Monthly Archives: February 2008

Crime and Punishment…or No Punishment

A)Huffington Post 2/27/2008 : US Imprisoning More Than 1 In 100 Americans

“For the first time in U.S. history, more than one of every 100 adults is in jail or prison, according to a new report documenting America‘s rank as the world’s No. 1 incarcerator.

B) Leonard Lopate Show 2/28/2008 : Unfair Crack and Cocaine Sentencing Guidelines

“According to current federal sentencing guidelines, convictions for the sale of 500 grams of powder cocaine – and only 5 grams of crack cocaine – both result in a 5-year mandatory minimum sentence. Jesselyn McCurdy, legislative counsel for the ACLU, explains why this sentencing disparity is unfair and fails to address the larger problem of the drug trade. Karen Garrison is the mother of 2 sons who are each serving long sentences in federal prison for non-violent crack cocaine offenses.”

C) Bloomberg 12/13/2008 : Bush Fraud Probes Jail Corporate Criminals Less Than Two Years

“Median sentences for white-collar crime changed little in the 1990s, holding in a range of 12 to 13 months, commission data shows. That number increased to 15 months in 2001 and reached 18 months last year, reflecting the new guidelines…On July 17, the task force’s five-year anniversary, then- Attorney General Alberto Gonzales announced that the department had obtained 1,236 corporate fraud convictions….”

 

I’ll leave it to someone else to crunch the numbers thrown out in all these stories. It should be obvious that with 1,236 corporate convictions of less then two years, on average, would account for less the 0.0001 percent of the current prison population.

Even the high profile convictions of Enron, Ebbers and Conrad Black do not change the profitability of corporate crime.

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American Sports = American Politics

From ESPN Today:

Congress talking about legislating PEDs in all sports

(PEDs: Performance Enhancing Drugs)

“WASHINGTON — Once again, professional sports and their leaders were hauled up to Capitol Hill on Wednesday by lawmakers who say they might try once again to legislate drug-testing policies for U.S. leagues.

Facing a House subcommittee that also held hearings on steroids in 2005, commissioners sat side-by-side with their sport’s union chief: Bud Selig was inches away from Donald Fehr; the NBA’s David Stern was next to Billy Hunter. Then there was the NFL’s Roger Goodell and Gene Upshaw, and the NHL’s Gary Bettman and Paul Kelly, who rounded out the day’s first set of witnesses. ”

Notice anyone not represented is this august group….FANS !

I’m sure that the rich players and the even richer owners will get a sympathetic ear from the rich Democrats and the even richer Republicans

It’s akin to asking drug dealers and a drug addicts to draft drug laws.  Oh wait, it’s exactly like that.

Inflation – Don’t believe your lying eyes

ShadowStats.com has inflation about 8%. Just because the government is reporting inflation around 4% doesn’t mean banks are stupid enough to lend on that erroneous number. That’s why LT mortgage rates are going UP not down.

The fed isn’t pushing on a string, its actually pulling it the wrong way.

ShadowCPI

If it is not Illegal, than it is not Unethical?

From Bloomberg: SEC Struggles to Pin Insider Trading on Fund Sales Simply put, Hedge funds that make money on inside information and inside access to private stock offerings escape prosecution. Just another example of eroding trust in the financial markets.

Elegant Argument For (Against) McCain

I have told anyone who will listen that McCain is the best choice any Democrat or Progressive could hope for from the Republican field. I think he represents the most appealing choice of the Republican group for moderates and independents He is the best fallback candidate if the Democrats prove as inept at getting elected as they did in 2004. This is isn’t to say I prefer him to either Democratic choices (or Nader for that matter).

 

Part of my optimism is my belief that though McCain will say anything to get elected; once in office he will revert to form. McCain’s real positions being against tax cuts for the rich and also for lobbying/campaign finance reform. The old saying goes that you can do more from within that on the outside, so why fault McCain for lying with dogs so he can get close enough to poison their food.

 

This isn’t to say I want him to win.

 

This brings me to a rather unique strategy that could be applied by his adversaries. The disdain felt by the far right for McCain is no secret. Neither is their lap dog like allegiance to candidates, like Bush, who talk the talk with lies, but walk another walk with their power. The more the left attacked Bush the more the right backed him up. The approach to McCain should be just the opposite. At every opportunity, the Democrats should praise McCain’s pragmatism and moderation.

 

Imagine the far-right’s chagrin when Democrat’s embrace McCain as a brother rather than an adversary. Right wing wackos, while not synonymous with the KKK, are still obviously anti-women and anti minority, so they won’t vote for either Democrat anyway; better to keep them home. The Democrat’s embracing of McCain personal attributes while respectively disagreeing with his policy objectives will accomplish the dual task of further alienating the right wing and keeping moderates from bristling at bellicose Democratic attacks.

 

Turning McCain into a well meaning but slightly boorish person suits his demeanor and will stick better then attacking him and inspiring sympathy.

Buffet to the Rescue or Kicking Bond Insurers when they’re Down

Warren BuffetToday, Warren Buffet offered to buy part of the business of the three big bond insurer’s books.   He wants the good part only, keeping with his value style of investing.

http://www.cnbc.com/id/23125353

Of course, they have already begun rejecting his offer but they won’t be able to for long.   Either through formal bankruptcy or these type of asset sales, Ambac, FGIC and MBIA don’t have enough funds to meet their insurance obligations. Buffet’s offer, while salting their already damaged egos, is only being rejected because they need a bail-out to remain ongoing businesses.

As Barry Ritholtz (http://bigpicture.typepad.com/) noted on CNBC 2/12, these companies are holding high quality Municipals that they insure as a hostage for the benefit of their toxic Mortgage paper.

If Mr. Buffet, or anyone else, can buy the good paper, these companies will cease to be going concerns as the write downs will continue in earnest. Telling him no just delays the inevitable.

JFK – Innocence Project for Oswald

Lee Harvey Oswald

Whether its new DNA tests or other scientific advances, we read almost daily about innocent people on death row; and hundreds more falsely imprisoned for years. I applaud those who strive to free the innocent, more often then not on a pro bono basis. Unlike some conservatives, I have always felt the imprisoning the innocent is a greater threat to society then allowing the guilty to go free.

Look here to see how many innocents we know of: Innocence Project

Doesn’t the lack of a any state sponsored reinvestigation of the Kennedy assassination indicate something to you? If scientific advances can free the indigent can’t it be applied with great benefit to history, to a crime last investigated in the sixties?

Just as an unethical prosecutor is reluctant to free the obviously innocent, our country still won’t acknowledge any new truth about who killed JFK and possibly answer the why as well.