Bernard Madoff Is Our Sin:
Genius though he may have been at excoriating human behavior, Mark Twain was a total fucktard when it came to money. Investing in bullshit inventions and taking the worst financial advice available, Twain was a greedy bastard who fell into get-rich-quick schemes and, of course, ended up getting dicked over. He went bankrupt in 1894. Twain went on a worldwide speaking tour to earn the money to pay his creditors, but he knew that he had allowed himself to give in to one of the basest of human cravings. Yeah, he was lied to and conned, but, at the end of the day, it was the lure of easy cash that made him prime the pump again and again. We are all, all fools, he knew, and he accepted that he was one, too.
This is not an attempt to blame Bernard Madoff's victims for the vile man's crimes. Madoff deserves to be ass-raped while getting shit swirlies for the rest of his pathetic life. Madoff's shallow, shameless statement to the court was like a lesson in how to use legal obfuscation to cover up for your family. His apology was less convincing than a high school jock telling a cheerleader he fucked that he has herpes.
And he sounded like every craven petty thief that's ever been caught breaking and entering: "When I began the Ponzi scheme I believed it would end shortly and I would be able to extricate myself and my clients from the scheme." Yeah, Bernie Madoff was fuckin' Jean Valjean at the beginning there, just stealing bread to feed his family. By the end, he was essentially scrambling like a junkie who's trying to use one loan shark to pay off the others: "I wired money between the United States and the United Kingdom to make it appear as though there were actual securities transactions executed on behalf of my investment advisory clients." But, see, he wasn't a total cocksucking bag of scum: "Madoff Securities International Ltd. was principally engaged in proprietary trading and was a legitimate, honestly run and operated business." It's not unlike Jeffrey Dahmer saying that he didn't eat the ears of his victims. When you make Elie Wiesel and his foundation lose all their money, you don't get to mitigate your evil.
The fact that the courtroom floor didn't crack open and stiletto-clawed demons didn't reach up to tear Madoff into gory bits before dragging his shrieking, awful soul to hell is pretty much proof that there is no God.
So, no, this is not to blame Madoff's victims. It's actually to blame all of us. The fascinating thing about last night's Daily Show beatdown of CNBC screamer Jim Cramer by Jon Stewart was not how Stewart knocked out Cramer. That was easy - Cramer walked into the ring and curled up on the floor, waiting for it to be over. It was that Stewart's point wasn't merely that CNBC is often wrong. No, Stewart was asking if CNBC existed to give aid and comfort to corporations or to the individual. In fact, Stewart's point was that we are greedy shits by nature and we need people to temper it, not fan it. And isn't it the job of purported business journalists to find out who's telling the truth and not just get in bed with execs so that they can, as Cramer said of Lehman Brothers' CEO, lie to their faces and expect to be believed? Stewart's anger at Cramer (and, indeed, at all journalism, not just business) is that we need people to do their fucking jobs. Or we get unnecessary wars and financial collapses that could have been predicted.
What Cramer's right about is that CNBC was just giving people what they like: a loud, shiny show that massages your avarice muscle until it's good and supple. And that's exactly what Bernie Madoff was doing, too. His clients believed he was the man, and that motherfucker was willing to do what it took to give 'em what they wanted. The question, though, as ever, is not what we want. It's what we need.
So while everyone's chiming in about all the awful punishments that could and should await Madoff, the Rude Pundit finds himself thinking of the Korean film Sympathy for Lady Vengeance. It's a worthy analogy for how Madoff's victims might want to deal with him. But, without giving away the ending, let's just say that no one gets out of it clean.