Gadfly is Marty Aussenberg, a columnist for the weekly Memphis Flyer. Marty is a former SEC enforcement official, currently in private law practice in Memphis, Tennessee. (A full bio is below the fold.) Cross-posted at The Memphis Flyer.

Imagine this: a
snake crawls into your house in the middle of the night and bites your child,
injuring her seriously. What do you do about it (the snake, that is)? You call a

snake exterminator
, right? He
tells you he’s going to get the snake, “dead or alive,” and as he goes into your
basement in pursuit of the snake, you even hear him taunting the snake with the
words, “bring it on.” You pay him a lot of money, and you feel good about the
prospect that he’ll eliminate the problem. Then, a month later, the snake is
back, but this time he bites one of your friends’ children. Your confidence in
the exterminator is shaken (wouldn’t it be?), and you even think about calling a
different snake expert, but you call the same one (after all, he’s told you he’s
a man of faith), and he charges you more money to go after the snake again
(there’s no money-back guarantee with snakes, he tells you). A month later,
guess what—that’s right, the snake shows up in your kitchen, and scares the
holy you-know-what out of you.

Now the question
is, do you still feel the exterminator is worthy of your confidence, and second,
are you going to trust him to go after the snake the third time, having already
violated your belief in the old “fool me once, fool me twice” bromide. The
answer to both questions should be obvious. …
Not only are you going to feel like
the exterminator was incompetent, you might even feel like he bamboozled you. In
any event, you’re certainly not going to make the mistake of relying on him
again. You might even sue him for snake malpractice, or try to get his
exterminators’ license revoked.

And yet, when the
snake is named Osama

bin Laden, and the exterminator is named George Bush, for some stupefying reason
I have yet to fathom, our elected snake buster still inspires public confidence
in his ability to accomplish the mission. Even though this particular snake has
only struck in our house once, he’s struck our friends, we know he’s capable of
striking us again, and based on

his latest media performance
we know he’s planning on it. And yet, after more than four years, and many
billions of dollars fighting a war on a tactic for which bin Laden is,
literally, the

poster child
, polls continue
to show that Americans trust Bush on issues of national security. Remember, this
is the same President who acknowledged, a year after 9/11 (i.e., in the 
“post-9/11 world”) that he was
not all that concerned about bin Laden

or his whereabouts.

The Republicans are
so confident in their strength on this issue, they’ve even trotted out
,” to speak to his
party’s faithful about hammering on this issue in the coming election campaign.
Astonishingly, the conventional wisdom is that if there were to be another
terrorist attack in this country, it would end up benefiting this administration
in opinion polls, and Republicans at the election polls, something “Bush’s
Brain” is relying on. This in spite of this administration’s demonstrated
incompetence, on any objective basis (wouldn’t bin
nose-thumbing audio tape be evidence of that?), when it comes to effectiveness
in its “war on terror.” It is beyond challenge at this point that our
President’s misbegotten policies in his war have actually resulted in the
proliferation of terrorists and of their activities. The war in Iraq has
increased the number of terrorists, and has

served as a training/recruiting ground for terrorists
worldwide. And most tellingly, available studies show that

the incidence of terrorism has dramatically increased
51% in just the last year, and a whopping 250% during the five years of our
current commandant in the “war on terror.”
job, Georgie.

And where are the
Democrats, the party of the only true, effective war presidents of this century
(e.g., Wilson, Roosevelt, Truman)? AWOL. Mostly running and hiding, afraid of
their shadows, or worse, trying to out-Republican the Republicans.

My contempt for the
intelligence of the American public (shared with
Mencken) is well documented in some of my

earlier pieces
. But how
stupid do you have to be to believe that a man who’s demonstrably incapable of
prosecuting a successful campaign to bring down (“dead or alive”) our avowed
“Public Enemy Number One,” is the man for the job, or worse, that even if we’re
attacked again, he’s still deserves to be considered our protector. How many
more times do we really need to be fooled?


Mr. Aussenberg is an attorney practicing in his own firm in Memphis, Tennessee. He began his career in the private practice of law in Memphis after relocating from Washington, D.C., where he spent five years at the Securities and Exchange Commission as a Special Counsel and Trial Attorney in its Enforcement Division, during which time he handled or supervised the investigation and litigation of several significant cases involving insider trading, market manipulation, and management fraud. Prior to his stint at the S.E.C., he was an Assistant Attorney General with the Pennsylvania Department of Banking in Philadelphia and was the Attorney-In-Charge of Litigation for the Pennsylvania Securities Commission, where, in addition to representing that agency in numerous state trial and appellate courts, he successfully prosecuted the first case of criminal securities fraud in the state’s history.

Mr. Aussenberg’s private practice has focused primarily on investment, financial, corporate and business counseling, litigation and arbitration and regulatory proceedings. He has represented individual, institutional and governmental investors, as well as brokerage firms and individual brokers, in securities and commodities-related matters, S.E.C., NASD and state securities regulatory proceedings, and has represented parties in shareholder derivative, class action and multi-district litigation, as well as defending parties in securities, commodities, and other “white-collar” criminal cases.

Mr. Aussenberg received his J.D. degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, and his B.A. degree in Honors Political Science from the University of Pittsburgh. Immediately following law school, he served as a Reginald Heber Smith Community Lawyer Fellow with the Delaware County Legal Assistance Association in Chester, Pennsylvania.

He is admitted to practice in Tennessee, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia, before the United States Supreme Court, the Third and Sixth Circuit Courts of Appeals, and the United States Tax Court, as well as federal district courts in Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana. He is an arbitrator for the NASD, New York Stock Exchange and American Arbitration Association, has published articles (“Stockbroker Fraud: This Kind of Churning Doesn’t Make Butter”, Journal of the Tennessee Society of C.P.A.’s,; Newsletter of the Arkansas Society of C.P.A.’s; Hoosier Banker (Indiana Bankers Association), and been a featured speaker on a variety of topics at seminars in the United States and Canada, including: Municipal Treasurers Association of the United States and Canada, Ottawa, Canada; Government Finance Officers Association; National Institute of Municipal Law Officers, Washington, D.C. ; Tennessee Society of Certified Public Accountants, Memphis, TN; Tennessee Association of Public Accountants, Memphis, TN (1993)

Mr. Aussenberg has two children, a daughter who is a graduate of Columbia University and holds a Masters in Public Health from Johns Hopkins University and is currently a student at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, and a son who is a graduate of Brown University and is working with a conservation organization in Marin County, California while he decides what to do with the rest of his life.

Mr. Aussenberg is an avid golfer whose only handicap is his game, an occasional trap shooter whose best competitive score was a 92, and an even less frequent jazz drummer.

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