News stories: there's journalism, and then there's 'Romper Room' reports

I listened to 60 Minutes of in my car this past Sunday, since my local CBS affiliate happens to be the one who airs across FM 87.7 in my area (the one assured TV channel on FM radio across all markets, as far as I know). I think I got more out of it by purely listening to it (while 60 Minutes is not a jumpy or distracting video broadcast).

That said, listening to this TV show on a radio reminded me of why TV news is so often shallow, while reports such as those on 60 Minutes actually do what journalism ought to do: tell a story. Good news media does not just create a sound byte that's as throwaway as many 140-character Twitter posts.

Listening to local TV news on the radio would be nauseating. That CBS show is still worth listening to, on several levels.

- jR

Year 2000: Madoff scam was uncovered

You think the Bernie Madoff scam is a surprise?
Nope. It was just a surprise to his investors, since the SEC ignored repeated input about the guy's scam. It was not a surprise to anyone who cared enough, or was simply smart enough, to bother to look at facts. One smart guy actually tried to do something about it and was thoroughly ignored by the SEC. Why was he ignored? He tells the tale.

In short, lots of people know how to succeed, they have money to invest. Many have no commonsense grasp of, or any education in, investing, so they leave it to others. Madoff was among those who people trusted -- he was once chairman of the NASDAQ exchange!

Some folks simply cannot visualize what is possible or credible in investing. Some cannot see for themselves what is either screwy tricks done via poor lawmaking (many mortgages and highly "creative" financial concepts come to mind) or impossible dreams dressed up as a viable reality.

Harry Markopolos is just one of the ignored people who have been pointing out the OBVIOUS for many years. His big difference is that he made official moves, which makes him honorable, indeed. It also makes more vacuous the lack of REAL regulation over the "greed" industries: mortgages, stocks, hedge funds, derivatives, commodities.

Why do I call them "greed" industries? If you have to ask, then you don't really understand what the finance industry has to some degree been peddling over the years. There are a wide variety of viable investment ideas out there, and if folks fog over in any discussion of how investing, or money, works, then they are easy targets. It's sad, really.

When one talks of a bubble bursting in financial markets -- and in 2008 there was a few massive bursts -- one talks of overblown assumptions about the markets being dashed by a heavy dose of REALITY. Watch the CBS News 60 Minutes video, linked, with that in mind.

The Man Who Figured Out Madoff's Scheme - CBS News
It has been two and a half months since Bernard L. Madoff was picked up and charged with what is believed to be the largest financial fraud in history. Yet we still don't know much more about the alleged $50 billion scam than what Madoff initially told the FBI agents who arrested him.
Watch the video:

Until a few months ago, Harry Markopolos was an obscure financial analyst and mildly eccentric fraud investigator from Boston who most people would never notice on the street.

But today he enjoys an almost heroic status, pursued by journalists and movie producers, and honored by colleagues as the man who went to the Securities and Exchange Commission and blew the whistle on Bernie Madoff and his $50 billion fraud.

But he seems uncomfortable with the attention, and knows that he is no hero. "I stand before you a 50 billion dollar failure," he said at an event.

Asked how many times he sent materials to the SEC,
Markopolos told Kroft, "May 2000. October 2001. October, November, and December of 2005. Then again June 2007. And finally April 2008. So five separate SEC submissions."

"And in spite of all of the things that you did, it still ended up in disaster?" Kroft asked.

"There's nothing to be proud about in this case. I feel horrible about the result. It's been a total disaster for the victims," Markopolos replied.

It began a decade ago, when Markopolos was working for a Boston investment firm. His boss told him that Madoff, a former chairman of the NASDAQ stock exchange, was running a huge unregistered hedge fund that was producing incredible returns. He wanted Markopolos to reverse-engineer its trading strategy and revenue streams so the firm could duplicate Madoff's results.

"He had the patina of being a respected citizen. One of the most successful businessmen in New York, and certainly, one of the most powerful men on Wall Street. You would never suspect him of fraud. Unless you knew the math," Markopolos told Kroft.

"I mean, you're like a math guy, right?" Kroft asked.

"I've taken all the calculus courses, from integral calculus through differential calculus, as well as linear algebra. And statistics, both normal and non-normal," Markopolos said.

Asked how long it took him to figure out something was wrong, Markopolos said, "It took me five minutes to know that it was a fraud. It took me another almost four hours of mathematical modeling to prove that it was a fraud. "
For my point of view, this fellow underlines just what exactly went wrong with financial market regulation, not just of the SEC, but with regard to responsible finance practices all over the place, including mortgages and mortgage-derived investment packages. Our lawmakers fell down on the job, our regulatory agencies, our professionals in the industries -- they failed us.

- jR

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GOP comment: Rush's role as firewall

Have a look. Keep reading, hitting the link. - Rush’s role as firewall
It is becoming increasingly clear that the success of Barack Obama and the success of our nation are mutually exclusive endeavors. Talk radio king Rush Limbaugh was the first to say it out loud, but far from the last. I, too, want Obama to fail. Because I want the United States to succeed.

While Republicans regroup to regain footing as strong voices for freedom, liberty and fiscal conservatism after the November election losses, Rush Limbaugh serves as a firewall against the unprecedented assault on our freedoms by Obama and the far left. Rush doesn’t lose his footing after an election, nor is he cowed by mainstream media attacks and those from (other) top Obama operatives. He is emboldened by them.
Cheri Jacobus appreciates the point to what Rush meant in his now famous and infamous (depending on how well your ears and mind work), takes no shame in accepting his actual point, as oppsoed to taking one sentence and demonizing him over that. She shows just what Rush is (willingly) putting up with, too.

Certain fight-eager, evasive and power-lusting "liberals" (ironic though that self-ascribed tag for the Obamatized may be in light of current statist activity) insist on puking misquotes of Rush, and the president, amazingly and quite humorously, is one of those. When the president personally cannot rise above such street fights, we're all in trouble. Every time it happens, it suggests we're in trouble (this president and past presidents). The likes of super-fake Katie Couric again and again prove by their response to it all of being biased liberals, further embarrassing the purpose of journalism in a free country (this is not Iran, or Cuba, or even France, and it is not going to be Obamastan, either).

Just one viewing of Couric's very recent visit to David Letterman's gabfest will show just how out of touch and disinterested she is with the true value -- barring her career-long far left liberal biases -- of her role on the news. (She's one of many, but one of the largest, at least in title and status, if not believability.) It isn't a news show with her on it, CBS Evening News is a propaganda hour for liberals and missing half of any relevant Obama-related news. She actualy invoked Keynes on the Letterman show, lending her belief in that big government, small free market view of business.

Jacobus is a GOP strategist.

- jR

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Wondering how well things are going? Just look nearby

I live in Central Florida, and stumbled across this via an Orlando networking site fro entrepreneurs. Of course, we all know that entrepreneurs know NOTHING about how money works. That's why they're small business people -- not greedy enough to be big business. A-ha. Ha. Ha.

UCF Economist: Obama's Stimulus Makes Me LOL - UCF Newsroom
So far, says [UCF economist] Sean Snaith, too much money is being spent in the wrong places, and Americans are tired of footing the bill.

“There is a growing public sentiment that you might call ‘bailout fatigue,’” Snaith says in his U.S. quarterly forecast released this morning.

“Millions of people who did the right things and yet still have watched their assets plummet are getting more angry that their tax dollars and their children’s tax dollars will be used to bail out those most responsible for our current problems.”

Snaith, director of UCF’s Institute for Economic Competitiveness, says some types of stimulus and financial rescue packages are needed -- such as investing in more infrastructure projects and a expanded, fast-acting version of the TARP program. But he fears that the new plans to hand out money are “woefully lacking in detail.”

“The devil, as they say, is truly in the details,” Snaith says. “Nobody knows exactly the total bill the U.S. government -- really, American taxpayers -- will run up before this whole shameful debacle comes to an end.”
Oh those damnable anti-Keynesians!

- jR

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Is Roseanne closing in on title held by irrational gay kook has-been?

Is Roseanne closing in on irrational gay kook has-been for most rampant awkward political and paranoid ranting? It appears that since neither can manage to get any TV time, they've gone another route. Or, Roseanne is just happily whining about mad Jewish self-hating stuff. Maybe she just needs better meds, who knows.

ohlmert you lie:
you say that twelve rockets were fired into israel since the end of the "war" (ethnic cleansing). Not one Israeli was hurt or killed by these rockets, and now you say you are going to go back and kill more palestinians to teach them a lesson!!!

I think rockets are being fired by your own sources, since less than ten israelis have been killed by them. You are bullshitting the world as you pocket money made from arms sales, along with bibi and your agents in Hamas. step down all men in power!
Ignoring that she knows so little about things that she rabidly regards Israel as the ones committed to ethnic cleansing when sincerity, if not logic, notes that Hamas and those on the other side of things are the evident and shameless ethnic and religious cretins, this is still a crazy rant.

I bet you thought "Betty Rubble" "actress" Rosie O'Donnell was chief crazy of big mouth, female, once humorous (outside of being humorous to watch like a chimp at zoo), liberal Hollywood lingerers. Here's some competition.

- jR

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If I had a dime for every time a socialist said this over the years...

If you think this is bad, wait till next year, says Russian scholar.

Russian scholar says US will collapse --next year (AP via Breitbart)
It wasn't clear how persuasive the 20-minute lecture was. One instructor asked Panarin whether his predictions more accurately describe Russia, which is undergoing its worst economic crisis in a decade as well as a demographic collapse that has led some scholars to predict the country's demise.

Panarin dismissed that idea: "The collapse of Russia will not occur."

But Alexei Malashenko, a scholar-in-residence at the Carnegie Moscow Center who did not attend the lecture, sided with the skeptical instructor, saying Russia is the country that is on the verge of disintegration.

"I can't imagine at all how the United States could ever fall apart," Malashenko told the AP.
It's pretty sad when, by contrast to the topic at hand, a contrary view after a Russian speech on the collapse of the U.S. gives me more confidence than my president!

- jR

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House GOP budget leader says something about 'change'

Ryan on Obama's Budget - Power Line
RYAN: Thank you, Chairman, and thank you for this hearing. I look forward to having a number of these hearings on this budget. What a week we just had last week. Let's go through it for a second. On Monday, we had the Fiscal Responsibility Summit. On Tuesday, we witnessed a very eloquent, ambitious and even inspiring speech by the president of the United States echoing those themes of fiscal responsibility. Then on Wednesday, Congress passed a bloated $410 billion spending bill with 9,000 earmarks. And on Thursday, we received the mother of all budgets, a truly sweeping transformation of the federal government, the likes of which we have not seen since the New Deal.

Finally, on Saturday, the president threw down the gauntlet. Rather than echoing the theme of changing the tone in Washington or bringing people together to forge a bipartisan compromise, he essentially said, "You're either with me or you're against me." He claimed opponents of this transformative budget are quote, "Tools of special interest and the powerful."
Those were the words today of the ranking Republican on the House Committee on the Budget. Essentially, they were a transcription, and I am glad I found them. That's only the start of it, too.

Powerline is apparently a hot blog (I've only just now been made aware of it through my current Twitter addiction) from the conservative side of things.

- jR

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Buchanan: give Obama a fight on his radicalistic budget

Patrick Buchanan, though seeming the expert talking head without a cause most days on MSNBC, weighs in most firmly on the monster budget and taxation hit coming from the White House liberal rebel with a questionable cause.

The headline lays it out: "Obama Has No Mandate For Radicalism." That is, Obama may have an elected mandate for change -- since he won, duh -- but not a mandate for radical (read: dangerous) economic and systemic upheaval.

RealClearPolitics - Articles - Obama Has No Mandate For Radicalism
In his campaign and inaugural address, Barack Obama cast himself as a moderate man seeking common ground with conservatives.

Yet, his budget calls for the radical restructuring of the U.S. economy, a sweeping redistribution of power and wealth to government and Democratic constituencies. It is a declaration of war on the Right.


Buchanan writes, of the timing of the economic problems and the election: Obama "was behind McCain [in the polls] when the decisive event that gave him the presidency occurred -- the September collapse of Lehman Brothers and the market crash.

Republicans are under no obligation to render bipartisan support to this statist coup d'etat. For what is going down is a leftist power grab that is anathema to their principles and philosophy.


Who is going to pay for all this?

The top 2 percent, the filthy rich who got all those Bush tax breaks, say Democrats. But the top 5 percent of income earners already pay 60 percent of U.S. income taxes, while the bottom 40 percent pays nothing. [While these numbers are likely accurate, what exactly do they give us in details? Not much. But then...]

Those paying a federal tax rate of 35 percent will see it rise to near 40 percent and will lose a fifth of the value of their deductions for taxes, mortgage interest and charitable contributions. [Sad. Painful! And very ill-timed!]


Markets are not infallible. But the stock market has long been a "lead indicator" of where the economy will be six months from now. What are the markets, the collective decisions of millions of investors, saying?

Having fallen every month since Obama's election, with January and February the worst two months in history, they are telling us the stimulus package will not work, that Tim Geithner is clueless about how to save the banks, that the Obama budget portends disaster for the republic.

The president says he is gearing up for a fight on his budget.

Good. Let's give him one.

A bit heavy on the numbers, read the whole piece -- after all, for a budget, all that matters are the numbers, and where those numbers will go.

I find it a bit late coming from Mr. Buchanan at this moment, since he seemed half a fan of Obama during the campaign. He did few favors for fiscal conservatism during the 2008 presidential campaign (from what I saw or read, at least), least of all on MSNBC. But, like many, he is now deeply disappointed in the pro-government, pro-welfare, anti-business, anti-free-market moves that Obama and his shameless cheerleaders in Congress are shoving down our throats.

It always comes down to this for me: How does it get anyone a job? If you want to work for government, perhaps you have it made. Otherwise, what do you have out of it, but more trepidation for investors, business leaders and entrepreneurs?

- jR

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Politifact: Obama pushed through a budget that is contrary to campaign pledges

While it is weakened, potentially, by a deference to short-sighted mainstream sound-bite obsessed (hit and run, drive by, smash and grab, scratch and sniff, whatever you wish to nickname it) journalism, Politifact is also going the distance to reflect comments against the tell-tale mirror of -- of all things! -- recorded facts. Something that, for one thing, TV news rarely manages to accomplish (nighttime MSNBC chatter shows, most of all are guilty of this, I opine). It is an offshoot of the Poynter Institute, both based in St. Pete, Florida.

Here, Politifact nobly nails Pres. Obama for letting the pigs run wild out of the barn. So to speak.

PolitiFact | Spending bill wasn't candidate Obama's "type", Boehner points out
Boehner's spokesman, Michael Steel, said Boehner meant that Obama had broken his campaign pledges, referenced on the White House Web site, to "slash earmarks to no greater than 1994 levels and ensure all spending decisions are open to the public." That's a reasonable interpretation of what Boehner said.

Obama did indeed make those pledges during the campaign. Sen. John McCain, the Republican candidate, pledged to eliminate earmarks and "veto every earmark pork-barrel bill," and Obama, though stopping short of that, did pledge to get tough on them.

For example, here's Obama in the first presidential debate: "Absolutely, we need earmark reform. And when I'm president, I will go line by line to make sure that we are not spending money unwisely."
Obama thoroughly proving himself contrary to who he pretended to be, on some levels, while his worst "toss-off" lines are more prophetic of his moves, it seems at this early date, than his detailed rhetoric or denials of allegations.

Are we in trouble, or WHAT?

- jR

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