News Roundup for Tuesday, March 31

An occasional posting of news stories that pique our interest for no special reason.

A blast from the NYTimes past (1999): “The opponents of the measure gloomily predicted that by unshackling banks and enabling them to move more freely into new kinds of financial activities, the new law could lead to an economic crisis down the road when the marketplace is no longer growing briskly. ‘I think we will look back in 10 years’ time and say we should not have done this but we did because we forgot the lessons of the past, and that that which is true in the 1930′s is true in 2010,’ said Senator Byron L. Dorgan, Democrat of North Dakota.”

Lockyer closes the sale, and then some: ” Hoping to peddle $4 billion in infrastructure bonds in three days, Lockyer’s shop sold $6.5 billion in less than two.”

And here’s what we’re going to do with all that money: “The record purchase of $6.5 billion in state bonds during the week of March 23 will allow California to continue, restart or begin construction on hundreds of public works projects, Schwarzenegger administration officials said March 30. Of the $6.5 billion in bond proceeds – the largest transaction of its kind in the nation’s history — $3.8 billion will be used to address state cash flow needs.”

We can’t follow the good advice we gave the Japanese in the 90s: “the U.S. government is looking to shovel capital into the banks without sufficient conditions, hiding rather than confronting the actual situation.  That is just like the Japanese government in their lost decade, or the U.S. officials during the 1980s before they really tackled the savings-and-loan crisis. In those cases, the delay simply made the problem worse over time and in the end the government had to put more money into the troubled banks directly, taking over or shutting down the weakest of them. Whatever the political culture, it would seem we have not learned from experience.”

What a twist! Waterboarding and harsh interrogation methods produced false intelligence:  “Not a single significant plot was foiled as a result of Abu Zubaida’s tortured confessions…Nearly all of the leads attained through the harsh measures quickly evaporated, while most of the useful information from Abu Zubaida — chiefly names of al-Qaeda members and associates — was obtained before waterboarding was introduced.” (Question for alert readers — is “false intelligence” a redundancy, or an oxymoron?)

What a twist! Part 2: “Mitt Romney is building toward a White House bid in 2012…And the dearth of a clear leader among Republicans has helped put him in the top tier of potential candidates.”

Anti-Limbaugh billboard being used in Florida: ” ‘Americans didn’t vote for a Rush to failure,’ was the winner of a contest held by the DNC, in which Democrats across the country submitted their ideas for the DNC to pick from.”