|If ever there was a cynical, transparent creation in recent political memory, it has to be the so-called supercommittee that’s just imploded in Washington.
From the minute this foolishness was announced, anyone with eyes could see it was doomed to failure. That wouldn’t be just ordinary failure, but, in the words of G4 TV, EPIC FAIL (this cable channel actually has a segment called that)!
So this supercommittee, charged with figuring a way to cut $1.2 trillion dollars from the nation’s budget, came up with nothing.
The traditional rationale is that Democrats wouldn’t agree to gutting programs like Social Security and Medicare, while Republicans swore a blood oath not to raise taxes on anybody, regardless of wealth. And yes, all of that is true.
Yet it obscures the issue at hand. When will politicians start to take their work seriously? When will the GOP move off its agenda of making President Barack Obama look bad so they can recapture the White House? And when will Democrats devise a winning strategy for truly speaking to the concerns of the American people?
From the day the supercommittee was announced, it was doomed to failure and all the players knew it. It wasn’t created with a tiebreaker (a 13th vote- too partisan), and unless somebody was ready to compromise nothing was going to happen. So now the American people have a series of automatic cuts to look forward to just after next year’s presidential election (note the timing).
As is typical of congressional tap dancing, there are now some people who voted to create the supercommittee in the first place who now want to create an out such that the committee’s fail has no consequences at all. They don’t want to see the military budget cut (check and see how many have big defense contractors in their home states), and they’re willing to risk looking like complete hypocrites to accomplish that goal.
President Obama is right to say he’ll veto any attempt to do an end around the mandatory spending cuts. If only he’d gotten hard with these folks a bit earlier.
As the world watches cheap hustlers trying to pimp off the name, likeness, and legacy of Michael Jackson, it’s time to take a look at what happened to the world’s biggest hustler.
He would be Bernard Madoff, and he’s been sentenced to 150 years in prison for running a multi billion dollar Ponzi scheme. Such was his betrayal of people like former baseball great Sandy Koufax, Larry King, John Malkovich, Zsa Zsa Gabor, and literally hundreds of other just plain folks that he received not one letter of support prior to sentencing, not even from his family.
What did Madoff’s victims have in common? They trusted him. Any hustler worth their salt will tell you trust is essential. In this case, they all wanted to make money, and lots of it. There were reports that Madoff promised some investors they’d make 35% on their money. That led one friend of mine to opine that he had no sympathy for the victims, none at all. “Who in their right mind would trust they’d get that kind of return? They were just plain greedy, straight up,” he sneered.
I don’t know if I’d go that far. However, it’s interesting to hear some of Madoff’s investors, people who lost their life savings so he could live large, take the government to task for not keeping a closer eye on what he was doing. Some of them, not all but some, don’t want the government involved in the financial markets in any way, shape, or form. Not, that is, unless they get burned by Bernie. Some victims said they didn’t even care about the money. They wanted a trial so the truth would come out.
While we don’t actually know the exact amount of money Madoff ripped off during the course of his lucrative hustle, we do know he’s been ordered to forfeit $171 billion dollars.
His wife Ruth, who originally tried to protect $80 million dollars she said was hers alone, is now down to about $2.5 million. Worse yet for him, a growing number of prison experts think Bernie will do his time not in a country club style minimum security prison, but in a medium to high security facility.
Maybe it’s a sign of the times that as the world mourned Michael Jackson, the second most asked question of the weekend was “How much time ya think Madoff will get?” So now we know. Yet aside from any pity one might feel for those who lost their life savings, there’s a nagging feeling that the Madoff example won’t act as the strong deterrent US District Judge Denny Chin thought it might be.
Hustlers will always be among us, preying on some very basic human emotions. People will still get swindled, no matter how much time Bernie Madoff got.
Trust me on that one.
So, did Madoff get the right sentence, or was it too harsh? You tell me.