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Editor's Message

Minding the Store

A new era has begun, in earnest. Our president will no longer fiddle while the fires burn. Both science and the Constitution will be respected. And the looting of the federal coffers won’t be sanctioned—or at least one hopes. For on this last point the jury is still out, and it will be for some time. Continuing the Wall Street handouts—“After you give us money to ‘solve the credit crisis,’ we’ll address that crisis only after you give us more money,” say the new Robber Barons—is only the latest chapter in the epic saga of American profiteers fattening themselves up at the federal trough. Alas, that sorry tale promises to continue indefinitely, as Wall Street is well on its way to joining the Pentagon as a tributary of unlimited taxpayer money.

Just the sound of “more money for Wall Street” ought to frighten us, but if that’s not enough, consider the recent fate of its counterpart. In announcing the 2008 Defense budget, the Office of Management and Budget matter-of-factly noted that the nearly $500 billion sum amounted to a “62-percent increase over 2001.” And this number was just for the so-called “base budget”—neither accounting nor accountability are Pentagon watchwords. The rubber-stamp that Congress applies to the defense budget makes any objections that Republicans offer against large-scale government spending all the more ridiculous. But Lockheed Martin and co. have little to worry about with the new regime.

That’s because as a candidate, Obama vowed to increase the military budget. And after supporting the first Wall Street bailout, President Obama is now calling for more TARP money to be dispensed, albeit with a few strings attached. The Pentagon’s future is bullish, and Wall Street now ends on Pennsylvania Avenue. The new president has seemed eager to build a new Mount Rushmore, complete with George Washington, Lincoln, FDR, and himself. But if he doesn’t change course, he may go out like Ike, warning “against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought,” only this time of a financial industrial complex.


We’d like to extend a belated welcome to both April Greene, our new Dance editor, and Kayley Hoffman, who joined our graphic design team. We are most excited to have them aboard. With great sadness, we must also note the untimely passing of Emma Bernstein, daughter of poet Charles Bernstein, and Anna Shapiro, mother of sculptor Joel Shapiro. At no matter what age, losing a loved one is a terrible thing, and we send our deep condolences and best wishes to the Bernstein and Shapiro families.


Theodore Hamm


The Brooklyn Rail

FEB 2009

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