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Archive for March 18th, 2009

Mrs. Madoff Heading to Palm Beach

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 18th, 2009 4:45 am by HL

Mrs. Madoff Heading to Palm Beach

Madoff estate

While her husband is entering a decidedly less lavish living arrangement, it appears that Ruth Madoff is getting ready to live the Palm Beach life in her $9.4 million spread in Florida—a state known for property laws that protect owners from losing their homes even when other assets are seized.

Meanwhile, ABC reports that sons Andrew and Mark, the family’s junior set, are also under official scrutiny and may have to pay back $30 million they borrowed from Papa Madoff over the past four years.

Bloomberg via Gawker:

Ruth Madoff applied for and received a homestead exemption for property taxes, said Dorothy Jacks, assistant property appraiser for Palm Beach County. The Florida constitution protects homeowners who have obtained the exemption and seizing the property may be difficult, said Danaya Wright, a law professor at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

The U.S. government said this week it plans to seize assets including the Madoffs’ $7 million Manhattan apartment and the Palm Beach home. Bernard Madoff, 70, was jailed March 12 after admitting to masterminding the biggest Ponzi scheme in history. The exemption Ruth Madoff received may be an effort to protect the property from creditors, said Jack McCabe, founder of McCabe Research & Consulting LLC in Deerfield Beach, Florida.

“The two big drawing cards to Florida were sunshine and affordability,” McCabe said. “Now it’s for sunshine and the protection of your primary mansion.”

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‘Colbert Report’: Take Out Your Pitchforks

Colbert

What’s to be done when companies that received major bailouts from taxpayers turn around and brazenly offer beaucoup bucks to the executives who helped put us in the hole in the first place? Here are a couple suggestions by way of an answer: Pitchforks! Angry mobs!

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Obama Admin To Endorse UN Gay Rights Declaration That Bush Refused To Sign

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 18th, 2009 4:44 am by HL

Obama Admin To Endorse UN Gay Rights Declaration That Bush Refused To Sign
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration will endorse a U.N. declaration calling for the worldwide decriminalization of homosexuality that then-President George W. Bush had refused to…

Huff TV: Arianna Discusses Outrage Over AIG Bonuses, Obama Administration’s Response On “Larry King”
Arianna appeared on “Larry King Live” tonight to discuss the national outrage over the bonuses distributed by AIG and the Obama administration’s handling of the…

National Debt Hits Record $11 Trillion
The eye-popping national debt surpassed $11 trillion Monday, the largest in U.S. history. The new Treasury Department figures on the national debt were released as…

Cenk Uygur: What Did Geithner Know and When Did He Know It?
There are now conflicting stories about when Tim Geithner knew about the AIG bonuses. The administration says he found out last week. But Congress (and…

17 Of 20 Nations Have Broken Promise TO Avoid Protectionist Measures
At least 17 of the 20 major nations that vowed at a November summit to avoid protectionist steps that could spark a global trade war…


Hannity falsely claimed that under Pelosi, Republicans “can’t offer amendments”

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 18th, 2009 4:43 am by HL

Hannity falsely claimed that under Pelosi, Republicans “can’t offer amendments”

On the March 16 edition of his Fox News program, Sean Hannity falsely claimed that under House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), “Republicans can’t offer amendments; they can’t offer alternative bills.” In fact, in the 111th Congress, which began on January 6, the House has held recorded votes on several amendments offered by Republicans seeking to change various bills, including a “substitute” amendment seeking to replace the American Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 with an alternative bill.

The House also voted on a motion to recommit the recovery bill with instructions (i.e., an amendment to the bill) offered by Republican Jerry Lewis (CA). Another Republican amendment to the recovery bill was agreed to on the House floor by voice vote. Additionally, the House voted on a Republican alternative to the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009 in the form of a motion to recommit with instructions offered by Rep. Nathan Deal (GA). Debating the amendment, Deal stated: “[T]he Republican motion to recommit replaces what I consider to be a deeply flawed bill that has been offered and also has improvements to the SCHIP proposal that we are considering.”

From the March 16 edition of Fox News’ Hannity:

HANNITY: All right, let’s first start with the tape. Now, Nancy Pelosi, the most draconian rules — Republicans can’t offer amendments; they can’t offer alternative bills — and here she’s on Charlie Rose saying she’s not partisan. Roll the tape.

PELOSI : Some people think there seems to be a market for saying that I am very partisan and that I don’t give the Republicans their opportunity. And that simply is not true.

HANNITY: Now, you worked pretty closely there. Is that true?

DANA PERINO (former White House press secretary): I think, yes, Speaker Pelosi is smart, she’s accomplished, but she is also very partisan. And that’s OK; you can be partisan, and also — and think that your policies will be the best thing for all Americans, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have an honest debate. And I think one of the reasons you hear complaints from Republicans — that they aren’t having a chance to be a part of the legislative process — is because they’re not getting the chance to have a — to be a part of it.


The Kabuki Theater of AIG Outrage

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 18th, 2009 4:42 am by HL

The Kabuki Theater of AIG Outrage
All the world’s a stage, wrote Shakespeare, and in the world of Washington, the curtains have opened on the most elaborate farce of the year. Welcome, taxpayers, to the Kabuki Theater of AIG Outrage — where D.C.’s histrionic enablers of taxpayer-funded corporate bailouts compete for Best Performance of Hypocritical Indignation. Over the weekend, cloaked in their finest populist costumes, the Beltway’s hair-sprayed and powdered politicians and White House aides took to the airwaves to inveigh against $165 million in employee retention payments made by the government-backed insurance giant. Those bennies were reportedly part of a larger $450 million round of bonuses. After subpoenaing AIG, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo informed Congress that 73 employees in the very division responsible for the financial meltdown received bonuses of $1 million or more — 11 of whom left the company after getting the cash to retain them.


Is Obama Info Officer Implicated In FBI’s Probe Of DC Tech Office?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 18th, 2009 4:41 am by HL

Is Obama Info Officer Implicated In FBI’s Probe Of DC Tech Office?
So this is weird. Yesterday, federal agents raided the workplace of the chief technology officer for the city of Washington DC. The same day, they arrested Yusuf Acar, who serves as the city’s information systems security officer, as part of…

Letters Bolster Waters’ Claim On Bank Conflict
Rep. Maxine Waters is stepping up her campaign to show she took no inappropriate action on behalf of OneUnited bank. Waters’ office has released to TPM two letters sent by the National Bankers Association (NBA), a trade group for minority-owned…

The Daily Muck
The International Committee of the Red Cross concluded in a 2007 report that the Bush administration used torture to question al-Qaeda suspects. The report, obtained by journalism professor Mark Danner, says that captives were taken “to the verge of death…


Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 18th, 2009 4:38 am by HL

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!


Quote of the Day

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 18th, 2009 4:37 am by HL

Quote of the Day
“I’m not going to spend my time criticizing him. There are plenty of critics in the arena. He deserves my silence.”

— Former President Bush, quoted by the Associated Press, saying he wants President Obama to succeed.


The Growing Clout of Atheists and Non-Believers

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 18th, 2009 4:35 am by HL

The Growing Clout of Atheists and Non-Believers
Mobilized by the theocratic bombast of Bush-era Republicans, America’s growing number of atheists are pushing for greater recognition.

AIG’s "Best and Brightest"? Try Dumb and Dumbest
The top guys at AIG are trying to cheat honest taxpayers out of their money.

The Top 10 Craziest Sex Laws in America
Laws are supposed to protects us, but when the government decides to get in our pants, some crazy stuff goes down.

Exlusive Interview with El Salvador’s New President on Ending 130 Years of Oligarchy and Military Rule
Mauricio Funes, the first leftist elected president El Salvador, discusses his hope for strong ties with the U.S. and key issues his country faces.

If Only Jon Stewart Had Interviewed Dick Cheney
CNN let Cheney get away with spouting gross inaccuracies and weak excuses. They should have gone for the jugular, Jon Stewart style.


Getting Lehman Wrong a Second Time

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 18th, 2009 4:34 am by HL

Getting Lehman Wrong a Second Time
There are few economists who would defend the decision to allow Lehman Brothers to go bankrupt last September. Its collapse induced a worldwide panic that sent stock markets plummeting and caused credit to freeze up. In the subsequent months, the…





Juan Cole’s Book On The Muslim World
Unless you have a doctorate in Middle Eastern studies — and maybe even if you do — you will learn from Dr. Cole’s book. Essentially, Cole visits each area of Muslim-Western conflict and explains (1) how we, as Americans, probably…


Perino Defends AIG Bonuses: They Are ?Middle Class People? Who ?Are Expecting To Get This Bonus?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 18th, 2009 4:33 am by HL

Perino Defends AIG Bonuses: They Are ?Middle Class People? Who ?Are Expecting To Get This Bonus?
Reports over the weekend that bailed-out insurance giant AIG will be paying $165 million in bonuses to executives “in the same business unit that brought the company to the brink of collapse last year” have sparked bipartisan outrage. Even ultra-conservative Bill Kristol expressed his anger in a column yesterday, asking rhetorically, “[I]f capitalism is to […]

Reports over the weekend that bailed-out insurance giant AIG will be paying $165 million in bonuses to executives “in the same business unit that brought the company to the brink of collapse last year” have sparked bipartisan outrage. Even ultra-conservative Bill Kristol expressed his anger in a column yesterday, asking rhetorically, “[I]f capitalism is to survive, shouldn’t the Republican party, the party that defends democratic capitalism, be particularly vehement in denouncing its excesses? Isn’t this a pretty spectacular one?”

However, it seems that Dana Perino, former President Bush’s press secretary, didn’t receive the memo. On C-Span’s Washington Journal on Sunday, Perino defended the bonuses:

PERINO: And the people who are working there that are middle-class people, are expecting to get this bonus. If they do not get it, maybe they won’t be motivated enough to try to help the company turn around and getting the company to turn around and be more profitable is important for all of us.

Perino then chastised the “rhetoric in Washington” that “can try to make things so black and white, and make things sound so easy — demonize people when I don’t think that that’s fair.” Watch it:

It appears that Perino either doesn’t know who is set to receive the bonuses or is unaware what it means to be “middle class” (i.e. those American households that generally make between $40,000 and $70,000 per year). In fact, while as of Sunday, it was unclear what the salary range is for the executives who are set to get the bonuses, as The New York Times reported at the time, some of them will receive more than $3 million in bonuses alone.

A new Wonk Room analysis notes that under Bush’s tax system, these AIG executives will collectively take home $7.5 million more dollars more than they would have in the 1990s. But President Obama’s budget would effectively eliminate the Bush tax bonuses, allow middle class families to save as much as $800 per year, and invest in health care, renewable energy and education.

South Carolina Republican State Rep: Sanford?s Stimulus Rejection Would Cost 4,700 Jobs
Last week, ThinkProgress reported that Gov. Mark Sanford’s (R-SC) proposal to reject $700 million in stimulus funds could imperil the jobs of up to 7,500 South Carolina teachers, because most of the money was meant to fill the education budget gap and keep schools operating. Today, State Rep. Dan Cooper (R) said Sanford’s proposal would […]

sanford-pigs.jpgLast week, ThinkProgress reported that Gov. Mark Sanford’s (R-SC) proposal to reject $700 million in stimulus funds could imperil the jobs of up to 7,500 South Carolina teachers, because most of the money was meant to fill the education budget gap and keep schools operating. Today, State Rep. Dan Cooper (R) said Sanford’s proposal would result in 4,000 teachers losing their jobs, along with 700 prison guards:

He said the state budget — already cut from $7.1 billion to $5.6 billion in less than a year — would have to be slashed another 8 percent to 9 percent if the stimulus money is used as Sanford proposes.

He said that would trigger the layoffs of 4,000 teachers and the emergency closures of three to five prisons, with 3,400 inmates freed early and 700 guards losing their jobs.

Yesterday, the White House rejected Sanford’s waiver application to use the funds to pay down the state debt rather than fill in educational and public safety budget gaps. In response, Sanford submitted a new request asking to use the funds to to repay $577 million in school bonds. Pete Pillow, a spokesman for the state Education Department, said that Sanford’s new proposal would do nothing to save teachers’ jobs, and repeated the assertion that 4,000 teachers stood to lose their jobs.

This is still an attempt to pay down debt. It doesn’t to anything to help conditions [in schools] now. … All the districts now who are planning to lay off people and are saying we’re going to be short next year in terms of operational expenses, that wouldn’t be helped by any paying down of bonds. … So it’s the same song, different tune.

Rather than addressing the real educational crisis in his state, Sanford is instead complaining about an ad put out by the Democratic National Committee accusing him of “playing politics” with the stimulus. “I don’t think this approach of targeting ads against anyone who sees an issue a little differently represents the kind of so-called ‘change’ many people were voting for in November,” Sanford said in a statement.

Update This morning, Ronnie Jackson, the mayor of Allendale, SC — a town with a more than 24 percent unemployment rate — went on MSNBC to plead with Sanford to accept the stimulus funds. “We need it. We need it bad,” he said.