In medical jurisprudence the term res ipsa loquitur refers to a circumstance of malpractice that is so glaringly obvious that no other explanation is necessary, with the classic example being a sponge left in the abdomen after surgery. Write the check, as they say.
The recent bailout bill proposed by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson speaks for itself:
Section 8:"Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency."
Yeah, right. I realize that Paulson's resume is supposedly unimpeachable, having been the CEO of Goldman Sachs, having sold his half billion dollar stash of stock upon leaving his post for the government... this guy knows money. We should all feel fortunate that individuals of this caliber are willing to serve in the government.
But let's review what Secretary Paulson has told us about housing since he took office a couple years ago:
12/25/06: "I don't know whether [housing] has bottomed out... [Whether housing] has bottomed out, not quite bottomed out, or is going to take a quarter or two longer, the thing that we've seen is that other parts of the economy are doing so well that we're just powering through this."
3/13/07: "It's too early to tell whether [Housing Market] has bottomed. I believe it has. We'll know more in the next month or two."
4/20/07: "All the signs I look at [show] the housing market is at or near the bottom."
6/20/07: "We have had a major housing correction in this country. I do believe we are at or near the bottom."
7/2/07: "In terms of looking at housing, most of us believe that it's at or near the bottom. It's had a significant impact on the economy. No one is forecasting when, with any degree of clarity, that the upturn is going to come other than it's at or near the bottom."
7/23/07: U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said on Monday the U.S. housing market correction was "at or near the bottom".
8/2/07: Secretary Paulson: "No. ... let me be pretty clear about what I've said before. When I said... that there had been a major correction and the housing market was at or near the bottom, I also have said that I thought this would not resolve itself any time soon, and that it would take a reasonably good period of time for the sub-prime issues to move through the economy as mortgages reset. But that as, even though this, and it is a cause of concern, the impact on individual homeowners, and we care a lot about that, but I said as an economic matter I believe this was largely contained because we have a diverse and healthy economy."
In other words, he's been wrong. Not just "a little off", but stunningly and repeatedly wrong. Wrong when others have been shouting from the rooftops that the housing market and subprime lending and creative Wall Street products are going to take down the economy. What Paulson has told has been wrong, and I don't think it's an accident. He's a white guy in a suit, so you know there's a better than even chance he's lying.
Now, in the final months of the Cheney administration, an administration that has already taken unprecedented latitude in the assumption of political and military power, the final act will be to skate off with $1 trillion, no questions allowed.
As Glenn Greenwald has summarized:
The [Cheney] administration's central strategy has been repeatedly to tell courts that they have no right to review the Leader's decisions. The Military Commissions Act, the Protect America Act, the FISA Amendments Act, the Detainee Treatment Act, and the Patriot Act all provide, to one degree or another, the exact same absolute executive discretion and prohibition on judicial review that the Paulson Plan provides, and in doing so, allows the President to decide which individuals -- including Americans -- are spied on, arrested, detained, rendered, and subjected to all sorts of interrogation methods without any review at all. The administration repeatedly told Congress and courts that what they did -- in general -- was far too secret to allow any oversight or review of any kind.
And now they want whatever tax revenue they can shake out of your pocket on their way out the door.
In a word, "No fucking way."
And don't even start with the panic talk. Reasonable ideas exist to get a handle on the Global Economic Crisis (TM), and none of them need inclusion of a blank check to one of Cheney's acolytes. Res ipsa loquitur, baby.