Thursday, January 29, 2009


"Despite crippling losses, multibillion-dollar bailouts and the passing of some of the most prominent names in the business, employees at financial companies in New York, the now-diminished world capital of capital, collected an estimated $18.4 billion in bonuses for the year."

New York Times, January 29, 2009

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Stating the Obvious

I hear a lot of talk about whether Obama's governing approach can be 'bipartisan' if a good number of Republicans don't vote for his Stimulus Bill. But that dubious point seems to be obscuring a more obvious and telling reality: the Republican leadership in both houses has decided that it's in their political interest to oppose the Stimulus Bill no matter what.

In the most cynical of evaluations, it's not clear to me that they're incorrect. If the stimulus is judged a success, their political gain from adding more votes to what will be seen as Obama's bill will not be that great. So they're figuring that only failure will work for them politically; and they judge that they want Obama to own it entirely.

One can pick apart the political ethics of their stand, but the reality of it is clear. They want to criticize as many provisions of the bill as possible, push for as many non-stimulus inducing tax cuts as possible at the expense of spending on infrastructure, and then vote against the final bill en masse. I think it's possible Obama will get a smattering of moderate Republicans in the senate. But that is the Boehner/McConnell approach -- and the one few if any reporters seem to have the wherewithal to say out loud.

--Josh Marshall

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Lest we forget...

Published on Monday, January 19, 2009 by

Good Riddance, Vile Prince

by Bill Gallagher

He had political pedigree and little else. He was a child of privilege and entitlement.
His name, not his merit, brought him to Yale and Harvard where the affirmative action of legacy provided him slots denied to the more accomplished lack ing his royal family's wealth and heritage.

For him, life was like an elite box of chocolates where he always knew what he would get. Just ask daddy and it's done. Do what you like, fail and never face the consequences.

He cut in line to get into the Air National Guard and avoid the perils of a war he said he supported but others- those with no influence or money- should bleed and die for. He skipped officer candidate school, got a direct commission and become a pilot, just like daddy.

Duty quickly bored him. Neglect and dereliction marked his service. He has yet to explain his whereabouts for the entire year of 1972. He mothballed his flight suit and spent hard hours working on the Houston nightlife, snorting cocaine in the company of his dearest friend, Jack Daniels.

In business, he failed consistently. His M.B.A degree was of little use in the oil business as he bet on dry hole after dry oil. Bankruptcy would look bad on his resume so his daddy's friends consistentl y bailed him out.

In one of his business ventures, he used inside information to unload stock that was about to tank. He got caught. A friend of his daddy's at the S.E.C. slapped his hand and he promised he wouldn't steal again from the other shareholders. The report on the dirty dealing remains sealed to this day.

He failed in his first flirt with politics, loosing a race for a congressional seat. If only it ended there. But the family's political gene is never recessive. Politics is power and power means money. We must protect our investments. Besides, the glory and comfort are fun.

His daddy's run for the White House pumped up his campaign adrenaline and he chose to hang out with political thugs and right wing religious leaders, a foretaste of his own climb to the top. Daddy had to settle in as Ronald Reagan's Veep until his turn came later.

His boy wanted to cash in on his daddy's success and have some of his own. Brain damaged a nd tired from decades of hangovers, he gave up the booze and found Jesus. But he never treated the demons and they still gripped his soul.

He became a textbook dry drunk, no longer drinking but still lost in clouded thinking.

He was unyielding, inflexible and extreme. The stinking thinking made him testy, prone to erratic behavior and mood swings. He followed his gut resulting in delusions and deceptions. Single-mindedness and grandiosity drove him.

He refused to listen to anyone who disagreed with him. Later, in departing the public stage, he said," I have followed my conscience and done what I thought was right." In fact, he could never admit error and is incapable of remorse. That would require reflection and introspection, abilities beyond his damaged mind. Daddy's pals set him up with a piece of a baseball team. No capital of his own, just a famous name and backslapping style. He liked the game and through public subsidies-welfare for the wealthy- his shares blossomed into millions of dollars, his own private fortune.

He longed to become Commissioner of Baseball. The owners wouldn't have him, worried that he lacked management and executive skills. Oh their prophetic souls! But really how much harm could he have done to baseball? Instead he went out to bring great harm to a nation and world.

With money, a famous name and willingness to spread rumors that the incumbent Texas Governor, Anne Richards was a lesbian, he won his first elective office. Running Texas was easy. He didn't have to do much. The State constitution gave most of the power to the legislature and Lieutenant Governor.

He could sit back, enjoy his title and grandeur, reward campaign contributors and polluters, and sign execution orders that included many people with demonstrable mental disabilities and illnesses.

But now, his resume showed he was a leader and he set his sights on the office from which the voters had unceremoniously booted his daddy. He was confident he could bring the family restoration and the Republican moneyed interests, especially from oil and insurance companies, quickly rallied around the candidate with the familiar name. They trusted him to protect their interests. They were right.

He didn't win the election but his daddy's friends on the U.S. Supreme Court stopped the vote count in Florida, spit at democracy and selected a manifestly unfit man to become President of the United States.

He promised decency and compassion, but delivered division and cynicism. Every policy, every decision was based on politics, not on what the facts indicated. He coasted and enjoyed the trappings of office and the game of politics. He was a superb fundraiser.

He gave huge tax cuts to his rich friends, paying for them with debt he passed on to working class Americans. Wages dipped, poverty grew and millions of jobs disappeared. Millions more would loose health care.

The environment meant nothing to him. Climate change did not exist. He handled natural disasters with indifference and stunning incompetence. The poor and dispossessed suffered greatly under his watch..

The defining moment of his presidency came- not on September 11th as he likes to think- but the month earlier on August 6, 2001. That's when a CIA briefer told him the agency was getting fresh information and presented him with a report entitled: " Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S."

In his usual flippant manner, he told the briefer " Okay, you covered your ass." There is not a scintilla of independence evidence showing that he did anything about the dire warning. No heads up to airlines, in spite of other intelligence indicating al Qaeda had plans to hijack airplanes and use them like bombs. No summoning of the National Security Council. No consultations with allies.

He went back to playing video games and cutting brush at his Crawford, Texas ranch, the Potemkin village his handlers urged him to buy to polish his image as a regular guy.

The episode brought all his inadequacies to the forefront-incurious, disinterested, intellectually lazy, visceral, glib and supremely confident, above all else, in his own ins tincts.

He had surrounding himself with a fawning set of simpering sycophants. If they had worries about his grasp of matters of great importance, they wouldn't dare tell him. He didn't like hearing uncomfortable truths. Those who dared to quickly departed.

The preventable tragedy of September 11th became an opportunity that would not be missed. His negligence and malfeasance- with the shameless compliance of the slavish mainstream media- would be transformed into the image of the brave leader who would heal a wounded nation and seek revenge on those responsible for the carnage.

Fear and cowardice were his greatest allies. Congress gave him authoritarian powers. Others, he seized in secret, spying on tens of millions of Americans outside the law. He trampled on a Constitution he considered a quaint nuisance. He approved torture and committed war crimes.

He deceived and lied about the threat of a nation that had nothing whatsoever to do with September 11th but with the unabashed complicity of the media he peddled a propaganda20campaign that convinced a majority of Americans that the threat was real and imminent and involved nuclear weapons.

The war was a breeze and in no time mission accomplished. When the insurgency began he said, " Bring 'em on." He created more debt to pay for the war that would soon cost a billion dollar a month. Military contractors raked in fortunes for shoddy and phantom work.

More than one million Iraqis were killed or maimed and, so far, 4200 Americans were have died. When his lies for waging war were exposed all he could say was that it was " a disappointment."

He has done nothing to help the Palestinians or work for peace in the Middle East. He has insulted and ignored our neighbors Canada and Mexico and alienated nearly every other nation in the Western hemisphere.

The United States is now viewed as the world's bully and hostility toward our nation has grown dramatically. We are less secure. Our allies are few and he created more enemies.

The American people ultimately must bear the responsibility for the incalculable damage done to the nation. Most of them bought the big lies and, when given the opportunity, failed to boot him out of office. One of every four still approves of the job he did.

He's shutting down the Crawford ranch, moving to a swank, gated community in Dallas and returning to his base- the country club set. He'll drink again, write a book, ride his bike, play golf, make tons of money and try to get his relatives elected to office to carry on the family business.

This week brings us hope. But, tragically, the consequences of vile deeds will live on for some time. The long national nightmare George W. Bush brought our nation is far from over. History will remember him as the worst president in our history. We must pray to never see another like him.

Bill Gallagher, a Peabody Award winner, is a former Niagara Falls city council member. He now covers Detroit for Fox 2 News. His e-mail address is

Friday, January 16, 2009

goodbye Andrew...

Much of Wyeth's work had a melancholy feel — aging people and brown, dead plants — but he chose to describe his work as "thoughtful."

"I do an awful lot of thinking and dreaming about things in the past and the future — the timelessness of the rocks and the hills — all the people who have existed there," he once said. "I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure in the landscape — the loneliness of it — the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it; the whole story doesn't show.

"I think anything like that — which is contemplative, silent, shows a person alone — people always feel is sad. Is it because we've lost the art of being alone?"

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Doesn't it seem a little odd that when you have a ball player (Roger Clemens) who lies to Congress about steroid use in baseball, the U.S. Attorney for DC convenes a grand jury to consider a perjury indictment, but when an official of the Justice Department (Bradley Schlozman) lies to Congress about trying to politicize the civil service within DOJ, the U.S. Attorney for DC passes on further investigation or prosecution? Which really seems like the more significant problem for the country?