Sign up for email alerts, from breaking news to weekly commentary:
I've always wondered: What was the guy who invented bagpipes really trying to make?
Well, at least that wheezing, whining invention turned out to be merely irritating, not actually dangerous. Leave it to the Dr. Strangelovian schemers at the Pentagon, however, to come up with an invention that is both irritating and truly dangerous, as well as being a galloping rip-off of us taxpayers.
Once again, we are faced with the question that has long bedeviled political analysts and barstool pundits everywhere: Is the pusillanimity of Democrats worse than the stupidity of Republicans?
The question arises because of a curious vote last week in the House of Representatives to restrict the bonus money going to those nimble-fingered financial whizzes at Wall Street firms being bailed out by you and me.
As skiers and backcountry hikers know, a whiteout is a blizzard that's so intense that those caught in it can't even see the blizzard.
That's how I think of the Wall Street bailout now swirling around us. So many trillions of our tax dollars are being blown at the financial giants that we're blinded by the density of it, unable to see where we are or know what direction we're headed.
Citigroup, once the world's largest financial conglomerate, has fallen so far down that you can buy a share of its stock today for less than it costs to use one of its ATM machines.
David Brooks was upset. You can tell when this conservative and rather-professorial columnist for The New York Times gets upset, because his words almost sag with disappointment -- you can practically hear the tsk-tsks and the heavy sighs in each paragraph. When most commentators on the right see things that offend them, they get snarling mad; Brooks gets sad.
I don't mind losing when we lose, but I hate losing when we win.
One big reason that Barack Obama now occupies the big chair in the Oval Office is that he embraced the public's rising indignation at the blatant greed of Wall Street bankers, striking the proper populist tone in last year's presidential election. After all, these slick financial elites crashed our economy, yet they kept enriching and pampering themselves, even as taxpayers were being forced to throw hundreds of billions of dollars at their failing institutions.
Listen intently, and you can hear the faint music of the band coming from over the hills. Their drums are pounding out a steady cadence, the bagpipes are wheezing mournfully, and the fifes are trilling plaintively. Coming straight at you, it's The Musicale Marching Pity Corps from Wall Street!
In describing a suspicious character who had visited his home, Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons."
Average Americans today might need to be counting their spoons, because President Obama and the Congress have visited Timothy Geithner upon us. He's the new treasury secretary, our nation's top financial official, whose duties include handling the ongoing Wall Street debacle.