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July 01, 2009

Madoff, the Convenient Villain

By: Bernard Chazelle

The scam artist formerly known as Bernie Madoff, who now goes by the name of "Hitler-to-the-Googleth-Power," got an earful yesterday:

"Extraordinarily evil";
"A beast";
"A monster";
"A low life";
"I only hope that he lives long enough that his jail cell becomes his coffin."
"Do the right thing: Jump!"

Geez, you'd think they were talking about Dick Cheney or someone with the blood of thousands of children on their hands.

Judge Chin sentenced the 71-year old man to 150 years in jail. That means he'll be free in the year 2159, at which point the descendents of his victims will be legally allowed to piss on his grave until (I quote) "Jupiter and Saturn collide in a giant ball of fire." I don't mean to belittle the hurt of the small investors who've been ruined by our new Hitler. Many did not deserve that.

But then many did. Many of them knew it was a pyramid scheme but trusted Madoff to protect them by finding another bunch of suckers to tile the ground floor of the pyramid (the only place where you get hurt). But, honestly, Judge Chin, how can a man who ruined John Malkovitch be really bad?

Don't get me wrong: I am not asking my old pal Pope Benedict to expedite Madoff's elevation to sainthood. (If the world needs a new Saint Bernard, I am here to serve.) But Wall Street is full of villains who've caused worse harm than Madoff. Some of them even work for our beloved president. So where did Madoff go wrong? Simple. He forgot to bribe Schumer to change the laws and make whatever the hell it is that he was doing legal. Bob Rubin and Larry Summers understand that well. That's why the media calls them "geniuses" and Madoff "Hitler to the Googleth Power."

Also, dunno about you, but I don't much like the idea of an old man dying in a prison cell.

— Bernard Chazelle

Posted at July 1, 2009 04:46 PM


Posted by: Cloud at July 1, 2009 05:47 PM

Madoff forgot the first rule of Wall Street: don't f@(k over the rich. He should consider himself lucky to be alive.

Posted by: Peter VE at July 1, 2009 06:01 PM

Prof. Chazelle: since you are a CS prof, maybe you can explain some math stuff that none of the news sources discuss. If someone had their money in Madoff's fund and then "lost everything", but got 10% per year for the past, say, 10 years, rather than 2% per year followed by the -50% they could have gotten this year when the markets crashed, then how can they blame Mr. Madoff, when they may actually still be better off than they would have been with all their funds in the stock market?

Posted by: asterix at July 1, 2009 06:06 PM

@ asterix:

I think Richard Cohen may already have answered your question in his column here.

Posted by: Steve in Los Angeles at July 1, 2009 06:16 PM

I like the idea of him dying in a prison cell. Or anywhere. I don't think a prison cell should have to suffer by being his host.

"Religion is the only thing that keeps the poor from killing the rich." - Napoleon Bonaparte

Posted by: Christopher Wing at July 1, 2009 07:31 PM

I don't much like the idea of an old man dying in a prison cell.

Depends on who the old man is. Cheney? Not a problem.

Posted by: Nell at July 1, 2009 07:37 PM

I know you're trolling with that Google shit B Dawg. And I ain't taking the bait. I might get hurt in the process...

PS Who the hell is Bernie Madoff and what does he have to do with Michael Jackson? HMMMMM? All I know is the idea of some old dude dying in a prison cell is better than some rich prick in a mansion raping society in peace.

Posted by: tim at July 1, 2009 08:29 PM

A 150 year sentence would be an absurdly theatrical piece of judicial grandstanding even when awarded to a serial killer; even without the ludicrous name-calling. Do American judges harbour a secret desire to be Geraldo Riviera?

Posted by: RobWeaver at July 1, 2009 08:33 PM

My sentiments exactly. He couldn't have pulled it off without the complicity of the SEC who managed to ignore the many warnings they received and other big players who had to know, but hey everybody is out there ripping off what ever they can and ther is honor among thieves. Why else did no one take action even when tipped off? Bernie was the sacrificial lamb, the real villains are still out there doing what they do, nothing has really changed. The Cheney, Bush, Rumsfeld and company are still out there enjoying the fruits of so much waste and death and destruction and nobody is willing to even slap their hand. What a joke, I wish I could laugh.

Posted by: knowdoubt at July 1, 2009 08:40 PM

"I don't much like the idea of an old man dying in a prison cell."

Ditto. We've spent enough money on him. Take his last dime, then let him get by on social security and medicare.

Posted by: will shetterly at July 1, 2009 08:48 PM

What's your problem with John Malkovich anyway?

Posted by: En Ming Hee at July 2, 2009 02:54 AM

Wolf, the sanitarian of forest.

Posted by: abb1 at July 2, 2009 03:44 AM

"I only hope that he lives long enough that his jail cell becomes his coffin."

Ummm... WTF?

Posted by: Dunc at July 2, 2009 06:31 AM

"What's your problem with John Malkovich anyway?"

I don't know about Bernard, but I had a problem when Malkovich said he wanted to kill Robert Fisk.

Posted by: Donald Johnson at July 2, 2009 10:24 AM

Dear Donald,

A long time I gave up trusting in the intellectual capacities of most celebrities anyway.

Posted by: En Ming Hee at July 2, 2009 01:10 PM

You're right as usual. I honestly don't know why everyone was all upset about that ENRON thing. People deserve to be cheated out of their money if they're dumb enough to be cheated out of their money. Besides, there should definitely be a different law for elderly rich folk. They count for so much more than the lowly uneducated hoi-polloi! Harrumph!

Posted by: AlanSmithee at July 2, 2009 02:53 PM

Pretty bad when Wall Street starts making The John Birch Society look insightful AND intellegent.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at July 2, 2009 04:10 PM

Malkovich? I didn't know. Cool. And I agree with Donald Johnson.

Also, see Robert Scheer's piece on Madoff on yesterday's Huffpo.

Posted by: catherine at July 2, 2009 04:47 PM

see this article on Madoff:

Posted by: Susan at July 2, 2009 09:36 PM

Madoff's wingmen were all those people who didn't investigate him. There was a story soon after Madoff was was exposed about someone who'd gone to the government (may have been a govt. examiner, can't recall) ten years ago telling them that Madoff was running a scam. And nothing was done.

Bank robbing is bad. But once the word gets out to the robbers that the banks aren't being guarded what happens next is inevitable.

Posted by: Bob In Pacifica at July 5, 2009 10:46 AM