12/14/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Whales, Whales and Wails

The first whale of which I speak is Rush Limbaugh, swimming in his cesspool of right-wing hate. Drugs have finally taken the life of Rush's last firing neuron. He is now officially brain dead. On November 6, Rush actually said that "this is an Obama recession." He went on to rant that since Obama was elected, "...he hasn't passed anything yet. The seas have not parted; the sea levels have not declined." Perhaps in the haze of his pill-induced highs Rush does not realize that Obama is not yet in office? Why would sea levels be rising, anyway, if global warming is just a liberal conspiracy?

When Clinton came to office, all good economic news under his leadership was assigned by right-wing ideologues to the policies of Ronald Regan, which were said to finally be coming into their own. Remember that during Reagan's term, we saw record deficits and debts. Under Clinton, we had a balanced budget, low inflation, low unemployment and sustained growth for eight years leading to unprecedented prosperity. But none of that was due to Clinton, and all was due to Reagan. When Bush came in to office, all bad economic news was laid at the feet of Clinton because the rate of growth of the economy had started to decline in the last year of Clinton's presidency. Now Obama has been elected, the recession is his doing even before taking the oath of office.

So let's review. When a Republican president takes office, all bad news is assigned to his predecessor and all good news is due to the brilliant policies of the incumbent. When a Democrat takes office, all good news is due to his predecessor and all bad news due to the incumbent. And Republicans wonder why they lost the election. This kind of partisan insanity, immune to logic, ridiculous in the extreme, has taken on even greater dimensions of the bizarre with Rush's latest attempt to shift blame to a president-elect. We have suffered through eight years of hell, and Rush wants to place the cause of that agony on the shoulders of a man who was just elected one week ago. Most frightening of all is that Rush has an audience willing to listen to this sick vitriol, this theater of the absurd. I am encouraged by the election of Obama, but remain concerned about our long-term prospects. Anybody who takes Rush seriously has lost a grip on reality. And he has a big audience.

The second whale of which I speak is the kind swimming in the ocean. The Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that the Navy could go ahead and harm these marine mammals with abandon. I am deeply familiar with this issue as a marine biologist. The question concerns the use of high-powered sonar in training exercises to detect enemy submarines. Nobody suggested that the Navy stop doing this; only that the sonar be turned off when whales were known to be present. This compromise would create an inconvenience to the Navy, but would not prevent the training. Imagine having your eyelids taped open and an intensely bright light shined directly into your eyes. That is equivalent to the type of sensory overload whales experience in the presence of high-powered sonar. Studies have shown that the piercing underwater sounds cause ear bleeding, beachings, and panic behavior in whales. Yet Chief Justice Roberts did not even think this was a "close question" so obvious was the outcome to him. Are you surprised that Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito agreed with Roberts? Anthony Kennedy, always on the fence, went to the dark side this time. Remember, reasoned opponents never questioned the need for the Navy to apply this technology to help protect our national security. We only asked that care be used to minimize harm. We see another sad legacy of the Bush presidency with his two Court appointments continuing to wreak havoc.

The third wail of which I speak is the one escaping from my mouth as I read that Henry Paulson and President Bush have no idea what they are doing. Remember, the centerpiece of the $700 billion Wall Street bailout was to purchase banks' distressed assets to free up the frozen credit market. We were told the money was needed on an urgent emergency basis to buy up non-performing securities backed by bad home loans. That was the rationale on which the funds were requested and granted. Now Paulson and Bush are saying, "Oops." That was not such a good idea after all. Instead, the two are now searching for "new ways" to support not only banks but also credit card issuers and those providing auto loans, moving precariously into non-bank businesses. If a consumer got a loan for one purpose and then used the money for another, incarceration would soon follow. We have all just been had with the biggest bait and switch in history, but nobody is going to jail. And we trusted these guys with almost $1 trillion? Laurel and Hardy would make a more competent team. This is no way to run a country, or to guide an economy. January 20 can not come one day too soon.

But this is all Obama's fault.