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Cleaning out the drawer of the blog mind...
Author: TriSec    Date: 12/13/2008 13:11:18

With apologies to Bob Ryan, from whom I shamelessly steal this idea from time to time...

So, Wall Street is struggling, every time we turn around there's another bank failure, and Congress has pretty much decided to let the automakers fail. Seems that the malaise is spreading up the ladder, too. Suppose you were part of Bush's base, and maybe you're having a little Christmas guilt. So, you make some big charity donations to make yourself feel better. You'd hope that maybe the money would do some good, right? WRONG!

Some of Boston's wealthiest and most prominent philanthropists have lost millions of dollars to a Wall Street investor accused of running a $50 billion Ponzi scheme, a case that has already shuttered one foundation and could hurt nonprofits in medicine, education, and the arts.

Bernard L. Madoff, a former chairman of the Nasdaq Stock Market, was arrested Thursday in Manhattan and charged with securities fraud by federal authorities.

His clients include philanthropists Carl and Ruth Shapiro, major donors to the Museum of Fine Arts, Brandeis University, and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. The Shapiro family foundation lost almost half its money, or about $145 million, to Madoff. Other clients include Avram and Carol Goldberg, former owners of the Stop & Shop supermarket chain, and Stephen A. Fine, president of Biltrite Corp. in Waltham.

In Salem, the Robert I. Lappin Charitable Foundation, a private family organization that financed trips for Jewish youth to Israel, said it was forced to shut down and lay off seven employees yesterday after losing all of its estimated $8 million to Madoff. The foundation also supports Jewish educational and cultural services on the North Shore. Lappin lost personal funds as well.

"We are all devastated," said Deborah Coltin, executive director of the Lappin foundation. "You put your faith in someone. It turns out to be a huge scheme." Authorities say Madoff confessed to effectively paying one set of investors with money he took in from others.

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22 comments (Latest Comment: 12/14/2008 03:25:48 by Random)

Enhanced Legal Maneuvering
Author: BobR    Date: 12/12/2008 13:39:38

Torture is one of those topics that always seems to prompt a discussion. Nobody really says they're FOR torture, but people seem to disagree on what does or doesn't deserve that appellation. It's become clear that the U.S. - whether you call it torture or "enhanced interrogation techniques" - tortured prisoners in its care. We all pretty much knew who okayed it.

The Senate Armed Services Committee released a report yesterday that confirmed what everyone already knew: Rumsfeld is to blame for torture:
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78 comments (Latest Comment: 12/12/2008 23:58:08 by Random)

Grand Obstruction Party
Author: Raine    Date: 12/11/2008 13:33:55

Never mind that the economy is in shambles, our climate is in distress, we have huge national security issues, Detroit in ready to implode, Gitmo is still open, we still torture, the government is listening to our phone calls, most of the constitution has been trashed... the list can go on. Never mind all of that. This is what the GOP is concerned about. It's time for them to look to the future by looking back at the past with its classic obstructionist ways:
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120 comments (Latest Comment: 12/12/2008 04:13:13 by trojanrabbit)

Under the Radar
Author: BobR    Date: 12/10/2008 13:29:11

I spent most of yesterday deep in the salt mine. As a result, I am felling somewhat disconnected from the news. Naturally, I've seen and read all the hubbub about Blagojevich trying to auction the IL Senate seat. In fact, that's just about all I've seen. It would seem to be a natural topic for today, but it's been so thoroughly covered that I didn't feel I could add much to the mix.

So instead, I thought I'd post some of the things that you might have missed yesterday amid all the noise circulating around the Illinois Governor's office. From the serious to the silly, here are some news tidbits that might have flown under your radar...
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138 comments (Latest Comment: 12/11/2008 13:32:36 by Random)

Ask A Vet
Author: TriSec    Date: 12/09/2008 11:13:14

Good Morning.

Today is our 2,092nd day in Iraq.

We'll start this morning as we always do, with the latest casualty figures from the warron terra, courtesy of Antiwar.com:

American Deaths
Since war began (3/19/03): 4209
Since "Mission Accomplished" (5/1/03): 4070
Since Capture of Saddam (12/13/03): 3749
Since Handover (6/29/04): 3350
Since Election (1/31/05): 2772

Other Coalition Troops - Iraq: 315
US Military Deaths - Afghanistan: 628
Other Military Deaths - Afghanistan: 391
Contractor Deaths - Iraq: 445

We find this morning's cost of war passing through:

$578, 050, 000, 000.00

So. By now we've all heard that retired general Eric Shinseki has been named to head the Department of Veteran Affairs in the Obama administration. Of course, our friends at IAVA have quite a bit to say about this. We'll look at parts of their Press Release:

"IAVA applauds President-elect Obama and the transition team for making this historic selection. General Shinseki has a record of courage and honesty, and is a bold choice to lead the VA into the future. The President-elect has demonstrated an understanding of the urgency of the issues facing America's veterans by making this announcement early. General Shinseki is widely-respected, honest and experienced. He is a man that has always put patriotism ahead of politics, and is held in high regard by veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. IAVA looks forward to supporting him to implement the historic change that is needed at the VA.

As a wounded, decorated, combat veteran, and the first Asian American in US History to be a four-star general, General Shinseki, has the potential to be an effective and dedicated advocate for veterans of all generations.

This is a critical time for veterans. One in five veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are facing serious mental health injuries like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or depression. Wounded veterans are waiting months, sometimes years, to receive disability benefits. The struggling U.S. economy is hitting new veterans especially hard. And the new GI Bill, which will make college affordable to every veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, must be implemented by August 2009.

General Shinseki has a monumental task before him. To address these issues will require real leadership that encourages active VA outreach and transparency. We encourage General Shinseki to move quickly to add Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans to key positions in his senior staff.

President-elect Obama made veterans' issues a priority in his campaign, and Michelle Obama has called military families one of the issues she cares most about. We look forward to working closely with General Shinseki and the new Administration to ensure every veteran in this country gets the care and support they have earned."

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91 comments (Latest Comment: 12/10/2008 04:25:07 by Mondobubba)

Filibuster the Auto bailout? Richard Shelby wants it. You wanna know why?
Author: Raine    Date: 12/09/2008 01:46:11

First, please watch this short video:

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6 comments (Latest Comment: 12/11/2008 19:27:03 by m-hadley)

Pardon me?
Author: Raine    Date: 12/08/2008 13:38:08

Less than 5 weeks. 5 weeks until we have a new administration, a new set of rules, a new lease on America. It's exciting and thrilling and hopeful and affirming. That said, there is less than 6 weeks for the current pResident to wreak havoc. Pardon me, you say? Why yes.

I am talking about the presidential power of the pardon. From Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution:
Section 2. The President shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States; he may require the opinion, in writing, of the principal officer in each of the executive departments, upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices, and he shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.

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170 comments (Latest Comment: 12/09/2008 12:58:58 by Random)

A Poem
Author: velveeta jones    Date: 12/07/2008 14:40:23

By Dick Cheney

Twas the night before inauguration, when all though the white-house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a neo-con louse
The prisoners were hanging in Gitmo, by their hair,
In the hopes that some Court, soon would be there.

My minions were nestled all snug in their beds.
While visions of beating libs, danced in their heads.
And Mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a loud bell,
I got up from my bed and screamed “What the Hell!”
Away to the window I limped with a sneer
I promised the culprit would not persevere!
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21 comments (Latest Comment: 12/08/2008 05:15:15 by livingonli)

Puttering around on a Saturday
Author: TriSec    Date: 12/06/2008 13:09:52

Good Morning!

This is certainly unusual. When I stopped writing "Libertarian Saturday" regularly, Bob warned me that there would be plenty of times that I'd wake up and say "Well, what the hell am I going to write about this morning?" Today seems to be one of those days.

So, I'll start by pondering the Kennedy Legacy. Most of you know the long and storied tale of the brothers Joseph, John, Robert, and Edward. My senior senator just seems to keep going, and going, and going....but last spring we in Massachusetts took a terrible blow when he was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. At the time, I remember remarking that if he makes it to the convention, it could turn into a "farewell".

Fortunately, the senator is still in reasonably good health, is getting the best treatment in the world (thanks to a combination of his gold-plated senatorial health plan and vast personal wealth) and the convention turned into something far better.

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21 comments (Latest Comment: 12/07/2008 07:06:16 by Raine)

Testing the Waters
Author: BobR    Date: 12/05/2008 13:18:42

Listening to the news recently, you'd think the whole world had jumped into the WayBack machine and ended up on the high seas 300 years ago. Over the past 11 months, there have been 120 pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia. As of this moment, there are 14 ships currently being held hostage (Source).

Why the resurgence in piracy? The main cause is the lack of a real government in Somalia. Perhaps the U.S. is partially to blame:
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141 comments (Latest Comment: 12/06/2008 10:50:22 by Scoopster)

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