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    • The End of the Rebels in the Ukraine and the Ukraine’s Future
      We’re down to street fighting in Donetsk.  The Russian leaders resigned in the last two weeks.  The rebels appear to be done, at least in terms of their conventional military phase (of course, I could be wrong depending on how much stomach Ukrainian troops have for house to house fighting).  It seems like that would [...]
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Why the nanny snapped

There are more details emerging about the mental state of the nanny who murdered two children in Manhattan on Thursday.  And I want to talk about that today but before I do, here’s the disclaimer for the people who read the first sentence or two and go no further before they bubble and squeak with fury and indignation: I am not blaming the victims.  What the nanny did was horrible.  Neither the children nor their parents did anything to merit murder.  However, that does not mean that there wasn’t something seriously wrong with the relationship between the Krims and their nanny, Yoselyn Ortega.

Ok, now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let me go back to that last sentence and tell you what’s been floating around in my brain.  I’ve been reading about the murder and the Krims and the Ortegas on different sites and trying to piece together what may have been going on here.  It’s an annoying habit of mine that comes from years of looking at other people’s work and trying to decide if it’s crap or not and then applying that same scrutiny to my own work.  So, while I’m not a forensic investigator or a criminologist, I am a collector of data and I involuntarily analyse it.  I can’t help myself.

Here are some things that I find interesting and notable and where I think they’re pointing.

1.) The nanny existed in two worlds and the occupants of each of those worlds see her differently.  The Manhattanites of the Krim world are horrified and their reaction is both curious and revolting, but I’ll get to that in a minute.  In the Manhattanite world, Nanny Josie was unfriendly, unsmiling, not talkative.  This is as reported by the neighbors of the Krims who met her in the elevator and other places.  These same people report that the children were happy.  So, whether or not the Nanny was as friendly and attentive as the neighbors expected doesn’t change the fact that the children were not suffering under her care.

The neighbors of Nanny Josie in Harlem say she had undergone a change recently.  She used to be friendly, jovial, somewhat religious.  She greeted her neighbors with a “Hello Neighbor!”.  She is reported to have been hardworking, industrious, reliable.  But recently, she had become quieter, she had lost weight, looked worried and tired.  She was keeping to herself and spending more time in the small apartment she shared with her sister, her niece and her teenaged son.

2.) Back to the Manhattanites.  They are all horrified and keeping the Krims in their thoughts and prayers.  What about the Nanny?  Well, they’re thinking of their own nannies.  They can’t believe that someone they let into their house and allowed to be near their children would harm them in any way.  It feels like betrayal.  Sort of how you might feel about a pet that has suddenly become rabid.  There is no mention of what the nanny’s family must be going through.  One wonders if these people realize that their nannies have families, some of whom they had to leave behind in other countries in order to care for someone else’s children.  I have yet to read any Manhattanite expressing sympathy for what a nanny’s life might be like.  Correct me if I’m wrong here.

3.) Grandmother Krim claims that the Krims treated their nanny like one of the family.  Maybe this is a mistake that many nanny employers make.  Let’s think about this for a minute.  You expect your family member to be a little more accommodating than a contractor, right?  With a contractor, there is a formal set of rules, a payment schedule and scope of work.  Not so with a family member.  With a family member, we expect familial bonds, altruism and love to supercede the necessity of a contract.  We may owe them in return or compensate them with presents (I owe my sister big time) but they don’t hand us a bill for their services.

4.) The nanny has lived in the United States for 30 years and has not been able to rent an apartment for herself or her teenaged son since she started to work for the Krims two years ago.  Earlier this year, the nanny sublet an apartment in the Bronx from someone who went back to the Dominican Republic.  I’m assuming that the nanny spent a lot of money paying this absent tenant for the apartment and paying to move her things and buying necessities and signing up for the utilities.  But the absent tenant returned unexpectedly and wanted the apartment back.  So Nanny Josie was forced to move back in with her sister.  I wouldn’t be surprised if much of the money she used was lost for good.  By the way, a studio apartment in Manhattan, that is, an apartment without a bedroom, costs about $2400 a month.  I’ve read enough of Apartmenttherapy.com to know that two people can live in a studio if the ceilings are high enough for a loft but it’s probably tougher when you have a 16 yr old male with you.  16 yr old females are difficult enough.  So, to live in NYC is going to cost about $2000 in rent alone.  You need to clear about $24000 a year just for rent.  Forget the taxes for a second, which are outrageous in NYC.  Then you need to eat.  A teenager consumes roughly the equivalent of a small village in Africa on a daily basis.  I’m going to say that it will cost about $50,000 to scrape by.  Did the Krims pay their nanny $50,000/year?

5.) Did the Krims pay benefits for their nanny and her dependent?  Did she get medical insurance?  Who paid the nanny’s social security taxes?  Did they pay her under the table?  All reports indicate that the Krims hired the nanny through personal recommendations, not through an agency.  Presumably, an agency would have made sure that the nanny was bonded and that taxes were paid, just like cleaning services like Molly Maid or Merry Maid do for their employees.  This could be important because if the nanny wasn’t paying into social security, she’d be working until she dropped.

6.) Getting back to the affordable apartment dilemma, the Krims lived in La Rochelle on the upper West side of Central Park.  This is a very nice building.  It’s not as prestigious as the upper East side but still incredibly nice.  I checked the floor plans and rental prices for the apartments at La Rochelle.  A 3 bedroom apartment in La Rochelle cost about $10,000/month.  The Krims had the option of renting less expensive but nice apartments in Manhattan.  They might have spent $2K less on a nice 3 bedroom apartment elsewhere and passed that $2K/month onto their nanny who might have used that money to pay for a small junior 1 bedroom or larger loft studio.  Did they consider this?

Now would be a good time to reread the disclaimer.

The picture that is emerging for me is of a young family moving to Manhattan and wanting to move into a residence that is commensurate with the life they aspire to live.  They rent the biggest, most prestigious apartment they can afford on the upper West side because it is close to Central Park and the mother can get a part time job at the Museum of Natural History.  This sounds like a good plan to me.  It’s a nice area of Manhattan but not too swanky, it’s close to the park, it’s nice for children.  All well and good.  And this is not a mommy war issue.  The mother is mostly stay at home but she has outside interests, a part time job.  There’s nothing wrong with leaving the kids with a babysitter or having the babysitter at home when she is home.  When she first hired Nanny Josie, she had 3 children under the age of 5, two of them under the age of 2.  That’s a lot of work for one parent to handle.  But if your family has a salary that can support a stay at home mom and pay for a babysitter, why not?

But that’s where the favorables stop.  Because this family appears to have decided to rent an apartment at the top of their price range and then decided to skimp on the help.  It’s not really that unusual.  I’ve known millionaires in Basking Ridge who own very nice houses on beautiful acreage who pay their Costa Rican housekeepers under the table for years.  Oh, sure, she had her own room and separate entrance and they treated her like one of the family.  But she didn’t pay any taxes and her employment wasn’t regulated.

So, this young couple saved some money by not going through an agency and hired a nanny with good references who they treated like family.  When the Krims went on vacation, they bought a ticket for Nanny Josie to go visit her family in the Dominican Republic.  The cost of a flight from Kennedy to the Dominican Republic is about $350 RT but goes up to about $700 in December.  I’m going to guess that Mr. Krim, Harvard Graduate (his mother is very proud), vice-president of CNBC digital and former employee of the consulting firm McKinsey, used his frequent flyer miles to purchase a ticket for Nanny Josie.  My question is, did she get paid for her involuntary vacation time as well?  That is, was she paid for the time when the Krims were out of town?  Or was she simply furloughed to the Dominican Republic without pay for the week(s)?   The family also accompanied Nanny Josie for a trip to the Dominican Republic when Nanny Josie could be with her own family.  BUT, since Nanny Josie was presumably still on duty, this wasn’t really a vacation for her, was it?  It was a vacation for the Krims.  That way, they could give Nanny Josie a trip back home while still enjoying the leisure and beauty of the island while she watched the kids.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

One last bit of detail: I read on another site that murderers use knives when they’re angry.  I guess you use a gun on the spur of the moment or for expediency.  But knives are reserved for people for whom you feel rage.  And here’s one of the biggest clues that says that all was not rosy between the nanny and the Krims.  The timeline goes, Mrs. Krim waited at the JCC with her second child, Nessie, after a swim lesson for the nanny and the other two kids to show up and go to a dance lesson.  The nanny didn’t come.  So, Mrs. Krim goes to La Rochelle and finding the apartment dark, goes to ask the doorman if the nanny and the kids have left.  The doorman says he didn’t see them leave so Mrs. Krim returns to the apartment.  She goes to the bathroom and flips on the switch.  It was at that time that the nanny started to stab herself.  The kids were dead by that point, or close to it.  But the nanny waited until the mother walks into the bathroom before she starts to kill herself.

At first, I thought this was weird.  If this were merely a case of murder, the nanny could have done it and then left the scene.  Oh, sure, they would have caught her eventually but it’s probably pretty easy to become anonymous in NYC.  She could have skedaddled down to Penn Station and taken the first train to New Jersey and disappeared for awhile.  What I’m suggesting is that she didn’t do it in cold blood and then fled.  She waited.

And note that she must have heard the door open and close when the mother came back to the apartment initially.  But the nanny sat in the bathroom on the floor with the two dying children and said nothing.  She could have killed herself right then when the mother went to talk to the doorman, but she didn’t.

She waited.

She waited until the mother came into the bathroom and turned on the light.  It was only then that she stabbed herself repeatedly in the neck.

Finally, she had the mother’s attention.

The summary as far as I have been able to piece together is that the nanny finally snapped.  After living in the US for many years and seeing her fortunes not improving, unable to move out of her cramped housing, having gotten ripped off by absent tenants and people she trusted to do business with, she saw herself trapped with these people who treated her like family but not as an employee.  I might note that McKinsey, the consulting company that Mr. Krim used to work for, routinely advises managers how to cut costs on employees benefits and contracts.  Treating people as human resources that can be exploited is what they specialize in.

We have two communities who are trapped by their perceptions of the world.  The Krims have lead a privileged life for some time now.  Mr. Krim went to Harvard.  There are certain expectations for people like the Krims.  They expect the best in life: nice house, nice job, nice money, nice nannies.  Everything is very nice. (And how the hell did they get a membership at the JCC??  I thought there was a waiting list a mile long.)  It must be hard for them to understand what their nanny’s life is like. Or maybe they assumed that an uneducated childcare worker had no right to expect the same degree of economic stability that the Krims took for granted.  Maybe they saw the pool of nannies from other countries, some of whom had to leave their own children behind and just assumed that these women accepted their fate quietly, without complaint.  Maybe they assumed that Nanny Josie would be content with a trip to the Carribean instead of being paid for the week the Krims were not in town.  Or maybe they saw the nanny as a commodity that could be taken with them when they went on vacation and that they were being nicer than they had to be when they took her to her own island.  It might have been beyond their comprehension that maybe the nanny really wanted to live in her own apartment and provide an nice life for her own son but was discouraged by the high prices of housing and the lack of employment regulations under which she worked for the Krims.

I have no idea what was going on in Krims’ heads and we just have to wait until the nanny comes out of it before we know what she was thinking. But *I’m* thinking that maybe there is a whole city full of raging nannies and it might be a good idea for nanny owning Manhattanites to think about their priorities.

Just saying.

Maybe this is not the best time to bring this up…

… but the circumstances surrounding the Krim children murders in New York City involve *two* families.  The nanny’s actions may be the stuff of Halloween nightmares and maddeningly inexplicable, a horror that the childrens’ mother should never have witnessed. It’s natural that we empathize with the parents over the loss of their well-loved children. But the nanny also has relatives and an adolescent son and they are as mystified and horrified as the victims’ family.

I wish that the people who are keeping the Krims in their thoughts had considered how insensitive that might sound to the family the nanny left behind.  At some point in the future, we should have a discussion about whether it was the shock of the murder itself or the socio-economic chasm between victims and perpetrator that caused the thought keepers to forget the pain, grief and confusion of the nanny’s family.

Maybe that’s something the 1% should spend the weekend thinking about.

Monday: Planes, Trains and the Obama-McConnell deal

Yesterday, I went to NYC to see the Rockettes at Radio City for the first time.  They’re every bit as good as you would expect.  The show is glitzy and, as Brooke would say, “kinda cheezy”.  But if you are looking for a pick-me-up during the Christmas season, you can’t beat the Rockettes. In fact, the Rockettes put on their first extravaganza in 1932 during the Great Depression.  It must have done the trick because they’ve been doing it ever since, with a brief hiatus during the 70’s.

The part that sucks is of low quality is actually getting into and out of Manhattan from the Joisy side.  I’ve written about this before.  Three years later, the process is even worse than before, if that can be believed.  Last night, when I took the Northeast Corridor train from Penn Station to Newark where my car was parked, the same, stupid, dehumanizing procedure happened again.  We arrived at the pink granited NJ Transit waiting area, a step up from the fluorescently lit but still dark and dingy laboratory mazes of underground Penn Station (NJ residents don’t get beautiful masterpieces like Grand Central.  Nooooo, they tore down the original Penn Station in the 60’s and parked Madison Square Garden on top of it.)  The NE Corr. train comes only once an hour, which is itself insane.  NJ is the densest state in the union and we get on measly train once an hour out of NYC?  Ok, so the waiting area is already almost out of seats at 20 past the hour.  The tickets are about 30% higher than the last time I bought them a couple months ago.  (Thanks, Gov. Christie!).  Over the next 20 minutes, the waiting area is packed full of tired, cranky, sweaty commuters.  Then the departure board assigns a track number and this heaving mass of humanity sprints for two narrow staircases.  There’s a lot of pushing and shoving and glancing at watches to see if you’ll have time to get a decent seat on the train.  Then there’s the Olympic Run-Walk down the platform to the front of the train because half the doors on the back end and closest part of the train to the stairs are closed.  We walk and walk for what seems to be forever while Brooke hobbles on her four inch heels (“I told you not to wear those shoes.”).  The train is the older style with one level.  The seats are about as comfortable as first class economy on Continental.  10 minutes later, it lurches out of Manhattan and lumbers v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y back to Newark.  And why do we park the car at Newark when there is a closer train station to house in the town over?  Because it costs $22 round trip *per person* to get in and out of Manhattan 36 miles away from my house and the nearest train station.  And that’s with a transfer at Newark.  It makes more sense to park the car in Newark and pay for parking there than spend $44 to take the train.  Normally, we take the PATH train into Manhattan from Newark, but in the evening, the PATH reroutes to Hoboken from Manhattan before it doubles back to Newark.

Every time I do this routine, I ask myself, is this any way to run a railroad???  I’m a big believer in mass transit.  My grandfather was a bus driver in Pittsburgh.  I’ve done the Paris metro (which is a dream) and the London Underground, which is also pretty good.  So, I can’t understand why our major cities are so bad at this.  Neither NYC or Chicago has a train system that we could call world class.  Our trains are old and slow, infrequent and expensive.  This is inexcusable, especially when we have abandoned commuter rail tracks all over the state of NJ that no one is using anymore.  I spend hours and hours waiting for trains, changing trains and paying a fortune to get into Manhattan.  Next time, I’m driving.

Ok, I’m done.  Moving on.

Krugman has labelled the new stimulus package, er, tax plan, the “Obama-McConnell” plan.  Seems fitting, seeing how the Republicans pretty much wrote the terms and Obama, crippled by his stupid 11 dimensional chess moves with the first irresponsibly inadequate stimulus package has been forced to make this bad deal.  (Howz that media darling working out for you BTD?)  Paul sums it up in Block those Metaphors:

The point is that while the deal will cost a lot — adding more to federal debt than the original Obama stimulus — it’s likely to get very little bang for the buck. Tax cuts for the wealthy will barely be spent at all; even middle-class tax cuts won’t add much to spending. And the business tax break will, I believe, do hardly anything to spur investment given the excess capacity businesses already have.

The actual stimulus in the plan comes from the other measures, mainly unemployment benefits and the payroll tax break. And these measures (a) won’t make more than a modest dent in unemployment and (b) will fade out quickly, with the good stuff going away at the end of 2011.

The question, then, is whether a year of modestly better performance is worth $850 billion in additional debt, plus a significantly raised probability that those tax cuts for the rich will become permanent. And I say no.

The Obama team obviously disagrees. As I understand it, the administration believes that all it needs is a little more time and money, that any day now the economic engine will catch and we’ll be on the road back to prosperity. I hope it’s right, but I don’t think it is.

What I expect, instead, is that we’ll be having this same conversation all over again in 2012, with unemployment still high and the economy suffering as the good parts of the current deal go away. The White House may think it has struck a good bargain, but I believe it’s in for a rude shock.

Unemployment is personal to me.  I’ve seen what the current job market has done to the morale of people I care about.  But I find it shocking that so many people in conservative red areas of the next state over are so heartless and cruel to their fellow unemployed Americans.  My own relatives huff and puff mightily and fume, “Why don’t they take a job, ANY job?”  The answer is: Because there ARE no jobs.  In my area, Pfizer laid off 19,000 people.  That was just one of many ongoing and terrifying pharmaceutical company layoffs.  Even if you wanted to sell your house and move to another job, there just aren’t any.  So, paying the unemployed to hang on for another year with barely a penny to their names while they struggle to pay their housing costs is not going to cut it.  The money isn’t going to go back into the economy.  It’s going to whoever holds the mortgage.  And that bank will sit on it or lend it out at a higher interest rate.  Seriously, Paul, who benefits from this bill?

What we need are jobs, not more checks.  And we need real wage increases.  And this bill does nothing to help us.  It’s a bill written by Republicans for the benefit of the wealthy.  If I had my way with them, I’d redirect their private jets to the Cayman Islands and not let them off.  That way, they could spend all eternity with their obscene wads of cash and stop bothering the rest of us.  Yep, right smack dab on Hurricane Alley… with no way off the islands…

Anglachel has a new post up about Wikileaks. Check it out.  While I was catching up on podcasts last night, I heard someone say that State Department computers are configured to disallow copying to USB keys and other external drives.  So, whoever it was at the Pentagon who casually stumbled onto 250000 cables did it deliberately.  It might have been Private Manning.  But if the State Department secures its secrets among its own employees, you gotta figure that only some super sysadmin has privileges to access these files on some remote server.  That’s the way most pharmas work.  If you don’t have a need to know, you don’t have access, even if you’re on the same project.  So, who is really behind the leaked cables and what are they up to?  Anglachel provides some possibilities:

Let’s look ahead at the unwinding of events. While the left has been captivated by the human drama of the great man, deprived of flunkies to fuck and threatened by the diabolical Swedish court system, obsessed about how it could be me next!, there’s something rather important coming up in January, namely a change of government in the US. While I know that I lose all my Left Blogistan credibility by saying this, there really is a difference between the behavior of the major political parties when in majority power. The Republicans have no interest in compromising on anything and regard all other sources of political power (however ineptly wielded) as not just the opposition, but as an enemy to be terminated.

They’ve already made clear that the next two years are not going to be used to advance specific pieces of legislation – indeed, why should they since Obama has kindly moved their agenda for them – but to take down the enemy, and I don’t think anyone on the Left really understands just how ruthless they will be. Their control of committee chair positions means that the agenda from January 2011 through December 2012 will be investigate everything that could possibly be turned to their advantage.

It’s key that these documents were released under a Democratic administration. The focus will not be on who released the files, but that there were releases at all, just as the focus on Plame was not that someone outed her, but that she was connected to Joe Wilson. The actual crime, which is the act of taking documents and handing them over, will be elided – unless there is someone at the State Department who has shown a bit too much knowledge of and interest in some specific piece of data and who happens to be of liberal political inclinations, and then we’re talking a show trial along the lines of the House Un-American Activities Committee. That is why the State Department is saying to its current and would-be staff – do not have contact with that now-tainted information, do not discuss it, do not show special knowledge.

(By the way, I don’t think I ever personally said that the Republicans will try to impeach Obama.  They may not have to go that far.  But continually bombard him with hearings and inquisitions, the legal equivalent of harrassment, and waste his time?  Yeah, I think they would do that.  He’s not immune and he looks incredibly vulnerable.  It’s just like the Republicans to go for the old, the sick and the weak first.)

The NYTimes has discovered that the world really is run by a small, evil group to which no one we know belongs.  In A Secretive Banking Elite Rules Trading in Derivatives, we are told:

On the third Wednesday of every month, the nine members of an elite Wall Street society gather in Midtown Manhattan.

[...]

In theory, this group exists to safeguard the integrity of the multitrillion-dollar market. In practice, it also defends the dominance of the big banks.

The banks in this group, which is affiliated with a new derivatives clearinghouse, have fought to block other banks from entering the market, and they are also trying to thwart efforts to make full information on prices and fees freely available.

Banks’ influence over this market, and over clearinghouses like the one this select group advises, has costly implications for businesses large and small, like Dan Singer’s home heating-oil company in Westchester County, north of New York City.

This fall, many of Mr. Singer’s customers purchased fixed-rate plans to lock in winter heating oil at around $3 a gallon. While that price was above the prevailing $2.80 a gallon then, the contracts will protect homeowners if bitterly cold weather pushes the price higher.

But Mr. Singer wonders if his company, Robison Oil, should be getting a better deal. He uses derivatives like swaps and options to create his fixed plans. But he has no idea how much lower his prices — and his customers’ prices — could be, he says, because banks don’t disclose fees associated with the derivatives.

“At the end of the day, I don’t know if I got a fair price, or what they’re charging me,” Mr. Singer said.

What we got here is a cartel.  Too bad we don’t have any reliable referees, let alone hard and fast rules, to protect Americans from small groups gaming the system.  You can thank Obama and the Republicans for that.

Which brings me to my final point, and I think I do have one.

I’m getting fed up with reading stupid crap from African American journalists threatening to take the African American community with them if Obama doesn’t get a second term.  If I were one of the millions of African Americans out of work and hurting during the Obama years, with no end in sight in his second term but more tearing apart of the social safety net, I’d be really offended by these people speaking for me.  How insulting to think that someone would pass up a better candidate just because they have an insufficient amount of melanin in their skin.  That’s what the likes of Colbert and Read are saying.  That the single most important thing to African Americans when making a political decision is not whether the politician is going to help them get a job or put food on their plates but whether he has right skin color.  It’s also insulting to women, who make up a far greater percentage of the Democratic base than African Americans and whose votes could be much more critical to the Democrats political prosperity in 2012.  Next time there is an election year, Democrats won’t be able to pull that Roe shit because no woman in her right mind will believe them.  And in the end, who cares?  The Rpeublicans don’t want Roe rescinded.  They get their voters to the polls with it.

But it is the cynical “pols will be pols” people I get most irritated with.  In the end, it didn’t really matter whether the politician in the White House was a New Democrat or an Old Democrat.  What mattered was that the Democrat was a leader, which Obama most definitely is not.  In this day and age, in this particular economic crisis, what was and still is required, was a person who would not let propaganda and and the machinations of the ruthless, predatory Movement Conservative Republicans and their noise machine stand in the way of doing what was right.  That person didn’t have to have a secret 11 dimensional chess strategy.  That person had to want to do the right thing for America and the vast number of people that are not rich and well connected.  That person saw what was coming and would have done anything to stop it, including exhausting their own personal wealth to win the nomination.  That person was and is a dedicated public servant who like Lincoln and FDR, would have put aside their own personal aspirations to do the right thing for the country.

That person is NOT Obama.  And now everyone knows it.  Now that we know, only the truly insane and disconnected will want to foist him on us for a second term.

Conflucian Cocktail Party: Pre-Protest Happy Hour!

I’m schlepping my butt up to Manhattan tomorrow for the big protest in Union Square Park.  The protest is being organized by A New Way Forward and you can find local protests all over the country.  I have my trusty Metrocard all ready. I only wish I had a nifty PUMA T-shirt.  I should have swiped one from Murphy when we were in Denver.

The purpose of the protest is to bring attention to the fact that a bank that is too big to fail is too big to exist.  I just hope we don’t focus so much of our ire on the bankers that we let Congress and the Obama administration off the hook.  Bankers can’t help it if they’re greedy bastards.  It’s they’re nature.  But if banks are too big it’s because our elected officials won’t step up to the plate and make them smaller.  All our Reps need to do is decide they are on the side of their constituents, the taxpayers, who have lost their life savings and retirements.  That should be a fairly easy decision to make.  The problem is they aren’t afraid of us yet.  But they shouldn’t get comfortable because 2010 is just around the corner and we can organize to primary the ones who do not think they have to be accountable to us.

As to the polls, I don’t believe them.  Nope.  Everyday, I overhear people all around me who are steaming mad about what is happening in the financial sector.  In fact, it’s practically the only thing I overhear anymore.  And attention is starting to turn towards Obama himself.  Now, it could be that I just hang around a lot of geeks who are in danger of losing their jobs because big money investors just can’t get enough of mergers to boost their stocks.  But I suspect there is just as much dissatisfaction with the fact that Obama rode to the White House on a horse called Change!™ and so far, there is precious little change type activity going on.  So, my intention when I go to Manhattan tomorrow is to hang out with the people holding Congress and Obama accountable for the mess we’re in.  Care to join me?

In the meantime, let’s have a cocktail.

Welcome to the Conflucian Cocktail Party!  This is the time of the week when we mingle, mingle, mingle.  You will find the bar to the left of the door.  Our bartender with flair, Rico, is back for a permanent engagement.  He’s lucky.  A bartender’s job is recession proof.  Someone is always in need of a drink.  His special of the day is a Manhattan.  Simple, classic, I couldn’t have made a better choice myself.  We are also offering Causmos today at $10.  Today’s Causmo is dedicated to paying off Hillary’s debt.  I know, I know, I thought Obama was going to take care of it but, hey, that would me her term of indentured servitude would be over and where would be the fun of that?  Let’s put this baby to bed.  Purchase your Causmo here. Of course, you can order anything you like.

Tonight’s entertainment is one of the BFF’s favorites.  Sing along with Dizzy Gillespie to Salt Peanuts:

Ladies and gents, our saloon is real genteel like.  You can keep your grudges to yourself or hand them off to Florence, our lovely checkroom attendant.  The waiters will be circulating shortly with some samosas, soup dumplings and knish’s.  Please drink responsibly and tip your wait staff generously.

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