FUBAR

The big bailout

For better or worse, or whether it’s throwing good money after bad, momentum is building in Washington for an auto industry bailout, much larger than the $25 billion already promised.

Congressional Democratic leaders Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are in favor. President-elect Barack Obama has indicated that he is inclined to support some sort of rescue. And Bush administration opposition seems to be weakening.

All our wealth: Share or snare?

On the day before the election, this letter to the editor was published in my local newspaper under the headline “Share the wealth:”

“All this talk of redistribution of the wealth reminds me of the story of Huey Long running for governor of Louisiana years ago. A man shining shoes in the barbershop was asked whom he was going to vote for.

“‘Mr. Huey P. Long’ was his reply. When asked why, he said, ‘Cause Mr. Huey is going to take money from the rich and give it to all the poor folks.’

Looks like bailouts don’t work

Conservative Republicans regularly accuse liberal Democrats to trying to solve problems by throwing money at them. The Federal Reserve has been throwing billions into the banking system to stabilize the credit markets and no one has been complaining about it.

This week the Fed participated in an unprecedented global rate cut: An orchestrated cut in interest rates with 20 other nations in an attempt to encourage financial institutions to borrow from their central banks and begin making loans to credit-starved businesses.

Hang on: Things are getting ugly

Maybe it was necessary, this establishment-endorsed, fear-driven, hastily constructed $700 billion bailout gamble meant to avoid a devastating credit crunch. But whether it was or wasn’t, it is towing something politically perilous in its train.

Again and again, this Wall Street package will be used as an excuse to try to take freedom out of our markets, to throttle them with excessive regulation and leave them shorn of the innovation and energy that add up to prosperity. It will be used as an excuse for something else, too — the creation of a European-style welfare state.

Europe gets a taste of financial distress

The Europeans watched bemusedly while the storms swept through the U.S. financial markets and the supposedly laissez faire Bush administration pleaded with Congress for a $700 billion government intervention in the marketplace.

Giving the FBI a license to snoop

This is a cautionary tale.

In 1947, Gen. William "Wild Bill" Donovan proposed a new agency for gathering intelligence to replace the Office of Strategic Services OSS that he had headed so successfully in helping win World War II. The legendary spymaster would have been the logical choice to lead an effort that would be at the forefront of the fight against communism throughout the Cold War.

A campus culture of secrecy

For many major universities, their sports teams, especially their football and basketball teams, give them their proud persona. The teams and their star players are virtually worshipped.

But while sports bring schools fame, glamour and money, the value placed on sports often produces scandal and potential scandal, corruption, abuse and a culture of secrecy. Presidents, governing boards, coaches and university-friendly lawyers will go to great lengths to play down scandal, especially sexual assault, and hide it altogether.

Time for a Plan B?

Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt made headlines — and got kudos — for his department’s proposal Wednesday to use postal workers to distribute protective antibiotics to individual households in the event of an anthrax attack.

A dry run in Philadelphia convinced officials that the concept could work. In that test, 50 mail carriers reached 55,000 households in less than eight hours, a level of penetration deemed successful.

A lesson from the depression

Endlessly, to some degree dangerously, commentators keep comparing the nation’s present financial mess to the Great Depression, an assessment amiss in many ways but correct in at least one.

In both instances, it was largely government flubs prompting market malfunctions that sought out shoved calamity the public’s way, and that’s worth thinking about even if some are now saying we should fix the future instead of dwelling on what got us here.

Main Street needs to support bailout

To all you "Main Streeters" who protested the federal bailout plan for its lack of accountability and socialization of losses, I have a message for you. I feel your pain, I share your pain, but things are only going to get worse if Americans don’t come together and tell their members of Congress to vote for it.