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Monday Night News Roundup
- “Bernard Madoff” is becoming synonymous with “swindler” and “crook.” A very nice article in Newsweek details how he started his Ponzi scheme. Seeems it all began at the Palm Beach Country Club in Florida. Here’s a wonderful line from the article —They [the rich soon to be swindled] knew that money and social cachet could afford them access to exclusive services and experiences—private jets, club seats at sporting events, invitations to state dinners. Similarly, many believed a high fabulousness quotient entitled them to Madoff’s too-good-to-be-true service—consistent market-beating returns without volatility, all without big charges. Anything that sounds too good to be true usually is.
- New numbers from Detroit are out. Americans bought 2.9 million fewer cars in 2008 then they did the year before. Even Toyota and Honda have seen declines in car sales over the last four to eight weeks. I think this is a sign that this recession is not going anywhere any time soon. We need an economic stimulus package and we need it now.
- I would be remiss if I did not discuss some of the violence going on in the Gaza Strip. The Israeli military has invaded the Gaza Strip and their forces have surrounded Gaza city. My question is… now what? Three Israeli soldiers have died from so-called “friendly fire.” The Palestinian death toll is now well over 500. Doesn’t the death of innocent citizens fuel some this Palestinian anger? The European Union has tried to mediate some sort of cease-fire. French President Nicholas Sarkozy is currently in the Middle East. Israel is calling for some sort of international monitoring contingent. Hamas has stated they will only stop the rocket attacks once the blockade is lifted off of Gaza. Of course, the blockade is the only thing that is preventing more guns, ammunition and rockets from entering Gaza. In my opinion, both sides need to learn how to behave.
- The rumor mill, which has so far been very accurate, has suggested that former White House Chief of Staff, Leon Panetta has been picked to run the CIA. Although Leon Panetta is not an intelligence expert, he is widely regarded as an excellent manager. I haven’t really made up my mind on this pick yet. Maybe a skilled manager is exactly what the Central Intelligence Agency truly needs. William J. Lynn, former top Pentagon official in the Clinton administration, has been chosen to be Deputy Secretary of Defense. Considering the information I laid out for you in my post earlier tonight about the amount of waste in the Defense Department, the Deputy Secretary of Defense is an extremely important position. That role will be crucial in preventing this kind of giant waste. (I’m still depressed over the withdrawal of Governor Bill Richardson.)
- Former Senator Claiborne Pell has died at the age of 90. For the last several years he suffered from Parkinson’s disease. I never knew the senator from Rhode Island, but I have benefited from the grants that now carry his name. A senator who championed the arts and education can be marked as “great” in my opinion. There’s a great editorial in the New York Times giving a personal account of how much these Pell grants have meant. We could sure use some more senators like Claiborne Pell.
- I just started a new book called “The Return of Depression Economics And the Crisis of 2008” by Paul Krugman. It turns out this really isn’t a new book. The book has been updated but it was first published nearly a decade ago to describe what was going on in Japan and Asia. His column today really comes from this book. Krugman outlines the need for bold action and the resistance he will find from some politicians who want “proof” that deficit spending will help prevent massive layoffs. Note that these same politicians did not require proof that tax cuts actually work to stimulate the economy. This is another great article.
- Finally, Media Matters analyzes Ann Coulter’s latest pack of lies called “Guilty.” Ann Coulter has been one of the best from the Right at spinning a lie. She usually starts with the truth and then moves to some topic that’s more obscure. She will state this topic as fact and then make her big point, which is almost always wrong. So the formula is: truth, which leads to half-truth, which then leads to outright lie. From Media Matters – These falsehoods come on a wide-ranging list of subjects including her defense of the claims made against Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth during the 2004 presidential campaign; her assertion that “Fox News has never been caught promoting a fraud”; her claim that President-elect Barack Obama was referring to Gov. Sarah Palin when he said “you know, you can put lipstick on a pig; it’s still a pig”; and attacks she makes against New York Times columnist Frank Rich.