Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Obamacare for Corn, Ichiro, Banking, Neo-Cons

(Editor’s note: Slight delay in posting today’s blog as I was constrained by holding Dagny during a quick trip to Boston to visit the new granddaughter and her brother Finley.)

As news reports of the drought across much of the nation, particularly in the breadbasket corn belt states of Iowa, Illinois and Indiana, kept spreading in the media, I turned to Gilda last week to sarcastically suggest it wouldn’t be too long before President Obama would be blamed for this catastrophe. Sure enough, on Tuesday night’s Colbert Report, host Stephen Colbert reacted to information that 90% of Iowa farmers had federal crop insurance by declaring it “Obamacare for our corn.”

It’s not too far fetched to think Obama would be blamed. After all, many of the water-parched states are electorally red, meaning they lean toward Republican and conservative candidates. Conservatives keep calling him a socialist, and in case you haven’t heard, Russia has been suffering from drought conditions for years longer than the U.S. It’s only natural, then, that God is exacting punishment on America because of its “anti-religion” leader just as He (for sure, not a She) is doing to the godless Rooskies. 

On the other hand, perhaps God is punishing those red states for being so intolerant to those who don’t match their DNA and beliefs, such as gays, Mormons, abortion rights advocates and immigrants (legal and illegal).

Ichiro to the Rescue? Now that Ichiro Suzuki is a NY Yankee, there is speculation he may finally make it to the World Series. If their play come October in any way resembles their last seven games, however, the Yankees once again will go home before the championship contest. 

Though they have the best record to date in baseball, they are vulnerable to good pitching that limits their home run output, as the games against the Oakland A’s and the Seattle Mariners showed this week. They won just two of seven games, repeatedly failing to score runs without the aid of a home run. Teams they would face in October would have better than average pitching, so a short playoff run is not inconceivable. 

Meanwhile, Alex Rodriguez’s broken hand injury, suffered in Tuesday’s loss to Seattle, is further validation he is a schlemazel. Three Yankees were hit by pitches during the game—Derek Jeter, Ichiro and A-Rod. Only A-Rod sustained an injury. He may be out six to eight weeks. As I wrote back in February 2011, A-Rod is more schlemazel than a schlemiel

“For those not familiar with the Yiddish terms, a schlemiel is a person who, despite the best of intentions, always fouls up. A schlemazel is an unfortunate soul, a person to whom misadventure always falls. To gain a deeper understanding of the distinction between the two, think of a schlemiel as a bumbling waiter who spills hot soup on a patron; the person drenched by the soup is a schlemazel. Active or passive, schlemiel or schlemazel, A-Rod can’t catch a break.”

Financial Misadventures: James “Jamie” Dimon, chairman, president and CEO of JPMorgan Chase, has predicted there will be no more surprises similar to the $6 billion-and-mounting loss from speculative trading. He believes we need less, not more, regulatory oversight of the banking industry. Does anyone truly believe him?

Does anyone else find it ironic that the new basketball home of the Nets in Brooklyn will be called the Barclay Center, named for the same bank that is a key player in the Libor-fixing scandal? Barclay, along with other banks, reportedly shaved points in setting the interest rate banks charged each other to borrow funds. Hmmm...shaving Sports fans will immediately get the connection. All others, google “point shaving”.

Neo-Con Comeback? Mitt Romney, currently on a trip to England, Poland and Israel, leveled a broadside against President Obama’s foreign policy earlier this week. Nothing new here, it being the season of politics. Similarly, there’s nothing new about Romney’s foreign policy advisors. They’re mostly neo-conservatives, the same sad sack lot who brought us wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Does the country really want to go back to a world view based on belligerency rather than diplomacy? 

While on the subject of politics, have you noticed the terms POTUS and SCOTUS creeping into coverage and TV fare? For the uninitiated, POTUS is President of the United States; SCOTUS is Supreme Court of the United States.