The buck stops here

I’m sure this is a coincidence (via):

Joe Paterno transferred full ownership of his house to his wife, Sue, for $1 in July, less than four months before a sexual abuse scandal engulfed his Penn State football program and the university.

Documents filed in Centre County, Pa., show that on July 21, Paterno’s house near campus was turned over to “Suzanne P. Paterno, trustee” for a dollar plus “love and affection.” The couple had previously held joint ownership of the house, which they bought in 1969 for $58,000.

This is another classic 60s tactic for avoiding liability. After 30 or 40 years of hippies muddying the water, what do you expect?

122 replies
  1. 1
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    As I mentioned in a prior thread, if true, this is damning.

    It could be for another reason, of course, but it sure looks like he’s been taking steps to make some assets judgement proof.

  2. 2
    rufflesinc says:

    Damn it, I hope he at least had to pay some kind of tax on the fair market value as a friend did when she got a car from a family member for a nominal value and had to transfer title.

  3. 3
    JGabriel says:


    This is another classic 60s tactic for avoiding liability.

    It all started when Joe Woodstock put the family farm in his wife’s name before leasing it out for concerts. No one had ever hidden assets before the hippies did it.


  4. 4
    Hmmm.... says:

    Damned hippies and their moral relativism.

    Things were fine before they came along with their “Child sex, drugs and rock’n’roll”

  5. 5
    burnspbesq says:

    It’s also part of every rational estate plan ever done in Pennsylvania.

    There are two equally logical explanations, and without a moment’s hesitation you opt for the one that says “evil.” That says at least as much about you as it does about Paterno.

    P.S. If this were really about asset protection, he would have retired and moved to Florida, which has an unlimited homestead exemption.

  6. 6
    burnspbesq says:


    Damn it, I hope he at least had to pay some kind of tax on the fair market value as a friend did when she got a car from a family member for a nominal value and had to transfer title.

    Nope. There’s an unlimited marital deduction under the gift tax. Don’t know whether there is any sort of documentary transfer tax, similar to what we have in California, but that would be a nominal amount, probably well less than 1 percent of the value.

  7. 7
    DougJ says:


    It’s possible that as much as half of what you’ve said in PSU’s defense may be true, but level with me: are they paying you? Seriously. I’d like to know.

    I don’t appreciate it if you are. Not one bit. I’ve been spammed by PR firms and the like before at my old blog.

  8. 8
    sfinny says:

    I haven’t been able to find out when Paterno testified to the grand jury. But the timing sure is interesting. Grand jury investigation begins in 2008, but he waits until now to transfer assets. Guess he got some legal advice about civil liability.

  9. 9
    PurpleGirl says:

    @sfinny: He probably figures that the matter isn’t going to be swept under the rug now and he needs to do some real work on protecting those assets.

  10. 10
    Xboxershorts says:

    What the fuck is this shit about blaming the fucking hippies?

  11. 11
    Gilles de Rais says:

    Shit just got real.

  12. 12
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Xboxershorts: Ah, Bobo is blaming the hippies for the lax morality of the last 40-odd years.

  13. 13
    Xboxershorts says:

    BOBO never fucking even knew a motherfucking Hippy…

  14. 14
    The Dangerman says:


    It’s also part of every rational estate plan ever done in Pennsylvania.

    IANAL, but I agree, this plan is hardly unusual other than the timing.

  15. 15
    El Cid says:


    Experts in estate planning and tax law, in interviews, cautioned that it would be hard to determine the Paternos’ motivation simply from the available documents. It appears the family house had been the subject of years of complex and confusing transactions.
    Lawrence A. Frolik, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh who specializes in elder law, said that he had “never heard” of a husband selling his share of a house for $1 to his spouse for tax or government assistance purposes.
    “I can’t see any tax advantages,” Frolik said. “If someone told me that, my reaction would be, ‘Are they hoping to shield assets in case if there’s personal liability?’ ” He added, “It sounds like an attempt to avoid personal liability in having assets in his wife’s name.”

  16. 16
    Brian S says:

    That Bobo piece pissed me off so much I ranted about it. What a fucking useless waste of space he is.

  17. 17
    feebog says:

    @ burnspbesq:

    It’s also part of every rational estate plan ever done in Pennsylvania.

    Really? Now you are an expert on estate planning in PA? No, a rational estate plan would be to put the property into an irrevocable living trust. Paterno’s action has “cover my as when the law suits start flying” all over it.

  18. 18
    jl says:

    I did not know Paterno and the other PSU brass involved were 30 and 40 something hippies, uh, that’s what Bobo is talking about, right?

  19. 19
    David Koch says:

    @burnspbesq: Are there any tax implications in selling your share of your home to your spouse, friend, or family member for a nominal amount?

  20. 20
    David Koch says:


    a rational estate plan would be to put the property into an irrevocable living trust.

    What would that do and how is that different than just selling it your spouse?

  21. 21
    pragmatism says:

    Speculating but the timeline of Joe getting wind of the Sandusky investigation in July or earlier and asset transferring makes sense.

  22. 22
    El Cid says:

    @DougJ: I don’t think bpesq is making significantly different types or origins or whatever of arguments on this subject matter from arguments on other subjects. i.e., whether or not people commenting on a subject are aware of the legal issues involved, do they leap to an improper presumption of intent, is something being seen as shockingly offputting when it’s really quite common, and so forth. I don’t see why this would be spam or PR.

  23. 23
    Brian S says:

    @jl: I honestly don’t know if Bobo is stupid or just fucking lazy–you can read him both ways, it seems to me–but the net effect is the same.

  24. 24
    MikeBoyScout says:

    I don’t know what you could be implying.

    It is not like there’s been any suggestions of any impropriety in Sandusky’s bail hearing or anything.

  25. 25
    Calouste says:


    Nah, I don’t think burnespesq is a paid PR agent. I think he is an autistic lawyer who believes with his whole being that legal nitpicking takes the utmost precedent over minor things like morality, fairness and justice.

  26. 26
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    I’m not a lawyer, I don’t pretend to play one on the Internet, but I know that transferring ownership of a house to a spouse is a means of shielding that asset from liability. Because my family attorney recommended to my mother that she put the house in her name when my father was hospitalized for complications from hip surgery, to make sure that the state did not seize the house to pay off medical bills connected to that incident.

    The timing seems suspicious, to say the least.

  27. 27
    The Spy Who Loved Me says:

    Even if it is done to protect an asset that is also his wife’s home, why in the world wouldn’t he do that? Or should he not make sure that, no matter what happens, his wife has a roof over her head in her last years? He might be culpable, but she sure as hell isn’t.

  28. 28
    David Koch says:

    @El Cid: Wouldn’t this kind of transaction trigger a gift tax?

    Yes, there was nominal consideration, but it’s in substance a gift. For example, if I give my daughter a $25K car it’s a gift. If I give it to her in consideration for a dollar and affection, it’s still a gift, no?

  29. 29
    sfinny says:

    @PurpleGirl: That’s what I figure. Maybe some scuttlebutt was going around that the grand jury report was imminent and not favorable?

    Also too, thanks for being my early bird buddy at the get-together. Loved meeting you.

  30. 30
    DougJ says:

    @El Cid:

    I’ll await the reply and take him at his word.

  31. 31
    some guy says:

    It’s also part of every rational estate plan ever done in Pennsylvania.

    what is the exact part of the tax code that allows for depreciation of ass rapists, and is there also an exemption for ass fucking dozens of preteens, or is the amortization limited to the unwilling penetration of a solitary preteen bunghole?

    knowledge of such felonies can be deducted how, exactly?
    you are one twisted fuck. no wonder your apologia for Geithner’s assfucking of the body politic is so solid.

  32. 32
    El Cid says:

    @David Koch: I have no idea — I just blockquoted the most directly relevant text of the New York Times article which was linked — a Pennsylvania law professor commenting on the procedure in question.

  33. 33
    PurpleGirl says:

    @sfinny: You’re welcome. It was nice meeting you too. Also.

  34. 34
    honus says:

    @burnspbesq: This is real estate. It doesn’t have anything to do with the gift tax. Income isn’t realized until it’s sold. As any dirt lawyer can tell you, between spouses it’s exempt from transfer tax.

  35. 35
    gwangung says:

    Yes, there was nominal consideration, but it’s in substance a gift.

    Depends on the state laws, doesn’t it?

    For PA lawyers out there, what’s the difference between this and quit claiming it to her?

  36. 36
    Villago Delenda Est says:


    The thing was, he COULD NOT retire and move to Florida before the end of this season.

    Because he had to get those wins up there to get the Division I record, you know.

    He probably should have retired and moved to Florida 15 years ago. That way he’d not be around to be implicated in the coverup that seems to have begun 13 years ago when Sandusky was, it appears, asked to retire and gave up his position as Paterno’s heir apparent.

    Like I said, the timing seems just too coincidental. My old Jedi master was fond of saying that true coincidences are vanishingly rare.

  37. 37
    justsomelawyer says:

    I’m an attorney in PA. Full disclosure, my law degree is from Penn State. Elder law isn’t my area of practice, but I do know a little bit about real estate. Some quick thoughts on the issues involved:

    1) If the intent of the transfer was to shield the house from being taken in a lawsuit, there’s some obvious problems vis-a-vis PA’s fradulent conveyance laws, which you can read about here:

    2) However, in PA real estate owned by a married couple (“by the entireties” is the term used), would not normally be attached if a judgment was obtained only against one party (and I don’t think anyone’s accusing his wife of being part of this.)

    3) However, if there’s a judgment againt one party, entireties or no, most title companies will have a problem issuing title if you want to sell that real estate.

    4) Real estate transfers from Husband and Wife to just one spouse are exempt from transfer taxes.

    5) If property is owned in the entireties, and one spouse dies, the other spouse would take the entire real estate

    6) There is zero inheritance tax when a spouse dies and inherits the other spouse’s property.

    If someone’s got more experience than I, feel free to correct me. But I don’t see where this move helps from an estate planning perspective in Paterno’s case. There might be some benefit if you were looking to transfer property from one spouse to another if you were worried about the spouse with the house needing long term care at some point (and even in that case there are issues involving lookback periods). But the Paternos are wealthy people, and I imagine through other resources, and long term care insurance, they’d have thought of that already.

    Could it have been a (clumsy) attempt at asset shielding if JoePA knew what was coming? That’s a legit interpretation, though I’m not ready to jump to that conclusion.

  38. 38
    gwangung says:

    @some guy: Calm down.

    Ive seen my share of planned giving and estate documents, which have some similarities. This might be unusual. This might not be. I think an estate lawyer might have better insights into this.

  39. 39
    some guy says:


    shilling for small and medium cap firms has provided Burnsie with all kinds of super duper tax liability powers

  40. 40
    some guy says:


    first thing we do…

  41. 41
    jpe says:

    Wouldn’t a fraudulent transfer statute make this an ineffective way to shield assets? Re: estate plan: could be that the wife needs 5mill in her estate to max out the unified credit. Yeah, there’s portability, but it’s still wiser to structure things so that it doesn’t have to be relied on. So there are certainly non-funky reasons it could’ve happened,but who knows what those creeps were thinking.

  42. 42
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @some guy:

    first thing we do…


    The lawyers are not the problem.

    The real problem is The Village.

  43. 43
    jl says:

    @Brian S: I think the best bet is that Bobo is lazy and corrupt, or lazy and so complacent and self satisfied that he does not realize how corrupt he is. Have you read Sasha Iszenberg’s real reporting on Bobo’s unreal methods?

    Boo-Boos in Paradise
    Wayne-bred David Brooks is the public intellectual of the moment. But our writer found out he doesn’t check his facts
    By Sasha Issenberg
    Philadelphia Magazine
    April 2004

  44. 44
    Gustopher says:

    I hope his wife suddenly realizes that she cannot be with a man who condones the anal rape of children, divorces him, and keeps the house.

  45. 45
    gwangung says:

    @some guy: Well, on the other hand, there’s no cost to anyone if we fly off the handle. Just our dignity. (And if any of us were worried about that, we wouldn’t be posting here…).

    I’m just not moved to think anything until I know more. And I get the feeling I may actually know more than most folks about this.

  46. 46
    jpe says:

    @ David: there’s no gift tax on transfers between spouses. So this is a gift, but not taxable.

  47. 47
    gwangung says:


    Re: estate plan: could be that the wife needs 5mill in her estate to max out the unified credit.

    Huh. Any big time coach is going to have way more than $5 million in his estate. Taking the home out of the estate and putting it in her name gets her more.

  48. 48
    Lojasmo says:

    You fail to offer the supposed second logical explanation. Why is that, lawyerly schill?

  49. 49
    HBin says:

    @DougJ: At least geg6 had the excuse of protecting his/her place of emplyment with all the defense. Not sure what burns’ deal is.

  50. 50
    some guy says:

    According to documents filed with the county, the house’s fair-market value was listed at $594,484.40.

    “I can’t see any tax advantages,” Frolik said. “If someone told me that, my reaction would be, ‘Are they hoping to shield assets in case if there’s personal liability?’ ” He added, “It sounds like an attempt to avoid personal liability in having assets in his wife’s name.”

  51. 51
    honus says:

    @gwangung: He could have just transferred it to her without any tax consequences. Real estate gain isn’t taxed until sold, and the $1 is just a recital for form. The real consideration is, as it says “love and affection” meaning that under the law it is essentially a gift. Which in most states you can do free of the transfer taxes to a family member (always to a spouse) or to a corporation or a trust.
    It’s kind of odd that she’s the sole trustee; usually both spouses would be trustees with survivorship (automatically passes to the survivor) with a child as successor.
    So no, it’s not a tax dodge, since it would be tax free in any event. And real estate isn’t taxed through the estate after death, since it doesn’t pass through the estate, it passes automatically on death, and the basis is stepped up to the value at the death of the owner. In other words, Joe could have died, left the house he paid $50k for in 1969 to his son, and if he sold it for $1,000,00.00 the next day the gain is tax free. It works this way for everybody, and has for a long time.

  52. 52
    jpe says:

    Oh, he did give it to a trust, not his wife. His wife is the trustee. I dunnno what the rules in PA are for creditor protection and trusts. Could well be an estate planning move, could be creditor protection.

  53. 53
    some guy says:

    The lawyer whose name is attached to the latest matter involving the couple’s house is David C. Pohland of Cassidy, Kotjarapoglus & Pohland of Greensburg, Pa. Pohland did not return a telephone message on Tuesday. The maiden name of Sue Paterno, who is 13 years younger than her husband, is Pohland. It was uncertain if there was any relation between her and the lawyer.

  54. 54
    Lojasmo says:


    You win the thread, and shall be awarded one Internet.

  55. 55
    some guy says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    apologists are the real problem, barristers or not barristers.

  56. 56
    El Cid says:

    @Gustopher: Maybe we need to put out a nationwide alert for similar type transfers among the spouses of church leaders, major sports programs, you name it, so that we can be at least one RSS update ahead of the next massive child rape coverup.

  57. 57
    jonas says:

    What this looks like to me, if I didn’t know anything about the current PSU scandal, is someone who suspects they may need long term care (= Alzheimer’s diagnosis?) moving assets out of their name so they can eventually qualify for Medicaid and not completely exhaust their estate.

  58. 58
    JGabriel says:

    OT: Torture.

    NY Times:

    As empty as Mr. Romney’s remarks were about Iran, his refusal to renounce waterboarding is disturbing. There are few issues that more clearly define a candidate’s national security policy in the 21st century than a position on torture.

    You know, when I was a kid, I always thought the issues that a would clearly define a 21st C. policy would be things like: space exploration; reducing the standard workday to 5 hours now that everything is automated; how to distribute the medical cures we develop here to save the rest of the world.

    Yeah, I was a kid. I was pie-eyed and optimistic for the future, because, while the present sure sucked, we’d put men on the moon, there was cool sci-fi everywhere telling us how great the future could be (and why would we choose something different?), and news stories everyday about computers and space promising that same future.

    Now, here we are actually in the 21st C., and our national security policy is defined not by any of those cool things, but by questions regarding torture — and Republicans who want to bring it back — that were largely resolved in the wake of the Spanish Inquisition hundreds of years ago, and the horrors of which were renewed, and captured for all on film, as recently as WW II.

    But Michelle Bachmann, Herman Cain, Mitt Romney, and the people who cheer them on, want to bring torture back — when there are so many better things we could be talking about and doing in the 21st C.

    What the fuck is wrong with these people?


  59. 59
    gwangung says:

    @jpe: Huh. So it’s for transference, not to her, but to successive generations.

    Yeah. Not being a lawyer, it could be estate planning (again, I’ve seen lots of maneuvers like this), could be for asset protection.

    I’ll probably wait for more information and not froth at the mouth.

  60. 60
    handy says:

    @El Cid:

    I like your thinking.

  61. 61
    Jasper says:

    For estate reasons, he might transfer it to his wife so she has enough assets to use up the estate tax exemption available to her, and only her. Under old law, each person got an amount – it was 3.5M each, up to 7M for the couple. If she dies and has no assets, she doesn’t take advantage of that exemption at her death and the couple uses only the exemption available to Joe – just 3.5M.

    So basic estate plan 101 would be to transfer assets to the spouse with the least, the spouse here, up to 3.5M so she can use the full exemption. The law is temporarily changed so that’s not necessary at this moment.

    Transfers to a generally REvocable living trusts are simply a different way to settle the estate rather than through the Will. Joe still owns the house for all intents and purposes, since he can revoke the trust at any time, but when he dies it transfers per the trust document.

    Transfers to IRrevocable trusts are tough to summarize – lots of possibilities and reasons for them.

    And transfers to spouses never trigger gift tax. As someone said, there is an unlimited marital exemption for transfers during life and at death.

    All that said, the timing is darn odd. You’d think at this point in life and with his wealth the VERY basics of his estate plan would have been long done, and who owns the house is sort of step 1.

  62. 62
    Ira-NY says:

    It is their homestead. As such, it is exempt from liability.

  63. 63
    Joey Maloney says:

    @some guy: The context of that quote is widely ignored. It was spoken by an aspiring tyrant.

  64. 64
    Mike says:

    Is PA not a community property state? You couldn’t pull that shit in most other states and get away with it.

  65. 65
    jpe says:

    @ Jason: people generally don’t do QPRTs until later in life. Could be that.

  66. 66
  67. 67
    Nom de Plume says:

    @some guy:

    The maiden name of Sue Paterno, who is 13 years younger than her husband, is Pohland.

    You mean they hired someone from their own family to represent them? Tell me it isn’t true!

  68. 68
    joeshabadoo says:

    I’m amazed how the hating hippies thing has even caught on in the generations too young to really know any real hippies.

    I imagine it is just the demonization from the media for years and years. South Park in particular hates hippies but I can’t imagine people who watch the show actually have any experience with actual hippies.
    I guess it is just an easy group to punch because not only do they have no power, they have barely existed for years and the political establishment encourages it.

    I wish the yuppie hate stayed around longer. Everyone still hates them since they are basically the Wall Street guys but it lulled for some time.

  69. 69
    celiadexter says:

    Sounds like a garden-variety fraudulent conveyance to me. I don’t know PA law specifically, but in many jurisdictions it can be voided by a creditor, and those 40+ kids may well be creditors.

  70. 70
    Villago Delenda Est says:


    Doesn’t that depend on the state? I know that Texas and Florida have “homestead exemptions” that allow for extravagance of the Louis XIV nature in a “homestead”.

    Other states, not so generous.

  71. 71
    Roger Moore says:


    It is their homestead. As such, it is exempt from liability.

    Nope. Different states have different homestead exemptions, which vary from zero in some states to unlimited (except by property area) in others. It looks as if Pennsylvania has no homestead exemption, so you can lose your house there to creditors.

    ETA: Looking further, it appears that Pennsylvania has an exemption against liability to one spouse for property that’s held jointly.

  72. 72
    Calouste says:

    @Joey Maloney:

    What use does a tyrant have for lawyers?

  73. 73
    Villago Delenda Est says:


    I believe that Rick Santorum has already established that John McCain has no expertise on what constitutes “torture”.

  74. 74
    gwangung says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Doesn’t that depend on the state?

    Ah, who cares? We’re all internet lawyers and judges here! Hang ’em! Hang ’em! HANG ‘EM!

  75. 75
    Villago Delenda Est says:


    Hanging is so vulgar.

    No, I think that we’ll use firing squads, and send a bill for the ammunition to the family.

  76. 76
    handy says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    I myself am quite skeptical of John McCain’s given expertise on practically anything, his personal experience in this matter notwithstanding.

    And yet he gets this. Crazy how messed up the GOP “mainstream” culture is.

  77. 77
    Jebediah says:


    What this looks like to me, if I didn’t know anything about the current PSU scandal, is someone who suspects they may need long term care (= Alzheimer’s diagnosis?) moving assets out of their name so they can eventually qualify for Medicaid and not completely exhaust their estate.

    I don’t follow football, but I seem to remember comments here from football fans that Joe Paterno seemed increasingly “out of it” lately, so maybe… but wouldn’t someone of his stature have good enough health benefits to cover that? I am just assuming that people who are paid that much would have fairly gold-plated benefits, too.
    But if not, putting the house out of reach of creditors seems smart.

  78. 78
    Villago Delenda Est says:


    My disappointment is that McCain gets this now, but 8 years ago he didn’t seem to get it.

    He had a chance to be a real beacon of light on this, denounce even the hint of torture, saying “been there, done that”, and make a moral stand on behalf of anyone who has ever been a prisoner of war. He could have seized unassailable high ground on this issue and really stood out and been an actual maverick.

    Yet he failed to do so.

  79. 79
    numfar says:

    Here’s Brooks chiming in.

  80. 80
    handy says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Friends, you go with the mavericks you have–not the mavericks you wished you had 8 years ago.

  81. 81
    MikeJ says:

    @some guy:

    first thing we do…

    Is go in to court without a lawyer?

  82. 82
    Michael G says:

    No one else has mentioned this. I am from California and thus my real estate valuations are skewed, but isn’t $600K surprisingly low for someone making his salary?

    I mean, that’s like 7 months of his pay.

  83. 83
    jonas says:

    @Jebediah: wealthier people these days can get long term care insurance. It’s really expensive, but available if you sign up early enough. Even for well-off people, though, if you find out too late that you need it — tough shit. The only option, unless you’re really super, super rich (we’re talking $5k-$6k/month for a basic facility — $10k a month and higher for a “nice” one), is to divest yourself of all your assets and register as “poor” so as to qualify for Medicaid in the end.

    This is just silly speculation, though. If Joe Paterno is 80-something, the likelihood of him having dementia and no-one knowing it by now — while coaching a top college football team — is pretty small. That usually shows up in your 60s or 70s (see Reagan, Ronald). There could be other issues, apart from health or the present scandal, that we don’t know about.

  84. 84
    xian says:

    @Brian S: neither: he is evil. he serves power and monied interests, consistently. he enables wealthy liberals torationalize pro-plutocratic policies.q

  85. 85
    sfinny says:

    @JGabriel: Yes, once we were against torture. Now we are not by many of our so called leaders. The scary thing to me is that this whole thing has been accepted by the public. Torture of terrorists is great. So, OK, who is the terrorist?

  86. 86
    Crusty Dem says:

    You’re a better man than me, Doug. I would just assume burnsy is a paid troll (or, as it has become known in liberal circles, “pulling an Armando”). I’m sure he’d argue that he should be entitled to some assumption innocence, but I think he’s been proven to be a massive douche.

  87. 87
    gwangung says:

    Yeah, I can safely say that “Don’t bother me with the facts, my mind is made up” isn’t exclusively the domain of just one side of the political spectrum.

  88. 88
    Redshift says:


    I imagine it is just the demonization from the media for years and years. South Park in particular hates hippies but I can’t imagine people who watch the show actually have any experience with actual hippies.

    Anybody who is accused of acting like a hippie is a hippie in the minds of the accuser, so they all have direct experience with hippies.

    The key is that the divide between liberals and conservatives turns on whether you think the Vietnam War protests and the Summer of Love were really cool things or degenerates who undermined the country’s morals and strength.

  89. 89
    DougJ says:


    I’m willing to be agnostic but skeptical on this one…but don’t you think it’s odd to have people who reflexively defend Penn State up and down on this one. I don’t think I’m reflexively condemning, I don’t claim to know Paterno’s role, or how many people knew or anything like that.

  90. 90
    Jebediah says:

    $10K a month for a nice facility!? Fuck me… I didn’t know it was that pricey!
    Thanks for the info.

  91. 91
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Jebediah: And that’s today’s dollars. The problem is calculating those future dollars, if you are planning to buy LTC insurance.

  92. 92
    MikeJ says:

    @Redshift: What if you think they were cool but ultimately futile, useless things?

  93. 93
    delphi_ote says:

    @numfar: Brooks is one evil mother fucker. All you have to do is put his premise next to his conclusion to see in all its naked horror.

    Over the course of history — during the Holocaust, the Rwandan genocide or the street beatings that happen in American neighborhoods — the same pattern has emerged. Many people do not intervene. Very often they see but they don’t see.

    So when something atrocious happens, people look for some artificial, outside force that must have caused it — like the culture of college football, or some other favorite bogey. People look for laws that can be changed so it never happens again.

    He’s telling us as a culture to not speak up and intervene when the system has gone horribly wrong. He’s telling us we shouldn’t look for institutional failures and correct them. He’s saying we shouldn’t call out the people who let this horrible thing happen. His piece basically says, “Lots of people looked the other way when the Holocaust happened, and we should probably do the same thing.”

    Evil asshole.

  94. 94
    Calouste says:


    Way to put street violence on the same level as the Holocaust and Rwanda. I don’t have to see any of Brooks’ conclusions after that, I know there will be things that are stuck to the soles of my shoes that have better reasoning than that.

  95. 95
    Jebediah says:

    Well, I went and read the piece you linked to. I notice it is from 2004, and in the intervening six years Bobo hasn’t changed his lazy bullshit. I guess he knows his sinecure is safe – accuracy and rigor must be dumb hippie shit or something.
    I love his defensiveness – that’s “unethical,” do it my way or you’ll grow up to be a bad reporter, etc.
    Fuck David Brooks.

  96. 96
    Jebediah says:

    @Suffern ACE:
    To paraphrase another old geezer, “Hope I die before I require assisted living…”

  97. 97
    PanurgeATL says:


    I disagree. He’s just saying that the thing we “see but don’t see” is EVUL HIPPIEZ, not “the culture of college football”. But all he shows is precisely that he’s “seeing but not seeing” the “culture of college football”; he even specifically discounts it in his column. He sees EVUL HIPPIEZ because seeing them serves his purpose, which is to protect “Norman Rockwell”.

  98. 98
    Rome Again says:

    It’s done all the time. Should we send out criminal investigators to check every minute detail of everyone who has ever done this?

    I would hope that Paterno’s assets (being that he’s the undisputed #1 coach in College Football and has been for years) would be more than some crappy old house bought in the 60’s.

  99. 99
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Rome Again:

    It’s done all the time. Should we send out criminal investigators to check every minute detail of everyone who has ever done this?

    We only need to send out criminal investigators to check out the people who did it shortly after they testified in a grand jury investigation of charges that could plausibly lead to their being sued. You know, like in this case.

  100. 100
    Porlock Junior says:

    I’m actually curious: Why is such a transfer part of a Pennsylvania estate plan? It’s not part of mine in California, where the living trust is what seems to be an inescapable part of estate plans.

    What’s different about Penna? Or is the trust really a bad way to go, compared to whatever this gimmick is?

  101. 101
    John Dillinger says:

    Folks, this is silly. If you have seen the house, and have an idea of real estate values in that area (hint, it is not NYC or DC), and can imagine how much money Paterno has made over the years from the other ventures that a well-connected guy like him can tap into with little risk, his home represents a tiny fraction of this net worth.

  102. 102
    geg6 says:

    The idea that this is some sort of conspiracy to hide assets is ridiculous. I’ve seen the house ( it’s practically in the middle of campus). Not much to speak of in the asset department. A typical middle class home in State College. The Paternos don’t live like royalty, though I’m sure they have huge assets otherwise.

    As for my defense of Penn State, I don’t defend anything or anyone except the innocent students, alumni, faculty, and staff. The rest will, hopefully, hang (figuratively speaking), as they should. And I fervently hope the victims get help and, eventually, the peace they deserve.

  103. 103
    jpe says:

    Why is such a transfer part of a Pennsylvania estate plan? It’s not part of mine in California

    CA is a freak, estate planning-wise. If the transfer is part of a QPRT or gift to trust or FLP or whatever, then it’s pretty standard.

  104. 104
    Keith G says:

    Maybe it is asset protection. And if it is, I understand. Odds are, Joe Paterno will be dead within a year. He is a very old man with questionable health, shorn from his sustaining passion and under well deserved and growing emotional duress.

    Hell, he may not make it to June or the first round of depositions, whichever comes first.

    Joe’s issues aside, if he is taking steps to see that Mrs. Paterno can be in her family’s home until she dies (a decade?), I got no problem with that considering what I now know of the case.

  105. 105
  106. 106
    Ecks says:

    someone who suspects they may need long term care (= Alzheimer’s diagnosis?) moving assets out of their name so they can eventually qualify for Medicaid

    Even were he not a bajillionaire, he’s surely old enough to qualify for medicare, right? Which would obviate the need for medicaid? Or do I not understand the system right?

  107. 107
    geg6 says:


    There are limits to what Medicare will pay for in an assisted living facility. I know we had to do a lot of shuffling of assets for my parents when my mom got her diagnosis of incurable breast cancer. She hung on just long enough for it all to work, legally speaking (dad had died in the meantime, of a massive heart attack, probably from dealing with the health care system for my mom). I don’t pretend to understand it, but if my mom had not died within a month of us finally putting her into the assisted living facility, we would have had to get her Medicaid eventually. The price of care in a decent facility is ridiculously expensive. I was shocked by it and that was in 2001. I can’t imagine what it costs today.

  108. 108
    Ecks says:

    Thanks geg6. I figured it could have been something like that. I’m trying google up costs, and the only quick place I could find that gave actual numbers was (seriously), which pegged the 2009 average at $3k and change, which a lot of regional variation (2 something in St. Louis, 4 something in Noo Yawk). Then there’s obviously variation in how MUCH care they need (washing and bathing, etc).

    God knows how reliable those numbers are. I tried looking up what it cost in the UK, but no dice for my weak ass Google-Fu.

  109. 109

    so wait, it sounds irrational to blame hippies for the actions and the culture that influenced those actions, at penn st. however, broadening the outrage to include everyone who works with youth, or dares play or coach athletics, especially football, is perfectly reasonable.

    blaming the hippies=bad blaming your third grade teacher=good
    blaming the people you never talked to in high school, by associating them with the game of football, and thus all football players, coaches etc=best option.

    just a temperature check.

  110. 110
    jpe says:

    Medicaid? Very doubtful. There are typically “look back” periods that would disqualify him for 3-5 years. Since he’s already 127 years old or so, the odds of him outliving the lookback period are pretty slim. Plus, he would’ve had to gift all his other assets away at least a 35% tax bite, which doesn’t strike me as likely. (half the assets of the spouse are countable for medicaid eligibility, so he would’ve had to give them away to someone else.)

  111. 111
    rikryah says:

    total coincidence

  112. 112
    Ecks says:

    @jpe: Huh. So our smartest guess at this point is that he was trying to build up her net worth to get the maximum out of some kind of tax exemption?

  113. 113
  114. 114
    geg6 says:


    For my mom’s care in 2001, the monthly room and board charge was $1900 or so per month, which you had to pay up front along with a deposit of the same amount and a last month charge of same. We had to pay for cable tv. We had to buy her meds, a month’s supply at a time. There were several other things I don’t remember. I do know that it all came to about $4200/month.

    She was there for 10 days and succumbed to the cancer, which had spread to her bones. We got a refund of the last month and absolutely nothing else. They kept the meds (told us they would throw them out) and all other fees we paid. Again, I was shocked, but it wasn’t worth fighting about after losing both parents on almost the exact same day 2 years apart.

  115. 115
    shortstop says:

    Why does everyone always suspect that the most inept and ineffective apologists are paid trolls? Isn’t it more likely that they’re assholes with an agenda?

    As for this one’s agenda, it ain’t PSU, except peripherally. See pedophilia of church, Roman Catholic, every goddamned thread discussing institutional responsibility for.

  116. 116
    jhtrotter says:

    Hey DJ, if you want to talk about strange timings, hows about the whole grand jury presentment release? The PA AG is apparently investigating how it is that the presentment appeared on a state court web site ‘prematurely’.

    Which causes some to wonder, when in fact did they intend to release it? Hours, days, weeks later, maybe post Rose Bowl? Could explain why the Penn State people seemed so surprised and unable to act, as maybe they thought they had given the GJ and AG a schedule and a plan?

    And the other fascinating timing question, at least to me, involves the length of time the GJ took to get to that point. People are outraged about Mike and Joe’s ‘inaction’ in allowing Jerry to continue to work his enhanced showering techniques for so long, what about the grand jury moving so agonizingly slowly as to almost appear to be inaction? Their investigation started 2 years ago. They heard what they called credible testimony from McQuery in late 2010 regarding the penitentiary horseplay in the shower. Doesn’t someone at that point say ‘…huh, maybe we should take a minute and send someone to see who Jerry’s teaching personal hygiene to now…’, or at least subpoena his credit card records to look for unusual purchases of soap and kid size shower slippers ?

    I mean, really, they sat on it for another year? If McQuery really does call 911 on that lathery day back in 2002, do the police take a year or more to respond? If he needed to be stopped immediately in 2002, why didn’t he need to be stopped immediately when it finally comes out in 2010?

    Or whatever. It’s all rhetorical nonsense at this point. I know the answers, it’s just tough to accept further evidence with regard to how disappointing our species is.

  117. 117
    Ecks says:

    @geg6: I can see that you wouldn’t particularly have much use for getting the meds back, but the deposit? Isn’t that there in case she suddenly incurs a whole lot of costs? Which she didn’t?

    But yeah, there’s quite a few industries that make money off people who are too shocked or stressed to push back hard. It’s not at all on the same scale, but I think I just got burned by the shipping industry, delivering their bill to ship our stuff across the Atlantic after it was already picked up and gone from our home, and we were already on the other side ourselves (the dispute revolving on the volume of stuff). You want to push back, but you’re dislocated in an new place, living out of a suitcase, and it’s not immediately obvious who you’d even call (the agency for this is not exactly common knowledge, I didn’t find it till too late).

  118. 118
    Annelid Gustator says:

    @burnspbesq: In the absence of any other information emerging since, you might be justified in casting stones back at the OP. However, you might want to google the news.

  119. 119
    jpe says:

    @ Ecks: either unified credit planning or some other estate planning (qualified personal residence trust, or QPRT, is what my money’s on), but it’s tough to say. It could be creditor protection, too. If I were a betting man, I’d say QPRT, but w/o seeing more of the docs (and the county charges for online access) it’s mighty tough to say.

  120. 120
    jpe says:

    re: the $1 value: seems to be a feature of PA recording rules. Here’s from the Centre County site:

    It is a state form that is used to set the value of a property being conveyed or to explain the reason for an exemption of transfer tax. They must be presented with a deed that is exempt of tax and our office will forward them to the Department of Revenue for review and final approval. Statements of value are required any time the true value of a property is not shown on the deed (such as in a $1.00 consideration) or when the tax is not paid at recording.

  121. 121
    Sebastian Dangerfield says:

    This gets me misty-eyed nostalgic about the 60s–that halcyon decade of minor sex, drugs, and fraudulent conveyances (the latter pioneered by Abbie Hoffman in ’68). Good times.

  122. 122
    Gex says:

    @Ecks: And the timing was completely coincidental.

    I find all the non-hinky theories completely credible, until I think about the timing. Did they JUST start estate planning at their ages? Or did they have a plan in place for everything but the house until a few months ago?

    Extremely fishy. And it does seem that this whole Penn State thing has actors banking on the fact that you can’t know for sure what they were thinking or what they knew when they took an action.

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