Christie: More Than Tardy?

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March 2, 2016

The Honorable Mary Pat Christie
First Lady, State of New Jersey

Dear Mrs. Christie:

Your husband Chris has not returned to work in his capacity as Governor of the State of New Jersey since ending his Presidential bid earlier in February. He has not reported to his office at the State House in Trenton as promised.

This creates an unfortunate power vacuum. Worse, our efforts to reach your husband have been unsuccessful. He has no more leave time allowed.

Unfortunately, Governor Christie is now considered derelict in his duties. Since he has not responded to our many calls, texts and emails, please inform him that Kim Guadajnos is now Governor of the State of New Jersey until further notice.

Sincerely,

James A.Gallagher, Official Timekeeper
Governor’s Office, State Of New Jersey

Trenton, NJ
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Attempts by the state of New Jersey to locate Governor Christie in recent days have been futile. Kim Guadajnos is now acting Governor.

People trying to understand why Governor Christie would defect to the Trump campaign might want to view this.

 

The Dream May Be Over, But You Can Still Feel The Bern

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We will know soon, but if the Super Tuesday prognostications are right, Trump will prevail with Republican voters and Hillary Clinton with Democrats.

Hate away at me all you want, but Bernie Sanders’ days as a Presidential candidate are essentially over.

He can and should stick around until California if he so desires. Senator Sanders has important things to say, particularly about income inequality.

Sanders also keeps Hillary focused and makes her a better candidate than she’d be otherwise. As it is, she’s pretty awful left to her own team and her own devices. For that, he has done voters a service.

But whether he realizes it or not, Bernie also started a movement of the young and disaffected. It shouldn’t be abandoned.

I think Bernie Sanders would do best to campaign for open Senate and Congress seats and state contests that matter to him.

That is where those votes will really matter the most. It’s also a chance for people disconnected from DC to get up close and personal with the process, instead of feeling depressed, anxious and powerless.

OK, let me have it.

Little Boy Who Needs Attention

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Yes, I’m back to saying antagonistic things about Trump. Those that dislike these comments are free to ignore them or engage in reasoned debate.

 

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I don’t hate him. I just think we should be angrier about him.

 

I do not hate Donald Trump. Really. We are all God’s Children. Trump has not done anything to me personally. I don’t think he even believes half the vile garbage that comes out of his mouth. Underneath it all, I suspect he’s just an insecure little boy who craves attention.

The problem is that the media hangs on every word this spoiled little boy says. I just don’t like the effect it’s having on the country I love. Worse, the craven Republican Party is getting ready to hand him the keys to their car because he’s “an effective communicator.”

To me, that is dangerous. It is not a situation that calls for Americans to be shrinking violets.

OK, I’ll Try Shutting Up Until After Iowa/NH

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Here is my alternate-reality theory:  Trump’s lark got too out of hand for him. Each outrageous stunt tries to get him out of the race while appeasing that huge ego. Yet he can’t — the polls, cheering crowds and attention won’t let him.
I’m serious. I truly think the Sarah Palin endorsement is a Hail Mary pass by The Donald.
Trump’s problem? Beyond a few primaries, he’ll need a billion dollars to run a real campaign with staff, infrastructure, ads, courting delegates, etc. Since he hates the idea of having to fund raise and can’t come up with it himself, why not just keep alienating more people?
Which brings us to Palin. The only reason this woman is relevant is because her idiocy makes good copy. The only people who listen to her were going to vote Cruz or Trump no matter what. Beyond that, what is her influence? I’m angriest at the media. Even NPR is practically wetting itself over this story.
This campaign has gone from reality TV, past meta-reality and all the way to alternate reality. I can only conclude that the end game is a Trump/Mark Burnett production starring Scheming Sara, Sadistic Track, Slutty Bristol and Stoic Todd.
Oh, and I do mourn the death of the Republican Party. Given their blind adherence to Hillary’s plodding, the Democrats may not be far behind.

Our Fabulous Time of Selling Stuff

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Though personal observations and opinions prevail, a blog can be anything one wants it to be. There is no rule against shameless commerce. Anyone who isn’t interested can simply ignore what’s written, right?

This Sunday 5/31 is the ULTIMATE TAG SALE! After 48 years, my mother-in-law in Bethpage LI has sold her house and is moving to a smaller place nearby.

For starters, there are LOTS of tools. Her late partner Dick was an incredible wood craftsman who loved household projects. I thought my old man had an incredible collection of saws, hammers, wrenches, hardware and supplies, plus a lot of wood. But really, what he had was nothing compared to what Dick acquired over the years. There’s something for everyone if you can get out to LI this coming Sunday.

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He also loved cars, particularly Studebakers. There are models from the Danbury Mint and a collection of trade magazines from the 1930s. There also furniture for sale (a mid-century modern dining table in great shape), house wares, and all kinds of media: unopened 8-track tapes, baseball cards, books, collectible magazines, radios, a portable TV, picture frames and 78 rpm records. There’s also some awesome 33 and 45 vinyl that my brother-in-law loved — Journey, U2 (including imports), Van Halen, etc.

My mother-in-law also has a 1985 Peugeot P6 10-speed bike for sale. I’ve been using it as a commuter for three years, and now we need the room for other stuff.

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Many of the parts are original but I have updated the brake cables, new gumwall 27 X 1 1/4 tires, tuned it up and kept it in shape w/the help of my top-notch mechanic, Mike Rodriguez of Bike Station in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. Yes, it has a Sachs/Huret derailleur!

This Gallic beauty wears France’s blue racing colors. it weighs 28 lbs. and will never win the Tour de France. What it will do is provide a reliable, solid and phenomenal ride over NYC streets. This is a great workhorse for anyone from 5’4’ to 5’10”.

It’s $200 or best offer. I’ll negotiate, and I’m a lot cheaper than those stores and pop-ups at street fairs that sell similar retro-bikes for $3o0 and up. Please contact me for a ride appointment. And yes, within limits I will come to you.

Big Guy Pleads for Big Merger. Why Is He Ignored?

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The recent Comcast/Time Warner Cable fiasco proved that some mergers aren’t workable, equitable or fair. Still, powerful Comcast came through with its reputation reasonably intact. Part of that has to do with CEO Brian Roberts’ tough-guy pose: he shrugged off the failed deal and went back to work.

There are other acclaimed CEOs, yet they’re anxious. They publicly conduct their internal dialogues, sometimes letting shareholders and the media in on their thoughts. When it’s about a merger and no interested suitor emerges, it can be embarrassing.

Current case in point: Sergio Marchionne, chairman/CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (NYSE: FCAU) http://www.marketwatch.com/investing/stock/FCAU.  He seems to be learning the hard way that not everybody wants to go into business with a global automaking enterprise that has a checkered history.

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Signore Marchionne has been considered a genius by the business press and more recently, by shareholders. Following the financial crisis in 2009, Fiat took Chrysler Corporation off of the U.S. Government’s hands for assumption of debt. Marchionne has since earned profits for the combined company – now FCA – through a rebound of its North American business. FCA recently launched a $3 billion bond offering.

Sales of SUVs and pickup trucks and big cars are very hot, driven by low fuel prices, a decent economy and pent-up demand. FCA’s revamped lineup, particularly Jeeps and RAM trucks, do quite well.

Marchionne has a long history of making grand pronouncements about how bright the future is for FCA. So far, he’s been mostly right. But he now sees clouds in his crystal ball.

During FCA’s Q1 conference call in late April, Marchionne made a case for consolidation that included a 25-page PowerPoint (http://www.fcagroup.com/en-US/investor_relations/events_presentations/quarterly_results_presentations/SM_Fire_investor_presentation.pdf) detailing to the investment community how necessary this is.

But to date, none of the viable takeover or merger partners that FCA might normally be talking to – Peugeot of France, Mitsubishi Motors, Mazda or Suzuki of Japan, for example – have expressed interest.
Since auto manufacturers seen un-enthused,

Bloomberg reported what Marchionne thinks the next logical step is: a possible partnership with Apple or Google. (http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/marchionne-may-marry-fca-apple-google-no-automaker-will) He said:

“I’ve always been intrigued by the notion of having technology disruptors show up in the marketplace and change the paradigm. If they show up and they are truly successful, with their cash piles and know-how, they could fundamentally hurt this industry.

FCA already has an established relationship with Apple, which is working on an electric vehicle supposedly going to market by 2020. Fine, except that Apple shareholders would prefer a deal with Tesla. Apple isn’t commenting, but it’s worth noting that they bought Beats for $3 billion in 2014. Google hasn’t said much about Marchionne’s ideas either.

So Sergio Marchionne, one of the most heralded and talented deal-makers around, finds himself encountering something he isn’t used to: a business media that smells desperation from him:

“Fiat Chrysler Earnings: Profits Are Too Thin For Comfort” – Motley Fool

“Fiat Chrysler Shares Extend Losses After CEO’s Consolidation Call” – Reuters

“Fiat Chrysler Headline Profits Look Good, But Bernstein Research Worries About Threat From Debt” – Wall Street Journal

“Marchionne Talk of Industry Mergers Called Sign of ‘Panic’ ” – Bloomberg

FCA has underused capacity, no sustainable plan for proactive growth, a guaranteed downturn in at least one of its key markets, and eroding credibility. It will need cash soon. These problems have been covered up by the extremely profitable sale of SUVs and trucks in the North American market. But there is a limit to how many sales Jeep and bigger trucks can generate. Incentive costs are going up, and competition is getting fiercer.

Marchionne’s tendency to say what’s on his mind hurts too. He lost credibility last year when pronouncing that another Italian FCA brand, Alfa-Romeo, will sell 400,000 units globally by 2018. In 2015 they will sell a tenth of that, with no products having the mainstream appeal to sell anything near those numbers.

So the question is this: does Marchionne’s tendency to blurt his schemes out publicly still seem shrewd, or maybe a little desperate?

For the FCA minions charged with keeping Marchionne’s “genius” reputation flowing, things have to be tough right now.

What I Learned Avoiding a Rainstorm

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Last Friday on Facebook I post that I would no longer post items reflecting partisan political views. My logic was that I had become sick of seeing how these posts only succeeded in baring everyone’s fangs, and that it doesn’t lead to reasonable discourse. I’ve had enough of negative thinking.

Some people pleaded “Say It Ain’t So, Pete!” Others said “Bully,” and that getting into those discussions was a waste of my time and talent. Fair enough on both sides.

But there was more which I hadn’t revealed. Three weeks ago I went to see one of the last Broadway performances of the magnificent “If/Then” starring Adele Dazeem. It was pouring out, and I had time to kill. Some nice people across the street invited me in and offered coffee and donuts.

While there, we talked. It turned out that a good deal of my life had been spent acquiring something called engrams — reactions to mental images that can be painful, debilitating, and limiting to being faithful to my true identity.

That led me to believe that the only way to be free of this cloudiness is to take a personal inventory, much like the financial one so many of us are engaged in at this time of year.

I finished my coffee and realized I’d entered a new realm. Suddenly I feel free to enjoy the work of the thespians across the street.

Thanks for listening. It feels good to have gone clear.

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