“High functioning moron” is a good first approximation of GW Bush. He is not stupid. He has used what intelligence he has to be able to successfully fail gracefully with aplomb. His family resources have sheltered him from reality testing and the crucible of life in general. He has social skills and a fairly engaging personality. He was propped up by Neoconservatives as their standard bearer and has gone all the way to the White House where he is called on to perform far beyond his ability.
December 10, 2008
December 2, 2008
1. “Deep Throat” of Watergate fame said it best. FOLLOW THE MONEY ! Some people have gotten much richer lately. Look there for what went wrong.
2. Former Senator and present lobbyist Phil Gramm , a PhD in economics, could talk about economics in simple terms and in an interesting way. If he had stayed at Texas A&M teaching Economics 101, he would have made a positive contribution to society.
3. In Congress and as a lobbyist, he used his didactic gifts to push deregulation resulting in the S&L failures in the ’80s and ’90s, ENRON (his wife was a Director), harmful oil futures trading and the subprime mortgage meltdown.
4. This is the same Phil Gramm who said Americans were a nation of whinners.
December 1, 2008
HUFFINGTONPOST BOB BURNETT NOV. 28,2008
Bush’s Recession, Rooted in Self-Interest
While George Bush ran for President as a born-again Christian and “compassionate conservative,” his behavior indicated he was guided not by the principles of Jesus but rather by a narcissistic morality of personal advantage. While making a revealing documentary about the 2000 Bush campaign, filmmaker Alexandra Pelosi asked the candidate why she should vote for him; Bush replied. “It’s in your interests.” Pelosi observed, “He didn’t push my country’s interest – but rather, my own.” Bush’s primary consideration was what’s in it for me?
As President, Bush conflated his personal interests – strengthening his power – with those of the United States and political considerations governed all White House decisions. In late 2001, after leaving his appointment as head of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, John DiLulio observed: “There is no precedent in any modern White House for what is going on in this one: a complete lack of a policy apparatus. What you’ve got is everything, and I mean everything, being run by the political arm.”
Presidential decisions were determined by the toxic alchemy of power and greed. Major legislative initiatives – energy and healthcare – were written by corporate lobbyists to benefit their interests at the expense of average Americans. And the President’s self-centered attitude influenced both Main Street and Wall Street.
Bush promoted a national culture of profligacy. After 9/11, when asked how Americans should respond, he advised us to “go shopping.” Rather than call on our patriotism, the President appealed to consumerism; citizens responded by running up huge credit card debts and dipping deeply into their home equity. During the Bush Administration, Americans borrowed $6.2 trillion, doubling their debts and causing the U.S. to have a negative savings rate.
At the same time, the President expressed absolute confidence in the wisdom of the free market and expanded the dangerous deregulation begun during the Clinton era. Among the consequences of Bush’s extreme laissez-faire ideology were the accelerated flight of decent-paying jobs from the U.S. and pillaging of the environment. As Americans shopped until they dropped, financial-sector profits surged: by 2007 the finance industry represented a record 25 percent of US stock-market capitalization.
Aided by the loosening of regulations, banks such as Citgroup, broadened their scope of business and began to engage in a wide variety of financial activities. With this expansion came problems of control and oversight. The increased size of financial institutions made them more difficult to manage as executives were pressed to make profits beyond the range historically associated with banks.
At Citigroup, earning pressure caused bond traders to increase their participation in risky markets, particularly collateralized debt obligations (CDO’s), which repackaged mortgages – notoriously sub-prime mortgages – for resale to investors. The expansion of this niche business was fueled by its profitability – fees were unusually high and, therefore, traders made million in bonuses – and the lack of oversight. Because of deregulation, there was no Federal oversight of the CDO marketplace. Financial industry supervision supposedly came from rating agencies, such as Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s, but they failed to exercise the required due diligence. So did internal auditors, such as Citigroup “risk managers;” who were impeded both by the Byzantine nature of CDO’s and their perceived value as major earnings generators.
As the credit bubble grew, two pernicious moral propositions blinded top managers at Citigroup and other greedy banks to the ever-increasing probability of calamity: everyone else is doing it, so it must be okay and the ends justify the means . Over the course of the Bush Administration, the worldwide CDO market grew to near $500 Billion, resulting in gigantic executive bonuses and corporate earnings. Understandably, none of the participants was eager to jump off the gravy train.
Lurking behind this frenzied momentum was a naïve faith in the wisdom of the marketplace: the belief that whenever excesses occurred, the market would gracefully adjust. Recently, financier George Soros criticized “the prevailing theory of financial markets, which… holds that financial markets tend toward equilibrium and that deviations are random and can be attributed to external causes.” He observed: “This theory has been used to justify the belief that the pursuit of self-interest should be given free rein.”
The President of the United States has a dual responsibility to make key decisions and set a moral tone. By promoting a climate of unfettered self-interest, George Bush precipitated the current economic meltdown. American’s eagerness for the onset of the Obama presidency indicates our need for a leader who will establish a public morality that emphasizes the common good.
IN 2000 AMERICANS TORE OFF ALL OF THEIR MERIT BADGES AND ELECTED THE NEER-DO-WELL SON OF A FORMER PRESIDENT. THEN THEY CHEERED FOR A BLATANTLY IMPERIALISTIC INVASION OF AN OIL RICH ARAB COUNTRY THAT HAD NOT ATTACKED THEM AND WAS NO DANGER TO THEM . THEN THEY SCREWED UP THE WAR.
BUT THEN IN 2008,THEY GOT IT RIGHT.
Sitting on Top of the World
November 12, 2008
Be happy, dear hearts, and allow yourselves a few more weeks of quiet exultation.
It isn’t gloating, it’s satisfaction at a job well done. He was a superb candidate, serious, professorial but with a flashing grin and a buoyancy that comes from working out in the gym every morning. He spoke
in a genuine voice, not senatorial at all. He relished campaigning. He accepted adulation gracefully. He brandished his sword against his opponents without mocking or belittling them. He was elegant, unaffected, utterly American, and now (Wow) suddenly America is cool. Chicago is cool. Chicago!!!
We threw the dice and we won the jackpot and elected a black guy with a Harvard degree, the middle name Hussein and a sense of humor-he said, “I’ve got relatives who look like Bernie Mac, and I’ve got relatives who look like Margaret Thatcher.” The French junior minister for human rights said, “On this morning, we all want to be American so we can take a bite of this dream unfolding before our eyes.” When was the last time you heard someone from France say they wanted to be American and take a bite of something of
ours? Ponder that for a moment.
The world expects us to elect pompous yahoos, and instead we have us a 47-year-old prince from the prairie who cheerfully ran the race, and when his opponents threw sand at him, he just smiled back.
He’ll be the first president in history to look really good making a jump shot. He loves his classy wife and
his sweet little daughters. At the same time, he knows pop music, American lit and constitutional law. I just can’t imagine anybody cooler.
It feels good to be cool, and all of us can share in that, even sour old right-wingers and embittered blottoheads. Next time you fly to Heathrow and hand your passport to the man with the badge, he’s going to see ” United States of America” and look up and grin. Even if you worship in the church of Fox,
everyone you meet overseas is going to ask you about Obama, and you may as well say you voted for him because, my friends, he is your line of credit over there. No need anymore to try to look Canadian.