BEHIND THE NEWS: Starting point

December 17, 2008 12:57:43 PM PST
Where to begin? With the admission by the S.E.C. that it was told of possible fraudulent trades by Bernard Madoff in 1999 -- nearly 10 years before his arrest for ripping off investors of $50 billion, the largest Ponzi scheme in history?

Maybe with Madoff himself, who today is not in jail, even though he couldn't find anyone willing to help put up his $10 million bail? (By way of example - $10 million is to $50 billion, as $10 is to $50,000.) Instead, he put up his real estate (was it purchased by some of the money he made from investors?) and is now confined to his home, with a monitoring device attached. Is he getting special treatment? Why isn't he in jail?

Perhaps we could begin this column with the acknowledgement by Cong. Jesse Jackson Jr. that he provided confidential information to the federal government for years about political corruption? But please don't call him an informant, he pleads. Informants provide confidential information to the government, after all. Oh, wait, isn't that what he did? Turns out, Jackson gave the feds tips about Rod Blagojevich before and during his Governorship - but not about the current scandal involving the alleged "sale" of Barack Obama's U.S. Senate seat to the highest bidder.

Or maybe we should start with the Inaugural agenda, released today, for Barack Obama's big day on January 20? Several New Yorkers are involved, including a remarkable quartet of musicians -- Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma, Gabriela Montero, Anthony McGill -- that is not just talented but represent the kind of diversity that Obama says he embraces. There's an Israeli-American, an Asian-American, A Latina, and an African-American.

Then again, we could begin with a woman in Hunterdon County, New Jersey, who is in a spat with a ShopRite in Easton, Pennsylvania, because the store refused to write her son's name on a birthday cake.

Why?

Because of the three-year-old's name: Adolf Hitler Campbell.

Why in the world would they not write that? We had much debate today about even doing this story, and giving any public showing to this family. Little Adolf does have two siblings: Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie Campbell will be one in April. And turning two in a few months is JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell.

Their father acknowledges he was raised not to mix socially or romantically with people of other races. But then he came out with this gem: "Say he [his son] grows up and hangs out with black people. That's fine, I don't really care. That's his choice."

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus your AccuWeather forecast and the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER


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