Organizer: check. Money-spender: check. Who's entering office?

The two things that are clear now that the election is over are (one) that Obama spent a lot lot lot more money toward the cause of winning and still barely took the win and (two) the Obama campaign was a damned well-run organization. My hope is that the community organizer turned campaign organizer turned country organizer -- I mean he became the country's president, Skippy -- is what predominates in the White House, and not the vigorous money-spender. After all, only taxes can fund his spending now. And many millions cannot even get a job at this point, let alone pay more taxes.

I hope the organizer is who shows up for the economic recovery work and for keeping the world's militant terrorists and other cretins at bay. We don't have money, not any longer, and if Obama expects to raise taxes as expertly as he raised campaign cash, we're all in deep doo-doo. Exclamation point.

America: wake up and start thinking like a businessman, not a welfare or "bailout" proponent. Capitalism is about selfishness, you say? So socialism is the opposite of selfishness? Please! In a perfect world, perhaps no one would work and all our problems would be solved. If you live in that world, let me in! Otherwise, let's talk about making the real world function.

Here's the problem: a socialist country with lots of power is dangerous, far more dangerous than we could be -- really -- and all the examples of extremely socialistic powers ought to be proof of it. The USSR, for instance, in WW II and afterward, under Premier Stalin. Supposely a nation rules by the common man. As if. Enough said.

Socialism is akin to communism (the real world thing, not the idealistic thing that Marx supposed could work but has been proven a failed idea, because people cannot stick to it, seeing as they are diverse humans and not simple-minded widgets) and they are akin to totalitarianism and fascism. They are not safe models of a national structure for countries with power. Look at what the USSR did for the world: not much. Killed millions upon millions for the will of one leader. That's a wrong idea. Capitalism and republicanism and democracy are far safer, since in our case at least, they are also propped up by ideas and a rule of law (not a rule of man).

We have far too much power, still, in this darker time, than most nations can dream of. We are not Sweden. So, snap the heck out of it, folks. We need to stay at least modestly individualist-minded. That way, losers can learn to win, or they remain losers. The bitter can learn to solve problems, or continue to have them. I have loads of problems. My life will always suck unless I solve them. Simple. That is not a bad system. One where Joe Stalin can rise to the top is a bad system, not one where Obama, or GW Bush, can rise. They are not inhuman, madly paranoid, or otherwise unseemly, no matter how badly you want to believe it. They are not Blagojovichs, for instance. Or even silly, unethical Ted Stevenses.

There is a very clear line to be drawn, and that is going to determine if this economic problem turns out to continue far too long (allegedly) as did the American Great Depression and the Japanese deep recession of the 1990s. Mind you, there are fair arguments that it was not Roosevelt's socialistic ideas that pulled us out of depression, but extended it. It was the efforts to get people back to work, quite simply, that got us out of depression. Social programs don't solve money woes, they exacerbate them. Work and commerce solve money woes. We can only print money so long until it weakens the dollar so much that it is worthless, too, so don't count on that solving the woes, either.

See this post ("In the end, did money win the White House?") for more about money, winning, and what spending tons of cash versus the election outcome means in a fairly rational sense, as opposed to what Obama's fanatics want it to mean. In short, call this a landslide, and what will come eventually is a blow back -- a very painful one for Obama, Democrats, and the government leaders who seem to never learn how to govern.

- jR

Crazed 'Blago' got tough against the Tribune, got FBI visit in return

Was it simply "kill or be killed" for the Chi Trib against this crazed Democratic governor? CNN and others are getting further into the story -- more will surely come. How Obama fits into this ugly picture is yet to be made comfortable for the fresh prince of the Beltway. Stories do suggest that Obama is tied to this "Blago" kook through his buddy Tony Rezko. That's not good. Not good at all. What a year 2009 is going to be -- gag.

U.S. attorney: Blagojevich has taken us to 'new low' -
The Obama transition team is aware that Blagojevich is in federal custody, but has no comment, according to a senior Democratic source.

The government also accuses Blagojevich and Harris of threatening to withhold state assistance to the Tribune Company -- the company that owns the Chicago Tribune -- in connection with the sale of Wrigley Field baseball stadium. The company also owns the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field.

In exchange for assistance, the governor and his chief of staff wanted the newspaper to fire Chicago Tribune editorial board members who were sharply critical of the governor, the government said.
I guess the Tribune won that one. Will they win the business operations war? Bankruptcy was a second shoe dropping. Only time, and lots of turnover in management, will tell.

- jR

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Recession, recovery, or other: Word definitions and other confusing things

, as I've noted before, tends to report against the predominant ignorance of mainstream (middling educated) media, popular opinion and political convenience. The magazine's pieces tend to follow some sort of logic -- imagine that.

In early December 2008, it was announced that the U.S. had been in a recession for roughly a year, to the surprise of anyone who actually knows that a recession is. I mistakenly assumed that this meant the quarterly GDP reports for that period were to be officially adjusted. I was wrong. But did the mainstream media grab onto this? No, they didn't. However, Forbes actually looked at the numbers and filled in the holes that I found in the government's assertion.

Congratulations, It's A Recession -

They pointed out that a "popular yardstick for recession -- two successive quarters of GDP decline, has not yet been reached. The economy dipped (-.2% GDP) in the fourth quarter of 2007. But in the first quarter of 2008 it grew .9%, and in the second quarter, it grew 2.8%.
The economy tends to be well on the road to recovery before unemployment starts to fall. In 1990-91, it was 15 months after the bottom of the recession that unemployment peaked. After the bursting of the dot-com bubble in 2001, unemployment peaked 19 months later. That means the unemployment rate of 6.5% is likely to get worse for some months before it gets better.

Minding the maxim on investment prospectuses, past performance is not a guarantee of future results. The NBER puts it tersely: "The committee does not forecast." The amount of time until recovery depends largely on what happens to falling home prices and troubled credit markets.

But at least it's nice to be talking about "recovery" instead of tip-toeing around "recession."

Surprise! We've had a recession for a year already! Even though GDP has not been in the negative consistently, we have been in a recession. The definition is changed, it would appear. That's fine -- I would rather see economists err on the side of caution than -- it sounds pale just thinking it, seeing it is how we got here -- to approach things with too much (bloated) confidence.

What kills me is these folks who have been stammering around proclaiming we were in a recession, a deep recession, a depression, without even actually comprehending outside of the self-centered little universe they live in, what any of that actually is, will now think they are brilliant for having been proclaiming recession since they lost their CRA-mortgaged house when their unemployment ran out. Or something.

Those folks, though, will never learn. They don't want to learn, they just want to complain. That's what they do. Perhaps under Obama, they will hold their tongue for a while longer at least, since the great Prince of Darkness will no longer be (a) the president, (b) the vice-president, (c) the Treasury secretary, (d) host of the Tonight Show...

- jR

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Best-kept 'secret' in Chicago: crooked governor's party

Note: These odd omissions have ceased after a few days, or they are at least not going to serve any purpose any longer (for those who even slightly pay attention, that is, now know that Blago is a Dem), but it is always odd to see such things as this. Read on.

Dem Label AWOL for Blagojevich in ChiTrib, Sun-Times Coverage |
Gov. Rod Blagojevich's (D-Ill.) name has cropped up quite a few times in the ongoing trial of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) benefactor Tony Rezko. Yet in their latest coverage, both the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times left out Blagojevich's party affiliation. The Sun-Times, however, did take note of the Republican party affiliation of another politico caught up in the maelstrom, William Cellini [note: see photos via AP/Sun-Times at the linked story].

The caption for a photo montage accompanying the April 3 article "Levine: Blagojevich knew", reads, "Clockwise from left: Gov. Rod Blagojevich; Tony Rezko; Stuart Levine; Chicago businessman-turned-Hollywood producer Tom Rosenberg; longtime Illinois Republican Party power William Cellini."

Tribune staffers Bob Secter and Jeff Coen also covered the development in a story filed shortly after midnight Eastern time on April 3.

Noting a GOP guy's party while altogether ignoring the party of the central figure in an image (see the linked story, its image showing this gaff) is a bit weird! Since this is home ground for Obama, I am a bit astounded by the lack of ties to Blagojovich, too. Obama moved quickly from community organizer to state senate to U.S. Senate. His own caretakers in his state senate days have stated they wanted to protect him from anything controversial -- like abortion, making a yay or nay vote on most things (sarcasm: check!). And it would seem they kept him away from Blago? Hmmm.

I was wondering what the deal was with this, as I had to do a search of the gov's name and the word "party" to find his affiliation noted somewhere, just because I was trying to figure it out -- it is odd, blatantly odd, that the affiliation was omitted. (Go ahead, say I should find the state web site; I don't live in Illinois, don't have that handy, thanks. Get over that.) Blagojevich's party is not mentioned until it is deep into one article, from the Tribune, that I noted just today.

What a stupid, petty way to exacerbate bias and division, and a lack of one-country-feeling. Great job, Trib. The strangest thing about this effort to omit his party is that the Chicago Tribune -- which was being directly attacked in a variety of ways by this governor, please note -- was the one breaking this story along the way.

The road was a bit tougher to get to the White House than to the guv's office in Illinois. Thank goodness. It is such a failure of politics, news media and clued-in leaders of every kind that so many are able to believe that people such as this crooked governor are not bad folks until they make it so blatantly obvious -- and leave proof, no less -- that they get hauled away by the FBI. Amazing.

This constant omission is laughable, really. Is it a broad problem, though? An in, a full-blown media bias issue? I suspect not. I think is wise to not call this a broad habit. They didn't. And the fact is, if you looked up old stories in a variety of locations (, for instance) on GOP or Dem folks involved in scandals, and you'll find mention of party way down near the bottom of articles. At least, in some instances. It tends to be a policy. (Of course, CNN is among those guilty of assuming that most scandals are by the GOP's folks, not pretty even-handed. Gary Hart? Kwame Fitzpatrick? Bill Clinton's cigars? Hello?) points out holes in stories -- odd omissions, bias, etc. is clearly a conservative site. However, not a rabid one. The site does a darn good job pointing out hypocrisy -- namely liberal and/or Dem bias -- in media. I am impressed with how they keep it to useful specifics, unlike many similar operations on either side of the political fence (far-left-leaning or far-right-leaning). This is worthy for many reasons, but here's one: Sites so broad in their range (that is, not apparently politically or ideologically motivated, covering a wide range of subjects) such as pan the White House as being censors -- yes, they used that word -- for not choosing to hang a Christmas tree ball that states, among other uncheery things, "Impeach Bush." Wow. Idiots.

Being a bit cynical is one thing, but being outright unabashedly one-sided and proudly hateful of GW Bush and friends -- that's entirely another thing. Being that simplistic and ignorant is stunning for those who claim to be reflecting some sort of narrative of our lives. Our lives are very rarely one-sided. and one Christmas decoration artist have proven themselves -- jointly, in one story, keeping it simple to present the case -- to be so shallow. I hope the Tribune and Sun-Times and other such doddering media can control themselves and find some road to balanced reporting in the future. I hope it won't take an outright assualt on a paper's board of directors to get a large or small media org to to the right thing -- and by right, I mean the correct thing.

- jR

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A Wonder Boy from Illinois gets his: not Obama, not in a good way

At last, someone recognizes how crooked Chicago and Illinois politics is, this year. I think this comes up every year or so, but this was the first truly big story (only murmurs about it while Obama was running to be prez). Too bad this didn't occur before Obama was elected our president, it might have forced him to spend closer to five times more money to get elected, rather than merely four times as much as the GOP candidate. (Natch.)

Rod Blagojevich, Illinois governor arrest by FBI
The stunning, early morning visit by authorities to the governor's North Side home came amid revelations that federal investigators had recorded the governor with the cooperation of a longtime confidant and had begun to focus on the possibility that the process of choosing a Senate successor to President-elect Barack Obama could be tainted by pay-to-play politics.
It is nice to see that at least a few of the corrupt, self-serving and deceptive Democratic politicians are finally getting their due. Rep. Jefferson in Louisiana, who was storing $90,000 in cash in his freezer (you know, to keep it from going sour), lost to a conservative with a immigrant American Dream story; now, a crooked governor gets his. What's so stunning is that this guy is merely 52, this was his second term, and he racked up loads of crooked dealings yet got reelected. Not a finer abuser of power can one find than this dirtbag, it would appear. So now we have to ask: is this what Obama is bringing to America? I cannot believe that that is so. But this is likely to impact his presidency, but to what level, who knows.

Now if Sen. Chris -- the mortgage sweetheart -- Dodd and sociopathic -- there is nothing risky about CRA mortgages (grin) -- Barney Frank could be ejected, perhaps some balance will come in this government-led economic recovery effort. Until then, we are just feeding a still-devious pack of crooked and all too comfortable leaders.

- jR

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ICE nabs 21 foreign national gangsters in California

Kudos to the ICE guys for this one.

Pre-dawn raid nabs 21 alleged gangsters
A law enforcement sweep nabbed 21 alleged foreign national gang members hiding out in the Santa Clarita Valley Wednesday morning, a sheriff's official said.

Four of the 21 suspects were booked at Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station on separate charges. Neri Leon, a 19-year-old male, is charged with allegedly violating an outstanding narcotics warrant. Gaudalupe Vasquez, 48, was charged for alleged battery on a peace officer. Cecilio Rodriguez, 48, and Juan San Augustine, 24, were charged with alleged possession of forged identification, Cambra said.

"The people targeted in today's joint gang operation are career criminals who often prey on members of the immigrant community," said Robert Schoch, ICE special agent. "We want to send a clear message to foreign national gang members that ICE intends to deal strongly with those who disregard our immigration laws and place our neighborhoods at risk."
I find it rather odd that this was a non-story for the broader media. Is this kind of "anti-illegals-criminals" effort happening everywhere? Or is it that the media only cares about crimes committed against illegals, or pandering to illogical illegals coddling and law-breaking support of these earners without social security numbers (ones that are theirs, at least).

Applause goes to the folks trying to prevent crime, especially these bona-fide crooks. I am not interested in the so-called victimless crime supporters, but these guys are at the top of my list of why illegals need to be reined in.

However, folks who work using a "borrowed" SS# card are only committing victimless crimes if it is your SS# is the one used by illegals. Otherwise, if your SS# is passed off falsely once, it will likely be passed off again.

- jR

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Race and politics still taboo: NY Times' Friedman wrote this drivel... half-drivel

Isn't it a bit goofy that some crystal-clear white liberal guilt is the predominant reflection of one longtime NY Times columnist's upon Barack Obama's win? The regular NY Times nay-sayers would think not; it is clearly a liberal, politically correct (favoring not the poor white guy, but favoring everyone else except him and the slovenly rich) newspaper despite its other reputation, as a publication for superior journalism.

Thomas L. Friedman leads from some white liberal joy into a commentary on some real (in his mind) reasons for the Obama win. I am amazed at what this guy does not see, based on his insight for what he does see.

Finishing Our Work -
This moment was necessary, for despite a century of civil rights legislation, judicial interventions and social activism — despite Brown v. Board of Education, Martin Luther King’s I-have-a-dream crusade and the 1964 Civil Rights Act — the Civil War could never truly be said to have ended until America’s white majority actually elected an African-American as president.

Let every child and every citizen and every new immigrant know that from this day forward everything really is possible in America.

How did Obama pull it off? To be sure, it probably took a once-in-a-century economic crisis to get enough white people to vote for a black man. And to be sure, Obama’s better organization, calm manner, mellifluous speaking style and unthreatening [sic] message of “change” all served him well.

But there also may have been something of a “Buffett effect” that countered the supposed “Bradley effect” — white voters
telling pollsters they’d vote for Obama but then voting for the white guy. The Buffett effect was just the opposite. It was white conservatives telling the guys in the men’s grill at the country club that they were voting for John McCain, but then quietly going into the booth and voting for Obama, even though they knew it would mean higher taxes.
I guess we ought to thank God, then, that we did not elect a woman, or an Hispanic, Native American, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, or someone else. Bobby Jindal, don't expect such a big deal should you be elected to a higher office, because you're just a damned Republican, first of all, and second, it's all about the blacks versus the whites here in the good ole US of A!

Friedman then noted the following, which I think is accurate, fair enough, and not nearly as myopic as his Obama win comments (that fact says soemthing about his perspective, indeed):
Somewhere they also knew that after the abysmal performance of the Bush team, there had to be consequences for the Republican Party. Electing McCain now would have, in some way, meant rewarding incompetence. It would have made a mockery of accountability in government and unleashed a wave of cynicism in America that would have been deeply corrosive.
What I find curious is that he, as everyone seems to, refers to Obama as our first black president. He is, by appearances, our first, indeed. However, Obama's mother and thus half his lineage and half his family is white. Why is this not something to be pointed out, and why do such great writers (though not great thinkers, zing). Is being of mixed race lineage still taboo for the liberals, for crying out loud? Not much to sing about for the white liberals who wish to relieve their racist guilt, then, is there? So where does Friedman fall on the scale of taboos -- pro-mixed race or still afraid of the idea? I suspect he has no issue with mixed race, it's just that liberals like to avoid talking about such things. (It's like seeing something in another's teeth at a Manhattan cocktail party -- best that you say nothing, and love them for the toothy grin they give you, spinach and all. Aw, love them! Take them off my invitation lists! Love them!)

I guess it is a good for a writer to see things through myopic glasses than to suspect the whole gamut of reasons why Obama won, why GOP congressmen lost out, and why people blame a president for all their problems. I would rather contemplate it all, but I guess you can't win Pulitzers if you work that hard.


As for Friedman's piece, be sure to read the last two paragraphs, for the ideas within them. He could have left all the other crap out of it.

I hope we see a new age of public service in the vein of what I saw in Israel. Americans, college-educated or not, around me in my little depressing world are quite selfish little turds. In Israel, they would be the ones getting low-end jobs, or scared shitless in the required military service, prompting change in their attitude. We could use a little scared-shitless in our youths these days that doesn't involve video games or misused firearms.

- jR

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NY Times' Friedman laments, but does not quite hit, the money crisis cronies

Thomas L. Friedman is a guy who has long-winded opinions -- that's meant as a description, not an insult -- and has made a thorough living, since the 1970s, with his writing, including opinion. He's a Pulitzer winner, several times. In this piece, though, he leaves out the one small group of Americans who, along with the business leaders, the finance companies, the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac operators, and financially sunken mortgage takers, took our free market and turned it into a free-for-all hedged on a permanently positive economy.

The current economic crisis makes me think -- metaphorically -- of the starving masses when Marie Antoinette said, "Let them eat cake." Smug politicians, and business leaders, have led us down a wrong path, and now presumably informed and intelligent writers such as Friedman say is is everyone who must pay the way.

That's paying homage to an undeserving status quo, I suspect. We are not at an economic crossroads right now, we are at a civilization crossroads. Friedman likely recognizes that the rich and powerful will always be the rich and powerful. I do too. But unlike Friedman, at least in this piece, I think that not merely business leaders and average Joes will suffer these consequences, but our politicians must be held accountable, must own up to their culpability.

All Fall Down -
This financial meltdown involved a broad national breakdown in personal responsibility, government regulation and financial ethics.

So many people were in on it: People who had no business buying a home, with nothing down and nothing to pay for two years; people who had no business pushing such mortgages, but made fortunes doing so; people who had no business bundling those loans into securities and selling them to third parties, as if they were AAA bonds, but made fortunes doing so; people who had no business rating those loans as AAA, but made fortunes doing so; and people who had no business buying those bonds and putting them on their balance sheets so they could earn a little better yield, but made fortunes doing so.

Citigroup was involved in, and made money from, almost every link in that chain. And the bank’s executives, including, sad to see, the former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, were clueless about the reckless financial instruments they were creating, or were so ensnared by the cronyism between the bank’s risk managers and risk takers (and so bought off by their bonuses) that they had no interest in stopping it.

These are the people whom taxpayers bailed out on Monday to the tune of what could be more than $300 billion. We probably had no choice. Just letting Citigroup melt down could have been catastrophic. But when the government throws together a bailout that could end up being hundreds of billions of dollars in 48 hours, you can bet there will be unintended consequences — many, many, many.
It is a very basic tenet of common economic teaching that economies move in cycles. It is also an obvious fact that a lot of people get into the money business to make ridiculous amounts of money on speculation. For years, the Bush Administration, from Treasury to other finance-relevant departments, urged Congress to act to rein in subprime loans. Nothing happened with the GOP in leadership; nothing happened after 2006 with Dem leaders. They are all to blame. So who do we trust? Who can we trust?

The most horrendous error in this whole debacle, which is causing the biggest, most historic global economic upheaval since 1929, is that financiers, banks and government leaders were ignoring that knock on the door. In other words, everyone who should have known, or at least had some idea, of the complexities of markets and economic paths, proved they did not know or did not care. Most to blame are the leaders of our government, who are the only ones who can tell anyone what to do in the self-centered and greed-oriented banking and finance industries, for assuming that hard-to-believe products were, indeed, unbelievable.

- jR

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