Blind Faith

Our government and Congress have not done their homework and are now scrambling like the idiots they are to enact more off-the-cuff, ill-thought-out fixes.  For Heaven’s sake, take a breath.  Think it through and stop all this action in the name of blind faith.

George Bush, Number 43, swathed his total being in blind faith.  Whether he had blind faith in religion, in the goodness of the American people or in the sanctity of American commerce, he used this “higher calling” as an escape to avoid the issues at hand.  When blind faith, such as “God will take care of post-Katrina New Orleans” and “we need to let our economy find its own way, without regulation or oversight”, is an excuse for intellectual analysis and remediation, all hope is lost.

Enter Barack Obama.  Not perfect, but so much better that what came before him.  Can he control idiots like Christopher Dodd and Tim Geithner, who taper legislation any way they choose so that any iota of fair play, common sense and protection of the American taxpayer is guaranteed?  No, President Obama missed that boat.

However, recuperative measures are still available.  When AIG failed, the government was not allowed to treat AIG as they did the banks.  This is because, by definition, AIG is not a bank; it does not take deposits.  The only alternative was to loan them scads of money or have then declare Chapter 11 and reorganize.  I am increasingly of the mind that AIG should have been allowed to go bankrupt.  Sweep the parlor, sweep it clean, so no dust can be seen.

Levying a 90% tax on the AIG bonuses is just a punishing, retaliatory measure that Congress hopes will save them face.  Furthermore, this action goes against an item of constitutional law, called a bill of attainder:

Bill of Attainder

Definition: A legislative act that singles out an individual or group for punishment without a trial.

The Constitution of the United States, Article I, Section 9, paragraph 3 provides that: “No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law will be passed.”

“The Bill of Attainder Clause was intended not as a narrow, technical (and therefore soon to be outmoded) prohibition, but rather as an implementation of the separation of powers, a general safeguard against legislative exercise of the judicial function or more simply – trial by legislature.”  U.S. v. Brown, 381 U.S. 437, 440 (1965).

“These clauses of the Constitution are not of the broad, general nature of the Due Process Clause, but refer to rather precise legal terms which had a meaning under English law at the time the Constitution was adopted.  A bill of attainder was a legislative act that singled out one or more persons and imposed punishment on them, without benefit of trial.  Such actions were regarded as odious by the framers of the Constitution because it was the traditional role of a court, judging an individual case, to impose punishment.”  William H. Rehnquist, The Supreme Court, page 166.

“Bills of attainder, ex post facto laws, and laws impairing the obligations of contracts, are contrary to the first principles of the social compact, and to every principle of sound legislation. … The sober people of America are weary of the fluctuating policy which has directed the public councils.  They have seen with regret and indignation that sudden changes and legislative interferences, in cases affecting personal rights, become jobs in the hands of enterprising and influential speculators, and snares to the more-industrious and less-informed part of the community.”  James Madison, Federalist Number 44, 1788.

Speed  must not be the overriding factor is setting AIG straight.  Yesterday’s Congressional act in passing this 90% tax was allowed merely one hour for discussion.  A bill of attainder is legislative punishment without the benefit of a trial, which violates our Constitution.  We rushed into passing TARP on that fateful Friday in the fall of 2008.  We rushed into passing the stimulus package in February without allocating enough time for Congress to thoroughly read through the act and follow up on its actual content AFTER it emerged from committees.  Now we are rushing to enact legislation to fix all that went before.  Oy vey.

No wonder President Obama has taken to the road.  Washington is out of control.  He is taking his case to the people, in his best campaign style.  Yesterday he held a town hall meeting in Los Angeles and his sheer magnetism and common sense once again awed his audience.  Their gratitude and relief that he is our President filled the hall.  He stated his case, and I paraphrase, on the issues at hand: “To kick these problems down the road for another four or eight years is not a solution.  Our problems have been ignored for too long.  We must face them and solve them now.  The same holds true for Afghanistan and Pakistan.  To those who say I am too ambitious, I say we need to take on all of these problems at one time and that time is now.  This is what leadership is all about.”

President Obama’s critics have no clue as to what leadership is, having banked on their blind faith and having slept along with Bush for the last eight years.  So of course we are in a mess.  Obama wants to resolve these issues and is planning a media blitz in the next week to pave the way for the passage of his budget.  He is taking his all-inclusive budget directly to the people.  Genius.  He is selling his agenda with a large dose of honesty.  He said yesterday that it is not going to be pretty, it is going to cost a lot of money and people are going to be angry.  This is however, the time and place to face, head-on, health care reform, energy independence and climate control.  These are attached to his budget and without any timidity or modesty, Obama is going to use this mandate, this political capital, of the first year of his Presidency, to get this budget passed.  His chance for future success will never equal his current popular power.

One more thing: all the money in the world and every ounce of deceitful blind faith will not make Humpty Dumpty whole again, domestically or globally.  AIG did not manage their own money well, so is it any surprise that they are squandering our government’s funds?  Similarly, this principle applies to our international dealings.  The U.S. is currently throwing huge sums of money at Pakistan, but not specifying any means as to how they should spend it. Yesterday, NPR had on a Pakistani national (forgive me, I couldn’t write down his credentials as I was driving) who pleaded and begged for the U.S. to designate specific projects that the money should be spent on, i.e. schools, bridges, utilities, or roads.  We are currently sending our aid down a black hole in Pakistan.  Even though they supposedly have a civilian government, it is the military and radical Islam elements that truly rule the country.  Thus, our financial help is being routed to exactly those causes that we are trying to erase.

AIG , Pakistan, unrestricted funds, no oversight, a financial black hole, blind faith.  Such are the guiding lessons of today:  accepting dubious innovation and unfettered speculation over careful planning,  instituting quick fixes to stem the initial horrors and calling on blind faith to see us through.  President Obama is trying to stem this ethical holocaust by bringing our fundamental values back into play.  His mission seems earnest, his honesty intact.  The naysayers would have you believe differently because the solution is not going to be quick or easy and will make every one of us question all that went before.  If you have any doubts about President Obama’s intentions, have a look at this video:

Then read these lyrics to “The Innocent Man” by Bill Joel:

Some people stay far away from the door
If there’s a chance of it opening up
They hear a voice in the hall outside
And hope that it just passes by

Some people live with the fear of a touch
And the anger of having been a fool
They will not listen to anyone
So nobody tells them a lie

I know you’re only protecting yourself
I know you’re thinking of somebody else
Someone who hurt you
But I’m not above
Making up for the love
You’ve been denying you could ever feel
I’m not above doing anything
To restore your faith if I can
Some people see through the eyes of the old
Before they ever get a look at the young
I’m only willing to hear you cry
Because I am an innocent man
I am an innocent man
Oh yes I am

Some people say they will never believe
Another promise they hear in the dark
Because they only remember too well
They heard somebody tell them before

Some people sleep all alone every night
Instead of taking a lover to bed
Some people find that it’s easier to hate
Than to wait anymore

I know you don’t want to hear what I say
I know you’re gonna keep turning away
But I’ve been there and if I can survive
I can keep you alive
I’m not above going through it again
I’ve not above being cool for a while
If you’re cruel to me I’ll understand

Some people run from a possible fight
Some people figure they can never win
And although this is a fight I can lose
The accused is an innocent man
I am an innocent man
Oh yes I am
An innocent man

You know you only hurt yourself out of spite
I guess you’d rather be a martyr tonight
That’s your decision
But I’m not below
Anybody I know
If there’s a chance of resurrecting a love
I’m not above going back to the start
To find out where the heartache began

Some people hope for a miracle cure
Some people just accept the world as it is
But I’m not willing to lay down and die
Because I am an innocent man

I am an innocent man
Oh yes I am
An innocent man

Have we become so tarnished that we can not tell the forest from the trees?  Have we become so jaded that we are willing to go along with the emptiness of blind faith rather than take a deep breath and dive into new possibilities?  Get some guts, America.  Your President has.


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