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December 13, 2008

Vortex Of Corruption

This is US weapons inspector David Kay in 2004, describing Iraq under the rule of Saddam Hussein:

KAY: [Iraq] was really spinning into a vortex of corruption from the very top in which people were lying to Saddam, lying to each other for money; the graft and how much you could get out of the system rather than how much you could produce was a dominant issue.

This is a description of America under the rule of George W. Bush:

On Wall Street, his name is legendary. With money he had made as a lifeguard on the beaches of Long Island, he built a trading powerhouse that had prospered for more than four decades. At age 70, he had become an influential spokesman for the traders who are the hidden gears of the marketplace.

But on Thursday morning, this consummate trader, Bernard L. Madoff, was arrested at his Manhattan home by federal agents who accused him of running a multibillion-dollar fraud scheme — perhaps the largest in Wall Street's history.

Regulators have not yet verified the scale of the fraud. But the criminal complaint filed against Mr. Madoff on Thursday in federal court in Manhattan reports that he estimated the losses at $50 billion.

Speaking of Madoff, here's a repetition of my rule of thumb for US politics, since it clearly also applies to US society generally:

There's a rule of thumb for American politics that will never steer you wrong: if the Washington press corps worships a political figure and squeaks for decades on end about how he's a Brave Man of Honor and Wisdom, that political figure is one of the most dangerous lying scumbags on earth.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at December 13, 2008 02:48 PM

Hey, hedge funds - that's where the real money is.

Posted by: abb1 at December 13, 2008 03:52 PM

Its the gray days of winter that have U feeling this way. Relax a little, maybe some TV?

Posted by: Mike Meyer at December 13, 2008 04:25 PM

Unlimited Free TV Shows, Movies, Music, Games, Entertainment, and Free College Educations @

Posted by: G at December 13, 2008 11:34 PM

The reverse is true. If some politician sounds the least bit egalitarian and he gets pounded over and over about who he's slept with or whether or not he attended night class with a bad person, etc., then that politician is probably a relatively good person for the people. I mean, would anyone measure Spitzer moving his own money around to pay off a prostitute against the big mortgage scam that he was trying to stop? Or is everyone sure that a life in internal exile is the proper punishment for Edwards, or would you like to have seen him investigating the Bush Administration's crimes or working on a national healthcare plan?

I am sure that along with listening in on Osama's conversations there is a whole division of government ears that keeps the dirt on politicians. And for those few who are just too damned clean there are other ways to jacket and ruin a politician.

Posted by: Bob In Pacifica at December 14, 2008 10:53 AM

What was Edwards' healtcare plan? I don't remember it as anything too exciting.

Posted by: cemmcs at December 14, 2008 11:25 AM

Huh... your maxim doesn't bode well for Obama.

Posted by: saurabh at December 14, 2008 01:32 PM