. She’s a sophisticated woman, married to the most powerful man in the world. If she wants to take her daughter to Spain, while her daughter is young enough to want to go with her mom, that’s exactly what they should have done. If they had gone hiking at a National Park instead, which might have been fun, the Park would still have had to shut off vast areas to the public, for security and privacy reasons, still cost the taxpayers a bundle, and if they had done that to please Maureen Dowd and a handful of White House interns and overworked appointees, and even if the “optics” had been a little better, so what? Personally, I’m glad these people aren’t ruled by optics floptics.

As an old fast food guy, I’m happy to see so much creativity going into new beverage offerings in the business. But what seems missing to date are new diet versions of these drinks, for those of us who love the taste (and what pros call the “mouth feel” of crushed ice and creamy stuff), but have to push away from the excess calories and fats. Beverages are highly profitable, and will be more so when there are more low-cal options.

My old media friend Scott Hume brings the story up to date in his latest entry in his blog atβurgerβusiness%29

The environmental damage is not transitory. It will get much worse, no matter what happens. The damage will persist for many years.

BP should be nationalized now (the U.S. company) and their U.S. assets put under control so they can’t all be moved out of reach to Swiss or UK banks, if that isn’t the case already. Draft their U.S. employees. Use their expertise and people and money to solve the problem and reimburse those effected. We need BP drafted into a lifelock with the U.S. Who cares if BP survives — they are only a company. We’re talking about saving people and animals and fish and birds, and compensating for losses to the maximum long-term extent, beyond the scope of precedent of anything short of war reparations. Again, where is the spine and decisiveness of Congress, the White House and the Supreme Court on this?

I’ve been saying this for weeks. Doesn’t anyone care? Doesn’t anyone listen? Too me, the public perception that BP is “cooperating” so closely with the U.S. government, including holding joint press conferences in the Pentagon, suggests that the U.S. is compromised by BP and the UK. Let’s get it right — BP is an environmental criminal. And since when does the criminal stand beside the police chief in press conferences? Compare this reality with the concept that a UK company somehow caused an atomic energy release in the U.S. Would we hold them accountable in a death grip of control and justice that would have repercussions for decades? Of course.

What about resulting risks to our international relationships and the rights of private enterprise? How much does that matter when and as long as life is at stake on this scale?

According to Booz and Co, in their study of the 2500 largest global companies, the CEO turnover rate last year was 14.3%, although the percentage of CEOs forced out was lower, at just over 3%. The former % seems high, and the later low, in these times, though I suspect the real percentage forced out is higher than indicated. From: The Economist, online.

With 45,000 sq. miles of the Gulf of Mexico closed to fishing and the possibility that the Gulf will become a dead sea for a decade, and with the ecology and economies along the shores of the Gulf coast states threatened with devastation, isn’t it time to secure funds that may be needed for relief by freezing the U.S. assets of BP? BP clearly bears the ultimate blame for the oil rig disaster, even if fellow companies and federal watchdog agencies are implicated as accomplices. Will the executive branch, the Congress and the Supreme Court, act in the public interest, or will oil “interests” prevail. The test is before us, and the outcome is unsure. Speak up. Ask for answers and consequences.

I agree with the writer on Buffet’s intuitive PR skills. Having met and talked with Buffett on several occasions, I can attest that he is a real charmer, and plays the “I’m just a small town guy with some financial skills” role to the hilt. Calling his jet, which he refers to as “one of my few indulgences,” The Indefensible, is but one example.

Warren Buffett: Not Just a Shrewd Investor, He’s Also a PR Genius – DailyFinance.

Click on the song near end  of this out-take from the article — it says it all!

“That investigative journalists have consistently been way ahead of the authorities, the S.E.C. included, in uncovering Wall Street’s foul play, is a scandal. If this culture remains in place, the whole crisis will have gone to waste.

“As a reminder of the unchastened status quo, Blankfein remains the gift that keeps on giving. On Thursday, The Financial Times reported that he had been calling clients to argue that the S.E.C. case against Goldman would ultimately “hurt America.” The opposing point of view was presented by Ira Glass on his radio show “This American Life” this month. With reporters from the nonprofit journalistic organization ProPublica, it told the story of another hedge fund, Magnetar, that gamed the housing bubble. Bankers who worked on Magnetar deals walked away with their huge bonuses well before disaster struck — or, as the program put it, “bankers made money even when they were buying things that eventually blew up the bank.” Not to mention the economy. And it was all legal.

“To award the audience a bonus, “This American Life” concluded with a Broadway song commissioned from a co- author of the satirical musical “Avenue Q.” Titled “Bet Against the American Dream,” it distills a complex financial saga to its essence: Those who shorted the housing market shorted the country.

Go online, listen to it and laugh. But the fact remains that those who truly hurt America are laughing harder still, all the way to the bank.”

January 2023

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