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In today's pages: Wall Street, "values voters" and the Cali budget mess

September 18, 2008 |  2:15 pm

The crisis on Wall Street draws ink today from the Times editorial board and two Op-Ed writers. The board laments how taxpayers have become the lender of last resort for major financial firms such as American International Group, and calls on the government to develop better tools to guard against the need for future bailouts. Author Frances Dinkelspiel sends a good-bye kiss to Lehman Bros., thanking the bankrupt investment bank for providing critical infusions of capital to Los Angeles banks in the late 19th century. And columnist Rosa Brooks, penning a fictitious letter to the United States from leaders of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, blames "irresponsible deregulation" for simultaneous crises in energy, housing, credit and the stock market:

We thus want to acknowledge the progress you have made in your evolution from economic superpower to economic basket case. Normally, such a process might take 100 years or more. With your oscillation between free-market extremism and nationalization of private companies, however, you have successfully achieved, in a few short years, many of the key hallmarks of Third World economies.

The editorial board also praises a federal judge's rejection of a Bush administration plan to allow more snowmobiles in Yellowstone National Park. And it expresses hope that the cultural issues that played a big role in past presidential elections will take a back seat to debates over the economy, war, nuclear proliferation, energy, Russia climate change and health care:

Decades of arguing about abortion, an issue that turns on matters of personal faith, have produced only tiny shifts in policy. Can we talk about something else this time?

Also on the Op-Ed page, author Peter Schrag lays out the rationale behind California's requirement that budgets be approved by a two-thirds vote. Then he explains how the requirement became the bane of the legislature, and why it's not likely to change. Columnist Patt Morrison rallies to the defense of Denise Tyrrell, the beleaguered Metrolink spokeswoman who swiftly acknowledged that an error by a Metrolink engineer caused the horrific crash in Chatsworth last Friday:

We've slid a long way in the 64 years since Dwight D. Eisenhower, commanding the D-day forces, penciled a note in case the invasion failed: "If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt, it is mine alone." What leader would admit such a thing today? Or maybe he'd save it for his book deal.

And cartoonist Lisa Benson in the Washington Post gives her spin on celebrity politics:
Barack Obama, celebrity, politics, Wall Street, AIG, Lehman Bros., bailouts, Metrolink, Denise Tyrrell, John McCain, Sarah Palin, abortion, values voters, Yellowstone National Park

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