Filed under “These Are the Clowns that Determine the Course of History”:

The Times – Congress is the best advert for dictatorship<br/> We needed leadership. We got childish shenanigans on Capitol Hill. Thank goodness, Europe is finding its own way, by Camilla Cavendish

Welcome to the post-American world. It has come sooner than we expected. But as bank shares gyrate and the livelihoods of millions of people are at stake, the country I have loved for so long looks as parochial and myopic as a banana republic. Its politicians would apparently rather impoverish their own people – and ours – than risk their careers at the polls in five weeks’ time by being seen to “bail out greed”. The global financial system is out of control, and in Washington no one is in charge. No one has been in charge since Republicans and Democrats voted down the bank bailout Bill at 7.10pm on Monday night.

This woeful absence of leadership is a hammer blow to America’s status as a great power. I do not mean that America has ceded its economic dominance to Asia quite yet. China and India are still too dependent on the American consumer and foreign investment for that to happen. But America’s reputation may not recover from having forfeited leadership at the time when its leadership is most desperately needed to restore confidence in a panicking world. …

It is a depressing spectacle when the only men with vision are political appointees. Without Hank Paulson, the US Treasury Secretary, and Ben Bernanke, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, we would have had a crash many months ago. Mr Bernanke did his PhD thesis on the 1929-1934 Great Depression. Sadly, few politicians seem to have his grasp of history.

Few politicians have a grasp of much of anything, really.

The most flattering reading of the turmoil in Congress this week has been that this is democracy in action. Personally, I have never felt more attracted to benign dictatorship. But the reality is that politicians who are using their taxpayers as an excuse to do nothing are condemning those same taxpayers to suffer: savers, homeowners, employees and entrepreneurs struggling to make a go of the businesses that will create the wealth the world needs.

It should come as a desperate irony to every American that the only grown-ups today are in the capitals of Europe. Europeans are forging the way ahead as Washington’s childish sulk brings America to a new nadir.

Hmm. Meanwhile, here’s a good breakdown of the whole thing: Who caused “the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression?”

And, more general Clownage:

Wheat & Weeds: “everyone is a schmuck.”