You don't expect President Barack Obama to reveal the sharp split inside the White House between those who want to rescue Wall Street's bankers and those who want to smack 'em upside the head.
Americans just want a rescue from the onrushing Great Depression II, so the public's not clamoring in any organized way about specific methods on how to do it. That'll have to wait until the situation gets worse, which it will, and the bile bubbles over.
The arguing is apparently already heated inside the White House. Maybe the atmosphere in the Oval Office was too tense, and that's really why Obama fled to Denver to sign the bill, where he delivered his speech that mentioned "foreign dictators" while ignoring the bigger problem of the banking industry oligarchs on our own soil.
But two of Obama's croniest cronies, David Axelrod and Rahm Emanuel, apparently couldn't persuade their Chicago pal to take their advice and get tough with the banks. Instead, New Yorker Tim Geithnerwon the battle, at least for now.
For once, you wish that a president would listen to his cronies, not the "experts," no matter how "un-democratic" that typical pol behavior is.
Bill Moyerstalks with two Times reporters last September about Wall Street's meltdown.
Almost lost amid the usual knee-jerk preaching to the choir that is the 21st century Nation are a couple of excellent stories — one of them scolds Barack Obama for relying on such dubious characters as economist/erstwhile Harvard prexy Larry Summers, and the other roasts Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League.
In "Never Say You're Sorry,"Christopher Hayes points out the clay feats of Obama economic-world appointees Summers and Gary Gensler.
What's more, the defamation of Moyers escalated further. Following Foxman's fusillade, New York Times neocon William Kristol inserted in a regular column--yet another devoted as usual to the majesty of George W. Bush's leadership--an attack on Moyers for allegedly "lambast[ing] Israel for what he called its 'state terrorism,' its 'waging war on an entire population' in Gaza." Like Foxman, Kristol also implied that Moyers was guilty of racism.
Again, read the text of Moyers's remarks. Neither Kristol nor Foxman notes his stated belief that "every nation has the right to defend its people. Israel is no exception, all the more so because Hamas would like to see every Jew in Israel dead," or his deep concern about the growth of "a radical stream of Islam [that] now seeks to eliminate Israel from the face of the earth."
Yet despite the fact that Bill Moyers is, well, Bill Moyers, the Times editors not only allowed Kristol to deliberately distort and decontextualize his remarks; they would not allow Moyers to defend himself in his own words in response. After the PBS journalist submitted a letter to the editor, he was told, "We will not print that 'William Kristol distorts or misrepresents,' and the editors will not budge." They insisted that the letter be changed for publication to read, "I take strong exception to William Kristol's characterization," and they truncated much else.
Hmmm...Kristol has exited the Times's op-ed page. He probably wanted to pursue other opportunities.
Hayes's lively piece on Obama's appointees even throws in a couple of apt sports metaphors. More importantly, Hayes dredges up some valuable history regarding both Gensler and Summers.
In doing so, he doesn't spare the Clinton Administration from its disastrous destruction of the Glass-Steagall Act, a strict banking law from the last Depression that, had it remained in place, would probably have prevented Wall Street from creating the current Depression.
Softly swayed by seemingly selfless actions, those charmed by the Clinton charisma do not recall that the Clintons helped to create the financial debacle the electorate now experiences. An audience content with celebrity, dazzled by a drama, and grateful for fiscal favors sees no reason to reflect upon what might have been had the Clintons not repealed the Glass-Steagall and Bank Holding Company Acts.
That is, a president who's finally trying to persuade Hebrews.
George Mitchell, chatting last April at Leeds Met in the U.K. about brokering peace deals.
With just a few big steps, Barack Obama has erased George W. Bush's plodding steps in the Middle East sands.
After eight years of an administration that slavishly followed a pro-Israel bias, thanks mostly to the presence of dual-disloyalists like Doug Feith, Obama has jumped in with both feet — and right in the middle.
Whether Obama will leave a lasting impression won't be known for a while, of course, but the hawkish U.S. Jewish establishment has taken notice.
For a change, it seems, a U.S. president didn't consult the powerful Jewish establishment lobby before trying to change tack.
Not that Hillary Clinton and Dennis Ross are anti-Israel — far from it. (Ross, in fact, is somewhat of a hardline pro-Israel Jew.) Obama isn't intent on pissing off the right-wing Jewish establishment's leaders, but it has to shake them that the new president threw the Arab world an olive branch with his al-Arabiya interview and with his choice as envoy of George Mitchell, who's not known for any particular pro-Israel bias.
These are not moves that were first vetted by the hawkish U.S. Jewish establishment.
You have to go beyond the mainstream U.S. press to try to gauge what's happening in the Middle East. A good source is the New York-based Jewish Telegraphic Agency, which is sort of the Associated Press for Jews.
Mitchell is one of many who have already tried and failed to broker a peace. But it wasn't for lack of effort. Haaretzrecalls:
Mitchell's 2001 report on the Israelis and Palestinians called for Israel to freeze construction of new settlements and to stop shooting at unarmed demonstrators, and Palestinians to prevent attacks and punish those who perpetrated them.
OK, zero for two. But now he has the support of a president who — it seems — intends to do something. So the JTA's Kampeas writes:
Hawks and doves in the pro-Israel community have read into the Mitchell selection the wishes and fears that have characterized their approaches in the U.S. Jewish community.
The Zionist Organization of America and Abraham Foxman, the Anti-Defamation League's national director, have fretted about Mitchell's "evenhandedness" in the 2001 report, which faulted the Palestinian Authority for hardly attempting to rein in terrorists and Israel for not freezing settlements.
In his report, the ZOA said, Mitchell "promotes the false anti-Israel belief that Jews living in communities in Judea and Samaria [West Bank] is the biggest obstacle to peace -- not Arab terrorism or Arab incitement." In an interview, ZOA President Mort Klein said that blaming both sides equally for lack of progress was not "evenhanded," but inaccurate and unfair.
On the other side, dovish groups emphasized Mitchell's credentials in brokering Northern Ireland peace. The statement from the Reform movement's Religious Action Center, like those of J Street, Americans for Peace Now and the Israel Policy Forum, cited his work in that endeavor.
The truth so far is that no one knows for sure where the U.S. administration stands. To actually have an administration that is leaving both sides guessing is a big step. And it's smart strategy to keep both sides from either counting on or counting against U.S. support. That's called diplomacy.
Pumped up from his experience as chief investigator of steroids abuse in baseball, George Mitchell is now in for some really heavy lifting: the testosterone-laden, rage-filled Arab-Jew death dance in the Middle East.
No coincidence that Mitchell's arrival in the region as President Barack Obama's peacemaker was accompanied by a flareup of violence.
In the former Maine senator's baseball probe, few of the players would even talk to him, so he relied heavily on former Mets batboy Kirk Radomski.
This time, however, he'll be dealing with some people who throw serious heat — rocks, rockets, white phosphorus — and everybody will be talking all at once. Whether they'll listen to him is another thing.
But he has experience in cutting in on partners locked in death dances: Mitchell won praise a decade ago for helping to hammer out an accord in Northern Ireland.
If he has any success at all in the Middle East, Mitchell will get more than just a feather in his cap. He would indeed replace James G. Blaine in the history books as the plumed knight from Maine.
A day after President Obama struck a conciliatory tone toward Iran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad urged Washington on Wednesday to apologize for its actions toward his country for the past 60 years and said it was unclear whether the new American administration was merely shifting tactics or wanted real change.
But, in a speech in the western city of Kermanshah, he did not explicitly rebuff the American president's gesture.
...Former vice president Dick Cheney attended the inauguration in a wheelchair, Senator Edward Kennedy had a seizure, Aretha Franklin's voice cracked, and Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma, Gabriela Montero, and Anthony McGill performed with the aid of a backing track....
Lawyers at Kirkland & Ellis LLP, home to former Whitewater prosecutor Ken Starr, are asking as much as $1,110 an hour for bankruptcy work while creditors are recovering less of their loans through company restructurings.
...The company said it expects record results in 2009, but also warned that the market and economic environment is becoming increasingly challenging.
Novartis, based in Basel, also reported a small pipeline setback, saying it will file meningitis vaccine Menveo for approval for use in infants in 2011, which is later than planned. This comes after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration asked to test the vaccine on an additional 1,500 infants.
Two top executives from Barclays PLC of the U.K. became the latest prominent bankers to decide against going to global capitalism's big annual conference, as the financial crisis takes its toll on the major finance houses.
It was early September, and the Standard & Poor's 500 Index was down 15 percent for the year. The credit squeeze was grinding on. Deals were few. Morgan Stanley's John Mack, a chief executive officer who loves a prank, sent three of his deputies small, gray electronic blood pressure machines with Velcro wristbands....
Al Jazeera's morning report, proving once again that it's ridiculous censorship for U.S. cable outlets to not carry the Arab world's most powerful news outlet.
Dick Cheney's dream of an imperial vice presidency lording over all the world's oil fields is now officially dead.
President Barack Obama snuffed it out during his first formal interview on Arabic TV. He did it with Al-Arabiya, not Al Jazeera, but it's a stunning change from the bellicose Bush regime, as this excerpt from the AP proves:
"What I told [envoy George Mitchell] is start by listening, because all too often the United States starts by dictating," Obama told the interviewer.
The president reiterated the U.S. commitment to Israel as an ally and to its right to defend itself. But he suggested that both Israel and the Palestinians have hard choices to make.
"I do believe that the moment is ripe for both sides to realize that the path that they are on is one that is not going to result in prosperity and security for their people," he said, calling for a Palestinian state that is contiguous with internal freedom of movement and can trade with neighboring countries.
Obama also said that recent statements and messages issued by the al-Qaida terror network suggest they do not know how to deal with his new approach.
"They seem nervous," he told the interviewer. "What that tells me is that their ideas are bankrupt."
You mean not all Muslims are bomb-throwers? And you can blast the ones who are while still pressuring the ones who aren't? And you can even put pressure on Jews to start making nice? What an unusual thing for a U.S. president to say.
The president expressed an intention to engage the Middle East immediately and his new envoy to the region, former Sen. George J. Mitchell, was expected to arrived in Egypt on Tuesday for a visit that will also take him to Israel, the West Bank, Jordan, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
"My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy," Obama told the Saudi-owned, Dubai-based Al-Arabiya news channel.
Call it the Oprah defense. Embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who is accused of peddling Barack Obama's Senate seat to the highest bidder, said this morning he considered selecting TV talkshow queen Oprah Winfrey for the post.
...Nora Ephron had the full house at the 92nd Street Y collapsed in giggles Wednesday night at the Huffington Post bloggers' panel hosted by Arianna Huffington, fresh from Washington. "I was thrilled that Bernard Madoff got bumped off the headlines with the appearance of Blagojevich [pronounced Bla-GOY-o-vich], because now we had someone with 'goy' in his name instead."
When I mentioned to someone that I'd be attending the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research's January 15 panel discussion, "Madoff: A Jewish Reckoning," the snap retort was: "That momser! They should hang him like in the Wild West."
Traffic is still backed up on Civics 101. What was touted in the web's early days as the "information highway" has become too cluttered with political billboards.
This is not a vast right-wing conspiracy. The blizzard of b.s. is from Barack Obama's embryonic regime.
It's not really a shock. Liberals work just as hard — usually harder — at social-engineering projects, as part of their well-meaning if often misguided attempts to improve people's lives.
There's reason to assume that, in many respects, the new administration will be more open than the Bush-Cheney regime, which, after all, did hatch all sorts of secretive plots and strategies of lies and agitprop, particularly about the Iraq invasion.
But in one basic area, the road from D.C. to the rest of the country, there are so many Obama ads that you can't see the countryside whizzing past, and the view was actually less cluttered by presidential propaganda during the Bush Daze.
I noted this last week, and I'll keep harping on it until the new administration takes down some of its self-promoting signage about "transparent government" and actually delivers transparency.
OK, it's still early days for the Obama regime. But when the Bush regime took over for the Clintonians, there were changes to the whitehouse.gov site, but its core job of providing basic information remained intact.
Yes, you had to cut through the propaganda, but the transcripts, official White House photos of various events, videos of speeches to even nut groups were all there. And, yes, George W. Bush's malaprops were rarely expunged.
Eight years ago, of course, there was no YouTube. Now, government operatives are really into trying to bend the technology and are much more sophisticated about trying to give you what they want you to think you need. That must be why the Obama White House is — so far — less forthcoming with info about the prez's activities than the Bush White House was.
And it's apparently why the new administration is getting all creepy-crawly friendly on us by titling Obama's regular weekly speech "Your Weekly Address."
No, pal, it's yours. Do you have to put a marketing spin on everything?
The country gave it up for you, Obama. Now give it up to us.
Meanwhile, here's some other clutter to click on...
Lending at many of the nation's largest banks fell in recent months, even after they received $148 billion in taxpayer capital that was intended to help the economy by making loans more readily available.
Former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's inability to restore confidence in the financial system is creating unprecedented demand for U.S. debt as his successor prepares to sell the most bonds in history.
...Consider Rachel Ehrenfeld, author of Funding Evil: How Terrorism is Financed and How to Stop It. Israeli-born and resident in New York, Ehrenfeld has made a career of following money trails to their murkiest sources and been threatened and sued multiple times for her efforts.
Most recently she became a victim of so-called libel tourism. In Funding Evil, she wrote that a wealthy Saudi Arabian, Khalid bin Mahfouz, had financed terrorist activities. Under U.S. law her well-documented accusation doesn't qualify as libel, so bin Mahfouz sued her in Great Britain.
The book had never been published in Britain or sold in book stores there, but a few copies had been obtained via online sellers. A British judge imposed a fine on Ehrenfeld and said her book should be destroyed.
Ruth Madoff and Michelle Schrenker are two lovely women whose husbands have done not so lovely things. As a result, both men are facing federal prison. Bernie Madoff, husband of Ruth Madoff, is facing prison for pulling off the biggest Ponzi heist in Wall Street history. Marcus Schrenker is facing prison for leaving his private plane unmanned and calling in a fake distress signal after defrauding his clients of millions.
Most women's husbands who are facing jail or already in jail, probably haven't done anything quite as exciting as these two particular husbands. But the concerns are the same. What now? Where does she go from there?
Well, all I can say is that in New York, if your husband is going to be incarcerated for more than 3 consecutive years, you can get a divorce on that basis and he does not have to agree to the divorce.
Check out this smarmy explanation by the Obama White House's tech crew of its new website.
Barack Obama's version of the official presidential website, whitehouse.gov, is deeply troubling and downright scary.
So far, it's nothing more than puffery. Even under the Bush-Cheney regime, the site included not only the expected puffery but also easy-to-access news and transcripts and schedules and photos — a record of the presidency, even with George W. Bush's malaprops.
I've e-mailed the site, but have received no response. Seeking explanations elsewhere, I see that the Atlantic's Megan McArdlenoted earlier this week:
You'll be pleased to know that the new site is very smart looking. Unfortunately, that sleekness has been achieved by tucking even more of that unsightly information out of the way, where it won't mar the vista.
Just where it's tucked away is unclear. The fact that it's tucked away is more than annoying; it's a creepy display of propagandizing.
It's refreshing to have a brother in the White House. But Americans didn't elect a Big Brother.
Maybe there's another site that has that basic, necessary presidential info on Obama's White House. There had better be, or all his talk about "transparency" will truly be transparent.
Memo to Obama: Spare me the site's touted "blog" and give us the damn news and info.
Moving on from the government of record to the paper of record: The New York Times is ignoring not only other papers, as usual, but is showing a bald display of excessive ass-kissing of its new sugar daddy, Mexican robber baron Carlos Slim.
On the other hand, the Times isn't even promoting its own past stories. The paper's radically altered coverage of its impending bailout by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim shows that the paper knows where its bread is buttered.
Like many a robber baron -- or Russian oligarch, or Enron executive -- Mr. Slim calls to mind the words of Honoré de Balzac: "Behind every great fortune there is a crime." Mr. Slim's sin, if not technically criminal, is like that of Rockefeller, the sin of the monopolist.
The very next month, September 2007, the robber baron started purchasing shares in the Times. [CORRECTION: Actually, Slim didn't start purchasing Times shares until September 2008. Thanks to reader Karl Werner-Bailey (see his comment below) for catching my error. My apologies. My careless error tarnishes, not demolishes, my point, but I have to face the facts that I'm having a bad day.]
Two months later, in December 2007, the paper's ball sack had already ascended out of view — suddenly Carlos Slim was no longer a "robber baron." In "A New Breed of Billionaire,"Landon Thomas Jr. wrote:
The global wealth boom has created a new breed of billionaire in once-destitute countries, and a number of them are using their wealth to push for social changes....
Carlos Slim Helú, the telecommunications entrepreneur in Mexico who is worth more than $50 billion, has pledged billions of dollars to his two foundations that will aid health and education.
In May 2008, the Times revealed in an out-and-out puff piece that Slim isn't another reclusive robber baron but is rather a "shy" guy. From the paper's "When Shakira Calls, Even the Shy Appear":
The Mexican telecommunications billionaire Carlos Slim Helú does not seem to like appearing in public, but he apparently could not resist an invitation from the Colombian pop star Shakira and about a dozen other Latin music stars.
Fast-forward to January 2009, and Carlos Slim is no longer so shy, but he's even more philanthropic: He's about to bail out the financially ailing Times itself, as Andrew Sorkin's "Billionaire Seeks Deal in Times Co." noted:
Carlos Slim Helú, the Mexican billionaire, is near a deal to invest about $250 million in The New York Times Company, helping to shore up the publishing company's struggling finances...
Under the terms of the deal, Mr. Slim, who already owns 6.4 percent of the Times Company, would invest $250 million in the form of 10-year notes with warrants that are convertible into common shares, these people said.
As part of Mr. Slim's investment, which resembles a loan, he is expected to get a special annual dividend, perhaps as high as 10 percent or more on this investment, these people said.
The January 16 Times story, which didn't mention its own earlier portrayal of Slim as a "robber baron" (though other media outlets regularly still mention that critics call him that) admitted that the paper intended to keep the deal hush-hush:
It is unclear what motivated Mr. Slim's investment, first reported by the Wall Street Journal over the weekend. He approached the Times Company in November, people briefed on the discussions said, offering to make a sizable investment. He never sought a governance role and did not express interest in influencing the company's operations, these people said. The talks were intended to be private.
Yeah, the billionaire "seeks deal in Times Co." It's the Times that was desperate for a deal.
You're unlikely to see the paper refer to him as a "robber baron" or "monopolist" these days.
While I place a call to the admirable Mr. Slim to get my own bailout, click on these items...
A delivery van jumped the curb on a bustling Chinatown street yesterday and plowed through a group of preschoolers as they strolled single file holding a walking rope while returning from a library - killing two of the youngsters and critically injuring another. The freak accident occurred at around 11:30 a.m., when the driver of the gray van...
...Under intense pressure from Wall Street to keep subscribers as the economy sags and competition intensifies, many carriers are bent on retaining customers even if it means offering big price breaks.
The dean of discipline at Cardinal Hayes HS has been arrested for allegedly fondling a 19-year-old student in his office, where he purportedly said, "I love you . . . I can take you someplace...
Law enforcement sources said the 25-year Hayes employee took the young man out of a class Jan. 13, and brought him to his office, where he allegedly unzipped the student's pants and began fondling him.
Some major companies are boosting the value of top executives' retirement plans by using a generous formula when converting a pension into a single payment. The practice can increase a pension's value by 10 percent to 40 percent.
New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is investigating Merrill Lynch's eleventh-hour bonus payments....Merrill Lynch executives, led by John Thain, accelerated bonuses to employees before Bank of America could interfere with the payouts...
Cuomo has taken issue with Thain's actions before. Late last year, he criticized Thain's request for a $10 million bonus as "shocking" and wrote a letter of protest to Merrill Lynch's directors....
As the credit crisis has worsened, more seniors have turned to federally insured reverse mortgages to tap home equity and, in some cases, to prevent foreclosure.
While still a very small share of the borrowing market, demand for these mortgages climbed in 2008 as credit tightened and retirement savings plunged. The market is expected to grow significantly as loan amounts increase and baby boomers with inadequate savings tap their home equity to fund retirement. Consumer groups, however, warn that fees are high and the cash sometimes is misused.
Federal agents raided two small Pennsylvania defense contractors that were given millions of dollars in federal funding by Rep. John Murtha, chairman of the defense appropriations committee and one of the most powerful men in Congress.
New York Times Co. is nearing a deal to sell a portion of its Midtown Manhattan headquarters in the latest of a string of recent efforts to reduce its debt load....
Times Co. has $1.1 billion in debt and $46 million in cash and a substantial amount of debt maturing over the next couple of years. With print advertising declines accelerating across all newspapers, Times Co. has been forced to consider a number of options to free up cash.
The company in November cut its dividend by 75% and is trying to sell its stake in the company that owns the Boston Red Sox and the team's Fenway Park. Earlier this week Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim agreed to invest $250 million in the company in return for senior unsecured notes with detachable warrants convertible into common stock.
Yes, the nation will have to endure several root canals, but for now, the public seems numb with delight about having a president who can speak our language and sounds like a grownup.
Considering that Obama will have to deliver more bad news to Americans than any other president in memory, we're fortunate that he's such a skilled and inspiring speaker.
It was already gratifying that we'll have a president who loves to play basketball. (As a former ballboy for the Phillips 66ers, I feel a special tug in the new president's direction.) But it's clear that no matter how much Obama likes to dribble, as a speaker he never drools.
One of the better analyses — up to a point — of Obama's inaugural address was Thomas DeFrank's piece in the Daily News:
Whatever triumph and travail lie ahead, Barack Obama has already delivered the most critical 2,401 words of his presidency.
It was part sermon, part tutorial, part call to arms, well-packaged and elegantly delivered.
Yet for all the inspiring, hopeful flourishes of his 18-minute inaugural address, Obama also served up a stark, tough-love message:
Grow up, guys. No more of the same old partisan, gridlocked, dog-eat-dog baloney or we're all doomed.
He declared war not just on global terrorists but on "the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and wornout dogmas, that for too long have strangled our politics."
Yes, Obama's speech was so stirring and well-delivered that it made even the most hardened cynics' knees buckle.
And DeFrank's analysis is smoothly written. But let's not get carried away about what DeFrank says about our having to "grow up."
We will not grow up — and by "we" I mean politicians and their "same old partisan, gridlocked, dog-eat-dog baloney." That will always be around, and every incoming president has to give us the same encouragement to pull together and forget the partisanship.
Yes, Obama had to say that, but partisanship is what democracies are made of, and other parts of Obama's speech were more memorable — like when he said:
"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and non-believers."
You heard him. He actually included "non-believers" in there. What a refreshing change from the Bush regime, which tried to ram its evangelical nonsense down our throats.
Obama gave the obligatory shout-out to God, and I'm sure She's happy about that, but he actually directed a conciliatory phrase right at the Muslim world. Astonishing.
The new president, you might notice, pointedly did not portray the planet as the battleground of a comic-book-style "clash of civilizations." Instead, he actually tried to promote the idea that no matter what, we're all human.
Leave aside the lingering doubts that Dick Cheney is one of us. You have to hope that those words of Obama's will get under our skin and stay there.
Now, Obama, get to work on that New Great Depression.
And you out there: Start clicking on these items...unless you have to get back to work...if you still have a job...
Timothy Geithner will call for a comprehensive and aggressive approach to tackling the U.S. financial crisis when he appears Wednesday at hearings on his confirmation as Treasury secretary, while also trying to assure lawmakers that he simply erred by failing to pay some payroll taxes earlier this decade.
At the hearing, Mr. Geithner will likely be grilled over his tax missteps and his role in helping to craft the Bush administration's financial-sector rescue. But senators' seeming reluctance to derail his confirmation while the economy is sputtering and the lending freeze is worsening makes it likely he will be confirmed for the cabinet post....
Some lawmakers, including many Republicans, are also relieved to finally have someone to deal with other than [Hank] Paulson, whose handling of the financial rescue angered many on Capitol Hill.
"Republican leaders think that Mr. Geithner was one of President Obama's better cabinet selections. They believe they'll be able to work with Mr. Geithner and have honest conversations," said Sam Geduldig, a financial-services lobbyist and former aide to Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, the House Republican leader.
As a key lieutenant to money manager Bernard Madoff for more than 30 years, Frank DiPascali Jr. said he headed stock-options trading and was the point man for investment-advisory clients who were told he executed their trades.
Now, he is a potential point man in the investigation of a Ponzi scheme that Mr. Madoff has told prosecutors he carried out over decades, according to a criminal complaint and people familiar with the matter, potentially bilking investors out of $50 billion....
Mr. DiPascali hasn't been charged with wrongdoing. His lawyer, Marc Mukasey, declined to comment about Mr. DiPascali's role with Mr. Madoff except to say that he had frequent contact with investors.
Barack Obama has the power to immediately pardon George W. Bush and Dick Cheney of war crimes and of flouting the Constitution.
Yes, Obama can — even though Bush and Cheney haven't really been charged, let alone convicted.
Oh, it would piss off Bush and Cheney and Karl Rove and the rest of that odious administration. But more than simple revenge and cruelty, it would be the right thing to do, and they would have no recourse.
A presidential pardon would of course imply — in the strongest possible terms — that they committed crimes for which they could be pardoned.
You think I'm kidding? I'm not. You think Obama can't do it? Yes, he can.
...Yep. In 1866, the Supreme Court ruled in Ex parte Garland that the pardon power "extends to every offence known to the law, and may be exercised at any time after its commission, either before legal proceedings are taken, or during their pendency, or after conviction and judgment." (In that case, a former Confederate senator successfully petitioned the court to uphold a pardon that prevented him from being disbarred.)
Generally speaking, once an act has been committed, the president can issue a pardon at any time--regardless of whether charges have even been filed....
Obama has already indicated that he's not much interested in pursuing the Bush-Cheney regime for its numerous bad deeds, and he won't have the time anyway, with the New Great Depression bearing down on the U.S.
Oh, and we know the acts have been committed, so think about it:
Bush and Cheney would forever wear the scarlet "P" for pardon on their foreheads, and there would be nothing they could do about it.
Oh, would they fight it in court? It's not appealable, but would they even try? That would open arguments on the merits of their being pardoned. That's a can of worms that Bush and Cheney would be unlikely to want to open.
So, my one and only suggestion to President Obama: Pardon Bush and pardon Cheney.
Spare us the expense of prosecuting them and their underlings for their malfeasance.
Don't forgive them their trespasses on the Constitution. Make them official.
Obama could announce the pardons in his inaugural address (which is happening as I write this), but my money says he won't.
Too bad. That would add to the history he's already making.
UPDATE, 8:45 p.m.: Obama surely took Americans' breath away with his inaugural address (video). But he didn't take my advice to pardon Bush and Cheney.
To those readers who have insisted that Congressional hearings should be held so that the previous administration be held accountable for various tortures and other abuses of people and the law, I'll just point out that wide-ranging, definitive hearings will most likely never be held.
So, short of our frog-marching Bush and Cheney to the waterboarding tank for some truth-telling sessions, it's probably either the pardons or nothing.
Obama, you've got at least four years to think this over.