FUBAR

Pride goeth before Eliot Spitzer’s fall

It was almost always hubris that led to the downfall of heroes in ancient Greek tragedies. If you had somehow missed that quality in New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, you could have caught up with it in Nick Paumgarten’s New Yorker piece last December.

The writer told about flying with the governor in a twin-turboprop from Buffalo to New York City, and how the governor would look down, see something of policy interest and launch into detailed discourse.

Paumgarten was moved to ask whether the governor on such flights ever thought this great, big state was his, all his.

What was Eliot Spitzer thinking?

A meteoric political career appears about to come to a humiliating end. And it should — because of the astonishing arrogance and appallingly bad judgment that led New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer to take a pointless and potentially ruinous risk in ordering up a prostitute to be dispatched to Washington to entertain him the night before he was to testify before Congress.

The Democratic crime fighter who basked in the nickname “Eliot Ness” seemed oblivious to the danger that by bringing the woman across state lines he was committing an offense that would put him in the hands of the feds.

Can Spitzer survive call-girl scandal?

Gov. Elliot Spitzer’s prostitution scandal came just over a year since he stormed into the governor’s office, vowing to root out corruption in New York government.

But his first year in office was pockmarked by tumult, and the latest scandal raised questions about whether he can make it through a second year.

The first-term Democrat was caught on a federal wiretap arranging to meet a prostitute from a call-girl business, according to a law enforcement official who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the investigation is still going on.

We need a new WPA to rebuild America

In the dreadful days of the Depression, the administration of Franklin Roosevelt tried something new: a massive public-works program designed to put Americans back to work while building the infrastructure the nation desperately needed. The Works Progress Administration was the largest single element of the New Deal — and it’s an idea whose time has come again.

Today, we don’t face the same conditions as the nation confronted in 1935, when the WPA began. Unemployment is not nearly so high, and it’s a recession we’re in — or will soon be in — not a Great Depression.

A clear anti-Clinton bias in the media

For a brief period last week, earnest members of my chosen profession, the press, did a little soul-searching and asked if we have been, and are, biased against Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The conclusion: Of course, we are. Any journalist who denies this fact is unable to recognize objectivity if it were branded on his eyeballs.

‘Mr. Clean’ governor likes high-priced prostitutes

Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s political career teetered on the brink of collapse Monday after the corruption-fighting politician once known as “Mr. Clean” was accused of paying for a four-hour romp with a high-priced call girl.

The scandal drew immediate calls for the Democrat to step down. At a news conference before about 100 reporters, a glassy-eyed Spitzer, his shellshocked wife at his side, apologized to his family and the people of New York.

“I have disappointed and failed to live up to the standard I expected of myself,” said the 48-year-old father of three teenage girls. “I must now dedicate some time to regain the trust of my family.”

He did not discuss his political future and ignored shouted questions about whether he would resign. And he gave no details of what he was apologizing for.

The cost of war: $12 billion a month

The flow of blood may be ebbing, but the flood of money into the Iraq war is steadily rising, new analyses show. In 2008, its sixth year, the war will cost approximately $12 billion a month, triple the “burn” rate of its earliest years, Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz and co-author Linda J. Bilmes report in a new book.

The Great Wall of the United States

In the current flap over building a wall between Mexico and the United States, it would be well to keep in mind Robert Frost’s injunction: “something there is that doesn’t love a wall.” That “something” is that a wall is a barrier.

In the case of a “wall” between the United States and Mexico, a wall is a manifestation of conflict, just as the Berlin Wall was a manifestation of conflict. A wall between the United States and Mexico will only escalate the enmity between the two countries.

Who’s watching the watchers?

Given the power to snoop on their citizens, governments will snoop. Given limits on snooping, governments will inevitably exceed them, barring oversight by an independent watchdog. That’s just the way governments work.

The USA Patriot Act greatly expanded the use of national-security letters, administrative subpoenas that do not need a judge’s approval, that allow government agents to collect, generally secretly, extensive amounts of personal information — bank and credit records, Internet use, telephone records.

Taxpayers will pay for greed of others

As home foreclosures mount and Washington struggles to find a solution to a dilemma that threatens to drag the nation into full-fledged recession, one thing seems inescapable: Ultimately, the taxpayers will be assessed for the greed of lenders and the self-indulgence of a couple of generations of Americans who want everything without struggle.