Scandalous 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Robert George, columnist for New York Post and blogger at Ragged Thots talks about the year in scandals.


Robert George

Comments [27]

brooklyn woman from brooklyn

eva: I signed back in to say that, thanks to something I read on another site, I figured out that the whole document is from Markopolos, and it was a confidential report from 2005. Thanks for your clarification. The document itself is quite clear.
I respect your reasons for preferring Bacevich and Phillips, but I prefer Greenwald myself (I don't read the rest of Salon) and I feel no real need to pander to the right or try to seek common ground, because the past forty years have primarily consisted of that post-partisan rhetoric while democrats caved in with almost no exception to the script written by the Republican right—which meanwhile moved further right!
that is one reason why I am disheartened by the choice of the odious (and oleaginous) Rick Warren.
ANd i am SUCH a partisan that i believe that Democrats IN GENERAL seek the common good while Republicans seek the interests of the rich. This used to be common knowledge, of course. And still is, among Republicans!

Dec. 24 2008 05:17 PM

22, Brooklyn woman:

Sad as it may seem, the reason I like those commentators is because they are conservatives!

They give me hope that there is a common ground between our visions for what this country can achieve. And I do hear a positive vision of what America can be from both those men. On top of that, their criticism of where we are means a great deal more, I think, given where they've been.

I liked the segment with Glenn Greenwald, but I find Salon (where he primarily writes?) to be overwhelmingly partisan in a way that doesn't facilitate what I think is a necessary dialogue between two poles of thought.

Dec. 24 2008 01:18 PM

Brooklyn woman,
Thanks for your post, that link I posted is correct - it is the letter Harry Markopolos sent to the SEC in 2005, entitled "The World's Biggest Hedge Fund is a Fraud". Read it carefully. He first started contacting them about Madoff in 1999.
Some of the terminology may seem confusing, but it's worth reading the entire document.

Dec. 24 2008 01:16 PM
brooklyn woman from brooklyn

Eva, Your link does not seem to supply the letter you mention. It is a document titled The Worl'd Largest Hedge Fund Is a Fraud. Please clarify?

I agree with your recent comments on the need to move away from financialization of our entire society and consequently its social goals, but like little England, we have under recent regimes, Dem and Rep, decided that that finance (FIRE) is what will keep us flush with cash, since we are not going to lead in goods production. (And their plans have amounted to the creation of a plundering plutocracy; thus Bacevich's and, particularly, Phillips' critiques.)
in defense of Brian, he seems to have decided to balance his serious programming with silly social stuff, grand concerns with petty ones. I generally tune away at that point. But he has tried to keep his eye on what matters as well. [A little less patriarchalism would be nice....]

Dec. 24 2008 01:11 PM
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Dec. 24 2008 01:09 PM
brooklyn woman from brooklyn

note to Eva.
thank you for the Markopolos letter suggestion.
Moyers in wonderful-- but I'd like to point out something about your favorites from his show.
Both Bacevich and Phillips are conservatives, men of principle who have turned in disgust from the actions and motivating principles of the Republicans.
Moyers has many guests who have, not just a negative vision of the present, but a positive one of what truly progressive change might be. I hope you will listen to them as well.

Dec. 24 2008 01:00 PM
brooklyn woman from brooklyn

If you are thinking about the Yankees, could we remember the very recent scandal (not on tabloid radar) about Mayor Mike, our own billionaire savior & champion of all NY's monied interests (and the NY Times), driving a hard bargain for fatcat seats at the new stadium? (Remember when ordinary families could go to a game?) Since Bloomberg, and many many other politicians, know how to do deals bigtime without swearing and boasting on the (wiretaped) phone, this is not tabloid (or talk show) fodder like the rude, crude Blago. (and Bloomberg will likely get his own senator Carolyn soon.)

Dec. 24 2008 12:55 PM


Thanks, you're too kind.
I don't want to downplay Madoff, it is a big deal, but I also think the reason I was so viscerally upset by Madoff when the story first hit was that... we are Madoff.

I think Madoff perfectly represents our society's lack of responsibility, and its worship of wealth.

If we say: hey, the naked pursuit of wealth without any responsibility is good (which is what we've been saying since Reagan, and even through Clinton) then the people who would normally be the highest achieving contributors to society (the Thomas Edisons, the Albert Sabins, the Steven Chus, the Rosalind Franklins)... are encouraged into fields that don't benefit the whole, and where, frankly, their talents are wasted.

As we've become seduced by big finance, what has happened to technological and scientific innovation in the US? Much of that is happening in Asia, now.

I'm frankly concerned by some of the comments I've read in the wake of the Madoff scandal. There is too much antisemitic schadenfreude. And this continues to be sold by the media as "his victims were Palm Beach Country Club Jews" when, in fact, in recent years the biggest victims appeared to be European banks and the Saudi Investment Authority - and the people selling it to Europe and the Saudis were the WASP-y Noel family sons-in-law. Those sons-in-law, IMO, knew exactly what was going on.

The silver lining to me is this: those charities that were hardest hit - some of them are being re-funded. The scandal of Madoff is an opportunity to encourage talented people back into positions where they can make a difference. How many Leonard Bernsteins have we lost to finance? How many Albert Sabins? If Robert Rubin hadn't been steered into finance, maybe he'd be a public policy Ph.D. who rebuilt New Orleans. Who knows, until we, as a society, reaffirm what matters. It's OUR collective responsibility to reward and encourage people to engage in real work.

Dec. 24 2008 12:52 PM
seth from Long Island

I'm not a legal scholar, but the act of paying someone obscene sums of money while millions of fellow citizens are drowning should constitute some form of criminal negligence.

Dec. 24 2008 12:35 PM
seth from Long Island

"Why blame the Yankees instead of the ticket holders?"

I blame both, but I blame the Yankees more because we're staring into an economic abyss and the Yankees are guilty of wreckless disregard for the suffering of millions of innocent citizens.

The Yankees and Mets are moral lepers and should be boycotted and culture jammed because they epitomize the ugliest of ugly Americans - Greed, Selfishness, and Arrogance.

The new Yankee Stadium and Citifield are Temples to Mammonism and citizens should engage in non-violent demonstrations and protests to stop the completeion of these projects.

Dec. 24 2008 12:28 PM


I thought that Moyers piece was fantastic, glad you heard it. I can't believe how bold he is, and how right.

The Moyers guests I like are Bacevich and Kevin Philips, and they seem to be on quite a bit, which is great.

Anyway, thanks for the good wishes and happy Holidays and a GREAT, happy and healthy new year to you, Seth!

Great new year, too, to hjs and mc, with whom I argued so much this year over the primaries. Sorry!

I think it is going to be an interesting year... I am working with a small group of neighborhood Obama supporters and we will be volunteering together throughout the year, and also helping ourselves to stay informed about how we can support the administration on the issues we voted them in for.

Seriously, though, I think you guys should all read the Markopolos letter. It's amazing...

Dec. 24 2008 12:22 PM
Daniel Sands from New York

Whew! Not often do we encounter astuteness such as yours. GOOD COMMENT, although I don't think Madoff (PROUNCED "Made-Off") is a drop in the bucket.

Millions of suffering people will die just from his actions alone. THOUSANDS of charities are affected, not hundreds. This is a storm that will blow for decades and decades to come, because stolen billions have never, to our knowledge, ever been returned.

Maybe, just maybe, if more people had their thoughts as straight and true as Eva apparently does, we could make more of a positive difference, such as prosecuting the malefactors who undoubtedly outed AND successfully secured Mr. Spitzer's resignation.

Brian, you want to step to the plate, or are you already feeding at home plate of the NEWER NEW Yankee Stadium? Again, not to criticize as much as stimulate positive action, please heed the timeless truths;
Wise minds discuss ideas (resolutions),
average minds discuss events,
mediocre minds discoss other people.

Brian? Will you slide, or will you step up?

Dec. 24 2008 12:20 PM
seth from Long Island


I second your comments. Brian Lehrer's love for the Yankeees clouds his judgement.

Professional sports team owners have declared war on middle class and working class citizens by showering millions of dollars on pampered divas who've never worked a day of lives at a "Real Job".

Dec. 24 2008 12:13 PM
hjs from 11211

is he getting 180 to hit a baseball or because his business generates billions of dollars per year?
why blame the yankees instead of the ticket holders or those who watch baseball on tv?

Dec. 24 2008 12:10 PM
seth from Long Island

eva #11,

Yes, I did listen to Moyers' piece on Yankee Stadium.

Unfortunately, too much of the NY media are so infatuated with the Yankees that they will give them a pass on their greed and arrogance.

Eva, have a very Merry Christmas and a very Happy and Healthy New Year!!!

Dec. 24 2008 12:06 PM

brooklyn woman:

re: Spitzer

Did you read the Markopolos letter on Madoff to the SEC? It's available here through the Wall Street Journal:

If you read the entire letter, including the conclusions part with its reference to Eliot Spitzer, you will realize 1) the possibility that Spitzer's getting busted was financially motivated by some very powerful people and 2) the real scandal isn't Madoff, but the ineffectiveness of the SEC.

I think this letter should be required reading for every investor, and every patriotic American. It would be an exaggeration to call Markopolos a hero, but he's at least a good citizen.

This isn't about Madoff. Madoff is a drop in the bucket compared to the larger problem, and that is, in part, ourselves. Those of us who turned a blind eye and who were seduced by our rising 401K's to overlook what corporations have been doing.... we have something to answer for, as well.

What does Barney say? Cookies are a "sometimes" food. Well, due diligence and responsible citizenship is not a "sometimes" requirement, as we are unfortunately learning.

Dec. 24 2008 12:02 PM
Daniel Sands from New York

Let me give an example.

We have 435 congressional districts in the U.S.

Do YOU know which is the single poorest congressional district in the nation?

Indeed, it is the district surrounding Yankee Stadium, where the Yankees contribute nothing but grief. Hopefully, the downturn we are suffering will somehow knock some sense into people who are stupid enough to pay a hundred bucks per head for a three-dollar basebal game rather than take their kids outside TO PLAY THEIR OWN GAMES, fostering health, and healthy relationships.

Does Brian and Mr. George think these issues count as scandals? $180 million dollars for a guy who can hit a baseball? Instead, we're hearing snarky comments, and demands for Monserrat to "have the book thrown at him." Say, Brian, have you ever heard of a rarely-ever-used annoyance formerly known as "due process?" Please, we know you can do better, since you HAVE done better on a thousand occasions in the past. Come to 21st century issues, hm?

Dec. 24 2008 11:57 AM

did you listen to the "bill moyers journal" piece on the new Yankees stadium?
It was on the show about two or three months ago. Worth listening to.

Dec. 24 2008 11:51 AM
Gabby from Manhattan

Enough with the obsession with wishing that Obama was somehow involved in this scandle. The only reason he was questioned is that it was HIS seat that the nut was trying to sell! Please don't be unnerved.

Dec. 24 2008 11:45 AM
Daniel Sands from New York

Ok, thank God AND WNYC for CarTalk and WaitWait

Dec. 24 2008 11:43 AM
Daniel Sands from New York

Listening to Brain and Mr. George "dishing" in a decidedly snarky fashion:

A) Wise minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, and mediocre minds discuss... other people.

C) My nation is falling apart from several coigns of vantage Day by day, Brian and Leonard reach further and further into the depths of "Atlas Shrugged."

That's why my wife has decided that this will be the first time in nineteen years that NYC is not on our end-of-year donation list.

Is mere longevity synonymous with excellence?
When does NYC get some fresh blood into its veins?

Thank God for CarTalk and WaitWait, the two final bastions of wonderful entertainment and distraction/edification

Dec. 24 2008 11:42 AM
Robo from Brooklyn

How big a grin does this guy have on his face when he's talking about Democratic "Scandals"? The Democrats have scandals but not to the level the Republicans have had and the difference is striking. The Democrat's scandals are mainly personal issues that aren't about their governance. The Republican's scandal is actually related to the job they do. Blagojevic is definitely a scandal of the type that matters but affairs and hookers don't compare to lobbyist scandals, torture scandals, or stolen elections. There are less Republicans involved in scandal at this time because their going to jail and its harder to steal when you're not in power.

Dec. 24 2008 11:40 AM
brooklyn woman from brooklyn

Give me a break. This is tabloid land, and these scandals don't rise to the criminal and immmoral behavior of the Republicans,as you mentioned: torture, for one. They dwarf tabloid sex fodder. As to the cheap sex scandals, I prefer those of David Vitter and Larry Craig, the financial scandals of Dusty Foggo and the other Abramoff pals and Duke Cunningham cronies. Spitzer caught for discreetly hiring a prostitute? yessir, terrible, terrible. Is Vitter or Craig gone? Spitzer was the best watchdog we had against Wall Street. Funny he should be the one hounded our of office.

And guess what, the moronic Blagojevic hasn't been indicted yet, despite serving as a wonderful distraction and the opportunity to taint Obama through innuendo.
This 'segment' so far seems like nothing but Attack the Dems hour.

Dec. 24 2008 11:38 AM
O from Forest Hills

I think it is not our business about Edwards' love child and affair. People have affairs because they are seeking something that is missing and the mistress provides to them. Whether it is sex or love or appreciation or just emotional intimacy. I think affairs are okay and a private matter. I don't think Edwards' affair is any of our business.

Dec. 24 2008 11:36 AM
Stephanie from Brooklyn, NY

Larry Craig is a republican. So was the guy who sexually harassed his aide. So democrats didn't invent sexually themed corruption. Maybe heterosexually themed corruption...

Dec. 24 2008 11:35 AM
seth from Long Island

The NY Yankees spending money like drunken sailors during the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression is scandalous.

This money could be put to better use by aiding some of the millions of ordinary citizens devastated by the current fincial crisis.

The Yankees have no conscience, no sense of decency, and no moral compass.

The Yankees are a disgrace to a civil and a just society and deserve the strongest condemnation for their behavior.

The Yankees have set a new standard for greed, arrogance, and selfishness.

Dec. 24 2008 10:59 AM
O from Forest Hills

I think the biggest scandal for me of 2008 was the Elliot Spitzer scandal in March. What a shock.

Dec. 24 2008 10:56 AM

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