mm505: Could it happen again?

October 1, 2008
© Bo Widerberg | Dreamstime.com

© Bo Widerberg | Dreamstime.com

There’s more at stake in the present Wall Street bailout tsunami than the partisan posturing might lead you to believe.

Conservatives vs. moderates vs. progressives vs. everybody.

In a lifetime of casual reading about the Great Depression of the 1930s, the main cause that stuck in my mind was the wrong-headed protective tariffs established by the Smoot-Hawley act, which caused the economic dominos to topple all over the world.

Economists tell a different story; far less global, and very much local. David Leonhardt, in the NYTimes tells of some disturbing parallels with the current crisis.

Crisis feels altogether too bland a word for what the nation is facing today. Abyss feels more appropriate.

And if I exaggerate, that is a reflection of what I see and hear.

This one has even the normally oblivious shaken.

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mm503: The $700 Billion Fairy Tale

September 25, 2008
© Penguinn | Dreamstime.com

© Penguinn | Dreamstime.com

Don’t have the energy for a full fledged rant, but several stories and commentaries crossed the screen today, and made it clear that, in an administration that never stops scamming us, they’ve totally topped themselves.

The Yiddish term is Chutzpah, whose classic definition has a young man, caught with bloody hands after murdering his parents, asking the court for mercy, as he’s an orphan.

We begin with that stalwart bastion of progressive thought, Steve Chapman of the Chicago Tribune. Stalwart, yes, bastion, yes, progressive? Judge for yourself.

chitrib

The case against a federal bailout

Steve Chapman | September 25, 2008

The late comedian Jack Benny made a career of claiming to be a cheapskate. In one joke, a robber accosted him and said: “Your money or your life.” Getting no response, the thug repeated his demand. Benny replied, “I’m thinking about it!”

That’s the sort of dilemma posed by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke in their proposed rescue of financial institutions. They predict dire consequences if they don’t get their way. But the consequences of letting them have their way are so awful that the alternative doesn’t look so bad.

What they prescribe is for the federal government to buy $700 billion worth of lousy assets from banks and other lenders, exposing taxpayers to a potentially crushing liability. This plan would nationalize the money-losing part of the financial sector, to the benefit of capitalists who have made spectacularly bad decisions—fostering more bad decisions in the future.

It would add to the liabilities of a government that is already living way beyond its means. It would give unprecedented power to a couple of officials who have proved highly fallible in trying to avert this alleged crisis. And it poses the risk of abuse and corruption because the government has no way to gauge the value of what it will buy….

Paulson and Bernanke say, and probably believe, that their program is for the good of us all. But remember what Thoreau thought of their 19th Century counterparts. “If I knew for a certainty that a man was coming to my house with the conscious design of doing me good,” he wrote, “I should run for my life.”

The case against a federal bailout — chicagotribune.com

Read a local media observer today who thought that this was the year that Chapman’s paper, the Chicago Tribune might endorse a Democrat for president for the first time. Ever. In over 150 years.

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mm501: Noted Cubs fan tees off on McCain

September 23, 2008
© Misty Pfeil | Dreamstime.com

© Misty Pfeil | Dreamstime.com

George F. Will is one of the best known conservative commentators writing for a major daily newspaper. And, he makes no bones about his appreciation for the Chicago Cubs, who in the past few days have reached the next milestones in what should, by all rights, be their Brigadoon Year (go ahead, click the link — it’s one of my favorites, and you read it here first!).

Mr. Conservative Pundit George F. Will had some very cogent observations regarding the character of one John S. McCain, Republican presidential candidate. Unexpectedly, at least to this progressive observer, and to others who have picked up on this today, Mr. Will is not happy with Sen. McCain.

washingtonpost

McCain Loses His Head

By George F. Will | Tuesday, September 23, 2008; Page A21

Under the pressure of the financial crisis, one presidential candidate is behaving like a flustered rookie playing in a league too high. It is not Barack Obama.

Channeling his inner Queen of Hearts, John McCain furiously, and apparently without even looking around at facts, said Chris Cox, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, should be decapitated. This childish reflex provoked the Wall Street Journal to editorialize that “McCain untethered” — disconnected from knowledge and principle — had made a “false and deeply unfair” attack on Cox that was “unpresidential” and demonstrated that McCain “doesn’t understand what’s happening on Wall Street any better than Barack Obama does.”

Senator, the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission regulates the stock-related activities of publicly traded corporations.

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