Bailout: A simple (yeah, right) question


In an attempt to ease back into rhythm, a simple question. Paul Kane and Lori Montgomery bring us the news:

In a narrow vote, the House today rejected the most sweeping government intervention into the nation’s financial markets since the Great Depression, refusing to grant the Treasury Department the power to purchase up to $700 billion in the troubled assets that are at the heart of the U.S. financial crisis.

The 228-205 vote amounted to a stinging rebuke to the Bush administration and Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr., and was sure to sow massive anxiety in world markets. Just 11 days ago, Paulson urged congressional leaders to quickly approve the bailout. He warned that inaction would lead to a seizure of credit markets and a virtual halt to the lending that allows Americans to acquire mortgages and other types of loans.

David Horsey, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, September 26, 2008This whole episode seemed sketchy from the outset. On the one hand, the economy does appear to be falling apart, and such an event falls well within the purview of the federal government’s concern. To the other, though, it seemed suspicious that, after waiting so long to acknowledge the situation, the Bush administration wanted Congress to pass a seven hundred-billion dollar solution in a matter of days.

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The problems of being a maverick


Speaking of McCain and lobbyists … oh, wait.

Anyway:

As chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, John McCain began hearings that helped bring down Jack Abramoff, the disgraced lobbyist who was the central figure in a political scandal that landed Mr. Abramoff in jail.

Steve Benson, Arizona Republic, February 22, 2008 Now, as Mr. McCain releases the names of hundreds of “bundlers” — his top money collectors — one person who popped up is Juan Carlos Benitez, a lawyer and lobbyist whom Mr. Abramoff had championed for a Bush administration post.

Leslie Wayne, writing for The Caucus, reports that the House Committee on Government Reform issued a 2006 report that includes Mr. Benitez’s name. Jack Abramoff apparently wanted him appointed special counsel for immigration-related employment issues, which position—given to Benitez in 2001—allowed him to conduct investigations into allegations of unfair labor practices, including issues important to the scandalized lobbyist’s clients.

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Finally! (That, and the time-machine joke, which isn’t funny)


Finally, someone else says it.

Throughout the Iraqi Bush Adventure, there has been a curious argument taking place:

    Critic: The intelligence was wrong. They knew it. The whole thing was a setup.
    Administration: Yes, but _____ said the same thing we did. How were we to know?

What seems so disingenuous about the administration’s argument is that, for the most part, the various people whose names could fill in the blank were operating according to what the White House told them. It is not so much that other people agreed with the administration’s line, but rather that they believed it.

And for some reason, this point has brought nothing but the sound of the wind and maybe the occasional tumbleweed.
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Good men with honor


Just how far have we come? When you’re a child, twenty years is a theoretic span; as an adult, that period is a paradox. What seems so far away passed by so quickly. What seemed so familiar recedes into strangeness, transforms into myth.

I don’t remember what I said. I mean, it had something to do with the Reagan administration, and characterized someone, or some people, within that cadre as criminals. I despised Reagan; my political conscience came online about the same time he was elected. I cannot recall ever thinking nice, or merely positive things about the man.

I was seven when he was elected. The only thing I remember clearly from that election was that Reagan struck me as condescending and dishonest, exactly the kind of person my parents would repeatedly through my childhood tell me I didn’t need. And that stuck with me. By the time we got to Iran-Contra, the pretense (that later proved at least partway true) of Reagan’s senility was insufficient to excuse him in my eyes.

What? It was how I was raised; those conclusions reflected the principles impressed upon me especially by parents, but also teachers, my pastor, and any number of talking heads inside the idiot box.

But this isn’t about indicting Reagan. He’s dead. He’s gone. Whatever.

This is about a moment that stands out despite the dissolution of its details. My father, disgusted, glaring at me. “You can’t say that about people,” he stormed. “These are good men. They’re trying their best. You can’t say that about people.” It was not an explanation. It was not a retort. It was an order.

Whatever condemnation I had poured over the Reagan administration had upset him. And, yes, there is also a story to the difference between the man I remember and the one I know today. Maybe someday I’ll try to tell it.

Perhaps it had to do with an adolescent daring to condemn the president. Maybe he was so fiercely Republican during those years that he could not face the possibility that his president was a sack of shit. Maybe it had to do with respecting elders, and respecting authority. Maybe, maybe, maybe ….
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