Saturday, October 31, 2009

I'm baaack,, well at least to stick it the Cheney's

After a long absence for many reasons (self pity for my employment at the heart of it) I was inspired to share a brilliant bit of journalism.

Filling in for Keith Olberman on Countdown,,, Lawrence O'Donnell absolutely skewered and destroyed both former VP Dick Cheney and his recently very outspoken daughter who criticized President Obama for going to Dover Air Force Base to honor fallen troops who were returned home.

I'm hoping to get the itch to write again,, and could be contributing more on this blog or maybe a new creation sometime soon.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Horoscopes Are Accurate????

My horoscope for March 26, 2009 in the Chicago Tribune read.

Apply for that promotion or better job. Conditions are right to have more
money come in your direction. Can you put yourself in the right place to
make that happen.

Well I am now in that position as 4 co-workers and I were let go from our jobs yesterday.

It has not been a funny day since but that horoscope made me smile a bit. Maybe this is a moment to do better.

(Click on the picture above for a better view of an entertaining comic appropriate to my current plight)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Thank You To CNBC

I owe the financial mega channel,,, CNBC a big thank you.

That thank you would be for reminding me to put The Daily Show back on my scheduled series recordings on my DVR.

See what happened is that the great Jon Stewart took some time off after the election and I was tiring of watching reruns of the show so I took The Daily Show, which recorded every time it was on off my 'Series Recordings'.

Then like many people a few weeks ago I saw CNBC's Rick Santelli now infamous rant against the Obama housing plan. The reaction of the news media,, even lefty MSNBC made Santelli into a hero of the 'everyman'.

I was beginning to wonder if anyone other than Press Secretart Robert Gibbs was going to take Santelli on for his rant.

Well last week, Jon Stewart came to the rescue with a brilliant montage of the bullshit spewed by CNBC over the period of the 'financial crisis'.

Then CNBC's, Jim Cramer (who I have to admit I have enjoyed watching) made a mistake that I can only describe as comparable to the 'heckler at the comedy club'. You know the guy who thinks he's quicker or more able than the comedian who only has the comedian on stage rip him to shreds.

Cramer, playing the role of the heckler,, decided to take on Stewart and for the past two nights has paid a merciless price. Stewart has absolutely filleted Cramer and done so in a way that has made Cramer,, and CNBC look like complete idiots.

To Cramer's credit,,, he is going on The Daily Show tonite to face Stewart in person.

And more importantly than that,, I owe Jim Cramer,, not for stock advice,, but for bringing my DVR back,,, to The Daily Show.

The clips are below for your viewing enjoyment.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A Thought On The Obama Budget

The $3.6 trillion budget sent to Congress by the Obama Administration has caused consternation in a lot of places. Republicans are railing against deficits as are moderate Dems highlighted by Indiana Senator Evan Bayh who wrote in the Wall Street Journal today that the spending bill should be voted down.

While an admitted liberal I am a big believer in fiscal discipline and a $1.75 trillion deficit makes me very uneasy.

That being said,, I think that the Obama team is handling the budget more strategically than they did the Stimulus Bill. This budget number is an effort on his teams part to strengthen their negotiating position.

In the case of the Stimulus Bill, some believe that Obama went in asking for what he wanted and then negotiated from there and ended up losing some of his priorities like state funding and education.

In this case I think he is following the rather successful method of the Bush 43 administration. Ask for way more than you want,, if you get it,, great. Yet, if you compromise you end up going down to the number you wanted anyway.

17people would not be surprised if this bill ended up being significantly smaller than the $3.6trillion number initially proposed. Obama knows that he can ill afford to end up negotiating to a number that isn't adequate enough to get money into the system. So he is asking for much more than he really wants, but is at the max at what he wants to spend.

Its a negotiating ploy and a smart one. In the end whether he comes down $250bln, $500bln or $750bln, he's going to get what he really wants in the bill.

The final number is and the subsequent effects are all people will remember.

And one more thing to note, being a popular President with a muscle-less opposition Obama has many plays that will work for him.

If Obama makes concessions, he wins by looking bi-partisan, if he passes it without any Republican votes, he wins because they look unwilling to work with him because they are listening to Rush Limbaugh.

The public won't remember or care what the original budget number was as long as people begin to see a light at the end of the tunnel.

The far more important fact is this... whether it be the budget battle, the stimulus fight, or the upcoming war for health care, the politics are secondary if these programs don't begin to turn around the economic situation that we are in.

Monday, January 19, 2009

17People Returns,,, Cynically

Had two conversations this morning that surprised people.

Here they are...


"Did you watch the festivities yesterday?" a co-worker asked me this morning.

"Yeah, those were two good games and that Ravens-Steelers game was outstanding," I responded.

"Ugh,,,, I meant the Obama Inaugural deal they had yesterday on HBO," he responded.


"I thought you'd be heading to DC for the inauguration this week. Are you taking tomorrow off to watch it right," a co-worker asked.

"Uhh, no. Not worth the day off to watch and not worth the money to go," I responded.

So by no means am I surprised by either of these questions or conversations, but my responses really seemed to surprise my co-workers.

While there are many metaphors made,,, politics is not sports. The big events are all we see in politics,, but the truth is the real moves are made behind closed doors. Where the money is spent or how the laws are written are never seen by the public.

As a country we get too lost in things like debates, speeches, or pep rallies.

This is the part of politics that really irritates me.

Worthless pageantry like concerts are all fluff.

While I'll sound like a total cynic,, I don't care what school Sasha and Malia are going to or what Church the Obama's are attending in DC or what celebrities are attending the inauguration or inauguration Balls.

I don't care about any of it. I don't care what Obama says tomorrow and I don't care about how 'historic' the moment is.

These are unprecedented times and the country action and results. We now need our government to get its act together and figure out a way to stabilize our economy.

And to be honest, I hope that President Obama doesn't care about it either.

Like many Americans I am more uneasy about my future than ever before. I worry about losing my job and then not being able to pay my rent. It could happen as easily as my company losing a major account, not because we lost the business, but because our customer is cutting back or declared bankruptcy.

On Friday I came across an article which to me encapsulated just how scary our current economic situation. It isn't written by an economist offering theories of a 'doomsday' or 'depression' scenario. Instead it just listed companies that were laying people off. It wasn't just the auto industry, or the banking industry as we have come to expect. It was over 20 companies,, some of which are the best known companies in the world.

Hell, if Google, GE, Pfizer, and Halliburton are laying people off,,, then any company could be in the same situation.

Here's the deal,, I am proud to have voted for, supported, and worked to get Barack Obama elected. I think he has handled the transition exceptionally well and has assembled a first rate team. I believe in him now as strong as I did when I voted for him.

Yet, believing in him or thinking he is brilliant is not enough for me.

I am not part of a cultish group who thinks that the mere presence of Barack Obama is going to fix the country. He isn't a messiah, he isn't a savior. He is a smart guy who is about four years removed from being a State Senator from the South Side of Chicago.

Now he is facing the hardest job in the world, in some of the most trying times in generations. It isn't enough to 'hope' he is the right guy for the job,, he damn well better be the right person for the job.

I'm ready for the 'pageantry' to be over and for our 'lame duck government' to do it's job and work for the American people.

Bottom line, it's time to put up or shut up.

Monday, December 22, 2008

It Feels This Cold

I'm a Chicagoan through and through, but this weekend is bruuuutal.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Leo McGarry

I wrote over the past summer...

Think when any of us become a fan of a TV show, sports team, band, whatever, you feel a bond and connection with the people involved. Most of the time you never get a chance to meet or know them as people but you care about them.

Four years ago today John Spencer passed away. Spencer played White House Chief of Staff Leo McGarry in President Josiah Bartlett's White House on the TV show The West Wing.

This blog was named after an episode of The West Wing and many of the posts on this blog reference one of TV's greatest show. John Spencer's portrayal of Leo McGarry was a character to whom I related and tried to emulate when I worked on campaigns.

Some people ask me,, 'who was your favorite character on the show?' I always answer it like a parent talks about their kids. "I really love them all, and they could all be my favorite at any time."

The real answer above is true. I loved them all, but it was Leo who was consistently my favorite. He was the guy I wanted to be when I was tossing my lot into the political world. More pragmatist than idealogue, more team builder, than team agitator.

I'll never forget when I interviewed for a job with John Hancock after college to be a financial analyst. I was asked one of those ridiculous questions you get asked in interviews,,, "What is your dream job?"

My answer at the time was "White House Chief of Staff."

The main reason I even knew what this job was,,, was due to The West Wing and how I viewed Leo McGarry.

As those who watch the show are aware, Spencer passed away in the middle of the last season of The West Wing while his character was the Democratic Nominee for Vice President. The story is that if Spencer would have lived, that the Republican nominee Arnold Vinnick (played by Alan Alda) would have won the election.

But after Spencer's death the writers decided to write McGarry's death into the storyline and the Democrat Nominee Matt Santos (played by Jimmy Smits) ended up as the winner of the election.

Considering that I almost named this blog, I feel that the 16th of December 16 will always be an appropriate day to pass along some of the wisdom of Leo .

While the YouTube video below is not of the best quality it is a great collection of clips and always love watching the reaction of fellow cast members (Bradley Whitford in particular) when he won his Emmy for one of the great episodes in West Wing history "Bartlet for America". Links to other Spencer tributes are listed below.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

No (expletive) Surprise

Talked to some friends of mine from outside my home state of Illinois yesterday who all thought that they would find a reaction of shock, embarrassment, and surprise about the news of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich arrest.

The truth is this,,,

17people and most everyone in the state of Illinois is not the least bit surprised. 'Blago' as he is referred to by many around here is a very unpopular figure in the state (13% in some approval polls) and was a major reason that Illinois considered a Constitutional Convention in the past year (it failed). The Chicago Tribune (a target of Blago) was pushing for a 'recall' mechanism for the citizens of Illinois.

So the black eye for Illinois in this whole deal is this... Why did this piece of shit get elected twice?

17people readily admits to have voted for Blago in two General Elections. In his 1st primary 17people supported former Chicago School Board President and fellow Greek American Paul Vallas. Blago had significant institutional support from his powerhouse Chicago Alderman father in law Richard 'Dick' Mell (who interestingly disowned Blago about 5 years ago).

Also of note in the 2002 primary,,, State Senator Barack Obama endorsed former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris against Blago.

When Blago ran in that first General Election in 2002 he was the Democratic Nominee following the administration of a Republican Governor who as most people know,,, is also in jail. That guys name was George Ryan. The last name of the Republican that Blago ran against in 2002,,, also Ryan (Jim Ryan, no relation), but the stigma was there. Bottom line there was no chance the Democrats could have lost that election.

Four years later the Illinois Republican party, still scarred by George Ryan had a bloody primary where State Treasurer Judy Barr Topinka was elected the nominee. Blago had about $17million in his campaign war chest and blasted Topinka, who was not a very good candidate.

What I say about Blago's two elections is similar to what I say about President Bush. Voters, myself included, got what we deserved. Blago has done some good things, like increase education funding and fund children's health care.

However, people I know that know Blago have said his arrogance and borderline sociopathic tendencies make him a detestable person.

Which is why instead of shame and embarrassment, feel like many Illinoisan's like me are glad that the justice department did what they are supposed to do...

Find the bad guys and put them away.

Good riddance Blago.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Obama Economic Team=Stimulus,,, for a Week

Last week we saw a strong rally for the stock market.

There are a number of factors for this bump, but think that the biggest factor was President Elect Obama announcing a very impressive economic team.

Tim Geithner looks to be a respected and well thought of pick to be the Treasury Secretary. The pick also avoids a messy confirmation that would have taken place had Larry Summers been the choice. Summers considered to be one of the great economic minds in the world will be a part of the Obama Economic team as head of the National Economic Council.

What was most encouraging to me was that Obama's other appointments seemed to be applauded by people on both sides of the political spectrum and attacked by those on both ideological wings. Peter Orszag as Director of the Office of Management and Budget after running the Congressional Budget Office. While a lower level appointee than some it is nice to see someone with impeccable qualifications get an important job like this.

Former Federal Reserve Chair, the brilliant Paul Volcker will Chair the Economic Recovery Advisory Board. Volcker is a Hall of Famer when it comes to his track record and knowledge. He became a bit maligned during the Greenspan time at the Fed, but was one of the few people out there warning of the mess we are now in,,, before it happened.

The economic team is loaded with talent and experience.

Now they need to deliver stability to the economy.

Can't think of anyone else that should be on the team. It's an impressive gathering of intellect and well respected names in the fields they work.

Before getting too excited, I want to hear Geithner speak.

Why do I want to hear him speak you may ask?

The next Treasury Secretary needs to be more than a brilliant economist. He needs to be a sales person and a teacher as well.

This is something we have been sorely lacking during the Bush years. None of his Treasury Secretaries were particularly good salesmen or teachers of the economy during what turned out to be extraordinarily difficult times.

Paul O'Neill and John Snow were flops, and Hank Paulson has taken a beating for his handling of the bailout. 17people thinks we need to see how the TARP act works before burying Paulson as a disaster.

What we have all learned with terms like 'derivatives' and 'leverage' is that the economy is more complicated than we even imagined. Geithner and the new economic team is going to have to BOTH implement policy AND sell it to the public in a way that makes sense.

The public is not going to accept things getting forced on them as much as they have in the past.

It was nice to see that the markets last week responded to the decisions of our next President. He and his transition team deserve some kudos because the 'announcement stimulus' was perfectly timed leading into Black Friday and the biggest shopping weekend of the year.

17people fully expects that we will see many more dives in the markets in the weeks and months ahead. Yet, for the first time in a long time I have faith in the Economic Team leading our country.

There has never been more global economic pressure on an Administration.

One week of stimulus is nice but we could see an even worse economic landscape in 50days time and reputations will not be enough. Obama and his team will need to deliver.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving to All

In what has been a difficult and historic year I was given some great advice today on my Facebook page to take some time off of politics and enjoy some turkey.

So while I am recovering from a handful of boring football games, a couple pounds of turkey, and my mom's incredible stuffing, 17people wants to wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving,, with what else?

A West Wing clip that will never grow old for me. Linked it in last year and will probably have it up next year too.