There's this great Who song that you should play before reading this post. One of the greatest rock and roll bands of all time. They sang about their generation and the magic bus, told Tommy to go to the mirror, but today's song is about not getting fooled again.
Flash back to the United Nations on 2/5/03. An impressive almost Presidential Secretary of State, Colin Powell, delivering some chilling news, not coming right out and saying it, but definitely leading you to believe that Saddam has nukes and chemical weapons and stuff even more horrible and is getting ready to use all of it in some unspecified horrible way. It's the lack of specificity that makes it so chilling.
Consider the whole scenario. Powell can't tell us what the danger is because that would violate some security that he can't violate. Well, I did what a lot of Americans did that day, I sucked it up and got behind my government. And they suckered me. And I'll never forget it. I got fooled, and used, and a lot of people died, in the name of freedom, and it was all a lie.
We all paid a huge price that day, and the bill may be coming due today, because they're presenting us with the same scenario, this time about the economy. And we're not going for it. You can see it in the way things flipped around overnight. A lot of people woke up this morning, like I did, and realized -- wait I've seen this movie before.
Now we have another impressive Almost Presidential secretary, Henry Paulson, who says there's impending doom, but he can't say exactly what it is, it's not security this time, but fear of starting another level of bank runs. Senators and Representatives come out of a Thursday night meeting with the secretary (would they have believed the President) won't say exactly what he said, but they are stunned. The next day buried in a sea of press about this event is an almost innocuous paragraph in a NYT piece that talks about a flight to safety from the US Treasury money market. OMG. A point made by the secretary to the Congresspeople, a lot of your constituents have their savings in money markets. The Senators think to themselves, Fuck the constituents, that's where my retirement savings are! (And by the way, mine.)
An aside, I never realized this until recently, but Congress was very easily whipped by fear of terrorism. The fourth plane on Sept 11 was likely headed for them. We were all so busy thinking about ourselves we forgot to notice that they had a huge conflict of interest, they were targets on Sept 11, and probably many of them suffering from post-traumatic stress from it.
Anyway, back to our story...
Having been fooled once, sure there are some among us who will be fooled again, but we will not all be fooled again, as evidenced by the posts on all kinds of blogs. This is one of those amazing days that except for stylistic elements the extreme right and the extreme left are in agreement. We can't trust Paulson the way he's asking to be trusted. It wouldn't be prudent.
On the other hand, what if they're right, and don't want to speak the unspeakable for fear of provoking a run on the credit markets that would wipe out your savings and mine? If you've been conservative, as I have and many other have, do you want to be poor? Want to lose your house? Want to live on the street? No health care. No job. How long do you think you'd last? Think it might be worth $1 trillion to prevent that? I do. I bet you do too. But we can't do it on the terms that Paulson asks for. There has to be some pain and there has to be oversight and checks and balances. There's no such thing as a law passed by Congress that can't be judged by the courts. Not in the USA, not under our form of government. And no way is Bush going to get that by us.
So here's what I propose. The Republican slogan today is Country First. So let's see the Republicans do a little of that famous Country First stuff.
Bush and Cheney must resign immediately. No immunity, no pardons. Nancy Pelosi will become President, promising not to run for re-election on November 4. Her term will be one of the shortest in US history, just long enough to enact the provisions of the bill being proposed by the Republican administration. If it really is the best thing for the country and not a trick, then the Republicans, being impressed by the seriousness of it, would have to insist that Bush step aside and let the Democrats execute the plan. The entire Bush cabinet stays in office through January 20, but reports, of course to Pelosi. And that includes Paulson.
It's pretty simple. If they won't do it, we know they're bluffing.
If they will, I will give my support to the plan, even though I still don't know what will happen if I don't.
Updated: An abbreviated to-the-point version of this piece on Huff.
Should Congress give the $700 billion to Bush, with no strings attached, full indeminity?
Dave Winer, 53, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.
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