The renewed media attention and incessant litigation had weighed on Mr. Madoff, say his friends. But a close friend who spoke with him on Friday said his concern over the anniversary coverage didn’t seem out of the ordinary.Suicide never makes sense, but his suicide seemed explainable in the context under which it was carried out. Insider trading blogs claim that real Wall Street firms never did business with Bernie Madoff because no real traders ever believed the Madoff prospectus. Their opinion is that Madoff got money from retirees and rich people who were either willfully ignorant in the first place, or too arrogant to seek further financial expertise beyond trusting Bernie.
...his behavior the last week of his life did not ring any alarms with those in regular contact with him. They never expected how the week would end.
While the DADT debate rages on, the recent Afghanistan report has gone virtually unnoticed. The report detailed the progress we have and haven’t made – mostly haven’t, if you read between the lines – and reiterates Obama's intention to withdraw troops next July.
Obama emphasized that all of the U.S. plans for withdrawl are “very frail,” bringing into question exactly what the report was supposed to explain. The NYT is pessimistic:
Already, parts of the country with fewer troops are showing a deterioration of security, and the gains that have been made were hard won, coming at the cost of a third more casualties among NATO forces this year.Conversely, Adm. Mike Mullen reports that "the enemy is losing" in Afghanistan, though he recognizes that coalition victories are tenuous. He highlighted Pakistan as a source of ongoing threats, and said that the recent Afghanistan report wasn't meant to reiterate the entire U.S. strategy. Perhaps is was meant as a sort of dismal cheerleading attempt.
Then there are the starkly different timelines being used in Washington and on the ground. President Obama is on a political timetable, needing to assure a restless public and his political base that a withdrawal is on track to begin by the deadline he set of next summer and that he can show measurable success before the next election cycle.
Afghanistan, and the American military, are running on a different clock, based on more intractable realities. Some of the most stubborn and important scourges they face — ineffectual governance, deep-rooted corruption and the lack of a functioning judicial system — the report barely glanced at.
Earlier this year, Sessions sought to include language in the renewal of the GSP to close the loophole and save Exxel’s Alabama plant, but he has been unable to reach an agreement with Democrats and Republicans, who are pushing to pass the bill as is.Is it an earmark? Sessions is seeking a special exemption for a company in his state, who stands to gain a lot of business by the government intervening. There’s no government outlay, persay, but Stanton explains how what Sessions is seeking fits the technical definition of an earmark.
After numerous proposals to address the situation, Sessions opted to place a hold on the bill, which at this late date in the session means the GSP is likely to lapse at the end of the year.
Sessions flatly denies the provision he is seeking is an earmark. His office claimed he is trying to undo an old earmark.
…the [earmark] rules require the disclosure of any “congressionally directed spending items, limited tax benefits, or limited tariff benefits.” Limited tariff benefits are specifically defined by Senate rules as “a provision modifying the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States in a manner that benefits 10 or fewer entities.”And then there’s Sessions’ explanation, via his spokesman:
Sen. Sessions is trying to end that injustice, and eliminate that earmark, by ensuring that Bangladesh and China have to play by the same rules as everyone else in the world. He is fighting to close a gaping loophole in our trade laws so that companies in America are at least allowed to compete on the same playing field.
Legal experts warn that if there is an indictment under the Espionage Act, then any citizen who has discussed or accessed "classified" information can be arrested on "national security" grounds.This is why the State Department and other government agencies have warned their employees not to check out the illicit material — even though that may be the best way to get them to check it out in the first place.
According to the Act, anyone "having unauthorized possession of, access to....information relating to the national defense, or information relating to the national defense" which "could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation" and "willfully retains" that information, can be fined or imprisoned "not more than ten years, or both."
By late Tuesday night, the only thing that seemed certain was that Congress will, for the second year in a row, be in session the week of Christmas.The tax cut bill is on the verge of passage, but several Republican members are threatening to filibuster — see Greg and Guy's post below — the giant omnibus spending bill. Then there's the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, the repeal of DADT, immigration reform and other bills that promise to clog up the Senate schedule.
...opponents have sought to invent new constitutional theories and dig up old ones that were rejected 80 years ago.Judge Henry Hudson claimed that the Affordable Care act extended beyond the historical reach of the Commerce Clause. But that doesn't matter to Holder and Sebelius. To them, inactivity can mean whatever they want it to mean, and the Constitution doesn't matter.
Opponents claim the individual responsibility provision is unlawful because it "regulates inactivity." But none of us is a bystander when it comes to health care. All of us need health care eventually. Do we pay in advance, by getting insurance, or do we try to pay later, when we need medical care?
...Obama became the first person to opt out of public financing for the general election since the adoption of the current campaign finance system in the wake of the Watergate scandal.Due to the increased visibility of Obama's presidency and heightened Republican activism, the possibility of Obama's campaign getting to $1 billion seems increasingly likely.
Obama's decision - announced in June 2008 to much fanfare - proved close to decisive as his massive fundraising over the last five months of the campaign allowed him to overwhelm McCain on television in every swing state.
Given Obama's success after forgoing public financing in the 2008 general-election campaign, it's a virtual certainty that neither the president nor the Republican nominee will participate in that system for the 2012 general election.
We will pass a bill, as opposed to simply not passing anything. We’re going to have a vote on the Senate bill with possible changes. We’ll see what the process is.