Circle Game

When bad times come, movie scripts write themselves.
Some of America’s wealthiest socialites were facing ruin last night after the arrest of a Wall Street big hitter accused of the largest investor swindle perpetrated by one man.
The good times have been tough to kill - the fates reluctant, perhaps, to let go of such an enormous historical aberration.
Shock and panic spread through the country clubs of Palm Beach and Long Island after Bernard Madoff, a trading powerbroker for more than four decades, allegedly confessed to a fraud that will cost his wealthy investors at least $50 billion – perhaps the largest swindle in Wall Street history.
The first to collapse, once the winds hint at the trouble to come, are those structures built on flawed foundations - never sound, but able to avoid inevitable disaster as long as the warm, kind breezes of summer abounded.
Mr Madoff, 70, a former Nasdaq stock chairman, was apparently turned in by his two sons and arrested on Thursday morning at his Manhattan apartment by the FBI. Andrew Calamari, a senior enforcement official at the US Securities and Exchange Commission, described the scheme as “a stunning fraud that appears to be of epic proportions”.
Those standing too close are crushed by the rubble, and healthier structures - innocent, some will say - suffer damage as well.
The FBI’s criminal complaint states that when two federal agents arrived at Mr Madoff’s apartment, he told them: “There is no innocent explanation.” The agents say that he told them “he paid investors with money that wasn’t there”, that he was “broke” and that he expected to go to jail.
Thus goes the ugly game of momentum. Live by the trend, die by the trend. The tides have turned, and the fates will not be kind to those who lived as if the good times would last forever.
As details of one of the largest alleged frauds ever to rock Wall Street began trickling out Friday, it became clear that warning signs about Madoff's funds had abounded for years.But many investors, in a bull-market rush to get in on the action, either ignored the red flags or didn't bother to look for them.
Which would be... us.
Barack was supposed to be the cure for everything, but he is, in reality, another symptom of the malaise - one more ill conceived wonder drug brought to market without the benefit of due diligence. Chosen without consideration, loved for the superficial - the educated refusing to do their homework - the blind may be wondering at the flashes of light.
While most of the media's attention focused today on the Chicago news conference of President-elect Barack Obama announcing new Cabinet members and repeating his call for onetime ally Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich to resign (see video above), a federal judge made a small, little-noticed legal move on another case.
Obama is not a dirty pol, we all assume, but he did build his career by fully embracing dirty people. Not just Bill Ayers, and Reverends Wright and Pfleger, but his chief money man, Tony Rezko, too.
Without explanation, District Judge Amy St. Eve canceled her own deadlines for lawyers to file briefs on the upcoming sentencing of Antoin "Tony" Rezko. Now, why would a judge extend the period before sentencing when the convicted prisoner expressed a desire to get on with prison? Without a new briefs deadline, the expedited Jan. 6 sentencing could now be pushed back further.
So, even if our assumptions about Barack's inner purity remain unchallenged, the fact that he swam in - and rose to the top of - the sea of sewage that is Chicago politics means that the front page stories about Blago and Rezko, et al, that are sure to continue for some time, are Barack's front page stories.
Because Rezko, in the hopes of reducing his sentence, is singing in his cell about Blagojevich and maybe others. He's not done with his song repertoire and the feds haven't fully checked out his information to determine how grateful to be in sentence-seeking.
If you sleep in the gutter, you're going to wind up smelling bad. Once the perfume wears off, that is.
Rezko was known as the money man or cashier to see about state jobs through the governor's office. He's known Obama since the early '90s, tried to hire him, did hire the law firm Obama worked for, became partners with the owner of that firm, advised Obama on buying his Hyde Park home and sold him a slice of the adjacent lot.
Weeks ahead of inauguration day, it is a hot summer day in the streets of the city, and while the pipes that run beneath may hide the filth from sight, its odor cannot be contained.