The Bailout
A Journal of Impecunious Days
Austin Dispatches
No. 118
Oct. 27, 2008
e118fig1 Fall began with a spate of illnesses and related absences around the office. The chronic coughing punctuated the critical talk about the proposed Wall Street bailout heard through the thin cube walls.

Meanwhile, in its Northeastern corridor stronghold, the American imperium’s power elite scrambled to push its bailout scheme through Congress.1  The media disseminated much power-elite concern about the collapse of the economy, but from the first autumn weekend and thereafter, everywhere I went, I noted the absence of crowds thronging the groceries, banks and gas stations. People prepared more for the arrival of Hurricane Ike.  

One item missing from the aisles: a recalled cheap brand of coffee canned in China that I consumed for the caffeine. In fact, I discovered a can of that plus a can of condensed milk created the sweet, viscous concoction I thought adults enjoyed when I was a child old enough to have thoughts. Why else would they be drinking it all the time and not letting kids have any? Until Dad let me have a sip of his – straight black. It was watery and bitter, nothing like I imagined. I didn’t really try coffee again until I was 28, and already out of the newspaper business. Yes, I worked as a reporter without recourse to coffee or cigarettes. Just like those Chicom bastards to try and poison right-thinking, red-blooded Americans. Unless melamine was the secret ingredient to my mixture.2 

Morever, economist Robert Higgs asserted that the recent market data for commercial paper – short-term promissory notes – didn’t support the claims of a credit crunch used to advocate the bailout.3 

Instead, the public thronged the communication channels to Congress. The pressure likely caused the surprising Sep. 29 defeat of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act in the U.S. House of Representatives.4  The comments I overheard from that afternoon were all positive, and the grist for jokey remarks, even bureaucrats overseeing the first contact team meeting of the neighborhood planning

By Oct. 3, the Senate, the administration, and lobbyists had added enough pork and sweetheart deals to the revised bill. That changed enough votes the second time for the House to approve the multibillion-dollar bailout that became law that day in the face of even more public opposition.5 

Congress also OK’d $25 billion for the Detroit automakers,6 who burned my family in the ‘70s and ‘80s,7 plus about $85 billion for insurer American International Group.8 I once used AIG for auto insurance coverage, but it was tardy with the proof-of-insurance forms I needed for the glove box. Six months later, I backhanded them and switched insurers again. But last year, AIG bought my current insurer, so I was planning to backhand them again.9  Incidentally, after the Federal Reserve System invented the money for the bailout, AIG’s top executives cavorted at some California golf-and-spa resort.10 Now I know why they were late sending my glove box forms.

But the financiers are already developing regrets about the bailout. They just wanted the money, not a bunch of outside bureaucrats telling them what to do. For their part, the bureaucrats are itching to extend their control further into the financial sector.11 Moreover, the new law is the most audacious executive-branch usurpation of congressional authority over financial matters since the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration exploited the twin crises of the Great Depression and World War II.12 

The infighting between politically connected financiers and big government is just part of their mutually exploitative, parasitic and sleazy relationship, often toward each other, and also toward us. They use their clout to rig the system to protect themselves against the risks of market or political competition, and we pay the bills.13

Also, Mom seconded Ron Paul's earlier remark about recent events echoing the '70s.14 The power elite has disregarded all the hard lessons and corrections from that time that it had grudgingly endured, and in retrospect had merely pretended to learn.15 

None of the Above

Lately, many Dispatches readers have been forwarding e-mails warning about Barack Obama. I've been cautioning people against him all year,16 based on the work of people like Steve Sailer and Jerome Corsi.17 Most of the assertions in these e-mails are valid, can be substantiated, and should serve to disqualify Obama from working even as a municipal janitor or a railroad porter aboard Amtrak. But don't make the mistake that John McCain is anything but a whiteface version of Obama. I addressed McCain’s sundry personal and political failings in early 2000, when he last threatened the American republic as a would-be dictatorial chief executive.  His subsequent negative accretions to his record haven’t roused me to write about him at length – until now.

Both senators voted for the bailout,18 both voted for the Bush administration’s proposed amnesty for illegal aliens,19 and both favor continuing the same approach to the war on terror – except McCain wants to stay bogged down in Iraq and Obama wants to expand the quagmire in Afghanistan and Pakistan.20

Either one will soon make us nostalgic for Dubya. And an Obama administration will have blacks joining the Klan in droves. Bottom line: Vote for almost anybody else but these two.

As for the party formerly known as Libertarian, presidential nominee Bob Barr, his backers, and Libertarian congressional candidates have bungled the opportunity to exploit discontent over the bailout. Sure, Barr and many other candidates – even entire congressional slates – have denounced it – but their denunciations lack weight given recent party history.  The LP’s platform from 2004, before the wrecking began, is much more forthright in its opposition to bailouts than its 2008 successor. The LP has deteriorated so much in the last two years that, as with the Cato Institute and Reason magazine, it’s a surprise whenever its members actually take the libertarian position on anything.21

That’s just the latest of a succession of high-profile failures by Barr and his backers, many of a nuts-and-bolts nature, that are inexcusable from a former congressman who showed some promise earlier this season.22 Texas LP Executive Director Wes Benedict told the Chronicle that they “screwed up and alienated a lot of our own base.”23 Barr doesn’t deserve half the endorsements he’s received.24 

Seldom have so few squandered so much.

Meanwhile, Barr's running mate, Wayne Allyn Root, plans to write a book next year. Crayons will be sold separately.25

Neighborhood News

The bailout’s effect reaches into my neighborhood. JPMorgan Chase bought Washington Mutual.26 Wachovia, which just opened a branch at The Domain,27 became the carrion for larger companies with better political connections.28 WaMu and Wachovia succumbed to misincentives and distorted market signals created by federal interference, particularly in mortgages.29

The landlord arranged a tenants’ meeting with police after recent crime reports in the complex.30 The office staff confirmed my suspicion that many of its security features are bogus. Many residents – foreign nationals from low-trust societies31  – displayed a surprising naivety about their personal safety in these United States.32 Did they decide to drop their guard because they’re here?33  If everyone present were really concerned about safety, the obvious Arab Muslim residents would’ve been manacled and extradited back to wherever they came from. That and the riparian vegetation snaking through the neighborhood that provides cover to vagrants would’ve been eliminated. Instead, the cop wanted us to volunteer our names, addresses and phone numbers. 

Two eateries, a gym, a spa, and a car wash service have opened nearby.34 A student loan operation has shut down.35 On Oct. 1, I witnessed the aftermath of a crash near MoPac Expressway and Duval Road that snarled southbound commuter traffic.

Local Fallout of Empire

The Chronicle reports that military reservists have been returning to local law enforcement jobs more aggressive and trigger happy.36 This doesn’t bode well for paramilitary organizations that’ve shot unarmed civilians in the back on the East Side too many times in the last few years.37 

The National Parking Association has determined that Austin’s parking rates are the highest in Texas.38 

In a related vein, a new coffee shop recently opened at the edge of downtown. It’s the sort Austin’s power elite always says it wants, but then the City Board of Adjustment won’t grant it a zoning variance so the shop has enough parking to stay in business. Typical.39

On the Town

Sep. 30: I met a decidedly non-geeky California blonde at the Geek Austin anniversary party downtown, to which I arrived late, left early, and pointedly ignored the geeks pathetically trying to make small talk with us. I gave her my business card and forgot all about it, until her boyfriend e-mailed me an invitation to her birthday party. I must've made one hell of an impression, even though I was just my usual brash self with East Coast mannerisms.

However, I declined in reply, because I had a prior engagement. It's true: I saw salsa macher Larry Harlow with Grupo Fantasma at Antone's on the 11th, where I serendipitously reconnected with the Peruvian widow I met two years ago. In fact, Oct. 11 was an especially busy day. That morning, a breathy, willowy blonde optometrist examined my eyes and pronounced them unchanged from the prior checkup. She appreciatively noticed me eying her in the lobby. So my eyes must be in good shape.40 

Oct. 4: Perhaps because of the economy, this year’s Austin Record Convention seemed the most dispirited I’d ever attended.41

Oct. 18: A friend and some of his acquaintances from Houston and San Antonio visited the Maker Faire at the Travis County Fairgrounds. It combined the straitened, homemade pathos of a typical county fair with the rusting mechanical junk found in any common garage, interspersed with officious little goosesteppers in powder-blue security T-shirts.  If this is an example of American ingenuity, it’s no wonder the Chinese are gaining a competitive edge. A good time was had by all.42

Oct. 25: Again this year, I couldn’t gather the elements of my preferred costume(s) in time for the Halloween Masquerade Ball at Go Dance.  So I threw on a silk shirt and a contrasting necktie, which is sort of a regular costume for me anyway. 

I correctly guessed one dance partner was impersonating Cher.

“You’re the first one this evening to guess correctly,” she beamed.

“Except you’ve got your original body parts,” I said.

She laughed. “That’s the best joke I’ve heard so far tonight.”

The time was approximately 9 p.m. The evening deteriorated from there.

Cultural Canapés

Police raided an actor’s Malibu house and proved Ryan O’Neal can get arrested – just not in Hollywood.43  Elsewhere in cinema, Larry David will star in Woody Allen’s next movie. The project is tentatively titled “Jewish Angst.”44 

The next cinematic James Bond archvillain will be an environmentalist.45  Either the producers are running out of occupations for their antagonists (“… and he’s a hydro-therapist. No? How about a photocopier technician?”) or else they’ve been reading Austin Dispatches.  Perhaps in the next installment, 007 will be dispatched to wipe out any and all members of the Libertarian “Reform” Caucus.

Media Indigest

NBC programming vanished from local broadcasting as the owner of KXAN-TV and Time Warner Cable continue to tussle about money past deadline. But with DVD rentals and Internet sites devoted to TV clips, and even entire shows, viewers have ways around the problem. They may soon decide they don’t need either local party. After viewing the NBC programming, they may decide they don’t really need that, either.46

They may, but probably won’t. The Statesman reports that the hot channel for people with new digitial televisions is one with old shows from the ‘50s to the ‘80s.47 In other words, having bought an expensive consumer-electronics item, people feel obliged to sit on their butts in front of a glowing screen. Instead, they could be doing something worthwhile … like writing a Webzine.

New York magazine published a lament for the decline of publishing.48 But writer-publisher Dave Eggers wrote in Esquire “… that American publishers put out 411,000 individual titles last year, an all-time record, and netted $25 billion – hardly a sagging industry.”49 Richard Kostelanetz pointed out some 35 years ago that these laments of decline are a regular feature of American letters when one regional faction thinks it’s losing status to the others.50 As of this writing, more than 200 books have been published in 2008 that I’ve read or want to read. Major New York firms have published at least a third of that total. Personally, I could stand an industry decline to catch up.


1 King, Michael. “Money for Nothing?” AC 3 Oct. 2008: 19.
2  Oster, Shai et al. “FDA Warns of Products in U.S. Tied to Tainted Milk.” WSJ 27 Sep. 2008: A14.
3 Higgs, Robert. “The Data Don’t Justify Financial-Market Panic.” 9 Oct. 2008 <>.
4 Scherer, Ron. “Without Bailout, What’s Next?” CSM 1 Oct. 2008: 11.
5 Easton, Nina. “Main Street Turns Against Wall Street.” Fortune 13 Oct. 2008: 96-102.
6 Hoover, Kent. “Congress Funds $25 Billion With Loans for Country’s Automakers.” ABJ 3 Oct. 2008: 12.
7 Hamper, Ben. Rivethead: Tales From the Assembly Line. New York City: Warner Books, 1991; Weaver, Paul H. The Suicidal Corporation: How Big Business Fails America. New York City: Simon & Schuster, 1988: Ch. 2-6.
8 Novack, Janet. “AIG: We Know Disaster.” Forbes 13 Oct. 2008: 30.
9 “AIG Buys 21st Century Insurance.” LAT 28 Sep. 2007: C3.
10 Bush, Michael. “Bailed-Out AIG Catches Flak for Lavish Event.” Advertising Age 13 Oct. 2008: 6.
11 Solomon, Deborah, Enrich, David, and Daniel Fitzpatrick. “Devil Is in Bailout’s Details.” WSJ 15 Oct. 2008, Eastern ed.: A1+.
12 Flynn, John T. As We Go Marching. 1944. Rpt. New York City: Free Life Editions, 1973: 237-250.
13 “Blowhard, Friedrich von.” “The New Class and Its Government Nexus, Part I.” 23 Jan. 2008 2Blowhards <>.
14 Abraham, Tom. Interview with Ron Paul, KTRK-TV, Houston, 12 June 2008.
15 AD No. 96n52 (Feb. 6, 2007); Johnson, Paul. Modern Times: The World From the Twenties to the Nineties, rev. ed. New York City: HarperCollins Publishers, 1991: 697-698; Podhoretz, John. Hell of a Ride: Backstage at the White House Follies 1989-1993. New York City: Simon & Schuster, 1993; Weaver, op. cit., 247-251.
16 AD No. 105n11 (Feb. 27, 2008); AD No. 106 (Mar. 7, 2008); AD No. 116 (Sep. 7, 2008).
17 Corsi, Jerome R. The Obama Nation: Leftist Politics and the Cult of Personality. New York City: Threshold Editions, 2008; Steve Sailer’s iSteve Blog: Obama  <>.
18 Cooper, Christopher. “Obama, McCain in a Rarity, Cast Votes.” WSJ 2 Oct. 2008, Eastern ed.: A3.
19 “Capital Briefs.” Human Events 2 July 2007: 4; Thomas Voting Reports. “Roll Call Report.” Peoria Star Journal 28 May 2006: A9.
20 “Obama Favors U.S. Troop Surge in Afghanistan.” Toronto Globe & Mail 23 Oct. 2008: A18; Sanger, David E. “New Territory for Debate: Pakistan and Iran Policy.” NYT 27 Sep. 2008, late ed.: A12.
21 Bailey, W. Scott. “Texas Medical Association Questions Cato Institute Report.” ABJ 3 Oct. 2008: 9.
22 AD No. 111 (June 12, 2008); AD No. 113 (July 12, 2008).
23 Whittaker, Richard. “The Libertarians: Wild Card on the Right.” AC 10 Oct. 2008: 31.
24 O’Brien, Owen. “Barr, by Process of Elimination.” DT 2 Oct. 2008: 4A.
25 Weigel, David. “Barrwatch: Wayne Allyn Rootwater?” 29 Sep. 2008 Reason Hit & Run <>.
26 “FDIC and JPMorgan Chase Rescue Washington Mutual Bank.” Weekly Corporate Growth Report 6 Oct. 2008: 5.
27 “Make Your Money Count.” CIN Sep. 2008: 4.
28 Ernich and Fitzpatrick. “Wells Fargo Grabs Wachovia as Citi Walks.” WSJ 10 Oct. 2008, Eastern ed.: C1+
29 Liebowitz, Stan J. “Anatomy of a Train Wreck: Causes of the Mortgage Meltdown.” Independent Policy Report 3 Oct. 2008.
30 AD No. 117n6 (Sep. 15, 2008).
31 Sailer, Steve. “Fragmented Future.” The American Conservative 15 Jan. 2007: 7-11.
32 Pelton, Robert Young. The World’s Most Dangerous Places, 5th rev. ed. New York City: HarperCollins, 2007.
33 Street Smarts, Firearms and Personal Security: Jim Grover's Guide to Staying Alive and Avoiding Crime in the Real World. Boulder, Colo.: Paladin Press, 2000.
34 “Community Impact.” CIN Oct. 2008: 4-5; “Intensify Your Workout.” CIN Sep. 2008: 4; Zaragosa, Sandra. “Slow-Down Startups Hot.” ABJ 15 Sep. 2008: 1+.
35 “Community Impact,” op. cit., 5.
36 Smith, Jordan. “Iraq Comes Home.” AC 19 Sep. 2008: 30-34.
37 AD No. 98n37 (June 11, 2007).
38 Ngugi, Evelyn. “Study: Austin’s Parking Rates Highest in Texas.” DT 19 Sep. 2008: 1A-2A.
39 Mottola, Daniel. “Emerald City Blues.” AC 10 Oct. 2008: 26.
40 Eisler, Dan. “Re: Current Mood Is: Depressed.” E-mail to Chris Loyd, 12 Oct. 2008.
41 Cox, Ben. “Analog Addiction.” DT Weekend 9 Oct. 2008: 5.
42 Maker Faire. Advertisement. AC 10 Oct. 2008: 7.
43 “And Another One Buys the Dust.” Newsweek 29 Sep. 2008: 69.
44 Yabroff, Jennie. “Take the Bananas and Run.” Idem., 18 Aug. 2008: 56-59.
45 “ ‘Ah, 007, We Meet Again….’ ” The Independent 17 Oct. 2008: 4.
46 Brass, Kevin. “Boob Tube Drama.” AC 10 Oct. 2008: 22; Gasmen, Melanie. “KXAN Officially off Time Warner.” DT 6 Oct. 2008: 2.
47 Holloway, Diane. “In the Digital TV Age, Keye Goes Retro for Second Channel.” AAS 21 Oct. 2008: E1.
48 Kacha, Boris. “The End.” New York 22 Sep. 2008: 38.
49 Eggers, Dave. “The Future of Words.” Esquire Oct. 2008: 132.
50 Kostelanetz, Richard. The End of Intelligent Writing: Literary Politics in America. New York City: Sheed and Ward, 1974: 31.