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Archive for September 19th, 2008

By- Suzie-Q @ 9:30 PM MST

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By- Suzie-Q @ 6:30 PM MST

Congressional Leaders Stunned by Warnings

The New York Times- By DAVID M. HERSZENHORN
September 20, 2008

WASHINGTON — It was a room full of people who rarely hold their tongues. But as the Fed chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, laid out the potentially devastating ramifications of the financial crisis before congressional leaders on Thursday night, there was a stunned silence at first.

Mr. Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. had made an urgent and unusual evening visit to Capitol Hill, and they were gathered around a conference table in the offices of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“When you listened to him describe it you gulped,” said Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York.

As Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut and chairman of the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, put it Friday morning on the ABC program “Good Morning America,” the congressional leaders were told “that we’re literally maybe days away from a complete meltdown of our financial system, with all the implications here at home and globally.”

Mr. Schumer added, “History was sort of hanging over it, like this was a moment.”

When Mr. Schumer described the meeting as “somber,” Mr. Dodd cut in. “Somber doesn’t begin to justify the words,” he said. “We have never heard language like this.”

“What you heard last evening,” he added, “is one of those rare moments, certainly rare in my experience here, is Democrats and Republicans deciding we need to work together quickly.”

Although Mr. Schumer, Mr. Dodd and other participants declined to repeat precisely what they were told by Mr. Bernanke and Mr. Paulson, they said the two men described the financial system as effectively bound in a knot that was being pulled tighter and tighter by the day.

“You have the credit lines in America, which are the lifeblood of the economy, frozen.” Mr. Schumer said. “That hasn’t happened before. It’s a brave new world. You are in uncharted territory, but the one thing you do know is you can’t leave them frozen or the economy will just head south at a rapid rate.”

As he spoke, Mr. Schumer swooped his hand, to make the gesture of a plummeting bird. “You know we’d be lucky …” he said as his voice trailed off. “Well, I’ll leave it at that.”

As officials at the Treasury Department raced on Friday to draft legislative language for an ambitious plan for the government to buy billions of dollars of illiquid debt from ailing American financial institutions, legislators on Capitol Hill said they planned to work through the weekend reviewing the proposal and making efforts to bring a package of measures to the floor of the House and Senate by the end of next week.

Lawmakers in both parties described the meeting in Ms. Pelosi’s office on Thursday night with Mr. Paulson and Mr. Bernanke as collaborative, and that they were prepared to put politics aside to address the needs of the American people.

While Democrats initially said after the meeting that they planned to use the administration’s proposal of a huge rescue effort to win support for an economic stimulus package, they pulled back slightly on Friday morning, saying that their top priority was to help put together the bailout package and stabilize the economy.

But it was clear they continued to examine ways to make clear that the government was stepping up not just to help the major financial firms but also to protect the interests of American taxpayers and families by safeguarding their pensions and college savings, and by preventing any further drying up of consumer credit.

In addition to potential stimulus measures, which could include an extension of unemployment benefits and spending on public infrastructure projects, Democrats said they intended to consider measures to help stem home foreclosures and stabilize real estate values.

Among the potential steps Congress can take include approving legislation to allow bankruptcy judges to modify the terms of primary mortgages — authority that the bankruptcy laws do not currently allow and that the banking industry has strenuously opposed.

But the Democrats said it was too soon to discuss such details, and that they were awaiting a draft of the proposal from the Treasury Department.

“We have got to deal with the foreclosure issue,” Mr. Dodd said. “You have got to stop that hemorrhaging..If you don’t, the problem doesn’t go away. Ben Bernanke has said it over and over again. Hank Paulson recognizes it. This problem began with bad lending practices. Those are his words, not mine, and so this plan must address that or I’ll be back here in front of a bank of microphones at some point explaining the next failure.”

Even before the drafting of the plan was complete, the Bush administration and the Fed began efforts to sell the idea of a huge rescue to potentially skeptical rank-and-file members of Congress. Mr. Paulson and Mr. Bernanke held a conference call with House Republicans to explain their thinking.

Senator Richard C. Shelby of Alabama, the senior Republican on the Senate banking committee, said in a television interview that cost to the government of purchasing bad debt could run to $1 trillion — a potential warning sign since Mr. Shelby is a longtime skeptic of government intervention in the private market.

Until Mr. Shelby was interviewed on Friday morning, officials on Capitol Hill had been careful not to discuss specific figures, though the rescue envisioned by the Treasury Department clearly entails a government appropriation of hundreds of billions of dollars.

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The real Maverick files suit against McCain

by Geezer Power…6:05 pm

James Garner Files Suit Against McCain: Claims Infringement on Maverick Trademark

Steve Young

September 9, 2008

James Garner, who played the original Maverick – Bret – on TV, has filed a restraining order on behalf of Jack Kelly (Bart) , Roger Moore (Beau) and Robert Colbert (Brent), demanding that John McCain and Sarah Palin cease and desist referring to themselves as Maverick or Mavericks.

“It’s not like me or my fake brothers go around saying we’re POW’s,” claimed the still ruggedly handsome Garner. “And if you can be damn sure, other than those rumors about Moore, we never wore lipstick.”

McCain and Palin have been running commercials saying they’re “Mavericks” because of their stance against their own party.

“If they were ever on the set of Maverick, they would know that we were never gainst having any kind of party,” added Garner.

Article

McMaverick~The Video

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By- Suzie-Q @ 6:00 PM MST

Alaska Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Sen. Hollis French, D-Anchorage, left, talks with state Sen. Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage, in Anchorage, Alaska, Friday, Sept. 19, 2008, before French read a statement on the refusal of subpoenaed witnesses for the Troopergate investigation to appear before the committee. The committee was expecting 12 people to testify Friday but no one showed up. (AP Photo/Al Grillo)

Alaska Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Sen. Hollis French, D-Anchorage, left, talks with state Sen. Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage, in Anchorage, Alaska, Friday, Sept. 19, 2008, before French read a statement on the refusal of subpoenaed witnesses for the Troopergate investigation to appear before the committee. The committee was expecting 12 people to testify Friday but no one showed up. (AP Photo/Al Grillo)

Palin Troopergate Probe Will End Before Election, Investigator Says

MATT VOLZ | September 19, 2008 07:46 PM EST | AP

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The Alaska lawmaker directing an abuse-of-power investigation of Gov. Sarah Palin promised Friday the probe will be finished before the election, despite refusals by key witnesses to testify, including the governor’s husband.

After waiting 35 minutes for Todd Palin and two state administrative employees to appear under subpoena before the state Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Hollis French condemned their refusal to testify and the attorney general’s broken promise that seven other witnesses would testify who were not subpoenaed.

French said the retired prosecutor hired by the Alaska Legislature to investigate Palin, Stephen Branchflower, will conclude his investigation by Oct. 10. Still, that report will not include testimony from the Republican vice presidential nominee, her husband or most of the top aides Branchflower hoped to interview.

Sarah Palin’s allies hoped the investigation would be delayed past the election to spare her any troublesome revelations _ or at least the distraction _ before voters have made their choice. Palin’s reputation as clean-government advocate who takes on entrenched interests is central to her appeal as Republican John McCain’s running mate, and possibly at risk in the probe.

Palin initially promised to cooperate in the investigation, telling the Legislature to “hold me accountable.” Lawmakers were investigating accusations she dismissed the state’s public safety commissioner because he refused to fire her ex-brother-in-law, a state trooper. She now opposes the investigation.

Palin spokesman Bill McAllister declined to comment Friday. The McCain campaign said there are concerns about the effect of political influence on the Legislature’s inquiry and Palin will provide any information needed to a separate investigation by the Alaska State Personnel Board.

The committee subpoenaed six people to appear Friday to testify or meet for private interviews with Branchflower. French said three of those six had complied. Todd Palin, special assistant Ivy Frye and Randy Ruaro, who is the governor’s deputy chief of staff, did not.

Todd Palin’s attorney sent French a letter Thursday listing Palin’s objections to the Legislature’s investigation of his wife. Among them, the attorney said, were jurisdiction questions, separation of power issues and an inconvenient travel schedule.

Subpoenas were approved on seven other government employees, but not served because the state attorney general’s office had agreed to cooperate, French said. But Attorney General Talis Colberg earlier this week reversed himself, saying the governor declined to participate and that Palin administration employees would not appear.

French said subpoenas will be issued for those seven people, ordering them to testify on Sept. 26.

Witnesses who refuse to testify can be found in contempt under Alaska law. But the full Legislature must be in session, which won’t happen until January. That means witnesses can stonewall without penalty beyond the Nov. 4 election, lawmakers said.

One of them, Sen. Gene Therriault, opposed the subpoenas. He said Friday the investigation was intended to uncover whether the governor was justified in firing Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan, and he believes she was.

Palin fired Monegan in July. It later emerged that Palin, her husband and several high-level staffers had contacted Monegan about state trooper Mike Wooten. Palin maintains she fired Monegan over budget disagreements.

Wooten had gone through a nasty divorce from Palin’s sister before Palin became governor. Monegan has said no one from the administration ever told him directly to fire Wooten, but he said their repeated contacts made it clear they wanted Wooten gone.

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Evening Jukebox… In The Air Tonight

By- Suzie-Q @ 5:55 PM MST

Phil Collins- In The Air Tonight

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GEF @ 4:38 PM ET

BUSH: “WE BROKE IT, BUT WE THINK WE CAN FIX IT!

CORPORATE WELFARE IS HERE, THE END TO FREE MARKETS AND DEMOCRACY!

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McCain Ad Plays The Race Card

By- Suzie-Q @ 1:15 PM MST

McCain Plays the Race Card

TIME/CNN- Posted by Karen Tumulty

September 18, 2008 9:45

When politicians interject race into a campaign, they seldom do it directly. Consider McCain’s new ad, which the campaign says it will be airing nationally:

This is hardly subtle: Sinister images of two black men, followed by one of a vulnerable-looking elderly white woman.

Let me stipulate: Obama’s Fannie Mae connections are completely fair game. But this ad doesn’t even mention a far more significant tie–that of Jim Johnson, the former Fannie Mae chairman who had to resign as head of Obama’s vice presidential search team after it was revealed he got a sweetheart deal on a mortgage from Countrywide Financial. Instead, it relies on a fleeting and tenuous reference in a Washington Post Style section story to suggest that Obama’s principal economic adviser is former Fannie Mae Chairman Frank Raines. Why? One reason might be that Johnson is white; Raines is black.

And the image of the victim doesn’t seem accidental either, given the fact that older white women are a key swing constituency in this election.

After the McCain campaign introduced the ad, the Obama campaign responded with this statement:

Statement from Frank Raines on the ad: “I am not an advisor to Barack Obama, nor have I provided his campaign with advice on housing or economic matters.”

“This is another flat-out lie from a dishonorable campaign that is increasingly incapable of telling the truth. Frank Raines has never advised Senator Obama about anything — ever. And by the way, someone whose campaign manager and top advisor worked and lobbied for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac shouldn’t be throwing stones from his seven glass houses,” said Obama-Biden campaign spokesman Bill Burton.

At Politico, Ben Smith reports:

McCain spokesman Brian Rogers notes that Obama didn’t contradict the claim when it first appeared in the Post.

But that’s not really the point of the ad, is it?

UPDATE: The McCain campaign has now put out an ad on Jim Johnson. Please see my post above.

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