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January 17, 2009

Recommended reading: Faith-based edition

-Radley Balko on Collateral Damage in the War on Drugs.

-Amanda Marcotte on Sanctity of Donuts Day.

-Mike Lilis on TARP 2: The Return of Lack of Oversight.

-Emptywheel and Sam on how the Unions make us strong and buoyant.

-Renee on Bernie Madoff vs. Roy Brown, an illustrative case comparison.

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The bank bailout bill, from a September article:

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One of the more interesting moments of this morning's Senate Banking Committee hearing with Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke came when Sen. Chuck Schumer offered an alternative to handing over a $700 billion bailout check to Wall Street.

Why not, the Senator asked, appropriate a portion of the money now -- say, $150 billion -- reassess where the markets are in a few months, and decide then whether more is needed?

"Could you live with less?" Schumer asked.

"I think that would be grave mistake," Paulson responded. "This is about market confidence and the tools to do the job."
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Schumer was apparently persuaded by that answer to divide the bailout into $350 billion immediately and another $350 billion whenever an administration wanted it.

By "market confidence" Paulson meant that the Dow would be high if Schumer caved, and Schumer caved.

It turns out Paulson was either wrong or lying.

But Henry Paulson shouldn't have been trusted. Paulson lobbied the SEC in 2000 for looser leverage rules to increase risk. The results of following his advice on that were disastrous.

Almost every liberal blogger knew enough to distrust Paulson, while almost every Senate Democrat caved to him.

The least one can say about TARP is that we're off to a discouraging start. I didn't cast my vote for Obama to be told "just trust me on this one" for another eight years.

I really appreciated Renee's post as well. Remember, when some judge or politician describes themselves as a "law and order" type they're usually far more invested in order than law; and everyone knows what this society's ideal order is.

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