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Flotsam and Jetsam

A cogent explanation by Megan McArdle of the difference between a banking rescue plan and an auto bailout. (Should we have foreseen the herky-jerky implementation of the former and its illegal conversion into the latter? “Perhaps,” as to the first and “no,” as to the second, I think.) If McArdle is right on the merits of the original bank rescue, I concede that it is nevertheless difficult to prove since there is no parallel history in which we all could observe a non-bailout scenario play out – and witness the potential failure of hundreds of banks (which its supporters contend would have occurred).

As far as bailouts go you’d have to look hard to find a sillier one than ethanol. But that’s where we’re headed: “Like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, ethanol is a business created by Congress that now has to be bailed out to save Congress from embarrassment.”

The Princess Caroline backlash builds. The “handlers are screwing it up,” insists Ed Koch. You betcha. Governor Paterson has gotten miffed, finally realizing he’s being bullied by the Kennedy machine. But isn’t there an obvious solution? If she has now discovered her deep-seated desire to serve she might consider finding an open seat for something in 2010, boning up on the issues, and earning the voters’ respect and approval. It’s how mere politicians usually get into office. Even Hillary Clinton!

This report gives a peek of what’s in store for those caught up in Blago-gate: “An attorney for the Illinois governor has asked the legislative committee considering whether to impeach the governor to subpoena President-elect Barack Obama’s incoming chief of staff and a senior adviser.Ed Genson told the Chicago Sun-Times for a report published on Thursday that testimony from Rahm Emanuel, Valerie Jarrett — and Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. — would help Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s claim that he did nothing wrong in trying to fill Obama’s vacant Senate seat.” And away we go.

Haley Barbour looks to 1992 for guidance for Republicans. Unless the RNC chairmanship requires something other than media skills, a record of success, organizational prowess, and a superb political temperament, he’d seem to be the sort of person whom the RNC should be looking for.

The mortgage relief plan, Hope for Homeowners turns out to be a bust. Naturally the Obama administration will try something even more expensive. But this statistic really should give everyone pause: “half of the loans modified in the first three months of the year fell back into delinquency within six months.” It seems that one can’t solve this housing crisis, which was created by lending to people who couldn’t afford their homes, by keeping those people in homes they can’t afford. At some point the right borrowers have to be in homes and the uncreditworthy need to be renting. The quicker we sort that out the better.

Bobby Jindal might not have closed the door to a 2012 presidential run after all. But how does he run for governor in 2011 and then for president in 2012? Easy — virtually none of the effort expanded by GOP presidential candidates before 2008 made any difference.  Just ask Rudy Giuliani or Mitt Romney if the millions spent, the field operatives hired and the dozens of trips to Iowa and New Hampshire in 2007 mattered.

Yes, it really is a New York Times article touting a Bush administration achievement in health care for the poor. “Although the number of uninsured and the cost of coverage have ballooned under his watch, President Bush leaves office with a health care legacy in bricks and mortar: he has doubled federal financing for community health centers, enabling the creation or expansion of 1,297 clinics in medically underserved areas. For those in poor urban neighborhoods and isolated rural areas, including Indian reservations, the clinics are often the only dependable providers of basic services like prenatal care, childhood immunizations, asthma treatments, cancer screenings and tests for sexually transmitted diseases.” One wonders why you never heard much about this before — even from the Bush administration.



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