Thursday, April 30, 2009
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
internalized a worldview in which Wall Street is the central pillar of the American economy, the health of the economy depends on the health of a few major Wall Street banks, the importance of those banks justifies virtually any measures to protect them in their current form, large taxpayer subsidies to banks (and to bankers) are a necessary cost of those measures - and anyone who doesn't understand these principles is a simple populist who just doesn't understand the way the world really works.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Friday, April 24, 2009
Thursday, April 23, 2009
During Bush's first term, the line of defense was: "We do not torture. There was no torture! You've got nothing to prosecute us for. Nothing!"
Then the Abu Ghraib pictures happened.
Over the course of Bush's second term, the Bushies' main line of defense was: "OK, yeah, sometimes we torture. But it's our POLICY not to torture. You can't prosecute political leaders for what a few 'bad apples' do!"
Now the OLC memos have come out.
That new line of defense is: "OK, yeah, yeah, torture was our policy. But torture WORKED. You can't prosecute political leaders for doing stuff that worked to keeping the country safe!"
We'll see if that line works.
If it doesn't, you can already see the next (and presumably final) line of defense, which is even now being prepared: "OK, yeah, yeah: we do torture, and yeah, doing so was in fact our policy, and yeah, OK, it didn’t work. But we thought in GOOD FAITH that it would work. You can't prosecute political leaders for something that was done in good faith!"
Saturday, April 18, 2009
(The Irony of American History, p. 146-147)
A democracy can not of course, engage in an explicit preventive war. [However] the power of such a temptation to a nation, long accustomed to expanding possibilities and only recently subjected to frustration, is enhanced by the spiritual aberrations which arise in a situation of intense enmity. The certainty of the foe's continued intransigence seems to be the only fixed fact in an uncertain future.
Nations find it even more difficult than individuals to preserve sanity when confronted with a resolute and unscrupulous foe. Hatred disturbs all residual serenity of spirit and vindictiveness muddies every pool of sanity. In the present situation even the sanest of our statesmen have found it convenient to conform their policies to the public temper of fear and hatred which the most vulgar of our politicians have generated or exploited. Our foreign policy is thus threatened with a kind of apoplectic rigidity and inflexibility. Constant proof is required that the foe is hated with sufficient vigor. Unfortunately the only persuasive proof seems to be the disavowal of precisely those discriminate judgments which are so necessary for an effective conflict with the evil, which we are supposed to abhor.
There is no simple triumph over this spirit of fear and hatred. It is certainly an achievement beyond the resources of a simple idealism. For naive idealists are always so preoccupied with their own virtues that they have no residual awareness of the common characteristics in all human foibles and frailties and could not bear to be reminded that there is a hidden kinship between the vices of the most vicious and the virtues of even the most upright.
Friday, April 17, 2009
There are a lot of things that governments do, that aren't naturally or in the course of events immediately made public.
After all this [torture] began life as a covert action, whose definition is that the hand of the United States government is never acknowledged and the details of the operation are never revealed.
So, I don't think it automatically fits into the class of "the American people need to know."
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
This guarding of our individualism against stratification insists not only in preserving in the social solution an equal opportunity for the able and ambitious to rise from the bottom; it also insists that the sons of the successful shall not by any mere right of birth or favor continue to occupy their fathers' places of power against the rise of a new generation in process of coming up from the bottom.
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
When Jaaber Hussein signs an agreement with Israel's Chief Rabbis tomorrow, he will be inking the only Arab-Jewish accord sure to be meticulously observed by both sides. The deal will make him the owner for one week of all bread, pasta and beer in Israel - well a huge amount of it anyway. The contract, signed for the past 12 years by the Muslim hotel food manager, is part of the traditional celebrations ahead of the Jewish holiday of Passover. Jews are forbidden by biblical injunction to possess leavened bread, or chametz, during Passover and ironically an Arab is needed to properly observe the holiday. The agreement with Mr Hussein offers a way of complying with religious edicts without having to wastefully destroy massive quantities of food.
Tomorrow, Mr Hussein will put down a cash deposit of $4,800 (some 20,000 shekels or £3,245) for the $150m worth of leavened products he acquires from state companies, the prison service and the national stock of emergency supplies. The deposit will be returned at the end of the holiday, unless he decides to come up with the full value of the products. In that case he could, in theory, keep them all. At the close of the holiday, the foodstuffs purchased by Mr Hussein revert back to their original owners, who have given the Chief Rabbis the power of attorney over their leavened products. "It's a firm, strong agreement done in the best way," Mr Hussein said.
Saturday, April 04, 2009
Justice Department lawyers concluded in an unpublished opinion earlier this year that the historic D.C. voting rights bill pending in Congress is unconstitutional, according to sources briefed on the issue. But Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., who supports the measure, ordered up a second opinion from other lawyers in his department and determined that the legislation would pass muster.And now this:
The Obama administration is engineering its new bailout initiatives in a way that it believes will allow firms benefiting from the programs to avoid restrictions imposed by Congress, including limits on lavish executive pay, according to government officials...The administration believes it can sidestep the rules because, in many cases, it has decided not to provide federal aid directly to financial companies, the sources said. Instead, the government has set up special entities that act as middlemen, channeling the bailout funds to the firms and, via this two-step process, stripping away the requirement that the restrictions be imposed, according to officials.My ire of the past eight years was on, usually, both the what and the how. In one of these cases I am ok with the what, but the how, in both, is strictly Bush league.
Although some experts are questioning the legality of this strategy, the officials said it gives them latitude to determine whether firms should be subject to the congressional restrictions, which would require recipients to turn over ownership stakes to the government, as well as curb executive pay. The administration has decided that the conditions should not apply in at least three of the five initiatives funded by the rescue package.